Why Are There 27 Books In The New Testament?

There are many things that may come to an individual’s mind when it comes to sacred scripture.  Some may ask why there are so many translations.  Some may wonder if the Bible as we know it fell from the sky at Pentecost.  However many have questions on how we have the books we have.  For sure it was long and arduous process, but it was one guided by the Holy Spirit and the church.

One rule that was used to determine inclusion of the twenty seven books was linkage to an Apostle, or apostolic origin.  In the first three centuries after the church started there were many books bearing the name of various Apostles.  As an example there was the Gospel of Thomas, Luke, Peter, and the proto gospel of James.  In addition to these there were several hundred Acts and Apocalypses.  Some of these writings were spurious and contradicted the Gospel being preached by the church.

Apostolic origin does not mean that it has to be written by an apostle, but that an Apostle “stands behind writing in such a way that the essential teaching is preserved within it (Nichols, page 104).”  This would explain why the Gospel of Luke was included in the canon.  Great care was made to ensure that writings had apostolic backing, and if they did not they were denied canonical status.

Another rule that was used in determining if a book was worthy of the canon was its conformity to the faith of the church.  Would a collection of Holy writings from any religion be deemed authoritative if they contradicted each other?  The answer to the question is obvious.  The church used great care in determining that the twenty seven books in the canon were in compliance with what the church taught.

The church was able to do this by utilizing the oral tradition that was handed down from the Apostles.  As a Nichols documents “around 190 a bishop in Antioch stopped people from using the Gospel of Peter on the grounds that its author did not regard the human body of Jesus as real (Nichols, page 104).”  The church teaches that Christ was a real person, divine, and bled on the cross.  This writing taught that Christ was a spirit that entered into a man that was being crucified.  There were many writings like this floating around, and since they did not pass the test of orthodoxy they were not included in the canon.

Thirdly the writing had to be valued by the church that was respected for its own Apostolic origin (Nichols, page 104).  Perfect examples of this are the Epistles of Saint Paul.  There is little doubt that these writings are his for he states at the end of letters that he wrote them with his own hand.  Also he wrote them to churches that he started and they knew him very well.  These churches preserved these letters and read them in their liturgies.

Using these three criteria, the fathers of the church started to develop the New Testament.  The letters of Paul were among the first to be recognized in 90 ad and were being assembled in small collections.  The four Gospels were decided on around the year 200.  There were various canons proposed, but the Pauline letters and the four gospels seemed to have staying power.  Other books such as Revelation and Hebrews were battled over.  Some areas of the church accepted them and others did not.  There were also books with no apostolic link that were considered such as the Shepherd of Hermas and Clements letter to the Corinthians.  However they did not meet the criteria previously discussed and were denied canonical status. Through many debates and hefty quarrels we know that the canon was final by the end of the fourth century (Nichols, Page 105).

 

References

Nichols, Aiden. The Shape of Catholic Theology: An Introduction to Its Sources, Principles, and History. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

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Six Books Every Catholic Should Read

There are so many books out there about the faith. Some are excellent, and others…well, not so much. In this video I detail six book (There are many others) that every catholic should check out. Two of them are mandatory. Enjoy!

Book Review: 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path

The book of Proverbs has always been a favorite of mine.  I have read through the book several times as it provides great advice for daily living.  In her new book 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path Author Liz Curtis Higgs breaks down thirty-one verses is the influential Old Testament book.

The author takes one verse and created very readable, understandable, and relatable devotional book out of them.  Each chapter starts with a verse from Proverbs and the author relates it to everyday life.  She takes it a step further and does not rely on one translation of the scripture.  The main verse at the top of each chapter is from the New International Version, or NIV.  The author utilizes other translations within each chapter such as The Message, VOICE, Complete Jewish Bible, Good News Translation, NET, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the Contemporary English Version.

Each chapter is fairly short, and is no longer than three pages in length.  At the end of the devotional the author includes a prayer, and a call to action.  The author also includes a Proverbs study guide at the end of the book as an added bonus.  This book is good for anyone who wants a better understanding of Proverbs.

[Note:  This book was provides free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

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Book Review: CSB Notetaking Bible

Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to review the new Christian Standard Bible when it was first released.  For those that don’t know, the CSB is an updated translation of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, or HCSB.  Though it isn’t my preferred translation, it is a good formal equivalent of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

For this review Lifeway sent me the Sage design of the Notetaking Bible.  It has a floral theme, and the pages the words are printed on have a light green/cream tone to them.  Though I prefer regular old white paper, the these pages are easy on the eyes as light does not reflect off of them as easily.

The print is easy to read and is not to small.  Since it is a Notetaking bible there is plenty of room to make your own notes.  This is not a study bible so there is no commentary at the bottom.  There is also an absence of footnotes.  As previously stated, there is plenty of room to write one’s own notes.  If you like to take notes during sermons and Bible studies then this is a good Bible for you.

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[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from B&H in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: Christ-Centered Apologetics

Apologetics is a word in theology that is often misunderstood.  Despite its name, it does mean that we are apologizing for anything.  Quite the contrary, it comes from the Greek word Apologia which means “to make a defense”.  In his book Christ-Centered Apologetics, author Joel Furches does a great job in explaining and defending key aspects of the Christian faith.

Many apologetics are unnecessarily technical, but Mr. Furches describes Apologetics concepts in an easy to understand manner.  In short, this book is written for the average Christian in the pew with the goal of helping them defend the and strengthen their faith.  The section that I found most helpful was on the historicity and reliability of the Gospels.  Mr, Furches pulled historical accounts from the church fathers, as well as non-Christian sources as proofs of Christ’s existence.  In fact, seven chapters deal with Christ and the reliability of the text.  Those chapters are worth the price of admission to this book.  This is a book I would recommend for those that are new to the subject matter.

Book Review: Jesus the Eternal Son

In its infancy, the church dealt with many heresies regarding the divinity of Christ.  There was Arianism which taught that Christ was a created being, Nestorianism which taught that there was no union between the divine and human nature of Christ, and Adoptionism which taught that Jesus was adopted as God’s son either after his baptism (the most common view), resurrection, or ascension.  This book is authored by theologian Michael Bird, and deals with the issues that are found within adoptionism.

The author is a brilliant scholar who interacts very well with the argumentation put forth for adoptionism.  Thought the heresy is ancient it still is an issue and makes its way back into the mainstream every now and then.  Dr. Bird’s interaction with the works and theories of Bart Ehrman are worth the price of this book.  He also delves is and discusses Romans 1:3-4 and Acts 2:36, which are a couple of the main passages used to support adoptionism.  In fact, these verses are used by Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses to do just that.

As a self professed Church History nerd, I appreciated Dr. Bird’s looks into how adoptionism began.  He goes into great detail in discussing the early Ebionites and early Christian works such as the Shepherd of Hermas.  The book is fairly short, but is an excellent resource for all those interested in Christology.

I give it 5 stars and can be purchased here.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Eerdmans in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: Redefining Truth

What is truth?  How do we pursue truth, and is it all relative?  Can truth be changed over time, or is it something that is?  In His new book Redefining Truth author David Fiorazo sets out to answer such questions.  These questions, and many like, it are answered from a Christian worldview.

His purpose of the book is laid our plainly on page one where the author writes, “Since we are in a spiritual battle, warfare will be part of this process as with any worthwhile endeavor.  This battle requires of us the utmost diligence to seek the truth and find it, proclaim it, protect it, and persevere to the end because truth is the foundation of the gospel that saves us”.

The topic of the this book matters because the truths of the Christian faith seem to be challenged on a daily basis.  The authors treatment of controversial topics such relativism and religious freedom are masterful in their presentation.  However the author’s treatment of Roman Catholicism (I am a Catholic) is something that is straight out of a Jack Chick tract and lacks theological merit.  The also goes so far as to lump Roman Catholicism in with Mormonism.  He also allows himself to get carried away on people, such as Kim Kardashian.

Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars, but the author needs to be better informed and do better research in other areas.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from Aneko Press in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: The Wisdom of God

Many of us have heard of A.W. Tozer.  The man was an incredible servant of God, and was a self taught theologian.  I have read many of his previous works and all have benefited me in one way or another.  This new work titled The Wisdom of God was no exception.  The book is made up of sermons that Tozer preached in the early 1960’s.  He passed to his eternal reward in 1963 so these are some of his last words.

The book shows an increase in wisdom in his later years as he quotes, and teaches from the Deuterocanonical books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus.  He did not consider these works to be inspired, but he noticed that they provide insights into Hebrew wisdom and doctrine.  These books, which are considered Apocrypha in Protestant circles, are a treasure trove of lessons and wisdom of God.  Tozer states, “The Wisdom of Solomon gives important insight into the Hebrew doctrine of wisdom (page 14).

In the work Tozer continually speaks that the wisdom of God is a gift, and cannot be purchased with money.  He speaks of theology as something that is important, and says its study leads to the wisdom of God.  He compares theology to the wood that Elijah used on the altar.  He then said that prayer without theological study eaves only wood on the altar.  They go hand in hand, and that is a very important lesson that I took from the book.

I highly recommend this book for any Tozer fans, but especially for those who want to grow in their love of God.  This book will challenge you in ways that may never have thought of.  In true Tozer fashion, his words are accessible to everyone.  Not just trained theologians.

[Note:  I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review: Steal Away Home

When given the opportunity to review this book I jumped at the chance.  However, this book is different than most that I review.  I normally review non-fiction theological works.  Steal Away Home, though a work of fiction, is based on a real friendship between Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson.

I have little doubt that most of my readers know who Charles Surgeon is, but Thomas Johnson is a bit more of a mystery.  He was a slave for 28 years who became a missionary.  Spurgeon invited him to study at his college in England, and in so doing the two became good friends.

Spurgeon was notoriously against the African slave trade, and the two became good friends .  Their friendship was based on the mission the both had to spread the Gospel.  In a time where such a friendship may not have been socially acceptable the two saw each other as brothers, rather than men of different races.  This is an important lesson in our own time, and one that we need to do a better job at.

The work is 290 pages long and is incredibly well written.  It is accessible, readable, and has important lessons.  This book took the authors three years to write this book.  It shows as it is well researched, and tells an incredible story.  I highly recommend checking this book out.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from B&H in exchange for an honest review.]

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