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Bible history

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:10 pm
by missann
Hey Holly,

I am wondering if you could help me in regards to which was the original bible. My husband seems to recall reading that the bible was letters written to churches and that they used to carry them around with them. And eventually made it a book. He also remembers reading that the Catholics (although they wouldn't have been called catholics back then, I don't think) were the ones with the original bible.

Since we all know that the catholic bible contains additional books than the King James, I was wondering which proceeded which. He thinks the catholic bible came before, so it is the true bible. He says this without being a catholic, so he is not trying to say his is right.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 12:35 am
by Holly
Hi missann!

Your husband is right that many New Testament books were originally written as letters that were circulated through the early churches. These are called "epistles" (which is a Greek word meaning "letters") and include books like 1 and 2 Corinthians, which were both written by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth.

The difference between the Catholic Bible and Protestant Bible is that the Catholic Bible contains 11 extra items in the Old Testament. These items are known as the "apocrypha" or "deuterocanonical books." They include seven books and four parts of books (these four parts are extra sections in Esther and Daniel that we don't have in our Protestant Bible).

The earliest Bibles did not contain the apocrypha. The Catholic Church didn't officially declare these books to be part of inspired Scripture until the Council of Trent in 1546.

The apocrypha wasn't accepted as Scripture by Jesus and the Jews of Jesus' day. It also wasn't accepted by the first four centuries of Christians. There were good reasons for this. It did not meet the criteria for being recognized as God's inspired word.

For example, none of the apocryphral books were written by a prophet or claim to be written by a prophet. In fact, one of them (Maccabees) specifically states that it was not written by a prophet. This alone rules out these books as Scripture since the No. 1 criteria for Scripture is that it has prophetic or apostolic authority behind it.

However, the early church did seem to have great respect for the apocryphal books and quoted from them a lot. But they didn't regard them as Scripture.

A great book that addresses this topic (any many, many others!) is the "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics" by Norman Geisler. It is a very handy resource to have.

Hope this helps!

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:01 am
by missann
Thank you Holly! Yes, it helps tremendously.

Now, if you could tell me the purposes of The Council of Trent and The Council of Nicea that would help even more. I have never heard of the Council of Trent.

I only know a tiny bit about the Council of Nicea, that it had Constantine involved. Is it true that they struggled to decide whether or not Jesus was divine at this meeting?

Thank you again!!

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 6:32 pm
by Holly
Hi missann! Sorry for the slow reply. The holidays have kept me busy.

The Council of Trent — held in Northern Italy between 1545 and 1563 — was convened by the Roman Catholic Church in response to the doctrinal challenges of the Protestant Reformation. Many major Catholic teachings were solidified there. One of the things they determined there, as I mentioned above, is that the apocryphal books are inspired Scripture. Another Catholic doctrine that was solidified was that justification before God is based on faith plus good works (not faith alone, as the Protestant reformers said).

The Council of Nicea — held in present-day Turkey in 325 — was convened by Constantine in response to the spreading Arian heresy. The Arians said Christ was a created being — the first and most powerful created being. (Jehovah's Witnesses are modern-day Arians.) The Council met to combat this heretical teaching. The vast majority of the church leaders believed Christ was divine. They simply met to determine how his human nature and divine nature interacted. They wanted to more precisely define orthodox Christian doctrines in order to prevent the spread of heresies, like the Arian heresy.

Hope this helps!

PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:25 am
by missann
Yes, thank you. Apologetics and the history of religion is fascinating! I wish I had the patience to study it in depth. I struggle so much with the "why's" and I think if I were to know more I would of course understand more and hopefully would be more at peace with it all.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:57 pm
by Holly

If you want to learn more about apologetics (defending the Christian faith), I would recommend checking out Greg Koukl's Web site for his ministry, called "Stand to Reason."

Greg has a huge selection of articles on many topics that would probably interest you, plus he has a nice, down-to-earth writing style. I really think he has an important ministry of equipping the saints to better understand and communicate their faith.