The Church Started with the Holy Scriptures
1. To say the Christians started off at Pentecost without the Holy Bible leaves what false impression?
AS A church, did the Christians start off on the day of Pentecost without the Holy Bible? To answer Yes would mean to state a partial fact. It would leave the idea that the Christian church started off without the Holy Scriptures and depended entirely upon verbal tradition by the apostles and other leading men of the congregation, and that therefore the Holy Bible is not necessary to those who are truly Christians. Not so!
2. Did Jesus start off with the Holy Scriptures, and what is the evidence of whether or not?
2 Even Jesus Christ started off with the Holy Scriptures. Otherwise, how, when resisting the temptations by Satan the Devil, could he say three times: “It is written,” and then quote from Moses’ writings? How could he later quote from the prophecy of Malachi, the last book of the Hebrew Scriptures? Moreover, on his day of resurrection from the dead he met his disciples, and, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things that were concerning him.” Later, he met with his apostles and referred to all three general divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures, saying: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning me.” (Matt. 4:1-10; 11:10-14; Luke 24:27, 44, Dy) Jesus could not have done this had he not had and read all the books or biblía of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. When preaching, he always quoted from them.
3. On Pentecost, when the Christian church began, what did it have available to it with regard to the Holy Bible?
3 Likewise, when the Christian church began on the day of Pentecost, it began in full possession of all the Holy Scriptures written in Hebrew and Aramaic, from Genesis to Malachi. It also had six of the eight Jewish believers who were used to write the remaining twenty-seven books of the Holy Bible in common Greek. Most vital of all, at Pentecost the Christian church had with it by holy spirit the one immortal Author of all the books of the complete Holy Bible, Jehovah God. The Christian church also had available to it the first written translation of the Holy Scriptures, the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, made during the third and second centuries before the Christian church was founded.
4. On what was the Church established doctrinally, and what did it quote as authority?
4 Hence the Christian church was not founded upon tradition. The complete canon of the Hebrew Scriptures preceded the Christian church, and the church was established on them. As exemplified in Peter’s speech, the church relied upon those inspired Holy Scriptures and made use of them from the day of Pentecost forward. The eight Jewish writers of the remaining books of the complete Holy Bible always referred to and quoted from those Hebrew Scriptures.
5. Did the Christian church decide what was the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, and what are the historical facts on the question?
5 Thus the Christian church did not produce the Hebrew Scriptures. It did not even compile them. That work had been done more than a century before the church began. The deciding of what was the canon or authoritative catalogue of the genuine inspired Hebrew Scriptures was not left to the Christian church. Neither was the Hebrew canon decided by the Greek translation that came to be known as the Greek Septuagint Version. This pre-Christian translation was made by Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, for the Jewish colony down there and for Greek-speaking Jews elsewhere. At first that Septuagint contained only the translation of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures; but later other books in Greek were added which have come to be called apocryphal books. Hence the canon or catalogue of sacred books of the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria differed from the Jerusalem or Palestinian canon. The Great Synagogue of Jerusalem fixed this canon in the days of Jewish Governor Nehemiah in the fifth century B.C. or shortly afterward.—Neh. 10:1-28.
6. (a) Did the fixing of the canon of pre-Christian Scriptures precede the Greek Septuagint or not? (b) How did Jesus Christ and the eight writing disciples confirm the true canon?
6 The period of the Great Synagogue continued till about 300 B.C., after which the Jewish Sánhedrin or Court came into existence. Thus before the Greek Septuagint was begun, the Jerusalem canon was established. It contained just the thirty-nine inspired Hebrew-Aramaic books from Genesis to Malachi, and it prohibited the apocryphal books that were added to the Greek Septuagint. Jesus and the eight writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures confirmed this Jerusalem canon of thirty-nine books, for they all quoted from the Jerusalem canon, but never from the apocryphal books added to the Greek Septuagint. When those eight inspired writers in Greek did quote from the Septuagint, they ignored the apocryphal books.
7. (a) How, according to the Roman Catholic Church, did it “make” the Bible? (b) Why does not the number of its books now agree with the number in non-Roman Catholic Bibles?
7 The leading religious organization of Christendom is therefore wrong in boasting that, because its Council in Carthage in 397 (A.D.) determined upon its canon of sacred books, the Roman Catholic Church made the Holy Bible. According to the Council of Carthage decision the Holy Bible contains seventy-three books, whereas the Bible published today by non-Roman Catholics contains only sixty-six books. This is because the Roman Catholic Council of Carthage added to its Old Testament division of its Bible seven apocryphal books, deutero-canonical books as Roman Catholics call them, besides making additions to two proto-canonical books.
8. What did the Council of Carthage ignore as to the canon, and how is the Roman Catholic claim as to infallibility proved to be false?
8 In doing this the Council of Carthage overstepped the Jerusalem canon of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures that had been confirmed by Jesus Christ and his eight inspired Scripture-writing disciples. How, then, can the religious organization of Vatican City truthfully claim that by its Council of Carthage A.D. 397 it “made” the Holy Bible? The true Bible includes only inspired books of which Jehovah God is the Author. It does not include the seven uninspired apocryphal books and additions, which are full of error and which were not produced by Jehovah’s ancient witnesses. The Council of Carthage decided indeed what should go into its authorized Latin translation, the Latin Vulgate, which was then in the making by Jerome; but it did not decide finally what should go into the Bible for non-Roman Catholics of today. It did not decide for Jehovah’s witnesses of today what is the Holy Bible nor make it for them. The Roman Catholic Church’s claim to infallibility in making the Holy Bible is thus exploded and proves false.
PRESERVATION OF SCRIPTURE
9. (a) Were it not for the Roman Catholic Church, would we have the Bible today? (b) What shows whether its official Bible translation is inspired?
9 Is it true, then, that if it were not for the Roman Catholic Church we would not have the Bible today? Examination of the facts answers No! The books of the original Bible were written under inspiration in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. They had to be translated into Latin and other languages ancient and modern. Now, a translation is not inspired, not even the Latin translation by Jerome, for it has been revised a number of times by Roman Catholics.
10. (a) On how many Greek manuscripts do modern translators of the “New Testament” mainly rely? (b) Where is the Vatican Manuscript No. 1209 available, and how has the Sinaitic Manuscript become available?
10 In modern times Bible translators have relied for the “New Testament” upon three basic Greek manuscripts. One is the Vatican Manuscript No. 1209, which dates from the fourth century A.D. It is at present found in the Library of Vatican City, but it is catalogued as being in that library only from A.D. 1481. How it got there no one now seems to know. The next is the Sinaitic Manuscript, also of the fourth century. It was found in 1844 by the German scholar Tischendorf, not in Rome, but in the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai in Arabia. The Czar of Russia ordered Tischendorf to publish this Sinaitic Manuscript in 1862. It was purchased from the Communist Soviet Government in 1933 and may now be viewed in the British Museum, London, England.
11. How did the Alexandrine Manuscript come to be in its present location, and what does it, as well as the Sinaitic Manuscript, contain that Vatican Manuscript No. 1209 does not?
11 The third ancient manuscript in codex form is the Alexandrine. It is of the fifth century. It was brought from Alexandria, Egypt, to Constantinople, Turkey, by Cyril Lucar, a Greek Orthodox, who strongly opposed the union of Greek churches with papal Rome. Lucar was made the Greek patriarch of Alexandria in 1602 and was elected to be patriarch of Constantinople in 1621. In 1624 he was persuaded to give the Alexandrine Manuscript to Protestant King James I of England, but it did not reach there until in 1628 in the reign of Charles I. It also is on display in the British Museum, London. The Alexandrine and Sinaitic Manuscripts contain the Bible books of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and the Revelation (Apocalypse), which the Vatican Manuscript No. 1209 does not now contain.
12. So was the Vatican religious organization entrusted with preserving the most ancient Greek manuscripts?
12 So it is seen that the Vatican religious organization has not been entrusted with the exclusive preservation of the most ancient texts of the so-called New Testament, the twenty-seven Bible books written by the eight inspired Jewish disciples of Jesus Christ.
13. What ancient Hebrew and Aramaic Bible texts recently discovered did the Roman Catholic Church have nothing to do with in preserving?
13 Now, what about the manuscripts of the thirty-nine inspired books of the pre-Christian Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures? Certainly the Roman Catholic Church had nothing to do with preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947. It had nothing to do with preserving the Geniza or storeroom of the Jewish synagogue in Old Cairo, Egypt, which was discovered first in 1890 by Solomon Schechter and from which amazing quantities of Bible materials and other religious materials have been taken and distributed to various libraries and manuscript collections.
14. From when on did copying of the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures go forward, and what facts show whether the Jews had their Bible in the days of Jesus and his apostles?
14 The Roman Catholic Church was not the only religious organization that had copyists of the sacred Scriptures. From the days of the Jewish scribe, the priest named Ezra, a contemporary of Governor Nehemiah of Jerusalem, the work of copying the canonical Hebrew Scriptures went forward. Copies were made by Jewish scribes for use in the Jewish synagogues established in the lands where the Jews were scattered. In the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll. In the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia the apostle Paul spoke after he had listened to the public reading of the Law and of the Prophets. (Acts 13:15) And in Jerusalem, about A.D. 49, the assembly of the apostles and older men of the whole congregation said in its decree: “From ancient times Moses has had in city after city those who preach him, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.” (Acts 15:21) The following year the Jews who heard the apostle Paul preach in their synagogue in Beroea, Macedonia, searched the Holy Scriptures daily to see whether the things that the apostle told them were true according to Bible prophecy. (Acts 17:11) After Paul arrived in Rome about A.D. 59 he tried to persuade the Jews there concerning Jesus Christ out of their own copies of the law of Moses and of the prophets. (Acts 28:16-23) Undeniably the Jews had their Bible back there.
15. After the complete Bible of sixty-six books was written, what happened to the work of copying the Hebrew Scriptures?
15 Even after the Bible canon of sixty-six inspired books was completed by the end of the first century, the Jewish scribes kept on making handwritten copies of their Holy Scriptures, the thirty-nine inspired Hebrew books. In time the copy work was taken over by the Masoretic scribes, who were very scrupulous about preserving the canonized text of the Hebrew Scriptures. Masoretes, headed by Ben Naphtali of the East and by Ben Asher of the West, were active from the sixth to the ninth centuries of our common era.
16. During the Dark Ages of Christendom how were the Jews and their treasures of Hebrew Scriptures treated, but yet what copy work went on?
16 The gloom of the Dark Ages of Roman Catholic Christendom increased, and the persecution of the Jews by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy continued through its terrible crusades and religious inquisitions. Jewish synagogues were burned* with their treasures of Hebrew Scriptures, and Jews were hounded out of lands, being driven out of Spain in 1492, the year that Columbus discovered America. They were cooped up in ghettos, the Jewish Ghetto in papal Rome being broken up first in 1870 when the Italian liberators invaded the city and took the government out of the hands of the pope. In spite of all this terrible treatment of Jews by Christendom the copying of the Hebrew Holy Scriptures by Jews went on to provide copies for the Jewish synagogues and private use.
17, 18. (a) How did the Jews take advantage early of the invention of printing? (b) When and by whom did the first complete Hebrew Bible appear, and how did a Protestant reformer use a copy of a Hebrew Bible?
17 Came the invention of printing in 1450 in Germany. The first book printed was the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Jews quickly seized upon the invention to print their Bible in Hebrew, for private use, although service scrolls for synagogues still continued to be made by Jewish hand. In 1473 a Hebrew printing press was set up, an edition of 300 copies of part of the Bible being printed in 1477.
18 Then, on February 23, 1488, by the Jewish printing house of Joshua Solomon Israel Nathan at Soncino in the duchy of Milan, the first complete edition of the Hebrew Bible, with vowels and accents, was brought out. In Brescia a printing press was set up by Gerson ben Moses Soncino, and in May, 1494, it issued a complete Hebrew Bible. It was a copy of this Hebrew Bible that Martin Luther the Reformer used in making his Bible translation into German in 1534.
19. Thus what religious work do the Jews still have today, and to whom do they owe no thanks respecting this?
19 To this day the Jews have their Bible, which is identical with the Old Testament section of Protestant or non-Catholic Bibles. This preservation of the inspired text of the Hebrew Scriptures owes no thanks to the Roman Catholic Church, which claims to be the divinely commissioned owner, interpreter and preserver of the Holy Bible. This despite its shameful record for destroying Bibles.
20. To whom is to be ascribed the preserving of the inspired text of the Holy Bible, and by means of whom was it produced and for whom preserved?
20 No, the preservation of the Holy Bible is to be credited to no religious organization of Christendom. It is Jehovah God to whom is to be ascribed the preserving of the inspired text of his Holy Word, for He is its sole Author. In the Isaiah scroll (Isa 40:8) he caused to be written: “The word of our God shall stand for ever.” (JP) He produced the complete Holy Bible by means of his faithful witnesses. He has preserved it for the world-wide use of Jehovah’s witnesses today. (1 Pet. 1:25) All thanks to him by Jesus Christ!
Says The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume IV of 1910, on page 379, under “Crusades”: “When the crusaders at last stormed Jerusalem, July 15, 1099, they drove all the Jews into one of the synagogues and there burned them alive. . . . The religious zeal fomented by the Crusades burned as fiercely against the Jews as enemies of Christ as against the Moslems. Thus both economically and socially the Crusades were disastrous for European Jews.”
[Picture on page 597]
Section of the Cairo Codex showing a colophon by the Masoretic scribe Moses ben Asher, A.D. 895.