Who Wrote the Bible?
“THE Bible is full of contradictions,” claim skeptics. “Besides, it contains human philosophy. Therefore, how can anyone accept the Bible as a trustworthy guide for life?”
Do you share the skeptics’ viewpoint that the Bible is nothing more than a book expressing flawed human thinking? Some clergymen do. The late Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth wrote in his Kirchliche Dogmatik (Church Dogmatics): “The prophets and apostles as such were capable of making mistakes in speaking and in writing.” True, differences in wording can be found in the narratives of an event covered by more than one Bible writer. And statements can be found that, on the surface, appear to differ completely from statements found elsewhere in the Bible. But are these really contradictions? Is the Bible simply the product of men? Indeed, who wrote the Bible?
The answer is simple: “Men spoke from God.” But how did they know what to speak and what to write? The man just quoted, the apostle Simon Peter, goes on to explain that they spoke “as they were borne along by holy spirit.”—2 Peter 1:21.
For a fact, time and time again the Bible stresses that it is “the word of God.” In the 176 verses of Psalm 119 alone this point is alluded to 176 times! What makes this significant is that writers are normally interested in making known that they have written a particular work. But the men who wrote the Bible were not. All honor was to go to God. It was his book, not theirs.—1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Samuel 23:2.
“Borne Along by Holy Spirit”—How?
How were these men “borne along by holy spirit”? A letter to the first-century Christian Timothy provides an answer: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” “Inspired of God” translates the Bible’s original word of the Greek text the·oʹpneu·stos, which means, literally, “God-breathed.” God used his invisible active force—his holy spirit—to “breathe” his ideas into the minds of the writers. Thus, Jehovah God is the Source and Producer of the Bible. His thoughts directed the writing much as a businessman uses a secretary to write letters for him.—2 Timothy 3:16.
Also, this concept of “God-breathed” finds a parallel in the Biblical expression “borne along by holy spirit.” How so? “Borne along” is used in Greek with reference to ships that are moved along on a certain course by the wind. (Compare Acts 27:15, 17.) Thus, as a wind blows and moves a sailing ship, so the Bible writers thought, spoke, and wrote under God’s influence, borne along by his holy spirit as he “breathed” on them.
The Men Used by God to Write
We have but few autobiographical details about the Bible writers. Far from considering themselves of great importance, they always strove to honor God by keeping themselves in the background. We do know, however, that they included state officials, judges, prophets, kings, shepherds, farmers, and fishermen—some 40 men in all. Thus, the Bible, although a message from God, has the warmth, variety, and appeal of the human touch.
Many of the Bible writers did not know one another. They even lived centuries apart and were extremely different in temperament and experience, as well as in social and educational backgrounds. Yet, whether they were young or old, their writing shows a complete unity. Over a period of some 1,600 years, they wrote until the book was finally finished. After a careful examination, you will find that the Bible’s statements reflect a remarkable harmony. The Bible thus echoes the mind of one Author, though many writers were used.
Should this not prompt us “to pay more than the usual attention” to this extraordinary book, the Bible? Should we not be able to reach the same conclusion as did Peter, who wrote: “All this only confirms for us the message of the prophets, to which you will do well to attend, because it is like a lamp shining in a murky place”?—Hebrews 2:1; 2 Peter 1:19, The New English Bible.
But now, what about the claim that the Bible contradicts itself? Does it? How do you answer?
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“What a grand book! Stranger than its contents for me is its manner of expression, where the word becomes virtually a natural product like a tree, like a flower, like the sea, like the stars, like man himself. It sprouts, it flows, it shines, it laughs, one knows not how, one knows not why, one finds everything so completely natural. It is truly God’s Word, in contrast to other books that testify of only human wisdom.”—The 19th-century German poet and journalist Heinrich Heine’s comments about the Bible.
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As wind moves sailing ships, the Bible writers were ‘borne along by God’s holy spirit’