9 December 2009
The History of the Canonization of the Bible
The process by which the English Bible, as it is known to the English culture today, was compiled is an extraordinary thing to see. The Bible consists of two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The process by which both Testaments were written and then canonized into one book transpired over a period of many years. Once the canonization of the Bible officially came to an end, it was translated into English. Since then, many versions of the modern Bible have been made. Since the individual books of the Bible became scattered as they were written, people set forth to preserve God’s Word by compiling them into one book. This development began with the writing and canonization of the individual books of the Bible which were then translated into the English language.
“The Christian Bible is not really one book at all, but a collection of books written over thousands of years.” It was written by a large sum of various authors. The canonization of the Bible is the procedure by which the books that would become part of the Bible were chosen. This process did not take place all at once, nor was it done by one group of people. The word canon is derived from the word rod (measure) in the Greek language. The books were chosen by resolving which ones met the given standard (Stotesberg).
The canonization of the Old Testament took place over a period of many years. Overall, the books of the Old Testament were written from 1000-1050 BC. The first translation of the Bible was the Septuagint or the LXX which in the end consists of forty-six books (“Development of the Difficult Canon”). At this time, only the Torah (the Pentateuch), which were the first five books of the Bible, were translated (Kalvesmaki). There are two different theories as to the exact details of this process. One is that it was translated by rabbis in 200 BC (“Development of the Difficult Canon”). The other is that six translators out of each of the twelve tribes of Israel were chosen to translate the Scripture in 282 BC. During the three centuries that followed, the two other canons of the Old Testament were translated from Hebrew to Greek (Kalvesmaki). These two canons are the Prophets and the Writings. The Prophets are composed of the following books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Writings are I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Daniel (Stotesberg). The Christians compared the canon which they had been using, the Old Testament, to the Septuagint (which consists of the Apocrypha also), choosing it over their Old Testament canon. This angered the Jews who therefore made and distributed more copies of the Old Testament canon. In the end though, the Christians still embraced the Septuagint, and the Jews refused it (Kalvesmaki). As a result of this dispute, the Jewish rabbis held the Council of Jamniah in AD 100 at which they choose to take out seven of the books that were not originally part of their Hebrew Old Testament, named the Apocrypha (“Development of the Difficult Canon”), also called the Deuterocanonical books (Kalvesmaki). This resulted in the canon only having thirty-nine books ((“Development of the Difficult Canon”)). From AD 400 to 1546, the Bible was translated and rearranged until finally, the official canon of it was determined. In AD 400, Jerome began a new translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew to Latin. In this canon, called the Vulgate, he left out the Apocrypha since these books are not contained in the Jewish Old Testament. In the end though, he leaves the Apocrypha in the Vulgate, because Pope Damascus wishes it. In AD 1536, Luther carries out his translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek...
Cited: Barker, Lane, and Michaels. The New Testament Speaks. New York: Harper & Row, 1969. Web.
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Bruce, F. F. “The Canon of Scripture.” Inter-Varsity. Autumn 1954: 19-22. BiblicalStudies.org.
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Kalvesmaki, Joel, comp. “The History of the Septuagint and its Terminology.” The Septuagint
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Stotesberg, Cheryl. “Christianity: history of the modern Bible.” Essortment. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.
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