[Rector]

Who wrote the Bible?

 

One of the most common questions I get asked is "who wrote the Bible?" Not a bad question actually, because it gets right to the heart of the issue. Obviously, the Bible is the source book for the Christian faith, and so what people want to know is how accurate it is. Can the writer be trusted?

Now here we have a problem. There is not just one writer. In fact, the Bible is not just one book. It is a library of books. If we were living in the first century, we could go down to our local church and in a room we would find a wall with brick-sized holes, and in each hole a scroll representing each book of the Bible. Some of the longer books were even divided into a number of scrolls. Depending on the wealth of the church, they could have some or all the books of the Bible. Actually, few would have all, and there would be some who would only have one scroll, that is, they would have only one book of the Bible. A normal book of the Bible, such as the gospel of Luke, would cost a year's wage. Expensive to say the least! It was only centuries later that the Bible was produced in book form. These were usually produced on vellum and were worth a fortune, hand-written, hand-illustrated and hand-bound.

So, the Bible is made up of lots of different books written by lots of different authors. And even more confusing, each author writes at a different point in history, and many of them employ different forms of literature. One of the greatest mistakes we make with the Bible is to treat all the books of the Bible as if they were historical texts, written by the same bloke at the same time. It's just not that simple.

Take the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. Who wrote it and when was it written? The Bible simply doesn't say, but there are those who will call you a heretic if you don't believe it was written by Moses. It could have been written as late 700BC, which of course is long after the events it records. Where did the writer get his information from? Well, he would have used other writings passed down by the Jewish people and possibly quite a bit of oral tradition - stories told and retold around the campfire. In those times, people told and retold stories rather than wrote them down. It was a different age. And what type of literature is the book of Genesis? Did this writer set out to record the history of the human race? Not so, it is a book of faith. It gives us insights into who we are and who God is. History is there in the book, but there is also poetic imagery - history and myth intertwined with meaning.

Although different people wrote the Bible, there is an amazing continuity in the ideas. Behind the personal flair of the individual writer there lies the hand of God. Not that the Bible just contains the word of God, but that it is the word of God when read wisely.