Overview and Objectives
We are urged to base our life and eternal destiny on Scripture’s teaching. Can we trust it? The New Testament era produced many documents. Only twenty-seven of them carry the authoritative label, “Scripture.” In this lesson you will study “canonization,” the church’s process of recognizing those twenty-seven books as authoritative Scripture. We have no original manuscripts of any of the New Testament documents. So, you will also study the crucial science of textual criticism, which is the process used to assure that the words we read today are the words the original Greek texts contained.
When you complete this lesson, you should be able to do the following:
- Explain the need for and the process of textual criticism.
- Name and describe various sources used to reconstruct the original New Testament texts.
- Define and explain the process used to establish the New Testament canon.
- Discuss the political and geographical setting in which Jesus and the Apostles lived and wrote.
As you proceed through this lesson have the following question in mind.
A friend approaches you and wants to know why our Bible does not include the Gospel of Thomas. Now that you have studied this lesson, what would you tell him about how the books in the New Testament were identified as canonical?