Its a balmy evening outside and all our snow has just about gone. We didn’t get the freezing rain we were promised, and it’s supposed to get warmer tomorrow. In the meantime, the rest of Europe are freezing their brass doorknobs off. My Tulips are just about to open in a few days. Can’t wait, I can’t remember what I planted.
Oh yes, I nearly lost the plot.
A lot of people have a problem with how the Bible was compiled. Mostly it was a guy called Origen who translated the whole text of the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew it was written in around the third Centuary. Still, just because it was translated, it didn’t mean it was accepted.
The only way it got around was by the text being copied. At this time it was all done on scrolls, which were clumsy huge bits of kit. They were done on vellum which is animal skin. The problem for this early form of dissemination was the longevity of the medium it was stored on. In its day it was considered the equivalent of a cloud. In our day we digitally store our information on servers. Back then information had to be written down.
Dont forget paper as we know it had not been discovered, or ‘borrowed’ from the Chinese. Also paper had its problems later on, so all the while copying by hand was done before the printing press, Vellum, which is carefully prepared animal skin was the best method of storing information. It was a long and laborious task to prepare vellum, so only the finest scriptographers got to work on it.
also If a mistake was made on vellum, you couldn’t rub it out, so complete accuracy was required. If there was a single mistake, the vellum was destroyed. This was why there’s were not many Bibles. Or rather piles of scrolls.
There was a huge huge leap forward in technology when someone came up with the idea of cutting up the vellum and binding it together in a book form. This was called a Codex.
So Anyway, we are a few years on from when Jesus was around, and quite a lot of people had heard about Him. It became a bit of a problem for the ruling elite. (The Romans). They tried eradicating the main thinkers and movers in this new religion. They also infiltrated them and got them fighting among themselves. A lot of them killed each other as we’ll apparantly.
Anyway, the general idea grew that all the different Christians ought to get together and sort out the problem. There wasn’t much point topping each other, as well as the Romans rounding up whoever was left and feeding them to the Lions.
It turns out they were an intrepid lot, with a lot of heavyweight thinkers among them. They got together at the first peace talks, which became known as ‘Ecumenical Councils’, and decided to thrash it out between themselves with a view to coming up with a peace treaty. Something they could all agree on as the basic requirements of calling themselves Followers of Christ.
They asked the Spirit of God to turn up and help them get through the negotiations and come up with something inspired by God Himself that would keep the peace between them. God was pretty on the ball, and poured out his Holy Spirit over these peace talks. They all found they could agree on a lot more than they disagreed on.
Then they wrote down what they were inspired to agree on. So we get the first Credal statements. The.. I believe in one God... sort of stuff. Anyway there’s were Seven of these big peace talks altogether and they sorted out exactly what was problematical with the Church in its day. They wrote it all down.
This became known as Doctrinal Statements. The sort of set in stone benchmarks of who was actually part of the Worldwide Christian Experience, and for those that couldn’t agree with the Credal Statements, they realised could not be members of the Club.
Think Brexit. If the UK does not want to follow the set out principles of belonging to the EU, they can’t stay in the Club. At the moment the Brits want to leave. That’s because a lot of the public but mainly the politicians don’t want to belong to a larger body of governments who are making decisions as a corporate body. The UK is having a political schism from the EU.
The same thing happened eventually with the Christian Church. If you look at a map of the History of the Church it looks like a big family tree with lots of Branches. A lot of people don’t realise the origins of the Church are really Eastern Christianity. With Icons, lots of bells and whistles sort of worshipping, and a much stricter oversight of the doctrine.
The big splits were like ripping off trouser legs, and tearing the arms off of pullovers. It was ugly.
Eventually the English split off from the Church of Rome. A lot of people think it was because Henry V111 wanted a divorce from the wife He inherited from His brother. H8 was a bit of a reprobate, and also couldn’t keep his Cod piece done up. However the Church of the day was more concerned about the Bible itself. Common people were wanting to read the Bible, and they were beginning to discover what was in it was not exactly what the Church was telling them. So they got together, and used this divorce business as an excuse to break away from the Roman Catholic Church.
It was easier to get to get chucked out, than it was to reform the Roman Catholic Church. However, then there were a lot of splits that happened between the people who broke away, and called themselves Protestants. It’s still a mess. There is a sort of half hearted attempt at something called ecumenism which just means trying to be nice to each other.
Generally speaking Christians fall into one of two groups. Ones that do read the Bible, and ones that don’t. The ones that don’t have some rather strange ideas about what Christianity is all about. Generally it involves being told what to think by the Church they belong to. They often live with awful fears and guilt.
The ones that do read read the Bible are often quite self opinionated, and forget that like any body of writing there has to be a long period of meditation on the texts before launching in with some rather censuring attitudes to Christian behaviour.
The foundation of what the Christian faith is all about is actually in the Bible. You need a guide to it. A bit like Hitch Hikers guide to the Galaxy. That’s called study notes. A study Bible contains study notes and all the cross referencing the clever clogs use to link all the passages together.
Interestingly the Bible only got it’s verses numbered, so that the Christians could have arguments with the Jews, who have actually got mostly the same Bible up to the point where Jesus turns up.
Hope that helps. I am going to turn off my lamp and make a cuppa now.
Sweet dreams, and I hope you find God speaks to you, and you wake up with a staggering revelation He is actually still around, and very much busy sorting out the mess we are in. He invites us always to get stuck in with Him. He calls us co-workers with Christ when we start fixing the place up, keeping it tidy and being very respectful and good to each other.