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Canon of Scripture

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  497 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Winner of two 1990 Christianity Today Awards: Readers' Choice (1st place; theology & doctrine) and Critics' Choice (1st place; theology & doctrine). A 1989 ECPA Gold Medallion Award winner! How did the books of the Bible come to be recognized as Holy Scripture? Who decided what shape the canon should take? What criteria influenced these decisions? After nearly nine ...more
Hardcover, 349 pages
Published October 31st 1988 by IVP Academic (first published July 1st 1988)
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The best part is the three chapters at the end, when Bruce has completed the rather tedious presentation of historical evidence and provides his own synthesis of tying things together in concluding thoughts. In brief, then, the criteria for canonicity are: apostolicity (referring to whether a book was written by an apostle), orthodoxy (this become more important over time, basically whether a book affirmed or contradicted what was already regarded as canon), and finally catholicity (whether a bo ...more
Robert Jacoby
I'll have to give this book 5 stars. It's a scholarly work meant for the keen and interested layman. It is lengthy, however, and it will require a good amount of concentration to get through. If you're a careful reader and student like me, you'll want a highlight pen nearby! Also be close to your computer so that you can google the many different names and documents and books and scholarly works peppered liberally throughout the book. I've read other reviews that say Bruce's text is too heavy, w ...more
Until his untimely death about 15 years ago, Bruce was the leading English-speaking authority on textual criticism. His only serious competitor for this position was Bruce Metzger (who the mainliners preferred due to his less evangelical theological commitments and affiliation with the more liberal Princeton Seminary). But Metzger (whose own book on the canon of Scripture is the standard in mainline circles) acknowledged in a review of Bruce in the Princeton Seminary Bulletin that Bruce's work w ...more
George Simopoulos
This monograph on the canon of scripture (both old and new testaments) has been a standard for decades and for good reason. Bruce does an excellent job of bringing different levels of analysis to bear on scripture, showing both skeptic and Christian alike that the documents we now have in the bible are well placed as a canon. Keep a highlighter and notepad handy. Bruce spares his reader no breaks to digest the information he unearths.
This book, quite simply, is probably THE book to read if you are interested in the discussion concerning what books are part of the Bible, and which ones aren't, and why. This is a comprehensive, detailed, footnoted, and thoughtful book that gives an excellent overview of every book in both the old and new testaments, and why they are there.

FF Bruce is protestant who makes the case for the protestant point of view on these topics, but he neither shies away from areas of disagreement nor fails t
I read this a couple of years ago with a completely different set of questions. Once again, I found this book useful and resourceful.

Bruce provides a straight forward account of the history OT and NT books, before they were canons. In particular, I was interested in the relationship between the Translations of the Septuagint and the Hebrew Scriptures and the dispute of The Revelation from the early chuch fathers. Bruce did not provide any answers, per say, but did give a solid foundation for fur
Demetrius Rogers
This was much like rummaging through a large drawer of nuts and bolts. Lots of historical evidences here. Good stuff and if one can work though the tedium there's a nice payoff.

I would recommend this volume be read with Michael J. Kruger's book entitled, Canon Revisited. Kruger does a great job of helping the reader think theologically about the issue of canonicity, whereas Bruce provides a detailed historical analysis.

"The question to be examined in the following pages is: how did certain documents, and these only , come to receive this recognition (as canon)? Who, if anyone, decided that these, and no others, should be admitted to the list of the holy scriptures, and what were the criteria which influenced this decision?" (from the introduction) I would say that it does a pretty good job of that and was more "readable" than I feared. From super old manuscripts of the old testament to the Greek Christian tran ...more
Micah Lugg
How we got the books in our Bible is of interest to every Christian, at some time in their faith. Bruce understands this and thus carefully spends almost 300 pages telling the story of how the books in the Bible became recognized as authoritative Scripture.

This work was a joy to read because of the vast array of facts that Bruce brings to light, his well-written prose, and his story-telling through the history of the church. I would heartily recommend this to any believer who has questions about
Adam Parker
Let me prepare you potential readers, know that this will consume much time and require even more contemplation. The Canon of Scripture by FF Bruce was, without question, the most academic piece of literature I've ever read. I don't consider myself to be a theologian by any stretch, though I have spent years reading and learning about this faith of ours. I eventually came to the point where I should have started from, the foundation of the book we find inspiration and understanding of our God in ...more
When reading any book there is a central question that the reader must ask themselves and that is What is the author trying to do? Though that seems to be a fairly obvious question, it is often easily lost. For example, the way I read a NYT Bestseller in Fiction will contrast greatly with how I approach Edwards' Freedom of the Will.

The point is this: some books are best to enjoy over a glass of wine (or milk if you teetotal) while other books should be completed with the pages flurried with swe
Basically a history of how the currently accepted books of the Bible came together into a canon. Separate from the information about the biblical books, the glimpses of early scholarship and varying schools of thought are fascinating. Overall, it is very easy to read. This book does not directly address the question of inspiration, although he seems to endorse that view at various points. Interestingly, he points out that John's Revelation is the only New Testament book that has an internal clai ...more
Robert Schut
F.F. Bruce is one of my favorite authors on technical subjects of scripture. This particular book is a must for someone who is studying how we have come to have the Bible in the form we currently have now. He goes beyond the extra mile by creating a context surrounding the process of canonizing scripture that is invaluable to those who are interested in this subject. He gives a fair and intelligent presentation of the information. A great book for research. He's still one of my favorites.
This book should be read by every Christian. It will be faith building in understanding how we got the Bible and criteria by which some books were canonized and others were not. As time goes by, this book becomes more and more important. The authority and infallibility of the bible is constantly being challenged and Christians need to be prepared to provide an answer for the hope in us. Enemies of the Bible continue to build on the false premises of Biblical criticism. Whether it's liberal theol ...more
This definitely helped me understand better the history and criteria of the canon. The big question it raises for me derives from the potential extension of the apocypha to other deuterocanonical works ruled out early on. Most clearly didn't fit. But did some? I also realized how much of the New Testament is based on Paul, which is peculiar in contrast to Peter's important role in circumspect writings. Most of the canon has been consistent since the 4th or 5th century. The contributors to what w ...more
Frank Peters
I read this book about 20 years ago. At the time it was a fairly challenging read, but the subject matter was of great interest: How did the bible get put together in the form we now have? Why not other books? etc. For anyone who has these types of questions, it is worth reading.
William Dicks
F.F. Bruce gives a very good analysis of the canon of Scripture and how it came together. Well worth the time spent reading it. Bruce deals with both Old and New Testaments. I enjoyed every facet of the book and especially how he dealt with weird compilers of what should be in the NT such as Marcion's NT and others like him. For those that enjoy history, this will give a good idea of how our canon of Scripture came about.
This is the first book I've read on the Canon of Scripture and probably the only book I'll need to read. Bruce's work was very scholarly, including over 1000 citations/notes. He covered all of the questions I had and then some. The book seems very short for the topic but it has a lot of meat to it. It isn't the easiest thing to read and I think that is why it took me so long. It takes a while to get used to his writing style. It may not include every last detail that you are looking for but it d ...more
Bruce is a superb scholar and his writing style invites the reader into the discussion.
Rob Culp
Loved this book. So much great information and reference to source documents. Struck a perfect balance between digging deep enough to address the real questions, and not beating a dead horse by dwelling on any one point too long. It also avoided taking sides in any arguments, instead presenting evidence for how the canon developed based on a ton of external source documents. Such a pleasure to read. I will definitely reread in the future and return for reference in the future.
Curtis Thetford
A scholarly work with no hidden agenda on either side. Presents the history of the scriptures from ancient secular writings that are related to the subject. Lots of quotes from the likes of Iraneous, Athanasious etc. If you want to look at the actual evidence rather than someones interpretation of the evidence, then this is the right book. In spite of the scholarly nature, still not a difficult read for the average person.
Brad Belschner
This book gives a solid, basic history of the canon of scripture. It's divided into two halves: OT canon and NT canon. I approached this book with questions like, how do we know that Esther ought to be in the Bible? What about Hebrews? What about the Septuagint? This book roughly answered my historical questions, and made me interested in further and deeper study. I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
Rachel Ramm
A scholarly treatment of the history of the Biblical canon, both the Old Testament and the New, thoroughly referenced and footnoted with primary (or nearly primary) sources. This book was quite a stretch for me, and opened my eyes to how much church history I do not know. I'm glad I finally finished it, but I'll have to revisit this one after I catch up on my history. I'm sure I'll get much more out of it when I do.
This text is not for those who simply want to refute the Da Vinci code nonsense or dabble in a brief history of the bible. This text traces the history of the biblical text from concept of compiled texts to canonization. You need to have an understanding of christian history for this to be a book that is helpful for your understanding of where the christian faith got their most influential texts.
I haven't read the whole thing, but from the parts I did use, I would say this is a good survey of issues related to canonicity. It's informative but quite readable. It also covers Old Testament canonicity (which is sort of a bonus, given the nature of this bibliography). It's very affordable, too, at around $20 for the hard cover.
Adam T Calvert
This is a classic on the canon of Scripture. Bruce does a masterful job of giving the history of the canon for both the Old and New Testaments. It somehow remains both academic and readable. It's no wonder it won two Christianity Today awards in 1990.
Ashish Jaituni
This is a classic. I read it years back. I wish I could read it again. The authoritative book on how the Canon was established. A scholarly work! A must read for the students of Theology and also for the layman interested in apologetics.
Jimmy Reagan
So very helpful. I couldn't agree with every conclusion but much insight is gained in reading this volume. He lays it out in a very understandable fashion. Highly recommended!
Travis Wussow
Excellent discussion of the development of the canon of Scripture. Highly recommend for anyone with questions about the reliability of the Bible.
When I read this book I began to realize what a true scholar is. Not the most exciting book, perhaps, but F.F. Bruce knows his stuff.
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  • The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
  • Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
  • The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption & Restoration
  • An Introduction to the New Testament
  • Early Christian Doctrines
  • Inerrancy
  • Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
  • The Christian Tradition 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100-600
  • A Theology of the New Testament
  • The New Testament and the People of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #1)
  • The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations
  • Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus
  • An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach
  • Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
  • A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada
  • The Epistle to the Romans
  • The Theology of the Book of Revelation
Frederick Fyvie Bruce FBA (12 October 1910 – 11 September 1990) was a Biblical scholar who supported the historical reliability of the New Testament. His first book, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (1943), was voted by the American evangelical periodical Christianity Today in 2006 as one of the top 50 books "which had shaped evangelicals".
More about F.F. Bruce...
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free New Testament History The Book of the Acts, Revised The Epistle to the Hebrews

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