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Who wrote the Bible?

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What is the Bible?

The Bible is one of twenty-seven books for which divine origin is claimed. Christians deny the divinity of all Bibles but their own. We deny the divinity of only one more than they do.

Out of 250 Jewish-Christian writings, sixty-six have arbitrarily been declared canonical by Protestants. The rejected books are of the same general character as those now published together as the "Holy Bible." Circumstances rather than merit determined selection.

For 150 years the Christian Bible consisted of the sacred books of the Jews. The New Testament was not formed until the latter half of the second century when Irenaeus selected twenty books from among forty or more gospels, nearly as many acts of apostles, a score of revelations and a hundred epistles. Why were these particular books chosen? Why four gospels instead of one? Irenaeus: "There are four quarters of the earth in which we live and four universal winds." The gospels were unknown to Peter, Paul, and the early church fathers. They were forged later.

The Bible did not assume anything like its present form until the fourth century. The Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Protestant canons were not adopted until modern times. The Bible was recognized as a collection of independent writings. The Council of Trent (1563) determined the Roman Catholic, Protestants denounce the Catholic Bible as a "popish imposture." The Greek Catholics at the Council of Jerusalem in 1672 finally accepted the book of Revelation. Their Bible contains several books not in the Roman canon. The Westminster Assembly in 1647 approved the list of sixty-six books composing the authorized version, the one most used in America. Our Bible, therefore, is less than 300 years old.

Did "God write the bible?"

No, the Bible was not written by "God." It was written by man. Or to be more specific, many men, probably thousands of different people, who over the ages created, contributed, translated, edited and embellished various writings over hundreds of years. After this, various church organizations "canonized" selected writings and created different versions of the Bible. Even today, people disagree over various translations of the books, and the new testament we recognize today was not assembled until the 4th century, 300+ years after Jesus' time!

The bottom line is that for the most part, nobody really knows who wrote the Bible. Many of the books' authors to this day remain completely anonymous. But scholars all agree there were numerous authors of both the old and new testament.

Here is information on the formation of the new testament: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/NTcanon.html

We want to go over this and paraphrase in conversational English, the source of the modern day bible.

New Testament

New Testament manuscripts

The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,400 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian. The dates of these manuscripts range from the 2nd century up to the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. The vast majority of these manuscripts date after the 10th century.

When one compares one manuscript to another, with the exception of the smallest fragments, no two copies agree completely in their wording. There has been an estimate of between 200,000 and 300,000 variations among all the manuscripts, which is more variations than words in the New Testament. The vast majority of these variations are errors made by scribes, and easily identified as such: an omitted word, a duplicate line, a misspelling, a rearrangement of words. Some variations involve apparently intentional changes, which can make it more difficult for scholars to determine whether they were corrections from better exemplars, harmonizations or ideologically motivated.[1] Paleography is the study of ancient writing, and textual criticism is the study of manuscripts in order to reconstruct a probable original text.

Transmission

The New Testament books appear to have been completed within the 1st century. However, the original manuscripts of the New Testament books do not survive today. The autographs were lost or destroyed a long time ago. What survives are copies of the original. Generally speaking, these copies were made centuries after the originals from other copies rather than from the autograph. The earliest manuscript of a New Testament text is a business card sized fragment from the Gospel of John, Rylands Library Papyrus P52, which dates to the first half of the 2nd century. The first complete copies of single New Testament books appear around 200, and the earliest complete copy of the New Testament dates to the 4th century.[2]

The task of copying manuscripts was generally taken on by scribes, trained professionals in the art of writing and bookmaking. Some manuscripts also had proofreaders, and scholars closely examining a text can make out the original and corrections found in certain manuscripts. In the 6th century, a special room devoted to the practice of manuscript writing and illumination called the scriptorium started to emerge, typically inside medieval European monasteries. Sometimes a group of scribes would copy along as one individual read from the text.[3]

Manuscript construction

An important issue with manuscripts is preservation. The earliest New Testament manuscripts were written on papyrus, a plant that grew abundantly in the Egyptian Nile Delta. This tradition continued on to as late as the 8th century.[4] Papyrus becomes brittle and deteriorates with age. The dry climate of Egypt allowed for some papyrus manuscripts to be partially preserved, but, with the exception of P77, no New Testament papyrus manuscript is complete, with many consisting only of a single fragmented page.[5] However, beginning in the 4th century, parchment (also called vellum) began to be the common medium used for New Testament manuscripts.[6] It wasn't until the 12th century that paper, which was invented in 1st century China, began to gain popularity in biblical manuscripts.[7]

Out of the 476 non-Christian manuscripts dated to the 2nd century, 97% of the manuscripts are in the form of scrolls; however, the 8 Christian manuscripts are codices. In fact, the vast majority of New Testament manuscripts are codices. The adaptation of the codex form in non-Christian text did not become dominant until the 4th and 5th centuries, demonstrating that the Christians had an early preference to the codex when compared to non-Christian manuscripts.[8] The considerable lengths of the groupings of New Testament books (such as the Pauline epistles) did not suit the limited space available on a single scroll, where a codex could be expanded to hundreds of pages.

References

  1. . Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford, pp.480f. ISBN 0-19-515462-2., Ehrman 2004, pp.480f
  2. . Ehrman 2004, pp. 479-480
  3. . Seid
  4. . Metzger 2005, pp.3f
  5. . Waltz
  6. . Metzger 2005, pp.3-10
  7. . Aland 1995, p. 77
  8. . Seid

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