History of the Bible Chart

by Steve Ray on May 21, 2018

For a larger image on PDF which you can see better, click here.

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Today was Pentecost Sunday which is very special for Janet and I and our family. It was 24 years ago today that we were received into the Catholic Church with tears of joy.

My eyes welled up with tears many times today just recalling that event while we’re traveling through the Holy Land. What a joy to share our conversion story with all of the pilgrims on the bus as we drove to Jerusalem.

We had Mass at Capernaum and even though it was Pentecost we celebrated the Mass of the Holy Eucharist because it was here that Jesus said “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.“ You can hear Fr. Dan‘s homily here.

We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, saw the ancient boat from Jesus’s time, are St. Peters Fish and drove to Jerusalem. We stopped along the way at the Church of the Visitation where Mary walked to meet Elizabeth.

Did you know that young Mary who was only about 14 or 15 years old walked almost 100 miles from Nazareth to the Hill Country of Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth?

After singing and praying at the Visitation we arrived in Jerusalem at our Notre Dame Center Hotel. Enjoy!

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Dear Protestant: Where Did You Get Your Bible?

by Steve Ray on May 20, 2018

From Little Catholic Bubble website
Leila@LittleCatholicBubble

Dear Protestant: Where did you get your New Testament?

At least a couple of times every week, Protestants use New Testament verses to show me where the Catholic Church is wrong about something. I always make them take the necessary step back by asking the following:

“Where did you get your New Testament?”

When they answers that it came from God (as indeed it did), I say, “Yes, but what was the mechanism God used to bring it to you today? How did it come to you, historically and in real time, since it did not drop out of Heaven into your hands, leather-bound?”

Nine times out of ten, they have no answer because they have never considered the question.

The quick answer:

The Catholic Church officially determined and set the canon of of the New Testament approximately 400 years after Christianity began. The canon was declared by the body of Catholic bishops at the Council of Carthage (397 A.D.) and confirmed by Pope Boniface (419 A.D.).  

Greek Manuscript Greek Manuscript

This is historical fact.

Let me flesh out a few more of the details, which very few Christians (Protestant or Catholic) know.

After Christ’s ascension into Heaven, and after the Holy Spirit descended upon the first Christians at Pentecost, the Church thrived and grew exponentially for years before even one line of the New Testament was written. Let that sink in: Baptisms, catechesis, communal worship, conversions of thousands of sinners, Apostles and their companions traveling to other lands and risking imprisonment, torture, and death to evangelize the world with zeal — all went on for over a decade before the New Testament was even begun, much less completed.

Without having written a word, the Church was teaching, preaching, growing, and flourishing for many years.

Eventually, a very few Apostles and their disciples starting writing down some of the Church’s oral Tradition: The Gospels, which recorded the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and also the Epistles (letters) of St. Paul and others, which gave encouragement and instruction to local churches being established throughout the world. The young Church cherished those gospels and letters, and began to incorporate them into her liturgies and masses.

Greek-ManuscriptMore and more written accounts and testimonies materialized as the Church grew, but contrary to today’s popular belief, it was not obvious to the early Christians which of these writings were truly God-inspired.

As brutal persecution of the Church continued in those first centuries, clarity about Christian writings became important. After all, Christians were being martyred routinely, and it was necessary to know which books were worth dying for.

Three categories of writings existed at that time:

1. Those writings that were universally acknowledged/accepted
2. Those writings that were disputed or controverted
3. Those writings that were known to be spurious or false

The first group included divinely-inspired books that we have in our Bible today, such as the four Gospels, the Epistles of St. Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles.

The second group included books that were simultaneously accepted in some Christian regions, rejected in others, and disputed in others. Some of these were indeed divinely-inspired, such the Epistles of James and Jude, one of Peter’s, two of John’s, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation, even as many Christians did not believe they were. Some were books that never made it into the final canon of the New Testament, but which several Christian communities considered inspired (and even used for catechizing and in the liturgy), such as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, Apostolic Constitutions, the Epistle of St. Clement, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans, etc.

The third group consisted of the fakes floating around, spurious works which were never acknowledged or claimed by the Church, such as about 50 false gospels including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of James, a couple dozen “Acts” (Acts of Pilate, Acts of Paul and Thecla, etc.), and some epistles and apocalypses.

NiceaUnder the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit and after a long series of historical events, a gathering of Catholic bishops went through the process of authoritatively and infallibly setting the books of the Christian canon, using the following criteria: a) The book in question must have been written in apostolic times by an Apostle or one close to an Apostle, and b) The book in question had to be doctrinally sound, completely conforming to Catholic Church teaching.

Several books met those criteria, and so it happened that some four centuries and 20 generations after Christ’s Resurrection, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church authoritatively set the canon of the New Testament, ending all confusion and doubt among the faithful.

Rome had spoken, and the canon was closed.

Which leaves us with some takeaways:

— If the Catholic Church (bishops and pope) had the authority from God to set the New Testament canon, then she cannot be the corrupt and un-Christian “Whore of Babylon” as is claimed by many Protestants.

— If one accepts the canon of the New Testament, one must also accept the authority of the entity who gave it to us, i.e., the Catholic Church.

— If one rejects the authority of the Catholic Church, one should and must also reject the canon of the New Testament that came to us through the authority of the Catholic Church. (It makes sense that Martin Luther, the rebel behind the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, wanted to throw out several of the New Testament books that he despised.)

— The New Testament cannot be “personally interpreted” by each individual Christian, because it was never meant to be taken outside of the Church from which it came.

— The New Testament cannot and does not contradict Catholic doctrine, as it was Catholic doctrine that was used as a criterion for its authenticity and authority.

— The New Testament was discerned and canonized by men who had divine authority to do so — men who believed explicitly in the Mass, the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood, Confession, Purgatory, veneration of Mary, infant baptism and infused grace, justification by faith and works, the Communion of Saints, etc., etc.

— The Bible came from the Church. In other words, the Bible is Church-based, not the other way around. If you get this paradigm wrong, you get some messed-up theology.

— If a Protestant uses Scripture to attack the Catholic Church, it’s like ripping off a man’s arm to beat him with it. Using a Catholic Book to beat up the Catholic Church makes no sense.

— If you believe that your eternal salvation is based entirely on a Book, isn’t it important to know where the Book came from and who was given authority to proclaim it? Who meticulously copied, preserved, protected, and guarded it with their lives, and who ultimately vouched for the fact that it is indeed the written Word of God?

There is so much more to discuss, and I would love to do so in the comments. Meanwhile, one of the best books on the subject, which I devoured when I came back to the Church, is Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church, by Henry G. Graham.

**Note: I did not include the Old Testament canon in this post, because I wanted to work with something that both Protestants and Catholics agree on, namely, the 27 books of the New Testament.

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Beatitudes, Caesarea Philippi, Syrian Border, Tabgha, Primacy & Feast

May 19, 2018

Another great day! Fr. Dan’s excellent homily at Beatitudes Here. Much of Steve’s talk about Peter at Caesarea Philippi here. PART 1 PART 2

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Quiz: Did Jesus Found a Church on Pentecost and If So, Where Is It?

May 19, 2018

I am sharing this from John Martignoni’s e-mail and website at www.BibleChristianSociety.com. Thanks for your good work John! 1) Did Jesus found a church?  A) Yes; Matt 16:18  2) How many churches did Jesus found?  A) One; the church is the Body of Christ and there is only one body of Christ – Rom 12:5, […]

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Transfiguration, Cana, Nazareth- Enjoy!

May 18, 2018

Enjoy  our first full day in the Holy Land. It’s always great to start with Mass at the Mount of Transfiguration and Fr. Dan did not disappoint us with his homilies at Transfiguration and Cana.

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Mary and the “Other Body of Christ” — A Reflection on Pentecost

May 18, 2018

Mary and the Other Body of Christ The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous thing to associates of an executed criminal. […]

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Arrival in Israel; Mass on Shore of Galilee!

May 17, 2018

Everyone arrived in the Tel Aviv Airport safely and ready to go. We’re all excited for another excellent pilgrimage following our Lord and Lady.  Enjoy our arrival, trip up to Tiberias and Mass and the Sea of Galilee.  Very appropriate first Mass to open a Pilgrimage HERE.

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Arrival in Israel; Mass on Shore of Galilee!

May 17, 2018

Everyone arrived in the Tel Aviv Airport safely and ready to go. We’re all excited for another excellent pilgrimage following our Lord and Lady.  Enjoy our arrival, trip up to Tiberias and Mass and the Sea of Galilee.  Very appropriate first Mass to open a Pilgrimage HERE.

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I’m excited to share Daily Catholic Wisdom with you!

May 17, 2018

I think you’ll love this new, simple way to explore our rich Catholic tradition. I was honored to see that Daily Catholic Wisdom recently featured my talk The Birth of the Catholic Church! Sign up to receive a snippet of Catholic thought every morning from literary giants, beloved saints, and relevant voices from today. Read it in 60 […]

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How Well Do You Know Jesus and His Land? Multiple Choice Questions.

May 17, 2018

Here is a fun quiz to test your knowledge. How much do you know about Jesus and his Land? Answers are below in the Comments but DON’T CHEAT until you give it a hero’s try! 1. We have no record of Jesus visiting which place? a. The Phoenician Coast b. Tiberias c. Egypt d. Nain 2. […]

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Tremendous Commencement Speech by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

May 16, 2018

Don’t know that I’ve ever heard a better speech. This should be heard by every single graduating student this year. If you have young people I would make some popcorn and sit down and watch this together. Yeah, he read the speech and he bumbles it at times – but wow! What a moving, inspiring […]

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Good Riddles: What is Greater than God? Who’s the Killer? Won’t go to Heaven?

May 16, 2018

Bible Riddle #1: What is greater than God, More evil than the devil, The poor have it, The rich need it, And if you eat it, you’ll die? Bible Riddle #2:  The hunter was killed, the prey were set free, the water was the lock and the rod was the key. Who was the hunter? […]

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Is it Safe to Join your Holy Land Trip with All that’s Going On?

May 15, 2018

Greetings from Jerusalem! I received this e-mail from a pilgrim registered for our September Holy Land Pilgrimage. Here is her question and my response: Hi Steve, Should we be concerned about our trip in September with all that’s going on there now? Dear Concerned Pilgrim: Not at all. I am in Jerusalem now and it […]

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A Quick Reply to Question about Cremation and Scattering the Ashes

May 15, 2018

I was asked a question about Catholics, cremation and the scattering of ash. Here is my brief answer: The whole issue of cremation goes back to the Romans. They denied the bodily resurrection so they often burned the body and if they were rich they put the ashes in urns and put them in the […]

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On our way to Israel

May 14, 2018

Leaving for Israel with another sold-out pilgrimage. We NEVER  get tired of sharing our favorite places in the world! June already sold out. Few seats left for Jordan & Israel in September — www.FootprintsOfGod.com.

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