*Dusts off blog* I need to get back into writing. It’s hard, I’m fighting a major case of depression right now. Yesterday I slept almost all day, I was tired, I just didn’t care. I’m still having a hard time caring.
Anyway, since my life is kinda boring right now (at least to those of you who prefer to read canvassing stories) I’ll just post about what I’m reading.
This current book is fascinating. It’s about books that didn’t make the new testament canon.
When I was a freshman in Academy, in Bible class one day the teacher brought up the apocrypha.
Teacher explained that these were books that had been thrown out of the bible because they didn’t fit in with what the rest of the bible had to say. I raised my hand,
“but how do we know that the apocryphal books were wrong?”
I mean, seriously; what did the teacher mean these books “did fit in?” a lot of the books in the bible didn’t fit in with each other, yet they were still in the same canon. And anyway, who decided this? What if the apocryphal books were right and the canonical ones were wrong, and it was the canonical ones we should’ve tossed out?
The teacher replied, “they just didn’t fit. They contradicted each other.”
14 (15?) year old me really didn’t know what to do with this information. I was not quite satisfied with this answer, and resolved to read the apocrypha. However, it was harder to get ahold of than I thought, and anyway, I couldn’t allow the very foundations of my beliefs to crumble. I was going through a period of downright fanaticism. Religion, at that time, was my life. I couldn’t allow that to crumble.
Fast forward a good ten years, and the questions I’ve worked so hard to stamp down have refused to be stamped down any longer. It’s not that I didn’t allow myself to question 10 years ago, I just wouldn’t allow myself to ask certain questions.
Toss into the mix my friend’s dad. He has always been into conspiracy theories, some of which are plausible, and some of which are downright weird. However, one day he started talking about The Book of Enoch. I would’ve dismissed it outright, but when he mentioned that The Book of Enoch is actually quoted in parts of the bible, it piqued my interest.
I remembered Rodney, when doing research for a paper, telling me that the apocrypha, even, was quoted elsewhere in the bible. I wondered how he could say that and still tell me that reading it was a waste of time. Even if it wasn’t canon, surely the apocrypha would at least give some historical context?
So I did what I always do when I want to read a book: I go to the library. I didn’t find the book of Enoch, but I did find this: Lost Scriptures: books that did not make it into the new testament, by Bart D Ehrman.
His introduction starts off by explaining that, after the resurrection, there were a lot of gospel documents out there. Things we think of as absolute fact (Jesus’ divinity AND humanity, for example) were highly contested in the first few centuries after He left. There is evidence that the NT as we know it was not put together until the 3rd century (4th? The year 300, these things confuse me…)
So anyway, the point is, at one point all these works were considered sacred scripture. What I have before me is not the apocrypha, I know that. I’m still working on obtaining a copy. However, I thought it’d be interesting to see what sort of scriptures were given the ax and why.
One more thing: it is very tempting to read this book through the 21st century lens. As I was reading some of the fragments, bible verses from canonical books would pop into my head, and the automatic thought was contradicted by, “well, this book must be false because the other book says–“
But wait! Who decided that this book was right and the other one was wrong? At one point, this book was accepted as truth. How, then, was it decided which was false?
I ask those of you with extensive biblical knowledge to put all that aside as we read these things and to keep an open mind. If, at the end of the day you still believe in the bible as we have it as the inspired word of God, well and good. What I do ask, however, is that you not dismiss these things without maybe doing some thinking and research into why it is the way it is.
I do not know what conclusion I have/will come to about the Bible, but I do know that the faith that doesn’t question, doesn’t doubt, and work to resolve the doubts and or admit that they are right, is dead.