“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible’s authority is constantly questioned, and so-called scholars constantly attempt to undermine it. As I write this, a new attempt is being made to undermine people’s trust in God’s word.
Interest has recently been shown in a 100-page document in Latin, written by the fourth-century Italian bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia. Dr. Hugh Houghton of the University of Bormingham has translated the work and reports that it provides an allegorical interpretation of the Gospels. Houghton says, “There’s been an assumption that [the Bible is] a literal record of truth… But for people teaching the Bible in the fourth century, it’s not the literal meaning which is important, it’s how it’s read allegorically.”
Houghton’s claim is that, because the document dates back to the fourth century, it should carry more weight about methods of interpreting the Bible than, for example, the works of Augustine. But is the antiquity of the document any evidence for its authority?
The answer to that question must be a resounding “No”. It should be a surprise to nobody that there were people in the early post-apostolic church who were already casting doubt on the authenticity of New Testament books. After all, the first record we have of someone casting doubt on the authority of God’s word is recorded in the Bible itself, when the serpent, in Genesis 3, does exactly that. There are many scholars who have shown that many post-apostolic writers accepted the authority of the entire Bible, and the New Testament documents themselves are self-authenticating – such as Peter’s acknowledgment of the Scriptural authority of Paul’s letters in 2 Peter 3:16.