March 25, 2017
It’s all yours today…
April 6, 2016
August 26, 2013
May 28, 2015
Today is The Annunciation of Our Lord – read all about it.
Historical Information on the Formation of the NT Canon – Part 1:
“When the historian Eusebius of Caesarea early in the fourth century (A. D. 325) came to consider the canon of the church, he had nothing ‘official’ to which he could appeal, no conciliar decrees, no definitive pronouncements that had behind them the authority of the whole church. His discussion of the canon is in essence a historical survey of what had happened to the various books in the church. What had happened was this: 27 books had assumed a place of authority in the life of the church. But the evidence indicated that the process had not been uniform, and Eusebius seeks to deal fairly with the evidence by dividing the books into three classes, the homologoumena, the antilegomena, and the ‘spurious.’ (This third classification is really a sub-division under antilegomena and includes the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Revelation of Peter, and the Epistle of Barnabas.) He lists 21 books as homologoumena: the four Gospels, fourteen Letters of Paul (Eusebius includes the Letter to the Hebrews among the Pauline Letters), the First Letter of Peter and the First Letter of John; he includes the Revelation to John also, but with the reservation, ‘if its seems good,’ and indicates that he will give his own opinion on this point later. He lists five books as ‘antilegomena, but known to (or acknowledged by) the majority,’ namely, the Letter of James, the Second Letter of Peter, the Second and Third Letters of John, the Letter of Jude. He lists Revelation twice, once among the homologoumena and again under the ‘spurious’ books, noting that some reject the work, while others list it among the homologoumena. This hesitation is curious; Eusebius seems to be trying to be scrupulously fair in assessing the evidence both for and against the book without being unduly swayed by his own opinion of the book, which was not favorable to it.”
– Martin H. Franzmann, The Word of the Lord Grows: An Introduction to the Origin, Purpose and Meaning of the New Testament
Some Historical Information on the Formation of the NT Canon – Part 2:
In A. D. 367 Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in his Thirty-ninth Paschal Letter (so called because it announced the official date of Easter to the churches) warns the churches against heretical writings and lists 27 books of Eusebius’ canon as the ‘wellsprings of salvation, from which he who thirsts may take his fill of sacred words.’ … Like Eusebius, he finds the authority for the canon in the history of the canon, not in any decree of the church. It is noteworthy too that Athanasius expressly states that he is not introducing any novelty in this defining the canon: ‘Permit me,’ he says, ‘to remind you of what you know.’ With the Paschal Letter of Athanasius the canon of the church is practically determined. The 27-book canon remained the canon of the Greek church. Before the end of the fourth century the Western church, strongly influenced herein by Jerome and Augustine, likewise had a definitive 27-book canon.”
Some Historical Information on the Formation of the NT Canon – Part 3:
“[T]he New Testament as a collection has a curiously informal and almost casual sort of history. The book that was destined to remain the sacred book for millions of Christians for century upon century came into the church without fanfare, in a quiet, shuffling sort of way. Its history is not all what we should expect the history of a sacred book to be. The story of the Book of Mormon is a good example of how man thinks a sacred book should come to man – miraculously, guaranteed by its miraculousness. The canon is a miracle indeed, but a miracle of another sort, a miracle like the incarnation of our Lord, a miracle in servant’s form. Only a God who is really Lord of all history could risk bringing His written word into history in the way in which the New Testament was actually brought in. Only the God who by His Spirit rules sovereignly over His people could lead His weak, embattled, and persecuted churches to ask the right questions concerning the books that made their claim upon God’s people and to find the right answers: to fix with Spirit-guided instinct on that which was genuinely apostolic (whether written directly by an apostle or not) and therefore genuinely authoritative. Only God Himself could make men see that public reading in churches was a sure clue to canonicity; only the Spirit of God could make men see that a word which commands the obedience of God’s people thereby established itself as God’s word and must inevitably remove all other claimants from the scene.”
Also look at the position of extra-canonical books and letters, the reception by Christians of the LXX (although accepted by few Jews after the early second century) and the codex as particularly “Christian” owing to it’s ease of use in public reading.
Thanks Duane. Those also are interesting topics.
For a number of years I have been following Larry Hurtado’s blog on early Christian origins. He writes a lot about the bookishness of the early Christians. Are you familiar with his work?
Yes, but don’t fully agree… I opt for maybe 10% literacy….
By the way, Hurtado is VERY good looking at ms. evidence and papyri. He takes the new discoveries seriously and approaches them in a balanced manner.
As to literacy, we still struggle with fully understanding the urban context of early Christianity and well as the sociology (socio-economic level and literacy) of the early Church. I’m not sure that any of us have a complete understanding of early Christians as a subset of society…
ICE agents arrest ‘Dreamer’ at Portland home, ACLU says
This is sickening….
“This is what is meant by “Thy king cometh.” [Matt 21:5] You do not seek him, but he seeks you. You do not find him, he finds you. For the preachers come from him, not from you; their sermons come from him, not from you; your faith comes from him, not from you; everything that faith works in you comes from him, not from you; and where he does not come, you remain outside; and where there is no Gospel there is no God, but only sin and damnation, free will may do, suffer, work and live as it may and can. Therefore you should not ask, where to begin to be godly; there is no beginning, except where the king enters and is proclaimed.” (Martin Luther, from Sermon on Matthew 21:1-9)
What is our role as the Church in these situations?
I can’t speak for the Church, but only for the individual. We have to obey the commands of conscience and what we can see in Scripture as guidance. If, however, we go against the state, we need to be prepared for the consequences and be willing to accept those consequences. Again, I am only speaking for myself in this situation…
This is humbling and reassuring.
Thank you Duane. My wife and have a friend who’s mother is in this same situation. She’s been here for 20 years and raised a family. There’s no denying that she is “illegal” according to US immigration laws. But where’s the humanity in removing these people? There is none.
It is so reassuring. I am in a state of praise and worship this morning after reading this sermon.
Have a blessed day and week.
Thank you Jean. You as well… And all here… May there be the love, patience, kindness, mercy and peace of Christ guide our every step this week. Let’s lean on Him.
#13- Joel asks what is the role of the Church in these situations… one thing that jumped out at me as i read Joel’s linked news article was that, as presented, the arrest was far out of line with what the parameters are that are to be used in this immigration sweep – a discerning Believer should be led to question what is the whole truth behind this arrest?
If the article is at all accurate in presenting his situation, the next thing for the Church to do is to go to the aid of this fellow – evidently he is “one of us,” pray and make certain that he has access to good legal representation.
Helpful thoughts, Em. Thank you.
Good news for Mr. Rodriguez
Agree or disagree?
“Besides, it is an exceedingly effectual help against the devil, the world, and the flesh and all evil thoughts to be occupied with the Word of God, and to speak of it, and meditate upon it, so that the First Psalm declares those blessed who meditate upon the Law of God day and night. Undoubtedly, you will not start a stronger incense or other fumigation against the devil than by being engaged upon God’s commandments and words, and speaking, singing, or thinking of them. For this is indeed the true holy water and holy sign from which he flees, and by which he may be driven away.”
– Martin Luther, Preface to the Large Catechism
I agree that Luther wrote that in the Preface to the Large Catechism. 🙂
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