How Did We Get the Bible?
Some people think the Bible was all written down about the same time, copied and distributed. But the Bible is not "instant" Scripture and it wasn't all written down around the same time.
The Bible is the foundation of Christianity. In it we learn about the human condition, our need for salvation, God's plan through Christ, the everlasting joy that awaits those who trust in Jesus, and more. So far in this series we've looked at the question of truth in relation to the Bible, as well as its reliability. Now we'll turn to the important question, "How did we get the Bible?" In doing so we'll look at four key areas regarding the Bible: inspiration, canonization, transmission and translation. Before we do so, let's look at some misconceptions about how we got the Bible.
Misconceptions About the Bible
Some people think the Bible was all written down about the same time, copied and distributed. But the Bible is not "instant" Scripture and it wasn't all written down around the same time. Instead, the books of the Bible were written over a lengthy period of time by different people inspired by God.
Another misconception about the Bible is that it was merely created by a select few in order to consolidate, gain or maintain power and prestige. Given the adversity faced by the Hebrew people and, later, the persecution suffered by Christians, this explanation is far from plausible. For instance, rather than gaining power or prestige, the early Christians were severely oppressed, while many others were killed – martyred for believing the message of the gospel.
Yet another misconception says there are many different "Bibles" so how can one be sure the Christian version is the right one? This misconception can take different forms. One form sets forth many different "gospels" as proof that the New Testament record of Jesus is not necessarily the true version. What about the Gospel of Thomas? Keep in mind that there are dozens of writings claiming to be Christian gospels along the lines of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But very few copies of these rival "gospels" exist.
The Gospel of Thomas, of which there are references to more than one version, has distinctly Gnostic influences. In short, the Gnostics believed that the flesh is bad, but the spirit is good. As a result, they denied that Jesus truly came in the flesh, a position the early church countered by writings such as 1 John. Thomas also presents Jesus doing some things very much out of character. In one passage, for example, Jesus causes a boy to wither (die).
It's also important to keep in mind that these additional "gospels" appear in the historical record long after the New Testament manuscripts, making these "lost" gospels highly suspect not only in reference to their content, but their reliability.
Transmission and Translation
Stories and claims about other "gospels" raise important questions about the transmission and translation of the Bible or any historical record. Since we've covered these topics somewhat in other articles in this series 12345678
Copyright 2009 Robert Verlarde. Used by permission. All rights reserved.