New Testament Advice


#1

People, i know i am a very sinful person and like Thomas have doubts.

What, if someone very clever, read the Old Testament and decided to produce a ‘story’ from it called the New Testament? Writing things that linked with the Old Testament. Making it look as though things from the Old had come true in the New?

I am sorry to ask this question. Believe me, i am so in love with God!!

I just need to ask. To put an end to my niggling doubts in my mind.

I have often wondered if people, 2,000+ years ago had the Old Testament in front of them, or rather the various books of the ‘Old Testament’ and decided to ‘produce’ an update or a ‘story’ that led on from the OT?

What stops this from being true? Could someone have done this? If not, how and why?

I do believe in God. I am a strong Catholic. But i am human and i do seek the truth. Answers to my many doubts and failings! Thanks


#2

Some problems with your “niggling doubts” - hundreds of eye-witnesses, contemporary, non-Biblical confirmation of Jesus (found in Josephus), and the fact that many of the epistles were written by a converted Pharisee who faced many persecutions for his conversion (add to this the fact that he converted in the middle of making a name for himself among the leaders of Israel by hunting down Jews who had accepted Jesus as Messiah). Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) was executed as a result of his conversion. Finally (as far as my immediate thoughts go), people were converting to Christianity, even in the face of persecution. I’m sure there are other things that could be said, and I’ll leave that to others, but I have found that the Scriptures (Old and New, excluding the Deutero-canonical books, of course) are all “God-breathed”.


#3

Faith is the element that answers your concerns.


#4

I won’t lie, I’m not as strong a Catholic as you are (and I’m probably more a sinner than you are), but I do know that struggling and asking questions is not bad. In fact, ultimately it can lead to good. You cannot mature and grow in your faith without wrestling with and questioning the ideas and the beliefs you have inherited. Belief unchallenged and unquestioned - “Why do I do this?” “Why do I believe this? Is this even logical?” - can make it become stagnant and dead. There is no faith without doubt. It’s good to have a freshener every once in a while. I think God will understand.

As for the question, I think I know what you’re asking.

The controversial scholar John Dominic Crossan once suggested the exact same thing that you are asking. In his opinion, the disciples never did know what happened to Jesus after He was arrested other than that He was “crucified under Pontius Pilate” (and they only knew that He was crucified, because the women disciples saw Jesus “from a distance”) - they never even knew what happened to His body!

Crossan proposed that maybe, the disciples and the Christians after them invented the story of how Jesus was crucified by poring over OT prophecies they thought applied to Jesus’ suffering and death (Psalms 22 and 69, Isaiah 53, etc.) and made up a tale out of whole cloth. In other words, the passion narratives in the gospels are what he calls ‘prophecy historicized’. (He claimed that 20% of the passion narrative is history remembered; the other 80% is ‘prophecy historicized’.) It’s not coincidental: within the gospels, the passion narratives are the parts which are the most chock-filled with allusions to and quotations from the OT, so integral to the point that if you strip all these OT allusions and quotations away, you won’t have a coherent story left.

The weakness of Crossan’s theory, however, is that it is self-defeating. Crossan takes it for granted that the male disciples running away after Jesus was arrested and the women watching Him “from a distance” is factual, but if you read the gospels, within the narrative these themselves are allusions to OT passages, and thus under Crossan’s logic, they might likely have never really happened at all! And of course, it’s rather gratuitous to assert that Jesus’ friends and followers did not try not find out what happened. I mean, this was their teacher and the head of their group - He was someone important to them. Surely they would have wanted information about what really happened to Jesus after He was arrested (even if just hearsay) rather than just pore over scrolls of Scripture and make guesswork among themselves.

There’s another scholar, Mark Goodacre, who proposed that Crossan was wrong that the passion stories were ‘prophecy historicized’. Instead, he proposed that they are ‘history scripturalized’: in other words, the disciples and the Christians after them retold the basic historical story of the death of Jesus (which they did know of to an extent) using language and quotations from the OT which they thought applied to Jesus, in order to show that this horrifying execution was actually God’s will being fulfilled.

These types of discussions usually center only on the passion narratives, but I think we can make the same case for the other parts of the gospels which make heavy use of OT prophecy - say, the infancy narratives. Many modern scholars will say that maybe Jesus was actually born in Nazareth (which was after all, His hometown) and Christians later only invented a story of Him being born in Bethlehem to align Him more with certain messianic prophecies to that effect; ‘prophecy historicized’ again. But maybe, as in the passion, we could also make a case for ‘history scripturalized’ here: maybe the infancy narratives are factual or based on fact; it’s only that Christians ‘scripturalized’ it when they retold the story (because they thought it fitted Jesus to a T).


#5

On the opposite, much of the gospels - much of Jesus’ ministry - are not explicitly based on any OT allusion at all, except for some events, and even a few of those events which are linked by the evangelists to OT prophecies can seem somewhat, how do you say it, slightly ‘forced’ to fit the prophecy. So even if we suppose that the Jesus story was actually invented out of the OT, then the inventor/s must be very clever, because they only used the OT extensively for the crucifixion narrative.

In any case, nobody today - except for some folks in the fringes - seriously doubts that a Jesus who was crucified in the 30s by the Roman prefect of Judaea Pontius Pilate existed. They may doubt whether much of the stories in the gospels which claim to record what He said and did are factual (and if factual, just how factual), but they don’t dispute that the Man really lived. Nobody disputed that Jesus existed up until the 18th-19th century. Of course, there’s also the argument that how could a group of Jews come to band together in Jesus’ name if He was just this fictional character?


#6

I think you have the answer in your own profile:
Faves - My favorites

Heroes & Heroines
St Padre Pio, St Faustina, St Theresa
Books
St Faustinas Diary, Imitation of Christ

  • Their faith in our Lord, in the Church, in the Holy Bible should be enough.
  • You have the councils of Hippo and Carthage where the divine nature of the texts used within the Bible (esp NT) as we know it was argued/debated.
  • If this is not enough, archaeology is contently turning up texts, cities, and other ruins that support the biblical accounts. See if you can find the book by William M. Ramsay (1851-1939) St. Paul, the Traveller and Roman Citizen (try to find the original text, there is an abridged version; however, it omits much of Mr. Ramsay’s commentary) Mr. Ramsey set out to disprove the Gospile of Luke and the Book of Acts and instead found himself on the opposite side of the fence and proving these books to be accurate. (*caveat *- I’ve not read the entire book myself, mainly excerpts from the text.)
  • With not too much effort, a search with your favorite search site can turn up so much more - you might find the following interesting (yes, it OT - BNTL worth a read)
    James Akin - DEFENDING THE DEUTEROCANONICALS

I find it to be relevant in that if, as you suppose, someone were to take the OT text and fabricate a story from it, then when would they have done this and what books of the OT to use?
Catholic.com: Was the canon of Scripture determined before the Church councils that decided it?

Be at Peace, Trust in the Holy Spirit.


#7

I should just note: the links talks about the New Testament canon.


#8

The four Gospels were written between 65-95 A.D. the first only 30-35 years after Jesus death and resurrection. They were written by four different writers from four different parts of the Roman Empire at four different times. Though their are differences (and I would expect there to be), they all proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, that he taught his disciples and performed miracles. All four profess that Jesus died on the Cross and was placed in a tomb, and the tomb was found empty on the third day. All four Gospels profess that Jesus reappeared to his disciples after death and remained with them for a period of time before he ascended into heaven. The first Gospel was written within 30-35 years after these events had taken place, and there would have been people still alive who could refute these claims. The Gospels were not just written down in a day or two, but as most scholars believe were assembled based upon oral traditions and eye witness accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. These traditions would have dated back to the early 30’s A.D.

Cachonga mentioned Paul (Saul) of Tarsus who converted to Christianity probably within 5 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul writes in his letters (starting in 50/51 A.D.) about the teachings that he was taught when he became a Christian in the 30’s.
Peter, Paul, James (the greater), James (the lesser) and probably most of the other Apostles were executed for their belief in a risen Jesus. These men (and many other men, woman and children) died as martyrs for the Gospel. There was no money or fame as a motive for Peter, Paul and the others, they were leaders of an underground religion that the Romans were (at various times) trying to eliminate. The Apostles had to undergo prison, beatings, a life on the run, harassment by local Jewish religious leaders, Gentiles, their own people and sometimes their own families. Peter and Paul in particular lived this life for 30+ years, still professing the Gospel, administering to the growing Christian Church and finally giving their lives for their faith in the risen Jesus Christ.

Our faith is based upon a real man who lived 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth and the eye witnesses that professed his teachings and life which was passed on in oral tradition, then written down by men who were guided by the Holy Spirit. These traditions and writings were passed on and copied throughout the Church and have used in the gatherings on the first day of the week (Sunday) when the disciples broke the bread together (Eucharist). This has been going on for 2000 years in what we call the Mass.


#9

Thanks people. It is so very hard to write what i have! I am only human and as such have questions, doubts! I love God so much!!! I just need guidance.


#10

Amen, don’t we all!


#11

Hmm. I was referring to the link to Mr. Akin. It made much more sense in my head when I typed it :blush:

-The first link is clearly to the OT - The Deuterocononicals are OT, not NT ( in which case, 1 and 2 Maccabees and Tobit (etc) suddenly became NT text and I somehow missed those :eek: - nope, just checked my KJV and those are still missing :shrug: )

The second link is to the NT.

Between the two links I was attempting to show that the concept that someone could sit down and fabricate the NT from the OT when the OT was still in flux until the councils doesn’t make sense logically.

In any case, CalCatholic did a much better job at this than I did.

Hopefully that clears things up - busy day.


#12

few things to consider, one like the OT the NT was written by multiple writers with different writing styles, geared toward different groups, etc which all of them would be have to be in on it to fabricate Jesus.

That leads me to consideration number 2. If a group of jews were to make up a messiah what for purpose? and especially write about one who was rejected among their own kin and the gentiles accepted. Why write about Jesus breaking the sabbath law and the religious leaders dont like him?


#13

Please follow the links in my post: (post#6) as well as the other posts within this thread. Such as you have suggested has been covered and disproved.


#14

Very simply put, faith plays the major part here, but I agree with the last post about different authors, writing styles, different groups. Too much of that going on to be made up, not to mention different letters or documents being found at different times and then documents/artifacts found later to backup what was already known.

OT Prophecy is something to consider as well- the Book of Daniel and the fall of the different kingdoms and so on. There are just too many supernatural facts that happened out of the control of a few people that possibly decided one day to deceive folks for over 2000 years. Hundreds of OT prophecies have been fulfilled. NO other religion has that. None. That cannot be accomplished by mankind. It’s from God.


#15

Buddhist say." Little doubts, little faith. BIG doubts, big faith."
I find that very true. You go through refiners fire.


#16

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