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My first answer is no. This is remarkably similar to my second answer, which is something like “sure, why not, but it means little to nothing to say you’ve read Holy Writ from Genesis to Revelation.”
To start, if you read “the bible” as a single book, you are doing a grave injustice to it. First, “the bible” is a disastrous name for it. It is rather the holy writings or some such thing. While we have put it in a box as one book (hence the singular, bible), it is a group of writings written by different people (I would say at least one woman and maybe even a Gentile) over a course of centuries. It has been redacted, edited, copied, and closed. To read Genesis as if it precedes Exodus and so on and so forth is to dismiss the books likely written before it such as Isaiah, or at least some of Isaiah. To then proclaim that you have the mystery of the faith because you have read the bible straight through is to first deny the character of the writings and second, to claim to have read something that simply doesn’t exist.
And of course, there is part two. What does reading Scripture ever do for anyone? I mean, people read Daniel and Revelation, look around, and assume that these two books are speaking directly to our times. The Young Earther reads Genesis and believes that God is nothing more than a Loki-like deity. The husband who seeks control looks at Ephesians 4 and believes it gives him the right to own, in every sense of the word, his wife. John Piper reads Romans and believes he is suddenly God and King. Reading does little, unless it is for pure devotional or a spiritual discipline. To study, however, to study Scripture is to take Scripture at what it said and to see what it says.
Of course, what ever gives you comfort in attempting to gain some measure of spiritual authority over someone else I guess is alright. Right?
Here is an example: Your original language point. Since we do not have the original mss. we do not know what language God had His authors use to pen His words. Thus your restriction to the Hebrew language is only a guess at best, based upon assumption. For all we know Moses used Egyptian, given that he was educated by the Pharaoh and that the original people he was writing to understood Egyptian and didn’t die off until after Sinai.
Then since you cannot construct the original context for biblical books but subscribe to the idea that the OT was written in the 4-6th centuries BC by a bunch of ‘elites’ who had hopes of making a free people captive again you really have no argument since the OT and NT change lives outside of that original context throughout the world.
In a discussion about science and creation, etc… a follower and apologist for the latest cult guru, Little Honey Tee Tee, who also said “God didn’t use science to create” said the above.
This was in response to my discussion on his proposed use of Hebrews 11.3 to promote creationism. I suggest that the word was more like ages (aeons). This was his response.
I know I’m supposed to be nice, but this is just stupid.
The logical conclusion to his summation of why to only use the KJV is because the British King was more inspired than the original authors/editors/redactors/compilers. So, since we have no real clue as to what Scripture says, we should all be British or worse, Ussherites.
Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshipped the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. (Daniel 3.7 NRSV)
A friend of mine brought this up the other day.
Say… where was Daniel in all of this? Remember, if Scripture is supposed to be infallible, historically trustworthy, filled with nothing but facts and poetic facts… then we have a problem.
This story plainly states that of all of the Babylonian empire, only three people withstood the King’s command. Where was Daniel?
If you are using Daniel as a patriotic image of Americans, or even in any sort of eschatological sense — STOP IT. You are doing it wrong.
Speaking as a biblical scholar, inerrancy is a high-maintenance doctrine. It takes much energy to “hold on to” and produces much cognitive dissonance. I am hardly alone. Over the last twenty years or so, I have crossed paths with more than a few biblical scholars with evangelical roots, even teaching in inerrantist schools, who nervously tread delicate paths re-defining, nuancing, and adjusting their definition of inerrancy to accommodate the complicating factors that greet us at every turn in the historical study of Scripture.
It is, you know… The mental gymnastics would even impress McKayla Maroney!
Give it a read!
Both… sometimes… none… sometimes…
The principle of “scripture interprets scripture” is a logical fallacy. This is the idea of sola scriptura, that all we need is the good book… except, that is not all we have. We have the canon, formulated over centuries. This canon is a two-fold issue. First, the books are sometimes redacted, meaning in such cases as Isaiah and Zechariah, we have a tradition combining various writings under one heading. Second, we have to consider the manuscript. I remember reading somewhere in one of F.F. Bruce’s writings on this issue. If you are Orthodox, then you know full well what I mean. You accept the Byzantine New Testament while the West usually (unless the KJVO crowd) goes with a more critical text. Even the order of the books are issues among the faith communities. Essentially, I mean this: Even the index is by tradition, meaning you do not start with Scripture, but with Tradition.
At times, Scripture does interpret Scripture, but I would maintain in just a few instances. To understand Creation inside of Temple theology, you must start with Deutero-Isaiah and then read Genesis 1, forgetting Genesis 2-3. Job’s creation stories aren’t exactly the same thing and should not find themselves forced into that situation, although Job does comport well with First Isaiah. The Deuteronomistic books do help interpret one another, as do the priestly books. The prophets are okay, but sometimes, not the same thing. I mean, the idea of the Day or the Lord changes from start to finish. And the New Testament… no. It reads and applies the Old Testament (usually the Septuagint) to Christ and the Christian community, but it does not interpret. It interprets Jesus by the Old Testament. Different stuff there.
But, and I know a certain person not yet convinced with this (J.S. – I miss you. Come back from the cabin), Scripture does at times argue with Scripture. Ruth and Jonah battle Ezra-Nehemiah. Deuteronomy battles Leviticus, especially in Paul. Revelation would dispense with the rest of the books. Indeed, the prophets are constantly arguing with the Law.
And of course… Paul, James, and Luther…
It ignore that the entire narrative of Scripture, and the work of Christ, is not a direct question to God, is to get a lot of things wrong. I would say, dare to say even, that if you do not understand this basic concept, then you are apt to take Scripture not seriously, but wrong. Do you think that an entire book about questioning God would be about not questioning God if we didn’t know the answer to the problem (Job)?
Piper would need to take seriously the conclusion drawn overwhelmingly by archaeologists that the systematic slaughter of the population of Canaan around 1200 BC did not happen. As with many issues surrounding archaeology, there is further discussion to be had, and I am guessing that Piper will not be swayed but what archaeologists say.
That’s fine. That is nothing new. As a matter of fact, most of us, I thought, knew how to read that. When we find evidence in nature against theology, it is not Scripture that is wrong, but theology (that sounds Augustinian, right?). This is why we are able to adopt evolution of some sort and still hold to a “literal” Genesis 1, because what we know from God’s other book tells us that we haven’t been reading this book correctly.
But, someone has taken offence to this:
No matter what the archeologists say, the Bible says that the conquest happened.
Burk goes on to issue a sort of straw-man-ad-hom all in one -
If your view of scripture is deficient, then it’s no surprise that your view of God’s sovereignty might be deficient as well. Enns falls short on both counts.
How is Enns’ view of Scripture deficient? Because he is able to take real world evidence and follow Christian Tradition, then he must not “believe the bible.” I was unaware that such a demand existed. Paul certainly didn’t require one to “believe the bible” to be saved. His focus on the preaching of Christ and believing the preaching about Christ. Paul also goes further and pits Deuteronomy against Leviticus. Would Burk condemn the Apostle Paul? And what of Jesus? Jesus said some things in the Old Testament weren’t of God, but by man. Does Jesus have a deficient view of Scripture?
Burk is also being rather circular – God’s sovereignty for him is required. This means the bible is true. Because God is Sovereign. Because God is Sovereign, the bible is true. He doesn’t define sovereign here, nor “true.” Instead, I suspect that both are euro-centric theological understandings.
Having struggled with the issue of inerrancy for several years before moving into a more secure belief of inspiration, I have found that this recent work by Dr. Edward W.H. Vick is an enlightening plea to read the bible of Christian Tradition seriously, even if we no longer take it as inerrant. Reading the bible, however, is not the mere act of digesting the words on the paper. As he says in one area, the bible is a dead letter without the live interpreter.
That word, inerrancy, is a flash point. It is usually thrown about to deny that people can take seriously the Scriptures without believing that they are infallible. Inerrancy is simply not the historic position of the Christian Church and not easily philosophically attainable, but it is nevertheless the dividing line for many. Inspiration has come to mean, ironically, a liberal belief that Scripture is a human witness to God’s dialogic revelation. Vick takes both of these concepts and shows how one can actually take the bible faithfully, without having to rely upon created concepts of authority. That is the profit of this book, that those who struggle with inerrancy can find a better foundation in Tradition and not in Chicago, and those who struggle with the idea that if the bible is not infallible, does it still matter will find that their boat is better anchored with a clear and concise argument about what Scripture is actually supposed to be.
Vick is a prolific writer. This book is over 340 pages in length, but divided into short, accessible sections with solid points constructed easily enough. As with his other books, the pen of the critical thinker is present. He doesn’t mince words, nor does he embellish with floral patterns to somehow soften the effect of what he has to say. In other words, Edward Vick is no N.T. Wright, and for that, while one may struggle with the matter-of-fact language of his, they will be eternally grateful. The book as eleven chapters that tackle the tough issues. He begins with what may almost be considered a (proper) introduction to the bible as a book. How do we approach it, he asks. Do we consider the bible as devotional or doctrinal, analytically or exegetical? This is a major concept, and he shows why considering Scripture as doctrinal, and this is important, is not preferred or even rightfully allowed. He next engages us in the canon. The only issue I have here is that Vick is writing to Protestants and their canon instead of including the (my preferred) canon of Catholic Church. In the next two chapters, Vick takes several questions on authority followed by two chapters on inspiration. Chapters seven and eight deal with what revelation actually means. Chapter nine tackles Tradition and Scripture and sees Vick discussing several Protestant view points here, including trying to straighten out what sola scriptura does and does not mean. The last two chapters deal with interpretation.
Usually, books written on this topic from a Protestant viewpoint is almost polemical against the Catholic Church, but Vick seems to make almost the clearest case I know of, from the viewpoint of a Protestant, of why Rome’s views on Tradition and Scripture are correct, and without the agitprop usually associated with this material. Trent, Vatican I and other major Catholic statements are taken in their historical context and portrayed rightly. No worries for those of you who are Protestant though, he is still Protestant with no likely change of conversion. But I am left as to wonder why? Regardless, his take on this particular issue is one – I’m saying this too much – one of the profits of this book. He repositions Scripture and Tradition so that we can understand one another better, and in doing so, help us out of our idolatry of either Scripture or Tradition.
The arguments are concise, philosophical, theological, and well supported. There is nothing in this book that cannot be used by the Church universal, either in community or individually. Vick is, in my opinion, one of the most profitable minds for our current era in the Western Church. He is restoring faith in the workings of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. This book is not just recommended to you, dear readers, but I would demand that you get a copy. Read it. Make it dog-eared. Read it that first year so thoroughly that you must get another copy the second year. But, read it.
Vick writes, regarding the authority of Scripture -
Authority which has to be demonstrated and then attributed to the Bible is secondary and not primary. Christians do not believe the Bible because of something else, this E, this extrinsic thing. They believe it on account of its effectiveness. That is the kind of authority it has. They have already experienced its effectiveness. They do not need persuasion by argument….
And have a short, but powerful stance against the need to prove the Bible, he writes,
The Bible whose authority can be demonstrated is not the church’s ‘Word of God.’ Archaeological evidence is interesting. Here it is irrelevant. Between historical demonstration and religious authority lies an unbridgeable gulf. (98-99)
And regarding fundamentalists and the “literal” debate, he writes,
It is not then a question for the fundamentalist that the Scripture can be taken literally. It must be taken so as not to compromise its inerrancy. (129)
All I can say is…. bam.
Where is your faith? What do you have to demonstrate the authority of Scripture? Why? Because your faith is not in Christ, but in the merits of your own demonstration.
I’m about a third of the way through, and finding that Vick’s book is going to become something to chew on for a while. He is first and foremost a philosopher. Coming from the Seventh Day Adventist Tradition, he still maintains some connection in his writings with his past, but he is ever reaching into the highest heights of a philosophical view towards the subject. Something I want to highlight from this first third.
“‘The most important thing we find in the Bible is not “doctrine” but something that helps us in a new attitude to God and life.’ If we treat the Bible as a source of information, whether doctrinal information or historical information, we are missing the point….”
He goes on to suggest that the authority of the Bible is in its doctrinal statements, which more often than not we have put there, but in the way it guides us towards God. It is not meant to be static:
“That means that we are caught up in a progressing movement, in which (as the New Testament says) the Spirit of God is leading us into a developing and forward-looking experience. It is in performing this activity that the authority of Scripture consists. (61-62)
And a powerful statement on pg 92,
But the church cannot pretend that it does not intervene between what the Bible contains and what it pronounces that the Bible teaches.
That thought there is worth a thousand more pages, I think.
His doctrine of Scriptural authority sounds a lot like mine which I posted a few weeks ago. Inspiration is, like Justification/Sanctification, is about a process. It’s easy to get confused about these terms, like many are confused about what prophecy actually is. Hopefully, by reading Vick, thought who are under the oppression of arrogant doctrine will come to the light.
I have some minimal problems, such as the focus on 66 books. Vick remains thoroughly Protestant in this view. He does not hold to casual human terms like inerrant and infallible, so I can be a bit forgiving for his gloss over the other books in the Canon!
Wish this book was on Kindle…
“Listen to my words, Job; pay attention to what I have to say. Now that I have begun to speak, let me continue. I speak with all sincerity; I speak the truth. For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me, if you can; make your case and take your stand. Look, you and I both belong to God. I, too, was formed from clay. So you don’t need to be afraid of me. I won’t come down hard on you.
“You have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard your very words. You said, ‘I am pure; I am without sin; I am innocent; I have no guilt. God is picking a quarrel with me, and he considers me his enemy. He puts my feet in the stocks and watches my every move.’
“But you are wrong, and I will show you why. For God is greater than any human being. So why are you bringing a charge against him? Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints? For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death.
“Or God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds, with ceaseless aching in their bones. They lose their appetite for even the most delicious food. Their flesh wastes away, and their bones stick out. They are at death’s door; the angels of death wait for them.
“But if an angel from heaven appears — a special messenger to intercede for a person and declare that he is upright – he will be gracious and say, ‘Rescue him from the grave, for I have found a ransom for his life.’ Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s, firm and youthful again. When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing. He will declare to his friends, ‘I sinned and twisted the truth, but it was not worth it. God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.’
“Yes, God does these things again and again for people. He rescues them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life. Mark this well, Job. Listen to me, for I have more to say. But if you have anything to say, go ahead. Speak, for I am anxious to see you justified. But if not, then listen to me. Keep silent and I will teach you wisdom!” (Job 33:1-33 NLT)
Oh boy… what now? Elihu is nowhere else mentioned after his speech, but the transition from Elihu to God’s final words on the matter in 38.1 suggests that God has had enough of the of the speeches. He doesn’t condemn Elihu by name, so it is difficult to see what role he plays, but God does suggest that only Job is right. That means that Elihu’s challenge to Job should be considered wrong as well. The NET sets up 33.14 with the title, Elihu Disagrees with Job’s View of God.
So, what do we do? If God’s grace as represented by Elihu is wrong and generally condemned by God, a god who doesn’t change, then what?
Maybe we should throw Job out of the canon?
I have to wonder that given the tightness of the passage, if the speech was not later inserted into Job. Here’s why: In Job’s final reply to his f(r)iends, the narrator simply states “The words of Job are ended.” (31.40). 38.1 picks up with “Then the Lord answered Job…” Elihu is not mentioned either in the prologue where Job’s friends are introduced and in the epilogue where they are, by name, condemned. The LXX version of Job adds some biographical detail to the story, so we do know that some editing was taking place. Could the intrusion of Elihu’s speech(es) be part of an editor who sought to correct Job’s abhorrent theology failing to take out the condemnation generally given to Job’s friends? It is worth noting that Elihu is possibly meant to be seen as a descendant of Abraham (Through Buz).
The very good theology of Elihu, I think, should not be missed…