Who Wrote The Bible

Over the years and through many a discussions on spiritual matters with non-believers, the sentence, ‘I do not believe a bronze Age book written by a bunch of goat herders’ has been spoken in a variety of ways.  All those ways were meant to insult God’s divine and Holy book.

After awhile it got me thinking and the idea to list the humans involved in penning the physical scriptures (God wrote it but used humans to pen the actual words for human eyes).  We can first dispense with the idea that the Bible was written during one era of archaeological time (Bronze Age). The Bible was written over 1,000+ years covering more than one archaeological era.

It is not a product of the Bronze Age, in fact, we can dismiss the three age system altogether as that was an arbitrary division to meet a demand in museum showing a couple of hundred years ago. The world did not progress as archaeology defines it, as we know that even today in the supposed Nuclear Age there are still stone age people in existence and thriving in their corner of the world.

What about the men whom God used to put His words onto terrestrial paper. Here is a short sketch of the men with the books they wrote listed first:

1. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy–Moses- a former prince, educated in the court of the Egyptian Pharaoh, part-time herder in Midian, leader of the people of Israel.

2. Joshua– Joshua- military man, spy, successor to Moses, Conqueror

3. Judges– Jewish Talmud says Samuel wrote this book- Was a judge of Israel and a prophet of God

4. Ruth– unknown

5. 1 & 2 Samuel–The Jewish Talmud states Samuel wrote these books- Was a judge of Israel and a Prophet of God

6. 1 & 2 Kings–unknown

7. 1 & 2 Chronicles– The jewish Talmud says Ezra wrote these books-Priest

8. Ezra– Ezra-Priest

9. Nehemiah– Possibly Ezra-Priest; {if it was Nehemiah he was a King’s cupbearer}
10 Esther–unknown

11 Job– unknown, Jewish tradition says it was Moses but not confirmed.

12 Psalms–David- shepherd boy, warrior, King of Israel

13 Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & Song of Songs–Most likely Solomon–prince, King of Israel

14 Isaiah–Isaiah-Prophet of God

15 Jeremiah & possibly Lamentations–Jeremiah–Prophet of God

16 Ezekiel– Ezekiel- Prophet of God

17 Daniel–most likely Daniel-Possibly from the royal family or the nobility (Dan. 1:3, 8), served in the Babylonian King’s court, educated again by the Babylonian King’s men (Dan. 1:4-7)

18 Hosea–Hosea- Prophet of God

19 Joel–Joel-Prophet of God

20 Amos–Amos- Prophet of God, shepherd and farmer

21 Jonah–Jonah- Prophet of God

22 Micah– Micah- Prophet of God

23 Nahum– Nahum- Prophet of God

24 Habakkuk– Habakkuk- Prophet of God

25 Zephaniah– Zephaniah- Prophet of God, descendant of King Hezekiah

26 Haggai– Haggai- prophet of God

27 Zechariah– Zechariah- Prophet of God

28 Malachi– Malachi– Prophet of God

29 Matthew– Matthew- Tax Collector, apostle of Jesus

30 Mark– Mark–associate of the apostle Peter

31 Luke & Acts– Luke- Doctor

32 John, 1st, 2nd, 3rd John & Revelation–John- Fisherman, apostle of Jesus

33 Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thess., 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus & Philemon–Paul- trained rabbi, very well-educated, missionary for Jesus

34 Hebrews– unknown

35 James–too many men named James associated with Jesus to be sure (if it were Jesus’ brother then we could say carpenter having learned the trade from his father Joseph)

36 1st & 2nd Peter– Peter–Apostle and fisherman

37 Jude– Jude- occupation unknown (if it was Jesus’ brother then we could say carpenter)

As you can see very few of the authors of the books of the Bible were sheep or goat herders. 3 in total and two were raised up by God to lead His people.  The real authorship of the Bible belongs to God and who the men God used to pen the physical words were is irrelevant.

Irrelevant because the Bible is not a human book and the men involved are not important except that they obeyed God and listened to the Spirit of God and wrote what they were told to write. Their source would have been God who would have all the details of every conversation, every act, every life and could produce those details found in the Bible without a problem.

This is why we can say that Moses could write about Adam and Eve without human sources because God supplied Him the details. The biblical writers did not need to use human works but probably were led in some instances to do so as Luke said he researched all things that he wrote.  Of course, he would have had the Holy Spirit guiding his research in order to get to the truth and then had help writing the words down as we have them.

The men God used came from a variety of backgrounds and employment, men prepared to do a specific job God wanted them to do. In most of the cases we do not know how educated they were but then with God doing the writing and providing the help they did not have to be. God uses anyone who is willing to obey. Being highly educated is not a prerequisite nor  is God using uneducated men  justification to ignore learning.

The charges that the bible is a human product written by sheep herders or priests with an agenda during the Bronze Age are very unfounded and can easily be turned aside when one looks for and uses the truth.

Lingua Franca

It is a term I am beginning to hate not because it does anything wrong but because the people who use it cannot seem to tear themselves away from the phrase and use a thesaurus to find other words to say in its place.

The phrase is used a lot in the archaeological, scholarly world for the purpose of identifying one language used more than the rest for communication throughout the known ancient world. One of the earlier languages used as the international tongue was Akkadian:

This involves the famous Amarna letters of the 14th century B.C.E., discovered at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt. The letters, written in Akkadian cuneiform, the diplomatic lingua franca of the day, consist of over 300 pieces of diplomatic correspondence between two Egyptian pharaohs (Amenophis III [1391–1353] and Amenophis IV, also known as Akhenaten [1353–1337]) and local rulers in Canaan.

BAR 23:04 (July/Aug 1997). 1997 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.

Later, Aramaic took the role as the international language of the day and many scholars and archaeologists assume that all people spoke the language while rejecting their own tongue:

During the Babylonian captivity (sixth century B.C.) many Jews had been cut off from their homeland; in Babylonia, they had come to use the dominant lingua franca, Aramaic, a sister language of Hebrew. After their return, some of the returnees probably used Hebrew, but the use of Hebrew does not seem to have been widespread.

BAR 18:05 (Sep/Oct 1992). 1992 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.

Eventually, they leapt to a conclusion and decided that Jesus spoke only Aramaic:

That Jesus spoke Aramaic there is no doubt.
By Jesus’ time numerous local dialects of Aramaic had emerged. Jesus, like other Palestinian Jews, would have spoken a local form of Middle Aramaic† called Palestinian Aramaic.

BAR 18:05 (Sep/Oct 1992). 1992 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.

and

Aramaic was the vernacular in Palestine at the time of Jesus. It became the lingua franca of the Levant during the period of the Persian empire (539–331 B.C.).

BR 07:06. 2004 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.

That assumption comes with no proof whatsoever but is a gigantic assumption that cannot be proven in this lifetime. then the final example of these leaps to conclusions comes from the example of Josephus:

Josephus also tells us that he composed his Jewish War “in his native tongue.”† This must mean Aramaic,

BAR 18:05 (Sep/Oct 1992). 1992 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.

Notice the huge leap to a conclusion without presenting any evidence at all.  The word ‘native’ does not indicate an imported language from another country which Aramaic would be, but the original language of the nation which would have been Hebrew.  I do not think Josephus was referring to writing in Aramaic but rather in Hebrew. I only have the word ‘native’ to go on but that is more than those who suggest that Aramaic was the language Josephus wrote.

Since we do not have Josephus’ original manuscripts, we will never know what language he considered native or wrote in. By his words we do learn that people studied other languages much like they do today.

In reading these works by archaeologists and scholars I began to have doubts that they really understand how a lingua franca works or is perceived by the people of different nations.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples and compare them to the modern era’s practice of lingua franca. In the second quote above, it does present a possibility that the Hebrews taken into captivity  could have forsaken their own language and learned Aramaic only. But that is the ideal not the reality.

Most likely, the captive Hebrews maintained their own language in order not to lose their identity while learning Aramaic in order to thrive and survive in their new land.  We can learn from the many immigrants taken to the new world especially from China.

The enclaves of San Francisco and Vancouver, still hold many signs in Chinese today  and the many inhabitants still speak the language while their children learn both Chinese and English. The same can be said for other immigrants in New York, Toronto and other major cities. The native language was and is still spoken by those who came to the Americas even though their families have enjoyed over 200 years of residency.

In reading that article, the author presents not one iota of evidence that the Hebrews forsook their native tongue and  took up the new one. History teaches us the opposite as even those in former British colonies where English is the major language spoken today. The native languages were not dropped and they are still found in existence throughout the British Commonwealth.

A second piece of evidence that leads me to believe that archaeologists and scholars do not grasp the reality of the idea of a lingua franca is the situation surrounding the modern international language. As time continued, Aramaic gave way to other languages just like Akkadian did and now English sits at the top of the heap.

People from many nations are learning English for a variety of reasons. One being of course, diplomatic. Being able to communicate to the leaders of other countries is very important. Another reason is economic. International trade would be at a stand still if businessmen could not communicate with their counterparts in other nations.

This brings us to a third reason, employment.people need to work and the ability to communicate in other languages makes the potential employee very valuable. Yet at NO time do these learners of English forsake their native language and speak English only.

One example is the Philippines where their educational system is in English and follows the American methods but one of their main languages, Tagalog, thrives and is spoken and understood better than English.

Another good example is the people of Korea who feel it is necessary for their students to learn the English language. The Korean government has employed  hundreds of thousands of English native speakers over the past 25 years approx., giving them year-long contracts to teach English to their students.

Yet, in all that time the Korean people and government have not forsaken their native language and adopted English as their own. Korean is used more than English is even though there are bilingual signs throughout the cities and highways and despite the growing number of English books in the land.

Just because a language is declared the lingua franca of the world does it mean that it replaces the native language of the people of each nation. That is just an absurd thought. That ridiculous assumption tells us that the scholar or archaeologist who think that way think that the ancient  people had no national pride nor pride in their own tongue and discarded it like yesterday’s trash at the first chance they got.

Just because a few inscriptions or manuscripts appear with Aramaic in Israel does it mean that Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the common language of the day. Far from it. Sure, many people probably learned it but as a SECOND language for whatever reason they had.

In Korea, as mentioned earlier, many signs are written in English, some also have Chinese and Japanese on them as well but those signs do not indicate a rejection of Korean. Rather they indicate the Korean acceptance of the fact that some people come to their country and cannot speak Korean.

It is a courtesy that such signs are made and put up for the convenience of the visitors or immigrants who visit Korea.

How does all this relate to the time Jesus and other ancient peoples? Simple, Aramaic probably was the international language of its time but it was not a replacement language. The loss of mother tongues would be great if this idea were true. It was used for many purposes and not everyone spoke it. Most spoke their native tongues and learned Aramaic as a second language.

Jesus most likely spoke any language He wanted. He is God and has abilities we cannot fathom. I do not think He had to go to school to learn a language because He did not divest Himself of Who He was when He came to earth. He knew He was God’s son even as a child and I doubt He lost any of His power when physically on earth.

The disciples most likely spoke Hebrew and those who could learn more languages probably did. Not everyone can learn a second language. Lingua francas do not replace, they are added to the native speaker’s language arsenal and if one cannot learn the new international language then they hire translators to help them out.

Archaeologists and scholars just do not know the reality when it comes to languages and people. They are in too much of a hurry to construct their own version of the past and refuse to look for the truth of how the past really was.

The ancient world wasn’t much different from the modern one when it comes to people, their desires, their greed, their goals and communication. They would not give up their own language to speak a foreign tongue unless forced and even then it is hard to make people give it up. The Japanese tried when they occupied Korea. They failed and so would any ancient nation who tried the same thing.

Copies Abound

Recently I posted a comment on another website on the topic of translating. Then one day I looked in my e-mail box there was a letter from the owner, objecting to the words I had written. In it he called me a pharisee and proceeded to further insult me.

The problem for him was I was not being a pharisee but pointing out that we may not need more English versions of the bible. His field happened to be in translation work so he did not like what I said. He immediately said he was following the Holy Spirit in his work, yet the way that his sentence was constructed it was hard to tell if he was or not, especially since he included insults and other comments not found in Jesus’ instructions to His followers.

Over the years I have found that people want to be Christian or considered to be Christian even though they do not follow God’s rules.  Many discount huge passages of scripture and call them untrue or the work of humans and yet say that they are Christian. many work in some aspect of biblical studies and think their work is of God and that the are Christian, even though God did not commission their work.

Some are professors in Bible colleges or seminaries, others are pastors or their assistants yet they do not accept what God has said. Some are just regular folk who take secular science and other secular thoughts over God’s words. yet they all want to be seen as ‘christian’.  They even point to how good a life they have led or others lead to make their point.

But true believers know that the devil makes good copies of things of God. Both the OT & NT have two good examples of his duplication work. Exodus 7 has Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh and when Aaron threw his rod down and it became a snake, so did the Pharaoh’s magicians, with the same results.

In the NT we are warned about evil spirits masquerading as ‘angels of light’ which tells us that evil is making copies of the real thing in hopes of deceiving many away from the truth. It doesn’t take much for a true believer to see through the disguise if they apply biblical instruction to the people and spirits who talk to them.

What made the person who wrote me upset was that I had written that I check out the spirituality of those involved in translation work. He got very upset and said I set myself up as judge and jury of people’s beliefs but that is far from true.  We are told by scripture to see the other person’s fruits, to test the spirits, and to make sure other people are truly christian.

Peter stopped Ananias and Sapphira when they were lying to the Holy Spirit, so must we stop others from committing the same sin {of course, we do not need to go to the same extreme as what took place in the early church when deciding their punishment}.

If a simple call to obedience to God and His word brings accusations of being legalistic or a pharisee then there is something wrong in the church. Obedience is not sin nor is it  legalism. With all the copies from evil out there, believers need to be set apart and obedience to God’s word is the way to do it.

Whether it be in translation work, or teaching a simple Sunday school class, those who claim to be Christian need to be following all of God’s word even when it makes the secular world angry.

The world doesn’t need more English translations out there what it does need is for the true church to exclude as many versions as possible and say here is where God’s word is found. We do not need to keep ‘updating’ each version every year or so;  we need to obey what God has said.

 

We Are Not free

In watching a documentary about the false teachers of the prosperity gospel, the makers posted a list of them or their spouses who had died from different ailments or addictions. In that list were also cheap comments or mocking because the supposed healing powers of those false prophets failed their own families or themselves.

I am not a fan of mocking others or making cheap comments even when aimed at those who preach a false gospel especially when it comes to their death or the death of their family members.

True Christians need to remember that the gift of healing doesn’t over-rule other verses of scripture. The Bible tells us that ‘it is appointed unto man once to die, then the judgement’… no matter how good a healer you are that gift does not negate that fact. Everyone is going to die at some point in their life {save for those saved for the rapture} and no matter how many faith healers you visit when God says your time is up, your time is up.

Death  is not necessarily a sign of failure of a faith healer and we should not mock those who cannot heal a family member nor should we take cheap shots. We need to investigate to make sure that the lack of healing was not God saying it is time for that person who was not healed.

Yes, Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal on the mount  BUT he already knew that their ways were false and that they were not going to get an answer BUT Elijah’s behavior is not justification to ignore Jesus’ teaching in the NT. We may not fully understand the full amount of Elijah’s behavior and we should be careful not to sin when confronting those who are not of God.

We are not free to sin when combating evil. it doesn’t matter of the issue is abortion or false teaching or faith healing, believers have no permission to sin. We obey God and Jesus when we confront those who do evil, we do not stoop to their level but stay within the boundaries Jesus set for us and we find those boundaries set in the Bible.

If you want to expose these false believers then do it biblically, expose their doctrines, their anti-biblical lifestyles using the truth of Jesus.  Do it with the aid of the Holy Spirit so that you can see clearly and do it with love so that you do not become simply a noise.

But do not mock, insult, or do personal attacks for those are not of God.

The Location of Mt. Sinai…Etc…

Men and women have been curious, to say the least, over the years concerning the location of Mt. Sinai and many other biblical sites. These are not those sites like Jericho or Bethel which we know the exact location and have visited them daily. Mt. Sinai, and others like the Garden Tomb, Jesus birthplace, are sites which we have no idea where they are even though many traditions reside at specific locales.

These places basically are prefixed by the words ‘the traditional site…’ and these sites draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every year even though there is nothing at these sites that verify their identification. Any evidence or information that would confirm or deny these geographical spots as the areas mentioned in the Bible is lost; but given what we have, some people in times past anointed these sites as the ones God used and the labels stuck.

We cannot dismiss any of these sites out of hand, simply because they have been deified and trampled by the many tourists looking for something to shore up their faith. For all we know they may have got one right. It is hard to tell because God doesn’t tell us and we do not have any physical evidence to support those locations.

For Mt. Sinai, there is more than one mountain that has been ‘discovered’ and labeled as Mt. Sinai:

  It may come as a surprise to most people, but scholars have identified 13 different sites as the “real” Mount Sinai (Har-El 1983: 2). I would agree with the proponents of the Jebel al-Lawz hypothesis that Jebel Musa, the traditional Mt. Sinai, or any other site in the southern Sinai Peninsula, cannot be the real Mt. Sinai. Professor Har-El (1983: 175–233) in his book, The Sinai Journey, has argued very convincingly against the southern Sinai theory.
Recently, six American treasure hunters have added a 14th mountain to the already long list of candidates for the real Mt. Sinai: Jebel al-Lawz.

. Vol. 13: Bible and Spade (2000) Volume 13. 2000 (101). Ephrata, PA: Associates for Biblical Research.

With this inability to identify the exact site of Mt. Sinai one must ask the question–Does God really want us to locate those exact locations?  I am not convinced that we should look for them.  Some people try to quote scripture that says something similar to ‘What God has hidden a wise man seeks out,’ {I can’t find the exact verse at the moment} to justify their searches.

Here is the problem though. Unlike doing actual archaeological work where solid christian archaeologists and scholars dig into the past and find the truth in order to keep secular scholars honest and combat their false teachings about the Bible, seeking for Mt. Sinai or the actual tomb of Jesus or His real birthplace serves no real purpose.

We do not need those sites to fight the lies that are told by the unbelieving world. We do not need those sites to shore up anyone’s faith. this applies to Noah’s Ark and the many searchers conducted to find its final resting place.

Even if we found these sites, how would we prove they are the correct ones? As we can see, we have 14 Mt. Sinais and none have any verifiable, conclusive evidence to support its candidacy.  The same for Noah’s ark. Even if we found the remains of a large boat, how would we prove it was actually Noah’s ark?  For all we know, some ancient  believer built a replica like the man in Europe recently did.

The same for Mt. Sinai. We have people who say they found a split rock nearby or an ‘alter’ at its base but there is nothing that supports their claims that they were ‘THE’ split rock or Aaron’s alter. The discovery of these two items wouldn’t counter any secular argument unlike the discovery of the fallen walls of ancient Jericho (see Bryant Wood’s article on Jericho at ABR).

With Jericho we have people like Kathleen Kenyon who argued that the Israelites didn’t conquer the city yet we find the walls exactly like the Bible describes and we find the Northern section unharmed because that was the area Rahab’s house resided. So you see, certain searches are beneficial to Christian life while others are not.

To search for Mt. Sinai, the tomb of Jesus, his birthplace or even Noah’s ark is nothing but a waste of time, energy, money and resources because they are fruitless and have no purpose.  We need to realize that we will not find everything described in the Bible, it is an impossibility because if we could then why would we need faith?

God has made faith part of the equation for salvation and we are told that faith pleases Him. God will not destroy what please Him so we will not get all the physical evidence we seek, nor will we find every biblical site or person. To do so would destroy faith but we will get enough physical evidence and discoveries to shore up and strengthen faith.

This is why we only have a handful  of pieces of evidence. God is making sure we have enough influences to keep us on the straight and narrow but not so much that faith disappears.  We will not find the Garden of Eden because it is gone; we will not find many items from the past simply because life has trampled , eroded, overgrown, and so on all the items from the past and they are gone.

K.A. Kitchen in his book The Bible In its World, on pages 10-12, describes how little we actually excavate because the sites have been lost through time. Some exposed sites cover about 2-5% of the original city or town which means that 95-98% of the information is lost.

For locations like Mt. Sinai or Jesus’ birthplace, we can only use faith because God has hidden them for His own reasons. He knew what would take place if He left us the directions to the exact places and it would be against His will and what He wrote in the Bible for His followers to do.

All we have to do is look at the example of ‘the traditional places’ and see what people did with hypothetical holy sites to understand why we do not have the real locations. Just as Jesus drove the money changers out of the  temple saying God’s house is a house of prayer not  business, we can understand that these important sites are not for business purposes or other unholy actions.

So God’s wisdom has kept them hidden and we should be content with His decision and direct our energies towards those archaeological areas that have purpose for the Christian life.