Versions/History of the Bible

A handful of questions concerning the Bible’s history.

  1. When were the various books used by Christians first compiled as an ‘official’ Bible, and what criteria were used for selection?

  2. What books were used by Christians before this compilation that did not make the cut?

  3. How many different versions of the Bible have come about, and how do they differ (as far as passages being added/removed is concerned, in particular)?

  4. Why were these passages added/removed? Did the claim faulty interpretation on behalf of the other guys, etc?

  5. Which versions of the Bible are employed by the major denominations today?

Thanks ;j

Try this:



clears throat

I feel like an ass.

peers about uncomfortably


scampers off. Trips over self

There are a couple of questions that the Staff Report does not explicitly address.

Basically, there are four versions (although the Coptic or Syriac churches might add to that number if they differ from the Orthodox).

The Jewish Tanakh is the selection of works from the Torah, Prophets, and Psalms and Other Writings accepted as Scripture by Jews.

The Catholics use the Jewish canon, plus several works from prior to the first century that are not included in the Jewish canon, then add the New Testament.

The Orthodox use the books accepted by Catholics as canonical, then include a couple of other works from the same period as the Catholic “additions.”

The Protestants keep the New Testament, but exclude all the Catholic and Orthodox “additions,” basing their Old Testament on the works selected for the Jewish Tanakh.

(Among Christians, all the books of the New Testament are accepted in common, although there have been periods where one or another book was viewed with suspicion for a while.)

There was a good discussion of the various Apocryphal/Deuter-Canonical books in the Christian Old Testament recently in Christian Bible - KJV and apocrypha.

There’s a lovely old story about how the Christians decided which books should be part of the canon. One of the bishops threw them all into the air above an altar; the ones which landed on the altar and stayed there were holy writ.
Seriously, some of the New Testament books only got in by the skin of their teeth; Revelations, in particular, was much fought over, considered inspired by some, and eccentric to the point of heterodoxy by others. Then again, works like the Shepherd of Hermas were considered by many worthy of inclusion. Of course, the process of accretion of the canon took place over a couple of centuries, with different regions having different collections of books; it was the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman state under Constantine, with the consequent centralisation of ecclesiastical power, that really set these things in concrete.

Well, at present, it’s a work in progress, but I’m transcribing a book from the 1880’s and putting it on the web, which discusses the origins of the Bible. (Mods, it’s a free site, I make zero $ from it, so I hope it’s okay for me to post the link.) So far, all that’s up is the introduction, but when I get the second or third chapter up, it has a good bit of info on who most likely wrote what when in the Bible. (I hope to have it all up before the end of Feb. of 2003, so you might want to bookmark the site and check back from time to time.)