Just because the Bible is divinely inspired does not mean that the human author had nothing to do with writing it. Rather, human authors–their styles, characters, quirks and historical situatedness–were taken up by God in the writing task. Consequently, we should try to get to know who they were and what they were concerned with.
One way to do this is to figure out the particular styles of the biblical authors. For example, all four gospel writers have differing styles, concerns and theological points to make. The question is: can students tell them apart?
Try a quiz or competition to see if your students can tell Biblical writers apart.
Competition: Guess the Gospel
#1 “Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”
#2 “As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.”
#3 “Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they *implored Him to lay His hand on him. Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He *said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.””
#4 “While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
#1 Matthew 12:22-24. Things to notice: The crowd react by exclaiming something about Jesus being the son of David. This is what Matt wants to emphasize – the son of David is the Messiah. Matthew talks a lot about power struggles. Demons, Beelzebub and the Pharisees oppose Jesus. The question is: who follows Satan and who follows Jesus? Matthew also has an economic style of writing. There are few details.
#2 John 4:46-54. Things to notice: John emphasizes the revealing nature of miracle. It is a sign of some thing. Signs are also how John organizes his gospel. John wants to emphasize revelation and the consequent belief. He describes the appropriate reaction to revelation as belief.
#3 Mark 7:31-37. Things to notice: Mark’s like of detailed description. He describes the geographical location, the hand, fingers, ears, spitting and touch. He paints a vivid picture. He also likes to write narrative in a fast pace, using words like “immediately.” Mark notes the reaction of the crowd as astonished. Mark wants to astonish the reader. His description of the passion of Christ is supposed to astonish us – as the one who can heal is the one who hangs on the cross.
#4 Luke 17:11-19. Things to notice: Luke’s gospel is rather like a travel book about traveling to Jerusalem (notice words like: passing, entering a village, returning, going). Luke also highlights the foreign Samaritan who falls to the feet of Jesus. Suffering removes the racial divide and Jesus heals them all together. Luke is a doctor and knows a lot about customs of lepers – the distance they kept from people and the custom of showing themselves to priests to be confirmed as clean.