The Old Testament Was Already Put Together By The Time Of Jesus
- M.A., Christian Studies, Union University
- B.A., English Literature, Wheaton College
Determining when the Bible was written poses challenges because it isn’t a single book. It’s a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over more than 2,000 years.
So there are two ways to answer the question, “When was the Bible written?” The first is to identify the original dates for each of the Bible’s 66 books. The second, the focus here is to describe how and when all 66 books were collected in a single volume.
The Man Who Wrote The Bible
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WHEN I was a child, I thought as a child and firmly believed that the Bible was literally written, or at least dictated, by God: The Creator, in the voice of Orson Welles, gravely intoned “Let there be light” and an enraptured priest or prophet set down the words on some kind of parchment. Having put away childish things, if only for the moment, I now know that the author of the Bible was in fact a man named William Tyndale.
For most of us the words of God and the prophets, Jesus and his disciples, resound most powerfully in the Authorized or King James Version of the Scriptures. Generally acclaimed as the greatest work ever produced by a committee, this 1611 Bible in fact builds largely on the work of William Tyndale , the first translator, into English, of the New Testament from the Greek and of about half the Old Testament from the Hebrew. In a broad way, historians and theologians have long recognized Tyndale’s importance, but, according to Renaissance scholar David Daniell, they have unconscionably failed to honor him sufficiently. Here, after all, is the man who gave us such phrases as “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, who made Christ speak an English of sublime simplicity — “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” — and who established prose rhythms that stir us to our very marrow: “But the serpent was subtler than all the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made, and said unto the woman …”
Archaeology Confirms The Bibles Historical Accuracy
Archaeologists have consistently discovered the names of government officials, kings, cities, and festivals mentioned in the Bible — sometimes when historians didn’t think such people or places existed. For example, the Gospel of John tells of Jesus healing a cripple next to the Pool of Bethesda. The text even describes the five porticoes leading to the pool. Scholars didn’t think the pool existed, until archaeologists found it forty feet below ground, complete with the five porticoes.1
The Bible has a tremendous amount of historical detail, so not everything mentioned in it has yet been found through archaeology. However, not one archaeological find has conflicted with what the Bible records.2
In contrast, news reporter Lee Strobel comments about the Book of Mormon: “Archaeology has repeatedly failed to substantiate its claims about events that supposedly occurred long ago in the Americas. I remember writing to the Smithsonian Institute to inquire about whether there was any evidence supporting the claims of Mormonism, only to be told in unequivocal terms that its archaeologists see ‘no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.'” Archaeologists have never located cities, persons, names, or places mentioned in the Book of Mormon.3
Archaeology consistently confirms the historical accuracy of the Bible.
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What About The Original Language
Again, the beauty of the Bible is how God reaches men and women, boys and girls, by coming to us in our own language. The Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew. Parts of the Old Testament were written in an imperial Aramaic . The fact that the Bible was written to a People, in a place, amidst their trials and joys, their living and dying, demonstrates the astounding relevance, relation, and reliability of Gods Word. This is no fable. This is not yarn. This is God with us.
Are There Lost Books Of The Bible
No. The Bible is complete there are no lost books. Some may claim that certain ancient books that were long concealed rightly belong in the Bible. * However, the Bible contains its own internal measure of authenticity. Using this standard, Bible books that are inspired by God completely harmonize with one another. This cannot be said for all ancient writings that some individuals claim belong in the Bible. *
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Who Wrote The Bible: Prophets
Wikimedia CommonsThe prophet Isaiah
The next texts to examine when investigating who wrote the Bible are those of the biblical prophets, an eclectic group who mostly traveled around the various Jewish communities to admonish people and lay curses and sometimes preach sermons about everybodys shortcomings.
Some prophets lived way back before the Golden Age while others did their work during and after the Babylonian captivity. Later, many of books of the Bible attributed to these prophets were largely written by others and were fictionalized to the level of Aesops Fables by people living centuries after the events in the books were supposed to have happened, for example:
Wikimedia CommonsThe prophet Jeremiah
Who Was Jesus Did He Really Exist
Most scholars agree that Jesus, a first-century religious leader and preacher, existed historically. He was born in c4 BC and died reportedly crucified on the orders of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate in cAD 3033. Then, for around 40 years, news of his teachings was spread by word of mouth until, from around AD 70, four written accounts of his life emerged that changed everything.
The gospels, or good news, of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are critically important to the Christian faith. It is their descriptions of the life of Jesus Christ that have made him arguably the most influential figure in human history.
We cant be sure when the gospels were written, says Barton, and we know little about the authors. But the guess is that Mark came first, in the 70s, followed by Matthew and Luke in the 80s and 90s, and John in the 90s or early in the second century.
In general, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the same story with variations, and hence are called the synoptic gospels, whereas John has a very different style, as well as telling a markedly different version of the story of Jesus. Matthew and Luke seem to be attempts to improve on Mark, by adding more stories and sayings from sources now lost. John is a different conceptualisation of the story of Jesus, portraying a more obviously divine figure.
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How We Got Our Bible: Christian History Timeline
c. 1400400 B.C. Books of the Hebrew Old Testament written
c. 250200 B.C. The Septuagint, a popular Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced
A.D. 4585? Books of the Greek New Testament written
90 and 118 Councils of Jamnia give final affirmation to the Old Testament canon
140-150 Marcions heretical New Testament incites orthodox Christians to establish a NT canon
303-306 Diocletians persecution includes confiscating and destroying New Testament Scriptures
c. 305-310 Lucian of Antiochs Greek New Testament text becomes a foundation for later Bibles
367 Athanasiuss Festal Letter lists complete New Testament canon for the first time
397 Council of Carthage establishes orthodox New Testament canon
c. 400 Jerome translates the Bible into Latin this Vulgate becomes standard of medieval church
English Versions From Latin
c. 650 Caedmon, a monk, puts Bible books into verse
c. 735> Historian Bede translates the Gospels
871-899 King Alfred the Great translates the Psalms and 10 Commandments
950 The 7th-century Lindisfarne Gospels receive English translation
955-1020 Aelfric translates various Bible books
c. 1300 Invention of eyeglasses aids copying
c. 1325 Both Richard Rolle and William Shoreham translate psalms into metrical verse
1380-1382 John Wycliffe and associates make first translation of the whole Bible into English
1388 John Purvey revises Wycliffe Bible
1455 Gutenbergs Latin Biblefirst from press
English Versions From Greek
Is The Bible Today What Was Originally Written
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic , and Greek . The Bibles we use today are translations from the original languages into English . Jesus most likely taught in Aramaic , so that the Greek NT itself represents a translation of Jesus teaching from the Aramaic into Greek.
The question, Is the Bible today what was originally written? involves two important questions: Are the available manuscripts of the Bible accurate representations of the original mss. of the respective books of the Bible ? This is an issue of textual transmission. Are the available translations faithful renderings of the Bible in the original languages? This is an issue of translation.
With regard to the first question, no original autographs exist of any biblical text only copies are available. The word manuscript is used to denote anything written by hand, rather than copies produced from the printing press. Textual evidence constitutes anything written on clay tablets, stone, bone, wood, various metals, potsherds , but most notably papyrus and parchment .
Most ancient books were compiled and then rolled into a scroll. Since a papyrus roll rarely exceeded 35 feet in length, ancient authors divided a long literary work into several books .
The minuscules compose the largest group of Greek mss., but they are dated considerably later.
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When Was The Old Testament Compiled
The story of how the Old Testament books of the Bible is a saga of Gods faithfulness. The Old Testament books were collected and compiled is an epic narrative worthy of its own book . While some rabbis point to a general assembly of religious leaders that recognized the books of the Bible, this did not happen until well after the people of God were already using the Scriptures in worship. Therefore, just as in the development of the New Testament, the Old Testament books of the Bible were recognized by the people of God as the Word of God. Indeed, the development of the Old Testament seems to have taken place according to turning points in Israels history. This would include the Exodus, the taking of Canaan, the appearance of the monarchy in Israel with Saul and then David, the fall of Jerusalem and the exile in Babylon. And, finally, the restoration of the Israelite people to Jerusalem and the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. Zondervan Academic has an excellent summary in their article How Did We Get the Old Testament?
And Don Stewart with BlueLetterBible.org explains,
Who Was King David
The first wave of scribes may, its been suggested, have started work during the reign of King David . Whether thats true or not, David is a monumental figure in the biblical story the slayer of Goliath, the conqueror of Jerusalem. David is also a hugely important figure in the quest to establish links between the Bible and historical fact, for he appears to be the earliest biblical figure to be confirmed by archaeology.
I killed king of the house of David. So boasts the Tel Dan Stele, an inscribed stone dating from 870750 BC and discovered in northern Israel in the 1990s. Like the Merneptah Stele before it, it documents a warlords victory over the Israelites . But it at least indicates that David was a historical figure.
The Tel Dan Stele also suggests that,no matter how capable their rulers, the people of Israel continued to be menaced by powerful, belligerent neighbours. And, in 586 BC, one of those neighbours, the Babylonians, would inflict on the Jews one of the most devastating defeats in their history: ransacking the sacred city of Jerusalem, butchering its residents, and dragging many more back to Babylonia.
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Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier Text Suggests
ByClara Moskowitzpublished 15 January 10
Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David’s reign.
The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought.
Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.
“It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research,” said Gershon Galil, a professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who deciphered the ancient text.
BCE stands for “before common era,” and is equivalent to B.C., or before Christ.
The writing was discovered more than a year ago on a pottery shard dug up during excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, near Israel’s Elah valley. The excavations were carried out by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. At first, scientists could not tell if the writing was Hebrew or some other local language.
Finally, Galil was able to decipher the text. He identified words particular to the Hebrew language and content specific to Hebrew culture to prove that the writing was, in fact, Hebrew.
Hebrew: Language Of The Old Testament
Hebrew belongs to the Semitic language group, a family of ancient tongues in the Fertile Crescent that included Akkadian, the dialect of Nimrod in Genesis 10 Ugaritic, the language of the Canaanites and Aramaic, commonly used in the Persian empire.
Hebrew was written from right to left and consisted of 22 consonants. In its earliest form, all the letters ran together. Later, dots and pronunciation marks were added to make it easier to read. As the language progressed, vowels were included to clarify words that had become obscure.
Sentence construction in Hebrew might place the verb first, followed by the noun or pronoun and objects. Because this word order is so different, a Hebrew sentence cannot be translated word-for-word into English. Another complication is that a Hebrew word might substitute for a commonly used phrase, which had to be known to the reader.
Different Hebrew dialects introduced foreign words into the text. For example, Genesis contains some Egyptian expressions while Joshua, Judges, and Ruth include Canaanite terms. Some of the prophetic books use Babylonian words, influenced by the Exile.
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In What Language Was The Bible First Written
For those within the Christian faith, the Bible is a text of profound significance. A rich book, full of insights and lessons on what it means to live ones life the way God intends, the Bible is known as the Word of God. It is composed of many different books and includes a vast array of literary styles such as short stories, letters, poetry, and historical accounts combined to form a unified whole.
When we read the hebrew Bible today, almost all of us turn to a translation of the original texts. To get the more authentic and precise presentation of scripture, we ought to consider the language in which the Bible was first written. Lets take a look at some of the history surrounding the composition of the works that make up Biblical literature and explore how the profound spiritual wisdom contained within speaks to us today.
The Bible Is An Understandable Book
The Bible has been written in such a way that everyone can understand it. This, of course, does not mean that everyone will understand it, or that any one person will understand everything in it. Neither does it mean that a person will understand it the first time they read it. The more one reads and studies the Bible, the more it will be understood.
The Apostle Paul compared his speaking to the church at Thessalonica as a mother caring and feeding her own children. He wrote:
As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but we were as gentle among you as a mother feeding and caring for her own children.
He spoke in plain language that they could understand in the same way a mother takes care of her children. As the mother speaks to her children in language they can understand, Gods Word speaks to us in language we can understand.
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What Belongs In The Bible
There was no Bible as we know it for the first 350 years of Christianity. Jesus did not give his Apostles a list of the books of the Bible before he ascended into heaven. Rather, the early leaders of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, discerned which books belonged in the Bible. This process took centuries.
Some criteria for determining the canon of Scripture were as follows:
- Special relation to God, i.e., inspiration
- This means that, guided by the Holy Spirit, the leaders of the early Church discerned that these books were inspired by God