Who Wrote The Bible? (and why that question matters)

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Who wrote the Bible? 

That’s a good question. And the implications of how you answer that question are enormous. How you answer that question will play a large role in how you read, interpret, and apply the Bible. So no pressure. 

Back to the question. Who wrote the Bible? The answer depends on who you ask, the two more common beliefs are: 

  1. God wrote the Bible
  2. Humans wrote the Bible

Most likely you have an inclining towards one. And at first glance, it would seem like it’s an easy answer. God wrote the Bible… right? 

Yeah… Kinda. But it’s more complicated than that. 

I would argue the correct answer is somewhere in-between. I don’t think this question is as simple as some make it out to be. There’s a little more grey, a little mystery, and a lot of collaboration. 

So let’s look at who wrote the Bible. 

Who Wrote the Bible God or Humans?

When you first hear this question who wrote the Bible it seems like an easy answer. God wrote the Bible. If you grew up in church that’s probably what you learned. God wrote the Bible for you. 

Which is true… Partially. (No. The Bible is not written to you

But that leads to an other question, Did God dictate the Bible? In other words what was God’s level of involvement in writing the Bible?

God didn’t actually pen the words that you and I read. Humans did that part. So who wrote the Bible God or humans? Well, both.

The Bible is was written by both God and man. But probably not as you are thinking. It was not written as a collaboration in which God and man sat down to discuss what to write. Nor did God dictate exactly what words should be penned. Man did not pen the words on his own that later became divine. Nor is it a book of religious insights by enlightened people. 

The short description: Human Written, God Inspired.

The longer description: The inspiration and influence goes beyond just the writing process. The authors of the Bible were providentially prepared by God. They were motivate and guided by the Spirit of God as they wrote. At the same time they wrote according to their own unique personalities and from their unique perspectives. It was God’s supernatural guidance through their life and their writing that enabled them to communicate God’s word. 

The Bible is divinely inspired. The writings themselves are God-breathed. It is not the authors or the process that is inspired, rather the writings. God had his hand in the process from the beginning. But He didn’t write the words, humans did. The people that penned the words played more of a role than just dictating the words that were given. 

That’s what Peter is getting at in 2 Peter 1:19-21. God uses people to carry out his will. Peter is talking about the prophets, but the same principle is true in the writing of the Bible. The authorship of the Bible never had its origin in human will, rather was directed by God.

But that doesn’t mean we can discount the authors, we need to know who they were. So, let’s look at our next question, how many authors wrote the Bible?

How Many Authors Wrote the Bible? Who Were They? 

Let’s look at the people behind the books of the Bible. 

There are about 40 people that wrote the Bible. Most of the authors we know, or have a high probability guess, but there are several books we don’t know who wrote. 

If you want the exhaustive list here’s a really good article about the authors: Authors of the Bible

Here’s a quick, and I mean quick, rundown of who wrote the Bible. 

  • Tradition holds that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) 
  • Many of the books of history and prophecy were written by the name on the book
  • Psalms is a collective of several authors (David being the most notable)
  • Ecclesiastes/Song of Songs was written by Solomon (along with most of Proverbs)
  • The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses 
  • Acts was written by Luke
  • The letters were written by Paul
  • Hebrews is anyone’s guess 
  • The last few books are written by the name on the book 
  • John wrote Revelation

That’s the highlights. I share that not to give you an all-inclusive list. Rather show who wrote the book you are reading matters. And it matters greatly. This question, who wrote the Bible, cares a lot of weight in how we read the Bible.

How This Impacts Our Reading

Here’s what I’m driving at in two statements… 

Statement 1: Because God is orchestrating the writing of the Bible there is no part of the bible that’s not true… Not equal, but all true

Statement 2: Because man wrote the Bible we need to understand their unique situation before we can apply it to ourselves. 

We need to understand who wrote the Bible before we can really understand the message of the Bible. Since the Bible is written by 40+ people this is something we need to do each time we pick up the Bible. 

If we don’t we will likely end up with a skewed, or incorrect view of scripture. We have to understand the author and the God orchestrated circumstances that surrounded them when they penned the words that are now part of the Bible.

Hopefully that gives you a little better understand of who wrote the Bible and how many authors wrote the Bible. I hope that should you the need to dive a little deeper when reading the Bible. Still you might be wondering where do I go from here? So let’s look at some resources that will help us in reading the Bible.

Resources For Reading The Bible

To help in this journey we need good resources to help us understand who wrote the Bible and the setting in which it was written. I will give you some basic things that everyone should have and some additional resources that will allow you to go beyond in your study of the Bible.

Let’s start with the basics.

The Basics 

These are the basic resources that will benefit anyone that wants to know more about the Bible.

Study Bible:

A good study Bible will have helpful notes about who wrote what book and offer some helpful insights about the text you are reading. It is a very simple way to understand the text you are reading better. Each book will start with a page or two that will look at who wrote that book of the Bible and give some background information. And then each verse will have a note or two below the text. With minimal effort you can increase your understanding of the Bible.

Everyone should have a good study Bible. There’s a lot of good study Bibles, but the one above is my favorite.

Guide To Deepen Your Bible IQ:

After a study Bible a great next step is to pick up a book that will dive deeper into the Bible. For that I HIGHLY recommend Core 52 by Mark Moore written by a professor I had in my undergraduate studies

Here’s the description from the book:

Most of us want to know the Bible better, but few reach our goal, often because we’re too busy or we don’t know where to start. Core 52 removes both barriers, offering a common-sense solution that fits into our busy lives. Respected Bible professor and teaching pastor Mark E. Moore developed this proven process from thirty-five years of helping people grow deeper in God’s Word.
 
Each week features a brief essay, memory verse, Bible story, trajectory verses, and practical ways to put what you’ve learned into practice. An optional “Overachiever Challenge” offers the chance to memorize the top 100 Bible verses by year’s end. 
 
This simple approach allows you to become familiar with the big ideas of the Bible in less time and with less effort than other reading plans. In one year, you can master the core of the Bible—focusing on topics from God’s will to worry, happiness to holiness, and leadership to love. These fifty-two core passages are lenses through which you can read the rest of the Bible with clarity and confidence.

Next Step Resources

These resources offer a little more depth to your Bible study. They aren’t for everyone, but they are a great tool for those who want to understand more about the Bible.

Bible Dictionary:

A Bible dictionary will allow you to research various topics and passages and see how they are used throughout the Bible. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is the best place to start.

Here’s the description:

  • Every word of the Bible is indexed
  • Includes the best of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
  • Hebrew and Greek dictionaries have three times more word study information than any other edition
  • Words of Christ are highlighted in red for quick identification
  • Includes a complete topical index to the Bible
  • Contains additional cross-references to standard Bible dictionaries and lexicons

If you’re looking for a complete yet simple concordance that allows for precise and accurate word study, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is the ideal choice for your library.

Bible Commentaries:

Commentaries give you an in-depth look at the book of the Bible you are reading. They will walk you through verse-by-verse through the books of the Bible. There’s a LOT of commentaries out there. But for starting out I recommend the God’s Word For You Series. It’s simple to use and easy to understand commentary that reads like a book. They don’t currently have every book of the Bible, but they are releasing several each year.

Here’s their description:

These flexible resources can be used for reading, for feeding and for leading: read them simply as a book; use them to feed on God’s word as a daily devotional, complete with reflection questions; or use them as you prepare to lead small-group Bible studies or teach in your church.

When purchasing commentaries I recommend not buying the whole set (that’s expensive), rather just buy the commentary for the book of the Bible you are currently studying.

If you will be teaching the Bible I would recommend getting the NIV Application Commentary. It’s a little more in-depth and offers some great application points. For those of you that are looking for a more technical commentary, I recommend the Pillar Commentary Series.

Free online resources

If you want to go deeper but don’t want to spend any money there are some great options. The one I use and recommend is Dr. Thomas Constable’s Bible Notes. The website is a little dated, but the content is excellent.

If you want more check out: 5 Of The Best Free Bible Study Resouces

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