Is the Bible – The Eternal Word of God just a fable? Is it accurate? How did the 66 Books be chosen for inclusion in the Holy Scriptures? Read on….
The 66 BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
How Did They Decide Which Books to Include in the Bible?
The Jewish Bible has 39 books, most Protestant Bibles have 66 and the Catholic Bible includes 73 books. There seems to be a disagreement, but it is really a difference of definition. Of course, the Jews do not have the New Testament because they do not accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The Protestants and Catholics only have differences over part the Old Testament. Their dispute is over the canon or the list of the books they think should be included in the Holy Scriptures.
It is said that at the end of the first century, the Jewish rabbis in the councils of Jamnia (90 and 118 A.D) agreed on which of the Hebrew books they felt were to be considered authoritative. In reality, they were only confirming what had already been accepted by centuries of public opinion among the faithful.(Scholars increasingly question whether any such Jamnia councils ever took place at all) We do know that after the this time period, questions as to which books should be officially included in the Old Testament seem no longer considered to be of any consequence.
Four requirements were thought to be considered in their deliberations about which books to include:
- the book must come within the period to be considered inspired, since prophetic inspiration was thought to have started with Moses and ended with Ezra;
- what was presented in the books must be in harmony with the Law (the first five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy);
- the language of the original book should be Hebrew;
- and the book should be written within the geographical limits of Palestine. On this basis it is supposed that the books of the Old Testament were chosen for the Palestinian Canon of Scriptures.
- the book should be written by an apostle or by a person with such a close relationship with the early Church leaders that the book would be of an apostolic caliber:
- the book was to give clear evidence that it was divinely inspired;
- the book was to be universally accepted by the Church;
- the contents of the book were to be in harmony with other scripture and of a high spiritual nature. The Third Council of Carthage in 397 A.D. seems to have agreed that the 27 books of the New Testament we have today measured up for use in the Church.
"It is a remarkable fact that no early Church Council selected the books that should constitute the New Testament Canon. The books that we now have crushed out all rivals, not by any adventitious authority, but by their own weight and worth," so says Henry Thiessen Ph.D in his book Introduction to the New Testament.
In the Catholic Church during the 5th century A.D., a scholar named Jerome urged that books that did not make the Hebrew Old Testament canon should be regarded as not measuring up. He felt they should not be used for Christian doctrine but it might be that they were suitable for supplemental reading for an inspirational or uplifting purpose. However, during the Roman Catholic Church's Council of Trent in 1546, the books of the Old Testament Apocrypha which Jerome spoke against, were declared sacred and acceptable. This then increased by 13 the number of books in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible and increased the overall number to 73.
It should be made clear that Protestants believe that God's word, as written in books, is self-authenticating. By means of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, people know when they read books what was and was not inspired. In other words, the very content of the book speaks for itself, that is to say, God's Holy Word did not need a group of scholars to declare it acceptable. The councils merely agreed with what had already been accepted.
For Further Study Introduction to the New Testament, Henry Thiessen, Ph.D, William Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p.10 "Canon of the N.T." The Origin of the Bible, Editor: Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois. Guide to the Old Testament, Merrill F. Unger, Zondervan Publishing,Grand Rapids, Michigan .pp.72 and 85" Jamnia"
Matthew 24:14 - And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world and then the end will come.
The Jesus Predictions listed below are but a few examples.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the Old Testament Prophets of God predicted with accuracy His birth, Ministry and the manner of His death.
The Jesus Predictions:
|Birthplace||Micah 5:2||Matt 2:1|
|Mother||Isaiah 7:14||Matt 1:18-23|
|Tribe||Genesis 49:10||Hebrews 7:14|
|Family||Isaiah 11:1||Rev 22:16|
|Flee to Egypt||Hosea 11:1||Matt 2:13-15|
|Time||Daniel 9:25||Mark 1:14, 15|
|Work||Isaiah 61:1-3||Luke 4:16-21|
|A Prophet||Deut 18:15||Acts 7:37|
|Light bearer||Isaiah 9:1, 2||Matt 4:12-16|
|Healer||Isaiah 53:4||Matt 12:12-21|
|Teach in parables||Psalm 78:2||Matt 13:34, 35|
|Shepherd||Isaiah 40:11||John 10:14|
|Rejection||Psalm 69:8||John 1: 10, 11|
|Saviour||Isaiah 49:4-6||Rev 7:9|
|Triumphant Entry||Zech 9:9||Matt 21:1-11|
|Betrayed||Psalm 41:9; & 55:12, 13||John13:18,19, 26|
|Price sold||Zech 11:12||Matt 26:14-16|
|Money used||Zech 11:13||Matt 27:3-8|
|Spat upon||Isaiah 50:6||Matt 26:67|
|Hit with stick||Micah 5:1||Matt 27:30|
|Silence||Isaiah 53:7||Matt 27:12-14|
|Forsaken||Zech 13:7||Matt 26:31|
|Manner of death||Zech 12:10||John 19:18|
|Wounds||Psalm 22:10||John 20:25|
|Criminals||Isaiah 53:13||Mark 15:27, 28|
|Taunted||Psalm 22:7, 8||Matt 27:39,41-44|
|Agonizing cry||Psalm 22:1||Matt 27:46|
|Prayer||Isaiah 53:12||Luke 23:34|
|Drink offered||Psalm 69:21||John 19:28-30|
|Garments||Psalm 22:1||John 19:23, 24|
|No broken bones||Exodus 12:46||John 19:36|
|Burial||Isaiah 53:9||Matt 27:57-60|
|Resurrection||Psalm 16:10||Acts 2:30, 31|
|Third day||Hosea 6:2||Mark 8:31|
|Ascension||Psalm 24:7-10||1 Peter 3:22|
|Priesthood||Zech 6:13||Hebrews 8:1, 2|
Source: Signs of the Times 12/98 Pages 24 & 25.
God is keen to let His children know His plans for the future. He has revealed it to us, to strengthen our faith and trust, in Him.
Note the following verse:
Amos 3:7 - Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, unless He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets.