And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44 ASV)
Jesus referred to the word of God as The Law and the Prophets, including the Psalms. There was an old Testament Bible in existence at the time of Jesus called the Septuagint, however, it was used in Greek-speaking areas, not so much in Israel. Modern construction of the Old Testament includes the Law and the Prophets, but also what are known as the poetic books, like Job, Proverbs, and Esther, as well as historical records, such as Kings and Chronicles. All of these books were in the Septuagint. Just as Jesus never mentioned the Septuagint as the Word of God, he never mentioned the poetic and historical books as the Word of God.
In churches and ministries that I have attended, in order to harmonize this verse with modern teaching Churches teach that Jesus was referring to the whole Bible when he spoke this verse. The prevailing teaching given was that Psalms was a generic term that means the rest of the writings. Further explanation included the term Bible hadn’t been put into use yet, and putting it all together you can conclude that when Jesus referred to the law, the prophets, and the psalms he was referring to the same Bible that you and I use today.
That explanation doesn’t make any sense on several fronts. Yes, there was an old Testament called the Septuagint, a version of a collection of Jewish scrolls that had been translated into Greek. But Jesus never referred to those books as the Word of God. That may have been Jewish practice at the time, but that was not his practice. Second, while he did quote from what we would call the Old Testament, he only referred to books that would be called the law, the prophets, and psalms. If you do a search for Jesus’ references to the Old Testament you will find that Jesus made numerous references to the Law and the Prophets, including the Psalms, written by David, who was a prophet.[i]
I don’t know about you, but my example is Jesus Christ. And if traditional Christianity varies from what Jesus did, I am not going to just automatically follow tradition. Jesus was very specific when he referenced the Word of God. He only referenced the law, the prophets, and the psalms. Therefore Jesus’ canon of scripture only included the law, the prophets, and the psalms. When we look a little later in time we see that the first believers after Christ followed this practice also. The development of the canon of scripture that we have now took hundreds of years after this to develop.
That is not say that the other books are not valuable, they are. Joshua wrote down the account of his leadership (Josh 24:26) and the account is inspirational. The same for some of the other books. But who knows who wrote Esther, Ruth, Job, and a number of other books?
What that means is that the word of God is not the KJV or any modern Bible, or even the officially canonized list of the Books of the Bible. (Do you disagree? Then why is the listing of the Old Testament books in the Canon different from what we have today. From the creation of the canon in 397[ii] alone we see that the Christians of 397 a.d. declared Tobias and Maccabbees canonized. How can it be if the Old Testament we have today is the word of God that it is different from the Old Testament canonized ages ago?)
Jesus never referred to the whole Old Testament as Scripture. Jesus set the standard for What the Word of God is, the Law and the Prophets, and the Psalms. That was his canon of scripture.
[i] There is a listing of Jesus’ references to the Old Testament at JewsForJesus.org, this page located at http://jewsforjesus.org/publications/newsletter/2008_09/05.
[ii] Here is the text of canon of Scripture:
Canon 24. Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the four books of the Kings, the two books of Chronicles, Job, the Psalms of David, five books of Solomon, the book of the Twelve [minor] Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, the two books of Ezra, and the two books of the Maccabees. The books of the New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the epistles of the apostle Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews, one epistle; of Peter, two; of John the apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the Church across the sea shall be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.
© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.