The origin of the Bible - condensed

by EP v/d Merwe


God communicated with us humans in such a way that it completely met with our spiritual needs and he placed that message in a Book. Unless He tells us Himself, we will never know for sure the answers to those questions that are of cardinal importance to us. In this regard, as you will see from the Appendage at the end, it is important to observe that the Bible itself indicates that it is a book which is the written revelation of God. This purports to be a Book in which God gives us, among other things, guidance and the answers to the most important questions on matters concerning our soul – something which all the wisdom of man’s science is powerless to achieve successfully.

A conventional name for an exceptional document

Papyrus is a tall plant of the sedge family which in ancient times grew especially on the banks of the Nile river in Egypt. [Scientifically it is called Cyperus Papyrus.] The pith of the stems were cut in thin strips and pressed together to serve as a writing material. The Greeks in ancient times called the papyrus plant biblos. By a natural process this term and variations thereof was applied to the writing material made from such plants. In Latin the word biblia is used which means “book” (singular). So the word “Bible”, which we use to describe the written revelation of God, is quite simply but very significantly, the ordinary word for “book”. The Latin word biblia for “book”, being singular, reveals such unity of thought and purpose that together the 66 books of the Bible actually form one Book. Although the Bible is a genuine book, it is unique on account of it being a revelation which emanated from the God of the universe.

The marvel of human language

It is worthwhile to ponder the fact that we humans possess the capacity to communicate with each other by means of a language. This ability of mankind actually came into being with God’s aid so that interaction could take place between Him and us. This is evidenced by the fact that God engaged in conversations with the very first humans—Gen 1.28-29; 2.16-17; etc. In any case, it still is rather amazing that the God of the universe employs a line of communication which we regard as so commonplace, namely the human language, in order to tell us of such great things about Himself and His goodness toward us. These are things that we would have remained unaware of had it not been for the medium of a language.


What else makes this Book tower over all other books? For one thing, God predicts events therein ahead of time and later records their fulfilment. There are numerous such examples, but first of all look at the book of Daniel. Therein events concerning the Greek and Roman Empires are unequivocally prophesied in minute detail four hundred years before it actually occurred in every detail. We can, therefore, rest assured that everything that the Lord has prophesied in this Book regarding the last days and the judgment of the unsaved people, will decidedly come true.

In the second place: Approximately 700 years prior to Jesus’ coming to this earth, the person and work of Jesus as the Messiah is prophesied by Isaiah—more fully than in any other O.T. book. Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as the virgin-born Child of God (7.14); he prophesied about Jesus as the suffering Messiah, who by His substitutionary atonement makes salvation of the sinner possible (ch.53); and he prophesied Jesus as the eternal God who is the Prince of Peace (9.5-7). Isaiah closed his prophecy on a solemn note: Just as God saves, so God would also judge the wicked and dispense divine punishment upon them. In this regard Isaiah spoke this fateful word: “For by fire and by His sword The lord will judge all flesh; And the slain of the lord shall be many” (Isa 66.16). Those who do not now know God should be warned of their end if they do not repent and receive salvation through  the blood of the Lamb of God.

First written documents

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that definite forms of written documents is something which have been there for many thousands of years. Archaeological excavations of ceramic tablets containing engraved writing, have been found which date back to the time before the Flood (according to Halley’s Bible Handbook—Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, page 44). We read in Gen 4.15 that the Lord set a mark on Cain. Whatever it consisted of, anyone that came upon him was able to grasp its meaning.

The original manuscripts

Over 40 separate individuals laboured as co-authors with God to produce the 66 books of the Bible. Some of the human authors are known and others are not. The following will give us an idea of this: we do not know who wrote Judges, Ruth and Samuel, to mention just a few books. The two books of Kings were probably originally written by several unknown persons, as it ranges from the accession of Solomon in 971 B.C. to the kingship of Jehoiachin in 562 B.C.—more than four centuries. The Psalms were compiled by various authors and range from the period between 1400 to 500 B.C. The authors of forty-nine of the 150 Psalms cannot be ascertained. It is concluded that Moses was the author of Genesis, because when Jesus mentioned “Moses and (all) the prophets” in Luke 16.29 and 24.27, he was speaking of the first two sections of the three-sectioned Hebrew Old Testament. “Moses”  therefore has reference to the Genesis—Deuteronomy section. Furthermore, we are not in possession of a single manuscript of the original authors of any section of the Old or the New Testaments. However, thousands of portions of copied manuscripts do exist. Most of the earliest copies were made 100 to 200 years later than the original manuscripts were written.

Verification through other sources

The whole Bible was written over a period of approximately 1 500 years. The first five books can be dated at about 1400 B.C. and the last book of the N.T. (Revelation), about A.D. 90. In spite of the fact that the original manuscripts are not now extant, and only hand-written copies existed down to the invention of printing, the condition of the copies nevertheless has been remarkably preserved. The original Hebrew text of the Old Testament has been substantially verified by the LXX (the Septuagint), that is, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. There is also, among others, the Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered in 1947 in caves 13 kilometres south of Jericho. They were written during the period of the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. The scrolls include a complete O.T. book of Isaiah and thousands of fragments which together represent every O.T. book except Esther. The Old Testament of our Bible has been essentially verified by the contents of the Qumran scrolls. The largest collection of Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts in the world is the Second Firkowitch Collection in Leningrad. It contains 1 582 items of the Bible on parchment, 725 on paper, plus 1 200 additional Hebrew manuscript fragments. A vast amount of ancient copies of original manuscripts of the books of the Bible are presently kept in various other places in the world.

Ancient writing and copying

[The study of ancient writing and copying practices and of the products of such activity is called paleography.]

To better understand the written character of the Bible, we need to know a few things about how ancient writing and copying were undertaken. Sometimes groups of copiers worked together, writing from dictation by an individual who read the master copy. Up to the Middle Ages, the people of the ancient world did not work at tables, but wrote sitting down and with their legs crossed. The process of transcribing was furthermore hampered by the fact that Greek letters, up to the fourth century (A.D.), were all capitals. There was also no spacing to separate words. One of the most famous workrooms used for this purpose (but only for Old Testament manuscripts) is in the ruins of the Essene community at Qumran. Naturally, everything being copied by hand does increase the likelihood of introducing variations.

Copying was an extremely tedious task, it would take a scribe several months to copy just one Gospel. Bear in mind that eyeglasses to aid one’s sight was only invented in 1375, and printing with movable type, only in 1456. When we therefore examine the laborious process of producing ancient books and other documents, it is amazing that, given the totally manual nature of the task, there are as few errors as there are in the copied manuscripts from which the Bible has been compiled. Scribes in ancient times stored their ink in a cone made from a horn or from wood. Next to the inkhorn was a sheath containing the reed-pen or slate-pencil.

According to Eastern custom a scribe would carry his writing-sheath in a writer’s utricle on his belt (Eze 9.2,3). The scribe also carried a small knife in the utricle for cutting off a piece of vellum from the scroll or to scratch out written mistakes. Although the methodology was somewhat simple and primitive compared to present-day methods of copying, the pens, ink and writing surfaces were often quite refined and the subsequent product quite durable and attractive. In many instances even the beautiful colours of the ink used, remained legible through the centuries. The same applies to the papyrus and vellum (animal skin) on which manuscripts were written.

What else?

We do not know the exact dates relative to the production of any of the books in the Bible. Nor do we know exactly how much oral, how much extant or how much eye-witness material each book was compiled of. For instance: Daniel cites Jeremiah in Dan 9.2 as “by the books” whereby is meant the collection of sacred writings later referred to as The Prophets. Another example: God wrote the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone and gave them to Moses (Deut 5.22). Moses put the Book of the Covenant, including God’s Commandments and laws (Ex 20.1 through 23.33) into writing and the people agreed to obey it (Ex 24.3-7).

Yet another example is the book Deuteronomy, which states that Moses “…had completed writing the words of this law in a book…” (Deut 31.24). Then he commanded (verse 26), “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant…that it may be there as a witness against you.”  This book was later transferred to Solomon’s temple and endured decades of neglect. In 625 B.C. it was discovered by those repairing the temple. After hearing it read, king Josiah repented and was reformed to the Lord – 2 Kings, chapters 22-23. Other sections began as speeches and sayings that were recognised as being authoritative. For example, the oracle preserved in Micah 3.9-12 originally had caused king Hezekiah to repent (Jer 26.17-19). Many of the books of the Old Testament include anthologies of authoritative utterances.


The 39 books of the Old Testament were written and collected over a period exceeding a thousand years. We have seen that each original section of the canonical books was at first written down and in course of time copied by hand. The word canon or canonical is actually a transliteration of a Greek word that means “rule” or “standard”. “Canon” is therefore the word generally employed to denote the set of writings taken up in the Bible. Those books that in the spiritual sphere are taken as authoritative and regarded as genuinely inspired Scripture.

Arrangement of the Old Testament

In the Hebrew Bible the Old Testament is arranged in three main sections namely, the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Jesus refers to this division in Luke 24.44, because in making reference to the most important part, namely “the Law of Moses”, the whole collection of sacred writings of the Old Testament is meant [according to Strong’s Lexicon and the Afrikaans Bible with Explanatory Notes, 1959 on Luke 16.16]. It is surmised that this specific grouping of the Hebrew O.T. was made by Judas Maccabeus and his associates after the Antiochene persecution, about 164 years before the birth of Christ.

The first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis—Deuteronomy (the Law), the ancient Hebrews called the Torah, which actually means “instruction”.[In the Greek language it is referred to as the Pentateuch, which means “five-volumed”.] The Torah shows God as the sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It teaches that humanity was created to worship God and have fellowship with Him. In particular it describes how the Hebrews were chosen from all the nations to witness to God’s existence and power in the world. Thus Paul says in Rom 3.2 that the one grand pre-eminence of the Jews was that “…to them were committed the oracles of God.” And they have never been accused of being unfaithful in preserving this pledge entrusted to them. Their way of life was to reflect God’s high moral and spiritual standards and they were commanded specifically to behave as a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. In a superstitious pagan world, they were to be examples of obedience and faithfulness to the One True God’s revealed will for mankind. If they behaved in this way, they would be blessed richly, but if not, they would be punished.

How remarkable it is that God kept the Jews, the guardians of the O.T., from altering the sacred books that record even their sins and national disgraces. Though they hated and killed their prophets (Jer 2.30 and Rom 11.3), they never modified or mutilated their prophecies. King Jehoiakim alone cut a roll of Jeremiah and burnt it in the fire (Jer 36 verse 23 onwards). But this act is recorded as one of exceptional profanity; and the same words were written again, with added woes, to show man’s impotence against the word of God. “The words of the lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times” (Ps 12.6).

The Old Testament was the Bible that was used and quoted by Jesus, Paul and the early church. Paul testifies in Acts 24.14 that he believes all things which are written in the Law  and in the Prophets. The first Christians derived their religious doctrines from it; arranged their lives in accordance with it; and found in it their prophetic reference (see Jn 1.45) to Jesus Christ as the long-expected Messiah.

The books as found in the O.T. of the Protestant Bible are, however, arranged in the order of History, Poetry  and Prophecy:-

Language  and  theme  of  the  O.T.

The books comprising the O.T. were originally almost exclusively written in Hebrew. Only small portions of Ezra, Jeremiah and Daniel were written in Aramaic—a language very similar to Hebrew. There were, of course, many other books written in ancient times. Some of them are even mentioned in the O.T., for example the book of Jasher, (Josh 10.13 and 2 Sam 1.18). These were not preserved and were not regarded as sacred literature by the Israelites. But under the guidance of God, those books that He had inspired, were gathered together, until, at last, the collection of writings was complete.


The “apocrypha” is a number of books of which the literature originated during the period between the conclusion of the Old Testament and the commencement of the New Testament. The Vulgate, which is the official Latin translation of the Bible in the Roman Catholic tradition, regards the apocrypha as “deutero-canonical”, i.e., as being equal to the other 66 books of the Bible. During the Council of Trent in 1546, the Roman Catholics have officially decided to include the apocryphal books in their Bible. They are, however, books of highly questionable origin. Although they were (only in the beginning) included in the early editions of the King James Bible, the Jews and the Protestants have not considered them as authoritative nor as canonical, i.e., as genuinely inspired Scripture. As for the Old Testament, these books were therefore never included in the Hebrew collection. They were, however, included in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the LXX or the Septuagint. [More about LXX later]. Because the contents of the apocrypha is legendary and not found in the Hebrew Bible, they were also omitted from the Protestant Bible.

Between Malachi and Matthew

The term “silent years”, frequently employed to describe the period of ± 400 years between the conclusion of the Old Testament and the commencement of the New Testament writings, is a misnomer. Although no inspired prophets arose in Israel during these centuries and the Old Testament was rightly regarded as complete, events took place which gave to later Judaism its distinctive ideology. It also providentially prepared the way for the coming of Christ and the proclamation of his Gospel.

For about a century after Nehemiah’s time, the Persian Empire exercised control over Judea. The period was relatively uneventful, for the Jews were permitted to observe their religious institutions without interference. Judea was ruled by high priests, who were answerable to the Persian government. On the one hand this insured the Jews a large measure of autonomy but on the other hand it degraded the priesthood into a political office.

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., Judea was first subjected for a while to Antigonus, one of Alexander’s generals who ruled over part of Asia Minor. His control subsequently fell to another general, Ptolemy I, who by then ruled over Egypt. He was also known as Soter, or Deliverer. He seized Jerusalem on a Sabbath-day in 320 B.C. Ptolemy dealt kindly with the Jews. Many of them settled in Alexandria, which continued as an important centre of Jewish thinking for many centuries. Whilst Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) ruled, the Jews of Alexandria translated their Law, i.e., the Pentateuch, into Greek. This was during the period somewhere between the years 250 and 150 B.C.

This translation was subsequently known as the LXX (Roman figures for 70: L=50, each X=10) or the Septuagint. According to tradition, the name Septuagint comes from the “seventy” translators (more correctly 72 – six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel) that were, as the Jewish legend goes, supernaturally inspired to produce an infallible translation. As mentioned previously, it was during this period between the Testaments, that much of the literature of the apocryphal books was written – books which were not included in the Hebrew or Protestant Bibles.

In 40 B.C. the Romans appointed Herod the Great as the absolute monarch over Judea. Ironically, he was a descendant of Esau. It was during the last days of Herod’s reign that Jesus was born (Mt. 2.1). Thus the historical framework was shaped for the advent of God’s Messiah. As stated in Gal 4.4, “…when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son…”

The language used during Jesus’ time

Jesus and the people around him could use more than one language. Aramaic was commonly used in daily life. Hebrew was the language in religious life, particularly in worship and the reading of Scripture (e.g., Luke 4.16 – 21). A third language, that of the eastern Roman Empire, was Greek. It has come to light that even orthodox Jews used Greek in everyday dealings with each other. This is evident in tombstone inscriptions and in hand-written notes exchanged between defenders of the Masada fortress. Jesus himself used Greek in the dialogue with the Greek-speaking Syrian Phoenician woman – Mark 7.24 – 30).

The New Testament

The New Testament is a collection of 27 books that emanated from 9 different authors. They are books that were gathered together and, in time, used alongside the Old Testament. They were originally written in Greek during the first century A.D., and with the passage of time, were divided into five divisions. The four Gospels stand first, setting forth the Lord Jesus’ ministry in the flesh; the Acts next, because it tells us of Jesus’ ministry in the Spirit – by means of His immediate followers; then Paul’s letters, because he was the chief theological spokesman of the early church [as evidenced by the Second Epistle of Peter (3.15,16), where reference is made to the authority of “all his epistles”]; next, the general Letters; and, finally, Revelation, which is the major prophetic book of the New Testament.

The writers of the New Testament look back upon the Old Testament as foreshadowing, indeed prophesying, their own day. God was preparing the world for a full and final revelation of himself in his Son, Jesus Christ, in the types and symbols that he used in earlier times. It is as the writer of the Hebrews puts it – (Heb 1:1-2): “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”  Jesus is therefore seen by the writers of the N.T. as the fulfilment of all that went before and as the summation of all of God’s dealings with mankind. Because the Old Testament pointed directly to Jesus, the early Christians used it as their own Bible and structured their lives according to its spiritual teachings.

Exactness of the New Testament

The original manuscripts of the N.T., as is the case with the O.T., are not available. There is, nevertheless, an abundance of manuscript copies to corroborate the correctness of their contents. Most of the N.T. books were written between A.D. 50 – 100 and were copied during the period between the 2nd and 3rd century (i.e., ± 150 A.D.). Of all the books in the N.T., Revelation is the least well attested book as only about 300 Greek manuscripts were preserved.

In 1964 there were already 4 969 copied manuscripts of the N.T. available (Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp. 31—33). Of course, most of the manuscripts are only portions of the N.T., however 50 of them are of the complete New Testament. Other writings that were used to verify the contents of the N.T., are the many other versions, such as the Old Latin and Syriac, going back to A.D. 150. There is also the well-known Latin Vulgate translation by the church-father Jerome (382—405 A.D.). [More is said about Jerome’s Vulgate after this.]

Jerome’s Vulgate

In the 1st century A.D. there were two versions of the O.T., namely the original Hebrew and the subsequent Greek translation. But the early Christians found a Latin version necessary, both for the O.T. and the growing New Testament. It was especially because of their missionary work in North Africa where Latin was the dominant language. Before the end of the 2nd century A.D., some of the books of the Bible had been translated into Latin, for writers of the 3rd century show wide acquaintance with Latin versions. These versions became so multiplied and varied that Pope Damasus assigned to the church-father Jerome the task of producing a standard Latin text, which was completed in A.D. 405. This came to be called Vulgate, which was the standard text most widely used for more than a thousand years, and is still the official text of the Roman Catholic Church.

History that affected the early Christians

We read in Acts 11.26[b] “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” There have been many crises in the history of the early Christians. Few have been greater than that initiated by the emperor Diocletian on 23 February, 303. This last great persecution by the Roman Empire was slow in coming and it was some time before its full impact was felt. Then it had become violent. It was the view of the State that its main enemy was neither the Christian buildings nor even the Christians themselves, but the books they possessed. If these were not destroyed, the contents of the books would be like seeds that will continually be reproduced, ad infinitum. Thus, many copies of the Scriptures were obtained from traitors and destroyed. But not all Christians were traitors. Copies of the Scriptures were buried and hidden and then brought out again.

The failure of this last persecution, led to the victory of the church. Constantine, later known to history as the first Christian emperor, was hailed as Augustus by his troops at York in the year 306. In 312 he was greeted with the same title by the Senate in Rome. A year later there was issued the Edict of Milan proclaiming freedom of worship. In 324 Constantine became sole emperor. And with that, the victory of the church was complete. Because religion now had special approval from the State, it resulted in a need for more church buildings, and naturally for many more Bibles.

Fifty Bibles for the Emperor

Constantine moved the centre of the Roman Empire much further east from Rome to Byzantium. He rebuilt it as a new Rome. For the churches of the new “Constantinople”, the emperor himself, in A.D. 332, ordered fifty Bibles from Eusebius of Caesarea. [More is said about Eusebius after this.] The instruction was that professional scribes, with an exact understanding of their trade, must provide the Holy Scriptures in volumes on vellum (parchment made from the hides of sheep, goat or calf-leather) to be used for instruction in the churches of the new capital city.

Other cities emulated Constantinople in endeavouring to secure the best copies money could buy. It cannot be ascertained whether any of the actual Bibles ordered by Constantine for the churches in his new capital still exists today. What we can say, however, is that books of the same quality and date do exist. And they are our primary authority for the text of the Greek Bible.

The codex

A large volume, like those ordered by Constantine from Eusebius, is referred to as a codex. The word is used to describe a manuscript which has the form and appearance of today’s books, only much larger and made of vellum (leather). As far back as the second century B.C., scrolls were gradually replaced by codexes. Books as we know them today, developed from the codex. The codex-format was used when compiling the LXX or Septuagint (the translation of the O.T. into Greek between the years 250 and 150 B.C.).

In earlier days, a church that possessed the Scriptures would own them in parts. The New Testament would be in one section for the Gospels, a second section for the epistles of Saint Paul. A third section would contain the general epistles, etcetera. But eventually it became a matter of ecclesiastical and civil pride to own a whole Bible as one complete unit.

The existence of extra-Biblical books

The order of the four Gospels as we have them today, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was established about A.D. 180 by Irenaeus, an early church-father. He was a pupil of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who, in turn was a disciple of John (presumably the apostle John).

At the beginning of A.D. 300 there was still uncertainty as to whether or not certain other extant books and letters were to be used in services. In particular such writings as The Shepherd of Hermas, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Acts of Paul, The Letter of Barnabas,  the Two Letters to the Corinthians (attributed to Clement of Rome) and other writings from the second-century called the Didache or the Teaching of the Apostles. Irenaeus and Clement considered The Shepherd of Hermas to be scriptural books.


Eusebius of Caesarea, from whom, as mentioned earlier on, Constantine ordered the fifty vellum Bibles, was a church-father of the fourth century. He was also an historian and an authority on the Torah. He thoroughly investigated the whole state of uncertainty. On the basis of a list from about A.D. 200, a list called “Canon Muratori”, Eusebius very strongly opposed the use of those other books mentioned above. After thorough investigation, he labelled them as “not genuine” and found them not to be of truly apostolic origin.

Other important volumes

A few decades after Eusebius, the Codex Vaticanus, a Greek volume of both Old and New Testaments, contained the complete New Testament as we have it today. But only slightly later, Codex Sinaiticus still included The Letter of Barnabas and The Shepherd of Hermas. Later still, toward the end of the fourth century, the Codex Alexandrinus excluded The Shepherd and Barnabas, but retained the letters of Clemens. The Codex Vaticanus is kept in the library of the Vatican city in Rome, where it has been at least since 1481. Codex Sinaiticus was purchased from the Soviet Union in 1933 and is kept in a British museum. The Codex Alexandrinus, which England obtained in 1627, is also kept in a British museum. None of these codexes is still complete, for instance, of the approximately 820 leaves the Vaticanus originally contained, only 759 remain. Only 390 of the 730 leaves of the Sinaiticus remain preserved.


In the year 367, Athanasius, a Bishop of Alexandria, used the opportunity of his annual Easter Festal Letter (a letter addressed to all the churches and monasteries under his jurisdiction) to explain what the Old and the New Testaments should consist of. In terms of the New Testament, he listed the same 27 books we have today. Of them he wrote: “These are the ‘Springs of Salvation’, so that anyone who is thirsty may be satisfied with the message contained in them. Only in them is the teaching of true religion proclaimed as the ‘Good News’. Let no one add to these or take anything away from them.”

In a letter in 414, Jerome (the compiler of the Latin Vulgate, as previously indicated) appears to accept the New Testament books as listed by Athanasius—a list that excludes the extra-Biblical books and that corresponds to today’s New Testament. In other words, Jerome eventually accepted what had by then come to be the consensus. This confirms that early in the year 400, the canon of the New Testament had achieved a kind of solemn, unshakeable status—it could no longer be altered. Since that time, the canon of the New Testament has been approved by history, tradition and worship and it has become irrefutably fixed. In spite of some scholarly attempts to exclude or add some books, these 27 books have remained a non-negotiable nucleus of Christianity world-wide.

And why is  that?

Because after all that has thus far been said, we must very clearly understand that the decision as to what writings are canonical, was absolutely in no way a matter of the granting of approval by an individual or an institution, such as a church body. Rather, it is solely a matter of human beings being led by God to recognise what He had already placed in existence as authoritative revelation, and, conversely of people being led by God to determine what books did not have their source in Him. Put in another way: the Church did not create Scripture; instead Scripture has absolute primacy and is the foundation on which the Church is built.

Indeed, that is what God’s Word says: See the Appendage at the end.  Jesus Himself asserted the unalterable authority of the Word and that the Lord needs no help from human beings to accomplish His objective: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Mt 5.18). Jesus is thus putting His stamp of approval on that portion of Scripture. For the Word to have this quality, it simply must emanate from God. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”  (Rom 15.4).

A progressively increasing character

We read in Eph 3.5 (NRSV Harper Study Bible) “In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles by the Spirit.” We can therefore see that in giving us the Bible, God has dealt with humanity progressively. As each book of the 66 was penned under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it contributed something new, necessary, and unique. Although some books provided quantum leaps in human understanding of the things of God, and some appeared only to take small steps, each added to the momentum of revelation—until God completed His whole disclosure with the final chapters of the book of Revelation.


(The Word emanates from God)

2 Samuel 23.2 “The Spirit of the lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.”

Acts 26.16 …for I (Jesus) have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

1 Corinthians 14.37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

Galatians 1.11-12 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3.3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already…)

1 Thessalonians 2.13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

2 Timothy 3.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

1 Peter 1.10-12 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

2 Peter 1.20-21 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

1 John 5.9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.




Paul S. Karleen, The Handbook to Bible Study, (New York: Oxford University Press) 1987. 

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary –  Everett F. Harrison, Moody Press – Chicago. 

How We Got Our Old Testament  by Bruce Waltke. 

Discovering the Oldest New Testaments by H. G. G. Herklots. 

How we got our Bible, Christian History – Mark Galli. 

Reading the Bible Backwards, by Mark Galli. 

A Testament Is Born, by Carsten Peter Thiede. 

Evangelical Commentary on the Bible – Walter A. Elwell. 

Pfeiffer, Charles F., Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press) 1975. 

Bible Encyclopedia And Dictionary – A. R. Fausset – Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids, Michigan.





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