Bible is often considered a single, cohesive, work, it is actually an anthology of ancient writings by many different authors over many centuries, which were collected in a single book. The Bible contains works of poetry, religious-themed narratives, philosophical musings such as The Book of Ecclesiastes, epistles, and the apocalyptic masterpiece known as The Book of Revelation.
Is it not strange that we argue about what is written in a book we today call the bible and neglect to research how and who put the 66 books/ letters/scrolls together and why they chose only those 66 books and called it the Bible?
In case you don’t know the word bible is in itself a creative term for the collection of the books that was put together into one book by a selected group of men.
There are, however, many Christian denominations that differ in the number of books they have in their Bibles. In fact, some sects, such as Mormonism, use an entirely different book alongside the Bible. However, Christian denominations all differ in regards to their main beliefs and, as such, they choose various books that fit their narratives. Thus, depending on the denomination you choose to study, they will have different biblical texts that they believe to be legitimate or illegitimate.
It thusly, goes without saying that theologian experts typically reject certain texts due to the fact that those texts are themselves either inconsistent within their own narrative (at least in the mind of those theologians) or are themselves inconsistent with the messages of the accepted texts. The Gospel of Judas, for example, is regarded as false by the vast majority of Christians since it contains theology from the late 2nd century A.D. and as such could not have been written by Judas Iscariot himself and it contradicts the other Gospels by portraying Judas himself as a hero who chose to obey the explicit directions of Jesus rather than betray him. There are several other of these sorts of texts, but virtually all of them are rejected by mainstream Christianity.
Indeed, some would argue that they believe and trust the Bible that we have today, the Bible which contains 66 books, written by approximately 40 authors, because it has been shown to be the living, active Word of God that can even penetrate our thoughts, intentions, and motives of the heart (Heb 4:13). There are many fulfilled prophecies, the thousands of archaeological discoveries, and the endurable Word of God provides more than enough for us to know that when we pick up what is known as the Bible, it is God speaking to us; it is His inspired Word.
Many today believe that the 66 books are all that we need in order to know how to be saved. Some even argue that with anything other than these 66 books, you’re taking chances. Indeed, many are not chancers. Rightly or perhaps wrong some Christians are unwilling to take that chance. I want the truth. How about you?
Why were some books excluded?
The questions I ask are not new they have been asked by many people over the years.
Conversely, In 1546, largely due in response to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic church authorized several more books as scripture known as the Apocrypha. The word Apocrypha means hidden. It is used in a general sense to describe a list of books written by Jews between 300 and 100 B.C. More specifically, it is used of the 7 additional books accepted by the Catholic church as being inspired. The entire list of books of the Apocrypha are: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, (also titled Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Additions to Daniel, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books accepted as inspired and included in the Catholic Bible are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees Wisdom of Solomon Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch.
Apart from this, numerous different denominations of Christianity accepted and rejected different books of the Bible. Consequently, a lot of debate exists over the legitimacy of the Apocrypha, with Catholic Bibles having such works typically in the Old Testament and some Protestant Bibles contain the Apocrypha as an appendix between the Old and New Testaments. Apart from this, many works rejected by the mainstream Christendom are viewed as Pseudepigrapha, or falsely-attributed works. These works, as some Christians would argue, have no legitimacy so as to earn them a spot in the Bible and, as such, are disregarded. The majority of those professing to be Christians today have not read any of these books. They have relied on decisions made on their behalf by their leaders of old.
As I pointed out before the decision to select only 66 books and present what we know today as the Bible was made by a group of men (Christian leaders).
These leaders gathered to answer major questions, including which books should be regarded as “Scripture.” These gatherings included the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and the First Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381,
These men used a criteria which decided a book should be included in the Bible if it was:
• Written by one of Jesus’ disciples, someone who was a witness to Jesus’ ministry, such as Peter, or someone who interviewed witnesses, such as Luke.
• Written in the first century A.D., meaning that books written long after the events of Jesus’ life and the first decades of the church weren’t included.
• Consistent with other portions of the Bible known to be valid, meaning the book couldn’t contradict a trusted element of Scripture.
Reportedly after a few decades of debate, these councils held by the Christian leaders of the time largely settled which books were to be included in the Bible. A few years later, all were published by Jerome in a single volume that we today hold as the Holy Bible.
Whether is was Holy Spirit inspired or more politically influenced is another debate for another day.
By the time the first century A.D. ended, most of those who regarded themselves Christians and indeed the church had agreed on which books should be considered Scripture. The earliest church members took guidance from the writings of Peter, Paul, Matthew, John, and others. The later councils and debates were largely useful in weeding out inferior books that claimed the same authority.
Have you ever considered reading or at least familiarising yourself with the books that were excluded? Why where they written and for whom were they written? Were these early Christian leaders correct in electing to keep these writings away from the people?
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