Christians reading ancient scripture rather than the bible

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Ectryon
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23 Jul 2014, 1:53 pm

The bible as we know it is a collection of ancient writings. Some ancient writings were discarded based on canonicity and others were included based on canonicity. The key word here is canon, the council who made the executive decisions had a religious message to promulgate. The texts chosen were included based on how well they created a cohesive whole in keeping with their beliefs.

Why talk of the bible as a divinely inspired volume rather than an anthology of ancient texts? What of the goetia the talmud the apocrypha the gnostic gospels the other eschatological texts and all the poetry and song not included? Why not pursue a broader comprehensive survey of the entire known ancient works?


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Last edited by Ectryon on 23 Jul 2014, 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

naturalplastic
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23 Jul 2014, 2:40 pm

I think that you just answered both of your own questions.

Why as in anthology of books thought of as one book?

Because- as you yourself just said- that commitee decided that those particular books were canonical. That they fitted with each other, and with the intended message, so well that they in effect merge together into one book.

Why dont you hear about the apocrapha etc?

Because as you just said- they dont fit the canon. They got left on the cutting room floor (for better or worse) as you yourself just said.



Ectryon
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23 Jul 2014, 7:07 pm

My title didnt really express what I was trying to explore. Why do Christians baulk at the OT and get into a sweat trying to justify this or that when they could simply say "I dont take that book as canon". Why dont more Christians set about compiling alternative bibles which have different trajectories? I dont know if any other faiths exercise such a strategy but I do believe that there is much wisdom and beauty to be found in the ancient Hebrew literature. Books such as Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes are brilliant as secular texts.

As far as I know the spectrum of Jewish literature includes the rabbinical writings and Biblical texts which in total spans a vast collection of writings. Christian literature is varied with several antilogeminac (sp?) and gnostic texts. There is more than enough to allow Christians to reinvent their faith without having to stray from scriptural foundations. Im sure immissing something however


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DentArthurDent
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23 Jul 2014, 7:44 pm

The canonical Gospels and other writings were chosen because they fit a particular agenda. As you quite rightly point out there are a great many non canonical writings which deal with the same subject matter but are ignored, I think it has something to do with making 'heresy' punishable. WE have re-discovered the Nag Hamadi library, these views no doubt would have been known at the time of their writing but for whatever reason they were dismissed as heretical. Gospel According to Thomas is a great example of what is ignored, why, maybe it's message is too hard to accomplish. It does not state in simple terms how one should pray, live your live, worship etc. Instead it implores people to understand the words of Jesus and by doing so they will become learn the secret of eternal life and will become like his twin. This concept removes the power of religious dogma from the authorities and is also so much harder to accomplish than simply accepting that 'Jesus is your lord and savior'

As I said earlier my hunch is that because of heresy being a punishable offence no christian has really explored other writings.


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simon_says
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27 Jul 2014, 5:53 am

It is a little strange that Protestants take the magical divination powers of the Jewish priests (and rabbis) and the first few hundred years of the early church fathers more seriously than they do later Catholic magical powers. At what point did the magical guidance end? Was it sudden? A specific hour?

That's the trouble with magic. Hard to nail down the details.



TallyMan
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27 Jul 2014, 7:03 am

Ectryon wrote:
Why dont more Christians set about compiling alternative bibles which have different trajectories? I dont know if any other faiths exercise such a strategy...


In Hinduism there are lots of different ancient texts; most of them older than the bible, a few more recent. There are lots of Upanishads, Vedas, the Bhagavad Ghita and various others I've forgotten the names of. Interestingly most share similar themes and contain a mixture of teachings along the lines of "do good deeds" rather like those of Jesus but pre-date him by many hundreds of years. The rest contain lots of stories and legends about various mythical people or gods and are largely parables regarding behaviour - these stories are often taught to children much in the same way children are taught bible stories to express different concepts of morality, though I must say the Hindu ones are far more entertaining. The rest of the books and teachings tend to revolve around the concepts of Brahman and the "soul" and the nature of the universe and existence. So going back to your sentence above, in Hinduism there isn't a single book, but many books, some are quite readable and expressed in everyday language such as the Bhagavad Gita and others offer very deep insight into the nature of existence/reality beyond the layman such as the Drg Drsya Viveka which requires intense study accompanied with meditation to "comprehend". The wealth of books available in Hinduism dwarfs the small amount of text available in the bible. I wonder what percentage of original Hebrew scriptures/documents the bible represents?


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27 Jul 2014, 10:28 am

DentArthurDent wrote:
The canonical Gospels and other writings were chosen because they fit a particular agenda. .


Exactly. Plus, some of the Gnostic Gospels get pretty bizarre, even more so than what made it in.



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27 Jul 2014, 12:48 pm

the Gnostic Gospels had been rejected because the Gnostics themselves, who had represented a preexisting Hellenistic philosophical/religious movement that had tried to attach itself to Christianity, had been rejected by the Church very early on. No great conspiracy here to be found.


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Ectryon
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27 Jul 2014, 1:22 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:
the Gnostic Gospels had been rejected because the Gnostics themselves, who had represented a preexisting Hellenistic philosophical/religious movement that had tried to attach itself to Christianity, had been rejected by the Church very early on. No great conspiracy here to be found.


Gnosticism's origins are contested and it came into contact with hellenism when it migrated from syria to alexandria. It probably had precursors in other eastern traditions cross pollinating with Judaism. One theory is that Jewish Essenism furnished many of the initial gnostic teachings. Cabalism actually grew out of gnosticism and both probably have the same common origin.

With that considered there may indeed be a direct path from Judaism to Christianity representing a mystic interpretation of the texts.


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And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high Hebrews 1:3


DoodleDoo
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05 Aug 2014, 12:36 am

Today's modern evangelical mega church spends very little on careful study of any text, bible or otherwise. Its all oral for the most part. Its all about emotional manipulation and guilt mongering. There is quick sharing of a successful topic, buzzword etc. The chain-reference Bible or chain topics are used. Its the cut and paste parts of sentences to support any theme you want. This is a very flexible method, of coarse you can say almost anything you want with this method which is likely why it is so successful.

A playlist on early & medieval church history. Most evangelicals know nothing of this and have been intentionally misinformed on what little they know of this period.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 3YxXPhUEf-



Kraichgauer
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05 Aug 2014, 1:07 am

DoodleDoo wrote:
Today's modern evangelical mega church spends very little on careful study of any text, bible or otherwise. Its all oral for the most part. Its all about emotional manipulation and guilt mongering. There is quick sharing of a successful topic, buzzword etc. The chain-reference Bible or chain topics are used. Its the cut and paste parts of sentences to support any theme you want. This is a very flexible method, of coarse you can say almost anything you want with this method which is likely why it is so successful.

A playlist on early & medieval church history. Most evangelicals know nothing of this and have been intentionally misinformed on what little they know of this period.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 3YxXPhUEf-


That's absolutely true. Evangelicals constantly criticize mainline churches of being too intellectual. Funny thing is, they've had to depend on the very mainline churches they condemn for legitimate scholarship.


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05 Aug 2014, 5:11 am

Its a matter of intellectual inclusivity or exclusivity and what parts are included or excluded. Of course, nobody can read or hear everything ever said or written. If ultimate truth lies with a single cosmic needle in the universal haystack, the goal of investigation is to find that needle. If ultimate truth lies in all things, then the search for truth is to feel the truth that is in all the universe by being cosmically connected with the whole universe. These are two ends of a spectrum with the monotheistic one god one truth religions at one end and the polytheistic/karmic reincarnation pantheist beliefs at the other end.

Where do I sit within that spectrum? Well over to the left ... side of the circle. Essentially, I'm a mystic so I guess I just wander around looking a little bewildered.


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