1. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '15 23:482 edits
    Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible. There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”—and it took an evolutionary period of a few centuries (up till 419 C.E., when the Apocalypse of John was finally accepted) of debate within the ekklesia before the canon was “semi-finalized”.

    And even then: “It was not until the Protestant Reformers began to insist upon the supreme authority of Scripture alone (the doctrine of sola scriptura) that it became necessary to establish a definitive canon which would include a decision on the 'disputed books'.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon] That is, not until the 16th century C.E.

    It was the ekkelisa that decided what books would be accepted in the canon. The Christian ekklesia pre-dates the “Bible”. And yet some sola scripturists seem to think that without “the Bible”—and, sometimes, read in certain ways—there is no Christianity.

    And it isn’t only a question of canon—but rather, which churches had which books from, say, C.E. 52 (generally the date of Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonians--generally believed to be the earliest text of the NT) through the Apocalypse of St. John (apparently anywhere from 69 to the 90s C.E.). And which were accepted by whom as “authentic”?

    That is why certain churches put some credence in post-apostolic tradition—the notion (which I think is undoubtedly true) that there was an oral tradition in early Christianity that, at least, paralleled the evolution of a scriptural tradition. For example, Irenaeus is viewed as a student of Polycarp, who was a student of St. John. Or—imagine some early Christian saying to Timothy: “What did Paul mean when he wrote _____________?”

    I suspect that, at some point, the attempt at “scriptural reductionism” was a quasi-idolatrous attempt to secure “certainty” in the face of competing Christian truth claims. (So, perhaps, was the Inquisition. And various earlier “anathemas” to limit at least the original “pluralistic orthodoxy” that church historian Jaroslav Pelikan noted.) I view the urge to certainty—instead of faith—in matters relating to the “divine” (or the ineffable real) to be at best misguided—at worst, idolatrous.

    So, if being “a True Christian™” requires allegiance to some literalist/inerrantist view of the various books that make up what is called “the Bible”*—then I am clearly not. I once let that bother me. I once let that bother me out of a church in which that was probably a minority (if vocal) view. That is my failing and fault. Hopefully, I can overcome that “sin” and move on.

    _________________________________________

    Most of the earliest post-Apostolic Christians seem not to be "literalist/'inerrantists" with regard to what they thought of as "the canon".
  2. SubscriberFMF
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    28 Aug '15 00:20
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible. There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”—and it took an evolutionary period of a few centuries (up till 419 C.E., when the Apocalypse of John was finally accepted) of debate within the ekklesia before the canon was “semi-finalized”..
    Personally, I think that the content and purpose of "Apocalypse of John" had to do with gaining control of the legacy of Jesus and creating a basis for ecclesiastical power after these centuries of wrestling and debate between motley competing Christianities that you have alluded to. Its writer(s) - of course - claim that it was Jesus talking in the book. So I suppose that makes 419 C.E. a right old smell-the-glove moment in the history of Christianity. And once you start to see Revelation in this light, you can start taking a look at what was written by whom and why ~ elsewhere in the NT ~ in the decades after Christ's death.
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Aug '15 00:33
    Originally posted by FMF
    Personally, I think that the content and purpose of "Apocalypse of John" had to do with gaining control of the legacy of Jesus and creating a basis for ecclesiastical power after these centuries of wrestling and debate between motley competing Christianities that you have alluded to. Its writer(s) - of course - claim that it was Jesus talking in the book. So I s ...[text shortened]... at what was written by whom and why ~ elsewhere in the NT ~ in the decades after Christ's death.
    Good insight. I just ordered a book called “The First Christian Theologians: An Introduction to Theology in the Early Church”—which I once had before the devastation of my bookshelves—in order to look at some of this stuff again.
  4. Standard memberRJHinds
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    28 Aug '15 05:141 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible. There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”—and it took an evolutionary period of a few centuries (up till 419 C.E., when the Apocalypse of John was finally accepted) of debate within the ekklesia before the canon was “semi-finalized”.

    And even then: “I ...[text shortened]... ns seem not to be "literalist/'inerrantists" with regard to what they thought of as "the canon".
    It is clear that the Old Testament scriptures were available to the early Christians. It even appears that they had more than we do today. Some of the Christians began to gather the letters of Paul and the earlier disciples and probably make copies of these. Also some wrote on what Jesus said and did as gospels.

    Some people want to just take what is written in the scriptures that were generally considered inspired by all the Christian groups after that time and compile them in a single book and discard anything else that was either not used much or considered fraud and uninspired. What we have today is considered to provide all the essential information by most Christians to allow them to know what must be believed as a Christian.

    Christianity is obviously all about Christ, but we learn most of what is known about Christ from what is wriiten down in the biblical scriptures that has been accepted as the Holy Bible. Others sources have to agree with those scriptures to be accepted as true by the faithful. But many also except evidence of the resurrection of Christ like the empty garden tomb with the large roll-a-way stone in Jerusalem. And others accept the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo as evidence of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
  5. Standard memberKellyJayonline
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    28 Aug '15 07:15
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible. There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”—and it took an evolutionary period of a few centuries (up till 419 C.E., when the Apocalypse of John was finally accepted) of debate within the ekklesia before the canon was “semi-finalized”.

    And even then: “I ...[text shortened]... ns seem not to be "literalist/'inerrantists" with regard to what they thought of as "the canon".
    Have you ever read " Foxs book of martyrs" the scriptures were always under attack,
    many were attempting to control them. One of the best things that ever happen to the
    Church was to have the several of the books of scripture put into a one book we call the
    Bible taking it out of the control of those in the know and place them into the hands of the
    common man.

    Granted now each has its own sets of issues, but I'll take the latter of the former any day.
  6. SubscriberSuzianne
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    28 Aug '15 11:46
    I don't know about any other Christians in this forum, but the moment I take advice on what Christianity is and is not from atheists is the moment I check myself into an institution for the insane.
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    28 Aug '15 12:32
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    I don't know about any other Christians in this forum, but the moment I take advice on what Christianity is and is not from atheists is the moment I check myself into an institution for the insane.
    Would it make a difference if I were to point out that until this post no atheist has yet
    posted in this thread?

    My response to the questions of the OP is to not care, given it's all fictional it like arguing
    over how many angels can dance on a pin-head.
    I suspect most atheists here would agree that the first question is simply is do we have any
    reason to suppose that anything in your religion true? As we obviously think the answer is no,
    discussions about the 'correct way' to believe these things that are not true are pretty irrelevant.
    Of interest pretty much solely for the further demonstration of how unsound the believers position
    is and how ineffectual faith is as a method of determining truth.

    Given that you already know we think that I generally just ignore this kind of thread.
  8. Standard memberavalanchethecat
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    28 Aug '15 12:48
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    I don't know about any other Christians in this forum, but the moment I take advice on what Christianity is and is not from atheists is the moment I check myself into an institution for the insane.
    Well you've made it quite clear that you pretty much make up your version of christianity to suit your own inclinations anyway.
  9. Standard memberDeepThought
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    28 Aug '15 13:33
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Would it make a difference if I were to point out that until this post no atheist has yet
    posted in this thread?

    My response to the questions of the OP is to not care, given it's all fictional it like arguing
    over how many angels can dance on a pin-head.
    I suspect most atheists here would agree that the first question is simply is do we have any ...[text shortened]... truth.

    Given that you already know we think that I generally just ignore this kind of thread.
    it like arguing over how many angels can dance on a pin-head.
    Based on information theoretic and quantum gravity considerations it comes to at most 8.6766×10^49 angels.

    http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume7/v7i3/angels-7-3.htm
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    28 Aug '15 13:36
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible. There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”—and it took an evolutionary period of a few centuries (up till 419 C.E., when the Apocalypse of John was finally accepted) of debate within the ekklesia before the canon was “semi-finalized”.

    And even then: “I ...[text shortened]... ns seem not to be "literalist/'inerrantists" with regard to what they thought of as "the canon".
    Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible.
    Perhaps, but Christianity is about a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. This goes without saying, but it requires faith in him being alive and well.

    There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”
    True, I don't think anyone in their right mind can argue this.

    I suspect that, at some point, the attempt at “scriptural reductionism” was a quasi-idolatrous attempt to secure “certainty” in the face of competing Christian truth claims.
    This is an interesting point. I do not have expertise in the historical authenticity of the men who decided which parts of scripture/books/scrolls were authentic.
    I have read the "New Testament Documents" by F.F.Bruce which I found highly interesting. If you have not read it, you should, it gives high probability to the authenticity of scripture even though we only have copies of copies.
    But they are quite numerous, which is a good thing for comparison.

    I suppose I am not a sola scripturist only because of some translation issues, along with, as I wrote in another thread, issues with context, previous usage of bible words, figures of speech, etc.
    But as I look at scripture, in the old covenant, I see they used scrolls to read from.
    In Nehemiah, the they read from the book of the law, and teachers "expounded" the words of the law to the people.
    Neh 8:3-8
    And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

    4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

    5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

    6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

    7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.

    8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
    KJV

    So, I see scripture as being taught in the old covenant from the reading of scripture.
    In the gospels, which in my view is part of the old covenant or at least a "transitional period", we see Jesus reading from a scroll
    Luke 4:16-17
    And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

    17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
    KJV

    Of course we had the Messiah himself teaching, but even he read from a scroll telling me they were still around. I also believe he studied these scrolls diligently as a child, since the bible says he grew in wisdom and in stature.
    In the New covenant which I believe began in Acts chapter 2, after the "comforter or promise" had come there is no reason to believe the scrolls were gone. We have copies of copies which tells me they were preserved.
    Yes, there was mostly oral information, since the new covenant was a great transitional period from the law. The Christ himself was now guiding and teaching through revelation or by" the spirit", if you will.
    They also had Paul's letters, John's letters, etc.

    So, if being “a True Christian™” requires allegiance to some literalist/inerrantist view of the various books that make up what is called “the Bible”*—then I am clearly not.

    So, I would say no, I don't think being a "True Christian™” requires allegiance to some literalist/inerrantist view"...
    The scriptures should be read to point us to Jesus, after that relationship is established, he will teach the Christian what he must do directly.
    That is not to say I would toss the bible aside, on the contrary, I read a lot of scripture on a daily basis. God continues to expound the scriptures as I read them again and again.
    Verses I thought I understood, he sometimes opens up even more.
    Paul in his letters, exhorts us...
    Eph 3:4
    Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
    KJV

    Col 4:16

    16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
    KJV
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Aug '15 23:12
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    It is clear that the Old Testament scriptures were available to the early Christians. It even appears that they had more than we do today. Some of the Christians began to gather the letters of Paul and the earlier disciples and probably make copies of these. Also some wrote on what Jesus said and did as gospels.

    Some people want to just take what is wr ...[text shortened]... d of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo as evidence of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
    It is clear that the Old Testament scriptures were available to the early Christians. It even appears that they had more than we do today. Some of the Christians began to gather the letters of Paul and the earlier disciples and probably make copies of these. Also some wrote on what Jesus said and did as gospels.

    Agreed, but with some strong caveats.

    First literacy rates appear to have been quite low, among both Jews and Gentiles. It was largely a culture of orality, where illiterate people were read to by the literate. Paul’s letters were most likely read aloud to the communities addressed by someone who could actually read them.

    I found the following excerpt quoted on several internet sites (have not read the book):

    Several significant studies of literacy have appeared in recent years showing just how low literacy rates were in antiquity. The most frequently cited study is by Columbia professor William Harris in a book titled Ancient Literacy. By thoroughly examining all the surviving evidence, Harris draws the compelling though surprising conclusion that in the very best of times in the ancient world, only about 10 percent of the population could read at all and possibly copy out writing on a page. Far fewer than this, of course, could compose a sentence, let alone a story, let alone an entire book. And who were the people in this 10 percent? They were the upper-class elite who had the time, money, and leisure to afford an education. This is not an apt description of Jesus’s disciples. They were not upper-crust aristocrats.

    In Roman Palestine the situation was even bleaker. The most thorough examination of literacy in Palestine is by a professor of Jewish studies at the University of London, Catherine Hezser, who shows that in the days of Jesus probably only 3 percent of Jews in Palestine were literate. Once again, these would be the people who could read and maybe write their names and copy words. Far fewer could compose sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books. And once again, these would have been the urban elites.

    Source: Ehrman, Bart D. (2012-03-20). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 702-712). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

    Second, even though the Hebrew Scriptures had been translated into Greek (the Septuagint), it seems unlikely that most of the Gentile Christians to whom Paul wrote would have been very familiar with them.

    Third, most people could not afford to own written materials such as the Torah scrolls. Elites had libraries, religious materials such as the Torah may have been owned by the religious community as a whole.

    Fourth, Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonians, thought to be the first book of the NT, is generally dated to about C.E. 52; the Gospel of Mark is generally dated from 66-70 C.E.; Luke/Acts is generally dated to 80-90 C.E.; the Gospel of John, 90-100 C.E. Thus there were about 20 years after Jesus’ death (30-33 C.E.) before there were any known written documents that comprise the NT, more than 30 years before the first written Gospel account, and 50-60 years before Luke’s account of the Apostles.

    So, there were some decades of presumably strictly an oral tradition before any of the documents that comprise the NT were written. And although people did begin to collect them, the collections evolved, with disputes in the churches as to which were “authentic”. (This would include other documents not ultimately approved for the canon, such as the Gospel of Thomas.) And there may not have been any unanimity over the “proper” collection until the 4th century.

    During all this time, the ecclesiastical tradition continued—from the pre-writings decades through the post-Apostolic era. As the body of work called the NT formed, a good deal of the ecclesiastical tradition was interpretive of the written corpus, but later tradition also relied on earlier, non-scriptural tradition. (It actually continues even after the Reformers, for example with Luther’s Catechisms and the Book of Concord, and Calvin’s Institutes, etc.—in spite of Luther’s declaration of sola scriptura.)

    I see no reason to set scripture—whose contents as we have it today was decided and interpreted by the ekklesia—against that very ecclesiastical tradition. That tradition, of course, is not univocal or absent disagreements. Neither are the Biblical texts. We are stuck with that—and that is why I think that what I have called “scriptural reductionism” fails, and any idea of doctrinal certainty is ultimately illusive.
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Aug '15 23:13
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Have you ever read " Foxs book of martyrs" the scriptures were always under attack,
    many were attempting to control them. One of the best things that ever happen to the
    Church was to have the several of the books of scripture put into a one book we call the
    Bible taking it out of the control of those in the know and place them into the hands of the
    comm ...[text shortened]...

    Granted now each has its own sets of issues, but I'll take the latter of the former any day.
    One of the best things that ever happen to the Church was to have the several of the books of scripture put into a one book we call the Bible taking it out of the control of those in the know and place them into the hands of the common man.

    I don’t disagree.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Aug '15 23:15
    Originally posted by checkbaiter
    [b]Some modern-day Christians seem to think that Christianity is about the Bible.
    Perhaps, but Christianity is about a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. This goes without saying, but it requires faith in him being alive and well.

    There was, however, Christianity before there was a “Bible”
    True, I don't think anyone in their right mi ...[text shortened]... he church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
    KJV
    [/quote][/b]
    I think I've probably covered most of this, even if obliquely in my reply to RJ. Just didn't want you to think I was dismissing you. 😉
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    29 Aug '15 00:161 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]It is clear that the Old Testament scriptures were available to the early Christians. It even appears that they had more than we do today. Some of the Christians began to gather the letters of Paul and the earlier disciples and probably make copies of these. Also some wrote on what Jesus said and did as gospels.

    Agreed, but with some strong caveat ...[text shortened]... led “scriptural reductionism” fails, and any idea of doctrinal certainty is ultimately illusive.[/b]
    If you are using "reductionism" in the way I understand, it is "the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation."

    Thus psychology --> biology --> chemistry --> physics [-->maths?] where "-->" stands for "is reduceable in some people's thinking to".

    In this case the complex phenomenon is the scriptures, more specifically in this thread, the Bible.

    You say, "I see no reason to set scripture—whose contents as we have it today was decided and interpreted by the ekklesia—against that very ecclesiastical tradition. That tradition, of course, is not univocal or absent disagreements. Neither are the Biblical texts. We are stuck with that—and that is why I think that what I have called “scriptural reductionism” fails, and any idea of doctrinal certainty is ultimately illusive."

    In the spirit of "biology reduces to chemistry" as an example of reductionism, is it that scriptural reductionism fails because it does cannot deliver doctrinal certainly, and it does not deliver doctrinal certainly because of disagreements about the tradition and texts?

    It sounds like the Bible is not reducible because it contains logical contradictions.

    So, what would scripture reduce to, if it were reducible? The Bible and tradition already say (according to some) that there are mysteries in them, so any reduction has to carry thsoe contradictions forward, and not resolve them. I really wonder what they would reduce to, that respects the fact that there are mysteries and contradictions embedded in them.

    But the core question is, what would scriptural reductionism reduce scripture to? Isn't the problem that whatever it would reduce to, has to carry these disagreements and mysteries along, (in fact, purposely retaining -- not "explaining" them).
  15. Hmmm . . .
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    29 Aug '15 00:221 edit
    Originally posted by JS357
    If you are using "reductionism" in the way I understand, it is "the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation."

    Thus psychology --> biology --> chemistry --> physics [-->maths?] where "-->" st ...[text shortened]... hese disagreements and mysteries along, (in fact, purposely retaining -- not "explaining" them).
    Maybe I used the term badly. I meant reducing Christianity to a kind of "scripturalism". That might go with your first sentence, though.
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