The World Could Not Contain the Books

September 10, 2005

John must have been looking ahead. He knew that Jesus was alive, and that he was still working. Jesus is still doing “many other things” today. Meanwhile large libraries are full of books by writers trying to understand what Jesus said and did in his days in the flesh.

Now we have Christ in the Spirit, and actually many books have been written about his words and deeds that equal in quality and value this gospel of John. (I know I’m being provocative.)

posted by Larry @ Saturday, September 10, 2005 6 comments
6 Comments:

(spammer out)

At 1:17 PM, kwakersaur said…

Not so sure how provoactive you’re being Larry.

John leaves this open at least as a possibility when he claims that greater things will be done in Christ’s name than Jesus did in the flesh. Having siad this, I do make the distinction between canon and non-canonical; to evaluate something as better than scripture requires us to first answer better for what? and then we use the canonical scriptures as the touchstone to judge it by.

I guess then, what I’m trying to say in too many words, I agree in theory, but don’t really know what a candidate for better than scripture might look like.

At 1:38 PM, twyla said…

I’m not sure about canon and non-canonical. I won’t pretend to be an expert on history, but I’m distrustful of a group of men deciding this for all time. Especially when, just a little while earlier, a similar group of our “fathers” met to decide whether women have souls or not. Geez. Where there is flesh there is bound to be at least some error.

At 2:36 PM, kwakersaur said…

I’m not sure my notion of “canon” needs inerrancy. A group of men did not meet and decide on the scriptural canon. The judgment of thinking and praying Christians over the course of six centuries confirmed it.

The secular canon is in the same boat. It is entirely possibly that there are better playwrights than Shakespeare. But it remains that any candidates for the position will be judged the standard of Shakespeare. May not be fair but it don’t stop being so.

At 3:42 PM, crystal said…

Interesting, Larry. I like the canonical gospel more than Thomas mainly because they give a story of Jesus’ life and tell of his actions – the gospel of Thomas is just a collection of sayings that, while of merit, lack context. But this isn’t to say one is better than the other … just my personal bias.

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11 responses

  1. Twyla, you might say that canon is for those who value tradition more than inspiration. For example if you want more data from Isaiah and Ezekiel, try William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, or you may go straight to the two prophets at A Memorable Fancy (II).

  2. Well glory be, David. They keep coming. I think the problem may be that each poster is governed by his own profile. Have to get on it, but right now I’ve got to view the US Open Tennis Womens’ Finals.

  3. Larry ~ I like that. To think of canon being for those who like tradition helps me to think of it in a different light. I’m afraid I’ve just recently started to investigate the history of such things and am feeling a bit disillusioned and betrayed. I hope that didn’t come across in my comments. I just used to take so much of what was taught and said as straight from God and it’s disconcerting to realize I’ve been naive.

  4. Twyla, here is a page of links about the canon and how books of the bible were chosen … it’s from the NT Bible Gateway site of Mark Goodavre, a prof in the Dept of Theology.University of Birmingham (though about to move to Duke in the states, I believe).

  5. You might say that canon is for those who value tradition more than inspiration.I’m not so sure this solves the problem. In fact I know it doesn’t.The choice between the book of Job and Catcher in the Rye is no different from say, the chjoise between vanilla and chocolate ice cream — a matter of taste.No. I don’t think so. Canon — with all its problems remains a standard (that’s what canon means btw). And the either or — tradition vs. inspiration contains an implicit judgement on those who value tradition. And marginalizes those who find inspiration in scripture and in traditions.It is not tradition opposed to inspiration. Its the political claims that folks make when they use either tradition or inspiration as their presumed basis.

  6. Crystal ~ thanks for the links. You are the Link Queen!!!David ~ I’m just starting to study these things, so I should have shown more wisdom and just listened without comment. That whole ‘a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing’ bit.And I must admit I got lost in the “its the political claims that folks make when they use either tradition or inspiration as their presumed basis” idea. I wonder if I have what it takes (smarts-wise) to muddle through the “this scholar says this and this scholar says that” I’ve been running into. Still, I don’t seem to be able to swallow anything I don’t understand or know for myself any more. So I’ll continue to study and think on these things. Thank you very much for your thoughts on this. You, too, Larry. And you, too, Miss Link Queen!!

  7. Never swallow anything you don’t understand. Its like a prime rib roast — cut it up into bite size chunks then chew thoroughly.political claims. When someone says its tradition, or its scriptural or its divine inspiration — they are making claims for authority in what they do — and probably trying get you to do something you don’t want to!Tradition tells us we have to get married before we have a baby. Scriptures syas hate the gays. God told me to kill him.

  8. The biggest story of the early tradition concerns the dispute between those who lean on an outward authority (I called that tradition) and those (usually called gnostics) who look first at their own experience as their authority.For tradionalists it was settled with the Council of Nicea (simplifying a bit). Many others have never agreed (I called that inspiration – likely a poor choice of a word.) The tradionalists of course called them heretics.

  9. Several of us were discussing the matter of scriptural authority over lunch last week, when a Baptist friend of mine commented that the infallibility of the Bible was more important, in his opinion, than its inerrancy. He went on to explain that he can imagine an inerrant telephone book that would not lead anyone to God – but in his experience, the scriptures would, if read with an open heart, infallibly lead one to God. This seems to me to be a very helpful way of looking at the canon: it is a set of writings that in the experience of human beings over about two millenia have led people to God. Many other writings have done that as well, and will continue (in Quaker terms, the canon is not closed)- but in our experience, Scripture never fails. (Note that I am not saying Scripture leads to orthodox Christianity, or to Quakerism, or to the Westminster Catechism – it leads to God.)–llw

  10. Several of us were discussing the matter of scriptural authority over lunch last week, when a Baptist friend of mine commented that the infallibility of the Bible was more important, in his opinion, than its inerrancy. He went on to explain that he can imagine an inerrant telephone book that would not lead anyone to God – but in his experience, the scriptures would, if read with an open heart, infallibly lead one to God. This seems to me to be a very helpful way of looking at the canon: it is a set of writings that in the experience of human beings over about two millenia have led people to God. Many other writings have done that as well, and will continue (in Quaker terms, the canon is not closed)- but in our experience, Scripture never fails. (Note that I am not saying Scripture leads to orthodox Christianity, or to Quakerism, or to the Westminster Catechism – it leads to God.)–llw

  11. I think this notion of infallability is certainly more helpful than the notion of inerrancy that some evangelicals put forth. Unfortunately I don’t think it does infallablly lead to God. Too many folks have been ardent bible readers who have just plain missed the boat. On this side of eternity I don’t think infallablity is possible. That’s why the path to God requires multiple witnesses — not even inward experience is infallable on this point. Having said this, some witnesses can be more consistently helpful than others.

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