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How Did The Bible Come To Be

The Task Of Interpretation

How did the Bible come to be?

The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 85

Gary G. Michuta is an author, speaker and teacher on Catholic apologetics and evangelism.

Which Books Did The Apostles Write

Because the apostles, by virtue of their apostolic office, had authority to write words of Scripture, the authentic written teachings of the apostles were accepted by the early church as part of the canon of Scripture. If we accept the arguments for the traditional views of authorship of the New Testament writings, then we have most of the New Testament in the canon because of direct authorship by the apostles. This would include Matthew John Romans to Philemon James 1 and 2 Peter 1, 2, and 3 John and Revelation.

This leaves five New Testament books which were not written by apostles: Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, and Jude.

The Canon We Have Today Was Finalized In The Fourth Century Ad

In A.D. 367 the Thirty-ninth Paschal Letter of Athanasius contained an exact list of the twenty-seven New Testament books we have today. This was the list of books accepted by the churches in the eastern part of the Mediterranean world.

Thirty years later, in A.D. 397, the Council of Carthage, representing the churches in the western part of the Mediterranean world, agreed with the eastern churches on the same list. These are the earliest final lists of our present-day canon.

At the end of the last chapter in the final book in the biblical canon, John writes:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.Revelation 22:18-19

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How Did We Get The New Testament

The New Testament came together a little differently and is probably the more debated section of theBible. When the prophets like Jeremiah, Daniel, and Hosea wrote scripture, Jewish people did not tend to question if it was from God. However, NT writers like Paul experienced a different story. Their gospel accounts and letters were more debated when the church was agreeing on the canon of Scripture.

In the New Testament, its a little bit more of a process, Timothy Paul Jones said in his video, How Was it Decided Which Books Would Be put in the Bible? But its not the process we sometimes see when were watching documentaries that supposedly tell us how the books of the Bible came about. There was a very clear vision from the earliest stages of church history about what types of books are the books that Christians the church should view as authoritative.

Watch the rest of the video here:

Do Americans Trust The Bibles On Their Bookshelves

Where Did The Bible Come From?

Over the past few years, researchers and statisticians have been telling us that Americans feelings about the Bible arecomplicated.

Barna Groups 2017 State of the Biblereport gave Christians a reason to feel more hopeful about the spiritual state of their neighbors. They found that 87% of American households own at least one Bible. But Lifeway released a 2016 report about how Americans think about that Bible sitting on their bookshelf. Their report said that only 47% of Americans described the Bible as completely accurate.

Pew confirmed in its 2018 report that many Americans are unsure about the trustworthiness of their Bibles. The Pew report revealed that while 80% of Americans believe in God, only 56% believe God as described in the Bible.

It seems as though even if people are curious enough to buy a Bible , they still might not believe it. Hopefully understanding where the Bible comes from helps. Here are some snapshots throughout history about how the Bible came to be.

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Is The Original Bible Still In Existence

Background of the Original BibleDan Brown√ĘsThe Da Vinci CodeCompilation of the Original Old TestamentDead Sea Scrollsfrom the blood of Abel to the blood of ZechariahCompilation of the Original New TestamentSecrets of the CodeMuratorian CanonThe laborer is worthy of his wagesthe other ScripturesOriginal Bible Conclusiontextual criticism

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Can Canonical Works Contain Errors

There are doctrinal and historical inconsistencies with a number of the Apocryphal books. E. J. Young notes:

There are no marks in these books which would attest a divine origin. . . . both Judith and Tobit contain historical, chronological, and geographical errors. The books justify falsehood and deception and make salvation to depend upon works of merit. . . . Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon inculcate a morality based upon expediency. Wisdom teaches the creation of the world out of preexistent matter . Ecclesiasticus teaches that the giving of alms makes atonement for sin . In Baruch it is said that God hears the prayers of the dead , and in I Maccabees there are historical and geographical errors .

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From Gods Breath To Israels Books

Because the Bible is the word of God, it naturally starts with God speaking, both in practice, as in Genesis 1:3 , as well as logically, as in John 1:1 . And since we are talking about an infinite God, it should not surprise us that he uses an array of ways to communicate with his creatures.

God spoke directly to Moses from a burning bush , and immediately after the exodus to the whole people from a burning mountain . God speaks through the inspired recording of the history of his people, and through his prophets who heard his word sometimes directly, but also through visions and dreams. We find personal reflections on the futility of life under the sun , which is also part of God speaking to his people. And this in addition to the book of Proverbs, a collection of divinely crafted wisdom. In the New Testament, we have the records of how the apostles taught about Jesus and about what Jesus himself taught . And we find the responses by the apostles to various situations within the churches, as well as positive teaching about the salvation that Jesus brought about.

There are many ways in which God spoke his word, and there are many ways in which it was written down. God shows his character even in the diverse ways that he used to form the Scriptures. And the Scriptures themselves testify to their formation.

The New Testament Began With The Apostles

How Bible Came to Be

In John 14:26, Jesus promised his disciples that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to remember his words and teachings:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Jesus also promised further revelation from the Holy Spirit when he told his disciples, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you .

In these verses the disciples are promised amazing gifts to enable them to write Scripture: the Holy Spirit would teach them all things, would cause them to remember all that Jesus had said, and would guide them into all the truth.

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Writing Down The Bible Stories

Eventually, as human societies in the Near East began to develop forms of writing that were easy to learn and use , people began to write down the stories, songs , and prophecies that would one day become a part of the Bible. These were written on papyrus, a paper-like material made from reeds, or on vellum, which was made from dried animal skins. But all the books found in the Old Testament were not written down at one time. This process took centuries. While some books were being written and collected, others were still being passed on in storytelling fashion. Since these stories were sometimes written in a piecemeal fashion, and since sometimes more than one version of a story was collected, parts of the Bible can be confusing to modern readers. For example, compare Genesis 1:1-24 to Genesis 2:5-3:24, and 1 Sam 16:14-23 and 1 Sam 17:55-58.

Once the stories of the Bible began to be written down, it became necessary to make new copies before the old ones wore out from repeated use and became unreadable. Sometimes several scribes made copies while another scribe read the text aloud.

Brief Synopsis & Commentary

The book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, tells the story of the creation of the universe, the world, and humanity, the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and the great flood which God sent on the world because of the evil of mankind. Following the flood, Noah‘s children repopulate the earth and the narrative then follows the stories of his descendents who are the Hebrew ancestors of the men who wrote the stories. The tale of Joseph and his coat of many colors brings the Hebrews from their land of Canaan to Egypt where, the Book of Exodus explains, they became slaves.

They were led from Egypt to freedom by the great lawgiver Moses who then passed his leadership to his second-in-command Joshua son of Nun whose army lay waste to the region of Canaan so the Hebrews could claim it as the land promised to them by their God . Following the establishment of the people who called themselves Israelites in the land, famous kings such as David and his son Solomon ruled and great prophets such as Jeremiah and Isaiah, Ezekial and Jonah preached the will of their God.

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What About The Apocryphal Books

The Apocrypha was never accepted by the Jews as Scripture, but the early church was divided on whether those books should be part of Scripture or not. The earliest Christian evidence is decidedly against viewing the Apocrypha as Scripture, but the use of the Apocrypha gradually increased in parts of the church until the time of the Reformation.

The fact that these books were included by Jerome in his Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible gave support to their inclusion, even though Jerome himself said they were not books of the canon but merely books of the church that were helpful and useful for believers. The wide use of the Latin Vulgate in subsequent centuries guaranteed their continued accessibility, but many people rejected or were suspicious of these books for three reasons:

  • They had no Hebrew original behind them.
  • Their exclusion from the Jewish canon.
  • The lack of their citation in the New Testament.
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    Where Did the Bible Come From?

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    The Argument That The Bible Has Changed Has To Go In The Garbage Instantly

    When local shepherds discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel in 1946, archaeologists began investigations and confirmed that these ancient scrolls of paper were Bible manuscripts.

    are documents of the OT that had been hidden in jars in the desert, where its dry, where theyre preserved, for two thousand years, Metaxas said. We dont have to guess whether the monks changed it or not, lets just read it. Its letter for letter the same as it is today.

    The argument that the Bible has changed has to go in the garbage, instantly. 100 years ago people could make arguments, but now we have archaeological evidence that keeps coming up. They had no evidence that 3,000 years ago there actually was a king in Israel named David now they have archaeological evidence, he said, referring to the discovery of King Davids palace in 2005.

    These manuscripts contain material now considered to be part of the Hebrew Bible. Every book is represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls, except the book of Esther. These are the oldest known copies of biblical works, according to The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library.

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    The Old Testament Was Finished In 435 Bc

    If we date Haggai to 520 B.C., Zechariah to 520518 B.C. , and Malachi around 435 B.C., we have an idea of the approximate dates of the last Old Testament prophets.

    Roughly coinciding with this period are the last books of Old Testament historyEzra, Nehemiah, and Esther. Ezra went to Jerusalem in 458 B.C., and Nehemiah was in Jerusalem from 445433 B.C. Esther was written sometime after the death of Xerxes-I in 465 B.C., probably during the reign of Artaxerxes I .

    After approximately 435 B.C. there were no additions to the Old Testament canon. The subsequent history of the Jewish people was recorded in other writings, such as the books of the Maccabees, but these writings were not thought worthy to be included with the collections of Gods words from earlier years.

    These Guidelines Helped Unify The Church

    How Did BLB Come to Be?
  • Apostolic Origin: The early Christians essentially asked, Is this particular work under question the work of one of the apostles? Or, If it is not the work of the apostle himself, was it produced under the supervision of and with the stamp of approval of one of the apostles?
  • Recognition by the Church: If the churches at Ephesus, Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, and Carthage, for example, accepted a book as authoritative, then chances were strong that the church as a whole would give it serious consideration for inclusion.
  • Apostolic Content: This criterion asked whether a book’s content agreed with the doctrine the apostles taught when they were still alive. If anything was contrary to the apostles’ actual teaching, it was considered not the Word of God.
  • These guidelines helped unify the church and the NT, then a few different events in the 4th century made it all official.

    In 367 , Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, wrote an Easter letter that contained all 27 books of our present New Testament. In 393 the Synod of Hippo affirmed our current New Testament, and in 397 the Council of Carthage published the same list, according to the BibleStudyTools.com article.

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    The Stories Of Christ And His First Followers

    Jesus and his earliest followers were Jewish, and so they used and quoted the Jewish Scriptures. After Jesus died and was raised to life around A.D. 30, the stories about Jesus, as well as his sayings, were passed on by word of mouth. It wasnt until about A.D. 65 that these stories and sayings began to be gathered and written down in books known as the Gospels, which make up about half of what Christians call the New Testament. The earliest writings of the New Testament, however, are probably some of the letters that the apostle Paul wrote to groups of Jesuss followers who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. The first of these letters, probably 1 Thessalonians, may have been written as early as A.D. 50. Other New Testament writings were written in the late first century or early second century A.D.

    The Apostles Claimed To Have Divine Authority

    The apostles claimed to have an authority equal to the Old Testament prophetsan authority to speak and write words that came directly from God.

    Peter encourages his readers to remember the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles . And to lie to the apostles was equivalent to lying to the Holy Spirit and lying to God .

    Paul especially claimed to speak the words of God. He claimed not only that the Holy Spirit revealed to him what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived , but also that when he declared this revelation, he spoke it in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting Spiritual things in Spiritual words .

    Similarly, Paul tells the Corinthians, If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord . The word translated what in this verse is a plural relative pronoun in Greek and more literally could be translated the things that I am writing to you. Thus, Paul claims that his directives to the church at Corinth are not merely his own but a command of the Lord.

    Later, in defending his apostolic office, Paul says that he will give the Corinthians proof that Christ is speaking in me . He makes similar claims elsewhere .

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