In the first two parts of this series, we learned how God gave us His Word through the human authors. We discovered that God literally breathed out Scripture, but He did so through men under the controlled leading of the Holy Spirit. With this determined, we said that God gave us His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word.
The question that we want to start answering today is: “How can we know if we still have that inspired, inerrant, infallible Word today?”
To answer this question, we are going to try to cover every area of how the Bible got from the time it was written to today. Who actually wrote down the words and when did they write them? How did they write? What language did they write in? How did we get the chapter and verse divisions that we have now? With all the religious writings from the biblical period and even associated with the biblical writers, how do we know that some of them should not be included in the Bible? How did we come to include only the 66 books that we have? What is the Apocrypha? What are the criteria for the reliability of a historical text? Does the Bible meet those criteria?
In answering all of those questions, we will seek to prove that we do in fact still have the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God today.
First, we are going to look at who wrote the books of the Bible and when they wrote.
The Old and New Testaments both ascribe Genesis to Moses.
Mosaic authorship of Exodus is also affirmed.
The last verse denotes that Moses wrote these laws down.
This book is also ascribed to Moses throughout the Old and New Testament.
Deuteronomy 1:1-32:47 was written by Moses. However, 32:48-34:12 was added after his death (probably by Joshua).
When did Moses write these books?
The dates given to these books are based off of the date for the Exodus. The traditional date given to the Exodus is 1445 B.C. Moses died in the fortieth year after the Exodus, which is 1405 B.C. This would mean that these books were written between those dates. Numbers and Deuteronomy give us a hint at the actual time they were written. Numbers and Deuteronomy both were written in ca. 1405 B.C. This can be calculated by the month and year after the Exodus that is given in the books.
The author is not named, but it is most likely Joshua, with the events of his death added later. The book was most likely written in the period of 1405-1385 B.C.
The Jewish Talmud ascribes Judges to the prophet Samuel, though no author is named in the book. The book was most likely written shortly after Saul began to reign in 1043 B.C.
Jewish tradition also points to Samuel as the author of this book. This is plausible. However, there is no evidence for or against this assumption. It was written around the time of David’s reign (1011-971 B.C.).
1 and 2 Samuel
Jewish tradition ascribes these books to Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. However, all three died before all of the events in the books took place. The author is unknown. There is also no certain date of writing. It was written after the kingdom divided in 931 B.C., but before the first exile in 722 B.C.
1 and 2 Kings
Jewish tradition points to Jeremiah as the author of Kings. This is unlikely, however, because the author of Kings ends up in Babylon and Jeremiah ended up in Egypt. The author is unknown, though it most likely was a prophet. It was written during the exile (561-538 B.C.).
1 and 2 Chronicles
Once again, there is no named author, but Jewish tradition points to Ezra. It was written between 450 B.C. and 430 B.C.
Ezra wrote this book after his return from exile in 458 B.C. That puts the writing of this book from 457-444 B.C.
Although Nehemiah was influential in what was used, Ezra is the author of this book as well. In fact Ezra-Nehemiah was most likely one book. This book was written between 424 B.C. and 401 B.C.
The author of this book remains unknown. Possible suggestions have been Mordecai, Ezra, or Nehemiah. The date for the writing of this book spans anywhere from the death of Ahasuerus to the conquering of Persia by Greece (450-331 B.C.).
The author is unknown, though there have been many suggestions: Moses, Solomon, Elihu, Isaiah, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, and Ezra. The book was written well after the events that took place within it. Since the authors that are suggested are from different time periods, it is impossible to know when it was written. The events within the book, however, most likely take place between Babel and Abraham.
The authors of Psalms include: David, the sons of Korah, Asaph, Solomon, Moses, Heman, and Ethan. There are also 48 anonymous psalms. The time of writing stretches from 1410 B.C. to around 500 B.C.
It is called the Proverbs of Solomon. However, Solomon may have simply been a compiler of his as well as others writings. Others may have also added to the book, because it was not finished until Hezekiah’s reign (715-686 B.C.).
This book was written by Solomon, most likely in his later years (934-931 B.C.).
Song of Solomon
This book was written by Solomon also, sometime during his reign (971-931 B.C.).
The book in its entirety was written by Isaiah, the son of Amoz. He wrote of the time period from 739-686 B.C.
Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, wrote this book. The writing of this book took place throughout his ministry which spanned from 627 B.C. to around 567 B.C.
The author was most likely Jeremiah. This book was written between 586 B.C. and 583 B.C.
Ezekiel is the author of this book. He wrote during his ministry (593-571 B.C.).
Daniel wrote this book. He wrote this book between 536 B.C. and 530 B.C.
The author is the Hosea found in the book. His ministry, as well as the dates for the writing of this book, dates from 755-710 B.C.
Joel, the son of Pethuel, is the author of this book. The date is unknown. However, tradition points to the reign of Josiah (835-796 B.C.).
The title is also the author. The date for the book is around 760 B.C.
The book names no author. However, Jonah is the most likely candidate. This book was written between 760 B.C. and 753 B.C.
The first verse establishes Micah as the author. His prophecy was written between 735 B.C. and 722 B.C.
Nahum the Elkoshite wrote this prophecy. It was most likely written sometime in the period of 663-626 B.C.
Habakkuk is the author. It was written from 612-609 B.C.
The title is also the author. It was written from 635-625 B.C.
Haggai is the author. He wrote in 520 B.C.
Zechariah is the author. He wrote between 520 B.C. and 518 B.C.
It has been suggested that this book’s author is anonymous, because Malachi means “Yahweh’s messenger.” However, it is more likely that this was the proper name of the author. It was written from 433-424 B.C.
Matthew, once a publican – later a follower of Christ, wrote this gospel. It was written sometime from AD 57-63.
Mark wrote as the “interpreter of Peter.” He wrote this gospel in around AD 51-53.
Luke is the author of this gospel and he wrote it around AD 60-61.
The Apostle John wrote this gospel. He wrote it sometime between AD 80 and AD 90.
It was written by Luke as the second part of his writing. It was most likely written from AD 61-62.
The Apostle Paul wrote this epistle. He wrote this around the year AD 56.
Paul wrote this letter as well. He wrote this letter in AD 55.
Paul is the author. He wrote it in late AD 55 or early AD 56.
Paul is the author. He wrote this letter sometime from AD 49-50.
Paul is the author. This letter was written sometime from AD 60-62.
Paul is the author. It was written in AD 61.
Paul is the author. It was written sometime between AD 60 and AD 62.
Paul wrote this letter in AD 51.
Paul also wrote this letter. He wrote it sometime from AD 51-52.
Paul is the author. He wrote this letter sometime from AD 62-64.
Paul wrote this letter sometime from AD 66-67.
Paul wrote this letter to Titus sometime from AD 62-64.
Paul wrote this letter on behalf of Onesimus around AD 60-62.
The author of Hebrews is unknown. Candidates are: Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Philip, Priscilla, Aquila, Clement of Rome, and Luke. Whoever wrote it, wrote sometime from AD 67-69.
James, the half-brother of Christ and leader of the Jerusalem Church, wrote this epistle. It was written sometime between AD 44 and AD 49.
Peter wrote this letter around AD 64-65.
Peter also wrote this letter. He wrote it around AD 67-68.
1, 2, 3 John
These were written by the Apostle John. They were all written sometime around AD 90-95.
Jude, Christ’s half-brother, wrote this epistle around AD 69-70.
The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation around AD 94-96.
Second, let’s look at how they wrote.
1) What materials did they write on?
Papyrus: made from a papyrus plant; perishable – only survived in
dry areas (i.e., sands of Egypt or caves of Qumran); the oldest papyrus fragment dates back to 2400 B.C.
Parchment: shaved sheep, goat, antelope, or other animal skin prepared in a way to be written on
Vellum: calf skin (basically leather); often dyed purple and written on in gold or silver ink; oldest fragment – 1500 B.C.
Potsherd: unglazed pottery that would be carved into
Stones: inscribed with iron pens or chisels
Clay tablets: written in wet; then dried to make permanent
2) What materials did they write with?
Chisel: used for stones
Metal stylus: used for clay and wax tablets
Pen: pointed reed; used on vellum, parchment, papyrus; ink – compound of charcoal, gum, and water
3) How were the writings put together?
Scrolls: papyrus glued together, then rolled around a stick
Codex: like our books
4) What style did they write in?
Uncial writing: more formal; deliberate and carefully executed; the two most significant and oldest manuscripts of this form are: Codex Vaticanus (AD 325-350) and Codex Sinaiticus (AD 340)
Minuscule writing: done quickly; everything runs together
NOTE: There are no spaces in the original Greek or Hebrew (the endings tell you where things stop and start).
NOTE: There are no vowels in the original Hebrew.
Next time, we will see how the Bible that was written down in this way was put together! Let me know what you think in the comments!