Here's one I get a lot. Why do you even read the Bible, when it's not even reliable? Did you know, there a many books of the Bible that weren't included? Most of those books even seem to conflict with the central message of the Bible. Why did the religious leaders of the day choose to not include those books of the Bible? By what process was this determined? How can you really say that the Bible is reliable and has been perfectly preserved for thousands of years?
This is what we call a question of canon. Canon is, in its simplest definition, "a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine". Many people believe the question of canon presents a defeating argument to the Bible's credibility. In this post, I will show that the Biblical canon we have today is by no doubt genuine and has been perfectly preserved throughout history. Also, I will be referring to the Protestant canon (the traditional Bible you and I have).
Let's start by knowing the books that weren't included.
Books not included
There are a lot of books that have been claimed to be part of the Bible. Here is a short list of some of them:
Already, it seems to be a daunting task to try individually address each book and why they haven't been included. For the sake of length and accuracy, I will provide overall reasons why these books are not canon. I recommend you sit down with this list and test each of these books with the requirements I will list out below. Or if you're lazy, you could research what the scholars and experts say about these books individually.
How books were included in Canon
These are the accepted requirements by the church for accepting a book as canon.
These requirements were determined by looking at Jesus' instructions and way of life. For example, he gave authority to the apostles to guide the church, so one requirement would be that a book should be apostolic. The entire Bible centre around Jesus, therefore for books to be canon, they should centre around Jesus etc. The point I'm trying to make is no one individual or individuals decided what requirements must be for books to be in the Bible. We look at Jesus and what he taught and based on him, the apostles and church could easily tell whether a book was genuine or fake based on the requirements above.
Just to expand on the first point, the reason why many of the books refer to disciples (the Acts of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas) is because the book had to be written by an Apostle or Apostle confirmed person. Do not be deceived to think that those books were written by the Apostles. The writers of those books knew if he/she were to say that they wrote it (and nobody knew who the writer was) then it wouldn't be accepted. So they would attribute those writings to apostles or those affirmed by apostles. In fact, it's been shown that many of these books were written after these apostles had died. For example, the Gospel of Thomas is dated around 340 A.D. but he died around 52 A.D. Some books have also been proven that they weren't apostolic by comparing the books' style of writing to the style of which the different apostles would write. There is certain language the apostles would use that doctors, fishermen or tax collectors (the professions of some apostles) would use at that time. We can compare this language to the supposed books written by the apostles, to verify whether the apostles really wrote those books or not. This is how we can even date when those books could be written.
Most of the non-canon books, that I have researched, follow the trend I have described above. The early church was able to tell whether a book was genuine or fake quickly when they were presented with them. Some books were so in conflict with the message of the Bible that they knew right then that they were fake.
Fake books existed in the time of the Apostles
We know that these books were not uncommon in the time the apostles lived because they are actually referenced in the Bible, Old and New Testament. I would love to list all the books and references, but the list is too long. So I will list a few of them and leave a link if you want to investigate further. Also, comment below if you feel I should make these lists longer.
We can see that fake Bible books were not uncommon. The writers of the Bible took the time to deal with them to explain why they were not included. After the Apostles had died, many more tried to insert their fake books into our Bible today to which the church used the method described above.
If this evidence isn't conclusive enough, I have another strong point to prove that the scriptures of canon that we have today are correct and have been preserved throughout time.
Evidence of Manuscripts
These are the Manuscripts we have in possession today:
If all the New Testament bibles disappeared, we could reconstruct the entire new testament easily using any one of the points above individually. In other words, if we took the Coptic-Syriac manuscripts alone, we could reconstruct the entire New Testament using those manuscripts alone. Here's the amazing part: It would look like the Bible we have in our possessions today.
Nabbed Qureshi, 2012
Amy Orr-Ewing, 2015
This is my point in terms of the other books, if we do not have overwhelming eyewitness accounts, quotations or evidence of these books in the manuscripts (I say overwhelming because we have overwhelming evidence of other scriptures) then I think it is safe to conclude that they were probably fake.
Council of Nicaea
I am working on an article about this with my good friend David Ayisi. I believe my next blog post will address the council of Nicaea so stay tuned. What I find interesting, however, is what scholars say about this. Scholars usually use the Council of Nicaea as a "litmus test" on whether the person knows what they are talking about (David Wood). In Academia, the evidence of the Council of Nicaea "creating Jesus" or corrupting the Bible is so inadmissible that when someone brings it up they know that the person doesn't really understand what they are talking about. But as I said, I will post an article about it exploring it in more depth.
It's quite lengthy but watch the first 6 minutes.
There is no evidence that non-canon books of the Bible should have been included. In fact, we have all the evidence that they don't belong in the Bible. I have demonstrated this by looking at the requirements above. What I haven't done is individually debunk each book. Although one can research this and debunk them for themselves, there are experts that verify that each of these books does not belong in the Bible. However, on an overall level, I have shown how these individual books could fail the requirements and also shown using manuscripts that these non-canon books were not meant to be in the Bible. I realize that this is a huge topic. I haven't even started covering everything that needs to be covered. But I believe the evidence I have presented, points to a perfectly preserved canon, inspired by God.
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