Imagine asking 40 men from varied backgrounds to write a book, each writing a section. The writers live in a number of lands and do not all know one another. Some do not know what the others have written. Would you expect a book thus produced to be harmonious?
THE Bible is such a book. * Written under even more unusual conditions than those described above, its internal harmony is nothing less than profound.
Was Jesus’ garment purple or scarlet?
The Bible was written over a span of some 1,600 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to about 98 C.E. Many of the approximately 40 writers thus lived centuries apart. Their occupations were varied. Some were fishermen, others were shepherds or kings, and one was a physician.
A harmonious message.
The Bible penmen developed one central theme: the vindication of God’s right to rule mankind and the fulfillment of his purpose by means of his heavenly Kingdom, a world government. That theme is introduced in Genesis, expanded on in the books that follow, and brought to a climax in Revelation.—See “What Is the Bible About?” on page 19.
Agreement on details.
The Bible writers agreed on even minute details, but often this harmony was clearly unintentional. Note an example. The Bible writer John tells us that when a large crowd came to hear Jesus, Jesus specifically asked Philip where to buy some loaves to feed the people. (John 6:1-5) In a parallel account, Luke says that this took place near the city of Bethsaida. Earlier in his book, John happened to have said that Philip was from Bethsaida. (Luke 9:10; John 1:44) So Jesus naturally addressed his question to one of the men who had lived nearby. The details agree—but with an obvious lack of intent to make them harmonious. *
There are some differences between certain accounts, but should we not expect this? Suppose a group of people witnessed a crime. If each one mentioned the same details using the same words, would you not suspect collusion? Reasonably, the testimony of each would vary somewhat according to his particular angle of view. So it was with the Bible writers.
Consider an example. Did Jesus wear a purple garment on the day of his death, as Mark and John report? (Mark 15:17; John 19:2) Or was it scarlet, as Matthew says? (Matthew 27:28) Really, both can be correct. Purple has components of red in it. Depending on the observer’s angle of view, light reflection and background could have subdued certain hues, giving different casts to the garment. *
The harmony of the Bible writers, including their unintentional consistency, further stamps their writings as trustworthy.
^ par. 4 The Bible is a collection of 66 books, or subdivisions, starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation.
^ par. 7 For more examples of such harmony, see pages 16-17 of the brochure A Book for All People, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 9 For further information, see chapter 7, “Does the Bible Contradict Itself?,” of the book The Bible—God’s Word or Man’s? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.