How did we come by 66 books instead of 73? I know you said it is written through man by God so why do we not follow and read all 73 books? Love your podcasts, all 3 of them. They have helped me learn and come closer to God. They have also helped me figure out what I like to hear in a church. How did God put the canon of scripture in place?
So in the Catholic Bible, you have additional books: Baruch, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Tobit, and Wisdom. The Protestant church does not canonize those books.
Canon means rule, read, or staff; we might consider it a yardstick. The canon is not recognized by 70 men that sit around to decide what the Bible is and isn’t. No man recognized the canon God put in place.
Dr. J. I. Packer said, “The church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity.” He discovered gravity, but it had always been there. Now, there are several principles to consider when discussing canonicity or how we know a book is supposed to be in the Bible.
Defining Marks of The Canon of Scripture
The first thing to note is whether or not the writer identifies themself as one recognized and called by God. We use a big term called inspiration from 2 Timothy 3:16. The idea carried in this passage is represented by the word Theopneustos, meaning ‘God-breathed.’ The Bible has authors (Paul, Isaiah, etc.), but every book is ultimately written by the Author, God. Therefore, we also need to look for language similarities throughout the books.
The third thing to note is the presence of a Biblical theological construct working across the books. The ideas and beliefs need to be consistent, not contradictory. Something less important, but still helpful, to consider is whether the church has confirmed the books over the ages. The so-called apocryphal books the Catholics include have several issues that were not accepted. Catholic reformers had different opinions over some of these books.
We have lots of different fragments of the New Testament. For example, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, there were tiny pieces of paper called lectionary. It’s been said that we have 120% of the New Testament because we have all these shards and fragments. When you read the manuscripts, one might say ‘the Kingdom of God’ or ‘the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus’. Still, one might say ‘the Kingdom of Christ.’ If we look at 10 of those, we need to see if the different wording impacts the theology or accuracy.
But ultimately, the so-called apocryphal books do not align with these individual prophets or apostles. They don’t align biblically and theologically, and they don’t sometimes align with geography and the timestamp on when the documents were found. Nevertheless, we can learn things from them, like from a classic book; God recognized the canon of Scripture; Humans simply identified the books.
The Bottom Line
Don’t ask the Bible to answer a question it doesn’t. When we wonder about the unknown years of Jesus, we must remember that Scripture doesn’t tell us about them for a reason. We have to live with that tension in this life. The first step across the threshold, all these questions will be dismissed out of hand because we’ll be with the person of Jesus Christ. The things of the earth won’t matter anymore. It’ll be such an explosive experience to meet your Savior without minds burdened by sin and selfishness, and we’ll wonder why we ever cared about what Jesus did from zero to 12.
Find more episodes of Ask Dr. E here.
Call or text us your question at 615-281-9694 or email at email@example.com.