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Author Topic: The Canon and the books that were left out  (Read 4430 times) Average Rating: 0
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Doubting Thomas
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« on: July 14, 2005, 11:26:16 AM »

I've been having more (seemingly futile) arguments over on the Baptist board about "sola Scriptura" and the like.ÂÂ  One of the folks over there made the argument, in regards to extra-biblical tradition, to the effect that if teachings in the Protoevangelium of James (for instance) were truly considered orthodox then it too should have been included in the New Testament canon.ÂÂ  In this way he seemed to be summarily dismissing any authority for works such as this, Didache (which he specifically called "wrong" regarding the sacrifice of the Eucharist), Barnabas, Hermas, etc in informing us about the beliefs of early Christians and how they interpreted Scripture.ÂÂ  He even made the incredible claim (repeatedly) that even if there is no historical evidence to the contrary of the fact of universal consent regarding the beliefs in baptismal regeneration and the real presence in the Eucharist, this only shows that they were all wrong on these points(!).

So, how would any of you answer this specific question of the exclusion from the canon of works which were otherwise regarded as being consistent in their content with orthodoxy?

(I argued it was mainly because these works, while consistent with ortodox belief, could not be definitively proven to have originated directly from the hands of the apostles or a close associate--but the post in which I made this argument disappeared into the cyber netherworldÂÂ  Undecided )
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2005, 12:02:32 PM »

I could be way off base here, but I don't believe anything in the Protoevangelion of James deals with anything directly affecting our salvation.ÂÂ  To be sure, it does speak of the early years of the Theotokos, and is an important aspect of devotional literature, and contributes to the content of Orthodox hymnology as well.ÂÂ  And, just for the record, I believe every bit of it to be true.ÂÂ  But what I'm getting at here is this:ÂÂ  to be saved, a person must remain in repentance throughout their life and be in communion with the Lord.ÂÂ  As beneficial it is to know the story in the Protevangelion, I don't think we'll be asked if we read it as a condition for salvation.ÂÂ  Again, to reiterate, I believe the Protoevangelion and similar works are things that enrich the Orthodox faith, and truly make Holy Orthodoxy the beautiful faith that it is.ÂÂ  But because reading it isn't a pre-requisite for salvation, and it doesn't contain anything that could directly affect our salvation (as opposed to the Holy Bible, which gives the basic facts of salvation to those who will listen to it), that's why I believe it wasn't included in the canon of Scripture.ÂÂ  I'm sure there are many other reasons, and I'm not a biblical scholar, so if there are any here who can offer a more in-depth answer than the speculative one I've provided, I would be grateful.

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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2005, 12:16:19 PM »

I could be way off base here, but I don't believe anything in the Protoevangelion of James deals with anything directly affecting our salvation.ÂÂ  To be sure, it does speak of the early years of the Theotokos, and is an important aspect of devotional literature, and contributes to the content of Orthodox hymnology as well.ÂÂ  And, just for the record, I believe every bit of it to be true.ÂÂ  But what I'm getting at here is this:ÂÂ  to be saved, a person must remain in repentance throughout their life and be in communion with the Lord.ÂÂ  As beneficial it is to know the story in the Protevangelion, I don't think we'll be asked if we read it as a condition for salvation.ÂÂ  

Okay, that makes sense. Thanks.  Smiley

Any others?
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2005, 03:39:10 PM »

Because the Scripture was not an attempt to compile everything that was ever true and good.

1. If it were, Jesus would have about 20 more volumes worth of sayings, if we believe St. John's somewhat hyperbolic statement about his ministry.

2. If it were, St. Paul and others would obviously have more works included. Surely there were more than a little over a dozen letters written by all the Apostles and disciples in the first century (we even know of some since Paul himself speaks of some)!

3. If it were, Enoch, The Assumption of Moses, various Jewish oral traditions, and so forth would have had to have been incorporated into the Bible. Just because they were quoted in the Scripture, though, didn't make them shoe-ins for inclusion.
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2005, 05:26:50 PM »

I cannot reference you to any specific source with regards to what I am about to say, for I will simply recall for you the theory posited by my Professor of Biblical Studies Dr Ian Young during a lecture.

Regarding the Old Testament “canon” specifically, he first defined the term “Canon” as a “closed and definitive list of books to be included as scripture” and thus ultimately concludes that there is really no such thing as an “Old Testament canon”, and his reasons for doing so, could I assume be applied in consideration of any alleged “New Testament canon” also (I only make this assumption since NT canonicity is not a subject that I am sufficiently acquainted with - thus I am open to correction) .

First Dr Young notes the following succinct points:

a)   It was once unanimously held that during the Council of Javneh/Jamnia, the rabbi’s closed canonicity of the OT. Contemporary scholarship however, has abandoned this theory.
b)   The DDS cite books outside of the current Hebrew Bible as authoritative scripture, for example, the Damascus document cites the book of Jubilee as an authority.
c)   2 Esdras (4 Ezra) which is cited in the epistle of Barabas as authoritative scripture suggests a closed list of 24 books.
d)   Josephus in Against Apion (1:37-43) explicitly defines a list of 22 books.
e)   Origen in his commentary on Psalms speaks about the canon of Scripture as discussed in various Jewish sources that he was acquainted with, and explains how pairs of books are sometimes counted as one; a fact which would most probably explain the above discrepancy between Josephus and 2 Esdras.

These were few of many examples given in which Jewish sources sometimes suggested a closed list, yet at other times cited other books as authority.

In resolving the apparent conflict between the fact some sources suggest a definite closed list, whilst others cite other books outside this list as scripture, Dr Young puts forth the simple proposition that those sources suggesting a closed list are in fact only putting forth a definitive list i.e. they were accounting for the books that were unanimously and widely accepted (or at least came to be considered as such) — without necessarily excluding other books, and hence there was never in actual fact a closed list.

I wouldn't have bothered putting forth what seems like such an oversimplified and easy-way-out theory unless it was advocated by someone (i.e. my Biblical studies professor) who is an expert in the field. I also assume that with regards to the New Testament, that although many Christian sources suggest a closed list, that many others do in fact cite sources outside of today's NT "canon" as authoritative scripture, such that the above theory can likewise be applied.

Peace.
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2005, 06:50:17 PM »

I am definately in agreement with Dr. Young here. Even if we are speaking about the New Testament, there doesn't appear to be a closed canon as dogma. Pope Innocent of Rome, for example, sent a letter to Bp. Exsuperius of Toulouse, in which he excludes Hebrews from the New Testament Canon. This was a letter in which he was intentionally outlining what he considered the canon to be. That was in 405, twenty-three years after the event that many Roman Catholic apologists claim closed the canon: the Council of 382 under Pope Damasus (and even if they fall back on the various African Councils in the late 390's, this letter is still later). And St. John of Damascus, writing in the 8th century, included the Canons of the Holy Apostles in his New Testament Canon (Exact Expotion, 4, 17). And there are other examples. I like the distinction that Dr. Young uses, which avoids making the issue into a subjective, choose-your-own-canon type of thing.
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2005, 01:32:09 AM »

I heard from someone who attended St. Vladimir seminary that when the church fathers got together to establish the canon of New Testament scripture, they established three criteria to determine which books would be included and which would be excluded.  The books that would be included had to meet the following criteria:

1.  The books had to be consistent with tradition.  This essentially knocked out the gnostic books, such as the Gospel of Phillip, etc.

2.  The books had to be about Christ.  That is why biographies of the Mother of God or martyrs were not included.  Also, the Didache, when you think about it, would be excluded by this criteria.  It is really a sort of practical how-to manual for new converts to Christianity, rather than a biography of Christ, or a theological explanation of how we are saved through Christ, like the letters of St. Paul.

3.  The books had to be written by actual apostles.  This knocked out books like the letters of Clement or the Shepherd of Hermas, which were popular, but not written by apostles.  This also almost knocked out Revelations, because there were disputes over who wrote it.  The writer never explicitly identifies himself as John the apostle and some people thought he was another John.  Eventually, those who argued it was the apostle John won out and Revelations became the last book to be added to the canon.

Books excluded by the last two criteria, but not the first, could still be good reading for the edification of individual Christians.  However, only the 27 books which passed all three criteria, and became the New Testament canon, were to be read during the liturgy.

I sometimes point out to Protestants that the New Testament was compiled by a group of bishops in the late 4th century and that these bishops believed in tradition, the real presence, the veneration of the Mother of God, liturgical worship, etc.  In other words, the book they base their whole faith on was compiled by a church they consider to be corrupt.  Also, Holy Tradition was instrumental to its compilation.

Prior to the establishment of the New Testament canon, different communities had their own different collections of what they considered scripture.  These would almost always contain some books that ended up being excluded from the New Testament (such as Barnabas and Shep. of Hermas.)  These collections also often would exclude some books that were eventually included, such as Revelations.  An example is the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the oldest manuscripts of the Christian Bible in existence today.  Scholars date it to the mid 4th century and it includes the Letter of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas.

http://www.earlham.edu/~seidti/iam/tc_codexs.html


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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2005, 04:31:58 AM »

3. If it were, Enoch, The Assumption of Moses, various Jewish oral traditions, and so forth would have had to have been incorporated into the Bible. Just because they were quoted in the Scripture, though, didn't make them shoe-ins for inclusion.
enoch is awesome
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2005, 04:42:19 AM »

I sometimes point out to Protestants that the New Testament was compiled by a group of bishops in the late 4th century and that these bishops believed in tradition, the real presence, the veneration of the Mother of God, liturgical worship, etc.ÂÂ  In other words, the book they base their whole faith on was compiled by a church they consider to be corrupt.ÂÂ  Also, Holy Tradition was instrumental to its compilation.
i think this is all you need to tell a protestant or a heretic. And leave the rest to their conscience.
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2005, 06:49:57 AM »

I sometimes point out to Protestants that the New Testament was compiled by a group of bishops in the late 4th century and that these bishops believed in tradition, the real presence, the veneration of the Mother of God, liturgical worship, etc.ÂÂ  In other words, the book they base their whole faith on was compiled by a church they consider to be corrupt.ÂÂ  Also, Holy Tradition was instrumental to its compilation.

I've argued with the Baptists along these lines as well.  The response that one gave was that God in His Providence led them to the right canon inspite of all the (alleged) doctrinal corruption that was going on.   Along with being ahistorical, this seems like "special pleading" IMHO.

(BTW--Salpy, those criteria you listed make sense and seem to explain well what books got in and which ones, despite their orthodoxy, remained out.)
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2005, 07:55:13 AM »

I've argued with the Baptists along these lines as well.  The response that one gave was that God in His Providence led them to the right canon inspite of all the (alleged) doctrinal corruption that was going on.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Along with being ahistorical, this seems like "special pleading" IMHO.
so they think doctrine and faith are 2 seperate things.
i think it is only in orthodoxy that this bond between doctrine and faith exists.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2005, 08:15:29 AM »

so they think doctrine and faith are 2 seperate things.
i think it is only in orthodoxy that this bond between doctrine and faith exists.
I think you're right.

As a Protestant (now in name only) I was taught that whatever couldn't be found in the Bible wasn't authoritative. Of course underlying this belief was the subconscious assumtion that the Bible just fell out of the sky and was accepted, in all its books, immediately without controversy.  In this belief I also ignored the implications of the fact that Christ established the Chruch before any NT writings were ever written.  I think these subconscious attitudes are typical for many Protestants.
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2005, 08:24:22 AM »


3.ÂÂ  The books had to be written by actual apostles.ÂÂ  This knocked out books like the letters of Clement or the Shepherd of Hermas, which were popular, but not written by apostles.ÂÂ  This also almost knocked out Revelations, because there were disputes over who wrote it.ÂÂ  The writer never explicitly identifies himself as John the apostle and some people thought he was another John.ÂÂ  Eventually, those who argued it was the apostle John won out and Revelations became the last book to be added to the canon.


Oh, I wanted to get clarification on this criterion:  are Mark and Luke considered to be apostles by the Orthodox, or is it just the fact they were very close associates with Peter and Paul respectively that their writings are considered apostolic?  (I guess I've just assumed the latter.)
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2005, 11:28:03 AM »

I am assuming also that it was Mark's and Luke's close association with the apostles that got their gospels in.  They were, after all, just writing down what they had been directly taught by the apostles.
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2005, 01:12:35 PM »

I am assuming also that it was Mark's and Luke's close association with the apostles that got their gospels in.ÂÂ  They were, after all, just writing down what they had been directly taught by the apostles.
Okay, thanks for the clarification.  (I guess the same applies to the writer of Hebrews--if it wasn't Paul is was in all likelihood a close associate).
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2005, 03:38:40 PM »

Actually, I heard that Hebrews was one of the books that was controversial and almost didn't make it into the canon because of doubts about its authorship.  Paradosis' reply #5, above, alludes to that, showing that even in the early 400's some people wouldn't accept it.  I guess those who believed it was written by St. Paul eventually won out.  It is my impression that even after the canon was decided in the late fourth century, it took a while for it to completely catch on.  I heard that there is even a 9th century manuscript of a Greek Bible which excluded Revelations.

I, also, have heard Protestants say that God used the "corrupt and dead" fourth century church to form the Bible.  My response:  If God was willing to lead that church to the proper Bible, why did He allow it to go astray in everything else?  Also, how do you know that the Bible formed through this "corrupt" church is legitimate?  What tells you that?  Could it be ....TRADITION?  There is no document on the planet which records Christ or any of the apostles reciting what books should make up the Christian scriptures, so what tells you that these 27 are the right ones?  Also, if God can use a "dead and corrupt" church to come up with the proper scriptures, why don't you accept the Book of Mormon?  What tells you that the canon of one "dead" church is correct, while the canon of another dead church is wrong? 

Actually, one good thing I can say about the Mormons is that at least they are consistent.  They, like Protestants reject tradition and believe the fourth century church to be corrupt.  Consequently, it follows that they should not be bound by a canon of scripture which was formed by that "dead" church and kept alive by "dead" tradition.  Rejecting the old canon and having your own is perfectly consistent with the belief that the fourth century church was dead.  The Protestants are being inconsistent by binding themselves to the canon.

In terms of Bible verses to refute the idea that a dead church can come up with something as important as the Christian Bible, isn't there a passage in the Gospels where Christ says you don't draw both good and bad water from the same well?  I can't find the verse.  Can someone else find it?
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« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2005, 05:06:24 PM »

One of the folks over there made the argument, in regards to extra-biblical tradition, to the effect that if teachings in the Protoevangelium of James (for instance) were truly considered orthodox then it too should have been included in the New Testament canon.  In this way he seemed to be summarily dismissing any authority for works such as this, Didache (which he specifically called "wrong" regarding the sacrifice of the Eucharist)

It is a widely held opinion that the Didache does not talk about the Eucharist at all, but rather contains a prayer for the Agape meal.
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2005, 06:10:30 PM »

I have never heard that the prayers contained in chapter 9 of the Didache were not for the Eucharist.  All the commentaries I have read characterize the prayers as Eucharistic and the text of chapter 9 (verse 5) itself says it is speaking of the Eucharist. 

The agape meal, if you read Hippolytus' description of it, contains more than just bread and wine.  The prayers in the Didache, chapter nine, on the other hand, are only for "the cup" (verse 2) and "the broken loaf" (verses 3 and 4.) 

Moreover, these prayers are immediately followed by the admonition in verse 5: "But let no one eat or drink from your Eucharist except those who are baptized in the Lord's Name.  For the Lord also has spoken concerning this:  Do not give what is holy to dogs."  So the text itself says the food being blessed is the Eucharist.

Where did you hear about the Didache not talking about the Eucharist?

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« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2005, 07:34:36 AM »

I heard that there is even a 9th century manuscript of a Greek Bible which excluded Revelations.
hey Salpy, have you heard of an Armenian Bible with a 3rd letter to the Corinthians? Can i find it online?

i am currently reading the Pastor of Hermas (2nd century) and i think it is a great book, whether it is included or not in the canon is secondary to me since i know it is inspired and consistant with the rest of the Bible. It even clarifies some vague things in the Bible.
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« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2005, 10:18:45 PM »

I never heard of there being a Bible manuscript with a third letter to the Corinthians.  I have heard, however, that scholars think one of the Corinthian letters is actually two different letters which were later combined together. 

Does anyone else have information on this?
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2005, 12:32:29 AM »

I think the discussions about what belongs in the New Testament interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the Protestant rejection of the LXX.  FOr no other reason than curiosity I pulled my "New International Version" bible off the shelf this last weekend and read the forward concerning translations.  They stated that they used the Hebrew text in the OT and only used the Septuagint in parts and noted where they did so.  So I headed for the most famously controversial translation from Isaiah (7:14) and what did I find?   . . . behold a virgin shall conceive . . . with no footnote.  I understand the argument for translating the Hebrew Almah as virgin, but that doesn't sell me. 

Since the LXX is considerably older than the Masoretic why use the Masoretic?  Further, The OT was wrttnwthtnvwlsrpncttnshwcnthpssbltrnsltt

You had to come from the tradition to know what vowels and punctuation to use to make the long stream of consonants mean anything.  In other words, without tradition telling the readers what vowels and punctuations went where, the Hebrew Scriptures would be meaningless garbles.  Tradition has always been used to determine the PROPER understanding of Scripture.  It would have been utterly impossible for a Jew to go home, open up the Torah and find God for himself.  That's what the Protestants say we should do and the way God meant it.  If that's the case, what gives with the absence of vowels?

Any Protestant that comes up and says that they use the older Hebrew is kidding themselves.  They are using a post-Christian translation where the translators had reason to read vowels in ways that made Christianity wrong.  They use the Septuagint when it leans their way and then dump the parts that make them wrong.  Then they wonder why so many of their people go to smorgasbord religion.
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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2005, 02:23:51 AM »

I never heard of there being a Bible manuscript with a third letter to the Corinthians.ÂÂ  I have heard, however, that scholars think one of the Corinthian letters is actually two different letters which were later combined together.ÂÂ  

Does anyone else have information on this?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Epistle_to_the_Corinthians

The Third Epistle to the Corinthians is a pseudepigraphical text alleging to have been written by Paul of Tarsus. In the West it was not considered canonical in the fourth century AD, becoming part of the New Testament apocrypha. In the East Ephraem of Syria accepted it as canonical, for he wrote a commentary on it. It is still part of the Armenian Orthodox New Testament and therefore obviously they don't consider it a forgery.

The text is structured as an attempt to correct misunderstandings that arose from interpretations of the earlier First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians, that Paul has become aware of due to the (similarly dubious) Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul. In particular it seeks to correct the misinterpretation of the phrase flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God that considered it implied that the resurrection of the dead could not be physical.

Gnostics were known for quoting this part of 1 Corinthians, infuriating Christians such as Irenaeus who wished to claim that the dead were physically, rather than spiritually, resurrected. Irenaeus remarked All heretics always quote this passage. It is thought that the argument of the Gnostics won so much ground that other Christians felt the need to forge 3 Corinthians to counter them (such forgery having allegedly also happened elsewhere to counter other gnostic claims, for example 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus).

Other pseudepigraphical epistles include Epistle to the Laodiceans found in some Vulgates, 2nd Epistle of Clement, additional Letters of Ignatius, the spurious letter of Jesus to King Abgarus of Edessa and many others. Grant in Journal of Theological Studies 1960 calls the 5th through 7th centuries the era of "aggressive forgeries" in Christian texts.
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« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2005, 03:03:38 AM »

I have never heard of this.  I have a krapar Bible and I just looked at it.  I don't see a 3rd Corinthians. 

I find that articles written about the Armenian Church by non-Armenians are usually filled with errors.  It might be that fifteen hundred years ago the Armenian Church had that letter as part of its canon, but I would be very surprised if that were still the case. I have e-mailed someone about this.  I'll see what he says.
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« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2005, 05:31:45 PM »

My friend came through and e-mailed me this article by Fr. Hovhanessian:


http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3679/is_200201/ai_n9064350

Fr. Hovhanessian evidently is with the Eastern Diocese in the U.S. and did his doctoral dissertation on 3rd Corinthians.  I gather from the article that 3rd Corinthains was in the Armenian Bible back before the New Testament canon was firmly established.  There is nothing to indicate, however, that our Church still considers it canonical.
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« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2005, 05:48:19 PM »

"Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" Ehrman

Pretty good account although probably a little too harsh.
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« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2005, 07:30:29 AM »

My friend came through and e-mailed me this article by Fr. Hovhanessian:


http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3679/is_200201/ai_n9064350

Fr. Hovhanessian evidently is with the Eastern Diocese in the U.S. and did his doctoral dissertation on 3rd Corinthians.ÂÂ  I gather from the article that 3rd Corinthains was in the Armenian Bible back before the New Testament canon was firmly established.ÂÂ  There is nothing to indicate, however, that our Church still considers it canonical.
i liked what he said about the apostle Paul being called the apostle of the heterodox. It's so true. People take his writings and twist them so much and come up with these new religions or anti-religions.
I wish we could have access to 3rd cor thow. It would have been an interresting read.
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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2005, 07:49:33 AM »

You can't help yourself, can you Tom?  Must you continue to post the titles of anti-ecclesiastical propoganda and psuedo-scholarship....
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« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2005, 07:51:28 AM »

Excellent  thread.

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« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2005, 06:27:30 PM »

djrak,

I thought the same thing about St. Paul after reading the article.  He is one of the greatest saints and his writings make up a large portion of the New Testament, but he is quoted a lot by the heterodox.  It is interesting that this was the case even in apostolic times, as St. Peter mentions in his second epistle.  And in modern times, St. Paul is all you hear about from certain groups who quote passages from his letters out of context, while excluding other scripture.  Examples include predestination and the idea that works do not figure at all in your salvation.  All you hear quoted on those subjects are selected verses from St. Paul's letters.  Other writings, such as the Book of James, are discounted.  Martin Luther went so far as to say the Book of James was not even scripture. I guess this goes to show that we need to consider all the New Testament writings as well as Holy Tradition.


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« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2005, 08:23:53 PM »

Since the LXX is considerably older than the Masoretic why use the Masoretic?

Becaue the LXX is a translation and the MT is the real thing. Sort of.

Any version of the OT is going to present problems for those seeking a perfected text. If you accept the simple humanity of the various editors along the way-- never mind the original authors-- then it is easy to see this humanity at work. If you claim inspiration for them (and thus perfection), that's where the politically-inspired rationalizations come out. If you are a Jew, you invest inspiration in the Masoretes; if Orthodox, the Seventy; if cranky Protestant, the KJV translators. Compared against each other, and dragging the DSS into the mix, it's clear that the Masoretes inherited/created a text that contained some changes over time, and that some of the LXX differences are due to translating an older text, but that some (as with the KJV) are just wrong.

The vowel thing, though, is a red herring. Semetic languages, as a family, omit written vowels; and the MT records vowels precisely to prevent drift through their parallel transmission in the spoken tradition.

It's been a very long time since I read my bible and plowed through the scholarly apparatus while doing so. A rabbinical student I am not. It seems to me that it is insanely difficult to combine a textual reading with a theological reading, because what happens is that the theological reading takes over, and the reader starts to damage the text in order to get it to say the theology in which he already believes. Translate the LXX into English if you must (and I expect it will be a bad translation, because the linguistic winds these days blow from the wrong quarter) but abandon any hope that you're going to make more converts that way. And don't be surprised when the bible nazis are just as able to turn your version against you as they can any other version.

Me? I'm a Really Standard Version kind of guy. For whatever reason it has come to represent the midpoint of English translational bias, and it's not anyone's single, holy, inarguable translation. It's also a translation recognized by all  the important players. If you are basing anything on what a single translations says, though, you are not only prooftexting; you are using a text of tissue.
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« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2005, 02:24:53 AM »

and the idea that works do not figure at all in your salvation.All you hear quoted on those subjects are selected verses from St. Paul's letters.

I had very exhaustive debates with such people who quote St. Paul to prove their doctrine of "it is all finished on the cross, anything we do now is futile efforts and trying to earn salvation by ANY type of work is useless" these people go as far as saying that it doesnt matter what you do and that Jesus defeated death and He took care of all our future sins and that even if we think we sin we don't and that God doesnt care what you do and that sin is only a lie or notion, they even interpret Adam's sin being that he thought he sinned and that God didnt really care. This is the most dangerous doctrine outthere, it is the biggest lie. They go as far as saying that St. James didnt know what he was saying and that even St. Paul gave parts of the truth and that he himself was only starting to discover the truth of the cross.
The things people do to justify their sins Roll Eyes

Quote
I guess this goes to show that we need to consider all the New Testament writings as well as Holy Tradition.

speaking of Holy Tradition, do you have the prayers we use in our church on the liturgy vestmants before the badarak? I just found out that there is such a thing. That they represent a spiritual armor, crown, shield and sword and that they have special prayers.
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« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2005, 05:55:25 PM »

Quote
The vowel thing, though, is a red herring. Semitic languages, as a family, omit written vowels; and the MT records vowels precisely to prevent drift through their parallel transmission in the spoken tradition.

I disagree that it is a red herring because it was a common practice in Semitic languages.  It may have been common, but it still had the effect as described.  To preserve textual accuracy the readers required tradition.  I understand that the LXX has issues in the translation, if for no other reason than inaccuracies between any translation from one language to another. 

However, it is impossible to reject tradition as a source of truth equal to Scripture if one accepts either the LXX or the Masoretic text simply because neither were translatable without the provision of both the vowels and the punctuation, which were both provided by the tradition of the translators/compilers.  One was an older, pre-Christian translation to Greek.  The other was completed centuries later, after arguments concerning the proper rendering of OT (Tanakh) passages had inflamed passions on both sides.  That's not evidence that the text was changed in the Masoretic version.  It does point to a probability that certain versions of the text in the MT would take a precedence they may not have had before Christ.
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« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2005, 11:10:52 PM »

djrak,

I've also come across people who say that once you are "born again," God doesn't care if you sin. They say it is actually wrong to continue to repent of your sins after becoming a "Christian." Like you said, they twist St. Paul's writings to justify themselves and discount other parts of the Bible, including not only James, but also Jude, which, in verse four, condemns those who take the grace of God and turn it into a license for immorality.

Regarding the vesting prayers, the Eastern Diocese of the U.S. has a liturgy book which contains them:

http://www.stvartanbookstore.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=4710

It is a bit expensive--25 U.S. dollars--but it is a good book.  It has translations from krapar into modern Western Armenian, as well as into English.  The vesting prayers are at the beginning of the translations.
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« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2005, 01:58:08 AM »


Regarding the vesting prayers, the Eastern Diocese of the U.S. has a liturgy book which contains them:

http://www.stvartanbookstore.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=4710

It is a bit expensive--25 U.S. dollars--but it is a good book.ÂÂ  It has translations from krapar into modern Western Armenian, as well as into English.ÂÂ  The vesting prayers are at the beginning of the translations.
thanks, i'm definitely getting it!
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« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2005, 09:59:46 PM »

Djrak, you have me confused as an inquirer.  When you object to some people's claim that "anything we do now is futile efforts and trying to earn salvation by ANY type of work is useless," I must ask, Don't the Orthodox believe that salvation is entirely by grace and that our works, while a basis for God's justification of us, don't earn us salvation?

St. Paul taught: "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.  But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness ..." ( Romans 4: 4, 5 New King James Version ).

Could we earn salvation with good works, wouldn't our Lord's death have been unnecessary?

In Christ,
Mathetes
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« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2005, 10:52:06 PM »

It has always been my understanding that in Orthodoxy we don't bifurcate justification and sanctification as severely as other groups do.  While it is certainly true that we need God's grace to be saved, we need to try to live a decent life in order to grow as Christians.  An organism which doesn't grow dies, and you can't grow in Christ without good works, such as prayer and caring for others in need.  We also need repentance when we fall away from living the life Christ has called us to live (something I deal with daily.) 

A basic difference between the Orthodox and so many of the other churches you see today is our belief that salvation is a life long process, while many others teach salvation is something which happens to you suddenly.  We believe a person can abandon his salvation by abandoning Christ, while the others believe that once you have experienced an altar call or some other "born again" experience, you will never lose your salvation, no matter what you do afterwards. 

The latter view is problematic, in as much as it has been taken to extremes in recent years by some who are now claiming you can stop repenting for your sins, sin all you want to without remorse, and still be "saved." 

Is our salvation dependent on God's grace?  Of course.  As some Calvinists have pointed out to me, not only do our works not guarantee our salvation, but neither does our faith.  After all, it is not like God is obligated to save us just because we believe in Him and pray.  His grace is absolutely vital.  However, we can't grow as Christians without faith and works and that growth is needed to remain with Christ.
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« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2005, 01:03:44 AM »

Djrak, you have me confused as an inquirer.ÂÂ  When you object to some people's claim that "anything we do now is futile efforts and trying to earn salvation by ANY type of work is useless," I must ask, Don't the Orthodox believe that salvation is entirely by grace and that our works, while a basis for God's justification of us, don't earn us salvation?

St. Paul taught: "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.ÂÂ  But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness ..." ( Romans 4: 4, 5 New King James Version ).

Could we earn salvation with good works, wouldn't our Lord's death have been unnecessary?
mathetes,
I think Salpy answered perfectly. As St. Paul warned us of turning grace into a license to sin. And many nowadays do that. OR turn grace into a once and for all thing, something that was accomplished by Jesus and now that it is over they disregard the OT and a large part of teh new they go as far as saying that God doesnt care what you do "in the flesh" all that matters is what Jesus did and our life in Christ is our justification. They put this seperation between our soul and Christ. Which are supposed to be one. Furthermore some do not beleive in free will and others beleive in Universal salvation (everyone will be saved) all of these derived from St. Paul's writings.
Orthodoxy teaches to humble yourself before God (which these people say it is work) of course thru the Holy Spirit, we have to follow Christ, hear His voice, obey and execute to gain life.
For example, fasting is considered work for them because they see it as something futile. They also put a seperation between the spiritual and the physical, as if they are not connected. Some even say that God controls us like robots (spiritually) and whatever we do (physically) is useless because at the end we will end up where we were supposed to.
I beleive this is the fruit of protestantism and people repelled by its false doctrine go to a more severe extreme as they leave their churches. And others find their rest in Orthodoxy! Grin
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« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2005, 11:55:12 PM »

mathetes,
I think Salpy answered perfectly. ...

Yes, the answer is helpful.  Unless I ask, I sometimes have trouble telling whether a person is trying to earn salvation.  We must apply ourselves, as I understand it; but we must also glorify God for His grace: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" ( 1 Corinthians 15: 10 ).

Quote
As St. Paul warned us of turning grace into a license to sin. And many nowadays do that. OR turn grace into a once and for all thing, something that was accomplished by Jesus and now that it is over they disregard the OT and a large part of teh new they go as far as saying that God doesnt care what you do "in the flesh" all that matters is what Jesus did and our life in Christ is our justification. They put this seperation between our soul and Christ. Which are supposed to be one. Furthermore some do not beleive in free will and others beleive in Universal salvation (everyone will be saved) all of these derived from St. Paul's writings.

I agree that there's no biblical license for sinning and that grace is for every day, not just the time when we prayed the sinner's prayer.  I reject Universalism, but have some reservations about free will.  Mind you, I'm not denying our ability to choose whom to serve ( Joshua 24: 25 ), but I agree with our Lord, who said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him ..." ( John 6: 44 ).  Besides, don't the Orthodox acknowledge that people are born with a tendancy to sin?  "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him" ( Proverbs 22: 15 ).  Children take to sin naturally, but must be disciplined if they're ever to be good.

Quote
Orthodoxy teaches to humble yourself before God (which these people say it is work) of course thru the Holy Spirit, we have to follow Christ, hear His voice, obey and execute to gain life.
For example, fasting is considered work for them because they see it as something futile. They also put a seperation between the spiritual and the physical, as if they are not connected. Some even say that God controls us like robots (spiritually) and whatever we do (physically) is useless because at the end we will end up where we were supposed to.
I beleive this is the fruit of protestantism and people repelled by its false doctrine go to a more severe extreme as they leave their churches. And others find their rest in Orthodoxy! Grin

I agree about humbling ourselves and occasionally fasting.  I wonder, though, whether to blame Protestantism for all those other problems ( I've known some devout Baptists and Protestants who fasted, dressed plainly, lived separate lives, and weren't fatalistic ).

You've apparently had some experience with Protestantism.  Did you convert from Protestantism to Orthodoxy?

MM
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« Reply #38 on: September 08, 2005, 02:05:41 AM »

I agree that there's no biblical license for sinning and that grace is for every day, not just the time when we prayed the sinner's prayer.ÂÂ  I reject Universalism, but have some reservations about free will.ÂÂ  Mind you, I'm not denying our ability to choose whom to serve ( Joshua 24: 25 ), but I agree with our Lord, who said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him ..." ( John 6: 44 ).ÂÂ  Besides, don't the Orthodox acknowledge that people are born with a tendancy to sin?ÂÂ  "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him" ( Proverbs 22: 15 ).ÂÂ  Children take to sin naturally, but must be disciplined if they're ever to be good.

well, when we choose to seek him in our free will He reveals himself and draws us to Him, He doesnt impose and we can never be attracted to Him if He doesnt give us that revelation as an answer to our need and thirst and the result becomes a life long journey of growing passion, all because of His grace and not because of any work we do to earn it. But once we are renewed the Spirit leads us to do good work so we can grow in our faith and bear fruit and glorify Him.


Quote
I agree about humbling ourselves and occasionally fasting.ÂÂ  I wonder, though, whether to blame Protestantism for all those other problems ( I've known some devout Baptists and Protestants who fasted, dressed plainly, lived separate lives, and weren't fatalistic ).

You've apparently had some experience with Protestantism.ÂÂ  Did you convert from Protestantism to Orthodoxy?

No, I am cradle Orthodox but never had spiritual education growing up. When i came to Christ i started attending a pentecostal church which led me to Orthodoxy with a very strong passion by the Holy Spirit. So i left that cult and returned home.
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« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2005, 07:28:30 PM »

O.K.  With the help of my friend, I located 3rd Corinthians on the internet.  It is contained in the Acts of Paul.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/actspaul.html

You have to scroll about 3/4 or 2/3 of the way down.  It is after section VII and the letter is marked with a III.

I am not very good at copying and pasting, but I am going to try to copy and paste the relevent parts.

It starts with an introduction describing what the problem in the community was (I gather it was gnostic heretics spreading their heresy.)  Then it records the letter from the Corinthians to Paul.  Then it has the letter from Paul to the Corinthians.

Here goes:


For the Corinthians were in great trouble concerning Paul, that he would depart out of the world, before it was time. For there were certain men come to Corinth, Simon and Cleobius, saying: There is no resurrection of the flesh, but that of the spirit only: and that the body of man is not the creation of God; and also concerning the world, that God did not create it, and that God knoweth not the world, and that Jesus Christ was not crucified, but it was an appearance (i.e. but only in appearance), and that lie was not born of Mary, nor of the seed of David. And in a word, there were many things which they had taught in Corinth, deceiving many other men, (and deceiving also) themselves. When therefore the Corinthians heard that Paul was at Philippi, they sent a letter unto Paul to Macedonia by Threptus and Eutychus the deacons. And the letter was after this manner.


I. 1 Stephanus and the elders (presbyters) that are with him, even Daphnus and Eubulus and Theophilus and Zenon, unto Paul THEIR BROTHER ETERNAL greeting in the Lord.
2 There have come unto Corinth two men, Simon and Cleobius, which are overthrowing the faith of many with evil (CORRUPT) words, 3 which do thou prove AND EXAMINE: 4 for we have never heard such words from thee nor from the other apostles: 5 but all that we have received from thee or from them, that do we hold fast. 6 Since therefore the Lord hath had mercy on us, that while thou art still in the flesh we may hear these things again from thee, 7 if it be possible, either come unto us or write unto us. 8 For we believe, according as it hath been revealed unto Theonoe, that the Lord hath delivered thee out of the hand of the lawless one (enemy, Laon).
9 Now the things which these men say and teach are these: 10 They say that we must not use the prophets, 11 and that God is not Almighty, 12 and that there shall be no resurrection of the flesh, 13 and that man was not made by God, 14 and that Christ came not down (is not come, Copt.) in the flesh, neither was born of Mary, 15 and that the world is not of God, but of the angels.
16 Wherefore, brother, WE PRAY THEE use all diligence to come unto us, that the church of the Corinthians may remain without offence, and the madness of these men may be made plain. Farewell ALWAYS in the Lord.


II. 1 The deacons Threptus and Eutyches brought the letter unto Philippi, 2 so that Paul received it, being in bonds because of Stratonice the wife of Apollophanes, AND HE FORGAT HIS BONDS, and was sore afflicted, 3 and cried out, saying: It were better for me to die and to be with the Lord, than to continue in the flesh and to hear such things AND THE CALAMITIES OF FALSE DOCTRINE, so that trouble cometh upon trouble. 4 And over and above this so great affliction I am in bonds and behold these evils whereby the devices of Satan are accomplished. (4 Harnack: may not the priests (intrigues) of Satan anticipate me while (or after) I suffer (have suffered) fetters for the sake (?) of men.) 5 Paul therefore, in great affliction, wrote a letter, answering thus:


III.1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, unto the brethren which are in Corinth, greeting.
2 Being in the midst of many tribulations, I marvel not if the teachings of the evil one run abroad apace. 3 For my Lord Jesus Christ will hasten his coming, and will set at nought (no longer endure the insolence of) them that falsify his words.
4 For I delivered unto you in the beginning the things which I received of the HOLY apostles which were before me, who were at all times with Jesus Christ: 5 namely, that our Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary WHICH IS of the seed of David ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, the Holy Ghost being sent forth from heaven from the Father unto her BY THE ANGEL GABRIEL, 6 that he (JESUS) might come down into this world and redeem all flesh by his flesh, and raise us up from the dead in the flesh, like as he hath shown to us in himself for an ensample. 7 And because man was formed by his Father, 8 therefore was he sought when he was lost, that he might be quickened by adoption. 9 For to this end did God Almighty who made heaven and earth first send the prophets unto the Jews, that they might be drawn away from their sins. 10 For he designed to save the house of Israel: therefore he conferred a portion of the spirit of Christ upon the prophets and sent them unto the Jews first (or unto the first Jews), and they proclaimed the true worship of God for a long space of time. 11 But the prince of iniquity, desiring to be God, laid hands on them and slew them (banished them from God, Laon MS.), and bound all flesh by evil lusts (AND THE END OF THE WORLD BY JUDGEMENT DREW NEAR).
12 But God Almighty, who is righteous, would not cast away his own creation, BUT HAD COMPASSION ON THEM FROM HEAVEN, 13 and sent his spirit into Mary IN GALILEE, [14 Milan MS. and Arm.: WHO BELIEVED WITH ALL HER HEART AND RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST IN HER WOMB, THAT JESUS MIGHT COME INTO THE WORLD,] 15 that by that flesh whereby that wicked one had brought in death (had triumphed), by the same he should be shown to be overcome. 16 For by his own body Jesus Christ saved all flesh [AND RESTORED IT UNTO LIFE], 17 that he might show forth the temple of righteousness in his body. 18 In whom (or whereby) we are saved (Milan, Paris: in whom if we believe we are set free).
19 They therefore (Paris MS.; Arm. has: Know therefore that. Laon has: They therefore who agree with them) are not children of righteousness but children of wrath who reject the wisdom (providence?) of God, saying that the heaven and the earth and all that are in them are not the work of God. 20 THEY THEREFORE ARE CHILDREN OF WRATH, for cursed are they, following the teaching of the serpent, 21 whom do ye drive out from you and flee from their doctrine. [Arm., Milan, Paris: 22 FOR YE ARE NOT CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE, BUT OF THE WELL-BELOVED CHURCH. 23 THEREFORE IS THE TIME OF THE RESURRECTION PROCLAIMED UNTO ALL.]
24 And as for that which they say, that there is no resurrection of the flesh, they indeed shall have no resurrection UNTO LIFE, BUT UNTO JUDGEMENT, 25 because they believe not in him that is risen from the dead, NOT BELIEVING NOR UNDERSTANDING, 26 for they know not, O Corinthians, the seeds of wheat or of other seeds (grain), how they are cast bare into the earth and are corrupted and rise again by the will of God with bodies, and clothed. 27 And not only that [body] which is cast in riseth again, but manifold more blessing itself [i.e. fertile and prospering]. 28 And if we must not take an example from seeds ONLY, BUT FROM MORE NOBLE BODIES, 29 ye know how Jonas the son of Amathi, when he would not preach to them of Nineve, BUT FLED, was swallowed by the sea-monster; 30 and after three days and three nights God heard the prayer of Jonas out of the lowest hell, and no part of him was consumed, not even an hair nor an eyelash. 31 How much more, O YE OF LITTLE FAITH, shall he raise up you that have believed in Christ Jesus, like as he himself arose. 32 Likewise also a dead man was cast upon the bones of the prophet Helisaetis by the children of Israel, and he arose, both body and soul and bones and spirit (Laon: arose in his body); how much more shall ye which have been cast upon the body and bones and spirit of the Lord [Milan, Paris: how much more, O ye of little faith, shall ye which have been cast on him] arise again in that day having your flesh whole, EVEN AS HE AROSE? [33 Arm., Milan, Paris: LIKEWISE ALSO CONCERNING THE PROPHET HELIAS: HE RAISED UP THE WIDOW'S SON FROM DEATH: HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THE LORD JESUS RAISE YOU UP FROM DEATH AT THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE? FOR HE HATH SHOWED US AN ENSAMPLE IN HIS OWN BODY.]
34 If, then, ye receive any other doctrine, GOD SHALL BE WITNESS AGAINST YOU; AND let no man trouble me, 35 for I bear these bonds that I may win Christ, and I therefore bear his marks in my body that I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 86 And whoso receiveth (abideth in) the rule which he hath received by the blessed prophets and the holy gospel, shall receive a recompense from the Lord, AND WHEN HE RISETH FROM THE DEAD SHALL OBTAIN ETERNAL LIFE. 37 But whoso trans- gresseth these things, with him is the fire, and with them that walk in like manner (Milan, Paris: with them that go before in the same way, WHO ARE MEN WITHOUT GOD), 38 which are a generation of vipers, 39 whom do ye reject in the power of the Lord, 40 and peace, GRACE, AND LOVE shall be with you.
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"I don't think I've ever eaten anything Armenian I didn't like.  I even drink my non-Armenian coffee out of a St Nersess Seminary coffee mug because it is better that way." --Mor Ephrem
djrak
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"Do not put out the Spirit's fire" - 1 Thess 5:19


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« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2005, 03:51:29 AM »

Thanks Salpy, I never knew how Paul was martyred. this is a great link.
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"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" - John 14:9
Tags: Canon of scriptures Armenian Church Didache 3rd Corinthians Codex Sinaiticus Protestant Christianity Tradition 
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