We generally accept the bible as the infallible word of God. We proclaim it to be a book without error. A message to mankind written by the very hand of God, men being only the instruments used to pen it. Scholars try to convince us that the bible is a book that we can trust as ‘the word of God’.
To criticize the bible and declare it a book written by mere men is sacrilegious at best. At worst you are an agent of the Devil or, maybe even, the Devil himself. But, is the holy book all that it claims to be? Can we rely on the ‘sacred’ text to dispense to us the absolute words of God?
All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16
The Bible’s Claims
- It can withstand scrutiny.
- It is the inerrant word of God.
- We can rely on it to provide us with historical information which can be collaborated.
- The Old Testament prophesied the Messiah, thereby proving that Jesus was actually the one the Jews were looking for.
- The scriptures as we have them today are as close as any book can get to the original. They have not been tampered with.
- That Jesus and all the other characters are actual historical persons who lived in time and space.
- The books are authored by the very persons whose names the books are ascribed to.
- It is miraculously synchronized and there are no contradictions.
We shall examine each one of these claims, to see if they are able to withstand the litmus test. If in the end, the bible is able to withstand its appearance on the witness stand, then we shall have no choice but to accept its claims as the infallible word of God. Should it not be able to do so, then we will have to reject it as such. It will also mean that all that it testifies to, cannot be accepted as the ‘gospel truth’. Are you ready? Let us begin.
The First Canon of Scriptures
The first canon (authorized version) of scripture was put together by a very successful, rich shipper called Marcion at around the beginning of the 2nd century. Marcion was the son of a bishop and was himself a bishop. What’s more important though, is that Marcion was a Gnostic. Now let me explain.
The first Christians were Gnostic. Gnostics do not believe in a physical Christ. They generally hold the belief that the Christ is a state of being, not a physical entity. So any canon which Marcion would have compiled, would not allude to a physical man named Jesus.
Another interesting tit bit is that Marcion did not accept the God of the Old Testament. He believed him to be a wicked, evil, blood thirsty, vindictive being. In contrast however, he accepts the loving God of the New Testament. To Marcion the Old testament God is the God of the Jews, but certainly not the God Christ represents.
In Marcion’s bible, Paul is the only apostle he accepts, with the addition of a shortened version of the Gospel of Luke (he omitted the first two chapters and others parts) and the book of Acts. He rejects outright the books of the Old Testament. Of the other books of the New Testament, Marcion only accepts twelve. The others he completely rejects.
He cautioned though, that one still had to be careful because it is highly likely that even those writings are tamped with.
The Church’s Response
Now this is where the fun begins. In response to Marcion’s canon, the church then saw the need to develop it’s own. This was compiled by Irenaeus. Ireneaus lived in the second and third centuries. He is the first to insert the gospels of John, Mark and Matthew in the canon, ascribing to them divine inspiration.
He is also the first to name the four gospels and ascribe authors to them. Previous to him the gospels were anonymous. In other words, they were nameless and author less. Stated plainly, we have no idea who wrote the books of the four gospels. It is also important to remember that there were hundreds of texts making the rounds at this time, most of them without the name of the author. Many dating way before the time of Christ.
Now why four gospels and not three or perhaps two or even five for that matter? Well, here is an answer that is sure to surprise you. You see Ireneaus in his great wisdom decided that since there are four cardinal points you need to have four gospels. Yep! That’s it. That How you came to have four gospels.
Image taken from Link
Athanasius Finishes it
The final canon of 27 books is done by Athanasius. It is interesting to note at this point, for many centuries the book of Revelation was rejected by scholars. The reason? They claim that it is pure rubbish. The authorship of the book which is ascribed to John is written in very poor Greek. And does not, in any way, match the style of writing of the author of the Gospel of John. The reason that the church wanted it included however is because it speaks of hell and judgement. Therefore believers would not believe they could live as they chose.
Athanasius, like Ireaneus, was concerned mainly with the propagation of Catholic doctrine and the advancement of the Catholic church, not the integrity of ‘the word of God’. Here is what the Catholic encyclopedia has to say of Athanasius:
Athanasius was the greatest champion of Catholic belief …that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of “Father of Orthodoxy”, by which he has been distinguished ever since.
Now my friend having read this so far, are you still convinced that this is actually ‘the word of God’ given to us by God’s very hand? Even if you have not been moved, this is only the beginning. The real excitement is yet to come. Look out for part two next week as we shall continue to explore the sacred text.
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