How did the Bible get put together? Part Five

Today’s our final day looking at how the Bible was put together. Over the past two days, we’ve seen how the texts that make up the New Testament were simply the writing down of the existing authoritative teaching of Jesus and his apostles. Lists were drawn up after-the-fact (in subsequent centuries) not because a canon didn’t already exist in practice, but because heretics were starting to challenge which texts should be considered authoritative.

So what this historical process tells us is that the main rationale for the canon – that is, the reason certain books are in it – is simply usage. It was a recognition of what the church had commonly come to use as its authoritative texts. Why? Because those texts testified to the truth: the teaching of Jesus and his apostles.

However, particularly in the third and fourth centuries, people became more interested in how to justify certain books as being in the canon. Mainly the books that people disputed. And so a number of factors come into play, which we’ll take a look at now. These are reasons used after the fact to defend a book’s status status in the canon.

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How did the Bible get put together? Part Four

We’re continuing our series in how the Bible came about. Yesterday, we saw that the New Testament books are simply the writing down of the church’s existing authoritative teaching: the words, deeds, death, and resurrection of Jesus – and their theological interpretation – compiled in the Gospels and applied to God’s people in the epistles. (You really need to read yesterday’s post first for this one to make sense.)

The reason I stress this is because many people have a misunderstanding of the process of how the New Testament came to be. Like the Torah, it wasn’t a case of the church sitting down a few centuries after Jesus and saying, “OK, let’s sit down and make this Bible thingy we’ve been meaning to get around to. Let’s take a vote: what’s in and what’s out?” They ended up having four gospels because the committee couldn’t agree on which one.

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How did the Bible get put together? Part Three

We’re continuing our series in how the Bible came about. Over the past two days we’ve looked at the formation of the Old Testament. Today, it’s time to look at the New Testament.

But first, let’s recap the story of how the OT came to be. It began with a core of teaching – teaching about God’s laws and God’s saving actions in Israel’s history. Teaching that was authoritative for God’s people.  Much of it was initially passed on by word of mouth, but gradually came to be written down, along with other material from prophets, wise men, songwriters – all bearing witness to the truth about God; calling people back to this truth; explaining further this truth. Until by the time of Jesus, it was established as a fixed canon, which we know as the Hebrew Bible.

So how did New Testament come about? Pretty much the same way, just in a much shorter timeframe. Let’s take a quick look at that story.

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How did the Bible get put together? Part Two

We’re continuing our series in how the Bible came about. Yesterday, we looked at the story of how the Old Testament canon was formed. Today, we ask the question: why is the Old Testament canonical for Christians?

Why is the Old Testament canonical for Christians?

So far, this has just been a history lesson. Hopefully interesting history. But what’s it got to do with us. I mean, isn’t the Old Testament just the Jewish Bible? Written by ancient Israelites for ancient Israel? Why is it canonical for us, as Christians?

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How did the Bible get put together? Part One

Tim begins a new series this week. And thanks, Sheree, for the last two weeks in the book of Acts!

This week will be a little different from normal. Instead of studying a text from the Bible, we’re going to learn about the Bible. Looking at the question: How did the Bible get put together? That is, how did the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and twenty-seven books of the New Testament – these sixty-six rather diverse pieces of writing – how did they end up in our Bibles? And why these books and not others?

It’s an important question, isn’t it? I mean, if we’re going to spend the other 51 weeks of this year learning from it, conforming our lives to what it says, and believing that God speaks to us through it – it makes sense to spend at least one week finding out how it came to be in the first place! So this week, we ask the question, “how did the canon of Scripture get put together?”

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