Questions & Answers About the Bible
Authors of the Bible
Question: Who wrote the Bible?
Answer: At least 40 men wrote the 66 books of the Bible, and their writings span about 1500 years. As you can imagine, few of them had opportunity to get together and discuss what they should write. They had to depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Some of the men who wrote the Bible are:
• Moses wrote the first 5 books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and there is evidence that he may have written the book of Job.
• David wrote at least 75% of the Psalms.
• Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon
• The prophetic books were written by the men whose names they bear.
• Ezra the scribe (the one who wrote the book of Ezra) probably helped to gather up all the known writings of the prophets, etc., into a canon similar to the one we have today. Scholars believe that Ezra either wrote the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles or collected the information from various sources and edited them into their respective books.
The four gospels were written by the men whose names they bear.
• Mark is thought to have written his book with the guidance of Peter.
• Luke was a gentile physician who attached himself to Paul and spent the latter part of his life with the apostle. He also wrote the book of Acts.
• The apostle John probably wrote his book on the Isle of Patmos somewhere around 96 AD. He also wrote the 3 letters that bear his name, and the Revelation.
• Paul wrote many letters to various churches that he had planted. The ones we have are contained in all the books from Romans to Titus.
• James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote the book that bears his name.
• Jude was also one of Jesus' half-brothers.
• Peter wrote the two letters that bear his name
Honesty of Bible Authors
Question: "How do we know the Bible writers are telling the truth?"
Answer: While you might find some differences in minor details, the books that make up the Bible are in agreement on every major point of doctrine.
All those who deal with the subject teach that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord. (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Mark 2:24-28; Luke 23:54-24:3; etc.)
All who deal with death teach that the soul is made up of both body and breath and that when these part company the person dies—becomes unconscious; knows nothing; sleeps until the resurrection. (Gen 2:7; Eccl. 9:5, 6; John 11:1-45; etc.)
All that speak about Heaven agree that God lives there; it is a perfect place where sin doesn't exist; it will become the home of those who are faithful to Jesus. (Isa 6:1-6; Isa 65:17 John 14:1-3; Rev. 21, 22)
I could list dozens of other Bible teachings, but I think you get the drift.
The New Testament authors tell us several things about the Scriptures that they had in their day, and which we call the Old Testament. These tell us their attitude toward it and give some indication as to how it was written:
2 Tim 3:16, 17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Pet 1:20, 21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Who wrote the Bible? Holy men of God who spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. ("Holy men" are people who have dedicated themselves to God. Every Christian can have this experience.)
How do we know it's telling the truth? Because it agrees with itself, even though written by dozens of authors over a 1500-year time period. And the New Testament writers explain how sacred it is because of the influence of the Holy Ghost upon those who wrote it.
Question: Hi! I am a Hindu by religion. And I am interested in knowing and learning about the Old Testament especially, the Genesis which I believe, is a foundational book for both Judaism and Christianity. I would especially like to know what is the essence of the book of Genesis and what are the most important features of the book.
Answer: Genesis, as the name suggests, is the book of beginnings. It begins with God's creation of Earth, vegetation, animals, birds sea creatures and finally human beings. Then the record states that God rested on the seventh day and made it holy to remind all generations to come that He created the earth in six days (see Exodus 20:8-11). Genesis goes on to describe the fall of man into sin, the first family and the first murder. It gives a list of the family heads from the time of creation until the flood.
In chapters 6-9 the writer of Genesis describes the wickedness to which man had sunk, from which even God could not save him. God realized that the only way to solve the terrible mess men had made of the planet was to destroy the whole thing with a flood. Noah and his family were the only ones who were saved because they were the only ones who had been loyal to God. (My book The Flood: A Story of End Time, found in the Library section, though a novel, yet will give you some idea of what the world was like in the times before the Flood.)
After the flood the writer of Genesis lists the heads of the family
down to the time of Abraham. The rest of the
I would suggest you get a copy of the book Patriarchs and
Prophets by Ellen G. White. It takes you through Genesis and
the other early books of the Old Testament. (You can read this
book online at nisbett.com/research/)
Question: I want to study and understand the true message of the Bible and want to make sure I don't get a bad translation. Can you give me specific advice regarding a good translation?
Answer: First some guidelines: A Bible translation done by a committee of several different denominations of Christians and Jews will be more reliable than those made by a single person. The latter may make good reading and open up passages that were perhaps unclear to begin with, but they could not be trusted to help us formulate doctrine. You see, it's impossible for a scholar to divorce his own beliefs from the work of translation. Paraphrases are even more susceptible to personal bias. Among these is The Living Bible. It's very readable, but not always reliable to portray the message of the original writers (prophets, etc.).
The New King James Bible stands in a class of it's own. Although the men responsible for its production consulted the ancient languages, it is essentially a revision of the King James Version in order to update words and expressions that are no longer in use. If you like the King James Version, the NKJV is the Version for you. But you would do well to establish your beliefs upon an original translation.
Now which translations are dependable in rendering the original text into English?
• The King James Version (KJV) is a very good and reliable translation. But because of its archaic language it's possible to derive some interesting ideas that, taken alone, may conflict with Biblical teachings.
• The Revised Standard Version (RSV) translated in the latter part of the 1940s and early 50s is perhaps the most reliable translation in modern times. Many of the Bible scholars I know use it almost exclusively to explain Biblical teachings. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is merely an updating of the RSV.
• The New International Version (NIV) is the best and most accurate of the more recent translations. I use it as my primary Bible because the language is closer to that which we speak today.
The best method is: if you question the meaning of a text, compare all three versions—or others, if you like.
After all is said and done, the only safe rule is to compare all that the Bible has to say on the topic you're studying. A good concordance or Bible handbook can help you in this.
Question: I've noticed that there are books included in some Bibles that are not included in other Bibles. Doesn't it say in the Bible that we are not to add or take away from the Bible? I find this bothersome because I grew up believing that the Bible is the ultimate truth, being that it`s God`s word. But how can it be truth if man has gone in and "edited" it?
Answer: The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors. No one knows who collected all the Jewish books together. Many scholars think that Ezra did it around the time of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews. About 200-400 years before Christ, the Jewish Rabbis selected books as Scripture that bore the divine "impress"—had vital spiritual messages by recognized prophets or great spiritual people.
Their list is pretty much the same as that which we Christians call the Old Testament, except that the order is different. There were some books that they did not accept as part of their "canon"—their list of recognized books. These are the books that make up the "Apocrypha" which you`ll find in Catholic Bibles and in many of the newer translations.
The New Testament books were selected in much the same way—by Christian leaders over a period of centuries. The books that were genuinely written by apostles and recognized leaders of the church—like Paul and Luke—found ready acceptance. James—Jesus' brother—wrote the book that bears his name, and Jude—another of Jesus' brothers—wrote that book.
There were a number of books that appeared in the 2nd and 3rd centuries which claimed to have been written by apostles and others—such as the epistles of Enoch and Barnabas—which were not accepted because they just didn`t agree with the teachings of the other Biblical writers.
And that is one of the main tests of whether or not a book is genuine: it must agree with every other book with regard to the major teachings that God has sent to men. Some may disagree on some of the minor details, much as witnesses see things from a different angle. But they agree with each other on major doctrines (teachings).
Proof That the Bible is "Real"
Question: How can I show some one biblically and scientifically that the Bible is not just any book? (prove its real)
Answer: I'm not sure you can find any absolute proof that the Bible is "real." So much of our relationship to God and to His word relies on faith―it is "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Heb. 11:1.
And the very essence of science is the physical observation of the subject one is studying. Much of the Bible deals with things that are not measurable, palpable, nor can be they be observed by eye, ear, smell, taste, etc. So a large part of the Bible cannot be "proved" scientifically. I'm fully aware, of course, that those who call themselves scientists have espoused a belief system known as "evolution" that is every bit as dependant upon faith as is the Biblical belief system.
Having said all that, let me assure you that there are mountains of evidence―both Biblical and "scientifically"―upon which the believer and the more than curious seeker can base his faith. While attempting to be brief, let me examine some of these with you.
I think the best thing we can do is go to the word of God first, for here is the sum and substance of that which the seeker bases his faith. The Bible has a great deal to say about itself and gives us glimpses of how it came to be.
The earliest books were written by Moses. He wrote the book of Genesis―and many scholars think he wrote Job as well―while he spent 40 years tending the sheep for his father-in-law. After the Exodus he wrote the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. After Moses there were 39 other people who wrote parts of Scripture. They were kings, shepherds, statesmen, soldiers, scholars, fishermen, etc. among the group.
The Bible tells us how the Bible came to be, and how reliable it is:
» The Bible was the product of men and women through whom the Holy Spirit worked.
2 Pet 1:20, 21 (NRSV) First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
» The Bible is the inspired word of God, and was given to perfect our lives.
2 Tim 3:16 (NRSV) All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
» The Bible gives wisdom to the one who studies it.
2 Tim 3:15 (NIV) . . . from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
» The Bible teaches us about Christ.
After Christ's resurrection he walked to the village of Emmaus with two grieving disciples who didn't believe He had risen.
Luke 24:25-27 (NIV) He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Jesus spoke to unbelieving leaders: John 5:39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
The best "scientific" proof comes from archaeology. Millions of artifacts have been uncovered in "the holy land" which confirm much of that about which the Bible writes. Some of it actually mentions the names of Biblical characters, while others confirm customs or historical facts that are portrayed in the Bible.
♦ Abraham's marrying his half sister was the "in thing" in the culture of Ur from which he came.
♦ The manner in which Abraham bargained with the natives of Canaan for a burial place for his wife reflects the culture of that period―and of very few other periods in history.
♦ The battlefield upon which Deborah and Barak fought Sisera the Canaanite general has been identified and helps us to understand how Sisera lost his 900 iron chariots and tens of thousands to only 10,000 Israelites―the place was filled with slime pits in which the chariots became mired.
The list is almost endless:
♦ The names of Jehu, Omri, David, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego have been found on clay tablets that were used to write the facts of Bible lands.
♦ The movements of the armies of Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh Hophra and Tirhaka can be charted―both in the Bible and in historical documents of the times.
♦ Isaiah makes a startling description of Cyrus―even naming him―150 years before Cyrus was born.
♦ Jeremiah predicted the length of the period in which the Jews were to be kept in Babylonia.
There have been many books written on this subject, some of which you might find in a library. Here is one I've found enjoyable: The Spade Confirms the Book, by Sigfried Horn; Another would be Prophecy Speaks. I can't remember the author's name. Perhaps Bibleinfo.com could trace it for you.
The sum of it all is: Although you cannot "prove" the Bible (there will always be room for doubt), there are significant Biblical and archaeological evidences to give the seeker enough "hooks" to demonstrate that the Bible is the valid word of God.
How Did We Get 66 Books?
(The canon of Scripture)
The Old Testament was a collection of written works that probably was gathered by Ezra in the sixth century B.C. Through the centuries that followed Jewish leaders and theologians came to see that the books were largely in harmony with each other in their important teachings. So the Old Testament canon came about more or less by the general consensus of the leaders of the "church."
For the New Testament the process was much the same. Certain books came to be accepted by the churches as inspired. Their content agreed on the major teachings, of each other and that of the Old Testament canon. So through the years these books became accepted as the word of God.
Through the early centuries there were some differences of opinion as to which books were inspired and should thus be included in the canon. But the New Testament canon as we have it today has been accepted by most of the Christian world.
For us, it's largely a matter of faith. However, you can find evidence on which to build your faith. Follow these steps and decide for yourself. Write down your discoveries, conclusions, and how you perceived what you read:
1) Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you in your study and help you to discover whether or not these books are truly God's word to man.
2) Read through the New Testament and check it out for yourself.
A) Does the general "feel" of the work lend to the claim of the books as being inspired?
B) Do the major
teachings of each book agree with that of the others. (The Holy Spirit
wouldn't inspire one man to write one thing and another man to write an
Getting the opinion of someone else―even an expert―may be helpful, but only you can make the final decision for your own personal life. And your decision will affect your view of and relationship with God and with Christ Jesus our Lord. I will pray that you discover the answer for which you seek. And God has promised that if we seek Him we will find Him.
Mat 7:7,8 (NIV) "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
Isa 55:6, 7 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Jer 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Meats and Holy Days in Romans 14
Question: What does it mean in Romans 14 that we shouldn't regard any meat as unclean, or any particular day as holy?
Answer: This chapter seems to directly contradict the message of other Bible passages. Lev. 11 and Deut. 14 make it very clear that God is displeased when we eat certain animals, because He classified them as unclean. And these animals were never used as sacrifices to God. Today we know that many of these animals have been some of the most prone to carrying diseases that are transmittable to man (e.g. pigs have passed on the deadly trichinosis parasite to man for centuries.).
Paul was a Pharisee, and appears to have been loyal to the tenants of that sect all his life―except where they contradicted Scripture and his faith in his Lord Jesus Christ. He would never have thought of eating any of these unclean flesh foods and would never have taught anyone to do so.
Jesus Himself upheld these laws and said:
Mat 5:19 "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
But when it came to meat sacrificed to idols, Paul differed with those who said that Christians would become unclean morally merely because of that practice. ". . . an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one." 1 Cor 8.4
In many ways Romans 14 is parallel to 1 Cor 8:1-13:
1 Cor 8:1-13 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
We must remember that the church to whom Paul wrote contained both Jews and Gentiles. The customs and practices of these two groups often clashed. Some Christians, following Paul's teachings, came to believe that food offered to idols was not morally harmful to them. To these, eating meat that had been offered to idols in no way crossed their faith in Jesus.
But many of the newer converts who had come out of idol worship still felt that offering the meat to idols actually meant that those who ate it were worshiping the idol. To these the practice of those who ate it was a stumbling block. "Well if it's all right for them to eat it, it must be all right for me to eat too." And thus they were led back into idol worship.
The primary message of Romans 14 is that we shouldn't judge others by what they are doing―if that cuts across our own beliefs. But, out of love, we should do our best not to do anything that cuts across the beliefs of others, for this might make them stumble and lose faith in God.
What about Paul's statements about the difference in the beliefs regarding unclean meats?
"The lord . . . in no way abrogates the Levitical laws concerning foods. For these laws involved the heart, to transgress them meant to disobey God . . . . All could be eaten as being clean morally as long as the heart was not involved; but the moment the heart disobeyed God in the matter of food the gravest defilement ensued. . . ." Robert Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel, p. 298. Concordia Press (Lenski was a Lutheran scholar.)
And Paul could not have been talking about the weekly Sabbath because that is a part of the ten commandments, some of which he quoted in Rom. 13:9. If he had been speaking about the Sabbath of the commandment, he would have gone against Christ's command in Matt. 5.19 (quoted above). Instead, he is talking about the yearly sabbaths of the ceremonial law which met their fulfillment in Christ. Some of the Jews, no doubt, were still keeping these holy days (including Paul himself cf. Acts 20:16 "Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.").
So in Romans 14 Paul admonishes that no one judge another about what he does or believes. Eating food offered to idols doesn't cause moral defilement. But if someone is led astray by the act, then if the Christian has true love in his heart, he will refrain from doing that which would be a stumbling block to a weaker brother. He also said that they shouldn't judge as to which days a person kept holy. These holy days were the ceremonial sabbaths that led up to Christ's sacrifice and then came to an end. However, these sabbaths didn't refer to the weekly Sabbath, because that was a part of the ten commandments.
(Rom. 14:6 in the NIV, which I have quoted, has the phrase "He who eats meat, eats to the Lord." The word "meat" does not appear in the original. The NRSV translates it rightly: "those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, . . .")
Does Science Back Up the Bible?
Question: Is the Bible just a
good book or can it be backed up by Science?
Can the Bible be backed up by science? In some parts it can, in other parts it to must be taken by faith.
Much evidence can be shown that lends to the belief that the world was formed by fiat (command) creation. Evidence can also be shown that the world was completely covered by water as described in the story of Noah and the flood.
Many scientists—among them a large number of Christians who say that they believe the Bible—believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are merely myths of the Jews, passed down by word of mouth—much as was the stories of Gilgamesh, etc. But there are many other scientists who believe that the evidence of nature (geology, biology, etc.) point to the fact that the first 11 chapters of Genesis actually describe things as they really occurred.
It all comes down to faith. No one but God actually observed the events recorded in Genesis 1:1-25. Even Adam and Eve had to take God's word for it. Neither of them actually witnessed, or recorded scientifically, the events of Creation.
Gen 1:26-31 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
All these events took place on the sixth day. Adam was created on the sixth day. God told Adam that He had created the world in six days. How did Adam know that the world had been created in six days? Because he believed that what God told him was true: He had created the entire world in six literal, 24-hour days.
And even in the creation of Eve, Adam had to accept it by faith.
Gen 2:21-23 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."
Adam was asleep when God created Eve. How did Adam know that God created Eve out of one of his ribs? Because he believed that God was telling the truth. So from the very beginning, faith was the key factor in the relationship between God and man.
And this faith extended to Noah too. According to the Genesis account, God told Noah, 120 years before the flood, that He would destroy the earth by water.
Gen 6:3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." . . . So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. . . . So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
God told Noah to build a huge boat that would save its occupants from the flood. How could Noah know that God was telling him the truth? Because he knew it by faith. And in those 120 years he put his muscle where his faith was: he built a boat that could contain over 8,000 people. (See my book The Flood: A Story of End Time, Chapter 3, footnote #30. This book can be found on www.PettyPress.com) Would you have done it? Noah did. Why? Because He believed—knew—that what God told him would actually happen.
Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Again, we cannot absolutely prove that a world-wide Flood really happened as described in Genesis 6-9 any more than an evolutionist can prove that the universe was formed from a "Big Bang." But there is enough evidence for us to believe in the Bible story of Creation and the Flood upon which to build our faith. And it all comes down to faith in God—just as it does with faith in the evolutionary theory. As the saying goes, "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it."
Now to come back to the original question, "Is the Bible just a good book or can it be backed by Science?"
I'm not a scientist. I'm a Bible student and a writer. And I know from my study, that science gives us abundant evidence upon which to build our faith that the Bible is true.
The most important science in this respect is the science of archaeology. A great deal of digging has taken place in the Middle East at sites that are named in the Bible. Over and over again, information found at these sites confirms the history presented in the Bible.
In the 18th century for example, no one had ever heard of Sargon, one of the Assyria kings. There was no mention of him in history—only in the Bible. Some scholars thought him to be a myth, created by some over-imaginative Jew. Many orators used this as an example that, after all, the Bible couldn't be trusted.
But because of the science of archaeology, we now know, not only that he was an actual king, but the diggers have actually uncovered a great deal of his palace!
One example after another comes to light. The names of the kings of Israel, Omri and Jehu have been found in the records of Assyria. Some have discovered records that refer to Judah as "the land of David." One scholar claims to have found the names Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego—along with the offices which they held in the Babylonian empire. More recently archaeologists have discovered the sarcophagus (tomb) of Caiaphas—the high priest who officiated at the trial of Jesus.
Whole books have been written on this subject, showing that, time after time, what has been written in the Bible is true. Everything written in the Bible that can be checked by the science of archaeology has been shown to be true. So, in this since, science does back up the Bible.
But let me hasten to add: The Bible is a book of faith. Every page, whether backed up by science or not, should be accepted by faith. God is above, behind, and around His word—and us. We can trust every part of the Bible, and when we do, we find that we can also trust the God Who loves us and cares for us—His human children.