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The Canon

The books that makeup our Bible are called the “canon of Scripture.” The word “canon” comes from a Greek word that was used to signify a “measuring rod” or “standard.” Therefore, the “canonical books,” the books that make up our Bible, are simply those that have measured up as divinely inspired.
Along with measuring up as divinely inspired, the Biblical canon—the books that comprise our Bible—also serve as the true measure of one’s beliefs and behavior. They serve as the sole standard of faith and practice. The bona fide Christian is easily distinguished from the bogus by whether or not he or she believes Biblical doctrine and behaves according to Biblical dictates.
When it comes to the books of the Bible, which alone are recognized by Christians as authoritative and genuinely inspired by God, the Old Testament canon was formally acknowledged by the Council of Jamnia, which was a gathering of Jewish rabbis following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The New Testament canon was formally acknowledged by the Synod of Hippo, which was an early church council convened in northern Africa in 393 AD. It is important to note, however, that neither the Jewish rabbis at the Council of Jamnia nor the church leaders at the Synod of Hippo determined the books to be included in the Old and New Testaments. Instead, they merely confirmed the books that had been commonly accepted as divinely inspired for centuries. 
Most of the Bible was judged canonical—divinely inspired—soon after it was written. In the Old Testament, the writings of Moses were placed in the Ark of the Covenant while Moses was still alive.1 The Prophet Daniel acknowledged the Book of Jeremiah as canonical2 and the Prophet Ezekiel acknowledged the Book of Daniel as canonical.3
The Old Testament canon, which was complete by 400 BC, was authenticated by no less of an authority than Jesus Christ Himself. In Luke 24:44, Jesus explains to His disciples: “These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.” In Jesus’ day, unlike today, the Old Testament was divided into twenty-four books and three divisions. These divisions were: The Law, The Prophets, and The Psalms. Notice, Jesus declared the whole Old Testament canonical by referring to all three divisions!
When it comes to the New Testament canon, all of the books of the New Testament were either written or sanctioned by an apostle in the last half of the first century. They were then copied by hand, circulated among the churches, and soon recognized by Christians as divinely inspired Scripture. By the beginning of the second century, the four Gospels had been placed in a collection called “The Gospels” and the Pauline Epistles in a collection called “The Apostle.”
While the first known list of all twenty-seven books of our New Testament appears in a letter by Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, in 367 AD, every book of our New Testament had been cited as authoritative by some Church Father4 within a generation of the end of the apostolic age. Polycarp, a young friend and follower of the Apostle John, quoted from the Gospels of Matthew and John, as well as from ten of Paul’s epistles. Justin Martyr, a contemporary of Polycarp, considered all the Gospels inspired and made mention of most of the books that make up our present-day Bible. Irenaeus, who lived around 170 AD, was a disciple of Polycarp who quoted from twenty-three of our New Testament’s twenty-seven books. And around 200 AD, Clement of Alexandria, recognized almost every book of our New Testament as canonical.
As you can clearly see from all of the above, the books that comprise our present-day Bible are those that were early, evidently, and easily detected to be divinely inspired. There was no guesswork involved in their inclusion in the Biblical canon, but the mere confirmation of what was most conspicuous and commonly accepted and acknowledged. 
Granted, there were other books written in Biblical times. Some of them are lost to posterity, such as The Book of Jasher5 and The Book of Enoch.6 Others were written during the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments. The Apocrypha is a collection of these books that contains some historical value, but for good reason was found to be devoid of divine inspiration.7 Then, there were also heretical books written by heretics who hoped to hawk their heresy as sacred text in order to undermine the Bible and corrupt the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Unfortunately, thanks to things like Dan Brown’s New York Times record-breaking bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code,8 and the National Geographic’s discovery of the Gospel of Judas,9 many people today are being deceived into believing that these heretical books were unfairly excluded from the Biblical canon. According to these conspiracy theorists, who have bought into Brown’s fiction passed off as fact and the National Geographic’s looney attempt to peddle the Gospel of Judas as a “lost book of the Bible,” Christianity was gutted of its original diversity, matriarchal paganism, and the divine feminine by intolerant church councils comprised of fundamentalist male chauvinists. These church councils supposedly cherry-picked the books of the Biblical canon, carefully excluding all other “sacred writings” with which they disagreed. 
These contemporary and ever-circulating conspiracy theories, which are obviously designed by the enemies of the Christian Faith to undermine the credibility of the Bible, have one big fatal flaw. They have no basis in fact! They are pure fabrication, without one iota of historical evidence to corroborate them.10 
As we’ve proven in this chapter, the books of the Bible were not determined by any church council. Furthermore, bestselling fiction, which flies in the face of historical facts, cannot revise history and conform it to the imagination of some nutty novelist. There are no “lost books of the Bible,” and any attempt to peddle Gnostic11 Gospels as sacred Scripture, with which they are at variance, is preposterous. While many are being deceived by such nonsense, don’t let yourself be numbered among them. There is simply too much at stake; namely, your immortal soul. 
The canon of Scripture is closed. No book was ever unjustly excluded nor can any book ever be rightfully added. The canonical books alone have measured up as divinely inspired and serve as Christianity’s confirmed and authoritative standard by which all beliefs and behavior are to be judged. To trifle with the Biblical canon is to subvert the sacred Scriptures.
1 Deuteronomy 31:24-26
2 Daniel 9:2
3 Ezekiel 28:3
The Church Fathers succeeded the Apostles as the leaders and theologians of the early Christian Church.
Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18
6 Jude 1:14-15
7 See Appendix 1: The Apocrypha
See Appendix 2: Debunking the Da Vinci Code
See Appendix 3: The Bad News About the Gospel of Judas
10 For a thorough refutation of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and the National Geographic’s attempt to peddle The Gospel of Judasa Gnostic gospelas a “lost book of the Bible,” read Appendix 2: Debunking the Da Vinci Code and Appendix 3: The Bad News About the Gospel of Judas.
11 Gnosticism, along with Judaism, were the two major heresies that threatened the life of the church in the New Testament. Gnostics were the “New Agers” of the ancient world and Gnosticism the ancient world’s version of today’s New Age Movement. Much of the New Testament was written to combat it, such as Paul’s epistle to the Colossians and the first epistle of the Apostle John.