The Bibles that we rely on today and often take for granted are the products of centuries of effort by scholars and pseudo-scholars whose work has sometimes helped and at other times hindered the preservation of the original text of the New Testament.
The books and letters that make up the New Testament were written over a period of about 50 years beginning with Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (though some scholars disagree) around 48-49 AD, and the evidence suggests that most were recognized by the church as authoritative soon after they began to circulate. Most of the documents were directed at particular groups of Christians with the intention of addressing a particular issue or issues that were confronting them. Once the texts were read to the intended audience, they were often passed on to other churches (cf. Colossians 4:16) or groups of believers so that they could benefit from them. Many made hand copies of the books and letters in order to allow continued access to the apostolic testimony and wisdom, and then others made copies of those copies which were then copied. This process of hand-copying continued for centuries until the invention of the printing press in 1455. Read more