197 - How Did the Bible Come into Existence?
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Monday, July 18 2011 21:02|
Every day people purchase a staggering number of Bibles. In fact, more sell in a day--up to 250,000 copies-than the typical best-selling novel sells in a whole year!
Why is that? Because no other book even remotely approaches the Bible's power to satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. We pick up the Bible when life doesn't seem to make any sense. We pick it up when we feel lonely. Or empty. We pick it up when we just need to know Someone cares about us, personally, without having to perform.
One way to increase our confidence about the trustworthiness of the Bible is to know how it came into existence.
Where Did the Old Testament Come From?
How did the particular books in our Old Testament make it into the canon? That was pretty much based on common usage and widespread authority. "For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath" (Acts 15:21).
The Bible of Jesus
It's pretty clear that Jesus and the disciples had a Bible--the Old Testament. In fact, some of Jesus' quotations of the Old Testament match the Septuagint version, which means that Jesus felt comfortable using a translation.
Where Did the New Testament Come From?
After the death of Jesus, His disciples transmitted information about Him orally for about 30 years--"oral tradition." However, Christianity was growing into a powerful force. By 70 AD they couldn't keep up. So they started to write about His life and teachings, and also about the early church. Luke, who penned a gospel and also Acts, put it this way:
Toward the end of the first century, a collection of Christian writings took shape and circulated among the churches. Not all, however, were canonical. For example, during the Roman persecution, when their oppressors demanded that Christians hand over their Scriptures, some surrendered the Shepherd of Hermas (not "quite" canonical) but hid their "real" Bibles.
The four gospels as we know them--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--emerged winners. They received wide circulation, along with Acts as did the writings of Paul, which were collected into a single body of work. Churches also began to archive copies of Paul's epistles. So a fixed list was starting to be recognized.
Pat Morley is the Founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror.