This discussion came up in another thread here.
Before we proceed, could you tell me whether Jesus Christs, or, perhaps, Apostles, or, perhaps, God (through His prophet) directed people to build a collection of literature called Bible?
1. How as the Bible formed?
2. Who inspired it?
3. Who wrote it?
4. How was it compiled or canonized?
5. Why was it compiled or canonized?
Feel free to answer one or all the questions.
1. How was the Bible formed?
SCRIPTURE began with the two tablets, literally written by God on Mount Sinai, perhaps around 1400 BC. Other writings came to be seen as Scripture (written by God - albeit indirectly) AND as canonical ( a 'rule' or 'measuring stick' for evaluating the validity and truth of positions) - and thus the "collection," the "library" (the meaning of the word "Bible") slowly grew..... No one knows for sure WHEN all this happened.... In Jesus' day, all Jews accepted the Pentetuch (the first 5 books, sometimes called the Torah), many also accepted the Prophets and History books, some the "Wisdom Literature." The LXX, a Greek translation common in Jesus' day, had some 80 books in it - many of which are unfamiliar to many today (for example, Psalm 151). The Jews "settled" all this at the Council of Jamnia in 90 AD - ending up with the same CONTENT as the typical Protestant OT, but this of course was a Jewish meeting that had little impact on Christians. Today, all Christians accept the content of the 39 books that all always accepted and that Jamnia officially embraced. But there are additional books, considered "secondary" (the meaning of the word DEUTERO); The Oriental Othrodox Churches accept several of these (and ALWAYS has), the Eastern Orthrodox fewer (and always has), and the Roman Catholic Church now accepts just 7 of them (made official at it's meeting at Trent in the 16th Century). The Anglican Church has more of these than the RCC but regards them as under the others. These "extra" books are called "DEUTEROcanonical." Most don't consider them or their content of particular significance and so there has historically been VERY little debate or interest in this subject or disagreement: the "extra" DEUTERO books don't seem to be of much significance.
The New Testament was written over a MUCH shorter time. James is often considered the earliest, around 45 AD. Paul's epistles were likely written in the mid 50's to mid 60's. Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts probably about this same time, maybe a year or two later - the epistles of Peter also about this time. John's Gospel, epistles and Revelation are often dates as last, perhaps as late as 90 AD. Paul's 13 letters were accepted as Scripture and as canonical almost immediately; the 3 "synoptic" Gospels and Acts also very shortly after their creation. There were, however, several debated: 2 Peter, Jude, Hebrews, Revelation are examples of questioned books that finally got in. There were a few unfamiliar to us today that were consider Scripture for awhile. While about 20 books were accepted almost immediately, it took awhile to "settle" on an exact group of 27. This was pretty much complete by the end of the 4th century - although for centuries after that, Revelation was questions, and for some 1000 years, Catholic Bibles often contained 28 NT books - the Epistle to the Leodiceans appeared in some Catholic bibles as late as the 17th century.
2. Who Inspired it? The belief is that God did. HOW this happened is a mystery..... The penmen (most unknown) often SEEM unaware that they were penning Scripture - the written word of God, but sometimes - they seem very aware, even stating, "Thus says the Lord."
3. Who Wrote it? The "penmen" are mostly unknown..... The men WE attribute are mostly by tradition. For example, nowhere in the Gospel of Matthew identify Matthew as the penmen - that Matthew wrote it is just ancient tradition. The same with the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John. Most of the Epistles DO state the penmen (and often note that others were involved, too). Some Old Testament books: the Pentetuch, 1-2 Kings, etc. seem to be compelations.
4. How was it complied? See above.... It was a slow process, mostly of CONSENSUS. For Jews, the OT was "set" in 90 AD - but among Christians, it's still a matter of some dispute (although not one any considers very significant). For the NT, it was less formal but quicker. Most (20) of the books were embraced by 100 AD or so. Other books (Hebrews, James 2 & 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation) were not universally and solidly affirmed - that took awhile, and some others were bounced around that eventually were not embraced. Certainly by the late 300's, it was done - but again, not ENTIRELY. The Epistle to the Leodiceans shows up for 1000 + years in Catholic Bibles (but not OOC or EOC ones), Revelation doesn't always appear or if it does, isn't always considered equal to the others. Today, the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglicans have unique Bibles - but the difference is those disputed DEUTERO books that none seem to regard as terribly significant.
5. Why was it embraced? We can only speculate...... With the Apostles dying or dead, with the Apostles not able to speak to all congregations in a rapidly growing faith - Scripture came to be the divine witness: solid, objective, black-and-white, divine, written words (in a sense, like those two tablets Moses brought down). We see the same in the OT: Prophets wrote down their story and message near the end of their lives - an everlasting, objective record.
I hope that helps!
Edited by CaliforniaJosiah, 18 October 2013 - 07:17 PM.