Part I Part II
How the Biblical Canon Was Chosen
The canon of the Bible was not chosen overnight.
Decisions about which books were "in" and which books were "out" in relation to today's Bible usually were not made by a single group of people at a single point of history.
Stages of Canonization
Canonization (selection of which books were put in the Bible) was a process that went through several stages and took many centuries. These stages were not separate but sometimes overlapped:
- Composition (manuscripts were written either as a recording of oral stories and teachings or as original documents)
- Community (manuscripts were read, circulated, and revised within the religious communities)
- Criteria (certain manuscripts became accepted as authoritative scripture within the religious communities-- different groups accepted different scriptures)
- Collection (scriptures were gathered together in single scrolls, codices, and later in books-- the physical manner of collecting scriptures also had an influence on canonical decisions)
- Canon (a defined group of scriptures in a single collection became accepted by a certain religious community as The Bible-- different groups chose different canons)
Read an excerpt "Canon Formation" from
The Bible: The Book that Bridges the Millennia to understand
further the process of selection of books for the biblical canon.
Choosing the canon that makes up the
Bible was not an easy thing. Accounts in Scripture hint at the
early church problems, debates, and different interpretations:
1 Timothy 6:3-4
2 Peter 2
2 John 2
- What are some of the
interpretations of Scripture that people still debate
- What influences or affects a persons interpretation of Scripture?
- What issues would have affected the debates, interpretations, and choosing of the canon?
Next: Whose Canon? Which Bible? Protestants tend to think there is only one Bible--ours.