The compilation and recognition of the scriptures that form the New Testament began in the first centuries A.D. From then on, the 27 books of the New Testament have been recognized as canonical by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and almost all Christian denominations. Only after Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code has there been renewed interest, mostly by secular media, to discredit the Canon of the New Testament. This is often done by suggesting the New Testament is missing books, such as the Gospels of Thomas and Mary—the “Da Vinci Code effect”. As per publisher’s weekly, “Speculative histories were there before Dan Brown, but they didn’t make the bestseller lists and their authors didn’t go on The Daily Show.” 
A common claim is the Roman Emperor Constantine convened the council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. to dictate which books belonged to the New Testament. This claim is utterly non-sensical without any historical basis what so ever.
Yes, Constantine favored Christianity and he seemed to have recognized his empire would be stronger with one faith. Christianity won the “religious competition” in the Roman Empire long before it had any power, when it was under persecution. Unlike the first three centuries of Islamic expansion, Christianity conquered the known world in the same time while its people were being persecuted, tortured, and killed—not through violence and wars. If a historian were cynical, he could say Constantine chose Christianity since it had already won the peoples’ hearts, and he wanted to back a winner.
However, it would be novel to think that the Christians who lived in the day of Constantine would have let him, or anyone dictates anything about their faith. The previous two Emperors, Diocletian and Galerius, ordered some of the most vicious persecutions of Christians—especially leaders—who were rounded up, tortured, and many put to death. Yet, many Christians were so eager to suffer for their faith the Bishop of Carthage demanded those who were needlessly trying to get themselves executed shouldn’t be revered as martyrs. 
Yet, the Da Vinci Code and secular media would prefer we believe these Christians would allow Constantine to corrupt their faith.
Second, historians are generally in agreement that Canon of the Bible was not on the agenda at Nicaea. It was convened to mainly discuss the heresy of Arianism and topics such as the days should Easter be celebrated. Anyone can verify these details from an encyclopedia. 
What then about the books whom secularists claim should be in the New Testament, but are not? For example, the so called “gospels” of Thomas, Mary, etc.?
First, it is surprising to see secularists trying to tell Christians what should in their holy book. That’s a bit like Buddhists convincing Muslims what should be in the Quran. This topic relates to third point of the self-authenticating model of the Canon.: How was a book accepted by God’s people at large as they recognized God’s voice in it?
Critics of the Bible can of course claim it’s biased for Christians to judge what books should be in the Bible. However, this criticism is self-contradictory. We could ask why Christians should allow those who have rejected God and the Bible be allowed to judge what books should be in it.
[Discussion: Is it logical for Christians to allow those who have rejected God and the Bible to judge what books should be in it?]
Should Christians start doubting the list of books in the Bible if non-Christians insist some books are missing or shouldn’t have been included? The Bible states the guidance of Holy Spirit is needed to discern spiritual matters and knowing what books have God’s voice is a spiritual matter:
In other words, deciding what books should be in the Bible is a spiritual matter, and non-Christians are not spiritually qualified to be making these determinations.
In his book, How We Got the Bible, Neil Lightfoot gives a great illustration of this with violinist Joshua Bell’s having once played in a metro station with hardly any attention, although he can command thousands for each concert:
One might as well ask whether Joshua Bell should abandon his musical career because his concert in a Washington, DC metro station (on a 3.5-million-dollar Stradivarius) was met with disinterest and boredom. The answer depends on whether we have reason to think that the average pedestrians in the DC metro station can identify musical genius when they hear it. Apparently, they cannot.
Of 1,097 people who passed by Bell, seven stopped and listened. Bell was never given one round of applause. 
As per Neil Lightfoot:
Again, keeping with the music analogy, that would be like allowing a person who is tone-deaf (and thus rejects this whole concept of being “on key”) to judge a singing contest. If the tone-deaf person were kept from judging, he might object and claim that this whole “on key” thing is a sham run by musical insiders who claim to have a special ability to hear such things. But despite all the protests, the truth of the matter would remain: there is such a thing as being on key whether the tone-deaf person hears it or not. 
Although based on the self-authenticating model of scripture, the books of the Bible self-imposed to be included, how did that happen and upon whom did they impose themselves?
Contrary to what the Da Vinci Code would have us believe, the reasons for the absence of Mary’s so called “gospel”, and of many fake or invented texts in the Bible’s canon, has nothing to do with Christian conspiracies, but with early Christians having followed clear principles when deciding whether the New Testament books were inspired by the Holy Spirit. These four principles were:
Regarding the first principle, Mark traveled with Peter, and his gospel contains Peter’s description of Jesus’s life. Luke traveled with Apostle Paul. Paul’s protege, Timothy, is mentioned in Hebrews 13:23. James and Jude, who wrote their respective letters, were regarded as apostles per Gal. 1:19.
Do you a see a pattern here? The logic is simple. The people most likely to tell the truth about Jesus were either the witnesses who met Jesus or their close associates. Also, many who still claim various books should have been included in the Bible, have not read these.
First, contrary to what the Da Vinci Code claims, the Gospel of Mary has no mention of a marriage between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, or that Jesus has appointed Mary as the leader of the Church. Second, Mary’s gospel has not been written by Maria Magdalene nor anyone else in the Bible. The gnostic teachings of this counterfeit place it in the second century AD, at the earliest. Thus, this writing has no weight as per the first criterion.
The Gospels of Thomas, Philip, and Judas Iscariot are the same. They are gnostic counterfeits that use the names of Biblical characters in their attempts to gain approval for their subversive teachings. The only benefit from studying these falsehoods is learning how heresies were already trying to infiltrating the Church in the first centuries. Here are the last two verses in the Gospel of Thomas: 
(113) His disciples said to Him, “When will the Kingdom come?” “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”
(114) Simon Peter said to Him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.” Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
“This teaching is nonsensical and inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible.
Stay tuned for part 8 (Final).
28 19. David Van Biema, “Rewriting the Gospels”, Time, March 7, 2007, as seen in Keller, Timothy, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Kindle Locations 4189–4190).
29 Shelley, Bruce L., Church History in Plain Language, p. 99, Zondervan, Kindle Edition.
32 Neil Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, p. 148.
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