Bible Study

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Bible study is important because this is our contact point with the Lord.  If you want to know what the Lord has to say, then Bible study is for you.  If you know how to read, then you should study the Bible yourself rather than place your trust in some other person to accurately tell you about the Bible.

Humans are evil and corrupt from youth up according to the Hebrew Bible, but an individual can rise above this problem by obeying the Bible and by associating with others who obey the Bible.  Whether one is a Jew, a Nicene, an Arian, or some other type of Bible student, the important thing is to obey the true Word of the Lord.   

What one believes the Bible to be is very important, and accurately understanding the Bible is very important.  The Bible represents an effort on the part of humans to discover the true Word of the Lord.  The Bible is defined as a collection of writings that contains the true Word of the Lord.  Some Jews define the Bible as the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.  Other Jews define the Bible as all the books contained in the Hebrew Bible of the present but not as it was during the time of Jesus.  Catholics define the Bible as the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament) as it was during the time of Jesus and the New Testament books.  Assembly of God Christians define the Bible as some but not all the books of the Hebrew Bible as it was during the time of Jesus and the New Testament books.

After considering the various definitions of the Bible, one might be confused.  Actually, this confusion can add to the fun of Bible study.  Who are the persons doing the defining?  What qualifications do they have?

The pursuit of knowledge or science is the pursuit of truth, and the study of the true Bible is the study of truth already discovered.  Between truthful science and the true Bible, there is harmony.  Truth can never conflict with truth. 

 

New Testament History

Athanasius (theologian, ecclesiastical statesman, and Egyptian national leader) was the chief defender of Nicene doctrine in a 4th-century contest with churchmen who supported the Arian doctrine.  The Nicene doctrine describes Jesus as God.  The Arian doctrine describes Jesus as a human, and not the same as Jehovah.  Athanasius attended the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) where the Nicene doctrine was approved as the official doctrine of the Church.  The Nicene doctrine is the present-day doctrine of the Catholic Church and most Protestant churches.

Some Germanic tribes continued to believe in the Arian doctrine until the beginning of the 8th century.  In modern times some Unitarians are similar to Arians in that they are unwilling to attribute to Jesus a divine nature identical with that of Jehovah. The Jehovah's Witnesses also are similar to Arians.

 

 

This icon of Athanasius was taken from Orthodox Byzantine Icons

The artist is unknown.

Date: 16th c.
Location: Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos
Heritage: Greek

 

 

 

 

This icon of Athanasius was taken from Orthodox Byzantine Icons

The artist is unknown.

Date: unknown
Location: unknown

Style: Fresco
Heritage: Greek

 

From the 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius in the year 367 A.D. as translated and edited by Larry McCart :

"Since, however, we have spoken of ourselves as possessors of the divine writings unto salvation, and since I am afraid that some persons may be led astray from their purity and holiness by those who support Arian doctrine (and begin thereafter to pay attention to apocryphal writings), and since some have sought to mingle apocryphal writings with what I believe to be God-inspired scripture, I have decided to set forth the writings that shall be called the New Testament."

"Continuing, I must without hesitation mention the scriptures of the New Testament; they are the following: the four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, after them the Acts of the Apostles and the seven so-called catholic epistles of the apostles -- namely, one of James, two of Peter, then three of John and after these one of Jude. In addition there are fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul written in the following order: the first to the Romans, then two to the Corinthians and then after these the one to the Galatians, following it the one to the Ephesians, thereafter the one to the Philippians and the one to the Colossians and two to the Thessalonians and the epistle to the Hebrews and then two to Timothy, one to Titus and then the one to Philemon.  Revelation of John is the last scripture in the New Testament."

 

Survey of New Testament Development

An authority is included in this survey if he seems to give evidence on the development of the New Testament before 400 A.D.

 

 

Authority Date A.D. Evidence provided
Ignatius of Antioch about 110 7 letters with quotations and allusions to Christian writings as scripture. There are no citations by name.
Polycarp of Smyrna about 110 1 letter with quotations and allusions to Christian writings as scripture. There are no citations by name.
Marcion about 140 founded a sect with its own "New Testament" collection. There was one Gospel, based mostly on the Gospel according to Luke
Valentinus 140-150 Valentinus and his followers - Heracleon, Ptolemy, Marcus - were Gnostic heretics so their doctrines mostly survive in the writings of the orthodox, such as Irenaeus, who summarized the Valentinian views before attacking them. The Gospel of Truth from Nag Hammadi probably derives from the Valentinians, but this is not certain.
Justin Martyr 150-160 many of his writings survive; he was the most prolific Christian writer up to his time.
Irenaeus about 180 two of his writings survive in translations (Latin and Armenian). There are quotations and allusions to Christian writings as scripture, and citations by name.
Clement 180-200 many of his writings survive; in them are about 8000 citations - over 1/3 of them from pagan sources. There are citations by name.
Tertullian 200-210 Tertullian was the most prolific writer of the Latin Fathers in pre-Nicene times (before 325 A.D.). There are citations by name.
Muratorian Canon 200-300 a manuscript discovered in the Ambrosian Library in Milan with a catalogue (in Latin) of the New Testament writings with comments
Origen 220-350 only a small part of his works survives, but this fills volumes There are citations by name.
Eusebius 300-330 much of the works of Eusebius survives, but here we only use his famous classification in [Eusebius]
codex Sinaiticus about 350 a manuscript discovered in 1859 containing a 4th-century New Testament
Athanasius 367 his 39th Festal Epistle of 367 A.D. has a list of canonical books
Didymus 350-398 some of his exegetical writings have survived, including six commentaries discovered in 1941
Peshitta about 400 a series of manuscripts of the Bible in Syriac including 22 New Testament books
Vulgate about 400 a series of manuscripts (over 10,000) of the Bible in Latin, whose New Testament coincides (more or less) with the present one

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