> Chuck Vandergraaf wrote (in part):
> Sorry, I feel compelled to through in my two yen (still less than
> two cents).
> << Another point: If the church fathers, who selected the text that now
> constitutes our Bible, were to do so today, with the information that we
> have, would they still select the same books?
> I suspect that this question has been asked many times before.
> It was probably asked first sometime around the birth of the monarchy
> (reign of David). The answer was yes. It was probably asked during
> the reign of Josiah when the book of the law was rediscovered (2K:22,
> 2C:34). The answer was yes. It was surely asked upon return from
> the exile. The answer seems to have been yes. Finally, it was asked
> after the death and resurrection of Christ. The answer was yes.
In reality there was never a single point in the early church where a
definitive decision was made about the canon of scripture. Such formal decisions
were not made in the western church until after the Reformation in, e.g., the
Council of Trent & the Anglican 39 Articles. (Interestingly, the Lutheran
tradition has no confessional statement about the canon, though in practice it's
the same as the Anglicans'.)
> So would we select the same books today? I think the only reasonable
> answer is yes. The Bible is a document that is intended to instill
> faith and confidence in a God who acts in history, and as Christians
> to reveal the death and resurrection of Christ. Quandaries though
> they many many, this is all we have left to us by those who came
> before, and it is what we should leave to those who come after us:
> untouched by our wishful meddlings.
Attempts today to get rid of the traditional canon have not been so much
in the direction of elimination of books as in trying to break down the
distinction altogether so that, e.g., gnostic texts can be put on the same level
as canonical ones. Needless to say this is a dangerous notion.
> Finally, how does this impact on the Sunday School curriculum? Do we still
> tell the stories about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and let the kids
> find out later that "it wasn't necessarily so," or do we tell them that
> "it's only a story" so that they won't have to face disappointment later on?
> There is a time and a place for every matter under heaven. The lesson
> of Adam and Eve was probably told when brothers and sisters were
> looking for someone to blame for some mishap in responsiblity.
> Is that the time to say this is only a myth?
> Cain and Able were probably used when there was sibbling rivalries.
> Would that be a time to explain that this is not a true story? But
> when children are older and ask "where they real people?", it's
> right to honest. The best answer is three simple words: "I don't know".
> That's honest.
> If we are going to insist on anything, we should insist on the
> Exodus and on Christ because those are the key testaments to
> the faith.
Books whose canonical status have been challenged have been those for one
reason or another
on the fringes of the canon - Esther, Revelation, &c. They have never included
the "Books of Moses" - except by Christians who have wanted to eliminate or
downgrade the whole Old Testament.
Whether or not a book is canonical is not to be decided by investigating
its historical character.
Job is certainly canonical, in spite of the fact that there is no reason to think
that it reports real historical events.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Nov 11 2000 - 11:47:37 EST