On what bases were the NT books chosen?

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  • Thanks, Mabsoota!
    I'm going to keep asking. I'm notorious for it.
  • Dear Daniel_Kyrillos, 

    I undersand the scripture and inspiration in the light of the Judeo-Christian view, and I'm not arguing against it, it seems reasonable to me the human component of the writings.

     I'm not Orthodox so your argument from Orthodoxy is not making me convinced. I guess yeah the NT writers quoted each other and other books too. But how can we be so sure that these are their writings? What about the anonymous books? What about the unquoted books? What about other writings not included? Why wait 3 and half centuries before saying: "Folks, this is the word of God" why not set it in stone from the beginning? Did All the churches use the exact same writings? It doesn't seem that way to me. Is their any detailed study or Sermon-Not Targeting Christians-talking about this?

    Why wouldn't it happen? What if the writings add something to the faith? What if it is written by an Apostle? Will you disregard that? If so, what gives an piece of writing its authority? The we say so reasoning?  
  • it was the church and the oral tradition that gave the authority.
  • Shouldn't it be the other way around? 
    The Scripture is what gives the authority to the church and the oral tradition. 

    So the Ethiopians aren't in the wrong to add 1 Enoch, and the protestants aren't in the wrong to omit the deuterocanonical books?

    They're just examples.
  • edited February 1
    @RaafatAbualazm. In the OT, God didn't establish Judaism by the Torah...he established it by connecting to His creation after many many years of separation. Abraham, the father of faith, followed that voice in his head without hesitance or proof either in action or written. Even the first set of commandments came many many years after during the time of Moses. 

    Likewise, Christ didn't establish the Church in the NT by writing a book for people to follow. Instead, He took action and preached the kingdom of God wherever He went. The written word is dead without taking action. The Scripture must be living through the believers, and that's where the Church comes in.

    Not that this example is a good one, but consider the Quran and the hadithes--which is now taking preference among most Muslims to live by?! Also remember that, the Quran here is told to be "dictated' by God, not just inspired like the Bible...so no human interaction at all.  

    The Ethiopians didn't "add" the book of Enoch, but it was in their Jewish tradition before becoming Christians. It was even referenced in St. Jude's epistle. Some of the Fathers said it was inspired, but many Jews didn't consider it to be canonical...but that's OK, but the Scripture is alive through the Church, in that part of the universal Church, this part is acceptable.

    To say: "the protestants aren't in the wrong to omit the deuterocanonical books" is something that is repeated a lot specially by copts...without considering that the term Protestants refers to too many different denominations...some accept these books, some don't. So I think here we need to be more specific. But I'll give two main reasons for this not to be a consideration:
    1- The Protestants groups, as the Orthodox Church believes, are not part of the Church. By definition, they are "protesting" against the Church. So this leads us back to the point that true Scripture was defined and interprated correctly only through the Church. 
    2- The Protestants groups that first set the OT Canon to be printed say that the main reason those books were not accepted was because they didn't have a Hebrew source, while staying away from the Septuagint version that the Church considered  to be divinely inspired, that is while being the first translation ever of the original text. Consider this chart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint#/media/File:Texts_of_the_OT.svg


  • @minatasgeel 

    Well, yeah, Abraham followed the voice in his head, given that it was only a voice. But now we are not talking to God face-to-face like he or Moses did, so we need something to guide us, right? They must say that this is the guide or approve of it, it is not the other way around. We can't just say that this what god said, we don't get to decide. The Church will help you understand the book, live by its standards and so but it doesn't say which books are true or not, she should have received them. 

    I'm not getting the analogy of Quran and the Hadith.

    The Jewish Ethiopians did add the book and the Church continued from then on. If it was inspired then it should be added, if not, then it should be omitted. It is either inspired or not. The Scripture is alive through the Church such that you follow it and understand it, how does that make some book acceptable and not in any other Church. 
    It is either Scripture or not! If it is then other Church should have included it as they omitted scripture. If it is not then they're lying about God and attributing to him something that shouldn't be. 

    The mainline protestants, fundamentalists, and  Evangelicals. I am not aware of any protestant Church that accept Deuterocanonical books. They were protesting against the Catholic Church of medieval Europe, and rightly so. They see themselves reverting back to the original church. I'm not sure how come they're not in Hebrew where the Dead Scrolls shows some of them. But if they reject the Septuagint then you should also include 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras as well. 
  • You keep forgetting the Church I am talking about is lead by the same Spirit that inspired the writing for the true books. The Church was established BEFORE the books, not the other way around. So the former knows better which is true. 

    The analogy of the Quran and the Hadith is that everyone is practicing Islam from the Hadith, which show more of the actions of Muhammad, than the actual book that "God wrote."

    The God we believe in is not one that will accept us into heaven because of the Scripture. The Scripture is only the tool, and understanding it through the Church is to change us to be in the state of being to desire to be with God and live with Him.

    You are right about the Hebrew...but the Hebrew they accepted is mainly the Masoretic Text which was only finalized in the 10th century. It's not the original source text. Take a look at the chart i posted before and see where is the Mt, the Vulgate, and the Septuagint in the diagram.  
  • Yes scripture helps to give us knowledge and understanding. So if we do have knowledge and understanding isn't that sufficient for those who read it. It is objective in its meanings and not subjective by whom wrote it.
    And the law as in the Torah and the Koran, Jesus had fulfilled the law. So makes those books so true?
  • edited February 5
    @RaafatAbualazm

    Hey brother! Sorry I’ve been busy, and I’m not able to keep up. So I’ll only respond to your response to me:

    You wrote:

    ************
    So from that definition of scripture, if somehow an epistle or any document that is attributed to an apostle discovered nowadays will surely be included in the canon?

    So to put my trust in the sources I've to become a member of the Christian faith? I can't trust them before I subscribe to any particular faith?
    Yes the Church Fathers were consistent "most of the time" on "most of the Canon" but It makes me wonder why not "all the time" and "all of the Canon". It makes me wonder how much of it is purely human intervention, in identifying and accepting which scripture that is.
    ************

    The reason is this. Christ did not come to establish some writings. He came to establish Himself in our flesh, which is the Church. The New Testament is secondary to the Church. The Church is what takes priority. Therefore, the writings must be understood under a rubric of theological and spiritual thinking already existent in the Church. The writings were made to respond to certain problems in that time. It is not purely human intervention, but we do not deny that there is human intervention. The Spirit, God, works with humanity to inspire humanity to write something approved by the Church, which is Christ in us. It requires study, meditation, prayers, and an open heart.

    Besides, when we say “most of the canon”, you seem to think that the earliest fathers had all the writings readily available to them. Later on, when the Church became unanimous in the canon, they recognized the minor discrepancies only prove the truth of the Christian gospel, because they did not communicate with one another to agree on what to write and in what order, but they agreed on the general historicity and theology of Christ, His divinity, and His work of salvation for us and for the establishment of His Church.


    You wrote:

    ************
    As why I'm investigating Christianity, I come from a religious background and in a religious community so it feels weird not to have any. And there's something telling me that I should give them a shot, it might be that I'm friends with so many Coptic Christians and in Egypt any religion other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism is not even a religion in the true sense.

    May be there's an inner calling which is not dependent on any of those factors that tells me to do it. But that's rather weird and unlikely. And in accordance with the inner call, whatever its origin was, I'm investigating Christianity.

    I'm not so sure why.
    ************

    You should start with this question: what’s the point of religion? This will help you understand why Christianity is worth investigating. Is religion supposed to make you a good person? Is religion supposed to make you more ethical? Is religion supposed to make you at one with creation? Or is there something more, something that nothing in the universe can offer?

    I think when you answer this question, rather than finding faith as a sense of “growing up with it”, you might be able to find the deepest meaning of faith then merely being a good person or being aware of the world around you. These are all benefits of something much greater. Maybe that’s what the inner calling is trying to help you figure out. Before you even consider why or how writings are chosen for the New Testament, a deeper question is, what’s the point of the calling I have.

    In the end, a deep prayer life and a reading of the gospels the Church offered is more important at the moment than wondering why these writings. I know it sounds strange to someone with a Western mind, but faith is something to be experienced, not PRIMARILY something to be studied (although that comes later). I find it more rewarding to simply have a relationship with people, to develop a rapport, in order to get to know more about them, rather than impersonally trying to know about them behind their backs. That is the heart of true faith. The gospel is wide open for people to get to know personally.

    And certainly, while we may be saddened, there will be no temporal repercussions from our side if you decide later to break up the *relationship* you begin to have with the faith. The only repurcussion is our continued love to and prayer for you.
  • *****
    The reason is this. Christ did not come to establish some writings. He came to establish Himself in our flesh, which is the Church. The New Testament is secondary to the Church. The Church is what takes priority. Therefore, the writings must be understood under a rubric of theological and spiritual thinking already existent in the Church. The writings were made to respond to certain problems in that time. It is not purely human intervention, but we do not deny that there is human intervention. The Spirit, God, works with humanity to inspire humanity to write something approved by the Church, which is Christ in us. It requires study, meditation, prayers, and an open heart.

    Besides, when we say “most of the canon”, you seem to think that the earliest fathers had all the writings readily available to them. Later on, when the Church became unanimous in the canon, they recognized the minor discrepancies only prove the truth of the Christian gospel, because they did not communicate with one another to agree on what to write and in what order, but they agreed on the general historicity and theology of Christ, His divinity, and His work of salvation for us and for the establishment of His Church.
    ****

    But if they had discrepancies on which books is scripture, then where then is guide to the Holy Spirit. If the writings are reactionary to then current beings, so why are they to bound the church today? Aren't they supposed to be timeless truths.

    I need a more through introduction to this topic, the scriptures and what is inspiration in Christianity.
  • ***
    You should start with this question: what’s the point of religion? This will help you understand why Christianity is worth investigating. Is religion supposed to make you a good person? Is religion supposed to make you more ethical? Is religion supposed to make you at one with creation? Or is there something more, something that nothing in the universe can offer?
    ***
    Religion for me is not a mere moral guide, I am fairly moral person without being religious for some time. Most people are moral not due to their religious beliefs but in spite of them.

    I want to know Why are we here, why are we suffering, and what is going to happen after that?
    For me religion is more about philosophy.

    ***
    In the end, a deep prayer life and a reading of the gospels the Church offered is more important at the moment than wondering why these writings. I know it sounds strange to someone with a Western mind, but faith is something to be experienced, not PRIMARILY something to be studied (although that comes later). I find it more rewarding to simply have a relationship with people, to develop a rapport, in order to get to know more about them, rather than impersonally trying to know about them behind their backs. That is the heart of true faith. The gospel is wide open for people to get to know personally.
    ***

    But these writings nowadays continue to define the dogma and philosophy of the church.
    If they great, for the most part as I currently see it but far from oozing with goodness, and it is not attributed to a higher authority what then gives credibility as something true?
    Eastern Asian Philosophies are great too, what gives Christianity any more credibility and truth?

    ***And certainly, while we may be saddened, there will be no temporal repercussions from our side if you decide later to break up the *relationship* you begin to have with the faith. The only repurcussion is our continued love to and prayer for you.
    ***

    I hope so, but in Egypt Christians are closed ghetto, and it gets racist at times. Although I'm fairly "in" and they are beginning to be more comfortable with me, but the way I am treated very differently is way too obvious.

    But if I find the faith not so satisfying to me, I am leaving. I did it before, although in secret to remain alive and not to be *excommunicated* from society as whole, I will do it again.
  • ***
    You keep forgetting the Church I am talking about is lead by the same Spirit that inspired the writing for the true books. The Church was established BEFORE the books, not the other way around. So the former knows better which is true.

    The analogy of the Quran and the Hadith is that everyone is practicing Islam from the Hadith, which show more of the actions of Muhammad, than the actual book that "God wrote."

    The God we believe in is not one that will accept us into heaven because of the Scripture. The Scripture is only the tool, and understanding it through the Church is to change us to be in the state of being to desire to be with God and live with Him.

    You are right about the Hebrew...but the Hebrew they accepted is mainly the Masoretic Text which was only finalized in the 10th century. It's not the original source text. Take a look at the chart i posted before and see where is the Mt, the Vulgate, and the Septuagint in the diagram.
    ***

    But look at this way. If you rely on false scriptures, your conclusions are bound to be false as well. If the church comes before the scriptures then why is it relying on it and sometimes excommunicate people who have different view of scriptures such as the case of Marcion.

    The Masortic text is not the original but is very close, although shorter and less eloquent than the Septuagint. But the new Vulgate and all modern translations rely on it. Even ones accepted or authored by the Coptic Church.

  • Sorry for being so late guys, I haven't had access internet for a big while.
  • I know it is a little difficult to comprehend, but the Orthodox Church (and the Catholic Church) values the Church herself, that is the relationship humans have with Christ, communion with Him, and being raised into His glory.  The writings are SECONDARY not PRIMARY to the faith and spirituality.  We love and have a high respect for the writings, but we are not at all too stringent for any accuracy in them except SPIRITUAL and THEOLOGICAL accuracy, not scientific accuracy.  There is an old saying:  The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, NOT how the heaven goes.

    So when you are worried about small discrepancies, you are still thinking like a Muslim, where one small spelling error matters to your faith.  Christians never really cared about that.  It is not how something is written, it is the theological and spiritual message of what is written that is very important.

    Now that I have you thinking about the meaning of religion, I think are you in the right direction of your thinking.  Christianity is about RELATIONSHIP.  Christ came and united us to Him that we might be inheritors of His divine and eternal kingdom with Him.  Christ came to unite Himself to us that we might be united to His divine glory and partake of the divine life He has with the Father.  Therefore, we also are made sons to the Father with Christ.  We are made partakers of the divine nature.  This is the point of religion for Christians.

    Let me give you an analogy.  When you want to have a relationship with someone, will you ask her for her Facebook, her journal, her ID, her bank account, etc?  Will you know her better through what is written about her?  No!  You want to know her DIRECTLY.  Everything else about her is SECONDARY.  SHE IS PRIMARY.

    That is exactly what Christianity is about.  You want to know Christianity.  Reading is not the important part.  The important part is coming to Church, praying with everyone in the Church, participating in the services of the Church, giving alms to the poor.  You have to be PERSONAL.  THEN, you can read.  Reading first is not the way to understand Christ.  You need to understand Christ by encountering Him directly.  God is not someone who is unable to have a direct relationship with you.  God wants to dwell in you and wants you dwell in Him.

    Is religion about finding out what will happen to you?  Yes, but not enough.  That's not a strong enough reason to believe.  Religion ultimately is about relationship, and relationship is about love.  God by His very nature is Love, and He extends Himself to be partaken of to you.  That is true religion.

    What defines the dogma and philosophy of the Church is the Church, which encompasses not just the writings of the Bible, but also her ongoing history throughout the centuries.  The Church is nothing without people like St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril, etc.  All these men are taken into account when reading the Scriptures and knowing the Church philosophy and theology.  Otherwise we would be Protestants, who have no foundation, and are broken into thousands and thousands of sects.  You need to forget everything you think you know about "holy books" and start consider "practicing" relationships.  The Church came before the writings and dictates how to understand them.  The writings do not dictate the Church's understandings.
  • @RaafatAbualazm
    God bless your efforts! You’re questions are definitely interesting.

    Take the time to read the scriptures (if you haven’t already) and be critical. You’ll be amazed at the consistency of it.

    At a certain point, at least on a personal point, it becomes a certain matter of faith - God is in control. He first establishes His Church with the right people in place. The church establishes committees in the spirit of prayer and submission. Their human will and opinions may contradict (which didn’t seem to happen in the first couple hundred years) but in prayer and in submission to the Holy Spirit they convened in unity in the councils and established the canonicity at that point. But the church was first preoccupied with distributing the faith, not establishing the books as there weren’t initially many conflicts with that regards (at least to my limited knowledge).
    Point is, God is in control. If the church was mistaken in not addressing it earlier, then God eventually guided the church to correction. All we must do, is submit our wills to Him.
  • The scripture leads us or leafs our souls to God, that we unite with Him. This is done by spiritual striving. When we read scripture and have the churches understanding of it, it works on our hearts. As Jesus Christ says says when replying to what is the most important commandments and His reply is " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." On thsee two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.
    We are asked to use these senses. The truth is in them and we unite with God when we experience the truth and knowledge of what we're being taught.

    An aside, yesterday I came to church and a fellow deacon told me that a place where we were both working at was closing. It was extremely sad for me as we had when we started a goal to be the best factory in the country. This was my desire also. If you know the devil he works against those things Jesus was talking about. Anyway, I had always been a very quite person and always minded my own business. This was because my mother was a telephonic, someone who connected the calls people made to each other back in the day. At home she was always on the phone. To my mind there may of being gossip there so I hated gossip, also to my mind was Jesus was the truth and His word was the truth and I weighed it up against this disconnection of gossip. Back to the workplace and I had an argument with my supervisor as he was putting down someome and I refused to reply to him. He called my names and shouted at me why don't you speak why don't you speak! The next thing I knew was there was gossip about me and people were distant from me. A girl came to me and said the whole factory knows about me. I didn't get her to elaborate. We had had a two day course of working together and there was supposed to be no gossip. It was damagin to the factory but I had left and when my deacon friend told me yesterday of the closing, I just cried and cried but before that when we were taking abouna's prayer before putting on our vestments, abouna told me I was a good man out of nowhere. God could only use abouna to say that, to comfort me. Then when it came time for the deacon to give us the prayer for the third hour to read, he gave me Psalm 29 and I opened my prayer book to exactly that page. That's what happened when I first came to the church, if there was something that I was looking for in particular, I would open the bible and it would be exactly the page I wanted. It was so frequent, back in this God returned me yesterday back to where I had joined in His saving works.
    But we put away sin to get close to Him and the closer you get in your heart, soul and mind the more you will understand. If you use these things by experiencing them in your life you will come close to Him and it won't be just the flesh like Thomas as proof but the more value of your heart and you will touch Him by living His truth that he provides for you to grow in Him, for the CHURCH IS HIS BODY.

    My prayers for you my brother.
  • So I guess you have a very difficult and different world view and view of scriptures.

    But that leaves the space to do away with whatever that doesn't work for you.
    If you ask me, it is something for not against. I mean, but where is the certainity?

    But anyways it is going to be me and my mind trying to make sense of it all.

    And for me, reading is an essential part. Reading scripture, commentaries and theological books.

    Because Egypt is such a nice and religious-tolerant place, as you all know, that I can't enter a freaking church without being subject to suspicion.

  • I understand. At that point, then yes, read as much as you can. Ask as much as you can. Challenge as much as you can (we can take the challenge). Until you are able to find a safe haven for you to practice what you read.

    You are in my prayers brother! :)
  • Ahhhhh!

    A point unrelated to this post, but nonetheless important. Don't you guys check who is going to be a Church servant?

    I had my view of loving Christianity shuttered by a Group of Servants from different churches who... It was bad. But I guess no Group is more peaceful than any other.

    And my Brother, Mina. I am not here to challenge, I am here to ask. I don't come to people to proselytize my faith, or lack thereof.
  • You misunderstood me brother! I meant challenge what you read in a nice way. Make sure you are comfortable with what you believe in.
  • You partake of the doubt of Thomas so why not partake of his proof? He was in Christ, literally. Even I myself after reading Jehemiah know that I have to rebuild my broken wall. Restore what was. I try to live a proof in Christ through the church and I pray you do the same Raafat.
    Belief, faith, these are something lived in hope expressed by a struggle and striving so a change occurs for something good.
    There isn't the certainty that you look for Raafat but a mystery that can only be explained by living or using what is in your heart and the truth thereof, by the teachings of the church, and then one day I pray hopefully, you will click and say ahh I understand why I do something and it being or came from an example in scripture. As I wrote about Nehemiah above and the wall of Jerusalem. It's a connection for me at this specific time and it's like God guided me there. This is an example of a living God that takes you to a place that is in your heart and it's no one else for we all have different lives but all the same problems.
    Certainly like perfection in life is very hard to obtain anyway. All you can do is be persistent, or like saying practice makes perfect. So certainty all you can do is be persistent in getting close to what you want to be certain about. Like Thomas had to get as close to Jesus to be certain that He was actually there.

    God bless you brother Raafat.
  • I also pray God has a way for you to establish yourself with the church.
  • edited February 21
    I will try to, my Brothers but my recent experience might hinder it a big deal.
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