‘The Holy Scriptures:
The first place we give to the Holy Scriptures: the Bible, Old and New Testaments. The Bible is understood by Orthodox Christians to be the principal written record of the experience by God’s people of God’s revealing Himself to them. It is understood that the Church, therefore, wrote the Bible. The Bible is the word of God, but the word of God was not written directly and personally by God. The Holy Scriptures did not fall from heaven in a fully complete written form. By whom were the Scriptures written? They were written by human beings who were inspired by God. What they write is the truth about God. They write what they write as members of God’s people.
For example, in the early years of the Christian Church, those most important books of Holy Scripture that we call the Gospels did not exist. Several decades passed after Pentecost before the first Gospel was written. It was the end of the first century by the time all four Gospels were written. Three hundred more years passed before a decision was made in the Church that there would be only four Gospels.
The books that are in the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are there because God’s people, through those who were set aside as having the authority to make the decision, decided that these books would be part of the Bible, and other books would not. The Church, as God’s people inspired by God, wrote the Bible. The Church produced the Bible. The Bible did not produce the Church.
The Holy Scriptures are the principal and most honored written record of God’s revelation to His people. But it is the understanding of the Orthodox that the Holy Scriptures cannot be completely, truthfully understood unless they are understood within the context of the Church that produced them, that declared them to be what they are. So the Bible is the Book of the Church, the first source of the Christian Tradition.’
*This article is taken from the catechism series, What We Believe by Fr. David Anderson (1997, Conciliar Press).
The Orthodox Study Bible, New Testament and Psalms (St. Athanasius Academy, 1997).