Two Common Misunderstandings

 
Misunderstanding One

Moses' Proscription

  

2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. --Deuteronomy 4:2 AV

  

Matthew Henry comments thus: "The scope and drift of [Moses'] discourse is to persuade [Israel] to keep close to God and to his service, and not to forsake him for any other god, nor in any instance to decline from their duty to him."

  

Henry continues:

  

(1.) He demands their diligent attention to the word of God, and to the statutes and judgments that were taught them: Hearken, O Israel. He means, not only that they must now give him the hearing, but that whenever the book of the law was read to them, or read by them, they should be attentive to it. "Hearken to the statutes, as containing the great commands of God and the great concerns of your own souls, and therefore challenging your utmost attention.’’ At Horeb God had made them hear his words (v. 10), hear them with a witness; the attention which was then constrained by the circumstances of the delivery ought ever after to be engaged by the excellency of the things themselves. What God so spoke once, we should hear twice, hear often.

  

(2.) He charges them to preserve the divine law pure and entire among them, v. 2. Keep it pure, and do not add to it; keep it entire, and do not diminish from it. Not in practice, so some: "You shall not add by committing the evil which the law forbids, nor diminish by omitting the good which the law requires.’’ Not in opinion, so others: "You shall not add your own inventions, as if the divine institutions were defective, nor introduce, much less impose, any rites of religious worship other than what God has appointed; nor shall you diminish, or set aside, any thing that is appointed, as needless or superfluous.’’ God’s work is perfect, nothing can be put to it, nor taken from it, without making it the worse. See Eccl. 3:14 . The Jews understand it as prohibiting the alteration of the text or letter of the law, even in the least jot or tittle; and to their great care and exactness herein we are very much indebted, under God, for the purity and integrity of the Hebrew code. We find a fence like this made about the New Testament in the close of it, Rev. 22:18, Rev. 22:19 .

  

(3.) He charges them to keep God’s commandments (v. 2), to do them (v. 5, v. 14), to keep and do them (v. 6), to perform the covenant, v. 13. Hearing must be in order to doing, knowledge in order to practice. God’s commandments were the way they must keep in, the rule they must keep to; they must govern themselves by the moral precepts, perform their devotion according to the divine ritual, and administer justice according to the judicial law. He concludes his discourse (v. 40) with this repeated charge: Thou shalt keep his statutes and his commandments which I command thee. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed?

  

(4.) He charges them to be very strict and careful in their observance of the law (v. 9): Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently; and (v. 15), Take you therefore good heed unto yourselves; and again (v. 23), Take heed to yourselves. Those that would be religious must be very cautious, and walk circumspectly. Considering how many temptations we are compassed about with, and what corrupt inclinations we have in our own bosoms, we have great need to look about us and to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright that walk carelessly and at all adventures.

  

(5.) He charges them particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry, that sin which of all others they would be most tempted to by the customs of the nations, which they were most addicted to by the corruption of their hearts, and which would be most provoking to God and of the most pernicious consequences to themselves: Take good heed, lest in this matter you corrupt yourselves, v. 15, v. 16. Two sorts of idolatry he cautions them against:—

[1.] The worship of images, however by them they might intend to worship the true God, as they had done in the golden calf, so changing the truth of God into a lie and his glory into shame. The second commandment is expressly directed against this, and is here enlarged upon, v. 15-18. "Take heed lest you corrupt yourselves,’’ that is, "lest you debauch yourselves;’’ for those that think to make images of God form in their minds such notions of him as must needs be an inlet to all impieties; and it is intimated that it is a spiritual adultery. "And take heed lest you destroy yourselves. If any thing ruin you, this will be it. Whatever you do, make no similitude of God, either in a human shape, male of female, or in the shape of any beast or fowl, serpent or fish;’’ for the heathen worshipped their gods by images of all these kinds, being either not able to form, or not willing to admit, that plain demonstration which we find, Hos. 8:6 : The workman made it, therefore it is not God. To represent an infinite Spirit by an image, and the great Creator by the image of a creature, is the greatest affront we can put upon God and the greatest cheat we can put upon ourselves. As an argument against their making images of God, he urges it very much upon them that when God made himself known to them at Horeb he did it by a voice of words which sounded in their ears, to teach them that faith comes by hearing, and God in the word is nigh us; but no image was presented to their eye, for to see God as he is is reserved for our happiness in the other world, and to see him as he is not will do us hurt and no good in this world. You saw no similitude (v. 12), no manner of similitude, v. 15.

Probably they expected to have seen some similitude, for they were ready to break through unto the Lord to gaze, Ex. 19:21 .

But all they saw was light and fire, and nothing that they could make an image of, God an infinite wisdom so ordering his manifestation of himself because of the peril of idolatry.

It is said indeed of Moses that he beheld the similitude of the Lord (Numbers. 12:8 ), God allowing him that favour because he was above the temptation of idolatry; but for the people who had lately come from admiring the idols of Egypt, they must see no resemblance of God, lest they should have pretended to copy it, and so should have received the second commandment in vain;

  

"for’’ (said Bishop Patrick) "they would have thought that this forbade them only to make any representation of God besides that wherein he showed himself to them, in which they would have concluded it lawful to represent him.’’ Let this be a caution to us to take heed of making images of God in our fancy and imagination when we are worshipping him, lest thereby we corrupt ourselves.

  

   It must not be overlooked that Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Pentateuch, called in Hebrew "Debarim" (words or things), from the opening phrase "Eleh ha-debarim." (these are the words) ; in Rabbinical Hebrew it is known also as "Mishneh Torah."

The English appellation is derived from the name which the book bears in the Septuagint (Δευτερουόμιου) and in the Vulgate (Deuteronomium); and this is based upon the erroneous Septuagint rendering of "mishnch ha-torah ha-zot" (xvii. 18), which grammatically can mean only "a repetition [that is, a copy] of this law," but which is rendered by the Septuagint τὸ Δευτερουόμιου τοῦτο, as though the expression meant "this repetition of the law."

   While, however, the name is a mistranslation it is not inappropriate for the book includes, by the side of much new matter, a repetition or reformulation of a large part of the laws found in the non-priestly sections (known as "JE") of Exodus. 

   It is clear to the most unqualified reader that the commandments about maintaining the integrity of the words of Moses apply only to the Law that Moses that the Great lawgiver as the oracle of God wrote for the guidance of Israel. Verse 2 was not intended to refer to any future gathering of writings nor to the collection that could be made of such writings. The Holy Bible was not collected, assembled, named, or accepted as a Holy Library until more than one thousand and a half years had elapsed since Moses wrote the Pentateuch. There was no Holy Bible at the time Deuteronomy was written. 

  Those writers and critics that assume, falsely, that Deuteronomy 4:2 refers not only to Deuteronomy but to the Holy Bible as a whole are labouring under the common misunderstanding that reads back into Deuteronomy a notion of biblical completeness that was not reached until the second Christian century. This cannot be excused. 

  

  

 

Misunderstanding Two
John's Proscription
 
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book
if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues

that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words

of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,

and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

--Revelations 22:18-19

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  

Just as in the example of Deuteronomy 4:2, these two verses are interpreted by the uninformed to refer to the whole of the Holy Bible, notwithstanding that the Book of Revelations was not written by the Apostle John until AD 100, well before the Holy Bible was formulated and settled.  It refers specifically and solely to the content of "this book," meaning the Book of the Revelations of Saint John and not to any other book or books of the Bible.

The passage is used almost exclusively to attack Mormonism becaue we aver:

 

We believe all that God has revealed,
all that he does now reveal,
and we believe that he will yet reveal
many great and important things
pertaining to the kingdom of God.

-Latter-day Saints' Articles of Faith
 

It is evident that the verses quoted above cannot refer to the whole of the Holy Bible because when John wrote his record of divine revelations, no such book existed. When read in the context of chapter and book, John's proscription cannot be made to refer to anything but the contents of his Revelations. Other applications can only be ascribed to them by dishonest means.

The means by which the Christian Holy Bible arrived on the stage of religious history is now detailed in simple terms .

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Following his resurrection, Jesus commissioned his apostles to make disciples of all men, which they did. They baptised converts, many of them Jewish, into the Church of Jesus Christ and taught them to obey the commandments of God the Father and Jesus. Additionally, non-apostolic teachers also established churches and called leaders. 

Jews already had collections of writings called Torah identified as the Hebrew Bible to which Jesus referred when he quoted the Mosaic Law. They included books of the Prophets and the Solomonic and Davidic Psalms. Some non-Palestinian Jews included other books in their collections. 

Where Christians gathered, collections of the writings of apostles were collected and valued as essential to instruction.

Some apostles wrote letters of advice, instruction, and warning to churches. Such epistles were read in worship services and many were copied and sent to other branches of the Church, In his letter to the Colossians, Paul instructed, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” [Colossians 4:16]. The letter to the Laodiceans has been lost.

A ship-owner called Marcion rejected the Hebrew bible along with all writings that he feared would speak to views he did not hold. He made a list of writings he held were suitable including parts of Luke’s Gospel, ten Pauline epistles, and a letter supposedly written by Paul to Christians in Egypt. His list is known as the Marcion Canon but some in the church disagreed fiercely.

A Christian called Montanus had in ecstatic visions called Christians the church to higher standards of righteousness as a reformer, seeking to recapture the spiritual gifts he believed had been lost by the Church, but that which thrust Christ and the apostolic kerygma into the background superseding the age of Jesus with the age of the Holy Spirit by prophecy having greater authority than pristine Christianity 

In A.D. 144 the Church excommunicated him, set about attempting to establish what was authoritatively inspired writing and what wasn’t. 

The church sought also to determine whether God could bring further revelation? The Church decided that God had lost the power to speak and so declared the cannon of scripture closed and final, making God pay the price for what some believed were false prophecies. 

In 397 the church considered the canon of the Bible complete and if it is it must be closed. Therefore, we cannot expect any more books to be discovered or written that would open the canon again and add to its sixty-six books. The official position is that if a letter of Paul were to be discovered it would not be admitted into the cannon. It is not unreasonable to believe that Paul wrote more epistles further to the ones those in the Greek scriptures but the church would refuse to admit them into the canon and Christians everywhere would be the poorer for their shortsightedness. 

It is the position of historical, it cannot be called orthodox, Christianity that God has been struck dumb by some power greater than he, the unchangeable One, is and so mistrust of anything not already voted in Christian antiquity continues to impair the Christian psyche. That God that could and did speak was vanquished and replaced by an impotent impersonator. 

Incited by this decision, other Christians developed their own lists of canonical books, most at variance with each other, which was highly unsatisfactory. 

One mark of a true revelation was that it must agree with other books. However, this is widely overlooked as familiarity with the books of our modern Bibles unmistakeably demonstrates. 

Historical accuracy was also held to be a mark of true scripture, but there are many divergent accounts of the same event that show this mark has not been adhered to.

The argument that if the facts in a biblical book were not at one with the alleged facts on another book then it cannot be from God is conveniently set to one side as if it was negotiable. 

Another determinant Christians relied on was whether, when reading passages, they received an inner sense that what was written was right and true. Although initial interpretation became the mission of the Roman Catholic Church and was not available to individual Christians. In the Reformation it was taught that every Christian had the right to receive Holy Ghost inspiration to allow them to interpret the scriptures even when their construction differed from that of their fellows. 

This has led and continues to lead to schism, sectarianism, dogmatism, division, and intolerance within a faith whose tenets includes a world-wide unity or œcumenism. “One Lord, one faith, and one baptism” is thrown to the winds and bitter wars have been fought over one person’s right to interpret the Bible at the cost of another’s right to do so. Hardly what Jesus envisioned when he said, “If ye are not one ye are not mine.” 

In A.D. 96, Clement of Rome wrote “The apostles were made evangelists to us by the Lord Christ; Jesus Christ was sent by God. Thus Christ is from God and the apostles from Christ. . . . The Church is built on them as a foundation” (1 Clement 42).

After Marcion and Montanus, lists of New Testament books begin to appear. One of the first was The Muratorian Fragment discovered in the Vatican library by Ludovico Antonio Muratori in 1740 that dates to about A.D. 190. The fragment is damaged but contains John, Acts, all Paul’s letters, James, 1-2 John, Jude, the Revelation of John, the Revelation of Peter, the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Shepherd of Hermas.

By the early third century, some books in the New Testament were disputed as to their authenticity including Hebrews and Revelation.  

In the fourth century, Eusebius argued that James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John and Jude were “spoken against.” In 367 Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria listed all twenty-seven books of the present day New Testament. In 393 the Synod of Hippo agreed and so did the Council of Carthage in 397. 

Despite what was once hailed as universal agreement, the battle has not ended and shows no signs of resulting in agreement or peace. 

  

Latter-day Saints believe not only in a God that did speak but also in a God that still speaks and will speak in the spirit of God’s promise through Amos that, “the Lord God will do nothing except he revealeth his secrets to his servants the prophets.” –Amos 3:7 

  

We believe all that God has revealed, 
all that he does now reveal, 
and we believe that he will yet reveal 
many great and important things 
pertaining to the kingdom of God.
--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Articles of Faith
Lives of faithful followers of God the Eternal Father and his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ are only made more difficult by erroneous renditions of what passages that are crystal clear mean when they are made to say things gs they do not say and cannot be made to say. We rely on the Holy Ghost to tell us what God means by what he says using the inspired, God-breathed, words of divinely called prophets that God sends to lead his people to eternal salvation to live with him and his Christ forever. 
  
  
We can trust his words when we apply them as he intended to our pilgrimage through mortality to lead us back to where he and His Christ dwell. There is no other way. 

Copyright © 2018 Ronnie Bennett Aubrey-Bray

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Moses' Proscription in Deuteronomy

  

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things [sola Deuteronomy], God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book [sola Deuteronomy]:
 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy [
sola Revelation], God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this [sola Revelation] book. -- Revelation 22:18-19  

No Holy Bible existed when these warnings were written in the books to which the watrning and curse apply. No other understanding is possible.

Deuteronomy is dated to the late 7th century BCE and Revelationm is dated at 100 CE. However, the first Bible accepted by the Christian Church is dated at Century 2 of the Common Era.

It was Jews in the 2nd century BCE first referred to the books of the Bible as "scriptures" calling them "holy" (Hebrew כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ), and by the second century of the Common Era Christians adopted the term to refer to the Old and New Testaments as the Christian Bible or the Holy Bible (Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια), or "the Holy Scriptures" (η Αγία Γραφή).

  • The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton.
  • It was divided into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienn.

  

The division of the Hebrew Bible into verses is based on the סוֹף פָּסוּק used by 10th-century Masoretes to record the verse divisions used in earlier oral traditions.

It is essential to recognise that the Holy Bible did not fall from heaven in the various forms in which it exists today because it underwent centuries of redaction, inclusion, and extractions before it was ever called the Holy Bible.