Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Bible

The current selection of 66 books that make up the bible as used by most protestants (as far as I know, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic bibles contain slightly different selections of books) was not finalised until a few hundred years after they were written.

So why is it that many Christians will use the text of some of those 66 books to claim that the contents of all 66 (and only those 66) books are divinely inspired?

2 Timothy 3v16 speaks of 'all scripture' but how can we assume that this refers to the current selection of 66 books? At the time he was writing Paul (or whoever) had a much smaller selection of 'scriptures' which did not include any of our current new testament.

Jesus frequently used phrases like 'my words will never pass away' and so on, but if you compile all of the things that Jesus said from the gospels, you end up with only a few hours worth of sayings. In my opinion, it is these sayings that we, as Christians should seek to follow. Of course, some doubt if Jesus Himself actually said all these things, but even assuming that He did, the sum total of all His Words is tiny compared to the entirity of the bible. When Jesus speaks of 'my words' I don't believe that He meant everything in the bible - He just meant the things He was saying.

I can't believe that everything in all 66 books is the inspired and infallible Word of God (see, for example, the story of Noah and the Ark), but I can believe that most of the words attributed to Jesus are things He said, or are interpretations of the things He said as understood by His disciples (e.g. the things Jesus apparently says in John's gospel are different to what He says in the other three - this is generally understood as being John's interpretation of what Jesus meant, rather than a word-for-word account of what he actually said).

We know that the Jews couldn't live up to the 'burden' of the old testament law (Acts 15:10). Neither can we. Thankfully, as Christians we only need to follow Christ and His words, and this is something we can manage.


storyguy said...

Thomas Jefferson is said to have used a pen knife to cut out the portions of the Bible that he felt were not inspired.
An interesting thing about the Flood Story. Some version of it is found in almost every culture in the world--even in Central and South America. And Jesus referred to the Flood Story and Noah as real. Guess we all have a pen knife handy!

Ricky Carvel said...

I thought that Jefferson chopped out all the miracles as he couldn't believe them.

I actually believe many of the stories of Jesus's miracles.

And regarding the flood story, while what you say is largely true, few of the flood legends actually speak of a global flood and few tell of the boat as being the survival mechanism of all the animals on the land. I have no doubt that there have been some very large floods in historical times (especially in the Euphrates valley) but that doesn't mean a global flood happened.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Jefferson cut out the teachings of Jesus from all of the (KJV cannonical) gospels, re-arranged them as best as he could determine to preserve a proper timeline, and created the book now known as "The Jefferson Bible".

I personally have had the same desire. Prior to learning of the Jefferson Bible, I was fond of telling people who claimed that the entire Bible was the Word of God that if they wanted the Word of God, they'd buy a "red letter edition" of the Bible (where the alleged words of Christ are indicated by red type), throw away anything not written in red, and that was about as close as you could come to the actual Word of God. A true follower of Christ, upon doing so, would immediately reject any teaching which conficts with what we know of Christ's teachings. Including the portrait of God painted by the Old Testament.