Who wrote the Bible?

A quick summary of what the Bible is all about, who wrote it and why.

Who wrote the Bible?

The simple answer is: many people. The Bible is like a small library of 66 books written over a long time (about 1000 years) by very different people (a kings, a shepherd, a civil servant, a wealthy businessman, a doctor, a fisherman-to name just a few), although all roughly in the same place, in two different languages!

 

Where did they come from?

The first 39 of these books were all written between about 900 BC and 400 BC by Jews living in what is now Israel. They are of many different types, some are poetry, some are about history, many are powerful criticisms of society (what is usually called 'prophecy)... there is even a love poem! Not all of these books were written down suddenly at one time. A history book like the Book of Kings, for example, was compiled from many sources over a long period.

  

Why were they written at all?

However, these older 39 books (together called the Old Testament) all have something in common. They all talk about the relationship between Man and God; how this relationship was broken by man's arrogance very early in history, and how the relationship was beginning to be restored, how Man and God were beginning to get close again - this is a process that the Bible calls `salvation'.

 

Throughout the Old Testament this process is never completed, although many writers are full of hope that one day it will be completed; so, for example, one `prophet' wrote "For to us a child is born, and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

  

And then...

After those 39 books, there are 27 more books (a collection called the New Testament) written a little later, in quite a short period between AD50 and AD95. These new books were suddenly written because of one man who had lived and died a short time before, Jesus. Jesus was obviously such a powerful and loved leader that people wanted to write down what he had said and done, so that these things would not be forgotten. There are 4 books about the life of Jesus, each named after the person who wrote it (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) - there is also one about what Jesus' followers did after he died. The other 22 are all letters written by Jesus' followers to groups of new Christians.

 

So why were these extra ones needed?

Just like with the Old Testament, the New Testament is really all about the relationship of Man and God and the process of `salvation' - the difference is that this time, they write as if the process was complete. They believed that it was complete because of the life and death of Jesus, who defeated death itself and so restored Man and God together again. They also try to tell this story to the whole world, and not only to the Jews (as was the case in the Old Testament) - so that this gift of `salvation' is open to everyone in every country in every age.

 

But why are these particular books so important?

Jesus himself believed (and so his followers, even today, also believe) that all these books were not written just by people, but that they were actually God's own message to the Jews (and later to all of us as well) - the Bible talks of God in a way that no man could ever do by himself, and talks about events so amazing that only God could cause them to happen. Therefore, Christians think of the Bible as the Word of God - not because the pages and words are special themselves, but because they point to the completion of the process of `salvation' in Jesus, that he is our way to God.

 

If you feel that you would like to explore this message further, then have a look at "How to Read the Bible" and have a go!

Dr Dan King