St. Michael Academy of Eschatology
This course provides a detailed study of the first five books of the Bible. Holy Scripture is emphasized.
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Read entire lesson to answer the quiz questions using a short response. E-mail quiz to firstname.lastname@example.org and an 80% mastery is required.
"Canons; Old Testament" by Fr. James Ross (O.T.# 302).
The Bible is the foundational literature of the Christian Faith. It is the world's best seller, and the most read and quoted of any literature. It is a priceless reservoir of infinite wisdom and inspiration, and is revered by all who take time and pains to understand it.
LESSON: INTRODUCTION TO THE CANNON OF HOLY SCRIPTURE
DIVISION O.T. 302
The Bible is the foundational literature of the Christian Faith. It is the world's best seller, and the most read and quoted of any literature. It is a priceless reservoir of infinite wisdom and inspiration, and is revered by all that take time and pains to understand it.
By "inspiration" we mean that this is God's "word" (message, will) revealed and conveyed by Him to man. The Bible itself claims inspiration; cf. II Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 1: 1-2; II Pet. 1:21. God is the author, and the speakers or writers were His instruments for conveying and recording the message. The individual speakers and writers were free persons and their personality and style is reflected in their writings.
A Collection of "Books". The Bible, often referred to as "the Book", is actually a collection of 66 "books" - 39 in the O.T. and 27 in the N.T. in our English versions. In the Hebrew (their "Scriptures") there are only 24 books, but nothing is omitted. The reason being that I & II Samuel, I & II Kings and I & II chronicles are counted as one book each; the 12 Minor Prophets are counted as one book, and Ezra-Nehemiah are counted as one. Arrangement: Our O.T. begins with Genesis and ends with Malachi. In the Hebrew Scriptures the arrangement is: Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nebi'im), the Psalms and Writings (Kethubim). This is the arrangement which our Lord knew (in His humanity) - so that in Matt. 24: 44 He refers to "the law, and the prophets, and the psalms - concerning me." Also in Matt. 23:35 He refers to both the first and the last book of the Hebrew Scriptures - cf. Gen. 4:8; II Chron. 24: 21 - 22 with the verse in Matt., and you will see that our Lord endorsed all the O.T.
Lecture/Introduction to the Canon of Holy Scripture
To summarize: Our English Bible contains the same text as the Hebrew Scriptures (O.T.) but in a different order. The 39 books of our Old Testament are as follows:
The Law (Torah) Pentateuch – 5 books. The Prophets (Nebi’im) – 21 books. The Writings (Kethubim) – 13 books – The Psalms (together with Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and I & II Chronicles.
New Testament Originally written in Greek and some Aramaic, the N.T. contains 27 books in the following order:
Apocalypse: 1 book – Revelation (correct title of which is not “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine”, but “The Revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – which He gave to His servant, John. ‘)
Before any written records appeared God communicated to man that which He willed man to know, and man transmitted it orally. God spoke to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others – who transmitted to their families and generations what God had told them. So, before it was written it was transmitted by word of mouth. The God called Moses and ordained that he should be brought up and educated at the center of the greatest culture of his time, and inspired him to commit to writing the divine revelation as we have it in the five books (Pentateuch) which bear his name. Part, particularly that concerning “beginnings”, was given by revelation, and other parts were given by direct word and order, e.g. the Law on Sinai. The writers did not always understand the full significance of what they wrote, but were “moved by the Holy Spirit” to write.
Not all authors of the O.T. are known. Some of those whose names are give to books wrote the major part, but not all. For example: it is not unlikely that Samuel wrote I & II Samuel, but someone must have added I Sam. 25: 1 which records his death.
Also, since the last chapter of Deuteronomy records the death of Moses it is possible that these verses were written by Joshua, or by Ezra the scribe. Samuel probably wrote Judges, and Jeremiah and Ezra probably wrote Kings and Chronicles. As the books of Job and Esther were written about people no named – someone else must have written them. But all such questions are academic.
Critical questions about the structure of Holy Scripture detract nothing from the fact of inspiration or our reverent regard for God’s Word.
The Canon - This word is from the Hebrew “Qaneh” and the Greek “Kanon” – both of which mean measurement or standard. So when we speak of “the canon of Holy Scripture we refer to the criterion or standard by which the writings are judged as part of the authoritative Scriptures. Among the tests of canonicity it was required that a writing should have general recognition as being authoritative and the work of the person to whom it was attributed. So when a council met to decide which books were canonical and which were not, it did not have to determine the question of authority, but rather to give official recognition to that which was already accepted. They did not make the canon.
Our Lord Jesus Christ gave His approval to the Jewish (O.T.) Scriptures - naming them in their three divisions of Law. Prophets and Psalms (Writings) – Luke 24: 44, and no one thought of questioning His approval. The Council of Jamnia (AD 90) did examine certain of the Writings (Kethubim) and give approval without any change. In the O.T. times the questions of canonicity did not arise. If a ”man of God” said or wrote anything it was accepted – particularly if the man was a prophet or priest properly set apart for God’s special service.
Canonicty of the New Testament. While our Lord recognized the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament was not at that time written, so we must give special attention to this division of the Bible? Our Lord did make an important statement which has special bearing upon the authority of the N. T. books when He promised to send the Holy Spirit to teach and guide His Church, and particularly of course the apostles who were His own “sent” leaders of the Church at that time. The Holy Spirit was to teach them and help them to remember all things – “whatsoever I have told you.” So the Holy Spirit, who taught and guided the apostles in the things which they taught and wrote, is the same Holy Spirit who taught and inspired “holy men of old” to write what they wrote. (cf. John 14: 26; 16: 13 ).
Although the 4 Gospels are placed first in the N.T. they were not written first. Actually there was no reason to write them before the epistles because those who did eventually write them were still alive and teaching by word of mouth. The need for those who had accompanied our Lord during His earthly ministry to write what they had learned from Him came later when they were near the end of their lives – and it was necessary that their witness and testimony be preserved. So the epistles came first – they were the letters, which they wrote to the other parts of the Church, the congregations – distant from Palestine –, which they had helped to found and had taught. If you read the epistles you will see that they are letters about matters down in a positive way the official teaching of the Church.
The was probable a written “source” of Gospel facts upon which Mark drew when he wrote His gospel, but although this short statement of the Gospel is generally considered the earliest, it did not appear until c. 67-69 AD Luke’s gospel probably appeared c. 58 AD, and John’s not until almost the close of the century – c. 90 AD Several copies of both Gospels and Epistles were circulated at the same time among the various congregations or “churches” and were not necessarily addressed to anyone in particular, but dates are not our primary concern here. That is something that will be dealt with in the appropriate area of N.T. studies.
As one by one of the apostles died – either naturally or through martyrdom – their writings became more precious and were carefully preserved as setting forth the pure teaching of the Christian faith. So these writings gained recognition and increasing importance as being truly authoritative. During the latter part of the first century and in the second century other writings appeared; but they did not have the same authority as the apostolic writings - they lacked the accepted quality, they were not canonical, but since such writings existed and might be read by those who had not yet heard the truth of the Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus Christ and His apostles, some rule was necessary by which the “true” could be distinguished for the “spurious.” By the close of the fourth century the Christian Church took appropriate action, giving its unanimous approval to the 27 books that comprise our New Testament, and to no others. Among the considerations which determined their actions were:
The Apocryphia did not survive the above tests and so was note included in the Canon.
Various materials were used on which to inscribe the sacred Scriptures - clay, stone, papyrus, leather. Papryus was made from the pitch of a grass. Leather (parchment) was made from goatskin (or sheep). Vellum (a finer quality of leather) was made from the skins of calves and antelopes. Leather (parchment and vellum,) was more durable that papyrus. The earlier writings on such materials were produced in scrolls. Later came something with flat pages similar to a modern book - and was known as a 'codex." St. Paul seems to have used both forms, for in writing to Timothy (from prison in Rome) he asks him to come quickly and "bring the books, and above all the parchments." II Tim. 4:13. Perhaps Paul wanted evidence of his own teaching - to use as evidence at his forthcoming trial. He asks Timothy to come "before winter."
Translation: First part into English - by Bishop Anselm (Sherbourne) 700 AD - Psalms. The Venerable Bade started about the same time to translate the whole Bible, but died in 735 AD before completing the work. John Wycliffe translated the whole Bible into English in 1380 - 84 AD - these were all by hand. The first printed English translation was the N. T. by William Tyndale in 1526 AD It was printed at Worms in Germany. In 1535 Miles Coverdale produced the first complete Bible to be printed.
There were several other versions before the present Authorized Version of 1611 AD, and several more between that and the Revised Version on 1881 - 1885 and the American Standard Version of 1901. There have been many versions since then and they continue to appear; but the most popular of all continues to be the Authorized (K. James) Version.So from the original autographs (writing) by which it was transmitted, the Bible has come down to us through the ages. Though its form has undergone many changes, it remains the Word of God to man - "sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12.
DIVISION OLD TESTAMENT
LESSON O.T. 302-B
Invasion and Possession of the Land
The book of Joshua marks the beginning of the history of Israel as a nation-no longer merely a group of tribes. This historical section is covered by the books of Joshua down to Esther and will occupy our close attention and study for the next five lessons.
There are few who do not desire to be "a success". You, for instance, wish to excel in these studies and make "a success" of your vocation. Therefore, it may be of interest to know that the only place in our English Bible where this word "success" occurs is here in the beginning of this section of our studies-in God's commission to Joshua: "…This book of the law shall not depart out of they mount: but thou shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt mediate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for than thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Joshua 1:8. (Read whole commission: (Joshua 1:2-9). Joshua was all out for God, and those words strengthened and encouraged him to remain faithful and steadfast. Having committed oneself, absolute faithfulness is a prerequisite of success. O.T, Deut. 6:3-5; St. Luke 10:25-28; Ps. 1:1-3.
As you study and work through this course keep this ideal ever before you. Be steadfast and faithful. Don't entertain discouragement; never give up. Don't ever let yourself think of dropping out. Determine to "have good success" for Christ' sake. See Phil. 4:13
Lesson II OT. 302-B
The book of Joshua is the only Biblical account of the campaign; the conquest was not complete, using modern military terms one might say that the several battles described resulted in taking certain strategic points and the securing of important "bridge heads", followed by clearing and mapping-up operations. For instance, although these companies of Philistines who were engaged in battle were city-states of Gezer and Jerusalem. Not until long afterwards was Jerusalem taken by David from the Jebusites, after which he rebuilt and enlarged the city ands made whole area from Giboen to Kadesh-barnea was brought under Israelites control by several pitched battles. The conquest of the northern region was decided by a single battle between the army of Joshua and the combined forces of several allied Palestinian kings near the Waters of Merom.
In the over-all campaign, 31 kings of city-states are listed as defeated.
Four Reminders that proved Israel was in The Promised Land: 1. Two stone memorials, one on Jordan’s western bank-erected to remind them and future generations of the miraculous crossing. 2. Circumcision of all males who had not been circumcised during the wilderness wanders – a mark of the rolling away of “the reproach of Egypt.” The place where this circumcision took place was named “Gilgal” – meaning, “rolled.” See Josh. 5:2-10-10. 3. A solemn Passover is kept in the Plain of Jericho. 4. The people officially partake of the food of this promised Land-the land “flowing with milk and honey.”
Lesson II. OT 302-B
Division of the Land – some of which remained to be taken: Josh. 13:1-19:51. The Cities of Refuge: Joshua 20. Cf. Numbers 35:6. The Cities of the Levites: Joshua 21. Final Counsels of Joshua: His Last Charge to Israel: His death and burial, Joshua 23-24.
Book of Judges: Events and incidents recorded in this book cover a period of between 200-300 years-between the death of Joshua and the establishment of the monarchy. It should be noted that many of the Judges ruled locally; and occasionally there was two or more (in different parts of the country) contemporary with one another. They were men raised up by God to rally, encourage and lead the people in times of crisis and national danger. During the time of judges only a very loose federation of the tribes existed. The former possessors of the land, who had not been driven out, frequently harassed the Israelites and plundered their crops and herds. In such circumstances it was the responsible of the Judge to rally and lead the fighting men to deal with the trouble. If it happened that there was no Judge when trouble started, then God raised up a man to serve in the crisis. Not all Judges were men. At least one was a woman, Deborah. Among them were colorful of the Judges were Gideon and Samson. This period in Israel’s history is correctly described in the last verse of the book, which says: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.“ Jud. 21:25.
Book of Ruth: Events narrated in this beautiful story took place in the time of the Judges. It may be considered as a portrayal of the Church. Ruth is the Gentile bride of the Bethlehemite who is able to redeem. Ruth also presents a normal Christian experience – deciding, serving, resting and rewarded. By her marriage to Boaz, this Moabite maiden became the great-grandmother of David, ancestries of our Lord Jesus Christ in His Humanity of the Davidic line. Cf. The genealogy in St. Matthew 1.Samuel: The last of the Judges and first of the Prophets. Samuel was dedicated to God’s service prior to his birth; he also served in the priestly office. The first book of Samuel records an early episode in the moral and spiritual decline of Israel. Religious discipline and observance had been at a low ebb for generations. The Tabernacle, which had been erected at Shilohin the days of Joshua, was still there. Here Eli served as High Priest and was
suppose to give spiritual direction and leadership. But though he who occupied the priest’s office was weak and useless, God did not leave Himself without a witness. This fact is illustrated in the promise, birth and call of Samuel. Faithful in her religious duties, coming every year to worship at the Tabernacle in Shiloh, Hannah prayed earnestly for a child. God graciously heard and answered her prayers and to her and her husband, Elkanah, a son was born. As soon as the child was weaned his parents made the long journey to Shiloh and gave him back to God, leaving him in the care of Eli to be brought up and trained for dedicated service in the priesthood, saying: “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him; therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.” Samuel, like many since, was called as a child to be “a voice for God,” being first used to convey messages of divine admonition and warning to Eli-when the aged priest was no longer sensitive to God’s leading- “The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; there was no open (or frequent) vision.” (1 Sam. 3:1.) The Philistines, who occupied the s.w. maritime plain, were dominant enemies of Israel all the days of Samuel. The book covers a period of a little more than a hundred years.
Read the book with the following divisions in mind: 1. The promise, birth and dedication of Samuel to the death of Eli –I Sam. 1:1- 4:22. 2. From the capture of the Ark of the Lord by the Philistines to the people’s demand for a king-I Sam. 5:1-8:22. 3. Beginning of the Monarchy-selection, consecration, failure and eclipse of Saul to the call of David- I Sam. 16:1-33:13.
While Samuel was not of the Aaronic line, he was specially called by God to exercise the priest’s office. He also established the “Schools of the Prophets” which had a very strong restraining influence for good upon the future life of the nation.
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