The authorship of the Old Testament has been universally ascribed, by both Jews and Christians, to God himself, though not by direct composition, but by spiritually influencing the minds of certain sages to accomplish the work, or, in ordinary phraseology, by inspiring or endowing them with a perfect knowledge of the transactions to be recorded and predicted, in a way suitable to the great end in view. The Bible is hence usually termed the Sacred Scriptures. The periods when the act of writing all or most part of the Scriptures took place, as well as most of the names of those who were instrumental in forming the work, have been ascertained with surprising accuracy, both from written evidence in the narratives themselves, and from the well-preserved traditions of the Jews. At whatever time the different books were written, they were not collected and put into a connected form till long after their immediate authors were deceased; and their present arrangement, as we shall afterward fully explain, is of comparatively modern date.