tisdag, januari 10, 2006

The Bible, Canon and "Scripture", part I

The first thing for me to know about the Bible is that it is the collection (verb) of Holy Scriptures (plural) of the Christian Church (eschatological, that is over Time).
Lots of differing scriptures.
Before there was a Bible (= book-format book) there were various scriptures deemed "good and useful to read", as Dr Martin Luther later put it.
First among them (without equals) was the Septuagint, the LXX, the first collected Bible of the full OT (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD).
When we approach the second half of the 2nd century, we have Jerusalem and 4 more Patriarchates. These correspond to the 4 Great Nations of Antiquity.
Now, each of them had their own missionary history, their own organisation, their own theological tradition, their own scriptural tradition – and their own gospel.
Jerusalem had an oral gospel, probably in Aramaic; Rome had the first written gospel, Mark; Antioch (Syria) had Luke, Efesos (Greece) had John – which leaves Matthew for Alexandria and Egypt.
For obvious conservational reasons it is the Alexandrian scriptural tradition which has been preserved somewhat in (varying) originals.
Now, this also means that the 4 Patriarchates weren't too keen on the scriptures of the others.
Alexandria did not want anything to do with the Corpus Johanneum, especially the Apocalypse (they had their own; the 1000 pages Shepherd of Hermas), just as Antioch vehemently rejected the "Catholic" letters of Alexandria...
When finally these 4 scriptural traditions began to merge from different collections of scriptures (the Septuagint, the Corpus paulinum in its various editions, the Corpus johanneum, the Catholic letters), the 4 gospels are found in different order, depending on which Patriarchate the manuscript originates from.
Matt, Mark, Luke, John is the Antiochene (and later the Alexandrian) order, the Roman was Matt, Luke, Mark, John.
This because in Antiquity collections were built from a core (Luke for Antioch taken over by Alexandria – and Mark for Rome), additions being put alternately back and front.
This means that the first and/or last scriptures are generally the youngest...
Which suggests that Matthew is the youngest gospel – unsur-prisingly there is not a trace of a Greek gospel of Matt (only of the logia, the original sayings in Aramaic) before, say, the year 170 (the Adversus heraeus of Ireneos).
Up to the middle of the 16th century "books" – that is collections – contained a great variety of (other) scriptures "good and useful", who later, with the advent of Indo-European Integrism, have been excluded.
For instance the Tchec (?) Codex Gigas; the Giant codex (1 by 1 by half a meter) – a 12th century Gospel book in the Royal Library at Stockholm – contains the 4 gospels in Old Latin, other NT scriptures in later (mainly Carolingian) "vulgate" Latin, a letter to the Laodiceans (not Marcion's), letters of Isidore of Seville (once a great authority in the Church), magic spells DE FURTIS ET FEBRIBUS and a Necrologium.
16th century academic Integrism also made Dr Calvin to throw out the OT deutero canonicals, which prompted the Tridentine Councils to affirm the full Septuagint OT in the (new) Latin translation of 12th century Paris (and St Victor), under Saint Hieronimus’s name, who (living some 800 years earlier) had had nothing to do with it.
Only no such edition existed, only a great variety of post Parisian versions...
Conclusion; the modern "canonical" Bibles are different from one another.
Roman, Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist Bibles contain different scriptures in different orders.
And in differing – more or less dogmatic – “translations".
And although the different traditions generally agree that nothing beyond scripture be required of anybody – the interpretations of this magnificent principle are contradictory, to say the least.
Adapted from comments on Augustus Meriwether's blog (länk till höger)

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