Biblical Alteration: Discussing the Canon


Biblical Alteration: Discussing the Canon

“Although our New Testament gospels contain historical material, the theological editing is a factor that the discerning reader must constantly keep in mind.” –James D. Tabor (Biblical Historian)

…nearly 230 million Americans believe that a book showing neither unity of style nor internal consistency was authored by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent deity. A survey of Hindus, Muslims, and Jews around the world would surely yield similar results, revealing that we, as a species, have grown almost perfectly intoxicated by our myths.” –Sam Harris (Neuroscientist)

It has been my experience that atheists and independent freethinkers walk the road less traveled by because they seek out pearls of truth and wisdom—whereas believers are contented with the assumption that they contain the only truth they will ever need—their faith. Yet time and time again I have made it a point to raise the question, “What is your faith based on?” And for Christians the answer would have to be “The Bible.”

Needless to say without the articles of faith there could be no devotional agreement as to the proper convictions a Christian should hold, or to say it more plainly, without a doctrine of faith their could be no collective agreement of what the faith should even be about. If you think about it, this is some heavy handed business, because what it all means is that without the Bible then there would be no reason for Christianity—regardless of whether or not Jesus was real.

But as far as I can tell, there was never really a revealed word of God, aka Bible, to being with! In this article I will take you through the history of the canonization of the Bible, what books were selected, by whom, and for what purpose. If you follow the progression backward, in reverse, then you’re logical conclusion will match mine: the Bible is 100% man-made! And what’s more, we have documented it every step of the way from a handful of scrolls and codixes to full fledged religious compilations and compendiums. Yet I should warn you, if you are a believer what I am about to share with you will probably test your faith more than anything you’ve ever experienced before. More than that, it will leave you asking questions and, well, that’s my hope. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Zealous belief in the Bible as a hallowed text, and the obvious example of how such a doctrine of infallibility can so easily corrupt and override common logic, can be characteristically summed up by suffering to listen to the biblical scholar John William Burgon, who over a century ago, dogmatically declared, “The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the Throne! Every Book of it, every Chapter of it, ever Verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it… every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High!”

When debating Evangelical Christians I often get the whole schpeal about how the Bible matches all the old documents exactly, that the translations are inerrant, and that there are more copies and fragments of the Bible than any other ancient text! Well after setting the record straight you can inform these uncritical, blinkered, unthinking know-it-alls a thing or two. So as Sister Maria says in The Sound of Music, let’s start at the beginning, since the beginning is often the best place to start.

The Septuagint

The Septuagint, denoted by the symbol LXX, is the Christian Bible (OT) translated from the Hebrew into the Greek. During the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BCE) legend tells of a massive undertaking in which seventy Jewish scholars in as many days translated the full compendium (hence the LXX).

While there were 2nd century BCE MSS fragments of the LXX among the Dead Sea scrolls (recovered in 1947) what should not be overlooked is that even though the LXX became the Bible of the early Christians, it wasn’t without revision. In fact, even as it included some books not in the original Masoretic Hebrew text (e.g. the Apocrypha) other books, such as Jeremiah, were much shorter abbreviated versions of the original.

After all this controversy there were even more repeated revisions and further translations by Aquila, Theodotion, Lucian, and eventually numerous evangelical redactors from the 3rd century onward.

In his brilliant book Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine, the literary critic Harold Bloom brings up the most apparent, and regrettably the most ignored, of Biblical changes which should cause us to immediately doubt the divinity of the text as a whole. Bloom’s acute observations lead the scholar to write (p.47), “The New Testament frequently is a strong misreading of the Hebrew Bible, and certainly it has persuaded multitudes,” and goes on to inform, “The New Testament accomplishes its appropriation by means of its drastic reordering of the Tanakh.”

In his rather telling conclusion of his chapter regarding the futile attempt to find a purely historical Jesus, Bloom states in what might be the most telling and brutally truthful insight in regards to the alteration of Biblical text, relaying:

If the New Testament triumphed in the Roman mode, and it did under Constantine, then the captive led in procession was the Tanakh, reduced to slavery as the Old Testament. All subsequent Jewish history, until the founding more than half a century ago of the State of Israel, testifies to the human consequences of that textual slavery. (Bloom, p. 49)

Bloom reminds us in his book The American Religion, that this human design, since at the very least humans had to assemble the pages and put the book together, is something we must think about when we think of any holy scriptures. To show, that even before Christian history, that early on there were human artificers behind the creation of the supposed word of God, Bloom reflects, “…what we now call the Bible is the result of a complex process of canonization for which the criteria were surprisingly aesthetic, or at least reconcilable with the aesthetic. The Song of Songs is in the Bible because it had enchanted the great Rabbi Akiba…” (Bloom, p. 72)

(See: The American Religion and Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine by Harold Bloom.)

Variant Editions and the Protocanon

If you’ve ever looked at a Protestant Bible and a Roman Catholic Bible you’ll immediately realize that your Protestant version is missing a whole lot of books! Why is a Protestant version different from a Roman Catholic version? Well, to answer that we must look to the past.

The first canon formation stretches back to the two early Councils of Nicaea (325 and 787 respectively). Among Roman Emperor Constantine’s decree of establishing a Christian orthodoxy was also the formulation of both the “Nicene Creed” and the rough draft for the “orthodox canon.” Yet all of this revisionism, editorship, and emendation were just part of a much larger tradition of major rewrites in the history of Biblical canonization.

Before any set canon the Bible would undergo numerous other revisions. The rabbis of the 1st century who taught at Jamnia also finalized the Jewish canon (70 CE) but with the creation of the Septuagint (LXX) the Christian scribes would once again copiously alter the the Jewish canon and fit it to a remodeled Christian version. Not only were the Jewish list of books rearranged, but new additions which were excluded from the Hebrew canon (such as the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees, etc.) were subsequently added into the Christian canon.

The heretic Marcion (c.140 CE) issued his own version of the NT, and later Irenaeus (c.180 CE) would quote from other Hellenistic Christian writings further lending support for the growing popularity of what would come to be known as the Gospels (2nd century onward). Although it is true that some of the Gospels, such as the book of Mark, were written in the latter half of the first century, the earliest mention of it doesn’t exist till way into the second century. In fact, the earliest the four Gospels are ever mentioned together is in the Muratorian Fragment, from probably 190 CE, and no earlier. This suggests the other Gospels either came much later, written anywhere from 100 to 150 CE (see my article on the historical framework for dating the Gospels by clicking HERE), which means there couldn’t have possibly been eye-witness accounts or personal testimonies. Moreover, internal evidence gained via Higher Criticism suggests the Gospels and much of the New Testament writings are less history than actual imaginative interpolation, redaction, not to forget to mention fictional (see: The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Robert M. Price, Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? b y Dennis Ronald MacDonald, Lost Christianities, Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman, and Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth by Burton L. Mack ).

Eusebius (d. 340 CE), on the other hand, devised a threefold classification; noting the accepted, disputed, and rejected books. Eusebius would reluctantly include John’s Revelation, which he considered overtly Gnostic, yet rejected the Didache, Acts of Paul, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the epistle of Barnabas, while the gospels of Peter, Thomas, and Matthias weren’t even considered for inclusion (mainly because they were incomplete. A full copy of the gospel of Thomas wouldn’t be unearthed until the find at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945 CE; over one thousand and six hundred years later!)

Athanasius of Alexandria created a list of twenty-seven NT books in 367 CE, providing the earliest list for a protocanon of fourth century Christendom. Augustine’s criterion followed suit, namely a universal acceptance of Athanasius’ prior listing, and Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate (c.405) from the list of twenty-seven books provided by Athanasius making it the decisive act of establishing the content of the Christian canon. Even so, Jerome admitted the epistle to the Hebrews and Revelation only on the grounds that they had been recognized by the early Church Fathers.

Compounding the issue, the Council of Carthage (397 CE) had forbade the reading of non-canonical books, meaning anything left out couldn’t make it back in and no additional works could be amended to the authorized list of twenty-seven books. The provision of the authorized canon was mainly a defense against the perceived heretical movements of Gnosticism and Montanism.

The Canon Finalized

In 1545-47 the first Council of Trent was convened in Northern Italy in the city of Trento. The early Church met not only to decide on what the canonical books of the Bible should be, including protocanonical (first level) books and deuterocanonical (second level) books, but they chose to omit some books (such as 3 and 4 Esdras) while keeping others (e.g. the Apocrypha). The Council of Trent would meet again to rule against Martin Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone, and simultaneously reject the Lutheran and Zwinglian positions on the Eucharist (1551-52). Luther meanwhile would, once again make amendments to his faith, this time by altering the Holy Bible, not only by translating it into German but Luther also relegated all of the deuterocanonical books to an appendix at the end—and eventually would get rid of them altogether. By the third session (1562-63) the Council of Trent would mark the start of the Counter-Reformation by handing all unfinished Protestant transcripts of the Bible over to the Pope to correct and re-translated (yet again) the Bible; this time doing a complete revision of the Vulgate (finally finished in 1592).

Luther, having amended the OT Apocraphal books to an appendix, relegating them as less authoritative, in so doing changed the authority of the Bible more than any revisionist before him. Not only this, but he also deemphasized the books of James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation therefore causing them to lose precedence among the growing community of Protestants.

New Testament Evolution

Biblical scholars and Historians, using the methods of Higher Criticism, including but not limited to Source, Form, and Redaction criticism have revealed that even the original authors of the NT may have been constantly changing and revising their texts as they wrote. For example, in their book The Masks of Christ Lyn Picknett and Clive Prince show how the original version of Mark depicts a Jesus who is described as being indignant and filled with anger upon having to heal a leper, where the later renditions of the text lighten the tone and changes Jesus’ character not at all in a slight way. Picknett and Prince cite that:

As part of their image damage-limitation, some early manuscripts of Mark have totally transformed ‘moved with anger’ into the much more acceptable ‘filled with compassion’. But while it is easy to see why early Christians changed anger to compassion, it would be very odd to do it the other way round. Nevertheless, many modern translations use the ‘compassion’ version, which is no doubt more comforting for their readers. (p. 97)

Seeing such a blatantly man-made progression with an obvious agenda every step of the way we must ask: are the Gospel accounts even historically reliable?

Unknown scribes who composed the original Gospels wrote down and pieced together the strands of Christian hearsay half a century or more from the events of the resurrection itself. Most of these writings, including the Gospel accounts, were composed in foreign countries hundreds of miles away from ancient Jerusalem, written in Coptic Greek, a foreign language of a dissimilar culture in a different region of the world decades after the supposed events of the life, death, and resurrection ever took place. Contrary to what the religious might espouse, this sort of “evidence” is the opposite of reliable.

Professor Price lends his significant insights once more, informing, “The Gospels come under serious suspicion because there is practically nothing in them that does not conform to this “Mythic Hero Archetype,” no “left-over” secular information such as we find with Caesar Augustus and a few others, which serves to tie them into the fabric of history.” (Price, p.21)

Even the early Christian leader Papias claimed that the Gospel texts of Matthew and Mark contained a “word of mouth” style may be grossly inaccurate as it is more likely Papias was mistaken, having quoted an early Ebionite work called the Preachings of Peter—thus confirming that, like the rest of the texts, there has been ongoing misreading and misinterpretations from the beginning to the end of Gospel ascendancy. Robert M. Price once again expounds:

Since we have no text of Papias at all and no manuscript of Irenaeus as old as Eusebius, it becomes reasonable to treat the passages we have quoted from Papias and Irenaeus as no older than Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History. For us, they are no more than apolgetical garnishes to that fourth-century treatise and may be no older. The same holds good for the famous Testimonium Flavium attributed to Josephus: it certainly did not appear in the edition of Josephus read by Origin in the early third century. (Price, p.38)

Other early Christian writings are often cited by apologists in order to bolster the credibility of the historicity of the Bible as well as Christ. Repeatedly I have heard the names from Tacitus (writing in 120 A.D.) to Suetonius (circa 138 A.D.), to Thallus who is only referenced by Julius Africanus some two hundred years later, and Plinly the Younger and so on, but all of them are spurious at best. Why? Mainly because they didn’t know who the Gospel writers were anymore than we do, with one big difference, they didn’t have the wealth of archeological, historical, and scientific knowledge to shed light on the matter as modern scholars and historians have, thus their views were largely inadequate, and much of what they *assumed is irrelevant today.

(See: The Masks of Christ by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Secret Gospel According to Mark by Morton Smith, The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield, and also the work of David Friedrich Strauss, F.C. Baur, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Adolf Harnack, Rudolf Bultmann, W.C. van Manen, etc.)

Continuation of Copious Canonical Change: Perpetual Translations

Today you’ll notice more than a few dozen or so variant translations of the Bible ranging all the way from the Authorized King James Bible (1611) to the evangelist translation of the NIV (1978) to the English Standard Version (2001) all the way to the linguistically interesting paraphrase called The Message by Eugene H. Peterson (2002). The revisionism of the Bible is ongoing as it continues even today!

That said, if you’re wondering what the most accurate and reliable translation of both the Old and New Testament is, I have it on good authority, that the New King James version and the English Standard Version are the best two out there. However, if you are like me and would rather just read the Bible for its literary value, and nothing more, then I suggest you go with the most beautiful and eloquent sounding translation by William Tyndale (1494-1536). Tyndale’s translation forms the basis for the Authorized Version, but for the crime of translating the Bible into English, Tyndale was martyred and burnt at the stake in Antwerp on the charge of heresy (1535). In fact, to read the Bible in English was considered a sin punishable by death.

Conclusion

Knowing is half the battle, and if you’ve ever played the phone game with a group of people,  where you whisper something to someone and they pass what you said onto the next person and so on, by the time you get to the end of the line of people the message will come out inexact if not completely garbled. Such is the way of transmission and retransmission. There is always inevitably going to be data loss. This in turn will lead to miscommunication, and the only thing which is certain is that, the message you think you have is NOT the original message. It’s been changed. Now imagine over two thousand consecutive years of the phone game! That message is going to be so far removed from the original, so totally dissimilar, that it’s not even wrong. So the next time a uninformed Christian tries to tell you that the Bible is perfect and always has been, that it’s the inerrant word of God, that it’s inspired, and that it has been miraculously preserved throughout antiquity without the slightest alteration or amendment, by all means, feel free to set them straight.

The bottom line is the Christian Bible is, and has been, the handy work of men.

Notes: Traditionally reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias are not cited in the sources because the information they contain is authoritative, and so is considered to be general knowledge which everyone should know or, at least, have access to. If not then other reference materials are surely available either via your local library or the World Wide Web (i.e. Wikipedia, etc.) I used the web link to the The Canon of Scripture at the Bible Research page to double check my facts since it’s always wise to get a second opinion. This page has excellent comparison sheets and lists. I then cross referenced this with a page from Columbia University which had an easy to follow summary time line of the canonization events. That said, much of the material I share here stems from a series of such sources, including: The Oxford Dictionary of the Bible, The Oxford Dictionary of World Mythology, The Oxford Dictionary of World History, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, and of course The Oxford Dictionary of English. Further references are included within the text. Consult them for more information. Happy investigating!

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12 comments

  1. In fact, even as it included some books not in the original Masoretic Hebrew text (e.g. the Apocrypha) other books, such as Jeremiah, were much shorter abbreviated versions of the original.It would appear that the further back you go with Jeremiah, the shorter version appears to be older. In the longer version, any changes to the text are not considered "radical". It appears that this sort of thing interests you and here's a link for you to examine at your leisure.Insofar as Mark being written in the latter half of the first century, this link makes a pretty good argument for it having been written in the 40's. Even if it were written in the 50's, it would still be a time well within the lifespan of the person writing it, given the almost universally accepted year of 33 AD for the crucifixion and subsequent ressurection of Jesus Christ.I'll check out some of your other comments later.

  2. True, the most conservative estimates of Mark date it to around 45.That's original Mark, not the extended version. I would say anywhere between 50 and 60 is a good estimate. We don't have any fragments of Mark which date far enough back, and there is little to no extra biblical reference to juxtapose it against, so the dating of Mark is predicated mainly on linguistic analysis and considerations.But even if it were written in the lifetime of someone who saw or knew Jesus there are more elements to consider, such as it originally being a Greek text with no Aramaic or Hebrew counterpart. Which complicates the whole eye-witness thing, even if someone were to have been alive to have witnessed it all, especially an outsider or historian, there certainly would be other water tight corresponding testimonies and extrabiblical support, not dissimilar variant ones like the Synoptic Gospels which all seem to plagiarize Mark rather than adding genuine support.The second problem is that Mark mimics the Odyssey heavily… quote mining certain verses in fact. And that's not how you relay history, by copying entire lines of text from the worlds most famous poetic fiction and trying to pass it off as your own. But it shows that the author of Mark was trained in the classics, as the Odyssey would have been required reading for anyone with an education. Which also suggests that it couldn't have been written by anyone close to Jesus, all tax collectors and fishermen, fluent in Hebrew and Perhaps Aramaic, but unlike Paul, probably not conversant in Greek, and if so, less likely to be literate in Greek. (Richard Carrier has shown that only 22% of the world's population was literate at that time, and mostly upper class citizens of Rome and Egypt not the rest of the Levant).Furthermore, the author of Mark interpolates much of the OT, and so we can be sure it wasn't ever meant to be a historical documentation but rather a legendization of, perhaps, a historical figure lingering somewhere in the background.That's the most we can get out of Mark from the historical aspect. Also, it is still written 12 years after the supposed events, and since life expectancy was around 30 years of age, give or take, even if the author of Mark was well to do, healthy, and in the vicinity when it all happened, why did he wait 12 years to write it all down?Again, it suggests that it's not a historical account, but rather a fictionalization based off the legend of Christ. It seems that any further back the concept of Christ was simply related in visions, as Paul mentions, and as many modern critics have suggested, it sounds an awful lot like there was no actual person… but an idea… which later got historized. But that's after you weed through all the myth and legend we can readily detect to see if there are any strands of actual quantifiable truth which tie Jesus to the fabric of history.Yet I agree with most people that there must have been an actual charismatic figure who, with his band of rough neck Christians, made some waves in that particular region at that time. But the more magnificent and miraculous the stories become the more we can detect the borrowing and insertion of myth, which by the end of the story, that's all we're left with–regardless of when it was first written.

  3. Still, even if as a believing Christian you believe every word of the Gospels are historic fact (which oddly lack outside confirmation or extra-biblical evidence) then you still have to contend with the fact that the Bible was assembled and the canon was massaged over hundreds of years before there was any actual orthodox doctrine.This raises the pertinent question: what about all those other books? How do you know the Church Fathers were doing what was best by leaving them out? What if there are keys to your faith which got chucked? Have you read all the books they omitted? What about the additional ones they put in? What tools or methods do you use to discern whether or not they're the best choice possible?For example, I firmly believe that if the early Church Fathers had a full (complete) gospel of Thomas they wouldn't have rejected it, but instead, would have depended on it for the fact that it contains Jesus saying independently of the Gospels which match their Jesus sayings.It may have become Apocryphal, but I think if they had the full version they may have used it as a document to suggest Jesus was historical and other witnesses outside of the orthodox faith knew about him. In fact, this is how we discovered that the Q Document was not just a hypothesis, that indeed, it must exist. Many of the Thomas saying are more simple, suggesting they came first, which also means there must be another book of Jesus sayings because this Thomas did not know Jesus personally and this author probably didn't know any of the Apostles. He just collected and wrote down notes of sayings of Jesus, to it begs the question, where did he get them? From Q.So Christians today often overlook the fact that the only reason the early Church fathers excluded Thomas was because they only had a fragment, and not the full volume, which we later uncovered at Nag Hammadi. So this modern archeology helps show hidden insights to Christianity and gives us a better understanding of what actually may have occurred in certain instances. The Church Fathers didn't have this information, so they couldn't be bothered with it. Thomas was too Gnostic and too fragmentary to seriously consider.This is just one example I'd like Christians to consider when thinking about canonization, because if you read Thomas and then find yourself agreeing with my assessment, you can't help but question your faith. What would be different if people had chosen different books for your to read? Would you use a different Jesus saying to buttress your faith rather than this other one? But once you acknowledge that men chose what articles of faith you could read and which ones you could have access to and which ones were off limits… and after all the revisions, amendments, and alterations it just seems absurd to suggest that these were somehow inspired or divinely wrought texts. In fact, all the evidence points to the contrary. And that alone should get you questioning the validity of your faith and what you believe. It may not make you an atheist like me, but it should cause you to stop and pause. That's all I hoped for in sharing this information. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Hey there T-Vick!Nice article!It's always good to gain a bit more knowledge as to how we got to be where we seem to be, although Lord only knows where it is that we are a-goin'?!And no, this is not a veiled invitation to saddle-up and go on a trail ride with me up to Brokeback Mountain.Sorry JD, I just couldn't resist. But this is the last you'll hear from me about that. I promise…Sub-Koolio ShoolioAlways Sportin'a Fool's Grin!

  5. Steve-Thanks for droppin' in! And don't worry, I'm not homophobic… so you can be all sorts of gay with me if you'd like. A platonic sort of gay of course. Not that there's anything wrong with that.Just fooling. It doesn't matter to me what sexual preference people have as long as they have it for people above a certain age. Unlike those pedophile priests who keep making the headlines.

  6. Yup, them Pedo-Priests are generating a lot of Bad Press for Bad Religion. Not to mention the low-down mean nastiness and hypocricy of it all.But like I always say, the difference between Good Religion and Bad Religion is that one does good, whilst the other does bad. And it is usually not that difficult to differentiate between them. "Deeds not Creeds!"Later,Sub-Koolio

  7. TV,If you are going to subscribe to the unhinged rantings of a vocal, yet small minority of scholars that deny the historical existance of Jesus Christ, then we really on't have much to talk about on this thread.Insofar as any Homeric influences on the Gospel of Mark, that little theory has been thoroughly debunked and I'm a bit suprised that you even brought it up. I'll check back later.Steve Baby! What's goin' on man?

  8. Actually, that article doesn't so much debunk the linguistic analysis that MacDonald does of the Greek of Homer and the Gospel Mark, but it does raise objections which MacDonald addresses in is follow up book.I would suggest that you just don't take the article at face value, although it has some good points, you should actually read the books for yourself and see.And again, the author of that article is writing with a firmly established confirmation bias, is not an expert in ancient Greek, and is not a professional historian. So saying I shouldn't believe the specialists and professional historians and scholars and instead believe some quack with no credentials on the Interweb who apparently hasn't read the classics… well, that makes me giggle.Have a good weekend.

  9. JD-Yet if you consider JP Holding an expert… here's JP Holding debunked!http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/holding.htmlIf JP Holding is debunked, well, then his theories are invalid. Right?Logic bomb! LOL Just havin' a bit oh' fun is all. I thought I made it clear that I believe that Jesus was a real historical figure who later got legendized.That's my position anyway.But I don't think any historian worth their salt is just going to sit by while pious practitioners of faith say "No need to investigate this rabbi's father… he didn't have one."Historians always must ask, "Who was this guys father?" They then look at the available data and make their best summation.But when someone ups the ante and says, "Not only needn't you look into this guys background, but you can take it from us, he was also the co-eternal begotten son of an almighty God!"At this point the historian would be wise to start investigating these people… with this question in mind, "Who are you people?"Anthropologists, historians, and even religious psychologists are interested in this latter question because, as I tried to show in this article, it makes it abundantly clear that in the case of the world's ubiquitous religions we can trace them back to their man-made roots more often than not.Which means, the other questions are entirely important to ask, because they may actually contain the real answers and not just the devotional and dogmatic convectional hopes of millions of uber religious folk, devotional believers, and the like who wouldn't ever think to ask such a question in the first place.So although you may not agree with these more secular historians and their conclusions, you cannot deny the importance of their questions.Alright, that will be all from me tonight. Have a good one. Laterz dude!

  10. Great article Tristan….I was wondering if it was possible for you to reference an article that simply summarizes the main points during the canonization process (besides yours). I have been looking for months, and have come up empty handed. In all seriousness, I would like to have one that is published (hoping that you take the hint and get this published) for future reference.Excellent work!

  11. Tink-Actually, short of a college textbook, there aren't many well laid out summaries published at the academic level by publishers. Some authors included small summaries in their popular works, but not all encompassing. Another problem is that whenever a bonafide historian or academic tackles the real history and finds things which complicate the devotional stance of Christian faith, then there is an instant backfire of apologetics… mostly written by JP Holding types who aren't professionals in the fields they critique. I'm not doubting Holding's intelligence, but it says a lot when no Christian publisher would even publisher your books even as Christian apologetics is so ubiquitous. Holding's degree is a masters in Library science. So basically he's a certified school teacher with the ability to become a professional librarian.I really don't thing he's read that much from the stuff I read on his website, deemed the "hardest hitting Christian apologist website on the net." So these types of Christians will write reviews of why they feel the professional historians are wrong, without a proper background in the field they critique, and their lists always reflect this. That's why I warn people away from apologetic material and especially apologetic websites. The information found on them is no more reasonable than any popular new age law of attraction or scientology page. People's opinions don't exactly cut it when you're talking about real historical facts.Not merely what people "feel" or "think" about these facts.I'm glad you think such a summary overview should be published. I may one day come back to it with an expanded and revised, more detailed, version of a time line. But I just wanted to present a brief article on what we know about the transmission of information when it came to creating the Bible. And as it turns out we know a lot.And much of what we know shows that there is a man-made, with a religious backed agenda, guiding the process of canonization the whole way. It's undeniable, and that should cause any Christian to stop and pause.Meanwhile, those apologists like JP Holding continue to insist that the Bible is the 100% inspired and inerrant work of God. Which, to throw out an ad hominem, is basically what you could expect from a librarian who doesn't appear to have read any of the books in any library.All I try to do is present the facts as plainly as possible, give some commentary on them, with as little spin as possible, and leave it up to others to decide. My agenda isn't to convert anyone to my way of thinking, simply to get them to think for themselves.As long as they can do that, then the facts will speak for themselves.

  12. Yes… My agenda is all about informed choice. The more informed, the better. And, this also includes information that may not be what you want to hear. I feel, that if a person looks at all of the facts fully, and still walks away with their faith intact, power to them.As far as religious apologetics go, I have no issue with them if they are academically published, and qualified to offer an opinion. Most times, this is not the case.That being said, the canonization process was a highly political, social and religious manipulation. As, unfortunately, most canonizations are. It would be really amazing to develop a nice, objective summary of this process.

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