Who gave the world the Bible?
Catholic Bible 101 put forth the following question and answer:
Does the Bible come from the Church, or does the Church come from the Bible?
The answer is that the Church gave the world the Bible. The Bible does not exist apart from the church, nor does the Church exist apart from the Bible. The Church was established by Jesus Christ around 33 AD, and the New Testament was not finalized in its present form until 382 AD, about 350 years later. Pope St. Damasus I, at the Council of Rome, in 382, proposed the current canon of scripture with 73 books (46 OT + 27 NT). Subsequent councils at Hippo in 393 AD, and at Carthage in 397 AD, ratified this canon as being inspired and complete. Pope Innocent I sent a letter out in the year 405 AD that listed all 73 books as being the total and complete canon of the Christian Bible. The Catholic Bibles of today still have all of these 73 books. …
Jesus Himself created the Church, about 350 years before the Bible in its present form was canonized by the Church at the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage. (The Role of The Church According to the Bible. Catholic Bible 101 www.catholicbible101.com/theroleofthechurch.htm accessed 04/13/17).
So, the above claims that after Christians lived for over three centuries, the Bible was determined by Greco-Roman Catholic Church councils. (It, perhaps, should be pointed out that the Bishop of Rome did not take the title Pope until the time of Damasus’ successor Siricius and that 31 A.D. is a closer year as to when Jesus’ established the church than 33 A.D.).
Who Gave the World the Bible?
Who gave the world the Bible?
Did God inspire translators of the Septuagint to improve His own words as many Eastern Orthodox claim?
Were the Apostles Paul, Peter, and John involved?
Did God inspire Martin Luther to add words to the Bible that He did not originally have?
Did God inspire translators of the King James Version to be true and without error as some Protestants claim?
Did the Church of Rome give the world the Bible on its own?
Was the Church of God involved in preserving and translating the word of God?
How did God give the world the Bible?
Writers throughout the centuries were moved by the Holy Spirit to record the inspired written words (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
For the last book of the Bible, Jesus instructed John to write what he saw (Revelation 1:11).
As the last writer of the New Testament, and one who knew both Peter and Paul (cf. Galatians 2:9), the Apostle John would be the first person who could have known and possessed the complete canon.
Jesus had the New Testament canon finalized in Asia Minor via John. Rome later accepted that canon.
The Apostle John passed the knowledge of the canon, seemingly along with the books themselves, to people such as Polycarp of Smyrna.
Polycarp demonstrated familiarity with all the books of the New Testament.
Melito of Sardis demonstrated knowledge of the books of the Old Testament, essentially by accepting the canonical books that the Jews of Palestine had recognized — which were consistent with books that Jesus and the apostles quoted from.
Throughout early history, we see that Church of God leaders (like Polycrates) asserted they had the entire Bible. There is also later evidence that various leaders who held to Church of God doctrines were involved in its preservation and its “chain of custody” (like Antiochians Serapion and Lucian), even into the Middle Ages (some of the Waldensians and pre-Waldensians) and later times, as well as a translation into English in the 21st century (AFV).
None of the so-called ‘lost books of the Bible,’ ‘lost gospels,’ or Old Testament Apocrypha (sometimes referred to as deuterocanonical books) were part of the original Christian canon. Nor was the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon. So, no, in the Continuing Church of God we do not believe that some group of men conspired to keep any of those writings out of the true canon. Those other books are not scripture.
This book has often mentioned the chain of custody of the books of the Bible as well as which manuscripts were best.
Here is a timeline of custody from the view of the Continuing Church of God and the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches with many of the early dates approximate:
Timeline of Custody
|Church of God||Date||Greco-Roman-Protestants|
|God inspired various ones to write the gospels and other letters, and other parts of the New Testament.||c. 40-92||God inspired various ones to write the gospels and other parts of the New Testament.|
|Paul writes Timothy to bring Mark and the parchments (2 Timothy 4:11-13).||c. 66||Paul writes Timothy to bring Mark and the parchments (2 Timothy 4:11-13).|
|Peter has Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16).||c. 66||Peter has at least some of Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16).|
|John gets writings from Peter.||c. 66||John gets some writings from Peter.|
|Peter and Paul are killed.||c. 67||Peter and Paul are killed.|
|In Patmos, John pens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11). He is the last disciple to bind and seal the testimony (cf. Isaiah 8:16).||c. 92||In Patmos, John pens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11).|
|John moves back to Ephesus.||c. 96||John moves back to Ephesus.|
|John passes the finalized canons on to Polycarp of Smyrna and others.||c. 98||John passes knowledge to Polycarp of Smyrna.|
|Papias of Hierapolis shows he accepted Revelation as scripture.||c. 120|
|Polycarp quotes or alludes to every one of the 27 books of the New Testament (including Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter, and James) and notes that those of Philipi are “well versed in the Sacred Scriptures.”||c. 135||Polycarp refers to various NT books and notes that those of Philipi are “well versed in the Sacred Scriptures.”|
|c. 160||Shepherd of Hermas and Gospel of Peter are considered to be scripture.|
|c. 175||Muratorian Canon includes Apocalypse of Peter and Wisdom of Solomon, but excludes Book of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and one of John’s epistles.|
|Melito of Sardis lists the books of the Old Testament, but does not include any of the Apocrypha. Melito’s use of the term ‘Old Testament’ presupposes that he also knew the New Testament.||c. 175||Melito of Sardis lists the books of the Old Testament, but does not include any of the Apocrypha. Melito’s use of the term ‘Old Testament’ presupposes that he also knew the New Testament. Apocrypha used by some Greco-Romans.|
|Polycrates of Ephesus said he and others in Asia Minor had “gone through every Holy scripture.”||c. 192|
|Serapion of Antioch condemns Gospel of Peter as pseudepigrapha (ψευδεπιγραφα).||c. 209||Gospel of Peter still being used.|
|Serapion says the books were “handed down” to those in Antioch/Asia Minor, as opposed to those he encountered in Egypt.||c. 209|
|c. 180-250||School in Alexandria, with Origen in the 3rd century, classifies Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, and Jude as “contested writings.”|
|c. 230||Origen sees major problems with the Septuagint texts, but it is still used.|
|c. 250||Cyprian of Carthage’s “first Latin Bible” fails to include Hebrews, 2 Peter, James, and Jude.|
|School in Antioch, with Lucian predecessors, then Lucian himself, improves Greek Septuagint by using Hebrew Masoretic documents and also edits the ‘Traditional Text’ of the Greek New Testament.||c. 250-312|
|c. 320||Eusebius writes that Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation are disputed.|
|367||Athanasius lists the 27 books of the New Testament.|
|c. 380||Canon 85 of the Apostolic Constitutions includes the “two Epistles of Clement” among its “sacred books.”|
|382||Damasan catalogue has a canon for the Roman Church with the Book of Hebrews.|
|Nazarene Christians use the Old and New Testaments without the Apocrypha.||c. 382 -395||Jerome works on Latin Vulgate Bible, but does not want to include the Apocrypha. He notices that he is often using corrupted texts.|
|Nazarenes continued with the original canon.||c. 382-404||Jerome consults with one or more Nazarene Christians on the canon.|
|393||Augustine said Hebrews was still disputed.|
|c. 405||Pope Innocent I left Hebrews out of his list of the New Testament canon he sent to Exsuperius.|
|c.405||Jerome completes his Bible, and, after succumbing to pressure, includes the Apocrypha.|
|419||Council of Carthage adopts catalogue of canon.|
|Nazarenes and Proto-Waldenses preserve the books. Their canon included the whole of the New Testament.||5th-7th centur-ies|
|Constantine of Mananali (Armenia) receives much of the New Testament in Greek from an Syrian/Antiochian and translates it.||c. 650|
|Proto-Waldenses preserve and translate the books.||7th-11th centur-ies|
|Team led by Peter Waldo translates the entire New Testament and parts of the Old Testament.||12th century|
|Waldenses preserve and translate the books.||12th-15th centuries|
|Waldensian books taken by supporters of Rome.||12th-15th centur-ies||Edicts against the Waldneses issued by Roman Catholics in 1184 (Synod of Verona), 1215 (Fourth Lateran Council), and 1487 (Bull by Innocent VII).|
|1522||Martin Luther included Apocrypha in his translation of the Bible.|
|Huldrych Zwingli did not accept Revelation as scripture.|
|1546||Martin Luther still doubted the inclusion of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation.|
|1546||Rome’s Council of Trent declares fixed canon is a dogma that cannot be changed.|
|1611||King James Version published with the Apocrypha as part of the appendix.|
|1672||Eastern Orthodox finalize their canon, at the Synod of Jerusalem, which includes the Apocrypha.|
|19th centu-ry||Protestants drop the Apocrypha from the appendix of the edited KJV.|
|Church of God leaders continued to cite the same canon of scripture from prior to the Protestant Reformation to present. They continue to point to the Masoretic Hebrew and a version of the Textus Receptus as the best available scriptural texts.||16th– 21st centur-ies|
There are basically two views of the canon.
The last column reflects, to a significant degree, the major scholastic view today. It shows a lack of chain of custody of the books of the Bible as the Greco-Roman churches were confused. It is because of Greco-Roman confusion that most scholars do not believe that the true church had the canon from the beginning.
But that scholastic view is not only historically wrong, it essentially goes against scripture (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 16:17-18, Hebrews 13:5).
That being said, the first column hopefully provides enough scriptural and historical information to show the honest inquirer that, yes, there is evidence that the Church of God had the canon from the beginning. This is also consistent with scriptures such as Isaiah 8:16, Matthew 16:18, and Ephesians 2:19-22.
The true chain of custody for the Church of God has continued to hold the same books of the canon of scripture to this day.
Because the Greco-Roman churches often included certain books they dropped and did not include others which they added, that would not be considered an unbroken chain of custody.
Although Jesus taught that His church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), most scholars ignore that and accept that the Greco-Romans (and later the Protestants) represent Christianity as a whole. So, they have tended to teach the Greco-Roman view as fact.
Most have overlooked the true chain of custody. Part of the reason is that many aspects of church history have been misunderstood (details on church history can be found in the free book, online at ccog.org, titled Continuing History of the Church of God).
In the end times, the Bible shows that some will be killed for the word of God:
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
So, this is another reason it is important to know the right books — who would want to die for a lie?
Consider also the following:
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Revelation 20:12)
The ‘books’ mentioned above include the books of the Bible — therefore it is very important to know what they are as people will be judged by what is in them.
The last book of the Bible was written in the late 1st century. Books written after that, despite sometimes purporting to be scripture, are not part of the canon.
Despite scholastic claims to the contrary, the true canon was known by the end of the 1st century, with the Old Testament re-checked in the 2nd century.
Early Church of God Christians, mostly all considered to be saints by the Greco-Roman-Protestants, including Papias, Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, and Serapion essentially attested to the fact that the Church of God had the full canon in the 2nd century, and that knowledge was basically passed on from the original apostles, like the Apostle John.
This was later confirmed by other groups with at least distant ties to the Church of God (like the Nazarenes) and was a factor in the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox (who were in the areas these saints had lived in and had been affected by them) agreeing to the currently accepted list of the Books of the New Testament.
Seemingly, that is also confirmed by the realization by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics that their Old Testament Apocrypha was not in the same category as what they call the protocanonical books of the Old Testament — which is the list of books accepted by the Jews, the Church of God, and most Protestants.
There exists proof that in the early 17th century men who held to COG doctrines cited the canonical scriptures authoritatively (Falconer J. A briefe refutation of Iohn Traskes iudaical and nouel fancyes Stiling himselfe Minister of Gods Word, imprisoned for the lawes eternall perfection, or God’s lawes perfect eternity. English College Press, 1618). Later in the 17th century, Church of God leaders were clearly citing the canonical scriptures in English in their writings (Clarke, pp. 12-13; Sellers, p. 6). The Church of God has known the scriptures since the Apostle John passed the knowledge to leaders such as Polycarp.
Since Jesus said that God’s word was truth (John 17:17), Jesus frequently cited the books of the Old Testament as scripture (but not the Apocrypha), and Jesus taught that Christians needed to have a rock-solid foundation (Matthew 7:24-27), Christians need to realize it is important to know which books constitute the word of God—and who always knew them.
Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that it is God’s true ministers who are tasked with helping people understand what the word of God means (Ephesians 4:11-16).
We in the Continuing Church of God are among those that have striven to faithfully do that from the time of Jesus through to the 21st century.
Now it is true that many people, in various faiths, have been involved in copying and translating the Bible. But they, of themselves, did not give the world the Bible.
God gave the world the Bible.
The Bible has been known in its final form by the faithful Church of God since the Apostle John passed on that knowledge of the Old and New Testament canons.
A chain of custody of the knowledge of the books of the Bible has existed in the Church of God from the apostles until the present time.
Here are links to a free online book and related sermon:
Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete? Are there lost gospels? What about the Apocrypha? Is the Septuagint better than the Masoretic text? What about the Textus Receptus vs. Nestle Alland? Was the New Testament written in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? Which translations are based upon the best ancient text? Did the true Church of God have the canon from the beginning? Here are links to related sermons: Let’s Talk About the Bible, The Books of the Old Testament, The Septuagint and its Apocrypha, Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, and Lost Books of the Bible, and Let’s Talk About the New Testament, The New Testament Canon From the Beginning, English Versions of the Bible and How Did We Get Them?, What was the Original Language of the New Testament?, Original Order of the Books of the Bible, and Who Gave the World the Bible? Who Had the Chain of Custody?