Re: Tit for Tat (Richard's challenge)?

Date: Fri Sep 12 2003 - 18:33:32 EDT

  • Next message: Donald Nield: "Re: Tit for Tat (Richard's challenge)?"

    Don Nield wrote:

    > It would not surprise me if numerical considerations had some effect on
    > the final form of the OT canon. That there are 5 books in the Torah is
    > probably not an accident. That there are 12 books of the minor prophets
    > suggests some design. With 5 and 12 established, it is not surprising
    > that there might be 12 historical books and 5 books in the major
    > prophets section and 5 wisdom books. The 22 is probably just a
    > consequence of 5+5+12 =22.
    > The four gospels plus Acts forms a group of 5, and it is likely that the
    > early church saw this group as analogous to the Torah. That leaves 22
    > other NT books. That may be a coincidence -- not improbable.

    This brings up a number of interesting issues. The modern Jews have had the
    Torah (5) and the Minor Prophets (12) for many centuries, but they don't
    follow the pattern of the Septuagint which appears to be the basis of the
    Christian canonical order. This is particularly significant because we know
    that early on they tried to fit their canon into a 22 book pattern, as
    witnessed by Josephus. They did this by combining some books (I & II Kings,
    Ezra-Nehemiah, etc) and calling the 12 Minor Prophets a single book. Does
    this not contradict your the suggestion that they felt free to add or
    subtract books to fit their "numerical considerations?" Neither have I seen
    any scholar anywhere suggest that such "numerical considerations" had
    anything to do with the formation of the 5 books of the Torah or the 12
    Minor Prophets. Many reasons have been given, but never numerical ones (to
    my knowledge). On the contrary, it looks like their "numerical
    considerations" were subjected, as far back as the 1st century AD, to the
    limitations imposed by the books of the canon. I would be interested in any
    evidence you might have for your hypothesis.

    Your assertion that "it is not surprising that there might be 12 historical
    books and 5 books in the major prophets" also fails with regards to the
    Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox who have additional books in their Old
    Testament Canons. But the real difficulty with your argument is that it
    suggests such "numerical considerations" were at play when the saints
    vigorously disputed over which books they believed the Spirit of God had
    inspired and confirmed as canonical. History tells us quite another story. I
    know of no book that was included in or excluded from Scripture because of
    any "numerical considerations" whatsoever. Books were included or excluded
    on the basis of their *content* - not some pattern that wouldn't be
    discovered until the end of the 20th century.

    This brings up an important issue relating to the Canon. One of the most
    common scholastic stumbling stones is the existence of variations in the
    canonical structures of various sects of Christiantity, as if the mere
    existence of variations implied that no canon could be designed by God. This
    position has always baffled me, since the same scholars would never suggest
    that variations in the Greek text invalidated the notion that there was an
    inspired original! The same goes for the Canon. Variations do not imply that
    there is not one that is true to the divine intent.

    Rather than weakening the witness of the Bible Wheel, the variations in the
    canon greatly strengthen the argument for the divine design of the 66 book
    canon. Arguments like those presented above have the appearance of an
    explanation when in fact they explain nothing. For example, the assertion
    "That there are 5 books in the Torah is probably not an accident" doesn't
    tell us anything about why it does not contain 3, 4, 6, 7, or any other
    number of books. The fact therefore remains that the detailed structure of
    the Canon Wheel with its sevenfold symmetry is utterly dependent upon the
    *integrated* set of choices that come together *only* in the traditional 66
    book Christian canon. As demonstrated through simple combinatorics, the raw
    probability of such a structure emerging from 66 books arbitrarily divided
    into 7 segments is one chance in 688,324. I demonstrate this in my article
    "Probabilities: What are the Chances?"

    But this is not how normal people evaluate beauty and meaning, nor is it how
    they recognize a face in the crowd. Who amongst us would conclude the Bible
    to be the Word of God on mere numerical considerations or probability
    calculations? I present it only in hope that it will help those who are
    somehow unable to simply look and see the astounding wonder of God's divine
    design of His Holy Bible.

    Finally, I would like to point out that one of the great beauties of the
    Bible Wheel is that we can now behold the fulfillment of the the early
    Jewish intuition of the integration of the books of the Bible with the
    Hebrew alphabet in a way no one ever imagined! The Jews couldn't do it
    alone. It had to await the coming of Christ and the completion of His Word
    in the New Testament. What a witness! Look at the Wheel and see how the NT
    segement fits the OT segment like a Key in a Lock. Who really can argue that
    this is mere chance? We are talking about the Holy Bible here. And all to
    the Glory of God, because not one of the untold thousands whom He used in
    the production of His Holy Word can take credit for the final product. It is
    the Work of God.

    Sola Dei Gloria!

    Richard Amiel McGough
    Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

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