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Bible, The

bi'-b'-l (biblia (Greek), books)
Epistle(s), Gospels, The; New Testament, Old Testament, Pentateuch, Prophet(s), Septuagint, Torah, Versions (Ancient)
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Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bible, the English form of the Greek name Biblia , meaning "books," the name which in the fifth century began to be given to the entire collection of sacred books, the "Library of Divine Revelation." The name Bible was adopted by Wickliffe, and came gradually into use in our English language. The Bible consists of sixty-six different books, composed by many different writers, in three different languages, under different circumstances; writers of almost every social rank, statesmen and peasants, kings, herdsmen, fishermen, priests, tax-gatherers, tentmakers; educated and uneducated, Jews and Gentiles; most of them unknown to each other, and writing at various periods during the space of about 1600 years: and yet, after all, it is only one book dealing with only one subject in its numberless aspects and relations, the subject of man's redemption.

It is divided into the Old Testament, containing thirty-nine books, and the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books. The names given to the Old in the writings of the New are "the scriptures" ( Matthew 21:42 ), "scripture" ( 2 Peter 1:20 ), "the holy scriptures" ( Romans 1:2 ), "the law" ( John 12:34 ), "the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms" ( Luke 24:44 ), "the law and the prophets" ( Matthew 5:17 ), "the old covenant" ( 2 Corinthians 3:14 , RSV). There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New. (See APOCRYPHA .)

The Old Testament is divided into three parts:,

1. The Law (Torah), consisting of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses.

2. The Prophets, consisting of

(1) the former, namely, Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings;

(2) the latter, namely, the greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets.

3. The Hagiographa, or holy writings, including the rest of the books. These were ranked in three divisions:,

(1) The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, distinguished by the Hebrew name, a word formed of the initial letters of these books, emeth , meaning truth.

(2) Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, called the five rolls, as being written for the synagogue use on five separate rolls.

(3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.

Between the Old and the New Testament no addition was made to the revelation God had already given. The period of New Testament revelation, extending over a century, began with the appearance of John the Baptist.

The New Testament consists of

(1) the historical books, viz., the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles;

(2) the Epistles; and

(3) the book of prophecy, the Revelation.

The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is altogether of human invention, designed to facilitate reference to it. The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain sections for use in the synagogue service, and then at a later period, in the ninth century A.D., into verses. Our modern system of chapters for all the books of the Bible was introduced by Cardinal Hugo about the middle of the thirteenth century (he died 1263). The system of verses for the New Testament was introduced by Stephens in 1551, and generally adopted, although neither Tyndale's nor Coverdale's English translation of the Bible has verses. The division is not always wisely made, yet it is very useful. (See VERSION.)


Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

(no entry)


Smith's Bible Dictionary

The Bible is the name given to the revelation of God to man contained in sixty-six books or pamphlets, bound together and forming one book and only one, for it has in reality one author and one purpose and plan, and is the development of one scheme of the redemption of man.


(1) The Bible, i.e. The Book , from the Greek "ta biblia," the books. The word is derived from a root designating the inner bark of the linden tree, on which the ancients wrote their books. It is the book as being superior to all other books. But the application of the word BIBLE to the collected books of the Old and New Testaments is not to be traced farther back than the fifth century of our era.

(2) The Scriptures, i.e. the writings, as recording what was spoken by God.

(3) The Oracles, i.e. the things spoken, because the Bible is what God spoke to man, and hence also called

(4) The Word.

(5) The Testaments or Covenants, because it is the testimony of God to man, the truths to which God bears witness; and is also the covenant or agreement of God with man for his salvation.

(6) The Law, to express that it contains Gods commands to men.


The Bible consists of two great parts, called the Old and New Testaments, separated by an interval of nearly four hundred years. These Testaments are further divided into sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New. These books are a library in themselves being written in every known form old literature. Twenty-two of them are historical, five are poetical, eighteen are prophetical, twenty-one are epistolary. They contain logical arguments, poetry, songs and hymns, history, biography, stories, parables, fables, eloquence, law, letters and philosophy. There are at least thirty-six different authors, who wrote in three continents, in many countries, in three languages, and from every possible human standpoint. Among these authors were kings, farmers, mechanics, scientific men, lawyers, generals, fishermen, ministers and priests, a tax-collector, a doctor, some rich, some poor, some city bred, some country born--thus touching all the experiences of men extending over 1500 years


And yet the Bible is but one book, because God was its real author, and therefore, though he added new revelations as men could receive them, he never had to change what was once revealed. The Bible is a unit, because

(1) It has but one purpose, the salvation of men.

(2) The character of God is the same.

(3) The moral law is the same.

(4) It contains the development of one great scheme of salvation.


The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, a Shemitic language, except that parts of the books of Ezra ( Ezra 5:8 ; 6:12 ; 7:12 - 26 ) and of Daniel ( Daniel 2:4 - 7 , 2:28 ) and one verse in Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 10:11 ) were written in the Chaldee language. The New Testament is written wholly in Greek.


There are no ancient Hebrew manuscripts older than the tenth century, but we know that these are in the main correct, because we have a translation of the Hebrew into Greek, called the Septuagint, made nearly three hundred years before Christ. Our Hebrew Bibles are a reprint from what is called the Masoretic text. The ancient Hebrew had only the consonant printed, and the vowels were vocalized in pronunciation, but were not written. Some Jewish scholars living at Tiberias, and at Sora by the Euphrates, from the sixth to the twelfth century, punctuated the Hebrew text, and wrote is the vowel points and other tone-marks to aid in the reading of the Hebrew; and these, together with notes of various kinds, they called Masora (tradition), hence the name Masoretic text. Of the Greek of the New Testament there are a number of ancient manuscripts They are divided into two kinds, the Uncials, written wholly in capitals, and the Cursives, written in a running hand. The chief of these are--

(1) the Alexandrian (codex Alexandrinus , marked A), so named because it was found in Aiexandria in Egypt, in 1628. It date back to A.D. 350, and is now in the British Museum.

(2) The Vatican (codex Vaticanus , B), named from the Vatican library at Rome, where it is kept. Its date is A.D. 300 to 325.

(3) The Sinaitic (codex Sinaiticus ) so called from the convent of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, there it was discovered by or Tichendorf in 1844. It is now at St. Petersburg Russia. This is one of the earliest best of all the manuscripts.


The Old Testament was translated into Greek by a company of learned Jews at Alexandria, who began their labor about the year B.C. 286. It is called the Septuagint , i.e. the seventy, from the tradition that it was translated by seventy (more exactly seventy-two) translators. The Vulgate, or translation of the Bible into Latin by Jerome, A.D. 385-405, is the authorized version of the Roman Catholic Church. The first English translation of the whole Bible was by John Deuteronomy Wickliffe (1324-1384). Then followed that of William Tyndale (1525) and several others. As the sum and fruit of all these appeared our present Authorized Version , or King James Version , in 1611. It was made by forty-seven learned men, in two years and nine months, with a second revision which took nine months longer. These forty-seven formed themselves into six companies, two of whom met at Westminster, two at Oxford and two at Cambridge. The present English edition is an improvement, in typographical and grammatical correctness, upon this revision, and in these respects is nearly perfect. [See VERSIONS] A REVISED VERSION of this authorized edition was made by a group of American and English scholars, and in 1881 the Revised New Testament was published simultaneously in the United States and England. Then followed the Revised Old Testament in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894. The American revision committee was permitted to publish its own revision, which appeared in 1901 as the American Standard Version. Modern-speech translations have been made from time to time between 1898-1945. Among these were Moultons Modern Readers Bible, the Twentieth century New Testament, Weymouths, Moffatts, and the American translation. As a result of the modern-speech translations that have appeared and been widely received, the American Revision Committee set to work again, and in 1946 the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament was published.


The present division of the whole Bible into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo Deuteronomy St. Gher about 1250. The present division into verses was introduced by Robert Stephens in his Greek Testament, published in 1551, in his edition of the Vulgate, in 1555. The first English Bible printed with these chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible, in 1560.


The first book ever printed was the Bible; and more Bibles have been printed than any other book. It has been translated, in its entirety or in part, into more than a thousand languages and dialects and various systems for the blind. The American Bible Society (founded in 1816) alone has published over 356 million volumes of Scripture.


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

bi'-b'-l, (biblia):

General Designation:
This word designates the collection of the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament recognized and in use in the Christian churches. Different religions (such as the Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, Mohammedan) have their collections of sacred writings, sometimes spoken of as their "Bibles." The Jews acknowledge only the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Christians add the writings contained in the New Testament. The present article deals with the origin, character, contents and purpose of the Christian Scriptures, regarded as the depository and authoritative record of God's revelations of Himself and of His will to the fathers by the prophets, and through His Son to the church of a later age (Hebrews 1:1 , 2). Reference is made throughout to the articles in which the several topics are more fully treated.

In the natural course of things the apostolic autographs would be likely to perish soon. The material which was commonly used for letters the papyrus paper, to which St. John incidentally alludes. ( 2 John 1:12 ) comp. 3 John 1:13 was singularly fragile, and even the stouter kinds, likely to be used for the historical books, were not fitted to bear constant use. The papyrus fragments which have come down to the present time have been preserved under peculiar circumstances as at Herculaneum or in the Egyptian tombs.


1. Bible

The word "Bible" is the equivalent of the Greek word biblia (diminutive from biblos, the inner bark of the papyrus), meaning originally "books." The phrase "the books" (ta biblia) occurs in Dan 9:2 (Septuagint) for prophetic writings. In the Prologue to Sirach ("the rest of the books") it designates generally the Old Testament Scriptures; similarly in 1 Macc 12:9 ("the holy books"). The usage passed into the Christian church for Old Testament (2 Clem 14:2), and by and by (circa 5th century) was extended to the whole Scriptures. Jerome's name for the Bible (4th century) was "the Divine Library" (Bibliotheca Divina). Afterward came an important change from plural to singular meaning. "In process of time this name, with many others of Greek origin, passed into the vocabulary of the western church; and in the 13th century, by a happy solecism, the neuter plural came to be regarded as a feminine singular, and 'The Books' became by common consent 'The Book' (biblia, singular), in which form the word was passed into the languages of modern Europe" (Westcott, Bible in the Church, 5). Its earliest occurrences in English are in Piers Plowman, Chaucer and Wycliffe.

2. Other Designations--Scriptures, etc.

There is naturally no name in the New Testament for the complete body of Scripture; the only Scriptures then known being those of the Old Testament. In 2 Peter 3:16, however, Paul's epistles seem brought under this category. The common designations for the Old Testament books by our Lord and His apostles were "the scriptures" (writings) (Matthew 21:42 ; Mark 14:49 ; Luke 24:32 ; Jn 5:39 ; Acts 18:24 ; Romans 15:4, etc.), "the holy, scriptures" (Romans 1:2); once "the sacred writings" (2 Timothy 3:15). The Jewish technical division (see below) into "the law," the "prophets," and the "(holy) writings" is recognized in the expression "in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms" (Luke 24:44). More briefly the whole is summed up under "the law and the prophets" (Matthew 5:17 ; 11:13 ; Acts 13:15). Occasionally even the term "law" is extended to include the other divisions (John 10:34 ; 12:34 ; 15:25 ; 1 Corinthians 14:21). Paul uses the phrase "the oracles of God" as a name for the Old Testament Scriptures (Romans 3:2 ; compare Acts 7:38 ; Hebrews 5:12 ; 1 Peter 4:11).

3. Old Testament and New Testament

Special interest attaches to the names "Old" and "New Testament," now and since the close of the 2nd century in common use to distinguish the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. "Testament" (literally "a will") is used in the New Testament (the King James Version) to represent the Greek word diatheke, in classical usage also "a will," but in the Septuagint and New Testament employed to translate the Hebrew word berith, "a covenant." In the Revised Version (British and American), accordingly, "testament" is, with two exceptions (Hebrews 9:16 , 27), changed to "covenant" (Matthew 26:28 ; 2 Corinthians 3:6 ; Galatians 3:15 ; Hebrews 7:22 ; 9:15, etc.). Applied to the Scriptures, therefore, "Old" and "New Testament" mean, strictly, "Old" and "New Covenant," though the older usage is now too firmly fixed to be altered. The name is a continuation of the Old Testament designation for the law, "the book of the covenant" (2 Kings 23:2). In this sense Paul applies it (2 Corinthians 3:14) to the Old Testament law; "the reading of the old testament" (the Revised Version (British and American) "Covenant"). When, after the middle of the 2nd century, a definite collection began to be made of the Christian writings, these were named "the New Testament," and were placed as of equal authority alongside the "Old." The name Novum Testamentum (also Instrumentum ) occurs first in Tertullian (190-220 AD), and soon came into general use. The idea of a Christian Bible may be then said to be complete.


The Old Testament, it is well known, is written mostly in Hebrew; the New Testament is written wholly in Greek, the parts of the Old Testament not in Hebrew, namely, Ezra 4:8 through 6:18 ; 7:12-26 ; Jeremiah 10:11; Daniel 2:4 through 7:28, are in Aramaic (the so-called Chaldee), a related dialect, which, after the Exile, gradually displaced Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews (see ARAMAIC; LANGUAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT). The ancient Hebrew text was "unpointed," i.e. without the vowel-marks now in use. These are due to the labors of the Massoretic scholars (after 6th century AD).

The Greek of the New Testament, on which so much light has recently been thrown by the labors of Deissmann and others from the Egyptian papyri, showing it to be a form of the "common" (Hellenistic) speech of the time (see LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT), still remains, from its penetration by Hebrew ideas, the influence of the Septuagint, peculiarities of training and culture in the writers, above all, the vitalizing and transforming power of Christian conceptions in vocabulary and expression, a study by itself. "We speak," the apostle says, "not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth" (1 Corinthians 2:13). This is not always remembered in the search for parallels in the papyri. (For translations into other languages, see VERSIONS.)


The story of the origin, collection, and final stamping with canonical authority of the books which compose our present Bible involves many points still keenly in dispute. Before touching on these debatable matters, certain more external facts fall to be noticed relating to the general structure and compass of the Bible, and the main divisions of its contents.

1. The Jewish Bible

Josephus, etc.
A first step is to ascertain the character and contents of the Jewish Bible--the Bible in use by Christ and His apostles. Apart from references in the New Testament itself, an important aid is here afforded by a passage in Josephus (Apion, I, 8), which may be taken to represent the current belief of the Jews in the 1st century AD. After speaking of the prophets as writing their histories "through the inspiration of God," Josephus says: "For we have not myriads of discordant and conflicting books, but 22 only, comprising the record of all time, and justly accredited as Divine. Of these, 5 are books of Moses, which embrace the laws and the traditions of mankind until his own death, a period of almost 3,000 years. From the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, the successor of Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets who followed Moses narrated the events of their time in 13 books. The remaining 4 books consist of hymns to God, and maxims of conduct for men. From Artaxerxes to our own age, the history has been written in detail, but it is not esteemed worthy of the same credit, on account of the exact succession of the prophets having been no longer maintained." He goes on to declare that, in this long interval, "no one has dared either to add anything to (the writings), or to take anything from them, or to alter anything," and speaks of them as "the decrees (dogmata) of God," for which the Jews would willingly die. Philo (20 BC-circa 50 AD) uses similar strong language about the law of Moses (in Eusebius, Pr. Ev., VIII, 6).

In this enumeration of Josephus, it will be seen that the Jewish sacred books--39 in our Bible--are reckoned as 22 (after the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet), namely, 5 of the law, 13 of the prophets and 4 remaining books. These last are Psalm, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. The middle class includes all the historical and prophetical books, likewise Job, and the reduction in the number from 30 to 13 is explained by Judges-Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Jeremiah-Lamentations and the 12 minor prophets, each being counted as one book. In his 22 books, therefore, Josephus includes all those in the present Hebrew canon, and none besides--not the books known as the APOCRYPHA, though he was acquainted with and used some of these.

Other Lists and Divisions.
The statement of Josephus as to the 22 books acknowledged by the Jews is confirmed, with some variation of enumeration, by the lists preserved by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, vi.26) from Melito of Sardis (circa 172 AD) and Origen (186-254 AD), and by Jerome (Pref to Old Testament, circa 400)--all following Jewish authorities. Jerome knew also of a rabbinical division into 24 books. The celebrated passage from the Talmud (Babha' Bathra', 14b: see CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; compare Westcott, Bible in Church, 35; Driver, LOT, vi) counts also 24. This number is obtained by separating Ruth from Judges and Lamentations from Jeremiah. The threefold division of the books, into Law, Prophets, and other sacred Writings (Hagiographa), is old. It is already implied in the Prologue to Sirach (circa 130 BC), "the law, the prophets, and the rest of the books"; is glanced at in a work ascribed to Philo (De vita contempl., 3); is indicated, as formerly seen, in Luke 24:44. It really reflects stages in the formation of the Hebrew canon (see below). The rabbinical division, however, differed materially from that of Josephus in reckoning only 8 books of the prophets, and relegating 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, Job and Daniel to the Hagiographa, thus enlarging that group to 9 (Westcott, op. cit., 28; DB, I, "Canon"). When Ruth and Lam were separated, they were added to the list, raising the number to 11. Some, however, take this to be the original arrangement. In printed Hebrew Bibles the books in all the divisions are separate. The Jewish schools further divided the "Prophets" into "the former prophets" (the historical books--Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings), and "the latter prophets" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets as one book).

New Testament References.
It may be concluded that the above lists, excluding the Apocrypha, represent the Hebrew Bible as it existed in the time of our Lord (the opinion, held by some, that the Sadducees received only the 5 books of the law rests on no sufficient evidence). This result is borne out by the evidence of quotations in Josephus and Philo (compare Westcott, op. cit.). Still more is it confirmed by an examination of Old Testament quotations and references in the New Testament. It was seen above that the main divisions of the Old Testament are recognized in the New Testament, and that, under the name "Scriptures," a Divine authority is ascribed to them. It is therefore highly significant that, although the writers of the New Testament were familiar with the Septuagint, which contained the Apocrypha (see below), no quotation from any book of the Apocrypha occurs in their pages, One or two allusions, at most, suggest acquaintance with the Book of Wisdom (e.g. The Wisdom of Solomon 5:18 - 21 parallel Ephesians 6:13 - 17). On the other hand, "every book in the Hebrew Bible is distinctly quoted in the New Testament with the exception of Joshua, Judges, Chronicles, Canticles, Ecclsiastes, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Obadiah, Zephaniah and Nahum" (Westcott). Enumerations differ, but about 178 direct quotations may be reckoned in the Gospels, Acts and Epistles; if references are included, the number is raised to about 700 (see QUOTATIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT). In four or five places (Luke 11:49 - 51 ; James 4:5 ; 1 Corinthians 2:9 ; Ephesians 5:14 ; John 7:38) apparent references occur to sources other than the Old Testament; it is doubtful whether most of them are really so (compare Westcott, op. cit., 46-48; Ephesians 5:14 may be from a Christian hymn). An undeniable influence of Apocalyptic literature is seen in Jude, where 1:14 , 25 are a direct quotation from the Book of Enoch. It does not follow that Jude regarded this book as a proper part of Scripture.

2. The Septuagint

Hitherto we have been dealing with the Hebrew Old Testament; marked changes are apparent when we turn to the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Septuagint current in the Greek-speaking world at the commencement of the Christian era. The importance of this version lies in the fact that it was practically the Old Testament of the early church. It was used by the apostles and their converts, and is freely quoted in the New Testament, sometimes even when its renderings vary considerably from the Hebrew. Its influence was necessarily, therefore, very great.

The special problems connected with origin, text and literary relations of the Septuagint are dealt with elsewhere (see SEPTUAGINT). The version took its rise, under one of the early Ptolemies, from the needs of the Jews in Egypt, before the middle of the 2nd century BC; was gradually executed, and completed hardly later than circa 100 BC; thereafter spread into all parts. Its renderings reveal frequent divergence in manuscripts from the present Massoretic Text, but show also that the translators permitted themselves considerable liberties in enlarging, abbreviating, transposing and otherwise modifying the texts they had, and in the insertion of materials borrowed from other sources.

The Apocrypha
The most noteworthy differences are in the departure from Jewish tradition in the arrangement of the books (this varies greatly; compare Swete, Introduction to Old Testament in Greek, II, chapter i), and in the inclusion in the list of the other books, unknown to the Hebrew canon, now grouped as the Apocrypha. These form an extensive addition. They include the whole of the existing Apocrypha, with the exception of 2 Esdras and Pr Man. All are of late date, and are in Greek, though Sirach had a Hebrew original which has been partly recovered. They are not collected, but are interspersed among the Old Testament books in what are taken to be their appropriate places. The Greek fragments of Esther, e.g. are incorporated in that book; Susanna and Bel and the Dragon form part of Daniel; Baruch is joined with Jeremiah, etc. The most important books are Wisdom, Sirach and 1 Maccabees (circa 100 BC). The fact that Sirach, originally in Hebrew (circa 200 BC), and of high repute, was not included in the Hebrew canon, has a weighty bearing on the period of the closing of the latter.

Ecclesiastical Use.
It is, as already remarked, singular that, notwithstanding this extensive enlargement of the canon by the Septuagint, the books just named obtained no Scriptural recognition from the writers of the New Testament. The more scholarly of the Fathers, likewise (Melito, Origen, Athanasius, Cyprian, Jerome, etc.), adhere to the Hebrew list, and most draw a sharp distinction between the canonical books, and the Greek additions, the reading of which is, however, admitted for edification (compare Westcott, op. cit., 135-36, 168, 180, 182-83). Where slight divergencies occur (e.g. Est is omitted by Melito and placed by Athanasius among the Apocrypha; Origen and Athanasius add Baruch to Jer), these are readily explained by doubts as to canonicity or by imperfect knowledge. On the other hand, familiarity with the Septuagint in writers ignorant of Hebrew could not but tend to break down the limits of the Jewish canon, and to lend a Scriptural sanction to the additions to that canon. This was aided in the West by the fact that the Old Latin versions (2nd century) based on the Septuagint, included these additions (the Syriac Peshitta followed the Hebrew). In many quarters, therefore, the distinction is found broken down, and ecclesiastical writers (Clement, Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Basil, etc.) quote freely from books like Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, 2 Esdras, as from parts of the Old Testament.

3. The Vulgate (Old Testament)

An important landmark is reached in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) or Latin version of Jerome. Jerome, on grounds explained in his Preface, recognized only the Hebrew Scriptures as canonical; under pressure he executed later a hasty translation of Tobit and Judith. Feeling ran strong, however, in favor of the other books, and ere long these were added to Jerome's version from the Old Latin (see VULGATE). It is this enlarged Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) which received official recognition, under anathema, at the Council of Trent (1543), and, with revision, from Clement VIII (1592), though, earlier, leading Romish scholars (Ximenes, Erasmus, Cajetan) had made plain the true state of the facts. The Greek church vacillated in its decisions, sometimes approving the limited, sometimes the extended, canon (compare Westcott, op. cit., 217-29). The churches of the Reformation (Lutheran, Swiss), as was to be expected, went back to the Hebrew canon, giving only a qualified sanction to the reading and ecclesiastical use of the Apocrypha. The early English versions (Tyndale, Coverdale, etc.) include, but separate, the apocryphal books (see ENGLISH VERSIONS). The Anglican Articles express the general estimate of these books: "And the other books (as Jerome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine" (Art. VIII). Modern Protestant Bibles usually exclude the Apocrypha altogether.

4. The New Testament

From this survey of the course of opinion on the compass of the Old Testament, we come to the New Testament. This admits of being more briefly treated. It has been seen that a Christian New Testament did not, in the strict sense, arise till after the middle of the 2nd century. Gospels and Epistles had long existed, collections had begun to be made, the Gospels, at least, were weekly read in the assemblies of the Christians (Justin, 1 Apol., 67), before the attempt was made to bring together, and take formal account of, all the books which enjoyed apostolic authority (see CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT). The needs of the church, however, and very specially controversy with Gnostic opponents, made it necessary that this work should be done; collections also had to be formed for purposes of translation into other tongues. Genuine gospels had to be distinguished from spurious; apostolic writings from those of later date, or falsely bearing apostolic names. When this task was undertaken, a distinction soon revealed itself between two classes of books, setting aside those recognized on all hands as spurious: (1) books universally acknowledged--those named afterward by Eusebius the homologoumena; and (2) books only partially acknowledged, or on which some doubt rested--the Eusebian antilegomena (Historia Ecclesiastica, iii.25). It is on this distinction that differences as to the precise extent of the New Testament turned.

(1) Acknowledged Books
The "acknowledged" books present little difficulty. They are enumerated by Eusebius, whose statements are confirmed by early lists (e.g. that of Muratori, circa 170 AD), quotations, versions and patristic use. At the head stand the Four Gospels and the Acts, then come the 13 epistles of Paul, then 1 Peter and 1 John. These, Westcott says, toward the close of the 2nd century, "were universally received in every church, without doubt or limitation, as part of the written rule of Christian faith, equal in authority with the Old Scriptures, and ratified (as it seemed) by a tradition reaching back to the date of their composition" (op. cit., 133). With them may almost be placed Revelation (as by Eusebius) and He, the doubts regarding the latter relating more to Pauline authority than to genuineness (e.g. Origen).

(2) Disputed Books
The "disputed" books were the epistles of James, Jude, 2 John and 3 John and 2 Peter. These, however, do not all stand in the same rank as regards authentication. A chief difficulty is the silence of the western Fathers regarding James, 2 Peter and 3 John. On the other hand, James is known to Origen and is included in the Syriac Peshitta; the Muratorian Fragment attests Jude and 2 John as "held in the Catholic church" (Jude also in Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen); none of the books are treated as spurious. The weakest in attestation is 2 Peter, which is not distinctly traceable before the 3rd century (See CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; articles under the word) It is to be added that, in a few instances, as in the case of the Old Testament Apocrypha, early Fathers cite as Scripture books not generally accepted as canonical (e.g. Barnabas, Hermas, Apocrypha of Peter). The complete acceptance of all the books in our present New Testament canon may be dated from the Councils of Laodicea (circa 363 AD) and of Carthage (397 AD), confirming the lists of Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome and Augustine.


Thus far the books of the Old Testament and New Testament have been taken simply as given, and no attempt has been made to inquire how or when they were written or compiled, or how they came to acquire the dignity and authority implied in their reception into a sacred canon. The field here entered is one bristling with controversy, and it is necessary to choose one's steps with caution to find a safe way through it. Details in the survey are left, as before, to the special articles.

1. The Old Testament

Attention here is naturally directed, first, to the Old Testament. This, it is obvious, and is on all sides admitted, has a long literary history prior to its final settlement in a canon. As to the course of that history traditional and modern critical views very widely differ. It may possibly turn out that the truth lies somewhere midway between them.

(1) Indications of Old Testament Itself
If the indications furnished by the Old Testament itself be accepted, the results are something like the following:

(a) Patriarchal Age
No mention is made of writing in the patriarchal age, though it is now known that a high literary culture then prevailed in Babylonia, Egypt and Israel, and it is not improbable, indeed seems likely, that records in some form came down from that age, and are, in parts, incorporated in the early history of the Bible.

(b) Mosaic Age
In Mosaic times writing was in use, and Moses himself was trained in the learning of the Egyptians (Exodus 2:10 ; Acts 7:22). In no place is the composition of the whole Pentateuch (as traditionally believed) ascribed to Moses, but no inconsiderable amount of written matter is directly attributed to him, creating the presumption that there was more, even when the fact is not stated. Moses wrote "all the words of Yahweh" in the "book of the covenant" (Exodus 21 through 23 ; 24:4 , 7). He wrote "the words of this law" of Deuteronomy at Moab, "in a book, until they were finished" (Deuteronomy 31:9 , 24 , 26). This was given to the priests to be put by the side of the ark for preservation (Deuteronomy 31:25 , 26). Other notices occur of the writing of Moses (Exodus 17:14 ; Numbers 33:2 ; Deuteronomy 31:19 , 22 ; compare Numbers 11:26). The song of Miriam, and the snatches of song in Numbers 21, the first (perhaps all) quoted from the "book of the Wars of Yahweh" (Numbers 21:14 ff), plainly belong to Mosaic times. In this connection it should be noticed that the discourses and law of Dt imply the history and legislation of the critical JE histories (see below). The priestly laws (Leviticus, Numbers) bear so entirely the stamp of the wilderness that they can hardly have originated anywhere else, and were probably then, or soon after, written down. Joshua, too, is presumed to be familiar with writing (Joshua 8:30-35; compare Deuteronomy 27:8), and is stated to have written his farewell address "in the book of the law of God" (Joshua 24:26 ; compare 1:7,8). These statements already imply the beginning of a sacred literature.

(c) Judges
The song of Deborah (Judges 5) is an indubitably authentic monument of the age of the Judges, and the older parts of Jgs, at least, must have been nearly contemporary with the events which they record. A knowledge of writing among the common people seems implied in Judges 8:14 (American Revised Version, margin). Samuel, like Joshua, wrote "in a book" (1 Samuel 10:25), and laid it up, evidently among other writings, "before Yahweh."

(d) Monarchy
The age of David and Solomon was one of high development in poetical and historical composition: witness the elegies of David (2 Samuel 1:17 ff; 3:33 , 34), and the finely-finished narrative of David's reign (2 Samuel 9 through 20), the so-called "Jerusalem-Source," admitted to date "from a period very little later than that of the events related" (Driver, LOT, 183). There were court scribes and chroniclers. David and the Monarchy: David, as befits his piety and poetical and musical gifts (compare on this POT, 440 ff), is credited with laying the foundations of a sacred psalmody (2 Samuel 23:1 ff; see PSALMS), and a whole collection of psalms (Psalms 1 through 72, with exclusion of the distinct collection, Psalms 42 through 50), once forming a separate book (compare Psalms 72:20), are, with others, ascribed to him by their titles (Psalms 1 ; 2 ; 10 are untitled). It is hardly credible that a tradition like this can be wholly wrong, and a Davidic basis of the Psalter may safely be Assumed. Numerous psalms, by their mention of the "king" (as Psalms 2 ; 18 ; 20 ; 21 ; 28 ; 33 ; 45 ; 61 ; 63 ; 72 ; 101 ; 110), are naturally referred to the period of the monarchy (some, as Ps 18 certainly, Davidic). Other groups of psalms are referred to the temple guilds (Sons of Korah, Asaph).

(e) Wisdom Literature--History
Solomon is renowned as founder of the Wisdom literature and the author of Proverbs (1 Kings 4:32; Proverbs 1:1; 10:1; Ecclesiastes 12:9 ; Ecclesiastes itself appears to be late), and of the Song (Song of Solomon 1:1). The "men of Hezekiah" are said to have copied put a collection of his proverbs (Proverbs 25:1; see PROVERBS). Here also may be placed the Book of Job. Hezekiah's reign appears to have been one of literary activity: to it, probably, are to be referred certain of the Psalms (e.g. Psalms 46, 48; compare Perowne, Delitzsch). In history, during the monarchy, the prophets would seem to have acted as the "sacred historiographers" of the nation. From their memoirs of the successive reigns, as the later books testify (1 Chronicles 29:29 ; 2 Chronicles 9:29 ; 12:15 , etc.), are compiled most of the narratives in our canonical writings (hence the name "former prophets"). The latest date in 2 Kings is 562 BC, and the body of the book is probably earlier.

(f) Prophecy

(i) Assyrian Age
With the rise of written prophecy a new form of literature enters, called forth by, and vividly mirroring, the religious and political conditions of the closing periods of the monarchy in Israel and Judah (see PROPHECY). On the older view, Obadiah and Joel stood at the head of the series in the pre-Assyrian period (9th century), and this seems the preferable view still. On the newer view, these prophets are late, and written prophecy begins in the Assyrian period with Amos (Jeroboam II, circa 750 BC) and Hosea (circa 745-735). When the latter prophet wrote, Samaria was tottering to its fall (721 BC). A little later, in Judah, come Isaiah (circa 740-690) and Micah (circa 720-708). Isaiah, in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, is the greatest of the prophets in the Assyrian age, and his ministry reaches its climax in the deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib (2 Kings 18 ; 19 ; Isaiah 36 ; 37). It is a question whether some oracles of an Isaianic school are not mingled with the prophet's ow n writings, and most scholars now regard the 2nd part of the book (Isaiah 40 through 66) as exilian or (in part) post-exilian in date. The standpoint of much in these chapters is certainly in the Exile; whether the composition of the whole can be placed there is extremely doubtful (see ISAIAH). Nahum, who prophesies against Nineveh, belongs to the very close of this period (circa 660).

(ii) Chaldean Age
The prophets Zephaniah (under Josiah, circa 630 BC) and Habakkuk (circa 606) may be regarded as forming the transition to the next--the Chaldean--period. The Chaldeans (unnamed in Zephaniah) are advancing but are not yet come (Habakkuk 1:6). The great prophetic figure here, however, is Jeremiah, whose sorrowful ministry, beginning in the 13th year of Josiah (626 BC), extended through the succeeding reigns till after the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC). The prophet elected to remain with the remnant in the land, and shortly after, troubles having arisen, was forcibly carried into Egypt (Jeremiah 43). Here also he prophesied (Jeremiah 43; 44). From the reign of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah consistently declared the success of the Chaldean arms, and foretold the 70 years' captivity Jeremiah 25:12 - 14). Baruch acted as his secretary in writing out and editing his prophecies (Jeremiah 36; 45).

(g) Josiah's Reformation
A highly important event in this period was Josiah's reformation in his 18th year (621 BC), and the discovery, during repairs of the temple, of "the book of the law," called also "the book of the covenant" and "the law of Moses" (2 Kings 22:8 ; 23:2 , 24 , 25). The finding of this book, identified by most authorities with the Book of Deuteronomy, produced an extraordinary sensation. On no side was there the least question that it was a genuine ancient work. Jeremiah, strangely, makes no allusion to this discovery, but his prophecies are deeply saturated with the ideas and style of Deuteronomy.

(h) Exilian and Post-Exilian
The bulk of Isa 40 through 66 belongs, at least in spirit, to the Exile, but the one prophet of the Exile known to us by name is the priestly Ezekiel. Carried captive under Jehoiachin (597 BC), Ezekiel labored among his fellow-exiles for at least 22 years (Ezekiel 1:2; 29:17). A man of the strongest moral courage, his symbolic visions on the banks of the Chebar alternated with the most direct expostulation, exhortation, warning and promise. In the description of an ideal temple and its worship with which his book closes (Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48), critics think they discern the suggestion of the Levitical code.

(i) Daniel, etc.
After Ezekiel the voice of prophecy is silent till it revives in Daniel, in Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. Deported in 605 BC, Daniel rose to power, and "continued" until the 1st year of Cyrus (536 BC; Daniel 1:21). Criticism will have it that his prophecies are product of the Maccabean age, but powerful considerations on the other side are ignored (see DANIEL). Jonah may have been written about this time, though the prophet's mission itself was pre-Assyrian (9th century). The rebuilding of the temple after the return, under Zerubbabel, furnished the occasion for the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah (520 BC). Scholars are disposed to regard only Zechariah 1 through 8 as belonging to this period--the remainder being placed earlier or later. Malachi, nearly century after (circa 430), brings up the rear of prophecy, rebuking unfaithfulness, and predicting the advent of the "messenger of the covenant" (Malachi 3:1,2). To this period, or later, belong, besides post-exilian psalms (e.g. Psalms 124; 126), the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronciles, Esther and apparently Ecclesiastes.

(j) Pre-exilic Bible
If, in this rapid sketch, the facts are correctly represented, it will be apparent that, in opposition to prevalent views, large body of sacred literature existed (laws, histories, psalms, wisdom-books, prophecies), and was recognized long before the Exile. God's ancient people had "Scriptures"--had a Bible--if not yet in collected form. This is strikingly borne out by the numerous Old Testament passages referring to what appears to be a code of sacred writings in the hands of the pious in Israel. Such are the references to, and praises of, the "law" and "word" of God in many of the Psalms (e.g. Psalms 1 ; 19 ; 119 ; 12:6 ; 17:4 ; 18:21 , 22), with the references to God's known "words," "ways," "commandments," "statutes," in other books of the Old Testament (Job 8:8 ; Hosea 8:12 ; Daniel 9:2). In brief, Scriptures, which must have contained records of God's dealings with His people, a knowledge of which is constantly presupposed, "laws" of God for the regulation of the heart and conduct, "statutes," "ordinances, " "words" of God, are postulate of a great part of the Old Testament.

(2) Critical Views
The account of the origin and growth of the Old Testament above presented is in marked contrast with that given in the textbooks of the newer critical schools. The main features of these critical views are sketched in the article CRITICISM (which see); here a brief indication will suffice. Generally, the books of the Old Testament are brought down to late dates; are regarded as highly composite; the earlier books, from their distance from the events recorded, are deprived of historical worth. Neither histories nor laws in the Pentateuch belong to the Mosaic age: Joshua is a "romance"; Judges may embody ancient fragments, but in bulk is unhistorical. The earliest fragments of Israelite literature are lyric pieces like those preserved in Genesis 4:23 , 24 ; 9:25 - 27 ; Numbers 21; the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) is probably genuine. Historical writing begins about the age of David or soon thereafter. The folklore of the Hebrews and traditions of the Mosaic age began to be reduced to writing about the 9th century BC.

(a) The Pentateuch
Our present Pentateuch (enlarged to a "Hexateuch," including Joshua) consists of 4 main strands (themselves composite), the oldest of which (called Jahwist (Jahwist), from its use of the name Yahweh) goes back to about 850 BC. This was Judean. A parallel history book (called E, from its use of the name Elohim, God) was produced in the Northern kingdom about a century later (circa 750). Later still these two were united (JE). These histories, "prophetic" in spirit, were originally attributed to individual authors, distinguished by minute criteria of style: the more recent fashion is to regard them as the work of "schools." Hitherto the only laws known were those of the (post-Mosaic) Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20 through 23). Later, in Josiah's reign, the desire for centralization of worship led to the composition of the Book of Deuteronomy. This, secreted in the temple, was found by Hilkiah (2 Kings 22), and brought about the reformation of Josiah formerly mentioned. Deuteronomy (D), thus produced, is the third stra nd in the Pentateuchal compilation. With the destruction of the city and temple, under the impulse of Ezekiel, began a new period of law-construction, now priestly in spirit. Old laws and usages were codified; new laws were invented; the history of institutions was recast; finally, the extensive complex of Levitical legislation was brought into being, clothed with a wilderness dress, and ascribed to Moses. This elaborate Priestly Code (PC), with its accompanying history, was brought from Babylon by Ezra, and, united with the already existing JE and D, was given forth by him to the restored community at Jerusalem (444 BC; Nehemiah 8) as "the law of Moses." Their acceptance of it was the inauguration of "Judaism."

(b) Histories
In its theory of the Pentateuch the newer criticism lays down the determinative positions for its criticism of all the remaining books of the Old Testament. The historical books show but a continuation of the processes of literary construction exemplified in the books ascribed to Moses. The Deuteronomic element, e.g. in Joshua, Judges, 1 , 2 Samuel, 1 , 2 Kings, proves them, in these parts, to be later than Josiah, and historically untrustworthy. The Levitical element in 1, 2 Chronicles demonstrates its pictures of David and his successors to be distorted and false. The same canon applies to the prophets. Joel, e.g. must be post-exilian, because it presupposes the priestly law. The patriarchal and Mosaic histories being subverted, it is not permitted to assume any high religious ideas in early Israel. David, therefore, could not have written the Psalms. Most, if not practically all, of these are post-exilian.

(c) Psalms and Prophets
Monotheism came in--at least first obtained recognition--through Amos and Hosea. The prophets could not have the foresight and far-reaching hopes seen in their writings: these passages, therefore, must be removed. Generally the tendency is to put dates as low as possible and very many books, regarded before as preexilian, are carried down in whole or part, to exilian, post-exilian, and even late Greek times (Priestly Code, Psalter, Job, Proverbs, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Second Isaiah, Joel, Lamentations). Daniel is Maccabean and unhistorical (circa 168-167 BC). It is not proposed here to discuss this theory, which is not accepted in the present article, and is considered elsewhere (see CRITICISM; PENTATEUCH). The few points calling for remark relate to canonical acceptance.

(3) Formation of Canon
The general lines of the completed Jewish canon have already been sketched, and some light has now been thrown on the process by which the several books obtained a sacred authority. As to the actual stages in the formation of the canon opinions again widely diverge (see CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).

(a) Critical Theory
On theory at present in favor, no collections of sacred books were made prior to the return from Babylon. The only books that had authority before the Exile were, perhaps, the old Book of the Covenant, and, from Josiah's time, the Book of Deuteronomy. Both, after the return, were, on this theory, embodied, with the JE histories, and the Priestly Code, in Ezra's completed Book of the Law (with Joshua(?)), in which, accordingly, the foundation of a canon was laid. The fivefold division of the law was later. Subsequently, answering to the 2nd division of the Jewish canon, a collection was made of the prophetic writings. As this includes books which, on the critical view, go down to Greek times (John; Zechariah 9 through 14), its completion cannot be earlier than well down in the 3rd century BC. Latest of all came the collection of the "Hagiographa"--a division of the canon, on theory, kept open to receive additions certainly till the 2nd century, some think after. Into it were received such late writings as Ecclesiastes, the Maccabean Psalms, Daniel. Even then one or two books (Ecclesiastes, Esther) remained subjects of dispute.

(b) More Positive View
It will appear from the foregoing that this theory is not here accepted without considerable modification. If the question be asked, What constituted a right to a place in the canon? the answer can hardly be other than that suggested by Josephus in the passage formerly quoted--a real or supposed inspiration in the author of the book. Books were received if men had the prophetic spirit (in higher or lower degree: that, e.g. of wisdom); they ceased to be received when the succession of prophets was thought to fail (after Malachi). In any case the writings of truly inspired men (Moses, the prophets, psalmists) were accepted as of authority. It was sought, however, to be shown above, that such books, many of them, already existed from Moses down, long before the Exile (the law, collections of psalms, of proverbs, written prophecies: to what end did the prophets write, if they did not mean their prophecies to be circulated and preserved?); and such writings, to the godly who knew and used them, had the full value of Scripture. A canon began with the first laying up of the "book of the law" before Yahweh (Deuteronomy 31:25 , 26 ; Joshua 24:26). The age of Ezra and Nehemiah, therefore, is not that of the beginning, but, as Jewish tradition rightly held (Josephus; 2 Macc 2:13; Talmud), rather that of the completion, systematic delimitation, acknowledgment and formal close of the canon. The divisions of "law, prophets, and holy writings" would thus have their place from the beginning, and be nearly contemporaneous. The Samaritans accepted only the 5 books of the law, with apparently Joshua (see SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH).

(c) Close of Canon
There is no need for dogmatism as to an absolute date for the close of the canon. If inspired voices continued to be heard, their utterances were entitled to recognition. Books duly authenticated might be added, but the non-inclusion of such as a book as Sirach (Ecclesiasticus: in Hebrew, circa 200 BC) shows that the limits of the canon were jealously guarded, and the onus of proof rests on those who affirm that there were such books. Calvin, e.g. held that there were Maccabean Psalms. Many modern scholars do the same, but it is doubtful if they are right. Ecclesiastes is thought on linguistic grounds to be late, but it and other books need not be so late as critics make them. Daniel is confidently declared to be Maccabean, but there are weighty reasons for maintaining a Persian date (see DANIEL). As formerly noticed, the threefold division into "the law, the prophets, and the rest (ta loipa, a definite number) of the books" is already attested in the Prologue to Sirach.

2. The New Testament

Critical controversy, long occupied with the Old Testament, has again keenly attached itself to the New Testament, with similar disturbing results (see CRITICISM). Extremer opinions may be here neglected, and account be taken only of those that can claim reasonable support. The New Testament writings are conveniently grouped into the historical books (Gospels and Acts); Epistles (Pauline and other); and a Prophetic book (Revelation). In order of writing, the Epistles, generally, are earlier than the Gospels, but in order of subject, the Gospels naturally claim attention first.

(1) Historical Books
The main facts about the origin of the Gospels can perhaps be distinguished from the complicated literary theories which scholars are still discussing (see GOSPELS). The first three Gospels, known as the Synoptics, evidently embody a common tradition, and draw from common sources. The Fourth Gospel--that of John--presents problems by itself.

(a) The Synoptics
The former--the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke)--fall in date well within the apostolic age, and are, in the 2nd century, uniformly connected with the authors whose names they bear, Mark is spoken of as "the interpreter of Peter" (Papias, in HE iii.39); Luke is the well-known companion of Paul. A difficulty arises about Matthew, whose Gospel is stated to have been written in Aramaic (Papias, ut supra, etc.), while the gospel bearing his name is in Greek. The Greek gospel seems at least to have been sufficiently identified with the apostle to admit of the early church always treating it as his. The older theory of origin assumed an oral basis for all 3 Gospels. The tendency in recent criticism is to distinguish two main sources: (1) Mark, the earliest gospel, a record of the preaching of Peter; (2) a collection of the sayings and discourses of Jesus, attributed to Matthew (the Eusebian Logia, now called Q); with (3) a source used by Luke in the sections peculiar to himself--the result of his own investigations (Luke 1:1-4). Matthew and Luke are supposed to be based on Mark and the Logia (Q); in Luke's case with the addition of his special material. Oral tradition furnished what remains. A simpler theory may be to substitute for (1) a Petrine tradition already firmly fixed while yet the apostles were working together in Jerusalem. Peter, as foremost spokesman, would naturally stamp his own type upon the oral narratives of Christ's sayings and doings (the Mark type), while Matthew's stories, in part written, would be the chief source for the longer discourses. The instruction imparted by the apostles and those taught by them would everywhere be made the basis of careful catechetical teaching, and records of all this, more or less fragmentary, would be early in circulation (Luke 1:1-4). This would explain the Petrine type of narrative, and the seeming dependence of Matthew and Luke, without the necessity of supposing a direct use of Mark. So important a gospel could hardly be included in the "attempts" of Luke 1:1.

(b) Fourth Gospel
The Fourth Gospel (John), the genuineness of which is assumed (see JOHN, GOSPEL OF), differs entirely in character and style. It is less a narrative than a didactic work, written to convince its readers that Jesus is "the Son of God" (John 20:31). The gospel may be presumed to have been composed at Ephesus, in the last years of the apostle's residence there. With this its character corresponds. The other gospels had long been known; John does not therefore traverse the ground already covered by them. He confines himself chiefly to matters drawn from his personal recollections: the Judean ministry, the visits of Christ to Jerusalem, His last private discourses to His disciples. John had so often retold, and so long brooded over, the thoughts and words of Jesus, that they had become, in a manner, part of his own thought, and, in reproducing them, he necessarily did so with a subjective tinge, and in a partially paraphrastic and interpretative manner. Yet it is truly the words, thoughts and deeds of his beloved Lord that he narrates. His gospel is the needful complement to the others--the "spiritual" gospel.

(c) Acts
The Acts narrates the origin and early fortunes of the church, with, as its special motive (compare Acts 1:8), the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles through the labors of Paul. Its author is Luke, Paul's companion, whose gospel it continues (Luke 1:1). Certain sections--the so-called "we-sections" (Acts 16:10 - 17 ; 20:5 - 15 ; 21:1 - 18 ; 27:1 through 28:16)--are transcribed directly from Luke's journal of Paul's travels. The book closes abruptly with Paul's 2 years' imprisonment at Rome (Acts 28:30 , 31 ; 60-61 AD), and not a hint is given of the issue of the imprisonment--trial, liberation or death. Does this mean that a 3rd "treatise" was contemplated? Or that the book was written while the imprisonment still continued? (thus now Harnack). If the latter, the Third Gospel must be very early.

(2) The Epistles

(a) Pauline
Doubt never rested in the early church on the 13 epistles of Paul. Following upon the rejection by the "Tubingen" school of all the epistles but 4 (Romans, 1 , 2 Corinthians, Galatians), the tide of opinion has again turned strongly in favor of their genuineness. An exception is the Pastoral epistles (1, 2 Timothy , Titus), still questioned by some on insufficient grounds (see PASTORAL EPISTLES). The epistles, called forth by actual needs of the churches, are a living outpouring of the thoughts and feelings of the mind and heart of the apostle in relation to his converts. Most are letters to churches he himself had founded (1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians(?), Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonains): two are to churches he had not himself visited, but with which he stood in affectionate relations (Romans, Colossians); one is purely personal (Philemon); three are addressed to individuals, but with official responsibilities (1 Timonty, 2 Timothy, Titus). The larger number were written during his missionary labors, and reflect his personal situation, anxieties and companionships at the places of their composition; four are epistles of the 1st Roman imprisonment (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon): 2 Timothy is a voice from the dungeon, in his 2nd imprisonment, shortly before his martyrdom. Doctrine, counsel, rebuke, admonition, tender solicitude, ethical instruction, prayer, thanksgiving, blend in living fusion in their contents. So marvelous a collection of letters, on such magnificent themes, was never before given to the world.

The earliest epistles, in point of date, are generally held to be those to the Thessalonians, written from Corinth (52, 53 AD). The church, newly-founded, had passed through much affliction (1 Thessalonians 1:6 ; 2:14 ; 3:3 , 4 , etc.), and Paul writes to comfort and exhort it. His words about the Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff) led to mistaken expectations and some disorders. His second epistle was written to correct these problems (2 Thessalonians 2:1 - 3 ; 3:6, etc.). Corinth itself received the next epistles--the 1st called forth by reports received at Ephesus of grave divisions and irregularities 1 Corinthians (1:11 ; 3:3 ; 11:18 ff, etc.), joined with pride of knowledge, doctrinal heresy (15:12 ff), and at least one case of gross immorality (chapter 5) in the church; the 2nd, written at Philippi, expressing joy at the repentance of the offender, and removing the severe sentence that had been passed upon him (2 Corinthians 2:1 - 10 ; compare 1 Corinthians 5:3 , 4), likewise vindicating Paul's own apostleship 2 Corinthians (chapters 10 through 13). The date of both is 57 AD. 1 Cor contains the beautiful hymn on love (chapter 13), and the noble chapter on resurrection (chapter 15).

In the following year (58 BC) Paul penned from Corinth the Epistle to the Romans--the greatest of his doctrinal epistles. In it he develops his great theme of the impossibility of justification before God through works of law (Romans 1 through 3), and of the Divine provision for human salvation in a "righteousness of God" in Christ Jesus, received through faith. He exhibits first the objective side of this redemption in the deliverance from condemnation effected through Christ's reconciling death (Romans 3 through 5); then the subjective side, in the new life imparted by the spirit, giving deliverance from the power of sin (Romans 6 through 8). A discussion follows of the Divine sovereignty in God's dealings with Israel, and of the end of these dealings (Romans 9 through 11), and the epistle concludes with practical exhortations, counsels to forbearance and greetings (Romans 12 through 16).

Closely connected with the Epistle to the Romans is that to the Galatians, in which the same truths are handled, but now with a polemical intent in expostulation and reproach. The Galatian churches had apostatized from the gospel of faith to Jewish legalism, and the apostle, sorely grieved, writes this powerful letter to rebuke their faithlessness, and recall them to their allegiance to the truth. It is reasonable to suppose that the two epistles are nearly related in place and time. The question is complicated, however, by the dispute which has arisen as to whether the churches intended are those of Northern Galatia (the older view; compare Conybeare and Howson, Lightfoot) or those of Southern Galatia (Sir Wm. Ramsay), i.e. the churches of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, in Paul's time embraced in the Roman province of Galatia (see GALATIA; GALATIANS). If the latter view is adopted, date and place are uncertain; if the former, the epistle may have been written from Ephesus (circa 57 AD).

The 4 epistles of the imprisonment all fall within the years 60, 61 AD. That to the Philipplans, warmly praising the church, and exhorting to unity, possibly the latest of the group, was sent by the hand of Epaphroditus, who had come to Rome with a present from the Philippian church, and had there been overtaken by a serious illness (Philippians 2:25 - 30 ; 4:15 - 18). The remaining 3 epistles (Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon) were written at one time, and were carried to their destinations by Epaphras. Ephesians and Colossians are twin epistles, similar in thought and style, extolling the preeminence of Christ, but it is doubtful whether the former was not really a "circular" epistle, or even, perhaps, the lost Epistle to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16 ; see LAODICEANS, EPISTLE TO THE). The Colossian epistle has in view an early form of Gnostic heresy (compare Lightfoot, Gal). Philemon is a personal letter to a friend of the apostle's at Colosse, whose runaway slave, Onesimus, now a Christian, is being sent back to him with warm commendations.


Latest from Paul's pen are the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy , 2 Timothy, Titus), implying his liberation from his first imprisonment, and a new period of missionary labor in Ephesus, Macedonia and Crete (see PASTORAL EPISTLES). Timothy was left at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), Titus at Crete (Titus 1:5), for the regulation and superintendence of the churches. The epistles, the altered style of which shows the deep impress of advancing years and changed conditions, contain admonitions to pastoral duty, with warnings as to perils that had arisen or would arise. 1 Timothy and Titus were written while the apostle was still at liberty (63 AD); 2 Timothy is from his Roman prison, when his case had been partly heard, and the end was impending (2 Timothy 4:6 , 26 , 27).

(b) Epistle to Hebrews
These are the Pauline Epistles proper. The Epistle to the Hebrews, though ascribed to Paul in the title of the King James Version, is not really his. It is an early writing (probably before the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 AD) of some friend of the apostle's (in Italy, Hebrews 13:23,24), designed, by a reasoned exhibition of the superiority of Jesus to Moses and the Levitical priesthood, and of the fulfillment of Old Testament types and institutions in His person and sacrifice, to remove the difficulties of Jewish Christians, who clung with natural affection to their temple and divinely appointed ritual. It was included by Eusebius, with others in the East (not, however, by Origen), among the epistles of Paul: in the West the Pauline authorship was not admitted. Many, nevertheless, with Origen, upheld a connection with Paul ("the thoughts are Paul's"). Ideas and style suggest an Alexandrian training: hence Luther's conjecture of Apollos as the writer. There can be no certainty on the subject. The value of the Epistle is unimpaired, whoever was the author.

(c) Catholic Epistles
Of the seven so-called "Catholic" Epistles, James and Jude are by "brethren" of the Lord (James, "the Lord's brother," was head of the church at Jerusalem, Acts 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19, etc.); Peter and John, to whom the others were ascribed, were apostles. James and 1 Peter are addressed to the Jews of the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1; James 1:1). The doubts respecting certain of these writings have already been mentioned. The early date and acceptance of Jas is attested by numerous allusions (Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Didache). Many regard it as the earliest of the epistles--before Paul's. Its tone is throughout practical. The seeming conflict with Paul on faith and works, which led Luther to speak slightingly of it, is only verbal. Paul, too, held that a dead faith avails nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2 ; Galatians 5:6). 1 John, like 1 Peter, was undisputed (if the Fourth Gospel is genuine, 1 John is), and, on internal grounds, the shorter epistles (2 John, 3 John) need not be doubted (see JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF). Jude, rugged in style, with allusions to Jewish Apocalypses (Jude 1:9 , 24), is well attested, and 2 Peter seems to found on it. The last-named epistle must rely for acceptance on its own claim (2 Peter 1:1 , 28), and on internal evidence of sincerity. It is to be observed that, though late in being noticed, it never appears to have been treated as spurious. The style certainly differs from 1 Peter; this may be due to the use of an amanuensis. If accepted, it must be placed late in Peter's life (before 65 AD). 1 Peter and Jude, in that case, must be earlier (see CATHOLIC EPISTLES).

(3) Prophecy
Book of Revelation
The one prophetic book of the New Testament--the apocalyptic counterpart of Daniel in the Old Testament--is the Book of Revelation. The external evidence for the Johannine authorship is strong (see APOCALYPSE). Tradition and internal evidence ascribe it to the reign of Domitian (circa 95 AD). Its contents were given in vision in the isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). The theory which connects it with the reign of Nero through the supposed fitness of this name to express the mystic number 666 is entirely precarious (compare Salmon, Introduction to New Testament, 245-54). The main intent is to exhibit in symbolic form the approaching conflicts of Christ and His church with anti-Christian powers--with secular world-power (Beast), with intellectual anti-Christianism (False Prophet), with ecclesiastical anti-Christianism (Woman)--these conflicts issuing in victory and a period of triumph, preluding, after a sharp, final struggle, the last scenes (resurrection, judgment), and the eternal state. When the visions are taken, not as poetic imaginings, but as true apocalyptic unveilings, the change in style from the gospel, which may be regarded as already written, can readily be understood. These mighty revelations in Patmos brought about, as by volcanic force, a tremendous upheaval in the seer's soul, breaking through all previous strata of thought and feeling, and throwing everything into a new perspective. On the resultant high keynote: "Amen: Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20), the New Testament closes.

(4) New Testament Canon
The principal steps by which the books now enumerated were gradually formed into a New Testament "Canon," have been indicated in previous sections. The test of canonicity here, as in the Old Testament, is the presence of inspiration. Some would prefer the word "apostolic," which comes to the same thing. All the writings above reckoned were held to be the works of apostles or of apostolic men, and on this ground were admitted into the list of books having authority in the church. Barnabas (circa 100-120 AD) already quotes Matthew 20:16 with the formula "it is written." Paul quotes as "scripture" (1 Timothy 5:18) a passage found only in Luke (Luke 10:7). Paul's Epistles are classed with "other scriptures" in 2 Peter 3:16. Post-apostolic Fathers draw a clear distinction between their own writings and those of apostles like Paul and Peter (Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas). The Fathers of the close of the 2nd century treat the New Testament writings as in the fullest degree inspired (compare Westcott, Introduction to Study of Gospels, Appendix B). An important impulse to the formation of a definite canon came from the Gnostic Marcion (circa 140 AD), who made a canon for himself in 2 parts, "Gospel" and "Apostolicon," consisting of one gospel (a mutilated Lk) and 10 epistles of Paul (excluding Pastorals). A challenge of this kind had to be taken up, and lists of New Testament writings began to be made (Melito, Muratorian Fragment, etc.), with the results previously described. By the commencement of the 4th century unanimity had practically been attained as regards even the Antilegomena. At the Council of Nicea (325 AD), Westcott says, "the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were silently admitted on all sides to have a final authority" (Bible in Church, 155).



1. Scripture a Unity

Holy Scripture is not simply a collection of religious books: still less does it consist of mere fragments of Jewish and Christian literature. It belongs to the conception of Scripture that, though originating "by divers portions and in divers manners" (Hebrews 1:1), it should yet, in its completeness, constitute a unity, evincing, in the spirit and purpose that bind its parts together, the Divine source from which its revelation comes. The Bible is the record of God's revelations of Himself to men in successive ages and dispensations (Ephesians 1:8 - 10 ; 3:5 - 9 ; Colossians 1:25 , 26), till the revelation culminates in the advent and work of the Son, and the mission of the Spirit. It is this aspect of the Bible which constitutes its grand distinction from all collections of sacred writings--the so-called "Bibles" of heathen religions--in the world. These, as the slightest inspection of them shows, have no unity. They are accumulations of heterogeneous materials, presenting, in their collocation, no order, progress, or plan. The reason is, that they embody no historical revelation working out a purpose in consecutive stages from germinal beginnings to perfect close. The Bible, by contrast, is a single book because it embodies such a revelation, and exhibits such a purpose. The unity of the book, made up of so many parts, is the attestation of the reality of the revelation it contains.

2. The Purpose of Grace

This feature of spiritual purpose in the Bible is one of the most obvious things about it (compare POT, 30 ff). It gives to the Bible what is sometimes termed its "organic unity." The Bible has a beginning, middle and end. The opening chapters of Gen have their counterpart in the "new heaven and new earth" and paradise restored of the closing chapters of Revelation (Revelation 21 ; 22). Man's sin is made the starting-point for disclosures of God's grace. The patriarchal history, with its covenants and promises, is continued in the story of the Exodus and the events that follow, in fulfillment of these promises. Deuteronomy recapitulates the lawgiving at Sinai. Josh sees the people put in possession of the promised land. Backsliding, rebellion, failure, do not defeat God's purpose, but are overruled to carry it on to a surer completion. The monarchy is made the occasion of new promises to the house of David (2 Samuel 7). The prophets root themselves in the past, but, at the very hour when the nation seems sinking in ruin; hold out bright hopes of a greater future in the extension of God's kingdom to the Gentiles, under Messiah's rule. A critical writer, Kautzsch, has justly said: "The abiding value of the Old Testament lies above all in this, that it guarantees to us with absolute certainty the fact and the process of a Divine plan and way of salvation, which found its conclusion and fulfillment in the new covenant, in the person and work of Jesus Christ" (Bleibende Bedeutung des Altes Testament, 22, 24, 28-29, 30-31).

Fulfilment in Christ.
How truly all that was imperfect, transitional, temporary, in the Old Testament was brought to realization and completion in the redemption and spiritual kingdom of Christ need not here be dwelt upon. Christ is the prophet, priest and king of the New Covenant. His perfect sacrifice, "once for all," supersedes and abolishes the typical sacrifices of the old economy (Hebrews 9 through 10). His gift of the Spirit realizes what the prophets had foretold of God's law being written in men's hearts (Jeremiah 31:31 - 34 ; 32:39 , 40; Ezekiel 11:19 , 20 , etc.). His kingdom is established on moveless foundations, and can have no end (Phil ippians 2:9 - 11 ; Hebrews 12:28 ; Revelation 5:13, etc.). In tracing the lines of this redeeming purpose of God, brought to light in Christ, we gain the key which unlocks the inmost meaning of the whole Bible. It is the revelation of a "gospel."

3. Inspiration

"Inspiration" is a word round which many debates have gathered. If, however, what has been said is true of the Bible as the record of a progressive revelation, of its contents as the discovery of the will of God for man's salvation, of the prophetic and apostolic standing of its writers, of the unity of spirit and purpose that pervades it, it will be difficult to deny that a quite peculiar presence, operation, and guidance of the Spirit of God are manifest in its production. The belief in inspiration, it has been seen, is implied in the formation of these books into a sacred canon. The full discussion of the subject belongs to a special article. (see INSPIRATION).

Biblical Claim.
Here it need only be said that the claim for inspiration in the Bible is one made in fullest measure by the Bible itself. It is not denied by any that Jesus and His apostles regarded the Old Testament Scriptures as in the fullest sense inspired. The appeal of Jesus was always to the Scriptures, and the word of Scripture was final with Him. "Have ye not read?" (Matthew 19:4). "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). This because "God" speaks in them (Matthew 19:4). Prophecies and psalms were fulfilled in Him (Luke 18:31 ; 22:37 ; 24:27 , 44). Paul esteemed the Scriptures "the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). They are "God-inspired" (2 Timothy 3:16). That New Testament prophets and apostles were not placed on any lower level than those of the Old Testament is manifest from Paul's explicit words regarding himself and his fellow-apostles. Paul never faltered in his claim to be "an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God" (Ephesians 1:1, etc.)--"separated unto the gospel of God " (Romans 1:1)--who had received his message, not from man, but by "revelation" from heaven (Galatians 1:11 , 22). The "mystery of Christ" had "now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit," in consequence of which the church is declared to be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20 ; 3:5).

Marks of Inspiration.
It might be shown that these claims made by New Testament writers for the Old Testament and for themselves are borne out by what the Old Testament itself teaches of prophetic inspiration, of wisdom as the gift of God's spirit, and of the light, holiness, saving virtue and sanctifying power continually ascribed to God's "law," "words," "statutes," "commandments," "judgments" (see above). This is the ultimate test of "inspiration"--that to which Paul likewise appeals--its power to "make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15)--its profitableness "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16)--all to the end "that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17). Nothing is here determined as to "inerrancy" in minor historical, geographical, chronological details, in which some would wrongly put the essence of inspiration; but it seems implied that at least there is no error which can interfere with or nullify the utility of Scripture for the ends specified. Who that brings Scripture to its own tests of inspiration, will deny that, judged as a whole, it fulfils them?

4. Historical Influence

The claim of the Bible to a Divine origin is justified by its historical influence. Regarded even as literature, the Bible has an unexampled place in history. Ten or fifteen manuscripts are thought a goodly number for an ancient classic; the manuscripts of whole or parts of the New Testament are reckoned by thousands, the oldest going back to the 4th or 5th century. Another test is translation. The books of the New Testament had hardly begun to be put together before we find translations being made of them in Latin, Syriac, Egyptian, later into Gothic and other barbarous tongues (see VERSIONS). In the Middle Ages, before the invention of printing, translations were made into the vernacular of most of the countries of Europe. Today there is not a language in the civilized world, hardly a language among uncivilized tribes, wherever missions have gone, into which this word of God has not been rendered. Thanks to the labors of Bible Societies, the circulation of the Bible in the different countries of the world in recent years outstrips all previous records. No book has ever been so minutely studied, has had so many books written on it, has founded so vast a literature of hymns, liturgies, devotional writings, sermons, has been so keenly assailed, has evoked such splendid defenses, as the Bible. Its spiritual influence cannot be estimated. To tell all the Bible has been and done for the world would be to rewrite in large part the history of modern civilization. Without it, in heathen lands, the arm and tongue of the missionary would be paralyzed. With it, even in the absence of the missionary, wondrous results are often effected. In national life the Bible is the source of our highest social and national aspirations. Professor Huxley, though an agnostic, argued for the reading of the Bible in the schools on this very ground. "By the study of what other book," he asked, "could children be so much humanized, and made to feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like themselves, but a momentary space in the interval between two eternities, and earns the blessings or the curses of all times, according to its effort to do good and to hate evil, even as they are also earning their payment for their work?" (Critiques and Addresses, 61).


A few notes may be added, in closing, on special points not touched in the preceding sections.

1. Chapters and Verses

Already in pre-Talmudic times, for purposes of reading in the synagogues, the Jews had larger divisions of the law into sections called Para-shahs, and of the prophets into similar sections called HaphTarahs. They had also smaller divisions into Pecuqim, corresponding nearly with our verses. The division into chapters is much later (13th century). It is ascribed to Cardinal Hugo de St Caro (died 1248); by others to Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury (died 1227). It was adopted into the Vulgate, and from this was transferred by R. Nathan (circa 1440) to the Hebrew Bible (Bleek, Keil). Verses are marked in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) as early as 1558. They first appear in the New Testament in Robert Stephens' edition of the Greek Testament in 1551. Henry Stephens, Robert's son, reports that they were devised by his father during a journey on horseback from Paris to Lyons.

2. The King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)

The King James Version of 1611, based in part on earlier English Versions, especially Tyndale's, justly holds rank as one of the noblest monuments of the English language of its own, or any, age. Necessarily, however, the Greek text used by the translators ("Textus Receptus"), resting on a few late manuscripts, was very imperfect. With the discovery of more ancient manuscripts, and multiplication of appliances for criticism, the need and call for a revised text and translation became urgent. Finally, at the instance of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, the task of revision was undertaken by Committees representing the best English and American scholarship. Their labors resulted in the publication, in 1881, of the Revised New Testament, and in 1885, of the Revised Old Testament (a revised edition of the Apocrypha was published in 1896). The preferencest of the American Revisers were printed in an appendix, a pledge being given that no further changes should be made for 14 years. The English Companies were disbanded shortly after 1885, but the American Committee, adhering to its own renderings, and believing that further improvements on the English the Revised Version (British and American) were possible, continued its organization and work. This issued, in 1901, in the production of the American Standard Revised Version, which aims at greater consistency and accuracy in a number of important respects, and is supplied, also, with carefully selected marginal references (see AMERICAN REVISED VERSION). Little could be done, in either the English Revised V ersion or the American Standard Revised Version, in the absence of reliable data for comparison, with the text of the Old Testament, but certain obvious corrections have been made, or noted in the margin.

3. Helps to Study

In recent years abundant helps have been furnished, apart from Commentaries and Dictionaries, for the intelligent study of the English Bible. Among such works may be mentioned the Oxford Helps to the Study of the Bible; the valuable Aids to Bible Students (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1898); Dr. Angus' Bible Handbook (revised by Green); A. S. Peake's Guide to Biblical Study (1897); W. F. Adeney's How to Read the Bible (1896); R. C. Moulton's The Modern Reader's Bible (1907); The Sunday School Teachers' Bible (1875); The Variorum Reference Bible and Variorum Teachers' Bible (1880); Weymouth's New Testament in Modern Speech (1909); The Twentieth Century New Testament (Westcott and Hort's text, 1904); S. Lloyd's The Corrected English New Testament (Bagster, 1905).


Compare articles in the Bible Dicts., specially Sanday on "Bible," and Dobschutz on "The Bible in the Church," in Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, II; Westcott, The Bible in the Church (1875); W. H. Bennett, A Primer of the Bible (1897); A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament (1896); J. Eadie, The English Bible; works on Introduction (Driver, etc.); books mentioned above under "Helps"; B. B. Warfield in Princeton Theological Review (October, 1910); C. A. Briggs, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture (Scribners, 1899); W. H. Green, General Introduction to the Old Testament (Scribners, 1899); E. C. Bissell, The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Structure (Scribners, 1885); Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament.



authorized version, bible, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, biblia, books, christian, define, epistles, god, gospels, hagiographa, historical books, jesus, king james version, new testament, old testament, prophets, sacred writings, scripture, the law, the oracles, the word



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