Friday, November 9, 2012

The Birth of the Christian Bible

We have several weeks looking at "Messiah" - (the Christ)
         1)  the expected Messiah
         2) the surprise Messiah - Matt. 1:21  Luke 19:10
        3) the acceptance of this Messiah  (Christianity, the church)

Last week - Spreading the Word that  A.  Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ
                                     and.....           B.  in Him is found forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation

As the gospel spread and Christianity grew, there developed a written document that has influenced the world more than any other writings .... before or since - ie.  the New Testament

Question:  What Bible did the Apostles use??? the first Christians???  - Answer: They probably didn't.  They had the Old Testament scroll(s) - individual, extremely valuable - there were no books as we know books. and when did the New Testament develop??

Stages of Development:
Began with the Letters of Paul - 1 Cor. 1:1-3  Gal. 1:1-2  (churches - plural)
Also, Peter, James, John, Jude
These were read, circulated, copied for circulation - 1 Thess. 5:27

Then followed the Gospels, Acts - story form (history)
example:  Luke 1:1-4 then the sequel - Acts 1:1-2 (a)

Finally, Revelation (around AD 90 or so) - Rev. 21:5

 Expanded..... 1st. Century (death of Christ to AD 100) - written, copied, circulated

                      2nd. Century - 1) cited as authoritative!
Examples:  "it is written" - Matt. 22:14
                 "as it says in these scriptures" - Eph. 4:26

                                            2) translated into various languages, (therefore more widely distributed)

                     3rd. Century - the various "book" being collected and compiled in One book
(beginning of Codex (book) form ... Christians were the first to use this form widely!!)

                     4th. Century - formal Canonization (these were the books that one divinely inspired) - Council of Carthage - 397 AD - "aside from the canonical Scriptures nothing is tho be read in church under the Name of Divine Scriptures."   If it's call scripture, it must be from the Scriptures.
Then it was even more extensively translated, copied, and circulated .....

The Result???

Today we have 5800 surviving Greek manuscripts (ie: hand-copied scrolls, Codex)
plus.. 10,000 Latin manuscripts - handwritten
plus .. thousands of manuscripts from other languages (Coptic, Syrian, Arabic, Slavonic...)

The point being:  we have well over 20,000 hand copied manuscripts of the New Testament (not all complete) that pre-date the printing press (1439) - Johannes Gutenberg's movable type printing press

Note:  the New Testament remains today - the most printed, translated, circulated, owned, recognized book in history!!

Next Question?  How was it determined which books would be included in the New Testament Canon of 27?  There were a LOT of writings out there.
CANON:  rule, measuring stick, therefore the writings that measure up, make the grade

And... By which we measure!  (Standard)
        A.  Note:  it was a process
        B.  the process partly spurred on by heresy, heretics - Example:  Marcion - AD 140/Rome - put together his own canon because he disagreed with the church.
These situations led to the church leaders making official, formal, in depth examinations - decisions - declarations.

Criteria for a book to be considered scripture:
#1. Apostolic Origin - which means either
         A)  written by an Apostle - Matthew, John, Romans, I & II Peter
or      B)  written under the immediate direction and sanction of an Apostle - Mark (wrote for Peter),  Luke (wrote for Paul), Acts

#2.  Reception by the Primitive Church - very 1st. one - they were there, they knew the Apostles
(note Peter's recognition of Paul's scripture) - 2 Pet. 3:15-16

#3.  Compatibility of Doctrine (or teachings)
especially:  in relation to the un-contested books
(therefore:  there were issues with Hebrews, especially Chapters 6 & 10) BUT the early church recognized
Paul as the author!)

This is how they determined which books were included in the New Testament Canon.

So then ... what was the Early Church's view of New Testament Scripture?   What became the Orthodox view?)
(Greek/Latin ortho = right/correct    doxa= opinion/belief) = Orthodox - proper belief system

#1.  It was inspired - ie;  of divine origin/from God
2 Tim. 3:16 - God breathed out
Heb. 1:1-2

#2.  It was received - Receptus (came from God and they simply received it) vs. formulated/discovered
2 Pet. 1:20-21

#3.  It was Authoritative - Sola Scripture (Scripture alone) - This is God's Word on the subject

#4.  dependable (reliable/trustworthy/without error)

#5.  practical - 2 Tim. 3:16-17 (useful, functional)
#6.  Effective - 1 Thess. 2:13

Application:  3 Questions

1.  What is your view of the New Testament? - it's source, authority, it's reliability? - Belief

2.  What is your knowledge of the New Testament? - to believe it is inspired yet ignore its content ...???  Heb. 2:1  - Knowledge      
The amount of Christian ignorance of Scripture is astounding.

3.  Do you live according to the New Testament?  - Practice - Eph. 4:1

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