Council of Elders

 

Council of Elders is an interesting topic that I have not seen preached upon in 40 yrs of my Christian walk in any Church that I was affiliated in.  Council of Elders is rooted in Jewish history.  I could sit here and give you tons of scripture to read that is not my style.  It is your responsibility to read the Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak to you.

Example: [Deuteronmy: 27 1] “And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying Keep the commandments which I command you this day.”

The Israelites could not pick up the ARK to carry it unless they had the Council of Elders present. [1 Samuel 4:3] ” And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save you out of the hand of our enemies.”

The Council of Elders was extremely important in the days of the ancient’s before the Israelites proceed to engage in any activity. So as it should be in our present times.  You engage the combat vets of Christianity before you preach on anything.  Once you preach the word or write it in cyber-space it is in the Court of Law to be judged.  I am well aware that I am preaching information in cyberspace.  My writings go worldwide to feed many people.  If I teach faulty information then a lot of folks are going to die spiritually. Their blood will flow across my shoulders.  No different than the blood flowing in the streets of Jerusalem 70 AD.

My Council of Elders consist of the following plus the Holy Spirit:

  1. Geneva Bible 1599
  2. Mathew Henry Commentaries
  3. Jewish commentaries
  4. Hebrew Interlinear Bible
  5. Authorized King Jame Bible

Books read;

  1. Latin Vulgate
  2. The Antiquities of the Jews, 1 AD
  3. the Pentateuch
  4. The Torah
  5. Multiple versions of the KJV

In the Western hemisphere we do not have strong family ties for the most part.  So for the bulk of us we have to fortify ourselves with knowledge through writings and information and let the Holy Spirit guide us along our journey.

This is a quote from Matthew Henry we follow men we will be led astray.  If we follow the instructions of the Lord then we follow truth.

We followed our guides; we did as we saw others do! God has given a rule to walk by, in his word; neither the example of the most, nor of the chief, must influence us contrary thereto: if we do as the most do, we must go where the most go, even into the burning lake. [MH]

Before I write anything I  spend time with the Lord and contemplate things I am going to write on.  I get an answer every time.  The Holy Spirit leads me every time and in the process I grow more and more everyday.

Read your Bible and immerse yourself in the waters of righteousness and put on the clothes of Truth to shed the specter of darkness that surrounds all of us.  God Bless.

Historical Accurate Authorship

We have established in previous blogs the strict oral traditions to control the authorship of the gospels.  Now how do we know the accuracy of the authors about the events of Christ that they talked about?  How do we know which verses belong in the Bible and which ones do not?  Which verses are attributed to Christ etc.  Critical scholars use a rule called  multiple Attestation.

Def; (n.) The act of attesting; testimony; witness; a solemn or official declaration, verbal or written, in support of a fact; evidence. The truth appears from the attestation of witnesses, or of the proper officer. The subscription of a name to a writing as a witness, is an attestation.

Simple analogy of multiple attestation.   A friend of yours comes up and ask you if you saw the fire on first street. No you did not but then multiple people come up to you repeating the same story.  The probability of the accuracy of the story increases due to multiple witnesses.

When it comes to the gospels you have five traditional streams of authenticity.  The first stream we use is the gospel of Mark which is a commentary on Peter.  The things Christ said and did.  You have another stream which is a document called Quella in German or just Q.

Def: Quella,  A literary source; the source from which a concept, piece of information, etc., derives.

You can look at Matthew and Luke and the contents in some places are the same which indicate that they came from a historical document that is not in use today.  Matthew and Luke are clearly citing from another source.  Although in other places they are citing from Mark.  It is hypothetical that they were citing from another source but it seems to fit the motif of the similarities.

The third stream is called M (Matthew).  This is information that is only found in Matthew.  Information about Christ that is not in the other gospels.

The fourth stream is called L (Luke) this is only material found in Luke.

The fifth stream is the gospel of John which is his own material.

To simplify it Mark sits down and writes his own material.

Q is a literary document.

Matthew comes along and writes his own material with the help of Q and Mark. The texts that had already been written.

Luke comes along and writes his own material with the help of  Q and Matthew.  The texts that had already been written.

John as we have stated wrote his own material.

There is another literary device in play here called, “stream of consciousness” which means;  an uninterrupted and unhindered collection and occurrence of thoughts and ideas in the conscious mind. The phrase refers to the flow of these thoughts, with reference to a particular character’s thinking process.

Stream of consciousness is like looking at a handwriting expert.  Your looking at the flow of words, how they are used and correlating events within the three gospels that distinguish the three authors. In layman’s terms if you look at the way I compose words and my sentence structure.  You could readily ascertain that I wrote this blog and not assign it to someone else. It is the way I perceive things and put it to words which is different then others around me within my sphere of influence.  The same holds true for Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Their literary language consisted and was influenced by their upbringing and the sphere of influence they walked in. As Christians we are all constrained by those forces.

With the writers we have to look at also at why the early church would let embarrassing events ascribed to the authors?  Christ picked out 12 disciples and one of them Judas who decided to kill Jesus. Why would you make up that story.  Christ was man incarnate God according to the writers.  Would the church make up these stories?  I do not believe that would be the case.

Was it important for the authors to be historical accurate? You have the embarrassing situations how about the harsh sayings for instance;

But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father

Christ is part of the godhead why would the authors include that in their writings.  Perhaps because it actually was said by Christ?  Were the writers just reflecting the humanity of Christ?  What remains is that Christianity is grounded in historical fact.  There are no revised biased manuscripts or revision of history.  Did Christ walk? The answer would be yes! Were the authors reflecting the events as they say them? Yes! Why would they create another God in a land that had hundreds of gods, what would be the gain?  There would be no gain in this endeavor.

The only gain would be to wash the filth of death that encompassed their soul every day and to give them hope for the future.  The known world in the time of Mark, Matthew and Luke was small in comparison to our age with the internet.  We can spread truth across the world.  The only difference now is that we are unable to convey empathy to the Christians that are suffering.  Empathy conveys unconditional love to another.

So to understand the first century and the lifestyle you would almost have to have been there. To walk in their shoes.  They did not have sanitation facilities, they did not have bathtubs, they did not have cars, they did not have hospitals and the list goes on.  The point being there was no gain to revise history as it happened.  Did the writers really wanted to preserve history? Would the gospel writers have changed history?  There are alot of religions that would change history because there is no historical fact to support the assumption.  Christian theology is grounded in history.  So the writers knew these things of Christ actually occured or otherwise it would have been forgotten. Could we prove these things happened?  No.  Does it mean it is not true the history of Christ and the answer is no.

The end result is that Mark, Matthew and Luke wrote their respective gospels and the events were true.  Their expectations of Christ coming were real as are they should be. The second coming is when you accept Christ in your heart and you bathe in the waters of righteousness.

Accept Christ in your heart and bathe in the warm waters of righteousness and dry off with the truth. Clothe yourself in fine linens.

Tomorrow starts another series in Apologetics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do we know who wrote the Gospels?

We have explored some of the historical facts concerning Jesus .  The last blog dealt only perhaps on the surface the mechanics behind an oral society.  How events were retold, and how the accuracy of the event was safeguarded against exploitation or embellishment of facts.  So let us take a refresher course.

In an oral society there are three ways to retell an event;

  1. Informal uncontrolled, which means anyone could tell the event with no controls as to the accuracy of the story.
  2. Formal control, this meant that only the Rabbinical priest could retell the story.
  3. Informal control, this meant during the first century of Christ the apostles or disciples would retell the story.  This is where you see the different versions of events in the gospels between Matthew, Mark or Luke.  However if you were retelling an event.  You had respected folks in the community that would correct you on your story.  Perhaps they were an eyewitness to something or that was not the way they were taught. So you have differences in the story but it does not take away the core of the story. The differences boiled down to the use of grammar that is individualized to each of us .  The way we use words.

We are talking here about the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  If you got down to it no one is sure who wrote these three books.  The current thinking is that the names were not assigned until these manuscripts were put into a codex that the Church created some 60 yrs after the events of Christ.  So how do we resolve the issue of authorship of the synoptic gospels?

Mark was written sometime around 50 AD to 60 AD. Matthew and Mark were written around 80 AD to 90 Ad.  Luke was written around 80 AD to 110 Ad.  So we see all these gospels were written about 60 yrs after the events happen.  This seems like a long time but in an oral society this would not be the case.  You have a gap between the oral traditions and the written manuscript.

If you look at the exploits of Alexander the Great about 325 BC his autobiography was not written down till the latter part of the first century. This was 400 yrs after the events happened. So time in itself becomes irrelevant.  So in looking at the synoptic gospels these were written by people who knew Christ or walk with him or with the disciples as in the case of Luke.  So the authorship can be ascribe to the individuals.  The Church would not have just picked any name and assigned it.  This would fall out of the concept of formal control.

We know that Matthew was a tax collector hated by the Jews because he collected taxes and gave it to the Romans.  We know that Mark was writing the memories of Peter and Luke was a gentile that walked with Paul.  It must be noted that gentiles were consider heathens by the Jews at the time. To convert a gentile to Christ had to been an achievement in itself.  I know this to be true just by looking at my own life and how I came to Christ.

Matthew was a hated tax collector.  Why would the church put his name to the gospel?  We know Mark was writing about the events of Peter. Why not call it the book of Peter. We know Luke was not an eyewitness to Christ or to the events of Christ.  Why not assign the authorship to someone else?

The early 1st century church had strict criteria for the inclusion and authentication of authorship for the three gospels.  The only gospel that was known for sure of the author was the book of John.  However this does not take away from the authenticity of the other three gospels. The Rabbinical Rabbis had strict controls on the telling of events and this was passed on to the early church. Even though something can not be proved true this does not mean that it is not true.

Like a court of law a person can be convicted on circumstantial evidence.  The evidence in this case points to Matthew, Mark and Luke as the authors of their manuscripts.  There has been no other evidence over 2000 years to suggest otherwise.  A parallel to record keeping is the Mormon Church and their archives of over 2.4 million genealogical records of people’s ancestry.  To argue that such orality controls were not present 2000 yrs ago would I think stretch the imagination.  The early church did not have all the distractions that we have in today’s society.  They dealt with death and sin ever day so truth would have been a light in a dark world.

Remember to read your Bible and immerse yourself in truth accept Christs hand and put on the clothes of righteousness.

 

 

Oral Tradition

Oral tradition begins our discussion today.  You have to start with the presumption, How did Christ become God?  The phrases used in years gone past is the historical Jesus and The Christ of faith in the New Testament.  The argument goes that the historical Jesus is factually correct but the Church made Christ into a God.  How do we resolve these issues?

How do you prove that the historical Jesus is the same as the Christ of Faith?  We already have evidence that historical Jesus lived and walked the earth.  This was well documented in the previous blog , Did Christ live? Just because you can not prove something does not mean it is not true.

Most cultures even today teach by oral tradition ,word of mouth.  During the time of Jesus nobody could read or write they were illiterate on this point. Does not mean they were stupid . This means that during Jesus time you had an event , then that event was retold over and over again.  Rabbinical teaching would teach by word of mouth, retelling the event over and over again, till the student would remember it and was able to pass it along to others.  This way the student could memorize large portions of the Torah.

In an oral society there are three ways to retell an event;

  1. Informal uncontrolled, which means anyone could tell the event with no controls as to the accuracy of the story.
  2. Formal control, this meant that only the Rabbinical priest could retell the story.
  3. Informal control, this meant during the first century of Christ the apostles or disciples would retell the story.  This is where you see the different versions of events in the gospels between Matthew, Mark or Luke.  However if you were retelling an event.  You had respected folks in the community that would correct you on your story.  Perhaps they were an eyewitness to something or that was not the way they were taught. So you have differences in the story but it does not take away the core of the story.  It stays factually true.

During the times of Christ in America as early as the 18th century children were taught to memorize the entire Bible by their parents and the schools.  Just a footnote.

We can all remember a core event like when America landed on the moon.  We can retell the core of the story but perhaps not who the astronauts were.  However in a corporate pool you have more folks remembering and coming closer to the truth.  It takes on its own life. The core of the story does not change the orality of it.  This was the same mechanisms in place during the time of Christ.

It must be noted that during the first century their memorization skills vastly outpaced ours nowadays.  Everyday life had to be memorized not like today were we write everything down.  Coupled with the fact as it states in John 14: 26 , ” But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”.

I believe the Holy Spirit would have made sure the stories retained their accuracy.  So can we trust the gospels with their variations?  I would have to say yes.

Now we will move on to lesson 4;  Do We Know Who Wrote the Gospels?.  We have seen that in a oral society as was the case with Jesus in the first century.  There were rigid traditions in place to safeguard the accuracy of the Gospels.  Keep this in mind when we look at the authorship of the 4 gospels.  The church just would not have assigned willy nilly anybody’s name to the authorship of the gospels.  They must have had clear evidence on hand.