If Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the four gospels and Paul wrote most of the Epistles, who edited the final version of what we today call the Bible? As mentioned in Question 17, the Old Testament took final shape in the third to second centuries (250–100 BC) when the Septuagint was commissioned. King Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt (309–246 BC) built an exquisite library in Alexandria and decided to crown his collection with a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. At that time, two-thirds to three-quarters of the world’s Jews had been dispersed (called the Diaspora) during the Babylonian Captivity (586 BC). Most Jews no longer used the Hebrew language since the common tongue at that time was Greek. King Ptolemy asked over seventy scholars to begin the task of translating from Hebrew into Greek, which took more than seventy days. Their one-volume edition contained forty-six books, thirty-nine of which had been originally written in Hebrew and seven of which had been originally written in Greek, since the sacred authors lived during the captivity and were only fluent in the Hellenistic (Greek) language.
The complete Bible, with Old and New Testaments, did not appear in one single volume and language until 400 AD, when Saint Jerome did the monumental task of translating the Hebrew and Greek into Latin (the common tongue at that time). Before that, the Councils of Laodicea (363 AD) and Carthage (397 AD) had declared the number of books for the New Testament to be twenty-seven. There was some scholarly disagreement about the authorized list (canon) of books for the Old Testament—Saint Athanasius (296–373 AD) and Saint Gregory Nazianzus (325–389 AD) opted for the shorter and more recent Palestinian-Hebrew canon of thirty-nine books—but the final word came in 400 AD, when the Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome included all forty-six books of the longer and older Alexandrian-Greek canon at the request of Pope Damasus I. In 405 AD, his successor, Pope Innocent I, reaffirmed the authenticity of those seven additional books. Just eight years before (397 AD), Saint Augustine and the Third Council of Carthage gave their seal of approval on the Septuagint listing—the longer canon containing forty-six instead of only thirty-nine books.
Christianity would therefore have forty-six books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament for over a thousand years, from 400–1517 AD, until Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation chose to remove from the Old Testament what they considered to be apocryphal books (Baruch, Maccabees 1 and 2, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, and Wisdom) and to adopt the Palestinian-Hebrew canon of 100 AD. The Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox Churches kept those seven deuterocanonical books, since they retained the Alexandrian-Greek canon of 250 BC. It was further maintained that Jesus and the early Christians knew, used, and regarded those books as being part of Scripture. Christians had been seen as a sect or branch of Judaism from 33–70 AD until the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Christianity was repudiated by Jewish religious leaders, and it became an independent and separate religion thirty years before the Jewish scholars at Jamnia (100 AD) formally rejected the Alexandrian canon and opted for the Palestinian one instead.
The Council of Trent (1545–1563 AD) solemnly defined that Catholics were to accept—as inspired and part of revelation—all forty-six books of the Old Testament, in addition to the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, etc., denominations would only accept the thirty-nine books, but you will often find those seven deuterocanonical books listed in the back of the Protestant Bible under the classification of “apocrypha”.