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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?

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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, it's 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 God's 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 (twenty-some books) were selected. Doesn't that raise some serious questions? Isn't 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.

Some people take the position that the church is a higher authority than the Bible because the only reason the Bible has any authority is that the church declared what books the Bible would contain. Most Protestants, however, take a different view of the matter and point out that when the decision was made as to what books were canonical, they used the Latin term recipemus, which means "we receive." What the church said is that we receive these particular books as being canonical, as being apostolic in authority and in origin, and therefore we submit to their authority. It's one thing to make something authoritative, and it's another thing to recognize something that already is authoritative. Those human decisions did not make something that was not authoritative suddenly authoritative, but rather the church was bowing, acquiescing to that which they recognized to be sacred Scripture. We cannot avoid the reality that though God's invisible hand of providence was certainly at work in the process, there was a historical sifting process and human judgments were made that could have been mistaken. But I don't think this was the case.

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If you are referring to the New Testament, the only accepted writers with those that had a first hand experience with Jesus.

True, I don't think any of the Apocrypha claims to be written by the Apostles, and if they do, then this is not so.

But, im usually debating this with my catholic online friends.

see also: 21 Reasons Why the Apocrypha is Not Inspired

Many New Testament apocryphal books bear the name of apostles but are believed to be forgeries.

For me, the people of the dead sea scrolls, we have found copies of the NT written in Greek only in the AD 40 to 50 era....that means the entire Bible was selected early and in the Apostles time, known to many holy quest is they find some more fragments of the NT in the caves written in Hebrew, rather than Greek....

But we can be certain, the Bible completed and compiled was known and copied as far back as AD50, just a few years, one generation from Jesus time....


Christians need to be careful not to put human limitations on God. What is in the word is according to his will and it is accepted by the majority of Christians. I believe this is proof enough.


I see it differently Leon, in the Essenes, the people of the dead sea scrolls, we have a full complete copy of the entire Bible, all 66 books (except Ester) fully copied and referenced in AD 40, some 20 years before the AD66 collapse of Zion and these holy people, testimony o the fact that the entire Bible was well known in John's time and Paul's time, as fully acceptable as holy writ.....

We can have confidence that the 66 books were selected by the apostles and known in Paul's time....


I am not sure where you got your information. There are no New Testament books among the Dead Sea Scrolls which is why most scholars think they were from BC times. Also we have no Greek New Tetament fragments from the first century AD. Most of them weren't even written by AD 40. There was a lot of media coverage over a possible fragment of the book of Mark from the first century but it has yet to he published.

I agree Thomas.
Rob, did you realize that the Eastern Orthodox churches have a different cannon?
The Ethiopian church has the largest cannon.different from both the Western Catholic & the Eastern Orthodox churches. 

The Eastern churches use the Septuagint as their OT. This was in existence in the first century, this is what the early church would have read.

The Masoretic Text dating from the  8-900 a,d, is different in many places from the Septuagint.

Each church group thinks their cannon is the one "inspired".

Tell me why would you think the Bible w/66 books, that  we in the West typically use is more accurate, or inspired than the one used by the Eastern Orthodox or Ethiopian churches?


As far as I know there was new testament writings found in the dead sea scrolls.


Well said Lazarus , interesting thought A Brown

All I can say, on the basis of Dr Don Patton, and his archaeology he confirms the Essene people who also wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, also they have found all 66 books of the Bible, except Ester, but it is mentioned, in the caves, and all NT books have Greek fragments so far....

Make your faith in this library of books compiled and copied since AD 40....


Leon Human Limitations on God? That is humanism I think. 

Humanism is A system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth. And the denial of any power or moral value superior to that of humanity; the rejection of religion or the Holy Spirits power, in favour of a belief in the advancement of humanity by its own efforts.

God wants us to flee from humanism. Repeatedly, He has warned us against its deadly influence and shown how it would infiltrate the church. Using the symbol of a little horn in Daniel chapter 7, God predicted the Antichrist would be humanistic. “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, . . . and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8). Notice that it is not the eyes of the Spirit that are on this little horn, but “the eyes of man.” Here we see that Antichrist lacks true spiritual discernment and sees life only through human eyes. 

I have seen a bit of that in your posts 

Bible origin P I

The Old Testament

A brief survey of the history of the Old Testament canon leads to the conclusion that the collection of books we call the Old Testament took place in the 5th century BC., with Ezra and Nehemiah, (who both have books in the Old Testament) the two great leaders of that restoration period, most probably the leading spirits in this work. The basis of this conclusion is the fact that the Old Testament does not contain any later books. Jewish tradition of the 1st century BC. confirms this conclusion.

The production of the Septuagint,(the Old Testament translated in to Greek by the Masoretes.) beginning in the 3rd century BC., is evidence for the existence of an Old Testament canon. And mentioning the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible and the existence of its Greek translation in his time.

Jesus Christ and the apostles definitely believed in the authority and inspiration of the Hebrew Bible, as is seen from numerous testimonies witnessing to this fact. Their Bible had the same threefold division and probably the same sequence of books as found in the present Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, hundreds of quotations taken from at least 30 Old Testament books show the high esteem in which these writings were held by Jesus the founder of the Christian faith and His immediate followers.

The history of the Old Testament canon in the Christian church following the apostolic age centres in the question about the acceptance or rejection of the Jewish Apocrypha. (The Books found between the old and the new testaments) Though these books were rejected by the apostles and the Christian writers up to the middle of the 2nd century, and indeed, even by the Jews themselves, these spurious writings unfortunately found a welcome in the Christian church toward the end of the 2nd century. From that time on they were never banned from the Catholic Church (because the teachings found in those suited the Catholic Church). The Reformers took a firm stand in rejecting the Apocrypha, but after their death the Apocryphal books found entrance once more into some Protestant churches, although they were finally ejected from most of them in the nineteenth century.

So we can see there has been arguments about which books should be included for a long time to my mind the safest approach would be to follow what Jesus and the Apostles taught.

The Masoretes also established exact and detailed rules to be followed in the production of new Bible copies. Nothing was left to the decision of the scribes, neither the length of lines and columns, nor the color of the ink to be used. The words of each book were counted, and its middle word established, to provide means for checking the accuracy of new copies. At the end of each book a statement was attached giving the number of words the book contained, and also telling which was the middle word, besides some other statistical information.

By this we can see that there was a meticulous order in how the Bible was produced and this is confirmed by the finding of the Dead sea Scrolls. These documents was contemporary with Jesus. The differences you will find between these is so minuscule that it will have no meaning.


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