If it can be confidently believed that Moses did write the Pentateuch at that time, then couldn’t this have served as the base documentation on which successive authors could develop further as later learning evolved?
Perhaps so, if such documentation was freely available to all those who wished to contribute. But this was not a real situation, for the Old Testament was not brought together until about BC450, by which time many of the authors had been dead for a very long time. So not until the 5th century BC would it have been possible to survey previous authorship in order to get the ‘feel’ of what they had collectively been saying.
Likewise for the New Testament. This was not brought together until about the mid-third century AD, by which time at least two centuries had passed since the death of the last contributor. So it would not have been possible for each, or any, contributor to research the writings of the others.
So how was their uniformity of thought captured if it was not by pre-reading the writings of their predecessors or contemporaries?
There are two explanations remaining.
- Each author through natural causes and/or experiences, had similar thoughts about life and conceptions of the future
- Each author was somehow provided with similar thoughts about life and conceptions of the future.
The chance of the first condition being met is not really credible. For example, if a person had a 50% chance of being correct on any one problem or topic—provided it was a yes/no decision—then the chance of his being correct would be 1 in 21 (equals 1 in 2 chance). If two authors were to agree, it would be 1 chance in 22 (1 in 4). Three authors would be 23 (1 in 8). That forty authors would all agree on just one condition would be 240, or 1 in 1,100 billion. If each chance was represented as a five-cent piece and lined up one against another, the coins would go around the world over 1600 times. Imagine a band of 5-cent (19mm diameter) coins more than 30m wide going around the entire globe. Now if only one of those coins had, say, a 1998 date on it, then picking the right coin from that trail would be an equivalent chance to having 40 authors to agree by chance on just one single decision. And yet they agree unanimously on not just one thing, but on each topic that they shared!
So we can rule out the first possibility that it was chance! It leaves only the second option – that it was not chance, but they were somehow informed as to what they should write. And the Bible itself confirms this:
“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21
And this phenomenon was not restricted to the subject of prophecy, for the Bible also states,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
Let’s not think that just because the Bible itself claims to be God-breathed, then that must be so. Politicians frequently make claims that they have all the answers to the country’s problems, but just because they make that claim doesn’t mean that the claim is true. Hardly a person today would believe a politician’s word, so would the Bible’s claim made regarding itself be any better!
Fortunately, the Bible’s claim can be checked against what its writers have predicted and what has been fulfilled by history in the years since the predictions were made. After all, even the last of the predictions made in the Bible was made about two thousand years ago, which leaves plenty of time to check on subsequent fulfilment. Some of the Bible prophecies were made over 3000 years ago. Did they work out?