4 Aug 2008

Apocryphal Myths: Great is the Truth and Mighty above all Things

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Apocrypha, Bible, Church History, Exegesis, Hebrew Bible, Jewish Backgrounds, Ministry, Preaching

Introduction

See also my post Book of Judith: God Saves Through a Woman and Susanna: Legendary Woman on the Family.  See also The Apocrypha: Reading Between the Testaments.

At the outset let it be stated that some will read this post and wish I had not written it. They will scratch their heads and perhaps wring their hands in frustration. Yet frustration at misinformation (perpetuated often for polemical reasons) and candor moves me to share a few things for the sake of truth. The above quote appears on the masthead of Alexander Campbell’s Millennial Harbinger and did so for years. It is a direct quote from the book known as 1 Esdras 4.35 in the King James Version, “therefore great is the truth, and stronger than all things.”  Interestingly AC never identifies it as such but I have no doubt he knew where it was from.

Using a bad argument ultimately undermines truth. Using it often does more harm than good, branding one as ignorant or as dishonest. I was referred to a Protestant apologist’s speech on YouTube and did my own head shaking. Not because I necessarily agree with Roman Catholicism (and I don’t) but because the information was distorted and incomplete at best. We as Christians are Children of Truth. As 1 Esdras correctly declares “Great is the truth and stronger than all things” (NRSV). A myth can be a great legendary and edifying story like the Gilgamesh Epic or a myth can be nothing short of the perpetuation of prejudicial lies when some one is more interested in winning an argument than in the pursuit of Truth. Sometimes truth, real Truth, is more complex than what debaters imagine it to be. Here are a few major Protestant Apocryphal Myths …

Persistent Myths

1) That these are Roman Catholic books. It is almost to obvious to state but sometimes we must. These books were not written by an Roman Catholic all were written by Jews prior to the advent of Christianity (the possible exception to this is 2 Esdras). Click on the Apocrypha Time Line above to see how the dates of Apocryphal books overlap with the last books of the canonical Hebrew Bible (there are dates that can be argued but most scholars assent to these dates). It should also be understood that the early Church did not add these books so much as inherit them.

2) The books of Apocrypha were not written in Hebrew. There is simply no basis for this charge. In fact all of the Apocryphal books were written either in Hebrew or Aramaic except Wisdom of Solomon and 2 Maccabees. And language does not prove or disprove anything here. Both Ezra and Daniel have Aramaic rather than Hebrew portions (with Daniel significant portions). Sirach for example since the 1890s has been found in Hebrew in Cairo, among the Dead Sea Scrolls and at Masada. Indeed, Sirach 51.13-30, a poem to wisdom, is included in the Psalm Scroll. Its presence at Masada indicates that it was widely known and valued among Palestinian Jews in the time of Jesus. Tobit and the Epistle of Jeremiah are also among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

3) Jesus and NT writers do not ever refer to or quote from the Apocryphal books. Now assuming this is true (its not) this is a dangerous sword that cuts both ways, unless we employ the fallacy of Special Pleading.  Where does Jesus or the NT ever quote from the Song of Songs? Obadiah? Ecclesiastes? Zephaniah? Nahum? Ezra? Esther? Does the absence of a quotation from these writings imply that they were not valued (or inspired) by Jesus or the NT writers? But there are few NT scholars today that would argue the NT never refers to any of the Apocryphal books. Indeed the apologist I watched quoted Roger Beckwith as saying:

“the undeniable truth is that the New Testament, by contrast with the early Fathers, and by contrast with its own practice in relation to the books of the Hebrew Bible, never actually quotes from, or ascribes authority to any of the Apocrypha.”

Though not identified as such by our apologist this quote comes from The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church page 387. Note that Beckwith does state something significant about the Church Fathers in the above quote. What our apologist did not tell his readers is that Beckwith greatly nuances this statement. He says,

As regards the earliest Christians, we saw evidence in the New Testament of a knowledge, by different writers, of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus {Sirach}, 2 Maccabees, the Assumption of Moses and 1 Enoch, and in other Christian literature up to the end of the first century evidence of a knowledge, not only of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, but also of Tobit and Judith” (p. 407)

Most scholarship today will assert that Paul (for example) often draws on this literature in the same way he often does the traditional Hebrew Bible through allusions, vocabulary, and arguments. Paul’s description of the gentile world in Romans for example sounds an awful lot like Wisdom and his description of the “panoplia of God” in Ephesians 6 sounds a lot like Wisdom 5.

But Beckwith complicates matters even further because he suggests at the very beginning of his work that the word “canon” is used in at least two senses. First the Apocryphal books were regarded as “canonical” because they “were generally read in the Church for purposes of edification, and in this sense the canon would always include more or less the Apocrypha” (p. 2). He suggests that “from the other point of view, the canon, the narrow one, consisting simply of the books of the Jewish Bible which scholars like Melito … Athanasius … Jerome took the trouble to distinguish from the rest as alone acknowledged ...”(ibid). So Beckwith actually suggests that canon is messier than what the debaters want to admit. Later Beckwith states “Whether or not we should regard the books just listed {the Apocrypha} as Scripture, there is no doubt that we should value them highly … Some of the Apocrypha, moreover, have further claims to our attention. It is no accident that the church has traditionally given them some place in its lectionary” (p. 343).

When one reads Beckwith one comes to wonder if the debater also did or simply found a nice quote that had no context. The situation seems, upon actually reading Beckwith, is more muddy and complex. And you know what … it is!

4) The Protestant apologist stated that “Philo, and Josephus, rejected the Apocrypha.” I’m not a Philo expert but most of his writings focus on the Torah. I know a little more about Josephus. Josephus does give us a list of works that look a lot like the Hebrew Bible today. Yet that is not the end of the story. In his telling of the Antiquities of the Jews he draws on material that is found only in Apocryphal historical works. In telling the story of Ezra and Nehemiah Josephus draws on 1 Esdras and not Ezra-Nehemiah in Protestant Bibles and in telling the story of Esther the historian draws what are known as Additions B through E of the Greek Esther. So it seems that Josephus did in fact accept these parts of the Apocrypha.

The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, the limits of the canon of the “Old Testament” in the early church was not clearly delineated. As the very conservative church historian, Everett Ferguson, notes even such scholars as Athanasius where full of ambiguity on the issue …

Athansius’s intermediate approach was typical of many. He listed as ‘included in the canon’ the books accepted by the Jews (except that he too omits Esther), but commended other books as useful for those who ‘wish to be instructed in the word of true religion’: Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Esther, Judith, and Tobit. In practice he quoted these books, especially the Wisdom of Solomon, without distinction from the canonical books.” (Church History, Vol 1: From Christ to Pre-Reformation, p. 113)

Ferguson’s statement that “No common agreement was reached on which of these books to count as canonical, and indeed it was not until the age of the Reformation ...”

Now my point in this has not been to be an apologist for Catholicism but to show that some arguments simply do not hold water. The Apocryphal books are not dangerous books and that is why Luther himself went through the trouble (and anyone who has translated an entire book from one language to another knows it is indeed trouble!) to translate all the Apocryphal books into German and kept them in his Bible. The Apocryphal books do not even teach Roman Catholic doctrine (even purgatory!) …

When debating, if you choose to do it, don’t use cheesy arguments. If the matters under debate are really worthy of debate recognize that the real truth of the matter just may be far more complex than the niceties of a syllogism! Remember “great is the truth and stronger than all things.” Even if that is from the Apocrypha … it is still true!

Blessings,
Bobby Valentine

P.S. Quick handy dandy resources: David deSilva’s Introducing the Apocrypha (Baker Academic) is the best book available as a general introduction to these writings. Charlesworth’s article “Old Testament Apocrypha” in Anchor Bible Dictionary vol 1, pp 292-294 is like a cliff notes version of current info. For the stout of heart Albert Sundberg’s “The Protestant Old Testament Canon: Should it be Re-Examined?” in CBQ 28 (2001): 194-203 is worth digesting just to have a realistic look at the issue. Finally S. Meurer (ed.) The Apocrypha in Ecumenical Perspective is a most helpful resource.

29 Responses to “Apocryphal Myths: Great is the Truth and Mighty above all Things”

  1. David Says:

    Thank you Bobby for some good perspective on this. ‘Canon’ has always troubled me somewhat once I started studying some of the issues. Not just the apocrypha, but books like Esther & Daniel & 2 Peter and the like. Maybe because we have such a ‘flat’ approach to Biblical authority we so quickly dismiss the apocrypha and we cite with full authority and consider as fully ‘inerrant’ some of these other books that are possibly questionable.

    I suppose it’s always best to remember that our trust is not in the worship of scripture but in the one who is blessed us with it.

  2. Steve Says:

    Thanks. I haven’t looked into this in quite a while. A friend actually taught a class on the Apocrypha at church back in the late 80’s. Have always admired him for it. I soaked it up. Yes the canon is messier than many have suspected.

  3. Jeanne Says:

    Thanks, Bobby! Very interesting. Still curious as to what it is about these books that made them get set aside in the first place. Probably not curious enough to research it myself, unfortunately, as all I’m likely to find are a bunch of opposing opinions, and those can be extremely frustrating. Hmmm. That’s probably how “the unchurched” feel about religion in general.

    Appreciate your quoting from Dr. Ferguson– his daughter Pat was a friend of mine at ACU so I got to know what a really sweet guy he is… not only kind and hospitable, but one of those people who can hold strong opinions without being arrogant about it. I want to be like that when I grow up.

  4. Charles Babb Says:

    Bobby – I’m not tossing any stones from this corner of the U.S. The Canon and just about every other aspect of Christian Religion/History is much more messy than we might like to believe.

    Plus, the whole Protestant-Catholic fight…well, I’m not inclined to believe we gain anything by accentuating our differences. Why not, like say…the early reformers in the Restoration Movement…why not seek commonalities with one another so we can worship the same One God together?

    Last night where I preach, I was teaching and pointed out something the Catholic faith has right. I.e., the teaching of Paul to stay single and devote yourself to God if you are able not to burn. After I did this, another man pointed out something else – the fasting which they still practice which is evident all through the Bible and the New Testament.

    Cut and dried lines may make us feel better, but they rarely do justice or honor the God we serve.

    Keep hanging in there brother. We love you.

  5. Keith Says:

    I’ve discussed this topic with a few CoC’er who “simply” state they believe God provided us the Bible in its correct form. I actually wasn’t sure if I should burst their bubble or not. I should have said that if you held that view 300 years ago you would have also held a different Bible. Somehow I feel that some convoluted argument would have followed.

    People are very comforted by the idea that the Bible is Holy, rather than writings about the Holy One. After all, it does say “Holy Bible” on the front…

    Thanks Bobby for opening my eyes to this information so that I can creep away from ignorance and toward truth.

  6. Joshua L. Pappas Says:

    I need to study the Apocrypha more than I have. As I grow, more and more I have come to understand that almost nothing is as simple as I once thought it was. There are several subjects that I once was dogmatic about that I now just have to say, “Phh, I don’t know!” On the other hand there may well be a simplicity under (or over) it all that I just have not yet fully realized. Anyway, thanks for the chart.
    —JLP

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a bit confused. How do statements such as:

    “I suppose it’s always best to remember that our trust is not in the worship of scripture but in the one who is blessed us with it.”

    “People are very comforted by the idea that the Bible is Holy, rather than writings about the Holy One. After all, it does say “Holy Bible” on the front…”

    Explain how we find out about the “Holy One”? Is there a definition of who this Holy One is? And which book do I trust to believe that definition? And wouldn’t it seem that the “one who blessed us with ‘it'” would some how let us know what “it” was/is?

    Don

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Now, as to your actually post.
    I believe the Apocrypha is as informative as Josephus… both should be read.

  9. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Don I am not the author of the quoted material.

    Now to the post. I have related simple facts. The early church saw a difference between the Apocrypha and Josephus. I have as of yet not found any Father quoting Josephus as “scripture” or “scripture says” or “it is written” … but I have dozens of times for the Apocrypha. For example there are enough references to Judith in the Fathers that A.M. Dubarle could fill a two volume study with them.

    Joshua I have learned and learn more everyday that Truth is rarely simpler. Beautiful and freedom setting for sure. But simple? Not. What is the truth: is light a “wave” or a “particle”? both. Is water a liquid, solid or a gas? Yes! The desk you are sitting at, solid or mostly space? Looks solid but physics tells us that is not the truth! Was there agreement on the canon … the full extent of it ? Does not seem to be the case. The Samaritans, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes all seem to have had similar “canonical” issues with each other as Catholics have with Protestants.

    A fair investigation of the history of the canon will never show that it was simply “decided.” Or cut and dried. That my friend is the truth … troubling to some but truth nonetheless.

    Bobby V

  10. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    The editors of The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (Martin Abegg, Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich) make the following statement about the “Bible” in pre-70 A.D. Judaism,

    “There was a Bible in the sense that there were certain sacred books widely recognized by Jews as foundational to their religion and supremely authoritative for religious practice. There was not, however, a Bible in the sense that the leaders of the general Jewish community had specifically considered, debated, and definitely decided the full range of WHICH [sic] books were supremely and permanently authoritative and which ones — no matter how sublime, useful, or beloved — were not.” (Introduction).

    This is not the statement of some wild maverick scholarship but by men (like Ulrich) who is the editor in chief of the biblical scrolls from Qumran. Ulrich has published a very scholarly work called “The Dead Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible” (1999) that the hardy may wish to read.

    We noted, in the post, that in the Psalms Scroll it included material from Sirach (in addition there are portions of three mss of Sirach found at Qumran) and Psalm 151 that was known to us previously through the LXX.

    Shalom,
    Bobby V

  11. mattdabbs Says:

    I guess I can feel okay about using my NRSV in public now 🙂

  12. preacherman Says:

    Bobby,
    Wonderful thoughts.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.
    I enjoy this very interesting subject.
    God bless you brother.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    awesome. We are actually going to spend a couple of months on wednesday evenings surveying these books. and I doing the intro and some of the longer books.

    thanks for doing my introduction for me. 🙂

    i am blessed to have ABD, so I will check that out as well.

    brian
    http://blogprophet.wordpress.com

  14. Keith Says:

    Don,
    I did not mean to imply that the Bible is not useful for getting to know the Holy One. It definitely is! I was just saying that the Bible did not float down from heaven in its completed form. We need to consider what is included in the Bible and why. And there are definitely ways beyond reading in which we get to know God.

    My previous post was unclear. Sorry about that.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Keith-
    “And there are definitely ways beyond reading in which we get to know God.”

    I am unaware of these ways. What might they be?

    I thought that accepting the reality of God and then knowing God only came from the Word of God.

    Don

  16. Joshua L. Pappas Says:

    To me, there’s no doubt that the 66 books belong to the canon. I think the case is strong for the inspiration of them all. As for the apocrypha. I really haven’t studied them well enough. I have a couple of Bibles with the Apocrypha, and a Greek LXX with the Apocrypha. I don’t take the extra books as inspired, but I also don’t have a problem with them being in someone’s Bible, per se. I think they’re probably more important than Josephus, but certainly less important than Isaiah, etc. Anyway, I appreciate all your efforts Bobby. I saved a series of summaries you did on the Apocryphal books somewhere. I’m going to dig them out if I can find them. My prayers are with you–your name is in my prayer journal!

  17. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Don,

    Question. Where does the “Bible” ever define the “Word of God” with a printed page or with a collection of books? Most of the time the phrase “word of God” in the Bible refers not to a written page but to an ORAL speech, the Gospel message itself or to Jesus Christ himself. That is if context has anything to do with interpretation.

    Another question. How did other folks, folks we read about in the Bible itself, learn about God if and when they did not possess a “Bible”? Just a question.

    Joshua,

    I personally have no problem with the 39 books of the Hebrew Tanak. None. My question is how did you arrive at that decision? Did you simply “accept” that? What are the criteria for “inspiration?” I asked Phil Sanders that question sometime back and I did not get far with him. If one is willing to apply the razor both ways things often do not look so nice except to a person who is already persuaded.

    Thanks for the prayers brother. I appreciate that more than you will ever know this side of eternity.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  18. Keith Brenton Says:

    I think that the canon has historically been heavily influenced by hermeneutic.

    If you look at scripture as law, then you must separate the real, good, inspired law from the false, evil, misguiding law. You have to be able to separate the allegorical from the literal. You have to know what’s “in” and what’s “out.” (Perhaps so you can decide who’s “in” and “out”!)

    If you look at scripture as story – the Story of God and us – you can evaluate it by whether it reveals the nature of God and man accurately and helpfully.

    As a writer (and reader!) I’m convinced that many other writers’ stories that are completely fictional still convey deep truth that makes the accuracy/consistency of times, dates, places and even some facts completely irrelevant.

    To some degree, that’s true of scripture for me as well – though I think the Bible writers were earnestly engaged in writing as accurately as possible; not in writing fiction. Whether Jesus and His followers encountered blind men on the way to or from Jericho is unimportant to me, for instance.

    But perhaps I lean too heavily on the maxim of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

  19. AncientWanderer Says:

    Bobby-
    OK I’ll bite, as usual. I should know better than to ask a question without being asked 5 questions and never having mine answered.

    You asked (and I will answer):
    Question:
    “Where does the “Bible” ever define the “Word of God” with a printed page or with a collection of books?”

    Answer: 2 Chronicles 34; 2 Thessalonians; 1 John 5

    Question:
    “Another question. How did other folks, folks we read about in the Bible itself, learn about God if and when they did not possess a “Bible”?”

    Answer: Hebrews 1.1-2; In these last days the “word of the Lord” is only through Christ Jesus. That has to be the inspired written word or Jesus is still talking to someone. Before that it was “by the prophets”.

    The strange thing about your questions is that the topic is “OTHER” written messages about/from God. “Oral” was never offered by any one. But I don’t mind having a few answers in a sea of philosophical rhetoric.

    Don

  20. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Ok, Don. I am going to take you on. But I will likely be branded a danger like Dennis Jones onces said. But I am unconcerned about that. Let me quote you, as you quoted me:

    “you asked (and I will answer):
    Question:

    ‘Where does the “Bible” ever define the “Word of God” with a printed page or with a collection of books?’

    Answer: 2 Chronicles 34; 2 Thessalonians; 1 John 5″ (end quote)

    You know that I went and looked at 2 C 34, 2 Thes and 1 J 5. I was greatly enriched by this exercise but I looked in VAIN for the phrase “Word of God” and never once saw the equation “Word of God is a written page.”

    A few observations are in order on these texts. 2 Ch 34 says that the “Book of the Law of the Lord” (34.14) was found. These people had no clue what this book was. Given the argument you have made with this text is it is MOST interesting that the King sent an embassy to “INQUIRE of the Lord” (34.21) but guess what … they did NOT consult a book! Rather they sought a Person (a woman in fact!) That Person told them about the book. Again the phrase “word of God” occurs zero times in this text. And when the will of God was sought it was not to the book that they flew but to a Woman Prophet who gave them an oral message about the written page.

    Second Thessalonians? I am even more confused by this citation. It was a great read. But the phrase “word of God” never occurs there either. We learn about those who do not obey the Gospel. But the Gospel is not a written page … not then and not now. Paul says he has written to this assembly … and I believe 2 Thess is inspired but that written text never says anything about “word of God” equals a written page.

    First John 5. The same holds true here. John writes so they may have confidence (5.13f). But it is most interesting, in light of your argument, that John says we have a “testimony in the heart” (5.10) and that the Son gives “understanding” (5.20) and earlier he claims that the Anointing “TEACHES you about all things” (2.27). The testimony is not a book, and the anointing is not the Bible. And once again the phrase “word of God is the written page” is NOT contained in the cited text.

    The appeal to John is interesting too in light of other things he says. It seems that John has a hesitancy to write things down:

    “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead I hope to visit you and TALK with you face to face” (2 Jn 12)

    “I have much to write you but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you and we will TALK face to face” (3 Jn 13).

    This doesn’t mean writing was not valued but it is still instructive. The “face to face” is clearly an echo from Num 12.8 denoting something intimate about oral communication.

    According to Anchor Bible Dictionary’s “Word of God” (vol 6: 961-968) there are nearly 400 instances of the “word of God” in the Hebrew Bible and 240 of “word of the Lord” and they almost never refer to writing or a page or a book. They are speech. It is a most instructive article.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  21. Keith Says:

    Don,
    We can learn about God from his creation, independent of reading the Bible. Paul makes this clear in Romans 1.

    Romans 1:20
    “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    And I answered without asking any questions. 🙂

    Keith

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Keith-
    All Romans 1.20 says is that “God” can be seen in creation… if we want to see Him. But creation does not teach us about God much beyond His power to create and that He Is nor does it allow us to “know” God.

    The point I asked from your comment was how can we “know God” as Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 1.8 separate and apart from the Bible.

    Don

  23. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Second Thess. 1.8 says not an iota about the Bible. Don the Gospel is not the Bible. The Bible did not even exist when that verse received its ink. Gospel does not mean “book.” Jesus did not pass out Bibles and neither did Peter in Acts 2. The Bible as you know it POST dates all that stuff.

    Why are you doing that with this text Don?

    Bobby V

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Bobby-
    About 20 years ago one side of the body used to demand specific phrases and words be used. I remember a crazy preacher jumping all over this other preacher one day for “not using the correct words”. It seems we now all demand Pharisaical terminology.

    You know very well that 2 Ch 34 is speaking of a “written” document being the word of God. The word of God can be argued using your logic to mean only Jesus. If that’s the case then none of us has access to the “actual” word of God.

    You also know that 1 John 5.13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. ” Does John want to be with the brethren? Sure he does but so did Jesus but He had to leave and what did He send us? The revelation of God that was written down.

    The Bible doesn’t refer to itself as the word of God for the most part because it is the ‘then being’ written revelation of God. God didn’t send Peter or Paul or David written correspondence. He spoke to them or guided them. So no the Bible by it’s very transmission nature would not refer to itself that way. But the New Testament DOES refer to the OLD TESTAMENT over and over that which was “written”. If it were oral only then God would simply have repeated it to those we have recorded (written). They READ the commands of God. God didn’t reenact giving of the tablets or the burning bush… they read it and repeated it as the very word of God.

    The very definition of “inspiration” is God breathed ((you know this)) that is the Word of God.

    We are reduced to the warnings in 1 Timothy 6. How in the world can we know what the commands of God are 2000 years after the Cross without the written word of God being that only authority? We can’t.

    But if my comments are not OK on this blog and ones that say the Bible is a story book that only contains some truth are OK…. that is fine with me.

    I stand with the Bible being the only word from God and Word of God. I never said not to study.

    I simply asked how can I be saved if for example I truly believed-
    “we have such a ‘flat’ approach to Biblical authority we so quickly dismiss the apocrypha and we cite with full authority and consider as fully ‘inerrant’ some of these other books that are possibly questionable”

    A statement you didn’t explore for one second…. along with those others I mentioned.

    As I understand you’re position… the word of God is only “a spoken word” and the Bible never calls the “written word” the word of God. Is that your position?

    Don

  25. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Don where did I say your comments are not welcome on this blog?? I don’t ever recall saying such a thing. I welcome them.

    I will return to you presently but for the moment I have to go to a funeral.

    Bobby V

  26. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Don,

    First. I don’t feel that I have to comment on every comment made. I believe in freedom of speech for you and anyone else. Doesn’t mean I agree or disagree one way or the other.

    Second. I do believe the Bible is the word of God. I simply asked you where that simple equation is made. It is rarely done.

    In 2 Chronicles where I pointed out that a page is not called the Word of God you still insist that I know that is what it is referring to. I pointed out that the folks involved went to a person when curious about that book. And that Book, I am sure you know, certainly was not the Bible as you know it.

    My point in the post, and the comments have sort of gone a different direction, was that lots of Protestant Evangelicals use arguements that sound persuasive only to the ignorant (in the proper sense of the word).

    In the comments since some want to discuss the canon that is ok. Because beloved Don the canon was not a settled reality. We argree that the Bible is the word of God. What the Jews of the time and the Christians following the 1st century reveal is there was not agreement as to WHAT was in the Bible of the time or what became the “OT”.

    If we want to affirm what the Protestants have done then my question for you and most folks sitting in a pew is how did you arrive at that conclusion. My answer is that there is a grey area where certainty has never been achieved.

    Joshua mentioned that nebulous idea of “criteria for inspiration.” What are those? I mean personally the Prayer of Manasseh does more for me than the Hebrew version of Esther has ever done.

    It is pretty obvious that whatever that criteria is that many Church Fathers did not see the difference. I mean two of the earliest post NT docs we have, 1 Clement and the Didache, both quote from the Apocrypha as Scripture. Polycarp, a disciple of the apostles, does so. Ignatius does.

    I am not trying to add anything to the canon. But I do believe that there is enough evidence to say that this is not a clear cut as most want to dogmatically claim the other way.

    And Don where did you infer that you were not welcome to comment. I went through the comments and I never implied such a thing. I did not see anyone else say that either.

    Bobby V

  27. Keith Says:

    Don,
    If you read the context of the Romans 1 passage I quoted it speaks of “knowing God” no less than three times.

    I really disagree with your statement that creation only teaches us about God’s power to create. The passage says it teaches us about his “his eternal power and divine nature.” This sounds exactly like getting to know God to me.

    Make no mistake, the Bible is an excellent, perhaps the best, way to learn about God. But there are others ways to understand him better as well (such as creation and other people and the Holy Spirit) and we should not shut our eyes to these opportunities.

    Thanks for the good discussion.

  28. Gene Says:

    Hi Bobby.

    The timeline chart you included in the post put a timeline of around 150 BC for Daniel.

    Where did this chart come from? If it is in the original post, sorry I missed it.

    I once asked a preacher you and I both know to help me find that quote in Matthew … “He shall be called a Nazarene”, knowing full well that it is not to be found in the OT…Guess that was a bit evil of me.

    He came back and said that he was suprised but that he had no idea.

    Might be an interesting list. . . Quotes that are stated to be prophetic fulfillments in the NT for which there is no specific OT verse it is fulfilling.

  29. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Gene there are a number of “quotes” in the NT of Scripture for which there is no known text for. This is also true in some rabbinic literature too. Since scripture was not printed but hand copied this should not surprise us at all. The NT writers quote from the LXX frequently and there are many places where it was simply a bad translation of the Hebrew but they quoted it anyway.

    As for Daniel. The date is the almost universally accepted date for the book. Some of the stories probably go back further but the book itself almost certainly does not. The date is agreed on by both “liberal” and “conservative’ scholars (like F.F. Bruce, N.T. Wright, John Goldingay and most standard commentaries on the book)

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

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