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Who Decided What Books Would Be In The Bible

Who Decide The Books To Included In The Bible

How Was It Decided Which Books Would Be Put in the Bible?

Who decided which books to include in the Bible?

In his best-selling book, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown wrote that the Bible was compiled in the famous Council of Nicea in 325 C.E.

when Emperor Constantine and church officials had reportedly banned any books that did not conform to the secret plans of their leaders.


But thats not the way it went. The Da Vinci Code was fiction. However, Brown was not the only one to believe that the Council of Nicea decided what books should be included within the Bible. During the 18th century, Voltaire reiterated the long-standing myth that claimed the Bible was made a saint in Nicea by putting all the books that were known to be on a table, reciting an oath, and then observing the books that were not legitimate were thrown to the ground.

In reality, no one Church authority nor council met to stamp the bible canon and not in Nicea or elsewhere in antiquity. Jason Combs is an assistant professor at Brigham Young University specializing in the history of Christianity.

Dan Brown has done us our entire community a disservice, claims Combs. We do not have any evidence to suggest that anyone from a group of Christians came together and decided, Lets discuss this. the issue one-for-all.’

When Did Christians Officially Have A Bible

Choosing the actual texts that now make up the New Testament was not a short or simple process. The deliberation spanned across several decades beginning with the council of Nicaea in 325, C.E. and ending with the Council of Carthage in 419 C.E., where a full list of the Old and New Testament canon was ratified. Interestingly, although the canon was ratified in the third council of Carthage, it was not officially closed at this time, meaning that modifications could have been made had subsequent councils deemed it fit. However, during the Protestant Reformation the Catholic Church officially closed the canon of Scripture during the Council of Trent for fear that the book of Hebrews and the book of James may removed due to their seeming incompatibility with Luthers doctrine of Sola Fide.

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Stories You Didnt Learn In Sunday School

Many of the New Testament texts we know today were used authoritatively in the second Century. However, different congregations preferred certain texts and included texts that arent found in the New Testament. Here are some:

And they heard a voice in the heavens saying, Thou hast preached unto them that sleep.And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast preached to them that sleep.

The Gospel of Mary: Combs claims that some Apocryphal texts reflect theological and doctrinal discussions in the early church. The Gospel of Mary, which was discovered in the late 19th Century, refers to Mary Magdalene as one of Jesuss followers and his favorite disciple. After Jesuss resurrection, he gives esoteric teachings and then shares them with Mary. Mary then tells his other disciples. Peter questions why they should listen. Levi replies:

If she was worthy of the Savior, then who would you be to make her go? The Savior surely knows her well. He loves her more than we do.

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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 isnt a single book. Its 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 Bibles 66 books. The second, the focus here is to describe how and when all 66 books were collected in a single volume.

What Is The Canon

Who Decided Which Books Should Be Included in the Bible?

The word canon comes from the Greek kanon, and is derived from the Hebrew kaneh, or measuring rod. When applied to the Bible, the canon is the collection of books that are considered the inspired Word of Godthe standard by which all theological claims should be measured.

While The Da Vinci Code is extremely inaccurate in its description of how the Bible was formed, it is correct in saying that the New Testament was not collected immediately after the resurrection of Jesus. Mostly, because the books were still being written.

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The Word Canon In The Canonization Of The Bible

Our English Word, Canon, is derived from a Hebrew and Greek word denoting a reed or a cane. So we would call it a ruler, like the old wooden ruler you had in your supplies for third grade. Canon, then, grew out of a word that means something straight, or something to keep straight, a standard of truth. In this way of thinking, the Canon of Scripture refers to measuring the God-breathed truths revealed to men.

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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Who Wrote The Bible

According to both Jewish and Christian Dogma, the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were all written by Moses in about 1,300 B.C. There are a few issues with this, however, such as the lack of evidence that Moses ever existed

How Were Texts Selected For The New Testament

The Truth About the Apocrypha and the Lost Books of the Bible

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.

Did God Or Man Chose The Contents Of The Bible

In our last two blog posts in this series we talked about 1) aspects of the Bible that make it unique among world literature, and 2) the physical materials used by ancient scribes to produce copies of Scripture. Now lets dive into a question that many people ask: Who got to decide which scriptures were included in the Bible?

Its a great question for you to ask, as it shows that youre truly interested in having a solid understanding of church history.

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Who Decided What Went Into The Bible

Hal Seed

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?


The Canon Of The New Testament

How do we decide which books belong in the Bible since the Bible does ...

Jesus followers considered His own teachings to be authoritative. Near the end of the first century, Christians were citing Jesus words and calling them Scripture along with Old Testament verses . Furthermore, some of Jesus followers, such as the apostle Paul, understood themselves to be authoritative spokespersons for the truth.

Other Bible writers granted him this claim and included his letters among the Scriptures . There was debate concerning which apostles were true to Jesus own teachings, and which letters were written by them . If you want to know more about the considerations and arguments why certain books were or were not included in the canon, read this article.

Even though the four Gospels were widely considered authoritative, along with Acts, most of the Pauline epistles and several of the longer general epistles, the acceptability of some of the other books was debated till the fourth century. In 367 AD, Athanasius the bishop of Alexandria named the 27 books that are currently accepted by Christians, as the authoritative canon of Scripture. However, this was not just his personal opinion. He wrote down the consensus of a larger group of religious authorities. On various church councils, the list of New Testament books that were recognized as canonical, was officially noted down. Later on, Roman Catholic and Protestant church councils stated their respective decisions on the canon and on the status of the apocrypha.

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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.

Do you have a question about the Bible or theology? Get a live response from one of our well-trained agents when youask Ligonier.

Why Were Books Removed From The Bible

Generally speaking, the word refers to publications that were not considered to be part of the canon. It is possible that these books were excluded from the canon for a variety of reasons. It is possible that the passages were only known to a small number of individuals, or that they were kept out because their substance did not fit well with the content of the other books of the Bible, until they were included.

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The New Testament Canon

The early Christian church followed the practice of Jesus and regarded the Old Testament as authoritative . Along with the Old Testament, the church revered the words of Jesus with equal authority . It could not have been otherwise since Jesus was perceived not only as a prophet but also as the Messiah, the Son of God. Following the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles came to occupy a unique position in spreading and bearing witness to the words of Jesus. Indeed, Christ had said of them that because they had been with Him from the beginning they would be His witnesses . As the church grew, and the apostles became conscious of the prospect of their own deaths, the need arose for the words of Jesus to be recorded . None were keener to preserve and communicate authoritatively what had happened than the apostles who were witnesses of the salvation of God in Jesus Christ. Thus, the stage was set for the development of books that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would in time become the New Testament canon.

For about two decades after the Cross, the message of Jesus was proclaimed orally. Then, from the midfirst century on, Pauls letters began to appear. Somewhat later, the three synoptic Gospels and the book of Acts were written by the end of the first century, when John wrote the book of Revelation, all the books of the New Testament were completed. Throughout the New Testament, the focus is on what God had done in Christ .

Eusebius Advisor To Emperor Constantine

The Bible – Who Decided What Books?

When Eusebius produced his list in three categories in 325 C.E. he employed rather less fanciful criteria than those advocated by Irenaeus more than a century earlier. Eusebius asks whether writings had been mentioned by earlier generations of church leaders, whether their style comports well with writings known to have been written early in the history of the church, and whether their content is consistent with established orthodoxy. If writings proclaiming to represent the faith do not meet these criteria, he labels them the forgeries of heretical men.

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