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Individual Voices of Individual Books

Seek The Truth Blog

Individual Voices of Individual Books:

Though most Christian fundamentalist and hyper-fundamentalist groups view the Bible as one Book, with one Author, having one Personality speaking in unison through a divine "pen" held by multiple men, this view is not common among all Christianity. From the men who debated to determine which books and letters to include in the Bible Canon, to the early apologists and Christian historians, to respected Christian ministers both past and present, a large majority of Christians throughout time were and are still aware that the books in the Bible have a very human element.

The books were chosen for a variety of reasons. If the book or letter was believed to have been written by an Apostle, Jesus' family members, or had historical significance in describing the background to the Christian faith, writings were generally accepted. Those written by others were mostly rejected. Some were believed to have been written by an apostle, but that claim was heavily disputed and often resulted in a book or letter being rejected. The writings that were accepted were viewed by a majority as "Holy", and used as a primary source for the basis of the fundamentals of Christianity. That is not to say authoritative, however, as we find with the book of James and its history.

It was believed by many that the book of James was written by the brother of Jesus, which was one of the primary reasons it was accepted into the Bible canon. It was later believed, however, that "James the Just" was the author, and this reason of its original inclusion was invalidated by some scholars. Because the book was believed by some to be misaligned with the views of the Apostle Paul, it was rejected by many in the early church. This is confirmed by Martin Luther in his Antilegomena:

Though this epistle of St. James was rejected by the ancients, I praise it and consider it a good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God. However, to state my own opinion about it, though without prejudice to anyone, I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle; and my reasons follow. In the first place, it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works.
- Martin Luther

Luther continues to evaluate the contents of the Book of James, topic-by-topic, comparing it to the writings of men whose authority he considered more significant, including St. Paul and Moses. Luther believed that the theology was not in alignment, and therefore could not have been written by an apostle:

Now although this epistle might be helped and an interpretation devised for this justification by works, it cannot be defended in its application to works of Moses' statement in Genesis 15. For Moses is speaking here only of Abraham's faith, and not of his works, as St. Paul demonstrates in Romans 4. This fault, therefore, proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle.
- Martin Luther

This raises some interesting points to consider for those leaving hyper-fundamentalist groups. Not only were respected members of the Christian faith unafraid to critically examine the books of the Bible, they studied them intently to recognize variances in theology. Also, they knew the theology of authors of the books or letters in the Bible enough to understand how they differed. Most importantly, if their understanding of a single author's writing was not in alignment with Christian fundamentals, they were not afraid to disagree with the text. As a result, and whether right or wrong in their assessment, they continually re-evaluated their theology to ensure accuracy, consistency, and legitimacy instead of conforming without critical thought.

Luther's Antilegomena: