Was the Bible Written by One Person?

Question from a Site Viewer
Hi Tim. You wrote, “We know who fathered who and we know events of their reign. So when we find a writing referencing a certain Pharaoh or a coin with the inscription, we know that the writing or coin had to be dated to that time.” How do you find the dates? Does it say on the coins or inscriptions? How do you connect the years to the Pharoah or the coin?

How do we know that someone (a single person) did not sit down and write the whole Bible and all the prophecies? I am really confused with these issues. You gave me many reasons. One is archeology. The oldest copies of portions of the Bible date to the time of Jeremiah (around 600 B.C.), long before Jesus or the Apostle Paul walked the earth. But how do you know that date was around 600 B.C.? You said the dead sea scrolls predate Christ. Is that from radio-carbon dating?

You said the earliest New Testament text dates to the second century A.D. How do you know that? The struggle I have is that I find it easy to believe that someone wrote the Old Testament after the New Testament was written. They used the New Testament to make the Old Testament make sense.

You also wrote, “Some scholars will state that these authors arose during the Babylonian exile and they recreated a cultic explanation for Israel’s history. But no one who has read the texts and is an expert on said texts would subscribe to a single human author theory.” Can you explain this a bit more?

You also wrote, “The seventh reason that the Bible is true is fulfilled prophecy. I realize that if you are questioning the dates of when scripture was written, you may question whether some prophecies were written after the fact and simply made to sound like prophecies.” Yes! This is another question I have. I don’t like that I still have this question even after your answers.

You wrote, “There are certain matters that no scholar can dispute. The prophecies of Jesus that are found in the Old Testament were all written before the time of Christ.” Can you explain this to me some more? Please give me some evidence and how the evidence came about.

If our God is the one true God, why do so many people believe other religions? I know some Buddhist who are very happy people and claims that Buddha healed her cancer. Also, some non-Christians are more kind, loving, well-mannered and humble than Christians. Why?

I know that some Christians are judgmental and think they are better than others. Why? If God is in them shouldn’t they be Christ-like?

Tim’s Answer
I do not know what has caused you to doubt the Scriptures. I cannot prove to you in some scientific way that Scripture is true. But I can tell you that the evidence for its truth is far greater than the evidence for it being false. First, as to your question of whether one human could have written each of the 66 books of the Bible, the answer is clearly no. The writers of the New Testament record events that happened in Roman history in the first century A.D. We know from secular Roman history when these events happened. You can take an ancient history course and find out about the Roman historians. We have the histories. Thus, we know from Roman history about Herod, and Pilate, about Caesar Augustus and Quirinius, about Herodias and Philip, about the decree to expel the Jews from Rome around 48 A.D. These are all recorded for us from those who did not believe in Jesus or in the Bible and who had no connection to Christianity.

So when we find in the Bible references to these secular rulers, we know one of two things. Either the writer had supernatural knowledge and was able to write about people before they ever happened, which would require some belief in the supernatural work of God, or the writer wrote after these people lived and therefore could mention them in their story. These are the only two possibilities. So the fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as well as the book of Acts speak about Herod, Pilate, Caesar, Agrippa and others means that these authors lived during or after this time of Rome or they were able to guess or somehow learned the names of people not yet existing. For a person in your position, if you doubt Scripture, then you are left with only the possibility that the person who wrote these accounts lived after Caesar Augustus, Herod, Pilate, Agrippa and the other people mentioned in the New Testament accounts.

But if you agree with this, then you have the answer to your question. One person could not have written the whole story of Scripture. We know this is true because the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain much of what we have in our Old Testament, pre-date the time of any of the Caesars, or Herod, or Pilate, or King Agrippa. As stated previously, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been dated both by archeological methods and by carbon-14 dating to a time before Christ lived on this earth. We also know when Christ lived because we have a Jewish writer, Josephus (not a Christian), who records for us that Christ lived during the time of Herod and Pilate. Tacitus, a Roman historian who also was not a Christian, tells us that Christ was put to death by Pilate. And then we have the witness of the New Testament writers that tell us that Christ was born during the days of Herod the Great and Caesar Augustus and that he was put to death in the days of Pilate.

The same person could not have written a text which we have copies of dating to the third century B.C. and also have written about the first century A.D. events. Let me give you a present day analogy. We know that the Declaration of Independence was not written by someone in the twenty-first century. We know this because we have copies that date back to 1776, some 240 years before the modern time. Likewise we know that Thomas Jefferson could not have written a book describing and naming Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. He would have no way of knowing about these people. In the same way, no one in the first century A.D. could have written the Old Testament because we have copies of Old Testament books dating back to the third century B.C. Likewise, whoever wrote those Old Testament books could not have written the New Testament because they could not have known the names of the Roman rulers in the first century A.D. The same person accordingly could not have written the entire Bible.

Further, the Jews would be quite taken aback with the idea that perhaps a Christian wrote their holy Scriptures. They rightly would claim that our Old Testament has been their sacred Scriptures long before Jesus walked on this earth. Great Jewish rabbis during Jesus’ time such as Gamaliel and Hillel wrote about the Old Testament. We have the writings of the Jewish writer Philo who lived before the time of Christ and he writes about the sacred Scriptures of the Jews. The evidence that the Jewish Scriptures were completed before the time of Christ is strong.

What I sense in your writing is a distrust of history itself. I suppose in some way it may be possible for all historians to be wrong and the ancient Rome did not exist when they tell us it existed, that the ancient Roman historians who lived both before and shortly after the purported time of Jesus’ life were lying to us about what they wrote, that the carbon-14 dating is all wrong, that archeologists do not have expertise to date events and finds, that ancient timelines developed by historians are all fabrications and all 66 books of the Bible were written by the same person. But there is no evidence to support any such conclusions. Anyone who believes in this scenario is really clinging to blind faith in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

What we have with the Bible is a book that states that is written by many authors. Unfortunately, when translated into English and other languages, the books seems much more uniform than they appear in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages in which it was written. When one reads the books in the original languages, there are clearly different authors writing Ruth than wrote 2 Chronicles, or Daniel. The writing styles of Mark are vastly different than those of Luke or the author of the book of Hebrews. Even the language is different–where one is written almost in a Hebraic style (Mark) and one in a scholastic style (Luke and Acts). Luke’s Greek is almost Classical Greek while Mark’s is Koine Greek. If one thinks that a single person wrote all of the books of the Bible, that author would have been a genius such as the world has never seen. The ancient poem found in Habakkuk 3 is completely different than Psalm 23. The language of Zechariah shows a more modern language than the language of Job. Besides, the individual books are incredibly complex. For instance, the book of Zechariah is composed of two parts, each forming a chiasm with a center pointing to the Messiah. The center of the entire book points to the Messiah. In addition, the two halves also are parallel with each other. Likewise, the book of Psalms is composed of five collections of Psalms, with the center of each book focused on the concept of the fear of God. The structure in these books is intricate and incredible. Those who analyze the structures can tell how detailed and finely prepared these books are. None of the books are random collections. Even the book of Proverbs is organized for those who take time to study it out. For one person to have written such details would require that person to be more than a genius. Biblical scholars from Jewish rabbis to Christian theologians have pored over the texts for their entire lives and not plumbed the depths of the intricacies of these books.

Further, I ask the question, if a single person wrote the book, then why are there different stories of the kings in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles? Why would the same person write two different scrolls of the same story but from such different perspectives? The 1 and 2 Kings are strongly prophet-based, whereas 1 and 2 Chronicles focus on the priests and the temple. While perhaps someone might have set forth to deceive, the deception theory seems very weak indeed. There is a great deal of history someone would have needed to know to write the many details we find in these books. Yet we know someone did not simply make up this history, as people such as Ahab, Jehu, and Hezekiah are recorded in the Assyrian records as archeologists have discovered. There are references to David that date to long before Christ. And records of ancient Greece long before Christ tell us about Solomon.

At some point, each of us must make a decision based on the evidence. Either we choose to disbelieve or we choose to believe. Whether it is possible that the Bible is all a lie is not the proper question, I suggest. The proper question is whether it is likely that the Bible is a lie. Given that we can prove to virtually any standard that the Bible was not written by a single person; given that the parts of Scripture that we can prove were written before the life of Christ speak of the coming Messiah in ways that point to Christ; given that the parts of Scripture written after the time of Christ tell us about Him and about what He taught; is there a reason to disbelieve what was written?

I suggest that the evidence is very strong. It is up to us to choose to believe or not. I side with Peter. Jesus alone has the words of eternal life. Where else can we turn?

Of course, because Christ lives in me and His Spirit has shown Himself over and over in my life, I have no doubt but that the Bible is true. As I have pursued Christ, I have found His answers to my prayers, His guidance in my life, His presence and His peace to be most amazing. When I was younger in the faith, I used to question Him. But early on He answered some amazing prayers for me and showed Himself strong on my behalf over and over. He truly showed Himself as I sought after Him. He has been more than kind and gracious to me. I could not imagine living without Him in my life. And I only wish that everyone could have Him as their God in the way that He has been God to me.

And yes, I know that people in other religious systems have religious experiences. The Jews of the Old Testament often had religious experiences involving the worship of Baal and other gods. A religious experience does not establish truth. What establishes truth is God’s word. Thus, Peter tells us that the prophetic Scriptures are a more sure word than his experience with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:19). No other Scriptures tell of a God who can foresee the future and then prove it over and over in His Word He has given us. As stated, if these prophecies were written after the fact, someone did an incredible job of putting it all together. For many of the prophecies are in books completely separate from the books where their fulfillment is recorded, and the dates and events are meticulously provided. I have read the Koran (in English) and some of the Vedas and other religious books. None of them compare to the books of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

I also know that some in other religious systems seem to reflect Christ better than some Christians. I truly believe that most people who profess to be Christians are not followers of Christ. There are many, Jesus said, who would claim to be followers of Him to whom He will say one day “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). The tares grow up with the wheat.

But I also want to defend Christianity as well. The world was turned upside down because of Christianity. It was not the Hindu religion, or the Buddhist religion, or any other religion that brought about a change in the view of mankind towards the poor and needy. In ancient Greek and Roman cultures, as well as in modern Indian cultures and in many Buddhist countries, the poor are simply left to beg and to die. But in the west, where Christianity gained a strong foothold, hospitals were established, nursing was born, the care of the needy became accepted as a universal duty, and charity, not as a duty, but as love for humanity became part of the fabric of life. Christianity truly changed the way societies looked at the poor. To this day, the great organizations that provide for the needy of the world are overwhelmingly Christian, not Buddhists. When there is a disaster, groups like Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, the Salvation Army, and many others show up in Haiti, North Korea, Iran, Indonesia, and any place else where there are great needs. Christians have been the kindest people in the world in their deeds, even if some who claim the name of Christ do not show this. Christians are the ones who establish missions to heroin addicts, shelters for the homeless, food for the hungry, clinics for the poor . . . There is a reason. Within the church there are the true believers who have taken to heart the words of Christ to let our lights so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify the Father.

One final note. I encourage you when your read Scripture to read it with one goal, that is, to find God. Whether in the Old Testament or in the New, when you read a passage, ask yourself, what does the passage teach me about God? I think if you do this, you will be surprised over time what you learn about God and also the relationship you will develop with the God of Scripture.

My prayers are with you, that this fog of doubt will be cast aside, and that you will seek Christ will all of your life. He will be found by those who seek after Him. This is His promise that if we draw near to Him He will draw near to us.

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