A little clarification of my own

Samuel Payne sam at sampayne.worldonline.co.uk
Wed Feb 21 05:20:44 EST 2001


I think it might be wise to offer a little clarification of my own before a
large number of people jump down my already sore throat.

I have no desire to deny the "inspiration" of the books of any part of the
Jewish (or Christian) Bible. I do think that, if it is to be used, the word
"inspiration" requires considerable clarification. It is otherwise such an
elastic word as to be virtually meaningless. However, I gather that
discussions of "inspiration" are off-limits on this list, which I think is
very wise, as it is a subject of considerable sensitivity. I assume though
at the same time, that it is off-limits both for DENIALS of inspiration and
also for ASSERTIONS of inspiration.

My original assertion, which seems to have caused some offence, was to the
effect that biblical scholarship begins with the recognition that the books
of the Bible had human authors who betray (in a neutral sense) their time
and environment. I would think this standpoint is unquestionable. Study of
strata, development of theology, etc. depend on this recognition, and has
enriched the understanding of many aspects of the Bible that before, in the
days of a very simply understood "monolithic" Bible were major problems (-
as a very simple example, the apparent discrepancies between the accounts of
the conquest of Canaan in Joshua and Judges).

This human authorship does NOT exclude, as I see it, the possibility of the
books being both authoritative for believers and channels of revelation of
truths about God. Whether this applies equally, and without discrimination,
to all strata and all books is another matter. One might question the equal
religious value of the apparent vindictiveness of the book of Esther, or the
edification value of the Song of Songs (literally understood) compared to,
say, the Psalms or Isaiah, but that is a secondary question.

Personally, I would confer the same ability to reveal truths about God to
scriptures outside of the Judaeo-Christian Bible AS WELL. But that too is a
secondary question, and well outside the scope of this list - except with
respect to the not always tacit assumptions and claims of some members.

I am now going to retire into "lurking only mode" - to which pronouncement I
am sure there will be a few sighs of relief.

Samuel Payne





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