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How Did We Get Our Bible?
September 26, 2013
I'm realizing how many long emails I send that only one person gets to read. I've been working on correcting that for a while. I am certain that the following email I sent addresses questions that many Christians have.
This email doesn't really answer those questions, nor even the question asked in the subject line of this email.
Instead, it does what I do best: tell you how to answer it.
Here's the email:
Honestly, the best source for examining my viewpoint (that the NT books were chosen for one reason only, apostolic authorship) is a Powerpoint (Keynote?) presentation I have on YouTube.
Another good source is a book called A High View of Scripture?, which is available on Amazon.
A High View of Scripture? is part of a Baker Book published series on the early church written by Evangelical scholars. It's the most indepth study, based on early church sources, you'll find by an Evangelical (I think).
You'll find that Craig Allert (the author) gives four reasons the early churches "canonized" a book. I give only one: Did an apostle or an apostle's companion write it? My argument is that all four of Allert's reasons can be condensed down to my one reason. His other three reasons are just evidence the early churches used to find out whether a writing was apostolic.
Two of his criteria were ...
Of course, if a writing were unorthodox, the church would reject its apostolic origin. As for churches accepting a writing, they accepted it because they thought it was apostolic. Therefore, if a lot of churches accepted it, then that was a good sign it was apostolic. Many witnesses is a good thing.
I don't remember what his fourth criterion was.
I have a number of pertinent quotes from him at: http://www.christian-history.org/scripture-quotes.html (lot of relevant quotes there)
It would also be worth reading Eusebius' assessment of the situation in his time, which is found in Ecclesiastical History III:25 (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxv.html). The chapters before and after will have more information, too. You can download the whole book on .pdf free there. (Thank you to a reader for letting me know these are now free!)
Most of the early Christian studies I do, I do with those .pdf's, though I had to pay for them when I got them. I also have a few volumes through Kindle. They're not too expensive, but I find the .pdf's easier to search. I just search the whole document for keywords when I want to research something. Canon would be hard because I doubt seriously any early Christian used that word before the 4th century, and "scripture" is used in so many contexts that it would take a LONG time to go through all their references. My quotes page, given above, is a great start, though :-).
Thanks. I hope you enjoy these insights into early Christianity as they come!
Also, if you are helped by what we teach, please visit and like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/christian.history.for.everyman and feel free to contribute, ask questions, or give feedback on Christian-history.org or these newsletters.
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