- Evangelical Holy Feast Schedule 2023
March 20th, 2023
- The 3 Holy Feast Seasons
March 20th, 2023
- Revelation 13
March 20th, 2023
- Lost in the 7 Gentile Kingdoms
March 20th, 2023
- The 8 Biblical Kingdoms
March 20th, 2023
A relationship with God is found outside of the present worldly system, outside of Egypt. The Sons and Daughters of God are called to be outside of Egypt in order to be in eternal fellowship with God our Father.
And [the family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus] was there [Egypt] until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet [Hosea], saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son. ~ Matthew 2:15
When Israel was a child, then I [God] loved him, and called My son [the family of Jacob] out of Egypt [to be the Nation of Israel]. As they [Moses and Aaron] called them, so they went [departed] from them [Egypt]: they sacrificed [in the desert – golden calf] unto [the false god of] Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught [the Tribe of] Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke [bridle] on their jaws, and I laid food [the manna] unto them. He [Israel] shall not return into the land of Egypt [in captivity], and the Assyrian [a type of strong military strength] shall be his king [the Northern Kingdom was conquered by Assyria], because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And My people are bent to backsliding from Me: though they [Prophets, Priests, Kings] called them [Nation of Israel] to the Most High, none at all would exalt Him [in a proper Biblical Spiritual resurrection life way]. How shall I give you up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver you, Israel? how shall I make you as Admah [strangers]? how shall I set you as Zeboim [foreigners]? Mine heart is turned within Me, My repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of you (the Redemption of Israel): and I will not enter into the city [Jerusalem is forsaken for a time]. They shall walk after the LORD: He shall roar like a Lion: when He shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, says the LORD. Ephraim compasses Me about with lies, and the House of Israel with deceit: but Judah (lit. Praise) [the Southern Kingdom of Israel] yet rules with God, and is faithful with the saints. ~ Hosea 11:1-12
The false and compromised [emergent – worldly] churches of today are content in not leaving Egypt behind, content and desirous to still be in Egypt and of Egypt [i.e. edited Egyptian NT bible texts (codex Alexandrinus, codex Sinaiticus) and Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai, Egypt – modern man’s artificial version of the biblical Exodus]. Even though Mt. Sinai in Egypt [not the real Mt. Sinai of Arabia (Galatians 4:25)] is in a distant and deserted corner of Egypt and though it has a slight appearance of a godly religion it’s still Egypt, it’s still the world and it is still going to perish.
Yes, we as Christians are still in the world and yes, we as Christians are to have a positive Christian effect on the world as we Christians contribute positively to the world but in our Christian reality we are not of this world.
Mephibosheth is granted by King David the right to sit at his table as a son.
And Jonathan, [King] Saul’s son, had a son [a grandson to King Saul] that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings [news of death] came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he [Mephibosheth] fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth. ~ 2 Samuel 4:4
Mephibosheth was not only unable to walk he was also unable to receive of the goodness that King David had bestowed upon him. King David had granted that Mephibosheth be as a son among the Royal family yet Mephibosheth rejected King David’s edict for his life and instead appropriated unto himself the self-designated title of worthless servant.
Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of [King] Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold your servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore you all the land of Saul your father; and you shall eat bread at my table continually. And he bowed himself, and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am? Then the King [David] called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto your master’s son [Mephibosheth the grandson of Saul] all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons, and your servants, shall till the land for him, and you shall bring in the fruits, that your master’s son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread always at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then said Ziba unto the King, According to all that my lord the King has commanded his servant, so shall your servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the King, he shall eat at my table, as one of the King’s sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the King’s table; and was lame [unable to walk] on both his feet. ~ 2 Samuel 9:6-13
The unfaithful servant Ziba betrays Mephibosheth.
And when [King] David was a little past the top of the hill [while fleeing Jerusalem from his son Absalom’s rebellion], behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and a hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. And the King said unto Ziba, What mean you by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the King’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink. And the King said, And where is [Mephibosheth] your master’s son? And Ziba [falsely] said unto the King, Behold, he abides at Jerusalem: for he said, Today shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father [King Saul]. Then said the King [David] to Ziba, Behold, your are [now the owner of] all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly plead to you that I may find grace in your sight, my lord, O King. ~ 2 Samuel 16:1-4
All of Mephibosheth’s grandiose acts of self-degradation and self-sacrifice in the end come to nothing.
And Mephibosheth the son [grandson] of [King] Saul came down [at the return of King David to Jerusalem] to meet the King [David], and [Mephibosheth] had neither dressed [washed] his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the King departed [Jerusalem] until the day he came again in peace. And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the King, that the King said unto him, Wherefore went not you with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered, My lord, O King, my servant [Ziba] deceived me: for your servant [Mephibosheth] said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the King; because your servant is lame. And he [Ziba] has slandered your servant [Mephibosheth] unto my lord the King; but my lord the King is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in your eyes. For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the King: yet did you set your servant among them that did eat at your own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the King [Mephibosheth had every right to be heard by the King]? And the King [David] said unto him, Why speak you any more of your [self-abasement] matters? I have said, You and Ziba divide the land. And Mephibosheth [a person who never understood the goodness of the Kingdom of David and could never bring himself to receive any unmerited kindness] said unto the King, Yes, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the King has come again in peace unto his own house. ~ 2 Samuel 19:24-30
Everything that Mephibosheth did at the time seemed to be admirable, humble, righteous, gracious and even religious yet nothing that Mephibosheth did was at any time appropriate or even helpful for any of the moments or any of the many opportunities that existed. In the end Mephibosheth, just as Esau before him had done, gave away the very substance of his own birthright.
Conclusion: we are going to look a little bit more into the life, events and decisions of Mephiboshet just to see what we can learn and discern in our own Christian Walk.
In contrast to Mephibosheth several Gentiles including Ittai and Barzillai did overstep their boundaries and surpassed their roles in life by aiding and assisting King David during a very perilous time for the King.
Ittai joins King David in exile.
And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword. And the King’s servants said unto the King, Behold, your servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the King shall appoint. And the King went forth, and all his household after him. And the King left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house. And the King went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off. And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the King. Then said the King to Ittai the [Gentile] Gittite, Wherefore go you also with us? return to your place, and abide with the [Gentile] King: for you are a stranger, and also an exile. Whereas you came but yesterday, should I this day make you go up and down with us? seeing I go where I may, return you, and take back your brethren: mercy and truth be with you. And Ittai answered the King, and said, As the LORD lives, and as my lord the King lives, surely in what place my lord the King shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will your servant be. And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him. And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the King also himself passed over the brook Kidron (John 18:1), and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. ~ 2 Samuel 15:13-23
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Kidron (Cedron), where was a garden [the Garden of Gethsemane], into the which He entered, and His disciples. ~ John 18:1
Note: Ittai is a type of Christian in that he is himself an exile and a stranger.
Barzillai and other Gentiles give supplies to King David.
And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that [several Gentiles] Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and parched vegetables, And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of cattle, for [King] David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness. ~ 2 Samuel 17:27-29
King David blesses Barzillai at their departure.
And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan [river] with the King [David], to conduct [help] him [King David] over Jordan [and back into Israel]. Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old: and he had provided the King of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man. And the King said unto Barzillai, Come you over with me, and I will feed you with me in Jerusalem. And Barzillai said unto the King, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the King unto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore  years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should your servant be yet a burden unto my lord the King? Your servant will go a little way over Jordan with the King: and why should the King recompense it me with such a reward? Let your servant, I pray you, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold your servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the King; and do to him what shall seem good unto you. And the King answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto you: and whatsoever you shall require of me, that will I do for you. And all the people went over Jordan. And when the King was come over, the King kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place. ~ 2 Samuel 19:31-39
Unfamiliar with the Bible
Mephibosheth sat at the table of King David who was known as The Sweet Psalmist of Israel, King David going back to his days as a boy shepherd wrote almost the entirety of the Book of Psalms. Yet, Mephibosheth though he sat at King David’s table he didn’t seem to be familiar with any of King David’s written words. Mephibosheth was a stranger and an exile to the written Words of God, the Bible.
A Lack of a Healthy Prayer Life
Mephibosheth didn’t have a healthy prayer life or possibly any prayer life. A good prayer life reveals that we are more than just worthless servants to God, we are in fact cherished Sons and Daughters of God.
The Missing Fellowship
It is recorded in the Bible that Mephibosheth ate regularly at the table of the King but it isn’t recorded that there was actually any fellowship between Mephibosheth and King David, in fact the two men seemed to be complete strangers, totally unknown to each other.
A lack of Servant Service
Mephibosheth had designated himself to be a servant yet he was a servant that seldom if ever served.
A lack of a Proclamation – Evangelism
Mephibosheth maintained such an impartial stance that in the end King David really didn’t know what Kingdom Mephibosheth stood for or was a part of whether it was Saul’s Kingdom or David’s Kingdom.
A lack of Discernment – Spiritual Warfare
Mephibosheth was being misrepresented and taken advantage of by his deceitful servant Ziba yet Mephibosheth was so lacking in discernment and spiritual warfare abilities that in the end he was completely taken advantage of by Ziba.
The first area of the Christian Walk that we are going look at is the area of Bible knowledge and study.
Now these be the last words of [King] David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and The Sweet Psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His Word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock [Jesus] of Israel spoke to me, He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the [resurrection] light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so [not in a good order] with God; yet He has made with me an Everlasting Covenant [the Messiah would be a descendant – the Messiah would rule from his Throne], ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow [it wouldn’t happen in the lifetime of King David]. But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place. ~ 2 Samuel 23:1-7
Mephibosheth was in a unique position in that he lived and associated with some of the very people who wrote parts of the Bible. Mephibosheth didn’t have any of the textual criticism or authentication problems that some people have today. Yet, the ability to read the Psalms from the pen of King David or more likely to hear the Psalms spoken from the lips of King David didn’t inspire Mephibosheth to become Biblically informed. Today some people claim that Oh if we just had the original texts from the hands of Moses, Samuel, King David, King Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc. then how easy it would be to read the Bible but history has proven that isn’t the case and in actuality people are being saved without the Bible and people with the Bible are perishing.
Mephibosheth lived in the presence and sat at the table with King David. Mephibosheth is also mentioned in the Bible and so are many of his family members, his father Jonathan and his Grandfather King Saul yet Mephibosheth was mostly unfamiliar with the national context of the Nation of Israel and the role that he and his family had in the Divine ordination of Israel.
Conclusion: because of the importance and significance of the Bible in the Christian Walk we are going to take an extended look at the history of the Bible and how the Bible that we have and trust today came into being. In examining the history of the Bible it is our intention that we will be able to recognize the Divine ordination of the Bible scriptures and to discern our part in God’s ordained plan for all of mankind.
The Masoretic Text (MT) is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and accentuation known as the Masorah.
The MT is widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent years (since 1943) also for some Catholic Bibles, although the Eastern Orthodox churches continue to use the Septuagint, as they hold it to be divinely inspired. In modern times the Dead Sea Scrolls have shown the MT to be nearly identical to some texts of the Tanakh [Jewish Bible – Christian Old Testament] dating from 200 BC but different from others.
The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries AD. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early 2nd century (and also differ little from some Qumran texts that are even older), it has numerous differences of both greater and lesser significance when compared to (extant 4th century BC) manuscripts of the Septuagint, a Greek translation (made in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC) of the Hebrew Scriptures that was in popular use in Egypt and Israel (and that is [allegedly] often quoted in the New Testament, especially by the Apostle Paul).
The Hebrew word mesorah reffers to the transmission of a tradition. In a very broad sense it can refer to the entire chain of Jewish tradition (see Oral law), but in reference to the Masoretic Text the word mesorah has a very specific meaning: the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Bible and concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Hebrew Bible which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.
The oldest extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the 9th century CE, and the Aleppo Codex (once the oldest complete copy of the Masoretic Text, but now missing its Torah section) dates from the 10th century.
The Talmud (and also Karaite mss.) states that a standard copy of the Hebrew Bible was kept in the court of the Temple in Jerusalem for the benefit of copyists; there were paid correctors of Biblical books among the officers of the Temple (Talmud, tractate Ketubot 106a). This copy is mentioned in the Aristeas Letter (§ 30; comp. Blau, Studien zum Althebr. Buchwesen, p. 100); in the statements of Philo (preamble to his “Analysis of the Political Constitution of the Jews”) and in Josephus (Contra Ap. i. 8).
The Septuagint, from the Latin word septuaginta (meaning seventy), is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koine Greek. The title and its Roman numeral acronym “LXX” refer to the legendary seventy Jewish scholars who completed the translation as early as the late 2nd century BC. As the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is also called the “Greek Old Testament”. This translation is quoted in the New Testament, particularly in the writings of Paul the Apostle, and also by the Apostolic Fathers and later Greek Church Fathers.
The traditional story is that Ptolemy II sponsored the translation for use by the many Alexandrian Jews who were not fluent in Hebrew but fluent in Koine Greek, which was the lingua franca of Alexandria, Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC until the development of Byzantine Greek around 600 AD.
The Septuagint should not be confused with the seven or more other Greek versions of the Old Testament, most of which did not survive except as fragments (some parts of these being known from Origen’s Hexapla, a comparison of six translations in adjacent columns, now almost wholly lost). Of these, the most important are “the three:” those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion.
When Jerome [347 AD – September 30, 420 AD] undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew texts that were then available. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his [Latin] Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary; a flood of still less moderate criticism came from those who regarded Jerome as a forger. While on the one hand he argued for the superiority of the Hebrew texts in correcting the Septuagint on both philological and theological grounds, on the other, in the context of accusations of heresy against him, Jerome would acknowledge the Septuagint texts as well. With the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome’s version gradually increased until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.
The Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages.
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script [a regional trade language], and Ancient Greek.
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis [Egypt] in 196 BC on behalf of [Greek King] King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences among them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
On Napoleon’s 1798 campaign in Egypt, the expeditionary army was accompanied by the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, a corps of 167 technical experts (savants). On July 15, 1799, as French soldiers under the command of Colonel d’Hautpoul were strengthening the defences of Fort Julien, a couple of miles north-east of the Egyptian port city of Rosetta (Modern day Rashid), Lieutenant Pierre-François Bouchard spotted a slab with inscriptions on one side that the soldiers had uncovered. He and d’Hautpoul saw at once that it might be important and informed general Jacques-François Menou, who happened to be at Rosetta. The find was announced to Napoleon’s newly founded scientific association in Cairo, the Institut d’Égypte, in a report by Commission member Michel Ange Lancret noting that it contained three inscriptions, the first in hieroglyphs and the third in Greek, and rightly suggesting that the three inscriptions would be versions of the same text. Lancret’s report, dated July 19, 1799, was read to a meeting of the Institute soon after July 25. Bouchard, meanwhile, transported the stone to Cairo for examination by scholars. Napoleon himself inspected what had already begun to be called la Pierre de Rosette, the Rosetta Stone, shortly before his return to France in August 1799.
After Napoleon’s departure, French troops held off British and Ottoman attacks for a further 18 months. In March 1801, the British landed at Aboukir Bay. General Jacques-François Menou, who had been one of the first to see the stone in 1799, was now in command of the French expedition. His troops, including the Commission, marched north towards the Mediterranean coast to meet the enemy, transporting the stone along with other antiquities of all kinds. Defeated in battle, Menou and the remnant of his army retreated to Alexandria [Egypt] where they were surrounded and besieged, the stone now inside the city. He admitted defeat and surrendered on August 30, 1801 AD.
Note: it is important to note that the Aramaic language often touted as being important, influential and widely used in ancient Mesopotamia is not even included on the Rosetta Stone (196 BC) instead the ancient trade language of Demotic script is considered to be regionally more important and is used as the second language on the Rosetta Stone.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts discovered between 1946 AD and 1956 AD at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank [of ancient Israel]. They were found in caves about a mile inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. The texts are of great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the earliest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew [Old Testament] Bible canon, along with extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism.
The Dead Sea Scrolls include entire books of the Old Testament including the famous Isaiah scroll and it has fragments from every book of the Old Testament except from the Book of Esther.
Due to the poor condition of some of the Scrolls, not all of them have been identified. Those that have been identified can be divided into three general groups: (1) some 40% of them are copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible, (2) approximately another 30% of them are texts from the Second Temple Period [Herod’s Temple] and which ultimately were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible, like the Book of Enoch, Jubilees, the Book of Tobit, the Wisdom of Sirach, Psalms 152–155, etc., and (3) the remaining roughly 30% of them are sectarian manuscripts of previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular [cult] group or groups within greater Judaism, like the Community Rule, the War Scroll, the Pesher on Habakkuk and The Rule of the Blessing.
There has been much debate about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The dominant theory remains that the scrolls were the product of a sect of Jews living at nearby Qumran called the Essenes, but this theory has come to be challenged by several modern scholars.
The view among scholars, almost universally held until the 1990s, is the “Qumran–Essene” hypothesis originally posited by Roland Guérin de Vaux and Józef Tadeusz Milik, though independently both Eliezer Sukenik and Butrus Sowmy of St Mark’s Monastery connected scrolls with the Essenes well before any excavations at Qumran. The Qumran–Essene theory holds that the scrolls were written by the Essenes, or by another Jewish sectarian group, residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed the scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt sometime between 66 and 68 AD. The site of Qumran was destroyed and the scrolls never recovered.
A number of arguments are used to support this theory.
There are striking similarities between the description of an initiation ceremony of new members in the Community Rule and descriptions of the Essene initiation ceremony mentioned in the works of Flavius Josephus – a Jewish–Roman historian of the Second Temple Period.
Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.
During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered nearby.
De Vaux called this area the “scriptorium” based upon this discovery.
Several Jewish ritual baths (Hebrew: miqvah) were discovered at Qumran, which offers evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.
Pliny the Elder (a geographer writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD) describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of ‘Ein Gedi.
The Qumran–Essene theory has been the dominant theory since its initial proposal by Roland de Vaux and J.T. Milik. Recently, however, several other scholars have proposed alternative origins of the scrolls.
The Christian New Testament Bible as we have it today comes essentially from two text manuscript families.
The Textus Receptus (TR) Text Family – KJV
The Textus Receptus is from the Byzantine Empire previously called Galatia.
The Egyptian Text Family – Modern Versions
Codex Alexandrinus – translated into the Latin Vulgate by Jerome
Codex Sinaiticus – a close match to the Codex Vaticanus
St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai, Egypt
Note: even though the Christian Church since the Middle Ages has had the two primary Manuscript families both manuscript families up until the Douay–Rheims Bible translation of 1899 AD, in both the Greek and English version manuscripts were nearly identical matching in about 98.9% of the entire texts. Since 1899 AD with the numerous revisions particularly in the English editions the newer translations only match the previous Greek and English editions somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% to 60% depending on whether considering just the words or also adding the verses as a whole that are effected by the revisions.
The Textus Receptus is the text that has been used for 2,000 years by Christians. This is also the text that agrees with more than 95% of the Bible Manuscripts in Koine (common) Greek. It is known by other names, such as the Traditional Text, Majority Text, Byzantine Text, or Syrian Text.
In his essay Texual Criticism, Dr. Thomas Cassidy writes: “The Traditional text of the New Testament has existed from the time of Christ right down to the present. It has had many different names down through the years, such as Byzantine Text, Eastern Text, Received Text, Textus Receptus, Majority Text, and others. Although no complete Bible manuscripts have survived which would allow us to date the Traditional text to the first century, there is a strong witness to the early existence and use of the Traditional text by the early church in its lectionaries.”
In his excellent book, Truth Triumphant: The Church in the Wilderness, Benjamin Wilkinson writes, “The Protestant denominations are built upon that manuscript of the Greek New Testament sometimes called Textus Receptus, or the Received Text. It is that Greek New Testament from which the writings of the Apostles in Greek have been translated into English, German, Dutch and other languages. During the dark ages the Received Text was practically unknown outside the Greek Church. It was restored to Christendom by the labours of that great scholar Erasmus. It is altogether too little known that the real editor of the Received Text was Lucian. None of Lucian’s enemies fails to credit him with this work. Neither Lucian nor Erasmus, but rather the Apostles, wrote the Greek New Testament. However, Lucian’s day was an age of apostasy when a flood of depravations was systematically attempting to devastate both the Bible manuscripts and Bible theology. Origen, of the Alexandrian college, made his editions and commentaries of the Bible a secure retreat for all errors, and deformed them with philosophical speculations introducing casuistry and lying. Lucian’s unrivalled success in verifying, safeguarding, and transmitting those divine writings left a heritage for which all generations should be thankful.”
Textus Receptus (Latin: “Received Text”) is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale [Tyndale Bible], the King James Version [KJV-AV 1611], and most other Reformation-era New Testament translations throughout Western and Central Europe. The series originated with the first printed Greek New Testament, published in 1516—a work undertaken in Basel by the Dutch Catholic scholar and humanist (i.e. professionalism) Desiderius Erasmus. Detractors criticize it for being based on only some six manuscripts, containing between them not quite the whole of the New Testament. The missing text [the last six verses of Revelation chapter 22] was back-translated from the [Latin] Vulgate. Although based mainly on late manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type, Erasmus’ edition differed markedly from the classic form of that text, and included some missing parts back translated from the Latin Vulgate.
The Codex Alexandrinus (London, British Library) is a 5th-century manuscript of the Greek Bible, containing the majority of the Septuagint and the New Testament. It is one of the four Great uncial codices [using only capital letters – i.e. modern forgeries]. Along with the Codex Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus, it is [claimed by modern scholars to be] one of the earliest and most complete manuscripts of the Bible. Wettstein designated it in 1751 AD by [the] letter A, and it was the first manuscript to receive thus a large letter as its designation.
It derives its name from Alexandria [Egypt] where it resided for a number of years before it was brought by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Cyril Lucaris from Alexandria to Constantinople. Then it was given to Charles I of England in the 17th century. Until the later purchase of the Codex Sinaiticus, it was the best manuscript of the Greek Bible deposited in Britain. Today, it rests along with Codex Sinaiticus in one of the showcases in the Ritblat Gallery of the British Library. A full photographic reproduction of the New Testament volume (Royal MS 1 D. viii) is available on the British Library’s website.
As the text came from several different traditions, different parts of the codex are not of equal textual value. The text has been edited several times since the 18th century.
Codex Sinaiticus (London, Brit. Library) or “Sinai Bible” is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. The codex is a celebrated historical treasure.
The codex is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of the New Testament, along with that of the Codex Vaticanus. Until the discovery by Tischendorf [Lobegott Friedrich Constantin (von) Tischendorf (January 18, 1815 – December 7, 1874)] of the Sinaiticus text, the Codex Vaticanus was unrivaled.
The Codex Sinaiticus came to the attention of scholars in the 19th century at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mount Sinai, with further material discovered in the 20th and 21st centuries. Although parts of the Codex are scattered across four libraries around the world, most of the manuscript today resides within the British Library. Since its discovery, study of the Codex Sinaiticus has proven to be extremely useful to scholars for critical studies of biblical text.
Originally, the Codex contained the whole of both Testaments. Approximately half of the Greek Old Testament (or Septuagint) survived, along with a complete New Testament, plus the Epistle of Barnabas, and portions of The Shepherd of Hermas.
Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria [Egypt], addressed this problem on Jan. 7, 367 AD, when he wrote his annual Easter letter to his churches. It was a landmark letter because it contained the same list of 27 books of the New Testament that are found in our Bibles today. So far as we know, Athanasius was the first Christian leader to compile a list of New Testament books exactly as we know them today. — [Origen (Origen Adamantius 182-254 AD) actually collected and codified the 27 book NT we have today and he preceded Athanasius by over a century.]
Here are portions of Athanasius’ letter, in which he lists the books of the Old and New Testaments that he considered authoritative. …
Pope Gelasius I condemned the book The Shepherd of Hermas around 500 A.D.
When one examines the statements made by some of the earliest [fringe] Church fathers it is clear that many were of the opinion that The Shepherd was an authoritative work. For example, both Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons in 177 A.D.) and Clement of Alexandria (born 150 A.D.) cite The Shepherd as Scripture. Likewise, Cyprian, born to pagan parents early in the third century but converted to Christianity about 246 A.D., and eventually rose to the position of bishop of Carthage, cites The Shepherd as divine Scripture. Hippolytus of Rome (170-235 A.D.), whom Bruce calls considers as the greatest scholar of his age in the west, quotes The Shepherd in his writings and also The Didache and The Letter of Barnabas. Bruce also observes that Origen (185-254 A.D.) felt that The Shepherd of Hermas, along with The Didache and The Letter of Barnabas, should be considered as Scripture. Nevertheless, it appears that despite Origin’s [Origen] initial acceptance of these works as authoritative writings, after he moved to Caesarea and discovered that these books were not accepted as authoritative writings, he apparently exercised greater reserve towards them. With specific regard to Origin’s comments on The Shepherd, Schaff explains that he recognised that there were others in the Church who judged the book less favourably than himself.
Even though The Shepherd [supposedly] enjoyed widespread acceptance as an inspired writing by many in the early Church there were some who not only viewed the book as being ‘less favourable’ than Origin [Origen] but went as far as being in hostile opposition to it. Unquestionably, the most vocal opponent of The Shepherd in the early Church was Tertullian (160-220 A.D.). On account of his extreme moral convictions, in later life, Tertullian became involved with the strict sect of the Montanists. Consequently, he came to believe the teaching that serious sins after baptism were unforgivable. This belief therefore led Tertullian to charge The Shepherd with being too lax in its approach to repentance and even goes as far as referring to it as the “Shepherd of the adulterers”. He designates the book as apocryphal, and rejects it with contempt, as favouring anti- Montanistic opinions. Nevertheless, Crombie observes that in his words of criticism Tertullian unknowingly reveals that it was regarded by many in the Church as Scripture.
By the fourth century it appears that The Shepherd, along with many other books that had been disputed, was gradually beginning to be separated from the books that would form the New Testament canon. Church historian, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea from 314 to his death in 339, lists three categories by which to distinguish the various writings in existence in the early Church. These are as follows: Those that are universally acknowledged and without dispute; those that are disputed; and the spurious. For Eusebius, The Shepherd falls without any hesitation into the third category as a work that should be included among other spurious works as The Acts of Paul, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Epistle of Barnabus, and The Teachings of the Apostles. Nevertheless, Eusebius also recognised that while some excluded The Shepherd from the accepted books others still regarded it as quite an important and significant writing especially for those who were in need of instruction in the rudimentary elements of the faith. Furthermore, he also recognises that some of the most ancient of writers refer to it and that it was often publicly read in churches.
Even though Eusebius placed The Shepherd among the spurious writings it is evident that during his day the book was still enjoying widespread popularity and was still considered by some as having equal, or at the least near equal authority with other New Testament writings. This is illustrated in the Codex Sinaiticus, dated at around the middle of the fourth century, and contains The Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistle of Barnabas at the end of a complete New Testament. Kenyon observes how both books enjoyed almost equal authority with the New Testament for a long period of time (clearly apparent from their inclusion in the Codex Sinaiticus) but were nevertheless eventually excluded from the canon.
In the year 367 AD, in his Easter Letter, Athanasius writes of the books that the church have accepted as having divine canonical status out of a concern to distinguish them from the many apocryphal and non-canonical books that were in circulation. With this concern in mind Athanasius specifically lists the 27 books of the New Testament as alone being authoritative writings which he solemnly warns that no man should add to or take away from. In his letter Athanasius also addresses other popular books that he recognises as writings that the early leaders in the Church encouraged new converts to read for instruction but which should be identified as not belonging to the canon. The Shepherd is mentioned as belonging to this category of books along with other non-canonical writings. Even though in his Easter Letter Athanasius clearly designated The Shepherd as outside the inspired canon he freely quotes from it throughout his writings and letters and even calls it a “…most edifying book…”
It would seem that Athanasius’ words carried considerable significance because by the end of the fourth century and throughout the fifth century The Shepherd loses much of its popularity and respect within the Church. Jerome (about 345- 420 A.D.) categorises The Shepherd, along with other books, as not belonging to the canon; and Schaff observes that Ambrose (339-397 A.D.) and Augustine (354-430 A.D.) simply seem to ignore it. However, it was with the decree of Pope Gelasius I (about 500 A.D.) which condemned the book as apocryphal that The Shepherd apparently fell into entire neglect. This is illustrated by the fact that after its condemnation the Greek text even disappeared for a number of centuries. It was only in the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Greek text of The Shepherd re-emerged unexpectedly that a renewed interest in it was awakened among scholars of early Christianity. Today The Shepherd is no longer given the high esteem with which some of the early Christians considered it but instead it is regarded as a work of antiquarian interest in a similar way to the pictures and sculptures of the catacombs.
Reasons for the Eventual Exclusion of The Shepherd from the New Testament Canon. Kelly observes that while the broad outline of the New Testament canon was settled by the end of the second century, different localities continued to maintain their different traditions, and some places, such as Alexandria in Origen’s time, appear to have been less partial to a set canon than others. It appears that a process gradually came into operation in the early Church whereby such popular books as The Shepherd were eventually separated from the writings that the Church recognised as being truly inspired. Kelly explains this by identifying the main features that eventually came to prevail in distinguishing between the authoritative books and books, such as The Shepherd, that were in due time excluded. It appears that unless a book could be shown to have been written by an apostle, or at least have the authority of an apostle behind it, it was rejected, regardless of how edifying or popular it may have been. Kelly mentions The Shepherd as being among the books that “hovered for a long time on the fringe of the canon, but in the end failed to secure admission” because it lacked the indispensable stamp of apostolic authorship. Some of the books which were later included (Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 Johns, Jude, Revelation) had to wait a considerable time before achieving universal recognition. However, by gradual stages, the Church in both East and West arrived at a common mind as to what writings were truly inspired and those that should be excluded.
In agreement with the conclusions of Kelly, exclusion from the accepted and inspired books of the New Testament on the grounds that a writing could not be presented as an apostolic work is also seen as recorded in the Muratorian Fragment. Dated at about the end of the second century, the Muratorian Fragment specifically mentions The Shepherd as being a book that was excluded because “it was written very recently, in our times by Hermas while his brother Pius was sitting in the chair [i.e. was bishop] of the city of Rome.” Smith observes that by the criteria of The Shepherd being outside the time period of the apostles a very popular an exceptional work was excluded from the canon. Even though the book failed the test of apostolic authorship, it was still not totally discarded at this time for the Fragment further describes that the book was “…worthy to be read [in the Church] but not to be included in the number of prophetic or apostolic writings.”
In summery and conclusion it can be said that The Shepherd of Hermas is a book that gives interesting insight into the life of early Christianity in the second century. Although the contents of The Shepherd is certainly not without its theological difficulties this present writer believes, in fairness to the book, that this could be partly due to the fact that Hermas, along with other early Christians were still grappling with many of the finer points of their belief structure, some of which (such as the doctrine of Christ) the Church was still in the process of working out in the fourth century. As to the popularity of The Shepherd there can be no doubt that it was widely accepted among the early Christian congregations, many of whom regarded it as Scripture. Even for those who did not elevate the book to such an esteemed position it was still often referred to throughout their writings and publicly read in the Church. Despite the overall early popularity of the book, by the end of the fourth century, with Athanasius’ Easter Letter containing a list of the twenty seven inspired books of the New Testament, and the exclusion of such books as The Shepherd, it appears that the book lost considerable respect. It was not, however, until Pope Gelasius I condemned the book around 500 A.D. that it seemed to fall into entire neglect. It appears that the reason why The Shepherd eventually fell from its celebrated position to one of entire neglect was primarily because it failed the criteria of apostolic authorship.
Origen, or Origen Adamantius (Born: 182 AD, Alexandria, Egypt – Died: 254 AD, Tyre, Lebanon), was a scholar and early Christian theologian who was born and spent the first half of his career in Alexandria, Egypt.
Origen was born in Alexandria to Christian parents. He was educated by his father, Leonides of Alexandria, who gave him a standard Hellenistic education, but also had him study the Christian Scriptures. The name of his mother is unknown.
In 202 AD, Origen’s father was martyred in the outbreak of the persecution during the reign of Septimius Severus. A story reported by Eusebius has it that Origen wished to follow him in martyrdom, but was prevented only by his mother hiding his clothes. The death of Leonides left the family of nine impoverished when their property was confiscated. Origen, however, was taken under the protection of a woman of wealth and standing; but as her household already included a heretic named Paul, the strictly orthodox Origen seems to have remained with her only a short time.
Origen allegedly studied under Clement of Alexandria and was influenced by his thought.
Eusebius, our chief witness to Origen’s life, says that in 203 AD Origen revived the Catechetical School of Alexandria where Clement of Alexandria had once taught but had apparently been driven out during the persecution under Severus. Many modern scholars, however, doubt that Clement’s school had been an official ecclesiastical institution as Origen’s was and thus deny continuity between the two. But the persecution still raged, and the young teacher visited imprisoned Christians, attended the courts, and comforted the condemned, himself preserved from persecution because the persecution was probably limited only to converts to Christianity. His fame and the number of his pupils increased rapidly, so that Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria, made him restrict himself to instruction in Christian doctrine alone.
Conflict with Demetrius and removal to Caesarea, Israel
Demetrius, the bishop of Alexandria, at first supported Origen but later opposed him, disputing his ordination in another diocese (Caesarea Maritima in Palestine). This ecclesiastical turmoil eventually caused Origen to relocate to Caesarea, a move which he characterized as divine deliverance from Egypt akin to that the ancient Hebrews received. About 230, Origen entered on the fateful journey which was to compel him to give up his work at Alexandria and embittered the next years of his life. Sent to Greece on some ecclesiastical mission, he paid a visit to Caesarea, where he was heartily welcomed and was ordained a priest, that no further cause for criticism might be given Demetrius, who had strongly disapproved his preaching before ordination while at Caesarea. But Demetrius, taking this well-meant act as an infringement of his rights, was furious, for not only was Origen under his jurisdiction as bishop of Alexandria, but, if Eastern sources may be believed, Demetrius had been the first to introduce episcopal ordination in Egypt. The metropolitan accordingly convened a synod of bishops and presbyters which banished Origen from Alexandria, while a second synod declared his ordination invalid.
Origen accordingly fled from Alexandria in 231–2 AD, and made his permanent home in Caesarea in Palestine, where his friend Theoctistus was bishop. A series of attacks on him seems to have emanated from Alexandria, whether for his self-castration (a capital crime in Roman law) or for alleged heterodoxy is unknown; but at all events these fulminations were heeded only at Rome, while Palestine, Phoenicia, Arabia, and Achaia paid no attention to them. At Alexandria, Heraclas became head of Origen’s school, and shortly afterward, on the death of Demetrius, was consecrated bishop. …
After the death of Maximinus, Origen resumed his life in Caesarea of Palestine. Little is known of the last twenty years of Origen’s life. He founded a school where Gregory Thaumaturgus, later bishop of Pontus, was one of the pupils. He preached regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays, and later daily. He taught dialectics, physics, ethics, and metaphysics. He evidently, however, developed an extraordinary literary productivity, broken by occasional journeys; one of which, to Athens during some unknown year, was of sufficient length to allow him time for research.
After his return from Athens, he succeeded in converting Beryllus, bishop of Bostra, from his adoptionistic (i.e., belief that Jesus was born human and only became divine after his baptism) views to the orthodox faith; yet in these very years (about 240) probably occurred the attacks on Origen’s own orthodoxy which compelled him to defend himself in writing to Pope Fabian and many bishops. Neither the source nor the object of these attacks is known, though the latter may have been connected with Novatianism (a strict refusal to accept Christians who had denied their faith under persecution).
After his conversion of Beryllus, however, his aid was frequently invoked against heresies. Thus, when the doctrine was promulgated in Arabia that the soul died and decayed with the body, being restored to life only at the resurrection (see soul sleep), appeal was made to Origen, who journeyed to Arabia, and successfully battled this doctrine.
There was second outbreak of the Antonine Plague, which at its height in 251 AD to 266 AD took the lives of 5,000 a day in Rome. This time it was called the Plague of Cyprian. Emperor Decius, believing the plague to be a product of magic, caused by the failure of Christians to recognize him as Divine, began Christian persecutions. This time Origen did not escape the Decian persecution. Eusebius recounted how Origen suffered “bodily tortures and torments under the iron collar and in the dungeon; and how for many days with his feet stretched four spaces in the stocks” Though he did not die while being tortured, he died three years later due to injuries sustained at the age of 69. A later legend, recounted by Jerome and numerous itineraries, places his death and burial at Tyre, but to this little value can be attached.
Note: the extensive writings and documents that comprised Origen’s vast and unique library were donated to a local Church at the passing of Origen. Later Ambrose (337-397 AD) the Bishop of Milan, Italy apparently received a large portion of what remained of Origen’s personal library.
Eusebius (about 260 – 339/340 AD) was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon [following in the footsteps of Origen in locating, collecting and categorizing various NT Church epistles] and is regarded as an extremely well learned Christian of his time. He wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As “Father of Church History” he produced the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs.
The First Church History – After the Book of Acts
In his Church History or Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius wrote the first surviving history of the Christian Church as a chronologically-ordered account, based on earlier sources complete from the period of the Apostles to his own epoch. The time scheme correlated the history with the reigns of the Roman Emperors, and the scope was broad. Included were the bishops and other teachers of the Church, Christian relations with the Jews and those deemed heretical, and the Christian martyrs through 324 A.D. Although its accuracy and biases have been questioned, it remains an important source on the early church due to Eusebius’s access to materials now lost.
Biblical Textual Criticism
[Origen,] Pamphilus and Eusebius occupied themselves with the textual criticism of the Septuagint text of the Old Testament and especially [collected epistles] of the New Testament. An edition of the Septuagint seems to have been already prepared by Origen, which, according to Jerome, was revised and circulated by Eusebius and Pamphilus. For an easier survey of the material of the four Evangelists, Eusebius divided his edition of the New Testament into paragraphs and provided it with a synoptical table so that it might be easier to find the pericopes that belong together. These canon tables or “Eusebian canons” remained in use throughout the Middle Ages, and illuminated [colored artwork] manuscript versions are important for the study of early medieval art, as they are the most elaborately decorated pages of many Gospel books. Eusebius detailed in Epistula ad Carpianum how to use his canons [books].
Much like his birth, the exact date of Eusebius’ death is unknown. However, there is primary text evidence from a council held in Antioch that by the year 341 AD, his successor Acacius had already filled the seat as Bishop. Socrates and Sozomen write about Eusebius’ death, and place it just before Constantine’s son (Constantine II or Constantine the Younger) died, which was in early 340 AD. They also say that it was after the second banishment of Athanasius, which began in mid 339 AD. This means that his death occurred sometime between the second half of 339 AD and early 340 AD.
Marcion of Sinope (85 – 160 AD) was a [heretical] bishop in early Christianity. His theology completely rejected the existence of the deity described in the Jewish Scriptures and in distinction affirmed the Father of Christ to be the true God. He was denounced by the Church Fathers and he chose to separate himself from the Imperial Church. He is often considered to have held [A STRONG OPPIONION – and not] a pivotal role in the development of the New Testament canon.
Marcionism – similar to Gnosticism
Marcionism, similar to Gnosticism, depicted the Hebrew God of the Old Testament as a tyrant or demiurge (see also God as the Devil). Marcion was labeled as gnostic by Eusebius.
Marcion’s canon [compiled between 130 AD and 140 AD] consisted of [only] eleven [NT] books: A gospel consisting of ten sections from the Gospel of Luke edited by Marcion; and ten of Paul’s epistles. All other epistles and gospels of the 27 book New Testament canon were rejected. Paul’s epistles enjoy a prominent position in the Marcionite canon, since Paul is credited with correctly transmitting the universality of Jesus’ message. Other authors’ epistles [Notably: Peter, James, Jude, Matthew and John] were rejected since they seemed to suggest that Jesus had simply come to found a new sect within broader Judaism. Religious tribalism of this sort seemed to echo Yahwism, and was thus regarded as a corruption of the “Heavenly Father”‘s teaching.
Marcionism was denounced by its opponents as heresy, and written against, notably by Tertullian, in a five-book treatise Adversus Marcionem, written about 208 A.D. Marcion’s writings are lost, though they were widely read and numerous manuscripts must have existed. Even so, many scholars (including Henry Wace) claim it is possible to reconstruct and deduce a large part of ancient Marcionism through what later critics, especially Tertullian, said concerning Marcion.
Note: Marcion’s short list of acceptable NT books was a list derived by Marcion and was counter to the already accepted (about 27) NT books of the day. It wasn’t a list of what was generally accepted by the early Church as NT canon it was a list of only what Marcion wanted to be accepted as official NT canon.
Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose (340 AD – 4 April 397 AD), was an Archbishop of Milan, Italy who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was consular prefect of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made Bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374 AD. Ambrose was a [Trinitarian in doctrine and] staunch opponent of Arianism.
Ambrose was one of the four original doctors of the [Roman Catholic] Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for [baptizing St. Augustine and] his influence on St. Augustine.
Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great [Pope Gregory I], as one of the Latin Doctors of the [Roman Catholic] Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary [Pope from 461-468 AD], who they claim fell short of Ambrose’s administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects. His spiritual successor, St. Augustine, whose conversion was helped by Ambrose’s sermons, owes more to him than to any writer except Paul.
Ambrose’s intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia.
Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman empire, Theodosius [Roman Emperor Theodosius I] died at Milan in 395 AD, and two years later (April 4, 397 AD) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as Bishop of Milan by [“old but good”] Simplician (320-401 AD). Ambrose’s body may still be viewed in the Church of S. Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated.
Note: during the lifetime of Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome the greater Christian Church transitioned from Greek as the common language to Latin as the common written and spoken language.
Jerome (347 – September 30, 420 AD) was a Latin Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, who also became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia. He is best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin, the Vulgate, and his commentaries on the Gospel of the Hebrews. His list of writings is extensive.
Jerome is the second most voluminous writer (after St. Augustine) in ancient Latin Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church, he is recognized as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.
He acquired a knowledge of Hebrew by studying with a Jew who converted to Christianity, and took the unusual position (for that time) that the Hebrew, and not the Septuagint, was the inspired text of the Old Testament. The traditional view is that he used this knowledge to translate what became known as the Vulgate, and his translation was slowly but eventually accepted in the Catholic Church. The later resurgence of Hebrew studies within Christianity owes much to him.
Jerome was a scholar at a time when that statement implied a fluency in Greek. He knew some Hebrew when he started his translation project, but moved to Jerusalem to strengthen his grip on Jewish scripture commentary. A wealthy Roman aristocrat, Paula, funded his stay in a monastery in Bethlehem and he completed his translation there.
He began in 382 AD by correcting the existing Latin language version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina. By 390 AD he turned to translating the Hebrew Bible from the original Hebrew, having previously translated portions from the Septuagint which came from Alexandria.
He believed that the Council of Jamnia, or mainstream rabbinical Judaism, had rejected the Septuagint as valid Jewish scriptural texts because of what were ascertained as mistranslations along with its Hellenistic heretical elements. He completed this work by 405 AD.
Prior to Jerome’s Vulgate, all Latin translations of the Old Testament were based on the Septuagint not the Hebrew. Jerome’s decision to use a Hebrew text instead of the previous translated Septuagint went against the advice of most other Christians, including St. Augustine, who thought the Septuagint inspired. Modern scholarship, however, has cast doubts on the actual quality of Jerome’s Hebrew knowledge. Many modern scholars believe that the Greek Hexapla is the main source for Jerome’s “iuxta Hebraeos” translation of the Old Testament.
For the next 15 years, until he died, Jerome produced a number of commentaries on Scripture, often explaining his translation choices in using the original Hebrew rather than suspect translations. His patristic commentaries align closely with Jewish tradition, and he indulges in allegorical and mystical subtleties after the manner of Philo and the Alexandrian school.
Note: the Septuagint is a somewhat problematic translation [i.e. missing sections] especially when compared to the Hebrew Masoretic Text.
The Alexandrian school is a collective designation for certain tendencies in literature, philosophy, medicine, and the sciences that developed in the [Greek] Hellenistic cultural center of Alexandria, Egypt during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Alexandria was a remarkable center of learning due to the blending of Greek and Oriental influences, its favorable situation and commercial resources, and the enlightened energy of some of the Macedonian Dynasty of the Ptolemies ruling over Egypt, in the final centuries BC. Much scholarly work was collected in the great Library of Alexandria during this time. A lot of epic poetry, as well as works on geography, history, mathematics, astronomy and medicine were composed during this period.
The name of Alexandrian school is also used to describe the religious and philosophical developments in Alexandria after the 1st century. The mix of Jewish theology and Greek philosophy led to a syncretic mix and much mystical speculation. The Neoplatonists devoted themselves to examining the nature of the soul, and sought communion with God. The two great schools of biblical interpretation in the early Christian church incorporated Neoplatonism and philosophical beliefs from Plato’s teachings into Christianity, and interpreted much of the Bible allegorically. The founders of the Alexandrian school of Christian theology were Clement of Alexandria and Origen.
Alexandria, Egypt founded [as a Greek city in Egypt] by [the Greek] Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) about the time when Greece, in losing her national independence [to Rome], lost also her intellectual supremacy, and was well adapted for becoming the new centre of the world’s activity and thought.
Its situation brought it into commercial relations with all the nations lying around the Mediterranean, and at the same time it was the one communicating link with the wealth and civilization of the East. The natural advantages it enjoyed were increased to an enormous extent by the care of the sovereigns of Egypt. Ptolemy Soter (reigned 323–285 BC), to whom Egypt had fallen after the death of Alexander, began to draw around him from Greece a circle of men eminent in literature and philosophy. To these he gave aid for them to carry out their work. Under the inspiration of his friend Demetrius of Phalerum, the Athenian orator, statesman and philosopher, Ptolemy laid the foundations of the great Library of Alexandria and began the search for all written works, which resulted in such a collection as the world has seldom seen. He also built the Museum, in which, maintained by the state, the scholars resided, studied and taught.
Note: Ptolemy II sponsored the translation of the Greek Septuagint (about 275 BC). — Ptolemy V. commissioned [in Memphis, Egypt] the carving of what became known as the Rosetta Stone (196 BC). — Cleopatra the daughter of Ptolemy XII was the last Ptolemy to rule in Egypt. Cleopatra died with the Roman Mark Antony at her palace in Alexandria, Egypt in 30 BC.
The Museum, or academy of science, was in many respects not unlike a modern university. The work begun by Ptolemy Soter was carried on by his descendants, in particular by his two immediate successors, Ptolemy Philadelphus and Ptolemy Euergetes. Philadelphus (285–247), whose librarian was the celebrated Callimachus, bought up all Aristotle’s collection of books, and also introduced a number of Jewish and Egyptian works. Among these appears to have been a portion of the Septuagint. Euergetes (247–222) increased the library by seizing on the original editions of the dramatists from the Athenian archives, and by compelling all travellers who arrived in Alexandria to leave a copy of any work they possessed.
This intellectual movement extended over a long period of years and can be split into two periods. The first period extends from about 306 to 30 BC, the time from the foundation of the Ptolemaic dynasty to the conquest by the Romans; the second extends from 30 BC to the destruction of the Alexandria Library somethime before or upon the capture of Alexandria by ‘Amr ibn al-‘As in 641 AD. The clear differences between these two periods explains the variety and vagueness of meaning attaching to the term “Alexandrian School.”
In the first period the intellectual activity was of a literary and scientific nature. It was an attempt to continue and develop, under new conditions, the old Hellenic culture. This effort was particularly noticeable under the early Ptolemies. As we approach the 1st century BC, the Alexandrian school began to break up and to lose its individuality. This was due partly to the state of government under the later Ptolemies, partly to the formation of new scholarly circles in Rhodes, Syria and elsewhere. This gradual dissolution was much increased when Alexandria fell under Roman sway.
As the influence of the school was extended over the whole Graeco-Roman world, scholars began to concentrate at Rome rather than at Alexandria. In Alexandria, however, there were new forces in operation which. produced a second great outburst of intellectual life. The new movement, which was influenced by Judaism and Christianity, resulted in the speculative philosophy of the Neoplatonists and the religious philosophy of the Gnostics and early church fathers.
Note: a possible explanation of what happened to the Bible during the Early Christian Church era is that after the passing of the original Apostles the writings were collected, notably by Origen, and brought to Alexandria, Egypt where there was already a considerable interest and history of translating and editing the Jewish Old Testament. Upon the arrival of the NT epistles in Alexandria a few edits were made notably 1st John 5:7 was removed, the removal and replacement of NT Hebrew with Aramaic i.e. Mark 15:33 and the removal of NT “Masoretic Text” quotes were replaced with quotes from the Septuagint (LXX) text. — When Origen departed Alexandria, Egypt for his new home in Caesarea, Israel he took with him his library of edited NT epistles. Due to the availability of the “Egyptian Texts” and the constant persecution of the “Galatian-Byzantine Texts” the slightly modified “Egyptian Texts” became the normal Biblical texts that we have today.
For there are Three that bear (witness) record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these Three are One. ~ 1 John 5:7
Among the most controversial verses of the Bible is what some consider an explicit reference that supports the doctrine of the Trinity, 1 John 5:7–8. Although verse 7 does [supposedly] not appear in any version of the Greek text prior to the ninth century [but this does not take into account the Greek Manuscripts prior to any Alexandrian edits], it (1 John 5:7) appears in most of the Latin manuscripts, especially in the Vetus Itala [Vetus Latina], Old Latin predating Jerome. — [Note: Jerome used the edited Codex Alexandrinus for his NT translation.]
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian (160 – 225 AD), was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy. Tertullian has been called “the father of Latin Christianity” and “the founder of Western theology.”
Though conservative, he did originate and advance new theology to the early Church. He is perhaps most famous for being the oldest extant Latin writer to use the term Trinity (Latin, trinitas), and giving the oldest extant formal exposition of a Trinitarian theology. Other Latin formulations that first appear in his work are “three Persons, one Substance” as the Latin “tres Personae, una Substantia” (itself from the Koine Greek “treis Hypostases, Homoousios”). He wrote his trinitarian formula after becoming a Montanist. However, unlike many Church fathers, he was never canonized by the Catholic Church, as several of his later teachings directly contradicted the actions and teachings of the apostles.
Tertullian quoted the often disputed verse 1 John 5:7 [from texts predating the Alexandrian edits] in about 200 A.D. in his Apology, Against Praxeas.
Cyprian (200 AD – September 14, 258 AD) was Bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant [remain currently in existence]. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249 and eventually died a martyr at Carthage.
Not long after his baptism he was ordained deacon, and soon afterward presbyter; and sometime between July 248 and April 249 he was chosen bishop of Carthage, a popular choice among the poor who remembered his patronage as demonstrating good equestrian style, while a portion of the presbytery opposed it, for all Cyprian’s wealth and learning and diplomacy and literary talents. Moreover, the opposition within the church community at Carthage did not dissolve during his episcopacy.
Soon, however, the entire community was put to an unwanted test. Christians in North Africa had not suffered persecution for many years; the church was assured and lax. Early in 250 the “Decian persecution” began. Measures were first taken demanding that the bishops and officers of the church sacrifice to the emperor. The proconsul on circuit, and five commissioners for each town, administered the edict; but, when the proconsul reached Carthage, Cyprian had fled.
It is quite evident in the writings of the church fathers from various dioceses that the Christian community was divided on this occasion, among those who stood firm in civil disobedience, and those who buckled, submitting in word or in deed to the order of sacrifice and receiving a ticket or receipt called a “libellus.” Cyprian’s secret departure from Carthage was interpreted by his enemies as cowardice and infidelity, and they hastened to accuse him at Rome. The Roman clergy wrote to Cyprian in terms of disapproval. Cyprian rejoined that he fled in accordance with visions and the divine command. From his place of refuge he ruled his flock with earnestness and zeal, using a faithful deacon as his intermediary.
Cyprian’s works were edited in volumes 3 and 4 of the Patrologia Latina. Besides a number of epistles, which are partly collected with the answers of those to whom they were written, Cyprian wrote a number of treatises, some of which have also the character of pastoral letters.
**His most important work is his “De unitate ecclesiae.” In it, he states: “He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother; . . . he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ” (vi.); “nor is there any other home to believers but the one Church” (ix.).
The Plague of Cyprian is named after him due to his description of it.
I will now move on to his arguments concerning whether or not Cyprian quoted “a version” of 1 John 5:7. …
Since Cyprian wrote the disputed passage [1 John 5:7] in Latin I feel it necessary to list Cyprian’s words in Latin. Cyprian wrote, “Dicit dominus, Ego et pater unum sumus (John x. 30), et iterum de Patre, et Filio, et Spiritu Sancto scriptum est, Et tres unum sunt.” (The Lord says, “I and the Father are One,” and again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost it is written: “And the three are One.”). This Latin reading is important when you compare it to the Old Latin [Vetus Latina] reading of 1 John 5:7; “Quoniam tres sunt, gui testimonium dant in coelo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt.” Cyprian clearly says that it is written of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost–”And the three are One.” His Latin matches the Old Latin reading identically with the exception of ‘hi’. Again, it is important to note that Cyprian said “it is written” when making his remarks. He never indicates, that he is putting some sort of “theological spin” on 1 John 5:7 or 8. There is no other verse that expressly states that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are ‘three in one’ outside of 1 John 5:7. If Cyprian was not quoting 1 John 5:7 the question must be asked and answered: What was he quoting?
The matter becomes even more devastating when we take into account another of Cyprian’s many statements. When considering issues such as this one before us it is necessary to lay on the table as much of the evidence as one can. Often many of the facts are purposely kept silent due to their damaging testimony. Cyprian writes in another place, “et sanctificatus est, et templum Dei factus ets, quaero cujus Dei? Si Creatoris, non potuit, qui in eum non credidit; si Christi, nec hujus fieri potuit templum, qui negat Deum Christum; si Spiritus Sancti, cum tres unum sunt, quomodo Spiritus Sanctus placatus esse ei potest, qui aut Patris aut Fillii inimicus est?” If he [a person confessing to be a Christian but denying the Tri-Unity of God] was sanctified, he also was made the temple of God. I ask, of what God? If of the Creator; he could not be, because he has not believed in Him. If of Christ; he could not become His temple, since he denies that Christ is God. If of the Holy Spirit; SINCE THE THREE ARE ONE, how can the Holy Spirit be at peace with him who is the enemy either of the Son or of the Father? Here again we see Cyprian stating that “the three are One” (i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This I feel is important because it gives us another reference in Cyprian’s writings testifying to the fact that he was not merely putting a “theological spin” on 1 John 5:7/8. The fact is 1 John 5:7 was found in Cyprian’s [Bible] copies.
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecute you Me (Jesus)? And he said, Who [Father, Son or Holy Spirit] are thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute … ~ Acts 9:4-5
Admittedly, the second quote is not near as ‘strong’ as the first but when the evidence it presented, without all the conjecture, only one seeking to hide something can ignore the fact that Cyprian knew full well the wording of 1 John 5:7 as found in our Authorized [KJV] Version. This is so evident that even Frederick Scrivener, who adamantly opposed the Comma, was compelled to say, “If these two passages be taken together (the first is manifestly much the stronger), it is surely safer and more candid to admit that Cyprian read ver. 7 in his copies, than to resort to the explanation of Facundus, that the holy Bishop was merely putting on ver. 8 a spiritual meaning (Plain Introduction, p. 405).” I couldn’t agree more with the words of Dr. Scrivener! The question then becomes, why do [scholars] continue to espouse this “spiritual meaning/theological spin” hypothesis when this allegation has been refuted for centuries? One can only wonder if the reason behind this charade is not to further conceal the actual evidence and to further mislead the unsuspecting saints.
John Wycliffe (1320 AD – December 1384 AD) called “The Morning Star of the Reformation”.
Wycliffe was also an early advocate for translation of the Bible into the common language. He completed his translation directly from the Vulgate into vernacular English in the year 1382, now known as Wycliffe’s Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe’s Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, with additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe’s assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 AD and 1395 AD.
Translated into English from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate
Wycliffe’s Bible is the name now given to a group of Bible translations into Middle English that were made under the direction of, or at the instigation of, John Wycliffe. They appeared over a period from approximately 1382 AD to 1395 AD. These Bible translations were the chief inspiration and chief cause of the Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually conducted in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying “it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence”.
Long thought to be the work of Wycliffe himself, the Wycliffite translations are now generally believed to be the work of several hands. Nicholas of Hereford is known to have translated a part of the text; John Purvey and perhaps John Trevisa are names that have been mentioned as possible authors. The translators worked from the Vulgate, the Latin Bible that was the standard Biblical text of Western Christianity, and the text conforms fully with Catholic teaching. They included in the testaments those works which would later be called deuterocanonical [extra biblical – Apocryphal books] by most Protestants, along with 3 Esdras which is now called 2 Esdras and Paul’s epistle to the Laodiceans.
Wycliffe became deeply disillusioned both with Scholastic theology of his day and also with the state of the church, at least as represented by the clergy. In the final phase of his life in the years before his death in 1384 he increasingly argued for Scriptures as the authoritative centre of Christianity, that the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, that monasticism was irredeemably corrupt, and that the moral unworthiness of priests invalidated their office and sacraments.
Although unauthorized, the work was popular. Wycliffe Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible survive.
Although Wycliffe’s Bible circulated widely in the later Middle Ages, it had very little influence on the first English biblical translations of the reformation era such as those of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, as it had been translated from the Latin Vulgate rather than the original Greek and Hebrew; and consequently it was generally ignored in later English Protestant biblical scholarship. The earliest printed edition, of the New Testament only, was by John Lewis in 1731. However, due to the common of surviving manuscripts of Wycliffe’s Bible as works of an unknown Catholic translator, this version continued to circulate among 16th-century English Catholics, and many of its renderings of the Vulgate into English were adopted by the translators of the Rheims New Testament. Since the Rheims version was itself to be consulted by the translators working for King James [KJV] a number of readings from Wycliffe’s Bible did find their way into the Authorized King James Version of the Bible at second hand.
Note: the only available Bible at that time was Jerome’s Latin Vulgate – the Byzantine Textus Receptus (TR) would not come to Europe until after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD.
Also Note: at that time the differences between the Bibles, the old Vetus Latina, Jerome’s Latin Vulgate and the soon to be westernized (Byzantine) Textus Receptus was very minimal with only about a 2% discrepancy in the totality of the Bible. — With the Bible versions being so closely matched some of the work of John Wycliffe carried directly into the later work of William Tyndale and much of Tyndale’s work went directly into the KJV translation as 98% of the Bible was undisputed the KJV translators were mainly working to standardize the Bible and correct a few disputed verses of the Bible.
The Fall of Constantinople (Turkish: Conquest of Istanbul) was the capture of Constantinople (Istanbul), the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which occurred after a siege by the invading [Muslims of the] Ottoman Empire, under the command of 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos. The siege lasted from Friday, 6 April 1453 AD until Tuesday, 29 May 1453 AD according to the Julian calendar, when the city fell and was finally conquered by the [Turkish] Ottomans.
The capture of Constantinople (and two other Byzantine splinter territories soon thereafter) marked the end of the Roman Empire, an imperial state which had lasted for nearly 1,500 years. The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople also dealt a massive blow to Christendom, as the Ottoman armies thereafter were free to advance into Europe without an adversary to their rear. After the conquest, Sultan Mehmed transferred the capital of the Ottoman Empire from Adrianople to Istanbul (Constantinople). Several Greek and non-Greek intellectuals fled the city before and after the siege, with the majority of them migrating particularly to Italy, which helped fuel the Renaissance.
The conquest of the city of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire marks, for some historians, the end of the Middle Ages.
After this I [Daniel] saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast [Rome], dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and [Rome] it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and [Revised Rome – i.e. starting with Emperor Constantine the Great, he reigned about 306-337 AD – 7th Kingdom] it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn [Antichrist], before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the Thrones [Kingdoms] were cast down, and the Ancient of Days [God] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His Throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels [movement] as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands [i.e. millions of Saints] ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand [i.e. billions] stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the [Antichrist] horn spake: I beheld even till the beast [Antichrist] was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame (Revelation 19:20). As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. ~ Daniel 7:7-12
Note: the Fall of Constantinople was less an “end of the Roman Empire” and more a downsizing and modernizing of the emergent Holy Roman Empire.
Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (1395 – February 3, 1468 AD) was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.
Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type printing, in around 1439. Among his many contributions to printing are: the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system which allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg’s method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mold for casting type.
In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information — including revolutionary ideas — transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its people led to the rise of proto-nationalism, accelerated by the flowering of the European vernacular languages to the detriment of Latin’s status as lingua franca. In the 19th century, the replacement of the hand-operated Gutenberg-style press by steam-powered rotary presses allowed printing on an industrial scale, while Western-style printing was adopted all over the world, becoming practically the sole medium for modern bulk printing.
The use of movable type was a marked improvement on the handwritten manuscript, which was the existing method of book production in Europe, and upon woodblock printing, and revolutionized European book-making. Gutenberg’s printing technology spread rapidly throughout Europe and later the world.
The Gutenberg Bible 1454 AD
His major work, the Gutenberg Bible [the first Bible printed by machine], has been acclaimed for its high aesthetic and technical quality. — Written in Latin, the Gutenberg Bible is an edition of the Vulgate.
Desiderius Erasmus in 1516, published his (Textus Receptus) Greek New Testament – Note: the (Textus Receptus) was a coalition of various existing Greek Texts aligned to the newly received more ancient Greek texts from the recently fallen region of Constantinople hence the name “Textus Receptus” or simply Texts Received.
Over the years, Erasmus became intimately acquainted with biblical manuscripts available throughout Europe, particularly of the New Test-ament. Because the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, it is evident as Erasmus began to search the Scriptures, they had a profound effect upon his life. By the time of his death, the theology of Erasmus had shifted closer to that of the Ana-baptists than that of Rome. This will shortly be documented.
As noted above, in 1516, Erasmus published from Basel, Switzer-land, his Greek New Testament which he called the Novum Instru-mentum. In English that means the “New Instrument. Contrary to popular misconception, Erasmus had more than a handful of manu-scripts at his disposal. Preserved Smith, the noted expert on the life of Erasmus, comments, “For the first edition Erasmus had before him ten manuscripts, four of which he found in England, and five at Basle. . . . The last codex was lent him by John Reuchlin . . . [and] appeared to Erasmus so old that it might have come from the Apostolic Age.” He was aware of Vaticanus in the Vatican Library and had a friend by the name of Bombasius research that for him (165). He, however, rejected the characteristic variants of Codex Vaticanus which distinguishes itself from the Received Text (RT).
Desiderius Erasmus (27 October 1466 AD – 12 July 1536 AD), known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist (i.e. professionalism), Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian.
Erasmus was a classical scholar who wrote in a pure Latin style. He was a proponent of religious toleration, and enjoyed the sobriquet “Prince of the Humanists”; he has been called “the crowning glory of the Christian humanists”. Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament. These raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote On Free Will, The Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.
Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation; but while he was critical of the abuses within the Church and called for reform, he kept his distance from Luther and Melanchthon and continued to recognise the authority of the pope. Erasmus emphasized a middle way, with a deep respect for traditional faith, piety and grace, and rejected Luther’s emphasis on faith alone. Erasmus therefore remained a member of the Catholic Church all his life. Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church and its clerics’ abuses from within. He also held to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which some Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps.
Erasmus died suddenly in Basel in 1536 while preparing to return to Brabant, and was buried in the Basel Minster, the former cathedral of the city. A bronze statue of him was erected in his city of birth in 1622, replacing an earlier work in stone.
Note: though Erasmus had about a dozen Greek NT text Manuscripts available to him after comparing the various Manuscripts and confirming their uniformity he only heavily used a couple of them to complete his Greek NT Edition the Textus Receptus – not many repetitive Texts are needed if they all say the same thing because they are supposed to say the same thing. Only a couple of reliable Manuscripts were needed in order to combine them into the Greek Textus Receptus that we have today.
William Tyndale translated the first English Bible from Greek notably using in part the Greek Textus Receptus of Desiderius Erasmus.
William Tyndale (1494–1536 AD) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible into English. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther. While a number of partial and incomplete translations had been made from the seventh century onward, the grass-roots spread of Wycliffe’s Bible resulted in a death sentence for any unlicensed possession of Scripture in English—even though translations in all other major European languages had been accomplished and made available. Tyndale’s translation was the first English Bible to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, the first English one to take advantage of the printing press, and first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation. It was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony of both the Roman Catholic Church and English Laws to maintain church rulings. In 1530 AD, Tyndale also wrote The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII’s divorce on the grounds that it contravened Scripture.
Tyndale had to learn Hebrew in Germany due to England’s active Edict of Expulsion against the Jews. He worked in an age where Greek was available to the European scholarly community for the first time in centuries. Erasmus compiled and edited Greek Scriptures into the Textus Receptus — ironically, to improve upon the Latin Vulgate—following the Renaissance-fueling Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the dispersion of Greek-speaking intellectuals and texts into a Europe which previously had access to none. Sharing Erasmus’ translation ideals, Tyndale took the ill-regarded, unpopular and awkward Middle-English “vulgar” tongue, improved upon it using Greek and Hebrew syntaxes and idioms, and formed an Early Modern English basis that Shakespeare and others would later follow and build upon as Tyndale-inspired vernacular forms took over. When a copy of The Obedience of a Christian Man fell into the hands of Henry VIII, the king found the rationale to break the Church in England from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534.
In 1535 AD, Tyndale was arrested and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde (Filford) outside Brussels for over a year. In 1536 he was convicted of heresy and executed by strangulation, after which his body was burnt at the stake. His dying request that the King of England’s eyes would be opened seemed to find its fulfillment just two years later with Henry’s authorization of The Great Bible for the Church of England—which was largely Tyndale’s own work. Hence, the Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across the English-speaking world and eventually, on the global British Empire.
Notably, in 1611, the 54 independent scholars who created the King James Version, drew significantly from Tyndale, as well as translations that descended from his. One estimate suggests the New Testament in the King James Version is 83% Tyndale’s, and the Old Testament 76%. With his translation of the Bible the first ever to be printed in English, and a model for subsequent English translations, in 2002, Tyndale was placed at number 26 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.
The King James Version (KJV), commonly known as the Authorized Version (AV) or King James Bible (KJB), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England begun in 1604 AD and completed in 1611 AD. First printed by the King’s Printer Robert Barker, this was the third translation into English to be approved by the English Church authorities. The first was the Great Bible commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII (1535 AD), and the second was the Bishops’ Bible of 1568 AD. In January 1604 AD, King James VI and I convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England.
King James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662 AD), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible – for Epistle and Gospel readings – and as such was authorized by Act of Parliament. By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and Protestant churches. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars. Today, the most used edition of the King James Bible, and often identified as plainly the King James Version [and even KJV 1611], especially in the United States, closely follows the standard text of 1769 AD, edited by Benjamin Blayney at Oxford.
Dedication by the Translators to King James
TO THE MOST HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE JAMES, BY THE GRACE OF GOD,
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, ETC.
THE TRANSLATORS OF THE BIBLE WISH GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD
Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Majesty’s Royal Person to rule and reign over us. For whereas it was the expectation of many, who wished not well unto our Sion, that, upon the setting of that bright Occindental Star, Queen Elizabeth, of most happy memory, some thick and palpable clouds of darkness would so have overshadowed this land, that men should have been in doubt which way they were to walk, and that it should hardly be known who was to direct the unsettled State; the appearance of Your Majesty, as of the Sun in his strength, instantly dispelled those supposed and surmised mists, and gave unto all that were well affected exceeding cause of comfort; especially when we beheld the Government established in Your Highness, and Your hopeful Seed, by an undoubted Title; and this also accompanied with peace and tranquillity at home and abroad.
But among all of our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word among us, which is that inestimable treasure which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven.
Then not to suffer this fall to the ground, but rather to take it up, and to continue it in that state wherein the famous Predecessor of Your Highness did leave it; nay, to go forward with the confidence and resolution of a man, in maintaining the truth of Christ, and propagating it far and near is that which hath so bound and firmly knit the hearts of all Your Majesty’s loyal and religious people unto You, that Your very name is precious among them: their eye doth behold You with comfort, and they bless You in their hearts, as that sanctified Person, who, under God, is the immediate author of their true happiness. And this their contentment doth not diminish or decay, but every day increaseth and taketh strength, when they observe that the zeal of Your Majesty toward the house of God doth not slack or go backward, but is more and more kindled, manifesting itself abroad in the farthest parts of Christendom, by writing in defence of the truth, which hath given such a blow unto that Man of Sin as will not be healed, and every day at home, by religious and learned discourse, by frequenting the house of God, by hearing the Word preached, by cherishing the teachers thereof, by caring for the Church, as a most tender and loving nursing father.
There are infinite arguments of this right Christian and religious affection in Your Majesty; but none is more forcible to declare it to others than the vehement and perpetuated desire of accomplishing and publishing of this work, which now, with all humility, we present unto Your Majesty. For when Your Highness had once, out of deep judgement, apprehended how convenient it was, that, out of the Original sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours, both in our own and other foreign languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact translation of the Holy Scriptures into the English tongue; Your Majesty did never desist to urge and to excite those to whom it was commended, that the Work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited in so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require.
And now at last, by the mercy of God, and the continuance of our labours, it being brought unto such a conclusion, as that we have great hopes that the Church of England shall reap good fruit thereby, we hold it our duty to offer it to Your Majesty, not only as to our King and Sovereign, but as to the principal mover and author of the Work; humbly craving of your most Sacred Majesty, that, since things of this quality have ever been subject to the censures of ill-meaning and discontented persons, it may receive approbation and patronage from so learned and judicious a Prince as Your Highness is; whose allowance and acceptance of our labours shall more honour and encourage us, than all the calumniations and hard interpretations of other men shall dismay us. So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness; or if, on the other side, we shall be maligned by self-conceited brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil, we may rest secure, supported within by the truth and innocency of a good conscience, having walked the ways of simplicity and integrity, as before the Lord, and sustained without by the powerful protection of Your Majesty’s grace and favour, which will ever give countenance to honest and Christian endeavours against bitter censures and uncharitable imputations.
The Lord of heaven and earth bless Your Majesty with many and happy days, that, as his heavenly hand hath enriched Your Highness with many singular and extraordinary graces, so You may be the wonder of the world in this latter age for happiness and true felicity, to the honour of that great God, and the good of his Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour.
Robert Estienne, known as Stephanus (1503–1559 AD), a printer from Paris, edited the Greek (Textus Receptus) New Testament four times, in 1546, 1549, 1550 and 1551, the last in Geneva.
In 1532, he published the remarkable Thesaurus linguae latinae, and twice he published the entire Hebrew Bible — “one with the Commentary of Kimchi on the minor prophets, in 13 vols. 4to (quarto) (Paris, 1539-43), another in 10 vols. 16mo (sextodecimo) (ibid. 1544-46).” Both of these editions are rare.
Of more importance are his four editions of the Greek New Testament, 1546, 1549, 1550, and 1551, the last in Geneva. The first two are among the neatest Greek texts known, and are called O mirificam; the third is a splendid masterpiece of typographical skill, and is known as the Editio Regia; the edition of 1551 contains the Latin translation of Erasmus and the Vulgate, is not nearly as fine as the other three, and is exceedingly rare. It was in this edition that the division of the New Testament into verses was for the first time introduced.
A number of editions of the Vulgate also appeared from his presses, of which the principal are those of 1528, 1532, 1540 (one of the ornaments of his press), and 1546. The text of the Vulgate was in a wretched condition, and his editions, especially that of 1546, containing a new translation at the side of the Vulgate, was the subject of sharp and acrimonious criticism from the clergy.
On his arrival at Geneva, he published a defense against the attacks of the Sorbonne. He issued the French Bible in 1553, and many of John Calvin’s writings; the finest edition of the Institutio being that of 1553. His fine edition of the Latin Bible with glosses (1556) contained the translation of the Old Testament by Santes Pagninus, and the first edition of Theodore Beza’s Latin edition of the New Testament. He died in Geneva.
Note: the 1611 AD King James (New Testament) Bible was translated into English primarily from the existing Textus Receptus family of Greek manuscripts. The 1550 AD Stephanus (Greek New Testament) a NT Bible edited by Robert Estienne using the existing Greek Textus Receptus of Desiderius Erasmus and in making his few changes and additions provides a closely matching KJV Greek NT manuscript.
Lobegott Friedrich Constantin (von) Tischendorf (January 18, 1815 – December 7, 1874) was a noted German Biblical scholar. He deciphered [the code] the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, a 5th-century Greek manuscript of the New Testament, in the 1840s, and rediscovered the Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th-century New Testament manuscript, in 1859 AD.
Constantin von Tischendorf just a few scant years after the dazzling vision, all three versions of the same vision of Joseph Smith Jr., Tischendorf discovered the remarkable Codex Sinaiticus possibly the oldest and rarest NT Manuscript on the face of the earth – if you can believe it, any of the three versions articulated by Tischendorf.
LDS First Vision by LDS Prophet and Founder Joseph Smith, Jr. 1832 AD
The First Vision, also called the grove experience, refers to a vision that Joseph Smith, Jr. said he received in the spring of 1820, in a wooded area in Manchester, New York, which his followers call the Sacred Grove. Smith described it as a personal theophany in which he received instruction from God. Smith’s followers believe the vision reinforces his authority as the founder and prophet of the Latter Day Saint [LDS] movement. According to an account Smith told in 1838, he went to the woods to pray about which church to join but fell into the grip of an evil power that nearly overcame him. At the last moment, he was rescued by two shining “personages” (implied to be Jesus and God the Father) who hovered above him. One of the beings told Smith not to join any existing churches because all taught incorrect doctrines.
Smith wrote several accounts of the vision beginning in 1832, but none of the accounts was published until the 1840s. Though Smith had described other visions, the First Vision was essentially unknown to early Latter Day Saints; Smith’s experience did not become important in the Latter Day Saint movement until the early-20th century, when it became the embodiment of the Latter Day Saint restoration. The First Vision also corroborated distinctive Mormon doctrines such as the bodily nature of God the Father and the uniqueness of Mormonism as the only true path to salvation.
Piltdown Man Hoax 1912 AD
The Piltdown hoax is perhaps the most famous paleoanthropological hoax ever to have been perpetrated. It is prominent for two reasons: the attention [it] paid to the issue of human evolution, and the length of time, more than 40 years, that elapsed from its discovery to its full exposure [in 1953] as a forgery.
The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church. The New Testament portion was published in Reims, France, in 1582, in one volume with extensive commentary and notes. The Old Testament portion was published in two volumes thirty years later by the University of Douai. The first volume, covering Genesis through Job, was published in 1609; the second, covering Psalms to 2 Machabees plus the apocrypha of the Clementine Vulgate was published in 1610. Marginal notes took up the bulk of the volumes and had a strong polemical and patristic character. They offered insights on issues of translation, and on the Hebrew and Greek source texts of the Vulgate. The purpose of the version, both the text and notes, was to uphold Catholic tradition in the face of the Protestant Reformation which up till then had overwhelmingly dominated Elizabethan religion and academic debate. As such it was an impressive effort by English Catholics to support the Counter-Reformation. The New Testament was reprinted in 1600, 1621 and 1633. The Old Testament volumes were reprinted in 1635 but neither thereafter for another hundred years.
The Rheims New Testament had an influence on the translators of the King James Version. Afterwards it ceased to be of interest in the [English] Anglican church. The city is now spelled Douai, but the Bible continues to be published as the Douay–Rheims Bible and has formed the basis of some later Catholic Bibles in English.
Early Bible Unity
King James Version (1611) — Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Douay-Rheims (1899) — Revelation 5:10 And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.
Modern Bible Variances
Modern Catholic Bible – Revelation 5:10 You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.
New International Version (NIV) — Revelation 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.
English Standard Version (ESV) — Revelation 5:10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
Let’s leave Mephibosheth and his unhelpful practices in the pages of history while we ourselves move forward and press on in our High Calling in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are the undefiled in The Way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep His Testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in His ways. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all Your commandments. I will praise you with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned Your righteous judgments. I will keep Your statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Your word. With my whole heart have I sought You: O let me not wander from Your commandments. Your word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD: teach me Your statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in The Way of your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in Your precepts, and have respect unto Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes: I will not forget your word. Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live, and keep Your Word. Open You mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law. I am a stranger in the earth: hide not Your commandments from me. My soul breaks for the longing that it has unto Your judgments at all times. ~ Psalms 119:1-20
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14