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« LDS Church Apologizes for Baptisms | Main | Basically Good? »

February 20, 2012

Comments

There is actually an incredible significance and purpose to the canonical order of the books. See the lectures by Miles Van Pelt:

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/biblical-theology/blomberg-shreiner-van-pelt

It's hard to come up with a reasonable assessment of the significance of the order the books when we also have to consider that there are other books that were said to be named along with these ones that are missing from the 66 that we presently have. What happened to those books? Historical evidence shows that books like the Maccabees,The gospel according to Judas and the gospel according to Thomas and many others not recorded here were apparently included with the 66 books that we already know. I don't know if it would even serve any relevance to read deep into why the books of the Bible are put in a peculiar order except to say that we can take it as the actual order of events from beginning to end just like any other book which displays an order which relays the purpose,the plot,the conflict,solution,conclusion and the moral lesson to be learned overall. The question that I would probably ask in this scenario is, How and why was the original number of the books of the Bible reduced to those 66 books? Was there a significance in doing that or do we just accept that the missing books were just hidden or burned up as certain historians have indicated?

There is also Paul's missing first epistle to the Corinthians, and the book of Enoch, which is not missing.

Richard, To what historical evidence are you appealing to? You may have a case for Maccabees. I have little dealing with that one, but it looks like Maccabees 1 & 2 are included in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, but not in the Hebrew Bible, which may tell us something. As for the gospels of Judas and Thomas, they are dated late, and even the early church fathers argued against some of these alternate "gospels". To my knowledge, there is no record of them ever having been included in any primitive canon. Finally, just because something was attached to the back of a group of manuscripts of which some appeared later as canon, doesn't mean they were considered canonical. I believe the Book of Hermas (don't have a reference right now) was one text found at the back of other scriptures, but it was never argued to be scripture.

The Case for the Real Jesus, by Lee Strobel really goes through each of the alternate gospels.

Perry, there is much debate over a third epistle to the Corinthians. The book of Enoch is a different story. From what I have seen, it was popular, however, it has always been excluded from the Hebrew scriptures - Hebrew or Greek versions. If you haven't already, you may want to read it and you may see why. I'll assume when you say tht it is not missing, you mean that we have manuscripts for it. The only place where it appears to be considered "inspired" although maybe not canon is the Ethiopic Orthodox Church and the Mormons.

Marty N., for a topic such as assessing whether or not there is a significance to the order of the 66 books of the Bible means that we have address the issue of the missing books if we're going to come to a reasonable or appropiate conclusion. The fact is,there is much historical evidence, of which I'm unable to come up with at the moment,which explicitly reveals and proves that there were more books to the Bible than the 66 books that we already know. Don't misunderstand me Marty, I'm happy and content with the 66 books and have no objections as to oppose them in any way,shape or form,but the subject of the others books is bound to come up sooner or later in this post so I was just putting it on the table.

These are said to be references(other biblical books)that God gave to certain writers which have been shunned by theologians and church groups--For a detailed look into the verses in each of these books,you can visit: http://www.goodnewsinc.net(or just type in Other Books Of The Bible.

Here are the other books:

1>The book of Adam and Eve

2>Epistle Of Barnabas

3>2 Baruch

4>3 Baruch

5>Book Of Enoch

6>Secrets Of Enoch

7>2 Esdras

8>Shepherd Of Hermas

9>Testimony Of The 12 Patriarchs

10>Gospel Of Philip

11>Sirach

12>Odes Of Solomon

13>Psalms Of Solomon

14>Wisdom Of Solomon

15>Gospel Of Thomas

Hi Richard,
Why do you say that ancient Hebrew books and records that are cited by the Biblical writers are, in and of themselves, Biblical books? Why do you say that they were, or ought to be part of the Bible? When and by whom, then, were they removed from the Bible?

Paul cited many Greek scholars and Greek poetry, for instance, but that does not make those excluded Biblical books. The same applies to Psalms and Proverbs with regards to Egyptian material.

Thoughts on the Jewish canon.
http://www.tektonics.org/lp/otcanon.html

Daron,I only that the books were "said to to be"--meaning that others have said that those books were biblical books. I was just quoting from the source. I was just putting what's out there on the table. I scanned some of those books and they have some interesting and thought-provoking stuff in them which could arguably justify why early biblical scholars,theologians, and church groups would've probably not included them with the 66 books that we have right now. As I've stated to Marty,please don't misunderstand me. I wouldn't even attempt nor have any reason to promote a change to the original 66 books. I'm happy and content with the 66 books,and if they are indeed the only canonical books,all the better. However,since we're dealing with attributing significance to the order of the 66 books,we can't ignore the controversy concerning the surfacing of other so-called biblical books which have been said to be hidden or excluded from the Bible over the centuries. Applying significance to the 66 biblical books would mean that it would be incumbent on us to look into whether God had indeed inspired the early Bible composers to take that route. Why? Because seeing the significance hardly makes any sense unless God intends for us to see the significance. God predetermines,predestines and ultimately,He signifies and symbolizes things to reveal wondrous and profound spiritual truths in all His wisdom and splendour. If God has indeed inspired the order of the 66 books,then He would certainly reveal if there is a significance of some sort to us contrary to us trying to make a big deal out of nothing. It behooves us to make mention of the other controversal books so that we're not blindsided by the opposition of those who would contend that there are more books to the Bible than the 66 that we know,and also we can properly assess whether God purposed for the other books to surface or whether He singled out the 66 as the actual Spirit-inspired texts. As I have said, I'm happy with the 66,and my life has changed for the better and I'm ever enjoying the wondrous blessings of the loving God having the 66-book Bible to what I esteem as the magnified Word of God. It's just making sure that we put everything in the right perspective without leaving anything out or being ignorant of the controversy because Satanic deception and disguise has a clever way of hiding the truth and enabling people to accepts outright lies as absolute truths. If we can get the controversy of the other books out of the way,we will be able to suitably assess whether God would have us to behold any sort of significance to the order of the 66 books.

Hi Richard, a quick visit to http://www.goodnewsinc.net did not seem to represent classic Christianity. Yes, I agree that people "claim" other books should be in the Bible; the real question is whether they have compelling reasons for saying it. You listed a long listed of books. I have investigated many of those in the past. I have seen no evidence of conspiracy to exclude these books. In the case of the Old Testament books, one would have to conspire with both the Jews and the Christians to have them excluded. Many of the books that would be added to the New Testament, should they found to fit the criteria of canonicity, have proven to be much later. Rather than just axing books they didn't like, the early church fathers were actually very careful about which books to include. A handful of the books that are actually in our New Testament were originally excluded, not because of content, because of origin – meaning they didn't have enough evidence yet to be convinced of their author. From my investigation, and I'm currently leading a small group on the trustworthiness of the Bible so I've had to dig for answers on some of these types of questions, I find no reason to doubt books were excluded due to some conspiracy. If someone feels other books should be included, it would be up to them to show why they fit the criteria of canonicity. Based on the fact that we don't see them in our Bibles, I am confident that they are not going to come up with something new that hasn't been dealt with. That is not to say that some, if not many, of the books you have listed don't have some value, and/or true statements. It is not even to say that they were not written by Christians who were unnamed heroes of the faith. It is a matter of whether they pass the criteria of canonicity. There is no harm in reading these other works. The caution comes where they contradict scripture. If they are at odds with scripture, I'm going to go with scripture every time. I'm currently reading the Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 1 by Philip Schaff. These church fathers did not elevate their own works to those of scripture. There works can be beneficial for many reasons, but these later works also don't pass the criteria of canonicity.

I would also add that I think we have gotten off base a little. Greg's argument was that there is not much "significance" to the order other than it is mostly practical, and that we shouldn't read too much into it. So, even if there were other books that should be included, presumably they would be added in to their "practical" sorting. Danny seemed to disagree with this position, but I have not had time to read his article as to why he, or the author his referenced, believes there is. Maybe that is what you were responding to and we are not as far off as I presumed.

Hi Marty,I appreciate your comments,and we haven't gotten off base at all. You responded correctly to the concern that I was having pertaining to the controversy of the other books other than the 66 books. Thank you for the informative response to my questions. But,I was never concerned about the other books on a whole. I was only concerned about the controversy when the question of the significance of the original 66 books was posed. As I've tried to reiterate in my previous posts,I could care less about the other controversal books; I'm happy and content with the 66 books,but I just reasoned that if we were going to conclude whether there was a significance to the 66 books,that we would have to make sure that we dealt with the controversy to reach a suitable conclusion. You dealt with the topic of the controversy very well in your comments. Very informative comments,and also a very good assessment. And may God be with you as you and the small group that you lead will allow Him to reveal His deep,wondrous,
spiritual truths concerning the trustworthiness of the Bible.

So,with all the controversy concerning the other books,do you think there could be significance in the order of the 66 books? Would there be any reasons to believe that God intended for us to see any sort of significance to the order 66 books? Or,do we just leave it alone and call it a day?

Thanks for your comments Marty.

Good comments, Marty. Thanks.

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