The Bible Didn’t Just Drop Out of Heaven
“There was no set canon in the second century.” (p. 8) That is, no “early” decision was made as to what books should be in the Bible.
Some Early Christians Did Not Accept the Gospel of John
“The gospel of John was either rejected or accepted only with reservations in the West, especially in Rome – during the first Christian centuries. It was rejected in the early third century by the Roman presbyter Gaius (also spelt Caius) who attributed it to the gnostic Cerinthus. . .” (pp. 8-9)
Our Oldest Manuscripts of the Gospels Contain Striking Variants
“The text preserved in our oldest manuscripts of the gospels, often contain striking variants. This is incontestable evident that the text of the four canonical gospels was in a state of flux in the second century.” (p. 10)
Our Earliest Manuscripts of the Gospels Are Older Than You Might Think
“Our earliest codices of the canonical gospels, Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Sinaticus, date only from the fourth century.” (p. 10)
Early Church Fathers Quote the Gospels and What They Quote Differ From What We Find In Our Bibles
“Justin Martyr (162-167) is the earliest Father to offer extensive quotations from the gospels. . .Justin’s quotations frequently differ from the text of the present canonical gospels.” (p. 13)
We Have Accounts of Jesus’ Baptism Which Are Different From the Accounts In Our Gospels
Accounts of Jesus’ baptism not in the canonical gospels are interesting. “Justin states that when Jesus entered the water, ‘a fire was kindled in the Jordan’ . . .The fourth-century write Epiphanius reports that the baptismal account in a gospel used by an early Judaic-Christian group, the Ebionites, contained the following: ‘. . .and immediately a great light shone around the place.’” (pp. 14-15)
The Diatessaron, a second-century harmonization of the canonical gospels, also preserved the tradition of a “fire” (or “light”) in the Jordan at Jesus’ baptism. (p. 18)
William L. Petersen, Tatian’s Distessaron: Its Creation, Dissemination, Significance, and History In Scholarship: New York: E. J. Brill, 1994.