When I first saw The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture on the cart I was immediately intrigued. Here’s a few paragraphs to give you the gist of what the author is attempting.
“This book aims to describe what Christians in the first five centuries of the church believed about the inspiration of Scripture. . . Sadly the views of the average Christian during this period are difficult to reconstruct. But we can grasp the basic shape of early Christian beliefs about Scripture through the writings of Christian intellectuals, including many bishops, known commonly as the ‘Church Fathers.'” (2)
Graves notes there was a diversity of views during this time period so he will not attempt “to describe a coherent, systematic doctrine of biblical inspiration that was shared by all Christians, but rather the network of ideas about inspiration reflected in early Christian writings. This network has identifiable benchmarks but also diverse trajectories.” (3)
“In this book, I will be considering various affirmations that could be seen as entailments of biblical inspiration. All Christians in the early church believed that Scripture was inspired by God. It seems that believing in the inspiration of Scripture was an entailment of believing in Christianity. The next question I want to ask is this: What were the entailments of believing in inspiration? If it is granted that Scripture is inspired, what must be true of Scripture as a result? Some of the perspectives that the Church Fathers offered on this question might be surprising to modern Christians. It is therefore important to point out that this question is not simple to answer.” (4)
Here are some of the section titles:
- Every detail of Scripture is meaningful
- Scripture is the supreme authority in Christian belief and practice
- Scripture has multiple senses
- Scripture accurately predicted the future, especially about Jesus
- The etymologies of words in Scripture convey meaning
- Events narrated in the Bible actually happened
- Scripture does not have any errors in its facts
- The original text of Scripture is authoritative
- Scripture’s teaching is internally consistent
- Scripture does not deceive
There is some rich material here that warrants a close reading.
The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture is a paperback from Eerdmans. It has 201 pages and sells for $24.00.
Michael Graves is Armerding Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, Illinois. The author of Jerome’s Hebrew Philology (2007), he has also produced the first English translation of St. Jerome’s Commentary on Jeremiah (2012).