Originally posted by jaywill
As I read through the Gospels, I noticed that Jesus took the Old Testament seriously. I decided that Jesus' integrity could not be questioned. And if something was good enough for Him it must be good enough for me.
Pember helped me to go into the original language as much as permitted from a layman's standpoint who did not read or write ancient Hebrew. Pember helped me to see exactly what WAS said and what WAS NOT said.
1. The 'Old Testament' can only refer to the testament which Moses made with God - the texts themselves cannot be 'The Old Testament'. Allow me to elaborate.
The Jewish Cannon was not actually set even by the time of the man called Jesus. Rather Rabbis, Priests, scholars, and gentry would possess libraries of scrolls and texts; much the sme as one might have a poetry/history collection today. There was a common theme in such collections - the history of Israel, and the ways of God.
In the first to third centuries BC, a tranlation was made of 45 of these scolls into Greek - the Septuagint - thus producing the first vague 'canon'. Though the Jews at the time did not the suggest that this was difinitive or complete.
The greek septuagint was used by the early church, and when the gospels and other new testament texts, quote the so called old testament, they tend to quote the Greek. However, this test is not the one used in most bibles today. Most bibles actually derive the old testament translation from the Masoretic Text, a composition made in Hebrew between the 7 - 10 ceturies AD, by Jewish scholars. It excludes some of the books of the septuagint and in places the meaning differs; though it was regarded as more authorative by many of the protestant reformers, purely because it was written in Hebrew rather than greek.
However, more recently, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered. these are a collection of pre-Jesus texts, again relating to the ways of God and Jewish history. Among them are numerous texts contained neither in the septuagint not the masoretic text - and yet these can be rightly be classed as texts pertaining to the Old Testament. Where discovered texts overlap with those included in the so called 'old testament' canon, they tent to correlate more in meaning with the septuagint than the masoretic text.
My point is that the old Testament texts are in no way diffinitive, and were still being added to at the time of Jesus. the Jewish authorities only really decided to close seal the canon in response to the pseudo-jewish texts produced by the christian movements. However they do have a common theme - the history of Israel, future revelation, and revelation of god - the focal point of which is the Mosaic testament.
2. I suggest that Jesus himself did not regard the old testament as difinitive, rather it was the tradition in which he was trained. You say you studied philosophy, you will be familiar with the Platonic dialogues. Have you noticed that though Socrates questions and doubts and reforms everything, there are some principles which are concrete, which he does not touch, which act as the corner stone of all he says:
those principles are thoughts found in the Greek poets.
At every stage he refers back to the peots and traditions; in much the same way jesus uses the old testament tradition in which to base his own teaching.
Indeed, if we look at an authentic gospel, such as Thomas, we notice that he uses different language when he spoke to Greeeks from when h spoke to Jews; that is, he doesn't refer to his Jewish tradition, because this of course means nothing to greeks or romans.
I suggest that the authors of the 'old testament' texts are comparable to our own poets - in my case Chaucer Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonhson, Donne, Milton, Dyden &c.
Indeed, in some Jespects Jesus was quite critical of the Jewish leaders who clung to every word of the Law (tradition) without genuine regard for god.
Jesus came to 'complete the Law'. the jews were concerned with rules and rituals and suchlike - Jesus was not. His concern was love of God - the right inward state of mind out of which right action will arise. To see the essence of what he 'added' to the Law, I must refer the reader to the Teachings of Buddha. the two are remarkably similar.
This testament - the new testament - that of genuine love for God - encompasses and replaces that of Moses, that of comandments and custom. 'The covenant of my blood' - to graps the true 'new testament' message, one must consider what Jesus' blood stands for.
3. As FMF says, there are also numerous Gospels. The new testament texts are even less homogenious than the old testament ones. Henry Chadwick's History of the Early Church provides interesting insight into the conflicts within the church - they are too many to mention here. i would suggest though that the VAST MAJORITY of litriture writen about Jesus, heretical or otherwise, has been destroyed and will never be recovered.
The New Testament canon was pieced toether in response to marcion. Marcion renounced the importance of the old testament traditon claiming Jesus had nothing to do with Mosaic tradtion. he produced the first christian canon composed of Luke, Acts (which was part of Luke at the time), and the epistle of Paul with all the mosaic-tradition references deleted. the orthodox christian responded with there own canon, which looked something like our own.
Of course the gnostic tradition showed a completed different aspect of Jesus from the Orthodox one. Most of the gnostic gospels and texts have been lost or destroyed.
4. regarding the revelation of John: it was a very narrow decisin between this and the Revelation of Peter (a similar style text) based on the marginally greater popularity of John.
5. the book of mormon challenges the reader:
And when ye shall receive these things, i would exhort you that ye would ask god, the eternal father, if these things are not true.
(personally, in the case of mormon, i do not believe it is) Presumably, if you believe the 66 biblical books to be authorative, you could apply this test and recognise a biblical passage hidden amongst non-biblical passages, becasue you could recognise the Word of God in it?
6. The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life. I rever any text which provides insight into God, or into myself; or which provides inspiration for my livelihood. You can tell a tree by its fruits.
The Word became man. I find it easier to believe that the spirit enterd the flesh, than that the man-made letter entered the flesh.