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Friday, September 26, 2014

Bible 5: Inspired Authors


The Inspiration of "the Bible" as we have seen, is much more complex than the simple statement "God inspired the Bible." It does not matter how high your view of inerrancy is, you still have to explain what you mean when you say what you say.

The Bible is not a book, it is a library.  While one divine Author is the source, God is not the sole author. Human beings wrote the words and there were lots of them doing the writing over a long time. In addition, other writings which were authoritative in some places which were not included in the canon of Scripture. So the the Jews and later the church had to decide. [And it did. The problem is there were lots of churches so Bibles do not totally agree on the content.]

The fundamental issue for my reflection is the collection itself (whichever one you claim is really the Bible). "Inspiration" of the Bible has to account for God's activity in the Jews and later the church gathering together the disparate books and compiling them together and calling this bundle The Word of God....

Having looked at 'the Bible' as whole, now we consider what inspiration means as applied to individual works within the Bible (Like Matthew or Jeremiah). This is probably what most people mean when they say 'the Bible is inspired.'

The first question is, is inspiration primarily what is at work in the human writer or what is at work within the Scripture itself? This may seem silly at first, but lets briefly consider why it matters. Probably two of the more common ways to inspiration:
 
·        1. Somebody sat down one day and wrote the Biblical text as dictated by the Holy Spirit (God breathed) which is the infallible, inerrant, perfect, complete Word of God. All that matters is the fact of God’s authorship. The text is a direct communication to the reader of exactly what God wants that reader to know. [This could mean the original language text, or some current translation of the reconstructed text (e.g. those who think the King James Version is The definitive inspired Bible), or both. Many people are not aware of the original languages so it is a simple or ‘na├»ve’ approach to “their” Bible]
·         
   A more process aware person may think: 

2. Somebody sat down one day and served as the final author (redactor) of the Biblical text as dictated by the Holy Spirit (God breathed) which is the infallible, inerrant, perfect and complete Word of God. All that matters is the fact of God’s authorship. The final text is a direct communication to the reader of exactly what God wants the reader to know. There was an actual process prior to final document, but it is immaterial & unrelated to inspiration and has no influence on interpretation. 
    
   In both instances, inspiration is something at work in the author. It often is probably pictured as the Spirit of God whispering words, or controlling the pen or somehow forcefully causing the author to write what is written. And this view thinks of the reader as the individual holding a Bible and reading it. However, the ancient world was devoid of that skill and books were rare and very expensive. If the Spirit of God fills the words, does that change what we mean by inspired? Is it more or less useful? We continue tomorrow.

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