Definitions of Darkness

Relevant scripture:  2 Peter 1:19

atheism – “disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.  This found at Google: atheism.”  This found at Google: atheism.

naturalism – “a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.”  This found at Google: naturalism.

philosophical naturalism – “the doctrine that the natural world is all there is. It is also called metaphysical naturalism and ontological naturalism.”  See this and more at Conservapedia: Philosophical naturalism.

methodological naturalism – “a strategy for studying the world, by which scientists choose not to consider supernatural causes – even as a remote possibility.”  See this and more at Conservapedia – Methodological naturalism.

secularism – “a belief system that rejects religion, or the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education. The principles of separation of church and state and of keeping religion out of the public school system are an example of secularism.”  Found at secularism.

scientism – “belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most “authoritative” worldview or the most valuable part of human learning – to the exclusion of other viewpoints.”  This and more found at Wikipedia: Scientism.


polytheism – “the belief in or worship of more than one god.”  Found at Google: polytheism.  Polytheism dominated the thinking of antiquity, but holds no sway in modernity.  I include it in this post only for making that point that “darkness” as defined by the Scriptures took different form in biblical times than we see it taking since.

Defining “Liberal” and “Conservative” in Biblical Studies

This seems like a definition people on both sides could accept:

The issues I am describing here all go back to how one views the Bible. Is it the divine revelation of God’s will for mankind? Or is it just the product of human religious instincts, a collection of writings cobbled together as ancient people fought to establish their views? The way one answers these questions creates something of a divide in the field of early Christian studies. Though the terminology is imperfect, we can, generally speaking, distinguish between scholars who are “liberal” and “conservative.” These terms do not describe a political outlook. Rather, they categorize two approaches to the Bible that are not easy to describe with any other terminology.

A biblical conservative understands the Old and New Testaments to be authored by people who were inspired by God Himself, which means that whatever is recorded in Scripture must be true and accurate in a meaningful sense. A liberal, in contrast, considers the biblical writings as important historical documents, though written by human hands only, and therefore prone to errors or even falsifications.

Taken from Bryan M. Liftin’s After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles.  Moody, 2015, 199 pages.  See p. 17-18.

The Term “Gospel” Applied to Writings

This is a subsidiary post of The Study of Canon and the Etymology of Certain Terms.

More information on sources referenced in this post can be found in Annotated Bibliography on New Testament Text and Canon.

The term “gospel” was originally a theological term referring to the message of salvation; later (mid-2nd Century) became a literary term with a reluctance to speak of multiple gospels. Gamble TNTC p 30, 35.

See Gamble in The Canon Debate, loc 6013

But is “gospel” in Mark 1:1 being used to describe a writing?

Defining Apostolicity

This is a subsidiary post of Apostolicity and the New Testament.

Campenhausen, Hans von.  The Formation of the Christian Bible.  trans. J. A. Baker.  Augsburg Fortress, 1972; Sigler Press, 1997 edition.  See p. 330.

“So far as any ‘principle’ can be discerned behind the sources it appears to be one simply of chronological limitation: the normative testimonies must derive from the period closest to Christ, namely that of Christian origins, the age of the apostles and their disicples.”

Dunbar, David G.  “The Biblical Canon” in Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon, ed. D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge.  Academie Books, 1986.  See p. 358; the embedded quote is from Campenhausen, p. 330 (see above).

“Broadly stated, the church regarded apostolicity as the qualifying factor for canonical recognition; however, this apostolicity should be understood not strictly in terms of authorship but in terms of content and chronology.  That which was canon must embody the apostolic tradition, and this tradition was to be discerned in he most primitive documents: ‘ the normative testimonies must derive from the period closest to Christ, namely that of Christian origins, the age of the apostles and their disciples.’  The recognition of this apostolicity, moreover, was based primarily on the tradition of the church.  Those books that had functioned authoritatively for earlier Christians were received as authentic apostolic tradition.  In turn, those documents were used in a negative way to exclude works of later vintage or varying doctrinal content, as happened, for example, in [sic] case of The Gospel of Peter.”

Zahn, Theodor.  Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons.  Deichert, 1888-1892.   Per Campenhausen (see above) in footnote 9 on p. 330 of The Formation of the Christian Bible:

“Zahn…pertinently comments: ‘The concept of what was “apostolic”, to the extent that it coincided with what we call “canonical” or “New Testament”, was not derived directly from the idea of a special official dignity attaching to the twelve apostles and to Paul, but from the conviction that complete sections of the traditional New Testament were written by apostles and companions of the apostles, and thus were reliable documents for the apostolic age, and in particular for the apostolic preaching and tradition’.”

The Etymology of “Apostle” in Greek and Hebrew


Wilber T. Dayton.  “Factors promoting the formation of the New Testament canon” in Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society 10.1 (Winter 1967): 28-35.  See p. 30-31.

Geldenhuys, J. Norval. Supreme Authority: The Authority of the Lord, His Apostles, and the New Testament.  Eermands, 1953.  See p. 48-61, 68, etc.

Liftin, Bryan M.  After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles.  Moody, 2015, 199 pages.  See p. 13-14.

“The word apostolos comes from a Greek verb meaning ‘to send out.’ In the original culture of ancient Greece, an apostle was just a sailor sent across the sea with no particular authority. Eventually the word came to mean a messenger or delegate. First-century Judaism had its own Hebrew word for an official envoy who was commissioned to proclaim a precise message and who therefore possessed special authority—the shaliah. This seems to be the meaning behind the Greek word apostolos as it is used in the New Testament…Normally, an apostle was someone wo had been diectly commissioned by Jesus Christ to proclaim the message of His saving death and resurrection.”




Anachronisms: The Study of Canon and the Etymology of Certain Terms

This is a subsidiary post of The Formation of the New Testament…from Beginning to End.
It is also a subsidiary post of Editorial Activity of the New Testament.
It is also a subsidiary post of Obstacles in the Study of New Testament Formation.

When we study the history of how the New Testament canon of 27 books came to be, we must be prepared to deal with the vagaries of semantics.  For example, the very word “canon” – in the sense I just used it – is not found in the New Testament.  The word is there, but not in the sense of a collection of writings.  The same can be said about “New Testament.”  Therefore, the very concept of a “New Testament canon” is not discussed in the New Testament, yet we see it commonly used from the late fourth century onward.  We must peer into the second and third centuries to determine when and how these terms were coined.  As with a term like “9/11,” many more people use the term than understand its origins.  Fewer still stop to write about those origins.

This semantic issue I am discussing applies to terms such as “canon,” “new testament,” “Bible,” and “gospel.”  If we do not consider the etymology of such words, our study of the history of the New Testament canon will be subject to anachronisms and therefore misunderstandings.

Here are individuals treatments of terms subject to anachronism:

The Term “Canon” Applied to Writings

The Term “Gospel” Applied to Writings

The Terms “Prophets” and “Apostles” as Applied to Writings

The Terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” Applied to Writings

The Term “Bible” Applied to the Scriptures