Is the Bible the verbatim word of God?


Hi there,

I understand that all Sacred Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
But I also understand that God - despite being the primary author - used human authors to write things down.

So am I correct in thinking the Bible is not the **verbatim **word of God? Am I also correct in thinking that Muslims believe the Quran to be the verbatim word of God?


The Bible contains the TRUTH.
It also is written in various genres. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
But it’s all the truth.
Think about it: There are different Nativity accounts. Was one Apostle dead wrong, and the other correct?
No, there are different ways of expressing the truth. In this case, that Jesus Christ was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became Man. Fully human, and fully Divine.
They say it different ways. It does not detract from the truth.


Thank you. But to actually answer my question: is the Bible the verbatim word of God?


Using this definition of verbatim, I would say no. From
adverb exactly the same words; word for word:
to repeat something verbatim.
2.corresponding word for word to the original source or text:
a verbatim record of the proceedings.
3.skilled at recording or noting down speeches, proceedings, etc., with word-for-word accuracy:
a verbatim stenographer.


She answered your question.

Do you think God simply dictated to the inspired authors?


I do not think that God simply dictated to the authors. That’s what Muslims believe about the Koran, that God dictated it word-for-word, in Arabic, to Muhammad. I believe that the authors of the Bible wrote down their experiences of God in the best language that was available to them.


Although it was helpful Im still not sure if the lady believes the Bible is the verbatim word of God or not. I.guess I was looking for a straight answer. Maybe I should have clarified in my original message.


No, so then I suppose it isn’t the verbatim word of God?


Don’t think so much about the English definition of “word”, but of Greek, the language of the New Testament, where “Logos” is the term that means so much more than a “word” as a visual, written, symbol to convey a meaning.

Christ is the Logos. Christ is God. The Logos and not just “word” (lower case -w) is contained in Sacred Scripture. And, as Clare pointed out in her post, Scripture contains the Truth…this truth is Christ, the Logos, and the Word…so yes, in that sense, the Bible is indeed the “verbatim” Word (upper case - W, as in Logos, undeniably the Truth).

Pax et bonum!


I would say your incorrect in thinking that the Bible is not the verbatim word of God because this seems to me to carry a meaning or interpretation that the Bible is not the word of God. However, we believe that the whole Bible with all its parts is literally the inspired word of God. The Bible is either the word of God or it isn’t. God is the principle author of Sacred Scripture and he employed human authors as instruments as it were to “consign to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more” (CCC#106).

"In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God” ( 1 Thess 2:13). “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.” (CCC#104).


For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: “The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author.”(57) Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write-He was so present to them-that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. “Therefore,” says St. Augustine, “since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated.”(58) And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: "Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things-we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution. "


There is a Sense in which God dictated to the inspired authors.

“For the Sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance.” (Providicentissimus Deus 5)

“For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost.” (Providicentissimus Deus 20)

“[The writers] wrote the things which [God] showed and uttered to them…it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated.” (Providicentissimus Deus 20)

“we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution.” (Providicentissimus Deus 20)


I certainly do believe that it is the inspired Word of God This is what the CATHOLIC church teaches. I am a Director of Religious Education.
The answer is pretty straight.
From the Catechism :


105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."69

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."70

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."71

107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."72

108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures."74


109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.75

110 In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."76

111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."77

The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.78

112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.79
The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.80
113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church"81).

114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith.82 By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The senses of Scripture

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83

117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

  1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84

  2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.85

  3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86


The question is whether God told the authors of the Bible, “Okay, now this: ‘For God so loved the world that …’”, or whether he inspired them to write without error, but let them pick the words.

And the answer is the second one.

[quote=“CCC 106, quoting somebody else”]To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.


Thank you for the correct answer.



What language does God speak? Probably not one we could translate verbatim.

I love this passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

102 Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:
You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.


II Timothy 3:16 speaks of scripture as the inspired word of God. “Inspired” is the translation of a Greek word that literally means “God-breathed.” This is saying that every word of Scripture is from the mouth of God himself.


Interesting, I am getting mixed responses. Of course we believe the Bible is the word of God and is true, but to say the human authors wrote word for word what God spoke, or translated it into Hebrew/Greek seems to be where there might be divided opinion.


The correct response was quoted from the Catechism. No one’s opinion tops that. :slight_smile: God didn’t dictate to the sacred authors as if they were secretaries taking dictation from their boss. Rather, God inspired them to write what he revealed to them, in their own words, which is why we need to understand their cultural background, their modes of speech, etc. We can be certain that everything in Scripture is from God and so reliable for instruction, living our lives in Christ, and bringing us to salvation. But we cannot claim that God dictated the Bible word for word because he didn’t do that. :slight_smile:


Cool,thanks for the answer! It just seemed people were using quotes from the catechism to prove both sides…but I think your interpretation of the catechism makes most sense.


You’re welcome. :tiphat: I’m just happy my poor words were useful to you. :slight_smile:

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