Almost all Christian discourse about inspiration eventually loops around to 2 Timothy 3:16–17, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good” (CEB). This series wouldn’t be complete without some attention to this verse, and to its use of the term “inspired.”
Three details (already known to many Higgaion readers) about the grammar and form of 2 Tim 3:16 demand our attention up front. Before I go much further, I should freely confess that I am no New Testament scholar. My command of Greek is weaker than I’d like, and barely even on the same scale as my facility with Hebrew. If in this post I go too far astray in my handling of the Greek text, I trust that colleagues who are better Hellenists than I will gently guide me back to the right path. Also, I admit that the importance of each of these facts might not be immediately evident, but I’ll strive to clarify everything by the end of the post.
Over the course of this series, I’ve examined a number of biblical texts that contain either explicit claims or strong implications about their own composition. I systematized those texts into a spectrum of “types” or “models” of inspiration, ranging from maximal/direct to minimal/indirect divine input. I divided my spectrum into four categories:
Neighboring categories obviously admit of fuzzy boundaries, but precise categorization of any given text takes a back seat to fairly representing the range of claims that biblical authors actually made about where they got their motivation and material.
Now the time has come to consider how well this spectrum reflects not just textual claims and implications, but actual reality. Continue reading
In the introduction to Gender Issues in Ancient and Reformation Translations of Genesis 1–4, Helen Kraus writes:
[C]lose exegesis is bound to confront the Old Testament scholar with the problem of monotheism that lies at the heart of the Creation narrative. As well as precluding feminine representation in the heavenly realm, it is monotheism that necessitates the creation of humanity from the earth rather than by sexual reproduction, which is the preferred method in other Near Eastern creation myths. (3)
In a certain way, I follow the logic here. Continue reading
A week or so ago, Joseph Kelly asked (on his Facebook page):
So I’m reading a volume from the LHBOTS, and the second article in it cites a Wikipedia page to orient readers to the general discussion of the topic (meta-ethics). I’ve also seen this author do this in his 2012 book published by SBL.
Any opinions out there about this?
The conversation pretty quickly veered off course into a back-and-forth between Angela Roskop Erisman and James McGrath about students’ use of Wikipedia, but I think Joseph’s original question deserves a bit more attention than it got. How should a scholar “orient readers to the general discussion of [a scholarly] topic”? Does Wikipedia have a salutary role to play in this endeavor?
Thus far in this series (please start with the introduction if you haven’t read the other segments yet), I’ve surveyed some biblical texts that contain explicit claims or strong implications that they originated in their human authors’ responses to divine dictation, divine disclosure, or divine deeds. But I don’t think those three categories quite cover the entire spectrum of what biblical authors have to say about where their words and ideas came from, so we need to add (at least) one more broad category to the list: inspiration by devotion to the divine.