Can the Bible Be Trusted?

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Can The Bible Be Trusted?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Who decided which books to include in the Bible?

I grew up believing that the Bible could be trusted. I had my own copy called Good News for Modern Man. It featured the New Testament with line drawing illustrations.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I started to read the full Bible, including the Old Testament. I don’t always like what the Old Testament says, but I continue to read it and study it because Jesus did.

Who wrote the Bible?

As a child, I thought the Bible was written by one person. But as I began to study it, I learned that there were a number of people who contributed letters, poetry, stories, and prophetic writings.

These were originally written on scrolls of parchment, papyrus, or leather, as opposed to being included in “books” as we think of them today.

In 2013, I took a trip to Israel and visited the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. They discovered thousands of scrolls of parchment and papyrus, written between the third century BCE to the first century of the Common Era.

This was an exceptional find as scrolls could be up to 30 feet long and then rolled up from both ends. Because they dated back so close to the time of Christ, they are considered honest records of the Bible.

The people who wrote these scrolls included laymen, scholars, prophets, and historians. The Gospels themselves were written by a tax collector (Matthew), a scribe (Mark), a doctor (Luke), and a fisherman (John).

The scrolls that were collected into what we know today as “the Christian Bible” were written on three separate continents, in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) over the span of an estimated 1,500–1,600 years.

Which books were included in the Bible?

The scrolls (or books) that were collected and considered authoritative became known as “canonical”.

The Old Testament was already accepted as a fixed canon when Jesus was born (year 0 AD). Jesus, Himself, knew these scriptures and even quoted from them. Christians didn’t need to make their own canon of Old Testament books but used the same scriptures as what the Jewish people accepted as the Word of God.

Christians considered Jesus’ own teachings and deeds to be authoritative and accepted them in the New Testament as recorded by His apostles and disciples. All of the documents were written in the first century and are considered reliable accounts.

Who decided which books to include in the Bible?

The books went through centuries of theological discussion and debate by the early church leaders to decide which books to include.

But it wasn’t until 367 AD — based on the consensus of a large group of religious authorities — the bishop of Alexandria named the books that are currently accepted by Christians as the authoritative canon. And from 382–397 AD, various church councils recognized these as the New Testament.

Early Christians used a codex which was different from the scroll. It was made with papyrus sheets or animal skins and written on both sides. They began to look more like books than scrolls as they were able to order the books in a bound volume. The original manuscripts had no chapters or verses and these were added later for ease of reading and reference.

What criteria were used for a book to be included in the Bible?

There were many books that did not make it into the Bible as they didn’t meet the criteria used by early church leaders. The three criteria were:

  1. Authorship
    Was it believed to have been written by an apostle or someone close to them?
  2. Antiquity
    Were the books written between 33 AD and 100 AD, known as the Apostolic Era?
  3. Orthodoxy
    How well did the doctrine conform with what the apostles taught orally or wrote when they were still alive?

In 1450, the first printed Bible, known as The Gutenberg Bible, contained the Latin version of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament.

In 1611, the King James Bible was published.

In 2023, I can read my Bible on my smartphone.

Given the history, the authors, and the criteria I believe the Bible can be trusted. It is the Word of God, and I believe that God Himself inspired its writing.

You may also like 3 Reasons I Believe the Bible to Be True
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