TTP – Session 5 Group Questions

19 09 2006

[original posted in the TTP forums which can be found here.]

1. Discuss again the importance that we have the right canon?

The “right” canon will always be a controversial topic. The OT and NT canon is the inspired word of God. It has the authority of the LORD and is determined solely by Him. Practicing believers read, study, memorize and practice Scripture contained in the canon. If the canon is wrong, our ideologies may be wrong. I am a firm believer that we have a fallible collection of infallible writings. Does that mean that I need to alter my faith because there are other writings that should be included? No. The historicity and the instructions of salvation are the key to the canon.

2. Are all books of the canon equally important? Do you think that you would ever have noticed if 3 John did not make “the cut”?

Another tricky question. Important, yes. Application to current situation, perhaps not. The example of Philemon given in the video illustrates that point precisely. While I don’t know that I would comment on 3 John specifically, I don’t believe that I would have noticed if any one book was excluded. In my mind, if that book was not included that was because God felt the canon sufficient without the book. He can accomplish His purposes with or without selected books in the canon.

3. Further discuss the importance of the early acceptance of the Gospels and the Pauline corpus.

Acceptance allowed for a clear, concise and consistent message. This message became the foundation for the unity of the Church. Then, and now, debates over controversial topics creates problems. Paul addressed these problems in the Pauline corpus allowing people in the first century (and continuing into the 21st century) to know the Word of the LORD.

4. Can you think of any essential doctrine that is not dealt with in the Gospels and the Pauline corpus? How is this significant?

I cannot think of any essential doctrine that isn’t covered. I would be surprised if Romans doesn’t cover every essential doctrine alone! This is significant for several reasons:

  • unity – again, unity in the Church is key! Christians do not need to be arguing over matters of doctrine — they should be witnessing to others!
  • uniform – the Scripture is not changing. The message is the same 2000 years ago as it is today. All one has to do is read the Scripture to find the answers to questions. The Bible is constantly changing to adapt to the modern society. The doctrines would become more blurry as the message became corrupted.

5. Are you more or less confident about the canon of Scripture after this lesson? Explain.

I am more confident based on the sources that give validity to their acceptance. From an OT perspective, the controversy mostly circles around the Apocrypha, the Gospel of Thomas, etc. While I have not read these works, I would imagine that the message of salvation through Christ alone is not altered. The information around the NT was much more affirming to me beliefs. There seems to be solid evidence from all sources that the NT testament is fairly well accepted. As I understand more how other’s reference this text, that helps to strengthen my confidence.

6. How does your view of the providence and sovereignty of God affect this study?

God is able to accomplish His plans through whatever means. I am confident that He enabled the current Bible to be constructed with the books we have included today. If the Apocrypha or other works were meant to be included, He would have made that happen. He is control of every situation and ensures that things happen precisely the way He wants them to happen. That is extremely reassuring!

7. How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?

The biggest impact to me from this lesson is my ability to present this information to others. It has challenged me to think about how I can take this knowledge and share it with others so that they may be equipped to explain to others why we, as believers, have the hope that we have.


TTP – Canonization of Scripture (New Testament)

18 09 2006

Canon is a term describing the collection of books called Scripture.

Whether the canon is closed or not is an argumentative point; however, for sake of argument, I hold to the view that the canon is currently closed. God has the ability to open that back up whenever He desires though. As is, the message of salvation has been captured and there is no need for further Scriptures to validate God or Christ’s message.

If you are interested in the Old Testament canonization notes, please refer to this link.

Development of the NT Canon

The Scripture was authored (Formation) between AD 40 and (roughly) AD 100. The NT Scripture was then recognized (Recognized) between AD 100 and AD 300. The Scripture was then declared (Declaration) between AD 300 and AD 400.

Formation Period (AD 40 – AD 100)

  1. NT presents words of the apostles as being on par with that of God (2 Thes 2:15, 1 Cor 14:37, Gal 1:8-9, 1 Thes 2:13). Did the apostles know that they were writing Scripture? While they were speaking with the authority of the Lord, they most likely didn’t realize they were writing the letter assuming people would be reading the letter hundreds (even thousands) of years later.
  2. NT attests to the acceptance of other NT books as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16, 1 Tim 5:18, Rev 1:3)Are there books that are more application to our situation today than other books? Certainly. Romans as compared to Philemon, as an example. The books still carry the same authority, but they do not have the same application in modern day society.

Recognition Period (AD 100 – AD 300)

  1. Writings of early church fathers attest to the acceptance of many NT books
    • Quote them as Scripture
    • Draw a clear distinction between writings and that of Scripture
    • Marcion (c. 140), a Gnostic heretic, created his own canon — created a “different” view that was not accepted
    • Important because early church fathers were close to Christ (less important) and they were discipled by the apostles. They also set precedence (similar to a George Washington situation).
  2. Origen (185-254 AD) writes commentaries on many of the NT books commenting on their inspiration.
  3. Muratorian Canon (170 AD) attests to the canonization of all NT books except Hebrews, James, and 1 & 2 Peter.

Declaration Period (AD 300 – AD 400)

  1. Diocletian persecutions (c. 302-305) — Christians were killed for possession of Scriptures
  2. Eusibius (fourth century Church historian) speaks about condition of canon. Agreed upon books were Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Letters of Paul (including Hebrews), 1 Peter, 1 John and Revelation (Homologoumena). Mostly agreed upon books, but controversial to some were James, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John and Jude (Antilogomena). Books that were not agreed upon where Acts of Paul, the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas (Pseudepigrapha).
  3. Athanasius (fourth century bishop of Alexandria) affirms the 27 books of NT (AD 367).
  4. Council of Hippo (AD 393) and Council of Carthage (AD 397) both affirmed canon of NT.

Translation Theories

  • Formal equivalence (word for word)
  • Dynamic equivalence (thought for thought)
  • Paraphrase

All translations are interpretations. The language does not translate word for word so every translation will have some level of interpretation (e.g. the “long nose” of the Lord instead of the anger of the Lord).

Study Bibles are closer to the original. The more literal translations, instead of the paraphrasing translations, are “better” for studying the Bible and memorizing Scripture. We should study (and memorize) the text closest to the original content.

A good site to read for more information can be found here.

TTP – Canonization of Scripture (Old Testament)

29 08 2006

(information is gathered from the theology program)

Lit. “rule” or “measuring rod”.  Refers to the accepted books of the Old and New Testaments.

Canon is a descriptive word to describe what the accepted books are in the Bible.  There is no closing implied in Scripture.  The canon is simply the books that we need to be equipped in the age that we are in.

Is the canon closed?  Could God add to the canon?  God can do whatever He wants.  Scripture states that no one should take away or add to this word but it is talking about the closing of that book, not of the Bible as a whole.  Otherwise, we would have to stop the Bible at Deuteronomy and Proverbs.

Facts Concerning the Canon

  1. Prophetic nature and Apostolicity comprises canonicity.
  2. The body of Christ recognizes the canon.
  3. God alone determines canonicity.

Old Testament Canon
Christ never mentioned anything about the canonicity of the Old Testament.  If there was truly debate on the topic, Jesus would have cleared up confusion.

Five Tests for Canonicty of OT
1.  Does the New Testament attest to its authority?
    Luke 24:44
    Matthew 7:12
2.  Do extra biblical Jewish writers affirm them?
    Babylonian Talmud
    Philo (Jewish writer from Alexandria (or Egypt)) attests to a closed threefold division of the OT (Law, Psalms and Prophets)
      Council of Jammia (AD 90)
3.  Is the book consistent with other revelation?
    Does it contain any inconsistencies?
    Does it contain any contradictions?
4.  Was it written by a prophet or someone of divine authority?

5.  Did Christ attest to its authority?
    “Since Jesus is the Messiah, God in human flesh, He is the final matter on all matters.  He had the divine authority to endorse all Scripture or only some of it.  He universally affirmed all Scripture, in every part, as the divine Word of God” — Don Stewart, The Ten Wonders of the Bible (Orange, CA; Dart Press, 1990), pg 123

The Apocrypha
: Lit. “Hidden writings.”  This describes the group of writings, mostly written in Greek during the intertestamental period (400–100 B.C.) that are contained in the Christian Septuagint and Latin Vulgate and accepted by Roman Catholics and some Eastern Orthodox as Scripture, but rejected by Jews and evangelical Protestants.

Protocanonical: Lit. “first canon.” In contrast to the deuterocanonical books, refers to the books of the Old Testament that have always been accepted by all as Scripture.  The books we have in the OT are protocanonical.

Pseudepigrapha: Refers to rejected books that are falsely attributed to an author (e.g., The Apocalypse of Peter, Gospel of Thomas).

Arguments for its inclusion:

  1. These works were included in the LXX (BC 300-150) from which the NT writers often quoted.  Paul quoted from the LXX many times. 
  2. Several apocryphyal works were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  3. Early Christians reflect some knowledge of the books.
  4. Certain early Church farthers used them authoritateively (quoting as Scripture)
  5. Many official Church counsels included them as part of the Scripture (Rome 382, Carthage 393, Hippo 397).
  6. Martin Luther deleted it from the canon in the 16th century because it contained elements of theology he didn’t agree with.

Response to the argument for its inclusion:

  1. It is disputed where the books were included in the LLX for many reasons: earliest copies were not copied until 4th century; three existing copies of LLX do not agree; Philo did not mention th Apocrypha but quotes from LLX (he lived in Alexandria).
  2. Many works were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls which are not canonical.
  3. Knowledge of a work does not make it authoritative.
  4. Quoted does not mean the work was inspired and accepted as Scripture.
  5. Hippo, Rome, and Carthage were all North African or Roman local church councils that did not have the authority to declare the canon.  St. Augustine accepted much of the Apocrypha.  He had huge influence on these locations.  This explains their acceptance.
  6. Martin Luther rejected the Apocrypha just like many others.  He did not introduce this.  There was no official “infallible” declaration on the canon by Rome (at the Council of Trent) until after Martin Luther rejected them.

Arguments for their exclusion:

  1. NT never directly quotes from any apocryphal books as Scripture.
  2. Palestinian Jews (those who lived in Israel) never accepted the deuterocanonical books.  Christ did not recognize them.
  3. Significant theological and historical inaccuracies.
  4. Apocrypha itself assets to the absense of the prophets in its own time.
  5. Books were in dispute for so long and held to secondary status that it would be problematic to say that they contain the voice of God since most people did not recognize them to be His voice.

TTP – Transmission of Scripture

26 08 2006

Basic Facts:

  • OT was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic (portions of Ezra and Daniel) from 1500 to 400 BC
  • NT was originally written in Kolae Greek from years 40 to 100 BC
  • Do not have any original writings (autographs or autographa)
  • All transmissions were hand written until invention of the printing press
  • Most readily available materials were stone, papyri, parchment.   In 2nd century BC, codex was developed
  • Few manuscripts of OT that date before 900AD
  • Transmission was extremely difficult

Textual Criticism

  • Definition: science of reconstructing the original text of the Scriptures based on available manuscript evidence
  • Applies to all historical documents (Plato, Socrates, Confucius, etc.)
  • There were over 300,000 copyist errors, or variants, in the NT alone
  • Variant is defined as one text disagreeing with another text
  • 99% of the variants do not impact theology
  • Of the 1% that do impact theology none affect major doctrine
  • Vulgate was considered the only inerrant text by many; KJV by others
  • Unintentional errors:  mistaken letter, homophony (substitution of similar-sounding words), dittography (letter or word that was written twice rather than once), fusion (incorrect division of words (GODISNOWHERE)), homoioteleuton (omission caused by two words that have similar endings), and metathesis (reversal of order of two words: Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus)
  • Intentional errors: changes in grammar or spelling and modernization of language (Genesis 47:11 – city of Rameses), harmonization (scribe felt at liberty to change apparent discrepancies (Lk 23:38 and John 19:19 — “this is Jesus — King of the Jews)), theological changes and/or additions (1 John 5:7-8 — doctrine of Trinity) and liturgical additions (Matthew 6:13 – Lords prayer “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”)

Basic Principles of Textual Criticism:

  • Shorter reading is normally preferred
  • Harder reading is normally preferred
  • Earlier occurrence of the variant gives credence to its validity
  • Wider distribution of the variant gives credence to its validity

Transmission of the Old Testament

Two primary factors we look for:

  1. How close do our copies come to the original?
  2. How many copies do we have?

Four different manuscripts:

  1. Ben Asser Family (9th and 10th century, Masoretic family of scribes): Cairo Codex (Codex C in AD 950), Leningrad Codex (Codex P written in AD 916), Alppo manuscript (Codex A written before AD 940)
  2. Septuagint (LXX): Greek translation of the OT translated around 300-150 BC (earliest copy AD 400)
  3. Targums: Aramaic paraphrases of the OT after AD 200
  4. Dead Sea Scrolls:  found in 1948; contained copies or portions of every book in OT expect Esther; includes full copy of Isaiah dating 135-200 BC

When comparing DSS and Codex Leningrad, almost identical text.  This gives huge weight to the Leningrad Codex based on consistency of text between Codex and DSS.

Masorites: group of scribes who carried on the meticulous transmission process of the standardized text from AD 500 to 1100 AD.

Transmission of the New Testament

Three types of evidence:

  1. Original Greek Manuscripts
    • John Ryland Papyri (125 AD)
    • Codex Sinaiticus (350 AD)
    • Codex Vaticanus (350 AD)

  2. Early Church Fathers
    • Commentaries, dairies, books, letters, etc.
    • Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertillian, etc.
    • John Burgeon catalogued over 86,000 quotations before AD 325

  3. Translations
    • 15,000 copies
    • 25,000 handwritten copies of NT

    Sinaiticus is the is the most reliable NT Codex and includes the entire NT.

    TTP – B&H – Session 2 Discussion Questions

    25 08 2006

    1.  Read Jude 1:3; 1 Cor. 11:2; and 2 Thess. 2:15. Knowing that the traditions spoken of in the New Testament are simply summaries of the Gospel that have been passed on from one person to another, do sermons in evangelistic crusades and Sunday sermons qualify for traditions? Explain.

    The Word still speaks to people.  Sunday sermons, evangelistic crusades, etc. all fit into the context of 2 Thes. 2:15 which states:

    So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by
    our letter.

    Traditions have been taught to us by spoken word or by letter, inspired by the Lord.

    2.  Why do you think Roman Catholics find it so attractive to have a living authority other than Scripture that authoritatively pronounces on matters of faith and morals? 

    Any topic of debate can be resolved.  Papal authority allows there to be no room for dispute.  A matter of dispute is quickly resolved within the Church because the Pope has that authority.  It also means that interpretation isn’t left to the individual (which is fallible and could misunderstand/misinterpret).  The Pope is the ultimate authority on earth concerning the interpretation of Scripture. 

    What is the danger of this?

    The Pope is fallible just like me.  He could misunderstand something in the Scriptures because his emotions, his experiences, his traditions are affected his regula fide.  The Pope then decrees something to the entire Church which they are to believe in and obey.  Even though it may be counter-Scriptural (such as salvation by works).

    3. (Advanced question) Roman Catholic apologists often accuse Protestants of holding to the “novel” doctrine of sola Scriptura which was not known until the sixteenth-century. Is this true? Explain. 

    Protestants practiced the doctrine of sola Scriptura but it was not called that until later in history.  In the 16th century, the Protestants provided clarity around sola Scriptura so as to remove confusion and discussion among the believers.

    An “anachronistic fallacy” is when one demands that someone find or enforce a contemporary articulation of an idea, term, or concept upon people of earlier times.  How do Roman Catholics commit this fallacy when they 1) interpret the word “tradition” in Scripture and the early Church fathers and 2) when they demand that Protestants find an articulation of sola Scriptura in Scripture or the early Church fathers?

    The Roman Catholics look at the word “tradition” as meaning those behaviors, actions and beliefs handed down from the early Church fathers.  Reformers would think of tradition as the Gospels handed down by the Apostles to their disciples and from them to their disciples, etc. 

    4. How have you been frustrated by the practical disunity in the Protestant Church today?

    There are several topics that come to mind as causing disunity in the Church:

    • Women as teachers/leaders
    • Choice of God or election
    • Abiltiy to fall from grace
    • Worship music
    • Eschatology as a whole 🙂

    5. Do you think that this disunity needs to be solved? If so, how would you suggest the Protestant Church create unity, and how absolute should this unity be?

    I don’t believe it has to be solved.  What has to be addressed is the disunity in the Church.  Disagreement and difference of opinions is healthy.  It becomes a discussion of separation that becomes the problem.  The Church should look their doxology and agree and align on the essentials.  Those non-essentials should be stated as such and left for friendly discussion but not topics to separate the Church or the purpose of the Church.

    6. Do you believe that the doctrine of sola Scriptura has been abused in the
    Protestant church? Give examples.

    Abused may not be the right word.  I am sure that there are plenty of situations where sola Scriptura has been abused by simply forcing it down people’s in a polemic way instead of irenic. Specifics would have to be around the use of solo Scriptura where people believed that there was nothing besides the Scripture.

    7. Do you believe that the Bible supports the sola Scriptura theory or the dualsource theory more?

    There are several Scriptures that I find hard to reconcile with dual-source.  I believe the Bible supports sola Scriptura based on some of these key passages:

    • 2 Tim. 3:14-17
    • Deut 4:2
    • Rev 22:18-19

    8. How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?

    It opened my eyes to why people would think that there are more options than sola Scriptura.  The dual-source theory or sola Ecceslia has some decent Scriptural arguments.  However, I believe that the evidence presented in the Bible supports sola Scriptura.  I also broadened my personal perspectives on traditions and what constitutes a tradition in the history of the Church.

    Sola Scriptura – Sola Scriptura Argument

    21 08 2006

    (information is gathered from the theology program)

    Sola Scriptura — belief that the Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice

    Point #1: Scripture implicitly and explicitly speak of its sufficiency
    Scripture to support:

    • 2 Tim 3:14-17 – Scripture sufficient for salvation, sanctification and uniquely God-breathed; tradition is never mentioned
    • Psalm 119 – Scriptures presented as totally sufficient in all matters pertaining to instruction, training and correction; no mention of tradition
    • Acts 17:10-11 – Jews at Berea were open minded and examined the Scriptures carefully, not traditions

    Point #2: Scripture explicitly states that no one should take away from the Word of God.
    Scriptures to support:

    Westminister Catechism states that everything is included in scripture or may be deduced from scripture; however, nothing is to be added by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men.

    Point #3: “Vicar of Christ” (or the Magisterium) is going to speak on behalf of Christ, they must show signs of one who speaks for God as prescribed in Scripture.
    Scriptures to support:

    • Deut 18:20-22
    • 2 Cor. 12:12 – Signs of an apostle were performed among people with great perseverance by signs and wonders and powerful deeds

    It is very serious to speak on behalf of God.  This is a major deal.  That is heresy.

    Point #4: Scriptures speak explicitly against the “traditions of men” as misleading or opposing God’s Word.
    Scriptures to support:

    Point #5: Early & early medieval church supported unarticulated and undeveloped doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
    Sources to support:

    • Irenaeus (ca. 150) – Against Heresies 3.1.1
    • Clement of Alexandra (d. 215) – The Stromata, 7:16
    • Gregory of Nyssa ( 395) – “On the Holy Trinity,” NPNF, p.327
    • Athanasius (c.296-373) – Against the Heathen, 1:3
    • Basil the Great (ca. 329-379) – On the Holy Spirit, 7.16
    • Ambrose (AD 340-397) – On the Duties of the Clergy, 1:23:102
    • St. Augustine (AD 354-430) – De unitate ecclesiae, 10
    • Thomas Aquinas (AD 1225-1274) – Summa Theologiae, Question 1, art. 8

    Point #6: By the process of eliminiation, one must come to the conclusion that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority available to us.

    What sola Scriptura does not mean?

    • No other sources of authority in the life of a Christian
    • Each Christian is an autonomous interpreter
    • Tradition is not valuable
    • No institutional authority

    Sola Scriptura – Sola Eccelsia argument

    21 08 2006

    (information is gathered from the theology program)

    Sola Ecclesia — belief that the Roman Catholic Church is infallible and equal to Scripture as a basis for doctrine

    Point #1: Scriptures say that there were other things Christ did that weren’t written down
    Scripture to support:

    Scripture contains sufficient information to bring an individual to salvation and to live a life in Christ.  It does not contain all information of Christ.

    Scripture to dispute:

    Note: Initially, Pope of Roman Catholic Church did not begin creating Papal bulls until 13th century.  Before then, he did not have this authority. 

    Point #2: NT speak about importance of tradition
    Scripture to support

    The traditions that Paul was referencing was the gospels or the regula fidei.  Canon was pretty much solidified around 150 AD.  Not because an infallible authority came in and declared it, but because people recognized the Word of God. 

    Point #3: Christ gave infallible authority to the Church and the apostles
    Scripture to support

    • John 20:23: apostolic succession – not only did Apostles replace themselves, they replaced themselves with another Apostle (with authority)
    • Matthew 18:18
    • Matthew 16:17-19: Peter confesses Christ as the Son of God; established as “the rock”

    Who knew Christ better?  John or us?  John because he had a direct relationship with Christ.  John discipled a man named Polycarp.  Who knew more about Christ — Polycarp or us?  What Polycarp wrote was accurate, meaningful and important.  It doesn’t mean that he knew more or less.  He have additional data that Polycarp did not have; Polycarp had more details than we have.  Irenaeus was discipled by Polycarp.  Who knew more about Christ — Irenaeus or us?

    We, as believers, being in apostolic succession because we believe that we are still teaching and practicing the tradition which was the gospel (similar to giving oldest child the ability to babysit younger siblings, but they are not a parent). 

    There is no explicit or implicit teaching that authority was passed on through apostolic succession.  To find doctrine of infallible apostolic succession must be eisegetical theology (reading your theology into the text rather than deriving your theology).

    The Great Schism occurred in 1054 which was an argument over papal authority.   The theory of papal infallibility can’t be found in the Church until 1870.

    Point #4: Without the infallible declaration of the Church, there would be no way of knowing what books belong in the canon of Scripture.

    There is not an inspired “table of contents”.  We look for a recognition which produces moral certainty (evidence is overwhelming).  An example of something similar would be that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. 

    Point #5: Without the infallible authority of the Church, there would be major division on matters of doctrine and morals.
    Scripture to support:

    Christ did not pray for organizational unity but functional unity (baptism by the Holy Spirit into one body).  Catholicism is just one denomination among thousands.