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The Busted Halo Question Box
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This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

Why are there no modern books that the church considers to be good enough to be scripture?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

It is not that modern books aren’t “good enough” to be in scripture, but that they aren’t “old enough.” Church leaders decided in the first several hundred years after Jesus’ lifetime which books should be included in the “canon” of the Bible and then they closed that canon. One of the criteria used to decide which books would make the cut was if the books were “ancient,” meaning written and handed down from our early Jewish heritage or in the first century after Christ’s life.

The teaching continues that since Jesus Christ was the invisible God made visible and the one who perfectly showed us who God is, we do not expect any new public revelation before his second coming. Since no one writing today has physically met the Jesus of history, no one can write a book that will add any new “revelation” that will be added to scripture. That said, the Church admits that “There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on [in scripture].” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 8). So modern books that help us to understand our faith, lead us to further insights about God, or engender a deeper knowing of Jesus can all have a place in the mystery of God’s revelation.

 
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The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • http://www.facebook.com/russel.oneeyedrabbit Russel OneEyed-Rabbit

    I often contemplate why there have been no new books in the bible since it was compiled in the fourth century.

    I am not looking for new prophets or to allow false prophets a platform.

    From my perspective, the Old Testament contains not only the word of god but also the acts of his people inspired by Him and in His name.

    The New Testament tells us of Gods great gift to mankind and His greater sacrifice which showed His love for His peoples.

    Using the excuse that books need to be really old before being considered suitable for inclusion in testament to His word, would seem to be a trick used by church hierarchy to retain a mystic control over believers. The Old Testament must have been compiled over a long period of time and the oldest book in the New Testament was certainly no older than 400 years old when the Bishops conference decided on what should be included at that time.

    Agreed, it would be difficult to compile a universal Bible now, with so many factions within the Christian church, but is that enough of an excuse.

    It should be possible for theologians to sit down and identify the works of God through the saints and the acts carried out in his name by the faithful and the sacrifices of the martyrs. Even for a period of a thousand years after the compilation of the New Testament.

    It would be possible for a timeline to be established for completion of the first part of a Third Testament. perhaps 10 years for acts and examples to be formally identified. Then 20-30 years for the theologians debate what should be included and then finally another 10 years for the update of our story to be written.

    Perhaps I am stupid to believe this, but if as I believe that the word of god is alive and working among us, why should this not be recorded as a continuation of the historical Bible.

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