Canonical scriptures came into being following a gradual as well as independent endorsement of certain books of the bible by various elders of the church (Noble, 1995). In 367, Athanasius began the process by publishing a set of books that he needed to be read in churches that were under his care (Noble, 1995). Even so, other people published their own lists of books they considered to be scripture. There were disagreements regarding the contents of some of the lists, and the need for ratification of which books would belong to canonical scriptures became necessary. Canonical Scriptures arose owing to the need to have agreements on which books to be approved as authoritative works of the apostles and the Word of God (Noble, 1995). People needed guidance on teachings from God; and needed to know which books would be regarded as the true and verified sources of truth on all things spiritual and Christianity.
Many Protestants reject certain versions of the bible as versions that promote Catholic teachings (Noll, 2011). Many of them do this even before reading those books and evaluating for themselves what those bibles say. This serves as an indication that in the earliest days before the Bible was compiled as one book comprising of the 66 books known today, opinions were divided on which books to treat as sources of knowledge on the word of God (Noble, 1995). Congregations needed guidance and so, their church leaders had to find ways of ratifying the books they would endorse to their congregations for study and reading as the source of truth and knowledge of God. Books were rejected or accepted as they became available (Noble, 1995).
Around the time of the ratification of books into the Bible as Canonical Scriptures, Bishops had started to prevail as church governors; leaders of groups of churches (Noble, 1995). The bishops approved the lists of common books that has been published by various groups of churches and they were dubbed canon of scripture. The word canon is originally Greek for ruler or rod (Noble, 1995). These books became the Christian standard rule of belief and faith in the early churches. The canon was not as a result of any imposition by clerical authorities. As a matter of fact, the canon developed as a result of several independent decisions by elders who had felt responsible for the needs of their congregations as far as sources of biblical knowledge was concerned.
Apostolic writings were automatically received as authoritative books (Noll, 2011). This is because of the sources of the writings. Church elders either received those writings from the apostles or from their closest companions by hand delivery (Noll, 2012). For instance, the Old Testament in its entirety was received and approved following the implicit ratification of the apostles. Many books of the New Testament were written and received from apostles. While certain books and letters did not have clear writers, their contents were approved mainly because their teachings were in line with conventional Christian teachings (Noble, 1995). Any letter or book of the bible that appeared or seemed to have strange contents was rejected by the elders of the church and not included in the Canonical Scriptures (Noble, 1995).
While there were minor disagreements in the old days due to heresies, most of the books that had been received from the churches were approved as Canonical Scriptures (Noll, 2012). Others that had question marks on them were Jude, James, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 John and 3 John, and lastly Revelations (Noll, 2012). This is because the author of Hebrews did not identify himself, Jude and James were not apostles, while James message seemed to disagree with the message of Paul. Jude also quoted books that had not been published as Scripture (Noll, 2012). All these concerns would later be put to rest as the canonical scriptures became widely accepted by many churches and congregations across the world.
Philippians 3:16 and Galatians 6:16 point out that the canon is the rule of life and faith (Noble, 1995). Sacred scriptures that govern human life and faith were needed; thus, they had to be instated by the church. They are the genuine, divine, as well as authentic books for spiritual inspiration to human beings. More so, this was necessary in the absence of prophets who had been the living voices inspired by God for teachings and guidance (Noble, 1995). With prophets and apostles gone, there was a need to preserve their writings so that they would not be corrupted. It was also necessary that any additions to the books that had been inspired be precluded. Several books and letters were extant claiming to be inspired works. Consequently, the query came up, which of the new writings were actually inspired?
The Old Testament scripture canons were formed gradually over centuries (Noll, 2012). This can be traced to Moses time when sacred books were to be kept in the ark as pointed out in 2 Kings 22:8, Deut. 31:9, 26, Joshua 24:26, and 1 Samuel 10:25 (Noll, 2012). Other evidence for the necessity of authoritative and genuine source of truth is seen in Daniel 9:2 and Isaiah 29:18 and 34:16, which have references to books and book of the lord respectively (Noll, 2012).
The Canonical Scriptures came into existence for various reasons mentioned above and have been the basis for Christian faith regardless of denominations; Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and so forth (Noll, 2012). References can always be made to these books for the truth from God; and that is why they had to be in existence.
Noble, P. R. (1995). The canonical approach : a critical reconstruction of the hermeneutics of Brevard S. Childs. Leiden: Brill.
Noll, M. (2011). Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Noll, M. (2012). Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. New York: Baker Books.
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