Origin of the Bible

Origin of the Christian Bible

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Origin of the Bible

The following questions about the origin of the Bible are answered below:
   • What is the origin of the Bible?
   • Why weren't the Gospels written immediately after Jesus' ascension?
   • How accurate was the original Bible?
   • When was the original Bible completed?
   • Why weren't other writings included in the original Bible?
   • How do we know today's Bible accurately represents the original Bible?

What is the origin of the Bible?

Investigation of the origin of the Bible can start with The Acts of the Apostles (“Acts”), which is a methodical account of the early Christian church written by a medical doctor named Luke, who served as the assistant to and the note taker for the Apostle Paul.

Acts ends without mentioning the Roman army sacking Jerusalem in 70 AD or Nero burning Rome in 64 AD and blaming Christians for the fire to start his persecution of the early church. Since Acts ends with Paul's completion of his 2-year imprisonment in Rome in 62 AD, it most likely was completed in 62 AD.

Luke begins Acts with, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach...” (Acts 1:1)

The “former account” that Luke refers to is what we today call the Gospel of Luke, which was also dedicated to this man named, Theophilus: “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)

The delivered eyewitness accounts Luke mentions above are what we today call the Gospel of Matthew, written by one of Jesus' twelve Apostles, and the Gospel of Mark, written by the assistant to and the note taker for the Apostle Peter. If we estimate a 3-5 year gap between Acts and the Gospel of Luke and another 3-5 year gap between the Gospel of Luke and the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, three of the four Gospels were written around 52-59 AD, or only about 20 to 30 years after they last saw Jesus.

Some of the other New Testament books were written before and some after these Gospels, but all were written by eyewitnesses of Jesus or their note takers, and read by people who were also eyewitnesses and could validate their details.

Why weren't the Gospels written right after Jesus' ascension?

Communication was predominantly oral back then. Things tended to be written down when the speakers felt they won't be able to speak about the content for much longer, towards the end of their lives.

Wouldn't inaccuracies creep into their memory after 20-30 years?

Not in this case, for four reasons:

1. Today's digital society overloads the human mind with unprecedented amount of information but is relatively tolerant of inaccuracies in our memory because reliable digital copies of the information exist elsewhere. By contrast, the oral society of the antiquity didn't deluge the human memory with such information overload but was also intolerant of inaccuracies in the information retained. Modern digital society's lax demands on the accuracy of human memory cannot be applied to antiquity's oral society.

2. The Gospels didn't record the Apostles' recollection of things that happened 20 to 30 years earlier and then hadn't been revisited until 20 to 30 years later. The Gospels recorded what they had been talking about everyday during those 20 to 30 years. The recorded content wasn't 20 to 30 years old; it had been refreshed daily for 20 to 30 years.

3. The events recorded weren't mundane everyday affairs. They were astounding miracles and incidents that defined history. Imagine you had been next to the US President John F. Kennedy's slow moving limousine when he was assassinated. Even in a digital society, wouldn't you clearly remember what you witnessed even 20 to 30 years later?

4. The people who listened to the Apostles during those 20 to 30 years and read the Gospels after they were written included many who also had witnessed the spoken and written content, and they confirmed the accuracy of what the Apostles said and wrote or dictated to their note takers.

Continue to When Was The Bible Completed?

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