Skip to comments.But Seriously — Who Holds the Bible’s Copyright?
Posted on 04/03/2013 3:43:07 PM PDT by NYer
Q: Okay, so what is the Christian account of how revelation occurred?
As Elmer Fudd might say, Vewy, vewy swowly. Divine revelation didnt happen in a blinding flashsuch as God dropping the Summa Theologiae on top of a mountain and waiting for people to invent the Latin language so they could read it. (Though He could have given them magical spectacles that would translate it for them .) It seems that God preferred to slowly unfold His personality and His will for us through the course of tangled, messy human history. We might wonder why, and call up the divine customer service line to ask why in heck human nature arrived in the mail without the instructions. I dont pretend to know what He was thinking here, but I find it aesthetically fitting that our knowledge of God evolved in much the way that animal species did, over a long time and by fits and starts, with sudden leaps whenever God saw fit, until finally the world was ready to receive the final product: in creation, man, in revelation, the Son of Man. God seems to prefer planting seeds to winding up robots.
So we start with traces of a primitive monotheism among some scattered peoples of the worldwhich might have been long-faded memories of what Adam told his children about the whole apple incident, combined with crude deductions that boil down to Nothing comes from nothing. But mankind pretty much wandered around with no more than that for quite some time, and this was when he employed the inductive method to discover the hemorrhoid god.
The first incident in Jewish-Christian scriptures that suggests God revealed Himself to us after that is the rather discouraging narrative of Noah. According to the story, the human race went so wrong so fast that God decided to backspace over most of it, leaving only a single righteous family, trapped on a stinky boat with way too many pets. When they landed, they had no more idea of what to do with themselves than the cast of Gilligans Island, so God gave them instructions: We call this the Covenant of Noah. The Jews believe that these are the only commandments God gave to the Gentiles7 of them, instead of 613and that the rest of us can please God just by keeping them. Thats the reason that Jews dont generally try to make converts. (Who are we to run around making things harder for people? Feh!) The Jewish Talmud enumerates the 7 laws of Noah as follows:
Most of this sounds fairly obvious and commonsensicalthough we might wonder why it was necessary to tell people to stop pulling off pieces of live animals and eating them. They must have gotten into some pretty bad habits while they were still stuck on that ark.
Q: That ark must have been the size of Alabama
I know, I know.
Q. to fit all those elephants, hippos, rhinos, tree sloths, polar bears, gorillas, lions and moose
Okay, smart guy.
Q. not to mention breeding pairs of more than 1,000,000 species of insects. Sure theyre mostly small, but those creepy-crawlies add up.
Spoken like a true-believing member of Campus Crusade for Cthulu, complete with a bad case of acne and involuntary celibacy. Maybe you should focus on Onan instead of Noah.
Look, theres a reason why Catholics dont read the bible in an exclusively literal sense, and havent since the time of Origen (+253). The Church looks at the books of scripture according to the genres in which they were written (history, allegory, wisdom, prophecy, and so on). And this story, clearly, was intended as allegorywhich means that on top of some historical content (and theres flotsam from flood-narratives in the basement of most ancient cultures) the writer piled up details to make a point. Unlike liberal Protestants, we dont use this principle to explain away Jesus miracles and the moral law. Nor are we fundamentalists who take everything in the bible literallyexcept for This is my body, (Luke 22: 19) Thou art Peter, (Matthew 16: 18) and No, your pastor cant get divorced. (Cleopatra 7: 14) The Church responded to biblical criticism with appropriate skepticism at first, and accepted the useful parts (like reading original languages and looking for ancient manuscripts), without throwing out the traditional mode of reading the bible in light of how the Church Fathers traditionally understood it.
Q. Why should the Church be the interpreter of the bible?
In the case of the New Testament, the Church had transcribed the books; shouldnt we own the copyright to our own memoirs? When the list of accepted gospels and epistles was drawn up, there were more surplus candidates milling around than in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, before a primarysome of them inspirational but probably inauthentic, like the Protoevangelium that tells the story of Marys childhood; others creepily gnostic, like the Gospel of Thomas, which has Jesus using His superpowers to wreak revenge on His schoolmates. (That gospel is always popular, since it shows Jesus doing exactly what each of us would really do in His place.) The decision on which books were divinely inspired was based largely on the evidence of the liturgy: which books had been used in churches for services in the most places for the longest. As I like to tell Jehovahs Witnesses who come to my door: that bible youre waving at me was codified by a council of Catholic bishops who prayed to Mary and the saints, baptized infants, and venerated the Eucharist. So you could say that as the original, earthly author and editor, the Church has a better claim of knowing how to read it than the reporters at National Geographicwho every Christmas or Easter discover some new and tantalizing scrap of papyrus containing gnostic sex magic tips or Judas To-do list.
In the case of the Old Testament, the Church draws heavily on how Jews traditionally read their own scripturesbut with one important and obvious difference. We are the descendants of the faction of Jews who accepted Christ as the Messiah and evangelized the gentiles, all the while considering themselves the faithful remnant whod remained true to the faith of Abraham. So we see throughout the Old Testament foreshadowings of Christ, for instance in Abrahams sacrifice, and Isaiahs references to the suffering servant. The Jews who were skeptical of Jesus believed that they were heroically resisting a blasphemous false prophet whod tempted them to idolatry. As the Church spread and gained political clout, and Christians began to shamefully mistreat the people from whom theyd gotten monotheism in the first place, there surely was genuine heroism entailed in standing firm. I often wonder how many Jews would be drawn to Jesus if they could separate Him from the sins committed against their great-grandparents in His name .
The version of the Old Testament that Catholics and Orthodox use is different from what Jews use today. Our version, based on the Septuagint translation into Greek, is somewhat longer, and includes some later documents that Jews accepted right up to the time Saint Paul convertedbooks that illustrate a lot of the mature developments in Judaism which led up to the coming of Christ. The very fact that Christian apostles were using these books may have led the rabbis to eventually reject them. (Since the biblical references to Purgatory can be found in these books, Martin Luther and the Anglicans also excluded them.) Ironically, the Book of Maccabees exists in Catholic bibles but not Jewish ones, and right up until Vatican II we had a Feast of the Maccabeeswhich means that you could call Chanukah a Catholic holiday. But dont tell the judges in New York City, or theyll pull all the menorahs out of the schools.
So according to this article, the story of Jonah was not a historical account, but simply an allegory.
And consistent with this, RC scholarship also teaches that that Genesis 2 (Adam and Eve and creation details) and Gn. 3 (the story of the Fall), Gn. 4:1-16 (Cain and Abel), Gn. 6-8 (Noah and the Flood), and Gn. 11:1-9 (Tower of Babel are folktales, using allegory to teach a religious lesson.
Also, the story of Balaam and the donkey and the angel (Num. 22:1-21; 22:36-38) was a fable, and the “sons of God” in Gn. 6 are really the celestial beings of mythology.
Furthermore, the records of Gn. (chapters) 37-50 (Joseph), 12-36 (Abraham, Issaac, Jacob), Exodus, Judges 13-16 (Samson) 1Sam. 17 (David and Goliath) and that of the Exodus are stories which are “historical at their core,” but overall the author simply used mere “traditions” to teach a religious lesson.
What this also means is that the Bible’s attribution of Divine sanction to wars of conquest, cannot be qualified as revelation from God, and things like clouds, angels (blasting trumpets), smoke, fire, earthquakes,lighting, thunder, war, calamities, lies and persecution are Biblical figures of speech.
In addition, the sea Moses parted for Israelites to cross over that was the Reed Sea, which was probably a body of shallow water somewhat to the north of the present deep Red Sea. Thus rendered, the miracle would have been Pharaohs army drowning in shallow waters,
They also speculate that some of the miracle stories of Jesus in the New Testament (the fulfillment of of the Hebrew Bible) may be adaptations of similar ones in the Old Testament, and that the Lord may not have actually been involved in the debates the gospel writers record He was in, and thinks that most of which Jesus is recorded as saying was probably theological elaboration by the writers.`
They even cast doubt on much of the Lord’s sayings, teaching that The Church was so firmly convinced that the risen Lord who is Jesus of history lived in her, and taught through her, that she expressed her teaching in the form of Jesus sayings. The words are not Jesus but from the Church.
They ask, Can we discover at least some words of Jesus that have escaped such elaboration? Bible scholars point to the very short sayings of Jesus, as for example those put together by Matthew in chapter 5, 1-12 - http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Ancients_on_Scripture.html#Remarks
Now how many traditional RCs subscribe to this?
All of which impugns the overall literal nature the O.T. historical accounts, and as Scripture interprets Scripture, we see that the Holy Spirit refers to such stories as being literal historical events (Adam and Eve: Mt. 19:4; Abraham, Issac, Exodus and Moses: Acts 7; Rm. 4; Heb. 11; Jonah and the fish: Mt. 12:39-41; Balaam and the donkey: 2Pt. 2:15; Jude. 1:1; Rev. 2:14). Indeed the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety (2Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9), and if Jonah did not spend 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the whale then neither did the Lord, while Israel’s history is always and inclusively treated as literal.
How was that not the purpose of all the prophets?
Peace be to you
yup. true. ends there.
“By definition if this were so we wouldnt be having this argument. :)”
Okay, perhaps self-evident is not exactly the correct term. Self-revealing is a better representation of what I mean.
The Word reveals itself, to whom God wills to reveal it. It’s a good thing too, that God did not rely on His Word being proved by the evidences of man, otherwise the Bible would have no more claim to authority than any other book written by men but claimed to be divine.
“Unsurprisingly the list of books that you regard as self evidently true coincides with the list of books that you regard as authoritative.”
Of course it’s unsurprising. It would be surprising if I put my faith in books that seemed to be quite obviously not the work of God. That would be foolishness.
“How was that not the purpose of all the prophets?”
I suppose you can make that statement in the general sense, but each prophet had particular circumstances they were sent to address in their present times. Since none but John the Baptist were sent in proximity to Christ’s birth, then none of those particular missions were to prepare Israel for Christ’s immanent arrival. Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc, all had more immediate matters happening in their own lifetimes to attend to.
The author of the article and many posters here seem to forget the role of God in communicating His Word to each and every believer in their human spirit.
He is a living God, not a dead God, nor does He leave the sanctification of our souls to those also dead or out of fellowship with Him.
As you have already been shown, the fact is that while the apocrypha was generally accepted, debate and doubts about books continued right into Trent, and until then there was no infallible, indisputable canon for Luther to and some RCs to dissent from.
Meanwhile, the EOs and other Catholics have a different canon than Rome's but that never seems to be much of problem with RCs.
That said, i would say the wisdom of Solomon , if it was indeed written prior to the resurrection, seems to come close to being inspired of God, though apparently falsely attributed to Solomon.
Good post. I’d also like to point out that there is no consistent contextual basis for separating out the “non-historical” from the “historical”, like the author of the article suggests.
The parts which modernists wish to regard as “non-historical” are simply the parts that they find inconvenient to defend in the face of attack by humanists, rationalists, atheists, etc. For example, there is no distinction in the text between the parts of Genesis that are accepted as “historical” and the parts they want to view as “non-historical”. It’s a single narrative written as if the entire work is a history, with no indication in the text that any of it is allegorical. Yet, somehow, all the parts that are most heavily ridiculed by nonbelievers just happen to be the ones that meet the mysterious standards to be deemed “non-historical”. It stretches the bounds of reason to imagine that this is just a coincidence produced by a sound exegetical method.
This written by a Roman Catholic is a joke right ?
I think the bible source text predates copyright laws.
Translations of it; however; are the PROPERTY of the TRANSLATORS.
At least the SDA doesn't have as a foundation the words of FALSE 'prophets'!
Well, if you’re Jesus, they call that the Second Coming. *rimshot*
How can a dead woman DO that?
Rom 8:34 -
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Can’t get any closer to God than the right hand, so asking anyone else for intercession seems to be, at best, taking the scenic route.
The same reason Catholicism stuffs things in?
God made it work....that’s all I need.
People ask many questions....
my favorite is: can God make a stone so heavy He can not lift?
God it God, for me that is all I need to know.
People who worry about the fringe are beginning to bore me.
HE needs help; obviously.
The inspired writings of God were essentially established as being so like unto true men of God were, that being due to their Divine qualities and attestation. And which would also manifest there were no more books like them (though by making nebulous Cath. Tradition equal to Scripture and enjoining obedience to extrabiblical laws, with Rome being supreme, she is essentially adding to Scripture.)
In both cases the powers that be should recognize and affirm such as being of God, but sometimes they are not, yet are what they are regardless.
An infallible magisterium is not necessary to recognize and establish writings as Scripture, and nor does being the steward of Scripture and inheritor of Divine promises and having historical descent make such infallible.
“At least the SDA doesn’t have as a foundation the words of FALSE ‘prophets’!”
No, just a single false “prophetess”.
they sure get all up in arms about it, though.
Jesus is my savior...ends there. don't need the rest of the fluff.