Moses, just before his death, wrote the book of Deuteronomy, which finalized the first major set of inspired Bible books. This set is known as the Pentateuch, or Law, and is composed of five books. These books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Moses (a Levite), upon completion of his last Bible book, gave them to the priests so that they may be preserved (Deuteronomy 31:24 - 26).
It was from the death of Moses that, according to "The Holy Bible in Its Original Order" (HBFV), the priest and Levites were made the official protectors of God's word. Their job was to make faithful copies and to preserve his revelations to man for future generations.
In time the Eternal inspired others writers for his Bible such as Samuel, King David, King Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel to write books.
It was not until the late fifth century B.C., however, that these writings were collected and compiled to form what we know as the Old Testament. Ezra, a priest at the temple who lived more than eight hundred years after Moses, led the effort to canonize the Old Testament part of our modern Bible.
The Bible is considered a canonized book. What exactly is canonization? Canonization is the process by which a collection of writings comes to be considered authoritative, definitive and fixed by a religious authority. It was during the canonization process that the number of books in the Old Testament and their book arrangement was set.
Ezra and the Great Assembly brought together all the writings inspired by God and produced an Old Testament made up of twenty-two (22) manuscripts. The number of finalized manuscripts (22) is the same as the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
The Old Testament canon was divided into three major Bible divisions. These divisions are the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (also known as "the Psalms" because the book of Psalms is listed first in this division). It was this inspired division that Jesus referred to when he was teaching his disciples in Luke 24:44.
A generally accepted theory regarding the Bible is that the New Testament canon was completed late in the fourth century A.D. This theory, however, is not true. According to the HBFV, many scholars have arbitrarily divided the canonization of the New Testament into five periods. The finalization of what would become our modern Bible, they state, did not occur until the third Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.
The incredible truth is that God did not commit the collection and finalization of his Bible books to men of questionable faith over a period of 300 years. He instead choose to canonize his word through the three Apostles who were the most prolific writers of New Testament books. They were the apostles Paul (14 books), Peter (2 books) and John (5 books).
Paul's epistles, when completed, were forwarded to Peter and John, who fully accepted them as inspired and part of the Bible. Peter, in his second epistle, left no doubt that he and the apostle John were forming the official text of New Testament teachings. He also referred to this written remembrance as the 'prophetic word confirmed' (see 2Peter 1:15, 19).
God specially choose the apostle John to set the order of the New Testament books and finalize His words in the Bible. As the HBFV states, "Although Paul and Peter had canonized their writings before they died, the official canonization with the final arrangement of the books of the entire New Testament was accomplished by the apostle . . ." (pages 70 - 71).
How we got the Bible is an amazing story that spans centuries of human history. The first book was written around the 1660's B.C. by Job and the last one was completed at the close of the first century A.D. Although many have tried to stamp out its existence, the Bible has survived and thrived into the 21st century as still the most popular writing in the world.