The Bible is the most logical, insightful and influential collection of writings in history. It includes much that is both profound and beautiful. Biblical scientific foreknowledge has predicted or guided most human achievement. The Bible is great literature and the source of many common phrases, including "the truth shall set you free."
The bestselling book in history, the Bible is a testament to its timeless and compelling message. In addition, it has had an invaluable, positive influence on literature, culture, and history. According to the Guinness World Records, "A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies [of the Bible] were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion."
The Bible consists of two parts: 27 short books and letters of the New Testament of the Christian faith, and 39 Hebrew and Aramaic books recognized by both Christianity and Judaism, which are included among the collection of 46 writings known as the Old Testament. The text of the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and was later translated and expanded in Greek by rabbinical scholars in the Septuagint Bible of the Greek-speaking Jews which was the Bible of the Apostles. The New Testament itself was originally written in Greek and was soon afterward added to the Septuagint, forming the Greek Bible of the ancient Christian church. The Bible has been translated into more than 2,000 languages, and is easily accessible for free on the internet. The Bible is more pro-life than the works by British authors and others.
The word "Bible" had its origins in an ancient Phoenician seaport called Byblos, which was so-named as a result of the trade and manufacture of writing material based on the papyrus or byblos reed, used extensively in antiquity for making scrolls and books. The Greek word biblos was based upon this, and it came to be the word for book (a small book was termed biblion), and by the 2nd century A.D. Greek Christians had called the Scriptures ta Biblia (τα βιβλία the books), which was transferred to Latin by dropping the ta; the word made its way to Old French where the plural was dropped in favor of the singular, hence becoming the English word Bible.
Unique witness to truth
- See also: The Gospel
The Bible is the most ancient collective document of writings in antiquity witnessing to the revelation of the one living God to the community of the people he has chosen and formed to be his priests and witnesses to all the peoples of the earth. This people chosen and called out from every nation and language on earth testifies that God is one being of three Persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, who loves all that he has created, and that there is nothing in all the whole created universe that he did not create through the power of his Word. The Bible is the collective testimony of this community of people chosen out of all the peoples of the earth that God is the one original cause of all existence, creator of the universe and all that it contains both visible and invisible. They have borne witness in the several sacred scriptures contained in the Bible that this one unique God has acted and continues to act in history.
The Bible is unique in antiquity in its witness that God has made one of his creations, the whole human race, to be above the physical animal nature of the body and be like himself with dominion over the whole earth and all its creatures. The Bible testifies that God himself has called this human creature, male and female, to a personal relationship with him as a whole community of love and goodness and mercy in his image as his living temple and dwelling place on earth and to give evidence of his reality and to acknowledge him in all they do and say.
The Bible is unique in all of ancient literature in that it testifies to the rebellion and fall of the human race, to the reality of sin and its effects, to the facts of evil and of righteousness, to objective physical and moral standards of right and wrong, of justice and judgment, and to the reality of invisible intelligent beings, both those who have rebelled against God and those who perpetually serve him.
The Bible contains the only stable, reliable written witness of his own community to the rest of the world that the Word of this one God is the perfect image of his own divinity, his only-begotten Son, who became one with us, in solidarity with each human being and the whole of the fallen human community, as a sinless flesh-and-blood man whose act of complete renunciation and self-sacrifice made perfect reparation for the offense of the whole of the human community, to save us from the merited ruin which is going to come on the whole rebellious, resistant, fallen human community occupied with its own selfishness. The Bible is the witness of God's people that his Word is his Son, that his name is Jesus, and that he is the supreme Anointed One ("Christos") of the people of Israel. The Bible is the unique written witness of the people he has called to himself that he established his Church as the holy temple of his Holy Spirit, with the divine commission to testify to him to the whole world and make disciples of those who are willing to come to him and worship in word and deed. The Bible is their unique written record that in the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ God the Father has called all humanity to partake in a share of his own divinity, in selfless goodness, mercy and love, in eternal, everlasting life, as the gift of his love.
The Bible declares the revelation that death is not final, and that there will be a physical resurrection of all the dead at the end of time. In its collected writings the people of God have testified to the revelation of the total condemnation of the wicked who have chosen to reject both him and the gift of communion with him, and in it they have collectively testified to the revelation of the total salvation from ruin and the gift of communion with him of those who have not resisted him and his way of living and acting and whom he has made holy by his own power alone. No other book is like it. The whole community of believers past and present in its leadership has discerned and testified to this day that the whole collection of the books of the Bible is inspired by God, and that God is their true author. The Bible is the Word of God expressed in the written form of human language. Its chief value is as a stable unchanging resource for understanding the mind of God, for establishing a just society with just laws and true justice, for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that each leader of the community (each "man of God") may be fully equipped for every good work as a witness to the one true God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
But just as Jesus has appeared to many to be no more than an ordinary human being, and just as Christianity has appeared to many to be no more than a merely human institution of religion, so the Bible also has appeared to many to be no more than a traditional collection of ordinary human literature. However, even the tools of ordinary literary criticism have clearly shown the Bible to be more than a collection of merely human literature, and its scriptures to be much more than ordinary human writings.
The Bible and was studied extensively by the greatest modern thinkers, including Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Bernhard Riemann, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Georg Cantor, John von Neumann, and Kurt Godel.
Books of the Bible
Most Christians, Protestant and Catholic, agree on the 27 books of the New Testament, and while the Old Testament of the Orthodox Bible includes 50 books, for a total of 77, and the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible includes 46 books, for a total of 73, the Protestant Bible includes only the 39 books of the Old Testament which entirely correspond to the 24 books of the Hebrew canon of the Jews, for a total of 66. The English King James Version of the Protestant Bible has 593,493 words in the Old Testament and 181,253 words in the New Testament.
The Old Testament
|Old Testament layout|
|9 Isaiah||1st Samuel|
|10 Jeremiah||2nd Samuel|
|11 Ezekiel||1st Kings|
|12 The Minor Prophets||2nd Kings|
|13 Psalms||1st Chronicles|
|14 Proverbs||2nd Chronicles|
|16 Song of Songs||Nehemiah|
|22/23 Ezra (with Nehemiah)||Song of Solomon|
|The Minor Prophets|
|Dates of each Book|
|Protestant Old Testament||New Testament|
|Genesis, 1440-1400 B.C.||Matthew, A.D. 60-65|
|Exodus, 1440-1400 B.C.||Mark, A.D. 60-65|
|Leviticus, 1440-1400 B.C.||Luke, A.D. 58-65|
|Numbers, 1440-1400 B.C.||John, A.D. 95|
|Deuteronomy, 1440-1400 B.C.||Acts, A.D. 58-65|
|Joshua, 1400-1360 B.C.||Romans, A.D. 58|
|Judges, c. 1020 B.C.||1st Corinthians, A.D. 57|
|Ruth, c. 1090 B.C.||2nd Corinthians, A.D. 57|
|1st Samuel, c. 931–722/21 B.C.||Galatians, A.D. 56|
|2nd Samuel ||Ephesians, A.D. 62-63|
|1st Kings, 609-600 B.C.||Philippians, A.D. 58-60|
|2nd Kings, 609-600 B.C.||Colosians, A.D. 61-63|
|1st Chronicles, c. 400 B.C.||1st Thessalonians, A.D. 52|
|2nd Chronicles, c. 400 B.C.||2nd Thessalonians, A.D. 53|
|Ezra, c. 400 B.C.||1st Timothy, A.D. 62-65|
|Nehemiah, c. 400 B.C.||2nd Timothy, A.D. 65-66|
|Esther, 464-425 B.C.||Titus, A.D. 65|
|Job, 1440-1400 B.C.||Philemon, A.D. 65|
|Psalms, 1004-965 B.C.||Hebrews, A.D. 63-64|
|Proverbs, 965-925 B.C.||James, A.D. 63-64|
|Eccleisiastes, 965-925 B.C.||1st Peter, A.D. 64|
|Song of Solomon, 965-925 B.C.||2nd Peter, A.D. 65|
|Isaiah, 785-697 B.C.||1st John, A.D. 90-100|
|Jeremiah, 587-538 B.C.||2nd John, A.D. 90-100|
|Lamentations, 587-538 B.C.||3rd John, A.D. 90-100|
|Ezekiel, 592-572 B.C.||Jude, c. A.D. 70-75|
|Daniel, 539-520 B.C.||Revelation, A.D. 96-98|
|Hosea, 753-731 B.C.|
|Joel, 835-796 B.C.|
|Amos, 787-747 B.C.|
|Obadiah, 848-841 B.C.|
|Jonah, 771-754 B.C.|
|Micah, 715-687 B.C.|
|Nahum, 661-612 B.C.|
|Habbakuk, 625-608 B.C.|
|Zephaniah, 621-608 B.C.|
|Haggai, 520 B.C.|
|Zechariah, 520 B.C.|
|Malachi, 455 B.C.|
The Hebrew Old Testament of the Bible, also called Tanakh, consists of twenty-four books. The books themselves were originally written in Hebrew, and later on in the Aramaic language of Palestine (the original texts of the Hebrew books of Daniel and Ezra, for example, have major portions written in Aramaic). The Greek language version written after the conquest of Alexander the Great is known as the Septuagint, and to it the Jews added more texts that they also valued for their piety, wisdom and history, most of them translated from Hebrew or Aramaic originals. By A.D. the 1st century this Septuagint collection had become the Greek Old Testament Bible of the apostles. Melito, a bishop of Sardis in Lydia (in what is now Turkey), is said to have coined the phrase Old Testament about A.D. 170. The Greek Old Testament has been a continuous part of the Christian Bible in the eastern Churches in Palestine, Greece, Turkey, and the whole of the Levant since the 1st century.
The Hebrew Old Testament is divided in three parts within the Jewish community: the Torah ("Law"), or Pentateuch, the five books of Moses; the Nevi'im ("Prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("Writings,” or Hagiographa) (abbreviated TaNaKh, hence, "Tanakh", ). Here the arrangement of the books differs somewhat from the Old Testament as used by Christians, with three of the twenty-four (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles) each being divided into two books, and Ezra being divided into Ezra and Nehemiah; however the actual writing of each book remains the same. The Christian order of the books of the Bible follows the Chronology of the events and the personages being related, according to their arrangement in the Septuagint, while in the Jewish order, though there is a chronological framework, the order follows more the importance, influence, "weight of usage" within Judaism. Thus, for orthodox Judaism, The Torah of Moses comes first (the 5 books of Moses), and is the most authoritative of all Scripture. Under the Pharasaic theory that Moses was also given the Oral law, explicating how the Written law was to be applied, at the same time as he was given the written law contained in the Bible, the Oral Law too was passed on through the generations, and was later in A.D. the 3rd century first put into writing in the Mishna (compiled by Judah haNasi ) and the Gemara (gathered by the Amoriam ) finally composing the Talmud, and is regarded as equally authoritative with the Torah of Moses. Then the Prophets come next in authority. But the category of the Hebrew Prophets for the Jews is much broader than the category of the Prophets as considered by the Christian ordering. The "Prophets" in the Tanakh includes what Christians consider "History" - such as the books of the Kings - but it also includes what Christians call the Former and the Latter, or the Major and the Minor prophets. The last in authority for every day life of the Jew, in terms of "regulation", actually form a great influence in the Synagogue worship - the Writings, with a heavy emphasis on the Psalms.
The Five books of Moses, in their Hebrew and English names:
- בְּרֵאשִׁית Bereisheet ("in the beginning"), or Genesis
- שְׁמוֹת Shemot (“names”), or Exodus
- וַיִּקְרָא Vayikra (“and God called”), or Leviticus
- בְּמִדְבַּר Bemidbar (“in the Wilderness”), or Numbers
- דְּבָרִים Devarim (“words”), or Deuteronomy
The first eleven chapters of Genesis provide the account of the Creation, the history of God's early relationship with humanity, and the Deluge of Noah. The remaining thirty-nine chapters detail the account of God's covenant with the early Hebrew nation, led by the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (or Israel), and one of Jacob's children, Joseph. It tells the beginnings of God's chosen people, of how God commanded Abraham to leave his family and home to settle in the land of Canaan, and how the Children of Israel later moved to Egypt. The remainder of the Torah, beginning with Exodus and ending with Deuteronomy, tells the story of the great Hebrew leader Moses, and of the Hebrews through their sojourn and slavery in Egypt, their escape from bondage, and their wanderings in the desert until finally they stand ready to enter the Promised Land.
The Nevi'im ("Prophets") is the story of the rise toward, and ultimately reaching, the Hebrew monarchy; the sad period of anarchy and revolt leading to the division into the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel; and the prophets who judged the kings of both in God's name. It ends with the conquest and dissolution of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and its Assyrian exile, and then the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Babylonian exile. The Minor Prophets are considered a single book in the Nevi'im; in Christianity they have been split into twelve separate books and named for their authors.
- יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Joshua
- שׁוֹפְטִים Judges
- שְׁמוּאֵל א I Samuel
- שְׁמוּאֵל ב II Samuel
- מְלָכִים א I Kings
- מְלָכִים ב II Kings
- יְשַׁעְיָהוּ Isaiah
- יִרְמְיָהוּ Jeremiah
- יְחֶזְקֵאל Ezekiel
- The Minor Prophets
- תְּהִלִּים Psalms
- מִשְׁלֵי Proverbs
- אִיּוֹב Book of Job
- שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים Song of Songs, also called Song of Solomon in the Protestant Christian Bible.
- רוּת Book of Ruth
- אֵיכָה Lamentations
- קֹהֶלֶת Ecclesiastes
- אֶסְתֵּר Esther
- דָּנִיֵּאל Daniel
- עֶזְרָא Ezra, divided into the two books of עֶזְרָא Ezra and נְחֶמְיָה Nehemiah in the Christian Bible.
- דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים א and דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים ב Books of Chronicles
David has been named as the author of the Psalms; Solomon is traditionally believed to have written Song of Songs in his youth, the Proverbs in his prime, and Ecclesiastes during his old age. The prophet Jeremiah is thought to have written the aptly-named Lamentations at the beginning of the exile to Babylon. The Book of Ruth is the only biblical book that centers entirely on a non-Jew, a Moabite who married a Jew and became an ancestor of both David and Jesus Christ. Esther is unique as it is the only book in the Hebrew Tanakh not to mention God. Moses is traditionally considered to be the author of Job.
The melodies of the Old Testament
The Hebrew of the present day Old Testament is composed of the Hebrew consonants and, added on by the Masoretes at a later stage, the vowels. Along with these two elements, other signs were added which indicated the melodies that were sung along with the words or phrases. Some of the signs were positioned above the individual consonants, some below, and some to the side. Some of these melody signs were associated with others providing a musical pattern that corresponds with the opening of a thought, similar to the beginning of a sentence (ex. "merkha"), the continuation of a thought (ex. "munakh"), tying in one word with the following, as one melody flowed into the next, the "resting" or completion of a thought, much in "the same way that a comma (ex. "azla"), though not ending a sentence, makes for the "semi"-ending or minor completion of a thought, a major break in the run of thoughts ("etnachta"), though the run of thought would be resumed until the major completion ("sof pasuq"), much in the same way the a period brings to a stop and a completion as a sentence ends. Thus the musical signs in the Hebrew text also provide an interpretation of the text current to the times in which the signs were incorporated as part of the text, the Masoretic vowel-pointing excluding those former tonal readings which clearly represented Christian textual interpretations. The signs that tie one word to another providing one thought are called "conjunctive" signs and the signs that separate words and the thought of them are called "disjunctive". An example of the use of these signs to interpret the Hebrew text is the well known prophesy of the One to come. The Hebrew letters can either be understood to read "His name shall be called Wonderful counsellor of (from, sent by, representing) the mighty God", or "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God". The melody signs (called in Hebrew "Ta'mei HaMikra) decide for the latter. After "Wonderful" there is a disjunctive, after "Counsellor" there is a disjunctive, and after "Mighty" (but adj. after the noun in Hebrew order) there is a conjunctive. It is possible to reconstruct to some extent the melody and the interpretation of the Old Testament current in the first century and therefore the melody and the interpretation used by Jesus Himself. This is because of the following: the present day melodies of the various dispersions of the Jews are to a great extent different one from the other. Some of these dispersions are the Ashkenazi, representing the Jews exiled from Israel by the Romans in A.D. 70 and then on to the Rhine Valley, and then onto parts of Eastern Europe, Western Europe, America, etc., the Sephardim who saw the beginnings of their dispersion from Spain in the 15th Century and then on to Greece, Turkey, North Africa. Holland, and America, the Yemenites, the Bnei Israel of India, the Jews of Ethiopia, etc. etc., Yet, with the diversity in melodies of the Scriptures, there are certain features which are either identical or strikingly similar. Musicologist, Joel Segal, pointed out over 40 years ago, that this could only have been possible if these dispersions were at one time together in the same place. The only time that all these dispersions were together in the same place was prior to the great dispersion of the first century and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Old Testament Apocrypha
The deuterocanonical books and others that the Reformation designated Apocrypha were written during the four hundred years between the time of Ezra and Malachi and the birth of Christ (one of them, 2 Esdras, possibly in A.D. the 1st century). The term itself comes from the Greek word apokruphos ("hidden" or "concealed") which was first applied to them by Jerome according to the opinions of the Jewish sources he consulted in Palestine, and although the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, among others, have always included the deuterocanonical Apocrypha in their versions of the Bible, considering them to be canonical (and they do have an actual history and literary value) the fourteen texts (10 books and portions of 2 others) which make up the whole of the Protestant Apocrypha have been rejected as non-canonical by both the Jewish faith since the 2nd century and by most Protestant denominations of the Christian church since the 16th century due to what, according to Reformation doctrine, they consider to be "historical, geographical, or literal inaccuracies; the teaching of doctrines which contradict inspired Scripture; and a lack of elements and structure which give genuine Scripture its unique characteristic" (Unger, pg. 70). Three of the Apocrypha, 1 and 2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh, although part of Jerome's Vulgate, were not included among the canonical books listed at the Council of Trent and are considered by Catholics to be apocryphal works, and as not among the accepted deuterocanonicals. See Biblical Canon.
Protestants do not include Psalm 151 and 3 and 4 Maccabees among the Apocrypha, but they also do not include these in their Bibles. The Reformation did not address the question of their canonical status. The Catholic Church did not include them in the canon of the Council of Trent, and they do not appear in regular editions of the Catholic Bible. They continue to be part of the Orthodox Bible.
The Apocryphal books had been used in both Israel and Egypt and (except the Latin 2 Esdras which was part of the Vulgate) are part of the Old Testament in the Greek language used by Jews all over the Greek speaking world - particularly Alexandria, Egypt. This version is called the Septuaginta. The Septuaginta after the 1st century fell into disuse among Jews for two reasons -
- 1. Greek speaking Christians were using the Septuaginta in their efforts to bring Jews to faith in Jesus Christ
- 2. A number of the Apocryphal books were also apocalyptic, that is, focusing on the last days, the Kingdom of God in battle against the kingdoms of this world and the downfall of this world's empires. This was considered dangerous and liable to provoke Rome against the Jews.
Alternative Greek translations to the Septuaginta, which was considered "loose" by the Rabbis, were adopted. These were the translations of three proselytes to Judaism, Theodosious, Aquillas, and Symmachus. The Jewish Rabbinic "Council" of Jamnia (Yavneh on the Mediterraenian coast of Israel) in A.D. 90, under the leadership of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, effectively excluded the Apocryphal books (along with the Septuaginta) from the Jewish Canon by requiring, for a book to be considered canonical, that it have been written in Hebrew (and Aramaic). This immediately excludes all of the Christian scriptures included in the entire New Testament, since they were written in Greek and in the 1st century. Actually, a number of the apocryphal books, or portions thereof, had been written originally in Hebrew, most notably, the Book of Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) found in Hebrew at Qumran with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but this was unknown to Yohanan Ben Zakkai and the Council of Jamnia in the first century. Under the impetus of Renaissance learning, Protestant scholars went directly to the Hebrew text and began to translate the Bible directly from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, instead of having to go through the Latin Vulgate. But they consulted the Hebrew text of the Talmudic rabbinical version of the synagogue (eventually to be called the "Masoretic text") of the canon of books that had been recommended by the Council of Jamnia and afterward consistently authorized by subsequent rabbinical authorities representing Judaism. They also disregarded the witness of the canonical listing of the books of the Christian Orthodox Greek Bible, which had not been determined by the Council of Trent under the Roman Pontiff but had always been the traditional Old Testament as read from the time of the apostles and the most ancient Christian Church. In this way, most Protestant churches came to not include the Apocryphal books in their Canon of Scripture. One of the reasons the Roman Catholic Church held to the Vulgate was because it had been translated by Jerome from the Hebrew text before the text had been revised and altered by the Masoretes, and today it is considered a valuable witness to the earlier Hebrew Bible.
- "It has also proved of primary importance as an early and excellent witness to the sacred text."
- —The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The following are the books which are most frequently referred to by the title Apocrypha:
- 1 Esdras
- 2 Esdras
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- Book of Tobit
- Book of Judith
- Book of Wisdom
- Ecclesiasticus, also known as Sirach
- Book of Baruch
- Epistle of Jeremiah is sometimes listed as separate book or the last chapter of Baruch
Additions to the book of Daniel
With the exception of 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, the remaining seven books and the parts of Esther and Daniel listed here are accepted as divinely inspired, canonical scriptures in the Holy Bible by the Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity; however, they are not accepted as canonical by the majority of Protestant branches of Christianity, though many Protestants still see them as having value.
According to the ordinary reading of the New Testament and the consensus of the majority of Christians from the 1st century to this day, the authority of the kingdom of God had been wholly taken away from the Jews in the 1st century and given to the leaders of the Gentiles and Jews in Christ long before the Council of Jamnia. See:
- Matthew 15:13-14
- Matthew 16:18-19
- Matthew 18:17-18
- Matthew 21:43
- Matthew 28:18-20
- Luke 1:32-33
- Luke 10:16
- Luke 22:29-30
- Acts 7:51-53
- 1 Corinthians 4:1
- 1 Corinthians 6:2-3
- 1 Timothy 3:14-15
- Hebrews 13:17
- 1 John 4:2-6
- 2 John 9-ll
"For the apostates may there be no hope unless they return to Your Torah. As for the no§rim and the minim, may they perish immediately. Speedily may they be erased from the Book of Life, and may they not be registered among the righteous. Blessed are You, O Lord, Who subdues the wicked."While other specimens of the Palestinian liturgy show slight variation, the no§rim, (usually translated “Christians”) and minim are included in the best texts of this benediction. The fact remains that the no§rim were included with apostates and heretics and the wicked in the Genizah documents. Martin Luther and the leaders of the Reformation cite as authoritative and determinative the canon of the Hebrew Bible as defined by rabbinical authorities who excluded and condemned as false the entire New Testament scriptures and Jesus as the Messiah  because "unto them were committed the oracles of God." (see Romans 3:2). This is an historical fact, and it presents a serious problem, known in logic as non sequitur. If the Jews have been so entrusted with the word of God that they had therefore been given the divine authority to also determine the canon of sacred scripture, as Luther and the Reformation Protestants maintain, then the whole New Testament is excluded from the canon of the holy Bible because it does not meet the four established rabbinical criteria for what is sacred inspired scripture. See Logical fallacy
The New Testament
The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven books and letters, written by the early Christian community, and written primarily in Greek. The emphasis of the New Testament is the life, teachings, and gift of salvation from the central figure of the whole work, Jesus of Nazareth. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia:
- The books that compose it appeared ... in the second half of the first century. Written in different and distant countries and addressed to particular Churches, they took some time to spread throughout the whole of Christendom, and a much longer time to become accepted. The unification of the canon was not accomplished without much controversy. ... from the third century, or perhaps earlier, the existence of all the books [of] our New Testament was everywhere known, although they were not all universally admitted, at least as certainly canonical."
The books are grouped into the following:
The Gospels contain the history of Jesus.
The Acts of the Apostles are a continuance of the Gospels, documenting the history of the early church, beginning immediately following Jesus' death and resurrection. Some lists put Acts as a separate category from the Gospels.Of the authors, only Matthew and John had met Jesus; they were among His disciples during His earthly ministry. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, says:
Matthew and John are the only ones that have left us recorded comments, and even they, tradition says, undertook it from necessity. Matthew also, having first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew when on the point of going also to other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings. But after, when Mark and Luke had already published their Gospels, they say that John, who during all this time was proclaiming the gospel without writing, at length proceeded to write it on the following occasion. The three Gospels previously written, having been distributed among all, and also handed to him, they say that he admitted them, giving his testimony to their truth; but that there was only wanting in the narrative the account of the things done by Christ, among the first of his deeds, and at the commencement of the Gospel. And this was the truth. —Book III, Chapter XXIV. (Boldface emphasis added) .Eusebius relates the already-existing tradition in his day that Matthew wrote the first Gospel. In every manuscript of the New Testament, Matthew is always placed first, and for almost 1900 years the traditional view prevailed unchallenged that Matthew was the first Gospel written. This is called the Augustinian hypothesis, which holds that Matthew was the first Gospel, written by Matthew the Evangelist. Mark, according to tradition a Roman, and a companion of Peter, was author of the second Gospel, but beginning in the 19th century Heinrich Julius Holtzmann together with other German scholars, abusing the literary tools of historical-critical methods in opposition to Christian tradition, declared on their authority as German scholars that Mark's gospel was the first to be written down, about A.D. 50. This theory is called "Marcan priority", and it was aggressively spread as part of Bismarck's anti-Catholic 'Kulturkampf' policy. This view is widely held by liberal biblical scholars in German and English speaking countries. In the United States acceptance of Marcan Priority has often been a test of the "academic competency" of those faculty members who teach Biblical Studies. Luke is traditionally considered to be the author of both the third Gospel and the Acts.
The Pauline Epistles are letters (epistles) written to early Christian communities written by the Apostle Paul. In order of appearance in the New Testament they are:
- Epistle to the Romans
- First Epistle to the Corinthians
- Second Epistle to the Corinthians
- Epistle to the Galatians
- Epistle to the Ephesians
- Epistle to the Philippians
- Epistle to the Colossians
- First Epistle to the Thessalonians
- Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
- First Epistle to Timothy
- Second Epistle to Timothy
- Epistle to Titus
- Epistle to Philemon
- Possibly the Epistle to the Hebrews
Liberal Bible scholarship over the last two centuries has denied that Paul wrote Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus; and doubted that he wrote Colossians and 2 Thessalonians. However, all the epistles listed above except Hebrews say they are written by Paul. As they are authoritative Scripture which "cannot lie", their claims should be believed.
Because the Epistle to the Hebrews does not mention a specific author (unlike all the other Pauline and General Epistles), under the pure divine power of the Holy Spirit of God the Father through Jesus Christ himself -— "he has spoken through the Prophets" —- it could easily have been written by any early Christian (including Paul) except for Timothy, who is mentioned by name in the final chapter. The controversy, however, does not affect whether the epistle should or should not be included in Scripture. The Council of Trent (1546) dogmatically affirmed that the Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the fourteen genuine epistles of Paul.
The General Epistles are those epistles written by other than Paul.
- Epistle of James
- First Epistle of Peter
- Second Epistle of Peter
- First Epistle of John
- Second Epistle of John
- Third Epistle of John
- Epistle of Jude
In addition, some lists include Hebrews due to uncertainty over Pauline authorship.
The Book of Revelation is the last work in the New Testament as well as the whole Bible, written close to A.D. 100 by the Apostle John during his exile on the Greek island of Patmos. Revelation is concerned with the condition of the Seven Churches of Asia before going deeply into a description of the Last Days prior to the beginning of the Millennial Age.
Most Fundamentalists hold to "Dispensationalism", an interpretive theory of the meaning of Revelation and other prophecies that was developed in the 19th century by British theologian John Nelson Darby (1800–82) and the Plymouth Brethren, and is summarized in the Scofield Reference Bible edited and annotated by Cyrus I. Scofield (1909, 1917). See Scofield's Reference Notes
Non-uniformity of language and style of original Scriptures
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament, in the original languages of Hebrew (and Aramaic) and Greek, exhibit a non uniformity of style and language. This is in sharp contrast to most modern translations which treat the Scriptures throughout as if they are one book instead of the many books they are. Modern translations can be erudite, dignified, folksy and common, clear and geared for the "common man", or replete with language resonant with literary associations for the "accomplished" reader. But they are that way throughout. The Biblical originals, on the other hand, for example, embedded in the Hebrew within the narrative of the deeds of the prophetess Debora, have in the Song of Deborah (Judges chapter 5) a much more ancient and even archaic Hebrew than that of the main text of the book, probably emanating from a chant from the time of Deborah herself, plainly evident to any person who has studied Hebrew language. The same with the narrative and poetic portions concerning Moses. The human authors, inspired by God, were careful to preserve the integrity of the original inspired songs which they had faithfully recorded or otherwise copied and included in their narratives. There are even different Hebrew languages (rather dialects) from the same historical period but from different authors living during the same time, having come from different origins and cultural levels.
For the New Testament, an example of non-uniformity can be found in the stark differences of language in the Gospel of Luke, written by Luke the physician. The early accounts, those concerning the birth of Jesus and early life, are written in a stilted and often crude Greek while the rest of the Gospel is written in fine Greek befitting of the background and ability of a learned physician. But when the stilted and crude Greek is retranslated, word for word and phrase for phrase, into the Hebrew current in the first century in most parts of Israel (a technique called "back translation"), it becomes excellent Hebrew - Mishnaic Hebrew. This is because of the intent and fastidiousness of Luke, who derived his material, as he says, from people that had been "on the scene", and his success in transmitting it faithfully as he had received it. Both the Old and New Testaments, for various reasons, exhibit little or no concern to "level through" or override the content of what they are saying by stylistic considerations.
Although the Old Testament is written by many human authors, New Testament authors know that these men were writing under the inspiration of God.
The apostle Paul wrote that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). Similarly the apostle Peter wrote, "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Formation of New Testament and Jewish technical transmission
In the first century and prior, the ear was more important than the eye, as far as retaining in memory. Jews would receive orally, that is, from hearing, the laws that they believed originated with Moses and then passed them on to others, down through the generations. It was important to link the present rabbis by names who taught it with the rabbis by name who had passed it on to them, on back as far as possible to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This was the startling difference of Jesus. By saying "You have heard it said, but I say unto you...", He was by-passing Moses and the others after and getting His teaching direct from the Father.
This Jewish way of receiving (QBL) and handing on (MSR) is summed up in the lead saying of the "Ethics of the Fathers" tractate of the Mishna, "Moses received Torah from God at Sinai. He transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets, the prophets to the members of the Great Assembly [Sanhedrin] (1:1)." The teaching thus transmitted was memorized word for word by groups of disciples (Talmidim) together, thereby minimizing, by the common knowledge and public repetitions, all innovations and errors, though there might well have been "stylizing" for ease of retention and recall, receiving and handing on (transmission).
This methodology, with its technical Hebrew terminology appears in the New Testament with the same technical meaning and purpose, for how the earliest Christian teaching was carried on prior to the formation of the New Testament and during the time of its formation. This ensured the validity of the teaching and its authenticity going back, not to Moses, but to the time of Jesus Himself. "For I handed over (Gk. pare'doka, Heb. MSR) to you at the first what I also received (Gk. pare'labon, Heb. QBL) that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures..." l Cor. 15:3. Paul knew all of the "deposit of faith" three ways, in the usual "collaborative" way of God - from Scriptures (the Old Testament), from experience (seeing the living Christ on the road to Damascas), and from authenticated oral tradition/transmission involving "receiving" and "handing on".
Authority of Bible in religious communities
The role of the Bible in the life of differing communities varies widely by both the inner tenents of the community and the outer influences bearing on the community.
Orthodox Judaism through the centuries, while it was only marginally affected by growing secularization and modern learning, held to a "differing levels of authority" understanding of the authority of the Hebrew Bible. This did not imply different levels of inspiration, but rather that importance to the regulation of life was prime for the Torah of Moses, the 5 books of the Law. But the Pharasaic teaching also posited an Oral Law given to Moses by God that was passed on through the centuries through Joshua, the prophets, pairs of Rabbis, until this day. The Oral law is found in the Talmud (Mishna and the Gemara together). The oral law became the decisive interpreter, teacher and regulator of the Written Law and determined the course of Jewish Orthodox life. The second section of the Old Testament, the Prophets, is known to the Jewish Community primarily through the synagogue readings of the prophets, the Haftorah, that are assigned to conclude the weekly reading of the Law. The Psalms, the most formative of all the Writings, besides being common throughout the synagogue services, are used in various devotional prayer contexts. Orthodox Judaism has little been affected by modern Higher Criticism of the Bible. Reformed Judaism, originally developed in Germany, and Conservative Judaism, to a lesser extent, have been greatly affected.
Mainline Protestantism, represented in the major Protestant churches, denominations, sects and their seminaries, has greatly been affected by "modernism" based on advanced scholarly research, especially from Germany in the 19th century. Those who abused the legitimate tools "Higher Criticism" chose as a fundamental liberal premise to ignore God's participation in the production of Scripture. Prime among these theories is the Documentary theory of Penteteuch origins (Wellhausen-Graff) that posits that Moses wrote little or nothing. Instead, they propose that the Bible originated in four unknown hypothetical sources coming from various periods. These four sources are termed J (for the use of "Jehovah" for the name of God), E (for the use of "Elohim"), P (priestly), and D (Deuteronomic). The "spirit" of the New Testament (according to their understanding of what they think is the probable main attitude of the writers, derived from the overall impression gained from a generally humanist religious point of view) is far more important than the text of either Testament for modern Protestant theology.
Orthodox Jewish critique of Documentary theory
Jewish Orthodox scholars have pointed to flaws in the Documentary Hypothesis. For instance, Orthodox Jewish Scholar Cassuto has pointed out that rather than the names for God varying according to author and period, they vary according to emphasis from the same period, that of Moses - "Jehovah" being used for God in his dealing with His covenental people Israel, and "Elohim" being used when His dealings with mankind are emphasized. Likewise the two terms usually translated "making a covenant", lkhrot brit (to "cut" a covenant) and lehaqim brit (to "raise" a covenenat) are not from two sources but mean two different things - to initiate a covenant and to fulfill a covenant.
Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Pentecostal/charismatic Protestants
Outside of the mainline denominations, Protestantism believes strongly in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the whole Bible and has been the most receptive of the doctrine of the full sufficiency of Biblical Authority. Believing in full inspiration of the whole of Scripture does not mean the equal importance of all Scriptures for the healthy growth of the Christian community. This is because these groups, following Scripture's own self-disclosure, believes in progressive revelation throughout Biblical time, culminating in Jesus Christ, and no further (thus obviating the role of Tradition). Thus it does not hold to the application of Mosaic Legislation, and other biblical elements that Orthodox Judaism holds to. This applies to faith and to morals. The Mosaic regulation on executing a rebellious child does not present a problem as, according to Paul and Hebrews, the Law has been rendered obsolete by the New Covenant. The Destruction of the Temple and of the place for sacrifice of all kinds, present no problem, as they did for Judaism, as Christ's sacrifice on the cross has now "fulfilled" the prescriptions of the Law and the ceremonials attached. Thus there is a sort of "levels of authority" understanding similar to the levels of authority of Judaism (but for different reasons).
These churches vigorously promote the reading of Scripture through Sunday sermons and Bible study programs. Emphasis is placed on "each one understanding". Coupled with American individualism, and lack of traditional vehicles of authority, this sometimes leads to splintering of worshiping communities and the insistence that each man's interpretation "is as good as any other" (or one group claiming that its interpretation is "correct", implying all others are wrong, but only in extreme cases would the group label the others as heretic). Nevertheless, "The Fundamentals" defined in 1910 are strongly retained by the Evangelical Churches - the divinity of Christ, His death for sins and Resurrection from the dead, His second coming.
The Orthodox Churches throughout the world, whether Greek, Russian, Romanian, the various middle eastern varieties, emphasize the role of the synod (Council) of Bishops, based on the example of the "Council" of Jerusalem in the book of Acts, as the divinely authorized agent of interpretation and application of the Scriptures. Understanding that Jesus' words, "He (the Holy Spirit) will lead you into all truth", Orthodoxy believes that the synod of bishops, no one of whom is held to be individually infallible, are given guidance from the Holy Spirit so that the Scriptures are rightly applied to the Christian Community, enabling the Church to never stray from Christ, that is, the Church is given "indefectability". A minority of Orthodox Church thought holds to "infallibility" in synodal decision rather than, or instead of, "indefectability". The Scriptures in the Orthodox churches are buttressed by creedal formulations, the decisions of belief of past synods, and are less susceptible to the liberalist abuses of the legitimate methods of modern Higher Criticism. The Resurrection of Christ, virgin birth, return of Christ from Heaven to Earth, are all part and parcel of these churches. Individual interpretation of Scripture and manner of life are limited, then, by the teaching authority (the magisterium) granted to the Episcopate - the Synod of bishops.
The Roman Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Churches, has a strong sense of the Authority (Magisterium) given to the Bishops by Christ to teach, interpret, defend the Faith and therefore to exercise the responsibility to interpret to the Faithful both Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. But since Vatican II, there has been an increased effort to bring Scriptural knowledge to the laity, and now there has been an increase of Scripture reading and study programs throughout most sections of the Church. This as been abetted by the Catholic Charismatic movement which has had the effect of promoting individual appropriation of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, and with that, the correlate devotional and intellectual use of Holy Scriptures. However, the role of "Magisterium", that is the Teaching Authority, sets firm limits to individual interpretation. The Roman Catholic church understands that, though Magisterial authority is given to all the bishops, the definitive exercise of the Magisterium is limited to one bishop - the bishop of Rome, the Pope, and to the bishops in communion together with him. Further, Catholicism teaches that the Pope, when he declares dogma (teaching) ex-Cathedra (from the chair), he speaks infallibly (on matters of faith and morals). The first time the Pope promulgated dogma ex-cathedra formally was to promulgate the doctrine itself of Papal Infallibility, based on Scripture, history, and reason. The Pope, through the Vatican prelates and all the bishops can regulate much of Catholic community life, and some of the regulation is based on the interpretation of Scripture or the application of the traditional interpretation of Scripture. An example of this is the prohibition of abortion. The Church has accepted in a fundamentally modified form most of the legitimate modern Higher Critical methodology of studying Scripture, including the Documentary Hypothesis of origins first developed within German Protestantism. But the effects of this on the tenets of the Christian Faith are profoundly mitigated due to the creedal affirmations of the Church developed centuries ago and to the discernment of Papal authority. Thus the Roman Catholic Church does not waver on the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the Second Coming.
Evangelical Understanding of the History of the Bible
Rejecting the "Higher Criticism" accepted by the mainline Protestant denominations, Evangelicals and many Catholics hold to a more traditional history of the Bible. This section summarizes their views.
Traditionally, the oldest books of the Bible are certainly the five books of the Torah and the Book of Job. In 1st Kings 6:1, Solomon is stated to have begun building the Temple "in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come up out of the land of Egypt". It has been established by a majority of conservative scholars and historians that Solomon had begun building the Temple in the fourth year of his reign, apparently in 961 B.C., making the probable date of the Exodus under Moses 1441 B.C. During the following forty years Moses wrote the Torah and the Book of Job, completing them before his death at Mt. Nebo about 1400 B.C. According to Biblical scholar and historian Robert D. Wilson the Torah as it stands dates from the time of Moses, the five books constitute one continuous work, and was written by a single individual, Moses himself (Wilson, pg 11).
The remaining books of the Old Testament were written at various times since the death of Moses, with Malachi, the last Hebrew Old Testament book, being written about 455 B.C. During this period each of the books was written and re-written on parchment or papyrus, with editors taking great care in their work; a single Biblical book hand-written today can take weeks to complete. The older scrolls were disposed of by burial or storage in a Geniza room when worn from normal usage (the Cairo Geniza is famous for the antiquity of the scrolls discovered within it) because the Jews have a devout horror of destroying the sacred script containing the transmitted revelation of God; as a result, the oldest surviving examples of Biblical manuscripts are those which have been carefully preserved either by direct actions of people (such as monasteries), or by removal from forces of decay. Currently, the oldest surviving manuscripts are those found carefully stored in clay jars within the caves of Qumran in 1948 and known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating between 250 B.C. to A.D. 70; the complete Isaiah scroll of this collection dates to 150 B.C.
Around 200 B.C. the Septuagint, a Greek-language version of the Old Testament, was completed. This was due to the Hellenization of large areas of the Middle East after the conquest of Alexander the Great, making Greek the de facto language for everyday communications and business. The Septuagint marks the first time in history that the Bible was translated into a foreign language. An ancient fragment of the Septuagint containing the Tetragrammaton (Greek, "four letters", that is, of the name of God, YHWH) has been dated between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50.
Early New Testament history
In 1st Timothy 5:8, Paul quoted as scripture "the laborer is worthy of his hire." This line is found nowhere else in the Bible except Matthew 10:10 and Luke 5:7. In 2nd Peter 3:15-16, Peter classes Paul's letters with "other scriptures". Both lines are indicative of the writing down and general use of the New Testament prior to A.D. 60 (Halley, pg. 741-742). Spurious "gospels" which are known to have appeared by A.D. 100, make references to the New Testament. Clement of Rome, writing in his own letter to the Corinthians in A.D. 95, refers to Matthew, Luke, Corinthians, Hebrews, 1st Timothy, and 1st Peter (Halley, pg. 743).
The oldest surviving New Testament fragment of which there is a reliable date is the John Rylands Fragment (P52) of the Gospel of John, dating from 117-138 A.D., just decades from when the Gospel was first written. The time span between the writing of the New Testament and the oldest surviving fragments are well under two hundred years. By comparison, Greek classics such as Herodotus, Plato, Euripides, and Homer have a time span well over a thousand years each between the date of the oldest known fragment of writing and the time period they were first written.
The second translated version of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament (after the Greek Septuaginta) was in the Aramaic language, the Peshitta (Aram. "simple, common"). In A.D. 36, both the Queen of Adiabene (the last existing Province of that Assyrian Empire hated and feared by the Jews), known in Greek as Queen Helena (not the mother of Constantine), and known to the Jews as Queen Shlom Zion ("Peace of Zion"), and her son King Ezad were converted to Judaism. Queen Helena's conversion, as well as others of the Kingdom, furthered the already developing translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in her Kingdom's language -Aramaic. That developing translation came to be known as the Peshitta - meaning simple or common speech, in much the same way as the Hebrew Bible would be translated into Latin by Jerome, with extensive help from a Rabbi, and the resultant translation would be called the Vulgate - meaning simple or common speech. The Peshitta, retaining elements of the then Jewish "Targumic" (interpretive) and other Jewish understandings of the Hebrew Bible (see Midrash), is primarily based on the Pre-Masoretic Hebrew Scriptures - though certain books, such as the Prophet Isaiah, are translations primarily from the Septuagint. The development of the Old Testament Peshitta translation is held by some to have taken place alternatively in Adiabene's nearby neighbor Edessa.
As Thomas and his followers went to India, others (possibly Adai [Thaddeus] among them, the Galilean from Caesarea Phillipi) arrived in Adiabene. Having gone probably to the synagogues first, as did the Apostle Paul, they found already there, if not a populous citizenry, then an elite governmental element, conversant with the Biblical message in Aramaic. From these people, hearing the preaching of the messengers from Israel, came believers in Jesus Christ, and soon after, came the translation of the Greek New Testament Scriptures into Aramaic, and so the Peshitta was increased by inclusion of the New Testament in Aramaic. Most of the deuterocanonical and apocryphal books of the Old Testament are found in the Syriac, held to have been translated from the Hebrew and not from the Septuagint. The rest of the Old Testament known to the early Syrian church was substantially that of the Palestinian Jews but it arranged them in a different order. First there was the Pentateuch, then Job, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Book of Sirach and most of the deuterocanonical and apocryphal books of the Old Testament, Ruth, Canticles, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Isaiah followed by the Twelve Minor Prophets, Jeremiah and Lamentations, Ezekiel, and lastly Daniel. Unlike the Greek canon of the New Testament Scriptures, the Peshitta originally did not include the following books: the Second Epistle of Peter, the Second Epistle of John, the Third Epistle of John, the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelation. But these books translated into the Syriac (as Christian Aramaic is known) are now part of the Peshitta and used by the Aramaic-based churches today, primarily in India and the Middle East - the Syrian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East (Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East), the Indian Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, the Syro-Malabar Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Adiabene and its surroundings then became the sending center for a mission to the East that would eventually take advantage of the newly rediscovered monsoon winds blowing for months across the Arabian sea, making it possible for ships' pilots to no longer hug the coasts. And taking advantage of the "Silk Road" all the way from Antioch in Syria to China, they took the message of Jesus Christ to India (bringing about the Aramaic [Syriac] language churches of Kerala) and even to China itself. And so, the Peshitta, written in the Middle East, for a while became the Scriptures of the Far East Churches of Jesus Christ, particularly in India.
Jerome, a Latin scholar deeply interested in the study of the Scriptures, completed the second edition of the Bible in the Latin language. The Vulgate was meant to replace the inaccuracies of the earlier Vetus Latina (the Old Latin version), the standard Bible of the early Catholic Church in Latin. Jerome had moved to Jerusalem in 382, and set to work on what eventually became a fresh Latin translation of the Old Testament from the Greek of the Septuagint and a translation of the Greek New Testament into Latin; then from 390-405 he decided to re-translate his Old Testament directly from the Hebrew text then in use by the Jewish community, which pre-dated the revision of the Hebrew text later written by the Masoretic Hebrew scholars of Judaism between the 7th and 10th centuries. The Vulgate Bible of 76 books (49 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books) had a marked influence in church history, and it remained the standard Latin Bible in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. After the Council of Trent defined the canon of the holy Bible as 73 books of scripture "with all their parts", and 1 and 2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh had been placed in an appendix to the definitive Clementine Vulgate critical edition, the Vulgate was henceforth the dogmatically defined canonical Bible of the Catholic Church. After 1450 years of use the Vulgate was finally replaced by the Nova Vulgata in 1979. The earliest surviving complete manuscript of the entire Latin Bible is the Codex Amiatinus, produced in eighth century England at the double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow.
Vernacular translations into English and other languages have been authorized by the Holy See since as early as A.D. 600. Partial translations of the Bible into languages of the English people can be traced back to the end of the 7th century, including translations into Old English and Middle English. A number of Old English Bible translations survive, as do many instances of glosses in the vernacular, especially in the Gospels and the Psalms.
The age of Middle English (1066-1500) beginning with the Norman conquest and ending about 1500 covers the period of authorized and unauthorized Middle English Bible translations.
Heresies based on abusive use of vernacular translations
The abuse of vernacular translations of Sacred Scripture made available to the common people was a prominent feature of heresies during the roughly 400-year period from 1100 to 1500.
For example, the Albigensians (also called Cathari "the pure"), prevalent during the 12th and 13th centuries in western Europe, particularly in southern France and northern Italy, rejected the authority of Church and State (Jude 8; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). They appealed to the Scriptures as authority for their doctrines, mostly the New Testament, because the Old Law was regarded by them according to their teaching as mainly a demoniacal creation. Like Marcion in the 2nd century, they taught the Manichaean doctrine of two Gods, and that the evil God created matter and the whole physical universe to entrap and enslave divine spirits of light, and was the God of the Old Testament and the God of the Jews. They forbade marriage, sexual relations between spouses, condemned the begetting of children, and praised those who chose to starve themselves to death.
Another example is Waldo (Valdo), from the city of Lyons, also variously referred to as Valdes, Valdesius, Valdensius. References to the movement he founded call his disciples "Waldensians", "the poor of Lyons", "the Leonese", "the Poor of Lombardy", or simply "the Poor". He arranged for the Gospels and some other books of the Bible to be translated into common speech which he read very often, but without understanding their real meaning. The translations produced were full of mistakes and mistranslations which changed the meaning of the scriptures. Infatuated with his own interpretation of these defective scriptures he usurped authority by presuming to preach the Gospel in the streets, where he made many disciples, and involved them, both men and women, in a similar act of presumption by sending them out, in turn, to preach. These people, ignorant and illiterate, went about through the towns, entering houses and even churches, disturbing families, disrupting worship services, ignoring civil statutes and laws, and spreading many errors. The principal heresy of the Waldensians was contempt for (ignoring of) ecclesiastical power and rejection of governmental authority. They capitalized on the fact that the common people were scandalized by evident corruption and abuses of legitimate authority by individuals in Church and in secular government who, like Balaam and Judas, betrayed Christ for the sake of gain, in direct and indifferent disobedience to the teaching of the Church. And they opportunistically misrepresented these clearly aberrent scandals as if they were authentically representative of the actual teaching and doctrine of the Church (thereby committing what has been defined as sins of calumny and detraction, fueled by actual scandal). The Waldensian dispute then, centered on the issue of authority. The fact that they translated the scriptures badly, studied these translations, drew their own conclusions as to what they meant, and "presumed" to preach whatever they believed, without reference to the clergy, was unacceptable.
A similar phenomenon has animated movements in the 20th and 21st centuries, "cults" which claim authority from their founders' particular interpretations of the Bible, doctrines which have resulted in bizarre and self-destructive behavior, all "based on the Word of God", such as Jonestown, the Branch Davidians of David Koresh, and the Heaven's Gate U.F.O. group. In the 21st century in the United States, the extremist teaching of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church presents a milder example, claiming the authority of the Bible for their disruptive activities.
Late Middle Ages
In the late Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church began to severely curtail authorization for new translations into the vernacular and subsequently rarely granted permission to anyone who desired to undertake the task during that period. It was felt that new translations in the vernacular only added to contempt for the office of Roman church leaders and the stability of society under the authority of the office of duly appointed governors, princes and kings (many of whom unfortunately abused the legitimate authority of their office for personal gain).
See Matthew 7:6, also 2 Corinthians 2:17 and 11:2-20, Galatians 1:6-9, Colossians 2:18-19, 2 Peter 1:20-2:3 and 3:14-17. —See also Exodus 22:27( KJV 22:28 ), Numbers 16:1-11,Romans 13:1-5, and Jude 8, 11, 17-19. Compare Romans 2:17-24
Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany invented the first mechanical printing press in 1448. His machine consisted of a large press which when cranked down, pressed a sheet of paper upon a platform in which were set thousands of inked metal letter typefaces (called "movable type"), set in place to read for a particular page. The first book in history printed by this method was the Gutenberg Bible, in the Vulgate Latin version, of which 180 were printed, and approximately 50 survive today in varying conditions around the world.
The Gutenberg Bible marked another first: printed Bibles could be mass-produced to get them into the hands of many people at a low cost. They first had to be translated out of Latin into a common language, and Martin Luther made the great German translation, 1522–1534. The Protestant Reformers emphasized that laymen should study the Bible, and printing made it possible for them to go beyond the interpretations shown in stained glass windows (the "Bible of the illiterate") to the actual text.
English language versions of the Bible
The first translation of the whole Latin Bible into English by dissident scholars in the English Catholic Church was made under the supervision of the English cleric John Wyclif in the 1380s, with the assistance of Nicholas Hereford and John Purvey. Wyclif held that the Bible should be placed directly in the hands of the people, but was this was opposed by the English Church hierarchy of his day; indeed, one of Wyclif's opponents, Henry Knighton, compared giving the Bible to the people in English to "casting pearls before swine". Archbishop Arundel of Canterbury promulgated a ban on all English Bibles in 1407, and possession of one was considered evidence of heresy.
Wyclif's was a scholarly translation, based on the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew texts, but was found to be unwieldy due to its adherence to Latin grammar (in which, for instance, verbs tend to be at the end of sentences). A second Wycliffite translation was prepared late in this period, which avoided this problem, but due to the fact that it could only be distributed in manuscript form, it was an expensive volume. Outside of the nobility and gentry, it was more common to see only a single Gospel, or a copy of the Psalms, rather than an entire Bible, which cost more than the average working person could earn in a year.
Over the next century, its form of English gradually became antiquated, leading English Protestants such as William Tyndale to feel that an entirely new translation was needed.
During the middle of the 16th century there was a renewed sense of the need to get the Bible directly into the hands of the common man; prior to that the Bible was restricted to readings in the Church alone. The Reformers were a group of people who were shocked at the differences between what the Roman Catholic Church was practicing as opposed to their readings (interpretations) of what the Bible stated can or cannot be done (this was one of the causes of the Reformation). At great cost to themselves, the Reformers began the work of translating the Bible in the various languages of Europe; the printing press would ensure the newly translated Bibles would be mass-produced.
William Tyndale was committed to getting the Bible into the hands of his English countrymen. Expressing open defiance of the Pope, Tyndale declared that if God would spare his life he would make it possible for even an ordinary farmer to know more about the Scriptures than the Pope. Tyndale's translation of the New Testament was completed on the Continent by 1525. By April, 1526, 6,000 copies were printed and delivered to England. Official opposition led to the destruction of most of them, not because of the translation of the Biblical text itself, but because Tyndale also held and published views which were considered heretical, first by the Catholic Church, and later by the Church of England, which was established by King Henry VIII in 1536. His Bible translation also included notes and commentary promoting these views. Tyndale's translation was banned by the authorities. Even King Henry VIII in 1531 condemned the Tyndale Bible as a corruption of Scripture. In the words of King Henry's advisors: "the translation of the Scripture corrupted by William Tyndale should be utterly expelled, rejected, and put away out of the hands of the people, and not be suffered to go abroad among his subjects."  Bishop Tunstall of London  declared that there were upwards of 2,000 errors in Tyndale's Bible. The following year Tyndale himself, at the instigation of agents of Henry VIII and the Anglican Church, was arrested and, for his efforts, charged with heresy, and, on May 21, 1536, was executed, burned at the stake. Nevertheless, the printing press rendered it impossible to completely suppress such a book, and new copies were printed on the Continent and smuggled into England. His efforts at translating the Bible led to the Matthews Bible (1537) and the Bishop's Bible (1568), but with many of his notes radically edited by censors or editors, or entirely removed, and these versions led to the Geneva Bible (1599), and finally to the King James Version, where ninety percent of the text closely follows Tyndale's translation.
Authorised or King James Version
In 1601 King James I selected forty-seven of the ablest scholars in England to undertake the creation of a standard Bible in English, based upon careful translations of the Masoretic Text used by the Jewish community, and the best Greek translations (especially the Textus Receptus) then available. The scholars were divided into six committees in Oxford, Westminster, and Cambridge, with each scholar dedicating himself to doing a portion of the Bible, often consulting each other to check the flow and harmony of the work in progress. The result was the 1611 Authorised Version, known in America as the King James Version.
In its early days, the KJV was heavily criticized; but in time, with official pressure, it won the field and became "the Bible" for English-reading people—a position it held for almost 400 years.
The effects of the Authorised Version were profound. Using less than 2,500 different words in its vocabulary, this Bible was written in a poetic style matched by few. The work influenced the writings of Shakespeare. John Milton has numerous images taken from this Bible in his Paradise Lost. The direct style of writing caused it to be easily available to the common man. Poets and writers, such as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and many others were deeply inspired by it. It altered the course of English history, with England growing to a world power since the book's publication. When asked by a visiting dignitary what made England great, Queen Victoria pulled out her copy of the Bible and declared "This is the secret of England's greatness."
Problems with the King James Version
For a more detailed treatment, see Badger skins (Bible).
Beginning in the 17th century, the same century in which it was published, Protestant scholars, orientalists, hebraists and linguists began pointing out defects in the Authorized King James Version. One of these was the translation of 'orot tachashim as "badgers' skins", because it so plainly violates the biblical context of Leviticus chapter 11:4-8, 24-29, 42-45, and Leviticus chapter 5. "Badgers' skins" is the King James Version (AV) translation of the Hebrew word תחשׁ taḥash, and of the Hebrew term (singular) עור תחשׁ uwr taḥash / 'or taḥash "skin taḥash", and of the plural form ערת תחשׁים uwr't taḥashim / 'orot taḥashim "skins taḥashim". Adam Clarke himself (Adam Clarke's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (1831) Exodus 25) has pointed out the substantial inaccuracy of the KJV interpretive translation:
- "badgers' skins, (rather violet-coloured skins)...Badgers' skins — ערת תחשים oroth techashim. Few terms have afforded greater perplexity to critics and commentators than this."
"It would involve a great inconsistency, that the ark of the covenant, which was considered so holy, that no human hand could touch it with impunity, except the hands of those who had been consecrated to God, that it should constantly be covered with the skins of unclean animals...Therefore the coverings of purple, or blue, which our translators have called 'badgers' skins', were of a material that was accounted pure, and could not impart any impurity to those who prepared them, or to those whose office it was to adjust them amidst the vicissitudes of the camp of Israel."
The KJV was first published in 1611, a year after the Douay-Rheims Bible. The later KJV revision of 1769  is the version generally published today as the King James Bible, and is the form of the text cited here:
Leviticus 5:2 "if a soul touch any unclean thing...he also shall be unclean and guilty"
Leviticus 5:5-6 "he shall confess that he hath sinned"
Leviticus 11:5-8 "and their carcase shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you"
Leviticus 11:24-28 "and whatsoever goeth upon his paws...those are unclean unto you"
Leviticus 11:43-44 "Ye shall not make yourselves abominable...neither shall ye make yourselves unclean...neither shall ye defile yourselves"
Leviticus 22 "Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD."
Numbers 4:15-20 "but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die"
Deuteronomy 23:14 "For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee."
The Committee appointed by James I of England that was tasked with the translation of the Bible was made of men who had read the Bible in Hebrew and Greek and Latin and knew these passages. Yet they chose to translate tachashim as unclean badgers "that goeth upon paws" whose carcasses the Israelites were forbidden to touch.
Exodus 25:1-8 "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering...rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins"
Exodus 26:14 "and a covering above of badgers' skins"
Exodus 35:7 "and rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins"
Exodus 35:23 "and red skins of rams, and badger skins"
Exodus 36:19 "and a covering of badgers' skins above that"
Exodus 39:34 "And the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of badgers' skins"
Numbers 4:6-25 "a covering of badgers' skins...the covering of badgers' skins"
Ezekiel 16:10 "and shod thee with badgers' skin"
Readers of the KJV saw a grave difficulty here because of the apparently great inconsistency that the holy ark of the covenant and the Tabernacle of the LORD should be constantly covered with skins of unclean animals which made unclean anyone who touched them. The Douay-Rheims Bible had translated the skins as "violet skins".The motivation for interpreting and translating tachash skins in the Bible as being skins of creatures the Israelites are clearly forbidden to touch is unclear, and a mystery, what is known in Logic as a non sequiter (Lat. "it does not follow"). The purpose being served by a deliberate translation of תחשׁ as badger and of ערת תחשׁים as badgers' skins, by scholars who have a thorough knowledge of the whole of the Bible, and of the history of the Hebrew language and of the fauna and varied customs of the ancient Middle East, is also a non sequiter mystery, involving an evident contradiction of the context of the Bible. Alternate word choices, harmoniously consistent with the biblical context, and attested by the ancient sources as cited in scholarly published commentaries both technical and general, were available to the translators, who chose not to use them. Their translation covers the tabernacle, the ark and the sacred vessels with the equivalent of טָמֵא tame unclean swines' skins (Leviticus 11:3-8, 11:24-28). The inconsistency is not in the ancient biblical text, but in the interpretations of translators which violate its context.
"A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text." Donald A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies.Study Bible footnotes, along with published articles, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, encyclopedias, and books on the Bible, and a multitude of internet online blogs and pages, which strongly support the translation of ערת תחשׁים as badgers' skins or as the skins of any kind of sea mammal, often omit the fact that within the context of the Bible these creatures are classified as unclean, defiling שִׁקַּץ sheqats abominations, as loathsome, abhorrent, detestible, filthy and disgusting for the people of Israel. Those that do mention it offer various speculative rationales, debates and discussions to explain why in their opinion God would command the Israelites to cover the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant and the sacred vessels for worship with skins of unclean animals and abominations they are explicitly forbidden to touch, skins and hides that according to the word of the LORD defile any Israelites who touch them. Many of them assert that the prohibitions in Leviticus 11 are dietary rules only (Lev. 11:2, 11:46-47), and declare that touching and wearing skins and leather of unclean animals is permitted as long as their flesh is not eaten. These commentaries say that touching the carcass of these animals is only a minor offense which did not require an atoning sacrifice, and that it applied only to kohanim (priests) and applied to the laity only during the three feasts of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Weeks/Pentecost, and Booths/Tabernacles (Deut. 16). And some cite the Talmud as their authority, for example, Tractate Rosh Hashana 16b, and the Sifra, Torath Kohanim 11:74, and Rashi's commentary, providing us with an example of what the prophet Jeremiah said,
"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie" (Jeremiah 8:8).They omit any reference to that part of Leviticus which decrees that wilfully touching the carcasses of unclean animals (which must be done to harvest their skins) is a sin, which even Rashi's commentary confirms. No mention is made by them of the law in the Torah which says: "Ye shall not make yourselves abominable...neither shall ye make yourselves unclean...neither shall ye defile yourselves" (Leviticus 11:43-44)  and that anyone who wilfully does this will be cut off. Some commentaries on the Old Testament supporting badgers' skins and sea mammals' skins as the covering of the tabernacle cite the New Testament example of Saint Paul working with Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43; 10:6, 32), as if both of them were examples of Jews wilfully working with the skins of non-kosher beasts. Some cite Pliny's Natural History 2:56, which says that [pagan] temples had roofs of sealskin, as if this applied to the Israelites under the Law of Moses, and cite Eduard Rüppell's short-lived taxonomic designation of the dugong as Halicore tabernaculi "dugong of the tabernacle" as an additional support for their opinion. The 1843 published scientific nomen Halicore tabernaculi, expressing as it did the personal opinion of a professional zoologist, Eduard Rüppell, was soon discarded by the scientific community, but it has nevertheless persuaded many to this day that science has established that the dugong was indeed the animal whose skins were used to cover the tabernacle. However, it has no fins or scales. According to the Bible this creature is an abomination to the Jews (loathsome / abhorrent / detestible / filthy / disgusting) (Leviticus 11:10-12). Jesus himself commented on the practice of constantly seeking pretexts for making exceptions to the Torah:
"You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!" (Mark 7:9 RSV).
King James Only
Advocates of the King James Only movement are fully persuaded that the translators of the King James Version of the Bible always chose the correct reading [interpretation] of the biblical text, under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit Himself, and that therefore the translation badgers' skins is the most accurate possible English translation of the Hebrew ערת תחשׁים and עור תחשׁ and תחשׁ . They declare without reservation that the King James Bible is the divinely preserved, infallible Word of God, and that it is the only and final authority on all matters of faith and morals and practice for the whole of the English-speaking world.
- –See the Preface to the King James Version of 1611.
"...wee affirme and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set foorth by men of our profession (for wee have seene none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God..."
- —from the Preface to the King James Version of 1611: The Translators to the Reader. (boldface emphasis added)
See Logical fallacy.
Although the KJV remains the most popular English version, the 19th through 21st centuries have seen an explosion in the number of English translations available. Among the most popular are:
Today, the Bible has been translated into languages spoken by the vast majority of people on Earth, and even portions of it have been translated into the fictional language of Klingon from the world of Star Trek, . The past two decades saw the emergence of Internet use; the creation of the Bible as a software program was inevitable, and several, such as E-Sword and Theophilos, are available at no cost with a wealth of Bible-study material as well.
Bible Scientific Foreknowledge
Bible scientific foreknowledge holds that the Bible shows an understanding of scientific knowledge beyond that believed to exist at the time the Bible was composed. Many Christian scientists and apologists such as the Christian scientists and apologists at Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and CreationWiki assert that the Bible contains knowledge that shows an understanding of scientific knowledge beyond that believed to exist at the time the Bible was composed.
Humor in the Bible
For a more detailed treatment, see Humor in the Bible.
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, contains irony, puns, sarcasm, etc. It may be noted that the sense of what is humorous varies from people to people and from nation to nation, as well as varying from age to age. What caused a chuckle, smile, or laughter in the biblical "genre" was more connected with satisfaction at the vindication of righteousness among men. Thus to our day and age, and the commonality of people, for believers and non believers, the meaning of the spewing up of Jonah on the shores (even the great fish could not stomach him!) might be viewed as God working out His original will in history. Jonah's flight from responsibility being aborted, for the people in the "days and ages" of the Bible, there was the added satisfaction derived from the understanding that God was not mocked by the rebellion of Jonah. Likewise that the "many cattle" also found repentance and acceptance by God, would not have brought the smile of glee, mingled with doubt, but the smile of satisfaction that God's wide heart found its exultant victory over the measly, narrow perspective of the renagade prophet. There was no shame to stifle the Biblical chuckle at the "hows" of the vindication of God's justice. Yet, what we consider humorous also appears:
- After noticing that his father-in-law Laban was not treating him as in the past, Jacob decided to flee with his family. Rachel, one of Jacob's wives, stole her father Laban's teraphim (statues used for idolatry and/or divination). Laban pursued them and intercepted them in the Gilead mountains (Genesis 31:30): "Why have you stolen my gods?" Laban said to Jacob. The Midrash comments that it cannot be much of a god if it can be stolen (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 74:8). Jonsson (1985, 44-45) suggests that there is humor (albeit "rough" humor) in the fact that, not only was Laban deceived, but his idols were actually underneath his daughter Rachel's posterior while she claimed that the "manner of women" was upon her. This idol did not get much respect. 
- In the Orthodox Bible, in the Epistle of Jeremiah, the prophet declares with delightful contempt the stupidity of the idols of Babylon. Their faces have to be wiped to get the dust off them. They have weapons in their hands but cannot punish anyone who offends them. They are as useless as a broken dish. Their eyes are clogged with dust from the feet of the worshippers entering to adore them. Their priests lock them up like a man who has offended the king and has been sentenced to death. Bats, swallows and birds perch on their heads, and so do cats. If they are tipped over, they cannot get up. Their priests howl and shout before them as some do at a funeral feast for a man who has died. When fire breaks out in their temples the priests run away and the idols are burned in two like logs. Robbers strip them naked and they cannot help themselves. The door of a house that protects its contents, or a wooden pillar in a palace holding up the roof is better than these useless gods. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch guarding nothing, so are these gods.
- In the book of Esther, Haman, the prime minister of King Ahasuerus of Persia who hates Mordecai the Jew and has built a gallows 50 cubits high to hang him on it, has entered the court to ask for Mordecai's death. The king, meanwhile, not being able to sleep, hears in the reading of the records that Mordecai once saved the king from assassination, and that Mordecai received no reward. The king seeks an opinion from one of his court and asks who is immediately available. Haman enters, and the king asks him what should be done to honor the man who pleases the king, and Haman thinks to himself, "Who should the king wish to honor more than me?" So he makes his recommendation, to dress the man in the king's own robes, to set a crown on his head, to set him on the king's own horse, and have the king's most noble prince conduct him throughout the city proclaiming, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor." The king then told Haman, "Quickly! Take the robes and the horse, as you said, and do it to Mordecai the Jew. Omit nothing you mentioned." When he had obeyed the king, he ran home, mourning, with his head covered.
- In the Acts of the Apostles is a serious incident which has some wonderfully slapstick comedic overtones (19:11-16). God had been doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, and even cloths that he had touched were applied to the sick and to possessed persons and they were completely cured. So some traveling Jewish exorcists decided to use the Name of Jesus as a word of power over people who were possessed, by saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches". When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, did this, the evil spirit said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know: but who are you?", and he leaped on them and beat them so badly they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Paronomasia in the Bible
The Bible frequently uses paronomasia (wordplay, puns); for example:
- "With the jawbone of an ass (hamor), heaps upon heaps (hamor hamortayim), with the jawbone of an ass have I smitten a thousand men" (Judges 15:16). In Hebrew, the word for both "ass" and "heap" is hamor. (See also Judges 14:12-14).
- "And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts (ayarim), and they had thirty cities (ayarim), which are called Havvoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead" (Judges 10:4). The Hebrew word ayarim can mean both "ass colts" and "cities." Another more "dynamic translation" might render in English the play on words in this verse as: "He had thirty sons who rode thirty burros who had thirty boroughs."
- "And they were both naked (arummim), the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25). The next verse says, "Now the serpent was more cunning (arum) than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made (Genesis 3:1). In one verse the term arum is used to mean "naked" and in the next verse the same basic root denotes "cunning" or "subtle." In both places the meaning includes "smooth". The serpent was "smooth-bodied" and "smooth-tongued".
- "the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus the Friend of Strangers, as did the people who dwell in that place" (2 Maccabees 6:1-2). The Jews equated Olympian Zeus with the Syrian Baal Shamen (“the lord of the heavens”), a term which the Jews mockingly rendered as shiqqus shomem, “desolating abomination” (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; 1 Maccabees 1:54; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14).
There are many other examples in the OT:
- Genesis 9:27; 25:26; 48:22
- Exodus 2:10
- Ruth 1:20
- Ecclesiastes 7:1 a שֵׁם, שֶׁמֶן
- Isaiah 63:1
- Micah 1:10-15
In the New Testament, see for example:
- Philemon 1:11, Ὀνήσιμον—ἄχρηστον—εὔχρηστον Onesimon—achreston—euchreston. Onesimus in Greek literally means "profitable". In the Greek New Testament, "useless" is ἄχρηστον achrēston, and "useful" is εὔχρηστον euchrēston. The prefix "a-" is a negative, meaning "not-". The prefix "eu-" is a positive, meaning "good-". The phrase in the Greek text of Philemon verse 11 is: τόν ποτέ σοι ἄχρηστον , νυνὶ δὲ καὶ σοὶ καὶ ἐμοὶ εὔχρηστον
- Matthew 16:18 σὐ εἶ Πέτρος (a huge rock), καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ (huge boulder, rock) οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν.
There are also possible examples of paronomasia in Matthew 2:23; Matthew 3:9.
- In Matthew 2:23 the words Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται Nazoraios klethesetai are not found in Hebrew or Aramaic in any of the books of the Old Testament prophets (Nazoraios= an inhabitant of Nazareth). They appear to many interpreters to be an allusion to Isaiah 11:1 where Messiah is called נֵצֶר (netzer = a branch), and possibly also to the word נָצַר (netzer = to preserve); see Isaiah 49:6.
- In Matthew 3:9 (see Luke 3:8) John the Baptist says δύναται ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ dynatai o Theos ek ton lithos touton egeirai tekna to Abraham. The Hebrew words for the Greek λίθοι lithoi ("stones") and τέκνα tekna ("children") are similar in sound: "God can from these stones (אֲבָנִים ’ăbânîm) raise up children (בָּנִים bânîm) to Abraham."
In the paronomasia of John 2:19-21 Jesus refers to destruction of the temple and to raising it up again:
|“||Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.||”|
The Bible has been translated many times and in many ways so anyone, from the youngest child to the most learned scholar, can read the entire scripture in their own language and at their own reading level. Early versions in the languages of their people include the Septuagint, Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate, also the Arabic, the Coptic, and Persic Farsi. Here are some common English versions:
- American Standard Version
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- Conservative Bible - still a work-in-progress here at Conservapedia
Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also produced his own version of the Bible which was published after his death: see Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the Bible pdf
Online multiple versions are also available for comparison by entering Bibles online in the search-engine window of the computer.
- Simultaneous multiple versions of any one Bible verse are available at biblehub.com.
- A drop-down menu of a multiple selection of Bible translations and versions is available on the biblegateway.com site.
- For example: See a sample of the biblehub.com site with multilingual versions and translations of John 3:16.
- For example: See a sample of the biblegateway.com site with drop-down menu feature: John 3:16 NABRE
Below at External links is featured online access to several versions of the Bible in English: Bible#English
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Greek/English Bible Greek original according to the text used by the Church of Greece. English translation by L.C.L. Brenton, published side by side Greek Septuagint and Greek New Testament
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- The Hypertext Bible with side-by-side translations in English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at the Internet Sacred Text Archive
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Commentaries and analysis
- Bible study topics - Bible studies and exposition online
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- Biblical History, The Jewish History Resource Center — Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- Judaica Press Translation — online Jewish translation of the Tanakh.
- Reading and Understanding the Bible.
- Source for Bible Answers.
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- Learning Bible Today — a historical approach the Bible.
- John Gill's Exposition of the Bible — verse by verse commentary.
- Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible — unabridged.
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Questions and apologetics
- Achtemeier, Paul J., ed. Harper's Bible Dictionary (1985), 1190pp; mainstream scholarship
- Ackroyd, P.R., ed. The Cambridge History of the Bible: From the Beginnings to Jerome; the West from the Fathers to the Reformation; the West from the Reformation to the Present Day (3 vol 1978), standard summary of scholarship; excerpt and text search vol 1; excerpt and text search vol 2; excerpt and text search vol 3
- Coggins, R.J. Introducing the Old Testament (Oxford University Press: 1990), 172pp. online edition
- Morgan, Robert, and John Barton. Biblical Interpretation (Oxford University Press: 1988), 342 pp online edition
- Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob, ed. The New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (NIDB) (5 vol 2009), the latest mainstream scholarship
- Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1966; new edition 2006); Evangelical
- Unger, Merril F. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, (2006); 1416pp; Evangelical
- Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1967); Evangelical.
- Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI (1965); Evangelical
- Sandys-Wunsch, John. What Have They Done to the Bible: A History of Modern Biblical Interpretation (2005) Scholarly history of transations and interpretations to 1900; excerpt and text search
- Williamspn, Peter. Catholic principles for interpreting scripture: a study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission's The interpretation of the Bible in the Church (2001); Catholic; excerpts and text search
- Wilson, Robert D. A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, Sunday School Times, Inc, Philadelphia, PA (1926).
- Blass, Frederich, and others. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, translated by Robert W. Funk; University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL (1961); German edition Grammatik des Neutestamentlichen Griechisch Friedrich Rehkopf, editor, 14th edition. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976.
- Moulton, James H., and others. A Grammar of New Testament Greek (two volumes), edited by Wilbert Francis Howard, T&T Clark Publishers, Harrisburg, PA (1985); originally published 1920, Edinburgh, Scotland.
- Bauer, Walter. Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Scriften des Neuen Testaments und der frühchristlichen Litteratur. Kurt Åland and Barbara Åland, editors; 6th edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, Germany (1988). Heading βιβλίον, columns 281–82.
- See Historical-critical method (Higher criticism), in particular the findings of the following supportive sources of literary criticism::
- The Bible’s message is both ‘divine’ and ‘human’.
—St. John's Abbey: The Bible’s message is both ‘divine’ and ‘human’. Friday, January 17th, 2014, Benedictine Father Michael Kwatera, a monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN.
- The more conservative theologians who employ the historical-critical method believe that the Scriptures are more than the writings of mortal men.
—The Historical-Critical Method of Bible Interpretation, By Siegbert W. Becker, page 4.
- Unique among all the world's literature, the Bible is really God's word in human language.
—The Bible as Literature: The Bible ~ A Literary Work and an Artistic Presentation of Human Experience.
- The Bible’s message is both ‘divine’ and ‘human’.
- John 8:32
- The Bible continues to be the best-selling book ever. Americans alone buy 25 million Bibles a year, according to Publisher's Weekly. Bible sales are now reaching $609 million a year, with specialty Bibles available for myriad "niche" audiences, from motorcycle riders to campers, brides and archaeologists. "Immerse," a water-resistant Bible for troops overseas, is now available from publisher Bardin & Marsee. Polls: Most believe Bible as God's word - Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times - May 30, 2007
- Best-selling book of non-fiction, Guinness World Records
- "Bible of the apostles". See the following four sources:
- Free Bible Gateway
- Unger, pg 143; Moulton; Blass
- Chaffey, Tim (April 1, 2011). 3. Unity of the Bible. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Lisle, Jason (March 22, 2011). How Do We Know that the Bible Is True? Answers in Genesis. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Cheffey, Tim (February 22, 2017). 3 Evidences That Confirm the Bible Is Not Made Up. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Bible is Unique. Josh McDowell Ministry. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- The Protestant Bible excludes the following books which have always been included in the Catholic Bible, the same books excluded from the canon by the Jews after the rise of Christianity in the 1st century:
- The Wisdom of Solomon
- 1st Maccabees
- 2nd Maccabees
- Baruch 
- ChristianAnswers.Net. About the Bible (christiananswers.net)
- Bible.org Introduction to First Samuel
- Most Protestant Christians are unaware that the overwhelming majority of Old Testament quotations and references in the New Testament are numerous quotations from the Septuagint including the books Martin Luther separated as Apocrypha. See the following four sources:
- Septuagint Quotes in the New Testament
- The Septuagint (LXX): History of the Septuagint
- Canons of the Hebrew Bible
- Official King James Bible online: Apocrypha Books
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Apocrypha
The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (jewishvirtuallibrary.org)
- Catholic Online: St. Melito of Sardis, Early Christian Writings: Melito of Sardis
- Yehudah HaNasi (Judah the Prince) (A.D. 135 - 219), Jewish Encyclopedia: Judah I
- Amoraim (Aramaic: plural אמוראים [ʔamoʁaˈʔim], singular Amora אמורא [ʔamoˈʁa]; "those who say" or "those who speak over the people", or "spokesmen"), were renowned Jewish scholars who "said" or "told over" the teachings of the Oral Torah, from about 200 to 500 CE in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. See Jewish Virtual Library: AMORAIM
- There is a similar teaching in the Christian New Testament, in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians (2:15) and in the First Letter to the Corinthians (11:2). This seems to be the Biblical justification for the Catholic and Orthodox teaching that the fullness of the Christian faith is contained in both scripture and tradition, "letter" and "word". See Sola scriptura
- History of the Ancient and Modern Hebrew Language, By David Steinberg. Phonemic Structure of Hebrew
David.Steinberg@houseofdavid.ca. http://www.houseofdavid.ca Home page http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrewtoc.htm
- See also the following sources for more extensive expression of this Evangelical Christian opinion:
Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1966; new edition 2006);
Unger, Merril F. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, (2006); 1416pp;
Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1967).
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) The Vulgate, by Samuel Angus.
- The Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian body comprised of several distinct "Rites". The Catholic Church (Latin Rite) is the largest religious body in the United States, with over 60 million adherents (4 times as large as the second largest church, the Orthodox).
“The Global Catholic Population,” © 2011, Pew Research Center.
The Largest Catholic Communities
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church, and also referred to as the Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, most of whom live in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia.
The Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Of America (1983). Retrieved on 7 May 2014.
Christianity:Basics:Eastern Orthodox Church Denomination. about.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
Christianity. Major Branches of Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents. adherents.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
- See Percentage of Christians in Protestant Denominations (29.5%).
- The Jewish Canon and the Christian Canon (web.cn.edu)
Linguistic evidence shows that other Septuagint books which were excluded by rabbinical authority after A.D. 90 certainly had an original Hebrew or Aramaic text. See
- Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Holy Scriptures: The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, by Michael E. Stone
- BACKGROUND AND HISTORY TO THE APOCRYPHA, By David Phillips Article reprinted from Cross†Way Issue Autumn 2006 No. 102 (archive.churchsociety.org)
- The Origin of the Apocrypha
- The Apocrypha of the Old Testament: With Historical Introductions, a Revised Translation, and Notes Critical and Explanatory, by Edwin Cone Bissell. Scribner, 1890. 680 pages, page 208ff, citing evidence that the "additions to Esther" were also translated from the Hebrew. (Google eBook)
- The New Yorker: Page-Turner. March 1, 2013 Treasures in the Wall, by Emily Greenhouse (newyorker.com)
Jewish Virtual Library: Modern Jewish History: The Cairo Genizah, by Alden Oreck
- Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman: The Benediction Against the Minim (lawrenceschiffman.com)
DEFENDING THE BRIDE. THE CURSE AGAINST CHRISTIANS AT JAMNIA ABOUT 90 AD (defendingthebride.com)
The Jewish “Council” of Jamnia and Its Impact on the Old Testament Canon and New Testament Studies, Tim Gordon October 20, 2007 (academia.edu/6811953)
- Luther rejected the seven books of the Old Testament, citing the Palestinian Canon as his authority. Clearly his reasons were doctrinal. However, his decision poses serious difficulties. What authority from God would Jews have in the Christian era to determine which books of the Old Testament were or were not divinely inspired? In 1529, Luther proposed adoption of the 39-book canon of rabbinic Judaism as the Old Testament canon of the Christian Bible. He justified his decision to exclude seven books from the Old Testament canon of 46 books by an appeal to precedent, citing Jerome who, around A.D. 400 had expressed concerns also voiced by his rabbinical sources that these books in Greek had no Hebrew counterparts. Research into the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran has discovered Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books, which makes their rejection on this ground unsupportable. Luther's principal reason for opposing these Old Testament books seems to be that they contain textual support for doctrines he had rejected, such as praying for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:42-45).
See Luther and the Canon of the Bible, by Jim Seghers
The Canon of the Bible
Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Can Protestants Rely Upon the "Council of Jamnia" for Their Bible?
- Catholic Encyclopaedia online
- The Ecclesiastical History Of Eusebius Pamphilus: Bishop Of Caesarea, In Palestine, translated from the Greek, by the Rev. C. F. Crusé, A.M., assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania. With Notes from the Edition of Valesius. London: George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden. 1874. Legacy Reprint Series. Book III, Chapter XXIV The order of the Gospels. page 97
- Kulturkampf and the Gospel, by John Beaumont
Church in History. The ChurchinHistory Information Centre. BISMARCK AND THE FOUR GOSPELS 1870 - 1914, by William R. Farmer (University of Dallas) Editor of A NEW CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY. The theory that Mark's Gospel was published before Matthew's is widely held in German and English speaking countries. This article shows how this theory, with little supporting evidence, came to be spread as part of Bismarck's anti-Catholic 'Kulturkampf' policy. BIBLIOTHECA EPHEMERIDUM THEOLOGICARUM LOVANIENSIUM. THE FOUR GOSPELS. 1992 (churchinhistory.org)
- Mark's Gospel--Prior or Posterior?: A Reappraisal of the Phenomenon of Order, By David Neville
- Unger, pg. 748; Eusebius The History of the Church 3:3
- Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. The Fourth Session. Celebrated on the eighth day of the month of April, in the year 1546. English translation by James Waterworth (London, 1848)
- The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth, 1910–1915, 4 Vol. Bible Institute of Los Angeles, ed. A. C. Dixon, Reuben Archer Torrey.
- Papal Encyclicals Online. Decrees of the First Vatican Council
Catholic Answers. Papal Infallibility
- Wilson, Robert D. A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, Sunday School Times, Inc, Philadelphia, PA (1926)
- Tetragrammaton Found in Earliest Copies of the Septuagint
- Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI (1965)
- N.T. Ancient Manuscripts
- See the following articles and resources:
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) Article: Syriac Versions. Thomas Nicol
- History of the Peshitta
- Aramaic/English Interlinear New Testament
- Biblical Studies and Technological Tools. Syriac Tools and Resources access to Syriac Old and New Testaments
- Problems with Peshitta Primacy
- Index of Holy Bible online access to Aramaic Text of Old and New Testaments of Peshitta
- The Codex Amiatinus is the most celebrated manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Bible, remarkable as the best witness to the true text of St. Jerome and as a fine specimen of medieval calligraphy. Catholic Encyclopedia: Codex Amiatinus
BBC News Tyne and Wear. 15 May 2014. Codex Amiatinus Bible returns to its home in Jarrow
Codex Amiatinus Facsimile Edition
- Anglo-Saxon Versions of Scripture (A.D. 600–1150) (bible-researcher.com)
- See Roberts, Jane (2011). “Some Psalter Glosses in Their Immediate Context”, in Palimpsests and the Literary Imagination of Medieval England, eds. Leo Carruthers, Raeleen Chai-Elsholz, Tatjana Silec. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 61-79, which looks at three Anglo-Saxon glossed psalters and how layers of gloss and text, language and layout, speak to the meditative reader.
See Marsden, Richard (2011), "The Bible in English in the Middle Ages", in The Practice of the Bible in the Middle Ages: Production, Reception and Performance in Western Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), pp. 272-295.
- Albigensianism, by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
What is the Albigenses/Albigensian Heresy? Albigenses
Dictionary: Albigensians (catholicculture.org)
- Xenos Christian Fellowship. The Waldensian Movement From Waldo to the Reformation, by Dennis McCallum (xenos.org)
- CreationWiki. Bible Canon#Tyndale (creationwiki.org)
- Act of Supremacy, (1534) English act of Parliament that recognized Henry VIII as the “Supreme Head of the Church of England.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Act of Supremacy: England (1534)
Henry VIII 's Act of Supremacy (1534) - original text
- TYNDALE BIBLE HISTORY. William Tyndale (1494-1536). The History of William Tyndale and his Bibles
Tyndale's Heresy, by Matthew A. C. Newsome
English Bible History. William Tyndale (greatsite.com)
The Wesley Center Online: William Tyndale's Translation online access to the text of Tyndale's Bible.
- Henry Grey Graham, Where we got the Bible: Our debt to the Catholic Church © 1977 Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 153 pages. ASIN: B0006YDQ5Q p. 128-130.
- Cuthbert Tunstall
- The Charge of Burning Bibles
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. "Bible Translations", Jack P. Lewis and Charles W. Draper. p. 214.
- Isaac H. Hall. The Revised New Testament and History of Revision (1881) "Defects of the King James Version"
- "Our translators of the seventeenth century, in a great many instances, misunderstood the sense."
- Encyclopaedia Judaica 2nd Edition Volume 19:435. TAḤASH.
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary page 161. Badger Skins
- Bible difficulties explained (1860) "Badgers' skins" pages 159–163.
- Changes in the King James Version
- Carson, Donald A., Ph.D. Exegetical Fallacies, Nov. 30, 1983, 2nd edition Mar. 1, 1996. Baker Publishing Group. 160 pages. ISBN 978-0801020865.
- Eight examples:
- Chabad.ORG —Rashi's commentary Vayikra-Leviticus-Chapter 11,
- Terumah: Tachash Skins in the Tabernacle, Rabbi Chaim Morrison,
- Can I wear pigskin shoes? By Shmuel Kogan,
- Jewish Treats: Juicy Bits of Judaism, Daily: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2012 —Picking Up Pigskin,
- Jews in Green: Jews serving proudly:—News: Pigskin Boots, Posted by Lt Joe Friedman on 03 Aug 2005,
- Judaism 101. Treatment of Animals. Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim צער בעלי החיים: Cruelty to Animals © Copyright 5756-5771 (1995-2011), Tracey R Rich,
- Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY: Insight, Volume 2 it-2 pp. 883-884 Sealskin. Copyright © 2014 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania,
- KJV Today: "Badgers' skin" or another type of leather in Exodus 25:5 et al.?
—compare multiple commentaries on: Leviticus 5:2; 11:8 and 11:27
- Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo'ed, Tractate Rosh Hashana, Folio 16b —scroll down to page 40
- Sifra (Aramaic סִפְרָא, "book" or "The Book"), a midrash halakhah from the school of R. Akiva on the Book of Leviticus.
See Jewish Encyclopedia: Sifra;
Encyclopaedia Judaica Vol 18 San-Sol 18:560-562 SIFRA;
See Sifra Hebrew text, ed. I. H. Weiss 1862 Vienna.
- See: Exodus 31:14; Leviticus 7:19, 21; 10:10; 11:43-44; 18:20, 24, 30; 20:25; 21:4, 11; 22:8; Numbers 5:3; 6:7; 19:13, 20; 35:33-34; Deuteronomy 23:14; 27:26.
- see Leviticus 5:2-6, 5:17-19; Numbers 15:29-31; 19:20.
- previously cited in the 19th century: McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (1887) B: badger; Adam Clarke's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (1831) Exodus 25
- While travelling the Middle East around the Red Sea and the Arabian Peninsula, Rüppell observed a variety of dugong which he subsequently designated taxonomically as Halicore tabernaculi (1843) according to his view that the skin of this animal was certainly used as the outer covering of the tabernacle of the Hebrews, because the Bedouin harvested its skin for tent-curtains and for shoes and called it tukhesh, duchash. His taxonomic designation Halicore tabernaculi did not last long (1843-1847) and has since been recombined several times, more recently as Dugong dugon (1963-1998).
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Eduard Rüppell"
- The Probert Encyclopedia of Nature. "Dugong". "A variety [of dugong] was discovered in the Red Sea by Ruppell, and called Halicore tabernaculi."
- The Paleobiology Database: —when the page comes up, at "You must enter a taxon name" move cursor to "Full search"—menu will appear; select "classifications of taxa in groups" and click—when "Taxonomic classification search form" appears enter Halicore tabernaculi in the top search field (ignore the rest), click [Show classification]—page will display "Halicore tabernaculi Rüppell 1843"—click highlighted link "Halicore tabernaculi"–page will show list "Dugong dugon Illiger 1811: Classification of Trichechus dugon (Halicore tabernaculi Ruppell/Rupell 1843):
the listing of the zoological taxonomic nomenclature of the dugong on that page is here rearranged in chronological order:
- Trichechus dugung Erxleben 1777 (this nomenclature lasted 22 years)
- Dugong indicus Lacépède 1799 (this nomenclature lasted 12 years)
- Dugong dugong Illiger 1811 (this nomenclature lasted 21 years)
- Halicore hemprichii and Halicore lottum Ehrenberg 1832 (this nomenclature lasted 11 years)
- Halicore tabernaculi Rüppell 1843 (4 years)
- Halicore australis Owen 1847 (this nomenclature lasted 51 years)
- Halicore cetacea Heuglin, recombined as Halicore dugung Trouessart 1898 (this nomenclature lasted 65 years)
- It was recombined as "Dugong dugon" Scheffer and Rice 1963
also Husar 1978, Domning 1994, 1996, and Rice 1998 (this nomenclature has lasted for 35 years+).
- Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY: Insight, Volume 2 it-2 pp. 883-884 Sealskin.
- Mark 7:9-13; Matthew 15:1-9; 23:16-22
- James D. Price. King James Onlyism: A New Sect. Introduction: The King James Only Doctrine Is a New Idea.
- Klingon Bible Translation Project
- Bible Scientific Foreknowledge
- Clarifying Christianity. Science and the Bible (clarifyingchristianity.com)
- Modern medicine? It's not so modern! by David A. Wise (answersingenesis.org)
- See Strong's numbers 4073 and 4074. Curiously, Strong's definition of "small rock, pebble", is inaccurate: "properly, a stone (pebble), such as a small rock found along a pathway". Protestant Greek scholars like D.A. Carson and Joseph Thayer admit there is no distinction in meaning between petros and petra in the Koine Greek of the New Testament.
- Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 507
- D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), vol. 8, 368.
If, as seems probable, our Lord spoke in Aramaic, the word used would be Kepha (בֵּיפָא, compare Hebrew בֵּפִים in Jeremiah 4:29, Job 30:6 = ‘rocks’; see Strong's number 2786). Aramaic makes no grammatical difference in masculine and feminine forms for "rock" as does Greek. "You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church". This is the reading in the ancient Syriac Peshitta translation of the New Testament.
The Greek text of the paronomasia in Matthew 16:18 makes the reference to St. Peter grammatically certain, although some doubt whether Christ meant that St. Peter, as the leader of the Apostolic band, is the human foundation of the new Church (see Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14), or whether he meant that it is built on the foundation of the confession of Peter, Σὺ εἷ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος. The first view "on Peter" is the more reasonable from the literal standpoint of Greek grammatical structure, and would probably have been almost universally accepted had it not been for the insistently persistent triumphalist assertion of some Roman Catholic commentators, and the invincibly prejudiced antipathy of some Protestant apologists against Catholicism which prompts them to forcibly misrepresent the meaning of petros against its thoroughly attested Greek meaning. Orthodoxy also stoutly rejects the Catholic biblical exegesis of Matthew 16:18 as establishing Petrine Primacy.
See discussion in Bam! Bam! The "Pebbles" Argument Goes Down - Patrick Madrid (patrickmadrid.com)
- Paronomasia - Bible Dictionaries: Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament (studylight.org)
- Paronomasia and Kindred Phenomena in the New Testament: A Dissertation, by Russell, Elbert, 1871-1951 - University of Chicago (archive.org)
- The Role of Misunderstanding in the Fourth Gospel, Edwin E. Reynolds, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Silang, Cavite, Philippines (atsjats.org) pdf
- Literary Features in the Gospel of John: An Analysis of John 3:1-21 - Direction: A Mennonite Brethren Forum; Fall 1988 · Vol. 17 No. 2 · pp. 3–17 (directionjournal.org)