The Bible: Which Books Belong in It? by Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Norman Geisler

Dr. John Ankerberg: What evidence shows that the Bible is the very Word of God to man? Well, my guest, Dr. Norman Geisler, has already spent three programs in presenting evidence that proves the Bible did come from God. Today we’re going to examine another important topic that must be examined when anyone claims the Bible is the Word of BibleGod—”How Do We Know Which Books Belong in the Bible?” Why are there only 66 books, not more, not less? This is very important and a question many people ask.

Dr. Norman Geisler: The Bible: Which books belong in it? Why do we have 66 books in the Bible? Why not 67? Aren’t there some lost books of the Bible? What about the so-called Dead Sea scrolls? Didn’t they unveil books we never knew of before that should be in the Bible? What about the Gospel of Thomas that the Jesus Seminar is saying ought to be one of the Gospels? Which books belong in the Bible?

Why is this so important? Because if the Bible is the Word of God, we need to know, Is there anything missing? We need to know, Do we have everything God wants us to know, or are there new revelations? Should we be adding books to our Bible today? Who determined which books are in the Bible?

Incorrect View Correct View
Church as Determiner of canon

Church as Mother of canon

Church as Magistrate of canon

Church as Regulator of canon

Church as Judge of canon

Church as Master of canon

Church as Discoverer of canon

Church as Child of canon

Church as Minister of canon

Church as Recognizer of canon

Church as Witness of canon

Church as Servant of canon

Take a look at this chart. The incorrect view and the correct view. The incorrect view is that the Church determined the canon of the Bible. Not true. The Church discovered it. The incorrect view: the mother of the canon is the Church. No. The Church is the child of the canon. The Church is not the magistrate. It’s the minister of the canon. It doesn’t regulate, it just recognizes. It’s not the judge, it’s just the witness. The Church is not the master, it’s the servant.

In other words, how do we know that there are 66 books in the Bible? The simple answer is, God only inspired 66. If He wanted 67, He would have inspired 67. In brief, God determines which books should be in the Bible. The people of God discover which books. So the question now is, How do we know what characteristics did a book have so that they could immediately recognize that it has the thumb print of God on it? Other books didn’t have the thumb print of God. And the answer to that is that the early Church Fathers and the people who received these books as they were written recognized the thumb prints of God on them because God has unique thumb prints and we’re going to take a look at what those thumb prints are all about.

Ankerberg: All right, maybe you’re not satisfied with Dr. Geisler’s answer that the people of God just recognized which books were inspired because it raises the question, “How did they know which books were inspired?” How can we check today whether or not they were right? Well next, Dr. Geisler explains the five tests Christians used to determine whether or not a book should be in the Canon and whether or not it was inspired.

Geisler: There are five tests for whether or not a book should be in the canon. They are the finger prints of God on this book. The first is perhaps the most important. Was the book written by a prophet of God? In the Bible a prophet was a mouthpiece, was a spokesperson for God. He was someone through whom God spoke and if necessary, whom God would confirm by miracles. Every book of the Bible was written by a prophet of God. Some were prophets by office; others were just prophets by gift. But everyone [writing] in the Bible was a prophet.

It behooves us to take a close look at what a prophet is. A prophet is someone who said, “The Lord has spoken.” “Who can but prophesy,” as Amos said. Don’t add a word or detract a word from what God says. Give it exactly as I provided it for you, God says to the prophets.

So here is somebody who is faithful to the message he got from God to give to the people of God. Moses was a great prophet—Deuteronomy 18 talks about that. Joshua who followed him, and Samuel who followed him, and Jeremiah, and all of the Old Testament prophets.

But how about the New Testament? Was it written by prophets of God? Yes. The Apostles were, of course, all prophets in that they were spokespersons for God. And their associates were prophets. Ephesians 2:20 says, “the Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ being the chief cornerstone.”

John, who wrote the last book of the Bible, was called a prophet alongside of your fellow servants, the prophets (Revelation 22). So, the entire Bible is a prophetic revelation. And if the book was written by a prophet of God, it was accepted by the people of God as the Word of God.

The second test as to whether or not a book was a book inspired by God was, Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?

Moses was confirmed by miracles–Exodus Chapter 4. All the ten plagues that He brought on Egypt. Elijah, of course, later and the other prophets were confirmed by miracles. “Jesus, a man attested by signs and wonders,” Acts 2:22 says. Or John 3: Nicodemus said, “We know you are a teacher come from God because nobody can do the miracles that you do except God be with him.” The Apostles were all confirmed by miracles. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:12, “Have I not shown you the signs of an apostle?”

So if the message came from a prophet of God, if he was confirmed by acts of God, it was accepted to be the Word of God. So we didn’t have people sitting around in the fourth century voting with colored beads about which books belong in the Bible. We had people who immediately knew the prophet, who saw his message, knew he was confirmed by God. He wrote the book and the people saved the book. When Moses wrote his book, they didn’t have any question. What did they do with it? Put it in the Ark because it’s holy.

Joshua’s book was later added to Moses’ book, as was Samuel’s and the other prophets. When we get to Daniel Chapter 9, we know we have Moses’ books and the Prophets, including his contemporary Jeremiah. All the books from Moses to Jeremiah, who was still living, Daniel had possession of and could quote from.

In the New Testament we have the Apostle Paul writing a number of epistles and Peter said in 2 Peter 3:16, “I have Paul’s epistles and they are also scripture.” In fact, in 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul quotes Luke 10:7, saying the Gospel is all part of the Word of God.

So they didn’t wait hundreds of years. Immediately a prophet of God, who was confirmed by acts of God, told the truth about God and that leads us to our third test for a true book of the Bible: Does this book tell the truth of God? If the book had an error in it, if it taught false doctrine, if it told about false gods, Deuteronomy 13 and Deuteronomy 18 tell us, should be rejected. If it had a false prediction in it, it couldn’t come from God. Every book in the Bible met these tests: it was written by a prophet of God; it was confirmed by acts of God; told the truth of God–didn’t have false prophecies in it, didn’t talk about false gods in it.

That leads us to the fourth point: Did the book come with the power of God? Is this the dynamic of God? The Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is alive and powerful.” Did this book have a dynamic to it? Did it rise head and shoulders above the other literature?

If so, a book from a prophet of God, confirmed by an act of God, that told the truth of God, and came with the dynamic of God, and, number five, was accepted by the people of God. So they were just recognizing, they weren’t regulating. They weren’t making these books inspired, they were recognizing these books were inspired, and they received it. Paul said when it’s read here, send it to another church. He said to the Church in Colossians, “Be sure and get the book,” probably Ephesians. It was coming from Laodicea. They circulated the books, read them, collected them, and the final group of those books which you and I possess in our hand is called The Bible, a book written by prophets of God, confirmed by acts of God, told the truth of God, came with the power of God, and was accepted by the people of God, not hundreds of years later, but immediately.

Ankerberg: Now, these are the five tests Christians used to determine whether a book was inspired of God or not, and whether or not it should be part of the biblical canon. Next, do we have actual proof that the people of God chose these books on this basis? Again, the answer is, “Yes.”

Geisler: Early Church Fathers quoted extensively from the books in our New Testament. Take, for example, a man named Iranaeus (130-202 A.D.). By his time, every book of the New Testament had been quoted as Scripture. He himself quotes almost all of the books. And the Muratorian Canon, 170 A.D., had already quoted the other books that weren’t quoted. So by 200 A.D., every book of the New Testament had been quoted in some other writing as part of the inspired Word of God.

The reason why this is so important is, we’re not talking about a theory here. We have the actual proof that the books were accepted by the people of God, not in the fourth century or fifth century; they were immediately accepted by the people of God and immediately quoted by the people right after the Apostles and their successors.

Ankerberg: Now, the main question we are asking today is, “How do we know that only 66 books belong in the Bible, not more, not less?” I’m sure you’ve heard some people say, “You know, there are some books that are missing from the Bible that should have been put in there.” Or others say, “You know, I think that some books were suppressed for political reasons among second and third century Christians and therefore they never included “such and such” book in the Canon of the Bible. That’s just not true! Dr. Geisler once again tells us the reasons why.

Geisler: But do we have all the books in the Bible? Aren’t there some missing books? What about the so-called lost books of the Bible? These are the so-called Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical Books. They are listed as 15 different books, like Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, down to Susanna and Bel and the Dragon. Now, of these 15 books, two of them are sometimes combined: Jeremiah and the Letter of Jeremiah, and Baruch are put into one. That would make 14 books. Of these 14 books the Roman Catholics accepted 11 of them as inspired at the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D. So in their Bible you won’t find 39 books in the Old Testament. You will find 39 plus 7 more listed in the Table of Contents and then in addition to those seven, you’ll find four pieces of books: three pieces in Daniel and one piece in Esther.

So they have 11 more books than we do. Should these books be in the Bible or should they not? The answer is, No. Why? Because they weren’t in Jesus’ Bible. Jesus talked about the entire Old Testament. The New Testament quotes virtually every book in the Old Testament Jewish canon or cites it some way. They weren’t in the Canon of Josephus who was the Jewish historian at the time of Christ. They weren’t in Philo’s canon, the Jewish philosopher just before the time of Christ. The scholars of Jamnia in 90 A.D., the Jewish scholars didn’t have them in their Bible.

In fact, these books were never in the Jewish Bible. They were written by Jews between let’s say 250 B.C. and the time of Christ or shortly thereafter for Jews but they were just considered history and literature, they weren’t considered inspired. In fact, not one of these books claims to be inspired. Not one of these books has supernatural predictions in it. Not one of these books gives us some new messianic truth about Christ.

The books even have errors in them, historical errors, doctrinal errors. 2 Maccabees 12:46 has errors in theology, teaching that we should pray for the dead. David in the Old Testament prayed for his son until he died. When he died, he said, “I can’t bring him back, I’m going to go to be with him.” Luke 16 says, “There is a great gulf fixed” so we can’t go from one side to the other. And Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.”

But how these books got in the Bible is very interesting. In 1517 Martin Luther tacked up 95 theses on October 31. What was he rebelling against? The indulgences that were being sold by the Roman Catholic Church to build their magnificent buildings. There was a guy named Tetzel who was going around Europe saying, “When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Has kind of a nice ring to it, right? Who wouldn’t want his mother to spring out of purgatory? His mother-in-law, maybe not. But his mother, definitely. And Luther said, “No!” He tacked up his 95 theses and said, “There is no purgatory. There are no prayers for the dead. You can’t buy people out of purgatory.” Twenty-nine years later at the Council of Trent, 1546, the Roman Catholic Church got together and added these books to the Bible. Why? Because when Luther debated Eck, the Roman Catholic scholar, Eck quoted 2 Maccabees 12:46 as a proof for purgatory. It says, “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought that we should pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.”

And Luther said, “When did that get in the Bible?” Twenty-nine years later they added it to the Bible and guess what? One of the books they rejected of the 14 Apocryphal Books was 2 Esdras which they call 4 Esdras because they call Esdras and Nehemiah 1 and 2 Esdras. Here’s what it says in 2 Esdras 7:105: “No one should ever pray for the dead.” The Roman Catholic Church didn’t like that verse. They liked the one which said prayers for the dead, so they added these books to the Bible. Wrong group, not Jews; wrong time, over 1800 years after some of the books or most of them were written; wrong reason, a dogmatic reason to support their doctrine. There is no evidence that these Apocryphal Books belong in the Word of God.

We don’t have any “lost books” of the Bible. You can pick up your Bible and say, “I’ve got the whole Bible.” In fact, to summarize it by a motto of a school I used to attend, “The Word of God: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.”

Ankerberg: Now, here’s something else about the Apocryphal books. Did you know that the greatest Catholic scholar in the Middle Ages who translated the Latin Vulgate rejected the Apocryphal books? He didn’t think they should be put in the Bible. Well, it’s true.

Geisler: The irony is that one of the greatest scholars, Catholic scholars in the Middle Ages, Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate–it lasted from a thousand years from 400 to time of the Reformation–rejected the Apocrypha. He said, “I won’t even translate them. Over my dead body will they get in the Bible!” Well, guess what. After he died, they took them out of the old Latin and put them in the Bible against the wishes of the greatest Catholic scholar of the day.

Ankerberg: Now, both Catholics and Protestants believe that Jesus is God. If He is God, then which books did Jesus say should be included in the Old Testament and the New Testament? Whatever Jesus said should settle the question for Christians. Does He even answer this question? Yes, He does. Dr. Geisler again presents the evidence where this can be found:

Geisler: But what about the New Testament? Jesus and the New Testament writers confirmed the Old Testament–they quoted from almost all the books; they referred to all the sections of the Old Testament; they used phrases like “Law and the Prophets” that always refers to the Old Testament. But how do we know the New Testament? Well, Jesus promised the New just as He had confirmed the Old. He said in John 14:26 and John 16:23, “The Holy Spirit is going to lead you, the Apostles, into all truth, bring to your remembrance whatever I have taught you.”

Now, whatever the Apostles taught was Spirit directed. Jesus said so. The New Testament is what the Apostles taught. Therefore, the New Testament is Spirit directed. Jesus promised that He would give the New Testament. The Apostles claimed this power. And they wrote it. The only place in the world you will find a record of Apostolic teaching is in the 27 books of the New Testament–no more, no less. There is no other book known to mankind that the Apostles wrote and every book that they wrote under the inspiration of God we have in the New Testament. Therefore, with the end of the New Testament, with the end of Apostolic teaching, we have the full and final revelation of God. Because Jesus said, “I will lead you to all truth,” not just some; “all truth necessary for faith and practice will be given to you.” The New Testament is the record of what was given to them; therefore, the New Testament completes the Canon, finishes the Bible. And when the last Apostle wrote the last book, referring to his book but indirectly to the whole Bible, he said, “Don’t add to it; don’t take away from it because the Bible is the complete Word of God.”

So if somebody comes along today and says, “I have a new revelation from God,” ask him two questions. Number 1: How old are you? If they’re not 2,000 years old, if they didn’t live in the Apostolic period, they don’t qualify. Why? To be an Apostle you had to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1). “Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen our Lord? Didn’t I show you the signs of an Apostle?” 2 Corinthians 12:12 Paul said if they aren’t 2,000 years old, they’re very, very late on saying that you should accept their revelations.

Number 2: Can they raise the dead? Now, I know a lot of contemporary evangelists who raise Cain, you know. Take their coat and swing it around, knock people over and people faint. But can they raise the dead? Can they heal Joni Eareckson Tada? Can they instantaneously cure all kinds of sicknesses? If they don’t have those kinds of powers, they aren’t Apostles. And if they aren’t Apostles or associates of Apostles that they gave those kinds of powers to, they aren’t qualified to write books that should be added to the Bible. If you listen to a lot of the televangelists today, you would think that we should all be getting a Bible with a lot of white pages in the back or a loose leaf Bible to add all this new stuff. No.

The Bible is sufficient. The Bible is complete. Jesus confirmed the Old; promised the New; the Apostles wrote it, and we’ve got it.

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13 Responses to The Bible: Which Books Belong in It? by Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Norman Geisler

  1. Paul Pavao says:

    Gracious. Does Norman Geisler just say whatever he wants?

    This is so inaccurate that I don’t even know where to start!

    Martin Luther’s 95 theses don’t argue that there’s no purgatory. They argue that if the pope could remove people from purgatory, then he ought to do it without money. In fact, in the 26th thesis, he says that the pope should grant remission of sins by intercession for souls, not by the keys of the kingdom, which he does not possess.

    The 29th says there may be souls in purgatory who don’t want out of it.

    I’m sure Martin Luther later rejected purgatory, but his 95 theses say nothing like what Geisler says they say.

    Then there’s the reference to the church fathers. The church fathers debated the inspiration of books like James and Hebrews all the way into the 4th century. Even Augustine mentions books accepted by some churches and not accepted by others.

    Early Christians referenced Enoch regularly. The Book of Enoch is quoted in Jude. Jesus’ description of hades in Luke is very similar to that in Enoch. Yet Enoch is not in our Bible. It is in the Bible of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

    The point is, suggesting that the early Christians were using the same 66 books the Protestants use is completely false. The earliest list of books that exactly matches our 66 is by Athanasius in the mid-4th century.

    There’s an excellent book on the canon written by an Evangelical and published by BakerAcademic, a respected Evangelical publisher, called _A High View of Scripture?_.

    It, unlike Norman Geisler, gives accurate history.

  2. Thanks Paul

    Thanks for bringing this up, however I think even you acknowledge that Luther did reject purgatory. This was his first attempt to remove himself from the incorrect teaching, in fact many Conservative Christians also argue and I think I did hear this even from Dr Geisler that he initially tried changing Catholic Church, after his failure he reverted to more aggressive method of separation.

    On the issue of History, if you speak from Catholic perspective you will find that you and I have much to disagree with on History. Now one may say who I should believe? Issues around cannon are so very important that I have included another work by Dr Geisler that will nicely answer some of your objections.
    Before you become to scornful, you should note that all his work is always referenced and often includes works of many Catholics. Which from your blog I find is missing. You need to give both sides of the story and then let the good God do his work. Give your reasons without the emotional blackmails and scaremongering of anathema and damnation to hell of all who disagree with you.

    I have also included full list for your attention or anyone else who wish to dispute what was said and read carefully number 5 this will hopefully remove any doubt about what you are saying.

    Cheers

    Defend the word

    OCTOBER 31, 1517

    1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, (translated into English as “Repent” or “Do Penance) willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
    2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, (commonly called Confession, Reconciliation or Penance) i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
    3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
    4. The penalty, therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
    5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
    6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
    7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
    8. The penitential canons (religious rules laid down by councils or bishops concerning the penances to be done for various sins) are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
    9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
    10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
    11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
    12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
    13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
    14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
    15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
    16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
    17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
    18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
    19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
    20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.
    21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
    22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
    23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
    24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
    25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
    26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
    27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
    28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
    29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus (Severinus of Noricum (ca. 410-482) is a Roman Catholic saint) and Paschal.
    30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
    31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
    32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
    33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
    34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
    35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
    36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
    37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
    38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
    39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
    40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
    41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
    42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
    43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
    44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
    45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
    46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
    47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
    48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
    49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
    50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
    51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
    52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
    53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
    54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
    55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
    56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
    57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
    58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
    59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
    60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;
    61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
    62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
    63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
    64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
    65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
    66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
    67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
    68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
    69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
    70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
    71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
    72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
    73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
    74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
    75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.
    76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
    77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
    78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
    79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
    80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
    81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
    82. To wit: — “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”
    83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
    84. Again: — “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”
    85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”
    86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”
    87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”
    88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”
    89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”
    90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
    91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
    92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!
    93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
    94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
    95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.

  3. curious says:

    This is a spin in a slightly different direction. But I think one problem here is the view of what the “Word” of God is. People go round and round about these things, but are often talking about two completely different things.

    When I think of the word of God, I think of John 1. This introduction written by a prophet of God… “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In HIM was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

    It’s not talking about the Bible friends. It’s talking about the Son of God… the very Word of God. Anymore, and throughout the above article, when this term is used, they’re talking about a book. One of the two is alive and still guiding His people, still speaking. Not that the scriptures don’t speak to us, they do, and they are wonderful. But it gives you an eye opening wake up when you realize that we live on everything that comes from the Mouth of God, not that came from his mouth.

  4. Paul Pavao says:

    So, curious, I’m curious who you are. Not many people say what you just said. Would you mind dropping me a line? You can use the contact me page on the web page that my name links to.

  5. I do agree that Jesus is “the word” and should be our main focus in all that we do; in fact I dedicate my life to use the Christ as my example to copy in everything I undertake.

    Based on the verse below the only way we can explain this is that the words spoken by Christ form part of the scripture so then they do both become everlasting and should not be ignored. And if we take into account that we depend on the word and if you check any concordance you will find the importance of the word. In fact I am of the view that the Holy Scriptures are inspired through Holy Spirit and are the words of Christ to us today.

    Luke 21: 32 – 33 32“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    2 Tim 4: 2 – 6 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

    Regards

    Defend the word

  6. Paul Pavao says:

    Sorry, defendtheword, I was talking to “curious” in that last post. Turns out he’s a friend of mine.

    I’m not Roman Catholic, and my offense is not about “my denomination.” My offense is what I said it was about. It’s about a man proclaiming himself a teacher of the historic Christian faith who is purposely distorting it.

    I find it impossible to believe that Dr. Geisler does not know that the things he said about the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are not true. Either that or he’s never read one thing about the history of the canon. If that’s so, then his whole presentation of himself as a historian is false.

    Either way, I have no problem dividing from such people. What will be the next doctrine he defends with made-up history?

  7. Well I owe you an apology re being Roman Catholic (not that I believe that they are all bad as per my previous response). I had a quick look at your blog as I thought you were talking to me. Interestingly enough, I find some other blogs linked to your main blog. I can see that we differ on a number of issues. For example, regarding evolution and your claim that Christians are intellectually dishonest if they don’t believe it, how did you work that one out? Another issue, for example, we differ on is regarding Early Church history, the order of events and what they mean, and the theology surrounding our salvation i.e. your opposition to being saved through “faith alone”. I am surprised by some of the comments there such as you say that work is important and that this is clear from the Book of James. It is these kinds of things that lead me to believe that you are a catholic. You should know that all good protestants would say that what James was saying is that “Actions speak louder than words”. In other words that what you do shows what you believe. There is nothing to the contrary. In fact, he goes on to say as much, almost to the letter.

    In my humble view I think this kind of thing happens when people think too hard and don’t stand back to compare all the elements of discussion. So my advice is to look from a distance and don’t let your emotions rule your head. You are obviously a very intelligent man but don’t let that be your stumbling block.

    If I understand correctly, you are a small community that intends to live like the first century church did. I see that you are all actively involved in helping others and that is to be highly recommended. However, you think that Protestants have “chucked the baby out with the bath water” by breaking away from church traditions and especially the first 400 years. I’m also guessing that you also have some vestigial influence from the Catholic Church regarding the issue of good works. Likewise, that idea of twisting and accusing others of doing the twisting is also present amongst the “historically” assertive people. Your assertion that the Church didn’t have any problems shows a significant lack of understanding about the first church. Just read Revelation 2 to 4, Galatians, the first 3 chapters of 1 Corinthians. Now unless you refuse to accept the Bible as your authority we have very little to talk about, as that is what I base my opinions on. Secondly, if you are protestant like me your belief in the “Scripture Alone” concept, as most conservative evangelicals do, is not just for fun, it is to protect the inerrancy and accuracy of the text. Otherwise you will have major inconsistencies with other apocryphal books.

    Now I don’t want to dispute with you on these issues as I think they are self evident, unless you insist, in which case, I will use my knowledge of History too. Incidentally, early church history is my favourite subject within Church history so we can have loads of fun here. I too have all the works on pre NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS). However, concerning Dr Geisler, I have posted another small portion of his work to help you understand where he gets his information from. Now I hope that all the references he used check your standards of Historicity on top of which his logic is very sharp from where I stand. I can assure you that I have never accepted everything from one single person, in other words I would say that I do use my discernment for everything I read.

    https://defendtheword.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/difference-between-roman-catholics-and-protestants-on-the-issue-of-apocrypha/

    Hope this helps you dispel any myths that he is either unaware on lying.

    Regards

    Defend the word

  8. Paul Pavao says:

    Even if I were interested in debating those things, this would be the wrong place to do it.

    The problem with Dr. Geisler’s research and the problem with what you say here are exactly the same. He and you both start from a premise and look for ways to prove it.

    The problem is, he’s all the way down the road of making up his own facts and history while claiming to be a doctor and teacher.

    You write: >>I am surprised by some of the comments there such as you say that work is important and that this is clear from the Book of James. It is these kinds of things that lead me to believe that you are a catholic. You should know that all good protestants would say that what James was saying is that “Actions speak louder than words”. In other words that what you do shows what you believe. There is nothing to the contrary. In fact, he goes on to say as much, almost to the letter.<<

    If you can't see what the problem with this paragraph of yours is, then there's nothing to talk about.

    By the way, I do not believe that Christians who don't believe in evolution are intellectually dishonest, per se. Those who base their anti-evolution belief on their interpretation of the Bible are fine with me. It is those Christians who have actually looked at the evidence, then deceive themselves–or just flat out lie about it–who are intellectually dishonest.

    And when I say that on a web site, I give examples and evidence. There's no room for that here. You brought it up here, not me.

  9. Well Thanks for that, I’m not one to start debates unnecessarily we are obviously in loads of disagreements, on number of issues. But my main point is this I don’t follow teachings of man, I put my trust in God. On top of that I am very confused how you could not understand the simple thing that actions and faith are linked? This is not rocket science, in the same way Jesus says where you treasure is there your heart will be. So in James it’s clear that you will act according to your faith. So your faith leads and your actions are only product of your faith.

    I am always surprised how intelligent people like you can get it so wrong. This goes beyond logic; I just hope that God would truly guide you to his truth. On the issue of making things up, one of your blogs states that there were no issues with the first church, now that is a very big misinterpretation. You have put your trust in one historical character, without referring to what Bishop Polycarp did and said and his lack of tolerance for false teachings, let alone letter of 1st Clement. All of this is just after the death of Apostle John, so not that long after and with the rise of Gnosticism around 150 AD church had masses of problems which had to be cleared in many subsequent debates.

    1St Clement was written between 96 to 97 AD. 1 Clement in Chapter 3 Verse 2 says following: “from this there arose rivalries and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and anarchy, war and captivity, 3 and so “the dishonoured” rose up “against those who were held in honour”…

    For more information see Page 19 The Apostolic Fathers; By Moody Publishers Chicago 2009

    Now on the issue of Evolution, only someone who is really, arrogant can take the view that he knows better than the opponent without holding all the evidence. (If you think you have all the evidence then I’m sure we are looking at the different issues as I haven’t found conclusive proofs, and I have visited numerous places where Atheists have done their best to explain why evolution disproves God) This kind of attitude is acceptable for someone who is not Christian but not for anyone claiming to be follower of Christ. I happen to have looked at the evidence on both sides of the Argument. My conclusion is that Intelligent Design is just as strong an argument as the theory of Evolution. And I would say that anyone making claims to the contrary either does not understand the meaning of the evidence or is wilfully deceiving himself and others.

    Finally should I bother to mention that you could not possibly believe in Evolution and claim that this is how God intended world to come into existence that leaves room for God still guiding the whole process of evolution? And if this is how it happened than, you remove chance and as such remove evolution. I can live with that.

    Well as long as we have cleared that up, we are coming to the same issues from significantly different starting points.

    This however does not mean that I don’t like you just that we strongly disagree. So good luck with your charitable work and in that regards keep up the good work.

    Kind regards

    Defend the word

  10. Paul Pavao says:

    Thanks.

    I’m not sure what comforts you about the idea of God guiding evolution, but since I believe in God, I believe he guides everything.

    So if that helps you, great.

  11. Paul, Thanks for coming back, I praise God that you are his child.

    It’s very simple, if it’s guided it can’t be evolved, it is designed, if it is blind chance then it is very different. Prof Alister McGrath wrote number of good books relating to this subject. (Often with Dr Dawkins as his main subject) Though he himself believes that Evolution is possibly the best explanation he is still challenging blind chance scenarios (Not excluding completely ID). And simply saying well you know this is the world where we see fit survive and weak die out is not going to do it. That is a very old and superficial view of looking at evolution; we are talking far more sophisticated, much closer to the cellular strictures, DNA, RNA and so on. These are not endowed with big brains to guide their processes on their multiple options development until they are completely formed; they have therefore had to be designed.

    Now I don’t want to go into to much detail here, as there is plenty of information already available both here on this blog and some that are linked to this blog. People are free to check them out and then make their mind up. I would suggest you look for Prof McGrath’s books (Many can be found on Amazon.com) they should be a good read for you, so you don’t have to take my word for it, I do appreciate that there is a big difference between someone whose been through Theological education (Me) or someone who was studying molecular Physics (Alister McGrath).

    Regards

    Defend the word

  12. Nathan says:

    Just curious what would you say about Jude when he quotes the book of enoch? I agree with the canon of the bible, just have heard people ask about Jude before.

  13. Book of Enoch is mentioned in

    Jude 14–15
    14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

    Book of Enoch is known as Pseudepigrapha book that fall under the apocalyptic sub style. One thing common to all these books is the desire to expand stories that are recorded in the Bible or People that are mentioned for but a very limited time in the original texts and can be characterised as specialised theology / philosophical teaching, expansionist in nature and most probably not belonging to the mainstreamed even though widely in circulation and some of them formed formal part of the library of monasteries.

    The ethical dimension is often implicit, even at times explicit, as in 1 Enoch 101:1: ‘Examine the heaven, you sons of heaven, and all the works of the Most High; and be afraid to do evil in his presence.’ The moral import of apocalyptic thought is emphasized, for example, in 2 Enoch 39-66, where Enoch returns to the earth and instructs his sons regarding righteousness
    Enoch, Books of.

    (1) 1 Enoch, or ‘Ethiopic Enoch’ as it is sometimes called from the fact that it survives in its most complete form in Ethiopic, is one of the most important Jewish *Pseudepigrapha. It embodies a series of revelations, of which Enoch is the professed recipient, on such matters as the origin of evil, the angels and their destinies, and the nature of *Gehenna and *Paradise.
    Apart from the continuous Ethiopic text, several Greek fragments have come to light (some of them extensive), a single Latin fragment, and a number of fragments in *Aramaic and Hebrew (representing the remains of ten or more separate MSS) from *Qumran. The original language of the work appears to have been Aramaic, or possibly Hebrew.

    The passages on ‘the Son of Man’ in the ‘Parables’ or ‘Similitudes’ (chs. 37–71) have been widely held to have influenced the NT writings; and other NT titles, such as ‘the Righteous One’ and ‘the Elect One’ have been said to have appeared here first as Messianic designations. But this view has been increasingly questioned, especially since the discovery of the Qumran fragments; for although all the other sections of 1 Enoch are well represented in these fragments, chs. 37–71 are not represented at all. Nor are they represented in the Greek and Latin fragments. It is probable, therefore, that they are a later (Christian) insertion into the Book, and that it was the NT which influenced them rather than vice versa. But about the value of the other sections of the Book for understanding the NT there can be no doubt. 1 En. 1:9 is explicitly quoted as Enoch’s in the Ep. of Jude (vv. 14–15), and themes appear to be taken up elsewhere, e.g. in 2 Peter 2. 1 En. 79:56 is quoted as ‘Scripture’ in the Ep. of *Barnabas (16:4; cf. 4:3); and *Tertullian also regarded the Book as Scripture, although he admitted that he knew of ‘some’ who did not (Cult. Fem. 1. 3. 1).

    (2) 2 Enoch, or ‘Slavonic Enoch’, or ‘The Book of the Secrets of Enoch’ (a title based on the titles in some of the MSS), has many points of contact with 1 Enoch, although there are no literary parallels. It survives only in Old Church Slavonic, the language of the Russian Church, and first came to knowledge of W. scholars in the last part of the 19th cent. Of the Slavonic text there are two recensions, of which the shorter is undoubtedly the earlier. About its origin, date, authorship, and original language, opinions have differed widely. At one extreme, R. H. Charles thought that it was written about the beginning of the Christian era, by an Alexandrian Jew, and in Greek (though certain parts of it ‘were founded on Hebrew originals’); at the other extreme, it has been argued that it is a *Bogomil work, written in Bulgarian between the 12th and 15th cents. As an intermediate view may be instanced that of A. Vaillant, that the author was a Jewish Christian, who was concerned to produce a Christian counterpart to the Jewish 1 Enoch, and wrote in Greek, prob. in the 2nd or early 3rd cent.

    (3) 3 Enoch, a Jewish work, dating from well within the Christian era (perhaps the 4th or 5th cent. AD), has gradually come to light, mainly in fragments, from c.1870 onwards. The continuous Hebrew text was first published by H. Odeberg in 1928 from a *Bodleian MS of c.AD 1511. Its subjects include the destinies of ‘Metatron’ (i.e. the Divine servant who is identified with Enoch), many descriptions of angels and their operations, and an account of *Sheol. It appears to betray traces of an anti-Christian polemic.
    The documents in the Pseudepigrapha can be arranged under five loosely defined genres.

    Apocalyptic Literature and Related Works: This category includes nineteen documents:
    1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch
    2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch
    3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch
    Sibylline Oracles
    Treatise of Shem
    Apocryphon of Ezekiel
    Apocalypse of Zephaniah
    4 Ezra
    Greek Apocalypse of Ezra
    Vision of Ezra
    Questions of Ezra
    Revelation of Ezra
    Apocalypse of Sedrach
    2 (Syriac Apocalypse of) Baruch
    3 (Greek Apocalypse of) Baruch
    Apocalypse of Abraham
    Apocalypse of Adam
    Apocalypse of Elijah
    Apocalypse of Daniel

    Either the author or a subsequent scribe gave these titles to the documents now preserved almost always in late manuscripts, although fragments of some documents in the Pseudepigrapha have been discovered among the Qumran literature (Dead Sea Scrolls).
    The noun ‘Apocalypse’ comes from the Greek word meaning a ‘revelation’ or ‘disclosure.’ Thus, these documents contain a revelation of what is occurring in the heavens above the earth or what is to happen in the impending future. Such disclosures are usually graphically illustrated with visions and auditions, and there are often cosmic trips by Enoch or other ‘holy ones’ into the hidden reaches of our universe.
    The character and date of the apocalyptic works already listed may be succinctly suggested.

    1 Enoch, a most important apocalypse replete with divine information about the world and history, is a Jewish composition; it is composite and dates from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. (probably the first half).

    2 Enoch, also a brilliant apocalypse with penetrating insights into our universe and humanity, is extant only in Slavonic; the original Jewish core probably dates from the end of the first century A.D.

    3 Enoch is Jewish and in its present form dates from the fifth or sixth century A.D. It is not the work of one author, but rather the deposit of many traditions; portions of the writing probably date from the first or second century A.D.

    Testaments: The second genre of documents in the OT Pseudepigrapha is ‘Testaments’ (often with apocalyptic sections); this group contains the following documents:
    Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
    Testament of Job
    Testaments of the Three Patriarchs
    Testament of Abraham
    Testament of Isaac
    Testament of Jacob
    Testament of Moses
    Testament of Solomon
    Testament of Adam

    OT narratives usually provide the setting for these ‘Testaments.’ Although there was no concrete genre to bind the authors, there is a shared structure or format to most of these writings. The OT patriarch, on his death bed, calls his sons and followers around him in order to convey his last words of instruction and perception. These testaments (or last wills) contain moral instruction and are often dramatized by visions into the future. In a certain sense, this genre was influenced by Jacob’s testament to his sons (Gen. 49).

    Expansions of the OT and Other Legends
    : The third genre of documents in the OT Pseudepigrapha contains the following documents:
    The Letter of Aristeas
    Jubilees
    Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
    Joseph and Asenath
    Life of Adam and Eve
    Pseudo-Philo
    Lives of the Prophets
    Ladder of Jacob
    4 Baruch
    Jannes and Jambres
    History of the Rechabites
    Eldad and Modad
    History of Joseph

    The Lives of the Prophets, devoid of some Christian accretions, is a deposit of folklore regarding the lives and deaths of twenty-three prophets; the account is enriched with folklore and legends, many undoubtedly popular in and around Jerusalem.

    The Ladder of Jacob, preserved only in the Explanatory Palaia, a medieval Slavonic (Slavs are nations that originate from aria of Russia) text, is an expansion on Jacob’s dream at Bethel (Gen. 28:11-22). Some scholars have seen behind chaps. 1-6 an early Jewish document, dating perhaps from the late first century A.D.; chap. 7 is a Christian work, once independent, but now an appendix to the pseudepigraphon.

    4 Baruch, an expansion on Jeremiah, was written shortly after A.D. 100; it is a Jewish writing edited by a Christian. Jannes and Jambres, a tale about the Pharaonic magicians who opposed Moses (Exod. 7-8; cf. 2 Tim. 3:8-9), derives from many diverse, very early legends. As a book, it is Christian in its present edited form, but it certainly goes back to Jewish traditions that predate the first century A.D.

    The History of the Rechabites, a legendary expansion of Jeremiah 35, as extant, is a Christian work that predates at least the sixth century, but there are reasons to speculate that portions preserve early Jewish traditions. The core chapters may derive from a Jewish writing that predates A.D. 100.
    Eldad and Modad is lost, except for one quotation in The Shepherd of Hermas; if a Jewish pseudepigraphon, it is very early and is an expansion of Num. 11:24-30.

    The History of Joseph, an elaborate legend based on Gen. 41:39-42:38, is difficult to date, but originally it may be both early and Jewish. It certainly predates the extant sixth-century papyrus.

    Wisdom and Philosophical Literature: The fourth genre of documents in the OT Pseudepigrapha contains the following works:
    Ahiqar
    3 Maccabees
    4 Maccabees
    Pseudo-Phocylides
    The Sentences of the Syriac Menander

    These writings preserve some of the insights of ancient wisdom, not only within early Judaism but also in surrounding cultures.
    Jews tended to borrow philosophical truths from other cultures, frequently but not always recasting them in light of the Torah.
    Prayers, Psalms, and Odes: The fifth, and final, genre of documents in the OT Pseudepigrapha contains the following writings:

    More Psalms of David
    Prayer of Manasseh
    Psalms of Solomon
    Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers
    Prayer of Joseph
    Prayer of Jacob
    Odes of Solomon

    Some of these poetic compositions are influenced by the thought and style of the Davidic Psalms, while others show the more free developments of poetic style characteristic of early Jewish hymns.

    More Psalms of David contains five additional psalms of David and some verses of a sixth; these were composed over a wide period of time. One dates from the third century B.C., while others date from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D.

    The Prayer of Manasseh, often included in the Apocrypha, a beautiful and penetrating penitential prayer, was composed by a Jew around the turn of the era. The Psalms of Solomon preserves eighteen psalms written by pious Jews near or in Jerusalem during the last half of the first century B.C.
    The Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers, Jewish prayers identified behind books seven and eight of the Apostolic Constitutions, are difficult to date. They were probably composed during the second and third centuries A.D., if not earlier.

    The Prayer of Joseph, as extant, is more typical of the works collected under the category ‘Expansions of the Old Testament’; it is only partially preserved, but there are reasons to date it to the period between A.D. 70 and 135.
    The Prayer of Jacob is lost, except for twenty-six lines preserved in a papyrus fragment. It is a Jewish prayer that is difficult to date, but it must predate the extant fourth-century papyrus.

    The Odes of Solomon, a Christian collection of forty-two odes significantly influenced by the literature of early Judaism, especially the Qumran scrolls, was composed around A.D. 100 and is strikingly similar to the Gospel of John.

    The new edition of the OT Pseudepigrapha also contains a supplement of thirteen Jewish works preserved primarily or only in quotations by the fourth century bishop and church historian Eusebius, who found them almost always in a now lost work by Alexander Polyhistor, who lived in the first century B.C. Some of the excerpts are fascinating.

    For example, Aristobulus, a brilliant Jewish philosopher influenced by Pythagorean, Platonic, and Stoic ideas, argued that Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato heard God’s voice.

    Artapanus, a Jewish historian who lived in the second century B.C., even suggested that all the greatness of Egyptian culture, including idolatry and polytheism, was to be attributed to the work of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.

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