Artifacts & Biblical History

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 10.06.41 AM

{ 0 comments }

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.

{ 7 comments }

“I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts.”

glossbibleWritten by my friend Andrew Jones PhD:

“We might start with a description of the Bible we are all used to. It is a stand-alone, printed volume of 73 books (give or take a few), with a more or less fixed text translated from the earliest and best manuscripts. Because of its size, its mass production, and the fact that nearly all of us are literate, we tend to think of the Bible as a self-contained work that is readily available and can be read by anyone and anywhere.

The Bible was a very different thing in the Middle Ages. That may seem like a bold statement, but let me explain.

Medieval Christianity was profoundly sacramental, focusing on an encounter with Christ that was both spiritual and physical.

As the theologians of the period frequently remarked, Christ was the Word of God in both His “doing and teaching” (Acts 1:1). For the medieval Christian engagement with the spoken Word of God was not divorced from physical engagement with Christ’s Body, and so the Bible was, above all else, a liturgical book.

GC.SCR_.000769.a-CopyIn the liturgy, the priest read the Scripture, brought the text to life through preaching, and then confected the Eucharist on the altar, introducing Christ’s physical presence. The Word of God in its totality was made present and the encounter with it was total: intellectual, physical, and social.

In the liturgy the Christian was understood as united vertically with God and horizontally with his fellow man—all together, the Body of Christ.

This was the context in which medieval Christians studied the Scripture. Indeed, they often evoked Eucharistic imagery. They “chewed” the Word and “swallowed” it. This was an act of deep reading and meditation on the text that culminated in memorization.

But they did not understand memorization as do we. We tend to think of the memory as a hard drive, and memorization as an act of rote drilling that leads to data retention. To the people of the Middle Ages, however, the act of memorization was that of “digesting” the Scripture so that it became a part of who they were.

Like how the Eucharist became a part of the body, the Scripture became a part of the mind. Amazing feats of memory are documented, such as being able to recite the Bible backwards……..

For the whole article, visit HERE.

For a very funny video on Scripture study in the Middle Ages, watch this. Switching technology from scrolls to codex (books). I had tears in my eyes I laughed so hard.

{ 1 comment }

Stones Cry Out: Does Archaeology Support the Bible?

April 5, 2018

This was a recent interview I did with Tim Staples. It was published in the Catholic Answers Magazine. Are we sure the Bible is true? Does archaeology help us know? Enjoy! Click here for the article.

Read the full article →

People at the Foot of the Cross

March 21, 2018

I will only have this up until the end of today and will post it again next week on Wednesday. I did this show with Teresa Tomeo this morning and promised the document for those interested after the show. Click HERE for the PDF document. Click HERE to listen to the show which starts at 12 […]

Read the full article →

Joseph the Sissy or Joseph the Worker – Feast Day of the Worker

March 19, 2018

Today is the Feast day of St. Joseph the Worker! There are some pictures of Joseph I don’t appreciate so much. They present him almost as soft, effeminate like he just came out of a beauty parlor. It appears he never worked in the real world and has not a wrinkle on his clothes or […]

Read the full article →

Major biblical discovery: Archaeologists may have found the Prophet Isaiah’s ‘signature’

February 23, 2018

 By James Rogers | Fox News The seal mark discovered in Jerusalem (Eilat Mazar/Biblical Archaeological Society) Archaeologists in Israel say that they have found a clay seal mark that may bear the signature of the Biblical Prophet Isaiah. The 2,700-year-old stamped clay artifact was found during an excavation at the foot of the southern wall […]

Read the full article →

History of Middle East in 90 Seconds

February 11, 2018

Fascinating moving map. Click the image below to see biblical and modern history of the volatile and ever-changing Middle East.

Read the full article →

5,000 Years of Religion in 90 Seconds

February 4, 2018

Another very cool interactive map takes you through the the many religions and centuries. Watch how Christianity spreads at the very end. Click on the image to the right.

Read the full article →

3,000 Years in 90 Seconds

February 3, 2018

Very cool map animation. Watch the history of the Middle East (and beyond) unfold with an interactive map showing the various civilizations that have ruled the region from ancient Egypt to modern times.

Read the full article →

UNESCO Adds the Baptismal Site of Jesus to the World Heritage Sites

February 1, 2018

Since we are at this site TODAY with a bus full of pilgrims, I thought I would share this post again. This is an exciting development which helps establish the authentic baptismal site of Jesus. With the involvement of UNESCO the site will receive protection, funding and recognition. This is the place where the last three […]

Read the full article →

St. Adam & Eve, St. Abraham, St. Moses – Did you know some Old Testament people are Saints?

January 11, 2018

Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Isaiah, Jeremiah, King David and many others. We in the West have not discussed it much, but the Eastern Churches remember them every year. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be […]

Read the full article →

Did the Bible Always have Chapters & Verses?

January 8, 2018

No! The chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are relatively recent additions to the Bible. Originally it was written in Hebrew and Greek and there were NO chapter and verse divisions–in fact, most of the time there was not even spaces between the words! Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews the writer is quoting […]

Read the full article →

Mary and the Other Body of Christ; How Many People were in the Upper Room and Why?

January 5, 2018

Since we are IN this room today, I thought I would share this again… 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 […]

Read the full article →

Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

December 18, 2017

In a few days we are leaving for Bethlehem. We will have Mass next week at a lot of holy sites with our group of Catholic families. To the left is a picture of Gethsemane on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. How do we know this is really Gethsemane? In a few days […]

Read the full article →

My EWTN TV Show with Dr. Scott Hahn, Michael Hernon and Dr. Regis Martin

November 30, 2017

Here is the show aired a few weeks ago on EWTN. It was my appearance on the Franciscan University Presents with Dr. Scott Hahn, Michael Hernon and Dr. Regis Martin. It was a fun show about “Abraham: Father of Faith and Works” and the whole story of salvation. Enjoy!

Read the full article →