Short History of the Bible †

The Bible is the collection of books that the Catholic Church decided could be read at Mass. It is a collection of books written by different authors with different writing styles over thousands of years for different audiences. It is not a manual on how to run a religion or build a church. Those things already existed before the Bible was assembled.

The Didache is the earliest manual on how to run a Church. In modern times the Catholic Church is governed by Canon Law and the Catechism which is based on Scripture.

At the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, that taught and worshiped at the Temple in Jerusalem, considered only the 5 books of Moses to be the word of God. The Pharisees and Rabbis that taught and worshiped in the Synagogues, considered the 5 books of Moses, the writings of the Prophets, the Psalms, and some of the historical writings as Scripture grouped in sets of 22 or 24 books.

Jews living outside of Jerusalem used a Greek Translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. This translation has the 46 books of the Catholic Canon of the Old Testament in it, and various others that did not make it into the Catholic Old Testament. The 7 books that are in the Catholic Old Testament but not the Protestant Old Testament are 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom, Baruch, Sirach, Tobit, and Judith. The

Early Christians considered the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew writings as Scripture. The New Testament usually quotes from the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. All the books that made it into the New Testament were written in the first century. This is a basic history of the Bible.

After the Bar Kokhba revolt, in 136AD, the Jews declared that the 7 books, which are in the Catholic Old Testament, were not to be considered scripture because they were used by the Christians. The Hebrew Masoretic Text of 24 books was established as their Scripture. The current Protestant Old Testament of 39 books is a reorganization of the 24 books of the Masoretic Text.

The oldest list of the New Testament books is on an incomplete scrap of parchment known as the Muratorian fragment from around 170AD. It lists the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Romans, Philemon, Titus, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Jude, 1st and 2nd John, Wisdom of Solomon, Revelation of John, and Revelation of Peter as scripture.
In 360AD the Council of Laodicea listed a canon of scripture that had 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament leaving off the Book of Revelation.

In 367AD Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria listed the 27 books of the New Testament in his Easter letter sent to his Churches.
In 382AD Pope Damasus at the Council of Rome listed the 27 books of the New Testament and 46 books of the Old Testament as the Canon of Scripture for use in Churches.

In 383AD Pope Damasus commissions St. Jerome to make a Latin translation of the New and Old Testament Scriptures. Jerome used the Hebrew Masoretic texts for his Old Testament translation and Greek writings for the New Testament translation.

The Masoretic texts didn’t include the 7 books that we have in our Old Testament that Protestants don’t because the Jews had rejected them. Jerome made a Latin translation of these books after they were confirmed by the Councils of Hippo and Carthage.

In 386AD the Council of Hippo came up with the same list of 46 OT and 27 NT books.

In 397AD the Council of Carthage again under Augustine came up with the same list and sent it to Rome for approval.

In 405AD Pope Innocent, I listed the 27 books of the New Testament and 46 books of Old Testament in his Easter letter to the Bishop of Lyon in France.

In 787AD the Second Council of Nicaea accepted the decrees of previous smaller Councils. This included the Canon of Scripture determined in 397 by the Council of Carthage.

In 1441 the Council of Florence approved the list of books accepted by the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage.
In 1550 the list of 46 OT books and 27 NT books were made official at the Council of Trent.

This is why there is a difference today between the Protestant and Catholic Bibles. It wasn’t until the end of the 300s that the New Testament Scriptures were established.

The Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, 1st Clement to the Corinthians, and the Epistle of Barnabas were read in many early Churches. The Book of Revelation, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, James and the Book of Hebrews were considered questionable by many.

The Catholic Church that teaches that baptism forgives sins, that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and that the Bishop of Rome is the head of the Church, is the Church that decided which books are the divinely inspired words of God. No other church can claim that.

The Bible contains divinely inspired writings. But they need to be interpreted. The thousands of different Protestant churches have different interpretations of these divinely inspired writings.

The Catholic Church has the oldest and original understanding of these writings.

The Pope is the successor of the minister that Jesus left behind to feed His sheep and tend His flock. This same Jesus promised to be with His Church to the end of time (Matt28:20). Jesus didn’t leave us a book to put our trust in, He left us a Church to teach us what He taught the Apostles.

We put our trust in the Church Jesus founded not a book or a man.

No other church claims to have developed the list of the books in the Bible, they all inherited it from the Catholic Church.