How God Gave the Old Testament
September 2003 version

1407-340 BC.

Many often take the Old Testament for granted, never wondering how it came to contain its books, and how it is still reliable today. This tract explains who wrote it, how we know we have the correct books, and the evidence that it is still reliable today. The books below are agreed to by Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox and Jews. The Jews combine Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles into one book each.

Book Author Dates B.C. Some references
Genesis Moses ~1407 Mt 19:4;Mk10:6
Exodus Moses ~1407 Mt 22:32; Lk 2:23
Leviticus Moses ~1407 Mt 22:39; Lk 2:24
Numbers Moses ~1407 2 Tm 2:19 (LXX)
Deuteronomy Moses ~1407 Mt 22:37; Lk 4:4
Joshua Joshua ~1377 ~Heb11;Jms 2:25
Judges anon. Samuel? 1377-1004 ~Heb 11:32
Ruth anon. Samuel? ~1011 ~Mt 1:5; ~Lk 3:32
1 & 2 Samuel anon. Samuel? 1050-1004 Rm 15:9; 2Cr6:18
1 & 2 Kings anonymous ~950-550  
1&2 Chronicles anon. Ezra? ~950-550  
  part written 340 B.C.  
Ezra Ezra 450-430 Neh 8:1; 12:32
Nehemiah Nehemiah 445-430 ~Ezra 2:2
Esther anonymous ~470-424  
Job anonymous perhaps 2100 Rm 1:35; 1Cr3:19
Psalms David & others ~1050 Mt 8:2; Lk 13:35
  Ps 137 after 587  
Proverbs Solomon,Agur, ~971-931 Rm 12:20; Jms4:6
  Lemuel, others    
  25:1 copied 729-686  
Ecclesiastes Solomon after 967  
S. of Solomon anonymous after 967  
Isaiah Isaiah 696-622 Mt 13:14; Lk 3:4-6
Jeremiah Jeremiah 627/6-587 Mt 21:14; Lk23:30
  Jer 52:31-34 ~561 B.C.  
Lamentations likelyJeremiah 586-583  
Ezekiel Ezekiel 7/593-571  
Daniel Daniel 606-536 Mt24:15; Mk13:14
Hosea Hosea ~790-710 Mt 12:7; Lk 23:30
Joel Joel 900;587;400? Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13
Amos Amos 760 (earthquake) Acts 7:43; 15:16-8
Obadiah Obadiah 844;723;585?  
Jonah Jonah ~763 2 Ki 14:25;
Micah Micah before 722 Mt2:6; Mt10:35-36
Nahum Nahum before 612  
Habbakuk Habbakuk ~697-598 Acts 13:41; Rom 1:17
Zephaniah Zephaniah 640-609  
Haggai Haggai 520-515 Ezra 5:1;Heb 12:6
Zechariah Zechariah 520-515 Mt 21:5; Jn 12:15
Malachi Malachi 538; 450-430 Mt 11:10; Lk 7:27

The author is the person to whom God revealed his word. The words were either written down by him or by secretaries. For example, Jeremiah's scribe Baruch wrote down many of his prophecies. Jer 51:64 says, "...the words of Jeremiah end here."
Old Testament writers often mentioned each other.
Five books of the Law:
Josh 1:7;8:31;23:6;1Ki 2:3; 2 Ki 14:6;17:37;18:6; 1Chr16:40; 2Chr17:9;23:18; 30:5,16,18; 31:3; 35:26; Ezra 3:2,4; 6:18; 7:6; Dan 9:11,13; Hos 8:12
Neh 8:1; 12:32
Ezra 2:2
2 Kings 19:2; 2 Chr 32:20
Daniel 9:2; 2 Chr 36:22
2 Kings 14:25
Jeremiah 26:18
Ezra 5:1;6:14
Nehemiah 12:1,4,16, Ezra 5:1; 6:14
The point of this is that the Old Testament books fit together, as interlocking pieces of a puzzle.

What Books are Not In The Old Testament?

In ancient times, just as now, there are a number of religious and historical writings, many of varying quality. Besides the apocryphal books, there are what a called "pseudo-apocryphal books" that are not accepted by anyone today. These are often spurious works that claim to be written by a great historical figure but in fact are not. Of course if something is false, it is not God's word. Other books, while not per-fect, are not too bad. Of course if a godly person writes something that is true, that is not necessarily God's word, nor did they claim it to be so. Likewise a good Christian book written today can be good, but not God's word. Some books, like First Enoch, are more complicated. First Enoch is a composite book, with the oldest author likely writing most of the first section. By the way, Jude 14-15 quotes from the oldest part of First Enoch.
The Old Testament itself mentions some books and records we do not have any copies of today.
Acts of Solomon
1 Kings 11-41
Chronicles of Kings
1 Ki 14:19, 29, 2 Ki 19:9-12, 11
Kings of Judah/Israel
2 Chr 16:11,25:26;28:26,32;27:2;
Kings of Israel
2 Chr 20:34;33:18;24:7;1Ki14:19
Jasher (Upright one)
Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18
Wars of the Lord
Numbers 21:14
These are not scripture, but simply other reliable records.

First Question: Do We Have the Right Books?

Independent of anyone else, how do we determine if a book belongs in the Old Testament, when the book was written at an unknown time, by unknown author, who refers to events we cannot verify as true or false? The simple answer is that we cannot; we need help for confirming Old Testament scripture from another source.

Jesus is the Answer!

A song says, "Jesus is the answer"; He is the answer for this question too. Jesus answered this question in three ways: his teaching about scripture in general, his comments on specific prophets and books, and finally what he did teach about the transmitted reliability of scriptures to His day.
1. Jesus defended himself against Satan by quoting scrip-ture as God's direct word, "It is written..." Matt 4:4,7,10, Luke 4:4,8,12. Jesus stated that scripture cannot be broken in John 10:35, and scripture was "the commands of God" in Mark 4:8-9. His entire life was spent quoting, living, and fulfilling scripture as all the gospels show.
2. Jesus rebuked the Sadducees, who only accepted the Torah (Law) as the Word of God. Matt 22:29 says, Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." Jesus said the following people wrote their books:
in Mark 10:3,5; Luke 20:37
in Matt 22:43-5; Mark 12:36-7; Luke 20:42-4
in Matthew 15:7
in Matthew 24:15
3. The Jews in Palestine had the same Old Testament as Protestants have today. They divided scripture into three categories: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Jesus said "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" in Lk 24:27,44. (Psalms is the earlier name for Writings.) He references the order of books in Matt 23:35 and Lk11:51.
Jesus was silent on any need for correcting, adding to, or taking away from the scripture that was accepted in Judea at that time. As far as scripture was concerned, as the song says, "All things were beautiful in His Time."

Second Question, But What About Today?

Knowing that we have the correct books in the Old Testament solves a major problem concerning sources of authority for belief. However, we have another problem. How do we know that scripture today is not substantially altered? There are three sources of Confirmation

1. God's Promise

God's Word is God's Word, whether spoken, written, or both. Jeremiah 1:12 promises that God is watching over His word to perform it. Psalms 119:89 says, "Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens."
How about on earth? Isaiah 59:21 "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the LORD."
1 Pet 1:24
quoting Isa 40:8 "...For 'All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."
Isa 55:11
"So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desired and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." God's ability and promise ensure His word is preserved.
God's word will not mislead His people on the essentials.
Prov 30:5-6
"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar."
2 Tim 3:15
"and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
2 Tim 3:16
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in right-eousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" See also Hebrews 4:12.
Heb 4:12: "The word (logos) of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

2. Confirmed by Jewish and Christian Writers

New Testament ~250 quotes. Every O.T. book except Ecclesiastes, Esther, Song of Solomon
Ben Sira, in 2nd century B.C.
missing Ezekiel
Philo (De Vita Contemplativa 25)
3 sections
Jewish writer Josephus <100 A.D. Contra Apion 1.8.
Jewish Council at Jamnia 90 A.D.
no Apocrypha
Council at Carthage 397 A.D.
has historic Apocrypha
When Alexander the Great was outside of Jerusalem, the priests showed him the prophecy in the Book of Daniel where Greece triumphs over Persia. Obviously, Daniel had to have been written before then.
The early church before 325 A.D. referred thousands of times to scripture from the Old Testament. For example, they referred to just the first three chapters of Genesis 257 times and the Book of Jeremiah 410 times., and even the little book of Haggai 12 times. They quoted out every Old Testament book except Ruth and Obadiah.

3. Ancient Manuscripts We Have Today

The simplest evidence of reliability is in museums today.
· Dead Sea Scrolls from 250 to 100 B.C..
· Nash Papyrus 150 B.C. to 68 A.D.
· Cairo Geniza fragments 5th century A.D.
· Massoretic Text scrolls from 895 and 1008 A.D.
Of course, since many of these scrolls are radiocarbon-dated prior to Jesus, the prophecies about the Messiah written in them were written prior to Jesus too.


We know we can rely on the Old Testament because of Jesus' words and reliance on it. We know it is preserved reliably today because of God's promise, confirmation by others, and the fact that we have ancient manuscripts.

(All Bible quotes are from the NIV).

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Evidence for

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How God Gave the New Testament
September 2003 version

40-100 A.D.

Jesus severely rebuked the Pharisees for setting aside the word of God for the teaching of men (Matthew 15:6). They are by no means unique; throughout the ages traditionalists have wanted to elevate human tradition to God's word. Jesus also severely rebuked the Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-33 and Mark 12:18-27. They believed all the Old Testament except the Torah was just human tradition. Jesus told them they did not know the scriptures nor the power of God.
How did we get the New Testament? What of the claim that it too is just human tradition? We will look at that question and the very foundation of our faith.

The Foundation of Our Faith
The center of our faith is Jesus Christ; but some would like to think we do not reliably know what He taught. Ephesians 2:20 says, "[God's household is] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone."
It is interesting what is absent from the Early Church: there is no debate about what is scripture. It was not an issue until after Marcion the Gnostic began writing his own scripture and rejecting most of the Bible. Diocletian also ordered the burning of all Christian books, and Christians needed to know which were God's Word and worth risking death.

Scripture's Claim Of Authority

2 Tim 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"

Peter in 2 Pet 3:15-16 says some people distort Paul's letters, just like they do the other scriptures.

Paul says in 1 Thess 2:4 that "we" are entrusted with the gospel.

1 Thess 2:13: "... you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God..."

2 Peter 1:20-21: "Above all, [that's very high] you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 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."

Three Tests for Scripture

In trying to recreate how the early church recognized what was scripture, we see three tests.

>1. Authorship: Was the author an eyewitness or a "secretary" for an eyewitness? See Luke 1:1-3, John 19:35, 1 John 1:1-4, 2 Pet 1:16-18, 1 Cor 9:1-2,5, and 1 Cor 15:7-9.

>2. Truth: Does the book contradict what the Bible says anywhere else? If so, throw it out. See Heb 6:18, John 10:35, 17:17, ~John 17:8, Prov 30:5, Num 23:19, and Ps 119:42-43,86,137-142,151,160.

>3. Widespread Confirmation: Did Christians every-where generally accept the book as scripture?

Who Wrote What


Matthew the apostle


John Mark, (Acts 15:37, 2 Tim 4:11) andPeter's interpreter

Luke and Acts

Paul's companion

John and Revelation

John the apostle

1, 2, 3 John

John the apostle

Romans - Philemon

Paul the apostle


unknown today, (knew Timothy Heb 13:23)


the Lord's 1/2-brother

1 and 2 Peter

Peter the apostle


the Lord's 1/2-brother

So What About Hebrews?
True or false: The Book of Hebrews could not have been evaluated by the authorship test.
Today we do not know the author of Hebrews. However, the original readers of Hebrews knew the author, as can been seen by Hebrews 13:18,23. Thus the correct answer is false. This highlights an important fact: we are dependent on the judgement of the early (<130 A.D.) Church.
So who do we think wrote Hebrews? Clement of Rome (97 A.D.) alludes to it nine times, so it must have been written before then. Best guesses are Barnabas and Apollos. Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, and Augustine believed it was written by Paul in Hebrew. Tertullian stated it was written by Barnabas. In fact in the Codex Claremontanus, Hebrews is called "Epistle of Barnabas." (Barnabas was called an apostle in Acts 14:4,14) Martin Luther guessed the author was Apollos.

What About James?
James was not James the disciple but Jesus' half-brother. He was an apostle based on these verses:

Called an apostle by Paul: Galatians 1:19
Like Paul, Jesus appeared just to him: 1 Cor 15:7
Pillar of the Church: Galatians 2:9

What About Jude?
We do not know as much about Jude the Lord's brother as James. While it is easy to prove Jude was an apostle, because an apostle's teachings are God's direct word, and Jude is in the Bible, that is a circular argument. He was certainly an eyewitness, but we rely on the judgement of the early church Fathers to recognize that it belonged in the Bible.

Did They Include the Right Books?
The previous discussion does not "prove with certainty" we have the right books, but it gives us good reasons to trust that God knew made sure Christians go the right books.
Almost every other book written at that time totally fails these three tests: authorship, truth, and widespread confirmation. The two that are closest are First Clement and The Gospel of Thomas.
First Clement
, written 97 A.D., is an excellent book to read that some in Antioch and Alexandria thought should be scripture. Its problem is that Clement was not an eye-witness but was in the next generation. It also has a few small errors (i.e. phoenixes do not really live in Arabia).
Whether or not the Apostle Thomas wrote a gospel we may never know until heaven. A book called the Gospel of Thomas was circulated among Gnostics (only), but Gnostics often altered their scriptures and not surprisingly, their Gospel of Thomas teaches Gnosticism and contradicts the Bible.

Infallible Preservation of the Bible
It would do no good for God to accurately give us what was correctly recognized as His Word, if as Mohammed has accused, He failed to ensure its preservation. A God who would do such a thing is not the God who wrote Jeremiah 1:12, Luke 21:33, and Isaiah 55:11. (Also, if He allowed His Bible to be corrupted, then why would He preserve the Quran?)
Faith in God's watching His word is an adequate answer, and it is the only answer we had until the mid-twentieth century. Now however, with early manuscripts and Carbon-14 dating, we have documents that prove historically the reliability of today's scripture. They are
- John Rylands Manuscript: part of John.
130 A.D.

- Bodmer II Papyrii: most of John.
150-200 A.D.

- Chester Beatty Papyrii: most of the N.T.
150-200 A.D.

- 10,000 Greek, 14,000 other manuscripts after that.
In addition, Sir David Dalrymple tabulated that early church Fathers cited every single verse but eleven in the New Testament. For more on its accuracy and reliability, read F.F. Bruce's Book The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?.

False Beliefs About Scripture
Christian liberalism: It is not all the word of God but contains the word of God. The parts we accept become God's word for us.
Rev. Moon: It was fine 2,000 years ago, but we need something more advanced today
Mohammed: It was originally ok, but it was totally corrupted later.
Mormonism: The official teaching of the church leader today has priority over scripture.

Culture and the Bible
What in the Bible is merely cultural and for that time? An "easy" answer is that if you do not like a verse, then it must be cultural!
Christ's servants must not settle for "easy" answers. A few things in the Bible are indisputably for that time, because the Bible says so. Examples are 1 Corinthians 7:25-26 and Acts 10:9-18. To call anything cultural in the Bible, there have to be verses saying or implying so. Otherwise, we have an "easy" answer.

To Be Obeyed
The Bible may be talked about, speculated about, but it was really written to be obeyed. See John 14:23,24 and Ps 119:4-5,17,67,101,134,167,168 among others. The Bible never tells us to do evil or unwise things. What if the Bible said for you to do something you thought was not the best? What would you do? After prayer and discussion with other Christians, would you trust God's judgement more or your own judgement?
We are indebted to the early Church and the early Church fathers, not for deciding, but for recognizing the New Testament. We have solid reasons to believe it was
a) meant to be taken as scripture,
b) given accurately,
c) the right books were included, and
d) preserved reliably.
We must choose if we will obey God and His Word.

(All Bible quotes are from the NIV).

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