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The Biblical canon is the collection of books accepted as holy scripture and recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired. The most vital component of the history of any country or religion is the original document outlining its governing principles. The Christian church begins with the Bible. It contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament written by 40 different authors over 1500 years.  No other book in history is as popular, or as revered, nor as diverse in context as the lives of those who wrote it.
Without the foundation that is the Word of God, the church and individuals within would have nothing to root their life in and grow. Furthermore without the consistently written, reliable, actual eyewitness accounts that the biblical authors provide, there would be no way to compare what other scholars have written on the subjects. In other words there could be no real progress within the study of ecclesiastical history by comparing with other historical records without the established biblical record.
Old Testament canonization
The Old Testament contains 39 books written from approximately 1500 to 400 BC. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) is the same as the Christian Old Testament, except for its book arrangement. The original Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew, with some Aramaic, while the original New Testament was written in common Greek.
The history of the Bible begins with the Jewish Scriptures. The oldest books of the Bible are certainly the five books of the Torah and Job. In I_Kings 6:1 , Solomon is stated to have begun building the Temple "in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come up out of the land of Egypt". It had been established by scholars and historians that Solomon had begun building the Temple in the fourth year of his reign; this is variously thought to have taken place in 961 BC or 1015 BC, making the date of the Exodus under Moses to have been 1446 BC or 1491 BC. During the following forty years Moses wrote the Torah and Job, completing them before his death at Mt. Nebo about 1406 BC or 1451 BC. According to biblical scholar and historian Robert D. Wilson the Torah as it stands dates from the time of Moses, the five books constitute one continuous work, and was written by a single individual, Moses himself.
The remaining books of the Old Testament were written at various times since the death of Moses, with Malachi, the last Old Testament book, being written about 455 BC. During this period each of the books was written and re-written on parchment or papyrus, with the editors taking great care in their work; a single biblical book hand-written today can take weeks to complete. The older scrolls were disposed of by burial or systematic destruction when worn from normal usage; as a result, the oldest surviving examples of biblical manuscripts are those which have been carefully preserved either by direct actions of people (such as monasteries), or by removal from forces of decay. Currently, the oldest surviving manuscripts are those found within the caves of Qumran in 1948 and known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating between 250 BC to AD 70; the complete Isaiah scroll of this collection dates to 150 BC.
Some of the more liberal biblical and theological scholars insist that the Old Testament canon was formed later, usually around the first century AD. However this is debatable through the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, also referred to as the Old Testament of the Christian canon, called the Septuagint (LXX). The Septuagint was composed by scribes circa 200-150 BC and contains the text of thirty-nine canonical books of the Old Testament, the caveat to this ordered refutation is through the inclusion of certain books called the Deuterocanonicals by Catholics and the Apocrypha by Protestants. These are considered non-inspired, and hence non-canonical, by most Protestant denominations but the reverse is true for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Another example held up for an earlier date (circa 200-150 BC) by conservative christian leaders can be traced along with other prominent scholars, to William Foxwell Albright (1891 to 1971). He was an American pioneer archaeologist, biblical scholar, linguist and expert on ceramics. He held it certain that the Hebrew text (Jewish Tanakh) between c. 150 and c. 50 BC was fixed and that the variations between it and the modern Tanakh used by Jews today are rarely of significance. 
NT quotes the OT
Another way that Christianity can determine Old Testament canonization is to see which Old Testament books Jesus and the writers of the NT (who were contemporaries and eyewitnesses to Jesus life, death and resurrection) quoted in their teaching and writing. This is important to ecclesiastical history because we are to follow Christ, His example and teachings, but also allows an isolated framework outside of strict Jewish religious tradition as to what should be included as canon, thus independent attestation. Jesus quoted 24 out of 39 Old Testament books of what is the Protestant canon. The New Testament writers quoted from 34 books out of 39. The five OT books never quoted or directly taught from are: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. 
Deuterocanon and Apocrypha
The Apocrypha was written during the four hundred years between the last book of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. The term itself comes from the Greek word apokruphos ("hidden" or "concealed") and although they retain some actual history and literary value, the fourteen books which make up the Apocrypha have been rejected as canonical by both the Jewish faith and most denominations of the Christian church. This is in part due to historical, geographical or literal inaccuracies, the teaching of doctrines which contradict what is already considered inspired Scripture, and a lack of elements and structure which give genuine Scripture its unique characteristics. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches among others include the Apocrypha in their versions of the biblical canon.
The Deuterocanonical books are the seven books which were included in the Septuagint and Catholics and Orthodox include in the Old Testament, but which Protestants generally do not. They include the Books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees as well as and parts of Daniel and Esther. Classically they were called Apocrypha by Protestants. But today the word 'Apocrypha' denotes a class of literature that includes these deuterocanonical books plus several others of varying reputation for historical validity.
These books were written during the four hundred years between the last book of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. While Catholics and Orthodox Christians regard them as inspired Scripture and free from error, the general Protestant consensus is that although they have an actual history and literary value in some cases, these seven books have been rejected as non-canonical by both the Jewish faith and most denominations of the Christian church. This is due to alleged historical, geographical, or literal inaccuracies in most cases, the teaching of doctrines which allegedly contradict what has already been considered inspired Scripture and a lack of elements and structure which give genuine Scripture its unique characteristic.
- Matthew 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wisdom 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.
- Matthew 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - "what you hate, do not do to others".
- Matthew 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.
- John 3:13 - who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.
- John 10:22 - the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Maccabees 4:59.
- John 10:36 – Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Maccabees 4:36.
- Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6 - Peter's and Paul's statement that God shows no partiality references Ecclesiasticus 35:12.
- Acts 17:29 - description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.
- Romans 1:18-25 - Paul's teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wisdom 13:1-10.
- Romans 1:20 - specifically, God's existence being evident in nature follows Wisdom 13:1.
- Romans 1:23 - the sin of worshiping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wisdom 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.
- Romans 1:24-27 - this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wisdom 14:12, 24-27.
- 1 Corinthians 2:16 - Paul's question, "who has known the mind of the Lord?" references Wisdom 9:13.
- 1 Corinthians 10:1 - Paul's description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.
- 1 Corinthians 10:20 - what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.
- Ephesians 1:17 - Paul's prayer for a "spirit of wisdom" follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.
- Hebrews 11:5 - Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wisdom 4:10 and Ecclesiasticus 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Ecclesiasticus 48:9 regarding Elijah.
- Hebrews 11:35 - Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Maccabees 7:1-42.
- 1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Ecclesiasticus 2:5.
- 1 Peter 1:17 - God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Ecclesiasticus 16:12 - God judges man according to his deeds.
There is a great deal of overlap between the Apocrypha section of the 1611 King James Bible and the Catholic deuterocanon, but the two are distinct. The Apocrypha section of the King James Bible includes, in addition to the deuterocanonical books, the following three books, which were not declared canonical by Trent:
Between 90-95 A.D. the Jewish Council of Jemnia revised the canon of the Old Testament, ensuring that the books involved conformed to the Torah, were written in the Hebrew language, written in Palestine, and written before 400 B.C. As a result, the Apocrypha was removed from the canon.  Around 200 BC the Septuagint, a Greek-language version of the Old Testament, was completed. This was due to the Hellenization of large areas of the Middle East after the conquest of Alexander the Great, making Greek the mandatory language for everyday communications and business. The Septuagint marks the first time in history that the Bible was translated into a foreign language.
New Testament canonization
Extra biblical writings, Christian and non-Christian alike that reference books which constitute the Bible we know today, criticize contemporary writings at the time of the biblical texts, and/or show attitudes of critics. Providing historicity and characteristics of divine authenticity to the early Christian church. There is scholarly agreement due to the extra biblical sources that prior to 100 AD, some contend as early as 70 AD, indeed all of the 27 books of the New Testament were individually completed, known and in circulation.
There is some textual support through exegesis that implies New Testament completion prior to 100 AD within the context of Matthew 24:1-3. The NT completion date narrows further than what can be derived solely from extra biblical dates. Matthew 24:1-3 records a prophesy by Christ predicting an historical event of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (First Temple destruction being 586 BCE) inevitably by Titus (Titus Flavius Vespasianus), a Roman General and future emperor. Fulfillment took place in 70 AD amidst the Siege of Jerusalem that was responding to the First Jewish-Roman War that erupted around 66 AD. The Romans slaughtered 1,100,000 of what was mostly Jews and enslaved 97,000 Jews. The prophesy of the Second Temples destruction as written in Matthew 24:1-3, happened thirty-five to forty-five years after Christ's life, death and resurrection.
1Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down." 3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Matthew 24:1-3 (NASB)
The writers were aware of this prophesy by Christ and recorded it. However if the NT was completed much later in 100-300 AD as most critics and liberal theologians would place some if not all of the books, then surely the writers would have addressed the fulfillment somewhere within the text. Either the NT writers chose not to highlight the power of Christ which is problematic in its logic as it lacks common sense, or the writers were simply unaware of the fulfillment. If the writers were unaware then room is still left which can include a later NT completion date premise. The implication of the later date remains however out of ignorance or lack of divine will to display the power of Christ, still seemingly very unlikely. There is a third solid early completion date premise and conclusion however relying consistently upon the extra biblical dates and the peculiar absence of substantial declarations of the fulfillment. It is this logic that leads conservative Christian theologians to posit that the authors were unaware and did not include the prophesies fulfillment in 70 AD because the NT was completed prior to 70 AD.
In I_Timothy 5:8 Paul quoted as scripture The laborer is worthy of his hire. This line is found nowhere else in the Bible except Matthew 10:10 and Luke 5:7 . In 2_Peter 3:15-16 , Peter classes Paul's letters with "other scriptures". Both lines are indicative of the writing down and general use of the New Testament prior to A.D. 60. Spurious "gospels" which are known to have appeared by A.D. 100, make references to the New Testament. Clement of Rome, writing in his own letter to the Corinthians in A.D. 95, refers to Matthew, Luke, Corinthians, Hebrews, 1st Timothy, and 1st Peter.
- Main Article: Bible
Both the Old and New Testaments early completion dates are solidified within history. What starts in the fourth century AD as an attempt to officially canonize Scripture develops ever-more as literacy spreads and then eventually the printing press is invented. The Bible emerged out of councils convened by exceptional biblical theologians in which rigorous historical-critical methods were employed to determine what the qualities of divine Scripture actually are and then what should or should not be considered Scripture. The canonization process of the Bible is against the backdrop of what was many writings at the time. Neither the OT nor the NT were subject to elite revisionism but rather mere selection for exceptional quality and nature of which remains consistent with what can be deduced from prior Christian tradition. The 66 books that constitute the Bible during canonization also underwent major editions and translations but not alteration of anything substantial during the process. Editions and translations reflect dominant civilizations or cultures and thus languages during the time, having the ability to undertake the massive effort.
Jerome, a Latin scholar deeply interested in the study of the Scriptures, completed the second edition of the Bible in the Latin language. The Vulgate was meant to replace the inaccuracies of the earlier Vetus Latina, the standard Bible of the early Catholic Church. Jerome had moved to Jerusalem in 382, and set to work on what eventually became a fresh translation of the Bible from the Greek of the Septuagint to translating the New Testament into Latin; from 390-405 he decided to re-translate his Old Testament directly from the Hebrew then in use by the Jewish community. The Vulgate had a marked influence in church history, and remained the standard Latin Bible in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries; such was the length of time in use that it was finally replaced by the Nova Vulgata in 1979.
Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany invented the first mechanical printing press in 1448. His machine consisted of a large press which when cranked down, pressed a sheet of paper upon a platform in which were set thousands of inked metal letter typefaces (called "movable type"), set in place to read for a particular page. The first book in history printed by this method was the Gutenberg Bible, in the Vulgate version, of which 180 were printed, and approximately 50 survive today in varying conditions around the world. The Gutenberg Bible marked another first: Bibles could be mass produced to get into the hands of many more people at a lower cost than if they were printed by hand.
The first translation of the Bible into English was made under the supervision of the English cleric John Wyclif in the 1380's, with the assistance of Nicholas Hereford and John Purvey. Wyclif held that the Bible should be placed directly in the hands of the people, but was this was opposed by the English Church hierarchy of his day; indeed, one of Wyclif's opponents, Henry Knighton, compared giving the Bible to the people in English to "casting pearls before swine". Archbishop Arundel of Canterbury promulgated a ban on all English Bibles in 1407, and possession of one was considered evidence of heresy.
Wyclif's was a scholarly translation, based on the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew texts, but was found to be unweildy due to its adherence to Latin grammar (in which, for instance, verbs tend to be at the end of sentences). A second Wycliffite translation was prepared late in this period, which avoided this problem, but due to the fact that it could only be distributed in manuscript form, it was an expensive volume. Outside of the nobility and gentry, it was more common to see only a single Gospel, or a copy of the Psalms, than an entire Bible, which cost more than the average working person could earn in a year.
Over the next century, its form of English gradually became antiquated, leading English Protestants such as William Tyndale to feel that an entirely new translation was needed.
During the middle of the 16th century there was a renewed sense of the need to get the Bible directly into the hands of the common man; prior to that the Bible was restricted to readings in the Church alone. The Reformers were a group of people who were shocked at the differences between what the Roman Catholic Church was practicing as opposed to what the Bible stated can or cannot be done (this was one of the causes of the Reformation). At great cost to themselves, the Reformers began the work of translating the Bible in the various languages of Europe; the printing press would ensure the newly-translated Bibles would be mass-produced.
William Tyndale was committed to getting the Bible in the hands of his English countrymen. Expressing open defiance of the Pope, Tyndale declared that if God would spare his life he would make it possible for even an ordinary farmer to know more about the Scriptures than the Pope.  Tyndale's translation of the New Testament was completed by 1525, by April, 1526, 6,000 copies were printed and delivered to England. Official opposition led to the destruction of most of them. Nevertheless, the printing press rendered it impossible to completely suppress such a book, and new copies were printed and smuggled into England Tyndale was arrested and charged with heresy for his efforts on May 21, 1536, and was executed the following year.
Tyndale's New Testament definitely influenced England's clergy and probably was the main impetus behind the Reformation in England. Even in the year that Tyndale was executed, King Henry VIII began suppressing the Catholic monasteries in his realm.
In 1553, Queen Mary I, or "Bloody Mary," had 300 Reformers executed. Eight hundred more Reformers fled to Europe, and gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, then known as John Calvin's "Protestant Rome." There they set about creating an English-language version of the entire Bible, and one that would have no ties to any monarch, whether in England or elsewhere in Europe. Among the men involved in this project were William Whittingham, Miles Coverdale, Christopher Goodman, Anthony Gilby, John Knox, and Thomas Sampson.
The Geneva translators avoided the Latin Bible version, or Vulgate, and sought access to the oldest and most authentic Hebrew and Greek manuscripts they could find. Their research benefited, ironically, from the Fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, an event that had forced many Christian clerics to flee the fallen city of Constantinople with their manuscripts in hand.
In 1557, Whittingham produced a revised edition of Tyndale's original New Testament. Then in 1560 the reformers produced the first edition of the Geneva Bible. This they dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, who by then had succeeded to the throne after the death of her sister, "Bloody Mary." Under Elizabeth's patronage, the Geneva Bible became the Bible of choice not merely for clergy but also for laity.
From the beginning, the Geneva Bible was a study Bible, richly annotated and illustrated. The 1599 edition had the most extensive annotations of any of the Geneva Bibles, and a table of interpretations of (mainly Old Testament) proper names.
The Geneva Bible was highly popular in England, and indeed the Jamestown expeditionaries carried it to America in 1607. Likewise, the Pilgrims carried it with them to the Netherlands, where they had fled, and then to what later became their Plymouth colony (in modern Massachusetts) in 1620.
In 1604, shortly after his own accession to the throne, King James I commissioned his own version of the Bible, that would later come to be known as "The Bishop's Bible" or, more commonly, the Authorized Version. James' motive for promulgating his own version was simple: he did not want the people to have in hand a Bible with all the marginal notes that the Geneva Bible had. Nevertheless, ninety percent of the KJV text is in full accord with that of the Geneva Bible, as a side-by-side comparison will readily show. The Geneva Bible eventually fell out-of-print and has not been available until recently.
King James Version
- Main Article: King James Version
In 1604 King James I selected forty-seven of the ablest scholars in England to undertake the creation of a standard Bible in English, based upon careful translations of the Masoretic Text used by the Jewish community, and the best Greek translations (especially the Textus Receptus) then available. The scholars were divided into six committees in Oxford, Westminster, and Cambridge, with each scholar had dedicating himself to doing a portion of the Bible, often consulting each other to check the flow and harmony of the work in progress. The result was the 1611 King James, or Authorized, Version.
The effects of the King James Version were profound. Using less than 2,500 different words in it's vocabulary, this Bible was written in a poetic style matched by few. The work influenced the writings of Shakespeare. John Milton has numerous images taken from this Bible in his Paradise Lost. The direct style of writing caused it to be easily available to the common man. Poets and writers, such as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and many others were deeply inspired by it. It had altered the course of English history, with England growing to a world power since the book's publication; when asked by a visiting dignitary what made England great, Queen Victoria pulled out her copy of the Bible and declared "This is the secret of England's greatness."
Today, the Bible is available in many versions across the English-speaking world, and has been translated into nearly every language on Earth, including the current translation into a recently-created language from the fictional world of Star Trek, Klingon. The past two decades saw the emergence of internet use; the creation of the Bible as a software program was inevitable, and several, such as E-Sword and Theophilos, are available at no cost with a wealth of Bible-study material as well.
- ↑ Slick, Matthew J. "The Bible." Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, March 23, 2007. Accessed September 16, 2008.
- ↑ History of the Bible by All About The Journey.
- ↑ Wilson, Robert D. A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, Sunday School Times, Inc, Philadelphia, PA, 1926, p. 11.
- ↑ What are the Dead Sea Scrolls and why are they important? By Got Questions?
- ↑ Thackeray, H. St. J. "The Septuagint." International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915. Accessed September 16, 2008.
- ↑ Rudd, Steve. "Which Old Testament text did Jesus prefer and quote from?" The Interactive Bible, n.d. Accessed September 17, 2008.
- ↑ Unger, op. cit., p. 70.
- ↑ Unger, Merrill F. Introductory Guide to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1951, p. 70.
- ↑ Deuterocanonical Books in the New Testament)
- ↑ Agard, Bill and Margaret. "History of the Bible." Accessed January 8, 2008.
- ↑ Chapter IX: Ancient Non-Christian Sources By Gary Habermas
- ↑ Siege of Jerusalem By Wikipedia
- ↑ Josephus, The Wars of the Jews VI.9.3
- ↑ Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1965, pp. 741-742
- ↑ Halley, op. cit., p. 743
- ↑ Bynum, E. L. "The Story of William Tyndale." Lubbock, Texas: Tabernacle Baptist Church, n.d. Accessed January 8, 2008.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Lillback, Peter A., DeMar, Gary D., Federer, William J., et al. 1599 Geneva Bible: The Holy Scriptures Contained in the Old and New Testaments. White Hall, WV, USA: Tolle Lege Press, 2006. 1400 pp., cloth. ISBN 0975484699. Also available in black (ISBN 0975484613) and calfskin (ISBN 0975484621) leather-bound editions.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Foster, Marshall. "The History and Impact of the Geneva Bible." 1599 Geneva Bible, op. cit., pp. xxiii to xxvi.
- ↑ Authors unknown. "John Calvin (1509-1564)" Switzerland Is Yours, Micheloud and Cie, 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
- ↑ Wilson, Kevin, co-ordinator. "Klingon Bible Translation Project." January 31, 2004. Accessed January 8, 2008.
- Peter J. Williams Interview on Gospel Reliability Michael Licona interviews Dr. Peter J. Williams of Cambridge University
- The Historical Jesus - Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ Chapter IX. Ancient Non-Christian Sources by Gary R. Habermas