Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

In a new Bible this fall: no more 4 gospels but one

Bob Sanford wanted to create a Bible that would bring order and clarity to the text. Instead, he’s waded right into one of the great debates of biblical scholarship.

The Chronological Study Bible will be released this fall in the midst of a Bible-publishing boom in the United States. In an industry that now as much to do with profits as with prophets, Sanford expects his new edition to have wide appeal.

“(Our challenge) is to take the scholarship and make it enjoyable to a readership that enjoys history,” said Sanford, who oversees the Bible division for the giant Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson.

The company has carved out its share of the industry’s estimated $500 million annual haul by cornering the market on niche markets, such as families and teenagers.

The latest edition rejiggers the order of books, psalms, and Gospels in an effort to provide a historical framework for a text most scholars consider chronologically challenged.

So, for example, whole sections of Isaiah and Nehemiah are reordered to better reflect an accurate historical timeline; the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are merged into one based on Mark’s chronology; and some of St. Paul’s letters (which traditionally appear later in the New Testament) are woven into the Book of Acts.

Some biblical scholars, however, aren’t buying the idea.

“I would say, generally speaking, that scholars would have no interest at all,” said Pat Graham, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “What it ends up being is something that laypersons find helpful — or would think it would be helpful. Any biblical studies expert worth their salt would not have much interest in this at all, except as kind of a curiosity.”

At issue for scholars is a question they have grappled with for generations: When — and by whom — was the Bible written? For readers, the larger question is this: Does it really matter if Ezekial, say, appears before or after Nehemiah, and does it make a difference if a biblical timeline looks more like a zigzag?

The most recognizable changes in the Chronological Study Bible come in the placement of non-narrative sections — the books that aren’t necessarily anchored by specific people, places and events. The book of Psalms, which appears in the middle of the Old Testament in most editions, is split up in the the new edition by time period. All Psalms relating to David, for example, will instead appear as supplements to the relevant books of the Old Testament such as 1 Chronicles.

Sanford says unlocking and reordering the Bible’s chronology can help readers understand the context in which portions of the book were written. But in practice, scholars say, this can prove challenging.

For some biblical accounts, such as the Israelites’ exile to Babylon, there are historical accounts to support the narrative. Other stories require a leap of faith, however. Scholars say trying to rearrange individual books requires getting to the bottom of some of the world’s oldest known cases of identity theft: Many biblical works were the handiwork of multiple authors, all writing under a single name.

“It was very common in antiquity to attribute one’s own writings to the most important historians in the past,” said professor Michael D. Coogan, a professor at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., and editor of the New Oxford Annotated Bible. “It happens not just in the Bible — Socrates certainly didn’t say everything Plato quotes him as saying.”

Take, for example, the Book of Jeremiah, which was written by an undetermined number of authors over an unknown period of time. Some narratives are repeated and any semblance of chronology devolves into a jumble of dates and places.

The Bible’s order is significant for other reasons as well. Some scholars worry that changing the order would impact the Bible’s meaning and diminish the value of non-narrative elements, such as the book of Psalms.

“Part of the problem, and to me one of the flaws, is the assumption that this Bible is working with — that (narrative) — is the primary genre of literature in the Bible. That just isn’t true,” said the Rev. Bruce Birch, who teaches at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Graham, who called the idea of a chronological Bible “radical,” offered a helpful suggestion for potential buyers.

“It’s like you would attach a pack of cigarettes with a warning label from the surgeon general,” Graham said. “Well, this Bible should have a warning from the theologian general or something: ‘This bible may be harmful to your spiritual health.‘”

All is not lost for the book’s publishers, however. While the Ivory Tower cries heresy, the book’s target demographic seems more receptive to the idea. The Rev. Brad Riley, a pastor at the First Church of the Nazarene in Wichita, said a chronological Bible would likely be most useful for newcomers to the faith.

“The Bible can be intimidating for people … and the chronology can help people put the timeline together in their minds,” Riley said.

The Rev. Tommy Bratton Jr., who leads group Bible study at the First Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C., agreed.

“We try to put our Bible studies now in context of when things occur,” Bratton said. “It would give people, I think, a greater sense of how things were laid out in that way.”

Whether or not the book will win any converts in academia, Sanford thinks his new edition will be a success. There have been chronological Bibles before, he says, but none specifically geared toward Bible study. If everything works according to plan, the newest product will provide a fresh perspective on an age-old bestseller. And on this, the experts begrudgingly agree.

“You’re writing a new biblical narrative,” said Timothy Beal, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “I guess in this age of (cutting and pasting), it seems like a way to come up with a new Bible.”

Esam Mudeer: This USA Today’s article is  the most disturbing and damaging revelation concerning the alleged divine authorship of the Bible.

Long before all this the modern and academic shocking discoveries, the Holy Quran of the Muslims is by far the first and most critical of all approaches to cut to the heart of the long disputed matter.

Consider and ponder upon the following verses from the Quran:

And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture. Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: “This is from Allah” to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write and for the gain they make thereby. HQ 2:78–79

Also, the Holy Quran does not speak of 4 gospels but only one true Injeel (gospel) attributed to no other person but Jesus Christ, peace be upon him.

I invite you to read this book Is the Bible the Word of God? by Ahmed Deedat while bearing in mind USA Today’s article.

Read the book online here | MS Word Doc. | Scribd PDF

Listen to the content of the book: Debate – Is The Bible God’s Word – Ahmed Deedat Vs Jimmy Swaggart 1 (www.aswatalislam.net).mp3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

You can also watch the debate of Youtube.

August 15, 2008 - Posted by | Ahmed Deedat, The Bible Exposed

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