Monday, November 03, 2008

If You Believe in Canonicity, You Can and Should Believe in Preservation

The front of my Bible says sixty-six books. I grew up with that number in my head because I had never seen otherwise---thirty-nine Old Testament, twenty-seven New Testament. As far as I'm concerned, the canon of Scripture, the number of books is settled. However, it has not been without controversy in history. Martin Luther doubted the canonicity of James, calling it the "epistle of straw." Eusebius, Catholic historian, in 340 said that James was a disputed text. Augustine and the council of Hippo (390) accepted the apocrypha as part of the canon. The 1395 Wycliffe version of the Bible in English included the Apocrypha.

Of the patristics, several accepted Shepherd of Hermas as part of the canon. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Didymus the Blind all three quoted it as Scripture. It is also included in Codex Sinaiticus. The Epistle of Barnabas is also found in Sinaiticus, as well as advocated by Didymus. If Sinaiticus is a better text, one representing the rules of textual criticism, then Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistle of Barnabas should be considered Scripture.

If Jesus actually did quote from the Septuagint, like many critical text advocates believe, then we also need to consider that the Septuagint included the apocrypha. Jesus therefore would have supported a canon with the apocryphal books part of their number. If it is true that the apostles quoted from the Septuagint, then the Septuagint, along with its apocryphal books, was the Old Testament of the apostles. Why should it not then be our Old Testament? And if Jesus' use of the Septuagint evinces the acceptability of a Bible laced with faulty words, then consistency requires the acceptance of a Bible with several more than sixty-six books.

Arguments for the Canon

And yet we have heavy evangelical support for a sixty-six book canon. What are the arguments? F. F. Bruce wrote in his The New Testament Documents:
The historic Christian belief is that the Holy Spirit, who controlled the writing of the individual books, also controlled their selection and collection, thus continuing to fulfil our Lord's promise that He would guide His disciples into all the truth.
He saw the Holy Spirit as leading His disciples to the correct books. Greg Brahnsen wrote:
[W]e know from God's Word (1) that the church of the New Covenant recognized the standing canon of the Old Testament, and (2) that the Lord intended for the New Covenant church to be built upon the word of the apostles, coming thereby to recognize the canonical literature of the New Testament. To these premises we can add the conviction (3) that all of history is governed by God's providence (". . . according to the plan of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will," Eph. 1:11).
His main argument is for us to look what the church agreed was the Word of God. M. James Sawyer says we look at usage.
The common evangelical view of the development of the New Testament canon sees the canon as having arisen gradually and through usage rather than through conciliar pronouncement which vested the books of the New Testament with some kind of authority.
Charles Briggs in General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture argued that there was a three-fold program for canon determinations, the first being the testimony of the church (p. 163). He explained that this was the evidence of general consent, although given under the leading of the Spirit. It was from this general consent that conciliar pronouncements were made. Briggs final determining factor and highest principle of canon determination was that of the witness of the Spirit. He stated, "The Spirit of God bears witness by and with the particular writing . . . , in the heart of the believer, removing every doubt and assuring the soul of its possession of the truth of God" (p. 163).

Thiessen wrote in his Introduction to the New Testament:
The Holy Spirit, given to the Church, quickened holy instincts, aided discernment between the genuine and the spurious, and thus led to gradual, harmonious, and in the end unanimous conclusions. There was in the Church what a modern divine has happily termed an 'inspiration of selection'.
We see repeatedly this understanding that the Holy Spirit revealed the canon through the church. Churches, genuine believers, settled on the sixty-six books of the Bible.

In addition to this, we see that canonicity was still being discussed into the Reformation period. Sawyer writes: "The canon of the New Testament was not closed historically by the early church. Rather, its extent was debated until the Reformation." In other words, the canon was sixty-six books, but there was continued validation and verification of that through agreement of believers into the printed edition period of Scripture. We have the same thing with preservation. The printed edition period affirmed the textus receptus as the text of the New Testament.

Why 66?

We hear and read many evangelicals who agree that the church was led to the exact number of books by the Holy Spirit. Why would they think we have sixty-six? It isn't because Scripture says anywhere that we were going to receive sixty-six. The Bible tells nowhere how many books there would be. It doesn't even tell us that we would get several books. We knew it was books and that those books were the right books because those were the ones that the churches settled upon.

Agreement upon the words of Scripture is even plainer. Revelation 22:18-19 is commonly referred to in discussions about canonicity and they don't refer to books.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
You see "words" here, not books. Speaking about canonicity in his theology, Wayne Grudem writes (p. 65):
The severity of the punishments in Revelation 22:18-19 that come to those who add or take from God's words also confirms the importance of God's people having a correct canon.
He also references passages with "words" as a basis of canonicity and says:
We know that God loves his people, and it is supremely important that God's people have his words, for they are our life (Deut. 32:47; Matt. 4:4).
If non-preservationists were to be consistent, they would savage this writing by Grudem because he refers to Matthew 4:4 as a text that is speaking about the written Word of God. Of course, he doesn't get that kind of treatment, because canonicity is not such a controversial issue.

There is an attack today on the books of Scripture. Bart Ehrman, well-respected scholar and published author, in his popular Misquoting Jesus says that we read and use the books we do because a particular group of Christians were in the majority and they won out over the others, so it was they who decided what the Christian creeds would be. According to him, they established themselves to be right and then determined what future Christians would believe about Jesus. We only read their version of things because they had defeated the other groups. Many, many other books had been written about Jesus and were not much copied or preserved because, in his opinion, they didn't contain the popular teaching. Ehrman also believes that the books that we do have were fiddled with in order to align them even more with the orthodox and politically correct teaching.

So why isn't Ehrman right? We do still have those disputed and rejected books to which he refers. And many of them are very old, even though they are in the minority of manuscripts. Evangelicals reject what Ehrman says based upon what was preserved by the saints. Those are the books and history that we have. We have a bias toward those books which present the consistent and historic view of Jesus Christ. The other books passed by the wayside. We still have them, but just because they were preserved somewhere, doesn't mean that they should come up again for reconsideration. And yet, because we find an old manuscript, like Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and we have rationalistic laws of textual criticism, we reject the text agreed upon by believers led by the Holy Spirit. This clashes with the evangelical approach to canonicity. The two positions, canonicity and preservation, should be consistent.

Canonicity and Preservation

What I am describing about books is also the historic Christian position about the Words as well. I've often referenced these quotes here and other places, but as an example, Richard Capel, wrote in 1658:
[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings in any matter which may stumble any. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . As God committed the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to the Jewes, and did and doth move their hearts to keep it untainted to this day: So I dare lay it on the same God, that he in his providence is so with the Church of the Gentiles, that they have and do preserve the Greek Text uncorrupt, and clear: As for some scrapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, than to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scrapes in the printing, and ‘tis certain, that what mistake is in one print, is corrected in another.
He was referring to the words of the textus receptus of the New Testament. This fit right in with the Westminster Confession (1646) and the London Baptist Confession (1689):
The Old Testament in Hebrew . . . , and the New Testament in Greek . . . , being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.
The church already settled on the text of Scripture. They believed God perfectly preserved it. Something new couldn't be Scripture, just like a new canon couldn't be the canon. We aren't open to a new canon and we aren't open to new words of Scripture. Opening up criticism and discussion to new words would be akin to opening it up for a new canon. This isn't a historic, orthodox position in either case.

Some have charged those who believe the perfect preservation of Scripture with the name fideist, used in derogatory fashion. Fideism is supposedly a kind of baseless faith position that detaches itself from evidence. They say that since Scripture never promises preservation in a particular text type, we can't really apply verses on preservation to any particular text of the New Testament. Well, since the Bible never promises a sixty-six book canon, we can't really apply verses used for canonicity to the canon of Scripture. I say no to both of them. If I'm a fideist to believe in sixy-six books based upon biblical presuppositions, then I guess I'm a fideist then.

God inspired every Word of Scripture and all of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). Hebrew copyists took this so seriously that they counted every Word so as to never miss one. Every Word was important, not just the doctrines or the message of Scripture. The attacks on preservation of the Bible for centuries and especially today provide the foundation for the postmodern uncertainty in churches and theological circles today. The devaluation of doctrine, that so many evangelicals talk and write about, has come in a major way because of their carelessness about the preservation of God's Words. Even the reformed have left in this their Reformation doctrine of sola Scriptura.

R. C. Sproul decries this in a recent publication on canonicity by his organization:
Beyond the radical reductionism of Bultmann, we have seen more recently attempts among professing evangelicals, and even within the Reformed community, to seek a different type of reduction of Scripture. We have seen views of so-called “limited inspiration” or “limited inerrancy.” That is to say, the Spirit’s inspiration of the Bible is not holistic, but rather is limited to matters of faith and doctrine. In this scenario, proponents suggest we can distinguish between doctrinal matters that are of divine origin and what the Bible teaches in matters of science and history, and, in some cases, ethics. Therefore, there are portions within the Bible that are not equally inspired by God. In this case, we see the reappearance of a canon within a canon. The problem that arises is a serious one. Perhaps most severe is the question, who is it who decides what part of the Bible really belongs to the canon? Once we remove ourselves from a view of tota Scriptura, we are free then to pick and choose what portions of Scripture are normative for Christian faith and life, just like picking cherries from a tree.

To do this we would have to revisit the teaching of Jesus, wherein He said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. We would have to change it, to have our Lord say that we do not live by bread alone but by only some of the words that come to us from God. In this case, the Bible is reduced to the status where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. This is an issue that the church has to face in every generation, and it has reappeared today in some of the most surprising places. We’re finding, in seminaries that call themselves Reformed, professors advocating this type of canon within the canon. The church must say an emphatic “no” to these departures from orthodox Christianity, and she must reaffirm her faith not only in sola Scriptura, but in tota Scriptura as well.
Tota Scriptura?

What Sproul describes here is all over the place in evangelicalism. In a recent debate with Frank Turk at his blog on the preservation of Scripture, he wrote this:
Because we receive the NT in translation (for example, in the KJV), we must insist that the perfection of Scripture today is found in the message and not the words.
Later at another one of his blogs, he wrote this comment in bold print:
All believers at all times have sufficient special revelation to make a saving confession of faith; in this, their confession of faith is not dependent on any particular text type or even the perfection of any particular manuscript.
Professing fundamentalists also chime in with this view of the Bible. Paul W. Downey in God's Word in Our Hands writes (p. 376):
God's Word transcends written documents, even the physical universe, and will be completely and ultimately fulfilled if not one copy remains. The power and effectiveness and duration of the Word of God, and man's responsibility to obey it, do not demand the presence or even the existence of any physical copy.
Speaking of God and the preservation of Scripture, Kevin Bauder writes this (pp. 159-160) in One Bible Only?:
He might preserve some words and He might permit some to be lost, depending upon His own purpose.
Unless we define God's Word as the message or the concepts or the doctrines, we don't find tota Scriptura in those statements. This is not the historical position of the church. Men of the past believed that Scripture was preserved in the very Words and they believed that the Words in the copies they possessed were identical with the original manuscripts. Their bibliology applied to both the doctrines of canonicity and of preservation.

It really comes down to believing in the greater providence or greater miracle depending upon how someone defines providence or miracle. The first known historical account of the 27 books of the New Testament comes in 376BC. And yet, we believe that the saints had the books of the New Testament. The same Holy Spirit that led them could also lead them to the words. There really is no reason why He could not. Some might say that we don't have a historical basis to believe that they had all of them, but we do. The saints of the reformation period, who were still talking about canonicity too, agreed on the books and the words. Scripture was settled. It still should be.

41 comments:

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Ken:

I must disagree with you on a few things.

First, you seem to argue that the canon is so based on the authority of the church, or tradition, which is not the Protestant view.

You then, after arguing that we have a "canon" or completed and preserved scripture, say that there was not agreement in the early "church" and not until the Reformation. (And really, not even then!)

You then, after arguing for the canon based upon what the "church" officially did, say it is a matter for each believer to decide, based upon his inner witness of the Spirit.

Well, which way is it?

I do not believe we have all the inspired writings.

First, the bible itself mentions many books that are now "lost." If you want me to provide you with the passages of scripture that speak of these other books, I can get them for you, with a little work.

Second, do you not believe that Paul wrote more than two letters to the Corinthians? But, at least one is lost, right? Was it inspired? Was it all truthful?

Do you think that the apostles only wrote the letters they did? Surely that is being cynical and naive.

I am okay with accepting that the sixty six we have in our Protestant bibles are "inspired." But, this is an individual believers decision, right? And, he ought to make it, not based upon "science," but upon his "inner witness," right?

Luther could believe what he did about the books of Esther and James, and it still be his individual decision. In fact, I tend to agree with him on Esther. Esther is truthful, historical, but not "inspired" in the general sense of that word.

These are the main things I wanted to comment upon; however, if I think of a few more, I will post them. It is late and I am tired.

Blessings,

Stephen

Kent Brandenburg said...

Stephen,

That was quick. I was still tweaking it even as you were writing your comment.

I think Holy Spirit testimony is the position of historic Christianity. The Westminster Divines took this position. See Confession.

I never said that there wasn't agreement in the church. I actually state later that I believe there was. I'm saying we don't have early record of it historically.

I'm definitely not basing it on one believer. Look at Thiessen's quote. That fits what I'm saying. We have one Holy Spirit and there was agreement on this issue.

I know there were other books. I thought it didn't relate to the post.

I'm going to write more on this, because I wonder about our modern definition of inerrancy. I've asked this question and got no answer: if we believe in 68 or 64 canonical books, do we still believe in inerrancy?

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Kent:

I am no expert on the topic of inerrancy and in the area of textual criticism. I am just a learner in this area.

I do believe in inerrancy. I also believe I can discern inspiration. I have read many non canonical books and have often sensed the lack of inspiration.

Perhaps we should look at the "criteria" that was used by the early church fathers for determining "canonicity"? That criteria, if good, is still good.

Blessings,

Stephen

DT said...

This is a good argument for a Majority Text/Byzantine-type preferred position. But as far as KJVO is concerned, I think it presents problems. Thank you, though, for the food for thought.

Kent Brandenburg said...

DT,

Thanks for commenting. It is brave of you, in light of the political pressure from the fundamental left.

I am KJVO, and I don't understand what kind of problem it presents for me. I don't see one. It actually answers a whole lot of bogus attacks (I would say arguments if I thought they were) coming from the critical and eclectic text side. Pretty much if you are TR only, you have to be KJVO only. If I'm TR only from this argument, then I must also be perfect preservation just like I'm perfect canon. If someone is not inerrant without perfect canon, how can he be inerrant without perfect text? I'd like that question answered by someone. Bob wouldn't answer it over on his blog.

I'm going to write at least one more article on this.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Kent

Have you read Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible by R. Laird Harris? If not, I commend it to you as a thorough study with strong defense of inerrancy and the canon in general. You will of course not agree with his conclusions regarding manuscripts and versions, but I think you should contend with his argumentation.

On the Shepherd of Hermas, do you have citations for the views of Irenaeus, Clement, and Didymus that you could point to? I did a quick look in Harris' index and he doesn't mention it. Of course, that isn't conclusive! I seem to recall that Irenaeus comes early in the 2nd century, or am I off on that? It would seem hard for the Shepherd to be cited by him.

Anyway, if you have citations on that point, I would like to see it so I can look them up directly.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don,

Thanks. I'll look into Harris. I believe he edited the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

Here's the quote from Irenaeus.

Irenaeus writes in Adversus Haereses:

Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, "First of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence. He who contains all things, and is Himself contained by no one." [Book 2, First Commandment, of the Shepherd of Hermas]. Rightly also has Malachi said among the prophets: "Is it not one God who hath established us? Have we not all one Father?" (4.20.2. of Adversus Haereses)

Don Johnson said...

Hi Kent, thanks

I just self-checked myself on Irenaeus dates, I am off by a half century! [Not the first time, some would say a perpetual state...]

Harris was also on the NIV committee I believe, but his book is very well done. It is hard to find, though, out of print. My used copy is falling apart, but I have found it quite interesting. I think he is a careful writer.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DT said...

I'd like to respond to the "political pressure from the fundamental left" comment, but perhaps you can clarify what you meant. Also, who's Bob? Sorry, just not sure to whom you're referring. . .

Anywho. . .

Your being TR-only from this argument is fine, but there are some obvious problems presented. It is not so easy as to say, "here is what the church accepted." And, what church? Obviously you're referring to the true church, no? If it were as easy as saying, look we have the exact wording of the TR/KJV all throughout the centuries beginning with Christ and ending with the KJV, wow that would be great. But that's not the case, is it? So your argument about the church "accepting" the text fails because even within that text-type, differences remain.

So you argue well for the inclusion of big variants, such as Mark 16 and John 7-8. But what do we do with I John 5:7 and other verses where it seems the church did not accept such a reading as scripture? What about readings that are distinct to one edition of the TR, such as the unique wording of Revelation 16:5 found in Beza's 5th edition? The "church" seemed to have no clue that even read that way!

So my contention is that you present a good argument for the MT proponents. This may put you as a defacto KJV guy, but it should also warrant your acceptation of the NKJV. In other words, you favor, and believe strongly that the Byzantine type is the true text type. But you cannot prove that any of the unique Erasmian or Beza or other TR readings fit that bill. At least not according to the "what the church accepted" argumentation.

I really do believe that the debate between Byzatine/MT and critical/eclectic is not over. A pastor friend of mine was an early member of the Majority Text Society. He has studied this issue longer than I've been alive. And he is convinced that the Byzantine side has better arguments. He believes it is the stream used since the close of the canon. He would agree with some KJVOs when it comes to distinctly Byzantine readings. But still, his same basic premise is that of mine and other CT people: inerrancy applies to the originals. He may prefer the KJV, but he has no problem using the NASB at his church. He also would not accept readings such as I John 5:7.

If you've seen the John Ankerberg KJV debate show, you'll notice the same with Dr. Art Farstad. He says things like "the Byzantine was used since the year 1." He agreed with the KJV guys on the show when it came to "only begotten Son" at John 1:18. He even explained how his church switched to the KJV after he studied textual criticism, and now uses the NKJV. I think he would agree with your argument presented here. But his main premise was still that inerrancy applied to the originals, and he wound up rejecting I John 5:7, and seemed to disagree more with the KJVO guys than the CT guys.

I guess what I'm saying is, I think you as well as Hodges, Farstad, and other MT guys have good arguments for Byzatine superiority - but that does not necessarily correlate with perfect preservation in the TR.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Fundamental Left? I don't know who you are comfortable fellowshiping with, DT, but you don't mind talking here. Lots of guys wouldn't even come here to talk because it would mean touching the third rail of political politics, KJVO. I talk everywhere. The fundamental left talks where they're at and to the left of them, but they don't talk right.

You're very perceptive on the definition of church. In the Trinity Journal, Fall 1987, Kurt Aland writes: It is undisputed that from the 16th to the 18th century orthodoxy’s doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed this Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the “original text.”

I know NKJV, same text. In that sense, I am a NKJV guy. But I'm not a NKJV guy for other reasons. I just don't mind being KJVO, because I do believe there is only one Bible. God didn't give two. That's in a sense what this is all about.

The good arguments for the Byzantine, for the most part also work for the TR. Then I get into a bibliological basis for the TR, which is very similar to the bibliological basis for canonicity. That's where the fideism charge comes in.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Kent

Further to your remarks on the Shepherd and other citations from the Fathers...

One of the points Harris makes in his book concerning the canon is that there was a general consensus among very early fathers who cited only the 66 books (as we have them) and no others as Scriptures, using citations like "it is written" or "Scripture says," etc. The fact that some isolated citations occurred by some fathers for some other books would seem to be as irrelevant to the immediately recognized and established canon as Luther's late-coming doubts.

As for our Lord's citation of the LXX, it does not follow that one must then support the apocrypha. Nowhere does the Lord cite the apocrypha in any form. It seems that you are reaching with this argument. It is quite clear that the Lord and the apostles cited as authoritative the books of the OT as we have them. None of them ever once cited the Apocrypha as authoritative in any way.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don,

Two things.
1. Godly men agreed on 66 books. Godly men agreed on the text of the NT. Both should be settled based on the same terms. The same Scriptural reason for acceptance of 66 books, despite ongoing questioning historically, which I illustrated, is the exact Scriptural reason why to be settled on the text of Scripture. Men were, but the canon was opened up again in the 19th century. Why not open up the canon of books as well? Scholar Bart Ehrman, protege of Metzger, thinks we should.
2. As far as my reaching with the Septuagint, you say He didn't quote from the Septuagint. That's what most of the Bob Jones (Detroit, Maranatha, Calvary, Central, etc.) of fundamentalism and much of evangelical scholarship say that He did. I have found it to be the only Scriptural argument for the critical text position. They don't offer any other Scriptural arguments for their position, but that one. There were many Old Testament books that Jesus or the apostles didn't quote. They're still included in the canon.

And then you have Codex Sinaiticus.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Kent

Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. I think it is quite likely that the Lord did quote from the LXX, but I am not an expert on that point. Where I think you are overreaching is in saying that such a quote would demand an acceptance of the apocrypha, simply because the Lord quoted from the LXX. I don't think anyone thinks of the LXX as a monolithic entity, a unified whole, and I don't think anyone in the first century did either.

On your last point, Harris says this: "But the extent of the canon of that sacred book [the OT] is shown by the fact that all of the Old Testament books are quoted [in the NT by Jesus and the apostles] except Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. These are doubtless omitted not by design but because they are shorter and there was, because of the nature of their contents, less occasion to quote them. They all fall, it happens, in the third division of the Writings, but they surely are not neglected on that account. The Book of Psalms, which heads the third division, is quoted more frequently than any other Old Testament book." (p. 183)

Anyway, quotation by the Lord or the apostles is not the only proof of canonicity, but it certainly is an important part of the evidence. The apocryphal books, in addition to having no quotations or allusions in the NT, have a host of other problems, as you know.

All that to say this: I don't think you succeed in your point that if the Lord quoted the LXX he thereby would be endorsing the apocrypha. I think you are overreaching to make that point.

Maybe a small quibble, but it creates a weakness to your argument in my mind. You would do better simply arguing whether or not the alleged quotations from the LXX are really quotations from the LXX or not. As I said, I suspect they are, but I am no expert on the subject.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DT said...

Those who love God and sincerely desire His truth shouldn't be afraid to talk anywhere. I'm sorry you've met some unruly folks on the fundamental "left." I know a lot of guys, though, who agree with my position that are not afraid to chat about this stuff. And you know the same blame can be cast on the "right." Let's be honest, you are no Ruckman or Riplinger. . .but it's very hard to erase the stain they've left on the entire KJVO movement. I wish that weren't the case, cuz guys like you deserve to at least be heard.

Even though you're wrong.

:) Heh, but seriously, this is good stuff, thanks.

John D. Chitty said...

Kent,

You know, I found your auto-spammed comment and restored it and replied to it, if you're interested . . .

John D. Chitty said...

Frank Turk summarizes the bottom line well. The "Word" and "words" is the message. You emphasize the way the Masoretes were very scrupulous about every word of the Old Testament, and you are correct. Generally speaking, unbelieving Jews often strained out gnats to swallow camels. They also missed the point of Scripture when they wore phylacteries and such.

But that's not to say that evangelical scholarship is careless about every word of the New or Old Testaments; it is to say that they are realistic about the state of the manuscript evidence and they see that even though there is uncertainty about portions of the text, they also see that those disputed variants do not affect the point of Scripture. The Bible as preserved in any text-type can still give you all you need for life and godliness. The number of proof-texts for fundamentals may vary between text-type, but the message remains regardless. And thus by his "singular care and providence" God has kept Scripture pure.

John D. Chitty said...

"[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings IN ANY MATTER WHICH MAY STUMBLE ANY. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . " (emphasis added)

Would you recheck the context of this quote and see if there are any other indications as to what Capel meant by the capitalized phrase above. From my perspective, it reads similar to what modern scholarship emphasizes about the variants.

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Mr. Garrett,

You stated, "Luther could believe what he did about the books of Esther and James, and it still be his individual decision. In fact, I tend to agree with him on Esther. Esther is truthful, historical, but not "inspired" in the general sense of that word."

The book of Esther is not inspired? Oh?

Please consider the following:

Revelation 22:18-19:
5* Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
6* Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6:
5* Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
6* Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

2 Timothy 3:16:

16* All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Luke 24:44:
44* And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (This is the entire OT; including Esther)

Many other verses affirm the inspiration of the entire canon. If you are a believer, you are committing a horrible sin by denying the inspiration of Esther, and you must repent of this sin or be severely judged. If you are not a believer, you need to repent of your heresy of denying the inspiration of Esther and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the author of the entire Bible. You need to fear and tremble before the inspired words of the book of Esther, not sit in judgment upon them and dare to deny their inspiration.

BTW, for others, the Waldenses and other pre-reformation Baptists accepted verses such as 1 John 5:7; it was in their German and Latin (non-vulgate) Bibles, etc. as demonstrated in the book by Maynard, History of the Debate Over 1 John 5:7-8 (Comma Publications). Furthermore, the TR/KJV was accepted as the canonical preserved text, as demonstrated in my essay on its canonicity at http://thross7.googlepages.com/home. Furthermore, the so-called "majority text" does not exist, because nobody has collated all 5000 Greek MSS, so we still cannot, I suppose, live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Rather, the so-called "majority text" is a collation of a few hundred MSS based on the notoriously inaccurate collations of vonSoden.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear "Mr" Ross:

I do not think that belief in the book of Esther as inspired is a requirement for eternal salvation. Sorry, I don't believe Luther is in Hell. I think you restrict salvation too far, farther than has our Lord, thankfully.

I do not have time to address all your assertions and inuendos now, but I will try to do so soon, the Lord willing. Other things are more pressing than replying to such a writing as yours.

In Christ,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

Is it your view that one must have believed in the 66 books (in the traditional Protestant canon) to be saved?

Does this not condemn the overwhelming majority of professing Christians, of the first three centuries, to eternal torment? Even men like Augustine?

Does it not condemn all Catholics to Hell?

Also, where did Jesus cite Esther or even allude to it? You say he does when he mentions the "Psalms." You read that into the text, don't you?

Where in Esther is Christ spoken of?

Yours for the truth,

Stephen

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Stephen,

John 17:8 reads:

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

Does Christ promise here that His elect will receive His canonical Words? Do you really think that the overwhelming majority of Christians in the first century rejected books of Scripture? Why did they receive Luke's gospel as equal in authority to Deuteronomy (1 TIm 5:18) and have a canonical collection of Paul's epistles in Peter's lifetime (2 Pet 3:15-16), then? Is Christ's prayer in John 17:8 a failure, so that true believers can reject books of Scripture?

Do the verses I gave you before (Rev 22:18-19; Prov 30:5-6, etc.) say that one who rejects inspired Scripture is a liar and wicked (as is one who adds to the canon)?

Are true churches that accept Esther as part of the canon liars and wicked, or are you a liar and wicked for rejecting this book of the Bible?

Do you recognize that Luke 24:44 is the three parts of the OT, the law, prophets, and writings, and thus an indication that the entire OT is inspired? If so, how in the world is it a stretch to say that Luke 24:44 proves the entire OT is inspired? Or do you think that the "psalms" is simply the book of psalms? How can you possibly defend this if that is your position?

Is baptismal regeneration a damnable heresy? EIther justification by faith apart from works and sacraments is a false gospel, or justification channeled by baptismal grace is a false gospel (Gal 1:8-9). Thus, if Luther and Augustine, both of whom believed in baptismal regeneration, were saved, then all those who reject it are not. If you dispute that they believed in baptismal regeneration, please read my essay on the Reformers and their heresies at http://thross7.googlepages.com/home before commenting, and if you admit that Luther taught baptismal regeneration and many other heresies, please explain how Galatians 1:8-9 does not curse him as a false teacher.

I'm sorry, Stephen, but rejecting books in God's Word is an extremely, extremely serious matter. I can't see your heart, but examine yourself whether you are in the faith.

Love in Christ,

Thomas

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

It seems these are the issues.

1. Must one be correct in his judgment of inspiration (which books are inspired) to be saved?

You say yes, I say no.

2. Should one accept the books (canon) they are told to accept, without questioning, whether of Catholic, Protestant, or Ethiopic traditions?

You seem to say yes, I say no.

3. On what basis should the individual Christian decide the "inspiration" of a given book that professes inspiration? What is the criteria for canonicity?

I still do not know your criteria. I have given my chief criterion, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

4. Is the individual Christian under obligation to accept books as inspired based upon any decisions of any particular church, or group of churches, or decrees of collectives or councils of churches?

You seem to take the Catholic view that affirms that the canon is decided by the "church" and that each Christian must accept the decision of the "church."

5. Do I have the right to judge inspiration, and the tools (measuring sticks) to do so?

I believe I do and can. You don't seem to think so.

6. What does it mean to affirm that the Christian depends solely upon the inner witness of the Spirit in his judgment of inspiration and canonicity?

You know what I believe. What do you believe?

7. Was there a universally or even widely accepted "canon" among the Jews at the time of Christ?

You seem to want to affirm that there was such a canon. Can you give the place in the bible that lists the books in that canon? Can you give a citation from the first, second, or third century that gives such a canon?

8. If one has doubts about the inspiration and canonicity of a particular book of the bible, does this mean his has never been saved?

You say that such doubts makes a man a non Christian and a "liar."

9. Is Jesus putting his stamp of approval upon an existing established canon, for the Old Testament, in Luke 24: 44?

You say yes, but I say no, at least for any then existing canon. But, more on that shortly.

10. Does John 17: 8 affirm that all the elect will agree on the canon of scripture? Is Christ prayer a failure? Does Christ promise here that His elect will receive His "canonical Words"?

No, I do not believe that the verse above says that all the elect will agree on the canon of scripture. No, I don't believe the prayer of Christ failed, for I do not believe he was praying for all the elect to agree on the canon. Besides, where do you come with this idea that Jesus's words means "canonical words"? How do you define "canonical"?

11. What kind of agreement existed about the canon of inspiration among the first century Christians? What is our source of information to settle this question?

There was no universal agreement and Christ did not put his stamp of approval on any one in particular. Did he not cite from the Septuagint? If there was universal agreement on a canon of scripture, why the need for the council at Jamnia?

Your unrelated questions:

1. "Why did they receive Luke's gospel as equal in authority to Deuteronomy (1 TIm 5:18)?"

Who is the "they"? Certainly the early Christians accepted the gospel of Luke. But, like most inspired books, when they first come on the scene, they do not receive immediate recognition by all. Scholars agree that many of the "inspired" books "took a long time" to be favored by the overwhelming majority of Christians. But, the question is, did they accept the book of Esther, remember? Can you stay on the topic?

2. "(Why did they) have a canonical collection of Paul's epistles in Peter's lifetime (2 Pet 3:15-16), then?"

What do you mean by "collection"? Who are "they"? Every Christian church? Every tradition? Speaking of "collections," why was Esther not found amond the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran?

Even if I admit that many of the early Christian congregations had "collections," this does not mean that they all had the same books in their collections!

3. "Do the verses I gave you before (Rev 22:18-19; Prov 30:5-6, etc.) say that one who rejects inspired Scripture is a liar and wicked (as is one who adds to the canon)?"

The verses warn against altering God's word.

4. The salvation of Augustine and Luther because the 1) disagreed with you on the canon of scripture, and 2) believed different from you regarding baptism.

I don't agree with you. As I said, you restrict election and salvation far too narrowly, almost as do the cults.

5. "Are true churches that accept Esther as part of the canon liars and wicked, or are you a liar and wicked for rejecting this book of the Bible?"

Each church and each Christian must decided for himself. I might ask you "do you still beat your wife"? You assume that Christians cannot make mistakes regarding canonicity.

6. Whether Galatians 1 damns Augustine and Luther.

I do not want to get into that can of worms. I believe Luther and Augustine, though in error on some things, were nevertheless true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, the "Psalms" in Luke 24: 44 means only Psalms and you are adding to the word to make it stand for the book of Esther!

If if means Esther, then you shall be able to show me where Christ, as in the Psalms, law of Moses, and in the prophets, spoke of Christ!

Yours in Christ,

Stephen

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Stephen,

I do not have a lot of time for this, but I will reply below in ALL CAPS, for your soul’s sake.


1. Must one be correct in his judgment of inspiration (which books are inspired) to be saved?

You say yes, I say no.

BY THE WAY, STEPHEN, I CLICKED ON YOUR NAME AND WENT TO YOUR BLOG, WHERE YOU SAID THAT YOU ACCEPTED “THE OLD BAPTIST CONFESSIONS.” THIS IS A FALSE STATEMENT, AND YOU SHOULD TAKE IT DOWN. ALL OLD BAPTIST CONFESSIONS ACCEPTED THE INSPIRATION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, INCLUDING ESTHER. RATHER, YOU SHOULD SAY THAT YOU REJECT ALL OLD BAPTIST CONFESSIONS AND HAVE ADOPTED A THEOLOGICALLY LIBERAL, MODERNIST POSITION. IF YOUR CHURCH HAS A COVENANT THAT SAYS THAT YOU ACCEPT THE INSPIRATION OF THE ENTIRE OT AND NT, YOU SHOULD RESIGN YOUR MEMBERSHIP OR REPENT OF REJECTING ESTHER. “HOLDING FAITH, AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE, WHICH SOME HAVING PUT AWAY CONCERNING FAITH HAVE MADE SHIPWRECK.”


2. Should one accept the books (canon) they are told to accept, without questioning, whether of Catholic, Protestant, or Ethiopic traditions?

You seem to say yes, I say no.

I AM A BAPTIST, NOT A CATHOLIC OR A PROTESTANT. WE WERE AROUND BEFORE CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS. YES, YOU SHOULD ACCEPT GOD’S WORD WITHOUT QUESTIONING IT. ACTUALLY, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

Is. 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

YOU SHOULD TREMBLE BEFORE THE WORD, NOT QUESTION IT. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?


3. On what basis should the individual Christian decide the "inspiration" of a given book that professes inspiration? What is the criteria for canonicity?

THE CHRISTIAN DOES NOT DECIDE THE INSPIRATION OF ANY BOOK. GOD DECIDES IT, AND THE CHRISTIAN RECEIVES IT.

I still do not know your criteria. I have given my chief criterion, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

IF YOU HAVE A “SPIRIT” THAT TELLS YOU THAT ESTHER IS NOT INSPIRED, IT IS A DEMONIC SPIRIT, NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT. THE HOLY SPIRIT WITNESSES TO THE ENTIRE WORD OF GOD.


7. Was there a universally or even widely accepted "canon" among the Jews at the time of Christ?

You seem to want to affirm that there was such a canon. Can you give the place in the bible that lists the books in that canon? Can you give a citation from the first, second, or third century that gives such a canon?

ALL BOOKS OF THE BIBLE WERE IMMEDIATELY ACCEPTED AS SCRIPTURE RIGHT AWAY BY GOD’S PEOPLE. DO YOU THINK THAT WHEN MOSES CAME DOWN FROM SINAI THE PEOPLE SAID, “WAIT, WE DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD. WE NEED TO WAIT UNTIL JAMNIA SOME 1500 YEARS IN THE FUTURE.” DANIEL KNEW THAT THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH, HIS CONTEMPORARY, WAS SCRIPTURE RIGHT AWAY (JER 9:2). IN FACT, GOD REGULARLY KILLED PEOPLE FOR NOT RECEIVING SCRIPTURE RIGHT AWAY (1 KINGS 13:21FF, ETC.). IN FACT, IF YOU ARE A BELIEVER, YOU WILL RECEIVE GOD’S WORDS (JOHN 17:8), AND WILL BE ETERNALLY DAMNED IF YOU DO NOT (JOHN 12:48).

I WILL GIVE YOU THE PLACE IN THE BIBLE THAT LISTS THE BOOKS OF THE CANON IN A ROW AFTER YOU GIVE ME THE PLACE IN THE BIBLE THAT SAYS ESTHER IS NOT INSPIRED, OR AFTER YOU GIVE ME THE PLACE WHERE JESUS SAID “IT IS WRITTEN” OR REFERENCED THE SCRIPTURES AND THE PEOPLE LISTENING SAID, “BUT WAIT, WE DON’T KNOW IF THAT IS INSPIRED OR NOT,” OR THE PLACE IN THE BIBLE WHERE WE HAVE GODLY PEOPLE WHO DID NOT BELIEVE IN ABOMINABLE FALSE GOSPELS LIKE BAPTISMAL REGENERATION (LUTHER, ETC.) REJECTING OR DISPUTING THE INSPIRATION OF ESTHER.

John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

8. If one has doubts about the inspiration and canonicity of a particular book of the bible, does this mean his has never been saved?

You say that such doubts makes a man a non Christian and a "liar."

NO, GOD’S WORD SAYS THAT YOU ARE A LIAR IF YOU REJECT WHAT HE HAS SAID.
Prov. 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Prov. 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Deut. 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev. 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

COME NOW, LET’S BE HONEST. IF ESTHER IS INSPIRED, YOU ARE DOING A HORRIBLE THING BY REJECTING IT. IF IT IS NOT INSPIRED, THE LORD’S CHURCHES AND PEOPLE ARE ALL UNIVERSALLY IN GRIEVOUS SIN WHILE YOU ALONE ARE RIGHT IN THE TRUTH. YOU SHOULD BOLDY PROCLAIM THE NON-INSPIRATION OF ESTHER AND SEPARATE IMMEDIATELY FROM EVERYONE WHO ACCEPTS THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE IN ITS ENTIRETY.
10. Does John 17: 8 affirm that all the elect will agree on the canon of scripture? Is Christ prayer a failure? Does Christ promise here that His elect will receive His "canonical Words"?

No, I do not believe that the verse above says that all the elect will agree on the canon of scripture. No, I don't believe the prayer of Christ failed, for I do not believe he was praying for all the elect to agree on the canon. Besides, where do you come with this idea that Jesus's words means "canonical words"? How do you define "canonical"?

SO WHAT DOES JOHN 17:8 MEAN? WHAT ARE CHRIST’S WORDS THAT ALL BELIEVERS WILL RECEIVE? ARE THEY SPOKEN WORDS THAT ARE NOW GONE AND THAT NOBODY HAS HAD FOR CENTURIES? OR ARE THEY THE CANONICAL WORDS OF THE BIBLE OF WHICH CHRIST SAID:

Matt. 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

11. What kind of agreement existed about the canon of inspiration among the first century Christians? What is our source of information to settle this question?

There was no universal agreement and Christ did not put his stamp of approval on any one in particular. Did he not cite from the Septuagint? If there was universal agreement on a canon of scripture, why the need for the council at Jamnia?

YOU ARE ENTIRELY IN ERROR HERE, KNOWING NOT THE SCRIPTURE, NOR THE POWER OF GOD. CHRIST DID NOT CITE “THE” SEPUTAGINT; THERE WAS NO SINGLE GREEK TRANSLATION THAT WAS UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED. IF A PARTICULAR GREEK RENDERING WAS ACCURATE, THE LORD MIGHT HAVE CITED IT, BUT HE DID NOT MAKE ANY GREEK TRANSLATION THE AUTHORITY OVER THE HEBREW. CHRIST SAID THAT JOTS AND TITTLES, HEBREW WORDS, WERE THE AUTHORITY (MATTHEW 5:18). IN LUKE 24:44, WHICH YOU DISPUTE ABOUT BELOW, HE CITED THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE HEBREW BIBLE, NOT OF A GREEK LXX.

THAT YOU WOULD SAY THAT UNGODLY CHRIST-REJECTING JEWS AT JAMNIA GAVE GOD’S PEOPLE THE CANON IS RIDICULOUS, AS RIDICULOUS AS SAYING THAT THE PEOPLE DID NOT KNOW GOD’S WORD WAS GOD’S WORD WHEN MOSES CAME DOWN WITH IT FROM SINAI. THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURE, INSPIRED BOOKS ARE ALWAYS RECEIVED IMMEDIATELY BY THE SAINTS. CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

Jer. 36:20 ¶ And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.
Jer. 36:21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
Jer. 36:22 Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
Jer. 36:23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
Jer. 36:24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
Jer. 36:25 Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.
Jer. 36:26 But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.
Jer. 36:27 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,
Jer. 36:28 Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
Jer. 36:29 And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?
Jer. 36:30 Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.
Jer. 36:31 And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.
Jer. 36:32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

WHY WAS THERE SUCH SEVERE JUDGMENT FOR REJECTING THE WORD OF GOD FROM JEREMIAH? AFTER ALL, JAMNIA HADN’T HAPPENED YET, SO HOW WAS HE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS WAS SCRIPTURE?

Your unrelated questions:

1. "Why did they receive Luke's gospel as equal in authority to Deuteronomy (1 TIm 5:18)?"

Who is the "they"? Certainly the early Christians accepted the gospel of Luke. But, like most inspired books, when they first come on the scene, they do not receive immediate recognition by all. Scholars agree that many of the "inspired" books "took a long time" to be favored by the overwhelming majority of Christians. But, the question is, did they accept the book of Esther, remember? Can you stay on the topic?

“THEY” IS THE SAINTS. LUKE WAS ACCEPTED AS AUTHORITATIVE, EQUAL TO DEUTERONOMY, AS SOON AS IT WAS WRITTEN, JUST LIKE ALL THE SCRIPTURE. IF ONE WISHES TO BE DAMNED ALONG WITH THE MAJORITY OF MODERN SCHOLARS, ONE CAN DO SO. THIS IS WHY PAUL CAN CITE LUKE 10:7 AND DEUT 25:4 AS “SCRIPTURE” LESS THAN 10 YEARS OR SO AFTER THE GOSPEL WAS WRITTEN, WITHOUT HIS DECLARATION MAKING WAVES OF ANY KIND.

2. "(Why did they) have a canonical collection of Paul's epistles in Peter's lifetime (2 Pet 3:15-16), then?"

What do you mean by "collection"? Who are "they"? Every Christian church? Every tradition? Speaking of "collections," why was Esther not found amond the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran?

YOU DO NOT KNOW THE SCRIPTURES, NOR THE POWER OF GOD.

2Pet. 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
2Pet. 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

NOTE THAT THERE WAS A COLLECTION OF “ALL [PAUL’S] EPISTLES” WHICH WAS ACCEPTED AS EQUAL TO THE “OTHER SCRIPTURES.” DURING THE LIFETIME OF PETER. PAUL’S 14 EPISTLES WERE COLLECTED AND RECEIVED AS INSPIRED IMMEDIATELY UPON THEIR COMPOSITION. THIS IS WHY HE CAN SAY:
1Cor. 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

THE FACT IS, YOU ARE NOT SPIRITUAL IF YOU REJECT PART OF THE CANON. AND SPIRITUAL PEOPLE ARE SAVED PEOPLE, CONTRASTED WITH NATURAL MEN, WHO DO NOT RECEIVE THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, 1 COR 2.

3. "Do the verses I gave you before (Rev 22:18-19; Prov 30:5-6, etc.) say that one who rejects inspired Scripture is a liar and wicked (as is one who adds to the canon)?"

The verses warn against altering God's word.

THIS IS YOUR ANSWER? SO YOU CAN CUT A WHOLE BOOK OUT OF THE BIBLE BUT NOT “ALTER” GOD’S WORD? THAT IS NICE! SO WE CAN JUST AGREE TO DISAGREE ABOUT WHETHER SOMETHING IS GOD SPEAKING FROM HEAVEN OR NOT—BUT WE ARE NOT ALTERING GOD’S WORD. NO. I WONDER HOW MUCH OF THE BIBLE WE CAN DO THIS TO—WHY STOP AT ESTHER? WHY NOT TAKE OUT WHATEVER ELSE YOU FEEL LIKE TAKING OUT, AS LONG AS SOME SPIRIT THAT YOU CLAIM IS THE HOLY SPIRIT TELLS YOU (WHILE THE TRUE HOLY SPIRIT TELLS ALL THE SAINTS THROUGH THE AGES OTHERWISE) TO TAKE IT OUT?

4. The salvation of Augustine and Luther because the 1) disagreed with you on the canon of scripture, and 2) believed different from you regarding baptism.

I don't agree with you. As I said, you restrict election and salvation far too narrowly, almost as do the cults.

SORRY, PAUL SAID:

Gal. 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Gal. 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

THESE PEOPLE ONLY ADDED ONE THING TO SALVATION—CIRCUMCISION. ONE WHO ADDS ONE THING TO JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH—WHETHER CIRCUMCISION, BAPTISM, OR SOMETHING ELSE—HAS CORRUPTE THE GOSPEL AND PAUL SAYS HE IS ACCURSED—AND SO DOES GOD, THEREFORE—UNLESS WE ARE GOING TO REJECT THE BOOK OF GALATIANS AS WELL. THEN AGAIN, IF ESTHER CAN GO, WHY NOT GALATIANS TOO?

5. "Are true churches that accept Esther as part of the canon liars and wicked, or are you a liar and wicked for rejecting this book of the Bible?"

Each church and each Christian must decided for himself. I might ask you "do you still beat your wife"? You assume that Christians cannot make mistakes regarding canonicity.

NO, YOU ASSUME THAT YOU CAN CUT WHOLE BOOKS OUT OF THE BIBLE BUT SOMEHOW NOT BE VIOLATING PROVERBS 30:5-6, REV 22:18-19, ETC. “The verses warn against altering God's word,” YOU SAY, BUT SOMEHOW ONE IS NOT ALTERING GOD’S WORD BY TAKING WHOLE BOOKS AWAY!—OR, IF YOU WERE RIGHT (WHICH YOU ARE NOT), THE ELECT OF ALL AGES ARE NOT IN GRIEVIOUS SIN, ALTHOUGH THEY ADD A MERE HUMAN COMPOSITION TO THE BOOKS OF THE HOLY, PERFECT, INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!

In conclusion, the "Psalms" in Luke 24: 44 means only Psalms and you are adding to the word to make it stand for the book of Esther!

I SUPPOSE THAT WHEN CHRIST DIVIDED THE OT INTO “THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS” HE ALSO DID NOT REFER TO THE ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT, AND, FOR SOME REASON, PRACTICALLY EVERY COMMENTARY ON EARTH THAT COMMENTS ON LUKE 24:44, WHEN IT SAYS THAT THE VERSE REFERS TO THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE OT INTO THE LAW, THE PROPHETS, AND THE WRITINGS, IS IN ERROR—AND, IF I AM “ADDING TO THE WORD,” AS YOU SAY, BY AFFIRMING SUCH, THEN SO ARE ALL OF THESE MEN.

THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE HERE IS NOT INTELLECTUAL, BUT MORAL. WHEN YOU READ ESTHER, GOD CONVICTS YOU THAT IT IS HIS WORD, BUT YOU ARE SUPRESSING THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT YOU KNOW IS TRUE. IF YOU REALLY WANT PROOF THAT LUKE 24:44 REFERS, AS DO MANY OTHER NT VERSES, TO THE ENTIRE CANON OF THE OT, YOU CAN EASILY FIND IT, AS YOU CAN FIND WRITINGS OF “SCHOLARS” WHICH TELL YOU THAT THE CANON IS NOT CERTAIN. WHAT YOU NEED, HOWEVER, IS REPENTANCE, AND TO SUBMIT, WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING, TO EVERY WORD OF THE BIBLE.

Deut. 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
Deut. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

BOTH CHRIST, THE AUTHOR OF ALL SCRIPTURE, AND THE ENTIRE LINE OF PROPHETS WHICH TYPIFIED HIM, HAVE THE WARNING THAT THOSE WHO REJECT THEIR WORDS WILL BE CURSED. GOD WILL REQUIRE YOUR REJECTION OF HIS WORDS AT YOUR HAND. IF SOMEHOW YOU ARE A BELIEVER, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY AND DEEPLY REPENT. IF YOU ARE NOT, AS IS LIKELY, YOU MUST BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND TURN FROM YOUR PRIDE IN PUTTING YOUR MIND ABOVE THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE AND PRESUMING TO JUDGE THEM.

PLEASE READ BIBLE STUDY #5 AT MY WEBSITE, HTTP://FAITHALONESAVES.GOOGLEPAGES.COM/SALVATION, TO GAIN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE REPENTANCE AND FAITH ARE WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

If if means Esther, then you shall be able to show me where Christ, as in the Psalms, law of Moses, and in the prophets, spoke of Christ!

WHILE THIS SENTENCE DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE, SINCE CHRIST SPOKE OF CHRIST ALL OVER THE PLACE IN THE GOSPELS, I ASSUME YOU MEAN THAT ESTHER HAS NO CHRISTOLOGY WHATEVER IN IT. IN THIS, AGAIN, YOU SHOW THAT YOU KNOW NOT THE SCRIPTURES, NOR THE POWER OF GOD, AND DO GREATLY ERR. READ MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY ON ESTHER IF YOU WANT EVIDENCE OF THIS.

WISHING THE BEST FOR YOU, WHICH IS YOUR IMMEDIATE AND DEEP REPENTANCE,

THOMAS

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

Seeing you do not really want to discuss this topic, and surely not intelligently or in a Christian and gentlemanly manner, and seeing the kind of response you have made, I must also doubt about the propriety of continuing this discussion (f we can call it a discussion).

You do not want to discuss this issue intelligently. You just want to keep insulting me, speaking derogatorily to me and demeaningly, and accusing me of heresy, of being the worst of deceivers and liars. And, you offer little real evidence to prove the inspiration of the Book of Esther.

I had really hoped to discuss this more deeply with you.

Your position is nothing but a type of Catholic argument. I am to accept the "canon" handed to me without question! And, all I can do is hope I am handed the right one! By the right "church"!

Your view is Catholic. Your view says that the "church" or largest faction of Christians has absolute authority in this matter! And yet, this view does make individual opinion important! It only says that the "majority" is right, at least the majority opinion among Protestants. For, it is obvious, that if we count Catholics, both Eastern and Western, then the Protestant bible has less authority! That is using Tom Ross's only criterion! The one that says the majority view is right and the minority must accept it or be damned!

Tom, Luke 24: 44 gives one defining characteristic of the books cited under those three categories! They all spoke of Christ! But, if Esther is included under "Psalms," then surely you can find a prophecy of Messiah in Esther! It is cited by no other bible book/writer!

I had hoped you would debate the merits of the book of Esther on its own. What does it teach? About God and Christ? About salvation and worship to God? About the Christian graces?

Tom, just throwing out threats to me is 1) not the way to intelligently discuss this topic, and 2) not the way to "win" an erring brother.

I really expected better from you as a professing learned apologist, but your last response is an eye opener. You show little real concern for me, your unfriendly expressions belying this fact. I suspect you have had some ill feelings towards me for some time now, based primarily on your comment on my blog a few months past.

Tom, the facts are out there for anyone to check (although you forbid anyone doing any researching of historical facts on this, for you want them to accept blindly the "canon" you prescribe for their faith!), and they are these.

1) There was no universally accepted canon for the Old Testament books in the first century.

2) There has been, since its writing, doubts about the inspiration, canonicity, and usefulness of the book of Esther. To deny this is to ignore plain undeniable facts of Church history.

3) Very few books of the bible, with the exception of the Torah, was immediately accepted by the mass of the faithful. Some books took a long time to gain a place of predominance as far as canonicity. Your denial of this fact belies your professing scholarship.

Most of the early lists of inspired books excluded Esther! You have ignored this fact! It means nothing to you! Your view says that I must go back, find that small sect of Christians who immediately "got it right" on canonicity, and accept their books! But, how can I know which "chuch"? You say the church is the one who has the proper canon! But, then you are circular and say that the canon is the one so designated by the church!

So, this concludes my writings here, unless you come back with something in the area of proof or evidence, from scripture or otherwise, and have something new to offer, but I will probably post some study notes and writings on this topic in my blog in the near future. But, you are probably not intested.

No, I do not accept everything in the London Confession of faith. I do accept what is says respecting "creedal Calvinism," not as it respects the "law" or such things as the inspiration of the Book of Esther.

Yours for the truth and hopefully in the Spirit of Christ,

Stephen

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Stephen,

Unless you are willing to explain the verses I gave you, there is no point discussing extra-Scriptural evidence. You claim somehow that one can add or take away entire books of the Bible, but not be violating Prov 30:5-6, etc. You have given no explanation for this position--for you know it is simply not true, but you need to justify your sinful rejection of part of the Bible. You do not need intellectual answers, but preaching. You can claim whatever you want about scholarship (although your answer is unscholarly, claiming that Luke 24 is only referring to the book of psalms instead of the torah, neviim, and kethuvim), but that is not your fundamental problem.

I am not unfriendly toward you at all. I have very limited amounts of time, but I put my answer in and used some of it to help you by calling you to repentance. I could easily have done many other things that I would rather have done. That you would not be willing to explain the verses I gave you, but would rather say that you have suspected for months (!) that I have had something against you, shows that sin, not lack of knowledge, is your fundamental problem.

I trust that you will immediately take your statement off from your website that says that you accept all the old Baptist confessions, and be honest and admit that you reject every single one of them and are a theological modernist and liberal. If you have not told your church this as well, you are being dishonest and evidence a bad conscience, which is connected with apostasy from the faith, 1 Tim 1:19.

I have cut and pasted information on Esther below from Dillard's OT introduction, which is not the most conservative work but is relatively easily accessible, just to show how off it is to affirm that Esther does not fit into the canon of Scripture. I do not do this to provide evidence for you, but for other readers of this interaction who might wonder about it. Unless, Stephen, you are willing to put the verses of Scripture above your own self and your own ways, there is no point giving you intellectual evidence--and you should be very afraid of your coming judgment for rejecting the Words of Christ written in Esther:

John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Deut. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Heb. 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

1Cor. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1Cor. 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1Cor. 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Deut. 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev. 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,

Your heart is evident, by the way, if you skipped over these verses when I gave them, instead of meditating upon them and deeply considering them. If you did not do this, it does not mean your heart is right, but if you did, it displays a terrible wickedness and corruption therein.

Here is the information from Dillard & Longman (who, by the way, as you ought to know, although they are not especially conservative, said that Jamnia just tried to justify the status quo of accepting Esther as inspired--so they did not decide it was so--but, of course, you have not replied at all to my proofs from Scripture that the Bible was received right away as inspired, simply saying that "scholars" say it was not the case, and presenting no verses whatsoever for your position).

THEOLOGICAL MESSAGE

The purpose of the canonical Esther is clearly related to its desire to account for the origin of Purim. But what does the book tell us about God? How does the book relate to the rest of the Bible?

[p. 196]

Divine Sovereignty

These may seem like strange questions in reference to a book that does not so much as mention God. Yet here we encounter an aspect of the genius of the author of Esther. His story is built on an accumulating series of seeming coincidences, all of which are indispensable when the story reaches its moment of peak dramatic tension at the beginning of chapter 6 . How “lucky” the Jews were that Esther was so attractive, that she was chosen over other possible candidates, that Mordecai overheard that assassination plot, that a record of Mordecai’s report of the assassination plans was written in the royal chronicles, that Esther had concealed her identity, that the king would have seen her without having called for her, that the king could not sleep that night, that he asked to have the annals read, that the scribe read from that incident several years earlier concerning Mordecai, that the king was wide awake enough to inquire as to whether he had rewarded Mordecai....Luck indeed! What the writer of Esther has done is to give us a story in which the main actor is not so much as mentioned—the presence of God is implied and understood throughout the story, so that these mounting coincidences are but the by-product of his rule over history and his providential care for his people. It is an extraordinary piece of literary genius that this author wrote a book that is about the actions and rule of God from beginning to end, and yet that God is not named on a single page of the story. For Jews at the author’s own time, and for all readers of the story in the centuries and millennia since, this story of divine providence and election has provided a message of comfort and assurance. God’s actions in history may be hidden; they are certainly not transparent to all. Yet in spite of our inability to understand divine purpose in all that transpires, none of it is beyond the reach of his hand.

This doctrine of divine sovereignty is fundamental to the book of Esther, but it is not a kind of fatalism. For where God’s actions and purposes are not transparent, the importance of human obedience and faithfulness becomes the more apparent. In this respect Esther 4:13–14 joins a number of other biblical texts that wonderfully integrate human responsibility and divine providence (for example, Joel 2:32 (MT 3:5); Matt. 26:24; Acts 2:23; 3:18–19).

Unfinished Business

The book of Esther is not a curious island in the midst of the biblical text, isolated from any contact with other events in the history of redemption recorded there. Quite to the contrary, the story of Esther is deeply involved with other events of redemptive history, most particularly with the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Amalekites. The genealogies of Haman and Mordecai introduce this conflict: Mordecai is identified as a Benjamite from the clan of Kish (Esth. 2:5), the father of Saul; Haman is a descendant of Agag (3:1), the Amalekite king against whom Saul had fought (1 Sam. 15). From the time of the Exodus there had been a history of conflict between Israel and the Amalekites; Moses had said, “The LORD will be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation” (Exod. 17:16). Israel was charged with “blotting out the [p. 197] memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Deut. 25:17–19; Exod. 17:14; 1 Sam. 15:23). Intermittent conflict with the Amalekites dots the biblical record (Judg. 3:13; 5:14; 6:3, 33; 7:12; 10:12; 1 Sam. 27:8; 30:13–18; cf. Num. 24:20). Saul had been instructed by God to destroy the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15), but he disobeyed God; this incident between Saul, Agag, and the Amalekites would ultimately become the reason for Saul’s own defeat and the loss of his dynasty (1 Sam. 28:18). An Amalekite would later claim that he had killed Saul (2 Sam. 1:8). Israel was still found fighting Amalekites in the days of Hezekiah (1 Chron. 4:43).

This conflict between the descendants of Saul and Agag is a continuation of the age-old antipathy between Israel and the Amalekites. Numerous details of the story of Esther can be understood on this background. It is this long-standing enmity between Israel and the Amalekites that accounts for Mordecai’s unwillingness to bow before Haman. This same enmity also explains why Haman, whose anger was originally directed only at Mordecai, would broaden the object of his wrath and seek to destroy all the Jews once he had learned that Mordecai was a Jew (Esth. 3:5–6). Haman’s decree for the total destruction of all Jews (3:13) is in effect his effort to do to Israel what Saul had failed to do to Amalek (1 Sam. 15:3). When the tables are turned in Esther and the Jews are authorized to take vengeance on their enemies, the Jews do not plunder the wealth of their victims (9:10, 15); the Jews at the time of Mordecai would not make the same mistake as Saul (1 Sam. 15:9–19). Israel’s having rest from her enemies is tied to the destruction of the Amalekites (Deut. 25:19); with this task completed, the Jews enjoy “rest from their enemies” (9:22).

Much of the book of Esther is taken up with the issue of the relationship of Jew and Gentile. This author wrote to a postexilic audience at a time when Israel had long known subservience to a variety of world powers: Assyria, Babylon, and Persia had held dominion, and others were yet to follow. Our author affirms that Jews need not be servile in a world dominated by gentile powers and that it remained possible to live rich lives while remaining loyal to Judaism. One readily appreciates why the book of Esther has remained so important in Judaism: in the face of a history of anti-Semitic pogroms, persecution, and the Holocaust, the book of Esther voices the confidence that “deliverance for the Jews will arise” (Esth. 4:14) and that the nation will endure because the electing purpose of God will not fail.


APPROACHING THE NEW TESTAMENT

Events in Susa threatened the continuity of God’s purposes in redemptive history. For Christian readers what is at stake in the book of Esther is not only the continued existence of the Jewish people, but also the appearance of the redeemer Messiah. Here in a distant city hundreds of miles and several centuries removed from events in Bethlehem God still providentially ruled the course of history and brought it steadily to the appearance of his own Son who would break down that barrier between Jew and Gentile (Gal. 3:28).

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

Here is my response to what you wrote.

I AM A BAPTIST, NOT A CATHOLIC OR A PROTESTANT. WE WERE AROUND BEFORE CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS. YES, YOU SHOULD ACCEPT GOD’S WORD WITHOUT QUESTIONING IT. ACTUALLY, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

A Baptist does not argue in a circular manner on canonicity and inspiration. He does not define “church” as = to “those who accept the 66 books of the common Protestant bible as the canon of scripture” and then say that the “church” determines the books of the canon.

A Baptist does not argue that the “church” is the creator of the “canon,” but rather that the "canon" is the creator of the "church." You argue exactly as do the Catholics by affirming that the "church" creates the canon.

Also, you want to define "church" and "people of God" to exclude all but your sect of Baptists! That is truly a cult characteristic.

Prove to me that any book is the inspired “word of God” and I will accept it as such. May I ask you to show me where the “word of God” is located in the Book of Esther?

YOU SHOULD TREMBLE BEFORE THE WORD, NOT QUESTION IT. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Show me the “word of God” in Esther and I will! God is not even mentioned in it! There is no “thus saith the Lord”! There is no reference to the Lord Jesus! There is no calling out to God for deliverance by Esther or Mordecai! They rather trust in their own political machinations and act in a ungodly spirit in so doing. They show themselves secular and believers in "luck" and "chance," in "blind fate" and in the gods of "fortune."

Should I tremble before the awesome example of faith and Christian character displayed in the “heroes” of Esther and Mordecai? One wonders why the writer of Hebrews left these two from the great Faith Hall of Fame! What godly characteristics do these "heroes" emanate?

Oh now I am arrogant and audacious, like a demon, because I question the usefulness, historicity, and inspiration of this book? Because I do not see the lessons of spirituality in it? That I don't see how it is "profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness"? Perhaps you can enlighten me on the purpose, meaning, and great use of this great inspired book that I should tremble before! If God’s name were in it, I might see some reason for so doing!

THE CHRISTIAN DOES NOT DECIDE THE INSPIRATION OF ANY BOOK. GOD DECIDES IT, AND THE CHRISTIAN RECEIVES IT.

The Christian has no “choice” in discerning inspiration and truthfulness of religious writings? Look at your “play on words”! A Christian does not “decide” inspiration but he “receives” it! Like a man can receive it without his mind, without a decision! Does he “receive” it “blindly,” because an uninspired man, or group of men, orders me to do so? Should the Christian not have some “measuring rule” to use in judging the matter? Is he left without such a tool?

IF YOU HAVE A “SPIRIT” THAT TELLS YOU THAT ESTHER IS NOT INSPIRED, IT IS A DEMONIC SPIRIT, NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT. THE HOLY SPIRIT WITNESSES TO THE ENTIRE WORD OF GOD.

I could also “feed you from your own spoon” and say - “If you have a spirit telling you that Esther and Mordecai are heroes of faith, then you have a demonic spirit leading you.” I could also give you another dose and say - “if you think a book that does not mention God or lead the reader to him, and to the Messiah, is inspired, then you might be led by a demonic spirit.”

How has the Holy Spirit “witnessed to” the Book of Esther? Did you prove that? I can show how Christ and the Holy Spirit witnessed to other sacred books, in one way or another, but can you show how they “witnessed to” the Book of Esther?

Yes, the Holy Spirit “witnesses to the word of God,” but where is the “word of Jehovah” in the Book of Esther? We find the words of Esther, the Persians, and of Mordecai, but where of God?

ALL BOOKS OF THE BIBLE WERE IMMEDIATELY ACCEPTED AS SCRIPTURE RIGHT AWAY BY GOD’’S PEOPLE.

You gave absolutely no proof for this! Simply an assertion! Both the scriptures and historical research is against you.

Again, you really narrow down the definition of what it means to be one of "God's people"! If you did not receive "immediately" as scripture, the Book of Esther, then one is not a child of God!

IF YOU ARE A BELIEVER, YOU WILL RECEIVE GOD’S WORDS (JOHN 17:8), AND WILL BE ETERNALLY DAMNED IF YOU DO NOT (JOHN 12:48).

If you prove to me that the Book of Esther is "God's Words," then of course I will receive it as such.

GIVE ME THE PLACE IN THE BIBLE THAT SAYS ESTHER IS NOT INSPIRED

I think you turn things around. You ask me to prove a negative! I should rather be asking you for the place in the bible that affirms the scriptural legitimacy of the Book of Esther. The Book of Esther fails all the bible rules for judging inspiration and canonicity.

GOD’’S WORD SAYS THAT YOU ARE A LIAR IF YOU REJECT WHAT HE HAS SAID.

Prove to me that Esther is "God's Word" and you will have an argument. Where in the Book of Esther is there a "thus saith the Lord"?

COME NOW, LET’’S BE HONEST. IF ESTHER IS INSPIRED, YOU ARE DOING A HORRIBLE THING BY REJECTING IT.

Yes, and if it is not the word of God, and if it teaches things contrary to the other books that are clearly inspired, then you are doing wrong in promoting it as "scripture," as that which "instructs" and "corrects" and gives "hope" to the believer, which it obviously does not!

IF IT IS NOT INSPIRED, THE LORD’’S CHURCHES AND PEOPLE ARE ALL UNIVERSALLY IN GRIEVOUS SIN WHILE YOU ALONE ARE RIGHT IN THE TRUTH.

This is a non sensical argument. First, because you define "Lord's Churches" and "Lord's People" in a way that is unscriptural and illogical, a case of "circular reasoning," as I have shown. Second, you make an erroneous statement when you say I am alone in my rejection of Esther as inspired. I can show you the first "canons" or lists of scriptures that were put forth by the earliest Christians and Church fathers, where the Book of Esther was excluded. In fact, it was the norm in the early church to reject Esther, or to at least put it in the same class as the Apocryphal books. I am not alone on this point. Volumes of evidence exist to prove that the Book of Esther has never had the same hearty reception as other more clearly canonical books.

YOU SHOULD BOLDY PROCLAIM THE NON-INSPIRATION OF ESTHER AND SEPARATE IMMEDIATELY FROM EVERYONE WHO ACCEPTS THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE IN ITS ENTIRETY.

That is a cult tendency of yours, Tom. You want to make such a small circle of saved people and you want to "separate from" everyone who does not agree with you on every jot and tittle!

Accept what "canon of scripture"? You have not shown how one can discern it!

SO WHAT DOES JOHN 17:8 MEAN? WHAT ARE CHRIST’S WORDS THAT ALL BELIEVERS WILL RECEIVE?

Your view on the above passage makes salvation impossible except for those who have read all four gospels! Possibly only for those who have read all the New Testament! Possibly only for those who have read the entire library of inspired books! A sinner cannot receive Christ's words and be saved, by simply reading the gospel of John!

YOU ARE ENTIRELY IN ERROR HERE, KNOWING NOT THE SCRIPTURE, NOR THE POWER OF GOD.

You accuse but you do not "correct" with scripture or other evidence of fact. You only assert. Where is the scripture and power of God in the Book of Esther? Are you saying that it takes knowledge of the Book of Esther to be born again?

CHRIST DID NOT CITE “THE” SEPUTAGINT; THERE WAS NO SINGLE GREEK TRANSLATION THAT WAS UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED. IF A PARTICULAR GREEK RENDERING WAS ACCURATE, THE LORD MIGHT HAVE CITED IT, BUT HE DID NOT MAKE ANY GREEK TRANSLATION THE AUTHORITY OVER THE HEBREW.

Here you again speak inconsistently and contradictorily. You first say that Christ did not cite the Septuagint and then say he "might have cited it." You then say that Christ's citation from the Septuagint did not "canonize" it (so to speak). I agree. So, just because a book, like Esther or Enoch, was in the Septuagint, does not mean Christ was necessarily putting his stamp of approval upon every book in the Septuagint collection.

IN LUKE 24:44, WHICH YOU DISPUTE ABOUT BELOW, HE CITED THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE HEBREW BIBLE, NOT OF A GREEK LXX.

You only assert this but give no evidence. I at least showed how my view was better for contextual reasons. My view affirmed that Christ gave us his own division or categorizing of the sacred books, not approving one already in existence.

I also proved how the Book of Esther could not be part of "The Psalms" because the identifying marks of all the books, then being "expounded" by Christ, was that they all foretold of his coming. Esther does not do that and cannot therefore be part of any collection of books under a supposed title of "The Psalms."

THAT YOU WOULD SAY THAT UNGODLY CHRIST-REJECTING JEWS AT JAMNIA GAVE GOD’S PEOPLE THE CANON IS RIDICULOUS.

Your have argued that the Jews, as a whole, had a unified canon of 39 books, when Jesus lived on the earth. You asserted this again without any proof. I brought up the meeting in Jamnia in 90 AD, in which Jews from Palestine and all over the world, met to "settle the question" of which books were to be judged as "canonical," in order to show you that it is a myth to say that the Jews were in full agreement in the first century. If they were in full agreement on the Old Testament canon, then there would have been no council of Jamnia!

THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURE, INSPIRED BOOKS ARE ALWAYS RECEIVED IMMEDIATELY BY THE SAINTS.

You gave no proof for this assertion. Historical facts are against you. Are you a Baptist teacher and historian and know not these things?

THE FACT IS, YOU ARE NOT SPIRITUAL IF YOU REJECT PART OF THE CANON. AND SPIRITUAL PEOPLE ARE SAVED PEOPLE, CONTRASTED WITH NATURAL MEN, WHO DO NOT RECEIVE THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, 1 COR 2.

Prove to me that the Book of Esther belongs in the canon and you will have an argument. Until then, all you say is without foundation. Demonstrate to us all that the Book of Esther are "the things of the Spirit of God"!

YOU CAN CUT A WHOLE BOOK OUT OF THE BIBLE BUT NOT “ALTER” GOD’S WORD? THAT IS NICE! SO WE CAN JUST AGREE TO DISAGREE ABOUT WHETHER SOMETHING IS GOD SPEAKING FROM HEAVEN OR NOT

No, I cannot "cut out" that was never part of it to start with. When you prove it is inspired, and contains the words of God, and instruction in righteousness and doctrine, then I will acknowledge it to be inspired and canonical.

I am not altering the Book of Esther. I am merely interpreting it, something you have not cared to do. Where is God "speaking from Heaven" in the Book of Esther? There is no voice of God in Esther!

NO, YOU ASSUME THAT YOU CAN CUT WHOLE BOOKS OUT OF THE BIBLE BUT SOMEHOW NOT BE VIOLATING PROVERBS 30:5-6, REV 22:18-19, ETC.

Your view makes every bible writer, after Solomon wrote Proverbs, someone who "added" to the bible! Such logic! Such scholarship!

I am not altering the Book of Revelation, to which the words in Rev. 22 apply! You have never proven, by any proof or rule, that the Book of Esther is part of the bible!

“The verses warn against altering God's word,” YOU SAY, BUT SOMEHOW ONE IS NOT ALTERING GOD’S WORD BY TAKING WHOLE BOOKS AWAY!

Again, you just keep repeating the same old meaningless remarks! Prove that Esther is part of the Bible and you will have an argument. I cannot take away Esther from the Bible if it is not there to begin with!

IF YOU WERE RIGHT (WHICH YOU ARE NOT), THE ELECT OF ALL AGES ARE NOT IN GRIEVIOUS SIN, ALTHOUGH THEY ADD A MERE HUMAN COMPOSITION TO THE BOOKS OF THE HOLY, PERFECT, INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!

Well, I certainly do think many of God's elect have added books to the bible that should not have been added. The Catholics do it. But, you will not see any "elect" among the Catholics! Again, you define "elect" in the narrow way of a cult, as I have said.

How many of the "elect" have believed the books that were handed to them without any investigation? Is it not most? You will put these people into the family of "elect" but not one who looks at the book honestly and fairly.

All things being equal, you define "elect," and "church," and "God's people," as that person who accepts your "canon" of books!

PRACTICALLY EVERY COMMENTARY ON EARTH THAT COMMENTS ON LUKE 24:44, WHEN IT SAYS THAT THE VERSE REFERS TO THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE OT INTO THE LAW, THE PROPHETS, AND THE WRITINGS, IS IN ERROR.

Now you appeal to commentaries and to the majority view for proof? Why not just keep with the division Jesus gave us?

Besides, even if "Psalms" = "the Writings," this still would not tell us which books constituted these "writings"!

IF I AM “ADDING TO THE WORD,” AS YOU SAY, BY AFFIRMING SUCH, THEN SO ARE ALL OF THESE MEN.

That is no argument at all! It is fallacious, being an "argumentum ad populum." And, as I said, if you take the total number of professing believers in Jesus and the gospel, then the view that the Bible has only 66 books is not the truth, for it is the minority view!

WHEN YOU READ ESTHER, GOD CONVICTS YOU THAT IT IS HIS WORD, BUT YOU ARE SUPRESSING THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT YOU KNOW IS TRUE.

How can God convict me that it is his "word" when there is not a "thus saith the Lord in it"? When there is no mention of the name of God?

YOU CAN FIND WRITINGS OF “SCHOLARS” WHICH TELL YOU THAT THE CANON IS NOT CERTAIN.

So I should just throw out the scholars, linguists, historians, etc., and just listen to you@

WHAT YOU NEED, HOWEVER, IS REPENTANCE, AND TO SUBMIT, WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING, TO EVERY WORD OF THE BIBLE.

Well, you prove that Esther fits the description of being a word from God, and I will be happy to repent.

Yours for the truth,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Kent and Tom:

Do you all believe that God gave the Jews the feast of Purim over and above the seven he gave to them through the law of Moses?

It seems that if you believe in the inspiration of Esther, then you would have to say that God added the feat of Purim.

But, Purim can never be called a feast of Jehovah!

In Christ,

Stephen

Thomas Ros said...

Dear Stephen,

You said:

There is no reference to the Lord Jesus! There is no calling out to God for deliverance by Esther or Mordecai! They rather trust in their own political machinations and act in a ungodly spirit in so doing. They show themselves secular and believers in "luck" and "chance," in "blind fate" and in the gods of "fortune." 

Should I tremble before the awesome example of faith and Christian character displayed in the “heroes” of Esther and Mordecai? . . . If you have a spirit telling you that Esther and Mordecai are heroes of faith, then you have a demonic spirit leading you.

Response:

Esther’s glorious display of God’s providence is seen in not mentioning the word “God,” but so evidently seeing God’s hand in the book. That you do not see God working behind the scenes—and how actually glorious it is that God worked everything out when His name is not specifically mentioned—shows your spiritual blindness. Did you read Matthew Henry—or even what I put in from the NT Introduction—on Esther to show how it fit into the canon and prepared for Christ? You certainly didn’t refer to any of it. You gave no response to how I showed that Esther fit in the canon. Did you even read the verses I listed? You claim to be willing to repent, but then you ignore what you want to ignore.
You blasphemously say that there is no spirituality in Esther and Mordecai, and that they don’t even pray.

Esth. 4:15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
Esth. 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

What do you think all the Jews in the city, and Esther and Mordecai, were doing? Not praying, while they fasted for three days, night and day? You know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

You make contradictory affirmations about whether one is violating the list of verses I gave (selectively responsding only to Rev 22:18-19; ignoring almost all the rest of them). First you said that I, and all God’s elect who receive Esther as the Word of God, are indeed adding to the Word, and are liars. Then you made the bizzare assertion that taking Prov 30:5-6 to mean what they say requires that all books written by inspiration after Solomon wrote Proverbs were violating Prov 30:5-6? Why such contradictions? What spiritual blindness!

I wrote:


John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.



Deut. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. 



John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.



Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 



Heb. 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 



1Cor. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 
1Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 
1Cor. 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 
1Cor. 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 



Deut. 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 



Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 
Rev. 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,

These verses say that those who reject the Word given by the prophets (and thus the great Prophet, Christ) will be “destroyed.” Yet you want to say that everyone who, on your view, is adding to the Word of God an entire uninspired book, are not going to get destroyed, and that you will not be destroyed for rejecting it. You know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

You did not say that you will renounce all old Baptist confessions and say that all of their signers were liars, Prov 30:5-6, and openly affirm theological modernism; you ignored that. If you will not be honest about this, the fact is that you are a false teacher who has a seared conscience. Why will you pretend to believe Baptist confessions when you reject them all? Why pretend you are a Baptist, not a theological liberal, modernist, and apostate, when you say that those who receive Esther as inspired are being led by an evil spirit (while at the same time saying that one can both receive and reject Esther, but be led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth in whom is no contradiction or lie, to do both at the same time—and not violate Prov 30:5-6, etc!)?

You did not deal with any of the evidence I gave that Scripture was received immediately. Every time we see how Scripture was received, it was always received immediately every time. You gave no example whatsoever of any book of the Bible that was not received immediately. Did the churches that got the book of Revelation need to wait until the 4th century to find out it was inspired? Did those that got Paul’s epistles have to wait until the 4th century to know they were the Word of God? Why did people get killed for not receiving Scripture immediately?

You accuse true Christians of circular reasoning in receiving the Bible with fear and trembling instead of presuming to sit in judgment upon it, but you have given no coherent epistemology yourself. We say that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, so we begin all our thinking with God’s revelation, the Bible. You do not have any consistent epistemology. What is your ultimate authority, your presupposition, your beginning point? It is obviously not the Bible. What is it? Is it history, by which allegedly we find out what really is the Bible and what is not? Is it your feelings, which he claims are testimony from the Holy Spirit to let him know what in the Bible to accept, and what to reject (as the Quakers)? Since you reject Scripture as the starting point and presupposition, state what your own starting point is, and let us here you show how it can be coherently defended.

Amazingly, while rejecting the canon of Scripture for his own canon which removes Esther, and rejecting all traditional Baptist confessions, not to mention other denominational confessions, he says that WE are cultic for defending the canon!

Stephen, “except ye repent, ye shall . . . perish” (Luke 13:3).

If you wish to repent, Stephen, or if you will coherently and in detail deal with everything I have already said, I will reply again. Otherwise I will spend no more time on this. I have huge numbers of other things to do, and “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Stephen,

You said:

There is no reference to the Lord Jesus! There is no calling out to God for deliverance by Esther or Mordecai! They rather trust in their own political machinations and act in a ungodly spirit in so doing. They show themselves secular and believers in "luck" and "chance," in "blind fate" and in the gods of "fortune." 

Should I tremble before the awesome example of faith and Christian character displayed in the “heroes” of Esther and Mordecai? . . . If you have a spirit telling you that Esther and Mordecai are heroes of faith, then you have a demonic spirit leading you.

Response:

Esther’s glorious display of God’s providence is seen in not mentioning the word “God,” but so evidently seeing God’s hand in the book. That you do not see God working behind the scenes—and how actually glorious it is that God worked everything out when His name is not specifically mentioned—shows your spiritual blindness. Did you read Matthew Henry—or even what I put in from the NT Introduction—on Esther to show how it fit into the canon and prepared for Christ? You certainly didn’t refer to any of it. You gave no response to how I showed that Esther fit in the canon. Did you even read the verses I listed? You claim to be willing to repent, but then you ignore what you want to ignore.
You blasphemously say that there is no spirituality in Esther and Mordecai, and that they don’t even pray.

Esth. 4:15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
Esth. 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

What do you think all the Jews in the city, and Esther and Mordecai, were doing? Not praying, while they fasted for three days, night and day? You know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

You make contradictory affirmations about whether one is violating the list of verses I gave (selectively responsding only to Rev 22:18-19; ignoring almost all the rest of them). First you said that I, and all God’s elect who receive Esther as the Word of God, are indeed adding to the Word, and are liars. Then you made the bizzare assertion that taking Prov 30:5-6 to mean what they say requires that all books written by inspiration after Solomon wrote Proverbs were violating Prov 30:5-6? Why such contradictions? What spiritual blindness!

I wrote:


John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.



Deut. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. 



John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.



Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 



Heb. 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 



1Cor. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 
1Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 
1Cor. 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 
1Cor. 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 



Deut. 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 



Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 
Rev. 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,

These verses say that those who reject the Word given by the prophets (and thus the great Prophet, Christ) will be “destroyed.” Yet you want to say that everyone who, on your view, is adding to the Word of God an entire uninspired book, are not going to get destroyed, and that you will not be destroyed for rejecting it. You know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

You did not say that you will renounce all old Baptist confessions and say that all of their signers were liars, Prov 30:5-6, and openly affirm theological modernism; you ignored that. If you will not be honest about this, the fact is that you are a false teacher who has a seared conscience. Why will you pretend to believe Baptist confessions when you reject them all? Why pretend you are a Baptist, not a theological liberal, modernist, and apostate, when you say that those who receive Esther as inspired are being led by an evil spirit (while at the same time saying that one can both receive and reject Esther, but be led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth in whom is no contradiction or lie, to do both at the same time—and not violate Prov 30:5-6, etc!)?

You did not deal with any of the evidence I gave that Scripture was received immediately. Every time we see how Scripture was received, it was always received immediately every time. You gave no example whatsoever of any book of the Bible that was not received immediately. Did the churches that got the book of Revelation need to wait until the 4th century to find out it was inspired? Did those that got Paul’s epistles have to wait until the 4th century to know they were the Word of God? Why did people get killed for not receiving Scripture immediately?

You accuse true Christians of circular reasoning in receiving the Bible with fear and trembling instead of presuming to sit in judgment upon it, but you have given no coherent epistemology yourself. We say that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, so we begin all our thinking with God’s revelation, the Bible. You do not have any consistent epistemology. What is your ultimate authority, your presupposition, your beginning point? It is obviously not the Bible. What is it? Is it history, by which allegedly we find out what really is the Bible and what is not? Is it your feelings, which he claims are testimony from the Holy Spirit to let him know what in the Bible to accept, and what to reject (as the Quakers)? Since you reject Scripture as the starting point and presupposition, state what your own starting point is, and let us here you show how it can be coherently defended.

Amazingly, while rejecting the canon of Scripture for his own canon which removes Esther, and rejecting all traditional Baptist confessions, not to mention other denominational confessions, he says that WE are cultic for defending the canon!

Stephen, “except ye repent, ye shall . . . perish” (Luke 13:3).

If you wish to repent, Stephen, or if you will coherently and in detail deal with everything I have already said, I will reply again. Otherwise I will spend no more time on this. I have huge numbers of other things to do, and “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).

Thomas Ross said...

From Bibliotheca Sacra:

Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther

Michael G. Wechsler

[Michael G. Wechsler is a missionary with Chosen People Ministries, Chicago, Illinois.]

From the time of its acceptance into the Old Testament canon, the Book of Esther has been recognized by Jewish sages and scholars as divinely inspired.1 Representative views may be noted from the time of Paul, who referred to the scriptural canon of his day (which included Esther) as ta» lo/gia touv qeouv (“the utterances of God,” Rom 3:2), as well as the Tanna’im who consistently state that “[the Book of] Esther was given utterance by the Holy Spirit.”2 Traditional Jewish regard for this book is most positively expressed in the idea that while the prophets and writings will one day be annulled, only the Scroll of Esther along with the Torah will never be annulled.3 In marked divergence from the traditional Jewish and early Christian appraisal of the Book of Esther, however, recent scholars have been skeptical of including the book in the biblical canon.4

[BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 276]

At the same time, however, a few modern scholars have posited the idea of a thematic/structural relationship between the Book of Esther and the Passover account in Exodus. A recent pioneer among these is Gerleman, who has argued that “all the essential features of the Esther narrative are already there in Exodus 1–12: the foreign court, the mortal threat, the deliverance, the revenge, the triumph, and the establishment of a festival.”5 Following Gerleman, though critical of certain points in his thesis, several other scholars have commented on the proposed connection between the two narratives.6 Evidence for a possible linguistic connection of Purim (Myîr…wp) to Passover (jAsÚRp) may also be derived from the Syriac rendering of Esther
9:26a, “Therefore they called these days Purim in accord with the name Passover,” in which “Passover,” normally rendered in Syriac as pashΩa®, is here rendered pesΩhΩa®.7 Perhaps this reflects an ancient tradition that recognized a legitimate connection between the thematic/theological bases of Purim and Passover.8

[BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 277]

While acknowledging the possibility of a thematic/theological relationship between the festal events of Purim and Passover, the focus of this article is on demonstrating, in the events surrounding the fast of Esther herself, an unmistakable thematic/theological adumbration of the events surrounding the atoning work of Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. Such adumbration or “shadowing” is one of the main reasons for which Israel’s festival days9 and by implication the events underlying them were instituted by God. As Paul wrote, “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival [e˚opthvß] or a new moon [neomhni÷aß] or a Sabbath day [sabba¿twn]—things which are a mere shadow [skia¿] of what is to come; but the substance [sw◊ma] belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16–17).10
Though the messianic (i.e., Christological) “substance” (sw◊ma) of prophetic “shadowing” (skia¿) in Esther has been occasionally, albeit minutely, noted by a few scholars,11 rarely if ever has the full breadth of messianic admubration in the scroll been noted in publication. In seeking to demonstrate both the prophetic “shadowing” (skia¿) in Esther as well as its divine substantiation (sw◊ma) in the humiliation and resurrection of Jesus, this article seeks to establish an accurate chronology of the events surrounding Esther’s fast, which in turn aid in identifying the substance “which belongs to Messiah.”

A Proposed Chronology of Esther’s Fast

After Haman received approval from the king to enact his proposal to destroy all Jewish residents of the Persian Empire (Esth 3:9–11), scribes were summoned to record the edict of the thirteenth day of the first month (v. 12), which verse 7 indicates was the month of Nisan. Since Old Persian days, like Jewish days, were most likely officially reckoned from evening to evening12—with the scribes being summoned either on the eve of [BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 278] Nisan 13 or as is more likely during the daylight hours of Nisan 13—the edict would have been issued in Susa (v. 15) only a few hours before Passover eve, Nisan 14. On that same day (Nisan 13) Mordecai would have learned of the edict, for no gap in the sequence of events is allowed by any natural reading of the text from 3:15 to 4:1. As an official in the palace court,13 Mordecai would most likely have learned of the edict even before it was issued to the city’s general populace. The opening statement of 4:1 may therefore be appropriately rendered, “and Mordecai knew all that had been done,” rather than “when Mordecai learned.”14
From 4:1 events proceeded rapidly as Mordecai sat at the king’s gate and communicated with Esther through an intermediary. During this time, on the eve of Nisan 14, Esther responded to Mordecai’s exhortation recorded in 4:13–14 with the call to fast for three days (v. 16). As it bears on the specific day that these words were spoken, Esther’s prior comment that she had not been summoned to the king “these thirty days” (v. 11) is of special import. If the author intended merely to indicate the length of time that had passed since Esther had last been called to the king, it would hardly have been necessary to include the demonstrative h‰z (“these”). However, this demonstrative calls the reader’s attention to the starting point of this period (i.e., the last time she was summoned to the king) thirty days earlier.15 This starting point would have been on Adar 14, which date, while anticipating the establishment of the Jewish feast on the same day (9:17), seems all the more likely when considering that this was in fact the fourth and perhaps most important day of the Old Persian Farvardˆîgaœn festival, celebrated from Adar (=Old Persian Viyah˙na) 11 to 15.16 On this great feast day Queen Esther would surely have been summoned to the king,17 and it is therefore to this occasion, [BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 279] thirty days before, that she was referring to by her statement “these thirty days” in 4:11. Though ambiguous to contemporary readers, this implied referent would certainly have been noted by the Persian-Jewish readers for whom “this letter of Purim” (9:29) was originally written.18
Having therefore declared her intention to fast for three days, and in light of the urgency of the situation, Esther most likely began her fast the following morning,19 with the sunrise of Nisan 14. Rather than commencing the fast immediately, this starting point would allow Mordecai the time needed to gather the Jewish residents of Susa for what was undoubtedly intended by Esther as a concerted event.20 By the expression “three days” (4:16) Esther may have been referring in a general (noninclusive) manner to the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of Nisan, while the phrase “night and day,” rather than indicating the manner in which the fast was to begin,21 simply indicates that the fast was to be comprehensive, encompassing both night and day.22 The placement of “night” first in this expression merely reflects the normal Jewish (as well as Old Persian) concept of the day as ordered from night to day (i.e., from evening to evening; cf. Gen 1:1; Exod 12:18; Lev 23:32). The fast would thus have progressed for roughly two consecutive twenty-four-hour periods (two evenings and two mornings) and would have ended on the third day. This view is also taken by the medieval commentator Ibn Ezra, who understood MyImÎy tRvølVv (“three days”) as meaning “until the third day,” and who wrote that Esther and the Jews of Susa “fasted for two days and two nights.”23
That Esther began her fast on Nisan 14, the first day of Passover (cf. Exod 12:18; Lev 23:5), is also attested by the earliest available Jewish exegesis of this verse . The [BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 280] Targum Rishon to Esther, for example, states that Mordecai “transgressed the joy of the feast of Passover and decreed a fast and sat upon ashes.” Likewise in b. Meg. 15a is written, “He caused the first day of Passover to pass in fasting.” In his Talmudic commentary concerning the latter statement Rashi further explains that “on the 13th of Nisan the letters [to destroy the Jews] were written and the edict was issued in Susa, and on the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth they fasted.”24 Most likely, then, the fast prescribed by Esther began on the morning of Nisan 14.
Given the starting date of Nisan 14 for Esther’s fast, there was no doubt it ended during the daylight hours on the third day (Nisan 16), for Esther 5:1 explicitly states that Esther approached the king on the third day. This phrase is rendered in similar wording in the Septuagint: e˙n thvØ hJme÷raˆ thvØ tri÷thØ. That the author began this verse by emphasizing the third day, rather than using a more general phrase such as “after these things” or “after these events” (2:1; 3:1), has contributed to the idea in rabbinic theology that “great occurrences happen (after two days of hope and preparation) on the third day.”25 To signify the end of her fast, therefore, Esther put on her royal clothing—an implication that until then she had been dressed in mourning apparel similar to that of Mordecai—and by virtue of her fast she approached the king. The following figure summarizes the chronology of Esther’s three-day fast, with the period of fasting indicated by boldface type.

Morning (sunrise-sunset) Nisan 13 Nisan 14 Nisan 15 Nisan 16
Evening (sunset-sunrise) Nisan 14 Nisan 15 Nisan 16 Nisan 17


Esther as a Type of Jesus

The messianic typology in Esther first becomes apparent by comparing the starting points of both Esther’s fast and Jesus’ “humiliation” by “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). As discussed, Esther’s fast most likely commenced with the daylight hours on Nisan 14. Similarly Jesus, after celebrating the eve of Passover (Nisan 14) with the meal conducted according to the Law26 [BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 281] (Exod 12:18; Lev 23:5; Matt 26:17–20; Mark 14:12–17; Luke 22:7–15) was delivered over to the Roman authorities early (h™n de« prwiŒ, John 18:28) the following morning (Nisan 14). On this first day of the Passover, Nisan 14, Jesus was crucified, and He died “around the ninth hour” (peri« de« th\n e˙na¿thn w‚ran, Matt 27:46; cf. Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44).
Just as Esther’s fast and Jesus’ humiliation (tapei÷nwsiß, Phil 2:8) commenced on the same date, so too Esther’s three-day period of fasting parallels the three-day period of Jesus’ death. This is seen in that the “fast” (Mwøx) in Scripture is expressed as coordinate with the idea of “affliction” or “humiliation” (hÎwÎnSo, associated with the verb hÎnDo).27 In Mishnaic and later Hebrew the related term tyˆnSo;At is likewise used synonymously for Mwøx.28
And in the Septuagint the idea of “afflicting one’s soul” (tapeinouvn th\n e˚autouv yuch/n) is frequently employed as a euphemism for fasting.29 Such euphemistic usage is clearly attested in the postapostolic Fathers, where notably tapei÷nwsiß (“humiliation”), coupled with nhstei÷a (“fasting”), is applied to Esther herself and is paralleled by to\ tapeino\n thvß yuchvß aujthvß (1 Clem. 55.6).30

[BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 282]

Just as Esther afflicted herself by fasting, so Jesus “afflicted himself [e˙tapei÷nwsen e˚auto\n]…by death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).31 Mourning was most likely a major characteristic of Esther’s fast, insofar as she identified, as a Jew, with the dÚEpVsIm (“wailing,”32 or “lamentation”) that encompassed the lives of all the Jews in Persia at this juncture (4:3). So too it may be logically inferred from the text that Esther also dressed in sackcloth and ashes,33 and that on concluding her fast she once again put on her royal clothing (5:1) before approaching the king.34 The significance of this change of clothing—and thus of mourning as an element in the fast—is appropriately noted by Collins: “the prescribed appurtenances of fasting, such as the sackcloth, torn clothes and ashes…represented the symbolic contact of the mourner with death.”35 Esther’s symbolic state of death may therefore be understood as “shadowing” the literal state of death experienced by Jesus.
As clearly stated in Scripture, Esther ended her fast on the third day, and so too Jesus was raised from His three-day period of affliction by death on the third day (thvØ tri÷thØ hJme÷ra, Acts 10:40; cf. Matt 20:19; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7, 46; 1 Cor 15:4).36 Moreover, “Esther put on royalty [t…wkVlAm],” most likely an indication, as previously mentioned, that she exchanged garments of fasting and mourning for her usual “glorious attire” (ta» i˚ma¿tia thvß do/chß, Esth 5:1, LXX), in which she then approached the king [BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 283] (5:1–2). So too Jesus, because of “the suffering of death” (to\ pa¿qhma touv qana¿tou), was raised from the dead “crowned with glory [do/xhØ] and honor” (Heb 2:9).37 Also one may note the not improbable description of Achashverosh by the Septuagint (Esth 5:6) as “seated on his royal throne, clothed in the full array of his majesty (e˙pifanei÷aß),” while the King of the universe, before whom Jesus presented Himself (Heb 9:24), is likewise said to be seated on His heavenly throne “in splendid majesty” (Ps 145:5; 2 Thess 1:9).
Finally, in presenting herself before the king on behalf of her people, Esther entered the palace and stationed herself opposite the king’s royal chamber (JKRl;RmAh ty;Eb). At once she was accepted by the king, having “gained favor in his eyes,” and she entered into the king’s chamber to touch his royal scepter. By virtue of her self-presentation and acceptance she was subsequently granted her petition, thereby assuring the salvation of the Jewish nation
dispersed throughout the Persian Empire. In typological fulfillment of this event, Jesus, having risen from the dead clothed in glory (1 Cor 15:20, 43) and power (Phil 3:10), “did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb 9:24). So by virtue of Jesus’ self-presentation and acceptance by God the Father “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (7:25). Also just as “many among the peoples of the land became Jews” (Esth 8:17), thereby associating themselves with the community38 that worshiped Yahweh, so too has the salvation occasioned by the presentation of Jesus resulted in the inclusion of Gentiles into the community of those who worship Yahweh, of whom Jesus is the image (Col 1:15), form (Phil 2:6), and fullness (Col 1:19). Furthermore, while the Septuagint explicitly renders the obvious implication of Esther 8:17 as “many of the gentiles were circumcised” (polloi« tw◊n e˙qnw◊n periete÷monto), Paul described initiation into the New Covenant community of faith as effected, not by means of a physical circumcision, but by “a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11).
So in addition to the existence of thematic/theological connections of Esther to the Passover account in Exodus, it seems that events surrounding Esther’s fast typify the atoning work of Jesus. [BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 284] In summary, the various points of “shadow” (skia¿) and “substance” (sw◊ma) may be listed here as follows:
1. Shadow: Esther’s three-day period of fasting began during the daylight hours of Nisan 14, the first day of Passover. Substance: Jesus’ three-day period of death began sometime around three o’clock during the daylight hours of Nisan 14, the first day of Passover.
2. Shadow: Fasting in general, and thus the fast undertaken by Esther, is identified in Scripture with “humiliation” or “affliction,” and inasmuch as her mourning (and a change into mourning garments) was involved, the fast may also represent her temporary “state of death.” Substance: Jesus’ three-day period of physical death (initiated by the cross, Phil 2:8) is identified in Scripture as the period of His “humiliation” or “affliction” (tapei÷nwsiß).
3. Shadow: Esther’s period of tapei÷nwsiß ended on the third day, Nisan 16 (Esth 5:1). Substance: Jesus’ period of tapei÷nwsiß ended on the third day, Nisan 16 (Acts 10:40; 1 Cor 15:4).
4. Shadow: On concluding her fast (i.e., after arising from her symbolic state of death) but before her self-presentation to the king, Esther was clothed in royalty (Esth 5:1). Substance: At the end of his three-day period of death, but before His self-presentation to God the Father in heaven, Jesus was resurrected “in glory” (e˙n do/xhØ, 1 Cor 15:20, 43).
5. Shadow: Esther presented herself, on the basis of her fast (Esth 4:16), before the king, who then accepted her into his presence (5:2). Substance: Jesus, on the basis of His atoning sacrifice and death (Heb 2:9–10, 14), entered into the Father’s presence in the true holy of holies in heaven (9:12, 24), and was accepted into His presence to sit at “the right hand of God” (10:12; 12:2).
6. Shadow: The result of Esther’s acceptance by the king was the salvation of her people, of which salvation Gentiles also took part (Esth 8:17) through initiation (by physical circumcision) into the community of faith. Substance: The result of Jesus’ acceptance by the Father is the salvation of His people (i.e., “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Matt 15:24), that is, Jews who are circumcised not only physically but also spiritually through faith in Him (Rom 2:28–29). Gentiles may also take part in this salvation through initiation (by spiritual circumcision, Col 2:11) into the (remnant) community of faith (Acts 11:18; Gal 3:8).

1 On the absence of Esther from the Qumran scrolls as well as Jewish opposition to the book in general, see the concise summary in C. A. Moore, Esther, Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1971), xxi-xxv. On the possibility of Esther fragments at Qumran, however, see J. T. Milik, “Les modèles araméens du livre d’Esther dans la Grotte 4 de Qumrân,” Revue de Qumran 15 (1992): 321-406.

2 b. Meg 7a. Cf. y. Meg 1.5: “Rab, R. Haninah, R. Jonathan, Bar Qappara, R. Joshua b. Levi said, ‘This scroll was stated to Moses at Sinai, for there are no considerations of anachronism in the Torah’” (The Talmud of the Land of Israel, vol. 19: Megillah, trans. Jacob Neusner [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987], 33 [III.H]).

3 y. Meg 1.5.

4 L. B. Paton wrote, “The book is so conspicuously lacking in religion that it should never have been included in the Canon of the OT, but should have been left with Judith and Tobit among the apocryphal writings” (Esther, International Critical Commentary [Edinburgh: Clark, 1908], 97). And Franz Delitzsch stated, “In the Book of Esther we perceive nothing of the impulses which the exile was to give to the people in the direction of the New Testament, nothing of prophetic afflation” (Old Testament History of Redemption [Edinburgh: Clark, 1881], 158–59).

5 Gillis Gerleman, Esther, Biblischer Kommentar Altes Testament (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchen, 1982), 11; cited by C. A. Moore, “Esther Revisited Again: A Further Examination of Certain Esther Studies of the Past Ten Years,” Hebrew Annual Review 7 (1983): 174. Also see Gillis Gerleman, Studien zu Esther, Biblische Studien (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchen, 1966), passim. The striking parallels between the two accounts, however, have led Gerleman to state that Esther was deliberately written to replace the central traditon of the Passover-Exodus account.

6 Most agreeable to this view, perhaps, is M. E. Andrew, “Esther, Exodus, and Peoples,” Australian Biblical Review 23 (1975): 25-28. Danna Nolan Fewell cites the Passover narrative as an “obvious” intertext for Esther (Reading between Texts: Intertexuality and the Hebrew Bible [Louisville: Westminster/Knox, 1992], 11–20). Abraham D. Cohen sees Purim as paralleling and affirming “Passover’s meaning of Divine providence towards the Jewish people” (“‘Hu Ha-goral’: The Religious Significance of Esther,” Judaism 23 [1974]: 87-94). N. L. Collins, assuming a Jewish-Egyptian redaction and readership of Esther, proposes that the “incidents in Esther have…become symbolic re-enactments for the parallel events which led to the salvation of the Egyptian Jews” (“Did Esther Fast on the 15th Nisan? An Extended Comment on Esther 3:12,” Revue Biblique 100 [1993]: 560). On the motif of God’s “absence” see the intriguing discussion by Donald E. Gowan, Theology in Exodus (Louisville: Westminster/Knox, 1994), 1–24. J. A. Loader, while acknowledging an Exodus motif, finds a more significant parallel to Esther’s “chokmatic” elements in the Joseph narrative (“Esther as a Novel with Different Levels of Meaning,” Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 90 [1978]: 417-21).

7 Perhaps this is in the Edessan dialect (J. B. Segal, The Hebrew Passover: From the Earliest Times to A.D. 70, London Oriental Series [London: Oxford University Press, 1963], 97, n. 2. Cf. R. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1901, 2:454; reprint, New York: Georg Olms, 1981], 3209–10; and Julius Fuerst, A Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, trans. Samuel Davidson [Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1885]).

8 Also y. Meg. 1.5 may reflect this same tradition: “Just as in a year which is not intercalated Adar [in which Purim is celebrated] is next to Nisan, so in a year which is intercalated Adar [in which Purim is celebrated] is next to Nisan.” R. Helbo wrote, “It is so as to link up one redemption [the one of Purim] with another redemption [the one of the Exodus from Egypt]” (Megillah, 34).

9 Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44; Numbers 15:3; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezra 3:5; Psalm 74:8; Isaiah 1:14; Ezekiel 46:11.

10 Also Hebrews 10:1 reads, “For the Law…has only a shadow [skia»n] of the good things to come, and not the very form [ei˙ko/na] of things.” The special days Paul said are “a mere shadow” are also referred to in 2 Chronicles 2:4: “sabbaths,” “new moons,” and “feasts.” Also see Hosea 2:11.

11 Paulus Casell, An Explanatory Commentary on Esther (Edinburgh: Clark, 1888), 175; and W. J. McClure, The Book of Esther: Prophetic Foreshadowings from the Book with No Divine Name in It (Kilmarnock: John Ritchie, 1990), passim.

12 See E. Bickerman, “Time-Reckoning,” in Cambridge History of Iran, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 3:778, 784.

13 For data supporting this view see H. Wehr, “‘Das Tor des Königs’ im Buche Esther und verwandte Ausdrücke,” Der Islam 39 (1964): 247-60; H. P. Rüger, “‘Das Tor des Königs’—der königliche Hof,” Biblica 50 (1969): 247-50; and Xenophon’s use of qu/raß (“door, gate”) for “court” (e.g., Cyropaedia 8.1.6, 16, 33, 34; 8.3.2; 8.6.10; 8.8.13; Anabasis 1.9.3).

14 Amos Chacham, “rtsa” [Esther], in twlygm Cmj [The Five Scrolls], ed. Aharon Meirskiy et al. (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 1990), 24. Chacham also notes the use of oådÎy rather than oåd¥ÅyÅw.

15 Similarly in Joshua 14:10 the demonstrative pronoun h‰z refers to the prior event of God’s speaking “this word” to Moses.

16 Julius Lewy, “The Feast of the 14th of Adar,” Hebrew Union College Annual 14 (1939): 142.

17 Also during Sasanian period on the fourth day of Naurôz, the Old Persian New Year festival, the king would specifically hold a session for and bestow benefits on “his family, his relations and domestics” (Albîrûnî, The Chronology of Ancient Nations, trans. C. Edward Sachau [London: W. H. Allen, 1879; reprint, Frankfurt: Minerva, 1969], 203).

18 Specific reference to the Farvardˆîgaœn feast day of Adar 14 may well have been intentionally omitted by the author of Esther because of its pagan nature.

19 According to the tradition recorded in b. Pesah. 2b, dawn was the usual time when public fasts began.

20 Though Esther was certainly free to begin her own fasting at an earlier time, this would seem to run against her intention to “fast thus” (N;Ek M…wxDa, “I…will fast in the same way”), that is, not only in the same manner but also at the same time.

21 Cassel, An Explanatory Commentary on Esther, 171, n. 1.

22 Moore, Esther, 51; and Chacham, “rtsa,” 33.

23 The rabbinic commentators had difficulty understanding how the fast could have continued for an unbroken seventy-two-hour period because they believed such a lengthy fast could hardly have been undertaken by every Jew in Susa (Yal. Shimoni 2:1056; Midr. Pss; and the substantial note by Chacham, “rtsa,” 33, n. 14).

24 For the view that the fast began on Nisan 13 see Midr. Esth Rab. 8:7; Pirqe R. El. 50; and Chacham, “rtsa,” 33, n. 14.

25 Chacham, “rtsa,” 35. For listings of other great “third day” events see Yal. Shimoni 1:99; 2:12; Midr. Pss. 22.5; and Cassell, An Explanatory Commentary on Esther, 175.

26 According to time reckoning in the Synoptic Gospels the hours were counted from sunrise, thus placing the ninth hour around three in the afternoon on Nisan 14. John likewise indicated that Jesus died while it was yet daylight on Nisan 14; he wrote that the Jewish leaders requested that the bodies of those crucified be removed from their crosses before that (Sabbath) evening, Nisan 15, and that on doing so the soldiers discovered that Jesus had already died (John 19:31–33). Though it has been argued that John placed the crucifixion on Nisan 13, the day on which the Passover lamb would have been sacrificed (cf. John 18:28 and 19:14; but also see Mark 14:12), it must be recognized that pa¿sca (= jAsRp) may refer not only to the Passover lamb but also to “the whole feast and all its festive meals” (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services [reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994], 315; cf. b. Ros¥. Has¥. 5a; Leviticus 23:8; and the use of the plural MyIjDsVp [“Passover offerings”] in 2 Chron 35:8–9). Thus by the phrases fa¿gwsin to\ pa¿sca (John 18:28) and paraskeuh\ touv pa¿sca (19:14) John may have been referring to the Passover hagigah (festal offering, Lev 23:8). In fact the Jewish leaders’ concern for avoiding defilement cannot otherwise be adequately explained, for the Levitical uncleanness they would have occasioned by entering the Praetorium would have lasted only until sundown that day and would not have prevented them from eating the Passover lamb that evening. Such defilement, however, would have prevented them from both offering and partaking of the Passover hagigah, which “according to the express rule” [m. H¸ag. 1:3] was to be both offered and eaten on the first day (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 2:566–68).

27 David wrote, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Ps 35:13), and Isaiah used M…wx and hÎnDo as parallels in Isaiah 58:3, 5. Cf. Moshe David Herr,
“Fasting and Fast Days,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 6:1189–96, in which vRp‰n hÎnDo (“to humble [one’s] soul”) is said to be a “synonymous idiom” of M…wx (“to fast”).

28 Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature (New York: Judaica, 1992), s.v. Mwx and tynot.
The one scriptural occurrence of tyˆnSo;At (Ezra 9:5) is rendered in the Septuagint as tapeinw¿sewß.

29 Walter Grundmann also refers to the occurrences of tapeino/w in the Septuagint of Leviticus 16:29, 31; 23:27, 29, 32; and Isaiah 58:3, 5 (“tapeino/ß,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972], 8:7).

30 Ibid., 8:24. Grundmann noted that “tapei÷nwsiß [1 Clem. 55.6] is the abasement before God which accompanies and finds expression in fasting, i.e., hwno” (ibid.; cf. also Herm. Sim. 5.3.7).

31 Interestingly rabbinic tradition ascribes to Esther during her fast the very words from Psalm 22:1 uttered by Jesus during his crucifixion: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (cf. Midr. Pss. 22.6, 16; Yal. Shimoni 2.685).

32 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1907), 704.

33 Daniel too dressed in sackcloth and ashes while fasting (Dan 9:3).

34 The inference of Esther’s change of clothing is explicit in all the early translations and paraphrases: Septuagint (Add Esth 4:17k): aÓfelome÷nh ta» i˚ma¿tia thvß do/chß aujthvß, e˙nedu/sato i˚ma¿tia stenocwri÷aß kai« pe÷nqouß; Tg. Esth II (on 5:1): “she put on royal garments”; and Tg. Esth II (on 5:1): “she arose from the dust and (from) the ashes, crouched in stature and not straightened out. She then adorned herself with the jewelry that queens adorn themselves—she put on a royal garment” (The Two Targums of Esther, trans. Bernard Grossfeld, in The Aramaic Bible [Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1991], 159).

35 Collins, “Did Esther Fast on the 15th Nisan?” 535; cf. esp. n. 10.

36 Cassel likewise notes that the concluding day of Esther’s fast and the resurrection of Jesus both occurred on the third day (An Explanatory Commentary on Esther, 175).

37 For the idea of Jesus’ being “clothed” in majesty (i.e., glorified and exalted) immediately on His resurrection, see Acts 3:13; Philippians 2:8–9; and 1 Peter 1:21.

38 This community is the faithful remnant of physical Israel (= “the Israel of God,” Gal 6:16) which has always characterized and now undergirds (basta¿zeiß, Rom 11:18) the true community of worship of Yahweh (cf. 11:1–5).

[BSac 154:615 (Jul 97) p. 285]


By the way, Stephen's twisted view of the OT canon is demolished in "The Council of Jamnia and the Old Testament Canon," Robert C. Newman (WTJ 38:3 (Spr 76) p. 319-350]. A short excerpt:

Among those who believe the Old Testment to be a revelation from the Creator, it has traditionally been maintained that the books composing this collection were in themselves sacred writings from the moment of their completion, that they were quickly recognized as such, and that latest of these were written several centuries before the beginning of our era. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus appears to be the earliest extant witness to this view. Answering the charges of an anti-semite Apion at the end of the first century of our era, he says:

We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time. Of these, five are the books of Moses, comprising the laws and the traditional history from the birth of man down to the death of the lawgiver. This period falls only a little short of three thousand years. From the death of Moses until Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as king of Persia, the prophets subsequent to Moses wrote the history of the events of their own times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life. From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit [WTJ 38:3 (Spr 76) p. 320] with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.1

On the basis of later Christian testimony, the twenty-two books mentioned here are usually thought to be the same as our thirty-nine,2 each double book (e.g., 1 and 2 Kings) being counted as one, the twelve Minor Prophets being considered a unit, and Judges-Ruth, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Jeremiah-Lamentations each being taken as one book. This agrees with the impression conveyed by the Gospel accounts, where Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Palestinian Jewish community in general seem to understand by the term “Scripture” some definite body of sacred writings.
Rabbinical literature, though much later, is also in agreement with this testimony. In the Babylonian Talmud, completed by about A.D. 550,3 we read: “Our Rabbis taught: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachai, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel,”4 so that inspiration was thought to have ceased long before the beginning of the Christian era. Among earlier Talmudic material, there is a Baraitha5 (from about A.D. 2006) which likewise assigns the Scripture to ancient authors, but also explicitly names the books of the Old Testament and gives a total of twenty-four books7 by using the scheme mentioned above except for treating Judges and Ruth, Jeremiah and Lamentations as separate entities. As in Josephus, the books are also grouped in three classes. The first is the Pentateuch, as in Josephus, but the other two are different: the second section, called “prophets,” contains Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve Minor Prophets in that order, whereas the third section, called “writings,” contains the remainder of our familiar Old Testament. . . .

In this paper we have attempted to study the rabbinical activity at Jamnia in view of liberal theories regarding its importance in the formation of the Old Testament canon. I believe the following conclusions are defensible in the light of this study.
The city of Jamnia had both a rabbinical school (Beth ha-Midrash) and court (Beth Din, Sanhedrin) during the period A.D. 70-135, if not earlier. There is no conclusive evidence for any other rabbinical convocations there.
The extent of the sacred Scriptures was one of many topics discussed at Jamnia, probably both in the school and in the court, and probably more than once. However, this subject was [WTJ 38:3 (Spr 76) p. 349] also discussed by the rabbis at least once a generation earlier and also several times long after the Jamnia period.
No books are mentioned in these discussions except those now considered canonical. None of these are treated as candidates for admission to the canon, but rather the rabbis seem to be testing a status quo which has existed beyond memory. None of the discussions hint at recent vintage of the works under consideration or deny them traditional authorship. Instead it appears that the rabbis are troubled by purely internal problems, such as theology, apparent contradictions, or seemingly unsuitable content. . . . The decisions of the rabbis in the canonical discussions at Jamnia and elsewhere doubtless had some influence in what became orthodox Judaism, for these discussions, together with thousands on a vast array of other subjects, eventually became a part of the Babylonian Talmud and other early rabbinical literature. But no text of any specific decision has come down to us (nor, apparently, even to Akiba and hit students). Rather, it appears that a general consensus already existed regarding the extent of the category called Scripture, so that even the author of 4 Ezra, though desiring to add one of his own, was obliged to recognize this consensus in his distinction between public and hidden Scripture.

Thomas Ross said...

By the way, Purim was a civil festival, not a religious one. That the record of Purim in Esther is somehow supposed to prove that the book is not inspired is unbelieving—and unscholarly—madness.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

I don't have time to refer to your "diatribes" and to your "hash and rehash" speaking, and certainly not to all you simply "copy and paste" here in the combox!

But, to your one short comment on the festival of Purim, I will respond immediately.

You said:

"By the way, Purim was a civil festival, not a religious one. That the record of Purim in Esther is somehow supposed to prove that the book is not inspired is unbelieving—and unscholarly—madness."

Oh how inconsistent you are! You want to make the book all about God and his glorious providence, and make Esther and Mordecai into specimens of faith (even though they are in Susa for disobedience!), making the book very much a religious event, and then say that the "holiday" that commemorates it is "civil"! Jehovah sent a great deliverance to his disobedient Pagan people in Persia and the celebration ordained to create it is only "civil"!

You know how ungodly this "holiday" has ever been among the Jews who observed it! A carnival and a mardi gras! Get drunk! Be merry! Remember and bless Esther and Mordacai!

If Mordacai and Esther are meant to show us men and women of faith, then why are they even in Persia, and not in the land of Israel? And, why would such godly people of faith, be instituting such a civil or non religious holiday to commemorate a religous experience?

What about the "fasting" done in connection with the "feast" and the "holiday"? Is this a civil fast? What about when the Book of Esther is read in synagogues today? Is that unreligious, what is purely civil?

If the feast or holiday is only civil, then so also is the story!

In Christ's name,

Stephen

Thomas Ross said...

Stephen,

If you aren't even going to read what I wrote, you obviously don't want an answer. You just want to continue to believe your own position. When you said that you are willing to repent if I give you evidence, you are not telling the truth. Therefore there is no point giving you an answer; the more light I give you, the worse your damnation will be.

Prov. 26:4 ¶ Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

I am still working on replying to two of your responses and of the writings you copied and pasted.

However, in reading your citation from Wechsler, he said -

"Perhaps this reflects an ancient tradition that recognized a legitimate connection between the thematic/theological bases of Purim and Passover."

If you cited him, I must believe you agree with him. But, if Purim and Passover are legitimately connected, then how can you call Purim what is only "civil" and not religious?

Blessings,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

Another citation from Wechsler and which you endorse, says:

"Such adumbration or “shadowing” is one of the main reasons for which Israel’s festival days9 and by implication the events underlying them were instituted by God. As Paul wrote, “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival [e˚opthvß] or a new moon [neomhni÷aß] or a Sabbath day [sabba¿twn]—things which are a mere shadow [skia¿] of what is to come; but the substance [sw◊ma] belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16–17).10
Though the messianic (i.e., Christological) “substance” (sw◊ma) of prophetic “shadowing” (skia¿) in Esther has been occasionally, albeit minutely, noted by a few scholars,11 rarely if ever has the full breadth of messianic admubration in the scroll been noted in publication."


How can you say this and then say the "feast" of Purim was not religious?

For the truth,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

I have responded to everything you have said. I am working on responding to your previous two postings, including your extensive citations. But, give me time!

Have you responded to my arguments? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

For instance, I challenged you in regard to II Timothy 3: 15, 16. Does Paul not define "scripture"?

He gives us a definintion of what constitutes "scripture"!

Canonical Rule 2
Canonical Rule 2 - The Profitability Test (criterion)

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15: 4 KJV)

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3: 15-17 KJV)

I ask you if the Book of Esther performed all these tasks. Does it make one wise unto salvation?

Here is an enlargement upon this Pauline rule for judging canonicity and inspiration, or in defining "scripture."

1) Does the book produce a "hope" of salvation through Christ?

2) Does the book "instruct in righteousness," being "profitable" thereunto?

3) Does the book "correct" errors in doctrine and righteousness?

4) Is the book "profitable for doctrine"? If so, what doctrines?

5) Is the book "profitable for reproof"? If so, how or in what way?

6) Does the book "perfect" the faith of the "man of God"?

7) Does the book "make one wise unto salvation"?

Scripture here is defined as what makes one wise unto salvation in Christ. Does the Book of Esther do this? Does it pass the test of "profitability"?


Esther fails Paul's test for being "scripture" for it does not do any of those six things!

It does not instruct or correct, nor does perfect the man of God and make wise unto salvation through Christ!

How can you cite this passage and then claim Esther fits into it?

Yours in Christ,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

You affirmed that "Esther" (and I suppose you mean the book and not the leading character herself?) was a "glorious display of God’s providence" and that it "is seen in (its) not mentioning the word “God,” and yet "God's hand" is evidently seen in it."

I believe you are forcing this interpretation on the book. If one did not bring any biases to a first reading of the book, he would not come away with a belief in Israel's God. If he were an agnostic, he might conclude that the story simply involved a few "reversal of fortunes," and some interesting coincidences.

The ancient Persians believed in "destiny" and "fate," and they also believed in the gods of "luck" and "chance." To know the future or the will of the gods, one had to "divine" it by "casting lots." This is what Haman the Persian did to discern the will of the gods.

Muslims believe in predestination and Allah's control of events. He could read the Book of Esther and conclude it was Allah who was controlling the events.

Yes, God is in control of all events. When any great reversal of fortunes occur, therefore, they are of God's engineering. But, one could see this in any good book showing such reversals in the lives of people, fictional or real. "The Prince and the Pauper" also is a story about "reversal of fortunes," but this does not prove it is inspired.

Compare a really inspired story of God's providence in Genesis! In the lives of the people in Egypt, and of Moses and Joseph! Quite a different kind of narrative to teach about the sovereignty and providence of God.

You say that I "do not see God working behind the scenes—and how actually glorious it is that God worked everything out when His name is not specifically mentioned—shows your spiritual blindness."

"Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king's palace ... Who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis" (Esther 4:13-14). Finally, Esther agrees to help, exclaiming, "If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16).


If the author of the book of Esther were a "prophet," he would not purposely leave out mentioning Yahweh in such a verse as this! To affirm that he left out mentioning God, in such places where a true prophet would not hesitate to speak of the event as being the result of Yahweh's working, all for the purpose of enhancing the idea of God's involvement, is truly ludicrous.

"Who knows perhaps"? Is this the word of one who has absolutely knowledge, the knowledge of a "prophet" of Yahweh?

Are such words as are uttered by Mordecai anything that is unheard of among pagans? And, even among the irreligious and atheists?

People say "as fortune would have it," or "you are the man of the hour," or "destiny has brought you to this moment," or "Que sera, sera - Whatever will be, will be," or "as fate would have it," etc.

One has as much authority and reason for calling everyone who uses such expressions - "believers in Yahweh's providence" as for Moses and the prophets!

You fail to note the "historical context" of the historical romance novel. The Jews who are the main characters in the story are all rebellious Jews! They were the ones who refused to go back to the land of Israel! To rebuild the kingdom of Yahweh and his temple! They are the representatives of "secular Jewry," of the kind of worldly minded Jew that was typical of the scattered Jews of the dispersion. Even their "religion," or what is left of it, has become corrupted, a mixture of Jewish customs and beliefs and Persian beliefs and customs. That is quite evident to the honest and critical student of the book of Esther.

The absence of religious speech and behavior, in the novella, and the name of Israel's God, and the secular descriptions of the Persian Jews, all demonstrate that the novella describes the life of the secular and worldly minded Jews who had synthesized themselves

"Did you read Matthew Henry—or even what I put in from the NT Introduction—on Esther to show how it fit into the canon and prepared for Christ? You certainly didn’t refer to any of it. You gave no response to how I showed that Esther fit in the canon."

I did read Matthew Henry! I have read lots more also. What does this prove? That I disagree with Henry, that is all. So, what does that prove? No, Matthew Henry did not show what you say he showed. If you want something to read, visit my blog where I have posted numerous essays of late on the the Book of Esther which answers your questions. I have shown that Esther violates all the scriptural rules for discovering inspiration, divine authority, and canonicity of writings professing the same.

"Did you even read the verses I listed? You claim to be willing to repent, but then you ignore what you want to ignore.

I did read them. And, when you make an argument on them, then I will respond. What kind of debating is that? Just to throw out a bunch of verses and ask me to respond! Besides, most of what I have already said addresses some of the implications you seem to want to make from those verses. Remember my asking you how the "voice that speaks from heaven" was heard in the book of Esther?

You blasphemously say that there is no spirituality in Esther and Mordecai, and that they don’t even pray. Esth. 4:15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Esth. 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. What do you think all the Jews in the city, and Esther and Mordecai, were doing? Not praying, while they fasted for three days, night and day? You know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

It says they fasted, but it does not say they prayed. You read that into the text like you do the name and workings of Yahweh. Every other bible writer mentions prayer with fasting when it is viewed religiously. So, why not here? What kind of prophet is Mordecai (if he is the writer of the book) not to mention praying? Why would he purposely mention fasting and not praying? Where is your explanation of this oddity? Is it not very uncharacteristic of Yahweh's prophets?

I suppose when prisoners on death row go on a "hunger strike," that this means they are God's people? Religious people? Would that not be a case of assuming too much? People can't fast for political reasons?

How do you know that this was a purely Jewish and spiritual fast? Could it not be fasting ritual that was acceptable to all religions, to Jews and Persians?

In fact, history shows that "fasting" was a regular part of life for Persians, being a means of "cleansing" their bodies.

Besides, how do you know that these disobedient Jews were praying to Yahweh? The verses do not say it! You read that into the verse like you do so many of your interpretations relative to this book. If they were fasting and praying, who were they praying unto? Can you prove it by the text and context?

You make contradictory affirmations about whether one is violating the list of verses I gave (selectively responsding only to Rev 22:18-19; ignoring almost all the rest of them).

I did not do so and your simply accusing me of it does not make it so. I did respond to the above citation. The passage deals with adding to the Book of Revelation, not to an already accepted, closed, and universally agreed upon canon.

First you said that I, and all God’s elect who receive Esther as the Word of God, are indeed adding to the Word, and are liars.

I did not say that and you should not put words into my mouth. I have repeatedly said that the elect may be error in their judgment of books of inspiration. To say that a Christian who is in error in judgment about a particular book is a "liar" is twisting my words. Such a Christian is not a liar, but simply in error, probably in honest error.

Then you made the bizzare assertion that taking Prov 30:5-6 to mean what they say requires that all books written by inspiration after Solomon wrote Proverbs were violating Prov 30:5-6? Why such contradictions? What spiritual blindness!

Well, why were you citing this passage? Was it not to prove that no one can add a book to what has already been written? I showed that this verse does not mean the canon was closed when Proverbs was written, and so the canon could, and was, added unto. But, once a book has been written, by God's inspiration, then of course God forbids that that book be not tampered with. But, where have you proven that the Book of Esther is "God's words"?

I wrote:
John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.



I responded to this. Remember? I said your view logically forces you to affirm that no one can be born again till he has "received" every word in the bible! Also, where have you ever proven that the Book of Esther was, by definition, the "words of Christ"?

Deut. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. 



John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.



Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 



Heb. 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 



1Cor. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 


1Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 
1Cor. 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 
1Cor. 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 



Deut. 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 



Rev. 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 
Rev. 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.

These verses say that those who reject the Word given by the prophets (and thus the great Prophet, Christ) will be “destroyed.”


Where have you proven that the Book of Esther is under consideration in any of the verses you cite? In fact, your last statement above, if taken seriously, overthrows your position! Where do we hear "that prophet" speak his words in Esther? How can I be rejecting the words of the Messiah, in Esther, when there is not a single word about the Messiah in it?

Yet you want to say that everyone who, on your view, is adding to the Word of God an entire uninspired book, are not going to get destroyed, and that you will not be destroyed for rejecting it. You know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

This is nonsensical and assumes points not yet proven. I will not keep wasting my time on your unsupported and unproven premises, you false enthymemes. Again, prove that the Book of Esther contains the words of "that prophet" and you will have an argument.

You did not say that you will renounce all old Baptist confessions and say that all of their signers were liars, Prov 30:5-6, and openly affirm theological modernism; you ignored that.

How can you keep falsely saying that I ignored things when I did not? I could come back to you and ask you - "have you read what I have written?" I said I accept the Old Baptist Confessions, especially as they relate to soteriology and "creedal Calvinism." Remember? I have never said that I believed everything in that confession. Our Baptist forefathers, though adopting the confession, also did not believe that one had to believe every item in the confession to be considered sound or Baptistic. We do not follow creeds, but the bible alone. I would not call them "liars"! Why do you say such evil things! Such an accuser you are! I would say they were simply in error. Besides, I rather imagine that many of those signers, if they could speak honestly, would express doubts about the inspiration of Esther. They certainly, in my view, would not have agree with you and the secular Jewish rabbi that said that the book of Esther would stand while the other books were destroyed!

If you will not be honest about this, the fact is that you are a false teacher who has a seared conscience. Why will you pretend to believe Baptist confessions when you reject them all? Why pretend you are a Baptist, not a theological liberal, modernist, and apostate, when you say that those who receive Esther as inspired are being led by an evil spirit (while at the same time saying that one can both receive and reject Esther, but be led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth in whom is no contradiction or lie, to do both at the same time—and not violate Prov 30:5-6, etc!)?

You are just in a bad spirit to keep throwing out invectives and threats. That is not the way to discuss an issue intelligently and in the spirit of Christ. We do not define "Baptist" based upon whether one accepts or rejects the Book of Esther. That is your definition.

No, I rather think many Christians, the ones who have even read Esther (which, by your view, there is no such Christian, for you affirm one cannot be a Christian without believing in Esther, and one cannot believe in Esther without reading Esther, can he?), have accepted it because they were pressured to do so, wanting to conform and "give the benefit of the doubt" to the church he joins. However, like Calvin, they have shown their dislike and doubt of it by rarely preaching upon it.

Okay, what have we proven by this appeal to the "leading of the Spirit"? You affirm that the "Spirit" led you to accept it as equally, if not more so, inspired and authoratative, than the writings of Moses, the prophets, or the apostles! I affirm that the "Spirit" led me not to accept the Book as his word. Now, all this proves that you are right, and I am wrong, correct?

You did not deal with any of the evidence I gave that Scripture was received immediately. Every time we see how Scripture was received, it was always received immediately every time. You gave no example whatsoever of any book of the Bible that was not received immediately.

You only gave one example and that was when Moses was receiving the law and when God visibly spoke and displayed himself. And, I did say that the first five books were somewhat of an exception, did I not? Besides, it is not true that the writings of Moses were at once received by everyone! Don't you agree that the non elect rejected them?

Did the churches that got the book of Revelation need to wait until the 4th century to find out it was inspired? Did those that got Paul’s epistles have to wait until the 4th century to know they were the Word of God? Why did people get killed for not receiving Scripture immediately?

No, as each Christian came into contact with the book, and heard it read, he had at that time the witness of the Spirit to aid him in judging its inspiration. He would listen to the arguments of his brethren who disagreed with him and would discuss the matter in a prayerful spirit. Yes, it is a fact of history, that the Book of Revelation, though received by some professing Christians, from its inception, nevertheless was not widely and quickly accepted by the majority. So much for the majority vote being a criterion for inspiration and canoncity! The only argument you really cling to! Also, did not God tell many of the prophets, like Jeremiah, that the people, when they first hear his words, will reject them?

People have been killed for rejecting a prophet and his message! But, you try to make far too much of this, don't you? Has every Christian, throughout history, who was in error on the canon, killed?

You accuse true Christians of circular reasoning in receiving the Bible with fear and trembling instead of presuming to sit in judgment upon it, but you have given no coherent epistemology yourself.


You are just in "left field" here brother. I am amazed at how your mind wanders from a topic! You put words and propositions into my mouth that have never come from them. You equate "receiving the bible" with receiving the books that you, Tom Ross, or the people you name, insist make up the "bible"!

Your "circular reasoning" is in affirming that the "church" (as you define it) creates the canon, but then affirm that the canon makes the church!

I presume judgment because I make a judgment upon the inspiration of a book claiming to be inspired! Good Lord help us! Have you not sat in judgment about the Apocryphal books? Did you not judge Judith to be uninspired and Esther to be inspired?

Brother, we are not here to discuss epistemology! Can't you stay on topic? Besides, have I not said, as did Calvin and Augustine, yea, the whole Protestant world almost, that the judgment and knowledge of inspiration can only be a personal matter, a matter for the Spirit to bear witness unto? Does that not deal with epistemology to some extent?

We say that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, so we begin all our thinking with God’s revelation, the Bible. You do not have any consistent epistemology.

Mine is consistent! Mine says the Holy Spirit must show each individual the truth of inspiration relative to each book claiming it. You are the one who is inconsistent! --Saying that I must blindly accept the canon given to me by my Baptist church, and ask no questions and repent of any doubts! Your argumentation is filled with inconsistency and incoherancy. It is full of logical fallacies, such as argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad hominem, besides using "red herrings" and methods such as "poisoning the well." You certaily are good at "building straw men" and with "charging consequences" upon your opponent, even when he does not avow those consequences, and when the facts prove the charges false.

What is your ultimate authority, your presupposition, your beginning point? It is obviously not the Bible. What is it? Is it history, by which allegedly we find out what really is the Bible and what is not? Is it your feelings, which he claims are testimony from the Holy Spirit to let him know what in the Bible to accept, and what to reject (as the Quakers)?

Well, what is yours? Is your not "subjective" like you are making mine? I have given you my "ultimate authority"! It is not you! It is not the London Baptist Confession! It is not the Commentaries! It is not the majority view of professing Christians! It is not the decisions of church councils or church fathers! It is based upon what I sense and feel when I read the book! And, you do the same, if you are honest enough to admit it!

Since you reject Scripture as the starting point and presupposition, state what your own starting point is, and let us here you show how it can be coherently defended.

That is a false charge! What kind of man are you to charge me with such things! Why do you slander me? You call me a liar, a heretic, someone who does not know the scriptures nor the power of God! A virtual scroundrel! Why should I continue discussing the holy bible with a man with such a "spirit"?

Who says I reject scripture as a starting point? But, who defines "scripture"? You? Your Baptist sect? Some church council? Based upon some vote that was taken? I reject no scripture. I only reject what I am either in doubt about, or otherwise convinced is inspired.

Amazingly, while rejecting the canon of Scripture for his own canon which removes Esther, and rejecting all traditional Baptist confessions, not to mention other denominational confessions, he says that WE are cultic for defending the canon!

I have answered all this! Hash and rehash! Spew more invectives! You are "cultic" because you limit salvation to your little self described chosen few! You damn most Christians and have set such a "high bar" on what it means, that you won't have enough in heaven to make up a good choir!

Stephen, “except ye repent, ye shall . . . perish” (Luke 13:3).

If you wish to repent, Stephen, or if you will coherently and in detail deal with everything I have already said, I will reply again. Otherwise I will spend no more time on this. I have huge numbers of other things to do, and “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).


Oh, aren't you so holy to call me to my knees! I have repented on doctrine more than once in my life, Tom. I will do it again if convicted to do so. But, so far, nothing you have said, nor anything I have felt coming from the Holy Spirit, has cause me to see how I am in error. Sorry.

I will respond to the remainder of your diatribe soon.

For the truth,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

Here is my review of Wechler.

From Bibliotheca Sacra: Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther

Michael G. Wechsler

[Michael G. Wechsler is a missionary with Chosen People Ministries, Chicago, Illinois.]

"From the time of its acceptance into the Old Testament canon, the Book of Esther has been recognized by Jewish sages and scholars as divinely inspired."

Who denies this? What he did not say, however, was that the Old Testament canon was accepted by "all" sages and scholars! Since he did not say "all," then I can also say "from the time of its acceptance into the Old Testament canon, the Book of Esther has been doubted and rejected by Jewish sages and scholars as divinely inspired."

If there has been disagreement from the beginning, then truly there have been "sages" and "scholars" on both sides! Now, if we believed that the majority = canonicity, then we will want to see what the majority view was at the beginning, and down through the ages!

"Representative views may be noted from the time of Paul, who referred to the scriptural canon of his day (which included Esther) as ta lo/gia touv qeouv (“the utterances of God,” Rom 3:2)..."

Yes, and there were "representative views" of Jewish groups that disagreed on the canon. There is no proof offered by Wechler or by you to prove these assertions! Where does Paul refer to a "scriptural canon of his day" that contained precisely the 39 books you endorse? You have no grounds for asserting such things.

As far as Esther fitting the description of being an "oracle" or "utterance" of God, you have got to be kidding me! Are you serious? This verse is against you! Where do you find the "oracles" or Yahweh in the Book of Esther? You will not find it and yet you will call Esther an "oracle" and "utterance" of God! You even admit that God is "absent," that his name is not mentioned, and that he is "silent" and yet you say it is an book of God's "utterance"! No, the verse in Romans 3: 2 clearly would exclude Esther! If you were not led by a "blind faith" in accepting books because you were told to do so, you and Wechler might see this.

"...as well as the Tanna’im who consistently state that “[the Book of] Esther was given utterance by the Holy Spirit.” Traditional Jewish regard for this book is most positively expressed in the idea that while the prophets and writings will one day be annulled, only the Scroll of Esther along with the Torah will never be annulled."

Wechler is citing Aben Ezra, a Christ rejecting secular Jew! I have never denied that the secular Jews, who make up the greater majority of Jews, since the captivity, and the dispersion, loved the book of Esther! They loved it so much that they deified it above all other sacred books! Oh I am so surprised that the disobedient secular Jews, as typified by Esther, Mordecai, and the Persian Jews, and of Aben Ezra and Maimonides, all saw this secular novella as they did! If one understands Esther properly, this acceptance by secular Jewry is no surprise.

"Traditional Jewish regard" does not mean "universal acceptance"! The book of Esther was mostly rejected by the godly remnant of Jews, but the carnal money-making, compromising Jews, loved it!

"In marked divergence from the traditional Jewish and early Christian appraisal of the Book of Esther, however, recent scholars have been skeptical of including the book in the biblical canon."

I wonder why? Oh yes, all Tom Ross can do against this criticism and skeptism is to throw out threats and invectives! All he can do is threaten with damnation! Could it be that modern scholars see honest problems with the text? With its historical accuracies? With its genre and message?

Besides, it is not, as Wechler implies, only recent scholars who have been skeptical of the inspiration of Esther!

"At the same time, however, a few modern scholars have posited the idea of a thematic/structural relationship between the Book of Esther and the Passover account in Exodus. A recent pioneer among these is Gerleman, who has argued that “all the essential features of the Esther narrative are already there in Exodus 1–12: the foreign court, the mortal threat, the deliverance, the revenge, the triumph, and the establishment of a festival.” Following Gerleman, though critical of certain points in his thesis, several other scholars have commented on the proposed connection between the two narratives. Evidence for a possible linguistic connection of Purim (Myîr…wp) to Passover (jAsÚRp) may also be derived from the Syriac rendering of Esther 9:26a, “Therefore they called these days Purim in accord with the name Passover,” in which “Passover,” normally rendered in Syriac as pash, is here rendered pes. Perhaps this reflects an ancient tradition that recognized a legitimate connection between the thematic/theological bases of Purim and Passover."

Are you sure you agree with this Tom? You have said that "Purim" has no religious connection or connotations. But here the writer you cite and endorse thinks the religious connection is strong.

Was Purim a "feast" of Yahweh? Was it one that he "added to" the completed list of "feasts"? Purim is either of God or of man. Which is it, Tom?

I will not address this point of Wechler's (and your's) till you answer this.

"While acknowledging the possibility of a thematic/theological relationship between the festal events of Purim and Passover, the focus of this article is on demonstrating, in the events surrounding the fast of Esther herself, an unmistakable thematic/theological adumbration of the events surrounding the atoning work of Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. Such adumbration or “shadowing” is one of the main reasons for which Israel’s festival days and by implication the events underlying them were instituted by God."

So, Esther's "fast" now becomes a picture of the sufferings of Christ? You have got to be kidding me! You talk about forcing an interpretation on a text! That is clearly an example of it! Are you sure you agree with Wechler on this? Again, I will wait to show the folly of this view till you respond.

"As Paul wrote, “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival [e˚opthvß] or a new moon [neomhni÷aß] or a Sabbath day [sabba¿twn]—things which are a mere shadow [skia¿] of what is to come; but the substance [sw◊ma] belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16–17)."

You think Paul refers to Purim here? If he does, then how can you say that it was only "civil"? You think Paul's words above are not connected with what is "religious"? Don't you see how you contradict yourself? (Assuming you agree with your citation!)

"Though the messianic (i.e., Christological) “substance” (sw◊ma) of prophetic “shadowing” (skia¿) in Esther has been occasionally, albeit minutely, noted by a few scholars, rarely if ever has the full breadth of messianic admubration in the scroll been noted in publication."

Oh what an admission! First he tells us that the Messiah's sufferings and death are pictured in the "fasting" of Esther and then says only a very few scholars saw it! Did you not just admit the falsity of your proposition by endorsing these words?

"In seeking to demonstrate both the prophetic “shadowing” (skia¿) in Esther as well as its divine substantiation (sw◊ma) in the humiliation and resurrection of Jesus, this article seeks to establish an accurate chronology of the events surrounding Esther’s fast, which in turn aid in identifying the substance “which belongs to Messiah.”

A Proposed Chronology of Esther’s Fast


There is not anything here worth replying to. Nothing of importance to the debate was said. He simply gives himself to a flight of "fanciful interpretation."

Esther as a Type of Jesus? You have got to be kidding me! Wonder why then no New Testament writer mentioned it?

By the way, Stephen's twisted view of the OT canon is demolished in "The Council of Jamnia and the Old Testament Canon," Robert C. Newman (WTJ 38:3 (Spr 76) p. 319-350]. A short excerpt:

Among those who believe the Old Testment to be a revelation from the Creator, it has traditionally been maintained that the books composing this collection were in themselves sacred writings from the moment of their completion, that they were quickly recognized as such, and that latest of these were written several centuries before the beginning of our era. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus appears to be the earliest extant witness to this view. Answering the charges of an anti-semite Apion at the end of the first century of our era, he says:

We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time. Of these, five are the books of Moses, comprising the laws and the traditional history from the birth of man down to the death of the lawgiver. This period falls only a little short of three thousand years. From the death of Moses until Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as king of Persia, the prophets subsequent to Moses wrote the history of the events of their own times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life. From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit [WTJ 38:3 (Spr 76) p. 320] with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.

On the basis of later Christian testimony, the twenty-two books mentioned here are usually thought to be the same as our thirty-nine,2 each double book (e.g., 1 and 2 Kings) being counted as one, the twelve Minor Prophets being considered a unit, and Judges-Ruth, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Jeremiah-Lamentations each being taken as one book. This agrees with the impression conveyed by the Gospel accounts, where Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Palestinian Jewish community in general seem to understand by the term “Scripture” some definite body of sacred writings.


There is no proof that Josephus included Esther in his 22 book Hebrew canon. He did not list them.

"Rabbinical literature, though much later, is also in agreement with this testimony. In the Babylonian Talmud, completed by about A.D. 550, we read: “Our Rabbis taught: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachai, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel,” so that inspiration was thought to have ceased long before the beginning of the Christian era. Among earlier Talmudic material, there is a Baraitha (from about A.D. 2006) which likewise assigns the Scripture to ancient authors, but also explicitly names the books of the Old Testament and gives a total of twenty-four books by using the scheme mentioned above except for treating Judges and Ruth, Jeremiah and Lamentations as separate entities. As in Josephus, the books are also grouped in three classes. The first is the Pentateuch, as in Josephus, but the other two are different: the second section, called “prophets,” contains Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve Minor Prophets in that order, whereas the third section, called “writings,” contains the remainder of our familiar Old Testament..."

There is really nothing here for me to respond to. Again, Josephus does not affirm that Esther was part of the 22 books. Nor would it prove much if he did, as he certainly was a secular Jew.

"In this paper we have attempted to study the rabbinical activity at Jamnia in view of liberal theories regarding its importance in the formation of the Old Testament canon. I believe the following conclusions are defensible in the light of this study."

Tom, did you read this citation yourself before you asked me to read it? This statement affirms what I have said and you have denied! Wechler says that the rabbinical activity at Jamnia was important "in the formation of the OT canon"! If it was already an accepted canon, as you affirm, then this statement is a contradiction.

The city of Jamnia had both a rabbinical school (Beth ha-Midrash) and court (Beth Din, Sanhedrin) during the period A.D. 70-135, if not earlier. There is no conclusive evidence for any other rabbinical convocations there.

The extent of the sacred Scriptures was one of many topics discussed at Jamnia, probably both in the school and in the court, and probably more than once. However, this subject was [WTJ 38:3 (Spr 76) p. 349] also discussed by the rabbis at least once a generation earlier and also several times long after the Jamnia period.

No books are mentioned in these discussions except those now considered canonical. None of these are treated as candidates for admission to the canon, but rather the rabbis seem to be testing a status quo which has existed beyond memory."


Testing a status quo? What a "spin" on history! Why would they want to do that? Were they not really trying to ascertain canonicity? Yes, it had been discussed earlier! Many times! From the beginning the veracity of Esther has been discussed!

None of the discussions hint at recent vintage of the works under consideration or deny them traditional authorship. Instead it appears that the rabbis are troubled by purely internal problems, such as theology, apparent contradictions, or seemingly unsuitable content. . . . The decisions of the rabbis in the canonical discussions at Jamnia and elsewhere doubtless had some influence in what became orthodox Judaism, for these discussions, together with thousands on a vast array of other subjects, eventually became a part of the Babylonian Talmud and other early rabbinical literature. But no text of any specific decision has come down to us (nor, apparently, even to Akiba and hit students). Rather, it appears that a general consensus already existed regarding the extent of the category called Scripture, so that even the author of 4 Ezra, though desiring to add one of his own, was obliged to recognize this consensus in his distinction between public and hidden Scripture.

A "general consensus" existed? How does he know? What proof does he offer? He admits that the Esther and the canon was always a matter of debate, and then turns right around and tries to make it sound like there had never been any question about it!

THEOLOGICAL MESSAGE

The purpose of the canonical Esther is clearly related to its desire to account for the origin of Purim. But what does the book tell us about God? How does the book relate to the rest of the Bible? [p. 196]


Yes, and did the writer successfully show that Purim was an institution of Yahweh? No! Yes, what does it tell us about God? Not one thing! Not explicitly, as you admit! The only teaching that is done is implicity, or what you read into the narrative.

Divine Sovereignty

These may seem like strange questions in reference to a book that does not so much as mention God.


It sure does!

Yet here we encounter an aspect of the genius of the author of Esther. His story is built on an accumulating series of seeming coincidences, all of which are indispensable when the story reaches its moment of peak dramatic tension at the beginning of chapter 6 .

The "genius" of the author of Esther? A one is a genius who can write a work of divine inspiration, designed to make one wise unto salvation, and to "instruct in righteousness" and to "perfect the man of God" and yet God or his word (oracles) are not even referenced or alluded to? That is really a "stretch."

How “lucky” the Jews were that Esther was so attractive, that she was chosen over other possible candidates, that Mordecai overheard that assassination plot, that a record of Mordecai’s report of the assassination plans was written in the royal chronicles, that Esther had concealed her identity, that the king would have seen her without having called for her, that the king could not sleep that night, that he asked to have the annals read, that the scribe read from that incident several years earlier concerning Mordecai, that the king was wide awake enough to inquire as to whether he had rewarded Mordecai....Luck indeed! What the writer of Esther has done is to give us a story in which the main actor is not so much as mentioned—the presence of God is implied and understood throughout the story, so that these mounting coincidences are but the by-product of his rule over history and his providential care for his people.

That is just pure nonsense! No one would gather this from the text but someone who is intent on reading his own interpretation into it. The "main actor" in the story is God? That is a joke! Just because there are some "fortune" moments, does this make it inspired? Then would it not also make other books that deal with such moments, also inspired? Any novel that describes unusual "coincidences" proves God's providence and the reality of Jehovah?

It is an extraordinary piece of literary genius that this author wrote a book that is about the actions and rule of God from beginning to end, and yet that God is not named on a single page of the story.

No, what is "extraordinary" how men can read this book and say such things! To sing the merits of a book that does not mention God, or his word, or his oracles, and that within a strictly secular context, over and above the other books of the bible, that mention God frequently, and that give us his actual "utterances," is truly "extraordinary"!

For Jews at the author’s own time, and for all readers of the story in the centuries and millennia since, this story of divine providence and election has provided a message of comfort and assurance.

To whom? To the secular Jews yes! They saw it as a masterpiece of how secular Judaism, the political and social entity, not the religious, had triumphed over their enemies! They did not have to go to the land of Israel to prosper! They could stay in the heathen lands, put secular concerns first and assimilate themselves. It has afforded little comfort to Christians, for it speaks of no God, no Christ, nor any of his promises.

God’s actions in history may be hidden; they are certainly not transparent to all. Yet in spite of our inability to understand divine purpose in all that transpires, none of it is beyond the reach of his hand.

Yes, God's actions may be hidden in history, but they are not hidden in sacred books written by his prophets to explain history!

This doctrine of divine sovereignty is fundamental to the book of Esther, but it is not a kind of fatalism.

It is not "fatalism"? How did he or you prove that? We call it "blind fate" that affixes events on earth to an unknown and un-named entity, force, or being(s)! Were the Persians not fatalists? Is that not why Haman rolled the dice? To discover destiny or fate?

For where God’s actions and purposes are not transparent, the importance of human obedience and faithfulness becomes the more apparent. In this respect Esther 4:13–14 joins a number of other biblical texts that wonderfully integrate human responsibility and divine providence (for example, Joel 2:32 (MT 3:5); Matt. 26:24; Acts 2:23; 3:18–19).

Notice Wechler's and your admission! God's actions and purposes are not transparent in Esther! Yet it is a book of God! What is "apparent" in the book? Is it "human obedience" and human "faithfulness"? You have got to be kidding, right? As I have said, it is a picture of how the Jews became secular and worldly wise, learning how to succeed among the heathen, how they could become the "head" and not the "tail" by "hook or crook," by political and economic means.

Unfinished Business

The book of Esther is not a curious island in the midst of the biblical text, isolated from any contact with other events in the history of redemption recorded there.


Is it not an "island"? Is it not what is of "private interpretation"? Is it not the only book that doesn't mention God or Christ? The only book that does not meet the messianic, profitability, or privacy rules of inspiration.

"Contact"? This book has no "contact" with any other book! No other bible writer sanctions it!

Quite to the contrary, the story of Esther is deeply involved with other events of redemptive history, most particularly with the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Amalekites. The genealogies of Haman and Mordecai introduce this conflict: Mordecai is identified as a Benjamite from the clan of Kish (Esth. 2:5), the father of Saul; Haman is a descendant of Agag (3:1), the Amalekite king against whom Saul had fought (1 Sam. 15). From the time of the Exodus there had been a history of conflict between Israel and the Amalekites; Moses had said, “The LORD will be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation” (Exod. 17:16). Israel was charged with “blotting out the [p. 197] memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Deut. 25:17–19; Exod. 17:14; 1 Sam. 15:23).

So, you are saying that the Jews in Persia should have been working to kill all the Amalekites? What an erroneous interpretation!

If one can see "redemptive history" in the story of Esther, he is simply seeing a mirage!

Intermittent conflict with the Amalekites dots the biblical record (Judg. 3:13; 5:14; 6:3, 33; 7:12; 10:12; 1 Sam. 27:8; 30:13–18; cf. Num. 24:20). Saul had been instructed by God to destroy the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15), but he disobeyed God; this incident between Saul, Agag, and the Amalekites would ultimately become the reason for Saul’s own defeat and the loss of his dynasty (1 Sam. 28:18). An Amalekite would later claim that he had killed Saul (2 Sam. 1:8). Israel was still found fighting Amalekites in the days of Hezekiah (1 Chron. 4:43).

Make Mordecai and Esther heroes for desiring the extermination of the Amalekites in Persia? Did not the prophets tell the Jews to live peaceably while exiles in foreign lands and to "seek their peace"? Why then do you interpret Esther as being an attempt then to fulfill the words of Moses regarding esterminating the Amalekites?

This conflict between the descendants of Saul and Agag is a continuation of the age-old antipathy between Israel and the Amalekites. Numerous details of the story of Esther can be understood on this background. It is this long-standing enmity between Israel and the Amalekites that accounts for Mordecai’s unwillingness to bow before Haman.

So, Mordecai is justified in not bowing to Haman! What a twist! Was it not rather "pride," the very kind that has characterized secular Jewry and apostate Judaism ever since? Not only does your's and Wechler's view make Mordecai a "hero" for refusing to show proper social etiquette to Haman, his superior, but you would actually say he should have gone further and advocated the extermination of all the descendents of the Amalekites living in Persia! Thus, this twist on interpreting the book of Esther makes the killing of the Amalekites, by the Jews, not a result of the immediate evil of Haman in seeking their destruction, but because of the Jews long standing desire to kill all the Amalekites! If this is so, who can fault Haman from wanting to save his own people?

This same enmity also explains why Haman, whose anger was originally directed only at Mordecai, would broaden the object of his wrath and seek to destroy all the Jews once he had learned that Mordecai was a Jew (Esth. 3:5–6).

You condemn Haman's attitude towards Mordecai? Give me a break! That is about like condemning Vashti for not wanting to flaunt herself to strangers, but exalt Esther for doing it! If it is as you and Wechler affirm, then Haman was simply reacting to the hatred of Mordecai and the Jews against him!

The unbiased reader of the novella can see that Haman is angered and irritated at Mordecai for his stubbornness, cantankerousness, and obstincacy and rudeness, for his secular Jewish "hubris."

Why doesn't Haman simply show the social courtesy due to Haman? Like they do today in Korea, where inferiors always bow to superiors? (where it has no religious connotations to it) Doesn't his brother Jews ask him to do so for the sake of peace? And, were they not right? Because their advice accorded with that of Isaiah and Jeremiah who warned against inciting the wrath of the Gentiles? Would not it have been better for Haman to be less proud, as a Jew, and to bow?

Haman’s decree for the total destruction of all Jews (3:13) is in effect his effort to do to Israel what Saul had failed to do to Amalek (1 Sam. 15:3).

Where did this come from? There is nothing in the text to prove this assertion! Haman is not attempting to do what his forefather attempted to do! All he wanted was for Mordecai to show proper respect. He also probably feared the "uppity" attitude of these Jews who were newcomers to Persia.

When the tables are turned in Esther and the Jews are authorized to take vengeance on their enemies, the Jews do not plunder the wealth of their victims (9:10, 15); the Jews at the time of Mordecai would not make the same mistake as Saul (1 Sam. 15:9–19). Israel’s having rest from her enemies is tied to the destruction of the Amalekites (Deut. 25:19); with this task completed, the Jews enjoy “rest from their enemies” (9:22).

This attempt to make the destruction of the Persians under Esther and Mordecai into a righteous act is absolutely insane! It is also against many scriptures, besides the writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

They could never enjoy rest from their enemies while in disobedience!

Much of the book of Esther is taken up with the issue of the relationship of Jew and Gentile. This author wrote to a postexilic audience at a time when Israel had long known subservience to a variety of world powers: Assyria, Babylon, and Persia had held dominion, and others were yet to follow. Our author affirms that Jews need not be servile in a world dominated by gentile powers and that it remained possible to live rich lives while remaining loyal to Judaism.

Now he is on the right track here! He gets the importance of the "postexilic audience" and the secular context of Judaism in the book of Esther! The book of Esther marks a turn in Judaism among the dispersion. Here is where they cast off their religion, and made Mammon their god, and used their religion as a device to further their elitism and clannishness.

"Loyal to Judaism"? Is that what these Jews were who refused to return? Is that what the story of Esther shows us about its leading characters? How they were loyal religionists of Yahweh?

One readily appreciates why the book of Esther has remained so important in Judaism: in the face of a history of anti-Semitic pogroms, persecution, and the Holocaust, the book of Esther voices the confidence that “deliverance for the Jews will arise” (Esth. 4:14) and that the nation will endure because the electing purpose of God will not fail.

Bingo! Now he's on the right track again! Secular Judaism, apostate Jewry, is what entity embraced the message of Judaism, which was one of survival by any human means and machinations, by political and economic means, rather than by religious devotion to Yahweh's strict relgion! It is the book that encouraged every Israelite "rebellion" to Gentile ruling powers. It is what gave their courage to be "proud" and "elitist," while among the Gentiles.

But, to say to the disobedient that "deliverance will arise" is like saying to them "peace, peace, when there is no peace" promised.

APPROACHING THE NEW TESTAMENT

Events in Susa threatened the continuity of God’s purposes in redemptive history
.

Did it? Were not the events going on in the land of Israel, with Ezra and Nehemiah, and with the rebuilding of the Temple, not what more properly dealt with the "continuity of God's purposes in redemptive history" rather than what was going on with secular and apostate Jews in foreign lands?

For Christian readers what is at stake in the book of Esther is not only the continued existence of the Jewish people, but also the appearance of the redeemer Messiah.

Where is that important in Esther? The Messiah is never referred to!

Here in a distant city hundreds of miles and several centuries removed from events in Bethlehem God still providentially ruled the course of history and brought it steadily to the appearance of his own Son who would break down that barrier between Jew and Gentile (Gal. 3:28).

Yes, that is true, but it is not what is taught in Esther.

Yours in Christ,

Stephen

Thomas Ross said...

Titus 3:10-11 reads, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” This is what I am going to do with Mr. Garrett. This is my last admonition. I am responding mainly because such sick and vile blasphemies against the Word of God should not remain unanswered, as if they were irrefutable, (or had any substance at all, for that matter). However, I don’t want anyone reading them. They made me feel sick as I read them. I felt at the end like I needed to take a bath. Mr. Garrett complains about my preaching to him and calling him to repentance, and says that I am being mean; I wish he would be mean to me and would reserve for me the names he wickedly blasphemes the Word of God with. I will demonstrate in this post how he, as a heretic, is “suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” We will see the contradictions in his affirmations illustrate how he is “condemned of himself” and “subverted.”

His spiritual darkness, illustrating that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14), is illustrated in the ridiculous things he says about Esther. For example, he denies that providence is filling the book to the brim, blasphemously saying that if one “were an agnostic, he might conclude that the story simply involved a few "reversal of fortunes," and some interesting coincidences.” Incredible! He then talks about “ancient Persians [who] believed in "destiny" and "fate," and they also believed in the gods of "luck" and "chance." To know the future or the will of the gods, one had to "divine" it by "casting lots." This is what Haman the Persian did to discern the will of the gods.” Of course, Haman was a wicked man, as anyone who reads Esther knows—but wait to see what Mr. Garrett says about Haman later. Indeed, he writes, “[the book] would not purposely leave out mentioning Yahweh [which, BTW, is not God’s name, it is Jehovah] . . . to affirm that he left out mentioning God, in such places where a true prophet would not hesitate to speak of the event as being the result of Yahweh's working, all for the purpose of enhancing the idea of God's involvement, is truly ludicrous.” Any Christian who has the Spirit can read Esther and knows perfectly well that it is filled with God’s providence; yet he dares to blasphemously call this ludicrous. He dares to call the Word of God a “historical romance novel.” How vile! You will regret that, Mr. Garrett, when you stand before the Great White Throne and hear, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Mr. Garrett argues that “the main characters in the story are all rebellious Jews! . . . They are the representatives of "secular Jewry," . . .That is quite evident to the honest and critical student of the book of Esther.” So all these secular Jews are fasting and praying for three days and nights. That is what secular people usually do, no? Oh, how obvious it is that Mr. Garrett is right. Every Jew, he says, in the whole land, was rebellious, not because of anything they do in the book, but because they were living where they were. A godly Jew, when Nehemiah, Ezra, etc. went back, would have, say, had to leave behind his sick grandparents and left them to die to go back with Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, that is what EVERY godly Jew would have done, since, he affirms, there were no godly Jews in all of Shushan (Esther 4:16).
Mr. Garrett then writes, “It says they fasted, but it does not say they prayed. You read that into the text . . . [a comparison is then made to] when prisoners on death row go on a "hunger strike," . . . People can't fast for political reasons? . . . Could it not be fasting ritual that was acceptable to all religions, to Jews and Persians?” Some of what he said, if it was not such vile blasphemy, would be humerous. Yes, I’m sure that they weren’t praying—no. They were on a hunger strike to protest to the king, who never even knew about it. Oh, they weren’t praying, just fasting—like good secular people do all the time—but, even though they were not praying, Mr. Garrett asks, “[H]ow do you know that these disobedient Jews were praying to Yahweh?” So they were not praying—there was not a single Jew in the whole region who prayed, for ALL of them were in sin and so disobedient that they went on hunger strikes for political reasons but did not pray. But, even though they did not pray, if they did pray, they did not pray to Jehovah. Every single one of them did not pray to Jehovah at all. In fact, there was not a single Jew in the entire Persian empire that was praying to Jehovah for deliverance. “And in every province . . . among the Jews [there was] fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” (Esther 4:3). All of them, though, were secular Jews, and like good secular people, they were fasting and lying in sackcloth and ashes. Furthermore, even all the Jews that were living in Canaan again were disobedient as well, since they were in the Persian empire, and so were part of the “every province”—so even Ezra, Nehemiah, and all their people were fasting in sackcloth and ashes, but not praying, but secular, and if they did pray (although they didn’t), they didn’t pray to Jehovah, but to a Persian deity. Also, it was some other god that brought about the absolutely astounding deliverances recorded in the book of Esther, some other god that loved the nation of Israel so much, and, in accord with the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, preserved them from utter destruction as recorded in the book of Esther. Yes, this was definitely the work of a pagan god, whom all the Jews were praying too—but they weren’t praying. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
He then denied making contradictory affirmations about whether or not one is in grievous sin who has added or taken away from the canon of Scripture. Supposedly one can add or take away hundreds and thousands of words from the Bible, indeed, a whole book of words, but not be violating Proverbs 30:5-6: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Also “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you,” etc. After all, we have Mr. Garrett’s statement, “To say that a Christian who is in error in judgment about a particular book is a "liar" is twisting my words. Such a Christian is not a liar, but simply in error, probably in honest error.” So one can add or take away thousands of Words from the Bible, indeed, an entire book—but not be adding or taking away, and not be a liar. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”) I wonder what else one can do? Can one add the book of Mormon to the Bible? How about the Koran? Can one take the gospels out? Why stop at Esther? What else can one do without adding or taking away and becoming an liar?
On Mr. Garrett’s website, he has a statement saying that he accepted “the Old Baptist Confessions” (to quote his last post). He says he believes in “creedal Calvinism.” However, every Baptist confession, and all creedal Calvinist confessions, accept the entire canon of Scripture. Thus, this statement is a lie. On an extremely central point for all Baptists, and all old Calvinists, namely, the sole authority of the Scriptures, the entire Bible including Esther and everything else, he rejects what they all say—but he refuses to admit he is a theological modernist and an apostate from every one of these confessions, or even put an exception clause on his website saying that he rejects Esther, and besides that he believes in the confessions.
He says that Esther is not inspired because it does not have the name “Jehovah” in it. But Ecclesiastes, which is longer than Esther, does not either, but Mr. Garrett thinks it is inspired. The Song of Solomon does not have either the word “God” or “Jehovah,” but he accepts it is inspired. Job 12:10-28:27 is longer than Esther by a long shot, but it does not have the name Jehovah; yet it is inspired. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
He makes the silly statement that I think that “one cannot be a Christian without believing in Esther, and one cannot believe in Esther without reading Esther, can he?” A Christian receives every Word of the Bible (John 17:8). He may not have read them, but when he does, he implicitly submits to them because of the new nature and the Spirit within him. He will not reject books of the Bible, like you do, because you are not a Christian.

Mr. Garrett admitted that the books of Moses were received at once, except that “the non elect (sic) rejected them.” He gave no examples or evidence whatsoever from Scripture that some of the elect rejected any of the books of the Bible when they were written. He did not deal with the fact that Luke’s gospel, or the entire collection of Paul’s 14 epistles, were immediately recognized as Scripture. He did not deal with the fact that people got killed for not receiving Scripture immediately. Instead, he pulled out of thin air that the saints “would listen to the arguments of his brethren who disagreed with him [about the books inspiration] and would discuss the matter in a prayerful spirit.” So all the inspired books were disputed by the elect, with some brethren agreeing and some disagreeing. Paul said, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37), so all spiritual people, all saved people, received the book immediately, says Paul under inspiration; but Mr. Garrett says that the elect took the book, disagreed about it, sat down over lunch and debated if it was inspired, and cordially sat in judgment on the book and let their feelings tell them if they needed to submit to it or not. Thus saith Mr. Garrett. Then he says “it is a fact of history, that the Book of Revelation, though received by some professing Christians, from its inception, nevertheless was not widely and quickly accepted by the majority. So much for the majority vote being a criterion for inspiration and canoncity! The only argument you really cling to!” Here he shows his ignorance of history. Revelation was accepted by true churches and Christians right away, and only began to be disputed as Catholicism rejected premillenialism and began to look more and more like the whore described in Revelation 17. The power of the inspired canon is shown by the fact that even the harlot church accepted it as canon despite its plain denunciation of its doctrine.
Then he said, “People have been killed for rejecting a prophet and his message! But, you try to make far too much of this, don't you?” So they got killed now for rejecting the canon—I thought that they just “would listen to the arguments of his brethren who disagreed with him [about the books inspiration] and would discuss the matter in a prayerful spirit.” So are they getting killed or just peacefully discussing whether books of the Bible are to be feared and trembled before or blasphemed as (as Paul said, “I speak as a fool”—and am quoting Mr. Garrett) “novellas” and “historical romances”? (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)

Mr. Garrett said, “You are just in "left field" here brother. I am amazed at how your mind wanders from a topic! . . . You equate "receiving the bible" (sic) with receiving the books . . . [that] make up the "bible" (sic)!” Do I need to respond to this? I am in left field? I wonder what he thinks receiving the Bible is, if it is not receiving the books that make up the Bible? (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)

Mr. Garrett writes, “Your "circular reasoning" is in affirming that the "church" (as you define it) creates the canon” Of course, I never said that the church created the canon.

Mr. Garrett writes, “we are not here to discuss epistemology! . . . [T]he judgment and knowledge of inspiration can only be a personal matter, a matter for the Spirit to bear witness unto? Does that not deal with epistemology to some extent?” So does canonicity relate to epistemology or not? (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)

Mr. Garrett writes, “Mine [epistemology] is consistent! [Although we are not discussing epistemology—but we are.] Mine says the Holy Spirit must show each individual the truth of inspiration relative to each book claiming it. . . . I have given you my "ultimate authority"! It is not you! It is not the London Baptist Confession! It is not the Commentaries! It is not the majority view of professing Christians! It is not the decisions of church councils or church fathers! It is based upon what I sense and feel when I read the book!” Here we have the key error, the key example of Mr. Garrett’s being “suberverted, and sinn[ing], being condemned of himself.” He presumes that whatever he senses and feels determines whether God has given a book by inspiration or not. This involves him in irreconcilable contradictions.
1.) He claims that what he senses and feels leads him to receive (most) of the Bible as inspired. However, those parts of the Bible he accepts do not say that what one senses and feels sits as judgment upon whether Scripture is inspired. Rather, they say that one’s feelings cannot be trusted, much less made the ultimate authority which is over Scripture: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9) “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov 28:26) “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov 14:12) “[L]ean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov 3:5). So the parts of the Bible he accepts as inspired contradict his view that his feelings are the ultimate authority. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
2.) He pretends that the Holy Spirit leads him to make his feelings sit as authority over Scripture to judge what books are inspired and what are not. But the parts of the Bible he accepts as inspired say, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Scripture says that spirits are to be tried by Scripture, and whoever does not receive Scripture (1 John 4:6) is not of God. Thus, he says a spirit has led him to sit in judgment upon Scripture, but Scripture says that it is the judge of all spirits. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
3.) In fact, if he were a believer, he would receive the canonical Words of Scripture, which are in the canonical books; or Christ’s prayer is a failure. “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me” (John 17:8). The parts of Scripture that he recives as inspired say that all who reject Scripture will be destroyed (Acts 3:23), and that nothing is to be added or taken away (Prov 30:5, 6; Deut 12:32; Rev 22:19-20; etc.) Thus, his feelings have led him to accept as inspired books that reject his idea that his feelings get to judge what is Scripture and what is not. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
4.) It should also be mentioned that one’s feelings are mutable and unreliable. They are a veritable pile of sand to substitute for the rock of the infallible, inerrant Word of God as an ultimate authority. I will not say more on this.

Thus, Mr. Garrett’s epistemology is a mass of contradiction. He is subervted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. He needs to repent and by faith believe the Bible, and make it alone his starting point for all of his thinking.

Mr. Garrett wrote, “I reject no scripture. I only reject what I am either in doubt about, or otherwise convinced is inspired.” I wonder if he has rejected Esther his whole life. If not, at one point he felt it was inspired, and now he does not. So then what is Scripture has changed, since his feelings determine the canon. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”) He also needs to learn how to write in English. “I only reject what I am . . . convinced is inspired” is not very good grammar.

Mr. Garrett wrote, “You are "cultic" because you limit salvation to your little self described chosen few!” But a part of Scripture which Mr. Garrett accepts as inspired says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). . (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)

Mr. Garrett wrote, “so far, nothing you have said, nor anything I have felt coming from the Holy Spirit, has cause (sic) me to see how I am in error.” This is because his feelings are controlled by his unrenewed, unconverted nature. “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” God must enable Mr. Garrett to repent of his trust in his feelings and to receive the entire canon given by inspiration by that great Prophet of the church. Otherwise he will continue to reject Scripture as his foundational presupposition and he will be eternally damned.


The above are the key errors in Mr. Garrett’s writing. Below is an appendix dealing with a few other of his blasphemies and perverse disputings against the Word and against the God of the Word.

If he really wants to understand what I meant by the nature of Purim as civil, he should do a google search for and listen to George Gillespie’s “Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies” and come to understand the Regulative Principle of worship. I believe it is at www.swrb.com.
Remember that he says that “all the Persian Jews” were wicked and secular, and that is why they received Esther. However, the land of Israel was within the Persian empire at this time. Killing all the Jews in the Empire would involve killing the Jews in Israel, which would destroy the Messianic line. But there is no tie in Esther to the Messiah. Oops. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
Mr. Garrett wrote, “There is no proof that Josephus included Esther in his 22 book Hebrew canon. He did not list them.” I wonder how Josephus gets to 22, then? Did he stick in something else that wasn’t inspired, and take Esther out, to get to 22? I wonder what book that would be?
Mr. Garrett is ignorant of the events at Jamnia, where “it appears that the rabbis are troubled by purely internal problems.” They did not think they were deciding what is canonical and what is not.
The article I had quoted stated, “How “lucky” the Jews were that Esther was so attractive, that she was chosen over other possible candidates, that Mordecai overheard that assassination plot, that a record of Mordecai’s report of the assassination plans was written in the royal chronicles, that Esther had concealed her identity, that the king would have seen her without having called for her, that the king could not sleep that night, that he asked to have the annals read, that the scribe read from that incident several years earlier concerning Mordecai, that the king was wide awake enough to inquire as to whether he had rewarded Mordecai....Luck indeed! What the writer of Esther has done is to give us a story in which the main actor is not so much as mentioned—the presence of God is implied and understood throughout the story, so that these mounting coincidences are but the by-product of his rule over history and his providential care for his people.” To this, Mr. Garrett stated, “That is just pure nonsense! . . . [These are just] "fortune" moments, . . . unusual "coincidences[.]” Anyone with the Holy Spirit indwelling him can see if Esther does not just describe “some fortune moments” and “unusual coincidences.” Mr. Garrett cannot see it, because he does not have the Holy Spirit.

Mr. Garrett argues that “Esther [teaches] . . . fatalism. . . Were the Persians not fatalists? Is that not why Haman rolled the dice?” Haman was not a godly person in Esther. Oops. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”)
The article had stated, “the story of Esther is deeply involved with other events of redemptive history, most particularly with the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Amalekites. The genealogies of Haman and Mordecai introduce this conflict: Mordecai is identified as a Benjamite from the clan of Kish (Esth. 2:5), the father of Saul; Haman is a descendant of Agag (3:1), the Amalekite king against whom Saul had fought (1 Sam. 15). From the time of the Exodus there had been a history of conflict between Israel and the Amalekites; Moses had said, “The LORD will be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation” (Exod. 17:16). Israel was charged with “blotting out the [p. 197] memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Deut. 25:17–19; Exod. 17:14; 1 Sam. 15:23). . . . Intermittent conflict with the Amalekites dots the biblical record (Judg. 3:13; 5:14; 6:3, 33; 7:12; 10:12; 1 Sam. 27:8; 30:13–18; cf. Num. 24:20). Saul had been instructed by God to destroy the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15), but he disobeyed God; this incident between Saul, Agag, and the Amalekites would ultimately become the reason for Saul’s own defeat and the loss of his dynasty (1 Sam. 28:18). An Amalekite would later claim that he had killed Saul (2 Sam. 1:8). Israel was still found fighting Amalekites in the days of Hezekiah (1 Chron. 4:43). . . . This conflict between the descendants of Saul and Agag is a continuation of the age-old antipathy between Israel and the Amalekites. Numerous details of the story of Esther can be understood on this background. It is this long-standing enmity between Israel and the Amalekites that accounts for Mordecai’s unwillingness to bow before Haman.”

Mr. Garrett replied to this, “So, Mordecai is justified in not bowing to Haman! What a twist! Was it not rather "pride," . . . who can fault Haman from wanting to save his own people? . . . You condemn Haman's attitude towards Mordecai? Give me a break! . . . Haman was simply reacting to the hatred of Mordecai and the Jews against him! . . . . The unbiased reader of the novella can see that Haman is angered and irritated at Mordecai for his stubbornness, cantankerousness, and obstincacy and rudeness, for his secular Jewish "hubris.” . . . Haman . . . All he wanted was for Mordecai to show proper respect. He also probably feared the "uppity" attitude of these Jews.”

This attempt to make Haman out to be good and Esther and Mordecai out to be wicked is so stupid that it would be really funny if it did not involve Mr. Garrett’s wicked rebellion against God and personal damnation. Mordecai was wrong not to bow before Haman, contra the 2nd commandment—and Mordecai was not a godly person. Mordecai was actually not trying to be submissive to the Persian empire, and was disobeying the command in the other prophets to seek peace for the land in which he was—that was why, I suppose, he told the king about the plot against his life. That is usually what rebels do, no? Try to save the king’s life. This righteous action was necessary for the later providential Jewish deliverance, but it actually was not righteous. Poor righteous Haman was just trying to get ungodly Mordecai to be respectful; that is why Haman determined to kill all the Jews in the Persian empire (including those living in Canaan, where the Messianic line was to come to fruition). All the Jews, including Mordecai and Esther, in the city of Shushan, were ungodly, and they fasted for three days but did not pray, because they were secular Jews. All the Jews in the Persian empire were also secular and disobedient, so that when they lay in sackcloth and ashes (Esth 4:3) they were not praying to Jehovah, but did what most secular people do all the time, put on sackcloth and ashes but not pray. Furthermore, in Esther 4:14, when Mordecai said to Esther, “if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place,” Mordecai did not have this faith and confidence that deliverance would come to the Jews because of his trust in Jehovah and the Abrahamic covenant, but because he thought that the Persian gods that he was worshipping (although he was secular and did not worship or pray at all) were powerful enough to deliver all the Jews, and they had promised to do so. Mordecai had such faith in the Persian gods that he would not bow to Haman, even at the risk of his life, although the Persian gods did not care but only Jehovah would care about this. Furthermore, all the Jews in the Persian empire were ungodly and rebellious, because they should have been in Canaan—all the godly Jews were there, not in the Persian empire—although Canaan was part of the Persian empire at the time, so the Jews in the part of the Empire in Canaan were ungodly and secular, but they were also godly and religious at the same time. Mr. Garrett even says that the Amalekites and other people in Persia were justified in fighting against the Jews, since they were getting attacked! Let’s apply that to the book of Joshua; the Canaanites were justified in fighting against the Jews because the Jews were going to kill them, so they needed to fight against Israel to survive. Of course, the answer was that they should have converted and become Jews, like Rahab did in the book of Joshua, and then they wouldn’t get killed. That is also what happened in Esther as well: “many of the people of the land became Jews” (Esther 8:17). This, on Mr. Garrett’s perverse view, would actually be bad, because, remember, killing all the Jews in the Persian empire (including Canaan) was good—righteous Haman was worried about them because they were getting uppity—and these people who converted to Judaism weren’t going to worship Jehovah, since all the Jews in the Persian empire were not praying to Jehovah while they were fasting and wearing sackcloth and ashes, etc. So the Persians converted to Judaism to worship Persian gods like the Jews were doing. Yep. (“suberverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”) Mr. Garrett is obviously under the control of Satan in his view of the book of Esther, for only Satan and the unconverted, rebellious nature which he controls in the unconverted could turn the book of Esther into such foolishness and blasphemy. The spirit that leads Mr. Garrett to reject Esther and affirm such blasphemies and nonsense is not the Holy Spirit of God, but a spirit of antichrist from his father the devil.

Mr. Garrett, “except ye repent, ye shall . . . perish.” I am not going to reply to you anymore. You are a heretic, and I have admonished you enough. Giving you more light will just increase your eternal damnation as you continue to reject the truth. “Every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23).


Mr. Garrett, I sincerely, and with the love of Christ, pray that God will have mercy on you and save you from eternal death.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Tom:

Oh I cannot wait to get saved so I can have the same "spirit" you have shown!

I guess you have never made errors in typing!

Tom, I see no love of Christ in anything you have said to me. I see nothing but lambasting that is so unbecoming one who is supposed to be a gentle follower of the Lamb! Your kind of bombastic Christianity is ugly.

Your writing is nothing but argumentum ad nauseum.

I will have no more of it. You show how unscholarly and unlearned you are.

In the name of Christ my Lord,

Stephen

Timothy said...

Greetings! Enjoyed the lively back and forth.

Thought you might like to know about Kevin Edgecomb's comparison chart of the 9 Christian canons. The are several and the 66-book canon is the minimalist canon by comparison.

Chart of Old Testament Biblical Canons
http://www.bombaxo.com/canonchart.html

On Kevin's blog, he once made the profound statement; "To reject a book held sacred by another church is to reject that church."

God bless... +Timothy