Inspiration of the Bible--Part 2

May 13, 2021

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4

Of course, many will regard what I wrote in Part 1 as incredibly "weak." I have a very dear preacher friend who feels I'm somehow leaving God out, and that I represent the Bible as an all too-human book;  another tells me, "I am simply afraid of your book!"; and still another says, "I've read your book twice, and I still don't know what you mean by inspiration!"  (These are probably not the worst things said about this book, just what has been said to me . . . so far.) 

Weak or Strong?

Even so, I believe in the inspiration of our scriptures. And my reply to such concerns is that, quite frankly, when we feel we have to sugarcoat what biblical texts both say and do (by making them say things they don't actually say, like traditionally "strong" approaches insist on doing) , the stuff we end up with may taste sweet to us, but it is not worth eating. (I deal with this at length in SCI.)

The only reason my approach to this topic may seem "weak" or "unintelligible" to anyone is because we are not satisfied with what we actually have in our biblical texts;  so from these texts we demand answers to our own questions, rather than focusing first on the questions those biblical texts are addressing. We end up not knowing the difference between what biblical texts say and what we think they must mean, what biblical texts actually address and what we force them to address.

Although we are not the first people in history to do this, we are so overrun by traditional and popular "church-think" terminology (or even shallow, kiddie-pool theology), that any real hope of seeing what biblical texts actually say (and don't say) and do (and don't do) gets buried under the weight of our ever-increasing craving to spell out (i.e., codify) our faith.

We demand answers to our own questions,
rather than focusing first on the questions biblical texts are addressing. 
We end up not knowing the difference between
what biblical texts say and what we think they must mean,
what biblical texts actually address and what we force them to address. 


I'm not just saying this off the top of my head. If anyone thinks that SCI is bothersome, you should go take a look at the book,  Graphe In Biblical and Related Literature: Is the Term "Scripture" an Appropriate Translation in English Bibles?  This is a complete rewrite (and expansion by about 3x) of SCI chapter 13 (on the word "scripture"). In this book, I focus on every text in biblical and related literature that has the word graphe, which is often and inconsistently translated as "scripture" (or should it be "Scripture"?).  And what that book helps to show is that we might not know as much about "scripture" as we assume we do.

Continue to Part 3:  Scripture or Tradition?

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4