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


About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This entry was posted in John Walton, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Errors of Inerrancy

  1. craighurst says:

    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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