Catholics claim the Bible is their book, but . . .


While looking over news items today, I saw something related to the book shown above.

Here is some of what the book has from its inside flap:

Many Roman Catholics claim that their church gave the world the Bible.

Partially because of that, I have been working on a new book, tentatively titled Who Gave the World the Bible?

Here are some statements from the draft of that book:

Catholic Bible 101 put forth the following question and answer:

Does the Bible come from the Church, or does the Church come from the Bible?

The answer is that the Church gave the world the Bible. The Bible does not exist apart from the church, nor does the Church exist apart from the Bible. The Church was established by Jesus Christ around 33 AD, and the New Testament was not finalized in its present form until 382 AD, about 350 years later. Pope St. Damasus I, at the Council of Rome, in 382, proposed the current canon of scripture with 73 books (46 OT + 27 NT). Subsequent councils at Hippo in 393 AD, and at Carthage in 397 AD, ratified this canon as being inspired and complete. Pope Innocent I sent a letter out in the year 405 AD that listed all 73 books as being the total and complete canon of the Christian Bible. The Catholic Bibles of today still have all of these 73 books. …

Jesus Himself created the Church, about 350 years before the Bible in its present form was canonized by the Church at the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage. (The Role of The Church According to the Bible. Catholic Bible 101.
/theroleofthechurch.htm Accessed 04/13/17)

So, the above claims that Christians lived for over three centuries, then the Bible was determined by Catholic Church councils. (It, perhaps, should be pointed out that the Bishop of Rome did not take the title Pope until after Damasus and that 31 A.D. is a closer year as to when Jesus’ established the church than 33 A.D.).

Here is something, unedited, from the Roman Catholic EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network):

Question from Bill Pick on 01-04-2005:

This is a question that was asked of me by a member of the church of christ can you please [sic} help with a {sic} answer? If the Roman Catholic church gave the world the Bible, being infallible, then why did Rome reject or question the inspiration of James and Hebrews, then later accept it? Conversely, Rome accepted as scripture books that were later rejected. If the Catholic church really is illuminated by the Holy Spirit so that men can trust her as ‘God’s organization’, why was she so wrong about something so simple? Should not the ‘Holy See’ have known?

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 01-06-2005:

The recognition of the canon of Sacred Scripture was not accomplished in an instant and by an audible voice of declaration from Heaven, but over time and in light of what the Church universally recognized as the works of the Bible. Over time and under the authority of the Church the canon became solidified, and knowing the promise of Christ to Saint Peter and the Church to bind and loose, once the canon was formally declared, we had assurance thereafter that it comprised the whole of the inerrant Word of God.

Thanks, Bill

Father Echert

PS. Never was the Church ‘wrong’ on such a matter, as She never infallibly declared a ‘wrong’ canon. It is one thing to discern over time prior to making an infallible declaration, it is another to declare that which is wrong, which the Church has never done. (Bible and the Church. Question from Bill Pick on 01-04-2005. EWTN Catholic Q&A. accessed 04/14/17)

This author would not agree with Priest Echert’s position that his church was never wrong on the canon matter. The FACT is that the Church of Rome admits that it taught that some non-inspired books were scripture, plus, for a time, it taught at least seven inspired books were possibly not scripture (Reid, George. Canon of the Old Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3., 1908). Thus, Priest Echert’s assertions suggesting otherwise are misleading.

Furthermore, the length of time for the Church of Rome to make an “infallible declaration” on the canon was excessive by all reasonable theological standards.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia states that the dogmatic canon list was not finalized for the Church of Rome until the Council of Trent in the 16th century:

According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon. (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, McGraw Hill, Copyright 1967, Volume 3, ‘Canon, Biblical’, p. 29)

Although most Protestants do not accept the canon approved by the Council of Trent, their scholars essentially tend to agree that it took centuries to determine the canon (e.g. Bruce FF. The Canon of Scripture. InterVarsityPress, 1988).

Yet, consider something God promised:

5 I will never leave you nor forsake you.

6 So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Would God forsake His church by not letting it know what His word was for centuries?

If so, God was not then acting as a “helper” that way.

The true canon was known much earlier than the Greco-Roman-Protestant scholars often tend to believe.

But some non-Church of God scholars have realized the truly canonical books were always the word of God:

Although it is out of vogue in some critical circles today, Christians have traditionally believed that the canon is a collection of books that are given by God to his corporate church.  And if the canonical books are what they are by virtue of the divine purpose for which they were given, and not by virtue of their use or acceptance by the community of faith, then, in principle, they can exist as such apart from that community. After all, aren’t God’s books still God’s books—and therefore still authoritative—prior to anyone using them or recognizing them? (Kruger MJ. Question of Canon, InterVarsity Press, 2013, p. 39)

Jesus said:

4 It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4)

Since humans are to live by every word of God, is it not theologically improper to state that the true Church did not have the finalized canon until centuries after Jesus was resurrected?

Furthermore, consider that Jesus often referred to various passages in the Old Testament as scripture (Matthew 12:10; Luke 4:21; John 7:38; 13:18; 17:12).

Does anyone really think that Jesus did not know which books of the Old Testament were inspired?

Not only did Jesus know the canon of the Old Testament (e.g. Luke 4:21), He essentially taught that the Jewish leaders in His area knew what the Hebrew scriptures were as well (cf. Matthew 12:3,5; 19:4; 22:3). …

We in the Continuing Church of God believe that the Bible is infallible as originally written and do not believe that the Holy Spirit improved the word of God through human translators. We believe God gave the world the Bible, through His chosen human instruments (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). …

The Church of God Had the Full Canon from the Beginning

While some believe that because the Church of Rome, along with the Eastern Orthodox, held meetings to determine the canon for itself (and that to a major degree the Protestants followed many of the decisions), that they came up with the canon. Yet, the reality is that the Church of God had the books, and thus the canon, from the beginning.

This is confirmed in many sources (some of which have already been cited). For another source, consider that in the early third century, Serapion, Bishop of Antioch, and a supporter of Church of God doctrines, taught that the proper books were “handed down to us” (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book VI, Chapter XII, verses 3-4, p. 125-126), thus negating the idea of a late canonization for the faithful.

Around the end of the 4th century, the ‘Nazarenes’ (people who held Church of God doctrines like the Sabbath) knew that they had the scriptures and that they came from God, not a Greco-Roman council. Jerome wrote that the Nazarenes stated:

… God has given us the Law and the testimonies of scriptures. (Jerome, cited in Pritz R. Nazarene Jewish Christianity. Magnas, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 63)

The Catholic Bishop and saint Epiphanius similarly taught about the Nazarenes:

For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old (cited in Pritz, p. 33)

Now, while many believe that because of the Latin Vulgate Bible by Jerome, which he completed in 405 A.D. (Wegner PD. The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible. Baker Academic, 2004, p. 254), that the Catholic Church gave the world the Bible, those who espouse that view tend to overlook the question of how Jerome got his information. Where did Jerome get the Bible, or at least information on which books were valid?

Based on records in Latin and other languages, Scholars Ray Pritz and the Catholic Priest Bagatti both concluded that Jerome got some of his information on the Bible from the Nazarenes and from various Jewish synagogues (Pritz, pp. 49-53; Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 84-85).

It is a fact that Jerome did deal with ‘Nazarene Christians’ who kept the Sabbath, taught the millennium, etc. (Jerome. Letter 112 to Augustine, Chapter 4). Jerome also wrote that he was friendly with at least:

“one of the Hebrews that believed” (Translation by Priest Bagatti of Jerome, Epistula CXXV, Chapter 12. Patrologia Latina (22, 1079). The edition by J. P. Migne, c. 1886, p. 1079)

Thus, it is logical to conclude that Jerome got some of his information from people who held what could be considered to be Church of God doctrines.

Therefore, realize that the claim that the Roman ‘Church gave the world the Bible’ neglects to mention that their church apparently got at least part of the Bible from those in the true Church of God, also known as the Nazarenes in Asia Minor and in Jerusalem!

This seems to be indirectly acknowledged by some modern scholars. Notice a 21st century account by Gerd Theissen:

Therefore we can advance the hypothesis that above all those writings entered the canon on which the Christian communities of Asia Minor and Rome could agree. (Theissen G. Fortress introduction to the New Testament. Fortress Press, 2003, p. 178)

Taking this a step further, even those who later compromised in Asia Minor apparently recognized that they knew of the complete canon and thus they (and probably others) influenced the Church of Rome.

Of course, the Bible itself came from God via His Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) as ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God’ (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible also teaches:

89 Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)

God gave the world the Bible and had that settled.

Despite what the Bible teaches, some Roman Catholic writings basically claim that since they allege they gave the world the Bible, they alone are the ones to interpret it.

But God gave the Bible and nothing in the Bible suggests that the Church of Rome would be the true arbitrator of what the word of God is or what it means.

We in the Continuing Church of God believe that the Apostle John, believed to have lived past the deaths of the other original twelve apostles, had the entire canon from the time Jesus had him pen the last book of the Bible. …

Polycarp received the texts from the apostles, like John. Consider the following from Irenaeus:

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time. (Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4).

Polycarp was appointed by the apostles and taught what was handed down. He respected and highly quoted scripture.

Furthermore, it also should be mentioned that there is an ancient historical document known as the Harris Fragments (ca. 2nd or 3rd century) that also discusses Polycarp.  Basically, it stresses that Polycarp’s connection with the Apostle John, teaches he was appointed bishop of Smyrna by John, and that he died a martyr’s death at age 104. Here are some translated quotes from the Harris Fragments, with one clarifying addition from me ‘an’ shown in {}:

There remained [—]ter him a disciple[e —] name was Polycar[p and] he made him bishop over Smyrna…He was… {an} old man, being one hundred and f[our] of age.  He continued to walk [i]n the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the a[p]ostle (Weidman, Frederick W.  Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions.  University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, pp. 43-44)

The canons that Polycarp learned from the Apostle John would have included knowledge of the Apostle John’s writings. John and his followers like Polycarp had the complete Bible.

By mentioning the term “canons” (which seems to be in the singular form in the actual Greek–Weidman, oddly displays what appears to be a combination of upper and lower case Greek characters ‘ΚαΝΝωΝ’ as the original source for the translation on p. 25) the Harris Fragments could possibly be suggesting that John passed the knowledge of the proper books of the Bible to Polycarp—and that would seem to be the case. But even if canon(s) meant only the measure of the right way to be a Christian that early, that strongly supports the view that the Apostle John would have passed on his knowledge of the books of the Bible to Polycarp. The canon was known by the Church of God in Asia Minor in the second century. All should realize that to be faithful to apostolic Christianity that they should imitate Polycarp and John as they did Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1).

Papias was a Church of God leader in Hieropolis in Asia Minor. He was born in the first century, died in the second century, and knew the Apostle John as well as Polycarp of Smyrna. Here is what Papias wrote that John, called the “presbyter,” told him:

  1. This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book 3, Chapter XXXIX; Digireads, pp. 68-69)

So, Papias said that it was John who told him that Mark wrote a gospel account, based upon information Mark got from Peter—and that the information Mark wrote was accurate. This further demonstrates that John and the faithful in Asia Minor knew the New Testament and believed it.

A later leader in Asia Minor, Polycrates of Ephesus, claimed that he had the complete Bible (circa 193 A.D.):

For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep … Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, .. John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord  … Polycarp in Smyrna,  … Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis … Ihave gone through every Holy Scripture. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7. Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114)

And Polycrates would have agreed with the earlier list that Melito of Sardis put together as he also referred to Melito as being faithful.

Some of this evidence may have been part of why some scholars, such as the late James Moffatt, have understood that Asia Minor had the complete canon:

Was not the Apostolic Canon of scripture first formed … in Asia Minor? (Excerpt of James Moffatt’s review, p.292. In: Bauer W. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 2nd ed. Sigler Press Edition, Mifflinown (PA), 1996).

The true Church of God was predominant in Asia Minor until the early third century and it had the original and true canon. The fact is that the Church of Rome states it did not have the canon.

Anyway, there is more proof that the true Church of God had the canon and had originally preserved the books. But most Roman Catholics have not had that pointed out to them.

Hopefully, this post will assist in all having a better understanding of who gave the world the Bible.

As far as which church actually represents the “original Bible Christians” goes, the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? helps demonstrate (often from Roman Catholic approved sources) why it is not the Church of Rome.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings, that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
The New Testament Canon – From the Bible and History This article, shows from the Bible and supporting historical sources, why the early Church knew which books were part of the Bible and which ones were not.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
The Apostle John He wrote a lot that people should study. John was an original apostle, early Christian leader, and the last of the original apostles to die. Here is a link to a related sermon titled Apostle John: The Disciple that Jesus Loved. John is the final original apostle that we in the Continuing Church of God trace our ecclesiastical succession through.
Laying on of Hands This is an elementary principle of Hebrews 6. Have you properly had hands laid upon you? Here is a link to a related sermon: Laying on of Hands and Succession.
Lost Books of the Bible? Is the Bible missing books? What about the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch? What are the pseudepigrapha?
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading. Here is a link in Mandarin Chinese: 读圣经
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible? Some have claimed that Matthew 28:19 has added words as part of a trinitarian plot. Is that true?
What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood? What do the writings of the Bible, Origen, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Augustine show?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui? Here is a link to a short animation: Which Church would Jesus Choose?

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