|The Protected & Inspired Word of God|
Which Translations are Best?
This page is the result of study on how Bibles are translated. This could be considered the 2nd page of this link:
What is the highest standard to find God with?
I also discuss the authority of scripture here:
The Word of God
On my F.A.Q's page ( Click here ), in the question: Why do bad things happen? Accidents, death... does God kill?
I discuss the limitations of God in the world. He is working toward getting it back, which will happen in the 1000 year reign of Christ and in the New Heaven and New Earth.
I also discuss God's limited divine protection of the church here:
What authority and security does the church possess?
When I say God is limited, I am referring to Him being limited to goodness and being limited to His own Word and promises. God isn't a liar.
What I will discuss here, is whether God is limited in protecting His Word. And by what methods is translating a Bible the best.
First we must realize God is limited in His authority on the earth. Therefore man has free will and satan has opportunity to make counterfeit or diluted Bibles. But does God have authority to keep a pure form of scriptures available on the earth?
I have discussed, as the link above shows, that the church has many failures, but scripture and sin do not limit God's protection of the Word of God.
Numbers 23: MKJV
19 God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?
Ecclesiastes 3: MKJV
14 I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it...
Psalms 119: MKJV
89 ... Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness is to all generations; You have founded the earth, and it remains.
91 They stand to this day according to Your ordinances; for all are Your servants.
Please also note that the Word of God is Christ, Himself, and Christ is unchanging:
1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
13: ... and his name is called The Word of God.
8: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
God has placed great authority in His word:
Psalms 138: MKJV
2 ...for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
So we can see that the Word of God is not affected by sin or man. Although man may make counterfeits.
Now using the same answers from What is the highest standard to find God with? , we can know that God desires for people to seek Him and will protect His Word, so that they will find Him. By looking in scripture we see that God is not limited in His protection of the Word of God. This does NOT mean that there cannot be counterfeits or error. Both are available!
Now we will look at how Bibles are translated and seek to find the best and most accurate way it can be done. Here are some links and a bit of of what they say.
Here are definitions for the below abbreviations:
TR = Textus Receptus
CT = Critical Text which is the same as the Minority Text
NT = New Testament
MT = Majority Text
(please note that these labels are not yet universal, some say the TR is the same as the Majority Text, this is not quite accurate, but the TR is very close to the Majority Text)
Foremost amongst these is the Traditional Received Text (Textus Receptus), also called the Byzantine Text or the Majority Text because it is based on the vast majority of manuscripts still in existence. These extant manuscripts (MSS) were brought together by various editors such as Lucian (AD 250-312), Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza and the Elzevir brothers to form the text known as Textus Receptus, the name given to the Majority Text in the 17th century. The most notable editor of all was Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) one of the greatest scholars the world has ever known.
-Textus Receptus is based on the vast majority (90%) of the 5000+ Greek manuscripts in existence. That is why it is also called the Majority Text.
-Textus Receptus is not mutilated with deletions, additions and amendments, as is the Minority Text.
-Textus Receptus agrees with the earliest versions of the Bible: Peshitta (AD150) Old Latin Vulgate (AD157), the Italic Bible (AD157) etc. These Bibles were produced some 200 years before the minority Egyptian codices favoured by the Roman Church. Remember this vital point.
-Textus Receptus agrees with the vast majority of the 86,000+ citations from scripture by the early church fathers.
-Textus Receptus is untainted with Egyptian philosophy and unbelief.
-Textus Receptus strongly upholds the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith: the creation account in Genesis, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the Saviour's miracles, his bodily resurrection, his literal return and the cleansing power of his blood!
THE MINORITY TEXTS
There are other extant Greek texts which are referred to as the 'Minority Texts' simply because they represent only about 5% of existing manuscripts. Another 5% are Neutral Texts: sometimes agreeing with the majority and at others with the minority. The 'Minority Texts' are also known as the Alexandrian Texts because they were produced in Alexandria in Egypt.
-The Minority Texts abound with alterations, often a single manuscript being amended by several different scribes over a period of many years
-The Minority Texts omit approximately 200 verses from the Scriptures
-The Minority Texts contradict themselves in hundreds of places
Oldest and Best
Bible students are often told that Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are older and better than other manuscripts: the implication being that they must, therefore, be more accurate. But this conclusion is wrong. To be sure they are 'better' in appearance, but certainly not in their content. Remember they are written on expensive vellum; so they ought to be in good shape. They are older, but older than what? They are older than other Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. But they are not older than the earliest versions of the Bible: the Peshitta, Italic, Waldensian and the Old Latin Vulgate: versions which agree with the Majority text. These ancient versions are some 200 years older than Aleph and B. Yes Aleph and B are older than other Greek mss, but for anyone to suggest that they are more accurate is absurd.
The difference between the MT and the TR is that the TR was developed from the handful of Greek manuscripts (about 20) that were available to the above mentioned editors in the 1500's. Meanwhile, the MT is developed from the over 5,000 Greek manuscripts now available. As its name implies, it is "based on the consensus of the majority of existing manuscripts" along with other criteria (The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament, p.ix).
Since the Byzantine textform is the most numerous of the manuscripts, inevitably, the MT is basically reflective of the Byzantine tradition. As such, the MT and the TR are very similar, though not identical.
Most of the significant differences between the manuscripts are between the Byzantine manuscripts and the Alexandrian manuscripts. The "Critical Text" (CT) that most modern-day Bible versions are based on is developed from mainly Alexandrian manuscripts.
The earliest manuscripts are know as papyri.
To date, 88 papyri have been cataloged. These date from the second to the eighth centuries. 41 are from the second to the fourth centuries. The earliest is a fragment of the Gospel of John and dates to about 125 A.D. The fragment contains John 18:31-33,37,38.
So there are thousands of manuscripts from which to determine the text of the NT from. Out of these, "over 85% of the text found in ALL manuscripts is identical" (Robinson and Pierpont, p.xlii; emphasis in original). So again, the text of the NT is very well attested.
However, this still leaves about 15% of the text in which there are variants between the manuscripts. When these variants are compared it becomes apparent that the manuscripts divide into at least two "families."
The first is the "Majority Text" (MT). It is so named since it is developed with the assumption that, under God's providence, the best reading was preserved in the MAJORITY of the manuscripts. With this principle, the MT inevitably reflects the Byzantine text-type.
The "Textus Receptus" (TR) is very similar to the MT. This was the Greek text the monumental King James Version of 1611 was translated from. More recently, the New King James Version was translated from the TR. Two lesser known modern-day versions are also based on a TR/ MT type text. These are the Literal Translation of the Bible and the Modern King James Version.
The other modern-day, Greek text is called the "Critical Text" (CT) since it is developed by textual CRITICS. The principles underlying this text were first put forth by B.F. Westcott and F.A. Hort in the late 1800s. These principles include the idea that the text of the NT should be approached like any other ancient book.
As such, according to Westcott and Hort, manuscripts should be "weighed not counted." One major consideration in "weighing" a manuscript is its age, the earlier the better. Given this principle, their Greek text mainly reflected the Alexandrian text-type. The "Revised Version" of 1881 was based on this kind of Greek text.
The TR agrees with the MT 99% of the time in its handling of variants and the CT agrees with the MT 98% of the time (Passantino, p.38). So there is only a 1-2% difference overall between these published Greek texts.
Moreover, the majority of variants among manuscripts and between the above mentioned, Greek texts are insignificant, "Some variations exist in the spelling of Greek words, in word order, and in similar details. These ordinarily do not show up in translation and do not affect the sense of the text in any way".
Fortunately, if the great number of manuscripts increases the number of errors, it increases proportionally the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process or recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small.
Thus, when there are differences between manuscripts, more often than not, the correct reading is easily determined. And even when it is not, the variant is generally insignificant.
However, there are some important variants. And for these, the evidence is often divided as to which is the original reading. And, often, the MT follows one reading and the CT another. And it is because of these that there is the heated debates among scholars as to whether the MT or the CT best reflects the original.
I will summarize what I have learned from my study on this. There are 3 main types of texts used for translating a Bible version:
1. Textus Receptus
2. Majority Text
3. Minority Text or Critical Text
The Textus Receptus is the work of scholars a few hundred years ago based upon 10-20 different manuscripts. These manuscripts were not the oldest of the time but were consistently similar and were comparable to other Bibles that were much older.
The Majority Text is the work based upon about 5000 manuscripts, most of which are in agreement. They also are in agreement with very old Bibles. Some of which have been found after the compiling of the Textus Receptus, which are much older than those used in the Textus Receptus.
The Minority Text is based upon just a few manuscripts. Perhaps the main one being the Alexandrian Text, which may be the oldest Bible manuscript. The Alexandrian Text has many problems discussed elsewhere. The biggest problems are that there are very few manuscripts included and the amount of disagreement that they have, not only with the Majority Text but amongst each other.
If God is protecting His word, and is unhindered by any means in doing so. He will undoubtedly give great evidence to His inspired word to draw people to Him. Man and satan of coarse will make counterfeits.
The New Testament writers when translating text from the Old Testament into the new, translated Hebrew into Greek. So, I believe it is possible to translate a word and still have the word be from God. As long as the word chosen is a legitimately close in meaning. One would almost have to purposefully sin to get this wrong when one is in position to do this. Please don't miss my use of "in position to do this". In other words, those scholars who are translating, have the ability to easily translate into the proper words.
The Majority Text out numbers the Critical Text by huge numbers of manuscripts. This is by God's hand to protect His word. This is evidence of God protecting His Word compared to satan's attempt to counterfeit it.
Does that mean that those men that have been of important, surrounding the Majority Text, are without sin or error? No. Some errors and differences can be found but are much less in number and severity compared to the Minority Text. We can see the similar situation with the Jesus and the disciples.
Jesus and the disciples read scripture from texts that had been translated or copied by the men before them. The men who did the scholastic work of copying and translating scripture before Jesus' time, were of no greater or lesser quality than the men afterward. Those texts Jesus and the disciples used, had similar flaws as ours today, but yet Jesus and the disciples considered it God's Word. The slight change seen by translation was acceptable to Jesus and the disciples and should be acceptable to us.
Mankind and even Godly church men are not perfect and are under limited authority and protection from error, but God's Word is divinely protected. The Bible or book itself isn't Holy and becoming God's Word, it's the inspired message within it that is. God's Word is found in our heart and mouth:
Rom 10:8 MKJV
8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart"; that is, the word of faith which we proclaim
Perhaps scripture transforms into God's Word when we read it, and the Holy Spirit implants it, and enlightens us. Thus, Jesus is God's Word, because He takes all of what the Father has said, and manifests it. Of coarse with Jesus it's more than just Him manifesting it, because Jesus is also God.
James 1: RWV
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
1 Cor 2: MKJV
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them , because they are spiritually discerned.
Therefore, small minor translation changes are not very significant, because the Holy Spirit implants the Word into us when we read or hear it, and He quickens it or makes us to understand. But, this does not excuse or belittle the task of translating. It is still important and the best manuscripts should be used.
When judging this area, one should first and foremost realize God's ability and authority in this manner. Once one does, he then can use common reasoning with inspirational reasoning to conclude that the majority texts are of a higher quality. I dare say even divinely kept.
I will not say any specific Bible made from the Textus Receptus or Majority Text is the only divinely accepted Bible. What I am saying is that God's word is not just the original "autographs" (the original texts, long since destroyed or lost), but God's divine word is also found in the Majority Texts. Just as it can be found in the Bible and isn't the Bible or book itself.
When the New Testaments writers quoted and wrote from the Old Testament, did they have the original Old Testament writings in front of them? No. But their work is considered inspired. The same should be considered with the making of the Majority Text.
I would be willing to claim the Majority Text as a whole is inspired, not specific manuscripts within. Though certain (or all) manuscripts may be inspired (partially or whole), I am unable to make this determination because I am not a scholar nor am I holding an original of which I can compare them to.
Specific Bible versions made from the Majority Text manuscripts may be fully inspired, but I am not studied enough to make such claims.
I will also say, that the Minority Texts are based off of inspired works of God, but are corrupted. Which would then mean the Bibles made from the Minority Text are further removed from the true autographs of the word of God, compared to the Bibles translated from the Majority Text. Some of the Bibles from the Minority Text, I believe are even further corrupted than the Minority Text themselves.
I would also dare to say, if one takes all the English Bibles translated from the Textus Receptus & Majority Text, one would find that together as a whole they are the inspired word of God, that future Bibles could be made from them. I doubt that this would legally happen, since someone would have to pay each version owner the right to do so or until the copyrights have become outdated.
There are numerous reasons why I believe the Majority Text is superior and inspired, but the greatest reason being is that God has divine authority to keep His word, despite that He doesn't have equal authority over man or creation at this time (although He soon will).
And yes there are other Bibles out there, some of which are not even considered translations, because texts have been changed into modern meanings or opinions of what some think God means today. They even published and sold Bibles where they changed gender references! These are counterfeits with to much corruption to be legitimized.
I am NOT a King James Version onlyist. The following Bibles I have found are translated from the Textus Receptus or Majority Text:
Possible legitimate translations by scholars (with links to online versions if available):
Please remember some of these are very old (look at the dates), thus may not be easily read. The farther down the list the newer the translation (in each category). This list became semi-popular online, and may be found online elsewhere and accredited wrongly to other people, and may have old and dead links attached to it (there), but I am the originator of this list.
Tyndale New Testament 1526-1530 - http://faithofgod.net/WTNT/
Miles Coverdale's Bible 1535 - Psalms from Coverdale's Bible , The entire translation
Matthew's Bible 1537 - http://www.bibles-online.net/1537/ , Another source
The Great Bible 1539 - http://www.bibles-online.net/1541/ , http://www.biblesofthepast.com/Texts/1539-1540/_File.htm
Geneva Bible 1557-1560 - studylight.org , http://logosresourcepages.org/idx_Pages/idx_geneva.htm
The Bishops' Bible 1568 - studylight.org
King James Version - type correction dates - easily found off and online!
Webster Bible 1833 - http://www.biblesofthepast.com/Texts/1833-1833/_File.htm
Young's Literal Translation 1862-1898 - online-bible-study.net , biblegateway.com , http://software77.com/onlinebibles/ylt/
New King James Version 1979 - based off of KJV and the TR, but is "reported" to side with the Minority Text when the Minority Text differs with the TR in the notes - biblegateway.com
The 21st Century King James Version 1994 - biblegateway.com
Literal Translation of the Holy Bible 1995 - http://thewordnotes.com/litv/litv.htm
Revised Webster Bible 1995 - I know very little about this version, it seems of good quality - http://ccmz.info:10080/bexpo/english/engrwb/index.php
Modern King James Version 1999 - http://www.thewordnotes.com/mkjv/mkjv.htm
Analytical Literal Translation 1999 - NT only: http://studybible.info/ALT/Matthew , http://www.dtl.org/alt/main/nt.htm
English Majority Text Version 2002 - the original version is no longer online except on the Internet Archive found here: web.archive.org , they seemed to have made changes which are found online here: The Byzantine Majority NEW TESTAMENT
World English Bible not yet fully released - http://ebible.org/bible/web/
Hebrew Names Version - OT only: http://www.biblestudytools.com/hnv/ , now changed to World English Bible: Messianic Edition not yet fully released - http://ebible.org/bible/hnv/
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament Bible - newly added to the list, but I cannot find very much about this. However, I trust it because it comes from Jay Patrick Green, who is behind a couple of those above. There are other Interlinear Greek-English New Testament Bibles out there, so make sure you get Green's version. I also am unable to locate an online version. Here are 2 links to read about or purchase this Bible:
Other versions, but may have problems/issues:
Daniel Mace NT 1729 - some changes made from the TR, displays Unitarianism studylight.org
Wesley's NT 1755 - based off KJV studylight.org
Darby Bible 1884,1890 - based on the TR, but uses other texts as well http://bible.christiansunite.com/dbyindex.shtml
Third Millennium Bible 1998 - It is based off of the KJV21, but adds the Apocryphal books. This work is sly. Many conservatives are seeking Textus Receptus/Majority Text Bibles, this plan enables them to slip into the camp with an ecumenical pursuit, the work towards the One World religion. http://www.biblestudytools.com/tmb/genesis/1.html
A Conservative Version 2001 - The OT is based on the American Standard Version but the NT, the author has chosen an edition compiled by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont (of the Textus Receptus tradition) stillvoices.org
Easy-Reading, KJV, Evidence Bible 2001 - http://www.evidencebible.com/tableofcontents.shtml
Not translations, but professional:
New Geneva Study Bible - now renamed as: The Reformation Study Bible - 1995 - this is a "Study Bible" and not a translation. They use the NKJV and have lots of notes and teachings centered around the Reformation theologies. Some of these teachings may have been changed since the Reformation. While I tend to like the NKJV, the teachings in this version are BAD! Here are some reviews of these teachings from this Bible:
Defined King James Bible 1998 - This is not a translation, but only defines old words for modern readers in the notes. This Bible may promote King James onlyism. - a PDF sample
Doubt the scholastic work, (may or may not be professional):
David Lawrie's NT 1998 - http://www.angelfire.com/mp/david/index.html
American King James Version before 1999 - someone took the KJV and hand changed old english into new english, no grammar has been changed - http://www.angelfire.com/al4/allenkc/akjv/
Updated King James Version 2000 - Someone wrote a program to translate old english words into modern words. Then used that to change the KJV. Only 6% was changed. They didn't change any text, just let the program do it's thing. http://www.oocities.org/updatedkjv/
V.W. Edition 2003 - "... from out of the NKJV, LITV and KJV texts, Proof-Reading, CORRECTING the ERRORS ... with the aid of the tools that scholarship has already provided..." http://www.a-voice.org/bible-vw/bible.htm
King James Clarified 2003 - "It is theologically identical to the NT in the KJV, but many of the words have been updated for easier understanding." http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/kjc/kjvc.html
Revised Young's Literal Translation work in progress - even YOU can work on this translation - http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/rylt/rylt.html
Sacred Name Bible(s) - These are not "real" translations. They are usually translations from Public Domain Bibles like KJV or Darby. They replace words like Jesus & God, with transliterations like YHWH, IhsouV, Yeshua, Elohim...
Here is a link, exposing the error of these Bibles: http://web.archive.org/web/20060208135533/http://www.sacrednamemovement.com/snbibles.htm
Exegeses Bible 1999 - a sacred name Bible, supposedly a real translation using the same text the KJV but now sold out http://web.archive.org/web/20050305110217/http://www.exegesesbibles.org/
Sacred Name Bible 2002 - http://www.sacrednamebible.com/index.htm
Other Bibles and Translations have been found on the internet that some claim to be translated from the Textus Receptus or Majority Text, but I can not find evidence that this is true. The Douay–Rheims Bible and Wycliffe's Bible are 2 such examples, but even Wikipedia states they are from the Vulgate. And while the Vulgate is similar to the Textus Receptus it is not in agreement with the Majority Text. And besides these are old Bibles not worth using in today's studies. I also found claim that the Bible in Basic English (BBE) is from the Majority Text or Textus Receptus, but I cannot find any information of its translation source. But some reviewers out there don't like this translation because it gets rid of important theologicical/doctrinal points found in scripture. This Bible was translated using minimal English words. Thus such issues are probably true! And lastly there is the West-Saxon Gospels or known as Anglo-Saxon Bible or Wessex Gospels. Unfortunately little to nothing is known about the translators or translation process, as this is a very very ancient translation.
(if you have corrections or additions to these lists, please email me (at the bottom of the page) with the correction and evidence)
|Total # of this
* WH indicates Westcott-Hort Greek Text (Minority Text)
** TR indicates Textus Receptus (Majority Text)
The table gives the approximate number and percent of each type of Greek manuscript that supports the Westcott-Hort (WH) Greek text, as well as the number and percent of each class that supports the Textus Receptus (TR) Greek text. These approximations are taken from the careful research of Dr. Jack Moorman in his book Forever Settled.
I try to take a balanced view in these matters. I obviously believe the Majority Text is better and even claim them divinely protected, so man can piece together God's Word. God's Word was never given by God as 1 continual text. The closest He has done so, was by giving us His Son, whom is the Living Word of God.
I am by no means condemning the creation and use of Bibles translated from the Minority Text. I would advise not buying any though. If you already own one, I have several, you can still use them for good use. I don't plan on using them for my main Bible usage. Before I did the study on this subject the NAS was my favorite. I also liked to use the Amplified Bible which was based off of the NAS. I would also like to say I think the NIV is perhaps the worst commonly used Bible for other reasons not mentioned here. Mostly because they are trying to change the Bible even further. This is evidenced by their attempt to make a gender neutral Bible that was heavily condemned by many who even use Minority Text Bibles.
So what Bible Translations/Versions are my favorites? I use the King James the most. On this website and elsewhere I also often use New King James Version and the Modern King James Version, and once in a great while I like to use the Amplified Bible (which is NOT a Majority Text based translation) when I want to elaborate on the point of a particular verse. But every once and awhile I also use others, but these I just listed are my favorites.
...overall the MT and CT are very similar. When it comes to differences in decisions to be made on textual variants, they differ by only about 2-4%. So at least 96% of the time there is no dispute on what the correct reading is.
I will now discuss some of the common arguments against the Majority Text or those for the Minority Text.
Some claim the Majority Text is made up of pieces of manuscripts, of which some are so small they contain only one verse.
Yes, some are. But the Majority Text collection contain about 5000 documents. Only 88 papyri have been cataloged as I have shown above. And this may include both the Minority and Majority Texts. That means most are of a higher quality.
Some say that the Majority Text is mostly made up of newer manuscripts while the Minority is made up of older ones.
It may be true concerning the TR, but since then, there have been discoveries of older manuscripts that do support the Majority Text. There are also very ancient Bibles that support the Majority Text. The TR had no old manuscripts, the Majority have some, but is still made up mostly of middle aged manuscripts. They are well able to compare the few older ones with the vast amount of middle aged ones and find great agreements and lack of many differences which the Minority Text has. The Minority Text has many more differences found when compared to their own manuscripts amongst themselves or with the manuscripts in the Majority Text or TR.
Some claim that the Majority Text position holds their position based upon arguments that cannot be proven, that the men behind the manuscripts and work of the Minority Text and Alexandrian manuscripts were not good christians and were evolutionists.
There may be excellent reasons behind such arguments, but this is not the basis for my position. I believe God has inspired the Bible and is divinely protecting it. These other arguments are fruits of this, I prefer to deal with the root. If you deal with the root of the tree, you then can eliminate bad fruit, by killing the tree. If you just pluck off the bad fruit, the fruit will grow back.
I have found another approach to this subject. This approach which tends to favor a literal translation rather than focusing on what manuscripts are used. Here are some links to this kind of approach:
Westcott & Hort vs. Textus Receptus: Which is Superior?
Formal Equivalence (Word-for-Word)
List of translations by type: Formal Equivalence, Dynamic equivalence, Paraphrase
Concerning the Canon
The Canon is the list of which books are in the Bible. That is which books are inspired and which are not. Those that are not are often called the Apocrypha. Many people know that the Catholics have a slightly different Bible than the Protestants. Why is that? And which books are really inspired?
The Catholics claim they have the canon from their councils and authority.
The Bible came out of the Catholic Church around the end of the 4th century. ( No small feat! ) The Synods of Hippo, 393 A.D., and Carthage, 397 A.D.,and later, Carthage 419 A.D., ( along with the Traditional Bible or Latin Vulgate ( LV ), 406 A.D., by Saint Jerome ), gave us the canon of Sacred Scripture as Catholics know it today...
The regional or local Catholic Church Councils of Hippo, 393 A.D., and Carthage, 397 A.D., and later, Carthage 419 A.D. gave us the canon of Sacred Scripture as we know it today. Although these were just local councils, Saint Augustine did insist that the list given by these councils be sent to Rome for approval. Pope Saint Siricius (384-399 A.D.) approved the canon just as his papal predecessor Pope Damasus I had done in a Synod in 382 A.D. with a formal writing "Decretal of Gelasius", de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris.
So Rome would have us believe some religious leaders made this decision. And this is not the full history, nor accurate. For example:
Jerome vigorously resisted including the Apocrypha in his Latin Vulgate Version (400 AD), but was overruled.
And you can go and study such things if you want to know about Catholic Canon history. But more importantly the following is a more crucial truth:
Gradual and independent definition of the canon by elders. In the year 367 an influential bishop named Athanasius published a list of books to be read in the churches under his care, which included precisely those books we have in our Bibles (with this exception — he admitted Baruch and omitted Esther in the Old Testament). Other such lists had been published by others, as early as the year 170, although they did not all agree. How did the men who published these lists decide which books should be called Scripture? Scholars who have studied this matter closely have concluded that the lists of books are merely ratifications of the decisions of the majority of churches from earliest days. We are able to prove this by examining the surviving works of Irenaeus (born 130), who lived in days before anyone felt it was necessary to list the approved books. He quotes as Scripture all of the books and only the books that appear in the list published on another continent and sixty years later by Origen.
It is evident that the elders of each congregation had approved certain writings and rejected others as they became available, and it turned out, by the grace of God, that most of the churches were by the year 170 in agreement, having approved the same books independently. Prominent teachers were also influential in this process. About that time bishops began to prevail in the Church, as governors of groups of churches, and they simply ratified with these lists the results thus arrived at. The approved books were then called the "canon" of Scripture, "canon" being a Greek word meaning "rod" or "ruler." These books constituted the standard rule of faith for all the churches. We must not imagine that the canon was imposed by ecclesiastical authorities. The canon grew up by many independent decisions of elders who were responsible for their congregations alone.
So what's important here is: Gradual and independent definition of the canon by elders...the elders of each congregation had approved certain writings and rejected others...most of the churches were by the year 170 in agreement, having approved the same books independently.
No single man or council made this decision. It was done independently by churches and the elders within those churches separately agreeing what was inspired. This is the way of God, God doesn't want certain men to have hierarchy decisions of others in such matters. As I discuss here:
Also rather than rely on Catholic history and authority, it's also more beneficial to learn why certain books were rejected and not considered inspired. For example:
It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation.
The New Testament never quotes from the any of the apocryphal books written between 400 - 200 BC. What is significant here is that NONE of the books within the "apocryphal collection" are every quoted. So the Catholic argument that "the apocryphal books cannot be rejected as uninspired on the basis that they are never quoted from in the New Testament because Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon are also never quoted in the New Testament, and we all accept them as inspired." The rebuttal to this Catholic argument is that "Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther" were always included in the "history collection" of Jewish books and "Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon" were always included in the "poetry collection". By quoting one book from the collection, it verifies the entire collection. None of the apocryphal books were ever quoted in the New Testament. Not even once!
There are other reasons, but these two, to me, are the biggest reasons. Especially since they are never quoted from in the New Testament.
Links of Interest:
Interpreting Scripture - How to understand the Bible - my page, on this website
http://www.bible-researcher.com/ : perhaps the best overall research site I found on translating Bibles in general (not mine)