Even with all its contradictions and repetitions, the Bible remains an invaluable foundation of life for millions around the globe. But who compiled its books into this sacred text?
Yes and no. Biblical writers claimed that God wrote the Scriptures, yet this does not imply He actually took pen in hand and wrote them out himself.
1. God breathed it
The Bible is an extraordinary collection of ancient writings which Christians consider God’s revelation to humanity. Over its 2,000-plus year existence, its contents have profoundly affected politics, laws, art, music and even personal lives; changing laws and politics as well as changing lives worldwide. Furthermore, its narrative portrays how He began His relationship with his masterpiece – us.
While no one knows for certain how God inspired people to write His word down, scholars have offered several accounts of biblical inspiration. A popular viewpoint is “verbal dictation”, in which God would speak directly to human authors and they would record what He dictated them to write down. The Bible contains poetry, stories, legal codes, personal letters and apocalyptic visions written by a wide array of authors including royalty shepherds farmers doctors fishermen government officials prophets; yet still has an incredible unity due to how inspired individuals wrote what He wanted written down by way of “verbal dictation”.
That is why the writers of the Bible claimed they were conveying God’s message and recording His words; evidence for this claim can be found in many Old Testament books beginning with “Thus says the Lord,” while around 400 AD Church father Chrysostom first used Greek term ta biblia (books) to refer to New Testament.
God ultimately determined which books would make up the Bible before any of their authors were even born, while also inspiring them to write for specific audiences. Through this process, a collection of distinct sources was eventually collected into what we now refer to as “The Bible”.
Although it is essential to acknowledge that the Bible was written by human authors, its primary authorship must remain God. That same force that caused its composition remains present within it today as well; keeping its truthful message as strong as when first written down.
2. God inspired it
“Inspired” refers to God overseeing the writing of Scripture with His Holy Spirit guiding it directly, rather than through human writers composing His exact words directly. Scripture assures us that its writing is without error.
Though we know God inspired the Bible, the details surrounding how He did this can be somewhat murky. One popular belief suggests that He communicated His message through an elaborate system of dictation to human authors – similar to how doctors’ scribes record what the doctor dictates them to write down.
However, this view ignores the reality that biblical authors had distinctive personalities and writing styles; an essential aspect of biblical inspiration. Such authors as Moses, Isaiah, Paul and Peter all came from different backgrounds yet managed to convey God’s message with their distinctive words.
Another possibility is that God provided the writers of Scripture with general guidelines, leaving it up to them how best to interpret these in their own words. This may have been how the Book of John or many of the stories from the Old Testament came into being or perhaps it even describes how Jesus recorded his healings within the Gospels.
The Bible contains various literary genres, such as poetry, story, legal codes, personal letters and apocalyptic revelation. Additionally it features history, prophecy homilies and teachings on theology. God inspired an array of people – royalty shepherds fisherman doctors farmers musicians prophets pagan prophets pagans prophets to write this text that eventually made up our Bible today – each author having their own personality and writing style guided by Holy Spirit to convey God’s message effectively.
No matter its exact source, we know that the Bible is God’s message to humanity. He spoke through Moses and Isaiah; apostles such as Paul and Peter; as well as doctors like Luke who conducted interviews of eyewitnesses to Jesus Christ’s life.
3. God led it
God exists within a spiritual realm of existence but operates through human means as well. Prophets like Moses were appointed by Him to record his words down, guided through dreams, visions and direct conversations from Him himself – providing their writings a record of this divine communication – the Bible being its record.
He inspired prophets to tell stories and laws about Himself that were understood by humans, leading them to form spiritual and civil societies through the Five Books of Moses (Torah). Additionally, He helped transform them from living fearfully in the desert into courageously fighting for possession of their Promised Land.
At every point in this process, God was present and active. He inspired his prophets to write down God’s words in ways that would reach people even those unfamiliar with Hebrew prophets; helping each one find his or her unique voice and style so as to convey God’s truth as effectively as possible.
He instructed His prophets to record their written revelations in such a way that would remain unchanged and accurate for future generations. He used dream symbols, signs, and wonders to communicate His messages; then they recorded what He told them in their native tongues.
God even wrote some parts of the Bible Himself with His own finger – such as The Ten Commandments, for instance. According to Exodus 31:18, after Moses broke one set of tablets from God He “made another pair”, on which He wrote them with His finger before commanding all people to obey them.
God also guided prophets to record their written words and compile them into what we now call the Bible, taking centuries. However, around the fourth century these collections of writings began being known collectively as “Bible”, taken from Greek for books; around this same time John Chrysostom coined this title for both Testaments as well.
Some may assume the Bible must have been authored by one single human author to maintain its special status as God’s word, but as new academic disciplines – literary criticism, comparative religion and archaeology- have emerged, this view has begun to unravel. Maintaining that one author wrote all Scripture requires more work even though each word comes directly from Him.
Answers lie within the doctrine of biblical inspiration, which states that while every author had their own style in writing the Bible, all authors wrote what God wanted them to write – this can be seen when “Thus says the Lord” appears over 400 times in the Old Testament. Note however, that this does not imply that God scribbled each line on parchment himself – rather He used human authors as instruments of recording His word while respecting their individuality and talent.
As such, its authors were an eclectic collection of people – prophets and priests, soldiers and farmers, shepherds and fishermen, doctors and lawyers among them – living at different times and separated by hundreds of years, living under diverse governments, living cultures and systems of thought – yet all brought God’s message via voice and pen; later collected into what has come to be known as The Bible.
As a result, the Bible contains an incredible diversity of literary forms-poetry, story, legal codes, personal letters, apocalyptic revelation and so forth. This remarkable diversity makes the Bible such a rich source of wisdom for modern believers; demonstrating God’s ability to use His message in ways tailored specifically for each person’s personality and circumstance.