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September 17, 2022 12:01 am
Why does the New Testament contain four Gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--but not the so-called gospel of Thomas? Today, Michael Kruger explains how we know that all the right books--and only the right books--made it into the Bible.
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There are 27 books of the New Testament, but there is a misconception about obligating together the 27 books we have in adjustments for the arbitrary choice of those in power in the whole narrative is that while Constantine basically pick the books himself, and for some on the church and then banished all others that all sounds really interesting and good the promise. It just doesn't fit with the facts of history. How can we know the language in only the right foods made it into the new and Old Testament today on Renewing Your Mind were bringing you a seminar from the 2022 international conference host Barry Cooper as Dr. Michael Kruger to address the question, how do we get the blood does approve you will know is a world-class scholar on this question that we want to talk about, which is how did we get out Bible is also president and Samuel C. Pattison Prof. of New Testament and early Christianity and reformed theological seminary in Charlotte and something I didn't know about you, until recently, was that you studied on the bottom and as an undergraduate. Now for those people you don't know that name and I'm familiar. Maybe you explain a little bit about who he is and maybe how you got to be so interested in the subject wall that's a great opening question to say welcome everybody glad you're here just so you know is a humorous side note, I did know there is going to even be a crowd of his interview so I thought was in a studio and so it's great to see all these life faces here. Yeah, it was mentioned that when I was an undergrad University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I had to earn as a professor. I was a freshman had shown up to my college years is a committed believer and there wasn't a classroom and at the time Barton was a neat famous but he proceeded to attack the New Testament to me. Why was filled with fabricated stories and pseudonymous authors and how it wasn't transmitted reliably and it was it was tough. It was a bombardment for me as a as a young believer. For those we don't know who Barton is he still at UNC Chapel Hill. Now he's written over 30 books, many of them New York Times bestsellers and maybe one the loudest critics of biblical Christianity out there today and so what was it that got you so fast I didn't his particular subject. What is the importance of its what was the bones of it to you then. And what is the continuing importance of it now gambling organs class PEP knows that if you can undermine the authority of Scripture than everything else is going to collapse in the Christian system and so his way of undermining Scripture about what is lots of ways to attack the Scriptures right and there's lots of new ways. Today people are doing it but him and realize that one way is dealing with which books belong in which books don't and whether those books have been reliably transmitted, so issues what we call, text, and Canon and so I found it to be very troubling what he was saying. Also found essays are very fascinating as a whole new world.
I was what 18 or 19 years old is a visible rule. I never knew nothing about my pastor never said anything about these things might you pastor never said anything about these things and so I thought all this is intriguing.
I think I want to learn more about that.
So as I tried to find answers to Herman's objections that led me into this new field I realize of. This is this is very interesting and fascinating in the in the authority of Bible hangs on these issues, which is what led me down that path. I guess I could go either way for college-age kids right and I know you've written them recently. Your book on his theology 101 of the surviving religion when I was in writing relation 101 so exactly to that question that you know you go to college and sucking you getting bombarded by these people who are clearly extremely intelligent telling you why the Bible is complete nonsense and you contrasted but you came through that undisguised and I know that you had to have college-age kids with Opera do their site yet. So for those of you don't know I just published last year. This book called surviving religion 101, which is subtitled letters to a Christian student on keeping the faith in college and it's actually letters to my daughter Emma.
So if you read the introduction of the book you realize it's it's not a fake college student. I'm writing to the it's actually my own daughter Emma, who believe it or not is at UNC Chapel Hill right where I was and so as she started to head out the college. I said you know what I've been thinking about this book for years. This really needs to be written. I wish I'd had this book when I was an undergraduate. So I wrote it to her and I have been very encouraged to see the response to it. I am his friends at UNC still semi-photos a renowned and with them holding the book up and in pictures of it and so forth and so, in my darkest people Caroline Evans on the time and the like are you McGregor. She's not yet grown the book you know so that's been kind of funny phenomenon, but here's the reality is I wrote that book because when people get their faith challenge in college they can go a lot of different directions, and the Lord was good to me, to preserve me, but I saw people fall away from the faith because of what was in our class. I see people just troubling that they don't fall within the faith. It is start doubting and questioning everything and so it's a really important topic.
What you think is been such an uptick in the interest in the cycle of Gnostic Gospels that seems to be Israel fascination Gospel of Thomas and so on and so forth. When he would you put that down. Tammy seems weird to me that little bit like we had with with covariates where suddenly that happened in that you realize that your your my own Facebook assembly become apparently an expert epidemiologist and you have to meet with some everybody was to cut the Gnostic Gospels. Now where is that coming from to think yet. This is not written about this in and given numerous lectures about this this this this cultural fascination with with loss, Gospels, and by the way, there is real fascination with it weathers the Gospel of Thomas Brothers. People seem to be obsessed with learning more you talk about the canonical rest of the people in a rather bored, but if you mention the gospel Thomas and the Gospel of Peter and suddenly there interested I think it goes back to a number of things I think actually goes back to one of the core claims of postmodernity.
So what postmodern people believe not just that there's multiple different views out there. Postmodern people believe that because there is multiple different views out there no one you can be right and that is what I think is behind the loss gospel phenomenon if they can show in their mind. This is not Christian thinking if they can show on their mind that there's a bunch of different opinions about Jesus out there' Gospels about Jesus and they can conclude Weldon no one gospel must be right.
No one gospel could be right. It has to be.
The truth is relative and Gospels are relative. I think driving the fascination with apocryphal gospels is our cultural moment which is if I can to show that no one agrees about who Jesus is and therefore I don't have to follow the evidence I can discern a chocoholic to everybody gets to make up their own ideas and I think that's a real problem. That's interesting send this to my sister the disingenuousness about the question normalized that it's it's almost as if it's not so much. I'm genuinely interested as a historian about these texts it's more of a moral issue, you would say where people are sort of saying you know what I know what it means.
If the four Gospels in the New Testament proved to be true and what Jesus says that is true, then that makes huge claims of my life which I am not interested in subjecting myself to yeah so I think I think people are ensuring apocryphal gospels for many different reasons. I think there probably are some people who genuinely have questions about the historical facts, they just don't know how these things were written and who wrote them in what the date is and so we want to address those issues with people but I also think there's a number of people who don't really want to know the facts. They would rather just get the general idea in their head that multiple Gospels must mean no one. Jesus can be right in the making, sweep it all away and say okay I can deliver out like a monolith. I think a lot of people are like that. I know I often getting in conversations with people in random places about this like one of the classic places I didn't conversations of peoples on airplanes know they made it happen every time I get an airplane accident was on an airplane was the first thing ask you is what you do on my own now here we go out some legacy was Antonio.
I'm a biblical scholar and an adjustment faster than writing all the questions and in time and time again I hear this exact thing right, which is that while Arthur multiple views of Jesus and how can one be right so let's just dig down that hypothetical scenario little bit you give your parents getting on a plane later on tonight let's say we get sat next to that person and they say to you and maybe you you know you will not know if you want to sleep you thing a capital 60 seconds to serve the city had of this question, and they ask you a question about say let's say the Gospel of Thomas, could you give us a bit of a handle on. I noticed clearly as can be just about beginning of an onset that what might you cite that person a psychical 60 seconds and I say, well of course you have the gospel. Thomas is wonderful gospel or to be included and identified as nature shows it was just overruled by late if you know elites in the list about what is what is pretend to be asleep. At that point, I think know that the gospel Thomas is probably the most famous apocryphal gospel out there and I get that question a lot. You know what was wrong.
The gospel Thomas I would have several responsive strippers and said that first of all would ask of you ever read the gospel. Thomas, chances are they have vents or even read the whole thing if they have their realize if they're so in love with the gospel Thomas. They know what the last line in the gospel. Thomas is logging on 114, the gospel, Thomas says every woman that makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven. Well that something a coach would look at is not going for that. And yet people seem enamored with this gospel might have you read it and be the first question. Secondly, do know the consensus on the date of the gospel. Thomas across-the-board modern scholars even nonbelieving scholars must all agree that the gospel Thomas is written in the second century, probably the late second century. In other words, it could not of been written by Thomas is not connected to an apostle, its weight after the fact. Written by somebody we don't know who was not connected to the original 12, wouldn't you if you're picking the gospel want to gospel the lease has a chance to be written by one of Jesus's actual followers.
If so, the gospel, Thomas is not in the blasting was horrible. Thomas didn't write the gospel. Thomas and Weiser called the gospel Thomas twice a will look if you're trying to get a hearing for your new gospel in the second century got to give it a name that people want to listen to you wouldn't call it Bob's gospel or something right.
Call it well about mistaken apostolic name on it and that was very common in that time. Very interesting. And what about if the same person said all right the case for an orthodontist on the gospel Thomas but what amounts you know how we got the Canon is a whole heck of we've got this this particular angle. These 27 books and just gambles was not about an anticandida happen officially if you know that if there was a different set of people in the early church just decided on different set of books. So why would you trust these funds is a common misconception out there which is it the 27 books we have and any attachments for the arbitrary choice of those in power usually in the fourth century usually linked to Constantine and the whole narrative is that while Constantine basically pick the books himself in force among the church and then vanished. All other sort of da Vinci code.
Ask narratives okay.
That all sounds really interesting and good the promise. It just doesn't fit with the facts of history on. If someone thinks the king was arbitrary, chosen by some committee in the fourth century, that is not understand the history of the Canon because we have those books received much, much earlier than that by the middle of the second century we have a core group of books say 2227 books already functioning in Scripture.
In the early church.
In other words, they were picked by committee. They were picked by some smoke-filled room discussion. They were there from organically growing up from the beginning.
So one of the things in your head that you might have his idea that people chose books in the early church. I think that's a misunderstanding of what happened if you would've gone up to a Christian in the second century, say and said hey you know why did you choose Matthew Mark Luke and John.
Is your gospel to be like choose, we can choose not to Margaret and John. They were handed down to us from the apostles. I think you see a very different narrative there and so I wanted. I always incredible that to get away from the sort of your top down version of the Canon and look at the bottom of version, the candidate grew naturally and organically in the early Christian movement. Yeah, that's very helpful to know if I've heard you talking about this approach of Massimo soaking about this is what the church shows that this is the Canon that God gave us just thinking that, could you talk a little bit about that getting that perspective if you answered yes. So here's one of the ideas out there that people have is that books become Canon okay so imagine this is what people something happens in the candy think that Paul wrote some letters in the first century. They were just occasional documents. Given his friendly advice and then it wasn't until the second or third century. The Christian said while you read these letters is a really great, in fact there so great. I think we should make the Scripture what you think of it all in favor say I and is a vote in a trip and make them Scripture that whole narrative is very common and what is it suggest a suggestible to written for one purpose and then sort of hijacked later by the church for another purpose and infused with authority, but what of the authority was there from the beginning. What if it's not so much that the church make them authoritative and simply recognize them as authoritative, and so one of the things that you said there that thing is so important that I've said repeatedly, which is that we have to remember books are just simply recognized by the church are chosen by the church there given by God and forgiven by God through divine inspiration. That means these books are authoritative.
The moment there given in their authoritative and canonical. The moment there given further recognized by single person even when the ink was still dry on the letter to the Romans. It was canonical in God's mind on yes it took time for the church to recognize that the authority is not from the church authority is from God, and that's a very important distinction.
Should we reach apocryphal books to think. I do think we should read apocryphal books.
One of things I do when I go lecture places are actually used the audience to find out what books they've read so I have an audience here about ask yes okay here's a question for you. How many of you have not just heard of but actually read the Gospel of Peter Kagan may be for hands to this this is this a good sign. This is a very godly audience is only reading not doing your devotionals in the Gospel of Peter the piece of the really strange from where the cross is in the in the Triassic sciatica right so what would people say should I read apocryphal gospels on my think would be very interesting for people to read about the Gospels that they did they would realize how different they are in the canonical.
Once the narrative that all Gospels are the same, only works if you've never read and evaluate many of the canonical Gospels is never the Gospel of Peter and you read the maximum Luke and Johnny really read them like from front to back really read them and when you do utilizes a qualitative difference.
So to the Gospel of Peter as an example, and I think you may not know is that the Gospel of Peter actually shows you the resurrection happening. Jesus comes out of it soon. If you ever wonder what it looks like Jesus walking out the terms of the canonical Gospels tell you the gospel Peter tells you that shows you Jesus Camaro tomb is a glass pretty cool until you realize this gets really weird fast is when Jesus comes out of the tomb, is not the Jesus you remember his head touches the clouds is like 60 foot Jesus right is like that of my students like Godzilla Jesus come out of it soon. And then it gets weirder because the cross follows him out of the tomb, and you like will get in the tomb usually Romans notes and crosses home with the people they crucified that okay so there's a cross in the team and how does it follow Jesus out as it floating in it gets weirder the cross starts to talk in the Gospel of Peter. If you have a giant Godzilla Jesus with a floating talking cross. He realized this is not like the canonical Gospels and so yes I think you should read them because when I read them there and realize how there's a big difference here so amicably reading that nature. Yes, it is like some this had a bit too much cheese and some damage. It does look like someone's drug.when they wrote about the Pink Floyd gospel since I like that we let me just reach you. This is probably never been said in any legionnaire session.
After this, for the record, I was ever said those segments of pinkeye monitors and organizing them together have it together never. He said that we did know where this interview was going apparently that's right.
And if they did go to the Pink Floyd concert. They certainly didn't inhale is now let me just reach you this this quote. This is from your from your old friend about and see. See what your response. This is it. I did my very best to hold onto my faith that the Bible was the inspector inspired word of God with no mistakes and that lasted for about two years. I realize that the time we had over 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament, and no two of them are exactly alike, the scribes were changing them sometimes in big ways but lots of times a little ways and it finally occurred to me that if I really fool had inspired this text. If he went to the trouble of inspiring the text. Why didn't he go to the trouble of preserving the text. Why did he allow scribes to change it.
Multisite alacrity so I heard this argument as a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill as thousands of freshmen never ever sense because Armand's been saying this for years. This is his argument from textual criticism, which is a field of study about variations within the New Testament manuscripts and he says because of their scribal variation New Testament. If You can't trust them there unreliable and apparently that was one of the things that led him to abandon his faith well a few things to know about that. First of all their scribal variations. We do know that scribes and a copy sometimes made errors just like anytime you copy the book would make errors, but we have so many copies of the New Testament across the board and preserve that we have a lot of confidence in what was originally written in Armand takes the posture here of like super skeptic. If there's any variance at all. Therefore, the whole thing a shot is collecting all or nothing deal in his mind. The reason it shot is because, well, if God gave the Bible is inspired and able to make sure was preserved in a infallible way.
But notice that she is Armand imposing his own private definition of inspiration like his mother and say well I think if I had my druthers, I would have it done this way, but just because it wasn't on the way you would like to do. It doesn't mean it's not true, or is invalid. God obviously inspired the original authors but are we really to believe that God promises that no scribe ever any point in all of human history whenever someone writes that positively always get it exactly right is not really our view will be really kind of insane and ridiculous to think that God would just take every scribe ever decided to write the words down and never let her make a mistake ever know God is working on historical channels and normal circumstance to have variance. Yes, he preserve so many manuscript that we can know what it said in the end is the strange thing is now meant to say why didn't you go to the trouble of preserving the text you talking about the text.
Yes he did preserving terrorism.
Think about it would be to say anything let Willis to a little bit more about that textual variants and because we as we know how to party and making a list of grantor textual variants and reading through Jones gospel you reach John chapter 7, 53, two very famous passage to write 11 way. Read about the woman caught in adultery. People are about to start inherent Jesus says let he who is without sin cast the first time and you know that in our English Bibles is a little musical superscript that I would say something like the earliest manuscripts do not have this this section we have a similar thing, of course, at the end of Mark's gospel now as a preacher do you do you preach those passages with the same degree of surety and assurance and weights not really believing it to be just as authoritative and and if so why the slightly scary sort of message in the in the New Testament that yeah so everybody's run across this passage and you see the little bracket to say the early Spanish to not contain these just as a side note actually wrote an entire article for tabletop magazine on exactly this issue so I don't remember what year was you can dig up an article in the archives.
But here's the short version we have manuscript variations. Most of them are very small there's only two's to measure variations of any significant size. There's will call the longing of Mark, which is 16 nine 320 in the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman.
The earliest managers and I have either those stories and most scholars, most evangelical scholars and I would count myself and this makes think those were not original to either John or I wrote that in the tabletop article people panic when they hear that. I know that means arrivals are reliable know if you have a copy of John in the second century that the story would've been there okay and this is the good news is that we can reconstruct what John look like by the plethora manuscript we have in fact I take my students through one of the earliest copies of John Wayne P 66 work I show them how they usually right in 751 that goes right to a 13 there is no story of the adulterous woman there so we do a sermon. Well, I mean every every pastor has to do his own due diligence and whether he thinks the text is original. I don't think it's original title to its original that I was I wouldn't preach on that I didn't think was inspired word of God, and there from the beginning is a complicated thing and this is why most English Bibles still retain it in brackets is a realize there's always a minority report out there people who think it's original. Most scholars think it's not such a reassuring his neck that it is front and center that information is given to you in the Bible I think is you think is is good to see me to come of this Messiah different angles on a time is running a little short is acquired when when you see the sun.
You know it's bright when you taste honey you know it's sweet when you see Jesus Christ in Scripture you know he is Lord and when you put God's Word into practice.
You know it's for real. Do you ever say to people.
Listen, I know you got issues with Scripture and I die here. The question is there all valid questions, but have you ever tried putting it into into practice. Have you ever tried that she taking Jesus at his word.
Try to live this out, obeying what he saying is there is a sense in there, which ultimately Scripture is self authenticating. Would you say you think that's a valid thing to say to may be the right all haphazardly and what was the quote who said that and that was that was sometimes me. That was that it was at Pink Floyd yeah yes no those you was made ESL very nicely to bring it up but I a few years ago I published a small book quotes back and I really trust the Bible but is a bit like make you know it's like set up a little something about talking to Mike Tyson was and is a bit embarrassing so I can bring it out. Well I think your quote spot on. Self authentication is a word that we need to recover more in the church original effectively a whole book on this call came in, revisited the whole book on why the Bible self authenticating. Now that's a big word what we mean by self authenticating equipment what it means is that the real way you know that God's word is God's word is because God demonstrates the valid validity of his Word through his word. In other words, the word bears God's own divine attributes and qualities so I don't need to know the Bible is the word about this from historical evidences, although that's fine. I know the Bibles of the gods from the word of God exhibits God's own qualities and characteristics of any author had, how would you know that author wrote a book what you would say well I read this book. I can see the personality of the author. The characteristics of the author coming to. That's one of the authors, the author was like that with God. So when the characteristics that more God what is God's word will cover this member can revisited one of the most rigorous is the amazing unity and harmony of these books and they all fit together so remarkably but another is what we call the power and efficacy of these books and it is to your point, which is people. He realized that the word of God is powerful. If you use it, you read it you expose yourself to it. You'll soon realize that you're not reading God's word. God's word reading you it's not so much that you're doing something as workouts or doing something your words is not a debt, but it's a living book. What kind of book could be a living book on labor given by God. And that's how we know it's God's work. That's really really helpful so you can revisited to get hold of that one last question, then book of Hebrews. You just couldn't ended without the help, I'm sorry. Yeah so I just lectured on this RTS is not long ago as a readiness.
The book of Hebrews is in our Bibles. But the book of Hebrews is anonymous.
We don't know the author is not in the text anywhere. And so, the early church was was was divided over this some thought.
Paul may have still been the author and a lot of other people said Paul is probably not the author. My answer is origins. Answer origin. It was 1/3 century church father. His answer is only God knows so I think I want to stick with that answer. I think it's a pretty good one.
Now that is when we can hypothesize there's something corroded I think there's some some merit to that unit today. We don't know is that challenges canonicity now because the book of Hebrews is situated in the author situates himself as a immediate disciple of the apostles that he got his information from the apostles and that's what makes up a part of the canon is not so much to help and the material in his apostolic material and he restates him the reasons the Bible and the truth. It contains your under assault today so were grateful for Dr. Michael Kruger and his expertise in what we call the canon of Scripture. Thanks for joining us for Renewing Your Mind on the Saturday Bible Lee Webb after hearing today's message.
I'm reminded yet again how important it is for us to be knowledgeable Christians. We need to know what we believe why we believe it how to live it and how to share it with that in mind, let me recommend a book to our founder Dr. RC Sproul believe that everyone's a theologian. That's because anytime we think about the teaching of the Bible and strive to understand it, were engaging in theology. In his book everyone's a theologian Dr. scroll surveys the basic truths of the Christian faith and would like to send you a copy when you contact us today with a donation of any amount or if you've never contacted us before we'd be happy to send you a copy for free. Just call us at 800-435-4343 bar find us online at Renewing Your Mind.a word over the next several weeks. We are pleased to feature our sessions from the 2022 legged international conference in.
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