A Dutch 'Christian' and former member of our MSN Groups (though never a member of NCCG), who seems more interested in the social gospel than in the gospel of salvation, wrote and published a critique of some of NCCG's non-canonical scriptures (the Books of Abraham) and the methodology of revelation reception as understood by this ministry. An extract of his main points are reproduced below:
The Pseudepigrapha Red Herring
"I'm talking about some of the 'deutero-canonical' Scriptures of NCCG, namely "The Second Book of Abraham", "The Third Book of Abraham". "The Second Book of Joseph", and "The Third Book of Joseph'" (and a bunch of other 'Scriptures', often offered only as extracts on the site). These books have been written by Christopher 'under the inspiration of the 'Holy Spirit'. Now, about some of these writings Christopher makes some truly remarkable claims. 'The Second Book of Abraham' is said to be a ' pseudepigraphic expansion of Genesis 5-25'. That is interesting. According to Wikipedia 'Pseudepigrapha, from Greek pseudes = "false", "epigraphe" = "inscription"— see Epigraphy— are text works that are considered to have a wrongly attributed authorship .' So, Abraham wasn't the author of the text? But who was, or is?
"Watch this. On this page 'Królewiec' writes that
'The Second Book of Abraham, which resembles in many respects the apocryphal Book of Jasher, is a mesoteric text, whose origin and historicity is uncertain but is probably reasonably accurate. It was obtained by the Holy Order in a corrupted form and was retranslated by inspiration by the Presiding Patriarch, Lev-Tsiyon.' (My boldprint).
Perplexingly enough, on the other page on the main site Christopher states:
And a few lines later he adds these astonishing words:
'The Second Book of Abraham is a pseudepigraphic expansion of Genesis 5-25 (known by New Covenant Christians as "The First Book of Abraham") and was originally written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit without original manuscripts.'
'A sequel, "The Third Book of Abraham", also translated prophetically without manuscripts by the Presiding Patriarch, follows this book.'
"Here Christopher Warren has to pay the price for the speed of his writings. First we had a manuscript 'in a corrupted form' (suggesting antiquity); now we have no manuscripts at all! Of course the latter is a lot closer to the truth. But what is Christopher Warren actually saying in the words last quoted? He is speaking sheer nonsense. A 'prophetic translation without manuscripts' is a joke. A translation without material to translate is no translation. Instead, this is the kind of 'revelation' that is typical of the New Age 'movement': fast and spurious. 'Junk revelation', 'Satan's easy to obtain counterfeit revelation' if I may put it in the kind of words that Christopher so often uses against the charismatic movement in his sermons.
"But this is not even all, because on 'Królewiec's' page about the Second Book of Abraham, he states: '
'The Second Book of Abraham is a pseudepigraphic expansion of Genesis 5-25 (known by members of the Holy Order as "The First Book of Abraham") and was originally written under the inspiration of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) without original manuscripts by someone not of our Order (and therefore its accuracy cannot be vouched for)'.
Isn't this stunning?! Here, the manuscripts are gone for Stanislaw as well apparently, but now the piece is suddenly written 'by someone not of our order'! Are we to assume that Christopher Warren wasn't a member of the order he himself established? -Enough!
"Now, remember that Christopher stated that the Second Book of Abraham was 'probably reasonably accurate' pertaining to origin and historicity (although according to 'Stan' 'its accurancy cannot be vouched for'... Very wise, Stan!). This is in itself an untenable position since pseudepigraphics are never 'reasonably accurate' on this behalf, which is why they are pseudepigraphics in the first place. In the Second Book of Abraham, a lot of the 'gaps' that occur in Genesis are neatly filled in. Lamechs enigmatic exclamation is explained by the relating of a family murder he had committed; Ham's cursing by Noah is explained by the fact that Ham castrated his father (!) (anyone care to psychoanalyse that?!). This all suggests historicity. Nevertheless, the text abounds in legendary material, perhaps partly taken from rabbinical sources (I seemed to recognize bits here and there). (And like Warren himself claims, the book is partly based on the apocryphal Book of Yasher - apparently, the holy spirit wasn't creative enough to come up with something truly original). More importantly, the text overflows with anachronisms like 'preaching the Gospel' and referrals to spiritual warfare, and, most importantly, with stressed patterns that resemble the ideals of Warren himself, such as patriarchy, polygyny and even lots of adopted sons, as well as the establishing of the 'Firstborn Church'. In this manner, the NCCG and in fact Warren himself are projected back into time to give them semi-biblical credits. This mechanism of dating the origins of a cult or religious movement back into antiquity is a well known strategy for New Agers and the like.
"Now, let's pause for a moment, because here we got something that from a biblical point of view isn't innocent phantasizing at all. What Christopher Warren has done here is that he has expanded the book of Genesis, adding to it all kinds of fantasies and petty preoccupations.
"Genesis as you know is part of the Torah, about the most holy part of the Scriptures. And what does the Torah, that Christopher claims to hold so high, itself say about adding to it?
I knew that everything that God made, that will be forever; we cannot add to it, nor can we subtract from it; and God made it so that they fear Him. Ecclesiastes 3:14
'Do not add to the word which I command you, nor diminish from it, to observe the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.' Deuteronomy 4:2
'Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.' Deuteronomy 13:1
'Every word of God is refined; He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He prove to you, and you be found a liar.' Proverbs 30:5-6
I think Scripture is clear enough here. Let's continue.
'Do not add to His words, lest He prove to you, and you be found a LIAR'!
Of The Third Book of Abraham 'Stanislaw' writes that
"That seems to be a lot more honest, although still there is the mention of a pseudepigraph, suggesting there is an age-old manusscript which of course there isn't. 'Stan' goes on to cite 'the presiding patriarch' (apparently they had good communications) on the writing of The Third Book of Abraham. Here Chris gets very revealing about the junk he has created:
'it is believed to be a pseudepigraphical parable whose purpose is to convey spiritual truths rather than to render a precise historical account (3 Abr.75:33). Thus the 'Abraham' of the Third Book of Abraham is a personification of the ideal New Covenant Patriarch in all dispensations, and especially of the Millennial Theocratic Order.'
"I know my Bible, and I know that the Spirit doesn't 'dictate' (be it verbally or conceptually); God does it the hard way, taking thousands of years for molding stubborn human beings and inspiring them to write out of the reality of life instead of dictating them 'lost manusscripts' at 'extraordinary speed' as is the false way of the new age gods. (Hm... Does the latter part sound a bit like Christopher?! Well, he has to be measured against his own standards..)...."
'"This revelation was the most intense of all the revelations I have received during my ministry and came at extraordinary speed and under the most unlikely conditions. It was not premeditated. It came in literally thousands of small chunks during the course of several normal working days. I would wake up and start writing immediately for five or ten minutes, take a shower, write for three or four minutes, and write the odd verse here and there whilst eating breakfast. I would then make my way to the underground railway station, pause on a park bench, write for two or three minutes, board my train, and write for 10-15 minutes on the way to work. I would write for two or three minutes whilst waiting for my tram, and then for another eight or so minutes on the tram. I would arrive at work and make preparations for the day. If I had the odd half minute free, I would carry on writing. Then the day's work would begin. I would start teaching a class, give them an assignment, write for two minutes, and return to my lecturing. This would occur throughout the day with maybe 70 to 80 snippets being written down. At the end of a long working day I would sit down and, if lucky, write for half-an-hour to an hour, in between correcting students' work and preparing lectures for the next day. The same proceedure would be repeated on the tram and train on the way home. Once home I would sit down and read the day's work from my journal to my family who would wait with eager anticipation each evening to hear the unfolding story. At least 80% of the book was written in this manner without the opportunity for review save at the end of each day. It was an exhillarating experience for the book was dictated conceptually by the Ruach (Spirit) faster than I could write it down. '
The Pseudepigrapha Red Herring
NCCG's Response to 'Docter' Maarten
Scholarship recognises the existence of several pseudepigrapha which are distinguished from two other categories of writing known as the Old Testament Apocrypha and the New Testament Apocrypha.
'Old Testament' Pseudepigrapha
The Books of Adam and Eve -- translation of the Latin version
Life of Adam and Eve -- translation of the Slavonic version
Life of Adam and Eve -- translation of the Greek version (a.ka. The Apocalypse of Moses)
The Apocalypse of Adam
The Book of Adam
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
1 Enoch (Ethiopic Apocalypse of Enoch)
1 Enoch Composit (inc. Charles, Lawrence & others)
2 Enoch (Slavonic Book of the Secrets of Enoch)
Enoch (another version)
The Testament of Abraham
The Apocalypse of Abraham
Joseph and Aseneth
Selections from The Book of Moses
Revelation of Moses
The Assumption of Moses (aka: The Testament of Moses)
The Martyrdom of Isaiah
The Ascension of Isaiah
The Revelation of Esdras
The Book of Jubilees
Tales of the Patriarchs
The Letter of Aristeas
The Book of the Apocalypse of Baruch (aka: 2 Baruch)
The Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (aka: 3 Baruch)
Fragments of a Zadokite work (aka: The Damascus Document)
'New Testament' Pseudepigrapha
Letters of Pontius Pilate
The Gospel of the Holy Twelve
Most of the 'Old Testamen't pseudepigrapha were written in the inter-testamental period. With the exception of the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, which is a known fake from the Victorian era, only one early post-'New Testament' period pseudepigraph is usually recognised, the Letters of Pontius Pilate.
Pseudepigraphy is viewed in two essential lights. The first, by liberal Christians, humanists and atheists, sees them as deliberately misleading fakes, and include some or most of the canonical books of the Bible (e.g. Isaiah, 3 John). They claim that authorship by a recognised Biblical figure like Moses or Adam is attributed to such worthies for the purpose of lending greater authority. This may, or may not, be the motivation. The second, by some conservative Christians and others, view many, if not most, pseudepigrapha as literary devices that do not have as their aim any kind of premeditated deception, but use known historical characters in a fiction to give it a background setting. Thus Henry Van Dyke's, The Fourth Wise Man, which adds a fourth magi called Artaban to the three mentioned in the New Testament account, is the creation of a ficticious character in a true setting for the purpose of conveying Christian truth. It is, in effect, a parable. It does not set out to deceive but 'expands' the New Testament story with a fictional element. Had Dick Van Dyke named the book after one of the New Testament Gospel Writers (e.g. Matthew or Luke) then, whether he acknowledged his own authorship or not, this would legitimately be called a pseudepigraphic expansion of one of the Gospels' magi accounts. Various kinds of pseudepigraphic expansion were found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Criticism has been levelled at MLT because it has formerly published pseudepigraphs using the name of Abraham in a collection of works known as the Twelve Books of Abraham. Ten of these were authored by the founder, Lev-Tsiyon, with one being a modification of a pseudepigraphic expansion by another author (the second book) that reputedly contains elements from the pseudipgraphical Book of Jasher. This would make the Second Book of Abraham a double expansion and pseudepigraph. The story-line of the other ten books flows out of this one to diverge considerably in its spiritual and theological content. The First Book of Abraham is simply the historical account in Genesis.
The main criticism that has been levelled against these books, which aren't incidentally regarded as canonical even in a secondary sense by NCCG or its successor organisation, concerns a couple of statements made about the second Book of Abraham, which a critic maintains are disjunctive. They read as follows:
Our critic seems to have made the (false) assumption that NCCG received some ancient manuscript in a corrupted form and then retranslated it, and then wrote a 'contradictory' statement which says that it is 'just' a pseudepigraphic expansion of Genesis. Here's what actually happened in greater detail:
"The Second Book of Abraham, which resembles in many respects the apocryphal Book of Jasher, is a mesoteric text, whose origin and historicity is uncertain but is probably reasonably accurate. It was obtained by the Holy Order in a corrupted form and was retranslated by inspiration by the Presiding Patriarch, Lev-Tsiyon"
"The Second Book of Abraham is a pseudepigraphic expansion of Genesis 5-25 (known by New Covenant Christians as "The First Book of Abraham") and was originally written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit without original manuscripts"
The Second Book of Abraham was, in its original form, known as the Writings of Abraham. It can be viewed online here. It was authored by a man called John Bryant who claimed that he received it by inspiration without original manuscripts. (He originally led a radical Mormon break-off known as the Evangelical Church of Christ and then became a Gnostic before disappearing altogether. I investigated his group during my transition time out of Mormonism towards evangelical Christianity). My research on it revealed that he had probably used as his foundational source material both the Genesis accounts and a pseudepigraphical book called the Book of Jasher (some Messianics believe it's a genuine account because it's mentioned in the Bible at Joshua 10:13 and 2 Sam.1:18 - some dispute this is a true name) and then considerably expanded in the latter ten books. In its original form, it had strong Mormon leanings and some dubious teachings which I either removed or rewrote to make it more fully harmonise with Genesis and Jasher. I used this account as a story line, and added my own, to teach some important spiritual principles that were revealed to me by the Ruach in the subsequent books. Because of its corrupted origins I had many times wondered if it might not be better to discard it altogether but have decided to retain it with the appropriate explanations. At no time did I ever claim that Abraham was the original author of either the second book or the other ten. The latter ten were indeed written without use of any original texts or manuscripts and were given to me by direct inspiration as a parable of the patriarchal life. Whether there are some historical elements in it or not I can't tell - historicity is not, in any case, the point. It was not until the end of 2007 that I discovered that Bryant may actually have used an ancient text after all which was discovered in Egypt in 1831 - the text may be viewed here. At any rate, I had no knowledge of this manuscript when I modified Bryant's original writing.
Our critic has also challenged the idea that the Second Book of Abraham is a 'translation'. This is a matter of semantics. In the sense of being translated from one language to another, no, of course not. It is the critic who assumed I meant there was an 'ancient document' which neither I, nor the original author, ever claimed. When a concept is rendered into words, this we call a 'translation'. To suggest, as the critic does, that a deception was perpetrated, namely that I had claimed to be in possession of some ancient document, is entirely false. The third citation which our critic quotes entirely matches us with what I have said:
The critic gets the wrong end of the stick completely, thinking I have made a blunder in saying "without original manuscripts". The original author claimed to have written The Writings of Abraham through pure inspiration, without the use of any texts. Assuming he told the truth (and I don't know for sure - it's clear when Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon and claimed it was dictated to him, that he was directly quoting from the KJV Bible and some other well known works and was not telling the truth), and did not have Genesis or Jasher in front of him, then at the very least his knowledge of these books would have lent material for his creation from his own memory. Jasher is an expansion of Genesis 5-25 anyway so Bryant's final work was basically just that - an expansion of Genesis 5-25.
"The Second Book of Abraham is a pseudepigraphic expansion of Genesis 5-25 (known by members of the Holy Order as "The First Book of Abraham") and was originally written under the inspiration of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) without original manuscripts by someone not of our Order (and therefore its accurancy cannot be vouched for)".
Finally, the critic accuses me of "adding to Torah". This is false. The Second Book of Abraham is not canonical material and does not claim to be a replacement of, or addition to, the Genesis 5-25 portion of Torah. It was never even a part of NCCG secondary canon. MLT - and NCCG before it - has only ever acknowledged the Protestant Scriptures as canon. And we would never counsel anyone to turn to the Second Book of Abraham as authoritative historical material even if there is possibily bona fide historical content there which is not in the Torah portion.
I don't propose to go into all the critic's arguments which as you can see are based on a number of false assumptions and misunderstandings. One thing he declares is demonstrably false from the Bible:
No, the Ruach does not always dictate, and in fact rarely does so. But She does do so sometimes and there is a perfectly good example in the Old Testament. The account is to be found in Jeremiah 36. A revelation is given through Jeremiah who dictated it to his scribe Baruch. The scroll is given to the king who cuts it up into pieces and burns it. We read:
"I know my Bible, and I know that the Spirit doesn't 'dictate' (be it verbally or conceptually); God does it the hard way, taking thousands of years for molding stubborn human beings and inspiring them to write out of the reality of life instead of dictating them 'lost manusscripts' at 'extraordinary speed' as is the false way of the new age gods."
Well, it didn't take Jeremiah "thousands of years" to dictate that scroll again - it was done, one supposes, within minutes or hours. It was, moreover, a dictation of a lost manuscript, or rather, a burned one. The critic's arguments fall flat.
"After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah's dictation, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah: 'Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. Also tell Jehoiakim king of Judah, 'This is what Yahweh says: You burned that scroll ...''" (Jer.36:27-29, NIV).
Not that it matters since I never claimed to have translated any of the Books of Abraham from "lost manuscripts". The critic has set up a straw man which actually wasn't a straw man at all - it could have been done the way he claimed, as Jeremiah proved, even though it wasn't.
The fact that the critic does not accept the Second Book of Abraham, or indeed, any of the other Books of Abraham is irrelevent to me anyway. All we want people to believe in and obey is the Bible. If others want to be blessed by the Books of Abraham, all well and good, for they will find much inspirational material in them that will help them in their spiritual life.
This page was created on 21 November 2007
Last updated on 10 October 2009
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