Who wrote the Bible?

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Joe E Job » Sat, 19 Jul 2003 10:48:01


Staff Report by the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board


Who wrote the Bible? (Part 4)


SDSTAFF Dex and SDSTAFF Eutychus continue:

Having completed our discussion of the Old Testament, we now turn to
the authorship of the New--the fourth part in our five-part series. To
Part 1 - Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the first five books of
the Bible, called the Torah or Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses?

Part 2 - Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various histories in
the Old Testament (such as Judges, Kings, etc.)?

Part 3 - Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various prophetic
books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) and the wisdom literature (Psalms,
Proverbs, etc.) in the Old Testament?

Part 4 - Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various New
Testament Books?

Part 5 - Who decided which books should be included and which excluded
from the Bible(s)? Why are there differences in the Bibles for
Catholics, Protestants, and Jews?

As with the Old Testament, we just don't know who wrote most of the
New Testament. Tradition has assigned the Gospels and most of the
Epistles to certain authors, all of whom were important figures in
Jesus' life or the early days of the faith. It was important for the
early church to believe the authors wrote the works attributed to
them, since their eminence lent the writings authority. But since we
don't have the original signatures, none can be verified except
through textual clues.

The first generation of Christians didn't see any need for a permanent
written record of the sayings and stories of Jesus. Jesus' return and
the restoration of the Kingdom of God on earth were imminent--why
bother preserving stories if the world was about to end? Stories were
simply passed along orally, primarily as a means of preaching and
convincing outsiders. But as the first generation began to die off and
hopes for the Second Coming dimmed, there was a need to preserve
Jesus' words and deeds for posterity.

Quite a few collections of stories about Jesus circulated in the early
church, among them The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary, and the
Secret Book of John. Some of these gave very different and in some
cases conflicting accounts of the gospel and, most importantly, of
Jesus' alleged resurrection. Some argued for the physical
resurrection, with the mantle of leadership falling on those who had
experienced it firsthand: the apostles. Others said the resurrection
was a spiritual event that anyone could experience. Some thought this
latter "heresy" would have led the church away from an organized
entity into a situation where anyone could judge the truth for
themselves. As Elaine Pagels points out in The Gnostic Gospel, this
was no trivial matter. The decision on which interpretation was
"correct" was central to the future of the church.

We'll return to the question of how the "canonical" books of the New
Testament were determined in the fifth and last installment of this
answer. For now we'll just say that Iraneus, the bishop of Lyons in
180 AD, decided that the validity of any work had to be judged by
whether it was "apostolic." That is, it should have been written by or
for one of the twelve apost

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Reach The » Sat, 19 Jul 2003 14:32:17

Yo, Robert. This is what you call a good troll?


Who wrote the Bible?

Post by randomanti » Mon, 21 Jul 2003 04:53:11

I can't tell you about the Old Testament, but The New Testament was
written by a sawdust recycler and anvil polisher named Willem F.
Plinkowskowicz, of Terra Haute, Indiana, back in 1892. An avowed
celibate and life-long police sketch artist, he longed for the kind of
immortality *** ens, Virgil, and James Michener had achieved. He
gathered together several popular folk stories under the title "Jesus
and His Favorite Chappies Romp Through The Saint Louis World's Fair,"
but failed to sell enough copies to pay for his lunch.

He went into isolation, and reworked the boring middle chapters that
had originally been called "A List of the Treats to be seen at the
Great Exhibition! Hurrah!" into the Wedding at Cana, the *** of
John The Baptist, and a road trip that Jesus, John, Peter, and Matthew
tricked Mary Magdalene into taking to the boardwalk at Atlantic City.
(That last section was later dropped, although it was later made into
the movie "Road Trip" with Tom Green in the role of St. Peter.)

He showed the reworked pages to his mother, who pointed out that the
middle no longer matched the continent of the rest of the story.
Emboldened by his success, he changed the rest of the story as well to
take place in what is now known as Israel, but which was then
considered a distant suburb of Buffalo, NY.

The publisher took a second look as promised, and decided to ignore
Plinkowskowicz (or "Plinky," as his mother called him). Still
undeterred, Plinky sold several of his more famous police sketches,
including his favorite characature of Ulysses S. Grant's left-handed
barber, Roland Dimwitty. He made enough money to publish the book
under the title "The Largely Amazing Riddle of J. and His Several
Friends in Buffalo," and decided on a fine leather binding (which
tradition continues today). Unfortunately, the printer was drunk, and
misread the title provided in the manuscript as "Bibliography of
Several and Various Works of Attrocious Genius in Wineries." The
printer then, it is believed, misspelled the title, skimped on the
gold leaf, and came up with the completely made up word "Bible" as the
title of the book.

Jay and Kay Dalton, Bee Dalton's Great Great grandparents, saw the
book at a convention in Parsippany, NJ, and thought the heft of it
appropriate for keeping their doors open for ventillation in the hot
summer months during the Great Desert Migrations of 1901.

The rest, as they say, is History.

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by patata12 » Mon, 21 Jul 2003 16:06:17

Unfortunately, the printer was drunk, and

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by patata12 » Mon, 21 Jul 2003 16:07:32

wow. that sure makes me rethink what i read everytime i open up a bible.

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by randomanti » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 04:04:56

Ummmm... d00d? Ever hear of sarcasm?

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Ron B » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 04:28:57

Err, where did you get the idea Jesus spoke Latin (Or Greek for that
matter)? It is most probable that he spoke Aramaic, and the NT shows him
reading from the Prophets (not a Targum) so it is likely that he spoke (or
at least read) Hebrew, but Latin? Not impossible, but I know of no
evidence for it in or out of the New Testament.

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Ben Stei » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 05:02:17

randomantic wrote

Sarcasm.....on usenet??

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Ben Stei » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 05:05:37

"Ron B.wrote


How bout pig latin?
evryone knows ig-pay atin-lay.

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Ron B » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 05:12:05


Only when he was driving out MPD* demons.

*Multiple Personality Disorder.
Version: GnuPG v1.2.2 (GNU/Linux)


Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Weatherwa » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 06:29:52

Don't be too *** Martin. He merely mistook you for one of
those fundamentalists who honestly believes that the King James
Bible was written in God's own language.


Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Weatherwa » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 06:46:20

"pig latin"?

You forget that Jesus was Jewish. He would have had nothing to
do with pigs.


Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Libertariu » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 06:50:33

===>Can you PROVE it was not???? ;-) -- L.

Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Weatherwa » Fri, 25 Jul 2003 13:35:04

You know perfectly well that God's own language is Sanskrit.


Who wrote the Bible?

Post by Libertariu » Sat, 26 Jul 2003 02:26:05

===>Even less with LATIN pigs! ;-)