Thursday, May 06, 2010
Inspiration and the Bible
The latest issue of JETS is out and it contains several good little articles, one of which is "What Does Theology Have to Do with the Bible? A Call for the Expansion of the Doctrine of Inspiration" by Norris C. Grubbs and Curtis Scott Drumm from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In their conclusion they wisely state:
"The definitions of inspiration drafted by systematic theologians clearly do not address the entire process as it is acknowledged and described by biblical studies scholars. Even though the concepts are well known, the issues of collection, revision, multiple authorship, and the use of secretaries have no place within our current definitional understandings of inspiration. Similarly, biblical scholars are making affirmations about the formation of the biblical text without considering the theological implications or possible contradictions inherent in those affirmations. Indeed, there seems to be a disconnect on the part of biblical scholars for how these textual theories relate to the theological concept of the original autographs ... The most important implication from this article is that the traditional definitions of inspiration need to be expanded in order to account for issues such as collection, revision, and multiple authorship. While the tradition understandings of inspiration with their emphasis on the authors are helpful and theologically correct, the various genres and content of the biblical text require a broader view of the important issue. Perhaps a larger stress on the process rather than just the writer would provide an avenue for going forward."
That is indeed the problem. It is impossible to attribute several books of the Bible to a single author writing a book in one or more sittings without any subsequent collection and revision of their work (e.g., Psalter, Jeremiah). The pink monkey in the room, however, is how much process can you allow? Can you go to Trito-Isaiah, JEDP theory, two editions of Acts, etc? But this article pushes the discussion in the right way and their Grenzian approach is commendable.