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How the Bible Came Together

Since the DaVinci Code came out a few years ago, many people have talked about how and when the Bible came together. The fancy term for this is the word “Canon” which means “standard” or “rule”. When “canon” is used of the Bible, it means the books that the church considers inspired and authoritative for all churches and all time.

Now, although the DaVinci Code casts various doubts on the origin of the Bible, the matter of the Canon of the Bible is not nearly as dubious as skeptics would like to make is sound. The following are some important and compelling points:

The last book of the Bible (Revelation) was written between 94-96 AD. When the early church writings are examined (some which may have even been written earlier than the book of Revelation) it can be seen that most of the New Testament that we currently use was already considered inspired literature.

In 110 AD, only about 15 years after the Book of Revelation was written, most of the New Testament letters were being used and cited by the church fathers. Indeed, by 115 AD we have evidence that all but two NT letters were being used by the church. It is even possible that those remaining two letters were being used and yet never referred to in written form.

Soon after the New Testament texts were being used, it became apparent to the early church that there needed to be a formal list of which books needed to be preserved, translated by missionaries, died to protect, etc. By 206 AD in the Barococcio Codex, all the New Testament books except for one were included. That remaining book, the Book of Revelation, can be understood to have not yet been widely distributed because the work itself was so new on the scene.

No doubt, during these days, individual churches had established a specific list of books they considered inspired. While individual churches may have had their lists, that list was formally ratified by all the Christian churches at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.

We need to realize that prior to the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, it is not as though spurious books were floating around and being used. Rather, baring only a couple of exceptions, no other books were ever considered to be inspired.

As for those exceptions, they are not very troubling. Indeed, they were works that were used by just a particular group or church. Its not a conflict of inspiration to even wonder if perhaps God had in fact given those letters to those churches as inspired literature. It seems clear that there were other letters written by Paul, and authoritative, but not included in the 27 book canon we use. I think its fair to say that it is possible that at some level, God had inspired them but that they were not intended for the universal church to embrace as authoritative. Thus, the early church recognized this dynamic and did not include them in the canon.

Lastly, although we are discussing the course of history and when the church had total agreement on the Canon, still we need to remember that the canon was actually closed when the last New Testament book was completed. The church’s recognition of these inspired texts did not make them inspired. What made them inspired was the breath of God. Thus, what we have today is the very breath of God in verbal form (2 Timothy 3:16) preserved to us in our Bibles.

Last modified on Saturday, 09 April 2011 19:16
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...

Website: www.thegracetabernacle.org