Can You Trust The Bible? (Final Part) - Bible Verses and Quotes

Sermons & Study MaterialCan You Trust The Bible? (Final Part)

Can You Trust The Bible? (Final Part)

Old Testament

As for what books of the Old Testament should be in the Bible, throughout history, there has been little to no debate about this among rabbis. Starting from the Old Testament times, they recognized the messengers of God and accepted their writings as inspired by him. [34]

For the first 300 years or so after the death of Jesus, Christians commonly accepted the same Old Testament writings that the Jews by and large have always accepted. However, today’s Roman Catholic Bible differs from the Protestant Bible as it has seven additional books [35]

—some of which support distinctive Roman Catholic teachings such indulgences [36]

and praying for the dead. [37]

These additional books are called Apocrypha. [38]

This name alone should be a reason for pause. Apocrypha is Latin and means “of doubtful and/or unknown origin.” [39]

The first person to use this term for these doubtful books was the great scholar Jerome. [40]

Pope Damascus I selected Jerome to translate a Latin Bible (The Vulgate) for the Church around 400 A.D. and his translation still influences the Roman Catholic Bible of today. [41]

Jerome, who was the most recognized biblical language scholar at the time, initially maintained the apocryphal books never were and should not be included in the Old Testament Canon. However, the church leadership in Rome, —which didn’t have Jerome’s qualifications in Hebrew nor Jewish culture—insisted that the apocrypha be included. [42]

Jerome fell in line, even though, based on his research and knowledge of Hebrew and manuscripts, his strong initial conclusion had been that these books had not been held as canonical by the Jews nor should they be. [43]

Although Jerome did translate these questionable books, he was the first to use the word apocrypha in the sense of non-canonical books.

The Catholic Encyclopedia attempts to explain Jerome’s stance:

“The inferior rank to which the deuteros [Apocrypha] were relegated by authorities like Origen, Athanasius, and Jerome, was due to too rigid a conception of canonicity, one demanding that a book, to be entitled to this supreme dignity, must be received by all, must have the sanction of Jewish antiquity, and must moreover be adapted not only to edification, but also to the ‘confirmation of the doctrine of the Church’, to borrow Jerome’s phrase.” [44]

Yes, well said Jerome. I wish the leaders would have listened to you.

It should be noted that the Bible of the Roman Catholics today, the New Jerusalem Bible, uses the Hebrew Masoretic source text of the Old Testament as its primary source. This text does not include any apocryphal books. The Roman Catholic leadership seems to trust the Hebrew text for its textual content, but not for the books it rejects, a peculiar if not contradictory position to have. [45]

The Apocryphal books can be useful. Although their canonicity has been shrouded with uncertainty throughout history, [46]

many Hebrew scholars and Church Fathers have regarded some as valuable historical and religious works at a lower level than the Old Testament books. Similarly, I can write a biblically accurate sermon containing some historical facts, but that doesn’t mean my writings should be included in the Bible.

Conclusion

The Bible is the best attested ancient book, with an overwhelming number of manuscript sources. Skeptics can go online and compare today’s Bible to one that’s certified more than 1,600 years old by secular scientists.

The New Testament books can’t be counted as fictional stories or legends. They were written too close to events they describe when eyewitnesses were alive. The content is way too self-defeating for the authors’ wanting to gain a following and power—women witnesses; a weak, lame, crucified, criminal god; flawed leaders who were crazy enough to be tortured to death rather than “coming clean” about their alleged fabrications.

The self-authenticating model of the Canon guarantees the Bible contains the right books. A book was included in the Bible if it was:

  1. Meant by God to be in the Bible;
  2. Produced by a prophet (Old Testament), apostle, or their associate (New Testament);
  3. Accepted by God’s people at large as they recognized his voice in the book.;

The objection of some skeptics that they, not Christians, should be deciding what goes in the Bible, is contradictory. It’s kind of like saying Buddhists should be deciding what text to include in the Islamic Koran. Furthermore, the Bible says the sheep of Jesus hear his voice and the unbeliever does not understand spiritual things. Non-believers are about as qualified to judge what books should go into the Bible as a tone-deaf person is qualified to judge a singing contest.

The question is, are you hearing the voice of Jesus? He has asked you a question that will determine how you spend eternity. His question is, “Who do you say I am?”, and he gives you two choices:

  1. Accept him as God, Lord, and savior;
  2. Dismiss him as a lunatic;

He hasn’t left you a third option. He has closed that escape route. Jesus doesn’t leave us the option of choosing neutrality or some middleground. We can’t pick the politically correct way and say, “Jesus was a moral teacher, a man worth imitating, but he wasn’t God.”

The problem is Jesus said he was God. That’s why the Jews wanted him dead and got him crucified. In their eyes, he was guilty of blasphemy. [47]

If Jesus spoke the truth, then we should pay attention. If he wasn’t God, yet claimed he was, what does that make him? A crazy person, a lunatic who belongs to a mental hospital!

If Jesus was not God, then he’s either a liar, crazy, or both, and we shouldn’t pay attention to what he nor his followers said. Christianity and the Bible either stands or falls on this unique claim of Jesus: his deity.

“Who do you say I am”

What will you answer?

Sources:

34 https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tanakh;;https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hebrew-Bible

35 http://www.ncregister.com/blog/darmstrong/how-to-defend-the-deuterocanon-or-apocrypha

36 https://www.catholic.com/tract/primer-on-indulgences

37 https://www.catholicjournal.us/2016/11/02/maccabees-prayers-dead/

38 https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/Intertestamental-literature#ref73333

39  According to Catholic.com, Roman Catholic theologians and exegetes today prefer to use the term “deuterocanonical”, second canon (deuteros, “second”), a term coined after the reformation, to describe these additional books. In turn, tThe books that “have always been received by Christendom without dispute” are called “protocanonical”, first canon, books (protos, “first”), https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/canon-of-the-holy-scriptures

40  https://www.britannica.com/topic/apocrypha

41  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jerusalem_Bible#Sources

42  In 1943 Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, requires Bible interpreters and translators to have familiarity with the original languages and other cognate languages, the study of ancient codices, papyrus fragments of the text, and textual criticism’s application to them “to insure that the sacred text be restored as perfectly as possible, be purified from the corruptions due to the carelessness of the copyists and be freed, as far as may be done, from glosses and omissions, from the interchange and repetition of words and from all other kinds of mistakes, which are wont to make their way gradually into writings handed down through many centuries”.[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Bible

43  Jerome, in his prologue to the apocryphal book Judith, writes: “…But because this book is found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures, I have acquiesced to your request.” Edgecomb, Kevin P., 5 August 2006, “Jerome’s Prologue to Judith”, Biblicalia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterocanonical_books#Influence_of_Jerome

44  Reid, G (1908), “Canon of the Old Testament”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 3, New York: Robert Appleton Company (retrieved from New Advent)

45  One defense Roman Catholics use for the inclusion of these books is they were included in the Septuagint. Yet, the Roman Catholics declared some books of the Septuagint non-canonical, such as the Prayer of Manasseh. Their appeal to the Septuagint as a standard is inconsistent. Furthermore, no two Septuagint codices contain the same apocrypha, and the three earliest manuscripts of the LXX show uncertainty regarding which books constitute the list of apocrypha. Codex Vaticanus (B) lacks 1–4 Maccabees but includes 1 Esdras while Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) omits Baruch, but includes 4 Maccabees. The protocanonical books are always included. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterocanonical_books.

46  Since they were not regarded as authoritative by the Jews, they had to gain recognition from segments of the Greek-speaking church, and these books became incorporated into the Greek and Latin Bibles. However, there is no evidence the Septuagint had a canon. No two early Greek manuscripts agree which apocrypha are included in the Septuagint, and not all included are accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, in the Latin Church, throughout the Middle Ages, there is evidence of hesitation on the character of the deuterocanonicals. One is favorable. The other unfavorable to their authority and sacredness. Between the two are those whose veneration for these books is tempered by some perplexity on their standing, and among those is St. Thomas Aquinas. Few acknowledge their canonicity. The prevailing attitude of Western medieval authors is that of the Greek Fathers. Lightfoot, Neil R., How We Got the Bible, p. 169, 2010.

47  Matt. 26:25



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