BL - 23 How we got our Bible



  1. FROM GOD  TO US (How we got our Bible)

Norman L Geisler & William E. Nix


David Ewert.

  1. Brief Definition of the Bible: The Bible is the book which is inspired by God and it reveals the mind of God to man.
  2. Derivation of the word ‘Bible”:
  3. The papyrus reed plants grow along the marshes of the Nile and in Syria.

             (Papyrus; Ex:2:3; Job 8:11;Isa 18:2)

  Egypt              Hebrew             Greek              Latin                 English   

  Papyrus           Gome               Papuros            Papyrus                 Paper          



  Plant‘s name                          Bublos




                                                      Means BOOK.

  1. Another surmised (supposed) explanation: Large quantities of papyrus were shipped from Syrian port, named Byblos. Therefore, the Greek word for book might have been derived from that port’s name.


  1. Writing materials and their preparation.


  1. SHEETS. Papyrus was used until 3rd century AD for writing. Papyrus strips were glued together as plywood on a flat surface to make sheets. When dried, their whitish surface was polished with a stone or any other possible method (Knife or file). Front side of this glued surface, in which the fiber ran horizontally, was used for writing.


This papyrus sheet was called as Chartes in Greek, Charta in Latin and Chart in English. Papyrus, Biblos and Chartes refer to the same writing material made from the reed plant.


  1. ROLLS: Papyrus sheets were spliced (joined) together and made as rolls; sometimes up to 30 feets and rolled around a stick called the navel. This roll (scroll) was then called as book. This scroll had the writing at one side.


  1. CODEX: Codex originally means a trunk of a tree in Latin. In order to form a codex for writing, four or more double size sheets were laid on the top of each other, folded in the middle and bound together. Then a block of wood split up into tablets or leaves. Such wooden tablets were bound together to make a book. The same was process done with leaves or sheets of papyrus. The codex was then a leaf book. Codex could be written both sides and was easy to locate the pages. As Codex developed, papyrus fell into disuse.


  1. PARCHMENTS: They were made from animal’s skin by processing. They were made into the form of scrolls. This scroll was also called as parchment (2 Tim 4:13). Vellum that was made of skin was also used for writing.


Summary: Greek word Biblion (Book) was being developed by the following way


First from the name of papyrus plant

Second from the name of scroll

Third from the name of codex

Finally, Biblia plural for Biblion was used by Latin speaking Christians as a singular noun to designate the collections of the book that comprises the Old and New Testaments. English word Bible is the transliterated form of Biblia. Thus, Bible literally means the collection of books, which God inspired.




  1. Clay Tablets (Jer17:13; Ezek 4:1) were used in cuneiform inscription.
  2. Stones-Code of Hammurabi

               -Rosetta stone

               -Moabite stone.

  1. Metals (Ex28:36; Job19:24; Mat 22:19).
  2. Wax (Isa 8:1; 30:8; Hab2:2)
  3. Precious stones (Exo 39:6-14)
  4. Potsherds (Ostraca), Piece of ceramic (Job 2:8).
  5. Linen was used in Egypt, Greece and Italy.
  6. Wood Tablets.




  1. Stylus: It was a three-sided instrument with beveled head for writing the incursions into clay or wax tablets. Jeremiah called it pen (Jer 17:1)


  1. Chisel: It was useful to make inscription on rocks and stones. Job refers it as iron pen. (Job19:24; Josh 8:31-32)


  1. Ink Pen: It was also called as Reed Pen. It was used to write on leather parchments, linen, papyrus etc.


  1. Pen Knife: It was used to sharpen the reed pen, which had begun to wear down.


  1. Ink Horn: It was a bottle made from animal’s horn to keep ink made up of natural plants, flowers, carbon mixed with gum.


  1. Bible Languages:


God did not use Adam to write the Bible, since there was not a developed language. Writing was not necessary too, because there were only a handful of persons. In the human history, as population grew and people lived in many parts of the world, it was inevitable that to record and preserve any matters that is to be communicated to next generation. Thus, early man used symbols to communicate the message. They communicated the message through Pictogram (Example- Music note symbols), Ideogram (Ideas in pictures ;Exa – Symbol for love), Phonogram (Sounds for various actions). Later Alphabets, which became the basis for writing, came into use instead of symbols. Phoenicians developed their major innovation in the history of writing, when they introduced the specific elements- Alphabets.


It took almost two thousand years for the development of the alphabets of languages and proper vocabularies. After the development of alphabets, God used human languages and their vocabulary of that time to record His revelation and His will. God did not use angelic languages to communicate to man.  God used three human languages to reveal and to record His message. They are namely Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.


  1. HEBREW: It is one of the old Semitic languages. Semitic is derived from Shem, a son of Noah. Semitic language was even written by Hamites (Canaanites). Thus Semitic was not a racial term but a linguistic term.


The earliest history of Hebrew language is still a mystery. However, Etymologically the word Hebrew might be derived from “Abar” meaning “to cross over”(over the river). Since Abraham came across the Euphrates river, he was rightly called Hebrew (Gen 14:13). Abraham’s native language was either Akkadian or Aramaic. He also learnt the language of Canaan, when he came to Canaan. Since he was called as Hebrew, the language that he spoke could be probably called as Hebrew. Nevertheless, there was no record available to prove so.


He and his descendants spoke the language, probably a mixture of Akkadian, Aramaic and Canaanite’s languages. Later, Jacob and his sons went to Egypt where for some 430 years Israel lived in relative isolation. This isolation provided the setting for the development of an independent language. However, that language had the elements of Egyptian words.


Later, “The wisdom of Ben Sirach”(Non canonical book) in its prologue first mentioned the Greek adverb ‘Hebraisti’ and described it as the language of the Jews. It is the first record available regarding the name of the language Hebrew. Rabbis called it “the Holy Tongue”. Though Aramaic was spoken during Christ’s earthly period, Hebrew continued as the sacred language and it did not die out as a spoken language in every day life.


The Hebrew of the Old Testament is known for its vividness (graphic) of its style and rich in imagery metaphor and simile.

E.g.: Israel is described as “a crooked bow”.


2.ARAMAIC:  It was also a Semitic language. During exile period, the Jews mainly used Aramaic rather than Hebrew. After returning from Babylonian captivity, Hebrew became religious language while Aramaic was used in common.  Therefore, many could not understand Hebrew, when Ezra read the Law of Moses (Neh 8:1-12; 13:24). Since many did not understand the law, it was verbally translated into Aramaic.


During Jesus’ time, Aramaic was used by the common folk. Many Aramaic words that Jesus spoke were transliterated into Greek. (Talithakoum Mk. 5:41; Ephphatha Mk.7:34; Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani Mk15:34), Other examples are Abba, Maranatha, Mamon and Gabbatha. During Jesus’ period, Aramaic had two dialects in Palastine; namely Galilean and Judean. This was the reason Peter’s speech betrayed him for he spoke in Galilean dialect (Matt 26: 73).


In Old Testament, Dan 2:4b-7; 28 and Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7 :12-26) were written in Aramaic. But New Testament was fully written in Greek. Aramaic is still spoken by remnant of Christians in Syria, Iraq and Iran as dialect. Syriac language is also later known as Aramaic, but Syriac is not Syria.


  1. GREEK: It is an Indo- European language family. About 3000BC, there was a vast movement of people from central Europe. This migration brought about the development of sister languages. In this formative period (prior 1000 BC), these immigrants interacted with one another with several dialects in use. During the classical period (1000-330 BC), Greek classical period produced great literature like Homeric epics titled the Iliad and the Odyssey.


In 338 BC, Philip of Macedon imposed a political unity on the Greek city-state. His son Alexander, the Great conquered most of the then known world and spread Hellenistic culture including Greek language.


As Greek spread, it took elements and words from different dialects.  It became popular and many spoke this language. It was then lingua franca. This new form of the language was Greek Koine. Koine means common. It was the language of the common people. The period of Koine Greek spread from 338BC -330AD. New Testament was written in this Koine Greek. Although New Testament was written in this Koine Greek, it does not lack in its literary style and standard in comparison to contemporary secular documents.



  1. AUTHORS OF THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE: Authors of the Bible were from different background; yet their goal in revealing God’s word was the same. For example; Moses, Daniel of OT and Paul of NT were highly learnt and aristocrat. David and Solomon were kings; Ezra was a priest and scribe; Samuel was a priest and judge. Some authors of the Bible were simple common shepherds. Though their background was different, their message for the humanity of sinners was from the same God, Who created the universe. Their message has a unifying theme. That theme is GLORY OF GOD!


Altogether, there were nearly sixty-six books; Thirty-nine in OT and twenty-seven in NT. Thirty- nine human authors in three languages wrote these books from three continents (Asia, Europe and Africa) for over 1500 years. Nevertheless, their message never contradicted. They could deliver the message of hope in Jesus Christ for the GLORY OF GOD. This fact proves the unity of the Bible.




Definition of Inspiration: Inspiration is God’s superintending work on human authors, so that using their individual personalities they recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autograph.


Inspiration means God breathed (Theophenistos). This word is used once in NT (2 Tim 3:16) and similar Hebrew word in OT (Job 32:8).


Inspiration is applied only to the writings that too for the autographs, not for any copies, Translations and Versions. Some unknowingly claim that KING JAMES VERSION is equally inspired though it is untrue. In the same way, even the human authors were not inspired but only their writings in original autographs were inspired..


Three elements of inspiration:

  1. Divine causality– God is the source.
  2. Prophetic Agency– Authors used their own styles.
  3. Divine Authority– Bible is the last word and binding authority on doctrinal and ethical matters. Not the Church or any religious head has such authority.


Critics who oppose inspiration ask a question that “How can it be held that the originals were errorless (free from error) if they have never been seen?” It is satisfactorily answered by Bible believing scholars by saying “Even though no infallible originals have been discovered, neither has anyone (including critics) ever discovered a fallible autograph”. Since no fallible originals are available to disprove inspiration, one without doubt can accept the inspiration of original autographs and the message and revelation given to humanity through inspired original autographs.






  1. VERBAL: Grapha in Greek means writing. Thus verbal inspiration means the writing of the word is inspired. (2 Tim 3:16: Matt 5:18)
  2. PLENARY: Plenary means full or all. Every part of scripture in its entirety is inspired. Thus, the whole body of scripture is fully inspired. (2 Tim 3:16) There is no partial inspiration.
  3. INERRANCY: This means that it has no error in its original records and teaching on morals, ethics, human relations etc., because God cannot lie (Heb 6:18).
  4. AUTHORITY: It has binding authority on all subjects of matters and disputes related to the heaven and the earth (Jn 10:35).




  1. Orthodoxy: The Bible is the Word of God. It is the fundamental belief.
  2. Modernism: It contains the Word of God. According to this theory, only a few parts may be inspired; and those parts are Word of God. If anybody holds this view, it would be difficult for him to determine what are those parts that are inspired. Thus, this theory is self-contradictory.
  3. New Orthodoxy: The scripture becomes the Word of God. According to this theory, if a person gets some insight or illumination from a portion of scripture, then that portion only becomes the Word of God to him.




  1. Old Testament claims for its inspiration.
  • The Lord has spoken. (Amos 3:8).
  • You shall not add…. (Deut 4:2)
  • Write on it (Jer 36:28; Isa 8:1).


  1. New Testament supports Old Testament’s inspiration.

          -II Tim 3:16 speaks about OT only

           -Acts 17:11 Bereans searched the scripture of OT.

           -Fulfillment of OT prophecies. Luke 24:44; Matt 5:17.


  1. Jesus affirmed OT inspirations.

          -The Word of God John 10:35; Mark 7:13.


Critics say that Jesus did not affirm OT inspiration but He sought accommodation among the  Jews by quoting Old Testament. In fact, Jesus did not seek any accommodation from the  Jews. If He had sought so, He would have appreciated whatever the Jews did. He rather rebuked and condemned them.

Example: He chased the money -changers in the Temple (Jn2:15). He called them blind guides (Mat 22:29; 23:16).



Jesus also encouraged when the  Jews understood the truth by saying ‘You answered right (Lk 10:28)”. Thus, Jesus always did right evaluation about the Jews and he did not seek any accommodation. He rightly judged men. There fore, He affirmed inspiration of OT by quoting it repeatedly.




  1. Jesus Christ promised about inspiration.
  • Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you, He said while sending disciples among Jews (Matt 10:19-20).
  • It is not you who speak but the Holy Spirit (MK13:11-Mt. Olivet discourse).
  • Spirit will guide into the truth (Jn 16:13).
  • In the great commission: Observe all I have commanded (Matt 28: 19-20)


  1. Apostles claimed continuance of Jesus’ teaching.
  • Luke claims Jesus began to do and to teach (Lk 1: 3-4; Acts 1:1)


  1. Comparison of NT scripture to OT scripture.
  • Peter classed Paul’s epistles along (at par) with “the other Scripture of OT” (2 Pet 3:16).
  • Paul quotes Luke’s gospel; calling it scripture (1 Tim 5:18 quoting Lk 10:7).


  1. Direct claims for inspiration in NT books.
  • Gospel accounts are the fulfillment of OT (Mt. 1:22; 2:15,17; Mk. 1:2).
  • Paul claims his epistles are on par with OT by saying, “teach these things” (1Tim 4:11-13).
  • Declare these things (Tit 2:15).


  1. Reading of New Testament books.
  • In synagogues, OT scriptures were read. In the same way, Church read the epistles (LK 4:16 attend to the public reading of script 1 TIM 4:13).
  • Colossians were asked to read the letter from Laodicea (Col 4: 16).


  1. New Testament quoted other NT books.
  • Paul quotes Luke 10:17 in 1 Timothy 5:18.
  • Jude cites 2 Peter 3:2-3 in Jude 18.
  • Luke referred his previous work (Gospel of Luke) in Act 1:1.
  • John alludes his own gospel in 1 John 1:1.


  1. Early Church.
  2. Early Church Fathers. These fathers were the direct disciples of Apostles of Jesus.
  • *Example: Clement of Rome calls the synoptic gospels as scripture. He employs the phrase “God saith, and it is written” to designate passages from NT.
  • *Poly Carp, disciple of John the apostle made quotation from NT. Sometimes he employed the phrase “the scripture saith”.
  1. Later church fathers. Later church fathers were disciples of early church fathers. They were the third generation Christians from the birth of Church at Pentecost.
  • *Example: Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) classes both Testaments as equally divine authority by saying “the scriptures….; In the law; in the prophets; and besides’ by the blessed gospel…. ‘are valid from their omnipotent authority”.




  1. Internal Evidences.
  • Thus says the Lord
  • Holy Spirit witness that the Bible is God’s word (2 Pet 1: 20,21)
  • Transforming ability of the Bible.

*It changes unbeliever unto Christ (Heb 4:12).

*It changes believers for growth (1 Pet 2:2)

* It changes nations, society unto growth and holistic development.   


  • Unity of the Bible.

*39 authors wrote 66 books over 1500 years, nevertheless the message is same.   


  1. External Evidences.
  • Archaeological evidences.


*25,000 biblical sites have been located as Bible mentions them.

*Hittites whom critics cast doubt earlier are accepted as a people group.


  • Dead Sea Scrolls which confirms scripture and its message are true.


  1. As the Man of integrity, Jesus taught from scripture.
  • Since He taught with authority, scripture is inspired (MK 1:22).


  1. Prophecies fulfilled.
  • Education and communication explosion as in Daniel 12:4 is being fulfilled.
  • Restoration of Israel (Isa 61:4).
  • Note: These prophetical elements are not found in Koran and Vedas.


  1. Influence of the Bible.
  • Countries have got good moral developments due to the teaching and influence of the Bible.
  • Barbarians became Bible believers and better people in society.


  1. Apparent indestructibility of the Bible.
  • Diocletian (303 AD) attempted to exterminate the Bible, but it is still widely published. (MK 13:31).
  • Many other kingdoms failed in their attempt to destroy the Bible.


  1. Integrity of human authors.
  • They suffered, yet they stood for the faith and their teaching until their death.
  • They were morally good to their contemporary writers (False prophets).




Meaning of the wordKanon in Greek means a rod or ruler used to measure. Kaneh in Hebrew means measuring rod (Ezk 40:3). When it was applied to faith, early Christians meant it as “rule of faith” or “Normative Writing/ Authoritative Scripture”.


Synonyms for canonicity are Sacred Scripture, Authoritative Scripture, and Prophetical Books.


Inadequate views on what determines canonicity.


  1. Age of the Book (Antiquity) determines canonicity.
  • It is false, because Book of Jasher is not accepted in OT canon.


  1. Hebrew or Greek languages determine canonicity.
  • It is also false because Aramaic portions are also in OT. (Dan 2:46- 7:28).


  1. Agreement with Torah determines canonicity.
  • Talmud and Midrash agree with the Torah, nevertheless they were never pronounced as canonical books.


  1. Religious value determines canonicity.
  • Apocrypha has religious value, but not accepted into canonicity. In fact, value of the book determines canonicity; not only the religious value.


Right view of canonicity. Inspiration of the Book determines the canonicity.


Five basic criteria for canonicity.


  1. Is the book authoritative? (Does it claim to be of God and godly character?).
  2. Is it prophetic as well as historic?
  3. Is it authentic? (Does it tell the truth of God and man?).
  4. Is the book dynamic? (Its life transforming power).
  5. Was it received by the people to whom it was originally written? This refers whether it was recognized by the people as being from God. (EX: Members of Church at Galatian received epistle of Galatians written by Paul as a message from God through Paul).






  1. Evidence of progressive collection of books.
  • Later men of God collected the earlier prophetical writings. EX: Daniel had writings of Jeremiah (Dan 9:2).


  1. Evidence of prophetical continuity.

         Since Moses started to write under the command of God (Ex 17: 14), men of God continued the writings in accordance with Moses.


  1. a. After Moses, Joshua continued (Jos 24:26).
  2. b. After Joshua, Judges continued by using the phrase “In those days”

    (Jud 17:6; 18:1; 21:25).

  1. c. History of David was written by Samuel (1Sam), Nathan and Gad (1 Ch29:29).
  2. History of Solomon was recorded by prophets Nathan, Ahijah and Iddo (2 Chr 9:29).
  3. e. Acts of Rehoboam was written by Shemaiah and Iddo (2Chr 12:15).
  4. f. History of Abijah was added by Iddo (2 Chr 13:22).
  5. g. Jehoshaphat’s reign was recorded by Jehu, the prophet. (2 Chr 20 34).
  6. h. Reign of Hezekiah was written by Isaiah (2 Chr 32:32).
  7. Life of Manasseh was recorded by unnamed/ unknown prophet (2 Chr 33:19).
  8. j. Many other kings recorded their histories by prophets (2 Chro 35:27).


– Baruch wrote what Jeremiah said (Jer 36:18; 45:1).

– From Kings to the book of Jeremiah, the completion of its works goes to the credit of Jeremiah.

– After Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel continued ministry. Ezekiel vouched an official record of prophet (Ezek 13:9).

– Jewish community in Babylon possessed the books from Moses up to Daniel

   (Dan 9:2 = Daniel had the book of Jeremiah).

-Then Ezra continued and completed with Nehemiah (Neh 8:1-8).


From the above proofs, one would know that all twenty two books of Hebrew Scripture, were written by the prophets, preserved by prophetical community and recognized by the people of God about 400 BC; It was canonized at the same time.


The proof for completion of OT canon at 400 BC.


– Josephus, the Jewish historian and Talmud say so.

– Talmud records “after the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel”.

– In addition, the New Testament and Jesus never quoted any book as authoritative after the time Malachi.




Four terminologies are related to Hebrew religious scriptures. They speak whether that scripture or book is recognized in to Hebrew canon of Old Testament.


  1. Homologoumena = to speak as one (with authority).
  2. Antilegomena = to speak against.
  3. Apocrypha = Hidden/ Doubtful.
  4. Pseudepigrapha = False writings.


  1. Homologoumena: 34 out of 39 in OT were never challenged by any great Rabbis.


  1. Antilegomena: Five books are challenged by critics regarding their inspiration.


Song of Solomon:- Nobility of marriage is main purpose. The purity of love in this book is better than contemporary literature.

Esther:- Feast of Purim is mentioned (9:26-28). God reveals Himself in a hidden way in the heathen land. God’s name is also hidden because of the prevailing situation.

Ecclesiastes:- It is challenged for its pessimistic view. The right answer to this challenge regarding canonicity is that man seeks his own way of salvation but finally acknowledge God (ECC12:13).

Ezekiel:- Critics say it is against Mosaic teaching. But they are unable to give any valid support for their claim. Since they could not give evidence, it proves canonicity per se.

Proverb:- Apparent contradiction of Proverb 26: 4-5. It depends upon the question and situation of the fool and his foolishness.


  1. Apocrypha: There are 15 books. These bridge the gap between two testaments, especially in historical aspect, though they are not inspired. We reject their inspiration for the following reasons.

*NT never cites from apocryphal books.

*Josephus rejected by stating that 22 canonical books are in Hebrew Bible.

*Jewish community never accepted them into Hebrew canon.

*Jesus, our Lord never quoted from them.

* Early church fathers rejected them.

*Jerome who translated the Vulgate rejected their canonicity.

* Roman Catholic Cardinal Cajetan who opposed Luther in Augsburg in 1518 omitted apocryphal books in his commentary.

*They contain historical error (Tobit 1:3-5; 4:11).

*They contain heretical teaching (Mac 12: 45, 46).

*They lack in prophetical element.

  1. Pseudepigrapha: Since these are utter falsehood, discussion concerning their inspiration is uncalled for.




  1. Need of canonicity of New Testament: There are many manuscripts and writings in comparing with OT manuscripts. In order to select the legitimate scripture from such vast number of manuscripts, canon is necessary.


  1. Stimuli for official collection:
  1. Ecclesiastical- Which book should be read in Church.
  2. Theological- False writing claimed authority along with inspired word.
  3. Political- Persecution on the Church and destruction of writings.


  1. Confirmation of NT canon:


(i) Witness of Church Fathers:- They cited or quoted over 36,000 citation of 27 books of NT about 200 AD.


(ii) Witness of early translation:

  1. Old Syriac translation contains all except 2 Peter, 2&3 John, Jude and Revelation. The reason for missing/omission of these books is stated by scholar B. F. Westcott, “These books originally destined for early western church, but Syriac church was in East. The distance and lack of verifying communication slowed down the final acceptance of these books in the Eastern Bible, which had come out before that evidence was available to them”.
  2. Old Latin Translations: They contain all except Hebrew, James, 1&2 Peter. The reason for omission is just reverse of Syriac Bible, as said by Westcott.
  3. Muratorian Canon (170 AD) is as similar to Old Latin Canon.
  4. Codex Barococcio (206 AD) contains 64 out of 66 books of the Bible with the omission of Esther of OT and Revelation of NT.
  5. Athanasius of Alexandria, the Father of Orthodoxy (373 AD) clearly lists 27 books of NT.
  6. Council of Hippo (393AD) and Carthage (397 AD) ratified 27 books of NT canon. (But they also accepted the apocrypha of OT, because there were no renowned Old Testament Hebrew scholars attended).


  1. Extent of New Testament Canon.


  1. Homologoumena: 20 out of 27 NT books were accepted by all.
  2. Antilegomena: 7 books are in dispute among critics.


(i) Hebrew has no evidence/ mention of authorship.

Answer: Western church accepted it and divine authority is mentioned in 1:1; 2:3-4; 13:22.


(ii) James’ teaching is contrary to NT teaching and theology.

Answer: By the effort of Origen and Jerome, the western church accepted it into canon.


(iii) 2 Peter: Its style is different from 1 Peter.

Answer: Bodmer MS- (P 72) contains of 2 Peter from 3 rd Century in Egypt. The difference in style can be explained easily because of the use of a scribe in 1 Peter and lack of scribe in 2 Peter (1Pet 5:12).


(iv) 2 & 3 John– Critics question trustworthiness of their authorship.

Answer: Similarity of their style to 1 John is obvious, so they were from the same author John, the apostle. Muratorian canon (170AD) and Old Latin canon contained them.


(v) Jude quotes Pseudepigraphical book of Enoch (Jude- 9, 14-15).

Answer: Paul too quoted from Non-Christian poets (Act 17:28; 1Cor15:33; Tit 1:12); and Bodmer papyrus (P72) confirms the use of Jude in the early Church.


(vi) Revelation: The doctrine of Chiliasm (Millennialism) is controversy. It was also misquoted by cults.

Answer: Revelation was one of the first books to be received among the writings of the early fathers. Jerome accepted it.


  1. Apocrypha: In NT sense, it is somewhat similar to Pseudepigrapha, but they were esteemed by at least one of the church fathers.(The epistle of Pseudo- Barnabas (c.70-79), The epistle to Corinthians (c.96), and the Gospel according to Hebrews (65-100 AD) are a few example of these books).
  1. Pseudepigrapha: These are heretical teachings combined with Gnostic ideas. They are more than 300 in numbers.

Here are a few examples!

The Gospel of Thomas; The gospel of Peter; Arabic gospel of Childhood; The gospel of Joseph, the carpenter; The gospel of nativity of Mary; The act of Thomas (Explains he was in India);The epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans (Forgery based on Col 4:16) ; The secret book of John.




  1. Manuscripts of Old Testament.


(i) A very few manuscripts are available in OT in comparing with NT.

     The following are the reasons for having such a few manuscripts (MS).

  • The antiquity of these manuscripts combined with their destructibility.
  • Many captivities of Israel and foreign invasion on Jerusalem were against the survival of MS. Israel and Jerusalem was conquered 47 times in history in between 1800 BC to 1948 AD.
  • According to Talmudic tradition, any MS contained mistake/ error/ damaged beyond use, was systematically and religiously destroyed, especially at 5 and 6th century AD. Masoretes (a Jewish scribe) destroyed all useless MS.


(ii) Masoretic Text.

  • The Masoretes (The Jewish scribes) standardized the Hebrew text by adding vowel letters to Hebrew alphabets in 5-6 th centuries AD. Although Masoretic MS are a few in number, the quality of  MS is good. OT texts owe their accuracy to the ability of the scribes; so also scribe’s reverence to the Bible is paramount. Archaeology proves the names of foreign kings mentioned in MS of OT. Isaiah 36-39 and 2 kings 18-20 are parallel as well as identical. Septuagint (LXX) translation of OT text in 3&2 century BC in Alexandria and Egypt parallels the Masoretic text and tends to confirm the fidelity of the Hebrew text of 10th Century AD.


  • The Dead Sea Scrolls: It was not an imposed discovery of Christian scholars of speleology (study of caves). But a young Arab Muslim boy (Muhammad adh-Dhib) found these scrolls at the cave 7.5 mile south of Jericho, near Dead Sea in March 1947, when he was pursuing a lost sheep. These caves might probably be the library of a Jewish sect called Essenes.


At Murabba’at (a place), a self dated (132-135AD) MS was found. It helped to establish the antiquity of Dead Sea Scrolls and closely supports the Masoretic text. Carbon14 process, a scientific test method to determine the date and age of old fossils dates the Dead Sea Scrolls at 1917 years back, with a 200 years variant (10 % variation). This places Dead Sea Scrolls some where between 168 BC and 233AD. Paleography (Ancient writing forms) and orthography (spelling forms) indicated a date for some of the MS before 100 BC.   


Note: Dead Sea Scrolls, found in seven caves, have almost got entire portion of OT. The text of Dead Sea Scrolls supports the integrity of the Masoretic text.


  1. Manuscripts of New Testament.


Greek writing was in uncial style (capital letter) up to 9th Century AD and in minuscule style (small writing) from 9th to 15th Century AD.


Three basic sources of New Testament text.


  • Greek manuscripts
  • Ancient Translations.
  • Patristic Citations (Quotations of early church fathers).


Greek Manuscripts.


Papyrus Manuscripts: It was in use from 1st to 3rd century AD, when Christianity was considered as illegal religion by Rome. During that time, early Christians used this cheapest material. Papyrus manuscripts are coded with “P” of English alphabet. P-52, the John Rylands Fragment (117-138AD) is the earliest known and attested fragment of the NT. It contains John 18:31-33, 37-38. P 45, 46, 47, the Chester Beatty Papyri (250AD) consist three codices, containing most of NT.



P 75 contains Luke and John in clear and carefully printed uncials dated between 175 and 225 AD.


The Uncial Manuscripts: These MS were in use between 4th to 9th century AD, mostly written on parchments and vellum about 297 in number. Most important is Aleph a B, A,C. These were unavailable for the translators of KJV in 1611.


  • Codex Vaticanus (B) is the oldest uncial either on parchment or on vellum (325-350 AD). It contains most of OT (Septuagint – LXX), the NT and Apocrypha with some omissions.
  • Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph a) is dated 4th century AD. It was found in a monastery of St.Catherine at Mt.Sinai by German Count Tischendorf in 1844. It contains half of OT(LXX) and all the NT except MK 16:9-20 and John 7:58- 8:11.
  • Codex Alexandrinus (A) of 5th century AD contains entire OT except several mutilated portions.
  • Ephraemi Rescriptus codex(C) of 345 AD is available.
  • Codex Bezae (D) was also called codex Cantabrigiensis (450AD). It is the older bilingual MS of NT in Greek and Latin.
  • Codex Claromontanus (D2 or D p2) . Its bilingual MS was artistically written on thin, high quality vellum. Its Greek is good but Latin grammer is inferior in places.
  • Codex Washingtonianus I (W) was of 4th or 5th century AD. Mark contains the long ending (MK 16: 9-20).


The Minuscule Manuscripts: They were from 9th to 15th century AD. They are 4,643 in total but inferior quality when compared to either the papyrus manuscripts or uncial manuscripts. Arabic numerals are the code used for Minuscule MS. For example, Minuscule of Alexanderian family is represented by 33. It (33) is written in beautiful cursive writing. There fore, it is also known as “Queen of the cursives” dated from 9th -10th century AD.  




  • Non Biblical papyrus: It uses the same 1st century koine Greek which is used in NT. It proves NT is the product of 1st century AD.
  • Ostraca: It was the writing material for poor people.  One of 7th century AD Bible text was found on 20 pieces of ostraca. Poor people wrote on it to memorize the texts, since buying a scroll was unaffordable for them in that time.
  • Inscriptions: Engravings on walls, pillars, coins and monuments prove the validity of NT text.
  • Lectionaries: These were used as service books in the early churches. Majority of lectionaries consists of readings taken from the gospels.
  • A few apocryphal books of NT times cite from NT text. For example, ‘The gospel of truth” an apocryphal book of NT period cites most of the NT.
  • Patristic references to the Bible text: This means the references made by church fathers most of who lived before the council of Nicea (325AD).


(i) Apostolic Fathers (70-150 AD) were either disciples or contemporary to   apostles.

(ii) Ante-Nicene Fathers (150- 300 AD) were followers of Apostolic fathers.

(iii) Post- Nicene Fathers (300-430 AD) lived after council of Nicea.


They made citations and quotations. Those citations show history of the text of the text as well as render the best evidence of the canon of NT. They provide the means of dating the MS of NT. They also assist in determine when translations, versions of NT occur. It is remarkable to note that five fathers from Irenaeus to Eusebius possessed almost 36,000 quotations from NT.




Invention of writing before 3000BC and developing of many languages were the basic causes for translation of Bible texts.  Translation began before 200BC. Development of printing before 1600 AD paved a new way for translating the Bible text into various languages. However, early translations refer to Aramaic, Syriac and related translations and Bibles. The following definitions would help one to understand the transmission of Bible text.


  1. Translations: It is the rendering of a given literary composition from one language into another language.


  1. Literal Translations: It is an attempt to express as far as possible the exact meaning of the original words of the text being translated. It is a word for word rendering the text.


  1. Transliteration: It is the rendering of the letters of one language into the corresponding letters of another language. (Ex: Baptize, Angel are from Greek to English).


  1. Version: It is a translation from the original language into any other language. The key to this is that it involves original language of a given manuscripts. (Version must be translated from the original language).


  1. Revision: It is a term used to describe those translations, usually from the original languages which have been carefully and systematically reviewed and critically examined with a view of correcting errors or making other necessary examinations. (EX: KJV, RSV).


  1. Recension: It is the critical and systematic revision of a text, although such works are generally and popularly called ‘revisions’. Ex: New American Standard Bible.


  1. Paraphrase: It is a ‘free’ or ‘loose’ translation. It attempts to translate the idea for idea rather than word for word. Ex: Kenneth Taylor’s “The Living Bible” (1971).


  1. Commentary: It is simply an explanation of scripture.




At first, translations were an integral part of the religious life of the ancient Hebrews. Since the Jews emigrated from Judea to many countries and learnt new languages of migrated countries, they needed Bibles in their new language as to read in their synagogues and to teach to their children. This effort was probably first made at Alexandria in Egypt.


  1. Septuagint (LXX) was the first major translation of OT during 400BC.
  2. NT was apparently translated into Aramaic and Latin before the council of Nicea (325 AD).
  3. Samaritan Pentateuch: In fact, it was not a translation but MS portion of the text of the Pentateuch itself from the time of 432 BC. It was used only by the Samaritans, since they believed that only Pentateuch was God’s word.
  4. Aramaic Targums is the interpretation of Hebrew OT books as paraphrase into Aramaic.
  5. The Talmud: It means “instruction” that grew up as a body of Hebrew civil and canonical law based on the Torah (300 BC – 500 AD). Talmud got two divisions like Mishnah and Gemara. Mishnah means ‘repetition and explanation’ as Hebrew digest of all the oral law. Gemara means to completion and it refers to Aramaic expanded commentary on the Mishnah.
  6. Midrash: It literally means textual study and refers to a formal doctrinal and homiletical exposition of the Hebrew scripture written in Hebrew and Aramaic.
  7. The Syriac Peshitta: Peshitta means simple. It contains Syriac NT and OT, probably translated in 5th century AD. Syriac language refers to Aramaic. It was Authorized Version of two main branches of Syriac Christianity, namely Nestorians and Jacobite.
  8. Arabic Translations: Mohammad, the founder of Islam (570- 632 AD) had the influence of gospel through Syriac sources, especially through oral traditions. But in 930 AD, Jewish scholar ‘Saadia Gaon’ translated OT into Arabic.
  9. Old Persian Translation: It contains gospels which are translated from AD 14th century Syriac text.




(i)The Septuagint (LXX): It is the Greek word for seventy (70= according to Roman numbers L=50; XX= 20). Alexandrians Jewry produced a standard OT for Greek speaking Jewish people before 150 BC. It is considered a faithful rendering of Hebrew text of OT.


(ii) Aquila’s Version (130-150 AD): Aquila, a Jewish proselyte translated OT. It was official Greek Version of OT among non-Christian Jews.


(iii) Origen’s Hexapla (240-250 AD): Origen thought Hebrew OT was something of an ‘inerrant transcript’ of God’s revealed truth to man.  Hexapla means six fold column version. He placed Hebrew in 1st column, Greek translation of Hebrew text in 2nd column, literal translation of Aquila’s version in 3rd column, Symmachus’ Revision (185-200AD) in 4th column, his own version of LXX in 5th column, and Theodotion’s Revision in 6th column.


He found many corruptions and omissions in LXX. He also used signs to indicate as “for reading of LXX whereas Hebrew text did not have.


(iv) Translations from the Greek text.

  • Coptic: It was the latest form of ancient Egyptian writing. NT was translated in this dialect about 4th century AD.
  • Ethiopic: NT was translated into Ethiopian language in 4th century AD.
  • Gothic: The Goths were the chief among Germanic tribes between Rhine and Danube rivers. This area was evangelized before the council of Nicea (325AD). First of their tribes evangelized was the Ostrogoths. Ulfilas, the second bishop was called as ‘Apostle of the Goths’ and he translated Greek Bible into Gothic language.
  • Armenian: This Armenian land was evangelized from Syria. Armenian language translation was a secondary translation because it was translated from Syriac Peshitta about 5th century AD.
  • Georgian (Iberian): Here Christianity spread from Armenia about 4th century AD and it had got its own Bible in 5th century AD. It was translated either from LXX or Syriac Peshitta.




Damasus, then Bishop of Rome (366-384 AD) commissioned to revise the Latin Bible (Old Latin). He appointed St.Jerome (340-420 AD), a Hebrew scholar for this project. Jerome got the commission in 382 AD. In 405 AD, he completed Latin OT, but he translated gospel in 383 AD itself. St. Jerome’s translation was called Latin Vulgate. Vulgate was the revision of Old Latin (200 AD) but not the critical revision of text.


Jerome believed Apocrypha was not inspired. So reluctantly he translated four books of Apocrypha. Later after his death only, Apocrypha was really added with Latin Vulgate Bible.


Reaction to Jerome’s translation: Many leaders opposed his translation, especially Augustine who opposed his OT but wholeheartedly favored his NT revisions after 398 AD. In fact, Augustine and others used his NT while they urged him to make his translation of the OT from the LXX (Septuagint) which many held to be inspired. But Jerome cast doubts on the inspiration of the Septuagint (LXX).


The Vulgate became the unofficially recognized standard text of the Bible through out the middle ages. It was only at the council of Trent (1546-1563 AD) elevated to the position of inspired books by the Roman Catholic Church.




Although real period of development of English language is not known, it probably came to development from 450 AD. The period between 450 – 1100 AD is called Anglo- Saxon or Old English period. Following Norman invasion of 1066, English came under the influence of Scandinavian dialects. This was the period of Middle English (1100-1500 AD). Present day of modern English period began from 1500 AD.


Old English Partial Translations.


  1. Caedmon (c.680 AD): He was an ungifted laborer and he wrote many poems about stories from the Bible.
  2. Aldhelm (640-709 AD), a bishop of Sherborne translated the Psalter into Old English.
  3. Egbert (c. 700), an archbishop of York translated gospels in Old English.
  4. The Venerable Bede (674-735 AD), a scholar wrote “Ecclesiastical History” and a few other writings in which he translated the gospel of John.
  5. Alfred, the great (849- 901), a scholar and being king of England translated “Ten Commandments” and Exodus 21-23.
  6. Aelfric (c.1000), a bishop of Eynsham, Oxford, translated portions of the first seven books of the OT.

Middle English Partial Translations.


  1. Orm (Ormin; 1200 AD), a monk paraphrased Gospels and Acts.
  2. William of Shoreham (c. 1320) first did a prose translation of a Bible portion into southern dialect of English.
  3. Richard Rolle (1320 -1340) was responsible for second literal translation of the Scripture into English, based on Latin Vulgate.



Complete Translations in Middle and Early Modern English.


  1. John Wycliffe (1320-1384), is called as “the morning star of Reformation”, living during the so-called Babylonian captivity of NT church (R.C. Persecution time) appealed to people through the Lollards (wandering poor priests). Lollards went through out country side preaching, reading and teaching from English Bible. He completed NT translation in 1380 AD and OT in 1388. With this, a new epoch in the history of the Bible’s translation was started.
  2. John Purvey (1354 -1428), the secretary of Wycliffe made a revision of earlier Wycliffe Bible in 1395, with many English idioms instead of Latin idiom. It resulted in the declension of Papal influence over the English.

Sixteenth Century Bible Translations.


  1. William Tyndale (1492 – 1536) printed the NT in 1526.
  2. Miles Coverdale (1488 – 1569), an assistant of Tyndale printed first complete English Bible in 1535. He introduced chapter summaries and separated Apocrypha from OT.
  3. Thomas Matthew (1500-1555) was the first martyr of persecution during the period of Mary Tudor. He published another English Bible in 1537 by combining OT text of Tyndale, Coverdale and NT revision of Tyndale.
  4. Richard Taverner (1505 -1575) revised the Matthew’s Bible.
  5. The Great Bible (1539 AD). It got its name because of its size and format which is larger than previous Bibles. Thomas Cromwell (1485 – 1540) undertook preparing this under approval from King Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer, the first protestant archbishop of Canterbury.
  6. Cranmer’s Bible (1540 AD). Then bishop wrote the preface for the revision of the second edition of the Great Bible. Therefore it was called so. In 1547, this Bible attained the predominant position in the Churches.
  7. The Geneva Bible (1557, 1560 AD). Many reformers, during the persecution of Mary Tudor, fled and settled in Geneva; especially John Knox (1513 – 1572) and Coverdale. This group produced NT in 1557 and OT in 1560 in Geneva. This was not officially sponsored by Church.
  8. The Bishop’s Bible (1568 AD). This was done by a group of scholars and eight bishops, therefore it got this name. From 1568 to 1611 AD, this compromised translation was found in the churches. Nevertheless, the Geneva Bible had already won the households of the Land.
  9. The King James Bible (1611 AD). In fact, KJV was the fifth revision of Tyndale’s Version based on “Textus Receptus”. Textus Receptus is a text published based on Beza’s edition by Elzevir in 1624. The other names for Textus Receptus are “Lucianic, Antiochian, Syrian, Ecclesiastical, Byzantine etc. KJV was never authorized, though it was called so, nor it was a version but actually a revision. KJV was again revised in 1769 AD. There were a few more revisions done with KJV.
    • Revised Version (RV) in 1898.
    • RV was again revised by American scholars by changing word like Holy Ghost into Holy Spirit in 1901. It is now called American Standard Version (ASV).
    • ASV was again revised in 1952. It was Revised Standard Version (RSV). RSV substituted the term “young woman” for virgin of Isaiah 7:14.
    • The further revision of RSV was published in 1970. It was named as The New English Bible (NEB).
  10. The New American Standard Bible. A group of good Christian scholars began to revive and revise ASV in 1960. They produced a version out of their effort and called it as’ New American Standard Bible’ in 1971 (NASB). NASB gives proper honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  11. New International Version (NIV). This project was sponsored by New York Bible Society. They produced NT in 1973. Now the complete NIV Bible is produced and is available in the market too.
  12. l) The Anchor Bible (1964). It is a joint effort of Ecumenical committee. It claims to be international and interfaith in its scope.

Additional Information.


  • Stephen Langton, bishop of Canterbury divided Bible into chapters in 1227.
  • Robert Stephanus, a Paris printer divided scripture into verses in between 1551 and 1555.


Special Abbreviations


                        MS      =          Manuscripts

                        LXX    =          Septuagint

                        OT       =          Old Testament

                        NT       =          New Testament

                        P          =          Papyrus
Comparing the text of MS with other ancient writings, the Bible has very less words in question.



                             Bible                     Iliad of Homer     Mahabharatha



Manuscripts                 5000                            643                              No




Version & Early          9000                            No                               No





Lines                           20,000                         15,000             2, 50,000




Lines with                   40                                764 lines                      26,000

Error.                    (400 words only

    in Question)  



% of possible

corruption.                   Less than 1%   5%                               Over 10%



This chart shows that NT text is 99% purer than any ancient books. It tells that we can completely trust on the Bible than any other books for our future hope.




Muslims use this false gospel to quote that Jesus predicted about Muhammad. This false gospel attacks Paul and his preaching. We refute the claims of this book (Gospel of Barnabas) as following:


  • Real Barnabas was not the author of this gospel. Real Barnabas was the one who really encouraged Paul in ministry and he accompanied Paul. The preached the same message that Jesus is the Savior. Even little contention between them was not due to doctrine but taking of John Mark (Acts 15:36). Again both remained good friends entirely during their life time.
  • Time of the gospel of Barnabas: It has some Greek expressions that are similar to Greek in 13th century AD; digress away from Koine Greek of NT. No Greek manuscript was available but a Spanish copy. The author did not know Italian language, which he said the original language of author. He made many mistakes in Italian, but none in Spanish. This shows the author’s real mother tongue is Spanish.
  • There are contradicting statements about Palestinian land and environment. Author claims that he walked with Jesus during Later’s ministry and his real name was Barnabas. But the fact is that the real Barnabas got this name from Apostles. He was Joses (Acts 4:36) before apostles changed his name as Barnabas. From this fact we can understand the author of the false gospel of Barnabas had no idea about the real Barnabas.
  • Gospel of Barnabas says Palestinian areas are very beautiful in summer. In fact, Palestine is a dry land in summer.
  • It says Nazareth where fishermen dry their nets. In fact, Nazareth is a highland, not a sea-shore. But Capernaum is a sea- shore, where fisher flock dry fishnets. These geographical discrepancies reveal that the author of the false gospel of Barnabas has no idea and connection with the land and had no link in Jesus’ ministry.
  • The real Barnabas was a later convert in Act 4. He did not do ministry with Jesus. But false Barnabas claims that he ministered with Jesus. Therefore, all these prove that the gospel of so-called Barnabas is a forgery without any doubt.






  1. Write short notes on writing materials of the Bible.


  1. Write short notes on writing instruments of the Bible.


  1. Write ten reasons for rejecting the books of Apocrypha.


  1. What are the three elements of inspiration?


  1. Write a short note about King James Bible.


Note :              Please write this Assignment, and send it to CALS.

                        Please write your Name and Register Number in your Assignment.