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.
The Argument That The Bible Has Changed Has To Go In The Garbage Instantly
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.
Disputed Spurious And Downright Heretical
Luther had issues with the book of James, which emphasized the role of “works” alongside faith, so he stuck James and Hebrews in the back of the Bible alongside Jude and Revelation, which he also thought were questionable. Combs says that in Luther’s original Bible, those four books don’t even appear in the table of contents.
Eusebius was a Christian historian writing in the early 300s who provided one of the early lists of which books were considered legit and which were borderline bogus.
Eusebius broke his list down into different categories: recognized, disputed, spurious and heretical. Among the “recognized” were the four gospels , Acts and Paul’s epistles. Under “disputed,” Eusebius included James and Jude the same books Luther didn’t like plus a few others that are now considered canon, like 2 Peter, 2 John and 3 John.
When Eusebius turns to the “spurious” and “heretical” categories, we get a glimpse into just how many other texts were in circulation in the second and third century C.E. Have you ever heard of the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas or the Gospel of Thomas? Combs says that there were hundreds of texts similar to those found in the New Testament and Old Testament that didn’t make it into the canon.
Recommended Reading: What Does The Bible Say About Refugees
Reason #: What The Bible Says About Itself
First, because I think most men want to believe the Bible is the Word of God, lets consider what the Bible says about itself. No political, double talk here: The Bible unambiguously claims to be the Word of God.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
Bear in mind that our Lords patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Every word of God is flawless he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
Jesus said, Sanctify them by the truth your word is truth.
Reason #: The Formation Of Canon
The second reason you can believe the Bible is the Word of God is because of how the Bible came into existence.
Hebrews 1:1 says, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways. They were men like Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, and many more40 in all.
No committee sat down and said, Lets write a Bible. No one assembled 40 authors together for a writers conference. Instead, the Bible was organically assembled as inspired human authors each spoke to the unique needs of their own generations. Moses was the first to write, and 1,500 years later disciples like Peter, John, Matthew, Luke, and Paul wrapped up the Scriptures with a flurry that we call the New Testament.
Those men wrote down what God told them to writeusually on a parchment or a scroll made from an animal hide. Sometimes they jotted down direct quotes, like, I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God or If my people would but listen to me. Other times, they wrote what they experienced, like Nehemiah rebuilding the wall. Or what they felt, like David in Psalms. Or what happened in a previous age, like Moses composing Genesis.
Old Testament Canon
Even after the scrolls were copied and circulated, still no one had the idea of a canon. Canon is just a technical term for Bible it means rule or standard. Its a fixed list of books that religious scholars consider to be Scripturethe inspired word of God.
Who Wrote The Bible
Until the 17th century, received opinion had it that the first five books of the Bible Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy were the work of one author: Moses. That theory has since been seriously challenged.
Scholars now believe that the stories that would become the Bible were disseminated by word of mouth across the centuries, in the form of oral tales and poetry perhaps as a means of forging a collective identity among the tribes of Israel. Eventually, these stories were collated and written down. The question is by whom, and when?
A clue may lie in a limestone boulder discovered embedded in a stone wall in the town of Tel Zayit, 35 miles southwest of Jerusalem, in 2005. The boulder, now known as the Zayit Stone, contains what many historians believe to be the earliest full Hebrew alphabet ever discovered, dating to around 1000 BC. What was found was not a random scratching of two or three letters, it was the full alphabet, Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland has said of the stone. Everything about it says this is the ancestor of the Hebrew script.
Ask the expert: John Barton
John Barton is a former professor of holy scriptures at the University of Oxford and the author of A History of the Bible: The Books and Its Faiths.
Q:Just how reliable is the Old Testament as an historical document?
Q:How much does archaeology support the historicity of the Old Testament?
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
Also Check: Bible Verse Love Thy Neighbor
Who Was King David
The first wave of scribes may, its been suggested, have started work during the reign of King David . Whether thats true or not, David is a monumental figure in the biblical story the slayer of Goliath, the conqueror of Jerusalem. David is also a hugely important figure in the quest to establish links between the Bible and historical fact, for he appears to be the earliest biblical figure to be confirmed by archaeology.
I killed king of the house of David. So boasts the Tel Dan Stele, an inscribed stone dating from 870750 BC and discovered in northern Israel in the 1990s. Like the Merneptah Stele before it, it documents a warlords victory over the Israelites . But it at least indicates that David was a historical figure.
The Tel Dan Stele also suggests that,no matter how capable their rulers, the people of Israel continued to be menaced by powerful, belligerent neighbours. And, in 586 BC, one of those neighbours, the Babylonians, would inflict on the Jews one of the most devastating defeats in their history: ransacking the sacred city of Jerusalem, butchering its residents, and dragging many more back to Babylonia.
How Did Christianity Spread Around The World
The Epistles, or letters, written by Paul the Apostle to churches dotted across the Mediterranean world which are our best source for the initial spread of Christianity confirm that Christianity started in Jerusalem, but spread rapidly to Syria and then to the rest of the Mediterranean world, and was mostly accepted by non-Jews, says John Barton, former professor of the interpretation of holy scriptures at the University of Oxford.
The epistles are our earliest evidence for Christianity, says Barton. The first date from the AD 50s, just two decades after the death of Jesus.
As Pauls letters to churches such as the one in the Greek city of Thessalonica reveal, the first Christian communities were often persecuted for their beliefs.
And its such persecution, particularly at the hands of the Romans, that may have inspired the last book of the New Testament, Revelations. With its dark descriptions of a seven-headed beast and allusions to an imminent apocalypse, Revelations is now widely believed to be a foretelling of the grisly fate that the author believed awaited the Roman oppressors of Christianity.
Versions of the Bible
Different editions of the Bible have appeared over the centuries, aiming to further popularise the stories and teachings within. Here are three of the most notable versions
King James Bible
The Gutenberg Bible
Dead Sea Scrolls
Also Check: Did God Write The Bible
The Church Fathers Bear Witness To Even Earlier New Testament Manuscripts
The earliest manuscripts we have of major portions of the New Testament are p 45, p 46, p66, and p 75, and they date from 175-250 A. D. The early church fathers bear witness to even earlier New Testament manuscripts by quoting from all but one of the New Testament books. They are also in the position to authenticate those books, written by the apostles or their close associates, from later books such as the gospel of Thomas that claimed to have been written by the apostles, but were not.
The New Testament Authors Didnt Consider Them Scripture
In the New Testament, we have no record of any dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the extent of the canon. Apparently there was full agreement between Jesus, his disciples, and the Jewish leaders or Jewish people, on the other hand, that additions to the Old Testament canon had ceased after the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
According to one count, Jesus and the New Testament authors quote various parts of the Old Testament Scriptures as divinely authoritative over 295 times , but not once do they cite any statement from the books of the Apocrypha or any other writings as having divine authority. The absence of any reference to other literature as divinely authoritative, and the frequent reference to hundreds of places in the Old Testament as divinely authoritative, seems to confirm that the New Testament authors agreed on the established Old Testament canon.
Recommended Reading: Family Relationships In The Bible
These Guidelines Helped Unify The Church
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.
Translating The Word Of God
The final step in that long journey from the moment that God inspired his word to us reading his word is that of translation. Translation is not easy. One language tends to use grammar and syntax differently than Hebrew or Greek, which are also quite different languages from one another. It is good to realize that any translation has made choices as to which features of the original to represent and which to leave out. For example, it is traditional to represent the Greek name Iakobos with James, and as a result we lose something of the feel of this name .
Also on a sentence level a translator needs to make difficult choices. How we do present the focus of a sentence in Greek into English, which uses different techniques to show which part of the sentence is prominent? How do we represent the repetition of the same word but used in different shades of meaning? To what extent is the translation intended to be understood the first time of hearing, and to what extent do we expect the reader to make considerable effort to dig deeper into the text? And how do we present some of the bigger issues in the different manuscripts? Do we simply ignore them and choose one text to translate, or do we add the occasional footnote? Translations have to make difficult choices, and different translations make different choices.
Recommended Reading: Chronological Stories Of The Bible
Many Early Church Fathers Did Not Consider Them Canonical
The earliest Christian list of Old Testament books that exists today is by Melito, bishop of Sardis, writing about A.D. 170:
When I came to the east and reached the place where these things were preached and done, and learnt accurately the books of the Old Testament, I set down the facts and sent them to you. These are their names: five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kingdoms, two books of Chronicles, the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon and his Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Twelve in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra.
Melito names none of the books of the Apocrypha, but he includes all of our present Old Testament books except Esther. Eusebius also quotes Origen as affirming most of the books of our present Old Testament canon , but no book of the Apocrypha is affirmed as canonical, and the books of Maccabees are explicitly said to be outside of these
Other early church leaders did