Monday, December 17, 2012

More Comments Answered – Part III

The first nine comments were answered in the last two posts. Comments number ten and others will be answered here:
Comment #10 “You call the Book of Mormon ‘Another Testament of Jesus Christ,’ yet John wrote in Revelations 22:18, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” How do you rationalize your scriptures?” Danielle.
Left: John the Apostle writing one of his several texts that became part of the New Testament; Right: John’s tomb in the Basilica of St. John, a church in Ephesus constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D. 
Response: Perhaps an understanding of the ancient scriptures might be in order. First of all, Revelations was written by John, and the most likely date of its writing was around the time of the persecution of Nero, 64-68 A.D., on the other hand, many believe John was written after 90 A.D. when he was banished to the isle of Patmos. Second, the manuscripts and order of the New Testament were not known until about 180 A.D. with Ireneus’s listing 20 of the eventual 27 manuscripts of the New Testament, which did not include Philemon, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John or Jude—these were all added after the manuscript of Revelations into the Bible. Does that mean we should not allow what is written in those 7 books to be included as scripture? In 232 A.D., this list of the Canon was accepted by the council of Nicea.

Third, Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six manuscripts of the protestant canon to the eighty-one of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon. The Hebrew Bible contains 24 manuscripts, while the Christian Old Testament Bible has 39 and ordered differently. The Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches hold certain deuterocanonical manuscripts and passages to be part of the Old Testament canon, which the Protestant Bible does not contain. In addition, the Bible was not considered “holy” until the second century, and was divided into chapters in the thirteenth century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the sixteenth century by French printer Robert Estienne. The word Bible is from the Latin biblia into Greek ta biblia, meaning “the books,” and later to ta biblia ta hagia—“the holy books.” The Christian use of the term “holy books” can be traced to 223 A.D. Fourth, it should also be noted that the original writings of the apostles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, etc.) were not referred to as books, either by themselves, or others, but were called manuscripts (Latin manu, meaning written), and are referred to today as the autographa (autograph).

When more than one writing was placed on a parchment, it was referred to as a polyglot codice (one=codex, two or more=codice[s]). Thus, it should be noted that John never would have used the word “book” in what is now Revelations 22:18. He would have used the term manu—manuscript, which would have referred to his own individual writing, not to any other. After all, John would not have known of other writings than his own (Gospel of John, 1, 2 and 3 John) the other gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and Acts, which the latter he is also credited with writing. Though they were born a year apart, it is not known if John knew Saul of Tarsus (Paul), of his many letters he wrote to various areas John had never visited. John was engaged in missionary work with Peter, and spent most of his life in Judea and the surrounding area, and what is now Asia Minor (Turkey).

It is not very likely that when John wrote Revelations 18:22, he was thinking of an eventual Bible where his writing would be placed at the end as the final manuscript. Fifth, Deuteronomy, which was written by Moses in 1400 B.C., nearly fifteen hundred  years before any New Testament manuscript was penned, said, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2), and “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Proverbs, which was written about 500 years later than Deuteronomy, says: “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6). It is doubtful, however, that these authors referred to more than what they wrote, any more than John referred to anything more than  his own writing.
Comnment #11: “What do you mean you believe the Bible to be the word of God as long as it is translated correctly?” Iona.
Response: It is well known that handwritten copies of books can contain errors, and since neither the autographs (written by the author) or the Greek manuscripts (written by the original copier), have not survived, we are looking at biblical writings that have been copied at least twice, and often many more times. It should also be understood that when ancient scribes copied earlier books, they wrote notes on the margins of the page (marginal glosses) either to correct their text—especially if a scribe accidentally omitted a word or line—and to comment about the text. These “marginal notes” are found in nearly all manuscripts and printed editions of the Scriptures. When later scribes were copying the copy, they were sometimes uncertain if a note was intended to be included as part of the text. Over time, different regions evolved different versions, each with its own assemblage of omissions and additions.
These glosses or marginal notes are mostly extracts from the Masorah (Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible), or collection of traditional remarks. They usually bear on what was regarded as a questionable reading or spelling in the text, but yet allowed to remain unmodified in the text itself through respect for its actual form. At times the margin bids the reader to transpose, interchange, restore, or remove a consonant, while at other times it directs him to omit or insert even an entire word. Some of these glosses are of importance for the correct reading or understanding of the original Hebrew, while nearly all have contributed to its uniform transmission since the 11th century. The marginal notes of Greek and Latin manuscripts are annotations of all kinds, chiefly the results of exegetical and critical study, crowding the margins of these copies and printed texts far more than those of the manuscripts and editions of the original Hebrew.
In the Latin Vulgate, these glosses grew to so many textual readings that Pope Sixtus V, when publishing his official edition of the Vulgate in 1588, decreed that henceforth copies of it should not be supplied with such variations recorded in the margin. The Douay Version respected this idea. Though while James I of England wanted the Authorized Version to be free of marginal notes, it appeared in 1611 with such notes, usually recording various readings. The glosses or marginal notes of the British Revised Version published 1881-85, and are greatly in excess over those of the Version of 1611. They give various readings, alternate renderings, critical remarks, etc. The marginal notes of the American Standard Revised Version 1900–1901) are of the same general description as those found in the British Revised Version. Having read this, and better, if you study how the Bible came about into what we now have today, do you still want to ask the question what do we mean “where it is translated correctly?”
(See the next post, “More Comments Answered -- Part IV,” for more answers to comments submitted in this blog)


  1. I was reading a book entitled "Echoes from Eternity" (Near-death and afterlife experiences) by Arvin S. Gibson I think it fits somewhat with this discussion.

    In that book was a near death experience of a woman by the name of Elane Durham. After having 11 seizures and 2 heart attacks, she related the following experience:

    "The I felt a pressure on my chest. I didn't recognize it as a heart attack, but I heard them code me. The priest later said that they quickly moved him out when that happened - and it would have been impossible for me to see him.. yet I did.

    "Suddenly I had a vision. It was as if there were a part of me rising from somewhere in the vicinity of my head. I saw the priest as I went past him. Noticing something on the bed, I realized that it was my body, and I knew that I didn't need it. I felt indifferent toward it.

    "Almost instantly I was in a dense foggy area. There was no fear, and I knew I wasn't alone. I became conscious of a man standing next to me - a man who represented knowledge and authority; someone like Adam or Abraham. There was a sense that he had been there since the beginning of time.

    "This superior being was there to guide me through the answers to my questions, and he began to teach me.

    "As a youth and young adult I had used the King James version of the Bible. In recent years a number of other versions of the Bible were produced, such as the American Standard Bible, the New World Bible, and others. Moreover, before the King James version was produced in England there were still other versions. I wondered which was the correct version, and I asked my teacher.

    "In his response he didn't use the word Bible to describe it. He used the term A HISTORY OF A PEOPLE. I don't remember the exact words, but that was the sense of it. At any rate, he told me that our Bible was only a small portion of the history of the people and the King James version was the most accurate. He said that more records had been found, and there were still more records to be found.

    "A corollary question which I asked in conjunction with the question about the Bible was which church was true. I had investigated a number of churches and I was still searching for the correct church.

    "My instructor said that The Church was created in heaven, but that we, as individuals, had divided that church with our fears and with our groping for power and control. The word "pagan" wasn't used, but the sense of it was that humans had divided the original church in mankind's quest to rule.

    "He let me know that when I found the church here on Earth that believed in the HISTORY OF A PEOPLE (as described in the King James version of the Bible) and believed that there was additional history that had been found-and that there was still more to be revealed-I would recognize that church by the same spirit I felt there with him. He also told me that the Church had apostles and prophets but that they weren't accepted any more today than they had been in ancient times when Christ was here.

    "By this time in our discussion I knew that I was to return to Earth. He told me that fifteen or twenty years in the future I would come upon a new PEOPLE, and I would find them on my own. This people would have as my teacher told me, other scriptures available to them.

  2. An interesting experience--one of many on the subject. Thank you.