Professions of the Bible Writers
Writing the Bible
Inspired men of God wrote a total of 66 books of what we have come to know as the Bible. Of course, anyone who believes in God knows that the Bible is authored BY God through the human help of those who had a close relationship to God and were willing to pen their encounters, stories, and reflections on life according to whatever they were led by God to record. This is especially true in terms of Creation, foretold prophecies, and ceremonial laws. In that way, the Book is a living source of relationships - theirs and God's - and how they link to us today.
Encouragement for Today
What we can learn from understanding more about the Bible writers is that it really doesn't matter where we come from - we can all be used by God, at any time. Surely the men who wrote all that they did had no idea how much of an impact their words would have down through the centuries!
The Bible remains the most widely talked about, sought after, and disputed book to ever be distributed. The very fact that other religions have similar stories in their theologies is reason enough to believe this ancient book of Truths and Secrets as valid, standing the test of time from the many archeological finds in the past two centuries alone. There are many who aim to disprove everything contained within this article as 100% accurate by twisting things out of context, but it's also clear that not everyone will be convinced 100% of the time. That's okay, because it's a personal decision to agree - and once you do, no one can take that away from you! So for those who heartily embrace a spiritual life, may you find the wisdom and peace that comes from the reading of His Word!
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." - Joshua 24:15
The Job of Writing
Curiously enough, none of the men who wrote books of the Bible wrote for a living (as in freelancers or authors.) In fact, they all held other occupations, which makes the act of their writing so concisely that much more Divinely-inspired. It doesn't mean that none of them were artistically-bent, especially when you think about someone like Moses, whose writing also reflected his years of experience in the role of leadership, or even King David, who expressed his praise through verse, song, and dance.
The Bible itself is separated into two parts; the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The Old refers to everything that led up to the generations before Jesus' time. The New recounts the genealogy of Jesus and the history surrounding His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, as well as the predictions about His second coming and the end of the world.
The first 5 books of the Old Testament are commonly referred to as the Pentateuch, which is Hebrew for "5 books": Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books are much different from the rest of the Bible, because they deal specifically with history - of the world, of sin, of the Hebrew nation, and of the Jewish laws that were followed throughout the rest of the span of time covered in the Bible. Using insights that God relayed, Moses is said to have written down word-for-word what God wanted dictated and retold to all people. But to understand WHY Moses would have taken on this challenge, and why it is relevant, one must first know his background.
Moses was born during a time when Egypt ruled the land, making the Hebrews their slaves. And with the real fear of Hebrews one day over-throwing Pharaoh's power and rebelling as the Hebrews grew in number, Pharaoh initiated the edict to have male Hebrew babies killed. Yet, God was with them, because the midwives had compassion on those children, and allowed them to live (see Exodus 1:17). When Pharaoh asked why they weren't following his orders, they declared the Hebrew women were giving birth quicker than they could get their in order to assist with the births. So Pharaoh's solution was to have "every Hebrew boy...thrown into the Nile..." (Exodus 1:22).
Moses' parents did indeed place Moses in the Nile, but not to die - rather, to perhaps have Divine intervention, for why else would they have taken great care to secure him in a water-sealed basket to float down the river? As the story goes, Moses gained the attention of Pharaoh's daughter, who rescued him and raised him as her own. Certainly, he would have lived the life of a prince. And though it's not clear, he must also have been aware of his Hebrew beginning, especially since his mother and sister were instrumental in his care during infancy. Had that not made an impact on him, he wouldn't have been so angry to slay an Egyptian who was harming a Hebrew slave and risk becoming a fugitive. When he fled to the wilderness, he did not know what to expect. He met the priest of Midian, and one thing led to another - not only did he marry one of the priest's daughters, but he also learned how to shepherd the man's flocks, and it was while doing so that he had his first encounter with God. From that point on, he was on a mission to lead the rest of the Hebrews out of Egypt and into Canaan.
Each book of the Pentateuch is named according to what they are about: Genesis is "beginning", i.e. creation, the early peoples, and what led up to the birth of Moses. Exodus is the story of the mass "exit" by the Israelites from Egypt. Leviticus, or "info about the Levites" gave instructions for how the Levites were to lead the people in worship, and how the people were to worship and obey God. Numbers literally was a "census of the Israelites" according to Numbers 1:2. Deuteronomy or "second law", refers to the rules for living that God reissued to the people after they had disobeyed the first time in not having complete trust in Him.
The History of Israel
After the death of Moses, Joshua was next appointed to lead the people. As the next book of the Bible that bears his name, Joshua's occupation was as commander of the Israelite army. He eventually led them into Canaan and allotted them different areas of land according to their tribes.
The book of Judges moves further along in time to the era of when the people started to decline morally after the death of Joshua and fall into enemy hands; therefore God appointed judges to rescue them from the groups of invaders who kept vying for Israel's land. Some of the most recounted personalities of the Bible are recorded here - Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. Although the actual writer of the book is a mystery, there is the tradition that the prophet and priest Samuel penned it, as well as the last part of Joshua, and perhaps the book of Ruth, and part of 1 Samuel. There is also another mindset is that each of these works were all or in part done by King Solomon, who also wrote Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Contrary to popular belief, it is not 100% known whether King Solomon actually wrote Proverbs or Song of Songs (also referred to as Song of Solomon).
In between the books of Ruth and Song of Songs, however, are a wealth of other stories written by many other writers. The prophet Isaiah wrote where Samuel left off, completing 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and book of Isaiah. He was literally a messenger for God, sent to various people to proclaim God's warnings and pronouncements, which was captured in writing. He also tells the saga of King Saul and the life and trials of King David.
One man did have the occupation as scribe; he was Ezra, who went on to write 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, the book that bears his own name, and Esther. In between Ezra and Esther is Nehemiah, the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, who became instrumental in helping rebuild Jerusalem and reforming the people. His prayers and visions from God are contained within his recounts.
Job is a rather different story altogether. No one is sure if it was literally about the life of a man named Job who penned his own story ( or was earlier written by Moses), or if it was merely an allegory, passed down through the ages since creation, with no specific writer laying claim to its first appearance. Either way you look at it, its unique look at God and Satan's warfare in action segues to the more introspective books of the Bible.
The Psalms were written mostly by King David (or his scribes), whose humble beginnings as a shepherd boy and warrior made him as dynamic a writer as he was a doer. It is interesting to note here that Moses wrote Psalm 90, clearly showing how the Bible as we read it today was not written in that same order, but generally compiled into the order we read so that it flows more sensibly through the points of history and mentioned prophecies. Other contributors to the Psalms were Hezekiah and King Solomon.
King Solomon was known as the wisest man who ever lived, who was both fair as he was successful. Surely his gift for writing was an inherited trait that served him well. Too bad for him that he didn't heed his own advice and was led astray from the Lord in the latter end of his life.
The prophets who came along next included the books named after them (in addition to Isaiah) were Jeremiah (who also wrote Lamentations), Ezekiel, and Daniel, all of whom were powerful men in their own right. Ezekiel was a priest who saw a vision of God as flaming wheel and witnessed bones of dead ones come together and be made alive! He also had several other prophecies he was burdened to share with Jerusalem and its evil ways. Daniel was a young Hebrew whose faith led him to be of service to King Nebuchadnezzar and later became his advisor. His apocalyptic visions were significant for his era, future generations in Bible times, and up through later into the future yet unknown.
The books of the minor prophets were Hosea (whose mission was not just to prophecy, but to also marry a prostitute and father her children!), Joel, a shepherd named Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (who was swallowed by a large fish - and yet lived), Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
The New Testament, New Ways
With such a long history of authors and books and stories combined in the Old Testament, the New Testament covers less time in history, but with events that were foretold prophecies from the Old Testament and change in law for people to follow.
It all starts with the first the gospel "good news" written by Matthew, Mark, Luke (who also wrote Acts) and John (who also wrote the three books of John and Revelation). Each man of God came from different professions in order to follow Jesus and share His story of salvation to the world. Matthew was a tax collector, but Mark's profession is unknown. Luke was a physician, whose accounts of Jesus were very detailed in true medical fashion, and John was a fisherman. Quite an interesting mix of writers!
Paul, renamed later to Saul, was a Pharisee who went about persecuting the newly formed church, until his conversion on the road to Damascus. He then became a devout follower of Jesus, who preached the good news to many nations, and wrote about his experiences and wisdom learned in much of the content we read in the New Testament, which together form the Epistles to the churches and fellow believers: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.
The Coming Kingdom
James was another disciple of Jesus whose profession is unknown, but that he was the brother of the disciple Matthew. He too went out into the world to share the good news with many nations. In his book, he addressed the 12 tribes of Israel with the news that all ought to "consider it pure joy...(when facing)...trials of many kinds (because)...the testing of your faith produces perseverance." (James 1:1-3 summarized)
Peter, whose first name was Simon, was a simple fisherman who willingly followed the Christ and suffered greatly for it. He went on to write 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
Jude is speculated to be either one of the 12 original disciples, a different disciple, or a relative of Jesus. Because of the lack of evidence with which to fully identify him, it remains unclear as to what his profession was prior to preaching about Jesus, or for how many years he even preached. One thing we know for sure, however, is that he believed in the Lord with all of his heart, knowing that from Him would be eternal life to all who believe (see Jude verse 21).