[quote="DaddyGirl, post:8, topic:330712"]
It took centuries of debate...and debate...and debate.
There were many, many books used by Christians in the first centuries that, once "rejected" for inclusion in the canon in the late 4th century, were then called heretical and destroyed.
Some of these books were hidden and have since been found (Nag Hammadi Scriptures and the Gnostic Gospels, for example...the forty books of the Apocryphal Gospels...the recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas, etc, etc).
Some included in the biblical canon now almost did not make it in...(the book of revelations, i think)
It was decided upon by the various councils?
And that one Catholic bishop already mentioned had listed in a letter the ones he thought were acceptable...and those became a template and guide.
Centuries, yes and no. I would say those we have now were considered immediately as scripture by those who receievd the actual letter. Paul and Peter seem to allude to their writings as "scripture", and were quite aware, I believe, that they wetre "adding"' to the tradition of scripture of old. For example, those in Corinth received letters from Paul, and they were careful to verify his authorship. Beyond that, there was full acceptance, from the beginning. They did not "wait " for approval from distant churches or for a council. They did not say, "Thanks Paul, we know this is from you but we have to wait a bit before we consider them to be inspired, maybe in a century we will declare them so". What took time was universal acceptance, by those far and away from original recipients. I have heard there were three kinds of sacred writings from early church: those widely accepted as scripture, those only partially accepted, and those rejected, rejected from the beginning I might add. Finally, more and more "books" were being declared as "sacred scripture" from early fathers in second century, with many quotations. By the end of second century almost all books are quoted as sacred. In 325 it has been said that Constantine ordered 50 bibles to be made by Eusebius, who quickly came up with consent for the books (27). The rest has been written about future councils etc, not to mention as far away as Trent. It should be noted that the time it took to consider some of the 2nd group of books actually shows the seriousnees and carefullness that the churches took in considering just what is inspired and apart from other religious writings. And no other "ancient" writings has better, earlier copies to the original than the NT. Possesion of no other "ancient" writings could cost you your life also.