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CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURE / CHRISTIANITY BIBLE

Who wrote the Bible?

The Bible we have today is usually one thick book of more than 1,000 pages. But different parts of the Bible were written by different people over a very long period of time – probably as much as 1,500 to 2,000 years. It was only later on that the many different parts were collected together into a single Bible book.

The Old Testament is also a library, a collection of 39 different books. It brings together the writings of many different people using many different styles. It includes family stories – detailed accounts of births, marriages and deaths – and national history – victories, defeats, and tales of good and bad kings. It also includes poetry, law, sermons and dramas, as well as prophets’ predictions, warnings and encouragement..

Oral tradition
The very first stories in the Bible go back to pre-history, long before writing was invented. They were passed on in the same way as children’s playground songs are passed on today – by being constantly repeated. Passing stories on in this way is often called oral (or spoken) tradition. Round the camp-fires in evenings, at worship, at work or at war, people sang the songs and told the stories that they had learned as children. Because these stories were about God, they were treated with the greatest respect. Every word was important, and had to be repeated correctly.

In Writing
Scholars are not sure when the books of the Old Testament were first written down; the period of their writing covered several centuries. Much of the Old Testament was probably collected together and revised during the period of Exile by scribes such as Ezra. By the third century B.C. the Jews recognized a number of their books as ‘holy’, and directly inspired by God. They were formally agreed at the Synod of Jamnia in A.D. 90, and are the books we know as the Old Testament – though in a different order.

What about the New Testament?
Jesus of Nazareth was born hundreds of years after the writings mentioned earlier, just 2,000 years ago. But stories about Jesus were at first passed by word of mouth too. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the four Gospels based on eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life. So the stories about Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, his life and miracles, which we know from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were all written down before about A.D. 100.
The apostle Paul and others wrote letters to explain to believers about the faith and instruct them in Christian behavior. The first of these letters appeared before the Gospels, from around A.D. 50.
As the Apostles and first generation of Churches began to die, the younger believers began to attempt to assemble a collection of authentic writings that would preserve a more permanent record of Jesus and his teachings. By about A.D. 100, most of the writings we know as the New Testament were recognized as inspired by the Church; and by about A.D. 200 the New Testament as we know it today, with its 27 books, was recognized.
RELATED PAGES:
What is the Old Testament? | Summary of the books of the Bible | Inspirational Scriptures

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