Where We Got the Bible: The Development of the Canon

A podcast by Dr Michael Barber, well worth listening to:

In this podcast I cover the story of how we got the Bible–specifically, we look at way the Canon of Scripture was formed? Below you’ll find the pdf of notes and outline for the material covered. You can follow along here if you’d like.

Which books were “Scripture” for the Jews in Jesus’ day? Why are there seven extra books in Catholic Bibles? Did the Catholic Church add these books? What about the “Lost Gospels”? Why aren’t they accepted as Scripture?

Here we begin to answer all of these questions. I hope you enjoy it.

Listen on iTunes or click the link below. Look for more information on this podcast over at the corresponding post at

More here.


Ethiopians Seek Cure for AIDS in Holy Water and Drugs

A poignant story of faith, hope and medicine from the Wall Street Journal:

Cast out from her family, Tigist arrived at Ethiopia’s Entoto Mountain believing that a spring here welled with holy water that would rid her body of HIV.

Joining 4,000 other squatters seeking the same cure, the young woman reluctantly also started taking antiretroviral pills. Gaining strength, she married an HIV-positive man, Melaku, and started a new life in a mud-and-tarp hut amid eucalyptus forests.

The journey of Tigist and Melaku is emblematic of a shift in Ethiopia, where about 1.2 million people live with HIV/AIDS, among the most of any country. The country’s traditional and often superstitious views toward AIDS commonly lead to exile for the disease’s sufferers. But modern methods are gaining more purchase, in recent years resulting in a greater number of Ethiopians on antiretroviral therapy and a decline in AIDS-related deaths.

In the 1990s, as the AIDS epidemic swept through sub-Saharan Africa, fear of disease coupled with misconceptions about how AIDS spreads fostered discrimination against HIV-positive people. Grappling with a surge in ailing parishioners, many priests goaded sufferers to seek refuge and cure at places like Entoto, which soars north of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Many Christian Orthodox Ethiopians, who represent the largest religious group, believe in the power of holy water. Ethiopian church writings say Entoto’s has the power to exorcise demons.

Tigist agreed to try antiretrovirals.

It was five years ago when Melaku, a short, slight man now 30 years old, learned he was HIV positive. Telling his family only that he was moving close to the country’s capital to find work, he hasn’t returned since.

“Only God will never hate me because of this virus,” Melaku said, sipping black coffee and pecking at popcorn in the one-room shack he rents with Tigist.

At dawn each day, he descended a steep ravine and lined up naked at a natural pool. Priests clutching crosses would pour water six times over the people, who usually also drink about a gallon of the water each day as a tonic.

Melaku remembers many people dying in his first few years on the mountain. “I tried to have faith in the holy water,” he says.

He met Tigist, now 26, whose family had sent her to Entoto after she visited a clinic and learned she was HIV-positive. At the mountain, she joined the people walking a mile to reach the pool each morning. She became more ill, vomiting the holy water.

About four years ago, when Melaku brought her to a hospital, a nurse told Tigist she needed to take drugs regularly to regain her strength. She initially declined.

With Melaku’s encouragement, she augmented the holy water with antiretroviral therapy, a combination of drugs that suppress the HIV and impede the disease from progressing.

Feeling stronger, the couple said their vows in a small ceremony.

That marked one of the victories in a global anti-AIDS push of free drugs, educational campaigns and clinics. In 2003, then-U.S. President George W. Bush poured billions of dollars into getting antiretroviral drugs to millions of Africans.

Read more.




Fr Brian Gill (former Vicar General of TTAC) to Join the Ordinariate

Fr Brian Gill has resigned from the Traditional Anglican Church (TTAC) in England and begun preparation for reception into the Ordinariate of Our Lady of  Walsingham:

… I pray every reader of this magazine will endeavour to pray and work for true re-unity among all who call themselves Christian. If we have been properly baptised according to our Lord’s Command we are therefore members of His Body. But that is only the beginning because we must become  fully active in His Body in the world, and to which He entrusted the other Sacraments. Jesus the  Christ promised to reveal the fullness of truth to His Church through the Holy Spirit.

We read in the acts of the Apostles 2: 41, 42: “So those who received his word were baptized, and  there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’  teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”. It is in that Church that we receive the true meaning of the Holy Scripture as recorded in her Book the Holy Bible. The
Scripture is not for private interpretation.

Anglicans believed that they were a genuine part of the Catholic world, though since the Reformation separated from the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. However, there have always been Anglican leaders and theologians who have sought to bring about reconciliation and reunity,  with the Orthodox Church, but especially with the Church of Rome, from which it was separated from the time of the Reformation. I mentioned before that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of  Walsingham was a genuine response of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to help those groups  of Anglicans who appealed to him for help to bring about the long hoped for reconciliation and  unity, as prayed for by our Lord, and many Anglicans since the Reformation, and especially now as the Old Anglican Communion by its actions has turned away from its Catholic claim and heritage, and, some would say, from the Christian teaching on morals and ministry. Painful as it is one has to  face the truth and make personal decisions.

What other Anglicans may have asked of Rome I cannot say, but the then Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion which had separated itself from the old Communion in order to retain the ancient Catholic Faith as had been professed by the Church of England, not as schismatics, but as  continuers, sent in 2007 a petition to Pope Benedict XVI requesting re-unity with the Church of Rome in which the ‘catholic’ Anglican ethos, Liturgy, hymns etc., would be preserved. As you know, I was then the Vicar General of The Traditional Anglican Church in Britain and I also signed, with  the bishops, that petition and a copy of the Catholic Catechism on the altar of St. Agatha’s in Portsmouth.

The Petition also stated that we sought “a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics  in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment”.

Although the offer might not have been exactly as we had hoped, we did ask for guidance and that is what we have received, also with the statement that we are to maintain our Anglican Patrimony. When one considers the state of the ‘Anglican Communion’ and its divergence from the received teachings of our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, as He promised through His Holy Church, His mystical Body, we can understand why the process was offered in the way it has been, in order to be certain that the Anglicans joining the Ordinariate believe the faith and want to practise what they say they believe and be accepted by all Catholics everywhere.

As I think and pray about it I can’t forget that those clergy who voted in General Synod of the CofE, and before that in the USA, for the new doctrines and changes were trained in Anglican seminaries. One could ask ‘what were they taught!’

When we returned from the Caribbean I found a letter waiting from The Ordinary of the Ordinariate, Mgr. Keith Newton, informing me that I had been accepted for preparation for entrance into the Ordinarate of Our Lady of Walsingham. I have accepted the offer and so has my wife Ann and nearly all of the reduced, through death and illness, etc., number of our church members. In order to do this we have been asked to observe Lent as a Eucharistic fast and this we are doing, remembering our Lord’s forty days in the wilderness.

So on Ash Wednesday I resigned from TTAC, and so has the Congregation.

As I have done before, here are some quotations from various Anglican leaders and others down the centuries on the need for all Christians to be united in Christ’s one holy Catholic Church.

I hope we will all have a blessed and holy Lent and, though it may not be easy, be actively a part of  the reunion of Christendom to the glory of the Holy Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the conversion of all the world, as is the will of God the Father and the Holy Ghost Amen…

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Brian.

Read the whole piece in pdf. here.