Who Authorized the Bible? (part one)

Revelation came through Israel. It is an object of wonder. The Bible emerged from this tiny tract of land through a people despised and reviled. This is a pattern, a template repeated over and over: Gideon’s defeat of the Midianite horde with only three hundred men / David and Goliath / Jonathan and his armor bearer against twenty of the Philistines / the Messiah born in a stable to dwell in the region of Galilee (called Cabul by Hiram). God produced big results from things that are least esteemed in the eyes of the world.

The Bible is a Jewish document. This is true inasmuch as the scriptures were not the product of other nations. God gave the people of Israel this work.

  • Romans 3:1-3 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

“Faith of God”, is a synonym for the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament was committed to the priesthood of Aaron. God did not relegate this to some enclave scholars who made a human determination as to what belonged with sacred writ, and what was rejected.

  • Ex 25:21-22 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

The initial revelation and scripture came through Moses. The Testimony (The Ten Commandments) was put into the Ark of the Covenant. Moses wrote subsequent ordinances, judgments, precepts, and records from God. These were placed beside the Ark.

  • De 31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.
  • De 31:25-26 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

We see a precedent in the above passages. The Bible was under the care of the priesthood. Subsequent revelations through the prophets could not and did not bypass this authority.

What gave the priesthood of Aaron the ability to discern the difference between  imagination and something from God? An unusual gift was given, the Urim and Thummim (lights and perfections). We have no idea what these objects were. Their appearance is hidden from all record. They were placed in the breastplate of judgment, over the heart of the high priest when “when he goeth in before the LORD.” (cf. Ex.28:29-30) Furthermore, the Urim and Thummim were given for the sake of inquiry.

  • Nu 27:21 And he (Joshua) shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.
  • Ezr 2:62-63 These (priests who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity) sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. And the Tirshatha (governor) said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.

It stands to reason, the priesthood possessed a gift from God to discern things worthy of inclusion with the Scriptures. Who else, but the High Priest could finalize the worthiness of such? And who but the priesthood would have been equipped to maintain the knowledge of inspired writing to pass on to the people?

  • Mal 2:7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Things began to change. In the third century BC, King Ptolemy II Philadelphus had the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek. Its entirety was brought to completion about a century and a half before Christ was born. Added to this translation were the writings which now comprise the Apocrypha. These additions were never accepted by the Jews as a legitimate revelation from God.

“Sepharim Chitsonim” was the term used for the Apocrypha; “extraneous writings”. The inclusion of these writings by wayward souls in “Christendom” stems from the early usage of the Septuagint. Pope Damasus (366-384) called upon Jerome to translate the scriptures into Latin.  He went to the land of Israel to obtain the earliest source texts. He personally rejected the Septuagint, in part, because it contained writings which were not included in the Hebrew Bible. However the Catholic system overruled Jerome’s judgment and the extra writings of the Septuagint, the Apocrypha, were included. This translation into Latin called the Vulgate (which means common speech) contributed to the Catholic Church’s inclusion of these writings in the Bible. They were not included as an aside, rather these extraneous writings were dispersed through the Old Testament as if to say, “These are one and the same as the rest.”

  • The Council of Hippo (393) asserted the validity of the Septuagint’s extra writings and proclaimed them on-par with the Word of God.
  • The Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) included a reassertion of the Apocrypha being the Word of God. It appears to have been a response to the Protestant rejection of the same.

This inclusion amounted to a rejection of the wisdom of God; “. . . unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God.” Consider what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well; “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)