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The Roman Catholics, 1486 AD, and the "Title Page" Argument

by Terry W. Benton

The Argument:

"..the Roman Catholic church in 1486 AD arbitrarily placed the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John --before the cross -- (MMLJBC) in the New rather Old Testament by placing an erroneous New Testament "title page" between the books of Malachi and Matthew.

Answer:

1. Everyone already knew that MMLJ were written by "ministers of the new covenant" in the new covenant age and long after the Old Testament had been complete and nailed to the cross.

2. Therefore, the "title page" never messed anyone up or confused any one.

3. No one (except Mr. Billingsly, and anyone who agrees with him today), has ever been confused by the "title page". It is exactly where it should be, if we were going to distinguish the scriptures of the Old Testament from the scriptures written by ministers of the new covenant.

4. No one ever thought, until Mr. Billingsly, that New Testament ministers took it in hand to write additional attachments to the old covenant and have their new writings post-nailed again to the cross.

5. The "title page" of 1486 is still much older than Mr. Billingsly’s testament of Acts 2 through Rev.22. Billingsly says that he would place the "title page" between Acts 1 and Acts 2. That would mean that history would look back to 1995 or so(over 500 years later than even the "1486" placement of a "title page") to find when a title page was first placed between two chapters of the same book. Who can give that any credibility?

6. Evidence clearly shows that MMLJ were long considered as New Testament books, long before 1486, and long before the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, if we show that early writers before 250 AD (which is long before the Roman Catholic Church) believed that the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were New Testament books, then we will have further proven the above argument and its author to be wrong again, and making a false claim that he will need to repent of, and an argument he will need to cease making.

Irenaeus (120-202AD)

a. "For all the apostles taught that there were indeed two testaments among the two peoples; but that it was one and the same God who appointed both for the advantage of those men (for whose sakes the testaments were given) who were to believe in God,..." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, 32:2).

Here Irenaeus recognized two testaments, and that these testaments were carried by two people (i.e., the Jews and the Christians). I’ll bet that you can guess that the Jews did not carry PART of the testament of Christians. The Jews carried one testament (Gen.-Malachi) and the Christians carried the other testament (Matthew-Revelation).

b. "Now I have shown a short time ago that the church is the seed of Abraham; and for this reason, that we may know that He who in the New Testament "raises up from the stones children unto Abraham," is He who will gather, according to the Old Testament, those that shall be saved from all the nations, Jeremiah says: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, who led the children of Israel from the north, and from every region whither they had been driven; He will restore them to their own land which He gave to their fathers."" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V, Ch.34:1).

We observe now that Irenaeus recognized that it was the NEW Testament that talks about God Who "raises up from stones children unto Abraham". This is a reference to what the New Testament says in Matthew 3. Thus, as early as Irenaeus, it was already an accepted fact that Matthew was in the New Testament.

Tertullian (145-220AD)

a. "Persons are still living who remember them, — their own actual disciples and successors, — who cannot therefore deny the lateness of their date. But, in fact, by their own works they are convicted, even as the Lord said. For since Marcion separated the New Testament from the Old, he is (necessarily) subsequent to that which he separated, inasmuch as it was only in his power to separate what was (previously) united. Having then been united previous to its separation, the fact of its subsequent separation proves the subsequence also of the man who effected the separation" (Second Part, On Prescription Against Heretics, Ch.30).

Note: Tertullian is addressing a heresy of Marcion tampering with two testaments, when Christians had long kept the two testaments together. We observe that there were two testaments, and they were early recognized as two important kinds of witnesses that Christians held together as a marvelous unit.

b. "This may be understood to be the Divine Word, who is doubly edged with the two testaments of the law and the gospel — sharpened with wisdom, hostile to the devil, arming us against the spiritual enemies of all wickedness and concupiscence, and cutting us off from the dearest objects for the sake of God’s holy name." (Book 3:14, Teretullian against Marcion)

c. "We lay it down as our first position, that the evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors, to whom was assigned by the Lord Himself this office of publishing the gospel. Since, however, there are apostolic men also, they are yet not alone, but appear with apostles and after apostles; because the preaching of disciples might be open to the suspicion of an affectation of glory, if there did not accompany it the authority of the masters, which means that of Christ, for it was that which made the apostles their masters. Of the apostles, therefore, John and Matthew first instill faith into us; whilst of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it afterwards. These all start with the same principles of the faith, so far as relates to the one only God the Creator and His Christ, how that He was born of the Virgin, and came to fulfill the law and the prophets. Never mind if there does occur some variation in the order of their narratives, provided that there be agreement in the essential matter of the faith, in which there is disagreement with Marcion." (Book 4:2).

Note: We observe that the "evangelical Testament", which is not the Old but the NEW Testament, has the four gospels of MMLJ at the start of the collection even as early as the days of Tertullian.

d. "The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage — I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was. For even Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul. And it may well seem that the works which disciples publish belong to their masters. Well, then, Marcion ought to be called to a strict account concerning these (other Gospels) also, for having omitted them, and insisted in preference on Luke; as if they, too, had not had free course in the churches, as well as Luke’s Gospel, from the beginning. Nay, it is even more credible that they existed from the very beginning; for, being the work of apostles, they were prior, and coeval in origin with the churches themselves." (Book 4:5).

Note: The apostolic churches recognized these four gospels early on "from the very beginning". These four Gospels were not carried by the Jews in the Canon of Old Testament books. But, these four gospel accounts were connected with the kingdom, the church of Christ.

Origen (185-254)

a. "And in the New Testament we have abundant testimonies, as when the Holy Spirit is described as having descendedupon Christ, and when the Lord breathed upon His apostles after His resurrection, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit;" and the saying of the angel to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon thee;" the declaration by Paul, that no one can call Jesus Lord, save by the Holy Spirit." (Book I, 3).

Note: As early as Origen, long before the Roman Catholic Church, and long before Billingsly’s "1486", the New Testament included the story of the Spirit coming down upon Jesus (before the cross) and what Jesus said after His resurrection. Origen clearly recognized the four gospels to be in the NewTestament.

b. "And from the New Testament also they quote the saying of the Savior, in which He makes a promise to His disciples concerning the joy of wine, saying, "Henceforth I shall not drink of this cup, until I drink it with you new in My Father’s kingdom."" (Book II, XI,2).

Note: The quote from the New Testament comes from Matthew 26:26f in the record before the cross. The book of Matthew was early recognized as in the New Testament.

c. "Let us now look also to the New Testament, where Satan approaches the Savior, and tempts Him: wherein also it is stated that evil spirits and unclean demons, which had taken possession of very many, were expelled by the Savior from the bodies of the sufferers, who are said also to be made free by Him. Even Judas, too, when the devil had already put it in his heart to betray Christ, afterwards received Satan wholly into him; for it is written, that after the sop "Satan entered into him."" (Book 3, 2:1b).

Note: Look how many things are described as being in the NewTestament. These things are described in the four gospels and not in Acts 2 through Revelation 22. Therefore, it is the case that all early Christians recognized MMLJ as part of the New Testament.

In no history before 1486 or before Dan Billingsly has any Christian ever recognized a New Testament that contained only Acts 2 through Revelation 22. While Billingsly wants to make much out of the issue of the "title page" of 1486, there is simply no substance to the argument. Even if the Bibles did not have such a title page, it does not prove that it was placed in the wrong place, and it does not mean that Roman Catholics deceived anyone by so placing the page.

Thus, we must conclude that the title page is exactly where it should be because all Christians have always recognized that the four gospels, written by four New Testament Christians, had to be a part of the New Testament, even if it did describe events that included Jesus’ life under the law, his miracles, death, burial, and resurrection. The argument is wholly fabricated to deceive, and it will not stand the test of facts and scrutiny.