At this point the goal of the review is simply to represent the argument of Bercot the author of the book Will The Real Heretic Please Stand Up? Read the earlier sections of the review here, here, here, and here.
Bercot spends two chapters on the importance of the Early Christian writings in understanding the teachings and writings of the Apostles. His basic argument is that the Early Christian writers have a an advantage over contemporary interpreters.
The advantages are:
- Time. They were closer to the Apostolic teachings than we are. This advantage makes it less likely that they have missed the apostles’ point. Unless the Early Christians purposely changed the apostle’s teaching, which Bercot believes is unlikely, then their teachings would potentially better represent apostolic truth.
- Small changes lead to major departures. When you have several small changes to apostolic teaching over time those small changes lead to major departures from truth. Thus overtime the result is something different from what the apostles taught.
- They understood the language. The New Testament was written in Greek, which was the native language of these Early Christians. Although it is possible to learn the Greek of the Bible, there is a difference between someone who learns a language and one who is a native speaker.
- They understood the culture. There is no doubt that the culture of the 1st Century is different from the culture of today. There are also some practices in the Bible that are foreign to our understanding. However, these practices were not foreign to the understanding of the Early Christians.
- They knew the Apostles. Not all of the Early Christians knew the apostles, but some did. This potentially gave them the opportunity to question and receive further explanation on difficult subjects.
Did they deliberately change the Apostles’ teaching?
After making these five points Bercot then establishes why he believes that the Early Christians would not have deliberately changed the teaching of the apostles. His reasons are: