August 23, 2012

How Was the Bible Assembled?

The Bible itself tells us in 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NIV) Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  Both Old and New Testament books had to be generally viewed by scholars as the work of divinely inspired writers who carefully translated God’s revealed Word into written form.  Another passage related to what Peter said is from Paul to Timothy in what is referred to as a Pastoral Epistle.

2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”  Although no original autograph copies have been discovered, archeologists have unearthed over 5,000 manuscripts, the earliest recorded manuscripts being the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scholars generally agree that the earliest indications of the Old Testament canon come from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and suggest that the process had begun during the Babylonian captivity (586 BC) with the Torah (first five Books of the Bible, written by Moses).

The process continued until sometime in the 2nd Century BC. The criteria that scholars used in determining the authenticity of each book of the Old Testament canon was based on a general agreement that each book was written by the person identified as its author and divinely inspired.  The New Testament came together some time after Christ around 150 AD but there continued discussions about a few books until about 400 AD.  It was not officially canonized until the Council of Trent in the 1500’s.  The basic criteria for inclusion of each book followed along these lines:

  1. Were the authors either eyewitnesses to the events they wrote about or at least directly taught about them by the Apostles and Prophets?
  2. Was each book’s teachings consistent with the truth about God?
  3. Was each book already in general use by the church, and accepted as the Divine Word of God

//Theological Thursday: Questions are welcome. Asking them makes our faith personal and real. On Thursdays I will be answering theological questions. Enter yours in the comment box below and I will select one each week to answer on our blog.