Serving an international
Vol. 10 No. 2 February 2008
Human Aspects of Writing the Bible
By D. Gene West
The writing of the Sacred Volume called the Bible was a cooperative venture between God and man, with the Holy Spirit revealing and guiding every step of the way. However, lest someone get the idea that we believe the Bible is a mere dictation product of heaven, we wish to look into the human aspects of this great undertaking.
The Bible was written in human languages. As a matter of fact, we know not that God ever attempted to communicate with man in any other way than through languages known to man. The Bible was written in at least three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—all three of which are dead languages, and have been for thousands of years; hence, the meanings of their words have not changed in all these centuries. These languages exhibit their own peculiar linguistic forms, and this makes the job of translation a sticky wicket at times.
The Bible, since it is in reality a library of books, was written by more than thirty-five writers over a period of some sixteen hundred years. It reflects grammatical changes, irregularities, and nuances of the authors and the times in which it was written. It also was written in different genres, such as poetry, prose, literal, figurative and symbolic languages. Therefore, if it is to be understood, poetry must be read as poetry, prose as prose, etc. Sometimes one finds both prose and poetry in the same chapter, especially when studying the prophets. Not only are there different types of writing in the Sacred Volume, but there are different styles within the types. For example, Paul and Peter may have written about the same thing, as they obviously did (2 Peter 3:14-16), and they may have both written in prose, and yet we know the writing of Paul from that of Peter by the styles of the writers, which is to say, the way they used words, arranged words, their distinctive forms of writing.
Book of books speaks of human interests as one can see from such
awesome Book incorporates the distinct characteristics of different
cultures. For example, as Paul was closing his first letter to the
the city of
the Bible speaks of God from a typical human perspective. It virtually
overflows with what we call, “anthropomorphisms.”
By that we mean that it
assigns human elements and characteristics to God. He is spoken of as
eyes, ears, arms, hands, feet, legs, heart, etc. Yet