The Origins of the Reformation Bible

The Origins of the Reformation Bible
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

One of the side effects of the Protestant Reformation was intense scrutiny of the biblical canon and its contents. Martin Luther did not broach the issue in his 95 Theses, but not long after he drove that fateful nail into the door of the Wittenberg chapel, it became clear that the exact contents of the biblical canon would need to be addressed. Luther increasingly claimed that Christian doctrine should rest on biblical authority, a proposition made somewhat difficult if there is disagreement on which books can confer “biblical authority.” (Consider, e.g., the role of 2 Maccabees at the Leipzig Debate.) There was disagreement—and there had been disagreement for a millennium or more beforehand. Almost always, the sixteenth-century disputants pointed back to Christian authors in the fourth century or thereabouts for authoritative statements on the content of the Bible.

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