How We Got the Bible
For the first 350 years of the church (30-397 AD) the church recognized the books of the canon without a Church council. No official list was made. No committees voted for or against. It was simply a matter of which books met the above criteria on a practical basis.
The Church of the second century still had the disciples of the apostles leading them.
During the persecution of Diocletian beginning in 303 AD, the Roman emperor, Diocletian, knew enough about the Christians and their “canon” of Scripture to call for the destruction of all Christian Scripture.
When Constantine became emperor he financed the reproduction 50 copies of the Christian Scriptures in
331 AD for use in Constantinople. It is interesting that the persecutors knew which books to burn and Constantine knew which books to have copied.
In 397 the Council of Carthage agreed on the list we have now consisting of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament Canon.
A few lists and collections of the books of the canon gathered during the years before the Council of Carthage have been preserved:
1. The Muratorian Fragment
- Written around 170 AD this torn fragment lists the books. The list omits Hebrews, James, 1 Peter and 2 Peter, but no additional books are recorded.
2. Syriac Version of Scriptures
– A translation of the Scriptures for the churches in Syria is recorded as being used as early as 170 AD. It does not include 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude or Revelation. Again, no additional books were included.
3. Latin Version of Scripture
– From around 200 AD Latin translations of the Scriptures included our New Testament without 2 Peter, James and Hebrews. No additional books were included.