CAUTION: What we are about to present herein could definitely alter the belief and outlook of many believers concerning their Bible.
Our task then is not to drive people away from God, or His Message or His prophets (peace be upon them all). Rather, it is to offer a solid and positive alternative to the mistaken notion that the Bible, in English is the unchangeable word of God for all mankind.
WARNING: We realize immediately that what we are about to offer may benefit many, at the same time we recognize there are some who may become disillusioned with their King James or Rheims Duay Bible in today's present form. Some may even question whether or not there could still exist anything of Divine Origin regarding Revelation from Almighty God.
Let us begin by providing the answer for this question - For the Muslims, the answer is a definite and unequivocal - Yes!
And is there any real proof? And again - YES.
The RECITATION of God's Speech exists today both in oral transmission and written word. It is the Quran. And it offers a number of clear challenges to prove, that in fact, it is the Unaltered, Unchanged and Eternal Word of God.
PLEASE NOTE: Muslims are taught to believe in the source of revelation prior to the time of Muhammad, peace be upon him. Followers of Islam are therefore rightly concerned over the source of the books containg within the Holy Bible. This is concern is from their need to know more about ancient scriptures.
Allah speaks through His Speech (Al Quran means Allah's Recitation) to Muslims telling them about former revelations (Bible). It is clear, according to Quran, someone has tampered with the Testaments of God's original message, yet at the same time, some of it may still prevail.
It is in this spirit of seeking knowlege and truth we present the following article for the believers in Islam to know more about those books that came before and what may be reliable, and what is not acceptable - even to the scholars of the Biblical Canon themselves.
This work is intended only to bring light to a subject of concern for those sincerely seeking enlightenment, not for the purpose of causing confusion or turning others away from Christianity or Judaism
We DO NOT ENDORSE NOR ENCOURAGE the use of any of this material to take Christians or Jews away from faith and belief in Almighty God. This is only about the credibility of the current book being offered by them as being God's Words.
Please consider carefully what is presented and the light it is intended to bring to a long disccussed, yet often misunderstood subject.
May Allah Guide us all, ameen.
Bible Written by The Holy Who?
Was The Bible Assembled By Vote?
40 AUTHORS & THE HOLY SPIRIT
Most modern day Christians claim the assembly of the Holy Bible is in fact, a Perfect Book, written by forty (40) authors, all being inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it has remained unchanged for thousands of years. I know, because when I was still a Christian, I used to believe the same thing.
However, this claim is not really from the Biblical scholars themselves, but rather by various laymen, being uneducated in the actual work of working with ancient documents and it promotes ignorance of the subject. When this is offered as some type of religious authority, it provides a deceptive and misleading presentation that is easily exposed as nonsense and could actually turn the believers of Christianity away from religion altogether.
SERIOUS CHANGES OVER CENTURIES
The scholars of Canon of the Bible are quick to concede that the books we know in today's Bible, both in the Old and in the New Testaments, have undergone very serious changes throughout the centuries. First year students of Biblical manuscripts will immediately acknowledge this is the undeniable case. The Dead Sea scrolls (actually know as Wadi Qumran scrolls) for example, are clear evidence to this fact without doubt. Although hidden from the public for over forty years after discovery, the facts have now come to light. These scrolls were not something recorded before the advent of Christ (peace be upon him). But rather, these are now accurately placed at the very time of the first century of the Christian Era (C.E.). These ancient manuscripts demonstrate a number of very different variations of scripture all being distributed all at the very same time. Some of these scrolls are noted by present day scholars to be even more accurate, more extensive and of much better quality than what we find in our Bibles today.
What is the Real History of this Book? - The Holy Bible?
Has the Bible always been, as claimed by some, the unchangeable, uncompromised - Word for word - Letter for letter - Dot for dot - Word of God, that we know today?
Let's first consider the real history. For centuries there have been translations in and out of many different languages, too many to even number. My own library contains more than a dozen very different translations and I know of many more in the local Christian book store.
While many Christians would like to think the Bible they have on the coffee table, in their bookcase, hall closet (or in the bathroom) is the very same Bible used by the church for two thousand years, this is simply not true.
ENGLISH BIBLE NOT EVEN 1,000 YEARS OLD
First and foremost, English must be ruled out as an authentic language for the Bible, as the English language did not even exist until after the Normans invaded the Saxxons in the Christian Era 1066 (C.E.) and that is not even one thousand years ago.
PROTESTANT BIBLE EXISTED
AFTER PROTESTANT REFORMATION
The Protestant Bible with its sixty six (66) books, did not exist until after there were Protestants. That may sound a bit humorus, yet many Christians today rely on the Protestant Bible as though it had come to them directly from the time of Jesus himself (peace be upon him).
MANY MISTAKES OF
4TH CENTURY LATIN VULGATE
Actually, the Catholic Latin Vulgate is the Bible translated by Jerome in the Latin language. It dates back to the fourth century (C.E.) and is currently located in the Vatican in Rome. Irregardless of its value in antiquity, the evident mistakes and deviations from the older manuscripts make it more of a museum spectacle than a serious reference.
CATHOLIC BIBLE HAS 73 BOOKS
The Catholic Bible has been comprised of seventy three (73) books for many centuries, athough from time to time, the Book of Revelations has come under question and been removed by one council or another and then replace by other councils at later dates.
PROTESTANT BIBLE HAS 66 BOOKS
Most Protestant Christians seem to think their Bible of sixty six (66) existed for thousands of years. This is incorrect. This particular version cannot exit prior to the advent of Bishop Martin Luther and his followers, all within the last five hundred (500) years or so.
DEBATES ABOUT BOOKS UNTIL 1647
The word 'canon' refers to specific writings that are accepted by the Church as being from the 'Devine' source (God). However, as to which books or writings are acceptable as canonical and which are not acceptable has been the subject of debates amongst the Judeo-Christian leaders for the last two millenium. As already mentioned, the Catholic Church has maintained over seventy (73) books in their version, while the Protestant verison limits the number to sixty six (66) and even then the Protestants did not agree on which books should be part and parcel o the Bible up until 1647, at the Assembly of Westminster.
NEWLY ACCEPTED BOOKS
A few of the New Testament Books now accepted (but earlier rejected) include: Hewbrews, James, 1st Peter, 2nd Peter, 2 John, 3rd John, Jude and the book of Revelations.
ORIGINALLY ACCEPTED BOOKS
(BUT NO MORE)
At one time in earlier manuscripts we find as part of the New Testament canon (at that time) the inclusion of: Shepher of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, 1st Clement, 2nd Clement, Epistle to Laodiceans (by Paul) and the Apostolic Constitions.
JEWS & CATHOLICS ACCEPT
PROTESTANTS DO NOT
There are more than a dozen Books of the Old Testament accepted by some Jews and for the most part by Greek and Roman Catholic Churches, yet rejected by the Protestants. These include: Baruch, Tobit, Judith, Book of Wisdom, Song of Three Children, History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasseh, Ecclesiasticus, 1st Esdras, 2nd Esdras, 1st Maccabees, 2nd Maccabees, 3rd Maccabees, 4th Maccabees, 5th Maccabees.
ALL AGREE ON
ONLY 5 BOOKS
Only the first five (5) books, called the Pentateuch, were accepted by all Jewish and all Christians as being canonical or Devine. These are the famous first books of the Old Testament: Genesis; Exodus, Leviticus; Numbers and Deuteronomy.
LOST BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
While in my father's study, I came across a reference book for the ancient manuscripts of the Bible. In it I found listed the "Lost Books of the Bible". I was fascinated with this and through close examination, I found there were many other Books or manuscripts I had never heard of. The authors or writers of the Bible actually had referred to these works: Book of the Wars of the Lord; Book of Jasher; Book of the Covenant; Book of Nathan (the prophet, son of David); Book of Gad; Book of Samuel; Prophecy of Ahijah; Visions of Iddo; Acts of Uzziah; Acts of Solomon (son of David); Three Thousand (3,000) Proverbs of Solomon; A Thousand and Five (1,005) Songs of Solomon; Chronicles of Kings of Judah; Chronicles of Kings of Israel; Book of Jehu and the book of Enoch (the first person to write scripture of God, according to Islamic traditions).
CANONIZED BIBLE BOOKS
CHOSEN BY POPULAR VOTE
The 'Canonized' Version of the Bible did not exist until after the Council of Bishops and even then is was still being debated for many centuries afterward. The books to be contained in the Holy Word of God, were actually just chosen by the popular vote, much the same way we would vote on any public law today. Which brings to mind a number of complications as to these really having any real Divine authority. Which bishop was against or for certain books that did not make it into the final edition (and why?). What was the reason some endorsed while others declined on various books?
GOSPELS LEFT OUT
We now come to another very important issue concerning books, actually 'Gospels' (Greek: 'Good News') of the New Testament. Why are we now deprived of the 'Good News' of Thomas? Or Jade? Or Peter? Those were the names of actual Gospels that were left out of the final version of the council choices. Along with others such as: The Gospel of Hebrews; Gospel of the Egyptians; Gospel of Perfection; Gospel of Judas; Gospel of Thaddeus; Gospel of the Infancy; Gospel of the Preaching of Peter; Gospel of the Shepherd of Hermas; The Epislte of Baranabas; Gospel of the Pastor of Hermas; the Revelation of Peter; the Revelation of Paul; the Epistle of Clement; the Epistle of Ignatius; the Gospel of Mary; the Gospel of Nicodemus and the Gospel of Marcion.
MORE GOSPELS & ACTS LEFT OUT
Did we somehow miss out on all of this "Good News" (Gospels) by one or two votes? How much did we miss these by? And then, what about: The Acts of Pilate, Acts of Andrew; Acts of Mary; Acts of Paul; Acts of Thecia and even more. Consider what would have happened in the year 365 (C.E.) at the Council of Laodicea, if even one of those Bishops had voted differently, or maybe not even shown up on that particular day. A vote or two cast differently would have produced a very different belief for millions upon millions of Christians in the last 1600 years.
As a matter of fact, why would we be forced to accept the voting of some men back 16 centuries ago?
BIBLE NOT REALLY A 'BOOK'
UNTIL 15TH CENTURY
The Gutenberg priniting press brought about a revolutionary change in reading material that changed the way people read, learned and understood informaiton as never before. It was this invention that produced for the first time, a Bible that could be said to be exactly the same as other Bibles coming from the same printings on this press.
At the same time, we become seriously aware of the fact that prior to this marvelous invention, the Bible was not in one solid form. Rather it was in pieces in manuscript form on scrolls and parchments and could not have been reliabily copied, translated, recopied and transferred from one parchment to the next without at least some mistakes, omissions, alterations or errors.
WHAT ABOUT CHANGES? ALTERATIONS? OMISSIONS? DELETIONS?
This begs the question, how easy would it have been to intentionally change, alter, add or omit certain words, verses or even whole chapters by church leaders or scroll keepers in an effort to appease rulers or enforce certain objectives on the believers?
How could we ever know just how much of the Biblical text has been altered, changed, deleted or rewritten by the hand of well meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) monks and scroll keepers over the centuries?
We are all in a serious condition these days. Atheism is on the rise amongst many of our youth. And dependency on drugs, alcoholism, sex, family abuse, adultry, rape, murder, terrorism, wars and suicides are happening everywhere. All the while we have people insisting on reliance to a book, that in all fairness is much more from mankind than it is from Above.
All the faithful would agree, there must be reliance on the the Word of the One God Above for solutions to these problems. But how many will really take a step back to consider what the correct source for God's Word to mankind might really be?
READ - THINK - COMPARE - PRAY
References: (see below)
This completes our discussion to this point and In consideration of what we have discussed here, there now comes a very serious question as to whether or not there exists anything of Divine Authority regarding Revelation from God?
The answer to this question for the Muslims, is a definite and unequivocal - YES. The RECITATION of God's Speech exists today both in oral transmission and written word. It is the Quran. And it offers a number of clear challenges to prove, that in fact, it is the Unaltered, Unchanged and Eternal Word of God.
For futher discussion, examination and references of factual findings we offer the following without comment.
FORMATION OF THE CANON
Second in interest and importance only to the origin of the individual books composing the Bible are the facts relating to the manner in which these books were collected into one great volume and declared canonical or authoritative. The formation of the canon required centuries of time to complete.
The Jewish canon, it is claimed, was chiefly the work of Ezra, completed by Nehemiah. "All antiquity," says Dr. Adam Clarke, "is nearly unanimous in giving Ezra the honor of collecting the different writings of Moses and the prophets and reducing them into the form in which they are now found in the Bible."
This opinion, shared alike by Jews and Christians, is simply a tradition. There is no conclusive evidence that Ezra founded the canon of the Old Testament. Nehemiah could not have completed it, because a part of the books were written after his time. There is no proof that all the books of the Old Testament existed in a collected form before the beginning of the Christian era. There is no proof that even the Law and the Prophets existed in such a form before the Maocabean period. The Rev. Frederick Myers, an able authority on the Bible, makes this candid admission: "By whom the books of the Old Testament were collected into one volume, and by what authority made canonical, we do not know." (Catholic Thoughts on the Bible, p. 56).
Another prevalent belief is that all of the Jewish scriptures were lost during the captivity, and that Ezra was divinely inspired to rewrite them. Irenaeus says: "God . . . inspired Esdras, the priest of the tribe of Levi, to compose anew all the discourses of the ancient prophets, and to restore to the people the laws given them by Moses" ("Ecclesiastical History," Book V., chap. viii).
This is a myth. The books of the Old Testament which were written before the captivity were not lost. Many books, it is true, were written after the captivity, but these books were not reproductions of Iost writings. They were original compositions, or compilations of documents which had not been lost.
If Ezra was inspired, as claimed, to rewrite the Hebrew scriptures, he did not complete his task, for the books that were really lost have never been restored, and the Old Testament is but a part of the Hebrew scriptures that once existed. St. Chrysostom says: "The Jews having been at some time careless, and at others profane, they suffered some of the sacred books to be lost through their carelessness, and have burnt and destroyed others." The list of books given in the preceding chapter, under the head of "Lost Books cited by writers of the Bible," would nearly all be deemed canonical were they extant. Referring to these books, the Rev. Dr. Campbell, in his "Introduction to Matthew," says: "The Book of the Wars of the Lord, the Book of Jasher, the Book of Nathan the Prophet, the Book of Gad the Seer, and several others, are referred to in the Old Testament, manifestly as of equal authority with the book which refers to them, and as fuller in point of information. Yet these are to all appearances irrecoverably lost." God's revelation in its entirety, then, no longer exists.
The ten Hebrew tribes which formed the kingdom of Israel , and whose remnants were afterwards called Samaritans, accepted only the first six books of the Old Testament. The other Jews generally accepted the Pentateuch and the Prophets, and, in a less degree, the Hagiographa as canonical. Some of them also attached more or less importance to the Apocryphal books.
Respecting the formation of the New Testament canon, the Rev. Dr. Roswell D. Hitchcock says: "The new book of records was, like the old, set down by eye-witnesses of and actors in its scenes, closely after their occurrence; its successive portions were cautiously scrutinized and clearly distinguished as entitled to reception; when the record, properly so-called, was completed, the new canon was closed" ("Analysis of the Bible," p. 1149).
"This process was rapid and decisive; it had in all probability become substantially complete before the death of John, the last of the apostles." (Ibid, p. 1158).
That these statements, popularly supposed to be true, are wholly untrue will be demonstrated by the facts presented in this and succeeding chapters. The Christian canon was not completed before the death of the last apostle. The New Testament did not exist in the time of the apostles. It did not exist in the time of the Apostolic Fathers. It was not in existence in the middle of the second century.
There was no New Testament in the time of Papias. Dr. Samuel Davidson, the highest Christian authority on the canon, says: "Papias (150 A.D.) knew nothing, so far as we can learn, of a New Testament canon." ("Canon of the Bible," p. 123).
Justin Martyr knew nothing of a New Testament canon. I quote again from Dr. Davidson: "Justin Martyr's canon (150 A-D.), so far as divine authority and inspiration are concerned, was the Old Testament." (Ibid, p. 129).
For nearly two centuries after the beginning of the Christian era, the Old Testament-- the Old Testament alone constituted the Christian canon. No other books were called scripture; no other books were considered inspired; no other books were deemed canonical.
FOUNDING OF THE CANON
To Irenaeus, more than to any other man, belongs the credit of founding the Roman Catholic church; and to him also belongs the credit of founding the New Testament canon, which is a Roman Catholic work. No collection of books corresponding to our New Testament existed before the time of Irenaeus. He was the first to make such a collection, and he was the first to claim inspiration and divine authority for its books.
Dr. Davidson says: "The conception of canonicity and inspiration attaching to New Testament books did not exist till the time of Irenaeus" ("Canon," p. 163).
200+ CHRISTIAN SECTS BY 200 C.E.
At the close of the second century the Christian world was divided into a hundred different sects. Irenaeus and others conceived the plan of uniting these sects, or the more orthodox of them, into one great Catholic church, with Rome at the head; for Rome was at this time the largest and most intluential of all the Christian churches. "It is a matter of necessity," says Irenaeus, "that every church should agree with this church on account of its preeminent authority." (Heresies, Book 3).
1ST 'CANON' - 20 BOOKS
In connection with this work Irenaeus made a collection of books for use in the church. His collection comprised the following: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, First John, and Revelation-- twenty books in all.
40 GOSPELS, 40 ACTS OF APOSTLES, 20 REVELATIONS, 100 EPISTLES (letters)
In the work of establishing the Roman Catholic church and the New Testament canon Irenaeus was succeeded, early in the third century, by Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria. They adopted the list of books made by him. The books adopted by these Fathers were selected from a large number of Christian writings then extant-- forty or more gospels, nearly as many Acts of Apostles, a score of Revelations, and a hundred epistles. Each church had one or more books which were used in that church. No divine authority, however, was ascribed to any of them.
DIFFERENT CHURCHES NEEDED DIFFERENT BIOGRAPHIY OF JESUS
Why did the Fathers choose these particular books? Above all, why did they choose four gospels instead of one? We never see four biographies of Washington, of Cromwell, or of Napoleon, bound in one volume; yet here we have four different biographies of Jesus in one book. Irenaeus says it is because "there are four quarters of the earth in which we live, and four universal winds."
Instead of this artificial reason he could have given a natural, a rational, and a truthful reason. While primitive Christians, as we have seen, were divided into many sects, the principal sects may be grouped into three divisions:
1) MATTHEW & MARK - The Petrine churches, comprising the church of Rome and other churches which recognized Peter as the chief of the apostles and the visible head of the church on earth;
2) LUKE - The Pauline sects, which accepted Paul as the true exponent of Christianity;
3) JOHN - The Johannine or Eastern churches, which regarded John as their founder. A collection of books to be acceptable to all of these churches must contain the favorite books of each.
The First Gospel (MATTHEW), written about the time this church union movement was inaugurated, was adopted by the Petrine churches. The Second Gospel (MARK) was also highly valued by the church of Rome. The Third Gospel (LUKE), a revised and enlarged edition of the Pauline Gospel of Marcion, had become the standard authority of Pauline Christians. The Fourth Gospel (JOHN), which had superseded other and older gospels, was generally read in the Johannine churches. The Acts of the Apostles (ACTS), written for the purpose of healing the dissensions that had arisen between the followers of Peter and Paul, was acceptable to both Petrines and Paulines. The Epistles of Paul were of course received by the Pauline churches, while the First Epistle of John was generally received by the Eastern churches. The collection would not be complete without a Revelation (REVELATIONS), and the Revelation of John was selected.
66 OR 65 BOOKS CANONICAL
The work instituted by Irenaeus was successful. The three divisions of Christendom were united, and the Catholic church was established. But this cementing, although it held for centuries, did not last, as was hoped, for all time. The seams gave way, the divisions separated, and to-day stand out as distinctly as they did in the second century; the Roman Catholic church representing the Petrine, the Greek church the Johannine, and the Protestant churches to a great extent the Pauline Christians of that early age. But while the church separated, each retained all of the sixty-six canonical books, save Revelation, which for a time was rejected by the Greek church.
1ST NEW TESTAMENT 20 BOOKS
The New Testament originally contained but twenty books. To First Peter, Second John, and the Shepherd of Hermas Irenaeus attached some importance, but did not place them in his canon. Hebrews, James, Second Peter, Third John, and Jude he ignored. Tertullian placed in an appendix Hebrews, First Peter, Second John, Jude, and the Shepherd of Hermas. Clement of Alexandria classed as having inferior authority, Hebrews, Second John, Jude, First and Second Epistles of Clement (of Rome ), Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, and Revelation of Peter.
EARLY FATHERS OF CANON INCOMPETENT
Regarding the competency of the founders of the New Testament canon, Davidson says: "Of the three fathers who contributed most to its early growth, Irenaeus was credulous and blundering, Tertullian passionate and one-sided, and Clement of Alexandria, imbued with the treasures of Greek wisdom, was mainly occupied with ecclesiastical ethics." (Canon, p. 165). "The three Fathers of whom we are speaking had neither the ability nor the inclination to examine the genesis of documents surrounded with an apostolic halo. No analysis of their authenticity was seriously contemplated." (Ibid, p. 156).
COMPLETION OF CANON
The Christian canon, including the New Testament canon, assumed something like its present form under the labors of Augustine and Jerome toward the close of the fourth century. St. Augustine ’s canon contained all of the books now contained in the Old and New Testaments, excepting Lamentations, which was excluded. It contained, in addition to these, the apocryphal pieces belonging to Daniel, and the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and First and Second Maccabees.
St. Jerome's canon contained Lamentations, which Augustine's canon excluded, and omitted Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and First and Second Maccabees, which Augustine's included. Roman Catholics accept the canon of Augustine, including Lamentations; Protestants, generally, accept the canon of Jerome.
While Jerome included in his canon all the books of the New Testament, he admitted that Philemon, Hebrews, Second Peter, Second and Third John, Jude, and Revelation were of doubtful authority.
Referring to the work of Augustine and Jerome, Davidson, says: "Both were unfitted for the critical examination of such a topic." ("Canon", p. 200).
Many believe that the Council of Nicea, held in 325 A.D., determined what books should constitute the Bible. This council did not determine the canon. So far as is known, the first church council which acted upon this question was the Synod of Laodicea which met in 365. This council rejected the Apocryphal books contained in Augustine's list, but admitted Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah. It excluded Revelation.
Various councils, following this, adopted canonical lists. One council would admit certain books and the next council would reject them. The third council of Carthage in 397 adopted the list of Augustine which admitted the Apocryphal books and Revelation and rejected Lamentations.
The actions of none of these councils were unanimous or decisive. The list of books adopted was adopted simply by a majority vote. A large minority of every council refused to accept the list of the majority. Some advocated the admission of books that were rejected; others opposed the admission of books that were accepted. As late as the seventh century (629), at the sixth Council of Constantinople, many different canonical lists were presented for ratification.
DAMAGING FACTS IN BIBLICAL LITERATURE
The damaging facts that I have adduced concerning the formation of the Christian canon are admitted in a large degree by one of the most orthodox of authorities, McClintock and Strong's "Cyclopedia of Biblical and Ecclesiastical Literature."
3RD COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE 397 RATIFIED CANON
(MORE OR LESS)
Dr. McClintock says: "The New Testament canon presents a remarkable analogy to the canon of the Old Testament. The beginnings of both are obscure... The history of the canon may be divided into three periods. The first, extending to 170, includes the era of circulation and gradual collection of the apostolic writings. The second is closed in 303, separating the sacred from other ecclesiastical writings. The third may be defined by the third Council of Carthage, 397 A.C., in which a catalogue of the books of the Scriptures was formally ratified by conciliar authority. The first is characteristically a period of tradition, the second of speculation, and the third of authority, and we may trace the features of the successive ages in the course of the history of the canon. But however all this may have been, the complete canon of the New Testament, as we now have it, was ratified by the third Council of Carthage, 397 A.C., from which time it was generally accepted by the Latin church, some of the books remaining in doubt and disputed."
WILLIAM PENN ADMITS DISCREPANCIES
Concerning the work of these councils, William Penn writes as follows: "I say how do they know that these men discerned true from spurious? Now, sure it is, that some of the Scriptures taken in by one council were rejected by another for apocryphal, and that which was left out by the former for apocryphal was taken in by the latter for canonical." (Penn's Works, Vol. I, p. 302).
In regard to the character of these councils, Dean Milman writes: "It might have been supposed that nowhere would Christianity appear in such commanding majesty as in a council... History shows the melancholy reverse. Nowhere is Christianity less attractive, and if we look to the ordinary tone and character of the proceedings, less authoritative, than in the councils of the church. It is in general a fierce collision of two rival factions, neither of which will yield, each of which is solemnly pledged against conviction." (History of Latin Christianity, Vol. I., p. 226).
COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1563)
The Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Protestant canons, no two of which are alike, were fixed by modern councils. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) determined the Roman Catholic canon. While a majority were in favor of the canon of Augustine they were not agreed in regard to the character and classification of the books. There were four parties. The first advocated two divisions of the books, one to comprise the acknowledged books, the other the disputed books. The second party proposed three divisions-- the acknowledged books, the disputed books of the New Testament, and the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament. The third party desired the list of books to be named without determining their authority. The fourth party demanded that all the books, acknowledged, disputed, and apocryphal, be declared canonical. This party triumphed.
GREEK CANON HAS MORE BOOKS THAN CATHOLIC CANON
At a council of the Greek church held in Jerusalem in 1672, this church, which had always refused to accept Revelation, finally placed it in the canon. The Greek canon contains several apocryphal books not contained in the Roman Catholic canon.
Both divisions of the Protestant church, German and English, declared against the authority of the Apocryphal books. The Westminster Assembly (1647) formally adopted the list of books contained in our Authorized Version of the Bible.
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS
Most Christians believe that all of the books of the Bible, and only the books of the Bible, have been accepted as canonical by all Christians. And yet, how far from this is the truth! In every age of the church there have been Christians, eminent for their piety and learning, who either rejected some of these books, or who accepted as canonical books not contained in the Bible.
Not one of the five men who contributed most to form the canon, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement, Jerome, and Augustine, accepted all of these books.
Late in the second century Melito, Bishop of Sardis, a contemporary of Irenaus, was deputed to make a list of the books belonging to the Old Testament. His list omitted Esther and Lamentations. The Muratori canon, which is supposed to belong to the third century, omitted Hebrews, James, First and Second Peter, and Third John. The Apostolic canon omitted Revelation, and included First and Second Clement and the Apostolic Constitutions.
Of Origen, the great Christian Father of the third century, "Chambers' Encyclopedia" says: "Origen doubted the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews, of the Epistle of James, of Jude, of the Second of Peter, and the Second and Third of John; while, at the same time, he was disposed to recognize as canonical certain apocryphal scriptures, such as those of Hermas and Barnabas." In addition to the apocryphal books named, Origen also accepted as authoritative the Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of the Egyptians, Acts of Paul, and Preaching of Peter.
The Rev. Jeremiah Jones, a leading authority on the canon, says: "Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, and the rest of the primitive writers were wont to approve and cite books which now all men know to be apocryphal." (Canon, p. 4).
Theodoret says that as late as the fifth century many churches used the Gospel of Tatian instead of the canonical Gospels. Gregory the Great, at the beginning of the seventh, and Alfric, at the close of the tenth century, accepted as canonical Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans.
Early in the fourth century the celebrated church historian, Eusebius, gave a list of the acknowledged and disputed books of the New Testament. The disputed books-- books which some accepted and others rejected-- were Hebrews, James, Second and Third John, Jude, Revelation, Shepherd of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, Acts of Paul, and Revelation of Peter.
Athanasius rejected Esther, and Epiphanius accepted the Epistle of Jeremiah. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, and Gregory, Bishop of Constantinople, both rejected Revelation. Chrysostom, one of the greatest of church divines, and who gave to the sacred book of Christians its name, omitted ten books from his canon-- First and Second Chronicles, Esther, Job, and Lamentations, five books in the Old Testament; and Second Peter, Second and Third John, Jude, and Revelation, five books in the New Testament.
Many Protestant scholars have questioned or denied the correctness of the Protestant canon. John Calvin, founder of Presbyterianism, doubted Second and Third John and Revelation. Erasmus doubted Hebrews, Second and Third John, and Revelation. Davidson thinks that Esther should be excluded from the canon, Eichorn rejected Daniel and Jonah in the Old Testament, and Second Timothy and Titus in the New.
Dr. Whiston excluded the Song of Solomon, and accepted as canonical more than twenty books not found in the Bible. He says: "Can anyone be so weak as to imagine Mark, and Luke, and James, and Jude, who were none of them more than companions of the Apostles, to be our sacred and unerring guides, while Barnabas, Thaddeus, Clement, Timothy, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, who were equally companions of the same Apostles, to be of no authority at all?" (Exact Time, p. 28).
The Rev. James Martineau, of England, says: "If we could recover the Gospel of the Hebrews, and that of the Egyptians, it would be difficult to give a reason why they should not form a part of the New Testament; and an epistle by Clement, the fellow laborer of Paul, which has as good a claim to stand there as the Epistle to the Hebrews, or the Gospel of Luke." (Rationale of Religious Enquiry).
Archbishop Wake pronounces the writings of the Apostolic Fathers "inspired," and says that they contain "an authoritative declaration of the Gospel of Christ" (Apostolic Fathers).
The Church of Latter Day Saints, numbering one half million adherents, and including some able Bible scholars, believe that the modern Book of Mormon is a part of God’s Word, equal in authority and importance to the Pentateuch or the Four Gospels.
The greatest name in the records of the Protestant church is Martin Luther. He is generally recognized as its founder; he is considered one of the highest authorities on the Bible; he devoted a large portion of his life to its study; he made a translation of it for his people, a work which is accepted as one of the classics of German literature. With Luther the Bible superseded the church as a divine authority. And yet this greatest of Protestants rejected no less than six of the sixty-six books composing the Protestant Bible.
Luther rejected the book of Esther. He says: "I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist." In his "Bondage of the Will," he severely criticises the book.
He rejected the book of Jonah. He says: "The history of Jonah is so monstrous as to be absolutely incredible." (Colloquia, Chap. LX., Sec. 10).
He rejected Hebrews: "The Epistle to the Hebrews is not by St. Paul ; nor, indeed, by any apostle." (Standing Preface to Luther’s New Testament).
He rejected the Epistle of James: "St. James' Epistle is truly an epistle of straw." (Preface to Edition of 1524).
He rejected Jude. “The Epistle of Jude,” he says, “allegeth stories and sayings which have no place in Scripture." (Standing Preface).
He rejected Revelation. He says: "I can discover no trace that it is established by the Holy Spirit." (Preface to Edition of 1622).
Again, we must repeat for the benefit of those who might become somewhat disillusioned in God's Word in Biblical form and In consideration of what we have discussed here, there now comes a very serious question as to whether or not there exists anything of Divine Authority regarding Revelation from God?
The answer to this question for the Muslims, is a definite and unequivocal - Yes!
And is there any real proof? And again - YES. The RECITATION of God's Speech exists today both in oral transmission and written word. It is the Quran. And it offers a number of clear challenges to prove, that in fact, it is the Unaltered, Unchanged and Eternal Word of God.