It has been called the world’s best-seller, and rightly so. The Bible is read and cherished more than any other book. To date, its distribution (in whole or in part) is estimated at four billion copies in more than 2,000 languages.
Far more intriguing than the Bible’s circulation, however, is its claim to divine authorship. “All Scripture is inspired of God,” wrote the Christian apostle Paul. (2 Timothy 3:16) What does this mean? The phrase “inspired of God” (Greek, the·o′pneu·stos) literally means “God-breathed.” A related Greek word, pneu′ma, means “spirit.” Hence, the claim is that God’s holy spirit moved human writers, breathing upon them, as it were, so that the end product could truthfully be called the Word of God, not that of man. Indeed, many who have studied the Bible marvel at its overall harmony, its scientific accuracy, the honesty and candor of its writers, and most important, its fulfilled prophecies—all of which have convinced millions of thinking readers that this book is from a source higher than man.
But how closely did God guide the writing of the Bible? Some say that he dictated the Bible verbatim. Others say that he inspired merely the thoughts found in the Bible, not the words. In reality, though, inspiration cannot be reduced to a single process, for God spoke “in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets.” (Hebrews 1:1; compare 1 Corinthians 12:6.)