How Do We Know the Right Books Made it into the New Testament?
by Matthew Mittelberg
“To rewrite the history books…Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.”
This passage, from the bestselling Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code, expresses a common perspective in pop culture today: the Bible is a man-made book, collected by a corrupt church, in an effort to make their leader seem divine. But is this true? Has the New Testament, a collection of 27 books, been heavily edited and censored by the church? Do we have any reason to trust the books that were included? This article will explore these important questions.
What is the canon?
The word canon comes from the Greek kanon, and is derived from the Hebrew kaneh, or measuring rod. When applied to the Bible, the canon is the collection of books that are considered the inspired Word of God—the standard by which all theological claims should be measured.
While The Da Vinci Code is extremely inaccurate in its description of how the Bible was formed, it is correct in saying that the New Testament was not collected immediately after the resurrection of Jesus. Mostly, because the books were still being written…