How were the books of the Bible chosen?   Do we know how many children Joseph and Mary had?


I answer your first question in great detail in my book “Reasons for Belief” which is available at   I am also attaching a shorter version of notes on canon to this e-mail.    HOW WE GOT THE BIBLE    How We God the Bible PPT   Just scroll down to the section on New Testament canon and further down for the section on Old Testament canon.  Bottom line is that, although all scripture is God-breathed (ie inspired by God, 2 Tim 3:16), God used humans to assemble both the Old and the New Testaments.  In the case of the Old Testament it was Jewish scribes and teachers of the law in approximately the fifth century who decided the canon (rule) of scripture.  Josephus tells us that Ezra was the main force behind this, but this may be only part of the picture.  With the New Testament it was the consensus of early church leaders that decided what books were inspired.  We do not have a detailed account of this process, but from the writings of church fathers such are Irenaeus and Origen we can get an idea how this happened.  Their chief criterion was apostolic authority for the books.  By the mid-second century the canon of the New Testament was virtually set based on consensus of the churches.

As for the children of Joseph and Mary, we can answer this by reference to Matthew 13:55-56 in which we are told that the brothers of Jesus were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.  We are also informed that he had sisters (plural).  Therefore, Jesus had at least six siblings.  James and Jude are authors of New Testament books.  We know little if anything about Joseph and Simon as well as Jesus’ sisters.  Jesus was the male head of the household when Joseph died, which made his leaving home for his ministry particularly striking.  He gave over his responsibility to John while on the cross (John 19:26) so we can see that he still felt the weight of being male head of household up to his death.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.