The Christian Bible
contains sixty six books…written over a period of a thousand years. It
includes poetry and prose, parables, prayers, speeches, prophetic
utterances, letters addressed to specific people and circumstances,
apocalyptic literature, legal documents, and so on. However one might
understand these sacred texts as inspired, interpretation is required at
many levels. Kimball, Charles, When Religion Becomes Evil, Los
Angeles, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 2002, p. 60.
The Two Bible Canons:
Issues of approach, authenticity, editing, translation and
REVELATION versus INSPIRATION
These two are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably.
Revelation refers to material which is revealed or shown by an external
source. By contrast, inspiration comes from a variety of sources,
external and internal, and the "inspired" material is internally generated. Jesus
claimed to be the direct, public, and sufficient revelation of god, and
this revelation COMES TO US primarily from the two eyewitness
accounts–the Gospels of John and Thomas–while all other articles, letters, commentaries, and accounts are due to
some level of inspiration. Inspired feelings, insights and thought are NOT INFALLIBLE,
and completely subject to the person's existing package of understandings, values and beliefs.
Word of God
Not to put too fine of a point on it, the Bible is not the word of God, never has
been, never will nor can be, because the "Word of God" was the messenger of
reason manifested or revealed in the human being called by John the
Logos. Logos means the basis for logic, the voice of reason, and the
source of wisdom. The Old Testament (OT) may be valuable in pointing to
Jesus and substantiating him as the "the coming one", an aspect of very
LIMITED value because he can stand on his own. Jesus actually doesn't need
framing by the OT, nor its prophecies because his message deals adequately
with the ultimate issues. Nor does Jesus need to be further explicated by
the NT authors! He was not JUST a messenger but was the DEMONSTRATION of the
truth about the Creator,
The New Testament (NT),
except for the gospels, has merit or worth ONLY as it substantiates the
historicity of the life of J and especially his resurrection. It is also
useful as a record for wrong ideas that do
not work, as a track record for failure of theology differing from that
of Jesus. Neither Jesus nor the Father ever authorized the writing of
the NT nor had anything to do with it, nor has God, time or history
validated it. How many times do we have to read Paul's outrageous
statements before we see that these are his ancient
cultural–personal–convictions and not the word of God.
RSV 1 Corinthians 14:34
As in all the churches of the Saints, the women should keep silence in
the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be
subordinate, as even the law says.
RSV 1 Corinthians 11:13-16 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for
a woman to pray to God with her hair uncovered? Does not nature itself
teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a
woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her as a
covering. If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no
other practice, nor do the churches of God.
The other examples and arguments are legion.
The synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew, are
written within the anticipation of Jesus setting up a theocracy on the
earth, something totally out of harmony with his character and purpose.
The Gospels of the NT are revelation only in so far as they faithfully
report the spirit of what Jesus said and did, that is, Him
giving us His theology. Even the author's commentary within the
gospels is not ultimately trustworthy, especially in the synoptic
gospels. The rest of the NT, in contrast to the Gospels, is just other men who died giving us
their theology. It is purely about what these men thought at the time
they wrote and is surely untrustworthy, even though they may have been "inspired".
The word "canon" means measurer or ruler. Both
the OT canon and the NT canon came to be regarded as special through a
historical process, involving only the collective wisdom of the Hebrews
over some 1200 years for the OT, involving only the collective "wisdom"
of the errant Christian community over some 335 years for the NT.
Evidently, since Jesus disagreed with part of the OT scriptures and
quoted authoritatively from literature outside the canon, the process to
canon was an earthly one only approximate in validity at best, and
apparently God was not directly involved. Again, canonization is a
historical process, and is not the result of some committee directed by the Holy Spirit.
Old Testament Canon
The OT canon was solidified by approximately 400 BC
and consisted of three categories of books. The Pentateuch, represented
by Moses on the mount of transfiguration, were the foundation of Torah
and were considered to be authoritative and infallible. The Prophets,
represented by Elijah on the mount, were considered to be
"inspirational" but not infallible. The Writings were included as
significant romantic and cultural literature. Strangely enough, Jesus fulfilled
more carefully and specifically some "prophetic" sections (note
Psalm 22) of the Writings than of the other two categories.
We do not know who wrote the
Bible. The Old Testament authors did not labor for personal recognition
but to convey their sense of Israel's god and his purpose for the world.
Old Testament authorship was typically anonymous, although later
traditions assigned important books to eminent figures of the past. In
the last several centuries B.C.E. (before the common era), Moses was
regarded as the author of the Bible's first five books, the Pentateuch,
although most modern scholars believe that these books assumed their
present form long after Moses' day. Most of the narrative books–Joshua,
Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles–are the work of nameless
priests, scribes, and archivists. None make direct statements about
their origin or compilers. Scholars believe that the great
prophets–Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and others–delivered their message
orally and that their words were collected and written down by later
disciples whose names are unknown. Understanding the Bible,
Stephen L Harris, p. 2.
New Testament Canon
The NT canon was SOMEWHAT solidified by 370 CE
primarily by Roman "Christians" who were firmly entrenched in the major
concepts of Zoroastrianism, who were firmly allied with the civil,
political and military authorities, and who were beginning at that time
to literally slaughter the other more spiritual followers of Jesus, the
Gnostics. The NT writers are not presenting the same message as Jesus
did and we should have no concern for the NT canon being sacred or
infallible because Jesus presents himself as the voice of reason and last revelation of the
Supreme Being, and HE told and showed us everything we need to know.
The same anonymity prevails in
the New Testament. While late second-century Church traditions
attributed various Gospels and letters to prominent early disciples and
apostles, most of the texts make no claims of authorship. The conspicuous
exceptions are Paul's letters, written between about 50 and 62 C.E. (of
the common era) to newly founded Christian churches in such cities a s
Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Rome. Although the author of
Luke-Acts may have been a Gentile (non-Jew), all other Bible writers
were Jewish, members of the Israelite nation. Understanding the Bible,
Stephen L Harris, p. 2
Evolution of the Modern
Out of reaction to the religious authority of Rome and its commensurate political
influence and meddling, King James I of England in 1604 commissioned 54
men to produce the King James
Authorized Version of the Bible. This version was not really an intended
new translation but was purposely designed to pander to the Church of
England and to especially not offend prevailing medieval religious
sentiments. Indeed the commission reported that:
"Neither did wee thinke much to consult the translators or Commentators,
Chaldee, Hebrewe, Syrian, Greeke, or Latine, nor no the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch."
- Publishing Page, 1611 King James Bible
Outside of its highly touted literary quality the singular most
important thing for the people of that time was that it was authorized
by the King, but its extremely poor quality of translation and many
errors make it a document that effectively obscures much of the meaning
intended by the original authors of the various books included in this
Another cautionary aspect is reported at:
The Wicked Bible, sometimes
called Adulterous Bible or Sinners' Bible, is the
published in 1631 by
Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in
which was meant to be a reprint of the
King James Bible. The name is derived from a mistake made by the
compositors: in the
Ten Commandments (Exodus
20:14), the word not in the sentence "Thou
shalt not commit adultery" was omitted, thus changing the sentence into
"Thou shalt commit adultery". This blunder was spread in a number of copies.
Also it is simply intellectually irresponsible to assume that ANY writer,
eyewitness or not, completely understood the truth in relation to what he
was expositing, and there is good reason to think that many did not.
For the above reasons and others, not the least of which are daunting
translational problems,, we cannot legitimately take a sophomoric or
credulous approach to understanding the truth from the Gospel accounts and
the text, and we MUST do an educated and critical appraisal
by letting reason refine the best possible interpretation. It is the
composite, truly elegant, inspiring, integrated and consistent big picture that should be our
aim and our guide.
See: Selecting and rejecting Gospel Material
Within the limits of being intellectually responsible, always choose to
believe the best using your heart
(core), or idealistic internal reference point. Four valid criteria may be:
Is it good for me personally?
Is it logical and reasonable to me personally?
Can I live with it happily for all eternity?
Is it within the context and limits of what Jesus said and did?
"A door that seems to stand open must be of a man's
size, or it is
the door that providence means for him." –Henry Ward Beecher