Any teachings regarding the identity of the human authors of Scripture?


#1

I was looking through the Catechism on Sacred Scripture and could not find anything regarding whether or not the human authors of Sacred Scripture are taught to be identical to this or that person (that is, whether we must hold that the Gospel of John was written by the man John). Does anyone know of any Magisterial teaching regarding this?

I have heard it suggested that the Book of Daniel was written by multiple authors over a period of time, and wanted to see if the Church taught anything that might be contrary to this suggestion.

(For example, in the Council of Trent, when it is listing the canon of Scripture, the gospels are called "The Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; does this by implication teach that historical men named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the sole human authors of that Scripture?)


#2

I imagine the most helpful source would be the output of the Pontifical Bible Commission. For example in the document “On the Author and Historical Truth of the Fourth Gospel,” it affirms the Johannine authorship, saying, “the Apostle John and not another must be acknowledged as the author of the fourth Gospel.”

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/pcb_doc_index.htm

Unfortunately, the relevant documents do not appear to be translated into English.


#3

That seems to be the ticket. Thanks QNDNNDQDCE! Now time to brush up on my Latin so I can determine what this Commission is saying…


#4

A very handy reference is Inside the Bible by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. It is a book which provides an introduction to each of the 73 books of the bible. From the description: “The introduction to each book includes the time frame and author, the theme, a summary of the contents and some comments about the context in which it was written, the theology of the book, an outline, and a prayer taken from the book.”

It is important to know that no “autograph” copies of any scripture exist. It is only by Sacred Tradition that we know the attribution of the writings. Not even Saint Jerome in the late 300s had any original copies - all long lost.


#5

I first learned about those documents from Brant Pitre’s online lecture notes, “Genesis and the Books of Moses.” The quotations from the PBC begin on page 14 (page 10 of the PDF file). This will at least give you an idea of what they read like.

brantpitre.com/genesis_books_of_moses.pdf


#6

At the website below you have What Does The Church Really Say About The Bible, by Edith Myers, The Wanderer Press, 1979
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3752

“…the Pontifical Biblical Commission was formally established by Pope Leo XIII in 1902, and in 1907, in Praestantia Sacrae Scripturae, Pope Pius X declared its decisions to be binding.”

4) On the Author and the Historical Truth of the Fourth Gospel, 1907.
There is sufficient evidence that John the Apostle wrote the Fourth Gospel, the Commission stated, to uphold this opinion against adverse critics. We may not say that the discourses of Our Lord that are reported therein are not really the words of Jesus but theological compositions of the authors.

**8) On the Author, Date of Composition, and Historical Truth of the Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1911. **
Matthew, the Commission said, is in truth the author of the Gospel published under his name. The Gospel was originally written in Hebrew, sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem. We cannot accept the idea that the book was merely a collection of sayings compiled by an anonymous author. While the book was first written in Hebrew, the Greek is regarded as canonical, and is to be regarded as historically true, including the infancy narratives, and passages relating to the primacy of Peter (Mt: 16:17-19) and to the Apostles’ profession of faith in the divinity of Christ (Mt: 14:33).


#7

Regarding the Gospels and from a historical perspective there is 2nd century Irenaeus who identifies the four gospels and their authors. Obviously he had sources which predate his writings.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenaeus

Irenaeus asserted that four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were canonical scripture.[32] Thus Irenaeus provides the earliest witness to the assertion of the four canonical Gospels, possibly in reaction to Marcion’s edited version of the Gospel of Luke, which Marcion asserted was the one and only true gospel.[4][23]

optionc.net/essays/catholic-evidence-that-demands-a-verdict/

Even more interesting to me was this early writer’s knowledge of who wrote the four Gospels and in which order. I had read some modern speculation that the Gospel of Mark was written first, followed by Matthew, Luke and John. But Irenaeus had a different perspective, and I think his insight carries great weight: Irenaeus was the student of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John! It would be like your college professor teaching you something that his famous college professor taught him. Not quite first-hand testimony, but a lot more close to the source than some modern scholar 20 centuries removed from the original writings. Here’s what Irenaeus wrote:

Matthew…issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3, 1, 1) 

#8

The Church has always and everywhere held and continues to hold that the four Gospels are of apostolic origin. For what the Apostles preached in fulfillment of the commission of Christ, afterwards they themselves and apostolic men, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing: the foundation of faith, namely, the fourfold Gospel, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum - Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 18)


#9

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