Where did the Christian Bible come from?

The convenient “package” of sacred scriptures that we call the Bible did not suddenly appear during the time of the apostles. Numerous Gospels, Epistles, Revelations, and other writings were originally part of the New Testament in various times and places. One might find it strange to know that some of these books are no longer included in our Bibles.

But why were these writings removed from the New Testament? Were they suppressed by Constantine or a politicized church? Was there a secret conspiracy to hide certain writings from Christians?

The long and complicated history of the New Testament is an intriguing subject. I came across an essay that I have “borrowed” by Fr. James Bernstein, a Jewish convert to the Christian faith who was one of the founding members of Jews for Jesus. He briefly tells his story of converting from Judaism to Christianity in his teenage years, and then discusses his in depth journey into historical records to find out where we got our New Testament. It is a long, but worthwhile read, especially for anyone who has had questions regarding the validity or historical merit of the New Testament:


By Fr. James Bernstein

As a Jewish convert to Christ via evangelical Protestantism, I naturally wanted to know God better through the reading of the Scriptures. In fact, it had been through reading the Gospels in the “forbidden book” called the New Testament, at age sixteen, that I had come to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our promised Messiah. In my early years as a Christian, much of my religious education came from private Bible reading. Continue reading Where did the Christian Bible come from?

The Bible as a magical dinner plate

I’ve never been one to cook very much, in fact, my wife teases me about how I must think that food magically appears on the table in front of me.  We then joke that when we go out to eat, she loves to partake in the magic of food just suddenly appearing on a plate in front of her after she puts in her order.

I have found that we Christians frequently treat the Bible in this manner.  We just have this book that magically appears in front of us, all polished and pretty with gold letters and leather binding.  Few of us stop to wonder: how did we get this book of holy scriptures?

In answer to that question, most Christians would quickly exclaim, “Oh! I know!  It came from Greek and Hebrew sources written thousands of years ago.  And really smart scholars translated it into English.”

But even in that answer there is this element of magic.  How did all of these books come together to form the Bible?  Was there a primordial, biblical soup of thousands of writings and whichever ones congealed together were the ones we stuck with?

Lately I have been learning a great amount regarding the Bible, and especially the New Testament.  Contrary to popular belief, the mission of the apostles was not to write a Bible, but to build the Church, the Bride of Christ as guided by the Holy Spirit.  The Bible we have now took hundreds of years of discussion before finally being canonized in its present form(s).

In fact, the Church is not a product of the Bible, but the Bible is a product of the Church.  After hundreds of years of tradition and teachings being passed down from the disciples through the Church Fathers, we finally received the Bible we have today.

***Update***

I have completed a nine-part series of short posts that discuss briefly the history of the church and the canonization of the Bible.  It begins at the ascension of Jesus and goes through the Protestant Reformation and into today.  It also addresses sola scriptura arguments.  You can view the introductory post and outline here.