Q&A: Writing Styles of Biblical Authors

Writing Styles of Biblical Authors

In what ways did the writers of Scripture use their own gifts, abilities and writing styles as they composed the Scriptures?

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Answer

One of the things that we wrestle with when we think about the Holy Spirit inspiring Scripture is, well, how exactly did he do this? Really, in many respects, it's a mystery, but there are some things we can say he didn't do. One of the things we know he didn't do is he did not dictate the words to these authors. The Holy Spirit was not looking for good stenographers, but holy men to write Scripture. How do we know that? Well, you can compare the Hebrew, say for example, of Isaiah and Hosea. Isaiah is kind of like the Shakespeare of the Old Testament. Some have estimated that he had a vocabulary of something approaching thirty thousand words. That's just unbelievable. Hosea, vocabulary of maybe five hundred words. I mean, these are wide differences in the variety of how they wrote... These authors used their own personalities fully in the writing of Scripture. They used their own skills in writing... The author is involved in the learning that God has taken him through for years, and you don't have these authors writing down what God is dictating, except on very few occasions, like when Moses wrote down the Ten Commandments. But they're using their personalities, their gifts, their talents, their backgrounds, their language skills, their research skills. When they write the gospels they're not sitting down in a room saying, "Okay, Spirit of God, tell me what Jesus did, and I'll just copy down what you tell me." That's not at all what happened.

Answer by Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace is Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.