Question: Who wrote the 66 books of the Bible?
Answer: God wrote the Bible.
Answer: Men wrote the Bible.
This is not a contradiction, a conundrum, or double-speak. God designed, crafted and implemented a complete story… hence the Bible. The Bible reveals the story that God had architected — it is God’s story and his genius. He created all things; his mind is beyond any complexity we might imagine or find out. And it was the master-mind of God that invented and recorded the story of his glory, which he himself embodied in Jesus. He did this starting in Genesis. The whole book follows the theme of Jesus, and only a master story-teller can create a divine theme that spans all of human history, and involves him in it through the flesh. The Bible is a unified tale constructed by one author, God, and the tale is both written and embodied.
Written by Men
It was written and recorded by men. The story was archived (i.e. the Bible was written) by the minds and hands of men. Men wrote in their language with their idiom and grammar, the story of God — accurately telling the story and reflecting upon God’s activity as they saw, experienced, found and understood it. And they understood it correctly even as the Holy Spirit (i.e. God himself) was active in them. The Holy Spirit was working in the writing process from Moses to John the Revelator, from Genesis to Revelation.
The story is all of God. The language and grammar of the story is completely within the context of human history, human language and human communication. That is, we can study the history of Greek to better understand the Greek wittings of the New Testament. The human idioms and the cultural context of the first century of the apostles are valid research areas for shedding light on the meaning of their writings (the New Testament scriptures). Humans wrote the Bible, and so the archaeology of the civilizations from within which those authors wrote is a valid pursuit for interpreting their writings.
Written by God
Likewise, God wrote the Bible, so interpreting Revelation in the light of Genesis is an equally valid pursuit for understanding his story. God is the divine brilliance who tells us about himself in a unified manner that builds from seed form to thematic climax. That telling is the 66 books of the Bible, and starts with Genesis and climaxes in Jesus. The New Testament is the recording of that climax, written down by his followers without suspension of their own thinking and contemplation. If we want to understand Isaiah, we must read the Gospels. If we want to fully understand Joshua and Jeremiah, we must study and read the New Testament book of Hebrews.
This is rather simple if we accept that God is really capable of amazing things. God is God. And knowing who he is, it really is not a trick to think that he would be able to have a divine book that is rightly, infallibly and accurately recorded by his fallen creatures.
The Holy Spirit testifies to these things, and by his Spirit we find out that it is through his Bible that he feeds his people. The Bible is sustaining food from heaven for it is heavenly food. It derives from above! The Bible reveals who God is, and he is pleased to be found where he is revealed.
To deny the human authorship of scripture would be to diminish or destroy the investigative work of grammar, language, syntax, archaeology, culture and all the rest.
To deny the divine authorship of scripture would be to destroy Jesus. Jesus himself told us that the Bible is about him. Moses understood this for Moses saw the day of Christ and rejoiced. The prophets looked forward to the climatic revelation of God in Christ. The Old Testament was not a happen-stance that coincidentally fit the life of Jesus; it was the prepared book that God wrote to ready us for the reality of which it spoke — Jesus.
A Unifying Divine Theme
Take a secular example as an instance. J. R. Tolkien wrote a four part series about Rings, Kings and Hobbits. He wrote the books over time, and each installment built on the other. After the set was finished, we see the unity. We come to the book series knowing that there is one single author, Tolkien himself, and one major theme. We know that the whole series has a theme named in the title, “Lord of the Rings.” We know The Lord of the Rings has one theme even when we are learning about the various bad guys, antagonists or even the exploits of minor characters. All parts contribute to the whole.
The Bible is the same. It has one author over various installments. But the Bible is different because God is able to achieve this single story through the individual contributions of various humans. The trick for us is to not be fooled by the many authors nor by the fact that there is not a single title page that says, “The Story of Jesus” (which is another way of saying, “The Story of God”, but this title gets closer to the way that God actually reveals himself).
Where is the Title Page of the Bible?
The title page is there, but because it is not the first page, we may struggle to accept that there was a single divine author or a major unifying theme. Liberal scholars seize this as an opportunity to say that there really is is no single story-teller; they argue that God is not behind the events, the history and the unfolding tale (which is not a mere tale, but real history). What such naysayers miss is Jesus and his words. Jesus shows up and tells us the title page. He tells us the title page only after 2/3rds of the series was written (i.e., the Old Testament). But he gives the title page none the less. The Old Testament was written by men, and Jesus came and revealed the main character. The books have one explicit theme in mind.
Jesus knew this. He spoke what is true. He says that the writings of Moses add to that theme. Moses was contributing his part to the single theme. Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” John 5:46. The Bible has one theme; it has a title page. Namely, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” John 5:39.
Perhaps it is unfortunate that we put the word “Bible” on the cover of the 66 books. It would probably be better if we just put “Jesus” on the cover so that we all knew the theme. The common title, “Bible”, leaves the impression that what unifies the 66 books is that they are all important for religious people and their religious ideas. They are that, but that is not the theme. A book should name its theme if at all possible, and the 66 books have a theme.
Only a single author can make it so that all of his books have a theme. The Bible was written over the span of a thousand years (plus some) and since no human author could stay alive that long to keep the theme going, it can only be God himself who is the originator of the master story. He is the one who has the theme under control. He is the one who is telling the story of the Trinity through Jesus.
So Jesus could rightly say that Moses wrote. And that is perfectly consistent with saying that Moses wrote as adding to the master theme. Moses was writing in the same way that any other human author might write — using his language, his idioms, his context of life, etc. Moses wrote. Likewise, God wrote.
How Could This Be?
All of this leads us to one conclusion: God is God and only God could do this sort of thing. Of course writing such a book would defy the abilities of creatures of the dust; we can’t carry out such an impressive venture that started with a plan that pre-dated creation. But God is not a creature of the dust. He is not a creature. He is not created. He is the creator. If he can create the Earth and the Heavens, he can create a book with various authors. And he can do it without dismissing or bypassing the human intellects involved. He can do this and still keep the whole thing under his complete control.
For God to create a book that was written over the time span of 1000+ years, written by various people and preserved in manuscripts throughout various countries, seems as likely as God creating. He is God, he does as he pleases. And when Jesus shows up and tells us what God was doing and is doing, then we bow down and worship.
Denials of This are Attacks on God
To attack his ability to have a book with a unified theme, infallibly written by his fallen and redeemed people, is akin to not bowing down to worship him. To not accept the historicity and infallibility of the Bible, is to decide what God cannot do — and then to redesign him according to our own image. It is an attack on Jesus and the theme of God’s book. The right way to come to God is in adoration.
We are under the Bible, not above it, and we come to it on its terms (on God’s terms) and not our own. In his book we discover what God is doing in Christ; we do not decide ahead of that what he is able to do and then see how he fits to our imagination. We must abandon any protestations about His creation and preservation of a true book, especially when such protesting is couched in the terms of intellectual honesty or sincere inquisition. Academic research and sincere investigation is the source of unending rebellion. For example, it is not sincere inquiry to try and decide if there is a God. It is rebellion. We may believe ourselves to be disimpassioned questioners when we entertain such notions, but the testimony of scripture is that we are cosmic transgressors in war against God. Attacks on God in the name of academic work is another name for evil.
It is rebellion to imagine that we can logic our way to a right view of how God works in redemption and how he works in preserving his story. We know him by revelation. We know him accurately only by knowing what he has said about himself in his Book, the Bible. It is the bent of fallen humanity that will attack God precisely at this point; rebel forces will attack the archive of his glory and call it such things as academic research. Attacks of that sort are nothing more than the advancement of satanic tyranny and rebellion. I speak as a pastor and not as a defender of depraved notions about The Academy and Academics.
Academic-types who war against the True authorship of the Bible unwittingly reveal their intentions when they fail to champion the supremacy of Christ in all things. Their stench is evident in their rejection of the grand Jesus-theme that God has preserved from Genesis to Revelation. Stated or unstated, their lack of passion for Christ is the root problem! The scent of death is upon them when they pontificate about their views of Scripture, but that same scent is equally evident when they fail to have Jesus as the theme of their own personal passions. Their intellectual inquiry is odoriferous to those with noses to smell, even if they never state their view of Biblical authorship. Ultimately, they show up as angels of light. They are God-haters in the garb of fake sincerity and pretend honesty. And they emit their odor when they question the source and authorship of Bible.
An Analogy May Help
It may seem unbalanced or unduly harsh that I would elevate this subject to the level of satanic warfare. But take an analogy from theology. Anyone who would question the existence of God would immediately be recognized as non-Christian — at least when we are talking about conservative seminaries and conservative churches. Nobody who loves Jesus wants a pastor who sincerely wonders about the reality of God. Our pastors should know that God exists. The question is not open to their inquiry as if it is unsettled or complicated. It is only unsettled or complicated to arrogant unbelievers (who put themselves as judge over God). Sermons from such a pastor, or books and publications written by him would be nothing more than the uninspired rantings of a confused philosopher — even if he articulates himself well and had inspiring talks.
We don’t congratulate pastors and seminary professors for such inquiry. Being dogmatic about the existence of God is okay. We don’t think our professors and pastors are anti-intellectual because the existence of God is a settled question for them.
But when supposed pillars in our conservative seminaries doubt the Scriptures, then suddenly scores of their colleagues congratulate them for their honest research and their ability to ask tough questions. They act like it is a valid question. But it is neither honest research, nor are the questions that tough (as if the rest of us have put our heads in the sand for having concluded that God wrote a book).
To say that the question of Scripture is tough — as if we must say that in order to seem academically honest — is like saying that the divinity of Christ is still an open question. These are not open or tough questions. They have answers, and it is only heretics and rebels who have rejected the answers and pretend that all of this is confusing, tough or open.
The questions are rebellion. The questions stink (and I say that in the most academic sense). If I preached on Sunday that I am doubting that God existed, the congregation would rightly chase me from the church. Likewise, if I preached that the Bible happened in an evolutionary sense and had no unifying theme (though it remains amazingly inspiring), then they should smell the devilish stench and remove me from office. These are not trivial ideas. They have been answered, and only a rebel pretends that they are susceptible to fresh data and honest inquiry (as if new data and fresh thought will show that God did not write a book and there is no unifying theme to the Bible).
D. A. Carson once said, “just because I don’t know everything does not mean that I don’t know what I do know.”
We do know some things. And we know them rightly. For example, Jesus is God. We know it. It is the attack of liberalism that labels such knowingness arrogance. They attack others by questioning anyone’s ability to know anything.
Because we can’t know all things, they claim we can’t know that God wrote a book. For them, to claim that the Bible is from God is anti-intellectual and the ending of all sincere research. And in that, they show themselves to be rebel forces undermining the Divine theme of Scripture and its master architecture. There can be no title page for the liberal. The Bible is not from a divine source according to God’s enemies. For those of us who love Christ, it is not intellectual honesty to give away our certainty of the authority, authorship and divine thematic unity of the Bible.
No part of the Bible is a Darwinian accident of history; it is not academic honesty to entertain such notions. It is rebellion. We are in no position to challenge that Jesus is God any more than we are free to ponder if God wrote a book. In both cases, our pondering proves our rebellion. We may be academic and scholarly when we so challenge God, but we will not be Christian.
A Victory at Westminster Seminary
Recently, Westminster Seminary went through trials related to this subject. They produced a fantastic document which I commend as a worthy read. This topic matters for the training of pastors. Pastors who minister the Words of God must have a clear position on this. To that end, the clear thinking of the Westminster document is a model for students of the Bible.
The seminary is undergoing realignment back to its confessional standards. This includes the addition of Dr. Greg Beale to the faculty (a wonderful addition). I recommend the three-part interview with Dr. Beale as additional insight:
Westminster Seminary has done a hard and important thing in dealing with this. They serve the church, and the church needs ministers who are articulate and well-grounded on the authorship of the 66 books that tell the story of Jesus.