The Two Collections of Bible Books
The Bible or Holy Scripture, consists of the Old and New Testament; its authors wrote the Old in an eleven-century period, from about 1500 to 420 B.C., and the New in 22 years, from 49 to 70 A.D.. From the 60 prophets and more, authors of Old Testament books, only 22 are known, and from the 22 of the Psalms we know only one, the most important. Those of the New Testament, 8 in number, are instead all known and named. Old Testament's 14 oldest books are also the oldest readable books in the world since readable texts of antiquity are only those alphabetic; actually the purpose of alphabet's invention was so that the first 3 Old Testament books — Genesis, Law (=Exodus Leviticus Numbers), and Deuteronomy — might be written with it. And up to the ninth century B.C., when the two Homeric epics Iliad and Odyssey were certainly written, other books do not exist in the world. The original language of all Old Testament books is Hebraic, and during 285 to 246 B.C. a group of Hebrews who knew Greek literature and were Greek native speakers translated it into Greek; this is the Translation of the Seventy and the oldest translating work in the world. Later, during 110 to 135 A.D., the original Hebraic text, due to excessive interference by rabbi Jews enemies to Christian belief, was essentially destroyed, and thus the Translation of the Seventy took the place of the prototype. The original language of the New Testament is Greek instead. Of the 8 apostles who authored it, 5 — Paul Luke Matthew John and Mark — wrote by themselves, because they knew Greek well [John, as it might be seen from his text, not so well] while the other 3 — Peter Jacob and Jude — who knew how to speak Greek but not to write it correctly, as we may see from Peter's confirmation and the correct Greek of his writings, wrote by dictation through Greek speaking transcribers. Διαθήκη (Testament) means convention, agreement, contract; by implication between God and man. In the first contract the parties are the Lord and Israelites, in the second the Lord and Christians.
Bible's Text; condition, quality
The text in the Old Testament, that is the Translation of the Seventy (LXX, Septuagint), is somehow corrupted, while the text in the New Testament is the best preserved of all ancient texts. Bible in general has the most manuscripts in the entire literature, the oldest and most excellent; there are 2.000 LXX manuscripts of the Old Testament and 5.500 manuscripts of the original Greek New Testament. 13% of all ancient manuscripts in general is Bible, while 2.100 authors, 1500 Christians and 600 idolaters, share the remaining 87%; their average is 0.04%; that is 25 manuscripts per each. There is almost no other handwritten book up to 9th century A.D. while of the Bible exist so far 300 integral manuscripts. The translations of the Bible come also first in all humane literature; until the 9th century there are 18 translations of the Old Testament and 22 of the New Testament. The first translation of another text globally comes later on. Today, there are about 2500 Bible translations, while the most multi-translated authors globally reach the 30 translations. And in publications, while other authors reach 100.000 copies (gold prize best seller) and sometimes 200.000 (platinum prize), the Bible instead every year only surpasses the 300.000.000 per year; 308.000.000 in 1975; million, not thousands. In all the cases above Bible is in the world the unreachable giant, the king of books, the book; the Bible.
The Bible as Source of Christian Belief
The Bible is the exclusive source of Christian belief. Post biblical literature and tradition, which in volume is 5 times more than the total of humane literatures, compose solely the explanatory commentary of the Bible. Post biblical literature and tradition is necessary indeed for Bible understanding but is not the primal source. Even Ecumenical Synods, the highest declarative instrument of the Church, just as themselves show in their statements of belief and their administrative statutes and the rest of their records, first they never super induce any new meaning to the believed truth, a fatal diversion of which are certainly dreadful, and second, to support their statements on everything, they constantly refer to the Bible. There is no chance for a post bible subject to add subtract change or disagree with the Bible, and to constitute a holy tradition of the Church. Is considered and it is a waste per se. On this Photius Constantinopolitanus points out, in the ninth century at his letter to John of Aquileia, that any text which disagree with the Bible, it judges itself to go to waste. Papists' leader, Rome's Pope, in their Trent "ecumenical" synod in 1545-46, with which they are trying to defend against the novel protestants, postulated for the first time in history that the 'holy tradition of the church' [his supposed personal infallible doctrines (decreta)], was of the same authority with the Bible; this was the dream of Rome's Pope Nicolas I that wanted to impose on Photius, before Photius remove him as heretical (867 A.D.); and even protestants by rejecting the aid of the ecclesiastical interpretive tradition, each one, unassisted, expounds the Bible like a minor pope; they both are in diversion. Nor their interpretation is Bible, neither they are Christians. At most, those among them who read at some extend the Bible and have a vague idea of its contents, are non baptized catechumens. Without the holy introductory and interpretative tradition of the Church we could not know today, after 2.000 years, neither how many nor which are the distinctive books of the Bible. The issue of 'which are the books in the bible' protestants receive it from the typographer the bookbinder and the bookseller, or, their top scientists, by the Jews of the 16th century at most, papists receive it from the caprice of Rome's pope and specifically from the doctrine (decretum) issued by Rome's Pope Paul III on the eighth April of 1546, while orthodox Christians receive it from the holy tradition of the Church. The holy tradition of the Church determines how many and which are the books of the Bible, their original text, who are the editors of its books and under what historical circumstances wrote them, and their interpretive key; exclusively these four; and reaches until here, leaving thus the subject of belief exclusively to the Bible. The holy tradition of the Church is explicitly the mere transmitter of the Bible, and nothing beyond that. In the Church all things are revocable, modifiable, and improvable, except from the Bible which as God's word has the characteristics of the unchangeable God.
What Remains Valid from the Old Testament — God's Inspiration
To Christian belief Old Testament is valid to what concerns history and revelation, improved by the New Testament to what concerns the moral law, and invalid to what concerns the telestic element. Christian belief, first accepts the history and revelation of the Old Testament, second abolish e.g. polygamy by establishing monogamy or abolish the up to death punishment of the wicked and any earthly sentence in general and establishes the εἴ τις θέλει (in case that someone wants), and third abolish in worship e.g. animal sacrifices and circumcision and anything else telestic. New Testament though is for the Church the eternal, the non revocable, the self-sufficient, the perfect, the non improvable, the non susceptible to supplement. In the Church beyond any criticism and with inviolable authority is only the Bible; everything else is subject to criticism and are correctable and modifiable. The Bible is divinely inspired because its authors were divinely inspired as well and no extension and gradation to divine inspiration exist nor "protocanonical and deuterocanonical books", just as a converted from Judaism papist monk recently said and was widely accepted even from protestants. The books of the Bible are all canonical and equally inspired by God. Post biblical Christian authors, all in all, are just enlightened about God, through the Bible which they study to enlighten themselves, and an extension and gradation to their enlightenment exist, precisely as there is a degree to scientific education among various scientists in various sciences. The more they acquaint themselves with the Bible and agree with it, then they, that more enlightened about God are; while the lesser knowledgeable they are, then they, that much lesser enlightened about God are; and if they ignore it, then they, totally confused about God are, and if they disagree with it in anything, then they, darkened heretics are, whoever they are. and those valid for every Christian are.
The Bible, the Church, and the Christian
Before God all Christians without exception, those who are serious about their belief and have no other motive for their Christian identity besides their earnest desire for their salvation in Christ — living and rested — are saints; because the Bible characterizes them as such. And although subjectively exist unlimited degrees of holiness, objectively there are no two distinct qualities of Christians, — living and rested — that is, at first level simple Christians and at the upper holiest or merely saved first and saints or holy secondly. Jude, in his letter, characterizes those who are doing such a distinction as heretics and calls them ἀποδιορίζοντες (division agents). The entire post biblical literature is humane, and not divine as the Bible. Yet of course the measure and degree of its comprehension is in direct proportion to its enlightenment about God and mainly to its consenting mind-set towards the Bible. Because God enlightens through the Bible. Christian church, the orthodox, accepts as inspired by God and infallible the Bible alone, attends to preserve the Bible books only, is responsible and assures exclusively for the Bible, and derives its belief, acknowledgment and doctrine only from the Bible, as the Ecumenical Synods and the ancient ecclesiastical writers like Athanasius Alexandrinus, John Chrysostom, Photius and others write down on their demonstrations. The church calls the Bible, Canon and has it as such too.
Studies (Μελέτες) 1 (2008)