So, how did the Bible get made? From where did it come? I heard a comedian once say, “Christians are so funny. They believe that God wrote a book, threw it from heaven and somebody found it in a field.” Not only is this inaccurate and insulting, it’s also a bit naïve. As Christians we believe that God moved holy men to write specific things in order to communicate to mankind (II Peter 1:19-21). We call this process inspiration (II Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit of God spoke to specific men and gave them specific messages to specific people for a specific purpose. These men wrote down the very words they heard from God. We also believe in preservation (Psalm 12:6-7). We believe that God will preserve the words that He chose to inspire. The reason we still have the Torah (Gen-Deut.) is because of preservation. The reason we have the book of Joshua in the Old Testament and not the book of Jasher is because God inspired the book of Joshua and subsequently preserved it. That leads us to canonicity.
1. Understanding the Canon
“The word ‘canon’ comes from the Greek κανων, meaning ‘list,’ ‘rule,’ or ‘standard’.” Like a measuring rod or a plumb line the canon speaks to a standard with which to measure up. In relation to the study of the Bible it refers to the collection of books, letters, poems and songs see as authoritative, inspired and preserved. There are 66 books in the Christian canon. The Bible, as we know it, did not originally come in a neatly, leather-bound book. However, it did eventually become this through the process of canonicity.
2. The Necessity of the Canon
By AD 100 the vast majority of churches began to accept and speak of the four gospels, the book of Acts, and the writings of Paul as the authoritative and inspired Word of God. However, there were some who questioned the veracity of some of the smaller books (2 John, 3 John) and the recently written book of Revelation. In the decades to come there were other Christian books that we being written, such as the popular Shepherd of Hermas, that some were suggesting might need to be viewed as Scripture. Moreover, there were heretical books being published by heretical groups (Marcionites, Montanists, Gnostics) that were beginning to slip into the worship services of the church. Certain books, such as the late Gospel of Thomas, didn’t appear on the scene until AD 150 challenged Christian theology and threatened the future of the church. Therefore, early Christians felt the need to establish an authoritative list of Scripture.
3. The Process of Canonicity
Simple forms of canonicity began as simple lists produced by pastors for their congregations and students to see. Each of these lists appeared to be very similar. By the time of Origen (early 200’s) all seemed to validate the authenticity of the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen letters of Paul, Hebrews, I Peter, I John, and Revelation. In dispute were II and II John, II Peter, James, and Jude.  It was the pastor of Alexandria, a man named Athanasius, who wrote in AD 367 of the authenticity of the twenty-seven books that we now have in our New Testament. These views were ratified at the Council of Hippo (AD 393) and the Council of Carthage (AD 397).
The greatest misunderstanding of canonicity is that the early church leaders “picked” the books of the Bible. This is incorrect. Instead we would postulate that the early church leaders merely recognized those writings that were truly inspired and divinely preserved. They identified the correct books through a three-fold process. First, apostolicity is the ability to link the book to a specific an apostle or an intimate associate of an apostle. Second, orthodoxy is the ability of the text to remain true in doctrine without contradicting other known Scripture. Third, catholicity identifies the book in question as widely received by the early church. It asks the question, was this book almost universally recognized as inspired Scripture? Though I believe all three of these elements to be important in the process of canonization, I would say the most important would be orthodoxy. To have Scriptures that are in contradiction to one another would leave our faith open to horrific possibilities. In addition, if each were truly inspired, how is it that God could ever contradict Himself? I would say the least important element of canonization would be apostolicity. Though it is nice to know that each of the writers were close to the Lord Jesus, I believe that God could have used anyone to write any of the Bible.
4. The Completed Canon
So, will there be any sequels? Will there be “another gospel” produced or found in the years to come. The answer is simply no. The canon is closed. Through there are still sects and offshoots of Christianity that believe in progressive revelation and the possibility of new books being added to the Scripture, this is likely not going to occur. For any writing to be accepted into the canon of Scripture these books would have to be written by an apostle or close associate. This would be difficult because they have been dead for nearly two thousand years. The writing would have to be orthodox and not contradict any Scripture that is currently in the canon. Lastly, the book would have to be universally accepted by the church, which would be a miracle. Therefore, orthodox Christianity has considered the canon closed since the writing of the book of Revelation.
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 William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 103.
 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 448-9.
 Ibid., 449.
 Ibid., 449-50.
 William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 112.
 Ibid., 115-6.