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Jesus' Bible

Imagine there was a man who went around claiming that he had a special message from God and that part of this man's message was that he would be killed and come back to life. And then imagine that this man did indeed come back to life. Surely that is the sort of person you'd want to pay attention to. We have seen that there is good historical evidence that Jesus is that sort of person – that he claimed to have a special message from God and that he died and came back to life. So we would want to pay attention to what Jesus said about the Bible.

For the purposes of this essay we are using the gospels as historical sources, not yet as scripture (otherwise our argument would be circular). But this does not prevent us drawing some conclusions about Jesus' view of the Bible. For instance, as a first century Jew it would expect Jesus to believe that the Old Testament was inspired by God (just as Jews do today).

The gospels corroborate this. For example, when Jesus says "everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44), he is referring to the three sections into which the Jews divided their scriptures. It is also clear that Jesus regarded the Old Testament books as messages from God. For example, he refers to the Psalms being written by the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36).

But what about the New Testament? None of the books of the New Testament were written during Jesus' lifetime on the Earth. Most written between 20 and 40 years after his crucifixion. This being said, there are indications that Jesus expected there to be these books. We know that Jesus was a teacher, that he appointed disciples and that after his resurrection it was these disciples that started telling everyone about Jesus.

The gospels say that Jesus selected the disciples for this role; for example, "you are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48). And those who wrote the NT recognised that they were specially selected as witnesses (e.g. 1 Pet 1:12; Heb 2:3-4). In effect, Jesus says "there are going be witnesses", and the NT writers claim to be those witnesses.

So Jesus accepted the Old Testament as scripture, and it seems likely that the New Testament was written to fulfil Jesus' instructions. Therefore the testimony of Jesus is gives us good reason for thinking the Bible is a special book and should encourage us to look for further evidence.

Further reading

G. R. Habermas, "Jesus and the Inspiration of Scriptures", Areopagus Journal (2002) 11-16 (PDF)