Question – Which books belong in the Bible ?
Most of us are happy with 66 books, however others add more. The Roman Catholic Bible often includes the Apocrypha. Some people put value on the Gospel of Thomas and Judas. The Mormon church include the book of Mormon.
Several books are available on this subject and I am researching the book ‘The Cannon’ by F.F. Bruce. A recent reading of the Apocrypha gave me the sense that it has interesting history after Malachi’s day and included some wise words, but did not have the ring of inspiration.
A serious accusation is made by the Muslims and others, that the Roman Catholic church has so corrupted the Christian Bible that it is no longer trustworthy. This can be answered in several ways.
1 Modern archaeology and research has located more than 5000 pieces of the Greek copies of the New Testament . Many of these were written before the Roman Catholic church became an institution. The amazing thing is that these copies from various places have such a close harmony to each other. Scholars who do much work in this area maintain that our Bible is at least 98% accurate to the original.
2 I obtained a New Testament recently that was translated, not from Greek, but from an ancient Aramaic text . This text was preserved by the eastern Orthodox church, not being subject to Roman Catholic interference. However, it is so similar to our normal Bible!
3 The Roman church did try to suppress the Bible, maintaining it in Latin only, and when it was translated, tried to burn it. This would hardly have happened if it was changed to suit their teachings.
Back to the books of the Cannon. The Old Testament was largely assembled by Jewish Rabbis before the Lord Jesus came. ( possibly by scholars exile in Babylon). The order of the books may differ, but most groups accept the Old Testament as we have it.
Collection and recognition of the New Testament books is different. The Lord Jesus did not write like Moses did, but rather commissioned His apostles to convey the “truth” revealed by the Holy Spirit (John 16). The early Christians valued these writings/letters by the apostles and their associates, and collected and circulated them. Hebrews ,having no apparent author was slow to be recognized, but its content gave it a place among those inspired by the Holy Spirit. After some decades, several councils, consensus was reached at the council in Carthage AD397 for the 66 books which we now use.
The writings of the early Fathers, along with the Alexandrian Gospels (Thomas, Judas) came much later and were rejected as lacking the accuracy and inspiration of the early documents.
In conclusion for now ( as I do more research), I attest that one of the greatest confirmations of our Bible is the internal unveiling of God to mankind. For those willing to read it with openheartedness, God speaks firstly through Moses and the prophets and lastly though His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The Bible is quite enough - the challenge is for us to believe it and obey it !!
Seek the Lord today in His word and you will surely find Him.