Friday, February 08, 2008

Sola Scriptura - Part 1

I've blogged about 2 Timothy 3v16-17 before. It says:
[16] All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, [17] so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The thing is, who wrote these words? Can we trust them? In verse 1 of chapter 1 of that letter it states that this is from Paul. But textual criticism has cast an awful lot of doubt on that. Indeed, most biblical scholars seem to agree that 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were not actually written by Paul, but rather were written much later by somone with a 'Pauline' background (the same is claimed for 2 Thessolonians, Ephesians and Collosians). So, on a very simple level, the letter of 2 Timothy contains at least one outright lie. It 'bears false witness'.

Now I'm not saying here that this book is not 'useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work', lots of things (even of secular origin, even from other religions) could be useful in these terms, but can it be truly 'God breathed'?

If any of the words in the Bible are not 'inspired', how do we judge which are and which aren't? How do we choose which to live our lives by?

This is the 'starter for ten', more thoughts (doubts) on this train of thought to follow.

6 comments:

Jason said...

Ahh, now that is a good question, Rick. If we begin to "pick and choose" which parts of Scripture to accept or reject, where does it end? Faith seeking reason is an exciting, yet scary place to tread. Do we lean more on faith or reason?

Ricky Carvel said...

I'm not trying to 'pick and choose' which parts of scripture to accept, I'm trying to work out if all of what we have in the compilation of writings we call the bible IS scripture. What if some of the stuff in this volume of writings is not scripture at all?

Mike Arthur said...

Ricky:
Very much agreed on the blog post and it seems to clash horribly with established hermeneutics, specifically that you can't say a passage/verse means something different now to what it was intended to then.

I've always struggled with this verse because people frequently use it as the sole basis for the Bible being infallible or God's word but when the verse was written the word "scripture" meant something totally different as to now.

Jason:
Faith is meant to be hard. Unless we constantly strive to challenge our beliefs and learn more about God and scripture then our faith will stagnate.
What is your basis for NOT picking and choosing what to believe?

Chris HH said...

Indeed, most biblical scholars seem to agree that 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were not actually written by Paul, but rather were written much later by somone with a 'Pauline' background

That's a rather bold assertion. On what basis do these scholars doubt Paul's authorship?

There are many early Christian documents that are still extant. If you read any of these (eg. The first epistle of Clement) you will be struck by how different they are to the New Testament scriptures we have, especially in weight and authority.

Thus, even if these epistles were not written by the apostle Paul himself, it should be clear to any objective analysis that they still carry apostolic weight and an authority that sets them apart from all other writings with "Pauline background" that we have available for our study.

The book of Hebrews is of unknown authorship, but it stands among the scriptures by the authority of the revelation it contains, not by the basis of who wrote it.

[...for the record, I believe these letters were written by the Apostle Paul himself.]

Ricky Carvel said...

Chris,

I'm no expert on textual criticism, but I believe that if you analyse the text of the two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus and compare them with the earlier ones (Galatians, Romans, etc) that the way they are written is radically different. The authors use different phrasology, use different figures of speech, etc. On the basis of the text, there is no compelling reason to believe that these were written by the same person.

"Thus, even if these epistles were not written by the apostle Paul himself, it should be clear to any objective analysis that they still carry apostolic weight and an authority..."

But if that is the case then they do contain one outright lie. Can a lie hold 'apostolic weight'?

But see my post on Sola Scriptura part 2...

Chris HH said...

...yes, but surely for that argument to hold, there must be an alternate author to pick from.

I'm no expert in textual criticism either, but I know what is alike an what is different, and the letters of Timothy and Titus are far more similar to Romans and Galatians than they are to any other non-Canonical early-Christian writing I have read - and I have read most that are available.

Sure the differences can be explained by the fact that Romans, Galatians etc are written to churches, whereas Timothy and Titus are written to close friends.

I'm sure if two thousand years from now someone was to critically analyse the text from my sermons and compare them to the text from my personal emails they may consider that they have equal grounds to assume there are two separate authors.