Evolution of the Structure of the Bible: Part I

About 1700 years ago, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great made two decisions that would forever changed the course of human history.

The first decision was made in 313 when he signed the Edict of Milan, which granted civil rights and freedom to adopt any religions including Christianity. With this, hundreds of years of oppression of Christianity in the Roman Empire was effectively brought to an end.

The second decision was that, shortly before his death in 337, Constantine was baptized and thus, formally adopted Christianity.

In some ways, these decisions have profound effects in accelerating the growth of Christianity, and therefore making the Bible the most important literature ever produced.

However, pious Christians often see the Bible as a source of spiritual inspiration and lack the knowledge of the evolution of its content. To understand the present structure of the Bible, it is necessary to go back to the Jews living in ancient Judea.

The ancient Jews, like many other early civilizations, had invented a set of symbols to preserve stories which they thought were important. And again, like their comtemporaries, one of their theme was the stories about their prophets and the God they worshiped. This type of materials were important to the ancient Jews because their contents were thought to have divine origin.

In 90 A.D., a Jew named Akiba ben Joseph decided that maybe that the earlier collection of stories should be edited and cleaned up so that the texts with no divine origin can be deleted. He called a meeting in a town named Jamnia. Together with other Jewish scholars, Akiba updated the sacred texts and declared that this version would be the definitive edition and that no extra stories would be allowed to be added.

However, some of the Jews would like to have to stories of Jesus Christ added because they considered Jesus to be the Son of God and ought to be revered like the earlier prophets.

Unfortunately, majority of the Jews rejected this notion. Therefore, the ancient Jews were divided into two religious groups. The new group called themselves Christians, and their collection of story now consists of both Akiba’s Old Testaments and the newly added materials about Jesus Christ, known as the New Testaments. This is the beginning of the Bible.


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