The Holy Bible And The Holy Scriptures Closed or Open
Having been a born again Christian since early in the 1970’s and having heard hundreds of sermons, the most popular question being asked from the pulpit I can recall had been, “What would Jesus do?” As time went on someone decided to take this phrase and market it for themselves as, WWJD.
A few years ago the automotive industry asked this question, “Which make and model automobile would Jesus buy and drive?” See (J. T. Nelson Created November 23, 2002; last updated December 5, 2002 http://brneurosci.org/godcars.html).
Entering into a local Christian Bible bookstore looking over all the different subject categories the Bible is now marketed, I found myself asking this question, “Which Bible would Jesus be apt to buying?” I can just hear it now, during a vaudeville act featuring a funny man sitting in the audience in the back row shouting out, “the Holy Bible.”
Yes of course the Holy Bible? The question is which Holy Bible. As with the miracle of the loaves and the fishes the Holy Bible has been marketably multiplied to meet the demands of the multitudes. St. Luke 9:12-17
When people go into a bookstore in America today in order to purchases a book called the Holy Bible, for the most part the populaces take at face value that the compilation of theses sixty six books, that have been arranged in two major sections, that being the Old Testament and the New Testament is in fact Holy Scripture. This trust is simply because that is what they find bound together under the title “The Holy Bible.”
What Christians today call the Old Testament is to the Jewish population the current day Jewish Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures are divided into three sections namely, Torah (The Law), Nevi'im (The Prophets) and the Kethuvim
The term Tanakh is an acronym of the initial Hebrew letters of the Tanakh's three traditional subdivisions: Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim. The Jewish faith commonly uses the term Tanakh to refer to its canon. In academic circles, terms such as the Hebrew Bible are commonly used to refer to the Tanakh which was later adopted into the Christian as the Old Testament.
When you hold in your possession a Hebrew Bible according to Jewish tradition, the Tanakh consists of only twenty-four books. Jewish tradition is that the Tanakh regards as one book what are sometimes viewed as two in the Christian Bible (e.g. 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings and so forth), and holds as one book all the twelve "Books" of the Twelve Prophets ("Trei Asar"). In truth there is no difference in the content found within the Hebrew Bible from that of the Old Testament found in a Christian Bible.
The Protocanonical books are those books of the Old Testament which were coextensive with the Hebrew Bible and which have always been considered canonical by almost all Christians throughout history.
There are a number of books that are referred to as belonging to the “Apocrypha." The term deuterocanonical books or apocrypha, which "were sometimes doubted” in the early church is contrasted with the term Protocanonical books.
The Apocrypha may be sold individually or added accompanying the Holy Bible. When it accompanies the Holy Bible it may be advertised as following The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version, The publishers add the statement, with the Apocrypha, to differentiate these books from the Bible. The Deutero-Canonical books, called “The Apocrypha" are the seven books Tobit, Judith, First Maccabees, Second Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch plus the additional texts in Esther and Daniel that are found in the Catholic Old Testament but not in the Hebrew canon.
As Christians why do we accept the Old Testament’s thirty-nine books along with the New Testament’s twenty-seven books as being Holy Scripture? Why do the majority of us reject the books found in the Apocrypha as being not Holy Scripture?
In the Orange County Register local newspaper a full page article ran on February 24th, 2008 entitled Preacher to tell O.C. church “Thank God for Evolution” The article features Michael Dowd http://sciencedude.freedomblogging.com/2008/02/24/preacher-to-tell-oc-church-thank-god-for-evolution/
“For me, scripture is divine communication in any form that supports me in honoring and serving the Whole (the Holy One), it is everything that inspires and encourages me to grow in evolutionary integrity. If a poem, chapter in a book, Web site, or movie helps me grow in humility, authenticity, responsibility, and service to others ]then for me, it is scripture. Writings and other artifacts that do not support me in this process I do not consider scripture, even if they appear on a page of the Bible.” Michael Dowd
“If a poem, chapter in a book, Web site or movie helps me grow in humility, authenticity, responsibility and service to others, then for me, it is Scripture.” Michael Dowd
I must confess at this point having been a born again Christian since early in the 1970’s and having heard hundreds of sermons, I may not have read the entire Old and New Testament cover to cover. In fact, many Christians I know may not have read all of the sixty-six books which they do consider to be Holy Scripture cover to cover. Yet when we do go into a bookstore we have faith that what we find between the front cover and the back cover of books being sold as Holy Bibles, is uniquely Holy Scripture and nothing but Holy Scripture. We also contend that no matter how humanly inspiring other written literature may be, there is a divine quality absent that is only found within these sixty six books found in the Holy Bible.
Our faith then rests on the belief of a transcendent and immanent God that has moved upon men to have written these sixty six books in the first placed, preserving these sixty six books throughout history and then moved upon men to choose these same sixty six books binding them together calling them the Holy Bible. All this being divinely and accurately done over hundreds of years so that a Christian may cry today, “Sola Scriptura,” a phrase that means "Bible alone."
Earlier in this essay I mentioned that the most popular question being asked from the pulpit I can recall had been, “What would Jesus do?” The question now becomes, who has made this decision, and are they really competent to decide for all of us? Who is right?