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How was organized the New Testament as we have today?

Posted on 2011-10-26
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There were more than 60 gospels, but only 4 was included in New Testament.

Who organized the new testament?
Who really chose the gospels among other?

thanks
Alex
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Question by:hidrau
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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You do realize people make careers debating this specific topic?

There is a TON of information out there on this and I doubt any of it is 100% accurate:
http://www.comereason.org/cmp_rlgn/cmp006.asp
http://www.antiochian.org/Orthodox_Church_Who_What_Where_Why/Who_Gave_Us_The_New_Testament.htm
http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/bible/canons.stm

Is there something specific you are looking for?
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by:hidrau
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I could understand that the 27 books that we have today in our bible was decided by Catholic church.

There were many gospel in early church and many of them were burned by Church.

Is there any source that show the books burned by Catholic church?
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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I'm an amateur when it comes to theology.  I've never heard of anything like this but there is A LOT I don't know on the subject.  I would just have to Google around.  

Hopefully a more qualified Expert will be along later that might be able to point you in the right direction.
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by:CCSOFlag
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If you are talking about the "Holy Bible" used by most protestant churches, then the answer is a bunch of schmucks who all had the same belief system  and thought they were inspired by God sat down together and decided for themselves what books fit THEIR personal beliefs as to what Christianity meant.  Pretty sad really.
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by:hdhondt
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Wikipedia has a list of all the known gospels. Each one of them has a link for more info. For example, see here for the Gospel of Judas.

And this is supposed to be the text of the Gospel of Judas

For more info, see Google.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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The Gospel of Judas and Mary are currently in doubt as to their exact origins.  They will always stay that way.  They go against way to many beliefs...  Hint hint...

But I do agree that a group of people got together and decided what was in their best interest at the time.

That interest?  What else,  greed and power.

There is only one true way to KNOW the truth...think about it...
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by:Jason210
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Mark is thought to be the first gospel. The mainstream view is that Peter (the Rock) and James went to Rome and after an argument with James, Peter preached to the public until he was executed. From his testimony or preaching emerged the Gospel of Mark (55-70AD).

Mainstream scholars agree that Mathew and Luke are based largely on Mark. Stylometrists have analysed these texts empirically and come to that conclusion. It's not a simple case of editing but a case of framing events within a narrative structure. Therefore these texts must be from a later date, generally thought to be between 60 -90 AD.

John is believed to be based mostly on the first-hand knowledge of one of the disciples. This knowledge may have been in the form of an earlier written work but the revised and “added-to” version that appears in the Bible is dated at 90-100 AD, and it is believed that this final text was by a non-disciple.

The non-canonical text Thomas appears to be a primary text, and is dated anywhere between 50-150 AD. It doesn't have a narrative thread. It is merely a string of sayings from Jesus, in no particular order, and is thought to be based on oral tradition.

In the 3rd century there were efforts to promote certain books and suppress others. Certain texts were discerned to be the truth by the early Roman church which had the power and the money to make a difference. Thomas was popular in Egypt but without the backing of Rome didn't really stand a chance. Texts written in Rome, like Mark, had the backing of Rome and became more popular.

Athananius wrote a letter in the 3rd century urging his congregation NOT to read "erroneous" literature and suggested the first example of the present day book list. The next 300 years would see the enforcement of that book list, and it is because of the successfulness of that enforcement process that books like Thomas were almost lost completely. Bishops would travel round Europe to stop the circulation of the "erroneous" texts, and people just stopped reproducing them. Sometimes worse happened -- for example,  in 447 AD Pope Leo the Great ordered Gnostic texts to be burnt!
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Jason210 earned 68 total points
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So out of perhaps 100 or so texts, on 30 or so made it into the New Testement.

This is book is a solid, scholarly analysis of the subject:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0800619315/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1278548962&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0060677015&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=11FTEA6WZZQVDS0KPETG

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by:Callandor
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The trouble with the theory that Rome decided what went into the New Testament is that Rome persecuted and killed Christians, all the way up until the time emperor Constantine put his backing to Christianity (not necessarily becoming a Christian).  There was no central church until he started putting money into the one he promoted.

We have records of the early church fathers acknowledging the books which eventually became the New Testament, so this supports the idea that the early church already decided which books should be included.  The Council of Nicea, which formalized matters in the fourth century, was forced to make the distinctive list because there were heresies being promoted that were counter to what the apostles had preached, saying that Jesus was not God.  If one does not believe that Jesus is God, that pretty much pulls the rug out from the foundation of Jesus being the covering sacrifice for all believers' sins and Christianity becomes just another religion.

The best source for this is historian Bruce M. Metzger's "The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance".  You can read research done using his book at http://www.ntcanon.org/index.shtml

There is also a secular viewpoint of Christianity's progress at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/legitimization.html which is interesting.
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by:tliotta
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We have records of the early church fathers...

In many areas of distant history, not just religious, the 'records' that we have are the ones kept by the winners. It can be particularly difficult when competing records were destroyed or were cleaned/bleached for reuse.

Tom
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by:CCSOFlag
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In many areas of distant history, not just religious, the 'records' that we have are the ones kept by the winners. It can be particularly difficult when competing records were destroyed or were cleaned/bleached for reuse.

Exactly.  There were many canons before the one that is in use today.  Those canons did not match the people's beliefs who were in power when the Council of Nicea created theirs.  Sadly it was a huge political decision as much as a religious one.  Personally I would trust people 400 years removed from a person to say what he stood for over people who were a lot less removed from him than that.  
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by:Callandor
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It's all good and well to say that this is what you think might have happened, but it's no different than proposing conspiracies.  Is there  something that conclusively refutes the idea that mainstream Christians believed the same doctrines from the first century to the time that the canon was established?

Heresies are by their nature not accepted by the mainstream, because they are not what the mainstream believes.  Maybe it's indistinguishable to someone from a case of the winner writing history, but without proof, it's still a lot of speculation.  There's no end to arguing about speculation.

>Personally I would trust people 400 years removed from a person to say what he stood for over people who were a lot less removed from him than that.  

This is counter to what most people would say and desire - the further you are in time from the events, the less likely you got all the facts, because there's no one alive to corroborate them, and memory of events can get distorted over time.
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by:CCSOFlag
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>Personally I would trust people 400 years removed from a person to say what he stood for over people who were a lot less removed from him than that.  

This is counter to what most people would say and desire - the further you are in time from the events, the less likely you got all the facts, because there's no one alive to corroborate them, and memory of events can get distorted over time.

Sorry that should be wouldn't not would.

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by:Jason210
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Callandor
The best source for this is historian Bruce M. Metzger's "The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance".  You can read research done using his book at http://www.ntcanon.org/index.shtml
I had never heard of him. He is obviously a Christian himself means he is likely to be biased.

The trouble with the theory that Rome decided what went into the New Testament is that Rome persecuted and killed Christians,
The texts that were written in Rome survived because when Christianity was legalised these were the texts that were considered authoritive - even though they had been supressed.

It's all good and well to say that this is what you think might have happened, but it's no different than proposing conspiracies.  Is there  something that conclusively refutes the idea that mainstream Christians believed the same doctrines from the first century to the time that the canon was established?
That applies to you too. There's plenty of early literature that indicates that Christians were diverse in the way they followed Christ.
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by:Callandor
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>He is obviously a Christian himself means he is likely to be biased.

Let's explore that line of thought - are you implying that a Christian is unable to present an unbiased view of the history of Christianity?  That it takes a non-Christian to give us the real facts?  That is a very slippery slope which will lead to statements similar to "blacks cannot give a factual view of the history of blacks", or any member of a group cannot present unbiased views of the history of their group.  That you said "likely" is a moot point, because it is obvious what you are trying to do - discredit the research of someone who may be part of the group the research is about.  You think a person's research and insights can't stand by themselves as valid?  You might as well say nothing I post about Christianity can be trusted because I'm a Christian.  Maybe that's what you're thinking.

>The texts that were written in Rome survived because when Christianity was legalised these were the texts that were considered authoritive - even though they had been supressed.

Rome was not the center of Christian authority when Constantine turned his support to it.  The main center of Christianity during the time of the apostles was Jerusalem.  When Jerusalem was sacked in AD 70, there was no central authority, and various cities in Asia Minor, Greece and wherever a church was established became a center.  This decentralized situation does not lend itself to Rome sending out an edict that everyone obeyed.  All the churches already had an idea of what were accepted books, since the gospels and letters of the apostles were widely circulated.  The Greek Orthodox church traces its origins to the time of the apostles, and it never fell under the authority of Rome.  This idea that Rome controlled everything is a biased view that does not hold up to the facts.

>That applies to you too. There's plenty of early literature that indicates that Christians were diverse in the way they followed Christ.

This comes back to our favorite subject - is everyone who says they are a Christian really a Christian?  I, and many others, say no - for example, no one is born a Christian, and that would constitute heresy and should be rejected by all Christians.  People have a tendency to "customize" beliefs to fit their worldview, so what the Gnostics thought was following Christ was belief in something else.
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by:Jason210
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Let's explore that line of thought - are you implying that a Christian is unable to present an unbiased view of the history of Christianity?
No, I'm just saying he's likely to be biased because of it and the reason I make a point about it is because you said that his book is the "best source" for historical information about the canon. Says who?

This comes back to our favorite subject - is everyone who says they are a Christian really a Christian?  I, and many others, say no - for example, no one is born a Christian, and that would constitute heresy and should be rejected by all Christians.  People have a tendency to "customize" beliefs to fit their worldview, so what the Gnostics thought was following Christ was belief in something else.

Don't forget that Paul was a Roman citizen and he is considered to be one of the founders of the church.

Christianity as it is today did not emerge to until 3rd century, and after it was legalised it was largely Rome's influence that determined which books should be included. Jesus's followers all would have interpreted him and his teachings in their own way, and this would have naturally led to some degree of diversification regarding writings, that were spread out all over the middle east. Rome backed certain texts, and rejected certain others. Something that was popular in Egypt is hardly going to have be chosen over something that was popular in Rome (or Jerusulem for that matter).  But it was still Rome that had the power to influence.
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by:Jason210
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The point is, Jesus wasn't around to say, ok this interpretation and these doctrines are the best. Rome did that.
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by:Callandor
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> you said that his book is the "best source" for historical information about the canon. Says who?

I could say the same for your comment that "This is book is a solid, scholarly analysis of the subject" regarding http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Christianity-W-H-Frend/dp/0800619315/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1 - says who?

Here is the Amazon link and reviews for my selection: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-New-Testament-Development-Significance/dp/0198269544 - same number of reviews, same number of stars.

Some of the comments sound like they heard your argument and gave their response, similar to what I am saying here.

>Don't forget that Paul was a Roman citizen and he is considered to be one of the founders of the church.

Paul being a Roman citizen had squat to do with what the Roman Catholic Church decided 300 years later.  There is NO connection between what Paul preached and taught and the authority that came much later.  Paul never even planted the church in Rome, if you read the book of Romans - there is no hint that he ever met them when he wrote that letter.

>Christianity as it is today did not emerge to until 3rd century

What Christianity are you referring to?  The churches in western Europe?  Organized religion?  I can assure you that the house churches in China don't look like that, and do resemble the churches depicted in the book of Acts.  You're hooked on this idea that Rome had all the influence, but in reality, there were Christian churches and church fathers scattered across continents.  The model laid out by Paul in Timothy and Titus was for churches to be overseen by elders (aka bishops, presbyters, overseers) in their individual congregations, not a central authority.  They were the ones who determined what was sound doctrine, not someone thousands of miles away.  You can still read this today in the New Testament - where's the purging by the Roman authority?  And where did Rome hold sway over the Greek Orthodox church?  Your theory just doesn't hold up to the facts.
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by:CCSOFlag
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The point is, Jesus wasn't around to say, ok this interpretation and these doctrines are the best. Rome did that.

Exactly.  That's my problem with the whole canon.
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by:Jason210
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Callandor

I could say the same for your comment that "This is book is a solid, scholarly analysis of the subject" regarding http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Christianity-W-H-Frend/dp/0800619315/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1 - says who?

That's not like saying it's the best book is it? From what I've been finding out it seems that the Metzger book is also a good book, but the arguments are not watertight. Nothing about the the history of the Gospel is. Some even dispute that Peter ever went to Rome! So I am not going to argue with you just for the sake of arguing.

We have presented the asker with some of the mainstream theories on this matter, and recommended some good reading if he/she wishes to pursue if further.
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by:Callandor
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>Exactly.  That's my problem with the whole canon.

You believe that Rome dictated what went into the New Testament?  Do you buy into conspiracy theories also?  I laid out the counterarguments to that in my last comment.

>That's not like saying it's the best book is it?

We take it as a given that we are giving our views, do we not?  If something is labeled as "best" in the marketplace, do you automatically agree with the assessment?  Even when reading reviews, one should exercise scrutiny.

>the arguments are not watertight

When it comes to history, you are limited in what you can do - is any book on history two thousand years ago watertight?  That would be like requiring video footage from that era.  Let's be realistic about expectations and not impose our modern-day requirements on a different period.

>We have presented the asker with some of the mainstream theories on this matter, and recommended some good reading if he/she wishes to pursue if further.

This is my point - when assertions are presented as factual, I'll go to the facts and challenge the assumptions.  I'm all for vigorous debate in search of the truth.
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by:Jason210
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This is my point - when assertions are presented as factual, I'll go to the facts and challenge the assumptions.  I'm all for vigorous debate in search of the truth
.
There are very few facts to go. As I said before, it's not even known for sure if Peter actually went to Rome.

The point is, Jesus wasn't around to say, ok this interpretation and these doctrines are the best. Rome did that.
Exactly.  That's my problem with the whole canon.

I think CCSOFlag was agreeing with the first part of the of that statement mostly, rather than the "Rome did that" bit, and in that sense he echoes my own view. The fact is -- and it is a fact this time -- Jesus was not around to say, ok this interpretation and these doctrines are best. The people who were advocating which Gospels should frm the Christain canon were doing so in the 2nd and 3rd century
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by:Callandor
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>There are very few facts to go.

The facts that you do have are the content of the current books of the new Testament.  If Rome decided which books would be accepted (and why stop there, why not go so far as to edit the books to make sure everything agreed with their view?), then why is there instruction from the letters of Paul that individual churches should select elders from among the congregations and they should determine what was sound doctrine?  This is contrary to the view that Rome decides what is acceptable.

Fact number two: the Greek Orthodox Church did not follow Rome's bidding, and separated from them over disagreements.  Yet they accept the same books as Rome, and the same books as the early church fathers.  Where are the facts supporting a central Roman control over the selection process?  I don't deny that the Roman Catholic Church meddled in politics and rulers later on, but to assert that at that time they determined what went into the New Testament, as opposed to confirming what was already widely accepted, is not based on any evidence.

>Jesus was not around to say, ok this interpretation and these doctrines are best.  The people who were advocating which Gospels should frm the Christain canon were doing so in the 2nd and 3rd century

The gospels were written when people were alive who witnessed the events, and when the apostles were alive (who did spend figuring out what Jesus meant).  Were the people at that time dumber than us and more easily deceived?  There are some who think that way, who equate advanced technology with more intelligence or wisdom.  However, the issue of what was doctrinal and what was heresy was debated from the time soon after Jesus' death.  You can see it in the text in 1 John, so saying that it was determined in the 2nd and 3rd century is missing the mark.
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by:Jason210
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Callandor
The gospels were written when people were alive who witnessed the events, and when the apostles were alive (who did spend figuring out what Jesus meant).  
Christians usually believe that the books were written by the disciples themselves or witnessess of the events. Scholars do not. People who have studied the texts using empirical and historical methods and who authoritative in these matters tell us that Mathew and Luke are secondary texts, based on at least one earlier text. Mark is thought to based on Peter's teaching in Rome.

The only Gospel that is thought to have a direct connection with Jesus is, as you say, John, but even this has text is thought to be the revised version of an earelier test. The text in the NT is thought to be written by a non-disciple.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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>>The gospels were written when people were alive who witnessed the events

I have to agree.  They have been passed down as 'stories', rewritten, retranslated so many times I doubt any of the 'true' meaning has persisted.

>>and why stop there, why not go so far as to edit the books to make sure everything agreed with their view?

I agree re: http:#a37042221  "decided what was in their best interest at the time.  That interest?  What else,  greed and power."

Also in the referenced post:  There is only ONE way to know any of this for sure...
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by:Jason210
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I have to agree.  They have been passed down as 'stories', rewritten, retranslated so many times I doubt any of the 'true' meaning has persisted.
It's clear to me that Jesus was a deeply enlightened person, but not different to a human being in any fundamental way. He was a man - he was, in fact, a jew, and his beliefs were Jewish beliefs. His direct experience of God, or God "consciousness" is what made him different to other Jews. He realised that the Jewish rabbis of the time had lost touch with the divine; while he had found it. But this does make him the son of God in any supernatural sense. He was the son of God in the same way as we are all sons of God. The difference was that Jesus knew this and was convinced of it because of his direct experience; whereas as the masses don't know it.

This is a thing I object to regarding the Christian as religion - that its central doctrine postulates that Jesus is unique, that is a supernatural being who is the sole representive of God on earth. Fiddlesticks!  He's no more unique than Buddha or Krishna or you or me. We are all unique in one sense, but in another sense we all are made from the same stuff and the same mould. Most of us see only the differences. Ony a few of us live the secret.

That Jesus is portrayed as a unique, supernatural being who is the sole representive of God on earth is probably the result his followers and later the Church Fathers (and Rome) wanting to ensure the survival of Christianity. Later, the canonical Gospels, and the Christain doctrines, also played an essential part in that. And I'm not saying that was a bad thing. I believe Christianity was a good thing, because it was a huge stabilising factor in Europe, and is an essential part of western culture and identity. We can't deny our past can we?

However, today, we ought to read the Gospel of Thomas, which, according to Scholars, is dated as early as 60AD, making it at least equal to John or Mark. I like the idea that this Gospel was found in pieces of parchment mixed with sand in the desert. Despite the church's attempts to eradicate it, it survived, like magic. Almost like God wanted it that way. Hide it for a while, then, when the time is due, let the world see it again.

:-)
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by:Jason210
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Also in the referenced post:  There is only ONE way to know any of this for sure...

Please enlighten us...what is this way?
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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I lean more towards the Jewish doctrine as well:  A man called Jesus did exist and was likely a deeply enlightened person.  That is about as far as it goes...

I also take it one step further:  That most of religion (all of them) is mostly 'made up'.

The stories are likely loosely based on real events but just like movies, have been stretched/tweaked over time to suit some 'end goal'.

The idea that a single 'supreme being' watches over us/cares for us and welcomes us (or not) for an eternity after death.  All this for how we behave on this rock in the middle of the universe for our measly 80ish years, is a little hard to swallow.

Not a 'blind faith' kinda person.

Voltaire: "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer" ("If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him").
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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>>Please enlighten us...what is this way?

Easy:  Die.

Only then will you know if an after-life exists.  Short of that, it is ALL theory.
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by:Jason210
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The stories are likely loosely based on real events but just like movies, have been stretched/tweaked over time to suit some 'end goal'.
I think in the worse cases you may be right. But the meaning can also get lost through no deliberate action. Well meaning people may quite simply have a different understanding than the one Jesus intended. Since we are not dealing with empirical knowledge, then this is almost impssoible to avoid.

Only then will you know if an after-life exists.  Short of that, it is ALL theory
Possibly. But the atheist would say when you're dead you're dead. They would maintain that there is no-one there anymore to do any knowing. If there's any knowing to be done, then it is done by the living. It might also be worthwhile to question if all knowledge really is theoretical. For example, if I burn myself, then that's knowledge too, but it's not a theory. Similarly any other sensation, or any feeling or intuition - indeed any event in consciousness -- is also knowledge. I'm sure the enlightenment of Buddha and other similar iconic religious figures was not based on theoretical knowledge, but some deeper experience.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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>>then this is almost impssoible to avoid.

Agreed.

>>I'm sure the enlightenment of Buddha and other similar iconic religious figures was not based on theoretical knowledge, but some deeper experience

Also agree.

The religion in question here is one that believes a God exists and is the 'creator'.

I was just trying to point out the only way to absolutely know that a God exists is to meet him/her/it/???

or for those not so fortunate, at least see St. Peter at the gates before taking the down escalator.

If the atheist is right, then no harm.  The light goes 'out'.  Then this whole debate is mute.

So either:
- I'm wrong and likely condemned by Christianity to an eternity of damnation
- Some of the other, more forgiving, religions of the world is correct and I am judged by my actions not by my beliefs and I'm OK.
or
- Dead is dead.
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by:Jason210
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I was just trying to point out the only way to absolutely know that a God exists is to meet him/her/it/???

But we don't know what God is....

I love discussing this subject but I fear tbat doing so here would lead it off into a tangential direction - another thread, perhaps?

 
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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Agree on the tangent.

Ask a 'what is God' and I'll see if I can remember to stop by!
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by:Callandor
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>Christians usually believe that the books were written by the disciples themselves or witnessess of the events. Scholars do not. People who have studied the texts using empirical and historical methods and who authoritative in these matters tell us that Mathew and Luke are secondary texts, based on at least one earlier text.

Note that I said the gospels were written when witnesses were alive - I did not say anything about who wrote the books.  Whether the disciples wrote the books, or compiled them from other sources, or they were written by others who followed the disciples, the point I am making is that there were people around who could verify what was said and taught.

>The stories are likely loosely based on real events but just like movies, have been stretched/tweaked over time to suit some 'end goal'.

Another favorite conspiracy theory - read up on textual criticism and learn how historians figure out if ancient manuscripts have changed over time.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
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>>read up on textual criticism

Show me an 'original' written gospel as a comparative basis then we can talk.

Even going by:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textual_criticism#New_Testament

there are a few hundred years missing...  I'm just saying that I seriously doubt those few hundred years preserved 100% accuracy.
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by:Jason210
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Any narrative account of Jesus, such as in Mathew and Luke, is processed information. Someone has sat down and writtten a structured account based on gathered information and on other accounts or texts, perhaps enhanced here and there with tidbits of orally obtained information. Very little of Mathew and Luke is thought to be original in that sense. These gospels are thought to be based on Mark and on an unknown source called "Q". "Q" is a theoretical list of sayings of Jesus whose existence is postulated by stylometrists.

We can hope that in the case of direct quotes along the lines of "Jesus said..." that the quotation has been preserved more or less intact. These to me are the valuable parts in the New Testament because they have not been interpreted.



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by:Callandor
ID: 37071603
>Show me an 'original' written gospel as a comparative basis then we can talk.

If we had an original, we wouldn't even be asking the question of how accurate is the version we currently have.  The wiki article you listed says "Given a manuscript copy, several or many copies, but not the original document, the textual critic seeks to reconstruct the original text (the archetype or autograph) as closely as possible."  So why did you make the comment to be shown the original document, when the article you posted clearly says it is NOT about having the original?  Are we talking about the same thing?

>there are a few hundred years missing...  I'm just saying that I seriously doubt those few hundred years preserved 100% accuracy.

You need better references than wikipedia - I thought all experts knew that source is not 100% reliable?
Rather, look at these to get a better picture of the dating:
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/features/new_testament_manuscripts.htm
http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence
even
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categories_of_New_Testament_manuscripts

And it is clear you do not understand how textual criticism works.  It is supposed to help the historian figure out how reliable the existing manuscripts are.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
ID: 37071652
>>Are we talking about the same thing?

Yes we are.  What is 'written' is an as close as possible approximation of the original.

Sort of lends support to my statement that you labeled "Another favorite conspiracy theory".
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by:tliotta
ID: 37073222
...I seriously doubt those few hundred years preserved 100% accuracy.

We've had recording devices for a century or so, and misquotes still happen.

...in the case of direct quotes along the lines of "Jesus said..." that the quotation has been preserved more or less intact.

But "intact" in reference to what? An originally spoken statement? Or a written statement that someone wrote down, perhaps a decade or more later?

It's not always a question whether or not text has been accurately copied from an earliest writing. The biggest question has to be whether the earliest writing actually represents what happened.

Tom
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by:Jason210
ID: 37073736
Well, I said we can hope it's intact. If it says in an early or coptic Gospel  "Jesus said, 'Be as passers by'" then its reasonable to believe he said it.
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by:tliotta
ID: 37073923
...its reasonable to believe he said it.

During an exercise for a group of about a dozen programmer/analysts, we were presented with statements spoken by a few members of the group. A member would make a statement perhaps like "In order to check the level, I removed the cap and inserted the stick." Each statement was spoken in normal conversational tones. Once spoken, we all then wrote down what we heard. Each statement was also recorded on tape for later playback.

Care to guess how many written versions matched correctly?

I'll give a hint -- None of them from any of us matched any recorded statement. Some variants were serious surprises.

It taught us all a lot about how to interview and to gather and interpret requirements.

From experience, I almost have to say that it's reasonable that it's not what was said, but rather it's the scribe's interpretation of what he believes he heard.

Tom
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by:Callandor
ID: 37075959
Our experiences in the world today do not always reveal what the culture was like two thousand years ago.  When was the last time you met someone who was a scribe and made his living copying text to new documents?  The middle east culture in Israel then had more emphasis on religion than western society today.  Rabbis had disciples who memorized what their teachers said, because that's what disciples did in order to become rabbis.  How much of this do you see today?  So our personal experiences are not the best measures of what is "reasonable", especially if it was in the past or in another culture.
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by:Jason210
ID: 37076617
Scribes weren't always around Jesus when he was saying things to people. His disciples were likely to be illiterate, as was Jesus himself. However, a lot people, even though illiterate , could quote from the Bible, as Jesus did, and were very adept in "Oral Tradition". For many, oral tradition was the only way of communicating cultural knowledge. Many people were very good in remembering so the things Jesus said were like to have been remembered faithfully by many different people and these would have been corroborated when they were first comitted to paper in the form of a list of sayings, like the theoretical "Q" text, (and like Thomas if one ieves the early camp theory). These sayings, along with other passed on stories, would have of formed the basis for Gospels like Mark, which in turn partially formed the basis of Gospels like Mathew and Luke.

John seems to be largely inspired by and based one persons spiritual experience of Jesus and his teachings. John is by far the most mystical text of all the Gospels, but when we read it today we have to approach it with caution. John is the basis for the Christian doctines that emerged in the early church, but I think there is a problem for many to understand and interpret them in a meaningful way. Callandor disagrees but I say we need to approach it symbolically, although I do not believe the author was consciously using symbolism. Who or what does Jesus mean when he says "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." This is a problem. Jesus is dead, so it can't be referring to the person that was Jesus. Herein lies the clue to the meaning. The Gnostics were all into this but unfortunately they were supressed by the early church. We have them to thank for taking this away and forcing everyone to imagine Jesus as some kind of supernatural assistant to God.





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by:Callandor
ID: 37082640
>Jesus is dead, so it can't be referring to the person that was Jesus.

John records that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) - this can only be understood in the Jewish context of the sacrificial lamb that was offered for the sins of the nation on the day of atonement.  The sacrifice made it possible for the high priest to enter into the most holy place where the presence of God was.  Jesus, being the sacrificial lamb, allows people to approach God.
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by:hidrau
ID: 37109340
Did someone read this book:

Lost Scriptures:

http://www.bartdehrman.com/books/lost_scriptures.htm



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by:Jason210
ID: 37111284
I haven't read that one but I've read similar.
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by:rd707
ID: 37299821
See here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon

The idea that it was drawn up at The Council of Nicaea has been largely discredited.

Whoever decided to include the book of Revelation was on glue. It has only served to provide story lines for mediocre Hollywood movies.
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by:Jason210
ID: 37302072
Revelation was a scary ending wasn't it? Just in case the previous books failed to convince, there was an apocalyptic vision of the future to terrify the masses into submission.

Despite the fact that it was written by an exiled Greek as a warning to Christians about the dangers of the Roman Empire, and thus has no relevance today.

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by:Callandor
ID: 37302860
In the first and second centuries, there was no attempt to scare the masses into submission - stop reading your own take on organized religion and revising history.  Christians being persecuted was the reality in the Roman empire - in case you forgot, it was a Coliseum sport.  You had to be really convinced to follow Christianity in those days, because it could cost you your life.

As far as Revelation goes, it is about the end of history and therefore has tremendous relevance today, even if you personally don't believe it.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
ID: 37309173
After December 21, 2012 none of it will matter anyway....   ;)
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by:hidrau
ID: 37309735
thanks
very
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