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Canon of Scripture

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  644 Ratings  ·  40 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 November 28th 1988 by IVP Academic (first published July 1st 1988)
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Robert Jacoby
Nov 24, 2012 Robert Jacoby rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2012 Matthew rated it liked it
Shelves: bible
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
Dec 13, 2014 George rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 01, 2014 Cliff rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2016 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Written in 1988, but still highly regarded. I can’t seem to find much in the way of updated information that this book covers, which may mean that he covered it well enough that there hasn’t been any reason to re-write it. Covers the OT and NT very well. I learned a ton from this book and enjoyed reading it. It covered exactly what it purports to cover - how the books of the bible came together. A major takeaway is that both the OT and NT have books that barely missed getting included and that b ...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
Jan 17, 2008 Ray rated it really liked it
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
Demetrius Rogers
Sep 05, 2012 Demetrius Rogers rated it really liked it
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.

Robert Schut
Feb 12, 2015 Robert Schut rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 06, 2016 Isaac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great scholarly (but still readable) introduction to the historical Christian canon recognition process. Most of the book is descriptive, and focuses on what lists from what ancient authors include which books. This is more interesting than I'm making it sound. The last section looks at how books were recognized as canon, and what the criteria was. I found this to be helpful as a starting point for future research on this topic.
John Kight
Apr 24, 2016 John Kight rated it it was amazing
The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce is nothing short of a landmark publication on the subject of the biblical canon. It received two 1990 Christianity Today Awards including The Readers' Choice Award and The Critics' Choice Award, as well as a 1989 ECPA Gold Medallion Award. Nowadays, while many readers may be too easily willing to write off The Canon of Scripture as outdated and stale given the current landscape of biblical scholarship, the interaction therein by Bruce still provides much to ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Scott rated it liked it
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
Aug 29, 2015 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Ok, so I'm a nerd, and I know it. I've always been fascinated by history (duh, history major in college), and the question "How did the Bible come to be?" has always intrigued me. This book was definitely written for the scholar, but I had enough background knowledge that I was able to follow it. I learned a lot! The only thing that surprised me was how long it took before the Apocrypha was set apart from the rest of Old Testament. I thought that it was excised by Protestants during the Reformat ...more
Adam Parker
Jun 26, 2012 Adam Parker rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
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
Mar 24, 2015 Genni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
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
Mar 27, 2012 John rated it really liked it
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
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
May 18, 2013 JP rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2015 Will rated it liked it
"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
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.
Rachel Ramm
May 20, 2012 Rachel Ramm rated it really liked it
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.
Brad Belschner
Oct 26, 2010 Brad Belschner rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-theology
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.
Bruce McCuskey
Aug 19, 2016 Bruce McCuskey rated it liked it
While F.F. Bruce's work is detailed and well-researched, I have always found it funny that he presents an argument based almost entirely upon the testimony of the Apostolic Fathers about what books were considered canon and what books were not, which he even acknowledges is similar to the Catholic notion of Apostolic Tradition, yet for creedal purposes ignores everything that the Apostolic Fathers say about the eucharist, church hierarchy, etc.
Rob Culp
Aug 23, 2012 Rob Culp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, christian
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
Jul 09, 2013 Curtis Thetford rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 20, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 10, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: mostly-read
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.
Frank Peters
May 12, 2014 Frank Peters rated it really liked it
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.
Adam T Calvert
Apr 04, 2008 Adam T Calvert rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 21, 2012 Ashish Jaituni rated it it was amazing
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.
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  • The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
  • The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption & Restoration
  • New Testament Commentary Survey
  • Early Christian Doctrines
  • The New Testament and the People of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #1)
  • Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
  • Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
  • A Theology of the New Testament
  • The Theology of the Book of Revelation
  • A General Introduction to the Bible
  • The Christian Tradition 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100-600
  • The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations
  • Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
  • How We Got the Bible
  • New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors
  • The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible
  • A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada
  • Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus
Frederick Fyvie Bruce FBA was a Biblical scholar who supported the historical reliability of the New Testament. His first book, The 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".
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“By an act of faith the Christian reader today may identify the New Testament, as it has been received, with the entire ‘tradition of Christ’. But confidence in such an act of faith will be strengthened if the same faith proves to have been exercised by Christians in other places and at other times—if it is in line with the traditional ‘criteria of canonicity’. And there is no reason to exclude the bearing of other lines of evidence on any position that is accepted by faith. In” 0 likes
“Even in its canonical form a biblical document may be better understood if account be taken of successive stages in its composition. There” 0 likes
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