When people speak about the Bible, quite often passionately, it is posited over and against ‘the Church.’ But in reality, like the chicken and the egg, there is a mother-child, birth-life, amniotic relationship.
Jesus, his apostles, and disciples, contrary to popular opinion, didn’t walk around with Bibles in their hands. The printing press was not invented until centuries later, and the only people who had access to Scripture (in the form of scrolls, painstakingly written on sheep skin–the domain of the extremely wealthy, literate, and Priestly) were the synagogue, and, later, the Church. Jesus, moreover, in speaking of Scripture in the gospel was referring to the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures, interestingly, the Septuagint–Greek version of the Old Testament was what Jesus and his disciples studied…the Catholic version with those extra 9 books).
Shockingly, genuine history will reveal that the New Testament was the product of the Church…and, most importantly, the Holy Spirit.
The first document, penned by Paul, to make it into the New Testament wasn’t any gospel, but the first letter to the Thessalonians, written around 51 A.D., some 18 years after Jesus’ death and Resurrection. Shocked? Furthermore, the first gospel wasn’t written down until the mid 50’s A.D.
So what, or who, sustained the Truth of Jesus in the interim?
The answer is the Church, made up of ‘Christians’ (a nickname given by the Greco-Roman world) known as the Catholic Church (katolikos is Greek for Universal, of which we translate ‘Catholic,’ a name self given by Christians in the late 1st century).
Furthermore, back in first century there wasn’t the internet, or the immediately on scene news media. People spread the truth orally, and the Truth of Jesus, the good news, was spread by the ‘kerygma’ of the apostles and disciples. The Church not only evangelized this Truth in word, but in Tradition–they practiced what they preached–and in the Liturgy–they worshipped WHO they preached.
On another note, the New Testament didn’t fall from the sky! The New Testament, as we know it today, became a ‘canon’ in the early 4th century by Catholic bishops in response to many circulating heresies and pagan attacks. The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, chose the gospels, and letters which reflected the Truth of Jesus Christ as taught to them by the apostles and their immediate successors.
So the next time you pick up a Bible, first, check to see that it is authentic (look for those 9 extra books (Catholic-‘deuterocanonical’), and then thank God, through His ‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,’ for the Sacred Scriptures.