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.