How To Read The Bible (hermeneutics)

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… Kina. 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 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

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.

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. 

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.

I’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment down below!


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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.

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.

Guide To Deepen Your Bible IQ:

This is a great 15-minute daily guide to help you increase your Bible knowledge.

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.

Bible Commentaries:

The above are easy to read and easy to understand commentaries. These will give you a more in-depth look at the passage you are reading. Both of these series are very good entry-level commentaries. For those of you that are looking for a more technical commentary, I recommend the Pillar Commentary Series.

Free online resources

https://freedailybiblestudy.com/5-of-the-best-free-bible-study-tools/

Don’t forget to share your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

5 Comments

Jeffery Curtis Poor

Husband. Father. Pastor. Writer. Trying to be more like Jesus each day. Follow me: Twitter, Facebook, Email

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Harry WhittAllison KramerTom StanfieldHAT Recent comment authors
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HAT
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John Goldingay’s *The Old Testament for Everyone* are awesomely good commentaries on the Hebrew Bible.
I read the volume on I & 2 Kings, and it was stellar. I assume the other volumes are equally learned, accessible, theologically sound, and humane.
Published by Westminster John Knox (https://www.wjkbooks.com/Products/0664261760/the-old-testament-for-everyone-set.aspx), but available all over.

Tom Stanfield
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Thank you for this post Jeffery. You have touched a key point I believe most Christians miss. In God’s sovereignty, He continually sets the stage for His people to accomplish His will. The entire life of the Scripture authors, and every other Christian, are guided through the confusion of life to teach them, and us, just what He needs us to know when He calls us into action. Scripture says He has prepared good works for us; prepared in advance and waiting for us to be prepared for the service. That includes the authors writings and all the things He… Read more »

Allison Kramer
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Allison Kramer

Very true. “All scripture is God breathed…”

Harry Whitt
Guest

Great explanation.

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