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Myths About the First Christians?
By Gary F. Zeolla
1Peter 3:15 says that Christians should “always [be] prepared with a defense” for their faith. The need for this was seen in an article linked to on my Google News page at the end of November 2016. The article was in The Daily Beast and was titled, The Biggest Myths About the First Christians. In this article were the following claims:
It’s certainly true that in the Gospel of John, a text written at the earliest around 90 CE, Jesus says some pretty vicious things about Jews (spoiler alert: He didn’t actually say those things).
But a growing consensus among scholars maintains that Acts of the Apostles was likely written around 115 CE.
There seems to have been considerable disagreement between Paul and the original group [led by Peter] about the religious requirements to be placed on Gentile converts and the amount of fraternization between Jewish and Gentile converts. It’s an uncomfortable moment and one that the author of Acts of Apostles tries to erase.
It took almost a century from the death of Jesus for all of the books that are included in our modern New Testament to be written down. And it took even longer than that for those books to be viewed as authoritative and longer still for those books to be grouped together and identified as canonical. While many of the books in the New Testament gained authority in the second century, it wasn’t until 367 CE that we find a list of books that corresponds to our modern collection. Before then people had different canons.
there’s very little solid evidence for Nero ever having persecuted Christians.
Articles like this are why I wrote my three-volume set Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Virtually everything in this article is false or a misrepresentation of the facts, as I document in my books. Yet this is the type of nonsense that is commonly reported in the liberal media and which millions believe. It is truly heartbreaking how low the liberal media will stoop to try to discrete the Bible and the Christian faith. But as a result, millions of people reject the Bible as being reliable and thus reject Christ.
These types of claims are also made and believed by Muslims and are part of the reason they reject the Bible and thus Christ. But my books are designed to prepare Christians to defend the Bible and the Christian faith from these attack, so as to equip Christians to lead unbelievers into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Below are excerpts from the Preface to each volume.
From the Preface to Volume One
Christians claim the Bible is the Word of God, that it is the final authority in all matters relating to Christian faith and practice, and that it is absolutely reliable in all that it teaches. But to put such confidence in the Bible requires that the correct books are in the Bible. But is there? Why are the 66 books in the Bible in the Bible, and why were other books that could have been included not included?
This subject is very important but also complicated, so complicated that it will take three volumes to fully cover it. This Volume One will study the books included in the Old Testament (OT) and consider other books that could have been included in it but were not. Volume Two will cover the books included in the New Testament (NT). Volume Three will look at the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, some of which were seriously considered for inclusion in the NT. It will also investigate other writings that many wonder why they are not included in the NT.
In this first volume, each of the 39 books included in the OT will be reviewed in detail. Who wrote them and when, their theology, and other pertinent background information will be discussed to explain why they are included in the OT.
Then the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books will be considered. These are the “extra” books found in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles as compared to Protestant and Jewish Bibles. The debate over them will be addressed in detail.
Lastly, other books that some wonder why they are not included in the OT will be addressed. It will be explained why these books were rejected.
From the Preface to Volume Two
In this second volume, each of the 27 books included in the NT will be reviewed in detail. Who wrote them and when, their theology, and other pertinent background information will be discussed to explain why they were included in the NT. Arguments against the traditional viewpoints on these books will be addressed.
The author is the translator of the Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible. The ALT consists of translations of the Old Testament Greek Septuagint, the OT Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books, the New Testament Greek Majority Text, and the Apostolic Fathers. He is thus very familiar with all of the books to be discussed in this three volume set, having translated most of them. He is also the author of many other books related to the Bible. Working on this distinct translation of the Scriptures and these other Bible-based books gives the author a unique perspective on these topics.
From the Preface to Volume Three
This third and final volume will consider writings which are not in the NT. They are of three types:
The first type is the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. These are Church leaders and writers of the late first to mid-second centuries. Most were direct disciples of the apostles, and some of their writings were seriously considered for inclusion in the NT. It will be explained why this was so and why these writings were eventually rejected.
The second and third types are “apocryphal” books. This term originally meant “hidden” but now means “extra-canonical,” meaning the books are not considered to be inspired by God and thus are outside of the canon (list of authoritative books) of Scripture. These books are divided into two types: ones that are mostly orthodox in their theology and ones that are heretical or Gnostic.
Among these apocryphal books are some that have received much publicity of late. The media has been abuzz in recent years about books like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. It is said these books present a radical new viewpoint of Christianity and are more reliable than the NT books.In addition, the conception many people have of early Christian history often comes from apocryphal books and not from NT books. For instance, at Christmastime, the manner in which nativity scenes are displayed comes more from apocryphal “infancy gospels” than from the NT Gospels. Thus many people today will find a discussion of these books to be of interest.
Myths About the First Christians? Copyright © 2017 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.zeolla.org).
The above article was posted on this Web site January 1, 2016.
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