How did we get the Bible? What factors led to the canonization of what we now call the New Testament Scriptures?
The Canon Of Scripture or The Bible is a collection, believed by the early church, to be actual stories and events written and collaborated by men under God’s instruction by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament is made up of the Jewish law given to the Israelites by God through Moses. It also includes some poetry, prophecy and history of the Jewish people.
The New Testament is made up of historical accounts of Jesus ministry on Earth, letters from some of Jesus closest followers to other churches of encouragement, discipline or edification, and some prophecy in the book of Revelation.
The OT came under little dispute as it’s content is has been with the Jews for a long time and taken care of by the tribe of Levi. This content was easily added. The NT however was not as easy to simply give the thumbs up to.
While most of the books that are in our modern Bible were without question added there were some disputed books that just made it into the mix. Hebrews was disputed, as were 2nd and 3rd John, due to the fact that there is not a listed author; and James, 2nd Peter, Jude, and Revelation were disputed due to some content issues.
The question however still remains as to how the process of canonization came about for the Bible, specifically the NT, as we currently know it?
From the time of the death of the last apostle to c.140 all of the books in the NT had been written and were being circulated among the Christian community.
The phrase “New Testament” is first used by Ignacious in 110 when he says, “The Old Testament is good but, the New Testament is better.” This was not saying the OT was worthless or useless simply that the NT was a better addition to the OT.
Marcion, is probably best known for being the first to compile a list of books for the NT Canon. He did this because he felt that the OT Hebrew Scriptures were inferior and that it should not be read in the church or used as a basis for Christian instruction. The early church responded to this by forming it’s own Canon which included the OT Scriptures.
Origen played a part in helping to understand which books should and should not be included in the N.T. and actually had some issues with James, 2nd Peter, and 2nd & 3rd John. However by c.340-400 Most of the 27 books had been agreed upon. Athanasius created a list which he presumed would be the canon and it is in fact the 27 books of the NT which we have now.
This list went through the approval of the Council of Laodicea in 363, the Council of Hippo in 292, and finally the Council of Carthage in 397 where the Canon we know today was made official.