Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, RLDS, RLDS Church, Reorganized Church, Reorganization

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  The Bible  

We believe that God revealed his will to the Hebrews through prophets, who received divine utterances, sometimes directly from His mouth and other times through visions, dreams, angelic appearances, and other miraculous means.  These pronouncements were recorded, first by Moses, and afterwards by others, but were not necessarily the first given mankind.  They have come to us from the Jews through the Savior's apostles who were commissioned to declare the gospel throughout the world.  The Christian writings are attached as a separate testament that magnifies and explains the revelations contained in the first and older testament.

We accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God at the time each part was written.  It has been transcribed and translated over the years, processes that introduced errors into the sacred text.  In addition, changes in cultural expressions and terminology made some words and phrases difficult to understand.  In these ways, some plain and precious truths once contained in the scriptures became obscure and others were lost.  Nevertheless, the Bible remains the inerrant word of God as far as it is translated correctly.  Its words should be regarded as God's instruction specifically preserved for us today.

The last two centuries have witnessed a rise in criticism about the Bible's divinity.  Scholars have minimized its heavenly source and supernatural accounts, often using their scholarship to advocate the book’s human origin.  While their assertions are generally witty and scholarly, their reasoning is more rationalization and sophistry than enlightenment and edification.  Too often, their analysis is focused on details that obscure or miss the deeper revelations that the Bible contains.  Understanding of the Bible does not come through scrutiny, but from belief and obedience to its precepts.

The Bible clearly states and the historical record confirms that the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses.  He made several copies that were given to each of the tribes receiving inheritances in the Promised Land.  One was kept with the Ark and became known as the Torah Scroll.  It served as a reference against which new copies could be compared for accuracy.

The Torah Scroll was lost when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and razed the Temple.  After the Babylonian Captivity, Ezra restored the Old Testament with the prophetic help of the Temple Priests, among whom were some of the minor prophets, whose books were appended to the text.  They also added the historical books, the psalms and sayings of David and Solomon and the four major prophets. The Ezra Scroll, as his restored text became known, was God's word as the Creator wanted it among the post-Babylonian Jews and remained in the Temple as a reference until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans.

About two centuries after Ezra, the Bible was translated into Greek.  According to an ancient document called the Letter of Aristeas, Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt, was constructing an extensive library in Alexandria.  When he heard about the Jewish Bible, he asked the high priest to send a copy.  Seventy translators accompanied the text and translated it into Greek.  It was widely revered by Greek speaking Jews and, after Christ, by Christians.  It was their preferred Biblical text, especially after the Jews changed their Hebrew copies about 100 AD to hide some prophetic references to Jesus.

There were a number of differences between the Greek and Hebrew texts that could not be explained by Jewish attempts to hide Jesus' divine identity.  Christians concluded that the Greek text represented the word of God as God wanted it among the Gentile Church, while the Hebrew text before it was altered by the Jews embodied how God wanted it among the Hebrews.  Augustine wrote. "Anything in the Hebrew text that is not found in that of the seventy translators is something that the Spirit of God decided not to say through the translators, but through the prophets.  Conversely, anything in the Septuagint that is not in the Hebrew texts is something which the same Spirit preferred to say through the translators, instead of through the prophets, thus showing that the former and the latter alike were prophets" (City of God, Bk 8, Ch 43).

As the fifth century closed, Christians wanted an authorized Latin Text.  Older versions existed, but were not uniform.  Jerome secluded himself and produced the Vulgate.  He preferred the Hebrew translation, thinking that it was closer to the original.  For that reason, many Jewish changes became part of our modern Bibles.

The Christians also added the New Testament.  They chose four gospels because the Old Testament contained four major prophetical books and because those four originated in the apostles. Mark wrote Peter's gospel and Luke recorded Paul's.  Several apostolic epistles were also added, along with John's Apocrypha.  While the Gnostic heretics produced their own spurious copies of the gospel and epistles, only a few made it into the authorized text.

Despite the evolution of our modern text, the Bible remains the word of God and sacred instruction for people today.


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