THE ORIGIN AND SOURCE OF THE JEWISH SCRIPTURES
Interestingly, though there are basically three schools of Biblical-origin thought in Judaism--the origin concept of literalism, the origin concept of liberalism, and all that lies in between--all three end up at the same place: the ultimate source of the Scriptures is God. This goes for the books of Torah, the Prophets, and all the other Writings (like Psalms).
But it is what that means to those in the various three camps--"the Scriptures come from God"--that differs greatly. And in the end, the eventual conclusions are always somewhat different from what a Christian (and those who have been exposed to only their brand of theology) would think.
In other words, I could have just told you the answer in a language you don't understand and we would still be right here. Like everybody else, Jews have their own definitions for things. Nothing is ever easy. You keep ordering eggs for breakfast, they keep sending you scrambled eggs, and you don't like scrambled eggs! Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Literal is not Liberal
The literal origin approach in Judaism is that every word, every stroke from a stylus, every "iota" in Scripture comes from God. The "inspiration" process is similar to a command-like dictation, though even in the literal camp this doesn't necessarily mean God literally dictated each word and the writers merely wrote what they heard. It does, however, mean that whatever the particulars of the process for the writer was (not all had the same experience), the words are the result of a direct-from-God process, through a human scribe of course.
But the liberal origin view is that the writers may not have been controlled so directly. Their own thoughts, some of their own opinions, and even their lack of knowledge about things caused them to write the text as we have it. Yet, their writing was still not mundane writ in the end. God still "inspired" or directed this process so that the essential religious truths were preserved. It was very human, perhaps with some writers conscious of God's guidance, others not so much. This view is less dictation but just as much influence.
Then you have those who swim in between or borrow from both ends of this paradigm. Regardless of the position, however, the same conclusion is reached: it comes from God.
Thought You Were Going to Get Off Easy, Huh?
No, it's not that simple in the end. For you see, just because a Jew might subscribe to the literal view of inspiration doesn't guarantee that he reads the Scriptures literally. Sure, a lot of those who read Scripture in a literal fashion do subscribe to the more literal view. Yet not everyone who is a literalist believes in the literal "direct line from God" view.
The same goes for more moderate readers and those who employ more critical methodologies. Viewing the process one way doesn't mean you read the text any particular way.
And then there's the "concept" of God. No two Jews have the same concept of the Creator. Just because you accept a literal transmission view doesn't mean you believe that God has a literal voice that can be heard. Since the universal concept of God in Judaism is that God essentially transcends the human ability to fully understand God, therefore God is a mystery and can't possibly be reduced to human and mundane terms. Therefore how a God that cannot be defined literally transmits a text would not be an easy thing to define.
Now, Which Texts are Inspired?
Well, they all were.
Again that depends what you think that "all" includes...probably also what you think "inspiration" does for a text.
Let's simplify this be telling you what "inspiration" ISN'T for Jews. It isn't what it means for most Christians like the Jehovah's Witnesses. It doesn't mean that a text is a form of revelation from God that now means it is the basis for true religion.
See, just because you are "inspired" by God to do something doesn't mean what you do as a result is a revelation of truth upon which to base a religion. Have you ever been inspired by a song? A book or movie? A friend? These things may have inspired you to do something, right? But that something was not necessarily to write a book, let alone create a foundational compendium for a religion. For Jews "inspiration" from God kind of means the same thing.
God may have inspired someone to write something down, but it didn't mean that what they wrote was limited to a literal description of something religious upon which to base one's convictions upon. In Jewish thought, God inspires many things. God can inspire art, poetry, a man to marry a woman, a woman to invent a cure for a horrible disease, or 70 scribes to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek and name it LXX (pronounced "Septuagint," but I don't see how you get that pronounciation from those three letters, LOL ). Even if God inspired you to write some of the Psalms, this doesn't mean that you wrote something that is meant to be read as literal theological truth (but it could mean you are King David and, for the moment, dead). It only means that you did something God wanted you to do (at least in Jewish terms of the word).
You see for Jews our religion and culture and nation were already inspired of God. We didn't need Scriptures upon which to base these things upon. We already had these things. We didn't need Scriptures to validate the truthfulness of our beliefs either. In fact, you might say, the writers of the Scriptures were inspired by our long-standing religion and our culture to compose what you now call the Bible (and that in a sense would count as inspiration from God since that's where such things came from too).
And because he was a Jew, that is essentially what Paul meant when he wrote to Timothy that "all Scripture is inspired of God." (2 Timothy 3:16) This is a Jewish concept, originally anyway. Paul meant that the Scriptures were written under God's influence or direction, not that they were official documents of doctrine (though they are used for doctrine and theology).
That is also why it is so odd to hear that the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses claims it is not inspired in a recent study edition of The Watchtower. To employ the original meaning of the term as used by the Jews, the Governing Body has just told the world they are not guided by any divine influence whatsoever. That is weird, no?
Well, anyway, that's your first answer. Is anyone feeling a bit like Helen Keller either before or after her "way wah" experience yet? More to come.