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Bible Geek

Who Wrote the Bible?

Who wrote the Bible and when was it assembled?

If you went to a book signing at your local bookstore, you would probably see a line of people waiting to get the author’s autograph and a personal inscription. Imagine going to a bookstore and getting your Bible signed by its authors. What would the scene look like? The Bible consists of 73 books, penned by 40 to 50 writers over about 1,700 years. It would take an hour just to collect all of those signatures. The reality would be that while the writers were responsible for putting pen to parchment, it is the Holy Spirit who inspired the words; God is the author of Scripture.

Some people have a difficult time with the idea that God is the ultimate author of the Bible. It’s safer and more convenient to say that people were writing about God, rather than acknowledging the truth – the Bible is the Living Word of God (Heb 4:12). Scripture isn’t people writing “their take” about God, but rather God breathing words through the pens of men. Did God utilize the different talents and gifts for writing, communication and storytelling of each author? Absolutely. He used their gifts the same way He still uses peoples’ gifts in ministry every day.

The Bible is without error. It is the fullness of God’s revelation. That does not mean we understand all of it. Over the centuries, the Holy Spirit continues to illuminate us with new depths of truth, deeper avenues into the heart of God through His Word. God is constantly revealing Himself to us in deeper ways. When people say that Scripture is the “fullness of revelation”, it means that no other books or writings since the Bible can or would be held in the same esteem. The Bible was inspired in a unique way, at a unique time in God’s plan of salvation and in history. No other work in the present or in the future, no matter how brilliant, will be held in the same esteem as the Gospels…they are that divine, that perfect.

The word “canon” means “measuring rod.” Canon is the terms used to describe which Biblical books “measured up” and were included in what we now call the Holy Bible. We will discuss the canon in more detail in the next question.

While the Old Testament was already written, there were hundreds of written works to be considered when compiling the New Testament canon. Dozens of “gospels” began to make their way around, each with their own unique spin on the life of Christ…some accurate, most absolutely inauthentic.

There are a few important things to note here.

First, the New Testament was almost entirely oral tradition (shared through speech, not writing) in the years immediately following Jesus’ death. You’ll notice that the Church didn’t come out of the gospels, the gospels came out of the Church.

Second, the writers of the New Testament belonged to the only Church Christ founded (they were Catholic) and they believed in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, including St. Paul (1 Cor 10:16-31) who wasn’t even at the Last Supper but who was taught about the Tradition of the Sacraments through oral tradition.

Lastly, it was the universal (Catholic) Christian Church who finally put the Scriptures together in the form you know today. It took years to formalize the full canon of Scripture. Travel was difficult back then, communication was slow, transcription was costly, Christianity was deadly and the Church was exploding in growth. It took many years of prayer, conversation, discernment and debate by Bishops, scholars and leaders to prayerfully determine (through the guidance of the Author, the Holy Spirit) which Biblical books were truly inspired. That process of prayer, guided by the Spirit, gave us the commonly held canon.

Any non-canonical or heretical books were disregarded, for the most part, over time. Finally, at the Councils of Rome (382 A.D.), Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.) the list of inspired books was set. It’s the same list you hold in your hands (when you hold a Catholic Bible, that is) today. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) promulgated the canon for us, but the canon was commonly held for more than 1,000 years before that.

I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of 100 Things Every Catholic Teen Should Know…

And take some time to read through the following Scripture verses and paragraphs from the Catechism:

Mk 13:31, 1 Cor. 11:2, Acts 20:35, John 21:24-25, Luke 1:1-4, 1 Tim. 3:15, 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6; 2 Tim. 2:2, Rom. 10:17, 1 Pet 1:25, CCC 78-97, 120-138, 106-107

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