Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Bible as Blasphemy

A thought came to me as I was reading today's post, How Religious Faith Works, over at Faithful Progressive as I came across the following lines:
But as Chris Hedges, reminds us, the very word Bible means "the books" or the little books. Certainly its various authors did not ever intend for these individual books to all be brought together as the final source of insight into God.

I've quoted Gothold Lessing here many times: if you believe in God there was a God before these individual books were written, and there would still be a God if all of the Holy Books were removed from the face of the earth.
Sticking to the Christian tradition of divine inspiration, would that divine inspiration branch into the collection and canonization of the books into a single text? I've only read brief histories of the canonization of the Bible so I'm curious if the canonization process of the individually inspired texts was ever considered heretical or even blasphemy? I can understand (although I don't accept) the individual books being guided by a divine hand but how can the canonization process, overseen by men dependent on human reasoning and influenced by politics, be considered divine inspiration? Would not the exclusion of other writings by definition be limiting the understanding of the divine? Would not the canonization of the Bible be considered blaspheming the spirit(Mark 3:29;Matthew 12:31-32; Luke 12:10?

7 comments:

captron52 said...

Very interesting I must say! Im amazed that so many good people regard the Bible as the ONLY spiritual teachings available to us.Ive come to find out most of the people from the western world have never even thought about the bible having been written in another language completely different from ours and that lots of the "truths" they acept and live by dont even really mean what they interpet them to mean.One question I have is that I have read the bible completely through now does that make me a man of God or a pastor or anything higher than the average person. I dont think so but Im continually amazed by the number of intelligent people who call so called "preachers or Pastors or any other title they use a man of God who is different than the rest of us> I just dont get it Im afraid.

Doug B said...

Good post. The majority of Christians have no clue as to the process involved in putting together the Bible. There was much disagreement before The Church made things "official." Isn't it curious, for example, that the greater reformer Martin Luther considered the book of James a "strawy epistle"? Upon what grounds ... it didn't fit well with his faith alone teaching?

Don said...

I think you hit on an important truth:

"how can the canonization process, overseen by men dependent on human reasoning and influenced by politics, be considered divine inspiration? "

You seem to be interested in this sort of history (The Canonization of the Bible). I would encourage you to read Bart Erhman's "Lost Christianities" and "Lost Scriptures". Very enlightening. This is where my journey began over five years ago. Also, if you are really interested, give "The Nag Hammadi Library" a read. It was the first major work I read after delving into Elaine Pagels works and Bart Erhman's. In case you're not familiar with "Nag Hammadi Library", it is a collection of works (by majority Gnostic in nature), none of which made it into the Canon. I would also look at "The Didache", a work which many think could be from the 1st century C.E. That should keep you busy for a while. I'd love to discuss any of these with you.

Andrew said...

It is interesting to me how much groups like "The Jesus Seminar" take flak for selecting by group consensus which saying may be attributed to the historical Jesus, and which are apocryphal; never connecting that cannon selection occurred in pretty much the same way.

atimetorend said...

There are certainly interesting issues there. The conservative Christian line of thought for the authority of the canon doesn't seem to hold together well.

Jesus speaking --> apostles/witnesses --> early church fathers --> orthodox canon. But even some of the early church fathers said lots of crazy unorthodox things which are considered unorthodox (heretical), and are then cited as sources to back up the authenticity of the new testament witnesses.

It is all a strange way of thinking to justify authority and orthodoxy.

P.A.T.C. said...

"how can the canonization process, overseen by men dependent on human reasoning and influenced by politics, be considered divine inspiration?"

What comes to my mind is the story of Joseph or take any story in the bible, how can what his very human brothers actions and the very human leaders in Egypt and the Egyptian leaders wife , how can they seemingly acting on their own, 'free will' all as a whole wind up being divinely orchestrated? As the bible clearly says it was? Many things happen behind the scenes that we are not privy to and so could these very human men put the bible together and it be inspired? Well if we believe the Bible, the answer would have to be yes it can. as we scratch our heads in wonderment.

Eruesso said...

@ P.A.T.C.

how can they seemingly acting on their own, 'free will' all as a whole wind up being divinely orchestrated?

I believe 'seemingly' is the key word here. Does this mean that our actions, all of our actions, are merely a part of a divine orchestration? How much of the actions of men throughout all time is divinely orchestrated? If everything as we know it is being guided by some outside force then we're under the illusion of free will. But then you'd have to consider acts of evil as a part of the orchestration. Everything from natural disasters to genocide being considered a part of a Divine Plan sounds horrendous and uncompassionate to the sufferers of evil. I appreciate your comment but this doesn't seem to address the topic at hand. Men decided which books of the Bible to include while excluding others. Does the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible also cover the men behind the Bible (from inspiration to modern Bible)? If you'd like to learn more on my views on the canonization of the Bible, click here.

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