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The Canon of Scripture

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  836 ratings  ·  58 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 nineteen centurie
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published (first published July 1st 1988)
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Robert Jacoby
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joel Wentz
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reader should know that this is a pretty-dry, historical survey. Bruce had an impressively-wide range of knowledge on the transmission of historical texts (especially the New Testament documents) and this book is a succinct presentation of his work and research on the subject. And because of the nature of the topic, a majority of the book reads like a survey of church history.

That all being said, this is a wealth of knowledge in a relatively small package. The weight of the book is on the tr
Adam Parker
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Chad Warner
Traces the history of the formation of the canon of the Old and New Testaments. It focuses much more on history than theology, though there are a few theological notes. It's scholarly and well-researched, but not the easiest read and is a bit hard to follow; I kept flipping back and forth to "connect the dots." It probably didn't help that I was skimming rather than reading straight through, looking to learn more about the Apocrypha.

Part 2: Old Testament
The Law and the Prophets
Jesus and apo
Tom Brennan
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I respect the scholarship of this book. I feel confident that he has portrayed the history of individuals and manuscripts fairly. I also appreciate the scope of the work. He said he was explaining the historical argument for the canon and he did. It is clear that he is a teacher, and that the chapters are drawn from various lectures but that does not mar the book. He obviously took care to write it, not simply transcribe lectures. The result is a book that reads clearly.

Why only three stars then
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic and must-read on this topic. Although there have been many other updated books on this topic (such as books by Michael Kruger, etc), this one still stands as a thorough and compelling argument for the trustworthiness of the Christian scriptures in the Old and New Testaments.

Put it on your to-read list if you haven't already!
Scott Petty
Studious and meticulously researched yet lacking. For a Christian book by a Christian author about the Christian scriptures there is a curious absence of God. This book could have been written by an unbeliever with very few changes. Historically helpful but spiritually sparse.
Paul Batz
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is exactly the kind of book I'd been looking for; it is a book that honestly and meticulously discusses the history of the canon of scripture. Perhaps the fact that F. F. Bruce is so thorough and meticulous might scare potential readers off from reading his book. I won't lie. This is a difficult book to get through without at least a small understanding of church history. All that being said, Bruce's book is definitely worth your time.

Bruce starts with the Old Testament. For the most part,
Feb 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert Schut
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
J.R. Coltaine
A helpful overview of the Canon which answers the questions "How did the books of the BIble come to be recognized as Holy Scripture? Who decided what the shape of the Canon should be? What were the criteria that influenced these decisions?"

This book features page after page of historical summary, but actually reads fairly quickly, especially if you are already familiar with church history. I think Bruce does a fine job of succinctly answering the questions above. I was a little disappointed that
Pete Foley
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone interested in a detailed analysis of how the Canon came together and how the various differences in Bibles that exist today (e.g., Catholic v. Protestant Bible) came about, this is your book. Scholarly and thorough, F.F. Bruce walks you through the various figures who heavily influenced what was considered canonical vs. apocryphal (or heretical) including Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Augustine, and Jerome among many others. He deals with Marcion and the Marcion controversy/heresy and ...more
John Buchanan
Very helpful to gain some appreciation of how our Bible came to be and what is in it and what is not. To be honest, I skimmed some parts and was confused in others. But the overall message gave confidence in what we have.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book we had in Seminary. Re-read, or at least, read more carefully and thoroughly, as background for a class on How We Got the Bible. Very helpful and interesting.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit more detailed as opposed to conceptual, but still a helpful survey of the relevant sources for the historical development of our understanding of the canon.
Vincent Stewart
Really good historical overview of the canon of scripture. Not highly engaging but lots of very informative and helpful information.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, so much to dig into here! Which is why it took me almost a month to read. The Word of God truly comes to life for me when I understand it through the context of history. My God is amazing!
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a hard book to read. The writing is exceptionally tedious. But the content is great. Worth the struggle to read it.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview of the development of the biblical canon. Bruce is to be commended for staying above the biases of modern critical studies, which attempt to bend historical issues of Christianity to fit a postmodern viewpoint.
John Kight
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is borderline unreadable. It has such high reviews because people like to think they are smarter than everyone else and the unwashed masses "just don't get it."

If I wrote like this I would have failed high school English. He starts entire paragraphs with the word, "but," he does it in every section. He fails to explain half of what he is talking about, and just drops names like everyone has an advanced knowledge of Church History. You mean YOU don't have a working encyclopedic knowledg
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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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Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this ...
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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” 1 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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