Bible Query from
New Testament

Q: If Jesus is the only way to heaven, then why was he crucified so long after the beginning of history? If He is the only way, why wasn't he sent to earth after the first sin to be crucified for the sins of the world?

A: You ask a big question, but allow me to make it a bit bigger. Why was Jesus sent at that particular time, and not either earlier or later? Romans 5:6 says, "You see, at just the right time, ... Christ died for the ungodly." But while the Bible does not say why this was the best time, we can speculate.

Not too early: Someone once asked me, "Why doesn't God just come down and show Himself to everybody? I answered that if God came down in all His glory, we would be destroyed. But God is Almighty, and He could come down veiling enough of His glory so that His direct presence would not destroy us. If He came down in a way that forced us to believe, then how would we have faith, or free will to make a decision that was not under compulsion. But if God came down in a way where part of His glory was veiled, and He gave evidence of who He was, but not in such a way that it was so obvious everyone would have to believe whether they wanted to or not, how many times would God have to do that? What if He did it just once, 2,000 years ago?

90% of the population after: We guess there have been about 32 billion (+/- 6 billion) people who have ever lived on the earth. Over 90% of them have lived after the time of Christ.

Fair to the ones before: God looks at people based on the truth that they have; sin is not counted where there is no law (Romans 4:15; 5:13). So, people who lived before Christ, such as Abraham, David, etc. could be saved through Christ, even though Christ had not come yet.
More peaceful time:
At the time of Christ was a period of relative peace compared to the times before with the Roman conquests, and the times after, with Roman and Parthian wars, and the European barbarians invading the Roman Empire. See for more on the wars of those times if you are interested.
Best time for expansion:
The Romans built extensive roads, and if Jesus had come prior to this time, it would have been much more difficult to spread the gospel to different lands.
Preservation of materials:
If it had been a lot earlier, we might have a lot fewer manuscripts showing the reliability of the New Testament. If it had been centuries later, we might have more, but even so we have over 10,000 Greek manuscripts and fragments of the New Testament. The earliest by the way is the John Rylands papyrus, dated from 110-138 A.D.. Here are other manuscripts we have.

110/117-125/138 A.D. p52 (=John Rylands papyrus) John 18:31-33, reverse 18:37-38 -4 verses
100-150 A.D. p104 Matthew 21:34-37,43,45(?) -5.5 verses
100-150 A.D. p46 (=Chester Beatty II) 70% of Paul and Hebrews -1,680 verses
c.125 A.D. p87 - handwriting like p46. Philemon 13-15,24 (part),25b with gaps-4 verses
2nd century Magdalen papyri Mt 26:7-8, 10, 14-15, 22-23, 31-33 -10 verses
100/125-150/175 A.D. p66(=Bodmer II) p14/15,p75 92% of the Gospel of John -808.5 verses
125-150 A.D. p64, p67 (same manuscript) (p67) Mt 3:9,15; 5:20-22,25-28 -19 verses (p64) Mt 26:7-8,10,14-15,22-23,31-33
Early to mid 2nd century p4 - handwriting like p64, p67 Luke 1:58-59; 1:62-2:1,6-7, etc. -95 verses
c.170 A.D. Uncial 0212 Diatessaron pieces: Mt 27; Mk15; Lk23; Jn19
c.175 A.D. p90 John 18:36-19:7 -12 verses
177 A.D. - 97% (855/878) of the Gospel of John, 70% of Paul and Hebrews (persecution of Aurelius)

Just using the manuscripts we still have that were written before the persecution of Marcus Aurelius in 177 A.D. we have 97% of the Gospel of John (855/878 verses) and 70% of Paul and Hebrews.
Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History
(318 A.D.) book 1 ch.2 p.84 gives a different but complementary answer. He simply says the Gospel was not preached earlier because sinful mankind was not ready for it yet. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.84
A related question is that for even people who lived after Jesus, if they died before hearing the gospel, then it is the same to them as if they lived before Jesus. What about them? See for more on that.

Q: How could God die?
A: Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Jesus took on humanity to fulfill His mission of dying for our sins. Jesus’ humanity was put to death on the cross. Many things can be explained by analogies with nature, but there is no natural analog to the incarnation, when God came to earth to live as a man.
Historically this objection, brought up by pagans, was answered in Arnobius Against the Heathen (297-303 A.D.) book 1 ch.60 p.430-431.

Q: I glanced through your article re "Jesus is God". Admittedly, I did not find anything that contradicted the clear, repeated and formal Messianic and Apostolic teaching that Jesus is ontologically a man –
John 8:40 but now you seek to kill me, a man [ἄνθρωπος] who has told you the truth that I heard from God. 
Acts 2:22, 23  ”Men [Aνδρες] of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man [ἄνδρα] and attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men"
1 Cor 15:21  For as by [δι’] a man [ἄνθρωπος] came death, by [δι’] a man [ἄνθρωπος] has come also the resurrection of the dead. 
1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man [ἄνθρωπος] Christ Jesus,
 I do have a question which I think can get to the heart of the issue -

Can Jesus fully, independently function WITHOUT an incarnated deity (just like you and I and all men do)?
A: The Bible does not explicitly say, but there are some general theological concepts that guide our thinking.
Jesus was not 1/2 man and 1/2 God. Rather, He was 100% God and 100% man. Colossians 1:19 indicates that Jesus had the "fullness" of deity. Hebrews 4:15 teaches that Jesus was a man who could be tempted in every way, and He had everything we had, except that He was without sin. 
On the other hand, there are not two Jesus's: a human one and a divine one. There is only One Jesus.
As for all the details of how this worked out, God has not told us; that is part of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Q: Who exactly killed Jesus?
A: As to who killed Jesus, there are two answers.
Some Roman soldiers under Pontius Pilate killed Jesus. Now there are good and bad people in all ethnic groups, and just because an Italian governor ordered Jesus’ death is no excuse to have hate toward any Italians. Also, an evil Jewish High priest (installed by the Romans) had Jesus arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. They turned him over to the Romans. By the way Paul, Peter, John, Matthew, Jude, James, were all Jewish. To say that a particular small group of Jewish people were evil is not more anti-Semitic than to say that Hitler and his henchmen were evil is anti-German. (I’ll be the first the say that all Nazism was an extremely evil tool of Satan, and I am part German. I will also point out though, that many German Americans became soldiers and fought against Hitler.) Likewise, many some Jews were evil, but others like Peter and Paul were good. Even some Jews who did not become Christians, such as Josephus, still had respect for Jesus and his half-brother James.
The other answer, equally important, is that you, I, and everyone else all killed Jesus. Jesus knew what was happening, and Jesus could have high-tailed it out of the Garden of Gethsemane. Nobody would have killed Jesus, because He easily could have escaped and disappeared. But Jesus deliberately chose to stay and die horribly on that cross as a sacrifice for our sins. So, if you want to blame somebody for the cruel, unfair death that gave us the wonderful gift of eternal life, blame Jesus!
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

Q: When did people start dating events by the year Jesus was supposedly born?
A: Prior to this, people generally dated events by the year of a king’s reign. Other people dated things from the supposed year of Adam’s creation, September 1, 5509 B.C.
The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.786 says that in Jesus’ time Romans kept years in terms of "A.U.C." or years from the founding of the city [of Rome]. Rome was founded in 753 B.C. On p.787 Asimov says that it was erroneously thought that Christ was born in 1 A.D. by the Scythian monk-astronomer Dionysius Exiguus of Rome, who died c.544 A.D. Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.49 says that dating things from the time of Christ’s birth was introduced by Hippolytus in the 3rd century. This was not universally accepted, as some Byzantine scribes did not do so until the 14th century. Also, The First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.46 p.178, while not an official dating system, mentioned that Jesus was born 150 years ago.

Q: In the NT, how did we get the terms "Old and New Testaments"?
A: Tertullian was apparently the first to coin these words, in Latin, in 207 A.D. in his work Against Marcion book 4 chapter 6.

Q: How do I defend this statement: The Gospels contain some truth however second century scribes added insertions to create a Jesus that the first century Christians never knew. In other words the physical Resurrection and Jesus as the "Son of God" was added later far from the events that took place.
A: Let me first rephrase your question, and then answer it. Skeptics frequently say writers did not write what they wrote, even when there is no basis whatsoever for saying it. So, how would an objective person know whether the phrase "son of God" was not known to first century Christians or not?
a) First realize that the burden of proof is on those who question the truthfulness of the copy. If they cannot produce any evidence, then we can stop right here.
b) Second, they would have to add the phrase "Son of God" in a lot of places, for it is common in the New Testament. Besides Mk 1:1, it is in these places in just the gospels, Revelation, and non-Pauline letters.
Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mk 1:11; Lk 9:35; 2 Peter 1:17 (The Father is saying, "This is my beloved Son")
Mt 4:3, 6; 8:29; 14:33; 16:16; 26:63; 27:40,43,54
Mk 3:11; 5:7; 15:39
Lk 1:32,35; 4:3,9,41; 8:28; 22:70
Jn 1:18,34,49; 3:16,17,18,35; 5:23 (implied); 5:25; 6:69; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4,27; 17:1 (implied); 19:7; 20:31; 1 Jn 1:3,7; 2:22,23 (implied); 3:8,23; 4:9,10,14,15; 5:5,9,10 (2 times), 11,12,13 (2 times), 20; 2 Jn 3,9; Rev 2:18.
c) However, we do not have to stop here. What evidence for Christians believing Jesus was the son of God could we have, since we do not have copies of the Bible until 117 A.D.? We have the early church writers.
"But concerning His Son the Lord spoke thus: Thou are my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee." 1 Clement ch.36 p.15. Clement of Rome wrote 96-98 A.D., we are very sure of the date. The first century ended at the end of 100 A.D., so this refutes the claim.
Mention of "His Son, according to the relation/economy subsisting between them." Epistle to Diognetus ch.8 p.28 (c.130-200 A.D.)
"Gave his own Son as a ransom for us..." Epistle to Diognetus ch.8 p.28 (c.130-200 A.D.)
"He who, being from everlasting, is to-day called/esteemed the Son" Epistle to Diognetus ch.11 p.29
"through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ" The Martyrdom of Polycarp ch.20 p.43
"Jesus Christ... being both the Son of man and the Son of God" Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians ch.20 p.58 (We do not know when Ignatius, disciple of the apostle of John wrote this, but he died either 107 or 116 A.D.)
Jesus declared Himself to be the son of God. Epistle of Barnabas ch.7 p.141 (c.70-130 A.D.) See also ch.5 p.139,140, ch.12 p.145
"God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God,..." The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians chapter 12 p.35. We do not know when Polycarp wrote this, but he was martyred in 155 A.D. Irenaeus, writing 182-188 A.D., mentions Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians in Irenaeus’ Against Heresies book 3 ch.3.4 p.416.
"Christ, who was called the Son of God before the ages, ... in order that He might cleanse us through His blood, ... presenting us as pure sons to His Father." Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) in Fragment 39 p.575
Did They Believe Jesus was God?

The real issue here is whether or not early Christians viewed Jesus as God. Here is evidence that they did:
(died 107 or 116 A.D.) wrote frequently of Christ as God. For example, he wrote of "the blood of God" in chapter 1 of his letter to the Ephesians.
Epistle to Diognetus
(c.130-200 A.D.) a disciple of the apostles (chapter 100 in his Epistle to Diognetus chapter 7 wrote of Christ sent as King, God, man, and savior.
Justin Martyr
(c.138-165 A.D.)
"The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, ..." Dialogue with Trypho ch.61. See ch.55,56,59,62-64,66,74-78.
Melito of Sardis
(died 180 A.D.) said of the crucifixion that "God is murdered".
Theophilus, bishop of Antioch
(168-181/188 A.D.) "For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?" Letter to Autolycus book 2 ch.22.
Irenaeus of Lyons
(182-188 A.D.) wrote in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.19.2 p.449, "Jesus is Himself in His own right, ...God, and Lord, ..."
Even the enemies of Christianity bear witness that Christians worshipped Jesus as God.
Pliny the Younger
(governor and persecutor of Christians in 112 A.D. writing to Emperor Trajan) "They [Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds..."
(2nd century satirist) "The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day - the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account...You see, these misguided creatures..." (Death of Peregrine 11)
This is significant, because an official Roman query states that Christians worshipped Christ as God as early as 112 A.D.

Q: "In short, with the passing of time, the apocalyptic notion of the resurrection of the body becomes transformed into the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. What emerges is the belief in heaven and hell, a belief not found in the teachings of Jesus or Paul, but one invented in later times by Christians who realized that the kingdom of God never would come to this earth. This belief became a standard Christian teaching, world without end." Jesus, Interrupted p.266

A: I reread the parts around this quote to make sure I understood correctly, that Ehrman believes early Christians did not believe in heaven or hell. It is somewhat unclear whether or not Ehrman is also says that later Christians invented immortality of the soul too, but regardless, he is saying they were unknown to Jesus, Paul, or presumably the first Christians.
Maybe I should not have been, but I was shocked at the seeming ignorance of this alleged expert on the New Testament said. Let’s talk about immortality of the soul first. Way back before Moses, time, Egyptians embalmed their corpses as mummies, because they believed in the immortality of the soul. Ancient Sumerians, in their myth of Inanna and Dumuzi, showed an accepted belief in immortality of the soul. Also the Sumerian Dilmun poem, dated from 2400 B.C., mentions a place where the gods were, called Dilmum, where gods and Ziusdra, a human who had attained immortality lived. The Dilmun poem dates from around 2400 B.C. Many Jewish writings prior to Jesus, including 2 Maccabees 12:44 and 1 Enoch speak of dead being conscious. In the Old Testament, Isaiah 53:8-9 the suffering servant was cut off from the living and "assigned a grave with the wicked", yet in 53:10 "he will see his offspring and prolong his days". Even 1 Corinthians, a book Ehrman accepts is written by Paul, has an entire chapter on the resurrection of the dead (chapter 15). He also discusses our immortality in 2 Cor 5:1-8. Even Ehrman’s beloved Gnostics believed in a transcendent, non-material, afterlife for the spiritual people.
As for heaven and hell, the Greeks and Romans had Elysian fields for the blessed, and Tartarus for the cursed. Jewish writings prior to Christ, such as 1 Enoch, tells of two compartments of Sheol (the grave): prison for the wicked, and paradise for the righteous. Jesus in the gospels actually talked about Hell more than Heaven. It is interesting that Jesus uses the known term "paradise" in talking with the thief on the cross. 1 Peter 3:19 mentions the spirits in prison.
In summary, many pagans believed in immortality of the soul and a form of Heaven and Hell. Jews prior to Christ believe in a prison and paradise. Paul’s early letters taught immortality, heaven and hell. Even the Gnostics believed in a non-material afterlife for themselves. Yet incredibly, Ehrman claims immortality of the soul and a bodiless heaven and hell are "later inventions" of Christians.

Q: Apart from Biblical manuscripts, what evidence is there that early Christians believed Jesus died as a ransom for our sins?
A: While the burden of proof is on those who allege corruption to provide some evidence of their allegation, here is evidence from early Christian writers that early Christians believed that Jesus died as a ransom to atone for our sins.
"how precious that blood [of Jesus] is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world." 1 Clement ch.7 p.7 (96-98 A.D.)
"Gave his own Son as a ransom for us..." Epistle to Diognetus ch.8 p.28 (c.130-200 A.D.)
"...Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] ‘whom God raised from the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.’" Letter from Polycarp to the Philippians ch.1 p.33 (Polycarp was martyred c.155 A.D.)
See for quotes before 325 A.D. from Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.), Tertullian (198-220 A.D.), Hippolytus (225-254 A.D.), Cyprians of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) and Athanasius (318 A.D.). There are also other quotes on Jesus suffering for us and dying for us.

Q: Apart from Biblical manuscripts, what evidence is there that early Christians believed Jesus rose from the dead?
A: The burden of proof is for those who think these were additions to the Bible to show some evidence that it was added later. However, here is evidence from early Christian writers that early Christians believed Jesus rose from the dead.
"Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead." 1 Clement ch.24 p.11 (96-98 A.D.)
Jesus rose from the dead. Epistle of Barnabas ch.15 p.147 (c.70-130 A.D.)
"...Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] ‘whom God raised from the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.’" Letter from Polycarp to the Philippians ch.1 p.33 (Polycarp was martyred c.155 A.D.)
"Jesus Christ, ... in His suffering and in His resurrection." Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians ch.20 p.57
Jesus’ birth, passion, and resurrection. Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians ch.11 p.64
Against Heresies 5:7:1. (182-188 A.D.) "In the same manner, therefore, as Christ did rise in the substance of flesh and pointed out to His disciples the mark of the nails and the opening in His side (now these are the tokens of that flesh which rose from the dead) so "shall He also," it is said, "raise us up by His own power."

Q: Some liberal critics think that while seven of Paul’s letters were by the same author (Rom, 1 and 2 Cor, Gal, Php, 1 Thess, Phm), they say that eight other letters by different authors (Eph, Col, 2 Thess 1 and 2 Tim, Tt, and Heb). Of course Hebrews does not claim it was written by Paul.
A: They have four reasons they make these claims. None of these reasons hold water though.
Length of the long sentences (Eph and Col):
The original Greek of the New Testament did not have punctuation, so it is problematic to estimate the length. But assuming that scholars have no uncertainty, Ephesians 1:3-6, 1:7-10, and 1:11-12, and 13-14 are not one but four sentences, according to Aland et al.’s The Greek New Testament, 4th revised edition (1998). The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (1993) says the same. Ehrman never gave the source for why he said with certainty that it was only one sentence. However, 23 years earlier, the 1975 3rd edition Aland et al’s, The Greek New Testament showed them as one sentence, so I am surmising Ehrman was using the much older outdated version. Again though, the original Greek had no punctuation, so building an argument on where late 20th century people think the periods go, before they changed their minds, is a sketchy argument at best.
Average sentence length (Eph and Col):
The way modern scholars try to split the sentences, the average sentence length in Ephesians and Colossians (37.3 and 35.2 words respectively) is longer than the average sentence length in other books (25.8, 23.4, 26.0, 21.7, 26.7, 29, 31.7, 22.7, 23.2, 24.2, and 25.8) for Paul’s other letters in order. However, average sentence length is 35.8, 35.6, and 32 words in Romans 1-5, 1 Cor 1, and 2 Cor 6-10 respectively. So, there is little difference between the shorter but deep books of in Ephesians and Colossians, and Romans 1-5, 1 Corinthians 1, and 2 Corinthians 6-10.
Different words (2 Th, 1, 2 Tim, Tt):
One could look at my writings on New Testament manuscripts, cults, and relationship with God, and use the same method to conclude that I was three different people. People use different words when discussing different topics. It is only when there are various choices of words for the same thing, and different word choices are preferred that this could be significant. For example, in the earlier letters to entire churches more names are mentioned. So, should names be excluded from the count? In the pastorals Paul speaks of Timothy’s mother and grandmother, and Timothy and Titus appointing elders and deacons, so should these discussions be excluded? After persecution had gone on for a while, Paul talks more about taking care of widows in the pastoral letters than in earlier letters. So should this be excluded? – and so forth.
Description of faith:
It has been claimed that faith means trusting acceptance of Christ’s death in Paul’s earlier letters, and a set of beliefs and ideas of dogmas in the later letters. Actually, it means both in both sets of letters. It means a set of beliefs and ideas in Gal 1:23; Eph 4:1; Eph 4:13
It means acceptance of Christ’s death in 1 Tim 1:15; 2 Tim 3:15; Tt 3:15
Faith meaning doctrinal beliefs in Paul’s earlier letters
Gal 1:23
"They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
Eph 4:1
"one Lord, one faith, one baptism"
Eph 4:13
"until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,"
Faith meaning trusting acceptance in Paul’s later letters
1 Tim 1:5
"I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Tim 3:15
"which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
Tt 3:15
"Greet those who love us in the faith."
Faith can be taken either or both ways
1 Cor 15:1-2,14,17
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead." ... (17) "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile..." (This emphasizes the doctrines of Christ’s resurrection as well as Christ’s death.)
Gal 3:7
"those of faith"
Gal 3:13
"the law is not of faith"
Gal 3:23
"before the coming of faith"
Eph 1:15
"hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus"
Eph 2:8
"by grace you have been saved, through faith"
2 Tim 2:18
"wandered away from the truth. ... they destroy the faith of some"
Tt 1:4
"son in our common faith"
So, the author did not try to show any basis for separating Paul’s letters except to appeal to critical scholars, who have not successfully demonstrated any basis for difference. But it would not be sufficient to show there are differences; rather one would have to show there are differences that would be more than expected given a different audience, different topics, and a later time in Paul’s life.

Q: What is the biblical criticism to the Gospels? What is the meaning of text criticism? What is the difference between High criticism and low criticism? Which of these kinds are accepted now?
A: There are two forms of textual criticism: called lower and higher. We will first see how the relate to Christianity and the Bible, and then apply those same things to Islam and the Qur’an.
Bible lower textual criticism
recognizes that there are manuscript variants in the scripture, and it seeks to find the most accurate since we do not have the originals. We are pretty certain of 97% of every word of the New Testament, and most of the remaining are trivial one- and two-word differences that have no change in meaning. You can see uncertainties among New Testament manuscripts at Look for the Questions and Answers on each book, and at the bottom will be a link to the manuscript variations. For example, variants in Matthew are at Manuscripts.html (or .doc).
Bible higher textual criticism
is for skeptics that question what books or parts should be in scripture. Christians approach scripture variants different than Muslims, because for Christians it is the meaning that is important not the individual words. But for Muslims it is the individual words and consonants that are important.
The Muslim world has lower and higher textual criticism too.
Qur’an lower textual criticism
is asking whether the Warsh of Hafs are the closest Arabic to what was originally spoken. Here is what "lower textual criticism" is like for the Qur’an. Over 15,000 pages of old Koran text were discovered in Yemen. According to an article by in the Jan. 1999 Atlantic Monthly (p.43-56). "Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., or Islam's first two centuries -- they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. What's more, some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God." You can see some of these differences at
Qur’anic higher textual criticism:
Here are two regular examples, plus one dominating one.
‘Ubai bin Ka’b, one of Mohammed’s secretaries, has extra suras, and omits about 12 suras in the Qur’an today (The Fihrist p.61 footnotes 43-48). Abu Musa, of Basra, also had a text that was the same as ‘Ubai’s. (Suyuti, Itqan I, p. 65; Ibn Abi Dawud, Masahif, pp. 180-181, also Noeldeke, Geschichte des Quran's, pp. 33-38.)
Sura 114 is absent in Ibn Mas’ud’ version (The Fihrist p.57). Ibn Mas’ud was a personal secretary of Mohammed’s. Mohammed told other people to learn the Qur’an from Ibn Mas’ud and three others. (Bukhari vol.6 no.521). The omission of Suras 113 and 114 was not accidental. It is reported that Ibn Mas’ud said, "The two charm-Suras [113, 114] are not of the Book of God!" []
What Muslims call the Satanic verses are in Sura 53. According to the following sources, Mohammed originally recited Sura 53:19-20 as: "Have ye seen Lat, and ‘Uzza, And another, the third (goddess), Manat? These are the exalted cranes (intermediaries) Whose intercession is to be hoped for." (original) vs. "Have ye seen Lat, and ‘Uzza, And another, the third (goddess), Manat? What! For you the male sex, And for him, the female? Behold, such would be Indeed a division Most unfair."
Here are earlier Muslim writers who documented this.

Al-Wahidi/Wakidi (died 207/823 A.D.) wrote Asbab al-Nozul.
Ibn Sa’ad/Sa’d (died 230/845 A.D.), was aware of al-Wahidi’s work, but he himself was a biographer who wrote a 15-volume Kitab al Tabaqat al Kabir.
Ibn Isaq/Ishaq (died 145/767 or 151/773 A.D.) was a Shafi’ite Sunni who later started his own short-lived school. He wrote Sirat Rasullallah (The Life of Allah’s Prophet)
Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (died 923 A.D.) was a Shafi’ite Sunni who wrote a 38-volume Islamic History of the world until 915 A.D. He has been titled "the sheikh of commentators". He writes in volume 6 p.108-110,
Abu Ma’shar from Chorassan (787-885 A.H.)
Ibn Abi Hatim
Ibn al-Mundhir
Ibn Hajar from Asqalaan (773-852 A.H)
Ibn Mardauyah
Musa ibn ‘Uqba
Zamakhshari’s famous commentary, on Sura 22:52. (1070-1143 A.D.)
The first six are according to The Book of the Major Classes, translated by S. Moinul ‘Haq.

Q: Why was biblical criticism [allegedly] absent in the early church? Or there were critical questions and issues, as those that we find in modern ages, but were of marginal importance then?
A: It was not. The will both answer that question and compare it with the situation in Islam. To answer the question there are three parts. The early Christians’ concern with the content of scripture, their concern with the accuracy of scripture, and what were some critical issues of importance different than what we have today?
1. Content of scripture:
Christians became acutely aware of the importance of the content of scripture when the heretic Marcion started having his own Bible. Marcion died around 170 A.D. Here is how Tertullian felt about it. Note that a "sponge" was used like our modern eraser to remove ink.
Tertullian (205 A.D.) "For by the figure of the permanency of a human covenant he was defending the divine testament. ‘To Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed. He said not ‘to seeds, ‘as of many; but as of one, ‘to thy seed, ‘which is Christ.’ Fie on Marcion’s sponge! But indeed it is superfluous to dwell on what he has erased,’ Five Books Against Marcion book 5 ch.4 p.435
2. Transmission of scripture.
Christians were also concerned about the accuracy of the Scriptures. They needed to be, because non-believers could (and did) falsify some things. Here are some examples.
Justin Martyr
(c.138-165 A.D.) says that the Jews misquoted Psalm 96 because the left out the phrase "from the wood". Actually, it is Justin who is mistaken here, and the Hebrew Masoretic text does not have "from the wood". Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew ch.73 p.235
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) "My friends, I now refer to the Scriptures as the Seventy have interpreted them; for when I quoted them formerly as you possess them, I made proof of you [to ascertain] how you were disposed." Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew ch.87 p.268
Irenaeus of Lyons
(182-188 A.D.) "this interpretation [of the seventy] of these Scriptures was made prior to our Lord’s descent [to earth], and came into being before the Christians appeared-for our Lord was born about the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus; but Ptolemy was much earlier, under whom the Scriptures were interpreted;-[since these things are so, I say, ] truly these men are proved to be impudent and presumptuous, who would now show a desire to make different translations, when we refute them out of these Scriptures, and shut them up to a belief in the advent of the Son of God." Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.21.3 p.452
(190-217 A.D.) says that heretics boldly falsified scripture. ch.3 p.602 "But as to those men who abuse the arts of the unbelievers to establish their own heretical doctrine, and by the craft of the impious adulterate the simple faith of the divine Scriptures, what need is there to say that these are not near the faith? For this reason is it they have boldly laid their hands upon the divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them. And that I do not state this against them falsely, any one who pleases may ascertain. For if any one should choose to collect and compare all their copies together, he would find many discrepancies among them. The copies of Asclepiades, at any rate, will be found at variance with those of Theodotus. And many such copies are to be had, because their disciples were very zealous in inserting the corrections, as they call them, i.e., the corruptions made by each of them. And again, the copies of Hermophilus do not agree with these; and as for those of Apollonius, they are not consistent even with themselves. For one may compare those which were formerly prepared by them with those which have been afterwards corrupted with a special object, and many discrepancies will be found. And as to the great audacity implied in this offence, it is not likely that even they themselves can be ignorant of that. For either they do not believe that the divine Scriptures were dictated by the Holy Spirit, and are thus infidels; or they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and what are they then but demoniacs? Nor can they deny that the crime is theirs, when the copies have been written with their own hand; nor did they receive such copies of the Scriptures from those by whom they were first instructed in the faith, and they cannot produce copies from which these were transcribed. And some of them did not even think it worth while to corrupt them; but simply denying the law and the prophets for the sake of their lawless and impious doctrine, trader pretexts of grace, they sunk down to the lowest abyss of perdition."
(198-220 A.D.) says that heretics corrupted scripture. On Prescription Against Heretics ch.17 p.251.
(235-245 A.D.) discusses manuscript variants in Homilies on Jeremiah homily 14 ch.3.1 p.137 and homily 16 ch.10.1. p.177
Origen (235-235 A.D.) discusses a variant in the Septuagint on Jeremiah 16:17. Homilies on Jeremiah homily 16 ch.5.2 p.172
Origen (c.227-240 A.D.) quotes Esther 4:22 as "in the Esther of the Septuagint" Origen’s Commentary on John book 2 ch.7 p.330.
(270-311/312 A.D.) "Since, then, it is clear, and all testify, that those who are born of adultery do come to perfection, we must not imagine that the Spirit was teaching respecting conceptions and births, but rather perhaps concerning those who adulterate the truth, who, corrupting the Scriptures by false doctrines, bring forth an imperfect and immature wisdom, mixing their error with piety.’" Banquet of the Ten Virgins discourse 2 ch.3 p.314
3. Critical issues:
The early church had some different issues than the modern church. Key things for them were how protect the flock from severe persecution, answering arguments from the various kinds of Greek philosophy, answering at least thirty different Gnostic groups, and showing how Greco/Roman and other types of paganism were false.
The Situation in Islam

In the Muslim world, let’s look at Qur’an criticism from the earliest time, subsequent scholars, and today.
From the earliest,
‘Aisha, one of Mohammed’s wives was concerned about the accuracy. Sura 2:208: Abu Yunus the freed slave of ‘Aisha transcribed a copy of the Qur’an for ‘Aisha. It was a somewhat different in Sura 2:208. "Abu Yunus, the freed slave of ‘A’isha said: ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) ordered me to transcribe a copy of the Qur’an for her and said: When you reach this verse: ‘Guard the prayers and the middle prayer’ (2:28) inform me; so when I reached it, I informed her and she gave me dictation (like this): Guard the prayer and the middle prayer and the afternoon prayer, and stand up truly obedient to Allah. ‘A’isha (Allah be please with her) said: This is how I have heard from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)" Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.475 p.340
vol.6 book 60 ch.9 no.8 p.10 "’Umar said, ‘Our best Qur’an reciter is Ubai and our best judge is ‘Ali; and in spite of this, we leave some of the statements of Ubai because Ubai says, ‘I do not leave anything that I have heard from Allah’s Apostle while Allah said, ‘What ever verse (Revelations) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten but We bring a better one or similar, to it ... (2: 106)"
The Tenth Century
Compendium of Islamic Literature called The Fihrist (p.62) says, "According to the statement of Ubayy ibn Ka’b the total number of the verses of the Qur’an is 6,210. The total of the surahs of the Qur’an according to the statement of ‘Ata ibn Yasar is 114 its verses are 6,170, its words 77,439, and its letters 323,015. According to the statement of ‘Asim al-Jahdari, there are 113 surahs. The total number of verses of the Qur’an as stated by Yahya ibn al-Harith al--Dhamari is 6,226, while its letters are 321,530." [The original quote spelled out the numbers.]
Today the Qur’an has approximately 78,090 Arabic words; see for more details. Compared to 77,439 words, that is at a minimum 651 words different.
‘Ubai bin Ka’b, one of Mohammed’s secretaries, has extra suras, and omits about 12 suras in the Qur’an today (The Fihrist p.61 footnotes 43-48). Abu Musa, of Basra, also had a text that was the same as ‘Ubai’s. (Suyuti, Itqan I, p. 65; Ibn Abi Dawud, Masahif, pp. 180-181, also Noeldeke, Geschichte des Quran's, pp. 33-38.)
there are two standard Arabic texts, called Warsh and Hafs, and today there does not seem to be much concern about the small differences. But historically Muslims had larger concerns about more significant changes in the text.
Here are examples of differences between Warsh and Hafs.
Sura 2:119 "and do not ask!" (Warsh Narration. Approved by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments of Algeria) vs. "and you are not asked" (Hafs narration. King Fahd Complex .. Saudi Arabia) (
Sura 3:83 "you are returned" (Warsh Narration. Approved by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments of Algeria) vs. "they are returned" (Hafs narration. King Fahd Complex .. Saudi Arabia) (
But for Christians it is the message that is important, not the exact words. So, for example, if an army captures a town and has many captive women, they should be asking "how does God want me to be holy and please Him", not, "is there any uncertainty about the consonants".

Q: In the NT, why should we believe the Trinity, since the word is not found in the Bible?
A: The words "Old Testament", "New Testament", "atonement", and "Lord’s Supper" are not found in the Bible either, but we believe in those concepts, too. It is best not to quarrel about words, but to look at what is taught. If the concept of the Trinity is taught in the Bible, we should believe it. If the concept of the Trinity is against the Bible, we should not believe it. Agreed?
For what the concept of the Trinity entails, see the discussion on Matthew 28:19.
As a side note for Mormons, the term "eternal progression" is not in the Book of Mormon.
As a side note for Muslims, while the Qur’an has terms for one (wahed, wihdanea, ahd, fard, wahdo), the word Tawheed, (oneness), a central theological principle in Islam, is not in the Qur’an itself, either. However, just as you cannot use that fact to prove or disprove Tawheed to Muslims, you cannot use the absence of a technical theological word in the Bible to be proof or disproof of the Trinity. Other Muslim concepts that are not in the Qur’an are:
The Qur’an never says that Ishmael was almost sacrificed by Abraham. Rather, it mentions an unnamed son.
The modern Muslim idea that Mohammed was sinless is not in the Qur’an.
For Sunni Muslims, the entire concept of the Sunna, and following the accepted hadiths, some of which are acknowledged by Muslims as contradictory, is not in the Qur’an.
The idea that non-Muslims should be killed if they come to Mecca is not in the Qur’an.
The idea that Jews should be expelled from Mecca / Saudi Arabia is not in the Qur’an.
For Shi’ite Muslims, the whole concept of Imams, and all you basically have to do is obey the Imam to obey God is absent in the Qur’an. Of course, the martyrdoms of ‘Ali and Husain are not in the Qur’an.
Neither the Bible nor the Qur’an have the term "monotheism", but not using that word certainly does not prove monotheism is wrong.

Q: In the NT, where did we get the term "Trinity"?
A: The first person we know of to use the term Trinity (Triadus in Greek) was bishop Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) in his Letter to Autolycus book 2 ch.15 p.101.
Clement of Alexandria
also spoke of "the Holy Trinity" in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 5 ch.14 p.468
(c.213 A.D.) was the second we have record of using the term "Trinity" (Trinitas in Latin), in his letter Against Praxeas.
(225-235/6 A.D.) in Against the Heresy of One Noetus says, "And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified."
(225-254 A.D.) mentions the Trinity in Commentary on John book 6 ch.17 p.366.
(250/254-256/7 A.D.) from Rome wrote a 32-chapter book, Treatise on the Trinity.
Cyprian of Carthage
(256 A.D.) after quoting Jesus speaking Matthew 28:18-19, says "He [Jesus] suggests the Trinity, in whose sacrament the nations were to be baptized." Letters of Cyprian Letter 72 ch.5 p.380.
Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia to Cyprian of Carthage (
256 A.D.) mentions the Trinity. Epistles of Cyprian Letter 74 ch.11 p.393
Bishop Munnulus of Girba
mentions the Trinity and quotes Matthew 28:19 " the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" The Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) p.567
Bishop of Thenae quotes Matthew 28:19 " the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". The Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) p.568
Gregory Thaumaturgus
(240-265 A.D.) in A Declaration of Faith p.7 mentions the Father, Son, and he mentions the "Trinity" three times.
A Sectional Statement of Faith
(c.240-265 A.D.) (probably by Gregory Thaumaturgus, but it does not say) mentions the Trinity in ch.5 p.41 ch.7p.7; ch.18 p.45; ch.20 p.45
Dionysius of Alexandria
(246-265 A.D.) mentions the Trinity by name twice in Letter 4 ch.8 p.93.
Dionysius bishop of Rome
(259-269 A.D.) "For these [true disciples] indeed rightly know that the Trinity is declared in the divine Scripture, but that the doctrine that there are three gods is neither taught in the Old nor the New Testament." Dionysius of Rome Against the Sabellians (ANF vol.7) ch.1 p.365
(270-311/312 A.D.) "For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreate, without end, and to which there is no successor. For neither will the Father ever cease to be the Father, nor again the Son to be the Son and King, nor the Holy Ghost to be what in substance and personality He is. For nothing of the Trinity will suffer diminution, either in respect of eternity, or of communion, or of sovereignty." Oration on Psalms ch.5 p.397. (See also The Banquet of the Ten Virgins discourse 8 ch.10 p.338 and ch.11 p.339)
Alexander of Alexandria
(313-326 A.D.) says that the third day after His death Jesus rose again, bringing to us the knowledge of the Trinity." Epistles on the Arian Heresy Epistle 5 p.302
Near miss in Justin Martyr
(his First Apology 147-151 A.D.) "...and we reasonably worship Him [Jesus], having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, and we will prove." First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.13 p.166-167
Near miss in Athenagoras
(177 A.D.) "Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we recognize also a multitude of angels and ministers,..." A Plea for Christians ch.10 p.133
Near miss in Peter of Alexandria
(306,285-311 A.D.) (partial) "the Creator and Lord of every visible and invisible creature, the only-begotten Son, and the Word co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and of the same substance with them, according to His divine nature, our Lord and God, Jesus Christ,..." fragment 5 p.282
These references, from Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and other places, show that the term "Trinity" was widespread more than a hundred years prior to the Council at Nicea in 325 A.D.
As a side note, a "near miss" is that while Ignatius (died either 107 or 116 A.D.), the disciple of John the apostle, does not use the term "Trinity", he often calls Jesus God. In the Second Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians chapter 9 says "An ye are prepared for the building of God the Father, and ye are raised up on high by the instrument of Jesus Christ, which is the cross; and ye are drawn by the rope, which is the Holy Spirit; and your pulley is your faith, and your love is the way which leadeth up on high to God" (Ante-Nicene Fathers p.101)
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapters 57-65, also gives a very good explanation of the Trinity, and why we should worship Jesus, without actually using the word Trinity.

Q: The skeptic Bart Ehrman says, "In Jesus’ day there were lots of holy men such as Hanina ben Dosa and Honi the circle drawer. There were pagan holy men such as Apollonius of Tyana, a philosopher who could allegedly heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. He was allegedly supernaturally born and at the end of his life he allegedly ascended to heaven. Sound familiar? There were pagan demigods, such as Hercules, who could also bring back the dead." (Jesus, Interrupted p.172)
A: There is no ancient reference I am aware of claiming Hercules could bring back the dead. There were not "lots of men", only Hanina, Honi, and Apollonius of Tyana. Mohammed was 600 years later, and it would not be seemly for most Muslims if Jesus did miracles and Mohammed did none. So, this leaves only Hanina, Honi, and Apollonius.
The only thing Honi did was pray for rain, and draw a circle and told God that he would not step outside the circle until it rained. Eventually it rained.
Here is a list of Hanini’s miracles. While these miracles cannot be verified, even if true they in no way compare to the miracles of Jesus.
1) Hanini prayed for two sick people, one of whom had a fever, and both of them recovered.
2) Once Hanina prayed that the rain would stop and it stopped right away. When he returned home, he prayed that the rain would return, and it started raining again.
3) Hanaina and his wife had no bread, so they turned on the oven anyway so their neighbors wouldn’t know. When a neighbor came over, there miraculously was bread in the oven.
4) Hanina’s wife persuaded Hanini to ask for some of his eternal reward now, so God sent down a golden table leg. His wife then had a dream that in heaven people ate on three-legged tables, but Hanini’s only had two, so she prayed that God take back the leg, and God made it disappear.
5) A table receded from Hanini until he tithed the spices in the food.
6) Hanina’s donkey would not even eat untithed food.
7) Hanina wanted to bring a large, polished rock to Jerusalem. Five workers mysteriously appeared to carry it with him for 5 pieces of money. They instantly carried it to Jerusalem and then disappeared.
The telling thing about Hanina is that these miracles allegedly occurred during the first century A.D.. These things could have been invented by Jewish people to counter the miracles of Jesus.
We know almost nothing about Apollonius of Tyana except what his biographer, Flavius Philostratus wrote in c.170-c.247 A.D. He was commissioned to write this biography by the wife of an emperor who was trying to stamp out Christianity. Here is a brief synopsis of Apollonius’ alleged miracles.
Apollonius sees the chains of Prometheus and drives away a hobgoblin. Later in Ephesus a plague breaks out. Apollonius identifies an old beggar as the plague demon and tells the townspeople to stone him to death. He talks with Achilles’ ghost, exorcises a demon, predicts future events, and rescues a man from a female vampire. Under Nero a scroll listing the charges against Apollonius is mysteriously blanked out. He later gets the better of an Ethiopian Satyr. He cures a man of his love for a statue of Aphrodite. Later in prison under Domitian prison Apollonius miraculously shook off his fetters. After he is acquitted, Apollonius travels to Asia Minor, where he miraculously sees Domitian’s murder. He leaves this earth by ascending from a temple in Crete. Afterwards, he appears to a man in a dream, showing that souls are immortal.
Christians were persecuted under the Emperor Septimus Severus in 202 A.D. The first known British Christian martyrs were killed in 209 A.D. Philostratus was a member of the Roman Imperial court of Septimus Severus after 202 A.D., and he went with the Emperor and his wife to Britain where the emperor fought the Picts until his death in 211 A.D. The wife of Septimus Severus, Julia Domna, was his patron until she died in 217 A.D. She specifically commissioned Philostratus to write a biography of Apollonius of Tyana, who lived 150 years before. It is very probable that work was written to counter the growth of Christianity. The story is all told through the notebook of Apollonius’ disciple and constant companion Damis. All agree that this "Damis" was entirely fictional. So, a biography invented to counter Christianity, told through an admitted fictional disciple; these facts were irresponsibly forgotten by Ehrman when trying to raise doubts on Jesus’ miracles.
As for manuscript evidence of this fictional account, there are only 25 extant manuscripts. The earliest is from the 11th century, the next from the 12th, and the rest from the 14th through 16th centuries according to The Resurrection of Jesus p.178.

Q: In the NT, how do we know the books we have are the correct ones?
A: As General Introduction to the Bible p.423-425 points out, every single New Testament book was referred to prior to 150 A.D., with the exception of Philemon and 3 John.
Irenaeus of Lyons
(182-188 A.D.) made about 1,800 quotations and references from the New Testament, (except Philemon and 3 John) and his writings show the books in his New Testament were the same as ours today.
Clement of Alexandria
(193-217/220 A.D.) made about 2,400 quotations and references of every New Testament book except Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and possibly 3 John.
Cyprian of Carthage (
c.246-258 A.D.) made about 1,030 quotations and references from the New Testament. His quotes include every book except Philemon and 2 John, and possibly 3 John, which are the three shortest books in the New Testament.
For the preceding, see General Introduction to the Bible p.425-427 for more info.

Q: Which early church writers quoted from which books of the New Testament?
A: Here is a list of what I have found.
Early Christians Tell Who Wrote the N.T.

Cr 1 Clement (of Rome) (16 pgs) 96-98 A.D.
Ig Ignatius (21 pgs) c.110-117 A.D.
Ba Epistle of Barnabas (13 pgs) c.70-130 A.D.
Pa Papias disciple of John (2 pgs) 95-110 A.D.
-Wrote 6 volumes which have been lost
Di Didache (Teach. of 12 Disc.)(6 pgs) 60-120 A.D.
Dg Epistle to Diognetus (6 pgs) c.130-200 A.D.
Po Polycarp, disciple of John (4 pgs) c.150 A.D.
Jm Justin Martyr (119 pgs) c.138-165 A.D.
He Shepherd of Hermas (47 pgs) 115-155 A.D.
Th Theophilus [Antioch] (33 pgs)168-181/188 A.D.
-his harmony/commentary on the gospels is lost
Ae Athenagoras (34 pgs) c.177 A.D.
Mu Caius’ Muratorian Canon (3 pgs) 170-217 A.D.
Ir Irenaeus of Lyons (264 pgs) 182-188 A.D.
Te Tertullian [Rome] (830 pgs) 198-220 A.D.
Te5 5 Books in Reply to Marcion(24 pgs)c.207 A.D.
Ca Clement of Alexan. (424 pgs) 193-217/220 A.D.
Hi Hippolytus, (233 pgs) 225-235/6 A.D.
Or Origen (more than 622 pgs) 225-254 A.D.
Nv Novatian (39 pgs) 250-257 A.D.
an Treatise Against Novatian(7 pgs) c.255 A.D.
and Treatise on Rebaptism (11 pgs)
Cp Cyprian and friends (270 pgs) c.246-258 A.D.
Not shown are Melito of Sardis (d.177/180) [Mk,Lk,1Cor,1Th,Heb] and Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.).
= Books and quotes mentioned by name or by writer
= Books only mentioned as the words of Jesus / Savior
= Mentioned as scripture or by the apostle(s).
Q = quote of 1 or more verses. ½ = quote of ½ a verse
A = Allusion. 4G = Mention of 4 gospels, - = no reference

Writer Cr Ig Ba Pa Di Dg Po JM He Th Ae Ir Mu CA Te Te5 Hi Or Nv an Cp
New T. - - - - - - - - - - - W - W W W W W W W W
Gospels - - - - - W - W - W - W W W W W W W W - W
Mt J Q Q W Q A Q J Q Q Q W 4 G W W W J W J J W
Mk J - ½ W - - ½ J - - - W W W W W W - W W
Lk ½ - Q - Q - Q J Q Q Q W W W W W J W W J W
Jn - A A ½ - A - J - W - W W W W W W W W W W
Acts ¼ - A - - - ½ A ½ Q - W W W W - Q W ¾ W W
Rom Q - - - - - Q - - Q - W W W W - W W W Q W
1 Cor W ¼ - S - - Q - - Q S W W W W - S W W Q W
2 Cor - A A - - - A - - - - W W W W - W W W - W
Gal - - - - - A ¼ - - - - W W W W W W W W - W
Eph - W - - - - Q - - Q - W W S W - S W W S W
Php - - - - - A W - - - - W W W W - W W S S W
Col A - A - - - - - - - Q W W W W - W W S - W
1 Th A Q - - - - Q - - - - W W W W - W W - - W
2 Th - - - - - - ½ - - - - W W S W - W W - - W
1 Tim A ¼ A - - A Q - - Q Q W W W W - W W W - W
2 Tim - - - - - - Q - - - - W W W W - Q W - - W
Titus ½ A - - - - - - - - ½ W W W W - ½ W Q - W
Phm - - - - - - - - - - - - W - W - - W - - -
Heb Q - Q - - - - - ½ Q - W - W Q - A W - S A
Jms Q - A - - - - - Q - - Q - Q Q - - Q - ½ -
1 Peter Q A - A ½ A Q - ½ - - W - W W - Q W - - W
2 Peter A - A - - - - - - - - ¼ - ½ Q - W X - - W
1 John - ½ - A - - ½ - - Q - I W W W - W W W W W
2 John - - - - - - - - - - - W W W A - - m - - W
3 John - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - m - - -
Jude - - - - - - - - - - - A W W W - W W - Q -
Rev Q - - ? - - - W - - - W W W W W W W - W W
Writer Cr Ig Ba Pa Di Dg Po JM He Th Ae Ir Mu CA Te Te5 Hi Or Nv an Cp
Time 96-98 A.D. 150 A.D. 168 A.D. 200 A.D. 225 A.D. 258 A.D.
Pages 151 pages 124 pgs 267 pgs 835 pgs 424 225 >622 57 pgs 270

Q: Were there any writings that are thought to be from Jesus himself? I thought I had heard of some that the church denounced.
A: The Book of Revelation is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" so some see that it is claimed to be (verbally) by Jesus, though of course it was John the apostle that wrote it down. We have to agree with Ephesians 4 that says, "the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone." Christianity "goes to the teaching of Jesus" through the prophets and the apostles (including Paul) that Jesus selected.
Other than Revelation, in my studies I am not aware of any ancient writings that claimed to be authored by Jesus himself. There are some modern writings that claimed to be lost works of Jesus, but of course the early church never denounced these, as they have not been written yet.
What you might be thinking of is a number of works that claimed to be by various apostles and others that were frauds. The Gnostics in particular used the Gospel of Thomas, except that they had different versions of it. In addition, here is a partial list of other books that were frauds and the church rejected:
The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (its modern name)
The History of Joseph the Carpenter
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior
The Gospel of Nicodemus
The Gospel of Thomas (Gnostic) (140-200 A.D.)
The Report of Pontius Pilate
The Giving Up of Pontius Pilate
Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
Acts of Paul and Thecla
The Letter of Pontius Pilate concerning our Lord Jesus Christ = The Acts of Pontius Pilate (not existing today but mentioned by Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) and Tertullian (198-220 A.D..)
The Acts of Barnabas (different from the Medieval forgery the Gospel of Barnabas)
The Acts of Philip
Acts of Andrew and Matthias
Acts of Peter and Andrew
The Book of John concerning the Falling Asleep of Mary
The Passing of Mary
One of my "favorites" is the Acts of Peter. If I recall correctly, Peter went to an inn and his room had many bedbugs, which prevented him from sleeping, and he had to preach the next day. Thus he commanded the bedbugs to leave the room, and they obliged. The next morning he opened the door, and there was a line of bedbugs waiting to go back into the room. Peter commanded them to go back into the bed, and they did.
One reason we can be sure of the writings that were genuine, as well as the teachings and character of Jesus, apart from the Bible, is the early Christians.
Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the Corinthians in 96-98 A.D. His basic message was "why aren’t you doing the things Paul told you to do 50 years ago?" Clement’s letter is very insightful, and it is so good that a few Christians mistakenly thought it should be a part of Scripture. I have found no false things in the letter except for one point. Clement apparently believes the legend of the Arabian phoenix living for a thousand years, then burning itself to death, and then rising from the ashes, to be true. Ignatius also wrote extensively, and he was a disciple of the apostle John. Papias was another disciple of the apostle John who wrote many volumes, unfortunately all of them have been lost. We only have some excerpts preserved by Eusebius of Caesarea (fl.325 A.D.). The martyr Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was another disciple of the apostle John, and he had a disciple, Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.), who wrote the work Against Heresies documenting the over 30 differing schools of Gnostics. He made about 1,800 quotations and references from every book the New Testament, (except Philemon and 3 John) and his writings show the books in his New Testament were the same as ours today.
We have a third category of literature, and that is more recent works that have succeeded in being thought genuine in the eyes of some. One such collection of works is called The False Decretals. These were written right before the Reformation, probably originating in Spain. They said things like Peter passed down the keys of Heaven to a "Pope" after him. Another work is the Gospel of Barnabas which was written by what was thought to be a disgruntled monk who converted to Islam. It fails to recognize that the culture of Jesus’ time was not the culture of Italy in the Middle Ages, with knights, shoelaces, and such. Furthermore, while it has teaching that Christians consider heresy, it has teaching that orthodox Islam would consider heresy too. Nonetheless, since it has Jesus prophesying Mohammed coming after him, I have heard it is the #1 selling religious book in some Muslim countries.
While the early post-apostolic church did not "write" scripture, we are indebted to them for recognizing for us what was scripture. Every single book in the New Testament was referred to by the early church writers, prior to 150 A.D., with the possible exception of two very short books, Philemon and 3 John.
Clement of Alexandria
(193-217/220 A.D.) made about 2,400 quotations and references of every New Testament book except Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and possibly 3 John.
Cyprian of Carthage (
c.246-258 A.D.) made about 1,030 quotations and references from the New Testament. His quotes include every book except Philemon and 2 John, and possibly 3 John, which are the three shortest books in the New Testament.
in Against Heresies p.428 chapter 11 v.8 (written 182-188 A.D.) says that like the four zones of the world and the four principal winds, there are neither fewer nor more than four gospels. He mentions them in other places as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
See A General Introduction to the Bible and The Origin of the Bible for more info.

Q: The skeptic Bart Ehrman makes the unsupported claim that "If Matthew, who wrote some twenty-five or thirty years after Paul, every read any of Paul’s letters, he certainly did not find them inspiring, let alone inspired." Jesus, Interrupted p.89 "Paul thought that followers of Jesus who tried to keep the law were in danger of losing their salvation. Matthew thought that followers of Jesus who did not keep the law, and do so even better than the most religious Jews, would never attain salvation. Jesus, Interrupted p.90
A: Matthew his Gospel of Jesus Christ did not write about Paul because his topic was Jesus Christ. One could also make an equally ineffective argument about Luke in his gospel not knowing anything about Paul either, - but only if we did not know anything about the book of Acts.

Q: The skeptic Bart Ehrman writes, "It comes as a surprise to some readers to learn that this kind of anti-Judaism did not exist in the Roman, Greek, or any other world before the coming of Christianity and is therefore a Christian invention. To be sure, some Roman and Greek authors maligned the Jews for what seemed bizarre customs .... But Roman and Greek authors maligned everyone who was not Greek or Roman, and the Jews were not singled out. Until Christianity appeared." (Jesus, Interrupted p.244)
A: This statement by someone accepted as a scholar is quite surprising indeed. This certainly would be a surprise to the Jews killed by the Seleucid Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Jews who saw the Roman Pompey desecrated the Holy of Holies in 63 B.C. It was only the Jews who were expelled from Rome under Nero.
Ehrman is wrong here in so many ways, I am mystified as to why he makes such a major blunder and still be considered to have a scholarly grasp of ancient Jewish history.
a) Christians were not anti-Semitic any more than they were "anti-Italian" or "anti-Greek". Saying a religion is not correct is not being against the people. For example, there were 17 pre-Nicene Christian writers who wrote the Judaism was wrong. (That is not counting Clement of Alexandria who warned against just the Pharisees.) But there were 19 pre-Nicene Christian writers who wrote that the Greco-Roman gods were wrong. Saying that some people believe someone that is wrong does not mean you hate them or are prejudiced against them. Ehrman says that conservative Christians are wrong. But does criticism of conservative Christians automatically mean someone must hate us? If he would deny that, then one cannot use the argument of saying the Jews believed wrong to call it prejudice.
b) There are no instances of persecution of Jews by pre-Nicene Christians. The first instance I of persecution of Jews by Christians, was the Emperor Constantine, who non-violently closed Jewish synagogues as well as pagan temples, to encourage his subjects to go to churches instead. It apparently worked to a large degree, and some have said that Christianity has not fully recovered since.
c) Paul and the others loved the Jews. Paul says, in Romans 10:1 "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." He is much stronger, though in Romans 9:1-4a, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites," By his example, Paul is showing us the love we should have for Jewish people. As for any alleged "second-class status" of Jewish people, Paul speaks against this in Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.) (NKJV)
d) There was anti-Semitism prior to the Romans.
I don’t know if Bart Ehrman is familiar with a Seleucid Emperor named Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus tried to violently stamp out Judaism, and the Maccabean revolt was the Jewish reaction to this. The book of Esther talks of the anti-Semitic Haman and the Persian people who agreed to kill the Jews.
e) There was anti-Semitism prior to Christianity. Pontius Pilate was placed in his position through the influence of his mentor, the anti-Semitic Sejanus. Sejanus was executed by Tiberius on October 9, 31 A.D. Pilate, who governed from (26-36 A.D.) was the fifth Roman governor of Juda since 6 A.D. according to the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.874.
f) There was anti-Semitism by non-Christians. A Greek named Apion wrote a book, Against the Jews, and Josephus’ History in part was an answer to Apion’s book.

Q: Ehrman writes, "For Paul, faith meant having a trusting acceptance of Christ’s death in order to be put into a right standing with God. It is a relational term, meaning something like ‘trust.’ In the Pastoral Epistles the word means something else; the set of beliefs and ideas that make up the Christian religion (Titus 1:13). It is not a relational term but a term that specifies a set of Christian teachings, the content of what has to be believed – which is how the term comes to the used in later Christian contexts. Thus, this is an example of how the Pastoral Epistles appear to stem from a later, non-Pauline setting (Jesus, Interrupted p.130).
A: Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:13 and other verses prove that Ehrman does not know what he is talking about in one way, and 1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 3:15, and Titus 3:15 prove that Ehrman is wrong in a second way. Paul shows both aspects of faith in both his earlier letters (epistles) and his later, pastoral letters.
A. Faith meaning doctrinal beliefs:
A1. Paul’s earlier epistles (contrary to Ehrman)
Gal 1:23
"They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
Eph 4:1
"one Lord, one faith, one baptism"
(Ehrman agrees that books below teach faith is a set of doctrinal beliefs)
Eph 4:13
"until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,"
A2. Paul’s pastoral epistles (Ehrman would agree)
1 Tim 4:6
"...truths of the faith"
Tt 1:13
"Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth."
Tt 2:2
"sound in faith"
There are verses where faith means truth or doctrine in both Paul’s early letters and the pastoral epistles.
B. Faith meaning trusting in general
B1. Paul’s earlier epistles (Ehrman would agree)
Rom 1:17
"will live by faith"
Rom 3:25
"faith in his [Jesus’] blood"
Rom 4
Abraham being justified by faith
Gal 2:16
"justified by faith in Christ"
Gal 3:2b
"hearing of faith"
Gal 3:8
"justify the nations by faith"
Gal 3:9
"those of faith"
Gal 3:12
"just shall live by faith"
Gal 3:22
"promise by faith of Jesus Christ"
Gal 3:24
"justified by faith"
Gal 3:25
"but faith coming"
Gal 3:26
"through faith in Christ Jesus"
Gal 5:5
"hope of righteousness out of faith"
Eph 1:1
"faithful in Christ Jesus"
Eph 1:15
"your faith in the Lord Jesus"
Eph 3:17
"through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts"
B2. Paul’s pastoral epistles (contrary to Ehrman)
1 Tim 1:5
"I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Tim 3:15
"which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
Tt 3:15
"Greet those who love us in the faith."
C. Faith can be taken either or both ways
C1. Paul’s earlier epistles
1 Cor 15:1-2,14,17
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead." ... (17) "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile..." (This emphasizes the doctrines of Christ’s resurrection as well as Christ’s death.)
Gal 3:7
"those of faith"
Gal 3:13
"the law is not of faith"
Gal 3:23
"before the coming of faith"
Eph 1:15
"hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus"
Eph 2:8
"by grace you have been saved, through faith"
C2. Paul’s pastoral epistles (these can be taken either way)
2 Tim 2:18
"wandered away from the truth. ... they destroy the faith of some"
Tt 1:4
"son in our common faith"

Q: Since God does not have a physical body, how can Jesus be the Son of God? Muslims have claimed this is a key error of Christianity.
A: Christians do NOT believe Jesus was the Son of God in a crude physical or sexual sense. Rather this term is an expression of deep meaning of how Jesus is different from every created being. Shi’ite Muslims have a slightly similar concept. When they say ‘Ali is the finger of God, they do not believe that God has ten fingers like people do. Rather, this is an expression with a deeper meaning for them.

Q: I am bothered by an answer that you gave in your Bible Query saying that Jesus is God and that is simply not true. Jesus never claimed to be God. He is the son of God, the Messiah. It is wrong for you to mislead others because you sacrifice their salvation. Please read these scriptures and please change your answer.
John 14:1-4 shows a difference between Father and Son.
In Luke 18:19 Jesus says himself that no one is good but God alone when someone calls him good. He separated himself again.
In Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36 Christ himself says that no one knows when the end will come only God and not even him.
In Matthew 23 8-10 Christ himself makes the distinct difference between a teacher, a leader, and the Father.
Matt 5:16 says that the Father is in Heaven.
Acts 4:12 says that salvation is through Christ, but God gave Christ to us.
Hebrews 13:21, 1 Peter 2:19-25, 1 John 2:2-6 and 1 John 2:23 all divide God and Christ. God is the Father, the Giver, the Creator. Christ is the Messiah, the Sacrifice, the Son.
In Ex 20:3, Dt 6:4-5, Dt 32:39 God says that you should no other Gods except Him. It is a sin to make Christ a God or call Christ God. God is God alone and Christ is the Messiah. He is the lamb of God. He is God’s son who was created in order to set an example of what a perfect person should be. Human kind needed a flesh example of perfection and love. Jesus is that example. He was a perfect human with divine knowledge and God lived within him. When he said that the Father and I are one he said that was because he dwelled in God and God dwelled in us. It was in perfect union with God and he was sent to us to let us know that we could be in perfect union with God also. He never claimed to be the heavenly Father and it is a great sin to mislead others into thinking so. There are many scriptures that makes a huge division between God and Christ yet I cannot recall reading one scripture anywhere that Christ said that he was God.

A: I appreciate your frank message. I certainly do not want to mislead others about their salvation. Hopefully we will be "bothered" where we are in falsehood and find rest when we agree in the truth. You brought up so many points in your short message. I would like to take your 11 points one at a time, so that we can see where can agree or disagree with each other.
1. We must have no other gods,
as you mentioned, as Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; 32:39 command. Romans 1:23,25 says that one of the sins of godless people was that they worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator. We should not worship or serve as a God any angel or other created being. Assuming Jesus was not God, and someone called Jesus God, do you agree that this would be a very serious sin?
2. Thomas the disciple
called Jesus God in John 20:28. Thomas even went further than that. John 20:28 actually says that Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus replied to Thomas, "Because you have seen men, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus has no hint of rebuke toward Thomas. Indeed, the only remotely negative thing Jesus said is that those who have not seen Jesus in person and believe (this about Jesus) are more blessed than those who have seen Jesus and believe this. Now either
a) Thomas was wrong, and he sinned by calling Jesus God, and perhaps Jesus sinned by accepting this and not rebuking Thomas, or
b) Thomas was right, and Jesus was right to affirm what Thomas said.
Do you agree that Thomas must have been right here?
3. Distinct but not separate:
Some things can be separate, with no commonality. Some things can be distinct, with some things different and some things common. For example, the three leaves of a clover are distinct, in that they are three lobes. Yet they are not separate, because they are joined in the middle. (This illustration first came from Patrick of Ireland, a really exemplary believer who lived about 400 A.D.) Anyway, I agree that many of the verses you bring up do show a difference between the Father and the Son. Proving the Father and Son are two distinct persons does not mean they are totally separate. At the very least, they share a name, for we are baptized in the name (not names) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 28:19.
The Christian writer Ambrose of Milan (378-381 A.D.) in his work, Of the Holy Spirit book 1 chapter 13, wrote more on the sharing of the divine names. See The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2nd Series p.110-111 for more info.
They have the same nature (Philippians 2:5)
They are the same honor (John 5:23)
The Father and Jesus "own" all in common. John 16:15;17:10.
On earth the Father lived in Jesus. John 10:38;14:10-11.
On earth Jesus was in the Father. John 10:38;14:11
If you really know Jesus, then you know the Father and have seen the Father. John 14:7-9
No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. John 14:6; 6:45; ~8:24; Acts3:12
Both are rightfully worshipped (Hebrews 1:6)
Both are rightfully called God (John 1:1; 20:28, Hebrews 1:8,9)
Both are prayed to (Acts 7:7:59-60)
Everything in the world was created through both of them (John 1:3, 10, Colossians 1:16)
The fullness of deity is in Jesus (Colossians 1:19).
They are one in spirit, love, and purpose. To truly obey one is to obey the other.
So, do you agree that they are distinct, but they do have some things in common where they are not separate?
Oneness Pentecostalism is wrong: The previous point is important, because there is a heresy called Modalism, of which Oneness Pentecostalism is one modern form, which teaches that the Father, Son (Christ), and Spirit are the same in every way. The verses of Jesus’ baptism, as well as the verses you brought up (John 14:1-4, Matt 5:16, 1 John 2:23, etc.) prove that Oneness Pentecostalism is wrong. I think we can agree on that.
Christ our Teacher does not disprove the Trinity: I disagree somewhat with your conclusion on Matthew 23:8-10, because since Christ is our Teacher, does that mean we are to refuse to learn anything from the Holy Spirit or what God the Father has revealed in nature of God’s word? Of course we can agree that is not the case. However, I think you were trying to strengthen your point that there is a difference between the Father and the Son, and I already agree with that.
6. Salvation is a work of God!
By the way, from Acts 4:12 and 1 John 2:2-6, is our salvation a work of man or a work of God? Our salvation is a gift from God. It would be a work of man, since Jesus was a man, if Jesus were merely a man.
7. Jesus and God:
I think I sufficiently showed that while the Father and Jesus are different, that is not a problem. However, this does not yet answer the distinction between Jesus and God that Hebrews 13:20-21 and other verses show. (I do not think 1 Peter 2:19-25 shows this, but other verses do, so this is a moot point.). Remember that the term elohim (God/god) has at least four different meanings in the Bible. Jesus acknowledged there was more than one meaning in John 10:34-39, where He quotes Psalm 82:6. Here are the meanings in the Bible:
Those who are called gods, even idols. 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Genesis 31:30,33
The Father. Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:2-3,17, Hebrews 1:9 (2nd occurrence) etc.
Jesus. Hebrews 1:9 (1st occurrence); John 1:1,19: Hosea 1:7; Isaiah 7:14; 1 John 5:11,12 vs. 21; Colossians 2:9 and Matthew 1:23
The Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9-16; Luke 1:35; 1 John 4:12,13,15-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16 vs. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Acts 5:4
8. Verses showing Jesus is God:
You say you cannot recall one scripture where Jesus said that He was God. Besides Thomas saying so in John 20:28, the writer of Hebrews saying so in Hebrews 1:8,9, and John the apostle called Jesus God in the end of John 1:1. Jesus Himself claimed to be God in John 8:58. Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!". The word "I am," was the divine name of God. Now the Jews either understood Jesus’ communication correctly when they picked up stones to stone Him, or else the misunderstood Jesus’ communication. Do you agree?
9. Only God is good:
In Luke 18:19, since the man threw around the word "good" so casually, and did not recognize Jesus as God, Jesus questioned why He was throwing that word "good" around so freely. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd in John 10:11. You yourself mentioned that Jesus was an example of perfection and love, and a perfect human. Since Jesus was good, and Luke 18:19 was not a denial that Jesus was good, Luke 18:19 was not a denial that Jesus was God either. Do you agree?
10. Jesus, on earth, did not know when He would return.
In Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36, you observe that not even Jesus knew the time when He would return. That is true of Jesus, - on earth. Philippians 2:7-8 said that Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself when He came to earth. On earth, Jesus did not utilize His own power or knowledge, but depended on God the Father. Jesus even prayed that His glory would be restored to Him in John 17:5.
11. The early Christians taught that Jesus was God too.
It is wrong to mislead others about the truth (or falsehood) of Jesus’ divinity. You would think that such an important thing would be made clear by the apostles. Jesus being God is not just "some novel thing" modern people thought up. Ignatius, the disciple of John the apostle, in his letter to Polycarp (ch.3) writes about the Lord’s second coming: "Look for Him that is above the times, Him who has no times, Him who is invisible, Him who for our sakes became visible, Him who is impalpable [beyond touch], Him who is impassable [beyond passion], Him who for our sakes suffered, Him who endured everything in every form for our sakes." So, Ignatius understood that God the Son was the visible, temporal appearance of the invisible, timeless God the Father. In Ephesians 7 Ignatius talks of Christ as God Incarnate. He goes on to say that Jesus was "sprung from Mary as well as God, first subject to suffering then beyond it"
Likewise, Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) also wrote about this. Here is what He said in Against the Heresy of One Noetus chapter 14 p.228. It says, "If, then the Word was with God and was also God what follows? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods but of one; of two Persons however and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One but there are two Persons because there is also the Son; and then there is the third the Holy Spirit."
Do you agree that apart from the Bible, the teaching that Jesus is God was given as early as the disciples of the apostles?
if I am not mistaken, I think I answered every single point you brought up. Please let me know if I missed anything, or if you thought my logic was wrong on any points. I agree with you that it would be a sin to call Christ God, if Christ was not actually God. However, do you agree it would be a sin to say Christ is not God if in fact Christ was God?

Q: How can the Father, Son, and Spirit all be God, since the Old Testament so strongly emphasized there is only One God?
A: First of all, the complete description of the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not only something God has not revealed to us yet, but if He had completely revealed it, probably would be beyond our understanding. Imagine for a second that there were beings living in a two-dimensional world, and you could communicate with them. How would you describe yourself? For starters, you might say that you were something they could understand, but not completely understand. For example, you would poke four of your fingers into their world, and say those four circles they saw actually are connected. The skeptics on that two-dimensional world could travel around each of the four circles, and since the fingers did not connect according to their understanding, conclude you were lying. On the opposite extreme, others could say that since they were connected, the distinctness of the four fingers was an illusion, and you really did not have any distinct fingers. Others might want to have a picture you, so they would draw strange pictures of four circles, or else four connected circles. You would tell them not to bother with the pictures, as they would not be even close to an adequate representation of you.
We may not be able to comprehend everything about the Triune God, but fortunately we do not have to try. We only have to learn what the Lord has revealed: There is only One God, we are only to worship, glorify, pray to, God, not any creatures that God created. Yet Bible shows both angels and men worshipping, glorifying, and praying to Jesus is worshipped in a proper way.
Here is a diagram that might help. Draw a circle in the center, labeled "God". Draw three circles around that circle, labeled as "The Father" on top, and "The Son" and "The Spirit" on each side. Connect each of the outer circles with the center circle using three lines. Label each line "is". Connect each outer circle with the other outer circles, and label the three lines "is not".
As mentioned in my previous email, sometimes when the word "God" is used in the Bible, it refers to God the Father. As you point out, when Jesus prayed to God, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was NOT praying to Himself. I find it somewhat humorous that I am reading your letter about this right now, because just two days ago I was writing a short article mentioning the false teaching Oneness Pentecostalism, where I make the very same point you are making. The word "God" does mean "God the Father" in many places in the Bible, including the phrase "your God" in Hebrews 1:9, as well as the phrase "when God" in Hebrews 1:6.
However, the word "God" means "God the Son" in many places too. Let’s look at Hebrews 1:8-9 again. Hebrews 1: says "But about the son he says, Your throne, O God,...".
I do not think people just began worshipping Christ out of any error, because the sinless angels themselves worshipped the Lamb (Jesus) in Revelation 5:12, saying "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Also, John the Apostle had a disciple, Ignatius. Ignatius left some writings, and he emphasized apparently what he had been taught, that Jesus was God.
Now in your previous letter, you stated that Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 32:39 prove that we should worship no other gods. In your latest letter, you have trouble struggling to get past the point in the Old Testament that there was only One God. Well, please don’t get past that. Hang on to that truth! Yet even the Old Testament hints that this is not the end of the story. Psalm 110:1 (the Old Testament verse most often quoted in the New Testament) says "The LORD says to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (NIV) Who is this "Son", this "second one" we should also call Lord? Of course, this is Jesus.
I suspect that the point at which you are confused is this: when the words "God" and "Lord" are used in the Bible, of the True God and true Lord, does the Bible always use these in the same way, or are these words like "judge" and "perfect" that have a couple of different meanings depending on the context. As long as you think "God" (when not referring to idols) always has the same meaning, and "Lord" always has the same meaning, you will be confused when you read certain verses. I suggest that "God" and "Lord" have different meanings depending on the verse.
Now we come to a paradox. Since there is only One God to be worshipped, and angels and men properly worshipped Jesus, how can that be? The only answer that addresses all of the "Jesus-glorifying verses" is that Jesus is One True God worthy of worship.
A closely related issue is the Bible saying that for us there is only one Lord (Ephesians 4:5). Yet is our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 12:3; John 20:25,28), or is our Lord the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17), or is our Lord the Father (Hebrews 7:21, 1 Peter 1:25, etc.)
1 Corinthians 7:35 says we are to have undivided devotion to the Lord. Does this mean we are to be devoted to Jesus, and forget about God the Father? - Of course not. The only answer is that God the Father is our "One Lord", but Jesus Christ and the Spirit also are part of our "One Lord".
Here is another paradox in the Bible. Since Jesus is the One True God, yet Jesus prayed to "His God", who is the God that is worthy of our worship? There are four possibilities: Only the Father. This cannot be correct, or else the angels were wrong to glorify Jesus, Stephen was wrong to pray to Jesus, Thomas was wrong to call Jesus ‘My Lord and My God’ and Jesus was wrong not to correct Him. Only Jesus. This cannot be correct, or else Jesus praying to God [The Father] and calling Him God would be wrong. Both are God and there are at least two gods. This cannot be correct, for God intended the Old Testament to emphasize to us that there is only One True God. Both are God, and there is only One True God. This answer is the most difficult to accept, because there is no exact analogy on earth. Your analogy of you and your parents is OK up to a point, but I do not like that as it makes "God" sort of a family surname, and I believe the Three are One in a much closer way than that. Yet not having a perfect analogy to God on earth, does not disqualify this answer as being correct. In fact, no other answer that I have seen not just "explains away all the Bible verses" but rather includes all the Bible verses. The concept of the Trinity emphasizes the distinctness of the Three, it also emphasizes the inseparability of the Three, and yet it also emphasizes there is only One God.
There is one thing you can say for idol gods. These "little guys", pretenders with petty whims and all-too-human foibles, are much simpler for the natural man to understand than the Holy, Almighty God who fills the heavens and the earth. I do think that over time many people have veered away from what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible. Here is another diagram for you. Draw a triangle and label the three points as "One God", "Three Persons", "Equal Nature". Now outside the triangle, on the line outside of "One God", write the opposite heresy "polytheism". Likewise, outside the triangle on the line opposite "Three Persons" write "Oneness heresies". Finally on the line opposite of "equal nature" write "Ebionites". The Ebionites were an early heresy that tried to combine the Jewish customs with Christianity. They recognized Jesus as the Messiah, did not recognize him as God.
Now one issue that needs to be brought up is: given that they are inseparable in some ways, and distinct in other ways, how are they inseparable, and how are they distinct?
They are one in love, purpose and obedience. In other words, you cannot obey one while disobeying another.
They are one in name, as we discussed.
They are one in nature. Neither the Father, Son, nor Holy Spirit are created beings. Similar to the fact that I can create objects, but my children came from me and my wife, the Son was begotten of the Father, not created by Him.
Is the Father greater than the Son? We have to answer that question in three different contexts.
Nature and Honor:
The Father and the Son are co-equal. Philippians 2:6 shows they have the same nature. John 5:23 "that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."
On earth,
Jesus was less than the Father. Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself of much of His glory (Philippians 2:7 John 17:5). Jesus learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8), got tired (John 4:6), did not know everything such as the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32), etc.
Even in Heaven,
the Father has a greater role than the Son. For example, in marriage the husband and wife are equal and have equal value, but they have different roles, and the husband has the role of the leader the wife should obey. Also in a family the parent has a different role than a child. Thus even in Heaven, as a father is the head of a son, God is the head of Christ. (Yes, God here refers to God the Father). (1 Corinthians 11:3) God the Father is also called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1:17. We have not said much about the Spirit so far, but the Holy Spirit has a role of interceding to the Father for us (Romans 8:26-27), and not the Father interceding to the Spirit.
By the way, someone else once asked if the Threeness of God is only a temporary thing. After Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire, will distinction between the Father, Son, and Spirit go away? The answer is that the distinctions within the Trinity are permanent, because Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (NIV)
Now I feel that what God has revealed about the Trinity is clear to me, but the point is that it be clear to you. One thing that might help is to make sure you practice the truth you know. Since the angels sang and praised Jesus in Revelation 5:9,10; 5:12; 7:10; 11:15), spend time singing to Jesus, praising Him. Since the angels worshipped Jesus in Hebrews 1:6, the Magi worshipped Jesus in Matthew 2:11, the disciples worshipped Him in Matthew 14:33, women worshipped Jesus in Matthew 28:9, and the blind man worshipped Jesus in John 9:38, you should worship Him too. So, worship Jesus as angels and others do, praise Him in song, pray to Jesus (Stephen did in Acts 7:59), and ask God to help you see and understand all the God has revealed in His wonderful Word.

Q: What are some differences between Greek culture and Roman?
A: The Greek athletes competed without clothes, were very tolerant of homosexual behavior, and they had a long cultural history of Athens and other cities. They fought each other a lot and could never really get united until the (technically) non-Greek Macedonians conquered all of them. On the other hand, the Romans were more prone to use torture, less concerned about fairness, and looked up to Greek culture, even though they conquered the Greeks. Both had brave soldiers, but the Romans were more inclined to assimilate those around them and create a united empire.

Q: How many verses and words are in the NT?
A: According to Wick Allison in That’s In the Bible? - The Ultimate Learn-As-You-Play Bible Quiz Book, (Dell Trade 1994) p.18, the King James Version New Testament has 7,959 verses and 198,000 words in English. Note that the King James Version has a few verses that are not in most Greek manuscripts.

Q: What is the manuscript evidence for the New Testament?
A: See the page on New Testament manuscripts Testament Manuscripts.html for the details.

Q: Which early writers referred to the New Testament as the New Testament?
A: Here is the list. If a writer mentions the Old Testament, but not the New, then a New Testament is implied. If it is just implied, the name is not in bold, and it says "Implied".
Justin Martyr
(c.138-165 A.D.) mentions "how the New Testament, which God formerly announced" Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.51 p.221.
Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.) (Implied) mentions the "Old Testament". This implies a New Testament. fragment 4 from the Book of Extracts vol.8 p.759
Irenaeus of Lyons
(182-188 A.D.) mentions the New Testament and the Old Testament in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 5 ch.34.1 p.563. He also mentions it on p.564
The Muratorian Canon (c.170 A,D.) ch.3 p.603 mentions the Old Testament which implies a New Testament.
Clement of Alexandria
(193-202 A.D.) "For God is the cause of all good things; but of some primarily, as of the Old and the New Testament;" The Stromata book 1 ch.5 p.305
(c.213 A.D.) "He is clearly defined to us in all Scriptures-in the Old Testament as the Christ of God, in the New Testament as the Son of God." Against Praxeas ch.24 p.620
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) mentions the New Testament in Tertullian’s Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.1 p.346.
(225-235/6 A.D.) refers to the New Testament in Fragments from Commentaries Commentary on Genesis 49:11 p.165
Asterius Urbanus
(c.232 A.D.) "fearful lest I should appear to any to be adding some new word or precept to the doctrine of the Gospel of the New Testament," The Exordium vol.7 ch.1 p.335
Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) (Implied) "The first law of God is the foundation of the subsequent law. Thee, indeed, it assigned to believe in the second law. Nor are threats from Himself, but from it, powerful over thee. Now astounded, swear that thou wilt believe in Christ; for the Old Testament proclaims concerning Him. For it is needful only to believe in Him who was dead, to be able to rise again to live for all time." Instructions of Commodianus ch.25 p.207
(225-254 A.D.) spoke of the New Testament and said there were only four gospels. Origen’s Commentary on John (225-231 A.D.) book 1 ch.1 p.299.
Origen (240 A.D.) refers to the New Testament. Commentary on the Song of Songs prologue p.56
(250-257 A.D.) mentions the Old Testament and New Testament in Novatian’s Treatise Concerning the Trinity ch.7 p.617. he also mentions the truth of both the Old and New Testaments in ch.17 p.627
Treatise On Rebaptism
(250/4-256/7 A.D.) ch.3 p.668 mentions the New Testament.
Cyprian of Carthage
(c.246-258 A.D.) mentions the Old Testament referring as we would understand it in many places. He says, "That another Prophet such as Moses was promised, to wit, one who should give a new testament, and who rather ought to be heard." Then he quotes Deuteronomy 18:18,19 as Deuteronomy. Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 18 p.512
Dionysius of Rome
(259-269 A.D.) says the Trinity is in Scripture but the doctrine of "three gods is neither taught in the Old nor in the New Testament." Against the Sabellians ch.1 vol.7 p.365
Victorinus of Petau
(martyred 304 A.D.) mentions the Old and New Testaments in his Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John p.345 He listed the letters of Paul as Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy and quotes 1 Timothy 3:15 in ch.16 p.345 He goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 15:53 on p.346
Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) (Implied) "I will bring forward to you, O virgins, from the Old Testament, written prophecy from the Book of Judges, to show that I speak the truth," Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 10 ch.2 p.348
Alexander of Alexandria
(313-326 A.D.) "And besides the pious opinion concerning the Father and the Son, we confess to one Holy Spirit, as the divine Scriptures teach us; who hath inaugurated both the holy men of the Old Testament, and the divine teachers of that which is called the New." Epistles on the Arian Heresy Letter 1 ch.12 p.296
(c.303-325 A.D.) "and regulated all things concerning the institutions of the New Testament; and this having been accomplished, a cloud and whirlwind enveloped Him, and caught Him up from the sight of men unto heaven." Manner in Which the Persecutors Died ch.2 p.311
(318-339/340 A.D.)
After Nicea

(4th century) mentions there are neither two old testaments nor two new testaments. (The Christian Diodorus is speaking) Disputation with Manes ch.45 p.220
Anatolius of Alexandria (270-280 A.D.) (implied) refers to the "Old Testament" which implies a New. The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria ch.8 p.148
(367 A.D.) mentions the "New Testament" in Athanasius’ Festal Letter 39 ch.5 p.552
Cheltenham Canon
(=Mommsen Catalogue) (ca.360-370 A.D.)
(350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia
(357-379 A.D.) refers to the New Testament in Letter 42 ch.3 p.144-145.
Cyril of Jerusalem
(c.349-386 A.D.) mentions the Old Testament and New in Lecture 2.4 p.8 and 3.6 p.15
The Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381 [or 363] A.D.) canon 59 p.158 mentions the Old and New Testaments.
The Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381 A.D.) canon 60 p.159 lists the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Canon 59 p.158 says only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments may be read in church.
Gregory of Nyssa (382-383 A.D.) (Implied) mentions the Old Testament Against Eunomius book 11 ch.5 p.238
Ambrose of Milan
(370-390 A.D.) mentions the Old and New Testaments in Of the Christian Faith book 1 ch.8.57 p.210
Gregory Nanzianzus
(330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona
(342-379/392 A.D.) mentions the New Testament in On Penitents ch.4.1 p.74
the blind (398 A.D.) refers to the Old and New Testament. Commentary on Zechariah 8 p.201
Syriac Book of Steps (Liber Graduum)
(350-400 A.D.)
Epiphanius of Salamis
(360-403 A.D.) mentions the Old and New Testaments. The Panarion section 3 scholion 1 and 5 p.334
Commentary on the Apostles Creed (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom
(martyred 407 A.D.)
Council of Carthage
(393-419 A.D.)
(317-420 A.D.) mentions the New Testament in letter 53.9 p.101.
Augustine of Hippo
(388-430 A.D.) mentions the New Testament in The City of God book 17 ch.4 p.341; book 17 ch.6 p.344
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) mentions the New Testament in Commentary on Psalms p.405,521,531,681
John Cassian
(419-430 A.D.) The New Testament referred to by name in the Institutes of John Cassian book 1.1 p.201 and the Conference of the Abbot Paphnutius ch.15 p.327
Vincent of Lerins
(c.434 A.D.)
(c.400-439 A.D.) Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History
Theodoret of Cyrrus
(423-458 A.D.)
Council of Chalcedon
(451 A.D.)
Pope Leo I of Rome
(440-461 A.D.)
Among heretics and spurious books

Marinus (c.300 A.D.) (Implied) a Bardasene, in disputing with Adamantius, appealed to the "Old Testament" and referred to David as a prophet. Dialogue on the True Faith ch.862a 20 p.173
Theodore of Mopsuestia
(392-423.429 A.D.) refers by name to the New Testament, quoting Mt 28:2-3. Commentary on Zechariah ch.1 p.331

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 Nov. 2022 version.