Standard [ < Old French estandard (a place to make a stand or rally the troops; a stronghold), < assumed Frankish standhard- (stand firm, hold fast)] To make something conform to a standard is to 'standardize' it. Definition: something used for measuring, or for evaluating how good other things are. A standard is chosen because its quality is already known and highly esteemed. When there is a need to have things of the same size, shape, or content, the product is made according to the chosen standard, and is called 'standardized'. Because we know that the parts in a design meet the standard, we can trust that each part will fit right and make for a better whole. The Bible's quality has been established as a standard by thousands of years of use, and by its ability to surprise us and prompt us to change even today. As with the other terms about the Bible's quality level, its being a 'standard' comes not so much by the work itself, or by the church leaders who first called it the standard, but by the One who stands behind it. Other terms with a meaning like 'standard' are 'benchmark', 'yardstick', 'norm', 'gauge', 'criterion', 'specification', and 'scale'.
The Bible's effect on a believer's behavior is sometimes described as a 'pattern'. That works if by 'pattern' they do not mean a precise or exact form. A pattern can intentionally look nearly the same at a distance yet may have many differences when seen up close. There are many different ways to make the same overall pattern.
There are three similar words to 'standard' worthy of note: model, canon, and touchstone.
A related word is 'canon', which is Greek for 'measuring rod', probably from Greek kanna ('stiff reed'). In our times, the term usually refers to the books of the Bible. The books as collected together are called "canonical Scripture", or "canon", for short. The list of measuring-stick books are different with different believers: the Catholics and Orthodox have more books in the First Covenant (OT), often called the Apocrypha. Jews have several 'layers' of their Scriptural tradition: the five books of Moses come first, then the prophets, the histories, and the writings (such as Job, Psalms and Proverbs). The common factor is that in the first few centuries of the Church, these were the materials they discovered to be trustworthy for building the mind of faith and the community which lives it. That is, the Spirit did its most definitive work through these writings. Then, the Church faced major challenges on matters of faith, and officially recognized the role of the written witnesses that led them through it. This is the Bible we now have today.
This selection or 'canon' bears witness to the work of God among humans, as well as the work of humans who do not regard God. The witness is born through different writings, stories, songs, reports. Each has its own part of the message, and each has a track record of their impact on the believing community. What is most helpful now may well be less helpful a generation or a century from now - and then be central again to the next one. That means if we just get rid of or ignore the parts we don't favor now, we do so at the peril of those who come after us. Those witnesses may be needed for what is to come, as God so chooses. That is why they are kept in the canon.
There are also some writings which aren't part of a formal canon and aren't intended to be canon, but are sometimes used as a 'second-order' tool to measure things up. The Talmud is not a 'canon', but a resource of continuous discussion of matters of living the life of Jewish faith; even so, the Mishnah has some measuring-stick effects. For Muslims, their canon is the Quran, but they have very distinctive interpretive traditions in which certain early interpreters of the Quran, and their schools of thought, hold much sway on today's Muslim practice. For creedal Christians, the ecumenical creeds have some measuring-stick uses, but the use is derivative. The creeds are norms only by being a short version of the key truths taught by the canonical Scriptures. Roman Catholics use the term 'Canon' to describe how official dogma serves in a measuring-stick role.
Whenever you hear things about what the Bible says about canonical Scripture, remember that the Scriptures Jesus, John, James and Paul referred to are "the Law and the Prophets", not the Gospels, Acts, or Paul's letters, and may or may not have included some of the later First Testament 'Writings'.
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