One if not the biggest question in all religions that follow the bible is, who exactly wrote it? Many theories have risen over centuries by scholars who tried to answer this question, but only more questions have been brought up. This issue focuses specifically on the Hebrew Bible, or as Christians know it the Old Testament.
The main theory is that the bible had only been written by one person. Christians believe that the person who wrote the bible was Moses. This is because Moses was quite close to Jesus and as a prophet himself, he had the ability to understand the teachings taught by Jesus.
The problem with this theory is that there are many historical texts from biblical times that contradict this theory. One of the most famous implies that Moses wrote about his own death at the end of the fifth book, Deuteronomy. This is what makes scholars and Christians think that the bible has multiple authors.
Another example that dethrones the single author theory is Noah and the flood (Genesis 6:9). The information present in historical writings is very different. Some historical records say that the flood lasted for 40 days, whilst others state that the flood lasted 150 days. The same goes for the number of animals he took on Noah’s Ark. Some records state two of each animal, whilst other records say he took two of some animals and 14 of any animals.
This theory of multiple authors did not only come from differences in grammar, but also the difference in-text references used throughout the Old Testament. For example, within the Old Testament, there are two names used to refer to divinity. Sometimes “Yahweh” is used whilst other times “Elohim”.
At the same time, the new testament points out that different Gospels were written by different disciples. Bart Ehrman, an expert on the biblical text, adds that the names of the Gospel authors were added later, by editors or scribes, who wanted to emphasize the author’s authority.
“Names are attached to the titles of the Gospels (‘the Gospel according to Matthew’). but these titles are later additions to the Gospels, provided by editors and scribes to inform readers who the editors thought were the authorities behind the different versions.” (Quote by Bart Ehrman)
Some Scholars even think that certain potential authors have attributed the work of others under their name, which makes it even more difficult to identify the original author or most probably authors of the bible. By the 4th century A.D., Christianity had been established as the dominant religion in the Western world, and the New and Old Testaments as its most sacred texts.
One of the important things to acknowledge is that the Christian community did not give much attention to whom wrote the texts, they mainly cared about the lessons the texts taught. At the same time, during those early periods, scholars did not dare to question the authenticity of the texts or to judge a potential author over another.
The most predominant candidates for the role of the Bible’s authors go to four disciples: Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John based on the most Gospels that captured some of the most important moments in the rise of Christianity. They were the ones to witness (or so the texts say) the most important biblical moments and only they had the ability to lecture in theory what had occurred.
The truth is that we do not know who wrote the bible, and most probably will never find out.