Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What books are Divinely Inspired?

Note to all readers: for an updated blog post please see A Divine Revelation of the Biblical Canon

What books are Divinely inspired?  Divine inspiration means "God breathed" - that is, they are the spoken words of God.  The phrase comes from the following verse:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 2:3)
So, how do we know which books of the Bible, and which books outside of the Bible, are Divinely inspired?    This is a question which bugged me early on.  I wanted an explanation that made sense.  And Christian churches could not provide me an answer that satisfied me.  The following blog was the train of thought that I followed to form my final conclusions - thus far.  I started looking into this problem when I was 14, when I decided to actually open the Bible to find out if what the church was teaching is correct.  I advise everyone to do the same: check on what you are being taught, to see if it is true or not.


According to the Catholic Church, scripture is defined by the books that the Catholic Church says are Divinely inspired.  But that argument isn't exactly helpful: the Catholic Church has a tendency to make up rules based on its authority from a supposed line of succession through the apostles to the present day church.  "Argument from authority" is a fallacious logical argument. And their argument is invalidated by the fact that they include a set of books known as the "Apocrypha" - additional books or additions to the Hebrew scripture that were added when the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek ca. 200 B.C.  This version is known as the Septuagint. These additions were not removed until Martin Luther removed them during the Protestant Reformation.  Despite this correction, most Christians will rely on "argument from authority" to determine what books are Divinely inspired.


Lets go back to the earliest form of the canon, before the Catholic Church existed.  For the Old Testament, the Jews had three divisions: the Law (or Torah), the Prophets (or Nevi'im), and the Writings (Ketuvim).  These division are as follows:

The Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (the five books of Moses)
The Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the 12 minor prophets
The Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles

While the Law and the Prophets were probably canonized ca. 400 B.C., the Writings were not finalized some time in the first or second century A.D. - scholars differ on exact dates because records are sparse.  The first two divisions of Jewish division of scripture was recognized by Jesus in the following passages:
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Matt. 5:17)
For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. (Matt. 11:13)
On these two commandments [Love of God and Love of Neighbor] depend the whole Law and the Prophets. (Matt. 22:40)
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John (Luke 16:16)
They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them (Luke 16:29)
If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31)
Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27)
And also the following reference, although not from Jesus:
We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph (John 1:45)

As it would seem the books belonging to the writings were authorized later, their authority is more questionable.  However, Jesus quoted from the Psalms as scripture, and the following passage includes it as part of scripture:
These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44)
And, among the other books, Jesus referenced the book of Daniel as one of the prophets:
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place... (Matt. 24:15)
This latter quote is interesting...it is showing some time later the book of Daniel was moved from the Prophets into the Writings.  That the book of Daniel belonged to the prophets as early as 332 B.C. is attested to by Josephus, when Alexander the Great entered the city of Jerusalem:
“. . . he [Alexander the Great] gave his hand to the high priest and, with the Jews running beside him, entered the city. Then he went up to the temple, where he sacrificed to God under the direction of the high priest, and showed due honor to the priests and to the high priest himself. And, when the book of Daniel was shown to him, in which he had declared that one of the Greeks would destroy the empire of the Persians, he believed himself to be the one indicated; and in his joy he dismissed the multitude for the time being, but on the following day he summoned them again and told them to ask for any gifts which they might desire. . .” (Antiquities XI 317)

Not only did the book of Daniel foretell the coming of Alexander the Great, but he also foretold the exact time when the Messiah would appear - which happens to be the year that Jesus was crucified.  Which I suspect was one of the reasons the Jews may have moved it from the Prophets into the Writings.

So, given this research, while Psalms and Daniel belongs to scripture...the authority of the other books of the Writings are open to question.  This is as far as I could get when it came to the Old Testament...except for one odd item...


I have examined several books outside the Old Testament, and one stands out: the book of Jasher, which is referenced in the Old Testament:

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? (Josh. 10:13)
Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher (2 Sam. 1:18)
As it so happens, the lost book of Jasher may still be extant - although portions have been added later by Jewish scribes.  Not only that, but Swedenborg may have foreseen the existence of this book as he describes it in his visions.  For the book of Jasher, see previous blog entry on this Hebrew work.  It would fit in nicely between Deuteronomy and Joshua.  Scholars provide a late date for this midrash, but I have found internal evidence indicating that portions of it is much more ancient.


With the New Testament, as it was formed after the time of Jesus it is harder to determine what is truly Divinely inspired and what isn't.  The church followed a basic rule: if the book was written by an apostle of Jesus, or someone who was close to the oral tradition of the apostles, the book was made part of the New Testament. If it was historically accurate and reliable, it was included.  This excluded a lot of apocryphal gospels, which were written much later and tended to be more sensational and not historically accurate.  Some authors have stated that there was a "conspiracy" to exclude some of these books, but after examining them the church did a pretty good job of excluding the garbage.  The New Testament can be divided into the following books;

The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
The book of Acts
The letters of the apostles
The book of Revelation

I said before, the church excluded a lot of books that had a dubious author, or were written much later by heretical sects.  In the 19th century, German scholars subjected the four gospels to literary criticism, and discovered that these four gospels used a much older source: which became to be known as the "Q" document.

So what exactly is the "Q" document?  Q comes from a German word meaning "source".  And like "Q", no one knows much about it.  It is quirky.  This source document, unlike the gospels, included only the sayings of Jesus.  The gospels combined these sayings of Jesus with what he did, to form a history.  Luke, trying to be the honest historian, just lumps entire passages of the Q document right in the middle of his gospel, while Matthew intersperses it throughout his gospel.

To the delight of those German scholars, who unfortunately died before seeing verification of their theories, in 1945 a set of ancient scrolls were discovered in Egypt in Nag Hammadi -- and among the writings was the Gospel of Thomas. Unlike the four gospels, this gospel just includes sayings of Jesus..about 114 of them.  It begins with this statement:
These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.
Although short, there seems to be an inner mystical beauty to this gospel.  And evidence indicates that it is old. Some scholars place it between 50 A.D. and 100 A.D. -- and that is about the time the othe gospels were written.  It is written in Coptic, and after its discovery scholars realized that portions of it had been already recovered in some other small Greek fragments.  It is first attested to in the early 3rd century by Hippolytus of Rome:
"[The Naassenes] speak...of a nature which is both hidden and revealed at the same time and which they call the thought-for kingdom of heaven which is in a human being. They transmit a tradition concerning this in the Gospel entitled "According to Thomas," which states expressly, "The one who seeks me will find me in children of seven years and older, for there, hidden in the fourteenth aeon, I am revealed."
A hidden spiritual meaning in scripture? True or false?  Yes, there are hidden spiritual truths in scripture.  And... they are secret (hint...look to the left in this blog).  Unfortunately, the organized church suppressed this information...and classified all who believed in such a spiritual interpretation as "Gnostics."  Given, there were quite a few heretical beliefs among them.  Is the Gospel of Thomas canonical, should it be part of scripture?  I would have to say, ironically, I am a doubting Thomas on that one.  I do not know.


So, I thought the church did a pretty good job in filtering out spurious documents out of the New Testament...until I came to this little small letter that no one seems to notice, the book of Jude.  It contains this quote:
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 14-15)
Where did this quote come from?  Its nowhere in the Old Testament.  As I was researching this before there was a good internet, I soon came to discover that this quote is from the apocryphal book of Enoch.  Written between ca. 250-50 B.C., by different authors, it is one of the strangest apocryphal books I have seen.  It proposes, that before the Flood, extraterrestrial beings - called "angels" - visited our planet earth, mated with the women, and produced giant human beings.  In addition to this, it includes dubious astronomical information, and proposes an alternate calendar to the regular soli-lunar calendar used in scripture.  Portions of it are based on the book of Daniel, again evidence for an older authorship of that work.  It is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopic church.

Given the information from modern scholarship on this work, its late authorship, in no way should it be regarded as part of scripture.  Which eventually meant one thing for me: nor should the letter Jude be regarded as authoritative scripture.  If Jude is invalid, then what about the other letters?  What about this quotation by the apostle Paul:
One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” (Titus 1:12)
This is a quotation from the Greek philosopher Epimenides of the 7th century B.C.  Its one of his only surviving quotes, and is known as the "Epimenides paradox."  You see, Epimenides was a Cretan.  If he said "All Cretans are liars", was Epimenides lying or telling the truth?

So if the letters of Paul are Divinely inspired, what about this Greek philosopher?


At that point, the problem of determining which books of the Bible were Divinely inspired was left unsolved. That was until I encountered the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.  His largest work - eight volumes or so - was entitled Heavenly Arcana, otherwise known as Arcana Coelestia, meaning, "Heavenly Secrets".  In it, he reveals how scripture which is Divinely inspired has a symbolic spiritual sense - an inner spiritual meaning - where each word and sometimes even the original letters have a symbolic meaning.  And not only is scripture symbolically written, but it is written in a particular order or series.  This he could easily see while his spiritual vision was opened, while reading the Bible.  And when this spiritual sense is opened, it is as if the inner psychology of the human soul is revealed, how our spiritual growth passes from one state to the next.  Some of these states cannot be known until they are experienced: but Swedenborg lays down the method by which it can be determined what books are Divinely inspired, where the literal meaning corresponds to a hidden spiritual meaning.

So what is the true canon of the Bible?  Swedenborg spells it out:
The Word of the Old Testament was of old called the Law and the Prophets. By the Law were meant all the histories, which are contained in the five Books of Moses, the Books of Joshua, the Judges, Samuel, and the Kings: by the Prophets, all the prophecies, which are those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; and also the Psalms of David. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2606).
The books of the Word are all those which have an internal sense; and those which have not an internal sense are not the Word. The books of the Word in the Old Testament are the five books of Moses, the book of Joshua, the book of Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two books of the Kings, the Psalms of David, the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah including the Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; and in the New Testament the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; and the Apocalypse. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10325).
From the above, some of it was expected, but partly a surprise.  For the Old Testament, Swedenborg largely follows what were my own conclusions, and also includes the book of Lamentations which was written by Jeremiah the prophet.  The surprise?  None of the letters of the apostles are included.  Only the books of the New Testament which include the sayings of the Lord are Divinely inspired.

Some books among the Writings come close - some of their sayings are Divinely inspired, but as the books are not written in a series they are not inspired as a whole.  These include Job, Proverbs, and Song of Songs.


The letters of Paul: practically every sermon I have heard in church is based on the letters of Paul.  Old Testament is that big thick part of the book that is always ignored.  So what of these letters?  Swedenborg said the following in his private diary:
Paul indeed spoke from inspiration, but not in the same way as the prophets, to whom every single word was dictated but that his inspiration was that he received an influx, according to those things which were with him, which is quite a different inspiration, and has no conjunction with heaven by correspondences. (Spiritual Diary, n. 6062).
It was from Divine providence that the letters of Paul were included, so that those who were in falsity or evil should not profane the words of God:
That the Epistles of Paul have not an internal sense is known in the other life; but it is permitted that they may be in the Church, lest those who are of the Church should work evil to the Word of the Lord, in which is the internal sense. For if man lives ill, and yet believes in the holy Word, then he works evil to heaven; therefore the Epistles of Paul are permitted, and therefore Paul was not permitted to take one parable, not even a doctrine, from the Lord, and to expound and unfold it; but he took all things from himself. The Church, indeed, explains the Word of the Lord, but by means of the Epistles of Paul; for which reason also it everywhere departs from the good of charity, and accepts the truth of faith; which, however, the Lord has taught, but in such wise that the good of charity should be the all.  (Spiritual Diary, n. 4824)
In other words, the letters of Paul are similar in authority to the books of the Writings in the Old Testament.  Elsewhere, Swedenborg states that these letters were included as they are useful for doctrine and teaching the church.  So they still have their place, but with a lesser authority.  Thank goodness we don't have to solve that paradox problem!


Swedenborg stated that he was directed by the Lord what to write, and did not draw any doctrine from any spirit or angel.  Does this mean his works, in themselves, are Divinely inspired?  No.  They are not written by symbolic correspondences.  They are explanatory doctrines.  Like the letters of Paul, there was a general spiritual influx on what Swedenborg should write about.  In many situations, the answer to a problem is not given directly, but a problem is given and we are asked to deliberate about it.  I would say that like Paul, Swedenborg was guided in what to write about.  But the writings themselves are not Divinely inspired.  Like doctrinal writings, they are explicit.  The words of God, by their very nature, are implicit.  You have to discover its meaning by an inner spiritual path.  That meaning is kept hidden from the many.  The works of Swedenborg are similar to the writings of Ellen G. White of the Seventh Day Adventist Church - doctrinal, but not belonging to scripture. I only write this section for Swedenborgians, as some may have been taught differently.


  1. Doug,

    Thanks for a nice summary and explanation of the inspired books of Scripture. Though the fundamentals are clear, there's enough around the edges to keep the mind of a scholar spinning about the exact nature and embodied reality of inspired scripture. I find it fascinating that you had come to fairly similar conclusions before encountering Swedenborg.

    I also believe that Swedenborg's writings are "doctrinal writings, and not in the style of the Word," to quote (from memory) Swedenborg's description of Paul's letters in one of Swedenborg's own letters. I do put Swedenborg's writings on a higher level that Paul, since I believe Swedenborg had a far more extensive spiritual enlightenment than Paul did.

    It is ironic that some of the Swedenborgians who believe Swedenborg's writings are literally authoritative and tantamount to the direct words of God seem not to pay attention to Swedenborg's own description of his enlightenment and writing process as contained in True Christianity #779, where he says that the Lord is going to accomplish the Second Coming "through the agency of a human being who can not only accept these teachings intellectually but also publish them in printed form." Here Swedenborg is quite clear that he, the human agent, is "accepting the teachings intellectually" and then publishing them. Clearly they are filtered through the intellect and understanding of Swedenborg, and not a direct word-for-word divine revelation.

    However, that is not the fundamental reason that Swedenborg's writings are not the Word of God in the strict sense of that term. Rather, the reason is that they do not meet Swedenborg's own criteria for books that are part of the Word of God, namely, "those that have an internal meaning; books that do not have it are not the Word" (Arcana Coelestia #10325).

    I'm aware that one of the Swedenborgian sects (The Lord's New Church) believes that Swedenborg's writings, as the Word, have an internal sense. But I believe its founders came to that conclusion as a logical necessity from the position of the General Church (of which the Lord's New Church is a schism) that Swedenborg's writings are the Third Testament of the Word. In other words, it is a logical error piled upon a doctrinal error. (However, if it works for them, I have no particular interest in arguing the point with them.)

    At any rate, I believe that Swedenborg's writings do contain divine revelation intended to open up the spiritual meaning of the Bible, reveal the true nature of the spiritual world, and get the Christian Church doctrinally back on track. For that reason, they had to be written "in a doctrinal style, which can be more clearly and intimately understood, and not in the style of the Word." (This is not an exact quote, but the gist of one of Swedenborg's statements about the Acts and the Epistles in one of his letters.)

    As for the Epistles, I believe it is high time that they were reclaimed from traditional and faith-alone Christians, who have badly misinterpreted them to support doctrines such as a trinity of persons and salvation by faith alone that none of the Apostles, including Paul, ever taught. They are indeed "good books for the Church, insisting upon the doctrine of charity and its faith as strongly as the Lord Himself has done in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation, as may be seen and found evident by everyone who in reading them directs his attention to these points." (That is a direct quote from the same letter of Swedenborg.)

  2. About the "heretical Gospels" and the Gnostics, though I am in no way a scholar of alternate Gospels, my general impression from my few encounters with them so far is to agree with you that the early church fathers were right to exclude them from the canon.

    Most of these alternate Gospels do seem to be written from a Gnostic perspective. Unlike the early church fathers, I don't believe Gnostics are on the high road to hell! But I do believe that they are an early version of the "faith alone" error in which it is right belief that is the primary determinant of "salvation" (however that is defined) rather than right belief together with right love and right living. These alternate Gospels seem to be all about gaining secret knowledge that others do not possess, and becoming the elite enlightened (and therefore "saved") ones based on the possession of such advanced knowledge.

    These alternate Gospels were rejected by what became the main line of Christianity long before the heresy of salvation by faith alone had taken hold of large parts of the Christian Church. Political machinations aside, those early Christians had good reason to reject Gospels that emphasized pure knowledge over faith (which is another word for spiritual knowledge) together with love for God and the neighbor, charity, and good works as taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ.

  3. Hi Lee - I honestly do not understand how that alternative view concerning Swedenborg's writings came about. As you point out, Swedenborg spelled out exactly what was inspired and leaves no room for error.

    Also, within the works of the Bible, there are different degrees of inspiration. The highest level is very symbolic. The lowest level is doctrinal and explanatory. In some areas, not all, even the very Hebrew letter has meaning. I think the two areas of scripture that are considered the most important are the 10 commandments and the Lord's Prayer.

    I think Helen Keller may have considered the writings Divinely inspired, and in one of her books she speaks of the symbolism of the name of Jesus having been written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin on the cross. She considered that representative of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Swedenborg's writings. I interpret that slightly differently: it may represent the rejection of Jesus, or corruption of the Word, first by the Jews (Hebrew), then by the Orthodox (Greek), and finally by the Catholic (Latin). This would be in line with the other hidden symbolism in the details concerning the crucifixion.

  4. Oh, and whatever I may think of his politics, I love that quote from Donald Rumsfeld. Though he was lampooned for it, it actually shows quite an astute understanding of the nature of human knowledge and ignorance. I suspect that the largest category of knowledge for us finite humans is the "unknown unknowns."

  5. I have heard that Swedenborgian interpretation of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin inscription tacked to Jesus' cross, though I had not heard that Helen Keller may have subscribed to it. I have no problem thinking of Swedeborg's (Latin) writings as a revelation. But the writing on Jesus' cross is a rather thin platform on which to claim they are on par with the Old and New Testaments.

    Historically, those three languages were likely used because most bystanders would understand at least one of them, what with the presence of Jews (Hebrew), "Greeks" (or foreigners, whose common language was Greek), and Romans (Latin) in Jerusalem.

    Personally, I'm somewhat suspicious of typological interpretations that tie Bible stories to particular political or ecclesiastical groups. I'm sure there are some such valid interpretations where the authors intended known rulers or empires to be understood as symbolized by various figures in the text. However, these political identifications pale in comparison to the spiritual method of interpretation offered by Swedenborg.

    Even when Swedenborg applies various figures and events in the Book of Revelation to the Protestant and Catholic churches of his day, I believe he is doing so primarily because those churches came to embody in his age particular evil and false twistings of spiritual reality that appear in various guises and human institutions throughout human history. They are archetypal themes of evil and falsity--and the corrupted Catholic and Protestant churches were simply particular manifestations of those archetypes that Swedenborg saw in his particular culture.

  6. What about the Book of Daniel? Is that book Divinely inspired?

    1. Yes, it is Divinely inspired, it is mentioned by Swedenborg as one of the inspired works, and was quoted by Jesus. It is not clear why the Jews moved it from the prophets to the writings, but the criteria for Divine inspiration is that the work must contain an internal spiritual sense which corresponds to its literal words.

  7. Hi Lee - To your knowledge did Swedenborg ever quote, paraphrase, "use" any of the books of the Apocrypha (Deuterocanon)? He did describe a catagory of angels as of 'Raphael', so he must as a brought-up Lutheran have been familiar with the book of Tobit. In, I think, Divine love & Wisdom Swedenborg appeared to paraphrase a line from the book of Wisdom (but for the life of my I cannot re-find the text now). Any thoughts on all this? Best, HJ

    1. Hello HJ - I think you were thinking of Lee Woofenden, he runs another blog but we occasionally leave comments on each other's blogs.

      I noticed that reference to Raphael as well and thought it was curious myself. Tobit has a late composition, but there may be an indirect reference in the gospels, when mention is made of the woman who had seven husbands (Matt. 22:25-26).

      The other reference that Swedenborg makes is to Jude, who apparently quoted from a lost work that may have been titled the "Assumption of Moses" or "Testament of Moses" which is mentioned in Jude (Jude 1:9). This he does in the Apocalypse Explained:

      "Michael is also mentioned in the Epistle of Jude, in these words:

      "When Michael the archangel, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he durst not utter a sentence of reproach, but said, The Lord rebuke thee" (verse 9).

      The apostle Jude quoted these words from ancient books which were written by correspondences, and by Moses in those books the Word was meant, and by his body, the sense of the letter of the Word. And as the same persons are here meant by the devil as are meant in the Apocalypse by the dragon, called also the devil and Satan, it is evident what is signified by Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, namely, that such falsified the sense of the letter of the Word." (AE, n. 735.4)

      The way I look at it is back then some Jews were still familiar with the ancient symbolism, and made use of it in the Apocrypha and Deuterocanon. But they do not have the same authority as scripture. It is similar to Job, Proverbs, and the Song of Songs, where the texts do have some symbolism but not as a whole in a series.

  8. I find you didn't go into much detail about the extra books the Catholic Church have. I myself am Catholic and have been researching for the last couple of years these books because I was very curious why our book had extra books. I have many arguments for why the extra books should not be there but most of them were fairly easy to disprove. I agree with what you said that we should check on what we are taught to see if it was true. I find most Protestants assume since the Catholic church have made a lot of mistakes that the extra books should not be in there for that reason alone. Which is very bothersome. Even things I learned in University. (I went to a Baptist University (I cannot stress enough that I do not feel any denomination is better and most Catholics feel the same contrary to popular belief) and even misconceptions about the canon were continued there) for example that the Roman Catholics have 3 Maccabees in their canon, which they do not. That the Jews had no debate over which books should and should not be in the canon and they were easily decided by 400bc, some books like Ezekiel, Song of Songs, and Esther were debated in the Jewish canon until 100-150ad. That since most of the denominations agree on the canon than since God would choose for the right canon to be put in our hands that means the Protestant Biblical canon must be right verses the Catholic since this side of the world (Canada is where I live) for the majority don't have the seven extra books. Than I found a couple of months ago that the majority of the Christian denominations on the other side of the world agree with these seven books and some have any more. But when you look at the population of all of the Christian denominations most of the Christian church around the world agree with the seven extra books, which surprised me because growing up I never hear of these books and went into my research with the mindset that they shouldn't be in the Bible. Another misconception was that the council of nicaea has decided which books were in the Bible, people at my school stressed how the council had prayed over it and looked to God and spent this big long time decided which books would and wouldn't be in the Old Testament canon. I looked into it and that area of the church at the time had for the most part decided on their own and the council finalized it. No praying about it, just went along with the people. There is a huge difference there. Now I don't know for sure which books should and shouldn't be in the Bible, I too am only human and I think humans can make mistakes, but I do know that so far almost every point I have come across for why the Deuterocanonical shouldn't be in the Bible, can be used for another book we have accepted in the Bible. Part of the reason why Judith (although not the only probably) wasn't accepted is the church at the time did not like the idea of a woman heroine. Now people remind me of the book of Esther when I make this point, two things to that. 1) In the book of Esther, Esther is not the only main character contrary to Judith were there isn't a man calling as much of the shots as with Esther. 2) Esther was rejected by part of the Jewish church until 100-150ad so it was up for debate for a while. The book of Tobit is put down because of the exorcist although Jesus himself did it (they say it is witch craft/satanic but you can't do something for God and call it satanic, even if it is by means stereotyped as satanic, and because an angel talks to them instead of God, although it does say that God sent the angel because he heard their cries and saw their pain. 1 and 2nd MAccabees were excluded partly because it was too violent although the Old Testament has quite a bit of violence and excluded because the authorship isn't clear, well no one knows for sure who wrote Hebrews or Job....

    1. In the New Church we go by the internal evidence of the text itself, where inspired text will have multiple levels of meaning - the most literal, then a higher spiritual sense, and above that, there is even a celestial sense. However there are other books included in the Bible that are not directly inspired, but are useful for teaching. But to see how and why each book is Divinely inspired, and how it differs from other books, it requires an in depth study of "Heavenly Arcana" (or "Arcana Coelestia") which covers the books of Genesis and Exodus, word by word. Another good one is "Apocalypse Revealed and Explained."

      So, as for the Deuterocanonical books, since you brought it up, here is my take on it:

      Additions to Esther, additions to Jeremiah, additions to Daniel should be rejected, as these are extraneous interpolations that were added in the Septuagint and were never part of the Hebrew text.

      1/2 Maccabees I think should remain for historical purposes, as some of these events were foretold in Biblical prophecy. I would put at the same level as Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles.

      Tobit is a late composition (3rd century B.C.), perhaps useful as a story. There may be an indirect reference to it when the Jews posed the question to Jesus about a woman who married seven husbands. Judith is also a fictional composition.

      Book of Wisdom is also late, written originally in Greek (1st century B.C.)

      Book of Sirach was originally written in Hebrew (2nd century B.C.), but has good ethical teachings.

      So, the Jews had the Law, Prophets and Psalms which are inspired. Outside of that, they had the "Writings" - works not inspired but useful for instruction (e.g. all the other books of the OT not included in the Law, Prophets or Psalms, such Song of Songs, Ecclesiates, etc). I would put these Deuterocanonical books in that classification, and make it clear that inspired works have priority for doctrine.

  9. There is a lot more to it and I could go on for a long time on this subject. I think it is important to challenge the norm, society's views are only but views for now, they will change in every ten years and in every generation. . . . I found your article very interesting, you made lots of good points I haven't thought of yet, great article!! I enjoyed reading it and learning from it!

  10. Hi Doug,

    One more piece of evidence that Paul's letters are not part of the Word of God is that in 1 Corinthians 7 he denied that some of what he was writing came from the Lord:

    To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord . . . To the rest I say—I and not the Lord . . .

    Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. I think that . . . (1 Corinthians 7:8, 10, 25-26)

    If Paul himself states that some of what he says is not from the Lord, but is his own opinion, claiming that his letters are the divinely inspired Word of God throughout is contradicting what Paul himself writes here.

    This forms a sort of reverse Epimenides paradox, in which traditional Christians state that Paul is a liar in order to affirm that everything he writes is divine truth from the Lord.

    1. Yes and in 1 Cor 7:12 he says he is speaking and not the Lord.

      Another issue with Paul is that in Rom 3:10-18 he quotes the LXX version of Psalm 14. The problem is the LXX is corrupt where 8 lines were inserted which is not in the Masoretic. To get around this some argue that Psalm 14 in the LXX was later modified where this passage from Paul was inserted but This goes against the textual evidence

  11. Problem here is that if God allows His word to be mixed with non-inspired words, in a bounded book, Bible, both presented as His word, it logically follows that same God can allow truth to be mixed with lies in a testimony provided from a man, Mr. Swedenborg.

    Which means that not a single Mr. Swedenborg's claim is trustworthy, including his claim about what is and what is not Word of God in the Bible, and his claim about what he saw and heard in what he claims is Heaven from what he claims are angels.

    In other words, since Mr. Swedenborg claims God allows His Word to be mixed with books presented as His Word but which are actually not His Word, then that same God can put liars before Mr. Swedenborg and present them as truth-tellers, and provide visions or visitations to Mr. Swedenborg which are not visions and visitations of truth but of lie.

    So, Mr. Swedenborg's own claim makes it logically impossible to take Mr. Swedenborg's claims as trustworthy.

    1. You have it backwards. The church began to become corrupt over time, and this happens with all religions, until a new revelation is given to correct the errors and falsehoods, introduced by men.

      We can see how the Catholic church added many false traditions and put authority in themselves, corrupting the original Christian revelation. Periodically a new revelation or dispensation must be given to correct the errors that were introduced by men.

      The theology explained by Swedenborg is remarkably consistent and rational. Moreover, he gives a standard that anyone can investigate to determine which books are Divinely inspired and which are not. And for every argument, he quotes scripture.

      The reason why non-inspired books were allowed to be included in the Bible is twofold:

      1. There needed to be a simple explanation of Christian doctrines to the mass public, and,
      2. It protects the holy Word from being corrupted by the false opinions of men, preventing them from profaning what is holy. Profanation occurs when holy truths are mixed with falsehoods.

      It is due to the above 2 reasons that most churches concentrate their sermons on the letters of Paul. Moreover, without a spiritual revelation, the Bible is a closed book that not even ministers understand. With this revelation we have a formalized standard for a canon. Up until this revelation I knew something was wrong since the letter of Jude quotes from the book of Enoch as scripture.

      All religions have a measure of truth and falsehood, and it takes discernment to distinguish between the two. One should not just accept what one was told without investigating it for themselves. Just because a church authority tells you what is canonical and what is not does not make it true, right? Should you not investigate the basis of their claim instead of assuming what you have been told is correct?


Comments, questions, corrections and opinions welcome...