The Formation of the Christian Bible

Worship this Sunday will invite reflection on a period of Christian history known by some scholars as “Classical Christianity.”  We’ll explore how the Bible came into being, how priests rose to power, and how worship shifted from homes to churches as worship evolved from ~150CE to ~600CE.

Rebecca Lyman writes,

In the second century a wide variety of writings were circulating in the communities for public worship and private devotion.  These writings included several gospels, letters addressed to Christian communities as well as individuals, transcripts of martyrs trials, homilies, and Christian novels.  At the time “scripture” referred only to the writings of the Hebrew Bible.

The first list of New Testament books corresponding to those in our Bible was not completed until 367 CE.  To the list Athanasius also attached a prohibition against reading other writings in private.  Throughout Christian history control of sacred literature and interpretation has been an essential part of theological conflict and authority (Early Christian Traditions, 54-5).

As we move into summer, many in our community will take up new reading lists.  Will “sacred literature” find a place on your summer reading list?  What books hold a sacred place in your life?