Thursday, June 21, 2012

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5   
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6


How important is exegesis in theology? Oftentimes systematicians are accused of simply lumping verses together and coming to a conclusion. Certainly there is much of that present in the history of theology, but doing theology right involves the dirty work of exegesis and hermeneutics. In his chapter on the Doctrine of Inspiration, Dr. Millard Erickson gives an example of why exegesis comes before theological conclusion.  He writes:

We must now pose the question of the extent of inspiration, or to put it somewhat differently, of what is inspired. Is the whole of the Bible to be thus regarded, or only certain portions? (235)

The question can be easily answered right? What about 2 Timothy 3:16? Does it not say that "all Scripture is inspired (God-breathed)?" Not quite.

One easy solution would be to cite 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful . . ." There is a problem, however because of an ambiguity in the first part of this verse.  The text reads simply pasa grafe theopneustos kai ophelimo. It lacks the copula esti. Should the verb be inserted between graphe and theopneustos? In that case the sentence would literally say, "All scripture is God-breathed and profitable." Or should the copula be placed after theopneustos? In that even, the sentence would read, "All God-breathed scripture is also profitable." If the former rendering is adopted, the inspiration of all Scripture would be affirmed. If the latter is followed, the sentence would emphasize the profitability of all God-breathed Scripture. From the context, however, one cannot really determine what Paul intended to convey. (What does appear from the context is that Paul had in mind a definite body of writings known to Timothy from his childhood. It is unlikely that Paul was attempting to make a distinction between inspired and uninspired Scripture within this body of writings.) (235)

So the two options essentially are the difference between B. B. Warfield and Karl Barth. Warfield promoted a conservative, traditional, orthodox view of inspiration and inerrancy while Barth promoted a view that viewed Scripture as "inspired" subjectively. Scripture, then, becomes the word of God. And the different in 2 Timothy 3:16 comes down to a copula (how many here really know what a copula is?).

This exegetical challenge forces Erickson to turn elsewhere for a more clear answer to the question. Erickson, and myself, believes that all of Scripture is inspired, thus the extent of inspiration is the entire Bible. So show this, Erickson looks at a number of texts including 2 Peter 1:19-21 and John 10:34-35. Here he argues that in the New Testament "law" and "prophets/prophecy" can mean the entire Old Testament.

So yes, and I am not presenting his full argument here, all of Scripture is inspired, but we must begin with the original languages before coming to that conclusion. Thankfully, Erickson is doing a lot of the dirty work for us.


For more on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai - Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
Blogizomai - The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation


For more:
Blogizomai - Repost | "Life's Biggest Questions" by Erik Thoennes
Reviews - The Top 5 Essential Works of Theology of the Past 25 Years
Reviews - "Doctrine"
Reviews - "The Good News We Almost Forgot
Reviews - "Dug Down Deep" by Josh Harris
Reviews - "Heresy"
Reviews - "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
Reviews - "The Theology of the Reformers"
Blogizomai - Repost | Schreiner on the Practice of Inaugurated Eschatology
logizomai - We Are All Theologians:  The Root of Everything We Are and Do
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
Blogizomai - The Meaning & Implications of the Resurrection
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
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