CANONIZATION; How The Bible Was Compiled into what we have now

The Bible is a religious text that is held in high regard by Christians all over the globe. It includes the Old and New Testaments, which provide a comprehensive account of Christianity’s history, beliefs, and practices. However, the process of Scriptural canonization was not simple, and it took several centuries to arrive at the final list of books that we have today.

What is Canonization?

Canonization is the process of determining which books will be included in the official collection of sacred texts. The word “canon” comes from the Greek word kanon, which means “rule” or “standard.” In the context of the Bible, it refers to books that are considered authoritative and inspired by God.

The Old Testament Canonization

The Old Testament canonization process started in the fifth century BCE and was completed in the second century CE. Before the Christian era, the Jewish people had established a canon of sacred texts that included the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Jewish community regarded these writings written in Hebrew and Aramaic as authoritative.

The early Christians inherited the Jewish Scriptures and supplemented them with their works, which became the New Testament. The Christian canon, on the other hand, was not universally accepted, and various Christian communities had different collections of books that they deemed authoritative.

The New Testament Canonization

The New Testament canonization process started in the second century CE and was completed in the fourth century CE. Many books and letters were written by the early Christians, some of which were deemed authoritative by some groups but not by others. Over time, it became clear which books were genuinely inspired by God and should be included in the official collection.

The criteria for New Testament canonization included;

  • Apostolic authorship
  • Orthodoxy and
  • Extensive use in Christian society.

A book had to be penned by an Apostle or a close associate of an Apostle to meet the apostolic authorship criterion. The orthodoxy criterion required that a book adheres to the early Christian church’s beliefs. The criterion of widespread use required that a book be widely accepted and used by the Christian society

The Councils that Established the Canon

The canonization procedure was not a single event, but rather a series of debates and discussions that lasted several centuries. The Council of Hippo in 393 CE and the Council of Carthage in 397 CE were important meetings in the canonization of the Bible. These councils affirmed the books that the Christian community had already widely accepted as authoritative and set the final list of books that we have today.

Conclusion

To summarize, the canonization of the Bible was a complex and time-consuming procedure that took centuries to complete. The criteria for the canonization of the Old and New Testaments were similar, but the procedure for each was different. The final list of books that we have today is the result of a consensus among the Christian community that developed over time, and it has been venerated as a sacred text for over a millennium. "...holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" – 2 Peter 1:21b. The Bible is still relevant in our days because each book was inspired by God.

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