So, we are continuing with the blog that we started yesterday on the
authenticity of the Bible as we have it. I am writing this in response to an email I received a few days ago from someone we are calling “Struggling.” I am posting only the part of the email that is relevant to this discussion:
“I know I don’t buy into some things, and it’s hard for me to say ‘yes I believe this God thing and the Son thing and the Holy Spirit thing’ when I know that King James messed with the bible by omitting things that displeased him. It makes me doubt the entire book because I don’t know what is left out, if anything was changed, the fact that you can translate some of the words to several words in English. I’m struggling to have faith. Sometimes I want to believe and then other times I don’t.”
Yesterday we looked at why the Old Testament books that are considered the Scripture are there and the historical accuracy of those texts. Today, we will look at the same for the New Testament.
There are 27 books that are considered Scripture in the New Testament. They’re the four Gospels, the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude, the epistle to the Hebrews, and John’s Revelation. What caused these to be chosen and not books like the Gospel of Peter, Thomas, or Mary?
Early Church leaders used several criteria to decide which books would be included:
- Apostolic Origin – attributed to and/or based on the preaching/teaching of the firstgeneration apostles or their closest companions.
- Universal Acceptance – acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the Mediterranean world by the end of the fourth century.
- Liturgical Use – read publicly along with the OT when early Christians gathered for the Lord’s Supper (their weekly worship services).
- Consistent Message – containing theological ideas (incl. the divinity and humanity of Jesus) compatible with other accepted Biblical writings.
The books that were not included in the Bible didn’t meet these criteria. So when were they set and who set them? The truth is that the Apostles themselves started setting them, and the Church itself refined the process through the end of the fourth Century(399 AD).
These so-called “other” gospels and epistles have all been found to have been written in the second and third century, not within the lifetime of those who supposedly wrote them. In other words, the person who supposedly wrote them, did not. They at times contradict the teachings of Jesus as written by those who were there and heard them. They also have few copies and were always found amongst the writings of other agnostics or people who believe Jesus to be a good teacher or prophet but not the living Son of God.
In contrast to those agnostic gospels and epistles, those included in the New Testament have over 24,633 known first century copies. The most of any historical document. Even more amazing is that these hand copied documents are 99.5% identical to each other. The differences are a few verses left out or spelling issues again. Nothing in the differences change the meaning of those teachings of Christ in them.
You may say why is that a big deal? The next largest number of “authentic” historical documents of a single work is Homer’s Iliad and it has only 650 known copies and they are only 80% identical. Yet there is never any doubt about if the Iliad you are given to read in school is the Iliad as Homer wrote it. This kind of doubt is only reserved for the Bible, even though there is a wealth of copies to prove what we have in the New Testament is what was written and used by the Church from the time of the Apostles.
King James had no input into these processes. They were done long before the translation attributed to him was written in 1611. They were set by several groups of biblical scholars in the second, third, and fourth centuries.
The next blog will show both archeological and scientific proof of the accuracy and divine inspiration of the Scriptures in the Bible. I will also address the supposition that King James had things changed or left out that he didn’t like in Scripture. Then we will dive into the second part of this email and look at the problem “Struggling” has with Jesus as the only path to the “One True God.”
If these bogs are helping you to understand how the Bible came to be, please take a few minutes and let me know by leaving a comment here, at my Facebook page, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Till next time, keep seeking God with all your heart and He will be found by you.