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Why does it all end in antiquity?

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Duane The Old Testament just abruptly ends, when - 100 BC, or so? And then the New Testament ends in about 100 AD, I think?

In fact, once the teachings of Mohammed were written down, that was it - that's the Koran, and nobody had better add anything to it.

The sacred writings of Hinduism and Buddhism... same deal, AFAIK (When was the last "Sutra" written?). In fact, the only comparable contemporary "holy" text is the Book of Mormon (and even it purportedly originated in antiquity if you believe Joseph Smith's story about the "plates")

It just seems to me there's something wrong with this picture... I mean, why is it only these "ancient" writings that are somehow regarded as canonical? Did humanity's ability to propound religious truth somehow vanish somewhere along the line?

I'm not saying nobody writes anything... for all I know there are still bearded geezers adding their scribblings to the commentaries on the Koran, to the Talmud, etc., and there are a host of writings on Christian philosophy all throughout history... But none of it is regarded as "Canonical", "The Word Of God", or "The Teachings Of The Prophet", or whatever... So what's the deal? Are we supposed to believe that God just stopped issuing official statements hundreds of years ago, or what? And if so, *why*? How is it that all of the "prophets" and whomever of hundreds of years ago, were somehow so morally superior (Or whatever?) to *every* *last* *person* *on* *Earth* today, that *they* get to be published as some sort of Official Operating Manual, but none of US do??

I'm jus' sayin'... Inquiring minds want to know...


message 2: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Eikema I agree. On the question that is. As far as I am concerned I do give a special weight to what *they* called canonical, but the letters from Paul started as just that; letters. When the adressee got them, none of them would think: "Oh wow, this is actually the everlasting word of God."

Although based on the Bible (and historical research), some recent books have had deep impact on me, and I regard them "word of God" as well. For instance NT Wright wrote some highly influential books, that are, for me, just as loadbearing as some of the biblical books.

In The Netherlands this is a stance that you can have without being accused of herecy; my feeling is that this is not so in the USA. I could be wrong...


Duane Well, just to avoid all those arguments (Which invariably never lead anywhere), it's still possible to ask why the canonical "sacred writings" are all old, and seemingly nothing can ever be added? What is so special about "ancient times"?

Surely some theologian ought to at least be able to explain *that* much unambiguously, without starting an argument about what is or isn't divinely inspired or heretical and what isn't...


message 4: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Eikema Well, with Jesus, the Jewish story (and off course the Christian story) comes to a climax, so I can see why it stops there (except some letters and Revelation).


message 5: by Stephen (last edited Aug 03, 2014 01:01PM) (new) - added it

Stephen The Canon, the official books of the bible were pretty much locked down around 325 AD by the Council of Nicea that was called by the then Emperor Constantine.

There ARE books that were considered but left out and the Protestant bible is different than the Catholic Bible.

Here's an article that is a good place to begin looking into others
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of...

Or one can go to the sources...
For instance
The Gospel of Judas
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene
The Books of Enoch: Containing 1 Enoch (The Ethiopic Book of Enoch), 2 Enoch (The Slavonic Secrets of Enoch), and 3 Enoch

and so on...

Also there are spiritual writings that have been created more recently. Who's to say what might make it into some future version of the bible?


message 6: by Duane (last edited Aug 03, 2014 02:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Duane Stephen wrote: "The Canon, the official books of the bible were pretty much locked down around 325 AD by the Council of Nicea that was called by the then Emperor Constantine.

There ARE books that were considered..."


All of the so-called "apocrypha" were also written in antiquity, though, and while the question of whether they were justly or unjustly deprecated can be debated on all manner of grounds without resolving anything, the fact remains that they were ALL written in antiquity.

I.e. none of the "experts" (whoever they are?) are even debating whether anything written during the last thousand years or so, has any "validity" (for lack of a better word) in terms of being accepted as canonical literature, or prophecy, or whatever it is that gets something accepted as a "sacred writing"?

Mark wrote: "Well, with Jesus, the Jewish story (and off course the Christian story) comes to a climax, so I can see why it stops there (except some letters and Revelation)."

There's some truth to that, actually, but even so, I don't see why somehow, according to ALL the religions (at least by implication) the fountain of truth somehow just got shut off over a thousand years ago... I don't understand how antiquity alone can confer moral authority on religious writing, is the thing... I'm assuming there has to be some other reason for it?


message 7: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Eikema I see your point a bit better now. Maybe it has to do with certain philosophical (platonism? deism?) prepositions (it that an english word?) that stated something about the relationship between the world and the gods. Maybe 'they' thought that no one could ever say anything sensible about God, gods and so on, but the Christians (and others) kept their sacred texts. Being afraid of adding any, they 'closed' their canon.

(I hope this makes sense. English isn't my native language, so bear with me.)


Duane OK, but you're really on the question now. If they closed the canon at a certain point in time, how is it that there could have been something, or anything written that is acceptable for becoming canonical *up to* the point where the canon was closed, but NOTHING acceptable AFTER that point? If we agree that the canonical scriptures are the word of God handed down to Man through divinely inspired intermediaries, then what - are they saying that God just stopped communicating and has had nothing *further* to say that is worthy of becoming canonical, as of 1000 years ago, even though He was communicating *up to* that point? (Again, what stands out is that it seems like ALL the major religions closed their canons in antiquity).


Bjarne Amilon "If we agree that the canonical scriptures are the word of God handed down to Man through divinely inspired intermediaries".

No, we don't agree. The phrase "Word of God" in the NT refers to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, not to one or several texts. The whole New Testament is written as a witness to Christ - the euangelion, happy message, in fact. The Church of the first centuries held that the books of the NT were all written by immediate disciples to Christ - later scholarships shows that this is probably not always true, but it was the principle of the canon. Thats why it cannot be continued.

Also, I don't think all major religions have closed their canons. It's true for christians, muslims and sikhs, but judaism has another way in commenting the Torah. And hinduism is different also.


Duane Bjarne wrote: ""If we agree that the canonical scriptures are the word of God handed down to Man through divinely inspired intermediaries".

No, we don't agree. The phrase "Word of God" in the NT refers to the So..."


I'm saying "if we agree for the sake of argument", not implying that we DO agree... Heaven forbid that ANYONE would *actually* agree with anyone else about anything to do with religion...

So, you're saying that for Christians, the New Testament is NOT the Word of God? I suppose that's possible... But then Christians claim that Christ is still alive and still speaks to the faithful - so why would they then confine the Canon to His immediate disciples?


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "The Old Testament just abruptly ends, when - 100 BC, or so? And then the New Testament ends in about 100 AD, I think?

In fact, once the teachings of Mohammed were written down, that was it - that..."


There's simply nothing more to add to it. It is complete. What exactly do you feel should be added to it?


Duane I'm not certain whether or not anything needs to be added; it just seems odd to me that all enhancement of religious wisdom and knowledge (at least as far as the "canons" goes) suddenly ceased over a thousand years ago, and nothing anyone has written since then is worthy of inclusion... I mean, what's the deal, did humanity undergo a massive collective loss of intelligence, Or Something?


message 13: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Eikema As far as the gospel are concerned: Jesus' coming wasn't just a timeless religious truth. It was an actual happening within time and space. So, I see why the canon stops there. (except the letters for the early church and such). For me, I regard later writings necessary and important on a personal level, so the line between canonical and non-canonical isn't that much of a biggie for me.


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "I'm not certain whether or not anything needs to be added; it just seems odd to me that all enhancement of religious wisdom and knowledge (at least as far as the "canons" goes) suddenly ceased over a thousand years ago, and nothing anyone has written since then is worthy of inclusion... I mean, what's the deal, did humanity undergo a massive collective loss of intelligence, Or Something?"

I don't see it as a lack of intelligence on humanity's part or any other reason you're speculating. The Holy Bible contains the Old Testament (the original Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament. The New Testament is composed of the writings of the early apostles that were widely used in the early days of the church as holy texts. There's really nothing else that needs to be added to it as far as I can see.

The Quran is said to be a message from God from Gabriel to Mohammed.

As a Christian I have found inspiration and wisdom in the works of many later followers of Christ, but see no reason they need to be canonized into the Bible.


Duane To the extent that any of the religious texts contain only what is preserved of the actual words of the founder of the religion (Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, etc.) yes, thre is no reason to "add something".

But that's not generally the case... The Old Testament isn't "authored" by the founders of a religion; it's just commentaries or stories by a variety of authors - but apparently "they" either quit adding texts or quit writing them? Even the Jews, who don't accept the divinity of Christ, haven't continued to add "books" to the Old Testament since the dawn of the Christian era (although that my have something to do with the Diaspora... so there's another question, which raises still more questions...).

Then, with the New Testament, apparently *none* of it was actually written by any of the original disciples, and it contains a lot more than just the words of Jesus. But nevertheless somehow, only what was written by those half-dozen authors, all of whom lived in the same period of antiquity, is deemed canonical?

Is it that nobody has written anything as "inspired" as those early authors, or is it just that their antiquity has itself conferred some sort of aura of authority on their writings... ? Why is it that no one has written anything thaat "needs" to be added? How can anyone claim that it's not possible for anything to ever exist which might "need" to be added?


Dwayne Fry The other Duane wrote: "...the New Testament, apparently *none* of it was actually written by any of the original disciples, and it contains a lot more than just the words of Jesus.

See, you're setting parameters that the Bible has not set, then arguing against them. No, it is likely that the New Testament was not written by any of the original disciples. It was written by the early apostles. Yes, one definition of apostle does refer to the original twelve, but even the Bible doesn't adhere to only that definition. Paul calls himself an apostle. He refers to Barnabas and several others that were not in the original twelve as apostles. Matthias was chosen as the apostle to replace Judas. While we are not sure who wrote a good deal of the New Testament, it is clear that the books were written by early Christians and calling them apostles is not a stretch. It is not meant to be just the words of Jesus, it is not meant to be a collection of writings from the original twelve disciples, it is meant to be a collection of writings from first century Christians. Again, I don't see a reason to add anything to it.

Is it that nobody has written anything as "inspired" as those early authors, or is it just that their antiquity has itself conferred some sort of aura of authority on their writings... ? Why is it that no one has written anything thaat "needs" to be added? How can anyone claim that it's not possible for anything to ever exist which might "need" to be added?

I guess I'm still wondering what you feel needs to be added and why. You seem to be presenting a case for something, but you aren't specifying what it is. What writings should be included in the Bible that are not and why?


Duane I'm NOT specifying anything in particular that needs to be "added" - I'm asking WHY nothing ever HAS been "added", or even deemed appropriate to be added. It just seems odd to me that somehow all of "divine wisdom" ceased being communicated over a thousand years ago (and more than that, in the case of Christianity).

For religious texts that are NOT authored (as is the Koran, or the Book of Mormon) by the founder of the religion, the question is even more appropriate - why were the Apostles, for instance - who as you mention apparently were replaceable? - only to be heard from (and accepted as canonical) during a period 200 years after the death of Christ?


message 18: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV I forget book/chapter/verse, but there is a verse somewhere in there that says nothing should be added or subtracted from the Bible. I assume that's the reason.


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "I'm NOT specifying anything in particular that needs to be "added" - I'm asking WHY nothing ever HAS been "added", or even deemed appropriate to be added. It just seems odd to me that somehow all ..."

Seems that we're just repeating ourselves. I still don't see a need to add anything to the Bible and you have nothing to suggest, so can we agree it's a pointless debate? Honestly, it seems about as logical as adding the writings of Norman Mailer to a collection of 10th century Norse poetry. It's a nonsensical idea.


Dwayne Fry Will wrote: "I forget book/chapter/verse, but there is a verse somewhere in there that says nothing should be added or subtracted from the Bible. I assume that's the reason."

You might be thinking of Revelation 22:19. Some people think it means nothing should be added to or taken from the Bible, but that's not what it means. After all, the Bible as we know it was not in existence yet.


message 21: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Well yes, I just mean the fact that most people think that's what it means would prevent further additions, no?


Dwayne Fry Maybe, but it does seem pretty plain that it's actually saying nothing should be taken from or added to this scroll of prophecy (meaning Revelation itself).


message 23: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Yeah, fair enough. It was just a thought.


Duane I *think* the admonition in Revelation is probably directed at would-be plagiarists (for want of a better word). According to the religion prof. I had in college (uh-oh...) it was an accepted literary device "back then" for someone to make later additions to other people's writings as though they had written the added material themselves. It wasn't even considered unethical; in fact, it was more or less of a compliment to the original author, that someone wanted to "emulate" him. But the author of Revelation evidently took a dim view of such machinations...

Dwayne wrote: "Seems that we're just repeating ourselves. I still don't see a need to add anything to the Bible and you have nothing to suggest, so can we agree it's a pointless debate? Honestly, it seems about as logical as adding the writings of Norman Mailer to a collection of 10th century Norse poetry. It's a nonsensical idea."

Why do I have to have something *specific* in mind to add to the Bible, in order to be allowed to ask the question of why nothing ever HAS been added? And I'm not really asking about the Bible alone - I'm asking why virtually ALL of the religious canons appear to be frozen in time many hundreds of years ago, as though **ALL** of humanity hasn't produced any original contributions to religious doctrine in **ALL** that time?

Either there was something magical and special about that particular era, when all of those texts were produced, or there wasn't... and if there was, I'd like to know, pray tell, what it was, and if there wasn't, I'd like to know why we're (apparently) stuck with just what was produced back then, and (apparently) enjoined from even *thinking* about adding, changing, or deleting anything?


Dwayne Fry Why do I have to have something *specific* in mind to add to the Bible, in order to be allowed to ask the question of why nothing ever HAS been added?

You don't. It would just help me understand why you're suggesting such a thing if you could give an example of what should be added. Since you don't have any ideas of what should be added, I'm not sure why you're even suggesting such a thing.

And I'm not really asking about the Bible alone

Yes, I get that. You have been clear on that.

I'm asking why virtually ALL of the religious canons appear to be frozen in time many hundreds of years ago...

To the majority of those that believe in them and follow them, they aren't "frozen in time". The lessons and stories are just as important today as they were the day they were written. Time doesn't change that.

...as though **ALL** of humanity hasn't produced any original contributions to religious doctrine in **ALL** that time?

Of course it has. But, why must more modern texts be added to the older texts? Why not leave the older texts as they are and study the newer ones separately?

Either there was something magical and special about that particular era, when all of those texts were produced, or there wasn't...

I'd say it wasn't any more "magical" than any other era.

I'd like to know why we're (apparently) stuck with just what was produced back then, and (apparently) enjoined from even *thinking* about adding, changing, or deleting anything?

We're not "stuck" with anything. You can choose to follow the Bible (or the Koran and so on) or you can choose not to. I don't know about other religions but Christians are not "stuck" with "just what was produced back then". There are thousands of other books we can study. Just because they are not added to the Bible doesn't mean they don't have validity.

I've given you my response as to why the Bible doesn't change. Here's another - the Bible as it is is fairly easy to carry around. If we were to start adding in the writings of Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, Francis Chan, Philip Yancey, T.D. Jakes, John Bunyan and the many, many other Christian writers, do you realize how difficult the Bible would become to carry around? Incidentally, if you're a Christian and looking for something new or newer to study, I would recommend books by those authors.


message 26: by Duane (last edited Sep 16, 2014 12:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Duane Why would it have to be an all-or-nothing situation, whereby all of those authors would have to be included "in toto" or not at all? Somebody had to decide when the writings of one particular "prophet" or whatever were going to become part of the Old Testament canon, and the Old Testament is full of all manner of inspirational writings designed to provide moral guidance, or whatever (sometimes it does seem like it's just "whatever", in fact). Surely the New Testament would benefit from some similar selected writings that would provide guidance and inspiration in a Christian vein...

I can definitely see where in this day and age, attempting to open the Canon would result in a huge conflagration, though... any "Convocation" or "Council" on the order of Nicaea would nowadays probably just instantly bog down in the issue of homosexuality and never manage to extricate itself. in fact, the more I think about it, that (unwillingness to open what would end up being a huge can of worms) may more than anything account for the ossification of the Canon.

Maybe the "Church Fathers", or their moral equivalent in the case of the other religions, have just become progressively reluctant to "Go There" - the problems with any attempt to revise the Canon have been continually viewed as potentially being worse than whatever problems are resulting from deficiencies in the Canon at any particular point in time, leaving the "canonical" writings continuously originating only in antiquity... I suppose that would explain it.


message 27: by Dwayne (last edited Sep 16, 2014 06:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "Why would it have to be an all-or-nothing situation, whereby all of those authors would have to be included "in toto" or not at all? Somebody had to decide when the writings of one particular "pro..."

Or maybe people are just fine with their religious texts as they are and see no need to change them. Why does there have to be some reason that includes fear of controversy or some other dark reason? Why assume some issue is going to "bog down" the process? Why can't we just assume people find their religious texts to be inspirational and complete and see no reason to change to them?


Duane I don't see how is it possible to know if something is "complete"; that requires knowing that something which might be included does not exist, which not possible (at least within a canonical system of logic...).

It doesn't have to be fear of anything that's nvolved, just the perception that it's "more trouble than it's worth" in the sense that whatever improvements might be gained (or controversies resolved) by reexamining the canon, aren't worth the struggle that would be necessary to realize them, once the whole issue was thrown open to discussion... That just seems , to me to be a much more likely (and simple... And consistent with the phenomenon being observed in multiple different religions ) explanation than that nothing important enough to be deemed canonical, has been written or discovered since when the the Gospels, or the Koran, or the Old Testament, etc. was originally compiled.


Dwayne Fry It is complete, meaning there is no need to add more. Believers in the Bible do not finish reading and say, "gee, I really wish there was more to this. There's so much missing!" From the standpoint of serving those that it was written for, it has done remarkably well. Even if we look at it from a strictly business sense, it is still a huge seller. The more you rally and rail for a new and improved Bible, the more silly the notion seems.

I did come up with a rather amusing reason to change the Bible. Non-believers often like to accuse us of "picking and choosing" what we believe, despite the fact that our Bible has not changed significantly in nearly two millennia. We could change it just to give them some substance to their whiny claims.


message 30: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints AKA "Mormons" believe that there is a living Prophet on the earth today who receives revelation from God on how to lead the church. Members read the Prophets words from The Ensign, which they receive each month and regard as Scripture. Also, Joseph Smith and another prophet, I can't remember which one at this time, received revelations during their lifetimes and wrote them down. These became The Doctrine & Covenants which are also considered Scripture.


Peter The Book of Mormon! Yes, I read several books of that while in a hotel this summer. The part I read was all about these two tribes fighting each other.


Duane Sara wrote: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints AKA "Mormons" believe that there is a living Prophet on the earth today who receives revelation from God on how to lead the church. Members read the ..."

I've noticed that... Of all the religions, the Mormons are the only ones I've observed to have some sort of formalized system, which I don't understand but which somehow involves as you say "revelations", that enables them to adjust the tenets of their religion to the times.


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "Mormons are the only ones... enables them to adjust the tenets of their religion to the times."

I almost dread asking as I know you don't care to provide explanations or answers, but what about the rest of Christianity? What tenets do you feel we need to adjust to "the times" (not sure what "the times" would be) and why?


Duane I don't want to get into that, primarily because I don't want to digress into a discussion of how the religions "ought" to change; for the moment at least I'm just trying to figure out why they seem frozen in time. But for past examples, perhaps Sara might want to explain what changes the Mormon Church has made over the past few decades. Reform Judaism, for instance, rejects some of the rules of conduct to which the Orthodox still conform and which are specifically dictated in the Old Testament. And I have heard others propose that one of the primary problems that Islam has in coexisting with the modern world is that there is no central authority for its "canon" (or whatever they call it) and consequently there is no way whatsoever for it to completely reject violence; any Imam who wants to use the Prophet's dicta on "spreading the faith by the sword" can do so, and there is no way to change that.


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "... I'm just trying to figure out why they seem frozen in time."

And that's where I'm having a problem. I still don't know what you mean when you say things like "frozen in time". To be a Christian, one must love the Lord, love one another, repent sins, accept Christ as your savior, take care of the less fortunate and so on. I cannot see any reason any of this needs changing due to "the times". You're keen on stating that religious texts are "frozen" and religion itself is "frozen" but not so keen on discussing why you feel that way or what you feel needs to be changed.


Duane I just don't see a reason to focus on Christianity in particular - what struck me was that nearly all, if not all, of the mainstream religions got their doctrine from people who lived centuries if not millenia ago. That just seems odd to me (pariticularly considering current events, which one would think would inspire some sort of religious revelation.... But, what do I know...)

There is no shortage of opinions about portions of Christianity which might benefit from being revisited, though, if you're curious... this is one of the most notorious ones (among Christians at least)


message 37: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Perhaps because instead of adding to scripture, many of the religious simply reinterpret it in light of the current zeitgeist. Scripture could be used to both support slaver, or admonish it, for instance. The Pope does this as well, changing entire beliefs like the idea of limbo. Just another thought.


Duane That's what you'd expect if they were trying to adjust without opening a canon-of-worms, to be sure...

< < Duane **DUCKS** thrown objects (books, rotten fruit, etc... > >


message 39: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Ahahaha that was too good. Canon-of-worms!


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "I just don't see a reason to focus on Christianity in particular..."

Because, as I mentioned before, I am a Christian and I was curious about your thoughts. I'm bowing out of this. All I seem to get is "I just think it's odd..." without daring to venture further.


Duane The *odd* thing, to me at least, is that ALL the religions - or nearly all - just sort of dropped anchor (at least as far as the Canons are concerned) - back in the Dim Mists of Time. But I think I've gotten an explanation of that (although, interestingly, it doesn't conform to what was my pet theory...).

But no, I DON'T want to get into any supposed "deficiencies" or need for "modernization" of Christianity... I've already stuck my neck out (Bad Pun Intended) w/r/t Islam. Frankly I'm reluctant to "pick on" Christianity in particular just because I don't even know who *wrote* the New Testament - no one is even sure who the authors were, or what their sources were...

But, let me ask this one question, for instance - What if by some miracle a verifiable copy of the mysterious "Q Document" were to turn up? To my knowledge, even the most conservative of Christian scholars agree that it existed at one time and predated the current Gospels, whose authors accepted it as a sacred text. How would Christianity handle *that* eventuality, with respect to what is "canonical" and what is not?


message 42: by Dwayne (last edited Sep 21, 2014 06:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "The *odd* thing, to me at least, is that ALL the religions - or nearly all - just sort of dropped anchor (at least as far as the Canons are concerned) - back in the Dim Mists of Time."

Well, yes, I have gotten that much. I guess I don't see why it is odd to "drop anchor" on any sort of time. The writings from what you refer to as the "dim mists" are the closest writings we have to the time Christ walked the earth. We may not know specifically who wrote them, but it does seem probable that they were written by people that knew him or were at least one link away from knowing him. It is pretty safe to assume that the letters of Paul were written by Paul and that Luke was the author of the books of Luke and Acts. That makes up nearly half the New Testament.

I'm not sure why you refer to those times as dim mists. I'm not sure we aren't in a dimmer mistier time now. The people of what you call the "dim misty" time were thirsting for wisdom and knowledge. That doesn't seem to be the case today. I don't see a lot of people challenging themselves or their beliefs. I see a lot of people only grasping things that confirm what they already believe to be true.

Duane also wrote: "What if by some miracle a verifiable copy of the mysterious "Q Document" were to turn up?"

I don't believe I've read anything by any scholar that doubts that the Q document existed. It is hard to know how Christianity would handle it without knowing exactly what is in the document. If it is as many suspect another story of Christ along the same lines as the gospels we do have access to and there is nothing terribly different, I could see it easily accepted and maybe even canonized. It might cause a bit of trouble, however, if there was something in it that severely contradicted what was said in the gospels we have (such as John the Baptist being the actual Messiah and Jesus being one of his disciples). I can't imagine it would be that startlingly different from the stories we have, though.


message 43: by Duane (last edited Sep 21, 2014 11:53PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Duane Dwayne wrote: "I'm not sure why you refer to those times as dim mists. I'm not sure we aren't in a dimmer mistier time now. The people of what you call the "dim misty" time were thirsting for wisdom and knowledge. That doesn't seem to be the case today. I don't see a lot of people challenging themselves or their beliefs. (I see a lot of people only grasping things that confirm what they already believe to be true.
.
."


Well, see, now that goes back to my question about whether humanity has undergone a massive collective loss of intelligence (which is probably a poor choice of words, particularly since some would argue that we're just less "superstitious" nowadays) as one possible explanation for why we don't see anything being added to the "canons" in some official manner...
But when you see people following a Jim Jones or a Marshall Applewhite to their doom, in *this* supposedly enlightened age - can it possibly get any dumber than *that*?

("Dim Mists", though, just refers to the sort of situation that the Christian scriptures are in - nobody is really sure who wrote them, the chain of continuity has been lost between them and the founder(s) of the religion, etc...)


Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "Well, see, now that goes back to my question about whether humanity has undergone a massive collective loss of intelligence... as one possible explanation for why we don't see anything being added to the "canons" in some official manner..."

I don't see that as a lack of intelligence on anyone's part. Those of us that believe in the holy texts see no reason to change them. When something works for those that are using it and works perfectly, why change it?

Your response doesn't surprise me at all, though. In fact, it illustrates my point. Instead of challenging your ideas and beliefs, you take what I said and work it into what you already believe to be true. This is exactly what I meant when I said, "I don't see a lot of people challenging themselves or their beliefs. I see a lot of people only grasping things that confirm what they already believe to be true."

"Dim Mists", though, just refers to the sort of situation that the Christian scriptures are in - nobody is really sure who wrote them..."

As stated, when something works, it works. We don't need to know who invented the wheel or who baked the first loaf of bread. When something works, it works. The point of the Bible is not to understand the men (or women) that wrote it, but to have a better understanding of God. Whether Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Luke or any of the other possible authors really had a hand in it or not is not the point. The message is far greater in importance than who wrote it. I realize some scholars like Bart Ehrman are trying desperately to say that the authorship of the Bible is more important than the message, but it isn't. Unless, of course, you can demonstrate why it should be important.


message 45: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Isn't his contention because without the original words, we can only guess what Jesus may or may not have said and done? Surely that matters. I mean, we've discovered parts that were added that weren't in earlier copies, so if there were even earlier copies, and they also showed other parts that were added, that would really matter, right?


Dwayne Fry Will wrote: "Isn't his contention because without the original words, we can only guess what Jesus..."

Keep in mind he's also been skeptical of the Quran, which leads me to believe that even if we had a document in which the author claimed to be Jesus himself people like Duane would still have their doubts. And even if there was little doubt that it was written by Jesus, some would still brush him off as a lunatic, a misguided martyr or some other thing. Some parts of the Torah claim to be written by those that have had direct prophecies from God but Duane doesn't seem to allow that these authors are who they say they are. I've pointed out that most scholars agree that Paul and Luke wrote a good portion of the New Testament, but Duane is still saying we don't know who wrote it.


message 47: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Yeah I would have my doubts too since even in today's world there are those that claim divinity with followers who also claim to be eyewitnesses to miracles, so it's good to be skeptical on these matters.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the majority still hold to the books being anonymous, even with a minority saying we know Luke as the author, they still contend the evidence of this is minimal and inferred. But even if they weren't anonymous, we would still have the problem with earlier manuscripts being markedly different than later ones. Something vital could have been added or even left out entirely.


message 48: by Duane (last edited Sep 22, 2014 11:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Duane Dwayne wrote: "The point of the Bible is not to understand the men (or women) that wrote it, but to have a better understanding of God. Whether Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Luke or any of the other possible authors really had a hand in it or not is not the point. The message is far greater in importance than who wrote it."

That's arguably true... but it's a question of credibility. People always want "credentials", and without them you end up with Marshall Applewhite and Jim Jones - because at least they're standing there in person - and they are, in fact, directly competing with religious texts that were ALL written centuries ago. (I suppose you could argue that that much is just a marketing issue, admittedly.)

There are issues with any of the religions as far as the accurate transmission of the doctrines goes. Islam and others claim that the actual words of the prophet or whoever were written down directly by the disciples. With the Christian gospels, what you have is a "noisy filter", to borrow a term from electrical engineering, which might or might not detract from the "message"...

To further complicate matters, several religions (Christianity in its original form possibly included) claim that the "divine knowledge" can only be transmitted directly from the teacher to the student, and the acolytes therefore initially *deliberately* refrained from writing anything down! Then as time progressed they realized that the teachings were being lost, or corrupted, and arguments ensued about who really said what, and THEN you see the "sacred texts" getting written (and the conferences getting held...).

But where does all that leave the contemporary "student", in terms of trying to extract the truth from what's been handed down? Since it all originates in antiquity - many hundreds of years of it - who are they supposed to hire to "interpret" it all for them? A screaming one-eyed Mullah? A televangelist with a bad haircut and a reverb unit? Marshall Applewhite? or... ? (Admittedly I'm positing worst-case scenarios, but there are far too many of them... and their influence is pernicious far beyond their numbers. Our current POTUS, for insatance - a man with his finger on the nuclear trigger - for 20 years sat in a church listening to one of those screaming nutjobs... Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)


Dwayne Fry Will wrote: "...it's good to be skeptical on these matters. "

Of course it is. I certainly am not saying skepticism is bad. Except one will not find one's way to God by being purely skeptical. It just does not work. You have to have a little faith. You cannot read the Bible and study it and find your way. The Bible is a useful tool in getting to know God, but does not work on its own to bring one to God.

Will wrote: "...even with a minority saying we know Luke as the author"

You could be right. It has been some time since I've actually studied on that subject. I was thinking that most scholars agree that Luke and Acts were written by Paul's companion Luke and I know there is some evidence for that, but it might not be as common a belief as I think.

Will wrote: "But even if they weren't anonymous, we would still have the problem with earlier manuscripts being markedly different than later ones. Something vital could have been added or even left out entirely. "

I understand that concern! It's one of the many reasons I was not a Christian for most of my life. I didn't know if I could trust this weird old book with such a sketchy history. I honestly do understand where you guys are coming from. I mostly got into this because I just wanted to see if Duane had some interesting new ideas I had not encountered before.


message 50: by Dwayne (last edited Sep 25, 2014 07:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dwayne Fry Duane wrote: "That's arguably true... but it's a question of credibility. "

It needn't be. If the message serves to bring us closer to God and understand God better, there's no real need for "credentials". Hebrews is the book of the Bible in which the authorship is in most question. I believe there are at least a dozen people that are listed as possible authors. Yet, the message is powerful and good and true.

With the Christian gospels, what you have is a 'noisy filter', to borrow a term from electrical engineering, which might or might not detract from the 'message'

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "noisy filter". I'm not an engineer.

But where does all that leave the contemporary "student", in terms of trying to extract the truth from what's been handed down?

It leaves them were any student (sans unnecessary quotation marks) should be: seeking the truth from God and using the Bible as a guide. The message is more important than who wrote it down or how it got to us. I know there is a movement among the non-believers that is getting stronger and louder each day. I know that many alleged professors of religion are fronting this movement, not teaching religion, but teaching fear and doubt. This is one of the things they are trying to do is discredit the Bible (and other holy texts) by casting doubt where there doesn't need to be. When I buy an appliance for my house, I don't worry about who wrote the directions. I follow them and enjoy my appliance. I don't need to know for certain which apostles wrote what parts of the Bible. Their instructions have brought me closer to God and that's all that matters.

Admittedly I'm positing worst-case scenarios...

I see that. This is generally what I encounter, too, in conversations with non-believers. They rarely mention the very best Christianity has had to offer (Mother Teresa, for instance) nor do they want to discuss the millions of average folk that follow religion. To make a point they always go for the worst case scenarios.

Our current POTUS, for insatance - a man with his finger on the nuclear trigger...

Ah, yes. The real enemy has left his mark in your words. And I'm sure he has convinced you he isn't real. Well, whether you acknowledge Satan as real or not, you can surely see that your arguments are tainted with paranoia of all things religion. I guess if there were one thing, then, that I could leave you with it would be this: we're not all evil people. We may do evil from time to time, but more in the form of small lies or uttering a bit of profanity. But, most of us are just average folks trying to make a living, loving God, doing our best to love our neighbor and so on. We're not all Marshall Applewhites. We're not all going to ask you to drink the Kool-Aid. We're not all screaming nutjobs. If we were, the human population would have been eliminated by now. Have no fear.


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