2 Timothy 3:13-17 (KJV King James Version) But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
As a Christian I believe every word in the Holy Bible is historically true, God breathed, life giving, miraculous. I believed that in faith until about 10 yrs ago when I decided to study it in support of my belief. Now they have TV shows that "explain" the origin of the Bible but they are produced by a secular media company for a secular cable station and they are critical in their approach in order to appeal to a larger scenical audience and therefore bring in more advertising dollars. Unfortunately this confuses people who have not studied the Bible for themselves. The study of the tenents of the Christian faith is called "apologetics". It comes from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), meaning a speaking in defense. How do we defend our beliefs? How can we explain to others what we believe and why we believe in them? We study apologetics.
I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, that there is a triune God, that the Bible is the Word of God and that, once saved, the Holy Spirit lives in me to teach and train and empower me to become more like Christ. I believed all of this in faith without a rational, logical exposition on all the reasons for believing. This is saving faith. It is choosing to believe whether or not it makes sense to anybody else. This faith has changed me and made me believe it even more. I was only 8 yrs old when I was saved so you can't say that someone appealed to my intelligence with reasoning that couldn't be denied. It was not an emotional crisis, nobody was pushing me, there were no external persuasions that forced or coerced me. I was raised in a Christian family who really lived their beliefs and did so in love. Not that there weren't mistakes, we are all human, but their love was always in evidence. We attended church to almost every service until I was 8 yrs old. When we moved then, we attended for awhile but it was such a big church that my family got lost and weren't comfortable and they quit attending by the time I was in junior high. But they never quit loving God and trying to live right and are some of the best Christians I know.
But some people need more "evidence" to believe. Like the Disciple Thomas, aka Doubting Thomas, they want proof.
John 20:24-31 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Unless I shall see the print of the nails in His hands, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.
And after eight days the disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, Peace to you!
Then He said to Thomas, Reach your finger here and behold My hands; and reach your hand here and thrust it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!
Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book.
But these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name.
I'm one of those who believed without having first seen. But I took the time to study my beliefs starting over 10 yrs ago. I didn't just accept what someone else said but I read it for myself. Now, no one can confuse me and I know what's true and what's false.
I encourage those who have questions to first of all accept Jesus Christ as your Savior in faith. Once you are saved a new spirit is born in you. As a born again Christian the Holy Spirit comes inside to teach and train your brand new spirit. It's the Holy Spirit that will open your mind to the truth about Christian beliefs. Once you have faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit within you, you are ready to approach the Bible and the study of apologetics. Not as a critic with a hostile attitude but as a believer who wants to learn more about their God in order to be able to share the good news of salvation.
Pray for God to help you understand the Bible and the Christian beliefs. Pray that the Holy Spirit within you would open your mind to understanding the Bible.
In order to study a book you have to read the book. You don't go to a college literature class and just read critiques. You read the book and then you study the critiques. So read the Bible. If you can read Harry Potter or one of Stephen King's novels, then you can read something as "big" as the Bible. It may look intimidating with all those pages but it's really not. I read it through for the first time at 17 yrs old. I got a modern translation so that the old English wouldn't trip me up. Although, by that time, in high school, I had had to read Beowulf, The Iliad and The Odyssey and a few classics so I don't know why I couldn't have read it with at least a general understanding. I started it like a novel and read it through in just a couple of days. I'm a big reader as it is and always have been. I didn't bother with underlining and understanding everything, I just made some popcorn, sweet iced tea and laid around and read it. Much like someone who's always wanted to read War and Peace (Tolstoy) and finally got around to it. Of all the books in the world, the Bible is the most important book to read and it will change your life. If you never read another book, read the Bible. If you've never read a book all the way through, make the Bible the first one. Even if you are not a Christian and have no intention of ever becoming one, reading the Bible will help you understand 2 of the 3 major religions in the world: Judaism and Christianity. The Bible is history, a study of Judeo-Christian beliefs in origins, is poetry, is a how-to, has genealogy and ancient cultures, is chock full of wisdom, shines a light on the best and worst of humanity, has prophecy, etc. It's God's scrapbook, if you will. If you look through my scrapbooks you will learn about my family, my history, my interests... the Bible will show you God, His family, His history, His interests.
Search out ways to learn. If you want to learn how to weld, you would look for a technical school near you, go and enroll and show up at the classes with a mind that wants to learn. Or you would look for books on welding and read them and follow their instructions. Or you would get online and get some videos and watch them and follow each step. You see where I'm going with this? If you want to learn you make a plan and follow through with action. To learn about the Bible and the Christian beliefs, you make a plan of action and follow through. Find a church that believes in the Bible and Jesus Christ. If you want to learn about Christianity, you don't attend a Buddhist Temple because you will only learn about Buddha there. Don't attend a church that says it's "Christian" but then doesn't believe completely in traditional Christian foundations. Some churches may have a sign out front with a denomination on it but they don't believe that the Bible is the unerring Word of God and that Jesus Christ was nothing more than a good teacher and a nice man. They aren't true Christians. They are merely trading on the denominations acceptability in the Christian community. It gives them all the perks without any of the hard stuff. If you truly want to learn about God and His Word, find a Christian church. Then attend. Just going every once in awhile is like going to your college classes just once a month. You are going to fail when the test comes. Attend, sign up for Sunday School classes or other classes, go to seminars and conventions that they offer whenever you can, etc. You want to soak up as much as you can. But, always remember that everyone you hear may not have all the truth. We are all at different stages in our Christian walk and none of us have "arrived". We don't graduate until we die and enter Heaven. So don't just accept everything that you hear. Search it out yourself. Add to your knowledge by reading the Bible on your own, reading other Christian books, listening to speakers on TV, books on tape, Christian radio stations, etc. For awhile, at least, you need to put all your extra time into learning about the Bible and God.
Now I'm ready to put into words why we believe the Bible is the Word of God, every jot and tittle true, unerring, life changing. No matter what scientists and archaelogists find, I will believe the Word before I will believe them because humanity is full of error, sin, mistakes, misunderstandings and deliberate untruths due to our evil human natures. But, in this day and time, I think we have ample evidence that proves the truth of the Word.
In Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh Mc Dowell notes that if God created man with a desire to know Him, we would expect His message to have some unique properties:
* It would be widely distributed so man could attain it easily
* It would be preserved through time without corruption
* It would be completely accurate historically.
* It would not be prone to scientific error or false beliefs held by the people of that time.
* It would present true, unified answers to the difficult questions of life.
The Bible stands alone as the only religious text that can claim it meets all the above criteria.
The Bible is the most published book ever written and the most translated and the most studied and dissected book. It is available in the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek but has also been translated into more modern languages. Hebrew is the main language of the Old Testament which includes the 5 books of Moses called the Pentateuch (aka the Torah). Aramaic only accounts for about 250 verses. Biblical Aramaic is closely related to Hebrew because it is also a semitic language. The New Testament was written in Greek which was the common language during Jesus' life on earth. The Greek translation of the Bible is called the Septuagint. Jewish scholars first translated the Torah (Jewish) into Greek in the third century BC. As Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible, have concepts not easily translated in our languages, some interpretation had to go on, but considering how sacred the text was, they would have tried to keep to the original meaning as much as possible. Now, with versions in the original languages available and the accessibility of higher education, you wouldn't be able to get away with much in translating a Bible. There are scholars out there that would call you on the carpet if you made any mistakes. Since most of us don't know the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and the ancient classical language of Greek, then we rely on translations. In our world today, Bible translations are done by committees of scholars who know what they are doing. Paraphrased Bibles are not suppose to be word-for-word translations. Paraphrased Bibles are telling the story and giving the overall intent of the Word without bogging down in word studies. If you are a new Christian and wanting to read the Bible through for the first time, I would suggest reading a paraphrase Bible like The Message or the Living Bible. But, once you have read the Bible through, you will want to use other translations to study the Word that are more carefully matched to the original words.
The first translation would have been into Latin for the Catholic church and is called The Vulgate. Translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic by Jerome between 382 and 405 AD. The Vulgate included the books of the Apocrypha and was the standard version of the Bible for Roman Catholics for over one and a half millenia. It took a long time from the Latin to the old English of translations that came next simply because the Catholic leadership was afraid for the masses to read the Word of God for themselves. Without education they were afraid the regular people would misinterpret the Scriptures so they wanted the scriptures to be taught through the voices of the local priests so that the people would not only learn the Word but the meaning. It was to be handled as the very Word of God, divine and sacred and not to be handled carelessly by the common people. Of course, with evil human nature to contend with, it also meant power over people who were afraid of losing their salvation and eternity in Heaven if they didn't do what the priests told them to do. This is a terrible power to have over people and seduced many a church leader to abuse that power and use it for harm rather than for good. At first the Catholic church persecuted even to the point of death, anyone who tried to translate the Bible into a common, "vulgar" language like English. So translators were putting their lives on the line to translate the Bible into contemporary language. I don't think they did it lightly.
Wycliff's Bible is the name now given to a group of scriptures translated in 1383 into Middle Ages English that was made under the direction of John Wycliffe. They appeared over a period from approximately 1382 to 1395.
The Great Bible , aka Cromwell Bible, was commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII and is the first authorized edition of the Bible in English.
Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type printing, in around 1439, and the global inventor of the printing press. His major work, the Gutenberg Bible was also known as the 42-line Bible (i.e. 42 lines of scripture per page). Preparation of it probably began soon after 1450, and the first finished copies were available in 1454 or 1455. There are 21 known copies still in existence.
The Tyndale Bible generally refers to a body of biblical translations by William Tyndale. The term Tyndale's Bible is not strictly correct, because Tyndale never published a complete Bible. Prior to his execution Tyndale had only finished translating the entire New Testament and roughly half of the Old Testament. Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to come directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. Furthermore it was the first English biblical translation that was mass produced as a result of new advances in the art of printing. Tyndale’s translations were condemned by both the Catholic church and the English government banning and burning it whenever they found it. His New Testament was completed and published in 1526 and revised several times by Tyndeale himself. He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to death. He "was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned".
The Geneva Bible of 1560 is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible in the English language, preceding the King James translation by 51 years. It was the primary Bible of the 16th century Protestant movement. For the very first time, a mechanically-printed, mass-produced Bible was made available directly to the general public.
The Bishop's Bible of 1568 was produced under the authority of the established Church of England in 1568. It was substantially revised in 1572, and this revised edition was to be prescribed as the base text for the authorized King James Version (KJV) which was completed in 1611.
How did the Bible survive from the Old Testament which was started before Christ and the New Testament that started after Christ? Scribes were educated in reading and writing and had the task of copying. Before the times of printing presses, a hand copied document was done by a scribe. Much like a secretary would type a document and copy it on a copying machine, scribes had to hand write the copies. The handwritten copies were works of art and were very expensive. When ancient scribes copied earlier Biblical books, they wrote notes on the margins of the page (marginal glosses) to correct their text—especially if a scribe accidentally omitted a word or line—and to comment about the text. When later scribes were copying the copy, they were sometimes uncertain if a note was intended to be included as part of the text. Most changes among manuscripts are minor, such as alternative spelling, alternative word order, the presence or absence of an optional definite article ("the"), and so on. Occasionally, a major variant happened when a portion of a text was accidentally omitted (or perhaps even censored), or was added from a marginal gloss. Fortunately, major variants tend to be easier to correct because of the paper trail of notes or glosses.
Considering the fallibility of mankind and the long history of the Bible, it is miraculous that we have an uncorrupted manuscript available in languages for all to read. God wanted His Word written and preserved and passed on so He made sure of it. This is a miracle. But it is also understandable. The Word was considered sacred and so divine that it was kept carefully. It was shared to all who would listen but the manuscript was kept and treated as holy. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in Israel in the 1940's and 50's, also provide phenomenal evidence for the reliability of the ancient transmission of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) before the arrival of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew scribes who copied the Jewish Scriptures dedicated their lives to preserving the accuracy of the holy books. These scribes went to phenomenal lengths to insure manuscript reliability. They were highly trained and meticulously observed, counting every letter, word and paragraph against master scrolls. A single error would require the immediate destruction of the entire text. Almost superstitiously, it was copied carefully because they did not want to incur divine wrath. Until modern technology made printing widely available, the Word was so expensive to own that it was kept carefully and treated as the most important book in the house, the church or the village. Scrolls, later books, were kept in chests and kept under lock and key until it was time to be read. Much of it was committed to memory so that no one could take it away from you. Once modern technology made paper and printing available, it became more affordable to reproduce. In modern times education became available to a majority of the masses who were able to read with discernment. It's kind of a catch 22 though. Back in the days before people had education; and, before Bibles were translated into our modern languages; and, before printing made Bibles available... people didn't know the Word of God because of sheer ignorance. Today we have education, Bibles in every language, easy to read translations with all kinds of study notes, mass printing which makes Bibles affordable and people still don't know the Word of God.
There are internal and external evidences that the Bible is uncorrupted. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin such as its unity. It is made up of sixty-six individual books written by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life. It was written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years and, yet, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This is a miracle. Once you begin studying the Bible and see the evidence of Jesus Christ that shoots like a scarlet thread in a woven blanket through every book of the Bible, you realize just how unified it is.
Another of the internal evidences are the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible has hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind, and the birth and death of Jesus Christ and the ones that have been fulfilled were true to the last detail. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Let's just look at a couple:
Psalm 22:15-19 (KJV) My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Matthew 27:33-36 (KJV) And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
And sitting down they watched him there; which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
And sitting down they watched him there;
Mark 15:22-26 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Such a small details like how thirsty he was (they offered him something but it was so nasty that He didn't drink it); how they killed him by crucifixion in which nails pierced his hands and feet; his garments were given to those guards who won a game of dice played beneath Him; and, how he was surrounded by those who watched and waited for him to die (some in love but many more in scorn).
A third internal evidence is how the Bible's words have transformed lives. My own life is transformed and I continue to learn and grow daily. But there have been millions of others who would testify to the transformation that occurs by reading and believing the Bible. It has survived the test of time.
"Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn written by English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807) and it was published in 1779. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was just six years old. Newton spent two years at boarding school, long enough to be able to read and write. At age eleven he went to sea with his father. Newton sailed six voyages before his father retired in 1742. Newton took work on a Mediterranean merchant ship. In 1743, when he was just 18 yrs old, Newton was captured and pressed into naval service by the Royal Navy. He became a midshipman aboard HMS Harwich. At one point, Newton attempted to desert and was punished in front of the crew of 350. Stripped to the waist, tied to the grating, he received a flogging of ninety-six lashes, and was reduced to the rank of a common seaman. Following that disgrace and humiliation, he contemplated suicide. He recovered, and at his own request, he transferred to the Pegasus, a slave ship bound for West Africa. Newton was a continual problem for the Pegasus crew. They left him in West Africa with a slave merchant named Amos Clowe. Clowe took Newton to the coast and gave him to his wife Princess Peye, an African duchess. Newton was abused and mistreated along with other of her slaves. It was this period that Newton later remembered as the time he was "once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in West Africa." Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had been asked by Newton's father to search for him. Sailing back to England in 1748 (he was 23 yrs old) aboard the merchant ship, he experienced a spiritual conversion. The date was May 10, 1748. The ship encountered a severe storm off the coast of Donegal. Newton awoke in the middle of the night and called out to God. It was this experience which turned him around. As the ship was saved amd continued on it's voyage, Newton began to read the Bible and other religious literature. By the time he reached Britain, he had accepted the doctrines of Evangelical Christianity. Newton returned to England and obtained a position as first mate aboard a slave trading vessel, the Brownlow. During the first leg of this voyage, while in west Africa (1748–49), Newton acknowledged the inadequacy of his spiritual life. While he was sick with a fever, he professed his full belief in Christ and asked God to take control of his life. He was saved. Still, he did not renounce the slave trade until later in his life. After his return to England in 1750, he made three further voyages as captain of the slave-trading ships. He only gave up seafaring and his active slave-trading activities in 1754 (at 29 yrs old), after suffering a severe stroke, but continued to invest his savings in Manesty's slaving operations. In 1755 Newton became tide surveyor (a tax collector) of the port of Liverpool, and, in his spare time, was able to study Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. He became well-known as an evangelical lay minister, and applied for the Anglican priesthood in 1757, although it was more than seven years before he was eventually accepted and ordained into the Church of England. In 1788, 34 years after he had retired from the slave trade, Newton published of a pamphlet "Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade", in which he described the horrific conditions of the slave boats during the middle passage, and apologised for "a confession, which... comes too late....It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders." He had become an abolitionist! Newton, having joined English abolitionist William Wilberforce, lived to see the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807. This is a man who started out in sin and rebellion against God and, yet, he was saved through faith in Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit began changing him. It was a process, a lifetime of growth and change based on what he learned through studying the scripture. By the time he died, he was NOT the same man. This is evidence of the changing power of the Holy Spirit from within and the Holy Bible from without.
There are also external evidences of the truth of the Bible. Many of the stories in the Bible have been proven to be true despite almost maniacal attacks by "scientists" and "archaeologists" with hostile intentions. For instance, the Battle of Jericho. In 1930-36 John Garstang discovered the remains of a network of collapsed walls which he dated to about 1400 BC. Kathleen Kenyon began excavating from 1952-1958. Kenyon traced the entire history of the city from the earliest Neolithic settlement. When Dame Kathleen Kenyon excavated at Jericho in the 1950s, she claimed not to have found any collapsed walls or even evidence of a living city at Jericho during the time of Joshua’s invasion which was generally accepted as being in the 1400's BC. She did find an earlier, heavily fortified Jericho in circa 1550 BC was subject to a violent conquest with fallen walls and a burnt ash layer a yard thick, indicating destruction by fire. Archaeologist Bryant G. Wood, editor of Bible and Spade, said that Kenyon had misdated her finds and that the destruction of Jericho actually took place in the 1400s BC. In a brilliant 1990 article in BAR, Wood based his chronology on stratigraphy, pottery types, carbon-14 datings, and other evidence, including collapsed walls, to show a rather surprising archaeological confirmation of the biblical detail recorded in Judges 6 and following. Kenyon's result was confirmed in 1995 by radiocarbon tests which dated the destruction to 1562 BC (plus/minus 38 years) with a certainty of 95%. The end result is that there was a city of Jericho that was destroyed. The walls fell and the city was burned in the general time period of the Jewish invasion of Canaan. The arguments about specific times are between those who believe and those who refuse to believe in the historicity of the Bible. But there is historical evidence of Jericho and it's fall. There is historical evidence of Jesus' life and death. There is historical evidence of rise and fall of the Jewish nation, etc.
There are many outside historical writers who document the Bible and corroborate it. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian who lived in the first century (the first 100 years after Jesus' death). He not only preserves many traditions about events that are mentioned in the Old Testament, but also corroborates the existence of John the Baptist. He also mentions that Herod had John the Baptist imprisoned and put to death. Josephus also mentions James as the brother of Jesus along with his death by the high priest Annas. Lastly, Josephus mentions Jesus himself, who he characterizes as "a wise man". He further reports that people viewed Him as the Christ and that Jesus appeared to His disciples three days after Pilate put Him to death. Josephus was a Jew, and would would have been adverse to Christianity and its message. The Jewish Talmud mentions Jesus and records His death on the eve of Passover. Thallus, a Samaritan historian who wrote in 52 A.D. mentions the crucifixion, as did Phlegon, the Roman historian. These are just a few of those who corroborate the New Testament. There have been tens of thousands of manuscripts and pieces of manuscripts found that support the scripture as we know it today. The Bible has more support that proves it's true than any other book in history.
Were there agendas by the writers? Let's look at some of the Old Testament writers. Many of the prophets were killed for their writings. If they were willing to face death then theymust have sincerely believed what they had written was truth. There is no valid reason to believe the men who wrote the Bible were lying or trying to deceive. Most of them did not win any accolades, recieve any worldly power or recognition. In fact, whenever someone started getting too big for their britches, God made sure they were humbled and realized who was really in control. (Yes, those kind of stories are in the Bible.) The New Testament particularly shows the character of the writers was beyond reproach. Each of them suffered and were executed because they would not recant. They believed the teachings of the Bible are true and accurate. If their testimony was made up, surely someone would have renounced his stand to save his life, but it did not happen. All the apostles and the writers believed unwaveringly that the Bible was absolute fact. In fact, the New Testament was written by men who were eye-witnesses to Jesus' life, death and resurrection or were written by someone close to the eye-witness and were repeating what the eye-witness told them. In less than 100 years from Christ's death, the entire New Testament was written and if it had contained errors, those, who had known Christ personally and heard his teachings, would have raised a ruckus and refuted it. Instead those books of the New Testament were passed around and copied by hand in order to teach the developing church. Those in the first church were also so confident in the teachings that they were willing to die for them.
"In the Hindu Scriptures it is taught that the earth is set atop the backs of four elephants, who in turn stood on a giant sea-turtle that was swimming through a milky sea. However, Job states, 'He stretches out the North over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.' (26:7) Also, Isaiah mentions that God sits 'above the circle of the earth.' (40:22) The New Testament also records a snatching away of believers. In Luke 17 Jesus talks of a singular event stating that 'two men in one bed; and one will be taken, and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding in the same place; one will be taken, and the other will be left.' These are events that happen at different times of the day, yet Jesus speaks of them as a single instance. Only someone who understands the revolution of a round earth could understand how day and night are relative and one act may affect people in both time frames.
"When Genesis was written, The Greeks were beginning to tell of Apollos' flight across the sky in a flaming chariot. The Egyptians were worshipping the sun as Ra, deifying it. The Mesopotamians referred to the sun as 'Shamosh' and called it the god of justice. Genesis, however, calls the sun 'a light in the expanse of the heavens' and views it as a thing, one created by God. That the Bible does not follow the naiveté of those ancient religions is often overlooked, since modern man is much more knowledgeable in the mechanics of nature. We take for granted that someone touching an infectious person or a corpse should practice good hygiene and wash thoroughly in running water before proceeding to anything else, but this 'discovery' has only been a medical reality for 150 years. The book of Leviticus, though, requires this same procedure. One cannot find ideas as arcane as blood-letting or consuming ram's horn for fertility, or all the other mythical cures for ills that were thought to be science in those days. The Bible is not a science book. It does not focus on scientific facts about the creation, but where it mentions those things, it is accurate in its representation. This is exactly what we'd expect if the Bible had its origin in the One who created the universe and its scientific laws."
Read more: http://www.comereason.org/cmp_rlgn/cmp005.asp#ixzz0mncJwiGT
What about the accusations of men deciding what should be included in the Holy Bible? Couldn't they have an agenda or be mistaken?
The Biblical Canon of Scripture is a set of books considered to be authoritative. The Canon is considered closed meaning books can no longer be added or subtracted from the Bible. Canonical books are considered inspired by God or to express the authoritative history of the relationship between God and His people. There are non-canonical books of the Bible that were considered disputed. These books are called the Apocrypha. Why were they disputed and left out?
Marcion of Sinope was the first well-known heretic in the history of the early church. A heretic is a person who holds religious beliefs in conflict with the accepted dogma of the church. Marcion was the first Christian leader in recorded history to propose and delineate a canon (about 140 AD). Marcion affirmed Jesus Christ as the savior sent by the Heavenly Father, and Paul as His chief apostle. He was in opposition to Judaism. Marcion rejected the entire Hebrew Bible, he also believe in two Gods: 1) Yahweh the creator of the material universe, whose law represented reciprocal justice such as: an eye for an eye:, and 2) the Heavenly Father of the New Testament, of whom Jesus Christ was the living incarnation of, a God of compassion and love, sometimes called the Heavenly Father. The two Gods were imagined as having distinct personalities: Yahweh as a cruel, jealous, a petty tribal deity interested solely in the welfare of the Jews, and the Heavenly Father as a universal God, father and advocate of all humanity who looks upon His children with benevolence and mercy. Because of Marcion's heresy and his canon, Church leaders were forced to look into authorizing some books as orthodox, while others should be condemned as heresy. Marcion's church was a serious rival to the true church until his death. After Marcion, Christian leaders began to divide texts into those that aligned well with the 'measuring stick' of accepted theological thought, and those that promoted heresy. The leaders were hoping to prevent further heresy and stop people from falling into error.
The first major figure to codify the Biblical canon was Origen of Alexandria. He was a scholar well educated in theology and pagan philosophy. Origen decided to make his canon include all of the books in the current Catholic canon except for four books: James, 2nd Peter, and 2nd and 3rd epistles of John. He also included the Shepherd of Hermas which was later rejected. By 200 AD the Muratorian fragment shows that there already existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the New Testament, which included four gospels and argued against objections to them. In 367, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of exactly the same books as what would become the New Testament canon.
The African Synod of Hippo, in 393, was the first time a council of bishops listed and approved a canon of Sacred Scripture that corresponds to the modern Orthodox and Roman Catholic canon. The Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419 were under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed. In 397 they listed the books to be included in the Canon as "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, 4 books of Kingdoms, 2 books of Chronicles, Job, the Davidic Psalter, 5 books of Solomon, 12 books of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, 2 books of Ezra, 2 books of Maccabees, and in the New Testament: 4 books of Gospels, 1 book of Acts of the Apostles, 13 letters of the Apostle Paul, 1 letter of his to the Hebrews, 2 of Peter, 3 of John, 1 of James, 1 of Jude, and one book of the Apocalypse of John." This Canon includes the books of the Apocrypha which are the "disputed books" mentioned above.
Every time one of these conventions of scholars and bishops got together for a council it was to carefully and prayerfully debate important Christian dogmas in order to avoid heresy. These men were highly educated in their fields. They traveled long, dangerous and uncomfortable distances to attend these councils. It's not like taking a jet airplane and staying in air conditioned comfort at the hotels of today. These men did not take these matters lightly but discussed and came to agreement on matters of great weight. I fully believe that they knew the importance of their decisions. But I also know that man can have the best intentions in the world and still make a mess of things so I believe that God was in those councils as well, making sure His Word came through unscathed.
Full dogmatic articulations of the canons were not made until the Council of Trent of 1546 for Roman Catholicism, the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1563 for the Church of England, the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647 for British Calvinism, and the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 for the Greek Orthodox.
What criteria was used to determine what books went into the New Testament?
* Apostolic Origin — attributed to and based upon the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).
* Universal Acceptance — acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the fourth century) as well as accepted canon by Jewish authorities (for the Old Testament).
* Liturgical Use — read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord's Supper (their weekly worship services).
* Consistent Message — containing a theological outlook similar to or complementary to other accepted Christian writings.
What about the Aprocrypha, the disputed books? According to the Luther Bible, "APOCRYPHA, that is, Books which are not to be esteemed like the Holy Scriptures, and yet which are useful and good to read." The learned leaders of the Christian faith did not feel that the Apocrypha books had the same undisputed historicity or authority as the books that were accepted as sacred canon. Therefore, they weren't confident in including them although they seemed to think that they are useful, just not to be totally accepted as divine. The general term is usually applied to the books that the Christian church considered useful but not divinely inspired. They were of questionable authenticity and had obscure authorship, enough so as to make them disputed.
This seems to be a good website for more details:
Here are a list of the books of the Bible and the Apocrypha:
Song of Songs
Additions to Esther*
Wisdom of Solomon
Epistle of Jeremiah
Song of the Three Children**
Story of Susanna**
Bel and the Dragon**
Prayer of Manasseh
*Esther in the Septuagint has six extra paragraphs inserted at various places. In the Vulgate these are all removed to the end of the book. English versions omit them entirely, or remove them to an Apocrypha section.
**Daniel in the Septuagint has The Story of Susanna inserted at the beginning, the Song of the Three Children inserted in chapter 3, and the story of Bel and the Dragon added to the end. In the Vulgate Susanna is moved to before Bel. English versions omit them entirely, or remove them to an Apocrypha section.