I know that the Bible has 66 books. Who brought that 66 books and combined it together so that we have the Bible today? Who did decide which books would be part of the Bible?
First let’s start with some basics.
The Bible is made up of 66 books written by over 40 authors spanning around 1500 years. These writers were from all types of cultures, occupations and backgrounds.
Yet, the Bible is perfectly harmonious in its message and common themes. This is a true miracle, and undeniable evidence that the Bible is divinely inspired (among a mountain of other evidence too lengthy to discuss here).
Why is it undeniable evidence? Think about it… You could NOT accomplish this feat with human planning and effort. You could not, period. Without God’s inspiration, you couldn’t get 10 people in one lifetime to write a book as diverse and broad as the Bible and hope to get 50% harmony and accuracy.
The Bible is error free in its original form and remarkably error free in its translated forms. Critics claim “flaws” in the Bible that typically are either translation problems, or can be answered adequately with a little study and open-mindedness. Even if you grant these “flaws”, they are few and have NO affect on the common message of Scripture, or on any doctrine of the Christian faith.
Why do I tell you all that?
Because if you START with a basic foundation that the Bible is CLEARLY a supernaturally inspired Book, originating from outside of our human space-time experience, then you can trust that WHATEVER METHOD or EVENTS God chose to bring about the final compilation of Scripture, we can believe the Bible to be what God intended for us to have.
In other words, if God chose to have the final collection of books put together by having them tossed from a mountain top and whichever books fell into a circle on the ground became the official Bible, then so be it. We know overwhelming evidence that Scripture is inspired from God, so we can know that the method of canonicity (choosing the final books) was under God’s control as well.
What method did God use? He used inspired men; flawed and human, but inspired and directed by God.
When Jesus was on the earth, the Old Testament had long been completed and the books accepted by the Jews as their Holy Books was settled. As the new Church began on the Day of Pentecost, events were set in motion that would result in our New Testament.
Letters, historical accounts, personal accounts and visions were written down, copied and circulated among the growing churches. Over the decades, Christians began to call together councils to discuss which of these should be compiled as official Church teaching and eventually added to Holy Scriptures. The primary authentication that was considered was how closely any given document was associated with an Apostle, affirmed by them, and authored by them.
There were plenty of arguments and even lasting disagreement, but there can be no doubt that God was in control because 1) the Old Testament was proof of God’s involvement in canonization up to that point, and 2) the final product we have today is proof that God inspired the compilation process.
Around the 4th century the process was final. God had used flawed men to compile a perfect book – God’s Written Word to mankind. This Book would go on to change the world like no other before or after. The Bible has had more affect on the world than the COMBINED affect of all other books. It is the only book that changes lives, communities and nations for the good.
Everywhere the Bible has been read and practiced, mankind has prospered, flourished and become more civilized to each other. Wherever the Bible is ignored, civilization deteriorates rapidly. If you doubt that, study the parallel of 1) the removal of God and the Bible from America in the last 50 years against, 2) the decline of morality, civility and integrity in America in the same time period. And that decline is accelerating at an alarming pace with each generation.
That’s “nutshell” version of how we got the Bible. This answer just scratched the topic. The evidence is plentious, undeniable and irrefutable. However, a hardened heart will see no evidence at all, no matter how great or how obvious.
On the other hand, God promises to give wisdom and learning to those who turn to Him in faith and ask for it.