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How did we get the Bible?
Posted by Clare
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On April 28, 2013, I blogged on the dangers of “red letter Christianity”. By that, I mean those who choose to live by Jesus’ actual words, but have doubts about the accuracy or authority of the rest of the Bible. Today, I’d like to summarize very briefly why Christians have always believed all of scripture to be true. Hopefully this summary will be helpful to you as you teach them to your family or those you mentor.

The Books for a New Testament

By the end of the first century, contemporary witnesses to the message of Jesus and the apostles were mostly gone.  The oral traditions became corrupt and conflicting, and believers wanted a body of Scripture that would spell out the authoritative message of the apostles.

It seems that almost from the time of their composition, the four Gospels and Acts were accepted as divinely inspired accounts of the life of Christ and the development of the early church.  Various churches to which Paul addressed his epistles accepted his word to them as coming from the mouth of God.  And gradually nearby churches came to feel that letters sent to sister churches were of value for them too; so they made copies.  In this way the Pauline epistles began to circulate individually and by the end of the second century as a collection. However, there were other various letters and writings circulating that were obviously not on a par with these writings, but very close to the New Testament message.

The Diocletian persecution in 303 AD called for the burning of all sacred books and the punishment of those who possessed them.  Preservation of Scripture in the face of such determined imperial opposition required great effort and endangered the lives of those who hid or copied it.  Therefore, one wanted to be sure he was risking his life to disseminate, or protect a genuine work. It was time to separate the wheat from the chaff. So, here’s how the early church went about the process. (more…)

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