Canon, Origin and Divisions
9. How was the canon of
the Bible formed?
a. Principles for determining which books are in the canon:
b. OT (39 books): widely accepted
by the Jews who followed Ezra in exposition of the Law (Neh 9-10) and formed
an assembly responsible for recognition and preservation of OT canon, Great
Synagogue in 5th to 3rd century BC.
c. NT (27 books): accepted by Church
Fathers (whole NT quoted except 11 verses), confirmed by church councils
at Laodicea (AD 363), and at Carthage (AD 397).
d. Apocrypha (15 books):
authoritative -- speak with
authority as if "God spoke" (Mk 1:22)
prophetic -- written by man
of God (such as the apostles) (2Pe 1:20-21; Gal 1:1)
authentic or truthful -- historical
accuracies and moral congruities
dynamic -- transforming force
for edification (2Ti 3:16) and evangelization (1Pe 1:23)
accepted or received by the
people of God, confirmed by church councils -- subjective testimony of
the Holy Spirit
meaning "hidden", hard to understand
contained in the Alexandrian Canon
(Gr) as opposed to the Palestinian Canon (Heb)
written mostly between 200 BC and AD
rejected by the early church and Protestants
some unbiblical teachings, e.g. prayers
for the dead, salvation by works
fanciful stories, morality based on
historical and chronological errors
of historical value and some devotional
accepted by the Roman Catholic Church
as part of the Bible
Why is it not possible to add more books to the Bible?
a. Bible verses that infer the
closure of the canon:
b. Decision by the universal Church:
Jude 3: "the faith which was
for all entrusted to the saints"; this verse written after all NT books
Rev 22:18-19: John warned against adding
to or taking from "the prophecy of this book"
Council of Carthage (AD 397): Both
OT and NT were prescribed as the limit of the canon and the churchís final
authority. No other writings, synods, councils, or bishops could assert
another or new authority.
There are no more prophetic or apostolic
spokesmen for God recognized by the universal Church.
a. Old Testament
Not even a single original manuscript is available; what then is the origin
of our present Bible?
b. New Testament
Masoretic text: copies of the original
OT books with vowel points added and text standardized by Masoretes (Jewish
scribes) during 5th to 10th century AD.
7 manuscripts (hand-written copies)
left, the only complete OT is Leningrad Codex (AD 1008). Jews destroyed
all pages even with one single error and thus only a few were left but
all with very high accuracy.
Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947-56
dated from 2nd century BC to 1st century AD. They provide an overwhelming
confirmation of accuracy of the Masoretic text.
c. Chapters and verses were not
in the original Bible. They were added in 1551 & 1555. The first complete
Bible using them was the Geneva Bible in 1560.
d. Why didnít God preserve the original
There are over 5000 manuscripts from
2nd to 15th century containing different parts of the NT. Standard text
is derived from the comparison of manuscripts.
Textus Receptus (1624) -- used in translating
KJV, but not based on the best manuscripts
Critical text (1881) -- more accurate
(edited by Westcott and Hort)
one possible reason: to prevent manís
tendency to worship religious relics (see example of Israelites worshipping
the brazen serpent made by Moses in 2Ki 18:4).
What are the main divisions of the Bible?
a. Hebrew Bible: 3 divisions, 22
books (Lk 24:44)
b. Traditional Christian divisions:
(1) OT: theme: the Hebrew nation through
whom God was to bless all nations (Gen 12:1-3)
Law (Torah) -- Genesis to Deuteronomy
Prophets -- Joshua, Judges (+Ruth),
Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah (+Lamentations), Ezekiel, the Twelve (minor
prophets) (8 books)
Writings -- Psalms, Proverbs, Job,
Song of Songs, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles
(2) NT: theme: salvation available
for all nations through the church
Law [Genesis to Deuteronomy]: moral
life of Israel (Gen-God chose, Ex-God redeemed, Lev-God sanctified, Nu-God
guided, Dt-God instructed)
History [Joshua to Esther]: national
life of Israel
Poetry [Job to Song of Songs]: spiritual
life of Israel
Prophets [Isaiah to Malachi]: prophetic
or Messianic life of Israel
c. Based on the central theme
of the Bible: Jesus Christ (Lk 24:44):
(1) OT: 4 divisions:
Gospels [Matthew to John]: historical
manifestation of Christ
Acts [Acts]: propagation of faith in
Epistles [Romans to Jude]: interpretation
of Christís person and work
Revelation [Revelation]: all things
summed up in Christ
(2) NT: 4 divisions:
look (5 books)
look (12 books)
look (5+12 books)
d. Complementarity of the two
The New is in the Old contained and
the Old is in the New explained.
OT revealed in NT; NT veiled in OT.
look (4 books)
look (1 book)
and Application of Christ
look (1 book)