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Author Topic: So how does a protestant answer where the Bible came from?  (Read 1341 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 01, 2011, 10:31:13 PM »

I'm curious on that and how were the Gospels, Episltes, Acts, Revelation selected to be included in the NT canon.

I'd like to see our resident protestants answer this, (hint David Young hint)
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2011, 10:35:43 PM »

IIRC, Protestant apologists say the scriptures are self evident, and any received tradition we have about them is only the result of their self-evidence to the early Church.

This is a very boiled-down version of the argument, but that's what I remember from my brief foray into Puritanism nearly a decade ago.

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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2011, 12:44:58 AM »

Is it really necessary to throw down the gaunlet to our Protestant friends?
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2011, 01:27:07 AM »

IIRC, Protestant apologists say the scriptures are self evident, and any received tradition we have about them is only the result of their self-evidence to the early Church.

This is a very boiled-down version of the argument, but that's what I remember from my brief foray into Puritanism nearly a decade ago.

[/shudder]

Agabus, per the op you weren't supposed to answer before David Young  laugh
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2011, 01:50:38 AM »

David Young is a wonderful man and I have said before, I wish he had been my Baptist pastor.

Unlike many of us, he represents the best of his faith tradition. Via his posts here and PMs, he truly is a knowledgeable and charitable man.

On to my small point.

In the two backwater churches I was in, the inspired word of God was the KJV, better yet the Scofield reference. We truly were taught that God inspired that translation and all that had come before and after were less than inspired.

I know we have to paint with broad brushes, but asking David Young about protestant thought is like asking . . . no clever simile. Interrupted sleep.  //|=O.
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2011, 02:18:25 AM »

David Young is a wonderful man and I have said before, I wish he had been my Baptist pastor.

Unlike many of us, he represents the best of his faith tradition. Via his posts here and PMs, he truly is a knowledgeable and charitable man.

On to my small point.

In the two backwater churches I was in, the inspired word of God was the KJV, better yet the Scofield reference. We truly were taught that God inspired that translation and all that had come before and after were less than inspired.

I know we have to paint with broad brushes, but asking David Young about protestant thought is like asking . . . no clever simile. Interrupted sleep.  //|=O.

Oh! A fellow former KJV-Onlyist! We are few and far between, although that makes three that I know who have come to Orthodoxy. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2011, 03:03:32 AM »

I never would have called myself a strict KJV only-ist, but I have always thought it was the best english translation out there, as long as you can wrap your head around the antiquated language, which, incidentally, I happen to find exquisite.

As for OP's question, there is a bunch of scholarly writing about how the NT canon was developed, and if you can manage to keep from getting bogged down by modern text/historical criticism, the end result is more or less orthodox.

To give a very basic rundown, (this is still from the protestant perspective, just to be clear) the Church in the first 2-3 centuries decided the canon. There was no one criterion that would put a particular book in the canon, but a handful of criteria that are common themes among canonical books. Most notably among these was apostolic authorship. If it was written by one of the 12 apostles, it was pretty much in the canon. Also to be considered were a book's use in local churches, citations in other canonical books, and theological accord with the actual teachings of Christ and the apostles. For this reason, the gospels were the first to be universally accepted, and a few of the most controversial books included 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Hebrews, and Revelation.
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2011, 10:34:56 AM »

IIRC, Protestant apologists say the scriptures are self evident, and any received tradition we have about them is only the result of their self-evidence to the early Church.

This is a very boiled-down version of the argument, but that's what I remember from my brief foray into Puritanism nearly a decade ago.

[/shudder]

Agabus, per the op you weren't supposed to answer before David Young  laugh

Ah, forgive my breach of etiquette.

I was, for what it is worth, trying to give an honest answer.
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2011, 01:27:38 PM »

For what it's worth, in the churches that I attended before finding Orthodoxy, I am not sure that I ever once heard anything at all about how the books of the Bible were decided (that is, how it was decided John was a book of the Bible but the Shepherd of Hermas wasn't - though, on a side note, I have a vague recollection of one pastor mentioning the Shepherd, maybe even reading a passage, around Christmas one year).  I'm not sure that I ever read it anywhere either.  Looking back, I suppose it was just one of those things that it is taken as self-evident; it was axiomatic.  Whenever the composition of the Bible was discussed, it was always about how it was inspired scripture, and usually about how John (of course, not mentioning him as a Saint) really did write the Gospel of John (and frequently about how some other John wrote Revelations).  Whenever the text of the Bible was discussed, it was never with regards to how we came to have the four Gospels, or the Epistles of Paul, etc. in the Bible but not other works.
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2011, 05:10:18 PM »

This is strange to me cause we had a fairly elaborate and sophisticated understanding of the how the Scriptures came to be and why the KJV was the most trusted version of the inerrant word of God.

And my minister had three fingers on one hand from losing two in a combine accident, as his main job was a soy and tobacco farmer.

It ain't like anyone in the parish went to theology school or perhaps grade school for some of them.
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2011, 06:35:12 PM »

This is strange to me cause we had a fairly elaborate and sophisticated understanding of the how the Scriptures came to be and why the KJV was the most trusted version of the inerrant word of God.

And my minister had three fingers on one hand from losing two in a combine accident, as his main job was a soy and tobacco farmer.

It ain't like anyone in the parish went to theology school or perhaps grade school for some of them.

But the thing is, my Protestant churches didn't hold the KJV in any particular esteem.  Many viewed it, of course, as probably the best English translation, but it was by no means the only acceptable one, and it wasn't any more perfect than any other, except where it translated best.
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2011, 10:31:10 PM »

I'm curious on that and how were the Gospels, Episltes, Acts, Revelation selected to be included in the NT canon.

I'd like to see our resident protestants answer this, (hint David Young hint)

The Holy Spirit guided the early Christians. The Holy Spirit did the work, and fallible men just happened to be the instrument used.
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 09:30:23 PM »

I have no idea. It's pretty much, "The Holy Spirit guided them." When you ask, "Well why can't we say that for other Traditions?" the answer is, "Because those Traditions aren't in Scripture."

And I say this after attending a Southern Baptist seminary (at their undergraduate course). Those are the answers my professors gave me, men with PhDs.
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 10:11:39 PM »

Similar to Reply Nos. 1 & 6, Protestant information I've encountered is that the early churches naturally came to distinguish commonly accepted inspired texts, they didn't need a local council or the Ist Ecumenical Synod (Council) to confirm the inspired texts because the churches had arrived at a common consensus on their own.
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 10:13:16 PM »

Similar to Reply Nos. 1 & 6, Protestant information I've encountered is that the early churches naturally came to distinguish commonly accepted inspired texts, they didn't need a local council or the Ist Ecumenical Synod (Council) to confirm the inspired texts because the churches had arrived at a common consensus on their own.

I hope Volnutt is reading this stuff.
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2011, 10:44:38 PM »

The canonization process to me supports either Orthodoxy or Protestantism. "Apostolic authorship and other objective criteria compelled the Church to accept some books and not others" vs. "Tradition bore itself out in the Church automatically knowing which books were inspired and which weren't"-I don't know how to tell between those two views. Maybe I don't understand the Orthodox position as well.

It does raise my eyebrow that something like Hermas or the Protoevangelium wasn't just declared canonical by fiat of Council since the churches historically found them so useful and edifying despite not accepting their Apostolicity (this is something I'd expect from an authoritative Council), but this is not enough for me to rule out the Orthodox view of canon formation entirely.

And Aposphet, David Young does give a bit of his view of the canon formation in the "What's Sola Scriptura Thread?"
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« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2011, 09:31:57 AM »

I think that, to an extent, the idea that the Church spontaneously agreed upon a canon fails because of the fact that it was hundreds of years after Christ.  It still fails to explain what Christians who had only, say, the Gospel of Matthew and one or two of St. Paul's letters did for over a century without Peter's epistles and the Gospel of John. 
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2011, 01:47:11 PM »

I was under the impression that the Orthodox don't have an official canon.
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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2011, 01:57:44 PM »

I was under the impression that the Orthodox don't have an official canon.

While there are some disagreements between the various groups, I would imagine that most local Churches would favor* a specific canon.


*"favor"... but perhaps not officially endorse... I dunno...


EDIT--that actually sounds like an interesting project... contacting the various groups and asking them if they have an official and/or preferred canon. Not that Orthodox clergy return emails or calls...  Cool
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2011, 02:04:06 PM »

I was under the impression that the Orthodox don't have an official canon.
Whereas there is some disagreement on what belongs in the deuterocanonical writings of the Old Testament, virtually all Orthodox churches agree, together with RCs and Protestants, on what belongs in the New Testament and the 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament.
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2011, 02:36:32 PM »

I was under the impression that the Orthodox don't have an official canon.
Whereas there is some disagreement on what belongs in the deuterocanonical writings of the Old Testament, virtually all Orthodox churches agree, together with RCs and Protestants, on what belongs in the New Testament and the 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament.

Some disagreement over what belongs in the deuterocanonical writings? And yet everyone can still get along and attend the same liturgical services (well, ideally, I know there are Church politics and the like).

I like this.
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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2011, 02:46:19 PM »

I was under the impression that the Orthodox don't have an official canon.
Whereas there is some disagreement on what belongs in the deuterocanonical writings of the Old Testament, virtually all Orthodox churches agree, together with RCs and Protestants, on what belongs in the New Testament and the 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament.

Some disagreement over what belongs in the deuterocanonical writings? And yet everyone can still get along and attend the same liturgical services (well, ideally, I know there are Church politics and the like).

I like this.
As my bishop says:

"Strictly speaking, there never was a Bible in the Orthodox Church, at least not as we commonly think of the Bible as a single volume book we can hold in our hand. Since the beginning of the Church, from the start of our liturgical tradition, there has never been a single book in an Orthodox church we could point to as the Bible. Instead, the various Books of the Bible are found scattered throughout several service books located either on the Holy Altar itself, or at the chanter's stand. The Gospels (or their pericopes) are complied into a single volume — usually bound in precious metal and richly decorated — placed on the Holy Altar.
The Epistles (or, again, their pericopes) are bound together in another book, called the Apostolos, which is normally found at the chanter's stand. Usually located next to the Apostolos on the chanter's shelf are the twelve volumes of the Menaion, as well as the books called the Triodion and Pentekostarion, containing various segments of the Old and the New Testaments.
The fact that there is no Bible in the church should not surprise us, since our liturgical tradition is a continuation of the practices of the early Church, when the Gospels and the letters from the Apostles (the Epistles) had been freshly written and copied for distribution to the Christian communities. The Hebrew Scriptures (what we now call the Old Testament, comprising the Law (the first five books) and the Prophets, were likewise written on various scrolls, just as they were found in the Jewish synagogues." - His Grace Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2011, 02:57:01 PM »

I was under the impression that the Orthodox don't have an official canon.

There is no canon of Scripture.

None was needed.
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« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2011, 03:01:14 AM »

Didn't the 1st Ecumenical Synod (Council) adopt the work of a prior local synod that specified the inspired scriptures?  Doesn't that amount to a canon of scripture? Isn't it also relevant that the printing press wasn't invented until the middle of the 2nd millennium?

Isn't this discusion of the Orthodox Church's canon of scripture ignoring the Septuagint?  Isn't it considered the Orthodox Church's authoritative Old Testament?

Also, didn't the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople publish a Bible in the early 20th century, or was it just a New Testament?  (I've seen references to such a publication in liturgical books that cite it for purposes of authoritative consistency.)
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« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2011, 03:23:51 AM »

Didn't the 1st Ecumenical Synod (Council) adopt the work of a prior local synod that specified the inspired scriptures?  Doesn't that amount to a canon of scripture? Isn't it also relevant that the printing press wasn't invented until the middle of the 2nd millennium?

Isn't this discusion of the Orthodox Church's canon of scripture ignoring the Septuagint?  Isn't it considered the Orthodox Church's authoritative Old Testament?

Also, didn't the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople publish a Bible in the early 20th century, or was it just a New Testament?  (I've seen references to such a publication in liturgical books that cite it for purposes of authoritative consistency.)

I have seen some (such as St. Jerome) make passing remarks about the First Ecumenical Council discussing or outlining a Scriptural canon, but I've never seen anything that I'd consider strong evidence. (also, for an explanation, please see this thread). Regarding the Septuagint, while the Greek Fathers (fittingly enough) used the Greek Old Testament, there was nothing close to unanimous agreement on whether the various deuterocanonical should be part of the canon, especially early on. Some or all of the deuterocanonicals were excluded from the Bible canon by St. Melito of Sardis, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John of Damascus, and others. And even when Fathers used the deuterocanonical books, that doesn't necessarily mean that they considered them canonical. (fwiw, this post that I recently made has some quotes that might be of interest).


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