Question

I was reading some of the other questions and in an answer you stated that all of the prophets of the Bible spoke different languages. How did the Bible become compiled as one book and receive its name and who authorized its translation? 

Answer

To answer the first question, the books of the Bible are said to be in the canon of the Bible. This simply means that over time, scholars have come to accept certain books as authentic, inspired books that contain the Word of God, while rejecting other books as uninspired.

There are several books that people have tried to move into the biblical canon that never made it. For example, the Gospel of Thomas claims to be an inspired book about the childhood of Jesus. However, when this book is compared with the four Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the Gospel of Thomas_ is clearly inferior.

The books that we have in the Old Testament today were accepted by the Jews as inspired before Jesus came to the earth. These scriptures were extremely important to the Jews (and us) even after the New Testament church was established. As the canon of the New Testament was established, the Bible came to include all of the books that we have in it today.

Establishing the canon of the Bible involves careful comparisons of text that we know were written by inspired men (the letters of Paul, the Gospel of Luke as well as the book of Acts, both written by Luke who accompanied Paul on his journeys) to text that may or may not have been written by inspired men.

For example, we do not know who wrote the book of Hebrews. However, we can compare the teachings of the book of Hebrews to other texts that we know were inspired (the writings of Paul, for example). If, like the _Gospel of Thomas_, Hebrews were not able to withstand this kind of scrutiny, it would not be included in the canon.

To answer the 2nd part of your question, the oldest copies of the Old Testament that we have were written in Aramaic and Hebrew. Before Christ was born, the Greeks translated the Old Testament into the Greek language. That translation is called the Septuagint.

Several translations of the Old Testament that we use today were translated from copies of the Aramaic and Hebrew versions of the Old Testament and the Septuagint. The Dead Sea Scrolls, copies of portions of the Old Testament which were written hundreds of years before Christ was born, validate the Old Testament translations that we use today because they (our current versions) are virtually identical to the text contained in the Scrolls.

The New Testament has a similar history. There are many copies of the New Testament that date to the 4th century AD and earlier. Although we have no original manuscripts of the New Testament writings, the early Christians were careful to maintain copies of the letters that were written by the inspired men of God. Like the Old Testament, the New Testament canon includes only the books that have withstood all challenges to their authenticity and inspiration.

The Bible has been translated into English from the original Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek several times in the last several hundred years. Some translations are more accurate than others. If you would like information on the benefits and problems with different translations available today, please let me know.

If you want to pursue this question further, try to find a copy of _You Can Trust Your Bible_ by Neale Pryor. Pryor deals with many of these subjects much better than I can.

By Michael Molloy

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