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Series Theme:  Can I Believe the Bible










Title:   5. How the Bible came to be


A series that explains what the Bible is and why we can trust it.




1. Introduction

This is one of a series of pages on the Bible and explains how the Bible came to be, and so why we can believe what we read.

Our objective on this page is to go back over some of teh gorund we have covered on previous pages in this series but cover it in much more detail. We hope you will find this detail useful.

The Bible speaks for itself and so we have, on this page, included a number of Bible references. To get the full value of what is being said here, you would do well to read it with an open Bible alongside you, checking each of the references.



2. Why Write?

Something that we perhaps cannot grasp at this point in history, where we have such easy access to computers, and writing is so easy, is actually how difficult it must have been in past millennia to have actually produced any document.

Today it is easy for us to go out and buy paper and a pen, or to get access to a computer and printer. If you lived four thousand years ago, your motivation to write must have been so much greater, if you were to produce any sizable document.

Writing was usually on papyrus, parchment or vellum, and the pen was a pointed reed, or later a quill.  Not easy to write a letter, let alone a book!

Many scholars believe the first five books of the Bible (called the Pentateuch) were written down by Moses. So why would Moses want to write down those five substantial books?

To answer this question we must go into the New Testament and see a pivotal verse in Christian belief.



3. Inspired by God?

Let's start with 2 Timothy 3:16 where we are introduced to the phrase in modern versions, "God-breathed" or "God-inspired", meaning God prompted men to write.

Now before we go any further we have to accept a phrase that occurs in a variety of forms many times in the Bible - "God said".  

We recognise that it is an act of faith to believe this, and to live on the basis of it, but it is fundamental to understanding the Bible.

If you can accept that there is a God, and that He is a living personality, THE Supreme Being, is it unreasonable to believe that He is a communicating Being?

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4. "Promptings" by God of leading men

The simple answer to our basic question, "How did the Bible come to be written?" must be, "Because God prompted people to write down the various things we now call 'The Bible'."

For instance, in Exodus 17:14 we find God instructing Moses to write what had happened as a means of reminding others what had taken place.  Similarly in Numbers 33:2 we find the same thing in respect of Israel's journeyings from Egypt.

In Deuteronomy 31:9 we find a simple record of Moses writing down the Law that God had given him.

By the time of Moses' death, it is clear that the Law had all been written down and was there for them to learn and meditate upon (Joshua 1:8). 

Indeed it was referred to as the "Book of the Law of Moses" (Joshua 23:6). We are also told that Joshua added further history to that book (Joshua 24:26).

Subsequently in Israel's history, we find prophets were told by God to record all that He had said to them, e.g. Jeremiah 30:2

If Moses did compile the first five books of the Bible, it is probable that he did as a combination of what He was told by God directly, and also of writings that had been passed down from generation to generation, e.g. Genesis 5:1

The authority of the writings of these men also comes from the nature of the lives they led and the relationship that they clearly had with God,  i.e. their closeness to God accredited their authority.



5. The Practice of Recording Biblical History

We should also note that leaders and scribes regularly recorded the events in the life of Israel - see 1 Samuel 10:25, 1 Chronicles 29:29,  2 Chronicles 20:34,  2 Chronicles 26:22   etc.

Thus the events of the time of the Old Testament period up to about 435BC were written down by leaders, scribes and prophets.

Sometimes in the Old Testament, we have more than one record of the same event which is recorded in more than one book.



6. Confirmation by Jesus of the Old Testament

We find Jesus, in the Gospels, affirming the Old Testament many times. The following are just a few of those:

Luke 24:44 - law, prophets and psalms covered

Luke 11:51 - Abel to Zechariah = Genesis to 2 Chronicles (first and last books in the Jewish ordering)

Mark 10:6,7 - quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24

Matthew 24:37-39 - citing Noah as an historical figure (Genesis)

Matthew 24:15 - citing Daniel

Matthew 12:40 - citing Jonah in the fish as an historical event

Matthew 12:42 - citing Solomon



7. Confirmation by the Gospel Writers' of the Old Testament

Matthew's Gospel is especially heavy in using the Old Testament to explain New Testament happenings, for example 1:22,23, 2:5,6, 2:15 etc. etc. (Work your way through his Gospel noting the continual references to the Old Testament).

You will also find the apostle Peter clearly upholds the Old Testament - look up Acts 2:16,25,34 and 2 Peter 1:21 and 2 Peter 3:16.

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8. Part of the Holy Scriptures

When the apostle Peter wrote his second letter, it was clearly the belief in the early church that the writings of the apostle Paul in the New Testament stood alongside the Old Testament as part of the Scriptures  2 Peter 3:15,16. 



9. Why was the New Testament Written?

Various writers give us clear indications of why they wrote:

Luke 1:1-4 - Luke writes "an orderly account" of what had taken place

Acts 1:1,2 - he continues that account to include the early church from the ascension of Jesus

John 20:30,31 - John wants to help people understand and believe in Jesus

John 21:24,25 - John declares that he is testifying to what he saw

Revelation 1:11 - John was told what to write

1 John 1:1-4 - John again writes about what he has seen, heard and touched - Jesus

But why write?   A good question! Clearly because they believed.  

Luke, for example, was a doctor, an educated man who set out to carefully gather the facts to ensure there was no misunderstanding.  

John was blatant in his belief that he had encountered the Son of God.

The apostle Paul's belief was clearly that these and many others were stirred, motivated and inspired by God to write.



10. To Conclude

You're not sure?  The best way to be convinced is to read it yourself. Get a modern version, start with say the shortest of the Gospels,  Mark's, and see what you think.

A number of years ago, a solicitor by the name of Frank Morison, decided to debunk the resurrection myth, as he saw it. The more he read, the more he investigated, the more he came to realise that it was true. He ended up writing a book called "Who Moved the Stone" - as a believer.

Translator, J.B.Phillips, similarly ended up writing a book called "Ring of Truth" when, as he translated the New Testament, he came to realise this WAS the truth!

That could be YOUR testimony as well.