Is the Law Abolished or Fulfilled?

The topic of the post would seem to be an easy question.  In Matthew 5:17, Christ states that he has not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them.  Once this text has been quoted and the box has been checked, however, when the way in which the Law is interpreted, treated, and applied particularly in Protestant communions, the practical reality of this verse becomes more cloudy.  If what is meant by ‘fulfilled’ is ‘taken care of’ or ‘done away with’ on a practical level, if it effectively means ‘can be safely ignored’, then saying ‘fulfilled not abolished’ is a distinction without a difference.  Matthew 5:18-19 do a great deal to clarify what precisely Christ means…

Who Decided Which Books Would Be in the New Testament?

A previous post discussed the (loose) nature of the Old Testament canon in the Orthodox Church, but what about the New Testament?  Unlike the Old Testament, the New Testament as a canon of 27 books is agreed upon by essentially all groups which identify as Christian.  The way in which the New Testament canon came into existence, however, is the subject of an immense amount of disinformation and uninformed opinion.  When asked when these 27 books were ‘canonized’ as the New Testament, many will answer that that happened at the Council of Nicea.  Some will present this event as the bishops involved looking at a vast array of texts, including but not limited to the 27 which would be accepted,…

On Allegorical Interpretation

One of the temptations into which we frequently fall when seeking to understand others in our own time and in the past is that we begin with the assumption that they think and interact with a given set of ideas in the same way that we do.  So, for example, in interfaith discussions, Christians will from time to time refer to groups of Jewish and Muslim leaders holding councils.  Or Muslims will speak of the Torah or the New Testament as if it was viewed in the same way in which they view the Quran.  This immediately generates misunderstandings that then have to be overcome in order to truly interact.  Christians involved in these discussions need to understand how authority…

The New Testament Tradition

In many ways, the content of the New Testament, and even its text, are a much more settled issue than that of the Old Testament, as previously discussed.  That said, there is still a great deal of debate about which text of the New Testament, in its details, holds canonical authority.  This is due to an embarrassment of riches with regard to the New Testament text, for which we have nearly 6,000 manuscripts.  A manuscript, properly speaking, is a hand-written copy of a text.  Our extent manuscripts of the New Testament stretch from the early part of the second century to the beginning of the 20th century, at which point many churches in Greece were still reading the epistles and…