Category Archives: History

Morrow’s Response to Thompson

Cover Three Skeptics and the BibleWell, for those of you interested in the debate about biblical scholarship and bias, as in Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s famous lecture from before becoming pope, “Biblical Interpretation in Crisis,” or in my book, Three Skeptics and the Bible, my formal response to Thomas L. Thompson was just published. Inspired by Benedict XVI’s work, I had written a article entitled, “On Biblical Scholarship and Bias.” The important Old Testament scholar, Thomas L. Thompson, a leader of the so-called Copenhagen Minimalist School of Biblical Scholarship, wrote a scathing response, which he entitled, “On Myths and Their Contexts: An Issue of Contemporary Theology? A Response to Jeffrey Morrow.” The editors of the magazine were kind enough to publish my response to Thompson, entitled, “Explaining Bias and the History of Modern Biblical Scholarship: A Response to Thomas L. Thompson.” For more on this history, see Three Skeptics and the Bible, or, better yet, check out Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker’s, Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700.

 

 

One Lesson from Fatima: Things are Never as Inevitable as They May Appear to Be

Our Lady of Fatima and the Three Children

I want to begin with a personal anecdote that is not directly related to Fatima. In the academic year of 1996-1997 a junior at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio was running for student president, thinking that he would be able to have the most impact for good on campus by exercising that position his senior year. As a prominent member of the student senate he played a prominent and very public (both on national radio and outside of the U.S.) role in a number of significant changes that took place on campus. Notwithstanding his valiant efforts, he lost the presidential race. Unsure what to do, he turned to an older friend and mentor, and decided to become an R.A. in a dorm and lead a Bible study for freshmen in the dorm. This incoming senior would-be R.A. and Bible study leader, was a student leader in a very large para-church (primarily evangelical Protestant Christian) organization on campus, which, at least for the following two years (if I’m not mistaken), represented the largest para-church organization on any college campus in the world at that time, boasting about 1,000 members at their weekly meeting. His mentor, who happened to be Roman Catholic, was a staff member with that organization (at one point full-time, but by this point, part-time on a volunteer basis). That summer they decided to fast and pray for the future Bible study which together they would co-lead. They studied Scripture and church history together that summer, and they prayed and fasted that the future study would bear fruit for the kingdom of God.

Curtis Mitch on the Authorship of the 4 Gospels

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament

I’m currently teaching a New Testament course and I have been re-reading a lot of great material dealing with all aspects of New Testament studies. I’m re-reading—among other things—Curtis Mitch’s work. I thought this was especially well-written, and a good synthesis of modern scholarship. The excerpt below comes from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament, which Curtis Mitch co-edited with Scott Hahn. With regard to the traditional attributions of authorship of the four Gospels—i.e., that Matthew wrote Matthew, Mark wrote Mark, Luke wrote Luke, and John wrote John—Mitch writes the following:

Jeff Morrow radio Interview: Conversion and the Bible Politicized

Dr. Michael Barber interviewed Dr. Jeff Morrow on The Sacred Page radio show for a Catholic radio station. The interview pertained to his conversion to Catholicism and also his research on the political roots of modern biblical criticism.

Were the Deuterocanonicals Ever a Part of the Jewish Canon of Scripture?

Isaiah in Greek

The biblical canonization process within Judaism is quite complicated. It is frequent for Protestant scholars to take Josephus’ use and list of Scriptures as representative of the basic canon of Pharisaic Judaism–which led to rabbinic, and eventually modern Judaism–arguing that the canonization process within Judaism predates the time of Jesus. Although the Council of Jamnia (or Yavneh) [end of the first century A.D.] is NOT likely the place where the Jewish biblical canon reaches its final form, that meeting did address the canonical status of certain books—Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.1 Scholars remain divided about the closing of the Jewish biblical canon. In my opinion, it seems likely that it is even later that the canon becomes more fixed within Judaism.

 What complicates matters further is that different groups within Second Temple Judaism apparently considered different books canonical. Although the biblical books used by the Pharisees is likely identical to Josephus’, which looks like the Old Testament of most Protestants, and, it should be noted, the Hebrew Bible (Tanak) of the majority of contemporary Judaism, this is not for certain. Sadducees, on the other hand, had a much smaller list of biblical books (only including the Penateuch, according to New Testament evidence). It is difficult to determine what canon was in

Why Did the Catholic Church Add Books to the Bible?

English Bible

I often get asked the question, “why did the Catholic Church add books to the Bible?” We hope to do more posts on the canonization process of Scripture, but for the moment, I thought I would respond to this question with a brief post.

This question often comes to me from Protestants who assume that Christians always had a Bible that matched a modern Protestant Bible: 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. Since Catholic Bibles include 46 books in the Old Testament (but likewise share the same 27 book New Testament with Protestants), those asking me this question often assume that the Catholic Church added 7 books to the Old Testament at some point in the medieval period. These 7 books Catholics refer to as deuterocanonical (second canon), whereas Protestants often refer to them as apocryphal (hidden books, i.e., books that do not belong). These books are: 1 & 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, and Baruch. 

With such assumptions often present, this question misunderstands the actual history. Of course on the face of it, it is true that the Catholic Church “added” books to the Bible—-in the sense that the list of which books belong in the Bible (i.e., the canon) developed over time, and the Catholic Church (guided by the Holy Spirit, we believe) determined the

Presidential Dollar: Mirror of the Times

fillmore-presidential-dollar

The United States Mint recently unveiled the new designs for the Presidential $1 coins that will enter into circulation this year. It has frequently been said that a nation’s coins are a mirror of its values. In the United States we have an incredible mix of people and motivations which shape our culture. As a result our coins reflect both good and embarassing elements. The first coin of 2010 will honor former Presidents Millard Fillmore. The obverse design on the Millard Fillmore dollar is by United States Mint Sculptor, Engraver Don Everhart. The common reverse design of all the Presidential coins is also by Everhart and features a dramatic rendition of the Statue of Liberty. Inscriptions on the reverse are $1, and United States of America, E Pluribus Unum, 2010, and the mint mark with 13 stars appearing on the edge of the coin. Translated from Latin, the motto “E Pluribus Unum” means “Out of Many, One.” This motto first appeared on U.S. coinage in 1795 and became a mandatory inscription in 1873. The motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on US coinage in 1864. Since 1938, all US coins have carried the inscription.