This week's question may seem odd, especially after writing a dozen previous articles on the Biblical Canon, and emphasizing the importance of the written Word of God (Why Create a Written Canon? Part 2). I'll start my answer with this statement: People don't need a Bible to become Christian.
Becoming a Christian
The earliest books of the New Testament (written by the Apostle Paul) were written 10-20 years after the resurrection of...
My last post, How was the Biblical Canon Found?, described the different ways the canon could be formed. I now want to show the tragic results when people decide what books are the word of God.
The Jesus Seminar is an organization trying to find the "Historical Jesus", or the life and teachings of Jesus, using both Christian and non-Christian resources. These resources can include ancient historians, ancient manuscripts, legends and...
I've referred to the conclusion in this article quite a few times in previous articles, but I think it's important to show how I arrived at the conclusion. There have been different approaches used in developing the canon, and two of them are based on human desires, while the third one is based on revelation by the Holy Spirit. Of course, there is overlap in all three, since none of us perfectly knows God's will. People didn't decide what books...
A common claim from people who don't believe the Bible is the word of God is that the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (Constantine I) created the Bible. They'll probably acknowledge some version of the texts existed before Constantine legalized Christianity, but say Constantine dictated what books were to be in the Bible, the ones which fit his personal beliefs. The skeptic may claim the result of this fiddling created Christianity as we know it...
In my article Can New Books be Added to the New Testament Canon?, I listed four categories a book could be in if someone proposes adding a book to the New Testament Canon:
- A Missing Book is Found
- A Book Written by a Student or Co-Worker of an Apostle
- A Book Not in Every Canon
- New Revelation
For each of the categories, I picked a book and showed why it doesn't meet the criteria (What...
The practical answer to this question is easy: No, new books can't be added to the canon. The technical answer is a bit more involved. I wrote the article What are the Criteria for a Book to be Canonical? on how the church fathers recognized the books in the New Testament canon. It's possible a book "slipped through the cracks" when the church fathers were studying them, although it's not probable.
I'll limit this article to...
In last week's article, I showed how the church father and historian Eusebius of Caesarea categorized the books which churches thought were part of the canon. This week I want to show what some other church fathers thought about the books under consideration. There were over 300 years between the resurrection of Jesus and the first list of books which exactly matches the Protestant New Testament. The books were in use in churches before then, but it took...
This article in my series about the Biblical Canon will be short, although the footnotes are extensive. In the first few hundred years after Jesus's resurrection, the church was trying to understand which books were in the canon. God made the canon, but it was still up to the church to recognize which books were appropriate for use.
Have you ever walked into a crowded room and seen some faces which are vaguely familiar, but you can't remember the...
What do the words Scripture and Canon mean? In modern times, some people have defined the word Scripture to mean books inspired by God, while defining Canon as a list of scripture which can not change. With these definitions, the scriptures existed early in the church, but the canon took a long time to form. Did the early church have a canon? Was the canon formed in the fourth or fifth century, as some people claim? The Catholic Church...
In my first article on the Biblical Canon, What is the Biblical Canon?, I listed three criteria the early church used to recognize if a book should be considered part of the New Testament canon. The books had to be:
- Authentic - Based on the experiences of those who knew Jesus
- Authoritative - Accurately teaching God’s will
- Inspired - Written by people with guidance of the Holy Sprit
Since then, I've...