Errors of Inerrancy

In The Lost World of Scripture John Walton and D. Brent Sandy offer a nice list of errors made by both advocates of inerrancy and of those of skeptical scholarship. They first list the errors of inerrancy advocates.

  • They have at times misunderstood ‘historical’ texts by applying modern genre criteria to ancient literature, thus treating it as having claims that it never intended.
  • They have at times treated events, people, composition, science and theology all on the same plane–even though they are not, and each needs to be treated separately.
  • They have often misunderstood the nature of literary production in the ancient world.
  • They have assumed there were single original autographs that were inerrant, whereas composition may not always have come about through a single autograph.
  • That have at times confused locution and illocution. (Inerrancy technically only applies to the latter, though of course, without locutions there can be no illocution.)
  • They have failed to account for Israel’s immersion in the cognitive environment of the ancient Near East.
  • They have often too easily ignored similarities between the Old Testament and ancient literature.
  • They have at times been too anxious to declare sections of the Old Testament to be historical in a modern sense, where it may not be making those claims for itself.
  • They have insisted on the application of the term inerrancy to genres for which it offers little clarification on the nature of authority. (279)

Errors of Skeptical Scholarship

  • They have believed they could sort out sources in a manuscript with confidence.
  • They are frequently driven by skepticism and doubt.
  • They are willing to read against the text or across the text, thus denying its authority.
  • They sometimes have no regard for the theology of the text.
  • They have generally believed they could assign dates to their sources.
  • They are often too quick to disbelieve events and people.
  • They have too easily ignored differences between the Old Testament and ancient literature.
  • They have often been too eager to dismiss sections of the Old Testament as mythological.
  • They have often been too willing to replace the agendas of the text with their own agendas.
  • They too often critique the Bible by applying modern standards of historiography and attempting to make the text conform to modern conventions and objectives.
  • They too often are dismissive of the idea that God acts in the world. (280)

Lost World of Scripture


2 thoughts on “Errors of Inerrancy

  1. Reading this book now. Very challenging and informative. First three chapters were pretty hard to get through but the rest has been much better.

  2. Pingback: Really Recommended Posts 3/21/14- egalitarian marriage, the Bible and murdering children, inerrancy, and more! | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

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