Welcome to the Bible: A Thick Book With Lots of Authors — An Overview of Who Wrote the Bible
In the Beginning . . .
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And thus began the story of the Bible.
It took God only six days to create the world but about 1,500+ years to complete the Bible.
In my first post in the Welcome to the Bible series, I introduced the Big Picture and mentioned it helps us understand the more confusing smaller pieces of the Bible. We’ll talk about that more. Later.
First, I’d like to address the Bible as an actual book. A thick book — unless you have a copy with tissue-thin pages and tiny type — written by lots of authors.
So Many Authors — So Many Backgrounds
God inspired about 40 different authors from three different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe) who wrote in three different languages (Hebrews, Aramaic, and Greek) to write down in 66 books what He wanted us to know.
All without contradiction.
All point to Jesus.
And all without error.
In the original language, the Bible is infallible.
The exact number of authors is in question because we’re not completely certain who wrote some of the books. Judges, Job, and Hebrews, to name a few.
Seeming contradictions in the Bible become agreements when we set them into context, consider the original language, and/or understand the specific audience and intent of the author.
The original form of the Bible varied greatly from the kind of books we know with bindings and splashy covers. These authors wrote onto materials like scrolls — and a couple of stone tablets.
Many authors were prophets (special spokesmen for God). Others were shepherds, kings, and fishermen. Some wrote in palaces. Others from prison.
But all were inspired by God.
All Scripture is inspired by God…
~ 2 Timothy 3:16
It’s All Greek to Me — or Not
Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew somewhere between 1400 B.C. — 400 B.C.
Part of Ezra and Daniel and one verse in Jeremiah were written in Aramaic.
The New Testament was written in Greek between A.D. 44 and A.D. 96.
Many books of the New Testament are actually letters written to specific churches or individuals.
The apostle Paul wrote 13 letters — 14 if you believe he wrote Hebrews.
I personally don’t know.
Paul wrote most of the letters to various churches he’d visited. Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians for example.
He also wrote to individuals such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
No one seems to know when the book of Job was written, except for perhaps Job, and we can’t ask him. Yet.
Every known author of the Bible was Jewish except one. Luke. He wrote the Gospel of Luke — no surprise there — and was a Gentile doctor.
A Gentile is anyone who’s not Jewish.
From First to Last
Moses wrote the first book of the Bible — Genesis.
Moses also wrote the next four books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, to be exact. He wrote five books and one Psalm in all.
John wrote the last book of the Bible — Revelation.
John also wrote four other books: The Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.
Genesis is fairly easy to understand. Revelation is not.
But the right teacher can help us understand much of Revelation. By the way, the Holy Spirit is the best teacher. More on that later.
After Jesus returns and everything that must take place in Revelation has taken place, we’ll finally be able to say, “Oh! Now I get it.” Until then some of it will remain a mystery — and who doesn’t like a good mystery?
Revelation is the written account of the revelation given to John from Jesus. It is the final revelation. That means everything God wants us to know has been written down between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21.
There’s no new revelation, no matter what any pastor may proclaim.
The Fabulous Four
Four of the most well-known authors are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Their books together are known as the Gospels of Jesus Christ.
“The Gospels of Jesus Christ” is the written record of Jesus’ life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament.
“The Gospel” is the good news that Jesus paid the penalty for sin on the cross through His death and resurrection and that whoever trusts in Him will be saved. (Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-10)
These four fabulous authors kick off the New Testament and tell of Jesus’ time on earth but from different viewpoints and to different audiences.
A friend of mine didn’t know this fact when he first started reading through the New Testament. He began to think every book in the New Testament was the same story.
Matthew was a Galilean Jew who wrote to the Jews to prove Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Mark was a Jew who wrote to Romans. He revealed Jesus as the Suffering Servant.
Luke was a Gentile doctor who wrote to Greeks. He focused on Jesus’ humanity and presented Jesus as the Son of Man.
John was a Jew who wrote to Christians and highlighted Jesus’ divinity as the Son of God.
Many Authors. One Lord.
Many authors wrote the Bible, but they all pointed to our One Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the living Word and the visible image of the invisible God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
~ Colossians 1:15
Why Is This So Important?
Why should we care about all the details — the languages, continents, authors, perspectives, years, and one consistent message?
We should care because it reveals that the Bible is a supernaturally written book, unlike any other in history.
And it reveals that Christianity is a unique faith because God revealed Christianity to the world through this incomparable book– the Holy Word of God — written by numerous authors all pointing to one Lord.
Books, and Chapters, and Verses. Oh, My!