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Chapter 2: The Reliable Revelation


IN THIS CHAPTER, you will discover:

*    The unique influence of the Bible on individuals and nations.

*    The central "whos" of the Bible.

*    The scope of biblical inspiration.

*    The authority of Scripture.  

AS A RESULT, you will be able to:

*    Appreciate the creative power of God's Word.

*    Grasp the overall significance of Scripture.

*    See Scripture as "God-breathed."

*    Understand how our Bible came to us.

The Bible: A Unique Revelation

Key Scripture: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8).

The Bible is, by any standard, the most unique and fascinating book in existence. It is historically informative, ethically profound, diverse in its literary forms, moving in its presentation of real human drama, and penetrating — even miraculous — in its central vision. The universal message of the Bible transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. It is as vital today as it was in the days of the ancient Israelites. It speaks to the needs of the educated and the simple, and to nations as well as individuals. Inspired by its teachings, men and women have shaken tyrants, freed slaves, cared for the poor, and lived lives of solitary heroism and self-sacrifice. The Bible is the world’s most quoted and most closely investigated spiritual resource. In this lesson we will explore some ways in which the Bible has proved itself a uniquely influential and reliable guide.

Unique as a Comprehensive and Trustworthy Record

The Bible is the only document that provides a continuous historical record encompassing 2,000-500 B.C. Major discoveries in archaeology have repeatedly confirmed the reliability of Old and New Testament references to persons, places, and events. Because large numbers of ancient, well-preserved texts of the Bible exist, we are far surer of the authenticity of its contents than we are, for example, of Homer’s Iliad, Aristotle’s philosophical works, or even the plays of Shakespeare!
Another characteristic that sets the Bible apart from other ancient religious writings is its unique “historical feel.” Such biblical accounts as Elijah’s failure of nerve (1 Kings 19:3), David’s adultery (2 Sam. 11-12), and Peter’s denial of Christ (Luke 22:54-62) have no parallels in the literature of other religions. The Bible “tells it like it is,” even about the failings of the heroes of the faith.

Unique in its Influence upon Western Civilization

If we were to search for a single sentence that embodies the loftiest ideals of Western culture, we could find none better than this line from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Pause for a moment to consider the startling character of this claim. In light of common sense and history, nothing could be less “self-evident” than human equality. Inequality in beauty, wealth, talent, courage, intelligence, strength, and political influence is a fact of life. And what rights do we have that are not those given by the state? On what basis can we speak of “inalienable” rights — rights that cannot be granted or taken away by another human being?

The Declaration of Independence expresses genuinely revolutionary propositions regarding government and humanity. What source did our Founding Fathers draw upon in forming these ideas? Government in the ancient world was almost entirely based on the principle of Rex Lex the “King” is the “Law” (or “might makes right”). Individuals were merely the property of the king or state.

In contrast, the Bible sets forth the dignity of the individual — a dignity rooted in the fact that humanity is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Furthermore, the Bible presents the moral law of God as sovereign over the will of the king or state. Samuel Rutherford, a Presbyterian minister, articulated this view in 1644 in a book that would later influence Thomas Jefferson. It was called Lex Rex, a title stating that God’s “Law” is “King.” Inspired by this biblical vision, the architects of Western democracy framed their understanding of liberty in terms of equal justice and the “inalienable rights” of individuals. As a result, Americans began to enjoy a personal freedom unlike any the world had ever seen.

The Bible affected Western culture in other ways as well. From the time of the Middle Ages, European Christians made careful observations of the natural world. They were encouraged to do so based on the biblical confidence that the universe had been made by a rational Creator and therefore was itself intelligible. Cultures with a less personal idea of God did not develop the “scientific method” or the technology that has so distinguished Western civilization. For this reason Christianity has been called the “mother of Science.”

Unique in the Unity of its Message

Composed in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic over a period of about fourteen hundred years by over forty individuals, the sixty-six books of the Bible contain an astounding range of language and expression. Despite their differences, they reveal a wondrous unity. From the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to John’s apocalyptic vision of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven at the end of the age, the constant and central theme of the Bible is salvation history—God in search of man.

Unique in its Presentation of Christ

Most important, the Bible is unique because it portrays the most extraordinary life ever lived. The biblical image of Christ is unequaled in its ability to influence hearts and imaginations. No figure in history has commanded such universal authority. As Martin Luther said: “When Jesus Christ utters a word he opens his mouth so wide that it embraces all heaven and earth, even though the word be but a whisper.” Even for the contemporary world, which has no commonly agreed upon ethical norms and values, Jesus Christ remains the standard by which human perfection is measured. For this reason the Bible remains the most reliable guide for humanity and society.

Key Concepts: [See above for answers]
1. Major discoveries in ___________________________ have repeatedly confirmed the reliability of biblical references to persons and events.
2. The ancient world was governed by the principle of ________________ — the “King” is the “Law.”
3. The Bible set forth the dignity of the individual rooted in the fact that humanity is created in the ______________ of God.
4. The biblical confidence that the universe was intelligible enabled Christianity to become the “mother of _________________.”
5. The Bible was written in _______________, Aramaic, and Greek over a period of about fourteen hundred years.
6. The constant and central theme of every book in the Bible is __________________ history.
7. ___________________________ remains the standard by which human perfection continues to be measured.

Life Application: Psalm 1:1 details the seduction of a virtuous man by wicked companions. He at first occasionally “walks” with them; then he “stands” with them openly; finally, he “sits” with them and shares in their mockery of righteousness. Evaluate your use of leisure time, your selection of entertainment, and your choice of reading material. Are you or your children involved in a similar downward spiral, influenced by persuasive forces that do not reflect a biblical worldview? List steps you need to take to counteract any tendency toward the mockery of spiritual things. Exercise discernment and break such bonds now before they become stronger.

The "Whos" of the Bible

Key Scripture: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

The famous Taj Mahal presents many different faces to its visitors. By moonlight its white marble walls seem crafted of solidified light.  Viewed in the grand reflecting pool that stretches before it, the subtle colorings of the Taj's stonework become visible. When a breeze brushes the water, the entire structure appears to dance on air. By day the Taj appears both massive and dreamlike - its top crowned with a vast, graceful cupola and airy, sharply pointed minarets. Within, spacious rooms alternate with skillfully placed niches. Its walls are ornamented with fantastic geometric designs that are modeled after Arabic calligraphy, forming intricate patterns the eye can barely unravel.

Considered separately, the wonderful details of the Taj's construction conceal rather than reveal its central significance. One could spend a lifetime observing the parts of the Taj without ever understanding its meaning as a whole. To grasp the essence of the Taj, one must ask "who" questions rather than "what" questions. Upon learning that the Taj was constructed by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his wife, we can begin to understand the monument in terms of the builder's intent. We may then contemplate its beauty for what it truly is - an expression of a devoted husband's love for his departed wife.

Bear this example in mind as you approach Bible study. If you become immersed only in the particulars of analytical Bible study - "what" questions - you run the risk of missing its overall meaning. At the outset, take the time to consider the "whos" of the Bible so that you firmly grasp its essential significance. 

The central "who" of the Bible is, of course, God Himself. The Bible is a message - a "love letter" - from our heavenly Father to His earthly children. It is intended to be our handbook for successful living, our guidebook for navigating life's difficulties, and our repair manual for the heart, mind, and body. The Bible is not an intimidating rulebook of "legalistic don'ts," but a glorious collection of grace-filled "dos." Every line of the Bible - every prophecy, parable, and judgment - is fundamentally an invitation to fellowship and communion with God. After all, we were created and exist for no other reason! 

Just as the heavens "declare the glory of God" (Ps. 19:1) and His boundless power and creativity, the voice of the Bible declares with authority that God is both "with us" (Matt. 1:23) and "for us" (Rom. 8:31). As we allow the Holy Spirit to supplement our knowledge about God with knowledge of God, the Bible becomes less an opaque, confusing book and more a transparent window. The face we see gazing upon us through that window is one we have somehow always known and loved. As we come to recognize and obey the truth revealed in the Bible, we become living expressions of that truth. Truth becomes an internal and natural part of us, and the Bible becomes "our" book, for we continually find ourselves within it and it within us.

Another important "who" of the Bible are the people of God. The Bible is the story of God's people, documenting their search for God and their rebellion against Him. It celebrates their victories and exposes their failures. The stories recorded in the Bible are there to encourage and to caution us. They rouse us to take seriously God's command to be righteous, while simultaneously showing that God is eager to save any who repent and cry to Him from their hearts. The histories contained in the Old and New Testaments are largely records of God's personal involvement with His people. We see Him guarding, guiding, correcting, chastising, delivering, and shepherding. Most of all, we see Him revealing Himself in progressively clearer glimpses, and opening His arms in ever wider circles to gather a people to be called by His name. In the fullness of time, God appeared in human flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. In Him the character of God shone luminously clear, and through Him the invitation to come and receive grace and pardon was proclaimed to all the world. 

Jesus is the ultimate "who" of the Bible. The entire testimony of Scripture points to Him. After His resurrection, Jesus explained to His disciples "what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). It has been said that Jesus is visible on every page of Scripture, and this is very close to being true. In Him the Father's eternal intent and character are personalized and visibly manifested. In Him the entire scope of salvation history is summarized and brought to fulfillment. In Him the types and symbols of festivals, feasts, sacrifice, and atonement have their realization. In Him the prophecies of messianic redemption are accomplished. 

The written Word of God is more than sacred history and poetry, even more than a biography of Christ. Because its writing was superintended by the Holy Spirit, the Bible can be regarded as an autobiography - a book written by Christ about Himself. As marvelous as this is, we must ensure that our primary focus remains on the living Word rather than the written Word. The Bible must remain a transparent window, if it is to reveal the face of God in the person of Jesus. 

If you have ever owned a dog, you may have tried to communicate something to your pet by pointing. Dogs have the disconcerting habit of staring resolutely at the tip of your finger and ignoring the object you are pointing at. We can be like that in our study of Scripture. Let the Bible point you to Christ and then go to Him. Allow the written Word to introduce you to the living Word (John 1:1-14; Rev. 19:13).

Key Concepts:  [See above for answers] 

1. We must go beyond "what" questions to "_________" questions to grasp the central significance of the Bible.  

2. The Bible is not a rulebook of legalistic "don'ts," but a glorious collection of grace-filled "__________." 

3. Every prophecy, parable, and judgment contained in the Bible is an invitation to communion and _____________________ with God. 

4. The stories about God's people recorded in the Bible are there to _____________________________ and to caution us. 

5. While the Bible is God's written Word revealing His nature and character, Jesus Christ is His _________________ Word. 

6. It has been said that ____________ is visible on every page of Scripture. 

7. Because its writing was superintended by the Holy Spirit, we can think of the Bible as an _________________________________ of Christ.

Life Application: The Bible is best understood by asking "who" questions, because its message is personally addressed to us by God. Our society often treats persons as "whats" instead of "whos." Can you think of a time you were blessed and encouraged by some small but unexpected act of personal kindness and consideration? How can you personalize your routine interaction with family, friends, and business associates, letting them know you appreciate them as "whos"?

Revelation and Inspiration

Key Scripture: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). 

All creation testifies to God's existence and power: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Ps. 19:1-4). In theological language this is called general revelation. In general revelation "God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature" are clearly seen, "being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). In general revelation the "what" nature of God is made plain to the human heart and mind.

Because fallen humanity has resisted the testimony of general revelation and because God has desired to share Himself - His "who" nature - with His children, He created what in theological language is called special revelation. God could have chosen any number of ways to draw attention to Himself. He could have written His name on the moon or sculpted an image from a mountain. But signposts such as these would attract too much attention to themselves without revealing enough of God. Instead God chose to work through the earthly medium that is most like spirit - language. Words come closest to making thought and spirit visible. Words do not wear out and are eternal. They are like "hyphens" between heaven and earth.

Despite its fallenness and imperfection, human language was used by God as a vehicle to reveal His nature and character. The process by which God imparted and shaped His message is called inspiration. The exact character of inspiration has been much debated in recent years. In this lesson we will present an understanding of inspiration that is consistent with both the witness of Scripture and the nature of Scripture.

We begin by stating that inspiration is a mystery and will remain a mystery, no matter how deeply we study it. We can no more fully explain the inspiration of Scripture than we can the incarnation of Christ. But understanding the incarnate Jesus will help us greatly in grasping the nature of inspiration, for the simultaneous humanity and divinity of Jesus is the closest analogy to Scripture as God's word in the language of man. The Council of Chalcedon in a.d. 451 declared that Jesus was both fully and completely God and fully and completely man. The more closely we study the Bible, the clearer it becomes that a similar formula is needed to understand its divine and human character. 

The Bible is a divine book, but it is not only a divine book. Were this the case we could not possibly grasp its meaning. The infinite mind of God must accommodate itself to the finite human mind if communication is to take place. In the Bible we find God speaking in human language and acting to reveal Himself in the human world of time, space, and history. The spiritual truths it contains are expressed in ways shaped by historical circumstance. They are marked by the personalities and powers of expression of human writers. The Bible is a human book as well as a divine book.

Peter tells us that the prophets (and by implication the writers of Scripture) "spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). This process of being "carried along" by the Spirit is inspiration. Divine inspiration is different from the inspiration we detect in the work of great artists, in that it is not merely heightened human creativity or imagination. In divine inspiration God Himself initiates revelation and shapes its content. The implication of inspiration for Scripture is the same as the implication of the virgin birth for Jesus. Jesus was not born through the will of man, but by the will of the Father; thus He is truly the Son of God. Scripture has its origin not "in the will of man" but in God (2 Peter 1:21); thus it is truly divine revelation.

It is when we ask exactly how the thoughts of the writers were "carried along by the Holy Spirit" while remaining their own that inspiration becomes most puzzling. Our best answer is that the Holy Spirit and the human mind cooperated in the writing of Scripture in such a way that -- to borrow Chalcedon's terminology -- the two were neither "confused, transmuted, divided," nor "contrasted." True, many prophets reported being overwhelmed by the burning intensity of a divine message or vision. But it is untrue that all the authors of Scripture passively and mechanically received and recorded divine dictation. 

According to Hebrews 1:1, God gave His word to the prophets "in various ways." For example, the writer of Chronicles (thought to be Ezra) edited together ancient court records in composing Scripture. Luke interviewed eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry and copied material from other written accounts in writing his gospel. Paul's letters were often simply that -- personal responses to friends or associates in the church. He is forgetful (1 Cor. 1:14-16), offers personal opinions (7:25), and even quotes Greek poetry (15:33). But according to our Key Scripture, "all" Scripture is inspired by God; inspiration is as much at work in Luke's editing as in the ecstatic visions of the prophets. The doctrine of inspiration states that though the content of Scripture was given in "various ways" it is God who speaks throughout. 

In our century extreme liberals have discounted the traditional idea of inspiration, claiming that the Bible is a product of human religious genius. Extreme conservatives have responded by insisting that every word in the Bible -- even the punctuation -- was supernaturally fixed by God. A sincere and open reading of Scripture clearly disallows the first option. And in light of Scripture's testimony to itself, the second option is also a poor model for understanding inspiration, particularly since the original manuscripts had no punctuation! 

To illustrate: The version of Scripture undoubtedly used by Timothy, a Greek-speaking Jew, was the Septuagint. Though it was but a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and flawed (cf. Heb. 10:5-9 with Ps. 40:6-8; see footnote), Paul still affirmed it as Scripture and declared it "inspired." Our Bible translations today are accurate to one-tenth of one percent. God has miraculously superintended the preservation of biblical manuscripts across the centuries, just as He superintended their inspiration. But even given the importance of verbal accuracy, inspiration is still best understood as a broader, more vital reality that includes not only the accuracy of the letter but also the power of the Spirit that works through the letter.

The word "God-breathed" (Gk. theopneustos) in 2 Timothy 3:16 recalls the image of God breathing the breath of life into Adam's nostrils at Creation. This passage suggests that Scripture is not merely the written residue of God's Spirit, but a present reservoir of His Spirit. In fact, theopneustos also may be translated "God-spirited!" Scripture is, in some real sense, "alive" with the very life of God and acts to communicate that life. Echoing that idea, Scripture is spoken of elsewhere as "living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

Key Concepts: [See above for answers] 

1. The "what" character of God is revealed in _______________ revelation. 

2. The "who" character of God is revealed in _______________ revelation. 

3. The process by which God imparted and shaped His message in Scripture is called _________________________. 

4. We can think of Scripture as being both fully ______________ and fully  _______________, in a manner similar to Jesus. 

5. True or False.  The writers of Scripture were inspired like great artists. 

6. The doctrine of inspiration says that Scripture has its ______________ not "in the will of man" but of God; thus it is divine revelation. 

7. Though the content of Scripture was given in " _______________ ways," it is God who speaks through them all.  8. "God-breathed" in 2 Timothy 3:16 suggests that Scripture is "__________" with the very life of God.

Life Application: What does the fact that both Christ and Holy Scripture have a "human side" suggest to you? How should this truth affect the way you feel about your own humanity? Are you confident that God can dwell and act in you? Be assured that He can!

Authority and Canon

Key Scripture: “In your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9).

Key Word: Autographs.

“Thus says the Lord.” Over 1,700 times this thunderous phrase or its equivalent appears in the Old Testament. Jesus also testified to the authority of the Old Testament. Later His uniquely trustworthy words were recorded and added to the body of Scripture. Finally, the Holy Spirit spoke through the apostles and their associates to create the material that would become the rest of the New Testament. Altogether, they form one mighty revelation and testimony to the reality and will of God.

As God’s inspired word, the Bible is absolutely authoritative for the Christian. We should accept it “not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). The Bible tells us the truth about what God is really like, about His plan of redemption, and about His promises for us. It tells us the truth about who man is, why we are here, and how we should live. It gives us the keys to understanding and true wisdom.

When we read the Bible with understanding and an open heart, “deep calls unto deep” as the Spirit of God within us responds to the Spirit of God within Scripture (1 Cor. 2:11-13). As we obediently acknowledge God’s word, it transforms our lives and brings us comfort, guidance, and healing. We should therefore approach the Bible with an eagerness to learn God’s ways, a determination to uncover God’s truth, and a sense of gratitude for the gift of His “love letter” to us.

The Transmission of Scripture

The Holy Spirit’s supervision of Scripture did not end after He inspired the last New Testament document. God used an army of writers, evangelists, church Fathers, scribes, monks, collectors, translators, printers, archaeologists, and scholars to assemble our present Bible. He supervised this process by sovereignly controlling circumstances and by illuminating the minds of the “doctors” of the historical church councils. We owe a vast debt of gratitude to those who helped compile, preserve, and transmit God’s word to us across the centuries.

Oral Transmission. Surrounded as we are by printed materials, it is easy to take our Bibles for granted. We should realize that although the Bible is a divinely inspired book, it did not magically appear out of the sky. The transmission of Scripture occurred in several stages. During the oral stage the Bible was passed on by word of mouth and committed to memory. This was a common practice in the ancient Near East (cf. Deut. 6:6-7). Luke, writing about forty years after Christ’s death, spoke of using the oral accounts “handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses” in composing His gospel (1:2).

Writing and Copying. In the next stage of transmission, oral histories were written, copied, and distributed. Initially, smaller units such as individual prophecies (e.g., Jeremiah 36) or parables were written down. Later entire books and collections of books were recorded. Clay tablets, papyrus (a fragile fabric made from pressed water reeds), and parchment (untanned sheep or goat skin) were among the writing materials used. Most of the manuscripts we possess today are on parchment or papyrus. No original autographs (the authors’ manuscripts), have survived, so we must rely on copies of copies.

The biblical writings were copied with extraordinary care due to their sacred contents. The Masoretes, a sect of scribes who dedicated themselves to copying the Old Testament (a.d. 500-900), checked their work by counting how often each letter of the alphabet occurred in each book! The effectiveness of their efforts was proved when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. The text of Isaiah, written more than one thousand years before the earliest Masoretic copy, was essentially identical with it. Though variations do occur among the biblical manuscripts, it is important to affirm that no fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith is affected by these. Most variations consist of minor grammatical errors.

Translation and Canonization

The next stage of transmission involved translation and canonization. The Greek word kanon means “reed” and signifies a straight stick used as a standard of measurement. Canonization refers to the process by which the Jews and Christians decided which books to include and exclude from their collections of inspired texts.

The Old Testament Canon. The five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, were called the Torah (or Law) and were considered authoritative by the Jews no later than 400 b.c. The canon was broadened as the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Kethuvim) were gradually added. In a.d. 90 the Council of Jamnia convened to decide conclusively what books were to be considered Holy Scripture. There the Tanak (Torah + Nevi’im + Kethuvim = T + N + K = TaNaK) was fixed as the Hebrew canon. The Hebrew Tanak includes the same thirty-nine books as the Protestant Old Testament, though in a different order. Jesus himself regarded these exact books as canonical. In Luke 11:51 he uses the phrase “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” These are the first (Gen. 4:8) and the last (2 Chron. 24:21) martyrs in the Tanak, which ends with 2 Chronicles (see also Luke 24:44).

The New Testament Canon. Several passages in the epistles show that the first-century church already considered certain apostolic writings as “Scripture.” Second Peter 3:16 places Paul’s letters among the “other Scriptures.” Note also Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 5:18: “For the Scripture says . . .” He then quotes an Old Testament text (Deut. 25:4) with Luke 10:7, as though both are equally Scripture. The apostles were aware that the Holy Spirit was inspiring and guiding them in their teaching and writing (John 16:13).

It was not until the late third century that the New Testament Canon was officially fixed. In a letter written in a.d. 367, Athanasius provides a list of New Testament books that is identical to our own. This list was ratified at the Synod of Hippo in a.d. 393 and at the Third Council of Carthage in a.d. 397. These councils recognized and testified to what the church had already decided about the New Testament. They embraced our present twenty-seven book canon based on: (1) apostolic origin, (2) reception and use by the church as a whole, (3) consistency of doctrine, and (4) the working of the Holy Spirit in their preservation.

A close study of the transmission, preservation, and canonization of Scripture reveals that the Holy Spirit gave discernment to the church and its leaders about which writings were inspired and which taught sound doctrine. God thus preserved His pure revelation in the face of the many heresies and schisms of early church history.

The Apocrypha. Why do the Catholic and Protestant Bibles differ concerning certain books? We must look carefully at the history of the Bible’s translation to answer this question. The Old Testament writings were translated into languages other than Hebrew long before the canon was set. The first such translation, the Septuagint, was begun about 250 b.c. The Septuagint (LXX) was the early Bible of the Greek-speaking Christians, and the authors of the New Testament often quoted from it. The Septuagint contained fifteen books called the Apocrypha (meaning “concealed” or “hidden”) that were later excluded from the Hebrew Tanak at Jamnia. They were, however, widely read by Christians using the Septuagint in the second and third centuries. The Apocrypha appeared as part of the Christian Bible when the Septuagint was first translated into Latin.

In a.d. 382 Jerome was commissioned by the bishop of Rome to produce an authoritative Latin Bible for the church. Instead of using the Septuagint, Jerome translated the Old Testament into Latin directly from the Tanak. This translation, called the Vulgate, became the official Roman Catholic Bible. Since the Apocryphal books did not appear in the Tanak, Jerome argued against their inclusion in the Vulgate. Church officials, however, decided to include them and gave them the status of a “second canon.”

During the Protestant Reformation (1517), Jerome’s warning was reconsidered. The Reformers excluded the Apocrypha from their Bibles. Thus, the Protestant Old Testament contains the same books as the Tanak, but in the order of the Septuagint. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Old Testaments contain the same books as the Septuagint and follow its order. The Apocrypha is useful, in the words of Jerome, “for example of life and instruction of manners.” Along with the Pseudepigrapha, it is a source of valuable insight into the history and intellectual climate of Bible times.

Key Concepts: [See above for answers]
1. The first stage of scripture transmission was the ______________ stage.
2. In the second stage of transmission, oral histories were committed to __________________ and were copied and distributed.
3. The oldest Old Testament manuscripts we have were found among the _________________________________ and date from about 150 b.c.
4. ______________ refers to the biblical books that measured up to the standard of inspiration and authority.
5. The Tanak was composed of the ___________ or Law, the Prophets or ________________, and the Writings or ________________.
6. The New Testament canon was fixed officially late in the ___________ century.
7. Jerome’s translation of the Bible into Latin is known as the ________________.
8. The Protestant Old Testament contains the same books as the Tanak but in the order of the ___________________________.
9. The ________________________ and the Pseudepigrapha, though noncanonical, give us insight into the intellectual climate of Bible times.

Life Application: As we observe the Holy Spirit’s protection and preservation of Scripture, we are reminded that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Be aware of, thankful for, and confident in God’s ongoing preserving power at work in and around you. Review the material in this chapter and practice presenting your arguments for the inspiration and authority of Scripture in your own words.

Take the quiz

Quiz Instructions

Review Questions

1. The discoveries of __________________________ have confirmed the Bible.



2. The Bible set forth the freedom and dignity of the individual based on the fact that humanity is created in the _______________ of God.



3. The biblical confidence that the universe was intelligible enabled Christianity to become the “mother of __________________.”



4. The central theme of the Bible is _____________________ history.



5. The Bible is written in Hebrew, __________________, and Greek.



6. The Bible is God’s written word; ______________ is His living word.



7. The process by which God imparted and shaped His message in Scripture is called ___________________________ .



8. The Bible, like Jesus, is both fully _____________ and fully divine.



9. The doctrine of inspiration says that Scripture has its ________________ not “in the will of man” but in God.



10. “_______________” (theopneustos) in 2 Timothy 3:16 suggests that Scripture is alive with the very life of God.



11. The first stage of Scripture transmission was the ___________ stage.



12. The _________________________ were a sect of scribes who copied the Old Testament.



13. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible is known as the _________________.



14. The oldest Old Testament manuscripts were found among the ______________ Scrolls.

Dead Sea

Red Sea

15. The _____________ refers to the biblical books that measured up to the standard of inspiration and authority.



16. The __________ was composed of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.



17. The New Testament canon was fixed late in the ________________ century.



18. The Protestant Old Testament contains the same books as the Tanak but in the order of the _____________________________.



19. The fifteen additional books found in the old Latin Vulgate and modern Roman Catholic Bible are called the ___________.



20. True or False. The Reformers included the Apocrypha in their translations of the Bible.



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