What if we dug up ZERO CORINTHIANS?


#1

The Early Fathers debated the merits of many Christian writings when considering the composition of the Canon, but there was one epistle which (apparently) was not available for them to consider. I’m talking about Zero Corinthians.

In First Corinthians, Paul mentions an *earlier *letter (“I wrote to you in my letter…” – 1Cor 5:9). Apparently, First Corinthians was NOT actually the first epistle that Paul wrote to this community, but (at least) the second. This earlier letter that Paul mentioned is sometimes called “Zero Corinthians.”

To my knowledge, this brief mention in 1Cor is the only reference we have to this earlier letter. The letter apparently was not preserved (as were two subsequent Epistles), and the Early Fathers did not seem to have possession of it. When the Canon of the New Testament was debated, the Fathers had no opportunity to consider this letter.

Now, suppose that some archeologist discovered a scroll, and it was somehow possible to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that this was, indeed, this elusive Zero Corinthians (and I don’t know how you could prove such a thing, as I am neither historian nor archeologist, but suppose for sake of argument that it could be conclusively demonstrated, perhaps by corrobrating evidence at the dig, and/or by the discovery that 0Cor was quoted in other Biblical or early writings).

I pose this question because I think it has some bearing on the question of Sola Scriptura (the protestant belief that all doctrine can be found within Scripture). Catholics rightly ask, How do you know what “Scripture” is? Catholics know what Scripture is because the Church told us so, but protestants cannot use the authority of the Church as their basis for acceptance of the Canon. The alternative explanations they give are, um, interesting (but hardly convincing).

So what if we found Zero Corinthians? What would the protestants do? Suppose it specifically endorsed the idea of infant baptism. The Calvinists (Presbyterians, Episcopalians, etc) would be inserting this into their Bibles, but the Assemblies of God and Baptists would condemn it. Such examples could be multiplied.

Regardless of its content, who would have the AUTHORITY to decide if Zero Corinthians was actually a divinely inspired writing (from a protestant perspective)?


#2

It would be my guess, that all the Protestant denominations would say “The canon of Scripture is fixed. Any new manuscripts discovered may be interesting, but they aren’t Holy Scripture.”

I suppose some churches would point to Zero Corinthians as corroborating evidence for their existing interpretations of Scripture…:whistle:

I’m so glad we have the Church.:dancing:


#3

[quote=Reepicheep]It would be my guess, that all the Protestant denominations would say “The canon of Scripture is fixed. Any new manuscripts discovered may be interesting, but they aren’t Holy Scripture.”

Yes

And who decided what would be in the canon ?

The roman catholic church !!

In a letter dated February 20 410 AD - Pope Innocent 1 in a letter to the Bishop of Toulouse outlined the NT canon !!

If they accept the canon then they should accept the church that decided the canon based on its own tradition

ie the catholic church (still united with the Orthodox at that time of course !)
[/quote]


#4

I would absolutely love for that to happen!


#5

This was actually the plot of a mediocre novel, The Word by Irving Wallace, except instead of Zero Corinthians it was the Gospel of James (the brother of Jesus), which turns out to be a forgery, blahblah . . .

Seriously, if a manuscript were found and it checked out, I suppose it would be up to Rome ultimately.


#6

Of course it would be up to Rome, who else would have the authority to do anything? :hmmm: Then again we would hear all sorts of things and they would probably try to use it to claim that the Church had made a mistake in judging the canon or something of that nature.

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:


#7

[quote=Jayson]I would absolutely love for that to happen!
[/quote]

Me too - it would be a hoot!


#8

Zero Corinthians? that would be interesting:)


#9

Yes, it would be interesting. However, it will never make the canon, and neither will any newly discovered writing.

One of the ancient criteria for determining the canon was constant usage by the Church, especially in liturgical worship. Since 0 Corithians has not been in constant use for two thousand years, it can only be used as an ancient Patristic-era document, much like the Didache, but it will never be considered Scripture.


#10

[quote=porthos11]… One of the ancient criteria for determining the canon was constant usage by the Church, especially in liturgical worship…
[/quote]

Was Third John used in ancient liturgical worship? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it read at modern-day Mass.


#11

Two of the criteria for determing the canon of the New Testament:

  1. The book/letter was divinely inspired.
  2. The Church was divinely guided by the Paraclete, The Holy Spirit, in determining the Canon of the Scriptures.

Since this is true, then the Holy Spirit would not have allowed the Church Magesterium to determine the canon without “0 Corinthians”.

But it would be fun to watch the machinations of some groups tryinig to determine where it stands in terms of moral and religious teaching.

NotWorthy


#12

“Regardless of its content, who would have the AUTHORITY to decide if Zero Corinthians was actually a divinely inspired writing (from a protestant perspective)?”

The Same Church that provided them with their current NT and provided the Canon of Scripture used for over 1100 years without question prior to the Reformation. The Catholic Church.


#13

Considering that the Canon was closed centuries ago…and that exact scenario has already played out (via the Dead Sea Scrolls)…this speculation, as far as I can see, is moot.


#14

One of the problems is that many of the more fundamentalist protestants do not understand where they got the Bible.

I tried to simplify it once to someone of a Nazarene background. I said Catholics were around first right? Yes. Protestants came after right? Yes. So how can Catholics have “added” books to a Bible, Protestants removed books? NO! Catholics added to the Bible.

No amount of history could get through to her brain.


#15

Cor, how many times have I read the New Testament? And I’ve never taken any note of this verse. Zero Corinthians would be a wonderful document to find. Wonder what happened to it. Did a merry band of fornicators get hold of it and destroy it? Or did Christians who were keeping company with fornicators get angry at this godly teacher telling them off? Impossible to say but I can picture these scenarios vividly. More than likely they are both wrong!


#16

[quote=asteroid]Cor, how many times have I read the New Testament? And I’ve never taken any note of this verse. Zero Corinthians would be a wonderful document to find…
[/quote]

It may sound far fetched, but it COULD happen. Other ancient writings which were thought lost have turned up. For example, the long-lost Book of Enoch (which is quoted in the Epistle of Jude and, apparently, in a number of other Bible verses) was known and highly regarded by the very early Church Fathers, but there is no indication it was even considered for inclusion in the Canon by the Fifth Century Fathers (maybe it was already “lost” at this time). Two copies of this long-lost manuscript were discovered in 1773.

Who knows, maybe Zero Corinthians will turn up! It could happen!

Wouldn’t it be a riot if Paul talked about the Eucharist as being the real, true and complete Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or something like that! It would be fun to watch the protestants squirm, and it would give Jack Chick a whole 'nuther wacko consipracy theory to crank up his presses (he needs some new material).


#17

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.