The Bible’s Viewpoint
Who Authored the Bible?
THE Bible is frank about who penned its contents. Different parts of this book begin with such phrases as “the words of Nehemiah,” “the vision of Isaiah,” and “the word of Jehovah that occurred to Joel.” (Nehemiah 1:1; Isaiah 1:1; Joel 1:1) Certain histories are identified as the work of Gad, Nathan, or Samuel. (1 Chronicles 29:29) The superscriptions of several psalms identify their composers.—Psalms 79, 88, 89, 90, 103, and Ps 127.
Because humans were used to write the Bible, skeptics say that it is simply the product of human wisdom, like any other book. But is that opinion soundly based?
Forty Writers, One Author
Most Bible writers acknowledged that they wrote in the name of Jehovah, the one true God, and that they were guided by him or by an angelic representative. (Zechariah 1:7, 9) Prophets who wrote the Hebrew Scriptures proclaimed more than 300 times: “This is what Jehovah has said.” (Amos 1:3; Micah 2:3; Nahum 1:12) Many of their writings open with phrases such as “the word of Jehovah that occurred to Hosea.” (Hosea 1:1; Jonah 1:1) Concerning God’s prophets, the apostle Peter stated: “Men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.”—2 Peter 1:21.
The Bible, then, is a composite but unified book written by many men who acknowledged that the one behind their writings was God. To put it another way, God used human secretaries to pen his thoughts. How did he do this?
“Inspired of God”
“All Scripture is inspired of God,” explained the apostle Paul. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Greek word rendered “inspired of God” literally means “God-breathed.” That is, God used an invisible force to influence the minds of human writers, transmitting his message to them. In the case of the Ten Commandments, however, Jehovah himself inscribed the words on stone tablets. (Exodus 31:18) Sometimes God dictated his message directly to human servants. Says Exodus 34:27: “Jehovah went on to say to Moses: ‘Write down for yourself these words . . .’”
On other occasions, God caused men to see visions of what he wanted them to record. Thus, Ezekiel said: “I began to see visions of God.” (Ezekiel 1:1) Likewise, “Daniel himself beheld a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. At that time he wrote down the dream itself.” (Daniel 7:1) The last book of the Bible, Revelation, was transmitted to the apostle John in a similar way. John wrote: “By inspiration I came to be in the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a strong voice like that of a trumpet, saying: ‘What you see write in a scroll.’”—Revelation 1:10, 11.
The Human Touch
Divine inspiration did not take away a writer’s individuality. In fact, personal effort was required to pen God’s message. The writer of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, for instance, stated that he “sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Ecclesiastes 12:10) To compile his historical record, Ezra consulted at least 14 sources, such as “the account of the affairs of the days of King David” and “the Book of the Kings of Judah and of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 27:24; 2 Chronicles 16:11) The Gospel writer Luke “traced all things from the start with accuracy, to write them in logical order.”—Luke 1:3.
Some Bible books reveal facets of the writer’s personality. For example, Matthew Levi, a tax collector prior to becoming one of Jesus’ disciples, paid special attention to numbers. He is the only Gospel writer to record that the price of Jesus’ betrayal was “thirty silver pieces.” (Matthew 27:3; Mark 2:14) Luke, a physician, accurately recorded medical details. For instance, when describing the condition of some of those whom Jesus healed, he used expressions such as “high fever” and “full of leprosy.” (Luke 4:38; 5:12; Colossians 4:14) So Jehovah often allowed writers to express themselves in their own words and style; yet, at the same time, he guided their minds so that the text was accurate and conveyed his message.—Proverbs 16:9.
The End Product
Is it not amazing that some 40 men, writing in a number of lands over a span of 1,600 years, produced a book that is completely harmonious in every respect and that contains a beautiful, consistent theme? (See “What Is the Bible About?” page 19.) This would be impossible if they were not all guided by one Author.
Was Jehovah obliged to use men to pen his Word? No. But his doing so was a manifestation of divine wisdom. Indeed, one of the reasons for the Bible’s universal appeal is that its writers convincingly express the full range of human emotions—in King David’s case, even the guilt of a repentant sinner who pleaded for God’s mercy.—Psalm 51:2-4, 13, 17, superscription.
Although Jehovah used human writers, we can have the same confidence in their work as did the early Christians, who accepted the Holy Scriptures “not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
◼ Who is the Author of “all Scripture”?—2 Timothy 3:16.