The determination of the canon “standard”
There were various tests given to each book.
These tests included:
Authorship – Who wrote the book or epistle?
Local Church acceptance – Had it been read by the various churches?
What was each one’s opinion?
Church father’s recognition – Had the pupils of the Disciples quoted from the books?
Book subject matter – What did the book teach?
Did it contradict other recognized books?
Personal edification – Did the book have the ability to inspire, convict, and edify the local congregation and individual believers?
It was the combination of all 5 that determined whether a book was considered inspired. Age or the language of the given book did not determine it and I am sure that God moved each book to the forefront when it was considered.
The writings that were unaccepted.
After the Old Testament canon was recognized as officially closed, prior to the New Testament, period there arose a body of letters known as “Apocrypha” which means “That which is hidden” and it consisted of 14 books:
Old Testament Apocrypha
1 Esdras – This book covers much of the material found in Ezra, Nehemiah, and 2 Chronicles, but it also includes a fanciful story concerning 3 Jewish servants in Persia.
2 Esedras – This book contains certain visions given to Ezra dealing with God’s government of the world and the restoration of certain lost scriptures
Tobit – This is a story of a pious Jew who is accidentally blinded and later healed by an angel named Raphael.
Judith – This is a story of a beautiful and devout Jewish princess who saves Jerusalem from being destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s invading army.
The remainder of Esther – These are additional inserts to the book of Esther to show the Hand of God in the narrative by putting the word “God” into the text. The word “God” does not appear in the book of Esther.
The Wisdom of Solomon – This has been called the gem of the apocrypha. It is one of the loftier books.
Ecclesiasticus – Also called “The wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach” This book resembles the book of Proverbs and it gives rules for personal conduct in all details of civil, religious, and domestic life.
1 Maccabees – An historical account of the Maccabean period relating events of the Jewish heroic struggle for liberty
2 Maccabees – This book covers the same period that the first does except it is inferior content wise
Baruch – This was supposedly written by Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary. It contains prayers and confessions of the Jews in exile and contains promises of restoration
The song of the three children – This was inserted into the book of Daniel right after the fiery furnace episode. It contains an eloquent prayer by Azariah, one of the three men thrown into the furnace
The story of Susanna – The story of how a godly wife of a wealthy Jew in Babylon, falsely accused of adultery, was cleared by the wisdom of Daniel.
Bel and the Dragon – This book was also added to the book of Daniel. It contains two stories:
The first concerns how Daniel proves to the king that Bel, his god, was a dead idol
The other describes how Daniel killed a dragon who the Babylonians worshipped
The prayer of Manasses – A supposed confessional prayer of the wicked King Manasses of Judah, after he was carried away to Babylon as a prisoner.
None of the 14 books claims divine inspiration. In fact, many disclaim it.
Some books contain obvious historical and geographic errors. Some of the books teach false doctrine such as prayer for the dead.
None of these books were in the early church collection. The Scribes, the Pharisees, did not accept them or the Jewish elect. Jesus never quoted it.
There is much talk these days about lost books of the Bible. From cults to the New Age, people make all sorts of claims about how the Bible is missing books, books that help justify what they hope to believe. Sometimes people claim that the Bible was edited to take out reincarnation, or the teaching of higher planes of existence, or different gods, or ancestor worship, or “at-one-ment” with nature.
The “lost books” were never lost. They were known by the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christians of the New Testament times and were never considered scripture. They weren’t lost nor were they removed. They were never in the Bible in the first place.
The additional books were not included in the Bible for several reasons. They lacked apostolic or prophetic authorship, they did not claim to be the Word of God; they contain unbiblical concepts such as prayer for the dead in 2 Macc. 12:45-46; or have some serious historical inaccuracies.
Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Church has added certain books to the canon of scripture. In 1546, largely due in response to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church authorized several more books as scripture known as the apocrypha. The word apocrypha means hidden. It is used in a general sense to describe a list of books written by Jews between 300 and 100 B.C. More specifically, it is used of the 7 additional books accepted by the Catholic Church as being inspired. The entire list of books of the apocrypha are: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, (also titled Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Additions to Daniel, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books accepted as inspired and included in the Catholic Bible are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees Wisdom of Solomon Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch
The Pseudepigraphal books are “false writings.” They are a collection of early Jewish and “Christian” writings composed between 200 BC and AD 200. However, they too were known and were never considered scripture.
The deuterocanonical (apocrypha) books are those books that were included in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) but not included in the Hebrew Bible. The recognized deuterocanonical books are “Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach or Ben Sira), Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), 1 and 2 Maccabees, and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. The canon of the Greek Orthodox community also includes 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and 3 Maccabees, with 4 Maccabees as an appendix.”(FromCarm.org)
Several apocalyptic works were written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100 though they were not included into the biblical cannon. Many of these seem to be trying to answer questions or explain things that are in the Bible. Many claimed to predict future events but were actually written after such events had already happened.
1 Enoch – This book attempts to explain who the “Sons of God” were.
The book of jubilees
The Testament of the 12 Patriarchs
The psalms of Solomon
The assumption of Moses
The martyrdom of Isaiah
The apocalypse of Moses (the book of Adam and Eve)
Many New Testament apocrypha works also exist.
The Apocryptic gospels.
Infant gospels – These books had to do with some aspect of the childhood of Jesus.
(The Gnostic infancy gospel of Thomas and of James)
Passion gospels – These books were concerned with describing supplementing accounts surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
(The gospel of Bartholomew, Questions of Bartholomew, Gospel of Peter, Acts of Pilate, Resurrection of Jesus (by Bartholomew)
Jewish – Christian gospels – Works that originated among Jewish- Christian groups.
Heretical gospels – These cover a wide variety of apocryphal gospels; most of which are considered to be Gnostic in origin.
The apocryphal Acts – A large number of legendary accounts of the journeys and heroics of the New Testament Apostles that sought to parallel and supplement the book of Acts.
The Apocryphal epistles – A small group of epistles or letters attributed to Paul. These letters try to supplement or are motivated by references to unknown writing in his epistles.
(also the epistle of Barnabas, The epistle of Clement)
One in Corinthians and another motivated by Colossians 4:16
The apocryphal apocalypses – These are scripture to those who study church history. While they are interesting and informative they are usually unreliable historically and they are always unauthorative for matters of faith and practice.
(The first and second apocalypse of James, The apocalypse of Peter; of Paul; of Stephen; of Thomas)
Some canonical books were at first doubted but later fully accepted.
Old Testament books
Song of Solomon – Because it seemed to be a mere poem of love. In Hebrew schools you kids not allowed to read it until the age of 16.
Ecclesiastes – Because some felt that it taught atheism (9:5)
Esther – Because it did not mention God in the entire book
Ezekiel – Because it seemed to contradict the Mosaic Law
Proverbs – Because it seemed to contradict itself (26:4-5)
New Testament books
Hebrews – Because of the uncertainty about the books authorship
James – Because it seems to contradict the teachings of Paul. (James 2:20 – Ephesians 2:8-9)
2 & 3 John – Because they seemed to be simply personal letters
Jude – Because the author refers to an book of Enoch (Yet Paul refers to many pagan writers)
Revelation – Because of the uncertainty of the books authorship and speculation about its many mysterious symbolic terms.
Some interesting facts about the Bible:
The Bible’s amazing unity – This unity is achieved in spite of a long period of time involved in its writing.
More than 15 centuries elapsed between the writing of Genesis to Revelations.
Nearly 400 years elapsed between the writing of Malachi and Matthew.
This unity is achieved in spite of many authors and their various occupations
Moses – an Egyptian prince
Joshua – a soldier
Samuel – a priest
David – a King
Esther – a Queen
Ruth – a housewife
Job – a rich farmer
Amos – a poor farmer
Ezra – a scribe
Isaiah – a prophet
Daniel – a prime minister
Nehemiah – a cupbearer
Matthew – a tax collector
Mark – an evangelist
Luke – a physician
John – a wealthy fisherman
Peter – a poor fisherman
Jude and James – probably carpenters
Paul – a tentmaker