Historical questions about God and the Bible

He doesn’t say the Temple will be destroyed again. He is asked to “measure” the Temple which will ultimately be rebuilt – the future Temple. It’s meant to be a consolation to the faithful. “I saw the new Temple and measured it.”

Nitpick: Arabs, not Muslims.

The measurements of the Temple are canonical.

I’m pretty sure Revelation 17 is about Rome.

Yes, the Whore of Babylon is virtually universally recognized as Rome. While there are some crackpot interpretations of the whore as the RCC (e.g. Jack Chick), I’ve never heard of it being interpreted as Jerusalem.

Some people have a much more spiritual view of Revelation, where the whore is a living spiritual force of darkness that the people follow (many with out knowing they are following anything), the cup of demons mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:21, may be the cup she drinks from.

In light of the denunciations by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and many other Hebrew prophets of unfaithful Judah/Jerusalem and Israel/Samaria, it amazes me that Christians could see it as primarily anything but an apostate Jerusalem, though with further manifestations as Christian churches/societies went apostate (and at certain times in history, the RCC did indeed live down to the image of Rev 17 as did some of the more murderous Protestant churches/societies). Rome was never in a covenant relationship with YHWH & thus never was unfaithful, Jerusalem alone was covenanted to YHWH & was the only society able to be faithful or unfaithful.

My question is: after the deaths of the last apostles (and everyone who had known JC personally), what kept people from adding to the NT? Was there any official Church pronouncement to the effect of "OK, the Bible ends with John. or the Apocalypse, or whatever? Certainly, many RC saints continued to receive revelations about God-take the visions of St. Augustine, for example-but whay was it forbidden to add new books to the NT? Did the firts church council agree to end the book with Apocalypse?
Of course, we have the mormons claiming a new book-but thta’s some 182=50 years later

The canon of the Bible was fixed by the Synod of Hippo in 393 A.D. See also here.

There was no universally accepted Chgristian Canon – no “New Testament” until the 4th century (there wasn’t even an OT canon until about 100 CE). The majority (if not the entirety) of what later became canonized was written after the deaths of the apostles (who left no writings of their own).

The Canonization process was not about saying “stop, that’s enough,” but about deciding which of the scores of invidual Christian Gospels, purported apostolic letters, apocalypses and other books should be considered authentic, “official” and legitimate and which should be discarded as heretical, fraudulent. etc. For the first three centuries after Jeus, all kinds of people were writing all kinds of stuff, much of it violently opposed to each other. As the Orthodox Church gradually became established, it started to accept some books as more legitimate than others. The whole canonization process is pretty complicated but it was more or less “closed” by Athanasius in 367 CE (formally recognized in 393).

Here is an article by historian, Richard Carrier which is fairly reader friendly and lays out the process in greater detail.

The whore in Rev. 17 sits on 7 hills and “rules over the kings of the Earth.”. She’s “drunk with the blood of the saints”…the Christians she’s murdered, and “the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries”. This all is describing Rome a lot better than Jerusalem.

I would say Muslims. Not all Muslims are Arab. Hagar was Egyptian and Egypt is indeed an Arab country, but Iran is not Arab. I am sure the Muslims, including the Shiite, in Iran consider themselves decedents of Abraham and Ishmael.

The Arabs of Mohammed’s day believed they were the biological (not spiritual) descendants of Ishmael. That would not automatically apply to non-Arab converts.

The story of Abraham and Ishmael is religious; therefore, the story is believed by people of faith (Muslim, Christian, and Jew). Islam is a faith. Arab is not a faith. You can’t say that Arabs consider themselves descendants of Abraham and Ishmael because I am sure there are nonbelievers in the Arab world. The biblical story applies to Islam not Arabs.

I am sure the Russian Jew considers himself a descendant of Jacob as much as the Ethiopian Jew.

Whether the story is religious or not, it still refers to tribal descent – i.e. Arabs – not, to all Muslims. Christian Arabs still regard themselves as desecendents of Ishmael. Non-Arab converts do not.

Why do I feel like I’m debating with a Baptist fundamentalist ? :smiley:

Presumably, following your argument, the faithful looked forward (consoled) to the new temple and the new Jerusalem. Why then did the author of Revelations feel the need to let the faithful know that the new Jerusalem, the holy city (and the primary identity of Jerusalem, the temple) would be trampled for 42 months. How would the Romans be able to trample a “heavenly” city ?

Just to be clear, the Temple is meant to be read as “Heavenly,” but the surrounding “courtyards” are still supposed to signify the earthly city itself.

The 42 months (3 1/2 years) is an allusion to the Book of Daniel and a symbolic callback to a time when the Temple was occupied by Antiochus. The length of time is symbolic. The author of Revelation was saying “the courtyards of the Temple (i.e. the City of Jerusalem) are occupied by pagans right now, but no worries, it won’t last forever and I’ve seen the new Temple to come. This tribulation will end and we’ll get the Romans out of Jerusalem just like we got rid of the Greeks 200 years ago.”

A lot of Revelation uses historical signifiers in Daniel to communicate messages about Rome. The apocalyptic genre is all about coded allegory.

Exactly. This is the point I was trying to make.


I seem to be muddling Arab history with Islam and faith. I understand that Christianized Arabs believe the Genesis ancestral story of Abraham and Ishmael, especially if the Christianization took place after the introduction of Islam.
The idea that only Arab Muslims consider themselves to be descendants of Abraham and Ishmael makes sense to me. The Persians are Muslims who believe in Ishmael but don’t consider themselves to be his descendants is understandable.

What I don’t understand are the pre-Islam Arab beliefs. If Islam is out of the equation, do all Arabs believe they are descendants of Abraham and Ishmael despite their actual faith? Is it accurate to say that all Arabs consider Genesis to be historical record and not a faith based story?

Your question seems to imply that much of the New Testament was written by people who had known Jesus personally. I don’t think this is the view of anyone outside a few fundamentalist protestant churches. All the stuff we have was written several decades later, except for the writings of Paul, who never met Jesus.