Who wrote the Bible? What was it written? where was it kept? Is the original version still there?
The Bible is split into the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament is an anthology of ancient Hebrew literature. Many of these 'origin' stories would have been oral tradition until some of them were committed to a written record. The Old Testament in terms of 'when' the stories occurred cover a period a at least a thousand years BC. The written version of these stories probably occurred in the 500 years before the birth of Christ and were authored my many different writers (e.g. the Book of Daniel covers a period of 2 to 3 hundred years and is distinctly written by at least 2 different authors or perhaps 3 if my memory serves me).
The New Testament is a series of 'Gospels' and 'letters' from a period ranging from 70AD to a couple of centuries after. While it is often repeated that The First Nicean Council 'selected' the books to be included in the Bible, the documentation and account of that first Council are about forming 'agreement' on some of the early Christian doctrines (not everything that people accept today in the Christian Church was agreed upon until this point). NOT on selection of what was in the Bible.
Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea for an account. Also check http://www.gotquestions.org/council-of-Nicea.html.
In short, the Bible is a set of stories (some are oral traditions) that were authored by numerous authors over a period from about 500BC to 200AD.
The Bible was written by about 40 different people, over probably a 1000 year time. Each of those 40 people were inspired by God's spirit as they wrote.
The book of Job is considered the oldest book. Job was even before Moses. The first 5 books, starting at Genesis, are called "Torah" by Jewish folks. They were written by Moses, and are the "Mosaic Law" upon which all the modern Jewish laws were based (although God said no laws should be added...)
The original Hebrew version of the Torah has some amazing properties, and if you choose to research it, you'll be convinced that it is supernatural. I just found http://www.britam.org/codesarticles/CodesIntro.html which has some interesting info.
The New Testament was written after Jesus died, rose, and returned to Heaven. When the New Testament says "law" it means the Torah. The Old Testament did exist at the time of Jesus. Jesus himself read from Jeremiah and mentioned Daniel and other prophets, all in the Old Testament.
The best really old copies of biblical text were found in the 1940's in a cave, and they are called the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The most important thing about having old copies, and many different copies, is that smart folks can compare all of them to each other, and look for differences, to prove whether or not our Bible is accurate.
The bottom line is that we can trust our Bible, because there are no differences in old copies that actually change the meaning we have today. I think the percent of differences is very small, like less than 10%, which is pretty amazing since it was copied by hand so many times starting over 2000 years ago.
If you can, I recommend checking out 2 books, called "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" and "The Case for Christ". They explore the history of the Bible and many other great topics.
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