A few years ago I was chatting with an internet friend about the KJV and the “Forbidden Books of the Bible” and how they originated.
I'll give you a quick review of how all the books of the Bible originated. Christ walked around. People wrote letters and anecdotal accounts of what they knew about Christ. Other people copied those books and gave other people the opportunity to copy them. Until the invention of the printing press no one cared about “copyright”, people cared if a book was stolen. Copy any book you want, just don't steal it.
Now, this may amaze you but people are all individuals and some copy more precisely than others. Some people leave things out or “enhance” details that they believe are important. Some people make up stories that fit the characters and sell those stories. Even today people will fake “ancient” copies of stories they just made up.
About 300 A.D. A group of scholars was assembled and they reviewed all the books about Christ that were circulated. These scholars chose the books with the best accreditation and assembled them into a group of books they called the Bible. The standard used was not what Books gave the reader the most knowledge of Christianity. The standard used was which Books were necessary to help teach the Good News of the Forgiveness of Sins through Christ.
As amazing as this sounds not everyone agreed with the decisions of this group of scholars. Sarcasm does not translate well into writing and I am being sarcastic. Getting three people to agree on where to eat lunch is pretty difficult. Imagine getting any group of scholars to decide which are the best books to use to teach salvation.
What the group ended up with was a majority decision breaking the books into three groups. The books that the majority believed were most important to teach salvation. The books that were useful to teach wisdom. The books that were about as useful as tabloid articles, books like the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” which while entertaining communicated no useful wisdom or instruction in salvation.
People argued and just as every University in the world has books that they refuse to add into their library the Catholic Church issued a decree that the tabloid article type books could not be used by priests for instruction or guidance.
So where did Priests get their Bibles? They copied them during their education. Priests in training worked as scribes and had a little time to copy their own Bible during their education. Guess what, Priests copied different books from the two groups of acceptable books and not every Bible copied by every Priest had every “acceptable” book. As time went on most standardized on a form called the Latin Vulgate.
Enter King James Version. At the time of the Kind James version there were several English Translations of the scripture. Just as Council of Nicea had standardized on the group of Biblical books the KJV standardized the English translation of the Biblical Books. The KJV standardized the translation of the primary and secondary group of books. The primary books became known as the New and Old Testament and the secondary group of books were called the Apocrypha.
If you buy a Catholic Bible it will have the New Testament, the Apocrypha and the Old Testament. Protestants decided that because the Apocrypha was not Canonized into the primary group of scripture by those original scholars back in 300 A.D. it should not be included in the KJV even though the scholars who originally translated the KJV also translated the Apocrypha into the KJV. Confused yet?
Everyday throughout the United States books are burned. People pitch them out, libraries toss them into dumpsters. The number of books that are destroyed on a daily basis astounds me. Go around to your local library, typically they will try and sell off books and then they will try donating them. Some books, damaged books, outdated reference materials will end up in the trash bin.
Of course these same people who pitch the favorite books of some people will scream at the top of their lungs when others pitch their favorite books.
The group who receives the bad press on pitching books depends a lot on the carisma and volume of the the screaming. One group is pitching or burning the “bad books” and the other group is “evil”. Yeah, whatever.
Getting back to a chat discussion with some friends on the internet I explained all of this and the response was typical. There were those who claimed that my reasoning was ridiculous, all the books selected for the Bible must be wrong since none of them were first editions AND all the “forbidden” books were just as real and important as the books selected for the Bible.
Okay, people have weird ideas. I get it and no one can prove things one way or the other so why can't they be just as correct as I am? Right? Not hardly.
In everything that we learn there is theory and application. Learning a quadratic equation is theory. Doing a story problem that requires the quadratic formula is application. Too bad most teachers hate story problems as much as the students. Me, I love story problems because story problems are application. I have worked with a lot of degreed engineers who have a lot of difficulty in applying their theoretical knowledge to application and I have watched millions wasted because people don't understand the application of the theory.
Trying to claim that the Bible is inaccurate because they didn't include the tabloid books or because the books that were used to standardized on were not first editions but were copies which were adpated to the use of language at the time of their copying is ignoring basic common sense application of theory.
Enter Harry Potter.
Those of us who enjoy reading have discovered a plethora of information available on the internet. One day, in this chat room where we had previously discussed the theory and application of Biblical books we were engaged in a discussion of Harry Potter's latest book 7.
Now some of you may know that any time you have a popular character, Jessie James, Buffalo Bill Cody, the Three Musketeers, writers will “steal” the character and write stories that do not quite mesh with the original authors stories. Dime novels, super market tabloids, movies, television shows, all these media sources use and twist characters to suit their own story telling skills. If you understand the theory and the application I don't have to explain that this has been going on since people started doing cave paintings and that it undoubtedly happened with religious figures like Christ.
So here we have Harry Potter, a popular character and someone or some group has produced an alternate book 7 that a couple of people had read and said that they liked it as well or better than the original by J.K. Rowling. Someone posted the link and I downloaded it and it sat on my computer with tons of other books.
With the excitement in the air over the last segment of the Harry Potter movies I re-read the books and thought once again of this “just as good” Harry Potter book 7 which, of course, could not be an example of the kind of authorship that developed books such the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas”. No, all the “biblical” books that have survived or not must have been just as real as the books selected for inclusion in the Bible and this example of Harry Potter was just some strange and unique “new” creation because of the internet.
Now personally I liked this alternate book 7. Ginny goes on the search for the horcruxes, pre-marital sex (not graphic), Dudley Dursley becomes a dark wizard, Snape is evil to the end and Draco helps defeat the Dark Lord. No Deadly Hallows, no Elder Wand, nada. Just the same seven horcruxes and different ways of destroying them.
Good story though even if it does not belong in the set of books that comprise the 7 Harry Potter Books. Of course I didn't read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter 7 in it's original edition and “language”, I read some US publication edition.
Now of course this is some newly developed idea which could never have existed at the time of Christ and no one back then would ever have written a fake letter or a fake gospel or anything else just for the fun of it the way this author(s) did for Harry Potter.
Of course, in 300 years no one will be able to tell the real book seven from the fake book seven, well, maybe a group of scholars who have access to the earliest editions available and have studied the writing styles and language of the various writers. Even having studied these things some scholars could disagree on which is the “real” book 7.
Just for your information, there are bunches of fake Harry Potter books out there in the internet and I have heard of some of them. There are probably fake books that would end up causing totally different endings, except Harry Potter will always kill Voldemort in the end. Some will be obvious fakes to those familiar with J.K. Rowling's style. Others will probably not be and some people may prefer a fake book or two to the original books.
To me it was hilarous, “listening” to this chat where the same people who talked about this fake Harry Potter book had thought the idea of fake biblical books as being ridiculous.
In the end does it matter?
Of course it does. You might as well ask if it matters which of the two Harry Potter book 7's that you read. Does it matter if you read the “real” book 7?
In the end you are the only one who can decide what you like best and what has the best application in your life.
I believe that making that decision from ignorance is a lot like reading the fake book 7 and claiming that it was the “real” book 7. Someone can learn the theory and the application and make the decision which applies and someone can say, “Yep, I know this is not J.K. Rowling's book 7 but I like it better” or someone can ridicule J.K. Rowling's book 7 as the fake and claim the alternate book is the “real” book.
People can even claim that knowledge of this “real” alternate book makes them the “educated” people and others “ignorant”.
Just ignore me as I sit here biting my tongue as I try and keep a serious look on my face while inside I am laughing my head off at the ignorance of those who argue different sides of the same theoretical idea without ever understanding the application.