An Overview Of The Old And New Testaments
The Old Testament begins with the book of Genesis, which tells the story of how the world was created, and how God anointed his chosen people and taught them how to live. This includes famous stories like those of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah’s Ark.
After Genesis, the different books of the Old Testament relate the trials of the Israelites as they endure centuries of enslavement or captivity under different empires. There is a general pattern where God sends a prophet to teach the Israelites how to live and to lead them from hardship, but over time they lose faith and find themselves suffering new hardships. The most famous example is Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt–the people are impious and must wander the desert for forty years before their descendants can enter the promised land.
Some of the other important episodes from the Old Testament include the rise of King David, the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Babylonian Captivity. The Old Testament also includes various sayings and songs about morality, god, and other esoteric subjects.
The New Testament is concerned with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, which are the basis for Christianity. His life story is told in the four Gospels . Almost all of the other books are letters written by Saint Paul or other Christian teachers, discussing their beliefs or giving advice.
The History Of Susana
This was chapter 13 in the book of Daniel until it was removed by the Protestant Church. It is considered an example of proper manners. The story starts with a wife named Susanna who was accused by voyeurs. These men were spying on her while she was bathing and then demand that she have sex with them.
She of course refused and they arrest her, claiming that she sent her maids away so she could have sex with a young man under a tree. When she is put to death the young man Daniel shouts out that the two men should be questioned separately to see if their stories align.
The result is that their stories do not align because they each tell the authorities of a different kind of tree where the act occurred. The two men are then sentenced to death.
How Were Texts Selected For The New Testament
Many Christians throughout the world look to the bible, the New Testament specifically, as the sole authority for Christian life and teaching, but may not be aware of how this deeply influential and unique text came to be. Interestingly, there was no such thing as the Bible for, roughly, the first four centuries of Christianity.
What eventually became known as the New Testament was not ratified until a series of ecumenical councils, convened by the Catholic Church in the fourth and fifth centuries. These councils carefully considered potential testaments and epistles for inclusion in the canon and were ultimately included or excluded based on their ability to meet these various criteria. In what follows, I will explain what texts are now included in the canon, how those texts where chosen, and what ecumenical councils were most pivotal in creating what is now known of the Christian New Testament.
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Who Decided What Would Be In The Bible & When Canonicity
The canon refers to the books that are contained within the Bible those which are the word of God.
How do we know which books belong in the Bible? How do we know that these 66 books are the correct ones? How do we know were not missing something? And who decided what would be included in the Bible and what would not?
Its a question you hear often. And its one that I wrestled with for a time. Who decided what books would be in the Bible and what would not? How did they decide? When?
I surrendered to Christ later in life. It was a radical shift in everything I had ever studied and believed up through my university years. Up until that time, I never gave the Bible a serious thought. But God changed that. One big question I had pertained to the biblical canon. Why these 66 books? What about all the other books? The Apocrypha? Pseudepigrapha? The Gospels of Thomas, Peter, and Judas? Why didnt they make it in? Says who? People told me things like, Yeah, a bunch of guys in the fourth century got together and decided what to include and exclude from the Bible. You cant really trust it. I didnt know what to think.
A popular myth needs correction from the outset. No men, church council, or spiritual leaders ever gathered to collectively determine what would and would not be included in the Bible. No council decided which books to keep and toss. No human being defined the list of biblical books. And that does not make the biblical canon less reliable, but more.
Why Were The 14 Books Removed From The Bible
Its a sacred mystery as to exactly why these books were removed. There are a lot of conspiracy theories and thoughts centered around this but no one knows the exact reason.
Some believe that the texts werent included because they were only known to a select few people. As a result, they were left out because they wouldnt apply to the mass majority of the population.
Others believe that they simply didnt fit the narrative of what the ancient text was trying to convey. Thats not to say that the removed books were inaccurate or false, its merely saying that they werent suited for the Bible because the information was inapplicable and didnt have a place in the Bible narrative.
Additionally, some of the books werent written at the same time as the Bible, which was yet another reason to not include them. It was generally assumed that these books were incomplete and as a result would be left out.
The King James version of the Bible first coined the term Apocrypha and it separated these sets of books from the rest. Roman Catholic Bibles still contain these books in the Old Testament but do not call them Apocrypha, theyre instead called deuterocanonical. This means that they belong to the second canon, which refers to a list of the literary works accepted as the word of God.
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Canonicity: A Theological Issue
The canon debate is primarily a theological issue, not a historical one. What should, and should not, be in the Bible is a matter of inspiration and revelation, not church councils and magisterium.
The question of the canon begins with understanding the nature of Scripture. We cannot understand what should be in the Bible until we understand what the Bible is. The canon of Scripture depends on the attributes of Scripture.
A document must have certain attributes before it can be considered as canon. Its the same way, for example, in professional baseball. Who gets to play major league baseball is determined by who possesses certain attributes necessary to the sport. So it is with what is, and is not, in the Bible. Thats why our discussion of canon began with a study of revelation and inspiration.
Old Testament: The Single Author Theory
The Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, narrates the history of the people of Israel over about a millennium, beginning with Gods creation of the world and humankind, and contains the stories, laws and moral lessons that form the basis of religious life for both Jews and Christians. For at least 1,000 years, both Jewish and Christian tradition held that a single author wrote the first five books of the BibleGenesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomywhich together are known as the Torah and the Pentateuch . That single author was believed to be Moses, the Hebrew prophet who led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt and guided them across the Red Sea toward the Promised Land.
Yet nearly from the beginning, readers of the Bible observed that there were things in the so-called Five Books of Moses that Moses himself could not possibly have witnessed: His own death, for example, occurs near the end of Deuteronomy. A volume of the Talmud, the collection of Jewish laws recorded between the 3rd and 5th centuries A.D., dealt with this inconsistency by explaining that Joshua likely wrote the verses about Moses death.
Rembrandt van Rijn, painting of Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law, 1659.
That’s one opinion among many, says Joel Baden, a professor at Yale Divinity School and author of The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis. But they’re already asking the questionwas it possible or not possible for to have written them?
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The Old Testament Canon
Who decided which books should be included in the Old Testament? The question cannot be answered definitively due to a lack of historical sources. The same applies to the question regarding what time the decision was made. Historical-critical scholars believe the Bible gained its authority progressively. They suggest that the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible, arranged in three major divisions , indicate a three-step development in the canonization process. According to this view, the Lawmeaning the books of Moses, also called the Pentateuchwas canonized by about 400 B.C., the Prophets during the first century B.C., and then the Writings during the first century A.D.1
We do not have the details of how these books were brought together. It is conceivable that Ezra and Nehemiah may have been involved with the collection of the books composing the Old Testament canon. However, neither one person, or even several, decided which books should be included in the Old Testament because there were individuals throughout Israels history who were recognized as prophets of God, and what these people said and wrote was considered the Word of God. The writers did not have to wait for their work to pass the test of time for their authority to be acknowledged. Their work was received as Scripture because what they said and wrote was believed to be from God.
The Old Testament Was Already Put Together By The Time Of Jesus
- M.A., Christian Studies, Union University
- B.A., English Literature, Wheaton College
Determining when the Bible was written poses challenges because it isn’t a single book. It’s a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over more than 2,000 years.
So there are two ways to answer the question, “When was the Bible written?” The first is to identify the original dates for each of the Bible’s 66 books. The second, the focus here is to describe how and when all 66 books were collected in a single volume.
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Who Decided What Went Into The Bible
Just about everyone wants to know how the sixty-six books got chosen to be in the Bible. Why these sixty-six? Why not a few more ? Why these books and not others?
In Persecution in the Early Church Herbert Workman tells the story of a Christian who was brought before the Roman governor of Sicily during the last great persecution of the church. His crime? Possessing a copy of the Gospels.
The governor asked, Where did these come from? Did you bring them from your home?
The believer replied, I have no home, as my Lord Jesus knows.
The governor asked his prisoner to read a portion of the Gospels. He chose a portion of Jesus Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Next he read from Luke: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
At this, the judge ordered the prisoner taken awayto his death.
Who decided what went into the Bible? The short answer to that question is no one. Or maybe a better answer is God did. When scholars talk about how a book qualified to be called Scripture, they list five characteristics called the laws of canonicity. But these characteristics are recognized in hindsight they werent developed by a particular group at a particular time in history.
Around A.D. 150, Justin Martyr described worship this way:
1. Was the book written by a prophet of God?
2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?
Which Bible Is The Most Accurate
To pick just one version of the Bible is a difficult task. Think of it like picking a favorite breakfast cereal. They all have similarities, differences, pros, and cons so its not easy to say that one is better than the other or more accurate.
It depends on what youre looking to gain. If youre looking for applicable information that you can apply to your life, you might benefit from a New American Standard Bible because the translations correspond more with modern life.
If youre looking for something that more closely represents an older direct translation, the King James or New King James Version might suit you best.
The New Living Translation is considered one of the most dynamic translations because it communicates the information in a language that is easy for everyone to understand.
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Who Decided What Books The Hebrew Bible Would Contain
The canonization of the Hebrew Bible into its final 24 books was a process that lasted centuries, and was only completed well after the time of Josephus
The Hebrew Bible is a collection of 24 ancient Hebrew books considered holy by adherents to the Jewish faith. But how did this collection come about? Who decided which books would be included, and which wouldnt be, and when did this happen?
This process, known as canonization, did not take place at once, or at some great council meeting. It was a protracted process that took place in stages. These stages correspond to the three major sections of the Bible, and during them, the holiness of at least some of the texts was fiercely disputed.
The first stage saw the creation of the collection called The Torah , with its five books. Only later was the second section, the Prophets with its eight books, created. And only then was the third section, the Writings, created too, resulting in the Hebrew Bible we know today, with its 24 books.
The Torah: Taking shape over centuries
The Torah consists of five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Genesis describes the creation of the world and the ensuing history until the sons of Jacob go down to Egypt .
and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.
Did the Prophets see Alexander coming
The age of Prophets ends
And now a word from Josephus
How Were The Books Of The Bible Selected And Compiled And How Were The Decisions Made As To What Would Be Distributed As The Word Of God
Even though we think of the Bible as being one book, its actually a collection of sixty-six books, and we realize that there was a historical process by which those particular books were gathered together and placed in one volume that we now know as the Bible. In fact, we call the Bible the canon of sacred Scripture. Canon is taken from the Greek word canon, which means measuring rod. That means it is the standard of truth by which all other truth is to be judged in the Christian life.
There have been many different theories set forth over the history of the church as to exactly how Gods hand was involved in this selection process. Skeptics have pointed out that over three thousand books were candidates for inclusion in the New Testament canon alone, and only a handful were selected. Doesnt that raise some serious questions? Isnt it possible that certain books that are in the Bible should not be there and others that were excluded by human evaluation and human judgment should have been included? We need to keep in mind, however, that of those not included in the last analysis, there were at the most three or four that were given serious consideration. So to speak in terms of two or three thousand being boiled down to twenty-seven or something like that is a distortion of historical reality.
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Are Jesus And God One Person Or Two
Nearly a century before Arianism emerged, the church made a decision about another heretical belief related to Christs identity: Sabellianism. Named after Sabellius, the priest who primarily advocated for this position, Sabellianism was the belief that while Jesus was divine, he was essentially a manifestation of God and not a distinct being. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three aspects of one being: God.
None of Sabellius writings have survived, so all we know about his teachings comes from his critics, who deemed him a heretic. Around this time, the church was also grappling with a very similar heresy: modalism.
Many popular analogies that people use to describe the Trinity could technically be described as modalism. People often say the Trinity is like water, steam, and ice: three different forms of the same thing. But unless you specify that you mean three separate bodies of water, its modalism. God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit arent just three separate forms of one being, they are distinct persons, but one in nature.
If youve ever looked into what the Bible says about the Trinity or tried to explain it to someone, you know this concept can still create confusion today, so its no surprise that it took the church a long time to agree on it.
But then a priest named Arius came onto the scene.