[b-hebrew] Inspiration

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Mon Aug 1 22:43:53 EDT 2005


I'm not sure what Jim was thinking specifically, but if you don't  
mind me jumping in: many North Atlantic Christians (and maybe others,  
I'm just speaking from my own milieu) tend to make a distinction  
between "inspiration," defined as God prompting the production of  
_written texts_, and the broader concept of "revelation," defined as  
God communicating with human beings for a variety of purposes. If God  
said to Abraham, "Fear not, I am your shield and your great reward,"  
that would be "revelation." If God said to Moses, "Write down the  
words of this covenant" (that is, the Ritual Decalogue, Exodus 34),  
that would be "inspiration." I don't know if Jim was really thinking  
about that distinction, but I personally tend to find it a helpful  
one. To summarize: the term "inspiration," in North Atlantic  
Christian discourse anyway, tends to be limited to divinely-prompted  
_composition of texts_. It's just a vocabulary thing (from my point  
of view).

I think Jim is right to the extent that I can't think of any  
_biblical_ Hebrew term for what Christians mean when they say  
"inspiration." On the other hand, I do think that the _concept_ is  
present (see my other post). Without doing an extensive search, my  
hunch is that there is a Hebrew biblical vocabulary for "revelation,"  
but it is pretty simple, usually just "God said ..." I have been  
working through Ezekiel recently, and the concept of "revelation" in  
the sense "You/they shall know that I am YHWH when x, y, z happens"  
is a recurrent theme.

Best wishes,


On Aug 1, 2005, at 7:32 PM, Shoshanna Walker wrote:

> Why, what do you think G-d speaking to people - Avraham, Yitzchak,
> Adam, Noach, Moshe, etc. - is?
> Shoshanna
> there is none.  the concept of "inspiration" is a completely christian
> notion- and the Hebrew Bible says nothing of it.
> Best,
> Jim
> Kevin Riley wrote:
>> A question raised by a recent [and now ended] discussion: is there  
>> any
>> clear evidence in the Hebrew scriptures or in Hebrew writings from  
>> *before*
>> the exile that give us a clear picture of how the ancient Hebrews  
>> perceived
>> inspiration [or whatever you want to call the process of God  
>> causing the
>> scriptures to be written].  It seems to be assumed that they viewed
>> inspiration in one of the ways we do, yet I wonder if we have any  
>> evidence
>> of that, and if so what it is?  I don't want a reply  that tells  
>> me what
>> inspiration is, or to start a discussion on which current view is  
>> correct -
>> just what actual original evidence we have for an ancient Hebrew
>> understanding of it.
>> Kevin Riley
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> -- 
> D. Jim West
> Biblical Studies Resources -  http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
> Biblical Theology Weblog -  http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com
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R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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