Contrary to popular belief the Bible was not written by God whispering into the ears of the human authors to write what he wanted written, but rather the Scriptures are inspired by God. The Holy Spirit guided the authors to be moved in such a way that their writings were of God.
Just as we participate in God’s ongoing creation (procreation) we also had a part in creating the Scriptures. God and his people have always worked side by side (Mary to bear Jesus, we create human life, the Scriptures, the prophets brought the message of God to Israel). The message that God wants conveyed is contained in the Scriptures, but the way it is conveyed was left up to the
The Bible is the written account of the human experience with God. Many parts of the Bible are oral tradition that was written down. Most people were illiterate and relied much more on their memories to pass on traditions and stories. Oral tradition was the norm long before writing and reading was popular.
The Bible was given to us by the Holy Spirit as discerned by the early bishops of the Catholic Church. There was no Bible for the first 350 years of Christianity. The first official list of Scriptures was done in 393 at the Council of Hippo, then again in Carthage in 397 and 419. The Church did not infallibly define these books until the Council of Trent, when it was called into question by the Reformers, in 1556.
Partial criteria for determining the canon is as follows:
- special relation to God, i.e., inspiration;
- apostolic origin;
- used in Church services, i.e., used by the community of believers guided by the Holy Spirit.
There were two different forms of the ancient Scriptures in use, the Septuagint and the Masoretic texts. The Septuagint has its influence from the Greek Jews in the Diaspora (outside Israel) whereas the Masoretic text was used by the Jews still in Jerusalem.
The Church has always used the Septuagint as its base for the Old Testament. The Septuagint has a few more books than the later established Masoretic texts. In fact, the Masoretic canon was set by the Jews after the Christians accepted the Septuagint version as their Scripture. This makes sense considering the non-messianic Jews were not too crazy about Jesus so why would they accept the same books as the Christians?
Catholic Bibles do not have extra books, non-Catholic Bibles are missing books.