Revision of Christianity

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zlax
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Revision of Christianity

Post by zlax »

76 years ago on 9 May, an international association called the United Bible Societies (UBS) was founded in the UK, which subsequently incorporated most of the world's national Bible societies.
https://www.unitedbiblesocieties.org
The original membership of the UBS consisted of 13 Bible Societies active in Western Europe. The activities of the association were interdenominational, but at first the members were predominantly Protestant. After the Second Vatican Council, Catholics were included in the work of the Bible societies and later Orthodox Christians became active participants as well. The main activities of the UBS are the translation, publication and distribution of the Bible and its individual books, as well as educational and reference literature to help in the study of the Bible.
The movement started in the first decades of the 19th century when several national Bible societies were founded in various countries. The first was the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804). Then Irish (1806), Finnish (1812), Russian (1813), Danish (1814), Dutch (1814), Swedish (1815), Polish (1816), American (1816), Norwegian (1816) and French (1818) were founded. Subsequently, Bible societies began to appear in other countries.
Some modern revisionists link the activities of Bible societies to Christian falsification of history and chronology, viewing most of the earlier European translations of the Bible as deliberately incorrectly dated. For example, these two English language editions of the Bible, according to their title page, were printed over 400 years ago.

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These books, ostensibly separated by only one year of publication, used different spellings - "Conteining The Old Testament" and "Conteyning the Old Testament". Both of these fragments of the book's title begin to be evenly referenced (i.e. first cited) in English-language literature only about 200 years ago, roughly coinciding with the founding year of the British Bible Society.

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There were probably earlier versions of the New Testament before the books circulated by the Bible Societies, but as the isolated surviving copies of the "Judas Bible" and the "Sinners' Bible" testify - they may have been radically different in their content from the modern text of the Bible. Thus, modern forms of Christianity probably emerged only about 200 years ago through the efforts of national Bible societies, and their centralised concordance and unification into a single world religion began a year after the end of Second World War with the help of the United Bible Societies' association.
Samson79
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Re: Revision of Christianity

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Samson79
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Re: Revision of Christianity

Post by Samson79 »

https://jesuswordsonly.github.io/books/ ... ction.html

We often take for granted that every book in the New Testament has been scrutinized by some responsible council or group to satisfy a Bible-based test for inspiration. Yet, it is mere presupposition with no basis in history.


The first recognized semi-official New Testament list of books assembled by anyone took place in 397 A.D. 3 That year, three African bishops agreed on a list identical to our current list. (See Appendix B: How the Canon Was Formed [google-books link].) The list was expressly stated to be tentative. The bishops wanted to consult with the bishop across the sea (i.e., apparently Rome). These three bishops did not tell us the criteria they used to form their list. It is a mystery. They did not purport to say this list was true for all of Christendom.
Moreover, there was no long tradition that accepted their list of 397 A.D. The prior informal lists and even the earliest printed canon (Codex Sinaiticus, late 300s) included Christian writings that were inexplicably dropped in 397 A.D. In particular, this is true regarding the book entitled the Shepherd of Hermas. It previously had been identified closely with canon for 200 years. It was dropped in 397 A.D. (This is not to suggest it is canon. It lacks any legitimizing prophecy.) Thus, the 397 A.D. list suddenly dropped previously accepted books, but without any explanation.
The 397 A.D. list also added items previously routinely ignored. In particular, most of the `canon' lists prior to 397 A.D. excluded Second Peter as an obvious pseudograph. For some unexplained reason, these three bishops in 397 A.D. suddenly accepted Second Peter. Second Peter still appears in our common New Testament despite its extremely unlikely authenticity. Even Calvin (a Reformation leader from the 1500s) said it was a forgery. Calvin provided a very elaborate analysis to prove this. 4
The next attempt to determine canon was in 1522. Luther published a version of the New Testament (NT) with a commentary introducing the entire set. Even though Luther's NT list simply adopted the list from 397 A.D., Luther declared two books uninspired. This was explained in his 1522 Preface to the New Testament. These two supposedly uninspired works were the Book of Revelation and the Epistle of James. His reasons had a lot to do with his adherence to Pauline doctrine. (See “Luther’s Admission of James’ Direct Conflict with Paul” on page 237-38 [google-books]. For detailed discussion on Luther’s view of Revelation, see page 354 [google-book])
In response, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) gave its first publicly official list in the mid-1500s at the Council of Trent. It based this list on tradition, citing the expressly tentative list of 397 A.D. from the three bishops of North Africa. At the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Council endorsed our current 27 books of the New Testament. They are the same as in the Protestant New Testament. The fact there actually was never a church-wide decision earlier may be surprising, but this is undisputed fact. In "The Canon," the New Catholic Encyclopedia even admits:
According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. [See this link.]
Soon thereafter, a false impression was given to Christians that our New Testament had been as rigorously tested as had the works in the Hebrew Scriptures. This misleading impression was given by the simple step of printing as one volume the New Testament with the Hebrew Scriptures labelled as the `Old Testament.'
Accordingly, it was just assumed that our New Testament was also long ago rigorously tested by the same Biblical standard that Jews used to add new prophetic works. All of us assume someone sat down to ensure each work in the New Testament satisfies the Biblical criteria for canon. Those criteria are predictive prophecy in the name of the Lord combined with the fact nothing that preceded it has been negated. (Deuteronomy chs. 12, 13 &18.) Yet it is a totally unsupportable idea. It is an exercise that one can never find has been performed in a systematic analysis by any person, council, or church in Christian history.
This is also obvious from history. First, the criteria used to compile the list of 397 A.D. was never explained. Second, when Roman Catholicism in the 1545-1563 Council of Trent finally affirmed this 397 A.D. list as the `official' list, it likewise gave no justification other than tradition and its own authority.
Thus, there has never been any responsible voice that employed Biblically-mandated criteria to discern why should any book of the New Testament be included. When we examine the lists leading up to 397 A.D., this is even more evident. Books are attached one day and excluded the next. There is neither rhyme nor reason. As Ludlow notes in The Unity of Scripture (2003):
With regard to most books it was a question of [the church] explaining why it had what it had, rather than deciding on what it should have. No council sat down to choose the texts according to some pre-established set of criteria, just as a selection committee might decide on the sort of person they want to fill a post, before interviewing the candidates. Rather, there is some sense in which the canon chose (or formed) the Church, rather than the Church chose (or formed) the canon....[W]hat seems to be happening...is that the Church is formulating reason or explanations for why it has what it had, not criteria for choosing what it should have in the future. 5
This is how we ended up today with the notion that the sole basis for what we decide is Scripture is how it sounds to us. Here is the official Orthodox Presbyterian Church's (OPC) sole explanation of how we know something is Scripture from God.
Q. 4. How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?
A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God. 6
This is a completely impoverished explanation. This Catechism lesson on how to determine Scripture offers no Bible-based justification for adding to God's words. It is all how it sounds to us, e.g., it appears to us to have power to `convert sinners.' In the next section, we will see the reason for this weak explanation. We will discover why no Christian can say prophetic inspiration was ever the sole grounds for everything we included in the New Testament. This embarrassing fact is what led to this above deficient explanation of how Scripture is determined.
What the Lists Prove About Criteria for Canon
The history of canon formation, detailed in Appendix B, demonstrates clearly that no coherent criteria was ever being used to assess what is and what is not approved reading in churches. Up through 397 A.D., texts come and go without explanation. Some are discarded for wrong reasons at various points. Completely erroneous letters, such as Second Peter, somehow worm their way into our current canon. Works such as The Epistle to the Hebrews are ascribed to no one, then to Paul, then not to Paul. It is ignored, then accepted, then ignored again, but then finally accepted.
Applying the Biblical-test for inspiration is never explicitly done in the period leading up to 397 A.D. The focus is on genuineness--whether the author identified truly authored the work. Yet, no test of whether the work passes the Biblical-test of the prophetic is ever considered.
With genuineness the key issue, we then find some books are rejected as non-genuine on flimsy arguments.
For example, politics seem to enter the fray regarding Revelation by John. It is easily accepted as genuine in the first three lists beginning from 170 A.D. to 325 A.D. However, then Eusebius raises doubts sometime around 325 A.D. The Book of Revelation is dropped at the Council of Laodicea in 363 A.D. (assuming the records are accurate), only to be re-attached in 397 A.D. without any explanation.
Proof of the lack of any consistent criteria of acceptance is also evident from looking at the early list from the Muratorian Fragment (170 A.D.?-350 A.D.). This list included the Apocalypse of Peter. No one considered that work afterward as canon. Another example is that in 380 A.D., the Syrian Apostolic Canon adopted a blatant forgery--the Constitution of the Apostles. No one else gives it any credibility then or now. Why do they come and go? No one knows.
Furthermore, the lack of institutional memory affected the evaluation of various books' genuineness. For example, the Epistle of Jude was included in the very early Muratorian list of 170/350 A.D., but then is repeatedly disputed in the 300s period on grounds that Jude was not cited earlier. Yet now we know it was in the early Muratorian list itself. James was disputed on the same ground, but we find the ancient presbyters did cite it early on. Thus, books are being discarded for brief periods as non-genuine for wrong reasons, showing a lack of institutional record-keeping.
From this history of canon-formation in Appendix B, it is abundantly and shamefully evident there is a lack of diligence about determining what is genuine. Nor is anyone paying any attention to the issue of inspiration. They are preoccupied with determining what is genuine, and not doing a very good job on that score either.
This failure to focus on the question of inspiration is even more evident when lists are set forth in council rulings, such as Laodicea in 363 A.D. or Carthage in 397 A.D. Despite their semi-official nature, no explanation is attached to the otherwise long council records purporting to explain why the list is true. There is never any defense to justify the decision.
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