Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Short Theology, Part 2: The Bible's Inspiration, Transmission, and Translation

en wrote the Bible as the Holy Spirit moved them (2 Pt 1:19–21). We don't how how this happened, but we do not believe God “possessed” humans or in any way superseded their intellects; they were not taking down diction from God. They were simply human instruments, each bringing a distinctive style to the Bible—much as different writing instruments would result in different weights and colors of print.

The strange but beautiful union of the human and divine pictured in the living Word of God (cf. Jn 1:14). Scripture, being both fully human and fully divine like Christ, contains no distinction or division between the two. Spirit-led individuals wrote the original autographa in their language without error, thus, the facts of Scripture enjoy both infallibility and inerrancy.

Therefore, we need not exalt fallible human reason next to or above Scripture to discover genuine truth. Our historical studies add rich colors to the text, but are not necessary to deduce the “real” characters or situations of Scripture. We need not run the Bible through a higher-critical grid to strip away the opinions or misconceptions of the authors to find the reality behind the text. If this were the case, then all of the promises of the church would be naught, forever unfulfilled by a shell game of truth and opinion. Reapplying Jesus’ question to this context, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12).

We can see Scripture as the supreme authority for our faith. God moved throughout time and preserved these words for the greater faith community. Though God never expressly promises to preserve each word of Scripture for every generation, He promises that his Word will never pass away (see Mt 24:35).  Proof of this is probably best found in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia for the Old Testament and the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition/United Bible Societies’ 4th Edition for the New Testament, for they “show homework” that demonstrates just how pure our present text is. Just as Jesus and His Apostles quoted the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, and called it God's Word, we may translate Scripture into other languages.  Theologians and linguists must take great strides to ensure that any given translation remains up-to-date with the natural developments of language and speech.

Today, different translation theories dictate how closely a Bible version will remain to the original languages. “Thought-for-thought” translations such as the New International Version are beneficial for spiritual reflection on God's Word. Yet, the best choice for personal study is a more formal equivalent translation that remains as near to the original language as grammatically possible (e.g., the ESV, NASB /NAU, NKJV, and KJV/AV). In as much as any version faithfully represents the original text, it is “the Word of God.”