Bible Criteria



“Holy Scriptures” means “writings that have been set apart.” The synagogue and the church considered them different from secular literature because they believed them to have been inspired by God. “Sacred canon” represents a further stage at which a list of such holy writings were drawn up as a closed collection, not to be added to, subtracted from, or altered in any way.

“Canon,” from an ancient Semitic word meaning “reed,” came to mean an authoritative standard by which other things are measured. As applied to the Bible, the word means that in this particular collection of writings–as against other writings–the Divine purpose and will for all are to be found.



Overview of the Canonical Criteria

The Old Testament Criteria

  1. Attestation as holy scripture by Jesus Christ and apostles.
  2. Consistency of message regarding God’s redemptive plan for mankind and God’s attributes.
  3. Statements regarding appointment of human writers as God’s spokesmen.
  4. Israelite and Jewish history and tradition.
  5. Determination and preservation of scripture by Israelite and Jewish leaders, as well as by the Christian church.
  6. The writings of rabbis, other Jewish scholars, the early “Church Fathers” and other Christian scholars.
  7. Corroboration by the Apocrypha.
  8. Historical and archaeological corroboration.

The New Testament Criteria

  1. Authorship by an apostle or by one intimately associated with an apostle.
  2. Consistency of the sermons in the book of Acts and the messages in the Epistles and Revelation with the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospels.
  3. The nature of the principles contained in the New Testament message.
  4. Acceptance, use and preservation by early Christians; writings of the early “Church Fathers” and writings of Christian scholars.
  5. Consistency with and use of Old Testament by Jesus and New Testament writers.
  6. Corroboration by early Christian era apocryphal writings.
  7. Church decrees of Council of Hippo and Council of Carthage (A.D. 393-397).
  8. Continuous acceptance by Christians to the present time.
  9. Historical and archaeological corroboration.