I’m purging my shelves at the moment, and I came across a volume which I bought only because of an online argument. I can’t help feeling that I dealt with this online long ago, but if so I cannot find it. So let me document here what was claimed, and the facts, and then I can clear another half-inch of shelf!
Here‘s an example of the claim:
Now let’s turn to a reference on page 18 and 19 of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by Dennis McKinsey (quoting from Schmuel Golding’s Biblical Polemics Newsletter): …
Golding adds–“In other words, men, rather than a god, composed the Bible. Many Christians, especially Protestants, have great difficulty with any assertion to the effect that men are responsible for the Bible coming into existence. On page 8 Answering Christianity’s Most Puzzling Questions, Vol. one, apologist Richard Sisson states (On page 19)–“In fact, after the death of Jesus a whole flood of books that claimed to be inspired appeared. Disputes over which ones were true were so intense that the debate continued for centuries. Finally, in the fourth century a group of church leaders called a council and took a vote. The 66 books that comprised our cherished Bible were declared to be Scripture by a vote of 568 to 563”. (Unquote)
The same quote used to appear sometimes online, in various places, but has thankfully been forgotten. But did this “Sisson” really say this?
Well, I acquired a copy of Sisson’s book, and I now upload a few pages containing the relevant section:
To save us all time, here’s the actual passage:
“THE BIBLE IS SUSPICIOUS IN ITS ORIGINS”
Many charge that it took our contentious church fathers 350 years to agree on which books belong in the Scriptures. The Bible was written over many centuries. Every time a new book was written there were new questions. In fact, after the death of Jesus a whole flood of books that claimed to be inspired appeared. This argument claims that the dispute over which ones were true was so intense that the debate continued for centuries. Finally, in the fourth century a group of church leaders called a great council and took a vote. The sixty-six books that comprise our cherished Bible were declared to be Scripture by a vote of 568 to 563.
It is amazing to see how many people believe that argument. Actually, what really happened was not like that at all. …
In other words, as sometimes happens in hate literature, a convenient quote has been taken out of context. The statement by Sisson is made in order to disagree with it. His book, in fact, is a mass of “difficulties”, with his response, grouped into sections.
Such frauds were more common when the internet was young, and “argument by (offline) book” was a favourite ploy. I see it less today, partly because more material is online, and mainly because the forums in which such arguments took place have vanished.
But in case this canard ever appears again, well … I’ve documented it here.