How We Got The New Testament
Dr. Timothy Jones out of Southern Seminary wrote a great article on the process of creating what we know as the New Testament. This is a consistent question I receive from people at my church, mostly from the younger folks and it is a question for which I am thankful in that it shows a desire to understand. Here is how Dr. Jones starts the article out:
Suppose that you became a Christian in the second century A.D. You’ve heard the story of a divine being who died on a cross and rose from the dead. Through baptism, you’ve openly identified yourself with His followers. Now, you want to learn more about this deity. Yet you quickly realize that some people who call themselves “Christians” understand Jesus very differently from the Christians in your congregation. In fact, one nearby group that claims the name “Christian” also says that Jesus wasn’t actually a human being — he was a spirit that only seemed human!
How would you decide who was right?
As a 21st century Christian, the most reasonable reply seems to be, “Read your New Testament!” The problem is, most Christians in the second century couldn’t read. Even if you were one of the privileged few who possessed the capacity to read and write, you wouldn’t personally own a Bible. Your only “Bible” would have been found in an armarion — a specially constructed cabinet with niched shelves for scrolls and codices — that stayed in the house where your congregation most often gathered. The armarion would likely have sheltered a copy of the Greek Old Testament and perhaps a couple dozen other sacred scrolls or codices.
But it’s possible that not all of these texts would have been identical to the 27 books that you find in New Testaments today.
He writes in a very accessible manner and is worth your ten minutes to read, five if you are a fast reader. I personally bookmarked it and put it in Zotero for future use.