Consider the logical outcome of the factors that have just been listed. Consider the span of years, the variety of backgrounds of the contributors, the diversity of languages used, the differences in circumstances and locations, the range of topics discussed, and it would be unbelievable to expect any measure of uniformity of expression. And that constitutes factor One in the uniqueness of the Bible—for even the sternest critic must search the thousand or more pages to find a handful of ‘apparent anomalies’, for they are only ‘apparent’, and are not real, since each has a logical explanation.
How can such harmony be explained? Well, let’s consider what is involved in order to get such harmony. There are two possibilities that could eventuate in harmony:
- Each author had knowledge of the preceding author, and so could endorse and possibly develop each of the themes in a orderly manner
- Each author coincidently had the same knowledge on each theme.
Let’s examine each possibility. What is involved in the first option?
Well, the first writer would have virtually a free choice in what he wrote about, because it would be he who was setting the base for subsequent writers. But from then on, each writer would read up what had been written and develop the subject matter a little further. Then by the time the Bible was completed, covering both Old and New Testaments, there would be a logical theme development beginning in the first book, Genesis, and finishing in the final book, Revelation.
There are Bible editions that make use of the principle of theme development, and are termed ‘chain reference’ Bibles. They are indeed very handy in enabling one to study a theme, from Genesis through to Revelation simply by listing beside a topic, the previous reference to that subject, and the next reference to it. For example, in Genesis 1:5, one chain reference Bible has a centre-margin reference for the topic ‘Day’ indicating chapter 8:22. That verse expands on the concept of Day, to include also seasons and cyclic temperatures. That passage reference in turn, indicates chapter 1:5 as the previous reference and Job 38:12 as the next.
The last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, refers to a scene in which ‘the tree of life’ is mentioned. A river is also pictured as flowing through it. Such is also the description of the Garden of Eden as given to us in Genesis 2. The Bible ending reflects the Bible opening. Genesis 5 begins with the words, “The book of the generations of Adam.” The first New Testament book, Matthew, begins with the words, “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ.” Again, the newer part of the Bible reflects the older part. Other similar repetitions occur between the Old and New Testaments.
Is such a pattern purely coincidental, a reflection of people copying or imitating another author, or does it have some other explanation?
Could Moses write?
To start off theme development, we would need the base authorship of the first book. The Bible infers that not only the first, but also indeed the first five books, collectively called the Pentateuch, were written by a man called Moses (refer Mark 7:10; 10:3–5; 12:26; Luke 2:22–23; 5:14; 16:29–31; John 5:45–47 etc. cf. Exodus 24:4,7; 34:27; Deuteronomy 31:9,24–26 etc). The book of Exodus carries the record of this man’s birth and upbringing through childhood (in Egypt) into adulthood. It used to be said that this ancient claim of authorship could not be true, since writing was a much later invention. However, many ancient texts have been found that predated even the time of Moses. Mursilis’ treaty with Dubbi-Tessub, for example, is a Hittite document in which King Mursilis imposes a suzerainty treaty on King Dubbi-Tesseub. It is dated in the mid-second millennium BC. More closely related to the Genesis record is the Egyptian record of experiencing seven years of low Nile and famine, which, by a contractual agreement between Pharaoh Djoser (28th century BC) and a god, will be followed by prosperity (cf Genesis 41).
The author of Exodus had an intimate and thorough knowledge of the geography of Egypt. He knew the character of the Nile riverbank and surrounding desert (Exodus 2:12), knew of places such as Ramses and Succoth (Exodus 12:37), Etham (Exodus 13:20) and Pi-Hahiroth (Exodus 14:2). He also used a goodly number of Egyptian words, particularly those of weights and measures.
W F Albright, in his book The Archaeology of Palestine, Baltimore: Penguin Books, revised 1960, states on page 225 in reference to the Pentateuch:
“New discoveries continue to confirm the historical accuracy or the literary antiquity of detail after detail in it.”