There is a good reason to believe the current protestant cannon is supernaturally inspired.
This thread will be for foreveryoung and others who share his view on the superiority of the 'protestant canon' (or any canon, for that matter) to defend their position and present evidence in its favor. I'd like to see the discussion follow along these lines:
First, those arguing for superiority of one of the canons will have to define that canon. This will mean listing all of the books that make up the canon as well as the versions of those books where significant variations exist.
Second, these folk will have to define and defend the criteria behind labeling one canon as superior or better than another. What is it about a canon that would make it superior? For example, foreveryoung seems to think that supernatural inspiration is a criterion for a superior canon.
Finally, they will have to show that these criteria are all met in the canon they hold as superior.
I was about to post the following as a new topic, but since it seems relevant to this, unanswered question, I'll put my thoughts here. It will bump this thread up and see if we can get some answers!
Strict biblical literalists believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and that every word should be seen as literally true.
All well and good, but there is one clear problem here. Bibles are translated into hundreds of different languages, and within a widely spoken language like English, there are dozens of alternative translations. In many cases, it probably makes little difference to the meaning which tranlsation you use, but there are some passages which can be interpreted quite differently depending on your choice of version. This was highlighted in the Genesis topic, when a difference in tense between the King James' and New International Version could be seen to reorder the events described therein. How to select which translation gives the correct story?
Something I've often heard people discuss is the fact that one translation or another is more closely based on the original text. This, however, raises another problem. Whar original text? No such beast survives, and it seems a matter of some debate which language some books of the Bible were written in.
The oldest surviving complete manuscripts we have of the Old Testament are in Greek, and date to the fourth century - long after the originals would have been written. We have earlier fragments in Greek, though none older than the second century. The oldest complete Hebrew texts are from several centuries later than the Greek ones, altough we have some fragments as far back as 150 BC in the form of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Even there, though some of the scrolls contain slightly different texts than others. Even of we can accurately determine who's making the most careful translations, paying most attention to the original text, how do we decide which 'original' text they should have been paying attention to.
If you believe that God is omnipotent, and takes an active role in human affairs, then it doesn't seem unreasonable to argue that he is perfectly capable of ensuring accurate copies of the Bible survive, and of inspiring translators to produce accurate interpretations, just as he inspired the original authors. Fine. But, if this is true, it's also abundantly clear that he didn't prevent others from producting their own, inaccurate translations at the same time. On what basis can a literalist determine which version of the Bible is the right one?
Most of the American strict literalists insist on the King James Version. I've heard any number of pastors criticize other translations by comparing them to the KJV.
Some of the reasons for insisting on the KJV are, in my opinion only peripherally associated with accuracy of translation, and in fact, some are probably not rational. I'll refer you to the wikipedia article "King James Only movement" for one take on the controversy.
In many cases, it probably makes little difference to the meaning which tranlsation you use, but there are some passages which can be interpreted quite differently depending on your choice of version.
I've heard pastors deliver sermons that revolve around a specific, and probably meaningless, choice of wording. In some cases, those sermons would not even be "Biblical" according to a different translation of the Bible. And of course to those people who practice that brand of Bible numerology in which they find hidden prophecies by searching for patterns in the letters used in the Bible, a fixed translation of the Bible is essential.
The order of creation only matters to a strict, Bible literalists. Very little of the differences have any effect on Christianity. I imagine that the actual author of the Torah would be very amused at the mess such people have made of his work.
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So far lots of the discussion has been about issues of translation, but the topic is about the Protestant Canon.
The major Canons are the Western Protestant Canon and the Western Roman Catholic Canon and the Orthodox Canon. Other Canons are the two Ethiopian Canons and the Samaritan Canon and of course the Jewish Canon.
The question is why is the "Protestant Canon" superior to any of the others?
Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
Language is a matter of canon, as well. The Council of Trent declared the Vulgate to be the only canonical Latin translation for the Catholic Church, for example. Answering the question 'how do we know these particular books are the ones divinely inspired?' is a closely related question to 'how do we know which particular translation is divinely inspired?'
Essentially we have the Dead Sea Scrolls showing the Old Testament was in its current form before the time of Christ, around 250-50 B.C. The Great Isaiah Scroll in particular was even carbon dated as old as 335 B.C.
Concerning the New Testament, we have more than 24,000 manuscripts with 99.5% internal consistency showing the New Testament we have today is accurate with regard to the original autographs. No other ancient historical document has nearly this level of evidence. The closest is the Iliad with 643 manuscripts. Many documents like Caesar's Gallic Wars are considered accurately preserved with just 5-10 manuscripts dating 1,000 years or more after the originals.
However, we have manuscripts for the New Testament dating less than a century after the original documents (autographs) like the John Rylands Papyrus (P52), P104, P90, P64+67, and P98. We have complete or nearly complete copies of the New Testament dating as early as 200-400 A.D. like the Sahidic Coptic Version, Sinaitic Curiac Version, and Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
Thus, we can look at these early documents to see whether later translations (like the King James Version) were reliable translations of the original Greek/Hebrew text seen in such early manuscripts.
Re: Please present one of the original autographs.
Sorry but until you present one of the original autographs you have nothing to support that claim. In addition, even if true, it is irrelevant to the topic.
Why is the Protestant Canon superior to the Ethiopian Short Canon or the Ethiopian Long Canon or the Roman Catholic Canon?
Name one other ancient historical document where the test for historicity is an original autograph. By that standard we'd have to throw out much of what we consider recorded history since often all we have are copies of an original document, not the original itself. Furthermore, it's possible some of the particularly old manuscripts like the John Rylands papyrus may even be the original autographs, as some date them to the 1st century A.D.
As for why the Protestant canon is superior, the manuscript evidence shows which books were found well preserved. 1 Enoch and Jubilees are the only non-canonical Old Testament books found in substantial numbers among the Dead Sea Scrolls:
The Catholic documents don't start showing up until the 4th century A.D. with the Achmimic Coptic (I have trouble telling if the Sahidic Coptic from the 3rd century could include them also but at most it appears the 3rd century if so).
Re: Please present one of the original autographs.
You don't understand how historians evaluate historicity, frankly. They don't have original autographs so they judge whether a document is reliable with regards to said autographs using 3 tests, Internal Evidence, External Evidence, and Bibliographical Evidence. Josh McDowell in "More Than a Carpenter" addressed these tests for historicity (Ch. 4 I believe - need to find my copy), and by them the New Testament is more reliable than any other ancient document in antiquity.
Rule #4: Points should be supported with evidence and reasoned argumentation. Address rebuttals through the introduction of additional evidence or by enlarging upon the argument. Do not repeat previous points without further elaboration. Avoid bare assertions.
Please read Message 1 to understand the point of this thread. Also notice that this thread is on the science side of the forum. This means that hard evidence is necessary as well as reasoned argumentation.
The thread is about superiority of one canon over another. Please adjust accordingly.
Rebuttals are to be addressed by introducing additional evidence or by enlarging upon the argument. You already said that original autographs are irrelevant to the topic. Stop asking, enlarge on the argument or better yet present your argument for your position on the topic.
Re: Please present one of the original autographs.
You don't understand how historians evaluate historicity, frankly.
We're aware that Biblical "historians" have operated in this manner, but you should know that these "techniques" for evaluating historicity are unique to the field Biblical history, and it's a known problem with the field. It's why so-called "Biblical scholarship" has produced basically nothing of note.
When techniques of actual historians are applied to the Bible, it's impossible to connect them to any "autograph."