Who Wrote the Bible? (Part 2): The New Testament


The Gospel writers according to Church tradition: St. John with his eagle on Patmos, St. Matthew with his angel, St. Mark with his lion and St. Luke with his ox (16th century manuscript)

Of the 29 texts that make up the New Testament, most had their authorship attributed to the disciples of Jesus, or at least their immediate followers. As with the Old Testament this is often apparent simply from the title of each work; according to tradition, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the letters of 1st and 2nd Peter were supposedly written by the apostle Peter, etc. However, also like the Old Testament these attributions have been determined false by most biblical scholars and, as I’m about to argue, should be classified as forgeries in certain cases. The exceptions are a number of letters by the apostle Paul plus, arguably, the Book of Revelation by an author named John (though highly unlikely to be apostle John).  Continue reading

Doublets in the Hebrew Bible

From The Bible with Sources Revealed by Richard Elliot Friedman, p. 27-30

J, the Yawhist source

E, the Elohist source

D, the Deuteronomist source

P, the Priestly source

  1. Creation. Gen  1:1-2:3  (P)  and  Gen  2:4b-25  (J).
  2. Genealogy from Adam.  Gen  4:17-26  (J) and  5:1-28,30-32  (Book of  Records).
  3. The Flood (click here for an interactive view). Gen 6:5-8;  7:1-5, 7, 10, 12, 16b-20, 22-23; 8:2b-3a, 6, 8-12, 13b, 20-22 (J) and  6:9-22;  7:8-9, 11, 13-16a, 21, 24; 8:1 – 2a, 3b – 5, 7, 13a, 14 – 19; 9:1- 17 (P).
  4. Genealogy from  Shem. Gen  10:21-31  (J and  P)  and  11:10-2 (Book  of  Records).
  5. Abraham’s migration.  Gen 12:1-43 (J) and 12:4b – 5  (P).
  6. Wife/sister.  Gen 12:10-20  (J)  and  20:1-18  (E)  and  2 6 : 6 – 1 4  (J). (Triplet)
  7. Abraham and Lot separate.  Gen  13 : 5 , 7 – 11a, 12b – 14  (J) and 13:6, 11b – 12 a  (P).
  8. The Abrahamic covenant.  Gen 15  (J,  E,  and  R)  and  17  (P).
  9. Hagar and Ishmael.  Gen  16:1-2,4-14  (J)  and  16:3,15-16  (P) and  21:8-19  (E).  (Triplet)
  10. Prophecy of Isaac’s birth.  Gen  17:16-19  (P)  and  18:10-14  (J). Continue reading

Who Wrote the Bible? (Part 1): The Old Testament

Whether you see the Bible as the word of God or not,  one cannot ignore the fact that it has human fingerprints all over it. After all, it didn’t fall from heaven in the format commonly found today, as convenient as that would have been. It is worth emphasizing again then that the Bible is not a single book but rather many books; an anthology, each with its own author, each with its own historical and theological context.

Different authors have different points of view. You can’t just say, “I believe in the Bible.” ― Scholar Bart Ehrman

Furthermore, these writings weren’t sewn together as an official anthology until many years after its composition – hundreds of years in most cases. Indeed, while the oldest contents of the Old Testament are believed to have originated as early as the 12th century BCE (beginning as oral tradition), it isn’t until 200 BCE that we find clear evidence for a Biblical canon taking shape. Given the unique makeup of the Bible, then, as more than one book, perhaps it is best to not stick with one question. Let’s focus first on the authorship of the Old Testament followed by the New Testament, and lastly when each group of texts were canonized as scripture. Continue reading