Why You Need to Know the Author of a Book of the Bible

Why You Need to Know the Author of a Book of the Bible

One of my favorite books to read to my children is When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. In  this book a little girl tells about life in the Appalachian mountains. Growing up in the West Virginia mountains I can relate to this sweet little book about fireflies, black dust, and swimming holes. It tells us about life before the modern world invaded the mountains. Some of the last lines say, “I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world. Because I was in the mountains. And that was enough.” It tells the story of West Virginia.

Cynthia Rylant grew up in West Virginia and if you didn’t know this, you might miss her tenderness. The story might be a sweet little story about a place and time far away. But knowing this is how she grew up, and these were things she witnessed and saw bring a depth and connection to the book. 

Knowing the author of a book of the Bible can do the same. We don’t know all of the authors of each of the books of the Bible. There are authors we do know and when we do know the name of the author it is important to study them. Why? Well I’ve found four reasons why it is important to know the author of a book of the Bible before you read. 

Four Reasons to Learn About the Author

1. Context. It is important to know the context of the book. When does it take place in the history of the world? Did the author live before Abraham or after Moses? Was he alive during the kings or the time of Judges? Did the author live before Jesus died on the cross or after? These are important questions to answer because it will help us know what the author knew about God and what had been revealed about Jesus. 

2. Background. Knowing the background information about the author is so vital because it helps give us details about why or how an author shares things. For example, Matthew was a Jewish tax collector. He writes one of our four gospels. The focus of his Gospel is that of Jesus as king and Messiah. Knowing Matthew is Jewish this makes sense. Also, we see Matthew focuses a lot of his events and teachings from Jesus on outcasts. Tax collectors were outcasts within the Jewish community. Maybe Matthew wanted to show how Jesus didn’t keep anyone from the Good News of salvation. Knowing the background is so helpful in understanding a book of the Bible. 

3. Depth. How much richer to know Cynthia Rylant grew up in West Virginia? We take her words more seriously and they have more of a deeper meaning. So it is to know that Matthew was a tax collector when he tells us the story about the man with leprosy in Matthew 8. Those with leprosy were outcasts as well. Jesus’ healing of this man means more knowing that Matthew himself was often treated like a man with leprosy. 

4. Understanding. Sometimes knowing the author and a little about him helps us understand the hard parts of the book. Why did the author include certain phrases? Or why are some words chosen over other words? These questions will be answered as we look into the life and context of the author.  

Learn more about the background of Matthew here.

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