How We Got Our Bible


CANONICITY: Canonicity in general – Kanōn – (measuring) reed used to see what “measures up”

  1. The canon of Scripture is a collection of authoritative books rather than an authoritative collection of books – i.e., they are not canonical, because they are on the list; they are on the list, because they are canonical.
  2. Note how Ex. 24:7 parallels 1 Cor. 14:37 – authoritativeness was recognized from the very beginning.
  3. Authority precedes canonicity.
  4. The 300 years before the full collecting of the NT canonical books gave them time to set into independent textforms that could not be altered to fit one another in their canonical collection. Ezra’s collecting of the OT canonical books gave them time to set into their independent textforms that could not be altered to fit one another.

The doctrine of God’s providential preservation formed a biblical tradition of these 66 books [24 according to the Hebrew canon and 27 according to Greek canon].

The Hebrew Canon of the OT – Tanach

1. The History canonicity.

Luke 24:44 – Jesus described the Tanach in three sections: Law, Prophets, Psalms [synecdoche for Writings]

The Tanach – The 24 Scrolls:

The Law of Moses – Genesis – Bershith – “In the beginning”

Torah Exodus – We elleh shemoth – “Now these are the names”

Leviticus – Wayyiqra – “And he called”
Numbers – Bemidhbar – “In the wilderness”
Deuteronomy – Elleh haddebharim – “These are the words”

The Prophets: Former – Joshua – Yehoshua

Nebhi’im Judges – Shophetim
Samuel – Shemuel

Kings – Melachim
Latter – Isaiah – Yesha’eyahu
Jeremiah – Yirmeyahu
Ezekiel – Yehezq’el
The Twelve: Hosea – Hoshea’
Joel – Yo’el
Amos – Amos
Obadiah – Obhadya
Jonah – Yona
Micah – Micha
Nahum – Nahum
Habakkuk – Habhaqquq
Zephaniah – Sephanya
Haggai – Haggay
Zechariah – Zecharya
Malachi – Malachi

The Writings: History – Psalms – Tehillim
Kethubhim (Poetry, Job – Iyabh
Books of Truth) Proverbs – Mishle
Megilloth – Ruth – Rut [Pentecost] (5 Scrolls) Song of Solomon – Shir HaShirim – “Song of Song” [Passover] Ecclesiastes – Qoheleth – Assembly leader, preacher [Tabernacles] Lamentations – Icha [destruction of Jerusalem by Nebu. on Ab 9] Esther – Ester [Purim] Narratives – Daniel – Daniy el
(History) Ezra-Nehemiah – Ezre – Nehemya
Chronicles – Dibhre HaYamim – “Words of the Days”

LXX ‘ Koine Greek transl. of Tanach & other early Jewish writings (Apocrypha) 200-100BC as a “bridge” between the Heb. OT & Gk. NT (linguistically and theologically) [and later to become the authorized version of the OT for the Eastern Orthodox Church] – Eng. Translations: 1) The Orthodox Study Bible [], 2) N.E.T.S. by I.O.S.C.S. []

Josephus – “we do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time. [Ruth was combined with Judges, and Lamentations was combined with Jeremiah to form 22.] (Contra Apion, 1.7-8 §§37-39)

English Bible – Law, History, Poetry (Job – S.Sol.), & Prophecy (major: Isa. – Dan. & minor: Hosea – Mal.)

Jamnia – About 100 AD a Jewish council at Jamnia for listed these 24 scrolls not, as a designation but as a confirmation and recognition.

2. Principles of canonicity: The Criteria for the Old Testament Canon:

    1. Authoritative Utterances “Thus says the LORD…” was a first step in being a part of the canon, The Word of God. God gave Moses His Words which he put down in writing (Ex.24:3ff).
    2. Authoritative, Commissioned early Hebrew Messengers – God commissioned prophets who wrote His Word and of His will, so most books are named after the author.
    3. Authoritative Documents – In Deut.31:24-26, Moses wrote God’s words in a book and commanded the Levites to put it in the ark. In Jeremiah 36, the process is described in an example of the writing of Scripture.
    4. Authoritative Collection of Writings – The Torah of Moses was the first to be official collected and acknowledged as a canon. Then the Prophets began to be so recognized, as their ministries were fulfilled. Lastly, the Writings were traditionally read at annual feasts and so became a part.
    5. Use in Jewish Public Reading – In Neh.8:5, Ezra read from The Torah of Moses. Over the centuries in Jewry these 24 scrolls have been consistently recognized and read and providentially preserved.
    6. Analogy of Faith – The OT canon was to have a cohesive theology in a progressive revelation (Rom.12:6).
    7. Languages of Inspiration – Copies needed to be extant in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic which are considered the original languages of inspiration. (Jerome, N/PN Fathers, 6:489-490)
    8. New Testament Quotation – The NT quoted passages from the OT canon as Scripture (Matt.22:29; John 5:39; 10:35). Each book is specifically quoted from (except for Judges, Ruth, Ezra, Esther, and Song of Solomon). In Luke 11:51 Jesus endorsed all of the canon, as also in Mat.23:36.
    9. Fixed Canon – The Septuagint recognized all the Hebrew OT canon and then 7 other additional books. In the preface to Ecclesiasticus in the LXX (about 132 BC), mention is made to the Law, the Prophets, and other books. In Luke 24:44, Jesus spoke of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (the first of The Writings). In Luke 11:51 (Matt.23:36), the reference to Abel and Zacharias are found in Gen.4:10 and 2 Chr. 24:20-21 which are the first and last books in the arrangement in the Hebrew canon. Josephus in Contra Apion (1,8) wrote of 22 books which could be the 24 of the Hebrew canon with some books doubled written from Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes of Persia. The Council of Jamnia (about 90AD) somewhat solidified the canon. Eusebius and Tertullian also wrote of such a canon. Although early on, some scrolls had a difficult time getting in: Esther (with not mention of God nor prayer), Song of Sol., Eccl. (too humanistic), and Ezekiel.
    10. Accuracy in History and Science
      1. History:
      2. Gen.23:10; 25:9; Ex.34:11 the Hittites, as a nation.
      3. Dan.5:30-31 – “King” Belshazzar was conquered by Darius the Mede (a title of Gubara, a viceroy to Cyrus)
      4. Science:
      5. Gen.1:16 – Moon dust being less than 1″ means that it has been gravitationally collected for only thousands of years and not billions of years.
      6. Lev.17:11 – The importance of blood in humans.
      7. Num.19:14 – Microbes cause diseases and need quarintine.
      8. Job 40:15-41:34 describes dinosaurs living during the time in which man did.
      9. Job 26:8 describes clouds, as being actually liquid water.
      10. Job 26:7 – The earth hangs on nothing but floats in a space in an orbit around the sun because of gravity.
      11. Ps.19:6 – The sun in empty space sends forth heat by radiation.
      12. Eccl. 1:7 – The hydrologic cycle.
      13. Is.40:22 – The earth is a circle or sphere which explains Ps.103:12; Pr.8:26; and Lk. 17:34-36.
      14. Is.51:6 – The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy increases with time.
      15. Is.55:9 – There is a vastness in space.
      16. Jer.33:22 – The number of stars is uncountable.
      17. Luke 17:34-36 – This would be possible for a point of time with multiple time-zones.
      18. 1 Cor.15:39 – Man and animals are similar but distinct.
    11. Personal Testimony – As a believer reads through the Hebrew canon of the OT (and the Greek canon of the NT) and then through other books, he or she will sense and find a difference. There is something distinctive and special about the Bible.

3. The OT Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha – written after 200 BC:

(The OT Apocrypha is also called the Anaginoskomena or Deuterocanonical Books and are accepted as canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Church and [most parts] by the Roman Catholic Church but are rejected by most Protestants and Jews.)

Wisdom of Solomon – Sapientia (similar to Prov./Eccl. with Gk. philosophy)

Ecclesiasticus – Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach

Tobit (fictious Jew and spiritism)


1 Esdras (a continuation of Ezra)

2 Esdras

1 Maccabees

2 Maccabees

3 Maccabees

4 Maccabees

Baruch (assistant to Jeremiah)

Letter of Jeremiah

Additions to Esther

Additions to Daniel:

Prayer of Azariah

Song of the Three Young Men


Bel and the Dragon

Prayer of Manasseh

Psalm 151 (details about Goliath)

The Apocrypha was:

Not in the Hebrew nor NT canons (but in the LXX).

Not recognzed by the Council of Jamia.

Not written before 400 BC.

Not historically & geographically accurate.

Not found written in Hebrew but only in Greek (for the most part, although some Hebrew copies were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

Totally doctrinally sound, e.g., 2 Mac.14:41-46 justifies suicide; 2 Mac.12:41-45 teaches of prayers for the dead to save them; Tobit 12:9/Eccles.3:33/2Eds.8:33 teaches of works salvation.

The Pseudepigrapha (Falsely ascribed writings)

Testament of Adam
Life of Adam and Eve
1 & 2 & 3 Enoch (1 Enoch 1:9 [Gk.] “he will come with 10,000 saints”[Jd.14])
Ladder of Jacob (cf. Gen.28:12)
Joseph and Aseneth (cf. Gen.41:45)
Assumption or Testament of Moses (Jd.9 is not described in extant copies but in quotes)
Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah (1:9 & 5:1 executed by being sawn in two – Heb.11:37)
Jannes and Jamabres (cf. 2 Tim.3:8)
More Psalms of David
Psalms of Solomon

The Greek Canon of the New Testament.

1. The History of canonicity.

1.1. The Writing of the NT:

Written during the days of the Book of Acts through 95 AD.
Individual letters were circulated, as in Col.4:16. Peter considered Paul’s letters on the same level as the rest of the Scriptures in 2 Pet.3:15-16.
By 100 to 150 AD, these scrolls were collected and combined into groups and eventually into book form called a codex.
Hand copies were made all over the known world up to the invention of the printing press in the 1500’s.

2. Principles of Canonicity: The Criteria for the New Testament Canon:

The principles of canonicity were that a book of the New Testament was to be Ancient (1st Century), Apostolic (The Apostolic Five), Accepted (writings by the early church fathers on), and Accurate (consistent in progressive revelation).

Origin in the First Century AD – Jude 2 – The Second Temple Period of Judea was the time of the NT days and its writing.
Apostolic Authority – Eph.2:20; Acts 2:42 – Each of the 27 books of our NT canon is related to one of The Apostolic Five: Matthew, Peter (Mark [under Peter’s authority], 1 & 2 Peter), Paul (Luke and Acts [under Paul’s authority], Romans through Philemon, and Hebrews [under Paul’s authority, if not dictation], John (John, 1-3 John, Revelation), and James (James, Jude [under James’ authority]). Note an apostolic awareness by Paul who considered his writings to be authoritative – 1 Cor. 14:37; Gal. 1:6-12; Col. 1:25-26; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6-14; as did John in Rev. 1:1-3; 21:5; and Luke in Luke 1:3.
History of Circulation – A history of reception, circulation, use in public reading, and recopying by the early church solidified a book’s canonicity. Christian writers through 300 AD quote from all 27 books of the NT canon.
Polycarp to the Philippians 12:1 (about 110 AD) 12:1 – For I am confident that you are well versed in the Scriptures, and from you nothing is hid; but to me this is not granted. Only, as it is said in these Scriptures, “Be ye angry and sin not,” and “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Blessed is the man who remembers this, and I believe that it is so with you.

1 Clem. 47:1-3 (about 95 AD) “Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle. What did he first write to you at the beginning of his preaching with true inspiration he charged you”

Analogy of Faith (“comparison with the faith”) The NT canon was to have a cohesive theology in a progressive revelation within itself (Rom. 12:6). Books in the canon would also be consistent with the Hebrew OT canon, albeit with added progressive revelation. Truth is to be self-consistent and non-contradictory, so both canons were to be truth.

Inspiration – A canonical book should give evidence of divine inspiration, both internally and externally, 1 Cor. 12:3, 10; 2 Tim.3:16-17 – Is it useful for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness?
Developmental References – Latter parts of the canon authenticates earlier parts – 2 Pet.3:15-16 – Paul’s Letters; 1 Tim. 5:18 quoting & Luke 10:7 alluding to Deut. 25:4.
Christ-Centered – A canonical book would focus on Jesus Christ directly or indirectly with a consistent “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9-11).
Language of Inspiration – Copies needed to be extant in Koine Greek which was considered the original language of inspiration.
Authenticity being above question in quotation of it by Early Church Writers – Quotations from a book by early Christian writers and lectionaries would add to its canonicity. The early church writers believed, “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Uncial Manuscripts – The earliest manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Ephraemi Rescriptus) contained books represented in the canon.
The Muratorian Fragment – This ancient fragment was discovered by L. A. Muratori in 1740 in the Ambrosian Library in Milan details a listing of NT books (with a few missing: Heb., Jam., 1 & 2 Pet., and 2 & 3 Jn.), [though adding Wisdom of Solomon and Shepherd of Hermas (with qualifications)].
The Fourth Century Church Councils – The Great Church Councils of Latakia (336 AD), Damascus (382 AD), Hippo (393 AD) recognized what amounts to our present day canon for the most part, all 27, and Carthage (397 AD) which fixed the 27 books of the canon.
Early Versions/Translations – 1) Old Syriac (200 AD): all but 2 Pet.; 2 & 3 Jn.; Jd.; & Rev.; 2) Old Latin (200 AD): all but 2 Pet.; Jam.; & Heb.
Personal Testimony – In reading through the canon and reading through books outside of the canon, a believer will sense and notice a difference. There is something special about the books of the NT canon.

Books often questioned about being in the NT canon:

2 Pet. – so different in style to the apostolic 1 Peter

Heb. – the author is not given

2 & 3 John – so short and different than the apostolic 1 John

James – so sharp of a contrast to Paul’s letters

Jude & Rev. – too apocalyptic.

3. The Apostolic Fathers:

J. B. Lightfoot noted in his edition of The Apostolic Fathers, “Their style is loose; there is a want of arrangement in their topics and an absence of system in their teaching. On the one hand they present a marked contrast to the depth and clearness of conception with which the several Apostolic writers place before us different aspects of the Gospel”. On the other [hand] they lack the scientific spirit which distinguished the fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries, and enabled them to formulate the doctrines of the faith as a bulwark against lawless speculation.” (AF 1.1.7)

R. M. Grant noted, “Historically” the writings of the Apostolic Fathers are different from many New Testament books. None of them, as far as we know, wrote a gospel or produced a treatise like Romans or Ephesians. But the extent of the difference can be exaggerated. The Apostolic Fathers were often concerned with practical problems to a degree greater than that reflected in the New Testament books. They were not apostles like Paul, journeying through the Greco-Roman world in order to proclaim the gospel – though Ignatius provides a partial exception; they were entrusted with the less exciting, but sometimes more burdensome, task of ministering to congregations that the apostles had brought into existence.” The Apostolic Fathers 1: An Introduction (New York: 1964).

1 Clement [The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians]

2 Clement [An Ancient Christian Sermon]

The Letters of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, to the Ephesians, the Magnesians, the Trallians, the Romans, the Philadelphians, the Smyrnaeans, and Polycarp.

Polycarp to the Philippians

Martyrdom of Polycarp

The Didache [The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles]

Epistle of Barnabas

Shepherd of Hermas

Epistle of Diognetus

Fragments of Papias

4. NT Apocrypha [ or Pseudepigrapha (Falsely ascribed writings)]

1) Pseudo-Jesus apocrypha – The Epistles of Jesus to Abgarus

2) Pseudo-apostolic (general) apocrypha

2.1 Teachings of the Twelve Apostles (Didache)
2.2 Epistle of the Apostles

3) Pseudo-apostolic (specific – by Apostle) apocrypha

3.1 – Andrew –

3.1.1 Acts of Andrew
3.1.2 Acts of Andrew and Matthias*

3.2 – Barnabas –

3.2.1 Acts of Barnabas*
3.2.2 Epistle of Barnabas
3.2.3 Gospel of Barnabas

3.3 – Bartholomew –

3.3.1 Gospel of Bartholomew
3.3.2 Martyrdom of Bartholomew*

3.4 – James –

3.4.1 Apocryphon of James
3.4.2 Book of James (protevangelium)
3.4.3 First Apocalypse of James
3.4.4 Second Apocalypse of James

3.5 – John –

3.5.1 Acts of John
3.5.2 Acts of John the Theologian*
3.5.3 Apocryphon of John (long version)
3.5.4 Book of John the Evangelist
3.5.5 Revelation of John the Theologian*

3.6 – Mark – Secret Gospel of Mark

3.7 – Matthew –

3.7.1 Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew the Apostle*
3.7.2 The Martyrdom of Matthew

3.8 – Nicodemus – Gospel (Acts) of Nicodemus (aka The Acts of Pontius Pilate)

3.9 – Peter –

3.9.1 Acts of Peter
3.9.2 Acts of Peter and Andrew
3.9.3 Apocalypse of Peter – version 1
3.9.4 Apocalypse of Peter – version 2
3.9.5 Gospel of Peter
3.9.6 Letter of Peter to Philip

3.10 – Philip –

3.10.1 Acts of Philip
3.10.2 Gospel of Philip

3.11 – Thaddeus –

3.11.1 Acts of Thaddeus (Epistles of Pontius Pilate)*
3.11.2 Teaching of Thaddeus

3.12 – Thomas –

3.12.1 Acts of Thomas
3.12.2 Apocalypse of Thomas
3.12.3 Book of Thomas the Contender
3.12.4 Consumation of Thomas
3.12.5 Gospel of Thomas

4. Pseudo-Pauline apocrypha

4.1 3 Corinthians
4.2 Acts 29
4.3 Acts of Paul
4.4 Acts of Paul and Thecla (see below)
4.5 Acts of Peter and Paul*
4.6 Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena
4.7 Apocalypse of Paul
4.8 Apocalypse of Paul – other version
4.9 Epistle to the Laodiceans
4.10 Revelation of Paul*
4.11 Paul and Seneca

5) Infancy Gospels apocrypha

5.1 Arabic Infancy Gospel
5.2 First Infancy Gospel of Jesus Christ
5.3 Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew
5.4 Infancy Gospel of Thomas – Greek A
5.5 Infancy Gospel of Thomas – Greek B
5.6 Infancy Gospel of Thomas – Latin

6. Relatives of Jesus apocrypha

6.1 Gospel of Mary
6.2 Gospel of the Nativity of Mary
6.3 Book of John concerning the dormition of Mary (transitus mariæ)*
6.4 History of Joseph the Carpenter*
6.5 Narrative of Joseph of Arimathaea

7. Sub-canonical (disputed canon) apocrypha

Gospel of the Lord (Marcion)

8. Other significant Epistles and pseudomynous writings and apocrypha

8.1 Avenging of the Saviour
8.2 Epistles of Pontius Pilate
8.3 Letter of Aristeas
8.4 Sentences of the Sextus
8.5 Alexandrians
8.6 Revelations of Stephen

9. Fragments of lost apocryphal books

9.1 Gospel of the Ebionites
9.2 Gospel of the Egyptians
9.3 Egerton Gospel (Egerton Papyrus 2)*
9.4 Gospel of the Hebrews
9.5 Traditions of Mattias
9.6 Gospel of the Nazaraeans
9.7 Preaching of Peter

10. Apostolic Constitutions (Didascalia Apostolorum)

11. Psuedo-Sibylline Oracles



1. In their journey from there they came into a desert country and were told it was infested with robbers; so Joseph and St. Mary prepared to pass through it in the night.
2. And as they were going along, behold they saw two robbers asleep in the road, and with them a great number of robbers who were their confederates, also asleep.
3. The names of these two were Titus and Dumachus; and Titus said to Dumachus, I implore you, let these persons go along quietly, so that our company may not perceive anything of them:
4. But Dumachus refused, and Titus again said, I will give you forty groats, and as a pledge take my girdle, which he gave him before he had done speaking, so that he might not open his mouth or make a noise.
5. When the Lady St. Mary saw the kindness which this robber showed them, she said to him, The Lord God will receive you to his right hand and grant you pardon of your sins.
6. Then the Lord Jesus answered and said to his mother, When thirty years are expired, O mother, the Jews will crucify me at Jerusalem;
7. And these two thieves shall be with me at the same time upon the cross, Titus on my right hand, and Dumachus on my left, and from that time Titus shall go before me into paradise:

1. And when the Lord Jesus was seven years of age, he was on a certain day with other boys his companions about the same age.

Dr. Talmage says: “Christ was the joyous boy of the fields. We are not permitted to think that the shadows of Calvary darkened His pathway as a youth, and the Apocryphal Books of the New Testament show a great deal of the early life of Christ not to be found in the four Evangelists.”

2. Who at play made clay into several shapes, namely, asses, oxen, birds, and other figures.
3. Each boasting of his work and endeavoring to exceed the rest.
4. Then the Lord Jesus said to the boys, I will command these figures which I have made to walk.
5. And immediately they moved, and when he commanded them to return, they returned.
6. He had also made the figures of birds and sparrows, which, when he commanded to fly, did fly, and when he commanded to stand still, did stand still; and if he gave them meat and drink, they did eat and drink.
7. When at length the boys went away and related these things to their parents, their fathers said to them, Take heed, children, for the future, of his company, for he is a sorcerer; shun and avoid him, and from now on never play with him.

What one thinks of this depends on one’s beliefs about the powers of a seven-year-old Christ.

8. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] On a certain day also, when the Lord Jesus was playing with the boys, and running about, he passed by a dyer’s shop, whose name was Salem.
9. And in his shop were many pieces of cloth belonging to the people of that city, which they designed to dye of several colors.
10. Then the Lord Jesus went into the dyer’s shop, took all the clothes, and threw them into the furnace.
11. When Salem came home and saw the cloths spoiled, he began to make a great noise and to chide the Lord Jesus, saying,
12. What have you done to me, O son of Mary? You have injured both me and my neighbors; they all desired their cloths of a proper color; but you have come and spoiled them all.
13. The Lord Jesus replied, I will change the color of every cloth to what color you desire;
14. And then he presently began to take the cloths out of the furnace, and they were all dyed of those same colors which the dyer desired.
15. And when the Jews saw this surprising miracle, they praised God.

[La Brosse’s Persic Lexicon cites Persian legends that relate Christ’s working this miracle with the colors and claim he practiced the trade of a dyer, and for that reason Persian dyers honor him as their patron and call a dye-house the shop of Christ.]


1:1 When Paul went up to Iconium, after his flight from Antioch, Demas and Hermogenes became his companions, who were then full of hypocrisy.

1:2 But Paul looking only at the goodness of God, did them no harm, but loved them greatly.

1:3 Accordingly he endeavoured to make agreeable to them all the oracles and doctrines of Christ, and the design of the Gospel of God’s well-beloved Son, instructing them in the knowledge of Christ, as it was revealed to him.

1:4 And a certain man named Onesiphorus, hearing that Paul was come to Iconium, went out speedily to meet him, together with his wife Lectra, and his sons Simmia and Xeno, to invite him to their house.

1:5 For Titus had given them a description of Paul’s personage, they as yet not knowing him in person, but only being acquainted with his character.

1:6 They went in the king’s highway to Lystra, and stood there waiting for him, comparing all who passed by, with that description which Titus had given them.

1:7 At length they saw a man coming (namely Paul), of a low stature, bald (or shaved) on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow-eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace; for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the countenance of an angel. And Paul saw Onesiphorus, and was glad.