Combining into

Because it has become insanely difficult to manage a bulletin board these days, the managers of Rapture Ready and Rapture Forums have decided to join our boards together under a software program that is easier to manage. Because RF has their database operating well under an Enforo license, we decided to make Rapture Forums the focal point of a consolidation. Since Chris, the owner of RF, has long experience in running a forum, he can better manage the problems that come with this technology.

If you do not have an account at, please sign up. By the end of November, it will become the forward address of
See more
See less

The Bible--Are the books of the bible the complete writings of the various authors?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Bible--Are the books of the bible the complete writings of the various authors?


    I had someone ask me recently about the completeness of the scriptures.

    She basically thought (was told/learned) that for instance the book of Matthew was not the complete writings of his.

    I thought it was, and never heard of what she was asking about, so I thought I would ask.



  • #2
    There are a couple of references in patristic writings to a Hebrew (or Aramaic; I doubt the fathers knew the difference) gospel of Matthew, which some scholars believe was not an original for the Greek gospel of Matthew in the NT but a different edition written by the same author. Paul refers to a previous letter he wrote to the Corinthians which is no longer extant, and possibly to a letter to the church at Laodicea (although some interpreters take that to be Ephesians).

    So, most likely, yes, there were additional writings by NT authors which were not incorporated into the NT canon.

    I'm not sure why your friend would think that's important. Just because Paul was an apostle it doesn't mean every word he breathed was divinely inspired and meant to be preserved for the ages.


    • #3
      Thanks so much!

      I don't know that she is a Christian, and sense that she is turned off by religion--she does not seem to understand how a relationship with Christ is different from religion. She has a very broad view of God, but does not understand truth.

      I hope to witness to her, and thought it would be good to at least try to answer her questions.

      Thanks again,



      • #4

        Mau God bless you as you witness to her with your words and, most of all, your love.


        • #5
          Originally posted by mark1970 View Post

          I had someone ask me recently about the completeness of the scriptures.

          She basically thought (was told/learned) that for instance the book of Matthew was not the complete writings of his.

          I thought it was, and never heard of what she was asking about, so I thought I would ask.


          Numerous books were written, only a few selected by the reformers as inspired text

          Revelation 22:17a The Spirit and Bride are now saying, "Come!" The ones who hear are now saying, "Come!" The ones who thirst are now saying, "Come!" so come LORD Jesus !
 |The Watch Parables | The Rapture | Romans | The Virgin Mary | Roman Catholicism
          Never Heard of Jesus? | The Evidence Bible | Tent Meeting | The Beast/666 | The Kingdom of Darkness | The Nephilim


          • #6
            This question is just out of curiosity Buzzardhut,

            Does anyone know who were the Reformers were?



            • #7
              Actually, it seems the question of what the final Cannon of the Bible should be was considered several times over the centuries, and most of the Books were agreed upon again and again. I have two books on the origin of the Bible, but I don't recall a discussion on the identity of the Reformers being listed. On the heavy scholarship side there's The Origin Of The Bible by Phillip Comfort, JI Packer, FF Bruce and Carl F H Henry (one book, 4 authors there). On the less intense level there's How We Got The Bible by Neil R Lightfoot. Both are excellent reads, I've had both in my collection for many years.


              • #8
                On the tin hat side of things , and dare I cite the Da Vinci Code as a possible source, I would concur with Dan Brown's allusion that there are manuscripts that may be deliberately hidden within the Vatican vaults which may have gone even further to refute various teachings of the RCC.

                Just an idle speculation that has no proof or bearing.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by carrieb View Post
                  On the tin hat side of things , and dare I cite the Da Vinci Code as a possible source, I would concur with Dan Brown's allusion that there are manuscripts that may be deliberately hidden within the Vatican vaults which may have gone even further to refute various teachings of the RCC.

                  Just an idle speculation that has no proof or bearing.
                  There are A LOT of manuscripts and artifacts and other type stuff in Vatican vaults, seems plausible.

                  I have a book that I just love, "Things that are different are not the same" by Dr Mickey Carter. Highly recommend it. Shows where we get the bible we have today and that contrary to what some may say, it does matter which version you use. Some manuscripts used for certain versions are corrupted.

                  To the op - great question, Ive been watching this thread. I had never really thought about it. Sure seems likely that not everything the authors of the bible wrote would be inspired.

                  Did the authors have any idea that their writings would even be in the bible or something similar?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mark1970 View Post
                    This question is just out of curiosity Buzzardhut,

                    Does anyone know who were the Reformers were?

                    In Evidence that Demands a Verdict, biblical apologist Josh McDowell cites the derivation of "canon" as coming from a root word meaning "reed", coming to mean some sort of standard. With regard to the Bible, a canon is an officially accepted list of books.

                    This is important with regard to the fundamentalist's attitude towards the Bible. If the Word of God is inerrant, or something close to it, then deciding that a book is a member of the canon of the Bible is to proclaim it infallible. The true believer now regards a canonical book as no mere human creation, but God-breathed and incapable of error. It now has magical powers. It has been observed by some Christians that fundamentalists do not so much worship Jesus as worship a book; thus, they are bibliolaters.

                    How can we discover which of thousands of religious books in the world have these magical powers? Most of the authors of this book, a response to Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict, are skeptical of all religious claims, and are content to answer that there are no magic books. However, a Christian wishing to increase the gift of knowledge in a mature faith, must ask the same questions that skeptics ask.

                    If God wished to send a message to us, there would have been some way to communicate directly to us; everyone, in all eras. Instead, Jews, Christians and Muslims say that God sent a series of messengers, some of whom wrote books that were preserved.

                    But which persons were actually inspired? Some conservative Christians answer that, it is easy to see that the books of the Protestant Bible were written by God, while the books of other religions -- the Koran, for instance -- were instead the products of demon possession.[3]

                    We'd like to hear directly from God about which books constitute his message. As Paul wrote, "Let God be true, but every man a liar." (Rom. 3:4) But God has not spoken in this way. Instead, is there some special list, authorized by Jesus, or the original apostles, of books that are specially approved? "God says that these books are the Bible," we'd like to hear. There is no such list.[4] Who, then, decided what books would be in our Bible?

                    Back in the fourth century, some bishops took a vote on it. Rather, several church councils voted for conflicting lists, the contradictions of which took centuries more to resolve. These votes came after a long period of sorting and choosing by the churches at large, so that the choice was not haphazard; it was, however, arbitrary in many respects. Because of differences over the Apocrypha, there remains no agreement about which books are in the Christian Old Testament.

                    A Christian may answer that the Church chose the books that were already obviously of higher quality and inspired, and the councils approved these books because they were authoritative in themselves. In this view, the books of the Bible don't have authority because some bishops voted on it, but that they have obvious intrinsic qualities. Many scholars agree, that as a rough cut, the books that made the canon are mostly better in some ways than those that did not. However, few scholars would agree that there is a sharp line of difference between the two groups, a "bright line" definition, in lawyers' jargon.

                    What qualities, then, would lead one to believe that these books were not merely good or spiritual, but actually infallible?

                    For unbelievers, the choice is arbitrary, almost accidental. As we shall see, the choice of the books largely depended not only whether a book concerned the things of God, but that it had to describe the right kind of God, and the right kind of Jesus.

                    Protestants often contrast church tradition, on the one hand, with the authority of holy scripture, on the other. But since the `Canon' is a church tradition, there really is only one kind of authority. Since the Holy Spirit was supposed to be working in the minds of the believers, and in the Church as the body of Christ,[5] it might seem reasonable to accept as inspired the actions of church councils throughout history. The Church of England, for instance, recognizes the first four or six Ecumenical Councils as authoritative.[6] Following this logic, we should inquire what the councils of historical Christianity declare to be books of the Bible.

                    However, if we examine church history, it is hard for us to see inspiration at work. There is God, and then there are churches, composed of ordinary fallible humans.

                    Individual Christians who may not believe in the authority of church tradition or councils should choose for themselves which books they regard as infallible. This approach, in fact, is in accord with some of the major Protestant traditions. John Calvin, the reformer of Geneva, wrote that the Word of God is recognized by the interior light of the believer. The Westminister Confession of the Reformed tradition declares that, "The authority of the Holy Scripture ... dependeth not on the testimony of any man or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof. ... Our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness, by and with the Word, in our hearts. ..."[7]

                    Of course, most Protestants don't take the idea of an inner light as far as the Quakers, who found it a more important authority altogether than that of the written scriptures.[8]

                    In Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell warns us, "One thing to keep in mind is that the church did not create the canon or books included in what we call Scripture. Instead, the church recognized the books that were inspired from their inception. They were inspired by God when written."[9] Despite attempting to sever the Bible from any authority based on history or tradition, McDowell nevertheless argues for evidence of their historical support.

                    Furthermore, the following assertions cannot be supported by the evidence: (1) that the church did not create the canon; and, (2) that the church recognized these books as inspired from their inception. Instead, Christians of the first century recognized the written Old Testament as scripture, but honored an oral tradition of the teaching of Jesus and his apostles, a "living and abiding voice,"[10] and did not regard their written books -- when finally created -- as an inspired, fixed canon.

                    Indeed, inspiration seems to have little to do with the selection. As Gamble notes after a detailed discussion, "The NT writings did not become canonical because they were believed to be uniquely inspired; rather, they were judged to be inspired because they had previously commended themselves to the church for other, more particular and practical reasons."[11]

                    In the second century after the birth of Jesus, a core of what we know as the New Testament began to take shape. Many works that are now no longer regarded as scripture were used and included with now canonical works from time to time and place to place. Finally, the specific group of 27 books that are now printed in Christian New Testaments came together in the fourth century CE. Christians still do not agree which books belong in the Old Testament, and there is no prospect of agreement.

                    What Books Belong in the Bible?

                    Mr. McDowell gives us a list of tests of a book for inclusion in the canon:

                    1. Is it authoritative?

                    2. Is it prophetic?

                    3. Is it authentic?

                    4. Is it dynamic?

                    5. Was it received, collected, read and used?

                    These criteria roughly correspond to some of those used throughout the history of western religion, especially Christianity. However, each one of them has problems.

                    The first four categories require subjective judgment. Usually, the works considered authoritative, prophetic, authentic and dynamic are the books that include doctrines and material with which you basically agree.

                    Whether a particular work was received, collected, read and used can be approached historically. There at least two problems, however, applying this to one's faith.

                    If you study how religious bodies use a book, you are studying the conclusions reached by humans. The books they chose reflect their own ideas. Naturally, they chose books that were in line with the religious experience of particular communities. Human reason and experience is untrustworthy; after all, "Let God be true, but every man a liar." How can you know the word of a perfect God by studying sinning humans, even if they are church members? Bishops? Councils? Popes?

                    Secondly, there is no one set of books received, collected, read and used by the entire Christian Church. As documented below, the canon as we know it did not exist for the first 300 years of the church. The use of lists of books varied over time and location; entire national churches to this day use a list of inspired books either longer or shorter than that used by American Protestants.

                    Nevertheless, defenders of the present canons may take comfort that the bodies of works revered by each community all have long histories of relative stability and tradition. The discussion that follows, however, show that there is no one shiny list that Christians can boast about as the Bible, once and for everybody.

                    McDowell argues for "apostolic authority'' as a criterion for inclusion of New Testament books.

                    What does this mean? If it means that some books seem more authoritative than others, this means that you accept the books that agree with the doctrines that you have already accepted.

                    Once again, this is a circular argument. Why was the Gospel of Thomas excluded? Because it was written from a doctrinal point of view that lost the political war within the established church.[12] However, from a historical point of view, there is no warrant to consider Thomas less authentic than one of the currently received gospels.[13] According to Charlesworth, "It is potentially misleading to use the terms 'noncanonical,' 'canonical,' 'heresy,' and 'orthodoxy' when describing either Early Judaism or Early Christianity."[14]

                    "Apostolic authority'' usually meant that a book was written either by an apostle, or by someone directed by an apostle. According to second century church writers, Mark was an associate of Peter, and Luke was a companion of Paul.

                    However, the authenticity of books of the New Testament was already in question in antiquity. Particularly disputed were Hebrews, James, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation. The authorship of these seven books are indeed the ones questioned by Origen, about 200 CE.[15] Hebrews is an anonymous book, and not really an epistle at all. Origen had some theories about it being written by a disciple of Paul, but concluded, "God only knows," who wrote it.[16]

                    Questions, however, were also raised also about other books. Technically, all four gospels are also anonymous, being given their present names, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John by church tradition.[17] Even ancient church leaders who agreed that "John'' was the name of the author of the Book of Revelation disagreed about whether it was John the son of Zebedee, or a John the Elder.[18]

                    Modern scholarship can demonstrate that more than half of the books of the New Testament were not written by apostles, nor by the persons named in tradition. For instance, C. F. D. Moule writes that the authorship of John is widely disputed, "And Matthew, in its present form, can hardly have been written by an apostle."[19]

                    The dating of the gospels is within the possible natural life spans of these illustrious persons, and the books may possibly contain some material from eyewitnesses; nevertheless, the books, in the form we have them, seem to be second-hand compilation of diverse, even contradictory traditions. According to another scholar, the idea that Matthew was written by an eyewitness of the crucifixion is chronologically possible, "But an investigation of the sources used in this Gospel will show that this cannot be the case."[20]

                    Harry Y. Gamble argues concerning apostolicity, that although it was used for judgments by the early church, it is "mistaken to confine the idea of apostolicity to literary authenticity." Several books thought to be written by apostles were rejected, while others who were anonymous or disputed made it into the canon. "Widespread and important as this criterion was, it must still be said that no NT writing secured canonical stand on the basis of apostolicity alone."[21] Burton L. Mack writes that at the time of early Christianity in the empire under Constantine, i.e., the fourth century, "There was apparently agreement on the criterion of apostolicity but not on which books were apostolic."[22]

                    If "apostolic authority'' means that we accept the books approved by the original apostles, we have no idea what these figures accepted, except for the books of the Hebrew bible, and other works which they quoted. It is likely that none of what they wrote themselves - for instance, the undisputed letters of Paul --was considered inspired at the time it was written. Instead, first century Christians primarily used an oral tradition, the "words of the Lord;"[23] some of the books we now use appear to have written as secondary and complementary aids to devotion and evangelism.

                    Were the books read, collected, and used? Scholars posit the quality of catholicity, that they were used by the entire church, and indeed, were written to the entire church. However, most of the letters of Paul were written to particular local communities and not to the church at large, and thus were not catholic, i.e., universal.

                    Gamble finds that several books that met the standard of widespread usage, e. g., The Shepherd, 1 Clement, The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles (the Didache), did not make it into the canon, while other books which did not have a long history of usage and broad currency were included. Examples of books of this last category are James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John.[24]

                    The standard of orthodoxy is not explicitly stated by McDowell. But scholar Gamble emphasizes orthodoxy, and explains that it "means, of course, that the tradition of the church's faith was understood to be somehow extrinsic to the writings which were judged according to it. In this sense, it rightly said that ecclesiastical tradition was prior to scripture and served the touchstone of scripture's authority."[25] These documents, once chosen, also influenced the doctrines that the community accepted, and so the relationship was circular. The standard of orthodoxy, however, was not applied to the writings of Paul or to the synoptic Gospels.[26] It is was not imagined that Paul could write contrary to the assumed orthodoxy. Yet the differences of theology and detail are frozen into the texts, and the diversity of the very early church is sealed into the canon.

                    The Old Testament

                    The story of the Christian Bible begins with the Hebrew scriptures. The books in the following table comprise the Hebrew arrangement of the scriptures, called by Christians the Old Testament or Old Covenant. Most Christian Bibles contain 39 books, but the table of contents in a Hebrew edition will show 24 books. This is because several groupings of the books are combined into single books, which groupings were kept on a single scroll. The 24 books are the same books as the Protestant Old Testament in a different form. Most modern editions of the Bible use or refer to the Hebrew text as a standard, consulting other ancient versions for corrections of errors.

                    The Law, Torah: 5 books. Genesis





                    The Prophets, Nebiim: 8 Books. The Former Prophets, 4 books Joshua


                    Samuel (Our 1 Sam. and 2 Sam.)

                    Kings (Our 1 and 2 Kings)

                    The Latter Prophets, 4 books Isaiah



                    The Twelve: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

                    The Writings, Ketubim: 11 books. Psalms



                    Song of Songs







                    Chronicles (our 1 and 2)

                    Books in the Hebrew Bible

                    The historical process of creating the Hebrew scriptures is reflected in the three-part structure of the tradition: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.

                    The Law, or Torah, was the five books that were supposed to have been written by Moses. Traditional chronology, i.e., the little note in my King James Version, places Moses' death at 1451 BCE.

                    A single book of the law was "discovered" in the temple at Jerusalem in the time of Josiah, about 641 BCE. This event brought about a religious reformation in the Kingdom of Judah.[27] Scholars believe that this was the book of Deuteronomy, or part of it. It probably was somewhat shorter than the complete book we have, because it was read twice in a single day.[28]

                    The greatest step in the Torah, or law, becoming canonical, is recorded in the Ezra tradition. On a new year's day festival in the fifth century BCE, there was a public reading of the "book of the law," and public instruction by priests and scribes. We are not told of what the law consisted at this time.[29] There eventually came to be five books of the law, either collected or edited from existing materials.

                    During the fourth to second century BCE, the Law reached final form and "canonical" status. The community of Samaritans uses the complete Torah, consisting of all five books, but no other part of the Hebrew Bible.[30] Despite the similarity of their beliefs, the Jews rejected the Samaritans about this time.

                    The Septuagint translation of the Torah (often signified by LXX, Roman numerals for seventy) probably began to be made in third-century BCE Alexandria, Egypt, for Greek-speaking Jews.[31] We read in the story of how the translation came to be made, that the Greek king wished the "law books of the Jews" to be added to the library at Alexandria, but not books of prophets or other writings at that time. This is consistent with the supposition that these last two divisions of the Hebrew Bible were not yet settled.

                    There are textual differences between the LXX and the Hebrew. In many of these, the Samaritan texts agree with the LXX against the Hebrew. Scholars use these clues to try to determine the original text; and in this case, witness to Hebrew usage from this period.

                    Some of the prophets spoke and wrote before the exile, and we believe that a portion of their writings have reached us today in the Bible. However, a great number of other writings also existed, and there is no evidence that there existed -- at the time of Ezra -- an exclusive collection of inspired writings outside of the Law of Moses, and yet also separate from religious writings in general.

                    There are a considerable number of works quoted by the Bible, but do not themselves appear in our canon. Some of them made it into the Apocrypha, some are preserved in fragments by the Jews in Qumran (the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls). Here is a list of sources used by Biblical writers, but that are not themselves preserved in our canon.

                    The Book of the Wars of Yahweh Numbers 21:14

                    The Book of the Just (Jashar) Joshua 10:13

                    The Annals of King David 1 Chronicles 27:24

                    More about David written by Nathan the prophet; a book by Samuel the Seer (not 1-2 Samuel), and a book by Gad the Seer. 1 Chron. 29:29

                    A biography of Solomon in the history of Nathan the prophet; Visions of Iddo the seer 2 Chronicles 9:29

                    The Annals of the Kings of Israel 1 Kings 14:19, 2 Chron. 33: 18; cf. 2 Chron. 20:34

                    The Annals of the Kings of Judah 1 Kings 14:29, 15:7

                    The Acts of Solomon 1 Kings 11:41

                    Histories written by Shemaiah the prophet, and by Iddo the seer 2 Chron. 12:15

                    Iddo's History of Judah 2 Chron. 13:22

                    Annals of Jehu son of Hanani 2 Chron. 20:34

                    An unknown and untitled work of Isaiah 2 Chron. 26:22

                    An unknown lament for Josiah by Jeremiah 2 Chron. 35:25

                    'Lost' books: A table of citations in the Christian Old Testament of books which are not part of the Bible.[32]

                    We note that use of a book does not necessarily convey canonical status. However, the style of quotation is a main clue to acceptance of a work as authoritative, especially by later rabbis, and by Christian writers. Indeed, at the time of the writing of the biblical books of Kings and Chronicles, there was no canon at all, save possibly part of the Law. This list does, however, show us that were a number of books extant, from which some were later selected the ones worth preserving as scripture. A little later, we will deal with the books of the Old Testament Apocrypha, and with yet other works quoted by New Testament authors.

                    The progress of collection and effective "canonization" of the Hebrew Bible is shrouded in mystery. At some time after the Law was formed, the Jews collected writings attributed to the prophets. A onebook Law of Moses, developed into the five-book Torah. To the Torah was added a second group of books, collectively called "The Prophets." There appears to have been, for some time, a two-part Hebrew "canon," the Law and the Prophets.[33] It was believed that true prophets had become rarer, and had ceased altogether by the time of the Maccabees.[34]

                    Later Jewish tradition, which may have influenced the closing of the Hebrew canon, said that inspiration ceased with the time of Ezra. Some Christians and Jews believed in the continuing revelation through prophets at least to the time of John the Baptist.[35] Thus, to them, the canon could not be limited to works of a previous age.

                    At the time of the continued translation of the Septuagint, the Law was complete, and the list of prophets was circumscribed. However, the third category, the Writings or Kethubhim, was still open. For this reason, the Septuagint is a variable collection, usually containing all or most of what we place in the Old Testament Apocrypha, as well as what is found in the Hebrew Bible. There seems to have been no "Alexandrian canon," for the Jews of Alexandria never had an official canon of that kind. The principles used for the LXX beyond that of the Law and the Prophets -- in the vague collection called "Writings" -- is not known.[36]

                    The earliest witness to a three-part Hebrew Bible -- the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings -- is in the prologue of the book of Ben Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus. The prologue in Greek, added by the translator, was written about 130 BCE. The writer refers to the Hebrew arrangement of the Old Testament in the opening passages: "the law and the prophets and the others that followed them." This shows that he probably used approximately the same books that we know. In particular, there is no list. In the text of the book, Sirach refers to most of the Old Testament. However, he does not cite from the books of Daniel or Esther, or refer to their leading characters. This appears to have been because these books had only recently been written[37] and not yet accepted. The expression, "the others," which stands in for the Writings division, is particularly vague and does not define what books are to be included in it.

                    Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, is witness to the books used by the Jews in the first century CE. Josephus says that the Jews have exactly 22 sacred texts. Our Bibles have 39 books of the Old Testament. It is likely that certain books were folded together in the same scrolls (e.g., the Twelve Prophets), but consistent Jewish tradition after the second century C.E. makes 24 books, not 22.[38] Where are the missing books? Are they really missing?

                    Josephus presents a three-part division, similar to the known Hebrew canon, but he counts only 22 books. Besides five books of Moses, he writes that there are thirteen books of the prophets, and four books of hymns to God and precepts for life.[39]

                    His 22 books may have meant exactly the same books as the later rabbinical 24, although he does not give us the details. In order to get the same books as the Hebrew canon, it is supposed by some scholars that Ruth formed part of Judges, and Lamentations was counted with Jeremiah. Both of these assumed combinations occur across the major threefold division of the current Hebrew canon, as well as transferring all the books of the Writings to the Prophets except Psalms, Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes.[40]

                    The joining of Ruth to Judges is supported by Christian sources, such as Origen as recorded by Eusebius.[41] Origen states that there are 22 books in the canon. So does Jerome, but he also gives the number in different passages also as 24 or 27, depending on the doubling of certain books.[42] To get to 24 from 22, Jerome specifically mentions moving Ruth and Lamentations to the Writings division of books. However, Jerome lived about three hundred years after Josephus. The number, 22, doesn't seem necessarily to be an exact counting of anything, being an attractive round number; it is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

                    Some scholars, based on this folding argument, are certain that Josephus is giving a fixed canon, the same as we know today. The certainty is unjustified. We just don't know what books he was using. According to prominent canon scholar James A. Sanders, "On the other hand, in the case of Josephus there may simply have been only 22 books to count as canonical by the beginning of the fourth quarter of the first century C.E. ... It is clear that there is too much certainty about Josephus' canon has been drawn from AgAp 1.37-43 [the passage in question]."[43]

                    Written about the same time as Josephus, the noncanonical book of 2 Esdras (14:45-8) gives the number of books as 24. In addition, there are supposed to be 70 additional, secret books given only to selected leaders. Thus, to the writer of 2 Esdras, there are many important religious books, but that are not canonical. The Babylonian Talmud mentions only the 24 books.[44] Josephus' 22 books can only be the same as the later canonical 24 if he is counting differently than all the early Jewish witnesses.

                    Even among the canonical books, there were differences in authority, and completely outside the written canon, there was oral tradition. According to James Barr, "For Jewish Law, the real canonical document is the Torah, and beside it the other parts of the biblical canon are quite subsidiary; but alongside the Torah there is from an early date the recognition of the oral tradition of law; and the elaborations of discussions of this oral tradition, eventually collected in the Mishnah and Talmud, though not termed 'canonical' or 'biblical', fulfills for Jewish law (along with the Torah itself) a role closer to that assumed by scripture, in relation to theology, in Christianity."[45]

                    In Jesus' time, it appears that it was not just the Pharisees that had oral traditions that rivaled scripture, but the Sadducees and Essenes as well.[46] Josephus, the historian, attributes some things to Moses that are not in the bible;[47] Philo's interpretations have the same source. Some of these were interpretations of the written law, arrived at by sages; but others were received traditions, said to have come from Moses himself, but unwritten.

                    In summary, at the time of Jesus, the Bible in Palestine consisted of the five books of the Torah, and the collection of the Prophets. Sometimes a third category was added to these two, the Writings, whose contents were undefined, but contained, at least, most of the books chosen for the later Hebrew bible. In Alexandria, the Writings were quite extensive, lacking a formal canon; but when the Bible was printed in Greek, it contained a varying number of books, usually most of what is now in the Apocrypha. To this was added an oral tradition of law, some of which is attributed was attributed to Moses. New Testament writers also quote from various traditions not in our Bibles quite freely, and treat them as if they were inspired.[48]

                    The third section of the Hebrew bible, the Writings, probably was crystallized about the end of the first century CE. Many scholars question whether the Council of Jamnia, in which Jewish scholars supposedly set the Hebrew canon, really took place at all.

                    The evidence for the decisions of the so-called Council of Jamnia is far from clear. From the fragments of discussions that have come down to us, we see that doubts were raised about Ezekiel, Proverbs, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Ezekiel was questioned because its description of ritual regulation differed from those of the Torah. Ecclesiastes was suspect because it appeared to contradict itself (e.g., 4:2, 9:4), and was alleged to contain heretical teaching (e.g., 1:3).[49]

                    Even after the supposed council of Jamnia, books of the Old Testament canon came in to question. As late as the third or possibly even fourth century CE, some rabbis denied that the book of Esther as "defiling the hands," the closest way in Hebrew to describe a book as being officially canonical.[50]




                    Song of Solomon


                    Books of the Old Testament disputed by some rabbis in the first century C.E. and later.[51]

                    In any case, the 24 book practical canon was widely adopted in the next few centuries until the emergence of the Massoretic text, but not quite universally. To this day, Ethiopian Jews keep a canon closer to the Septuagint.

                    Bishop Melito of Sardis, in the fourth century, went to Palestine to discover which Hebrew books belonged in the canon. McDowell cites the list of the Old Testament compiled by Melito, Bishop of Sardis. He made a journey to the eastern Roman Empire, "... the place where it all happened and the truth was proclaimed, I obtained precise information about the Old Testament books, and made out the list which I am now sending you ..."[52]

                    Melito's list gives us insight about Christian use of the Old Testament in the late second century. Christians generally used the Old Testament as scripture, but Melito was uncertain as to what books should be included. If he had already known what they were, he would not have to journey. His report, repeated by Eusebius, omits Esther.[53]

                    Esther is not quoted by Christ, nor by any of the New Testament writers. There has been no copy of Esther found at Qumran, the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The early Christian church made no use of it, and no church father attempted an exposition of it. Origen does not include it in the list of historical books.[54] It was also omitted by bishop Athanasius in the famous Easter Letter of 367 C.E., the first list to included the exact set of books of today's New Testament;[55] and Gregory of Nanzianzus (d. 391 C.E.) omitted it as well.[56]

                    Since several early Christian lists omit Esther, and because of the urgency of Melito's expressed intent, this is probably not a mere oversight. Lamentations and Nehemiah are also not listed, but it is probable that they are combined into Jeremiah and Ezra, respectively.

                    It appears that Esther is a bit of a mistake and embarrassment, and the Talmud contains relatively late criticisms of it. Finally accepted into the Hebrew Bible, more targums and midrashes were based on Esther, by subsequent rabbis, than any other portion of the OT. However, "With this verdict of late Judaism modern Christians cannot agree. The Book is so conspicuously lacking in religion that it should never have been included in the Canon of the OT., but should have been left with Judith and Tobit among the apocryphal writings," according to scholar Lewis B. Paton.[57]

                    What Does the New Testament say about the Old Testament?

                    Scholars agree that Jesus' use of the Old Testament books was generally the same as Palestinian Jews, so far as the use of books. Jesus refers to the Law and the Prophets, and once to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, an indistinct collection. The New Testament writers omit Esther, as did the Qumran Essene community, as did Sirach, and many early rabbis. Jesus is often quoted as introducing passages with the quotationformula, "as it is written."

                    Seeking the testimony of Christ as witness to the Old Testament canon, Josh McDowell cites Luke 11:51 and Matthew 23:35. "From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah." McDowell avers that Jesus endorsed the Hebrew canon as preserved by the Jews, from Genesis to 2 Chronicles, which is the last book in scripture according to the Jewish tradition.

                    In referring to Matthew 23:35, Josh McDowell brings up a real can of worms. In Matt. 23:35, Jesus is quoted as saying, "the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar." However the prophet stoned in the temple in 2 Chron. 24:20-21 is Zechariah the son of Jehoiada. According to scholars, there does not appear to be a plausible solution other than it was a mistake of some kind -- but of what kind, exactly? It has been suggested that "Matthew" has picked up the name of Zechariah the son of Baruch, who was also murdered in the temple precincts in 68 C. E., more than thirty years after Jesus was supposed to have spoken,[58] but within the time of the writing of the gospels.

                    The New Testament can't even quote the Old Testament straight.

                    The most likely explanation is that Matthew confused two persons together: Zechariah the priest (son of Jehoiada, 2 Chron. 24:20-2); and Zechariah the prophet (son of Berechiah, Zech. 1:1). It is unlikely that a literate Jew would have made this mistake. The Zechariah of Chronicles was the subject of a number of rabbinical traditions, making it a "not unfamiliar part of scripture."[59]

                    Of course, if Jesus was referring to some other, unknown Zechariah, then he could not have been bearing witness to the Old Testament canon -- which was what McDowell was trying to prove.

                    Protestant founder Martin Luther knew that the Bible contained verbal errors and inconsistencies. He knew that Mat. 27:9 mistakenly cited Jeremiah for Zechariah. 'But such points do not bother me particularly,' he wrote.[60]

                    We return to the story of the canon. Besides the passages listed by McDowell where the Christian New Testament quotes from the Hebrew bible, the NT book Jude (v. 14-16) quotes the noncanonical book, Enoch (1 Enoch 1:9). Is it scripture? Jude 9 also quotes an unknown work. Later commentators say this passage is a quote from the Assumption of Moses, which may be related to The Testament of Moses, of which we have a portion. Compare Heb. 11:37 with The Martyrdom of Isaiah.

                    Other N.T. quotations with unknown sources: John 7:38, Luke 11:49, and James 4:5.[61]

                    Jude 14-16 1 Enoch 1:9

                    Jude 9 Unknown, perhaps The Assumption of Moses

                    Heb. 11:37 The Martyrdom of Isaiah

                    John 7:38 Unknown

                    Luke 11:49 Unknown

                    James 4:5 Unknown

                    2 Timothy 3:8f Jannes and Jambres

                    Other works cited by New Testament authors which are neither in the Bible nor the Old Testament Apocrypha.

                    2 Timothy 3:8f, refers to the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres. It seems that the author cites The Book of Jannes and Jambres, a work now available only in fragments.[62] This work is stated to be the source of the passage in 2 Timothy by the Christian writer Origen of the third century, and by Abrosiaster of the fourth century.

                    When the New Testament writers quote the Hebrew Bible (OT), they usually use the Septuagint, the Greek version prepared by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt. Unfortunately, the Septuagint contains some readings widely at variance with the Massoretic text, the Hebrew bible used as a basis for the OT used by Protestants. Furthermore, the Septuagint scrolls contained a varying number of books of the Apocrypha, interspersed with now-canonical books, which books of the Apocrypha are not accepted by Protestants. In this particular matter, today's Protestants have departed from early church tradition.

                    The Old Testament Apocrypha

                    1 Esdras

                    2 Esdras



                    Additions to Esther

                    Wisdom of Solomon

                    Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach, or Sira


                    The Letter of Jeremiah

                    The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men (addition to Daniel)

                    Susanna (Daniel)

                    Bel and the Dragon (Daniel)

                    The Prayer of Manasseh

                    1 Maccabees

                    2 Maccabees

                    The Apocrypha, as included in the Revised Standard Version (1957).

                    The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of these fifteen books in many of today's English language Bibles. In previous English editions of the Bible which included the Apocrypha, the Letter of Jeremiah was incorporated into Baruch, giving only fourteen books.[63]

                    Here are the books of the Septuagint in the Codex Vaticanus, which collection itself is an early witness of the New Testament (fourth century CE): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-4 Kingdoms (1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings), 1 and 2 Chronicles, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras (Ezra-Nehemiah), Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Esther, Judith, Tobit, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, The Epistle of Jeremy, Ezekiel, Daniel.[64]

                    The Codex Vaticanus is cited by Josh McDowell on p. 47 of Evidence That Demands a Verdict as witness to nearly the whole Bible. It also contains six books of the Apocrypha. Esther is listed with Judith and Tobit, preceding the prophets. If Vaticanus is valid evidence for the text of the New Testament, why does it not likewise testify to the Christian use of the Old? The list of books included in the Sinaiticus scroll are similar.

                    Later, during the Reformation, Catholic biblical scholar Erasmus wrote to Luther over a dispute concerning the freedom of the human will. In favor of his opinion, Erasmus cited a passage from Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus), a book of the Apocrypha. "I think no one should detract from the authority of this book because Saint Jerome indicated it did not belong to the Hebrew canon," wrote Erasmus, "since the Christians received it into their canon, and I cannot see why the Hebrews excluded it when they included the Parables of Solomon [presumably Ecclesiastes rather than Proverbs] and the amatory Canticles [Song of Solomon]." Erasmus was trying to defend Sirach, rather than to reject Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs.[65]

                    In favor of the Apocrypha:

                    Highly regarded by Christians throughout centuries.

                    Ideas and images from the Apocrypha are presupposed by New Testament writers.

                    Linked to the Septuagint, the Greek language version of the Old Testament often favored by New Testament writers.

                    Quoted as scripture by many early Christian writers.

                    Many codices of the New Testament also contain the Septuagint, including various combinations of the books of the Apocrypha.

                    As part of the Vulgate, the Apocrypha was accepted as a Christian standard for centuries.

                    It was included by Protestants in the versions of Martin Luther, albeit with a cautionary note, and of King James. Standard part of English language Bibles until 1827; still printed in German Bibles.

                    Against the Apocrypha.

                    Not accepted by later Jews. Not preserved as part of Hebrew Bible.

                    No direct quotes in the New Testament from the 15 books. 1 Enoch is directly quoted, however.

                    Not quoted as scripture by Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, about the time of Jesus. However, Philo quotes little outside of the Torah.

                    Disputed or recognized as of lesser value by some early Christian leaders, notably Jerome.

                    Disputed by leaders of the Reformation, to varying degrees, as to authenticity, and to religious value.

                    Egregious historical inaccuracies and other faults.

                    There are four main positions of the modern church concerning the Old Testament Apocrypha:[66]

                    (1) The Roman Catholic Church accepts all the works of the Apocrypha, except the prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras, as parts of the canon. This decision, regarded as binding, was made at the Council of Trent in 1546 C.E.[67]

                    (2) The Greek Church has had many debates about the Apocrypha, but no binding decision. It accepts and uses all the books, except 2 Esdras.

                    (3) The Church of England does not accept the Apocrypha as fully canonical. However, they are highly esteemed, and "the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners." They are read in the regular cycle of readings in the public life of the Church, with the Old and New Testaments.

                    (4) Reformed churches -- and most of the non-Anglican Protestant churches -- do not accept the Apocrypha as canonical, or as nearly canonical. The Westminister Confession, for example, declares them to be "of no authority" in the Church.

                    Why Aren't the Old Testament Apocryphal Books Regarded as Canonical?

                    Here is a list of reasons given by Josh McDowell.

                    1. "They abound in historical and geographical inaccuracies and anachronisms.''[68]

                    The canonical books also contain such inaccuracies and contradictions. For example, in Gen. 26, Ahimelech of Gerar is said to be a Philistine, but the story is set in the time of Abraham,[69] several hundred years before the Philistines.

                    In Genesis 14:14, reference is made to an exploit of Abraham to the northern city of Dan. This city, named after Abraham's great grandson, was not conquered and renamed by Israelites until hundreds of years later (Judges 18:29).

                    Deuteronomy, supposed to be a book written by Moses, contains an account of his own death, and a summary that "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses ...." which implies the passage of many generations.[70] Moses never crossed the river Jordan, according to the story, and remained on the east side. However, Deuteronomy was composed by someone within Palestine -- one the west side -- because the book refers to the east as "the other side of the Jordan."[71]

                    Revelation 22:17a The Spirit and Bride are now saying, "Come!" The ones who hear are now saying, "Come!" The ones who thirst are now saying, "Come!" so come LORD Jesus !
           |The Watch Parables | The Rapture | Romans | The Virgin Mary | Roman Catholicism
                    Never Heard of Jesus? | The Evidence Bible | Tent Meeting | The Beast/666 | The Kingdom of Darkness | The Nephilim


                    • #11
                      Thanks all,

                      Very good information!!


                      • #12

                        Originally posted by mark1970 View Post

                        I had someone ask me recently about the completeness of the scriptures.

                        She basically thought (was told/learned) that for instance the book of Matthew was not the complete writings of his.

                        I thought it was, and never heard of what she was asking about, so I thought I would ask.


                        YES,they are ,and that is exactly what The Lord wanted us( His Body,HE IS THE HEAD and directs everything PERFECTLY) and in fact the DIVINE INSPIRATION is so perfect that from the first verse of genesis 1 to the last of Revelation there is a UNITY of CONTENT and MEANING and MESSAGE that JESUS said that THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE BROKEN ( also meaning that we cannot change it because is GOD-BREATHED and also meaning we should NOT dare to ALTER the text ( of course,not the various translations) but the original HEBREW-ARAMAIC and GREEK text we have received) and IT IS ABSOLUTELY MIND BLOWING...the attentive Holy Spirit indwelt believer student of the Scriptures can find JESUS from the beginning to the end of the 66 books,penned by 40 authors in a 1400 circa time span and the INTEGRITY of the message is marvelous....
                        I could say more,but I just give you a simple example...:A MOSAIC is made of many little pieces that compose it,like a puzzle,if you take one piece out the design is not complete..ok? but in The Bible,even if you do take a piece out YOU CAN READ JESUS in it!
                        It is SUPERNATURALLY INSPIRED ,that is why,UNLESS a poor sinner( like me for example) gets BORN AGAIN by THE SPIRIT of GOD in JESUS ,will NOT see HIM in the book,that is why the Bible has been ABUSED by the cults that extrapolate verses out of context to create their own weird doctrines ( see the RCC,JWs,Mormons and the like) the verses need to be read in the context otherwise it will be a PRETEXT so anybody can creat a NEW SMASHING RELIGION CULT SECT using the Bible in a "carnal" way,THE LETTER KILLS,IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT GIVES LIFE,The MASTER our GREAT LORD JESUS said...and THE WORDS I TELL YOU,THEY ARE SPIRIT,THEY ARE LIFE ( I am citing by memory,find the verses yourself)....

                        For example,there those that use BIBLIOMANCY,meaning they open the book by chance and whatever they read they say is HIS WILL for them,now...if you open ...and JUdas went and hang himself...and then close the book and open again and read...: and you do the same...does it mean that THE LORD wants you to go and HANG yourself? No,so careful people,it is called THE HOLY BIBLE because it has been given by THE HOLY GOD,so WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN and have THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO IS THE TRUE AUTHOR of the book and humbly and prayerfully ask HIM to teach us and REVEAL US that that God said can be revealed for this side of eternity,because WE KNOW in PART ( and that is already a lot and enough) but when FINALLY we will be WITH HIM,we will know much more and KNOWING THE LORD we will continue to know HIM throughout ETERNITY,because,FAMILY,it is not about us,IT IS ABOUT HIM,and HE so GRACIOUSLY has extended HIS GRACE to us "worms"...and from that horrible worms we are whaen He finds HE WILL CHANGE in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of HIS BELOVED!!!!!!WOW WOW...Gotta stop,I am getting overwhelmed by JOY in JESUS,


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mark1970 View Post

                          I had someone ask me recently about the completeness of the scriptures.

                          She basically thought (was told/learned) that for instance the book of Matthew was not the complete writings of his.

                          I thought it was, and never heard of what she was asking about, so I thought I would ask.



                          The writings of each author may not be every single thing they ever wrote, but the Bible doesn't have to include all their writings; just the ones that God inspired as scripture.

                          Allow me to explain..

                          I'm very sure that as a tax collector, Matthew (Levi) wrote out documents, notes, reports and other pieces of writing, yet these are not included in Scripture. Also, there is at least one letter mentioned by Paul in his works that I believe he wrote to the Corinthians between his first and second letter, yet is not listed in scripture (we call it 1st and second Corinthians, but Paul probably didn't call it these names).

                          In any event, the writings that are included are complete in that they are all the writings that God inspired and wanted brought together. So, to answer your question: the scriptures are complete. God included all the info we need to function as his ambassadors on this planet.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mark1970 View Post

                            I had someone ask me recently about the completeness of the scriptures.

                            She basically thought (was told/learned) that for instance the book of Matthew was not the complete writings of his.

                            I thought it was, and never heard of what she was asking about, so I thought I would ask.


                            That's a little vague. Is your friend saying Matthew wrote more that we don't now have? If that's what he's saying, I would have to wonder how he came by that information. Or, is he saying that what Matthew wrote is not all original to him? There are theories out there as to what gospel came first and who knew who. The dominant theory in church tradition is that Matthew wrote his gospel first and that Mark wrote a condensed version, perhaps based on the witness of Peter, and that Luke used Matthew and other sources.

                            By far the dominant theory in academia today is that Mark wrote his first. The theory goes that Matthew and Luke each have Mark as a common source - meaning they both use his gospel when writing their own. By this theory Matthew and Luke also share a common source most often designated as "Q". This Q is material (which could be writings and/or oral traditions) that both Matthew and Luke know and use, but Mark doesn't. Then Matthew and Luke each have special material that is unique to each of their respective gospels. Matthew's special material is usually designated as "M" and Luke's material is designated creatively as "L". Luke for example even tells us in the opening chapter that he got a lot of his information from others.

                            So, when Matthew was writing, by this theory, he had at least 3 main sources: Mark, Q, and M. The M material could be material that Matthew knew as an eyewitness. For example, Jesus' statement in Matthew about eunch's and the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:12-13) might be something that Matthew heard and remembered. Or Jesus' statement about good scribes being trained for the kingdom of heaven (Matt 13:52) seems to be referencing Matthew himself, which might indicate that Matthew had training as a scribe, which might also help explain why Matthew remembers/records so much debate with the scribes and Pharisees (and might explain some other things that are going on in the gospel as well).


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mark1970 View Post

                              I had someone ask me recently about the completeness of the scriptures.

                              She basically thought (was told/learned) that for instance the book of Matthew was not the complete writings of his.

                              I thought it was, and never heard of what she was asking about, so I thought I would ask.


                              I believe that each author may well have written other things that were not preserved or not included for some reason. It seem clear from the text that Paul wrote a total of 4 letters to the Corinthians, or which only two were incorporated into scripture. Why not the others? If we had the texts, maybe we could answer that.