"Our Lady of Lepanto", Ora Pro Nobis!

"Our Lady of Victory", Ora Pro Nobis!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Holy Bible and where it came from

My oldest son Kendall brought to my attention," the most stolen book in the world is the Holy Bible." This leads to the new movie, "The Book of Eli." I have not seen but I understand the plot. It is 30 years post apocalyptic times in America and Eli is walking his way to Los Angeles holding the book everyone wants their hands on, The Holy Bible -King James Version, believing its possession will change the world and Eli's mission is to protect the sacred book at whatever cost. The book of Eli, is it worth his life?
Someone asked Pastor Billy Graham one time,"What is the best bible translation to read?" and he stated, "The one you read." On the surface this statement sounds good but wait a second and let's look into the history behind the sacred scriptures. After all, Jesus never wrote anything down and did not tell his apostles to write anything down except when St John was taken into heaven and was instructed to write what he witnessed. So the question is "where did we get the inspired scriptures we have today"? Did our Lord come back to earth and say, "Oh by the way, I forgot to give you this book on what to teach all people?" No, so where did it come from and which is the inspired translation? there are too many unauthorized and uninspired translations to count, so which one?
What is the Bible? The Bible is a written collection of some of the inspired teachings of Jesus Christ handed down to his apostles. It is important to understand not everything Jesus taught was written down. There were 13 apostles including St Paul but only 6 wrote down what is considered Inspired. Does this mean the other apostles teachings were not inspired? No, they taught the unwritten inspired teachings of Jesus Christ, so let's move forward to the history of the Bible and which is the inspired interpretation and how did we get it, and how do we interpret.

To begin, the first book of the New Testament was written by St Paul before the gospels were written. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is traditionally excepted as the earliest writing dating around 51 AD. If Jesus ascended into heaven around 30 AD , we have around 20 years without any inspired scriptures of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How did the apostles teach the people of God without a bible? how were they saved? by the Oral teachings of the apostles. The unwritten and inspired teachings of Jesus Christ is known as " Sacred Tradition" and equal to but not greater than "Sacred Scripture". This sacred teaching is important to understand and makes moral sense. For mankind to begin to comprehend where the bible came from and how it should be read and interpreted can be traced to the apostles and Church established by Jesus. From Sacred Tradition we received Sacred Scripture. Listen to the Spirit in the writings from St Paul and his command in Sacred Scripture;

"And so, brothers, stand firm, and hold to the traditions that you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle" ( II Thessalonians 2:14 )

The above images of the bible are considered the oldest surviving collections of the ancient Greek manuscripts considered inspired. The first is called "The Codex Vaticanus" written in the early 4th century located in the Vatican Library. The second image is "The Codex Sinaiticus" also written in the early 4th century and located at St Catherine's Monastery Mount Sinai where Moses received The "Ten Commandments" and not the ten suggestions. The third image is called "The Gutenberg Bible" and it is the first bible printed dating around 1450 AD. Research reveals there were around 180 printed and located across the world. All three contain 46 books of the "Septuagint" and 27 books of the New Testament. The Septuagint is the Greek interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. The Greek interpretations of Old Testament was cannoned around 250BC. This is the Old Testament used by Jesus and his apostles. So one may ask "why the Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew scriptures?" because the Palestinian Jews were divided on which books were inspired and had not closed their canon but the Greek speaking Alexandrian Jews chose the closed cannoned Septuagint. We have to remember not all Jews in the time of Christ were Hebrew speaking and from the Palestine area. The question now is how important is having a complete collection of the Old Testament to followers of Jesus? some will say "the New Testament is all I need to read." Is this what Jesus taught? Let's go to sacred scripture for the answer from the gospel of St Luke on "The Road to Emmaus."

Jesus states, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled". ( Luke 24:44 )

Jesus clearly states the entire Old Testament is about him, they are "Christological". Jesus is not referring to the New Testament because they had not been written, So how many books of the Old Testament is inspired? This was the issue at hand for the first 4oo years of Christianity. Most people do not recognize the bible was not completely put together until the late 4th century. In the the year 382 AD, the Bishop of Rome Pope St Damasus I ended the debate using his Papal authority at the Council of Rome and clarified the 46 books of the Greek Septuagint and 27 books of the New Testament are the official and inspired words of sacred scripture and confirmed in the "Council of Hippo in 393 AD , Council of Carthage in 397 AD and confirmed at the Council of Trent in 1545 AD." Pope St Damasus I required his secretary St Jerome to translate the inspired Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the common language of the inhabited world known as "The Latin Vulgate", the official and inspired Bible of Mother Church and all Christendom. The Sacred Tradition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church gave the world the Sacred Bible. Also, the Gutenberg Bible is the first printed bible in Christendom and happens to be St Jerome's Latin Vulgate written and printed before Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Gutenberg Bibles today are said to be valued at around 9 million dollars. Placed together with the most stolen book in the world, one can now appreciate why during the middle ages and medieval times all bibles were locked and chained so no one could steal them.

Now the dilemma is how do we read and interpret the sacred scriptures written in Greek and Latin when St Peter states;

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." ( II Peter 1:20-21 )

The question again; which version of the Holy Bible should we read? The same one read in the same spiritual senses as the Church. After all, it is she who gave it to the world. The same Spirit that inspired the writers Must Be the same Spirit to interpret i.e., Holy Mother Church! Oh, let us not forget "reading alone" is not the commission given by Christ Jesus. We still need to follow all the commandments of The Lord and Love one another. Amen!

The Peace of Jesus Christ be with you all!

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