One of the first questions we often ask ourselves (or should ask ourselves) when reading any non-fiction book is — who is this author and is he or she an authority on the subject. The author’s credibility is most often linked to his or her qualifications to speak on the subject and our willingness to believe him/her.
So what do we do with the 40 writers of the Bible?
This was not an easy question, neither for those "canonizers" of the Old Testament and even more so for those of the New. Both, however, started from the same point—that the ultimate author of the Bible was God: All Scripture is breathed out by God . . . (2 Timothy 3:16). From there, it was a mater of creating a “measuring stick” (canon in the Greek) by which to test each book.
Though little is written about the canonization of the Old Testament, there seemed to be universal acceptance of those books included, primarily because of the care the scribes compiling the canon took into account:
*The reputation of each book’s human author
*Doctrines and statements within a given manuscript that conflict with the clear teachings of established biblical writings
*Historical inaccuracies and/or spurious prophetic utterances that would cast a shadow of doubt on a manuscript
*A book’s widespread acceptance or rejection by respected scholars
Even the Jewish historian Josephus mentions these books as “containing the history of all time, books that are justly believed in.” (Process of deciding the Old Testament canon)
The New Testament canon took a bit more time, going through four councils until the “measuring stick” was ultimately decided in AD 393:
*First, each book was written by an apostle or one closely associated with an apostle.
*Second, the contents of these books were revelatory in nature.
*Third, these books were universally recognized by the church in their teaching and preaching ministry.
*Fourth, these books were considered inspired because they bore the marks of inspiration. (Canon)
Again, many would argue against the Bible as being divine because of the difficulty in agreeing on what books should be included and because of their fallible human authors. But, as always, we must come back to the truth of the matter. Who is the ultimate author? And as one source said. “The human process of collecting the books of the Bible was flawed, but God, in His sovereignty, and despite our ignorance and stubbornness, brought the early church to the recognition of the books He had inspired.” (How was the canon . . .)
Join me next week for the final CRAAP criteria—Purpose.