"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

The CANON of SCRIPTURE: SECTION ONE, ARTICLE TWO

SECTION ONE – ARTICLE TWO: The JOURNEY CONTINUES, TRAVELING THE TORAH and BEYOND

By James Fire

HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION – 

Any building is only as firm as the foundation upon which it is built. From this observation, we consider that all of the books of the Bible are founded upon previous revelation. The authentication of the New Testament is based on that which was proposed, promised and prophesied in the Old Testament. Likewise the epistles of the New Testament are based on the Gospel accounts of the teachings of Christ Himself, Who is in fact, the very foundation and 'founder' of the Truth

We must affirm and emphasize that canon of Scripture was never determined by the church; rather, it was discovered by the church (and Israel before her) when God revealed His Word to His saints. How was the Word of God recognized as opposed to other writings which may have made such claims as being Divinely inspired?


From GOT QUESTIONS.com we have a competent answer:

“This recognition of God's Word is usually called 'canonization'. We are careful to say that God determined the canon, and the church discovered the canon. The canon of Scripture was not created by the church; rather, the church discovered or recognized it. In other words, God's Word was inspired and authoritative from its inception--it "stands firm in the heavens" (PSALM 119:89) --and the church simply recognized that fact and accepted it.

“The criteria the church used for recognizing and collecting the Word of God are as follows:

1) Was the book written by a prophet of God?
2) Was the writer authenticated by miracles to confirm his message?
3) Does the book tell the truth about God, with no falsehood or contradiction?
4) Does the book evince a divine capacity to transform lives?
5) Was the book accepted as God's Word by the people to whom it was first delivered?

“Of these criteria, the one of most importance was the first one--was the book written by a prophet? Its corollary, did the book receive apostolic approval?, was the chief test of canonicity in the early church. This criterion is a logical result of knowing what an "apostle" was. The apostles were gifted by God to be the founders and leaders of the church, so it is reasonable to accept that through them came the Word governing the church.”

For the full article, go here

As mentioned before in Article One, the writings of Moses were considered the Word of God because it was through Moses that God delivered Israel from Egypt after four centuries of bondage (which was explained to Abram (“Abraham”) by the LORD during a revelation given to him in GEN 15:12-14). It was through dramatic deeds of Deity that His people were delivered from Egypt, miraculous signs that were witnessed by Egyptians and Hebrews alike. This same Miracle Worker Who is YHWH, I AM THAT I AM, is the same One Who miraculously provided for Israel in their 40 year wandering through the wilderness. He is the same One Who claimed to speak through Moses, the amanuensis of the Almighty and wrote what we call the Torah, or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).

These books are foundational to the rest of the Scripture in their entirety; and as mentioned before, all of the foundational truths of Scripture are first mentioned in the 10 chapters that begin Genesis. It's been said before that every page of Scripture is a portrait of the face of Jesus Christ. The Scripture themselves clearly state:

PSALM 40:6-8
6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

As well as the LORD's admonition to the Pharisees in the days when YHWH walked the Earth on His own two Human feet:

JOHN 5:38-40
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Every book of the Bible, every chapter, every verse is a revelation which serves the purpose of revealing Christ: His Person, His nature, His plans and purposes in and out of this world, His truth and grace. He is the Corner stone by which all revelation is measured – and since truth cannot contradict itself, any revelation claiming to be from God cannot contradict the Person of Christ and all of the aspects of His glory and grace.

Scripture is full of types (or models) of Christ; everything from the skins that clothed Adam and Eve after the fall of mankind, to the promised “seed of the woman”, to the offerings of Abel from his flocks, to the would-be sacrifice of Isaac by his father, Abraham and the subsequent goat that was offered in his place. The very tabernacle whose design was given to Moses by YHWH is a profound and deep study with its various architectures and patterns, which exhibit the Person of Christ. Likewise the Law as given to Moses by God is a portrayal of the pure and incorruptible holiness of the LORD, without which no one will see God (MATT 5:8; HEB 12:14). For more on the typologies of Christ in the Scriptures, see the following site, which has an awesomely exhaustive list of such.

For now however, let us return to the canon of Old Testament Scripture, picking up where we left off in SECTION ONE, ARTICLE ONE:

Previously we looked at the writings of Moses and now we shall look to the testimony of the other Old Testament books which bear witness to the authenticity of Mosaic authorship as being truly by the inspiration of God as recognized repeatedly as such.
One should be careful to note that there are no extra-biblical books in all of Israel's history; that any book found in Holy Writ is either mentioned elsewhere or that its content is verified by other books. And they are all united, pointing back to the authorship of Moses, writer of the Torah as well as pointing forward in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

His name is mentioned more than fifty times in the book of Joshua alone; his Law, four times as directly attributed to him. Joshua, in obedience to Moses command, had the Laws of God written on plastered stone (JOSH 8:34; DEUT. 27:1-28). He established the forty-eight cities of the Levites as “the LORD commanded Moses” (JOSH 20:1-21:41; NUM 36:13); also the cities of Refuge (EXOD 21:13; DEUT. 4:41-43; JOSH 24:26). The wide and varied reference from Joshua, reflexively back to Moses and the Law, coupled together with the apparent hand of God moving on behalf of Joshua as the LORD was with Moses, performing the miraculous, cements Joshua into the canon. When examining the doctrinal content of Joshua, we see everywhere the revelation of God, His character and nature, His Word and the truth manifested, bearing witness with previous revelation.

In the pursuing centuries, Moses was typically regarded as the Law giver, and author of the Torah, recorded most prominently in JUDGES 3:4; 1 KINGS 2:38:9; 2 KINGS 18:4-6, 12; 2 KINGS 21:823:25. Central to this attribution is the testimony found in the books of Nehemiah, Ezra and the books of Chronicles (all three sources probably written by Ezra, the priest himself). In all three books the Law is attributed to Moses a dozen times. Rather than a glorification of a revered leader like Moses, these books simply ascribe to him statements and actions already documented in the Torah; they are a mere elaboration of what was prior.

Moses is specifically mentioned in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah and Malachi; PSALM 90 is directly attributed to Moses, the man of God, i.e. a prophet. PSALM 103 the revelation of God to Moses is mentioned (EXOD. 34:6 is quoted).PSALM 106 gives a detailed account of Moses leadership.

A book such as Hosea makes mention of every one of the five books of Moses; referring to Jacob's birth (HOSEA 12:3-4), and later, his wrestling with the angel (HOSEA 12:9); as well as his vision at Bethel. He quotes the commandments of Moses (HOSEA 13:4; EXOD 20:2); the dwelling booths in the feast of Tabernacles – a detail found only in Leviticus (HOSEA 12:9; LEV 23:42). In HOSEA 9:10 the mention of Israel's apostasy at Baal-peor is also mentioned; 11:8 speaks of the destruction of the cities of Admah and Zeboiim which is reported only in DEUT 29:23. HOSEA 9:9 and HOSEA 10:9 refer to the battle in JUDGES 20. Hosea quotes from other books, making allusion to them, but never to any extra-biblical source.

The dating of Hosea's book places it in the days of Jeroboam II, well before the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. The book of Joshua refers repeatedly to these books of the Torah; obviously Joshua was written during the pre-Exilic period, and yet critics would late date these Deuteronomic books as documents written after the Exile. It would mean that Joshua would have had to anticipate verbatim that which wouldn't be written for centuries ahead of his time!

A COMPARISON BETWEEN CANONICAL COPIES -

The following is a table of comparison between quotes from the Torah and their corresponding verses found elsewhere in the book of Joshua:

1) JOSHUA 5:6 - NUM 14:23 – Generation condemned
2) JOSHUA 8:30-31 - DEUT. 27:4-5 – Altar Not Engraved by iron
3) JOSHUA 8:32-35 - DEUT 27 2-4, 8 – Moses' Law in plaster
4) JOSHUA 13:21-22 - NUM 31:8 – Balaam slain
5) JOSHUA 14:4 - GEN 48:5-6 – Manasseh and Ephraim to inherit
6) JOSHUA 15:14  - NUM 13:22 – Sons of Anak in Hebron 
7) JOSHUA 17:3 - NUM 26:33 – Daughters of Zelophehad
8) JOSHUA 22:17  - NUM 25:5 – Plague of Baal-Peor
9) JOSHUA 23:7 - EXOD 20:5 – Versus idolatry 
10) JOSHUA 24:2-3 - GEN 12:1 – Terah and Abraham called out
11) JOSHUA 24:7 - EXOD 14:10, 20 – Darkness between Israel and Egypt
12) JOSHUA 24:32 - GEN 33:19 – Jacob's purchase of lands in Shechem


Likewise in other books of the Old Testament, we find parallels of correspondence wherein writings found in the Torah are verified in these other writings:

1) JUDGES 5:4-5  - EXOD 19:18-20 – Theophany on Sinai (JUDGES 5:4-5; PS 68:8)
2) JUDGES 7:3 - DEUT 20:8 – Offer  to fearful to return home
3) JUDGES 11:17  - NUM 20:17-18 – Edom Refuses passage
4) JUDGES 11:25  - NUM 22:5-6 – References to Balak found again in JOSH 24:9;                                            and MICAH 6:8
5) 1 SAM 12:8 - GEN 46:6 – Descent into Egypt by Jacob
6) 1 SAM 15:29 - NUM 23:19 – God will not lie or repent
7) 1 KINGS 2:3 - DEUT 11:1 – Keep statues of Moses' Law
8) 1 KINGS 18:31 - GEN 35:10 – Israel shall be thy name
9) 1 KINGS 19:8 - EXOD 3:1 – Horeb, the Mt of God
10) 2 KINGS 18:4 - NUM 21:8 – the brazen serpent
11) 2 KINGS 23:25 - DEUT 6:5 – Love the LORD with all thy heart, soul and might according to the law of Moses (cf. DEUT 11:13; JOSH 22:5).


And furthermore, throughout the pages of Scripture, we find even more of the same corroboration. 

One must understand that between the page turning of the modern Bible reader are mere seconds from one passage to another. Seldom is it appreciated that when one flips from Exodus to Hosea, one has effectively traveled the equivalent of centuries worth of archaeological diggings in located remnants of parchments. To find quotes of older script fully intact and quoted in documents dating far later is a profound evidence that confirms and supports the unity of Scripture as a whole.

NUMBERS 10:35 is quoted by PSALM 68:1-2 and other parts of the Psalm in JUDGES 5:4-5.  The first commandment in EXOD 20:2 has been referred to in HOSEA 12:9; 13:4 and also in PSALM 81:10 – which refers to other incidents of the Exodus such as the sounding of the trumpets on the new moon (NUM 10:10. The waters of Meribah (PSALM 81:7) are referred to here as well, from Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The great summary passages in the Old Testament which recalls in part, the history of Israel. JUDGES 11:5-22 mentions the Trans-Jordan conquest related in Numbers and Deuteronomy. JOSHUA 24:2-18 touches on events as found in almost all of the Torah (excepting Leviticus). The prophet Samuel addresses events like the wars fought by Barak against Sisera, by Gideon (Jerubbaal) and Jephthah in 1 SAM 12. The historical PSALMS 78; PSALM 105; 106; 135 and PSALM 136 repeat the same story with a quotation from DEUT. 32:36; parts of PSALM 105 and PSALM 106 are quoted in 1 CHRON 16.

ISAIAH 7:12 quotes from DEUT. 6:16; ISAIAH 10:26 alludes to Gideon's victory in JUDGES 7:25; ISAIAH 12:2 from EXOD. 15:2 as does PSALM 118:14. MICAH 3:12 is quoted by JEREMIAH 26:18. JEREMIAH 48 derives from ISAIAH 15 and ISAIAH 16. He also quotes from HOSEA 3:5 and NUMBERS 21:28-29.

“The bearing of the above study on the OT canon is obvious: the OT Books were written as they claim, stage by stage, and year by year throughout Israel's history from Moses on down to the later prophets, There is no ancient extra-Biblical witness to prove this, but there is a great deal of inner biblical witness, whereby one book gives witness to another antiquity.” 

~ Above citations and the quote above all taken and or abbreviated from ZONDERVAN's PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY, pages 713-714.

The CONCEPT of GOD's SPOKESMEN: The PROPHETS and APOSTLES of the LORD- 

The office of an Old Testament prophet, and it's New Testament equivalent, an apostle were not electives chosen by the people that populated those offices themselves. They were chosen by God, for His express purposes, primarily being the revelation of Himself.

Both prophet and apostle were ordained of God by His calling, ratified by God by means of miraculous demonstration, and revealed as true by the true words that God conveyed to them through His Spirit.

HEBREWS 1:1-2
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

The LORD Jesus is the Word Incarnate, and by Him was the Word given to the varied array of prophets and apostles throughout Scripture. He Who is The Prophet and The Apostle, has passed on this authority to those His servants, in whom the same Spirit gave unction and inspiration (literally “God-breathed”; 2 TIM 3:16; 2 PET 1:20-21; JOHN 14:26) as well as demonstrative miracles of holy origin.

Old Testament occurrences of God's calling of the prophets such as Ezekiel and Isaiah were the results of visions, in which they received His command, and sometimes even the reception of 'a book' or the purging of oneself via the holy altar of God (See EZEK 3:3-4; ISAIAH 6:6-9). The reluctant prophets, Jeremiah and Moses were encouraged by the LORD as He touched them by His Spirit and placed His Word into them (JER 1:5-9; EXOD 4:10-12). Particularly with Moses, and not with other prophets whereby God would convey His Word through dreams and visions, with this Law giver, the most humble man in all the earth, the LORD spoke face to face, mouth to mouth as one Friend to another (NUM 12:6-8). In fact, Moses is portrayed as the most highly esteemed prophet of all prophets, that the LORD gave him revelation of the One Who is to come as being like himself (DEUT. 18:15, 18).

The bringing in of false prophets into the nation of Israel was certainly problematic for the people: How were they to distinguish the true from the false, particularly early on before there was an abundance of revelation to measure their words by?

The fact is, that there was certainly enough to go on from the writings of Moses, which were bed-rock solid evidences of God's revelation to the nation, to distinguish and mark those that were false. The very fact that God commanded Israel to expose the false prophets, to not follow after them (despite the demonstration of (false) miracles) if they attempted to lead them away from the LORD, itself is an evidence that they had sufficient doctrine to make such a determination.

“Israel had many prophets through her long history and the documents repeatedly assert that the faithful of the nation listened to these prophets, accepting their words as the words of God. One could hold that the prophets were self deceived and the people mistaken, but clearly ancient Israel believed that God spoke by the prophets. It is clear from the Bible however that false prophets . . .  abounded in Israel . . . how were Israelites to distinguish true prophets from false?

“The Bible gives three signs of a true prophet:

1) His word must be in accord with true religion (DEUT 13:1-5).
2) His predictions must come to pass (DEUT 18:21-22)
3) His word may be accompanied with miraculous signs (EXOD 4:3-9; 1 KINGS 13:3-5; 2 KINGS 20:8-11).

“The conclusion is that throughout the history of Israel (and before, as Enoch, Noah and Abraham were all accounted as prophets of God) there were men who were recognized as spokesmen for God and their word was regarded as true by the faithful in the nation. It may be remarked that this recognition was not given to others. Priests . . . and kings of Israel had no such prophetic power (King David excepting, as he is also accounted as a prophet, as well as Ezekiel, a priest of Levi).”

On the issue of true prophets vs. false prophets – both then and now, we turn to LET US REASON ministries and the article found there: When A Prophet Speaks and His Words Do Not Come To Pass

The WRITING of The RIGHTEOUS PROPHETS – 

Just as the Red Sea opened up for Moses by the power of God, likewise did the swollen flood of the Jordan River open up for Joshua. So too, both men had the revelation of God open up for them, bringing the truth of Scripture into our world.

Both men spoke the prophetic. Such instances in Joshua's life occurred in JOSH 6:26; 10:13,14). Generations afterward recalled Joshua as a prophet (1 KINGS 16:34); even more so, that his own writings were added to “the book of the Law of God” (JOSH 24:26). The claim therefore rightly asserts that the book of Joshua belongs with the Torah. Liberal scholars would argue that the events that transpired in the book of Joshua happened much later than events surrounding the Torah, however, an argument can certainly be made for an early date, contemporary to those surrounding the life and times of Moses.

The book of Judges and Ruth are one in the Hebrew Bible; both concern the city of Bethlehem, and in the case of Judges, the many deliverances from Israel's enemies. The book of Joshua ends with the account of his death – which is also recorded in JUDGES 2:7-9; cf. JOSH 24:29-31. This would be an addendum written after the fact of Joshua's death. Ruth focuses on the redemption of land for Naomi by Boaz, the near-kinsman. The theme of redemption of land is throughout the books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth and represents the central theme. The end of Judges-Ruth is likewise ended with the recording of Boaz and Ruth's child, and this is associated with the genealogy to King David; something that would also be added far after the end of the time of Judges. 

The Second book of Chronicles ends in a seeming mid-sentence, which is completed in the book of Ezra (EZRA 1:3).

“Evidently it was a practice for the author of a second book to place a concluding appendix or 'catch-line' on the previous book to show the connection. An exceedingly accurate documentation is available to prove that these two verses were added to 2 Chronicles as a catch-line. There is an apocryphal book called 1 Esdras which is little more than a copy of 2 CHRON 35:1 through Ezra with a brief part of Nehemiah. 

“It is most interesting that where this books makes the joining between 2 Chronicles and Ezra, the two verse catch-line of 1 CHRON 36:22-23 is omitted. This catch-line practice is common in antiquity. Before bound books were invented, it was necessary to write them on several scrolls . . . To show the connection between individual scrolls or tablets, the catch-line principle was often adopted (secular examples of this can be found in the Epic of Gilgamesh.”  

~  quote above all taken and or abbreviated from ZONDERVAN's PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY, pages 716.

And in the books of Samuel-Kings: the same sort of verbal connections between these books with their predecessors, and those with the books written previously (Torah and the book of Joshua) form canonical links in the chain of Scripture. It is noteworthy that these 'catch-lines' exist only in these books and not in any others, namely forgeries that would purport to be a word of God.   

In each case of the successive kings that ruled in Israel and in Judah, they all left records – chronicles – of the histories of their times. For Solomon, it was “the book of the acts of Solomon (1 KINGS 11:41); for Rehoboam, “the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” (1 KINGS 11:29); for Jeroboam (1 KINGS 11:19). Such practices were certainly not exclusive to the Kings of the Israeli nation; there is the Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings (cf. Dr. Wiseman; 1956) among others. Each of the chronicles of the various Kings is associated with prophets contemporary to their times: in the case of David, there was the prophet Nathan; for Solomon, Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo. Rehoboam had Shemiah and Iddo.

Correlations between Samuel-Kings and the Chronicles are often overlapped so that information lacking in the one (usually Samuel-Kings) is found in the other. In all cases, the writings appear to be performed by the prophets, rather than the kings. This becomes all the more apparent in the cases of Isaiah, Jeremiah and others, such as Daniel.

As in cases prior, notably the Torah, the very foundation of Old Testament canon and revelation, there are instances of authentication in the actual writings of these prophets as being genuinely authored by them; instances of prophetic revelation that agree with previous revelation, but also expand upon them, giving greater details and wider scope (as is the case of progressive revelation as discussed in Article One of this series). The general revelation of the truth of God, His nature and attributes; His over all plan of the ages is also verified in these latter works, based upon that which was given in the earlier ones.

All the way through the Old Testament canon, through the major prophets (ISAIAH, JEREMIAH, EZEKIEL and DANIEL) as well as the minor ones (such as JOEL, AMOS, OBADIAH and MALACHI) there may be found verification of earlier texts, and confirming quotes from them, substantiating the claim that those who were purported to be the authors of those writings, were indeed accepted as such. 

All of the Old Testament canon, as mentioned several times already, point to the central theme of the Person of the Messiah. Thus these prophetic writings that describe His Person, His birth place and miraculous birth, His residential location, His mission, the criteria He would fulfill as the Messiah King, the manner of His life and death, His resurrection – as well as the eventual establishment of His kingdom to be realized during The MILLENNIUM – would all be referred to and realized in the canon of the New Testament.

As with the Old Testament, the Gospel accounts are replete with the Word of God, verified by Old Testament canon, and accompanied by far greater and glorious miracles at the hands of the Messiah. Thus the Gospels serve as the herald of our salvation, and also a bridge that connects the Old Testament Scriptures to the New, as written by the apostles and those recognized by the apostles.

Here ends the second article of this first section on this treatment of the Canon of Scripture. In the third and final article, we will examine the New Testament canon by way of a general overview, as we have done with the Old Testament. In the second section we will return to the Old Testament and examine specific details as pointed out by F. F. Bruce in his book on the Canonization of Scripture, represented in three more articles.

Until then, may the LORD Jesus Christ keep us His saints, in His grace and truth until His Return. Amen! 

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