Who Wrote the Bible – A Letter from God
“Who wrote the Bible” is a question that is undoubtedly asked by many who are familiar with the impact this book has made on people around the world. The Bible gives guidance in our journey through life to eternity, as well as leads us to a relationship with the God of the universe. It is a historical book that is backed by archeology, and a prophetic book that has lived up to all of its claims thus far. In light of all these facts, asking, “who wrote the bible,” is a vital question that deserves serious investigation and a serious response. The Bible is God’s letter to humanity collected into 66 books written by 40 divinely inspired writers. These writers come from all walks of life (i.e., kings to fishermen) and spans over a period of 1,500 years or more. These claims may seem dramatic (or unrealistic to some), but a careful and honest study of the biblical scriptures will show them to be true.
Who Wrote the Bible – Evidence of Divine Inspiration
“Who wrote the Bible” is a question that can be definitively answered by examining the biblical texts in light of the external evidences that supports its claims. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is inspired by God….” In 2 Peter 1:20-21, Peter reminds the reader to “know this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, … but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The Bible itself tells us that it is God who is the author of His book. God does not leave us with just claims of His divine handiwork in the Bible, but also supports it with compelling evidence. The design of the Bible itself is a miracle. Written over more than 1,500 years by vastly different writers, yet every book in the Bible is consistent in its message. These 66 books talk about history, prophecy, poetry, and theology. Despite their complexity, differences in writing styles and vast time periods, the books of the Bible agree miraculously well in theme, facts and cross-referencing. No human beings could have planned such an intricate combination of books over a 1,500-year time span. Bible manuscripts (remember, there were no printing presses until 1455) have survived despite weather, persecution and time. Most ancient writings written on weak materials like papyrus have vanished all together. Yet many copies of the Old Testament scriptures survived. For instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain all books of the Old Testament, except Esther, and have been dated to before the time of Christ. Consider Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. Only ten copies written about 1,000 years after the event are in existence. In comparison, there are over 24,000+ New Testament manuscripts, the earliest one dating to within 24 years after Christ. The Bible also validates its divine authorship through fulfilled prophecies. An astonishing 668 prophecies have been fulfilled and none have ever been proven false (three are unconfirmed). An honest study of biblical prophecy will compellingly show the divine authorship of the Bible. Further, archeology confirms (or in some cases supports) accounts in the biblical record. No other holy book comes close to the Bible in the amount of evidence supporting its divine authorship.
Who Wrote the Bible – A Question of Eternal Significance ”Who Wrote the Bible” is indeed a question that everyone must ask. If indeed it is the Word of the living God, then no other book gives us more insight into our lives, more hope for our future, and a true path to a relationship with God. Search the Bible with openness and honesty and see for yourself what the Creator of the universe wants to tell you!
History of the Bible
The history of the Bible starts with a phenomenal account of history! It’s not one book like I always thought — It’s an ancient collection of writings, comprised of 66 separate books, written over approximately 1,600 years, by at least 40 distinct authors. The Old Testament contains 39 books written from approximately 1500 to 400 BC, and the New Testament contains 27 books written from approximately 40 to 90 AD. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) is the same as the Christian Old Testament, except for its book arrangement. The original Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew, with some Aramaic, while the original New Testament was written in common Greek.
The history of the “Bible” begins with the Jewish Scriptures. The historical record of the Jews was written down on leather scrolls and tablets over centuries, and the authors included kings, shepherds, prophets and other leaders. The first five books are called the Law, which were written and/or edited primarily by Moses in the early 1400’s BC. Thereafter, other scriptural texts were written and collected by the Jewish people during the next 1,000 years. About 450 BC, the Law and the other Jewish Scriptures were arranged by councils of rabbis (Jewish teachers), who then recognized the complete set as the inspired and sacred authority of God (Elohim). At some time during this period, the books of the Hebrew Bible were arranged by topic, including The Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nebiim), and the Writings (Ketubim). The first letters of these Hebrew words – T, N and K — form the name of the Hebrew Bible – the Tanakh. 1
Beginning as early as 250 BC, the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt. This translation became known as the “Septuagint”, meaning 70, and referring to the tradition that 70 (probably 72) men comprised the translation team. It was during this process that the order of the books was changed to the order we have in today’s Bible: Historical (Genesis – Esther), poetic (Job – Song of Songs), and prophetic (Isaiah – Malachi). 2
Although the Jewish Scriptures were copied by hand, they were extremely accurate copy to copy. The Jews had a phenomenal system of scribes, who developed intricate and ritualistic methods for counting letters, words and paragraphs to insure that no copying errors were made. These scribes dedicated their entire lives to preserving the accuracy of the holy books. A single copy error would require the immediate destruction of the entire scroll. In fact, Jewish scribal tradition was maintained until the invention of the printing press in the mid-1400’s AD. As far as manuscript accuracy, the recent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has confirmed the remarkable reliability of this scribal system over thousands of years 3 (I’ll get back to the Dead Sea Scrolls later).
After approximately 400 years of scriptural silence, Jesus arrived on the scene in about 4 BC. Throughout his teaching, Jesus often quotes the Old Testament, declaring that he did not come to destroy the Jewish Scriptures, but to fulfill them. In the Book of Luke, Jesus proclaims to his disciples, “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 4
Starting in about 40 AD, and continuing to about 90 AD, the eye-witnesses to the life of Jesus, including Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude, wrote the Gospels, letters and books that became the Bible’s New Testament. These authors quote from 31 books of the Old Testament, and widely circulate their material so that by about 150 AD, early Christians were referring to the entire set of writings as the “New Covenant.” During the 200s AD, the original writings were translated from Greek into Latin, Coptic (Egypt) and Syriac (Syria), and widely disseminated as “inspired scripture” throughout the Roman Empire (and beyond). 5
In 397 AD, in an effort to protect the scriptures from various heresies and offshoot religious movements, the current 27 books of the New Testament were formally and finally confirmed and “canonized” in the Synod of Carthage. 6
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1 Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, 25th ed., Zondervan Publishing House, 2000, 1071.
3 Various, Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1999, 64-65.
4 Luke 24:44, The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.
5 F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 5th rev. ed., Intervarsity Press, 1960, 21-28.
6 Ibid., 27.