Where’d the Bible Come From?

This is a slightly altered script we’re using to do a radio bit on our program. Thought you might like it. Here’s the radio bit if you’d rather listen.

So how do we know the books that are in the Bible, are the only books that should be in the Bible, and how do we know it wasn’t just manipulated by the Leaders of the Church for their own purposes??? Huh? Huh? Huh??

Okay, DaVinci Code boy. Here’s how we got the Bible:

Start with the Old Testament. Those are the 39 books we got from Judiasm. Ancient Israel. Moses. Elijah and guys like that. It records not only the teachings of the Law that Judiasm follows (including the Ten Commandments), but prophecy and stories about the nation of Israel, the end of the world, and the beginning of the world. Adam and Eve? Noah and the Ark? David and Goliath? Yeah, those stories and a lot more.

When it came to putting the Old Testament part of the Bible together as we have today, the Church pretty much just accepted what the Jews had long considered to be inspired. None of that got changed. That is, until Martin Luther showed up.

That crazy Luther!

No it wasn’t him actually, but the Church at the time was catching a lot of heat from Luther, especially over prayers for the dead and indulgences which Luther was preaching against. So conveniently, the Roman Catholic Church decided in 1546 at the Council of Trent that a few extra books or parts of books (11 total) should be added to the Old Testament, -one of which supports the idea of praying for the dead, naturally. Now, to this day Protestants, (that’s non-Catholic Christians) and Jews still reject those 11 additions, but there ya go. Other than that, it’s the same stuff the Jews use.

What about the New Testament Christian Books? Well by the middle of the second century, the Churches, and I say Churches because there wasn’t just one ruling body like many people believe, but hundreds and hundreds of independent churches, had largely accepted the New Testament as we have today. Later, they got together and officially ratified it at four different councils.

Who knows, coulda sounded a little like:

I like Peter!
Revelation is cool….
Don’t forget II Peter.
Fouth John!
There is no fourth John!
Jude? What kinda name is Jude?
Did I mention Revelation rocks?
Hey Matthew, Mark, Luke, and umm….
I and II Thessalonians, you just have to put them in order you know.
Titus!
Philemon? or Phillymon? How do you say that one?
You sound like you’re from Jamaica.
We haven’t even discovered Jamaica yet!
Okay, you guys just make up your mind, I’ve got the scroll of Hosea!
That’s the Old Testament!
Oh…
Corinthians, uh… Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossions, Colossus?
No Col-loss-ians… retard….
Hebrews, who wrote Hebrews?
Paul!
Timothy!
Peter!
James! James is good, Maybe okay, I got it…
Did I mention Revelation rocks!!!!!
Who let him in here?

Or something perhaps more uh… formal.

Anyway, there were some extra writings people had questions about of course, but none of the questionable New Testament writings were accepted by the majority of churches, -ever.
Most were never given the same status as the regular books, -ever.
None of the 4 major gatherings or councils of all the churches accepted them, -ever.
And the extra writings never met the requirements the church used in deciding if a book of the Bible should actually be in the Bible. The two main requirements were:

1. Did one or more of the original apostles actually write it or help write it? Including Judas? No Judas was never an apostle in the Church. He pretty much kicked himself outta the group with the whole, betraying Jesus thing.

and 2. Did the early Churches as a whole accept these books?

And for the books we have the New Testament, the answer to these questions was yes.

But why make it official?

To preserve what they had always accepted and keep other people from changing it later. The very thing people today accuse them of doing, they were trying to stop. In fact, at that time a group called the “Gnostics” (the “G” is silent – which of course begs the question of why it was put in the word to begin with? -The answer I believe is so people like you and me would miss it on a spelling test and make librarian-types feel smarter) started teaching that most of the New Testament was wrong and the Gnostics began writing their own books.

Every now and then, Dateline NBC finds one of these Gnostic books and freaks out about it.

We’ve found a new Gospel!

Yeah. Knock yourself out. The Churches, all the churches, all the BRANCHES of churches, even the ones that disagree, haven’t argued over the New Testament since 400 AD. That’s one-thousand six-hundred and seven years ago.

Yeah, but we’ve lost all the records haven’t we?

We have 5,700 Greek manuscripts alone. Right now.

Okay never mind.

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One thought on “Where’d the Bible Come From?

  1. Hi, Brian,

    You’re actually a little bit in error, when it comes to the Bible canon. You mentioned that the Catholic Church added books at the Council of Trent. Not so! What the Catholic Church did at Trent was to uphold the books Martin Luther had questioned. You are correct that the Jews (at least in 90 CE) did not affirm the books of the Septuagint–which houses the Deuterocanonicals (there are more than 11 books in that canon, by the way)–mostly because the early Christians were using the Greek translation to show their evidence for Jesus being the Messiah. You can see these various books listed in the local councils of Rome and Carthage. Also, the Orthodox Church has books that are part of their Hebrew Bible/Old Testament that are not found in the Catholic version of the Old Testament. The Orthodox Church, however, does not have an “official canon,” because it was not challenged in the same manner as the Catholic Church.

    In Luther’s time there was an idea of “going back to the sources.” So because Jews rejected the Deuterocanonicals, so would Luther. Luther also rejected the New Testament books of James, Hebrews, and Revelation. Mostly because he didn’t consider them “Christ centered enough.” However, public opinion stopped him from doing so. Also, it should be pointed out that just because Luther rejected these books, the new forms of Protestantism emerging did not respond, “Oh, Luther rejects them, so we should to!” Didn’t quite work that way. Basically, the agreement among Protestants with the canon of the Bible happened about 100 years after Luther’s original protest.

    I realize that it’s odd that I’m responding to an article you wrote five years, but I just thought I’d make a correction. From what I can tell, you seem to be someone with an open mind, which I enjoy. If you have the chance, please read some of the articles on my website.

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