VERY COMMON ERROR BY CHRISTIANITY OVER “CANONIZATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT”
WHILE THE WRITER WARNER WALLACE HAS SOME GOOD THOUGHTS IN HIS BOOK “COLD-CASE CHRISTIANITY” ON HIS SECTION OF “THE NEW TESTAMENT “CHAIN OF CUSTODY” - HE IS VERY WRONG ON WHEN THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS CANONIZED - Keith Hunt
A NEW TESTAMENT "CHAIN OF CUSTODY"
Life of Jesus (AD 1-33) [ACTUALLY JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED IN 30 AD - PROVED IN A STUDY ON MY WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
Council of Laodicea (AD 363)
Those who are skeptical of the New Testament Gospels offer a similar objection based on the chain of custody. The Gospels claim to be eyewitness accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. These accounts were eventually entered into the "court record" when they were established as Scripture at the Council of Laodicea in AD 363. It was here that early Christian leaders first identified and codified the canon of the Christian Scripture, the official list of twenty-seven books and letters that became the New Testament. No council, prior to this meeting in the fourth century, formally acknowledged the list of accepted books and letters (including the Gospels); no "courtroom" recognized the evidence of the Gospels prior to this important church-council meeting. If the life of Jesus could be considered the Christian "crime scene," this council was undoubtedly the "courtroom" where the evidence of the eyewitness testimony was first formally acknowledged.
[WELL ACKNOWLEDGE BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 363 AD - Keith Hunt]
That's quite an expansive period of time between the "crime scene" and the "courtroom," don't you think? A lot could happen in 330 years. I thought it was tough to trace and track the evidence in my cases, and they were only decades old! Imagine tracking the evidence for ten times as many years. Skeptics have considered this period of time and argued that the eyewitness evidence of the Gospels was "planted." Like the defense attorney who argued that the button was added to the collection of evidence sometime after the crime occurred, skeptics often argue that the Gospels were written well after the life of Jesus. They are not true evidence; they were manufactured by conspirators who wanted to fool those who were not at the "crime scene."
The best way to counter this sort of a claim is to retrace the chain of custody to see if we can account for who handled the evidence from the point of the "crime scene" to its first appearance in the "courtroom."
EVIDENCE, HISTORY, AND REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS
While it may sound like an easy task to trace the chain of custody, it can be extremely difficult in cases that are very old. This is often my dilemma as a cold-case detective. When I open a case from the past, the first thing I try to do is collect all the original documents that were written during the first investigation. That should be easy, right? Well, not always. While these cases were important to our agency, there are times when unexpected issues, unrelated to the investigation, can make this task difficult. Sometimes things are lost when a records database is upgraded as the result of new storage technology. Sometimes notes or other reports have simply deteriorated to the point that they are no longer usable. Sometimes documents are accidentally destroyed or purged. The longer an event slips into the past, the more likely I may have a problem retrieving all the information I need to trace the chain of custody. In spite of this, I have been able to assemble enough of the chain of custody to demonstrate a level of responsibility to the jury. Given the age of the case, jurors understand that we simply cannot expect the same level of precise record keeping when outside forces cannot be controlled over long periods of time.
Something very similar happens when trying to trace the chain of custody for the gospel eyewitness accounts. Imagine trying to control outside forces for thousands of years instead of just a few decades. The "original reports" in the "Christian cold case" were written on papyrus, an excellent material if you are looking for something that was readily available in the first century, but a terrible material if you are looking for something that won't fall apart when handled frequently. As a result, we no longer have the original writings (sometimes called "autographs"). The first eyewitness accounts were copied repeatedly so that they could be distributed throughout the church and retained in spite of the nature of the papyrus that was available. It's now difficult to precisely retrace the movement of the Gospels over time and establish a chain of custody.
In order to have any success at all, we first need to identify the players who would be involved in such a chain. In cold-case homicide investigations, the links in the chain include the responding officers, the crime-scene investigators, the first detectives, the criminalists, and then the cold-case detectives, who ultimately bring the case to the prosecutor. But who would we expect to be involved in the gospel chain off custody?
To trace the New Testament Gospels, we are going to need to identify the original eyewitnesses and their immediate disciples, moving from one set of disciples to the next until we trace the Gospels from AD 33 to AD 363. The New Testament gospel chain of custody, if it exists, would provide us with confidence that the accounts we have today are an accurate reflection of what was observed at the "crime scene." This link-by-link approach to the history of the accounts would also help us respond to the objections of skeptics who claim that the Gospels were planted late in history. We will examine this issue in much more detail in section 2, and we will identify the historical links in this important chain.
A TOOL FOR THE CALLOUT BAG, A TIP FOR THE CHECKLIST
As a detective, I quickly learned the importance of the chain of custody, and I eventually pulled this principle from my callout bag as I investigated the reliability of the Gospels. Before I became a Christian, I seldom held the same level of skepticism for other ancient documents that I held for the biblical accounts. I can remember having an intense interest in ancient history from the time I was in high school. I had an "honors" class with a wonderful, sage-like teacher, Mr. Schultz, who had the ability to bring the past to life using the ancient written histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, among others. He taught from these accounts as if they were reliable and true, and I accepted them without much question. Mr. Schultz never talked about the fact that the earliest copies we have for these ancient writers appear in history approximately five hundred years after the events they claim to describe. There is no clear chain of custody for these historical accounts during this period of time. We don't know whom Herodotus, for example, entrusted with his writings. We don’t know how Herodotuss record was preserved or what happened to it during these five hundred years. This is, of course, the nature of the vast majority of ancient historical accounts. Given that we accept these accounts as historically factual even though their history of transmission is missing for five centuries or more, wouldn't it be fair to reconsider our historical view of the gospel record if we discovered that the Gospels have a verifiable chain of custody? We need to keep this question in mind as we get ready to examine the issue more thoroughly in section 2.
Of all the documents written by Christians in the first and second centuries, the texts we most care about are those that made it into the canon of Scripture. Few of us are familiar with the noncanonical writings from the earliest period of Christian history. Many early Christian leaders wrote letters and documents that, while not considered canonical, are rich with theological content and historical detail. These noncanonical early church documents can tell us much about the teaching of the original eyewitnesses. They will eventually become part of the chain of custody as we examine the transmission of the Gospels in the first three centuries. We would be wise to have at least some understanding of the identity of the students and disciples of the apostles and some mastery of their writings. Many of these men (like Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement) became known as the "early church fathers." They led the church following the deaths of the apostles, and their letters and writings are widely available online and in print form. The earliest works of these church fathers are often interesting and enriching. They are worth our time and effort, particularly as we make a case for the New Testament chain of custody and the reliability of the Gospels as eyewitness accounts.
YES THE SO-CALLED “CHURCH FATHERS” DO ESTABLISH EVEN IN THEIR TIME [POLYCARP WAS MIDDLE 2ND CENTURY AD] THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT WE HAVE TODAY WAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED BY THE END OF THE FIRST CENTURY AD.
THERE IS A FULL BOOK ON MY WEBSITE BY ERNEST MARTIN [Now deceased] PROVING WHO AND WHEN THE CANONIZATION OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WAS FORMULATED.
THE CANON OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, AS MOST OF CHRISTIANITY BELIEVE.
YOU WILL FIND MARTIN’S BOOK UNDER “HOW WE GOT THE BIBLE” SECTION OF MY WEBSITE; SCROLL DOWN AND LOOK FOR “CANONIZATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT” AND “CANONIZATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.”
ALL CHRISTIANS SHOULD READ THIS BOOK BY ERNEST MARTIN.