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How God Produced the Bible

 

God produced the Old and New Testaments that make up our Bible over a period of about 1500 years. During this time he revealed his Word to the prophets in the Old Testament and the Apostles in the New Testament. He then worked through these men to produce a written work that reflected the individual personalities of each man who wrote and yet at the same time faithfully revealed the mind of God to the point that it is described by scripture itself as "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16).



Revelation - How Did God Reveal Himself to Man?

Hebrews 1:1-2 - In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways . . .

  • God sometimes spoke in a voice from heaven: Genesis 22:11

  • God sometimes spoke to men in a dream: Genesis 28:12-13

  • God sometimes spoke to men in a vision: Isaiah 1:1

  • God sometime spoke with men “face to face”: Exodus 33:11

  • God sometimes spoke with men through angel(s): Zechariah 1:14

Inspiration - All Scripture is "God-Breathed"

As we have already seen, inspiration is the process where God uses imperfect men (prophets and apostles) writing in their own words to produce the perfect Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

When the apostles and prophets wrote inspired, God-breathed, scripture, what they wrote was considered to be the very words of God!

Matthew 22:41-44 - While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit , calls him 'Lord'? For he says [in Psalm 110], “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”

Matthew 22:31-32 - But about the resurrection of the dead-- have you not read what God said to you [in Exodus 3:6], 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?

Acts 1:16 - Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas

Acts 2:17 - [Peter quoting from the OT book of Joel 2:28ff says:] "'In the last days, God says , I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Acts 4:25 - You [God] spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David [in Psalm 2]: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?”

The Canon

The collection of all “God breathed” writings which we have in our Bibles is sometimes referred to as the “canon of Scripture ”. The word “canon” is from a Greek word meaning “measuring rod, rule or norm of faith”. The Biblical writings are called a “canon” because they are the standard by which all other writings measured. How did these writings become a part of our Bibles? In other words, where did the 66 books of the Bible come from and how were they gathered together in one book as we have them today? To answer this question, we will now look at the process that God used to give us His Word.


The History of How the Bible Was Produced


Timeline of All Human History


 

Bible Timeline

The Old Testament

How God Produced the Old Testament

During the time of the Exodus (1400 B.C.) God told Moses to create a written record (in Hebrew) of what He had communicated to him on Mount Sinai: 

Exodus 34:27 - Then the LORD said to Moses, " Write down these words , for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."

 

Later other Jewish prophets were instructed by God to do likewise:

Isaiah 30:8 - Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll , that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness.

Jeremiah 30:2 - This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “ Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.

 

From the time of Moses to the time of Christ, God gave the Jews His written Word in a collection of writings that continued to grow throughout much of their history. These writings make up what we now know as the Old Testament: 

Romans 3:1-2 - What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew . . . Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God .

 

The Jews recognized from the very beginning that these writings were the very words of God in written form! Consequently they read them and studied them both publicly and privately: 

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 - These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts . Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

2 Kings 23:2 – [King Josiah] went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets-- all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant , which had been found in the temple of the LORD.

Jeremiah 36:6 - So you go to the house of the LORD on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the LORD that you wrote as I dictated. Read them to all the people of Judah who come in from their towns .

 

Because they did not have copy machines, when the Jews needed to make a copy of these writings (because either a particular copy was wearing out or they needed an extra one) they had to make a hand-written copy:

Deuteronomy 17:18-19 - When [a king] takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law , taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.

 

Because the significance of these writings, the Jews tried to be very careful when making these copies so as to avoid making mistakes. 
 

How God Kept the Old Testament From Being Corrupted by False Prophets

At times, false prophets would arise in Israel. The Israelites were to carefully test men who claimed to speak for God as prophets. Prophets would have to demonstrate they were true prophets from God by predicting near future events. If a so-called prophet made a prediction, and the predicted event did not happen, then he proved that he was a false prophet was to be put to death:

Deuteronomy 18:19-22 - If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. " You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

 

Even if the prophet’s prediction came true, but the prophet was enticing them to follow other gods they were still to be put to death:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 - If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer . The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death , because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

God Affirmed the Old Testament Through His Son, Jesus

During His earthly ministry, Jesus confirmed that the Old Testament scriptures that existed at that time were the inspired Word of God:

Matthew 22:29, 31-32 - Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. . . But about the resurrection of the dead-- have you not read what God said to you [in Exodus 3:6], 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? ”

 

Matthew 26:53-54 - Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"

 

Luke 24:27 - And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

 

John 10:35 -  . . . the Scripture cannot be broken

The 400 Year Period of Silence

Between the last writings of the Old Testament (Malachi being one of the last Old Testament books written) and the birth of Christ, there was a 400-year “period of silence” in which no inspired writings were added to the canon. Nevertheless there were some significant events that took place during this period of time.


Bible Timeline

The Septuagint

 

A picture from an ancient codex that depicts the 72 translators of the Septuagint receiving gifts from Ptolemy. [5]

It was during this “period of silence” (between the Old and New Testaments) that the first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into another language was done. A letter written in the second century B.C. (the Letter of Aristeas), claims that 72 Jewish translators sent from Jerusalem produced a Greek version of the Old Testament for Ptolemy II for his library. [1]  Because of this, the translation has been called the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) for the seventy plus scholars that supposedly translated it.

Many scholars question some of the details given in this letter concerning the translation of the Septuagint. But scholars generally agree that the Septuagint owes its origin to Jewish settlers living in Alexandria, Egypt who were forced by circumstances to abandon the Hebrew language and to speak Greek, yet continued to embrace the Jewish faith. Thus a need arose for a translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek so that these Jews could read the scriptures in their own language, which was now Greek rather than Hebrew. It appears that to meet this need, a team of scholars began the Septuagint (beginning with the Pentateuch) in the first part of the third century B.C. There is evidence that the Septuagint was completed around 132 B.C. [2]  The Septuagint translation later became widely used by Greek speaking Jews throughout the Roman Empire, including the writers of the New Testament. [3]

In addition to the translating the Hebrew Old Testament, a translation of what is known as the Old Testament Apocrypha was also added to the Septuagint. [4]  As we note later in the material dealing with the Apocrypha , these apocryphal books were never added to the Hebrew canon, nor did the writers of the New Testament ever cite them as authoritative.


The Old Testament Apocrypha

During the 400 year “period of silence” a group of historical and religious books were written which came to be known as the Old Testament Apocrypha. Some of the books of the Apocrypha contain helpful historical information (such as 1 Maccabees). But unfortunately a number of these books contain historical errors (e.g. the book of Judith 1:1 teaches that Nebuchadnezzar reigned in Nineveh, but he was ruler of Babylon) and religious teachings that contradict Biblical teaching. Roman Catholics mistakenly teach that the books of the Apocrypha should be included in the Bible.

The Books of the Apocrypha: [7]

No.

Name

When

Description

1

1 Esdras

150 B.C.

Tells of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine after the Babylonian exile. It draws considerably from Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, but the author has added much legendary material.

2

2 Esdras

A.D. 100

Is an apocalyptic work, containing seven visions.

3

Tobit

Early 2nd cent. B.C.

Is a short novel. Strongly Pharisaic, in tone, it emphasizes the Law, clean foods, ceremonial washings, charity, fasting and prayer. It is clearly unscriptural in its statement that alms giving atones for sin.

4

Judith

150 B.C.

Fictitious and Pharisaic. The heroine of this novel is Judith, a beautiful Jewish widow. When her city was besieged she took her maid, together with Jewish clean food, and went out to the tent of the attacking general. He was enamored of her beauty and gave her a place in his tent. Fortunately, he had imbibed too freely and sank into a drunken stupor. Judith took his sword and cut off his head. Then she and her maid left the camp, taking his head in their provision bag. It was hung on the wall of a nearby city and the leaderless Assyrian army was defeated.

5

The rest of Esther

100 B.C.

Esther stands alone among the books of the Old Testament in having no mention of God. We are told that Esther and Mordecai fasted but not specifically that they prayed. To compensate for this lack, the Additions have long prayers attributed to these two, together with a couple of letters supposedly written by Artaxerxes.

6

The Wisdom of Solomon

A.D. 40

Was written to keep the Jews from falling into skepticism, materialism, and idolatry. As in Proverbs, Wisdom is personified.

7

Ecclesiasticus or Wisdom of Sirach

180 B.C.

Somewhat like the canonical Book of Proverbs. It also contains much practical advice.

8

Baruch

A.D. 100

Represents itself as being written by Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, in 582 B.C. Actually, it is probably trying to interpret the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The book urges the Jews not to revolt again, but to be in submission to the emperor.

9

The Letter of Jeremiah

A.D. 100

The sixth chapter of Baruch contains the so-called “Letter of Jeremiah,” with its strong warning against idolatry-probably addressed to Jews in Alexandria, Egypt.

10

The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of Three Young Men

 

Follows Dan. 3:23 in the Septuagint and the Vulgate. Borrowing heavily from Psalms 148, it is antiphonal like Psalms 136, having 32 times the refrain: 'Sing praise to him and greatly exalt him forever.

11

Susanna

1st cent. B.C.

Our Book of Daniel contains 12 chapters. In the first century before Christ a thirteenth chapter was added, the story of Susanna. She was the beautiful wife of a leading Jew in Babylon, to whose house the Jewish elders and judges frequently came. Two of these became enamored of her and tried to seduce her. When she cried out, the two elders said they had found her in the arms of a young man. She was brought to trial. Since there were two witnesses who agreed in their testimony, she was convicted and sentenced to death. But a young man named Daniel interrupted the proceedings and began to cross-examine the witnesses. He asked each one separately under which tree in the garden they had found Susanna with a lover. When they gave different answers they were put to death and Susanna was saved.

12

Bel and the Dragon

1st cent. B.C.

Was added at about the same time and called chapter 14 of Daniel. Its main purpose was to show the folly of idolatry. It really contains two stories. In the first, King Cyrus asked Daniel why he did not worship Bel, since that deity showed his greatness by daily consuming many sheep, together with much flour and oil. So Daniel scattered ashes on the floor of the Temple where the food had been placed that evening. In the morning the king took Daniel in to show him that Bel had eaten all the food during the night. But Daniel showed the king in the ashes on the floor the footprints of the priests and their families who had entered secretly under the table. The priests were slain and the temple destroyed. The story of the Dragon is just as obviously legendary in character. Along with Tobit, Judith, and Susanna, these stories may be classified as purely Jewish fiction. They have little if any religious value.

13

The Prayer of Manasseh

2nd cent. B.C.

Was composed in Maccabean times as the supposed prayer of Manasseh, the wicked king of Judah. It was obviously suggested by the statement in 2 Chron. 33:19-“His prayer . . . and how God was entreated of him . . . behold they are written in the sayings of the seers” Since this prayer is not found in the Bible, some scribe had to make up the deficiency!

14

1 Maccabees

1st cent. B.C.

Is perhaps the most valuable book in the Apocrypha. For it describes the exploits of the three Maccabean brothers – Judash, Jonathan, and Simon. Along with Josephus it is our most important source for the history of this crucial and exciting period in Jewish history.

15

2 Maccabees

1st cent. B.C.

Is not a sequel to 1 Maccabees, but a parallel account, treating only the victories of Judas Maccabaeus. It is generally thought to be more legendary than 1 Maccabees.

Reasons to Exclude the Apocrypha from the OT Canon

 

The Archangel Leaving the Family of Tobias - by Rembrandt (1606-1669)  [6]

The Jews did not include the Apocrypha in the Hebrew canon

  • The Apocrypha was never included as a part of the Hebrew Bible.

  • Philo (20 B.C. – A.D. 40) Alexandrian Jewish philosopher - quoted the Old Testament often, but he never quoted from the Apocrypha

  • Josephus (A.D. 30 – 100) Jewish historian – excluded the Apocrypha when he listed the books of the Old Testament. Also Josephus never quotes from the Apocrypha as scripture.

  • Jewish scholars of Jamnia (A.D.90) rejected the Apocrypha

Jesus and the writers of the New Testament never quote from the Apocrypha as Scripture

The Apocrypha never claims to be inspired

In a few places the Apocrypha seems to actually deny inspiration:

Prologue to Ecclesiasticus - It is the duty of those who study the scriptures not only to become expert themselves, but also to use their scholarship for the benefit of the outside world through both the spoken and the written word. So my grandfather Jesus, who had applied himself industriously to the study of the law, the prophets, and the other writings of our ancestors, and had gained a considerable proficiency in them, was moved to compile a book of his own on the themes of discipline and wisdom, so that, with this further help, scholars might make greater progress in their studies by living as the law directs.

2 Maccabees 15:37b-38 - I shall bring my own work to an end here too. If it is well composed and to the point, that is just what I wanted. If it is worthless and mediocre, that is all I could manage.

 

The Apocrypha contains doctrinal errors:

Prayers and Offerings for the Dead:

 2 Maccabees 12:43-46 - And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.  

Forgiveness and Salvation by Almsgiving:

Tobit 4:11 - For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness.

Tobit 12:9 - Almsgiving saves from death and purges every kind of sin.

Suicide spoken of as noble:

2 Maccabees 14:41-42 - Now as the multitude sought to rush into his house, and to break open the door, and to set fire to it, when he was ready to be taken, he struck himself with his sword: Choosing to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of the wicked, and to suffer abuses unbecoming his noble birth  

The New Testament

Bible Timeline

How God Produced the New Testament

Towards the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus promised His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach them. ( John 14:26, John 15:26,  John 16:12-14). After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostles received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit worked through the apostles and prophets to reveal the new truths and mysteries of the New Covenant age through scripture and prophecy.

Ephesians 2:19-20 - Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets , with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 3:4-5 – In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets .

Ephesians 4:11-12 - It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles , some to be prophets   . . . to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

 

The apostles in particular had direct contact with Jesus and were to play a key role in the building of Christ's church and communicating to that church we had been revealed to them about Jesus:

Mat. 16:18a - And I [Jesus] tell you that you are Peter , and on this rock I will build my church … 

John 15:26b-27 - The Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me [Jesus]. And you [apostles] also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning .

1 John 1:2 - The life [Jesus] appeared; we [apostles] have seen it and testify to it, and we [apostles] proclaim to you the eternal life [Jesus], which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

 

 

A modern artist's depiction of the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:9-11)  [8]  

The New Testament was written by the apostles, or in some cases men who worked closely with the apostles. In some cases, what these men wrote was an account of things that had happened in the ministry of Jesus and the early church (i.e. the Gospels or the Book of Acts). However, a good number of the New Testament books are letters written by the apostles to churches or individuals. These writings were circulated in the early church in much the same manner as Paul encouraged the Colossians to do with his letter to them:

Colossians 4:16 - After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

 

The New Testament writers recognized that their writings were authoritative and were as much a part of the scripture as the Old Testament writings:

2 Peter 3:15-16 - Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures [Greek: graphe], to their own destruction.

1 Corinthians 14:36-37 - Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command .

1 Timothy 5:18 - For the Scripture [Greek: graphe] says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," [a quote from Deut. 25:4] and "The worker deserves his wages." [a quote from Luke 10:7].

Early Christian Heresies

As the apostles began to die off, their writings continued to be circulated. But it didn’t take long for the apostolic writings to come under attack! But this should not surprise us - throughout the history of the church, there have always been false teachers and heretical religious movements – even during the days when Jesus and the apostles walked the earth! Which is why they constantly warned us about false teachers (Matthew 7:15, Galatians 2:4-5, 2 Peter 1:21 - 2:1, 1 John 4:1). One such heretical movement that arose in its earliest form sometime in the first century was a movement that eventually came to be known as “Gnosticism” (from the Greek word gnosis which means “knowledge”). Not everyone who was a part of this movement believed the same thing, but there do seem to be some common ideas that were held by many in this movement. Some of these ideas are:

  • That we must be initiated into a secret gnosis or “knowledge” in order to be saved

  • That the universe is governed by two opposing gods – one who is good and one who is evil. This idea is known as “dualism”.

  • That all physical matter is evil and “spirit” matter is good.

  • That there are “layers” of gods and spirit beings between us and the good god.

 

The Nag Hammadi codices which preserve some of the ancient Gnostic teachings [9]

The scriptures teach against such ideas. In fact some of the books in our NT (especially Colossians and 1 John) condemn false teachings that appear to have come from an early form of Gnosticism and were beginning to infect the thinking of Christians in the first century.

During the second century (A.D.101-200) Gnosticism began to infect certain groups of Christians in growing numbers. These so-called “Christian” Gnostics began to produce their own literature in order to promote their false “gospel”.

 Several gospels were produced over the next two centuries along with other literature from the Gnostic perspective.  Among these are the “Gospel of Judas” (A.D.130-180), the “Gospel of Thomas” (A.D.140-200), the “Gospel of Philip” (A.D.180 – 350) etc.

At about this same time, another movement arose which was started by Marcion (A.D. 110-160). Marcion was influenced by Gnosticism, but his greatest error was that he was extremely anti-Jewish and wanted to remove any books from the Bible that in his view were corrupted by Jewish teaching. He especially preferred the writings of Paul.

Marcion threw out:

  • The entire OT!

  • All the NT except for (most of) Luke and 10 of Paul’s letters

How God Worked Through the Early Christian Churches to Identify and Preserve the NT Canon

Due to the rise of false teachers and heretical documents which some were claiming had religious authority, there arose a need for Christians to be able to test whether or not a particular book could be considered a part of the true canon of scripture or not.

 

Ancient Church of Irenaeus, One of the Early Church Fathers – Lyons, France [10]

The early Christian churches used a three fold test to determine if a document in question was to be considered a genuine part of scripture:

  • Apostolic Origin – It had to have been produced by an apostle or in close association with an apostle.

  • Harmony with Scripture – It must be in harmony with other known NT or OT literature. If the teachings of the document contradicted other well established scripture, it would be doubted.

  • Truthfulness – If it contained things which were absurd or otherwise out of character with the Truth, it would be rejected as part of the Canon of Scripture.

As Christians began to apply these tests to the documents that were circulating in the second and third centuries especially – they began to list the books upon which there was general agreement among the churches that these were a part of the canon.

Evidences of this process have survived and come down to us:

  • A manuscript known as the Muratorian fragment (a translation of a document dated at about A.D.170) contains an authoritative list of all but four (Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter) of the books that are in our modern NT.

  • Irenaeus (A.D.130 –202) studied under two of the apostle John’s students. Iranaeus’ book Against Heresies (written around A.D.180) quotes from all the current books of the NT, except a few of the shortest letters (Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and 3 John).

  • A list was suggested by the great Alexandrian theologian, Athanasius in A.D. 367. Athanasius listed all 27 of the books of the New Testament that are found in our Bibles today.

  • In A.D. 397, the Third Council of Carthage, of which the famous theologian Augustine was an influential member, and churches throughout the Roman empire likewise acknowledged these same 27 books as the New Testament canon. From that point forward, the issue has generally been considered settled.

     

Timeline of the New Testament Canon

 

How Do We Know that We Have the Right Books in the NT that We Now Use?

Ultimately, our confidence that we have the right books in our NT is based on the faithfulness of God. We know that God loves His people, and it is supremely important that God’s people have His words for they are our life (Deut. 32:47; Mat 4:4). The preservation and correct assembling of Scripture should be seen by believers, then, not as a part of church history that happened after God provided for our salvation, but as a part of the history of salvation itself. After all we have to have the Word of God in order to believe it and be saved! Therefore, just as God was at work in creation, in the calling of His people Israel, in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and in the early work and writings of the apostles, so God was at work in the preservation and assembling together of the books of scripture for the benefit of His people. Christians today should not presume to take it upon themselves to attempt to add to or subtract from the books of the canon: the process was completed long ago as we have already seen. Nevertheless, it is helpful to examine the history of how we received our present day canon, because it helps confirm our conviction that the decisions made by the early church were correct decisions. One historical fact that is worth noting: Today there are no strong candidates for addition to the canon and there are no strong objections to any book presently in the canon. Even when we examine those writings that some are claiming today should have been included in the canon, we find that they contain teachings that either contradict the Scriptures, are utterly absurd – or both!

Examples Which Demonstrate That the Gnostic Gospels Contradict Scripture And/Or Are Absurd:

The Gospel of Thomas (A.D.140-200):

Contains the following absurd statement: Simon Peter said to them: “Let Mary go away from us, for women are not worthy of life.” Jesus said: “Lo, I shall lead her, so that I may make her a male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself a male will enter the kingdom of heaven” (par.114)

This also flies in the face of clear scriptures which teach that man and woman are both made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and while the scriptures teach that men and women have differing roles in certain areas (e.g. women are not allowed to teach or have spiritual authority over men 1 Tim 2:12) in terms of their standing before God: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28)

The Gospel of Phillip (180-350):

Adam came into being from two virgins, from the Spirit and from the virgin earth. (verse 90) – which contradicts Genesis 2:7

The soul of Adam came into being by means of a breath. The partner of his soul is the spirit. His mother is the thing that was given to him. His soul was taken from him and replaced by a spirit. When he was united (to the spirit), he spoke words incomprehensible to the powers. (verse 87) - which is absurd!

Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman? Mary is the virgin whom no power defiled. (verse 18) – which contradicts Matthew 1:20

Those who say that the Lord died first and (then) rose up are in error, for he rose up first and (then) died. (verse 22) – which contradicts 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

By perfecting the water of baptism, Jesus emptied it of death. Thus we do go down into the water, but we do not go down into death, in order that we may not be poured out into the spirit of the world. When that spirit blows, it brings the winter. When the Holy Spirit breathes, the summer comes. (verse 115) - which is absurd!

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (A.D. 140-170) – not to be confused with the so-called Gospel of Thomas – claims to contain stories about Jesus in his youth. But these stories contradict the character of Jesus making him out to be a hot-tempered murderer, for example:

The son of Annas the scribe was standing there with Jesus. Taking a branch from a willow tree, he dispersed the waters which Jesus had gathered. When Jesus saw what had happened, he became angry and said to him, “You godless, brainless moron, what did the ponds and waters do to you? Watch this now: you are going to dry up like a tree and you will never produce leaves or roots or fruit.” And immediately, this child withered up completely. Then, Jesus departed and returned to Joseph's house. The parents of the one who had been withered up, however, wailed for their young child as they took his remains away. Then, they went to Joseph and accused him, “You are responsible for the child who did this.” (Chapter 3)

This contradicts what the NT teaches that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin . (Heb 4:15)

 

In Summary, all other existing documents that had the any possibility of inclusion in the canon by the early church are similar to these examples in that they either:

  • Not produced in association with an apostle

  • and/or Explicitly contradict the scriptures

  • and/or Include absurd teachings that clearly make them unworthy to be included in the NT.

  

References

1. ^ Dictionary of the Christian Church , J. D. Douglas General Editor, Zondervan Publishing, 1978, Septuagint , p.897
2. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), G.W. Bromiley General Editor , Eerdmans Publishing, 1988, Septuagint , pp. 402-403
3. ^ Ibid. , p.400
4. ^ Ibid. , p.408
5. ^ http://www.kalvesmaki.com/LXX/Images.html
6. ^ http://www.cord.edu/faculty/andersod/rembrandt.html
7. ^ Josh McDowell , Evidence That Demands a Verdict; (1972) pp.37-40 
8. ^ http://www.revelationillustrated.com
9. ^ http://www.religionfacts.com/da_vinci_code/gnostic_gospels.htm
10. ^ http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/lyon-eglise-st-irenee.htm