Description of the holy bible – Part 2
Formation and Canon
“Bible” derives from the Greek word biblia, meaning “books” and refers to the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The word ‘Bible’ does not appear in the Old or New Testament.
Instead, the word ‘Scriptures’ is used. This is a translation of the Greek word graphe, which means ‘that which is ‘written’.
As Christians, we rely on what has been written—not merely thought or spoken but written. When Jesus repeatedly said, “it is written” (Mat 4:4, 7, 10), the Greek verb gegraptaiis in the perfect tense and emphasises both completed action and a continuing state resulting from it. The full force of the Greek is: “it has been written and it still stands written.”
This underscores the ongoing authority and unchanging character of God’s written Word. As Christians, we rely on what has been written—not merely thought or spoken but written.
Our heavenly Father put His message into language people could understand and has preserved and protected it, so that it has survived the ravages of time and comes to us with as much authority as when it was first given.
Adam and Eve had a verbal revelation and the devil was able to persuade them they had misunderstood what God told them. We have even less excuse than they did. God has now put what He wants us to know in writing.
The Old Testament and the New Testament is the name of each general division of the canonical books of the sacred Scriptures. The name is equivalent to covenant.
Covenant, in the Bible, is literally, a contract, an agreement between God and His people, in which God makes promises to His people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them.
The 39 OT books and 27 NT books form the “canon” of Holy Scripture. The Old Testament is the Hebrew or Jewish Bible, while the Christian Bible includes Old and New Testament.
The list of the books included in the Bible is called ‘the canon.’ ‘Canon’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘rule’ or ‘measure,’ and referred originally to the ‘reed’ used as a ruler.
Thus, the Old Testament canon is the list of books, which the Jews regarded as inspired and, therefore, the authoritative yardstick for belief and behaviour. In this sense, the Bible is the rule or standard of authority for Christians.
The concept of “canon” and process of “canonisation” refers to when the books gained the status of “Holy Scripture,” authoritative standards for faith and practice.
We do not really know how the Old Testament canon was finally agreed. We can only guess that the requirements for, including a book (apart from the helpfulness of what was in the book) was that it was connected with a spiritual leader.
Thus, the Pentateuch is connected with Moses, Psalms with David and Proverbs with Solomon and so on.
We do have clear evidence that by the fifth century B.C., the Pentateuch was fixed and regarded as authoritative, probably as a result of the work of Ezra (the “Law of Moses’ referred to in Nehemiah 8 was almost certainly the Pentateuch).
Work probably continued on the Prophets and Writings and by 165 B.C., these two groups were fixed.
By the beginning of the New Testament period, the identity of every Old Testament book was accepted. The apocryphal “Additions to the Book of Esther” originated a considerable time later than canonical Esther.
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