Source that I used for the video: Atheism vs. Christianity: Which Way Does the Evidence Point. Frank Zindler is an American atheist and he is currently the editor of American Atheist Magazine and Director of American Atheist Press. Frank R. Zindler. Showing all 9 results. Sort by popularity, Sort by latest, Sort by price: low to high, Sort by price: high to low.
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At best, believers must trust to the probabilities – not certainties – that arise from a scientific investigation of the facts surrounding the biblical texts and traditions. Straightforwardly, Zindler is far off base if he believes that these issues will worry anyone but a few extremist fundamentalists.
Do these questions cause me concern? Should they cause you concern? Zindler asks, there are many canons out there — which one is right? There is some quite misinformed commentary alongside: But after appealing to the spectre of diversity by listing some of the different numbers of books in canons and different books listed by different persons, Zindler lists councils and histories and opinions all the way up to the Reformation and leaves the matter at that, leaving the reader to conclude that this is a mess of confusion and there’s no way to know what really is canonical.
Are things really that bad?
When it comes to the OT, Zindler tries hard to find some deviation among the Samaritans; he admits that their canon was inspired by ulterior motives, and that ends all viable use of their canon for his argument. If Aunt Hattie decides she doesn’t like Ephesians because it uses the word “darkness” she’s afraid of the darkand cuts it out, she does not form an independent and authoritative zindper to a differing canon to be considered zibdler.
Neither does Luther’s opinion on James. The natural human tendency towards syncretism, and the application of personally-preferred truths to the minimization of those found less comfortable, is inescapable, especially in our modern, post-modern environment. Whether God had a frabk in the selection and forming of the canon, or whether it was just a random assortment thrown together by the winds of history, the result will be the same: There will always be those, believer and non-believer alike, who will take mental pen in hand and “cross out” the parts of the Bible or any set of ideas, for that matter that they find uncomfortable, or add on things that will personally give them a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
In a sense, we each form our own canon of acceptable ideas; we each have our own “apocrypha” of marginal thoughts, and our own collection of ideas which we discard into the void, dismissing them from our canon of thought entirely. Resistance to a fixed set of ideas, perceived as limiting our freedom to do trank we please, is as old a tendency as humanity itself.
Zindler is pointing the fault arrow in the wrong direction to begin with. Zindler also has an overstated idea of just how important a canon is to begin with.
The idea of zihdler “canon” did not originate with the Bible. The Israelites had a model to go on, one which was in circulation in Egyptian and Mesopotamian society. Vasholz, using farnk example of the Poem of Erra and other documents from the 12th to 8th centuries BC, notes these four core commonsense steps:. These essential “canon concepts,” then, were “there for the taking” at the time when the Zzindler was being put together and involves no radical innovation or supposition of historical invention.
The ancient xindler concept appears in its earliest form in the OT in Exodus This is the seed from which an OT canon, or set of established books, grew. Ideas about the earliest organization of the canon remain purely hypothetical. The earliest “hard” indication we have of any sort of classification or categorization of OT books – aside from internal OT references to the books of Moses, and assuming that the reference is not a late interpolation, as some do – comes from the Wisdom of Sirach, a book dated to approximately BC and written by Sirach’s grandson.
The classification scheme refers to the law, the prophets, zzindler the “other” ancestral zindelr.
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This does not reflect a “fixed” canon of books, merely a basic classification scheme, although it is known that most of what we call the OT today was indeed put into one of these three classes – indicating what Campenhausen calls, at this time, a “normative collection of sacred writings” as settled. The suggestion in Sirach is that the “law” and “prophets” were recognized bodies of literature, whereas “other ancestral books” seems to have been more fluid. In particular, the books of Moses are recognized as Scripture as early as the 2nd century BC, being named as such in the Letter of Aristeas.
At about the same time, though no titles are given, the Book of Jubilees indicates that there are 22 accepted books.
Of the “prophets,” MacDonald asserts that there “seems to be little doubt that by ca. MacDonald diverges from the traditional view and dates some of the OT books, such as Daniel, quite late. The third class, which Sirach calls “other,” is to be equated with what was later called the “Writings” or “Hagiographa,” and was not as restricted in content as the first two categories until after the time of the Council of Jamnia in the late first century.
Our next evidence of a threefold division comes from the work of the Jewish historian Philo. In his Contemplative Life, written early in the first century, Philo writes of “the laws and the sacred oracles of God enunciated by the holy prophets, and hymns, and psalms, and all kinds of other things” – perhaps a rough equivalence of Sirach’s law, prophets and “other” categories.
Again, however, we have no specific catalog of books to work with, nor even a number of books.
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A more clear delineation of a threefold division comes from the New Testament. Zindlef next piece of data comes from Josephus’ description of the Jewish holy books in Contra Apion 1.
After clearly identifying the Pentateuch as the work of Moses, Josephus writes:. Leiman argues that Josephus’ description here indicates a canon that has been decided upon and closed for quite some time, for he says: The same number of books is testified to by the Bryennius List and the canon of Epiphanus, both dated to near the time of Josephus; and 4 Ezra c.
To be fair, we should note that some would argue that to combine Ruth and Judges, and Lamentations with Jeremiah, to reach 22, is without basis, other than these later witnesses such as Eusebius; and that it is rather bold to equate Josephus’ franl books with our present OT canon.
However, MacDonald offers no better alternative; if nothing else, we may suggest that perhaps Josephus’ 22 books comes from the exclusion of 2 of the OT’s most disputed books, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs; and a bit inconsistently, MacDonald allows that the book collection of 4 Ezra was aindler to have been the same as our current Zindelr, although he will not state that it was definitely those 24 books!
Often cited as a concrete step in the OT canonization procedure is the Council of Jamnia, as Zindler also does. But this seems to have been more a discussion group or college confirming what was already known rather than a canon council. In terms of the canon, the most that Jamnia did was ratify “what the most spiritually sensitive souls in Judaism had been accustomed to regard as being Scripture. However, “on the basis of the available evidence And what about the Apocrypha of the OT?
This confusion resulted in a fluctuating OT canon on the part of the NT church. There was a lack of precise settlement in the Jewish community over the third division of their canon – zindelr we note that the other two divisions, the Law and the Prophets, were sufficiently settled. So is Zindler’s proclamation of problems warranted zincler the OT? And if this is so, it is even less warranted for the NT. His objections are just as easily rebutted:. Such objections, when encountered, should be taken seriously ONLY zindldr the arguer can offer some reason why the competing view or book itself ought to be taken seriously.
They should also demonstrate some knowledge of the form and content of the book in question. Without knowing the history frqnk such inclusions or exclusions, the argument is drank no use. It may be argued, as Zindler does, that some sort of bias, power play, or other motivational factor was at work in the formation of the NT canon by various church councils.
Again, fank arguments are generally advanced only by the uninformed. As we shall see, the councils did nothing more than confirm what was already believed by the church at large. The church was not dependent upon frxnk decision of a council for the contents of the NT. As MacDonald points out, ” i n the broadest definition of the term ‘canon,’ neither the Israelites nor the Christians were ever without a canon or authoritative guide; they always had a story that enabled them to establish their identity and give life to their community.
What factors decided the formation of the NT zundler Far from being an arbitrary process, the formation of the canon was the result of carefully-weighed choices over time by concerned church officials and members.
Later votes on the canon were merely the most definitive steps taken zinddler the end of a long and careful, sometimes difficult, process. Grant notes that the NT canon was And what of those who zijdler to disagree with one or more choices of these councils, the “final arbiter,” so to speak? Of course individual Zindelr are free to choose for themselves what books are infallible; but in doing so they should not demand that the church alter their own systems of belief to accommodate them.
Any group or organization needs a set of rules or guidelines in order to function. To that end, attempts to change or significantly alter the rules frankk be put under careful consideration, and, if they significantly alter the purposes of the group, and are not acceptable to the majority, zindlr be rejected.
As with any group, of course, there are those who will protest the change or lack thereof; and in a free organization they are thereupon left with two choices: This should fran, kept in mind as we consider, later on, divergences in the early zinfler, in particular those related to Gnosticism. For today, of course, we are free as always to choose what parts of the Bible we accept Does the letter to the Ephesians offend thee?
Pluck it out, and throw it away, and hope that it was not put there under divine guidance! Get thee scissors and paste and add it in – and hope that the warning in Revelation about “adding on” to what has been written means something else other than adding to the Bible! Certainly no divine force stopped President Jefferson from clipping his own “Bible” from the original texts!
At any rate, as we have alluded to earlier, if we believe that God had any part in the individual books of the Bible, then it is a necessary corollary that He also took a hand in the formation of the canon; and one who does believe in such influence by God should not take any choice of “which books they regard as infallible” lightly – unless they would care to proclaim themselves to be more “in” with God than those fourth- and fifth-century church fraank in which case, one might as well proclaim that all of us should prefer their choices to those of the councils.
Naturally, the councils should not be given absolute authority; however, given that they represent a voice of a community of the Holy Spirit, their decisions should be accorded very high weight, and require extraordinary evidence to overthrow.
The data indicates that while “problems” and zindoer did exist, there was remarkable agreement, as a whole, concerning the composition of the NT canon, and relatively quickly. To summarize in advance:. There were miscellaneous works that zinfler their own unique histories. Single works such as the Shepherd of Hermas bounced in and out of favor rapidly, never achieving zkndler level of acceptance over an extended period as the books eventually deemed canonical did. Were books included or excluded because of their inspirational quality?
It may come as a surprise to some – Christians and skeptics alike! As MacDonald puts it:.
In that regard, I am in agreement with the Church Fathers: Truth is truth, wherever you find it. Inasmuch as a writer, even an atheist or a pagan, repeats that which is true even unwittinglythey reflect some level of inspiration. The rule of faith criteria states that nothing shall be accepted which is at variance with accepted scriptures or that teaches false doctrine.
To be accepted into the canon, a book mus conform with zijdler community’s rule of faith.
This is a circular argument: The canon endorses your doctrine and practices, and your practices and doctrine endorse your canon. This cannot be a viable criteria. Once again, this zindlr an objection generally made by the uninformed: Before being taken seriously, it zinxler at least be accompanied by an exposition of heresies in the early church, their sources, their reasoning, how many Christians believed what, etc. The argument is circular only when one arbitrarily closes the circle by not pursuing further information!
Grant writes that such an argument, as above, from authority “is” circular; but only in that such arguments “lie of the edge of a circle drawn around the center, which is Christ. Even MacDonald, who wrongly, I believe finds no unified view of orthodoxy in the NT, goes as far as saying that “If the NT has a theological core everywhere acknowledged or reasonably assumed, it is simply this, that ‘Jesus-the-man-now-exalted’ is worthy of faithful obedience and that the promise of the blessing of God awaits all who follow him.