Hermeneutics may be described as the development and study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of texts. In contemporary usage in religious studies, hermeneutics refers to the study of the interpretation of religious texts. It is more broadly used in contemporary philosophy to denote the study of theories and methods of the interpretation of all texts and systems of meaning. The concept of "text" is here extended beyond written documents to any number of objects subject to interpretation, such as experiences. A hermeneutic is also defined as a specific system or method for interpretation, or a specific theory of interpretation. However, the contemporary philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer has said that hermeneutics is an approach rather than a method and, further, that the Hermeneutic circle is the central problem of interpretation. Essentially, hermeneutics involves cultivating the ability to understand things from somebody else's point of view, and to appreciate the cultural and social forces that may have influenced their outlook. Hermeneutics is the process of applying this understanding to interpreting the meaning of written texts and symbolic artifacts (such as art or sculpture or architecture), which may be either historic or contemporary. We may notice, the meaning of hermeneutics and its range, depend strongly on the precision of definitions of such terms as: interpretation, understanding, point of view, and the choice of its domain of interest/(domain of intervention). On the other hand, as in the case of other abstract terms, definitions depend on the consensus of their users, and can evolve with time. Hermeneutics interest includes also recognition and explanation of parables, metaphors and insinuations.

A Basic Definition
In his book, "Hermeneutics", writer Henry A. Virkler provides this basic history and definition: "The word hermeneutics is said to have had its origin in the name Hermes, the Greek god who served as messenger for the gods, transmitting and interpreting their communications to their fortunate, or often unfortunate, recipients." "In its technical meaning, hermeneutics is often defined as the science and art of biblical interpretation. Hermeneutics is considered a science because it has rules and these rules can be classified into an orderly system. It is considered an art because communication is flexible, and therefore a mechanical and rigid application of rules will sometimes distort the true meaning of a communication.[1] To be a good interpreter one must learn the rules of hermeneutics as well as the art of applying those rules." Hermeneutical theory is sometimes divided into two sub-categories--general and special hermeneutics. General hermeneutics is the study of those rules that govern interpretation of the entire biblical text. It includes topics of historical-cultural, contextual,

lexical-syntactical, and theological analyses. Special hermeneutics is the study of those rules that apply to specific genres, such as parables, allegories, types, and prophecy."[2]

The word hermeneutics is a term derived from 'Ερμηνεύς, the Greek word for interpreter. This is related to the name of the Greek god Hermes in his role as the interpreter of the messages of the gods. Hermes was believed to play tricks on those he was supposed to give messages to, often changing the messages and influencing the interpretation thereof. The Greek word thus has the basic meaning of one who makes the meaning clear.

In the last two centuries, the scope of hermeneutics has expanded to include the investigation and interpretation not only of textual and artistic works, but of human behaviour generally, including language and patterns of speech, social institutions, and ritual behaviours (such as religious ceremonies, political rallies, football matches, rock concerts, etc.). Hermeneutics interprets or inquires into the meaning and import of these phenomena, through understanding the point of view and 'inner life' (Dilthey) of an insider, or the first-person perspective of an engaged participant in these phenomena.

Scriptural hermeneutics
Main articles: Biblical hermeneutics, Pesher, and Tafsir A common use of the word hermeneutics refers to a process of scriptural interpretation. Throughout religious history scholars and students of religious texts have sought to mine the wealth of their meanings by developing a variety of different systems of hermeneutics. Philosophical hermeneutics in particular can be seen as a development of scriptural hermeneutics, providing a theoretical backing for various interpretive projects. Thus, philosophical and scriptural hermeneutics can be seen as mutually reinforcing practices. Rabbi Ishmael of the Amoraic era of Judaism interpreted laws from the Torah through 13 hermeneutic principles, such as the a fortiori argument (known in Hebrew as ‫( קל וחומר‬kal v'chomer)). This is the first appearance of hermeneutics in the world, through the exegetic interpretation of Biblical texts.[citation needed]

History of Western hermeneutics
Hermeneutics in the Western world, as a general science of text interpretation, can be traced back to two sources. One source was the ancient Greek rhetoricians' study of literature, which came to fruition in Alexandria. The other source has been the Midrashic and Patristic traditions of Biblical exegesis, which were contemporary with Hellenistic culture. Scholars in antiquity

expected a text to be coherent, consistent in grammar, style and outlook, and they amended obscure or "decadent" readings to comply with their codified rules. By extending the perception of inherent logic of texts, Greeks were able to attribute works with uncertain origin.

Ancient Greece and Rome
Aristotle strikes a chord in his treatise De Interpretatione that reverberates through the intervening ages and supplies the key note for many contemporary theories of interpretation. His overture is here:
Words spoken are symbols or signs (symbola) of affections or impressions (pathemata) of the soul (psyche); written words are the signs of words spoken. As writing, so also is speech not the same for all races of men. But the mental affections themselves, of which these words are primarily signs (semeia), are the same for the whole of mankind, as are also the objects (pragmata) of which those affections are representations or likenesses, images, copies (homoiomata). (Aristotle, On Interpretation, 1.16a4.)

Equally important to later developments are texts on poetry, rhetoric, and sophistry, including many of Plato's dialogues, such as Cratylus, Ion, Gorgias, Lesser Hippias, and Republic, along with Aristotle's Poetics, Rhetoric, and On Sophistical Refutations. However, these texts deal more with the presentation and refutation of arguments, speeches and poems rather than the understanding of texts as texts. As Ramberg and Gjesdal note, "Only with the Stoics, and their reflections on the interpretation of myth, do we encounter something like a methodological awareness of the problems of textual understanding" (Ramberg & Gjesdal). Some ancient Greek philosophers, particularly Plato, tended to vilify poets and poetry as harmful nonsense—Plato denies entry to poets in his ideal state in The Republic until they can prove their value. In the Ion, Plato famously portrays poets as possessed:
You know, none of the epic poets, if they're good, are masters of their subject; they are inspired, possessed, and that is how they utter all those beautiful poems. The same goes for lyric poets if they're good: just as the Corybantes are not in their right minds when they dance, lyric poets, too, are not in their right minds when they make those beautiful lyrics, but as soon as they sail into harmony and rhythm they are possessed by Bacchic frenzy." (Plato, Ion, 533e-534a.)

The meaning of the poem thus becomes open to ridicule — whatever hints of the truth it may have, the truth is covered by madness. However, another line of thinking arose with Theagenes of Rhegium, who suggested that instead of taking poetry literally, what was expressed in poems were allegories of nature. Stoic philosophers further developed this idea, reading into the poets not only allegories of natural phenomena, but allegories of ethical behavior. Aristotle differed with his predecessor, Plato, in the worth of poetry. Both saw art as an act of mimesis, but where Plato saw a pale, essentially false imitation in art of reality, Aristotle saw the possibility of truth in imitation. As critic David Richter points out, "for Aristotle, artists must disregard incidental facts to search for deeper universal truths"--instead of being essentially

false, poetry may be universally true. (Richter, The Critical Tradition, 57.) In the Poetics, Aristotle called both the tragedy and the epic noble, with tragedy serving the essential function of purging strong emotions from the audience through katharsis.

Early Biblical hermeneutics
The early Jewish Rabbis and the early Church Fathers deployed similar philological tools; their Biblical interpretations stressed allegorical readings, frequently at the expense of the texts' literal meaning. They sought deeper meanings below the outward appearance of the text. Examples of such interpretations include the views of Philo of Alexandria, Origen, and the Talmudic writings. Traditional Jewish hermeneutics differ from the Greek method in that the rabbis considered the Tanach (the Jewish bibilical canon) to be inviolate. They did not consider inconsistencies in the text to be mistakes or corruptions. These problematic sections of the text were believed to be deliberate and containing meanings which had to be teased out of the text through the process of exegesis. As a result, the rabbinical interpreters created a secondary, esoteric reading of the text based on these problematic sections. This was one of the bases of early Kabbalah and the Gematria, which posited mystical or "secret" meanings to the Biblical text based on the letters of the text themselves and even their numerical value.

Medieval hermeneutics
Medieval Christian interpretations of text incorporated exegesis into a fourfold mode that emphasized the distinction between the letter and the spirit of the text. This schema was based on the various ways of interpreting the text utilitized by the Patristic writers. The literal sense (sensus historicus) of Scripture denotes what the text states or reports directly. The allegorical sense (sensus allegoricus) explains the text with regard to the doctrinal content of church dogma, so that each literal element has a symbolic meaning, see also Typology (theology). The moral application of the text to the individual reader or hearer is the third sense, the sensus tropologicus or sensus moralis, while a fourth level of meaning, the sensus anagogicus, draws out of the text the implicit allusions it contains to secret metaphysical and eschatological knowledge, or gnosis.
The hermeneutical terminology used here is in part arbitrary. For almost all three interpretations which go beyond the literal explanations are in a general sense "allegorical". The practical application of these three aspects of spiritual interpretation varied considerably. Most of the time, the fourfold sense of the Scriptures was used only partially, dependent upon the content of the text and the idea of the exegete.... We can easily notice that the basic structure is in fact a twofold sense of the Scriptures, that is, the distinction between the sensus literalis and the sensus spiritualis or mysticus, and that the number four was derived from a restrictive systematization of the numerous possibilities which existed for the sensus spiritualis into three interpretive dimensions. (Ebeling 1964, 38).

Hermeneutics in the Middle Ages witnessed the proliferation of non-literal interpretations of the Bible. Christian commentators could read Old Testament narratives simultaneously as

prefigurations of analogous New Testament episodes, as symbolic lessons about Church institutions and current teachings, and as personally applicable allegories of the Spirit. In each case, the meaning of the signs was constrained by imputing a particular intention to the Bible, such as teaching morality, but these interpretive bases were posited by the religious tradition rather than suggested by a preliminary reading of the text. The customary medieval exegetical technique commented on the text in glossae ("glosses" or annotations) written between the lines and at the side of the text which was left with wide margins for this very purpose. The text might be further commented on in scholia which are long, exegetical passages, often on a separate page. A similar fourfold categorization is also found in Rabbinic writings. The fourfold categorizations are: Peshat (simple interpretation), Remez (allusion), Derash (interpretive), and Sod (secret/mystical). It is uncertain whether or not the Rabbinic division of interpretation pre-dates the Patristic version. The medieval period saw the growth of many new categories of Rabbinic interpretation and explanation of the Torah, including the emergence of Kabbalah and the writings of Maimonides.

Renaissance and Enlightenment
The discipline of hermeneutics emerged with the new humanist education of the 15th century as a historical and critical methodology for analyzing texts. In a triumph of early modern hermeneutics, the Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla proved in 1440 that the "Donation of Constantine" was a forgery, through intrinsic evidence of the text itself. Thus hermeneutics expanded from its medieval role explaining the correct analysis of the Bible. However, Biblical hermeneutics did not die off. For example, the Protestant Reformation brought about a renewed interest in the interpretation of the Bible, which took a step away from the interpretive tradition developed during the Middle Ages back to the texts themselves. The rationalist Enlightenment led hermeneuts, especially Protestant exegetes, to view Scriptural texts as secular Classical texts were viewed. Scripture thus was interpreted as responses to historical or social forces, so that apparent contradictions and difficult passages in the New Testament, for example, might be clarified by comparing their possible meanings with contemporaneous Christian practices.

Friedrich Schleiermacher (November 21, 1768 – February 12, 1834) explored the nature of understanding in relation not just to the problem of deciphering sacred texts, but to all human texts and modes of communication. The interpretation of a text must proceed by framing the content asserted in terms of the overall organization of the work. He distinguishes between grammatical interpretation and psychological interpretation. The former studies how a work is

composed from general ideas, the latter considers the peculiar combinations that characterize the work as a whole. Schleiermacher said that every problem of interpretation is a problem of understanding. He even defined hermeneutics as the art of avoiding misunderstanding. He provides a solution to avoidance of misunderstanding: knowledge of grammatical and psychological laws in trying to understand the text and the writer. There arose in his time a fundamental shift from understanding not only the exact words and their objective meaning to individuality of the speaker or author.[3][4]

Wilhelm Dilthey[5] broadened hermeneutics even more by relating interpretation to all historical objectifications. Understanding moves from the outer manifestations of human action and productivity to explore their inner meaning. In his last important essay "The Understanding of Others and Their Manifestations of Life" (1910), Dilthey makes it clear that this move from outer to inner, from expression to what is expressed, is not based on empathy. Empathy involves a direct identification with the other. Interpretation involves an indirect or mediated understanding that can only be attained by placing human expressions in their historical context. Understanding is not a process of reconstructing the state of mind of the author, but one of articulating what is expressed in the work.

Main article: Martin Heidegger Since Dilthey, the discipline of hermeneutics has detached itself from this central task and broadened its spectrum to all texts, including multimedia and to understanding the bases of meaning. In the 20th century, Martin Heidegger's philosophical hermeneutics shifted the focus from interpretation to existential understanding, which was treated more as a direct, nonmediated, thus in a sense more authentic way of being in the world than simply as a way of knowing. Advocates of this approach claim that such texts, and the people who produce them, cannot be studied using the same scientific methods as the natural sciences, thus use arguments similar to that of antipositivism. Moreover, they claim that such texts are conventionalized expressions of the experience of the author; thus, the interpretation of such texts will reveal something about the social context in which they were formed, but, more significantly, provide the reader with a means to share the experiences of the author. Among the key thinkers of this approach is the sociologist Max Weber.

Contemporary hermeneutics

Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics is a development of the hermeneutics of his teacher, Heidegger. Paul Ricoeur developed a hermeneutics based on Heidegger's concepts, although his own work differs in many ways from that of Gadamer's. Andrés Ortíz-Osés has developed his Symbolic Hermeneutics as the Mediterranean response to north European Hermeneutics. His main statement regarding the symbolic understanding of the world is that the meaning is the symbolic healing of the real injury.

Hermeneutics and critical theory
Jürgen Habermas criticized the conservatism of previous hermeneutics, especially Gadamer, because the focus on tradition seemed to undermine possibilities for social criticism and transformation. Habermas also criticized Marxism and previous members of the Frankfurt School for missing the hermeneutical dimension of critical theory. Habermas incorporated the notion of the lifeworld and emphasized the importance of both interaction and communication as well as labor and production for social theory. For Habermas, hermeneutics is one dimension of critical social theory.

Themes in hermeneutics

Hermeneutic circle
Main article: Hermeneutic circle The hermeneutic circle describes the process of understanding a text hermeneutically. It refers to the idea that one's understanding of the text as a whole is established by reference to the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole. Neither the whole text nor any individual part can be understood without reference to one another, and hence, it is a circle. However, this circular character of interpretation does not make it impossible to interpret a text, rather, it stresses that the meaning of text must be found within its cultural, historical, and literary context. With Schleiermacher, hermeneutics begins to stress the importance of the interpreter in the process of interpretation. Schleiermacher's hermeneutics focuses on the importance of the interpreter understanding the text as a necessary stage to interpreting it. Understanding, for Schleiermacher, does not simply come from reading the text, but involves knowledge of the historical context of the text and the psychology of the author. For Postmodernists, the Hermeneutic Circle is especially problematic. This is the result of the fact that in addition to only being able to know the world through the words we use to describe it, we are also confronted with the problem that "whenever people try to establish a certain reading of a text or expression, they allege other readings as the ground for their reading" (Adler 1997: 321-322). In other words, "All meaning systems are open-ended systems of signs

referring to signs referring to signs. No concept can therefore have an ultimate, unequivocal meaning" (Waever 1996: 171). For some, there is evidence of some signs corresponding to real things, as in science. This is a bases for true statements, facts, and universals. Universal ideas are a starting place for what is common for all humans, as in basic mathematical propositions.

Meaning Horizon
Hans-Georg Gadamer describes the process of interpreting a text as the fusion of one's own horizon with the horizon of the text. He has defined horizon as "The totality of all that can be realized or thought about by a person at a given time in history and in a particular culture."[citation

Applications of hermeneutics
In archaeology, hermeneutics means the interpretation and understanding of material by analysing possible meanings or social use. Proponents argue that interpretation of artefacts is unavoidably hermeneutic as we cannot know for certain the meaning behind them, instead we can only apply modern value in the interpretation. This is most common in stone tools, for example, where using descriptions such as "scraper" can be highly subjective and unproven. Opponents claim that a hermeneutic approach is too relativist and that their own interpretations are based on common-sense evaluation.

In sociology, hermeneutics means the interpretation and understanding of social events by analysing their meanings to the human participants and their culture. It enjoyed prominence during the sixties and seventies, and differs from other interpretative schools of sociology in that it emphasizes the importance of the content as well as the form of any given social behaviour. The central principle of hermeneutics is that it is only possible to grasp the meaning of an action or statement by relating it to the whole discourse or world-view from which it originates: for instance, putting a piece of paper in a box might be considered a meaningless action unless put in the context of democratic elections, and the action of putting a ballot paper in a box. One can frequently find reference to the 'hermeneutic circle': that is, relating the whole to the part and the part to the whole. Hermeneutics in sociology was most heavily influenced by German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (see 'Truth and Method', 1960).

The field of marketing has adopted this term from sociology, using the term to refer to qualitative studies in which interviews with (or other forms of text from) one or a small number of people are closely read, analyzed, and interpreted.

Main article: Jurisprudence Some scholars argue that law and theology constitute particular forms of hermeneutics because of their need to interpret legal tradition / scriptural texts. Moreover, the problem of interpretation is central to legal theory at least since the 11th century. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the schools of glossatores, commentatores and usus modernus distinguished themselves by their approach to the interpretation of "laws" (mainly, Justinian's Corpus Iuris Civilis). The University of Bologna gave birth to a "legal Renaissance" in the 11th century, when the Corpus Iuris Civilis was rediscovered and started to be systematically studied by people like Irnerius and Gratianus. It was an interpretative Renaissance. After that, interpretation has always been at the center of legal thought. Savigny and Betti, among others, made significant contributions also to general hermeneutics. Legal interpretivism, most famously Ronald Dworkin's, might be seen as a branch of philosophical hermeneutics.

Computer science
Researchers in computer science, especially those dealing with artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, knowledge representation, and protocol analysis, have not failed to notice the commonality of interest that they share with hermeneutics researchers in regard to the character of interpretive agents and the conduct of interpretive activities. For instance, in the abstract to their 1986 AI Memo, Mallery, Hurwitz, and Duffy have the following to say:
Hermeneutics, a branch of continental European philosophy concerned with human understanding and the interpretation of written texts, offers insights that may contribute to the understanding of meaning, translation, architectures for natural language understanding, and even to the methods suitable for scientific inquiry in AI. (Mallery, Hurwitz, Duffy, 1986).

International Relations
Insofar as hermeneutics is a cornerstone of both critical theory and constitutive theory, both of which have made important inroads into the postpositivist branch of international relations theory and political science, hermeneutics has been applied to international relations (IR). Steve Smith (Academic) refers to hermeneutics as the principal way of grounding a foundationalist yet postpositivist IR theory such as critical theory. An example of a postpositivist yet anti-foundationalist IR paradigm would be radical postmodernism.

Religion and theology

The process by which theological texts are understood relies on a particular hermeneutical viewpoint. Theorists like Paul Ricoeur have applied modern philosophical hermeneutics to theological texts (in Ricoeur's case, the Bible). See also: Biblical hermeneutics, Qura'nic hermeneutics, Talmudical hermeneutics and Exegesis.

Hermeneutics and semiotics
Semiotics. The being of a symbol consists in the real fact that something surely will be experienced if certain conditions are satisfied. Namely, it will influence the thought and conduct of its interpreter. Every word is a symbol. Every sentence is a symbol. Every book is a symbol. Every representamen depending upon conventions is a symbol. Just as a photograph is an index having an icon incorporated into it, that is, excited in the mind by its force, so a symbol may have an icon or an index incorporated into it, that is, the active law that it is may require its interpretation to involve the calling up of an image, or a composite photograph of many images of past experiences, as ordinary common nouns and verbs do; or it may require its interpretation to refer to the actual surrounding circumstances of the occasion of its embodiment, like such words as that, this, I, you, which, here, now, yonder, etc. Or it may be pure symbol, neither iconic nor indicative, like the words and, or, of, etc. (Peirce, CP 4.447).

See also Abductive Inference and Literary Theory – Pragmatism, Hermeneutics and Semiotics written by Uwe Wirth.

1. ^ Bernard Ramm. Protestant Biblical Interpretation, 3rd rev. ed., Baker Book House, Grand

Rapids, MI, 1.
2. ^ Henry A. Virkler. Hermeneutics. Baker Books, 15, 16. 3. ^ For more information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

On the Interpretation of Scripture
By Benjamin Jowett
It is a strange, though familiar fact, that great differences of opinion exist respecting the Interpretation of Scripture. All Christians receive the Old and New Testament as sacred writings, but they are not agreed about the meaning which they attribute to them. The book itself remains as at the first; the commentators seem rather to reflect the changing atmosphere of the world or of the Church. Different individuals or bodies of Christians have a different point of view, to which their interpretation is narrowed or made to conform. It is assumed, as natural and necessary, that the same words will present one idea to the mind of the Protestant, another to the Roman Catholic; one meaning to the German, another to the English interpreter. The Ultramontane or Anglican divine is not supposed to be impartial in his treatment of passages which afford an apparent foundation for the doctrine of purgatory or the primacy of St. Peter on the one hand, or the three orders of clergy and the divine origin of

episcopacy on the other. It is a received view with many, that the meaning of the Bible is to be defined by that of the Prayer-book; while there are others who interpret ‘the Bible and the Bible only’ with a silent reference to the traditions of the Reformation. Philosophical differences are in the background, into which the differences about Scripture also resolve themselves. They seem to run up at last into a difference of opinion respecting Revelation itself—whether given beside the human faculties or through them, whether an interruption of the laws of nature or their perfection and fulfilment. This effort to pull the authority of Scripture in different directions is not peculiar to our own day; the same phenomenon appears in the past history of the Church. At the Reformation, in the Nicene or Pelagian times, the New Testament was the ground over which men fought; it might also be compared to the armoury which furnished them with weapons. Opposite aspects of the truth which it contains were appropriated by different sides. ‘Justified by faith without works’ and ‘justified by faith as well as works’ are equally Scriptural expressions; the one has become the formula of Protestants, the other of Roman Catholics. The fifth and ninth chapters of the Romans, single verses such as 1 Cor. iii. 15; John iii. 3, still bear traces of many a life-long strife in the pages of commentators. The difference of interpretation which prevails among ourselves is partly traditional, that is to say, inherited from the controversies of former ages. The use made of Scripture by Fathers of the Church, as well as by Luther and Calvin, affects our idea of its meaning at the present hour. Another cause of the multitude of interpretations is the growth or progress of the human mind itself. Modes of interpreting vary as time goes on; they partake of the general state of literature or knowledge. It has not been easily or at once that mankind have learned to realize the character of sacred writings—they seem almost necessarily to veil themselves from human eyes as circumstances change; it is the old age of the world only that has at length understood its childhood. (Or rather perhaps is beginning to understand it, and learning to make allowance for its own deficiency of knowledge; for the infancy of the human race, as of the individual, affords but few indications of the workings of the mind within.) More often than we suppose, the great sayings and doings upon the earth, ‘thoughts that breathe and words that burn,’ are lost in a sort of chaos to the apprehension of those that come after. Much of past history is dimly seen and receives only a conventional interpretation, even when the memorials of it remain. There is a time at which the freshness of early literature is lost; mankind have turned rhetoricians, and no longer write or feel in the spirit which created it. In this unimaginative period in which sacred or ancient writings are partially unintelligible, many methods have been taken at different times to adapt the ideas of the past to the wants of the present. One age has wandered into the flowery paths of allegory, ‘In pious meditation fancy fed.’ Another has straitened the liberty of the Gospel by a rigid application of logic, the former being a method which was at first more naturally applied to the Old Testament, the latter to the New. Both methods of interpretation, the mystical and logical, as they may be termed, have been practised on the Vedas and the Koran, as well as on the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, the true glory and note of divinity in these latter being not that they have hidden mysterious or double meanings, but a simple and universal one, which is beyond them and will survive them. Since the revival of literature, interpreters have not unfrequently fallen into error of another kind from a pedantic and misplaced use of classical learning; the minute examination of words often withdrawing the mind from more important matters. A tendency may be observed within the last century to

clothe systems of philosophy in the phraseology of Scripture. But ‘new wine cannot thus be put into old bottles.’ Though roughly distinguishable by different ages, these modes or tendencies also exist together; the remains of all of them may be remarked in some of the popular commentaries of our own day. More common than any of these methods, and not peculiar to any age, is that which may be called by way of distinction the rhetorical one. The tendency to exaggerate or amplify the meaning of simple words for the sake of edification may indeed have a practical use in sermons, the object of which is to awaken not so much the intellect as the heart and conscience. Spiritual food, like natural, may require to be of a certain bulk to nourish the human mind. But this ‘tendency to edification’ has had an unfortunate influence on the interpretation of Scripture. For the preacher almost necessarily oversteps the limits of actual knowledge, his feelings overflow with the subject; even if he have the power, he has seldom the time for accurate thought or inquiry. And in the course of years spent in writing, perhaps, without study, he is apt to persuade himself, if not others, of the truth of his own repetitions. The trivial consideration of making a discourse of sufficient length is often a reason why he overlays the words of Christ and his Apostles with commonplaces. The meaning of the text is not always the object which he has in view, but some moral or religious lesson which he has found it necessary to append to it; some cause which he is pleading, some error of the day which he has to combat. And while in some passages he hardly dares to trust himself with the full force of Scripture (Matt. v. 34; ix. 13; xix. 21: Acts v. 29), in others he extracts more from words than they really imply (Matt. xxii. 21; xxviii. 20: Rom. xiii. 1; &c.), being more eager to guard against the abuse of some precept than to enforce it, attenuating or adapting the utterance of prophecy to the requirements or to the measure of modern times. Any one who has ever written sermons is aware how hard it is to apply Scripture to the wants of his hearers and at the same time to preserve its meaning. The phenomenon which has been described in the preceding pages is so familiar, and yet so extraordinary, that it requires an effort of thought to appreciate its true nature. We do not at once see the absurdity of the same words having many senses, or free our minds from the illusion that the Apostle or Evangelist must have written with a reference to the creeds or controversies or circumstances of other times. Let it be considered, then, that this extreme variety of interpretation is found to exist in the case of no other book, but of the Scriptures only. Other writings are preserved to us in dead languages—Greek, Latin, Oriental, some of them in fragments, all of them originally in manuscript. It is true that difficulties arise in the explanation of these writings, especially in the most ancient, from our imperfect acquaintance with the meaning of words, or the defectiveness of copies, or the want of some historical or geographical information which is required to present an event or character in its true bearing. In comparison with the wealth and light of modern literature, our knowledge of Greek classical authors, for example, may be called imperfect and shadowy. Some of them have another sort of difficulty arising from subtlety or abruptness in the use of language; in lyric poetry especially, and some of the earlier prose, the greatness of the thought struggles with the stammering lips. It may be observed that all these difficulties occur also in Scripture; they are found equally in sacred and profane literature. But the meaning of classical authors is known with comparative certainty; and the interpretation of them seems to rest on a scientific basis. It is not, therefore, to philological or historical difficulties that the greater part of the uncertainty in the interpretation of Scripture is to be attributed. No ignorance of Hebrew or Greek is sufficient to account for it. Even the Vedas and the Zendavesta, though beset

by obscurities of language probably greater than are found in any portion of the Bible, are interpreted, at least by European scholars, according to fixed rules, and beginning to be clearly understood. To bring the parallel home, let us imagine the remains of some well-known Greek author, as Plato or Sophocles, receiving the same treatment at the hands of the world which the Scriptures have experienced. The text of such an author, when first printed by Aldus or Stephens, would be gathered from the imperfect or miswritten copies which fell in the way of the editors; after awhile older and better manuscripts come to light, and the power of using and estimating the value of manuscripts is greatly improved. We may suppose, further, that the readings of these older copies do not always conform to some received canons of criticism. Up to the year 1550, or 1624, alterations, often proceeding on no principle, have been introduced into the text; but now a stand is made—an edition which appeared at the latter of the two dates just mentioned is invested with authority; this authorized text is a pièce de résistance against innovation. Many reasons are given why it is better to have bad readings to which the world is accustomed than good ones which are novel and strange—why the later manuscripts of Plato or Sophocles are often to be preferred to earlier ones— why it is useless to remove imperfections where perfect accuracy is not to be attained. A fear of disturbing the critical canons which have come down from former ages is, however, suspected to be one reason for the opposition. And custom and prejudice, and the nicety of the subject, and all the arguments which are intelligible to the many against the truth, which is intelligible only to the few, are thrown into the scale to preserve the works of Plato or Sophocles as nearly as possible in the received text. Leaving the text, we proceed to interpret and translate. The meaning of Greek words is known with tolerable certainty; and the grammar of the Greek language has been minutely analyzed both in ancient and modern times. Yet the interpretation of Sophocles is tentative and uncertain; it seems to vary from age to age: to some the great tragedian has appeared to embody in his choruses certain theological or moral ideas of his own age or country; there are others who find there an allegory of the Christian religion or of the history of modern Europe. Several schools of critics have commented on his works; to the Englishman he has presented one meaning, to the Frenchman another, to the German a third; the interpretations have also differed with the philosophical systems which the interpreters espoused. To one the same words have appeared to bear a moral, to another a symbolical meaning; a third is determined wholly by the authority of old commentators; while there is a disposition to condemn the scholar who seeks to interpret Sophocles from himself only, and with reference to the ideas and beliefs of the age in which he lived. And the error of such an one is attributed not only to some intellectual but even to a moral obliquity which prevents his seeing the true meaning. It would be tedious to follow into details the absurdity which has been supposed. By such methods it would be truly said that Sophocles or Plato may be made to mean anything. It would seem as if some Novum Organum were needed to lay down rules of interpretation for ancient literature. Still one other supposition has to be introduced which will appear, perhaps, more extravagant than any which have preceded. Conceive then that these modes of interpreting Sophocles had existed for ages; that great institutions and interests had become interwoven with them, and in some degree even the honour of nations and churches—is it too much to say that in such a case they would be changed with difficulty, and that they would continue to be maintained long after critics and philosophers had seen that they were indefensible?

No one who has a Christian feeling would place classical on a level with sacred literature; and there are other particulars in which the preceding comparison fails, as, for example, the style and subject. But, however different the subject, although the interpretation of Scripture requires ‘a vision and faculty divine,’ or at least a moral and religious interest which is not needed in the study of a Greek poet or philosopher, yet in what may be termed the externals of interpretation, that is to say, the meaning of words, the connexion of sentences, the settlement of the text, the evidence of facts, the same rules apply to the Old and New Testaments as to other books. And the figure is no exaggeration of the erring fancy of men in the use of Scripture, or of the tenacity with which they cling to the interpretations of other times, or of the arguments by which they maintain them. All the resources of knowledge may be turned into a means not of discovering the true rendering, but of upholding a received one. Grammar appears to start from an independent point of view, yet inquiries into the use of the article or the preposition have been observed to wind round into a defence of some doctrine. Rhetoric often magnifies its own want of taste into the design of inspiration. Logic (that other mode of rhetoric) is apt to lend itself to the illusion, by stating erroneous explanations with a clearness which is mistaken for truth. ‘Metaphysical aid’ carries away the common understanding into a region where it must blindly follow. Learning obscures as well as illustrates; it heaps up chaff when there is no more wheat. These are some of the ways in which the sense of Scripture has become confused, by the help of tradition, in the course of ages, under a load of commentators. The book itself remains as at the first, unchanged amid the changing interpretations of it. The office of the interpreter is not to add another, but to recover the original one; the meaning, that is, of the words as they struck on the ears or flashed before the eyes of those who first heard and read them. He has to transfer himself to another age; to imagine that he is a disciple of Christ or Paul; to disengage himself from all that follows. The history of Christendom is nothing to him; but only the scene at Galilee or Jerusalem, the handful of believers who gathered themselves together at Ephesus, or Corinth, or Rome. His eye is fixed on the form of one like the Son of man, or of the Prophet who was girded with a garment of camel’s hair, or of the Apostle who had a thorn in the flesh. The greatness of the Roman Empire is nothing to him; it is an inner not an outer world that he is striving to restore. All the after-thoughts of theology are nothing to him; they are not the true lights which light him in difficult places. His concern is with a book in which, as in other ancient writings, are some things of which we are ignorant; which defect of our knowledge cannot, however, be supplied by the conjectures of fathers or divines. The simple words of that book he tries to preserve absolutely pure from the refinements or distinctions of later times. He acknowledges that they are fragmentary, and would suspect himself, if out of fragments he were able to create a well-rounded system or a continuous history. The greater part of his learning is a knowledge of the text itself; he has no delight in the voluminous literature which has overgrown it. He has no theory of interpretation; a few rules guarding against common errors are enough for him. His object is to read Scripture like any other book, with a real interest and not merely a conventional one. He wants to be able to open his eyes and see or imagine things as they truly are. Nothing would be more likely to restore a natural feeling on this subject than a history of the Interpretation of Scripture. It would take us back to the beginning; it would present in one view the causes which have darkened the meaning of words in the course of ages; it would clear away the remains of

dogmas, systems, controversies, which are encrusted upon them. It would show us the ‘erring fancy’ of interpreters assuming sometimes to have the Spirit of God Himself, yet unable to pass beyond the limits of their own age, and with a judgement often biassed by party. Great names there have been among them, names of men who may be reckoned also among the benefactors of the human race, yet comparatively few who have understood the thoughts of other times, or who have bent their minds to ‘interrogate’ the meaning of words. Such a work would enable us to separate the elements of doctrine and tradition with which the meaning of Scripture is encumbered in our own day. It would mark the different epochs of interpretation from the time when the living word was in process of becoming a book to Origen and Tertullian, from Origen to Jerome and Augustine, from Jerome and Augustine to Abelard and Aquinas; again, making a new beginning with the revival of literature, from Erasmus, the father of Biblical criticism in more recent times, with Calvin and Beza for his immediate successors, through Grotius and Hammond, down to De Wette and Meyer, our own contemporaries. We should see how the mystical interpretation of Scripture originated in the Alexandrian age; how it blended with the logical and rhetorical; how both received weight and currency from their use in support of the claims and teaching of the Church. We should notice how the ‘new learning’ of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries gradually awakened the critical faculty in the study of the sacred writings; how Biblical criticism has slowly but surely followed in the track of philological and historical (not without a remoter influence exercised upon it also by natural science); how, too, the form of the scholastic literature, and even of notes on the classics, insensibly communicated itself to commentaries on Scripture. We should see how the word inspiration, from being used in a general way to express what may be called the prophetic spirit of Scripture, has passed, within the last two centuries, into a sort of technical term; how, in other instances, the practice or feeling of earlier ages has been hollowed out into the theory or system of later ones. We should observe how the popular explanations of prophecy as in heathen (Thucyd. ii. 54), so also in Christian times, had adapted themselves to the circumstances of mankind. We might remark that in our own country, and in the present generation especially, the interpretation of Scripture had assumed an apologetic character, as though making an effort to defend itself against some supposed inroad of science and criticism; while among German commentators there is, for the first time in the history of the world, an approach to agreement and certainty. For example, the diversity among German writers on prophecy is far less than among English ones. That is a new phenomenon which has to be acknowledged. More than any other subject of human knowledge, Biblical criticism has hung to the past; it has been hitherto found truer to the traditions of the Church than to the words of Christ. It has made, however, two great steps onward—at the time of the Reformation and in our day. The diffusion of a critical spirit in history and literature is affecting the criticism of the Bible in our own day in a manner not unlike the burst of intellectual life in the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. Educated persons are beginning to ask, not what Scripture may be made to mean, but what it does. And it is no exaggeration to say that he who in the present state of knowledge will confine himself to the plain meaning of words and the study of their context may know more of the original spirit and intention of the authors of the New Testament than all the controversial writers of former ages put together. Such a history would be of great value to philosophy as well as to theology. It would be the history of the human mind in one of its most remarkable manifestations. For ages which are not original show their character in the interpretation of ancient writings. Creating nothing, and incapable of that effort

of imagination which is required in a true criticism of the past, they read and explain the thoughts of former times by the conventional modes of their own. Such a history would form a kind of preface or prolegomena to the study of Scripture. Like the history of science, it would save many a useless toil; it would indicate the uncertainties on which it is not worth while to speculate further; the by-paths or labyrinths in which men lose themselves; the mines that are already worked out. He who reflects on the multitude of explanations which already exist of the ‘number of the beast,’ ‘the two witnesses,’ ‘the little horn,’ ‘the man of sin,’ who observes the manner in which these explanations have varied with the political movements of our own time, will be unwilling to devote himself to a method of inquiry in which there is so little appearance of certainty or progress. These interpretations would destroy one another if they were all placed side by side in a tabular analysis. It is an instructive fact, which may be mentioned in passing, that Joseph Mede, the greatest authority on this subject, twice fixed the end of the world in the last century and once during his own lifetime. In like manner, he who notices the circumstance that the explanations of the first chapter of Genesis have slowly changed, and, as it were, retreated before the advance of geology, will be unwilling to add another to the spurious reconcilements of science and revelation. Or, to take an example of another kind, the Protestant divine who perceives that the types and figures of the Old Testament are employed by Roman Catholics in support of the tenets of their church, will be careful not to use weapons which it is impossible to guide, and which may with equal force be turned against himself. Those who have handled them on the Protestant side have before now fallen victims to them, not observing as they fell that it was by their own hand. Much of the uncertainty which prevails in the interpretation of Scripture arises out of party efforts to wrest its meaning to different sides. There are, however, deeper reasons which have hindered the natural meaning of the text from immediately and universally prevailing. One of these is the unsettled state of many questions which have an important but indirect bearing on this subject. Some of these questions veil themselves in ambiguous terms; and no one likes to draw them out of their hiding-place into the light of day. In natural science it is felt to be useless to build on assumptions; in history we look with suspicion on a priori ideas of what ought to have been; in mathematics, when a step is wrong, we pull the house down until we reach the point at which the error is discovered. But in theology it is otherwise; there the tendency has been to conceal the unsoundness of the foundation under the fairness and loftiness of the superstructure. It has been thought safer to allow arguments to stand which, although fallacious, have been on the right side, than to point out their defect. And thus many principles have imperceptibly grown up which have overridden facts. No one would interpret Scripture, as many do, but for certain previous suppositions with which we come to the perusal of it. ‘There can be no error in the Word of God,’ therefore the discrepancies in the books of Kings and Chronicles are only apparent, or may be attributed to differences in the copies: —‘It is a thousand times more likely that the interpreter should err than the inspired writer.’ For a like reason the failure of a prophecy is never admitted, in spite of Scripture and of history (Jer. xxxvi. 30: Isa. xxiii: Amos vii. 10-17); the mention of a name later than the supposed age of the prophet is not allowed, as in other writings, to be taken in evidence of the date (Isa. xlv. 1). The accuracy of the Old Testament is measured not by the standard of primaeval history, but of a modern critical one, which, contrary to all probability, is supposed to be attained; this arbitrary standard once assumed, it becomes a point of honour or of faith to defend every name, date, place, which occurs. Or to take another class of questions, it is said that ‘the various theories of the

origin of the three first Gospels are all equally unknown to the Holy Catholic Church,’ or as another writer of a different school expresses himself, ‘they tend to sap the inspiration of the New Testament.’ Again, the language in which our Saviour speaks of His own union with the Father is interpreted by the language of the creeds. Those who remonstrate against double senses, allegorical interpretations, forced reconcilements, find themselves met by a sort of presupposition that ‘God speaks not as man speaks.’ The limitation of the human faculties is confusedly appealed to as a reason for abstaining from investigations which are quite within their limits. The suspicion of Deism, or perhaps of Atheism, awaits inquiry. By such fears a good man refuses to be influenced; a philosophical mind is apt to cast them aside with too much bitterness. It is better to close the book than to read it under conditions of thought which are imposed from without. Whether those conditions of thought are the traditions of the Church, or the opinions of the religious world—Catholic or Protestant — makes no difference. They are inconsistent with the freedom of the truth and the moral character of the Gospel. It becomes necessary, therefore, to examine briefly some of these prior questions which lie in the way of a reasonable criticism.

On the Interpretation of Scripture, by Benjamin Jowett
§ 2.
Among these previous questions, that which first presents itself is the one already alluded to—the question of inspiration. Almost all Christians agree in the word, which use and tradition have consecrated to express the reverence which they truly feel for the Old and New Testaments. But here the agreement of opinion ends; the meaning of inspiration has been variously explained, or more often passed over in silence from a fear of stirring the difficulties that would arise about it. It is one of those theological terms which may be regarded as ‘great peacemakers,’ but which are also sources of distrust and misunderstanding. For while we are ready to shake hands with any one who uses the same language as ourselves, a doubt is apt to insinuate itself whether he takes language in the same senses—whether a particular term conveys all the associations to another which it does to ourselves—whether it is not possible that one who disagrees about the word may not be more nearly agreed about the thing. The advice has, indeed, been given to the theologian that he ‘should take care of words and leave things to themselves;’ the authority, however, who gives the advice is not good—it is placed by Goethe in the mouth of Mephistopheles. Pascal seriously charges the Jesuits with acting on a similar maxim—excommunicating those who meant the same thing and said another, holding communion with those who said the same thing and meant another. But this is not the way to heal the wounds of the Church of Christ; we cannot thus ‘skin and film’ the weak places of theology. Errors about words, and the attribution to words themselves of an excessive importance, lie at the root of theological as of other confusions. In theology they are more dangerous than in other sciences, because they cannot so readily be brought to the test of facts. The word inspiration has received more numerous gradations and distinctions of meaning than perhaps any other in the whole of theology. There is an inspiration of superintendence and an inspiration of suggestion; an inspiration

which would have been consistent with the Apostle or Evangelist falling into error, and an inspiration which would have prevented him from erring; verbal organic inspiration by which the inspired person is the passive utterer of a Divine Word, and an inspiration which acts through the character of the sacred writer; there is an inspiration which absolutely communicates the fact to be revealed or statement to be made, and an inspiration which does not supersede the ordinary knowledge of human events; there is an inspiration which demands infallibility in matters of doctrine, but allows for mistakes in fact. Lastly, there is a view of inspiration which recognizes only its supernatural and prophetic character, and a view of inspiration which regards the Apostles and Evangelists as equally inspired in their writings and in their lives, and in both receiving the guidance of the Spirit of truth in a manner not different in kind but only in degree from ordinary Christians. Many of these explanations lose sight of the original meaning and derivation of the word; some of them are framed with the view of meeting difficulties; all perhaps err in attempting to define what, though real, is incapable of being defined in an exact manner. Nor for any of the higher or supernatural views of inspiration is there any foundation in the Gospels or Epistles. There is no appearance in their writings that the Evangelists or Apostles had any inward gift, or were subject to any power external to them different from that of preaching or teaching which they daily exercised; nor do they anywhere lead us to suppose that they were free from error or infirmity. St. Paul writes like a Christian teacher, exhibiting all the emotions and vicissitudes of human feeling, speaking, indeed, with authority, but hesitating in difficult cases and more than once correcting himself, corrected, too, by the course of events in his expectation of the coming of Christ. The Evangelist ‘who saw it, bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true’ (John xix. 35). Another Evangelist does not profess to be an original narrator, but only ‘to set forth in order a declaration of what eye-witnesses had delivered,’ like many others whose writings have not been preserved to us (Luke i. 1, 2). And the result is in accordance with the simple profession and style in which they describe themselves; there is no appearance, that is to say, of insincerity or want of faith; but neither is there perfect accuracy or agreement. One supposes the original dwelling-place of our Lord’s parents to have been Bethlehem (Matt. ii. 1, 22), another Nazareth (Luke ii. 4); they trace his genealogy in different ways; one mentions the thieves blaspheming, another has preserved to after-ages the record of the penitent thief; they appear to differ about the day and hour of the Crucifixion; the narrative of the woman who anointed our Lord’s feet with ointment is told in all four, each narrative having more or less considerable variations. These are a few instances of the differences which arose in the traditions of the earliest ages respecting the history of our Lord. But he who wishes to investigate the character of the sacred writings should not be afraid to make a catalogue of them all with the view of estimating their cumulative weight. (For it is obvious that the answer which would be admitted in the case of a single discrepancy, will not be the true answer when there are many.) He should further consider that the narratives in which these discrepancies occur are short and partly identical—a cycle of tradition beyond which the knowledge of the early fathers never travels, though if all the things that Jesus said and did had been written down, ‘the world itself could not have contained the books that would have been written’ (John xx. 30; xxi. 25). For the proportion which these narratives bear to the whole subject, as well as their relation to one another, is an important element in the estimation of differences. In the same way, he who would understand the nature of prophecy in the Old Testament, should have the courage to examine how far its details were minutely fulfilled. The absence

of such a fulfilment may further lead him to discover that he took the letter for the spirit in expecting it. The subject will clear of itself if we bear in mind two considerations:—First, that the nature of inspiration can only be known from the examination of Scripture. There is no other source to which we can turn for information; and we have no right to assume some imaginary doctrine of inspiration like the infallibility of the Roman Catholic church. To the question, ‘What is inspiration’ the first answer therefore is, ‘That idea of Scripture which we gather from the knowledge of it.’ It is no mere a priori notion, but one to which the book is itself a witness. It is a fact which we infer from the study of Scripture—not of one portion only, but of the whole. Obviously then it embraces writings of very different kinds—the book of Esther, for example, or the Song of Solomon, as well as the Gospel of St. John. It is reconcileable with the mixed good and evil of the characters of the Old Testament, which nevertheless does not exclude them from the favour of God, with the attribution to the Divine Being of actions at variance with that higher revelation, which He has given of himself in the Gospel; it is not inconsistent with imperfect or opposite aspects of the truth as in the Book of Job or Ecclesiastes, with variations of fact in the Gospels or the books of Kings and Chronicles, with inaccuracies of language in the Epistles of St. Paul. For these are all found in Scripture; neither is there any reason why they should not be, except a general impression that Scripture ought to have been written in a way different from what it has. A principle of progressive revelation admits them all; and this is already contained in the words of our Saviour, ‘Moses because of the hardness of your hearts;’ or even in the Old Testament, ‘Henceforth there shall be no more this proverb in the house of Israel.’ For what is progressive is necessarily imperfect in its earlier stages, and even erring to those who come after, whether it be the maxims of a halfcivilized world which are compared with those of a civilized one, or the Law with the Gospel. Scripture itself points the way to answer the moral objections to Scripture. Lesser difficulties remain, but only such as would be found commonly in writings of the same age or country. There is no more reason why imperfect narratives should be excluded from Scripture than imperfect grammar; no more ground for expecting that the New Testament would be logical or Aristotelian in form, than that it would be written in Attic Greek. The other consideration is one which has been neglected by writers on this subject. It is this—that any true doctrine of inspiration must conform to all wellascertained facts of history or of science. The same fact cannot be true and untrue, any more than the same words can have two opposite meanings. The same fact cannot be true in religion when seen by the light of faith, and untrue in science, when looked at through the medium of evidence or experiment. It is ridiculous to suppose that the sun goes round the earth in the same sense in which the earth goes round the sun; or that the world appears to have existed, but has not existed during the vast epochs of which geology speaks to us. But if so, there is no need of elaborate reconcilements of revelation and science; they reconcile themselves the moment any scientific truth is distinctly ascertained. As the idea of nature enlarges, the idea of revelation also enlarges; it was a temporary misunderstanding which severed them. And as the knowledge of nature which is possessed by the few is communicated in its leading features at least to the many, they will receive with it a higher conception of the ways of God to man. It may hereafter appear as natural to the majority of mankind to see the providence of God in the order of the world, as it once was to appeal to interruptions of it. It is true that there is a class of scientific facts with which popular opinions on theology often conflict and which do not seem to conform in all respects to the

severer conditions of inductive science: such especially are the facts relating to the formation of the earth and the beginnings of the human race. But it is not worth while to fight on this debateable ground a losing battle in the hope that a generation will pass away before we sound a last retreat. Almost all intelligent persons are agreed that the earth has existed for myriads of ages; the best informed are of opinion that the history of nations extends back some thousand years before the Mosaic chronology; recent discoveries in geology may perhaps open a further vista of existence for the human species, while it is possible, and may one day be known, that mankind spread not from one but from many centres over the globe; or as others say, that the supply of links which are at present wanting in the chain of animal life may lead to new conclusions respecting the origin of man. Now let it be granted that these facts, being with the past, cannot be shown in the same palpable and evident manner as the facts of chemistry or physiology; and that the proof of some of them, especially of those last mentioned, is wanting; still it is a false policy to set up inspiration or revelation in opposition to them, a principle which can have no influence on them and should be rather kept out of their way. The sciences of geology and comparative philology are steadily gaining ground (many of the guesses of twenty years ago have become certainties, and the guesses of to-day may hereafter become so). Shall we peril religion on the possibility of their untruth? on such a cast to stake the life of man implies not only a recklessness of facts, but a misunderstanding of the nature of the Gospel. If it is fortunate for science, it is perhaps more fortunate for Christian truth, that the admission of Galileo’s discovery has for ever settled the principle of the relations between them. A similar train of thought may be extended to the results of historical inquiries. These results cannot be barred by the dates or narrative of Scripture; neither should they be made to wind round into agreement with them. Again, the idea of inspiration must expand and take them in. Their importance in a religious point of view is not that they impugn or confirm the Jewish history, but that they show more clearly the purposes of God towards the whole human race. The recent chronological discoveries from Egyptian monuments do not tend to overthrow revelation, nor the Ninevite inscriptions to support it. The use of them on either side may indeed arouse a popular interest in them; it is apt to turn a scientific inquiry into a semi-religious controversy. And to religion either use is almost equally injurious, because seeming to rest truths important to human life on the mere accident of an archaeological discovery. Is it to be thought that Christianity gains anything from the deciphering of the names of some Assyrian and Babylonian kings, contemporaries chiefly with the later Jewish history? As little as it ought to lose from the appearance of a contradictory narrative of the Exodus in the chamber of an Egyptian temple of the year B.C. 1500. This latter supposition may not be very probable. But it is worth while to ask ourselves the question, whether we can be right in maintaining any view of religion which can be affected by such a probability. It will be a further assistance in the consideration of this subject, to observe that the interpretation of Scripture has nothing to do with any opinion respecting its origin. The meaning of Scripture is one thing; the inspiration of Scripture is another. It is conceivable that those who hold the most different views about the one, may be able to agree about the other. Rigid upholders of the verbal inspiration of Scripture, and those who deny inspiration altogether, may nevertheless meet on the common ground of the meaning of words. If the term inspiration were to fall into disuse, no fact of nature, or history, or language, no event in the life of man, or dealings of God with him, would be in any degree altered. The word itself is but of yesterday, not found in the earlier confessions of the reformed faith; the difficulties that have arisen about it are

only two or three centuries old. Therefore the question of inspiration, though in one sense important, is to the interpreter as though it were not important; he is in no way called upon to determine a matter with which he has nothing to do, and which was not determined by fathers of the Church. And he had better go on his way and leave the more precise definition of the word to the progress of knowledge and the results of the study of Scripture, instead of entangling himself with a theory about it. It is one evil of conditions or previous suppositions in the study of Scripture, that the assumption of them has led to an apologetic temper in the interpreters of Scripture. The tone of apology is always a tone of weakness, and does injury to a good cause. It is the reverse of ‘ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ It is hampered with the necessity of making a defence, and also with previous defences of the same side; it accepts, with an excess of reserve and caution, the truth itself, when it comes from an opposite quarter. Commentators are often more occupied with the proof of miracles than with the declaration of life and immortality; with the fulfilment of the details of prophecy than with its life and power; with the reconcilement of the discrepancies in the narrative of the infancy, pointed out by Schleiermacher, than with the importance of the great event of the appearance of the Saviour—‘To that end was I born and for this cause came I into the world that I should bear witness unto the truth.’ The same tendency is observable also in reference to the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, which are not only brought into harmony with each other, but interpreted with a reference to the traditions of existing communions. The natural meaning of particular expressions, as for example: ‘Why are they then baptized for the dead?’ (1 Cor. xv. 29), or the words ‘because of the angels’ (1 Cor. xi. 10); or, ‘this generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled’ (Matt. xxiv. 34); or, ‘upon this rock will I build my Church’ (Matt. xvi. 18), is set aside in favour of others, which, however improbable, are more in accordance with preconceived opinions, or seem to be more worthy of the sacred writers. The language, and also the text, are treated on the same defensive and conservative principles. The received translations of Phil. ii. 6 (‘Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God’), or of Rom. iii. 25 (‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood’), or Rom. xv. 6 (‘God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’), though erroneous, are not given up without a struggle; the 1 Tim. iii. 16, and 1 John v. 7 (the three witnesses), though the first (‘God manifest in the flesh,’ ΘΣ for ΟΣ) is not found in the best manuscripts, and the second in no Greek manuscript worth speaking of, have not yet disappeared from the editions of the Greek Testament commonly in use in England, and still less from the English translation. An English commentator who, with Lachmann and Tischendorf, supported also by the authority of Erasmus, ventures to alter the punctuation of the doxology in Rom. ix. 5 (‘Who is over all God blessed for ever’) hardly escapes the charge of heresy. That in most of these cases the words referred to have a direct bearing on important controversies is a reason not for retaining, but for correcting them. The temper of accommodation shows itself especially in two ways: first, in the attempt to adapt the truths of Scripture to the doctrines of the creeds; secondly, in the adaptation of the precepts and maxims of Scripture to the language or practice of our own age. Now the creeds are acknowledged to be a part of Christianity; they stand in a close relation to the words of Christ and his Apostles; nor can it be said that any heterodox formula makes a nearer approach to a simple and scriptural rule of faith. Neither is anything gained by contrasting them with Scripture, in which the germs of the expressions used in them are sufficiently apparent. Yet it does not follow that they should be

pressed into the service of the interpreter. The growth of ideas in the interval which separated the first century from the fourth or sixth makes it impossible to apply the language of the one to the explanation of the other. Between Scripture and the Nicene or Athanasian Creed, a world of the understanding comes in—that world of abstractions and second notions; and mankind are no longer at the same point as when the whole of Christianity was contained in the words, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou mayest be saved,’ when the Gospel centred in the attachment to a living or recently departed friend and Lord. The language of the New Testament is the first utterance and consciousness of the mind of Christ; or the immediate vision of the Word of life (1 John i. 1) as it presented itself before the eyes of His first followers, or as the sense of His truth and power grew upon them (Rom. i. 3, 4); the other is the result of three or four centuries of reflection and controversy. And although this last had a truth suited to its age, and its technical expressions have sunk deep into the heart of the human race, it is not the less unfitted to be the medium by the help of which Scripture is to be explained. If the occurrence of the phraseology of the Nicene age in a verse of the Epistles would detect the spuriousness of the verse in which it was found, how can the Nicene or Athanasian Creed be a suitable instrument for the interpretation of Scripture? That advantage which the New Testament has over the teaching of the Church, as representing what may be termed the childhood of the Gospel, would be lost if its language were required to conform to that of the Creeds. To attribute to St. Paul or the Twelve the abstract notion of Christian truth which afterwards sprang up in the Catholic Church, is the same sort of anachronism as to attribute to them a system of philosophy. It is the same error as to attribute to Homer the ideas of Thales or Heraclitus, or to Thales the more developed principles of Aristotle and Plato. Many persons who have no difficulty in tracing the growth of institutions, yet seem to fail in recognizing the more subtle progress of an idea. It is hard to imagine the absence of conceptions with which we are familiar; to go back to the germ of what we know only in maturity; to give up what has grown to us, and become a part of our minds. In the present case, however, the development is not difficult to prove. The statements of Scripture are unaccountable if we deny it; the silence of Scripture is equally unaccountable. Absorbed as St. Paul was in the person of Christ with an intensity of faith and love of which in modern days and at this distance of time we can scarcely form a conception—high as he raised the dignity of his Lord above all things in heaven and earth—looking to Him as the Creator of all things, and the head of quick and dead, he does not speak of Him as ‘equal to the Father,’ or ‘of one substance with the Father.’ Much of the language of the Epistles (passages for example such as Rom. i. 2; Phil. ii. 6) would lose their meaning if distributed in alternate clauses between our Lord’s humanity and divinity. Still greater difficulties would be introduced into the Gospels by the attempt to identify them with the Creeds. We should have to suppose that He was and was not tempted; that when He prayed to His Father He prayed also to Himself; that He knew and did not know ‘of that hour’ of which He as well as the angels were ignorant. How could He have said, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me’? or, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’? How could He have doubted whether ‘when the Son cometh he shall find faith upon the earth’? These simple and touching words have to be taken out of their natural meaning and connexion to be made the theme of apologetic discourses if we insist on reconciling them with the distinctions of later ages. Neither, as has been already remarked, would the substitution of any other precise or definite rule of faith, as for example the Unitarian, be more favourable to the interpretation of Scripture. How could the Evangelist St. John

have said ‘the Word was God,’ or ‘God was the Word’ (according to either mode of translating), or how would our Lord Himself have said, ‘I and the Father are one,’ if either had meant that Christ was a mere man, ‘a prophet or as one of the prophets’? No one who takes words in their natural sense can suppose that ‘in the beginning’ (John i. 1) means, ‘at the commencement of the ministry of Christ,’ or that ‘the Word was with God,’ only relates ‘to the withdrawal of Christ to commune with God,’ or that the Word is said to be God in the ironical sense of John x. 35. But while venturing to turn one eye on these (perhaps obsolete) perversions of the meanings of words in old opponents, we must not forget also to keep the other open to our own. The object of the preceding remark is not to enter into controversy with them, or to balance the statements of one side with those of the other, but only to point out the error of introducing into the interpretation of Scripture the notions of a later age which is common alike to us and them. The other kind of accommodation which was alluded to above arises out of the difference between the social and ecclesiastical state of the world, as it exists in actual fact, and the ideal which the Gospel presents to us. An ideal is, by its very nature, far removed from actual life. It is enshrined not in the material things of the external world, but in the heart and conscience. Mankind are dissatisfied at this separation; they fancy that they can make the inward kingdom an outward one also. But this is not possible. The frame of civilization, that is to say, institutions and laws, the usages of business, the customs of society, these are for the most part mechanical, capable only in a certain degree of a higher and spiritual life. Christian motives have never existed in such strength, as to make it safe or possible to entrust them with the preservation of social order. Other interests are therefore provided and other principles, often independent of the teaching of the Gospel, or even apparently at variance with it. ‘If a man smite thee on the right cheek turn to him the other also,’ is not a regulation of police but an ideal rule of conduct, not to be explained away, but rarely if ever to be literally acted upon in a civilized country; or rather to be acted upon always in spirit, yet not without a reference to the interests of the community. If a missionary were to endanger the public peace and come like the Apostles saying, ‘I ought to obey God rather than man,’ it is obvious that the most Christian of magistrates could not allow him (say in India or New Zealand) to shield himself under the authority of these words. For in religion as in philosophy there are two opposite poles; of truth and action, of doctrine and practice, of idea and fact. The image of God in Christ is over against the necessities of human nature and the state of man on earth. Our Lord Himself recognizes this distinction, when He says, ‘Of whom do the kings of the earth gather tribute?’ and ‘then are the children free’ (Matt. xvii. 26). And again, ‘Notwithstanding lest we should offend them,’ &c. Here are contrasted what may be termed the two poles of idea and fact. All men appeal to Scripture, and desire to draw the authority of Scripture to their side; its voice may be heard in the turmoil of political strife; a merely verbal similarity, the echo of a word, has weight in the determination of a controversy. Such appeals are not to be met always by counter-appeals; they rather lead to the consideration of deeper questions as to the manner in which Scripture is to be applied. In what relation does it stand to actual life? Is it a law, or only a spirit? for nations, or for individuals? to be enforced generally, or in details also? Are its maxims to be modified by experience, or acted upon in defiance of experience? Are the accidental circumstances of the first believers to become a rule for us? Is everything, in short, done or said by our Saviour and His Apostles, to be regarded as a precept or example which is to be followed on all occasions and to last for all time? That can hardly be, consistently with the

changes of human things. It would be a rigid skeleton of Christianity (not the image of Christ), to which society and politics, as well as the lives of individuals, would be conformed. It would be the oldness of the letter, on which the world would be stretched; not ‘the law of the spirit of life’ which St. Paul teaches. The attempt to force politics and law into the framework of religion is apt to drive us up into a corner, in which the great principles of truth and justice have no longer room to make themselves felt. It is better, as well as safer, to take the liberty with which Christ has made us free. For our Lord Himself has left behind Him words, which contain a principle large enough to admit all the forms of society or of life; ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (John xviii. 36). It does not come into collision with politics or knowledge; it has nothing to do with the Roman government or the Jewish priesthood, or with corresponding institutions in the present day; it is a counsel of perfection, and has its dwelling-place in the heart of man. That is the real solution of questions of Church and State; all else is relative to the history or circumstances of particular nations. That is the answer to a doubt which is also raised respecting the obligation of the letter of the Gospel on individual Christians. But this inwardness of the words of Christ is what few are able to receive; it is easier to apply them superficially to things without, than to be a partaker of them from within. And false and miserable applications of them are often made, and the kingdom of God becomes the tool of the kingdoms of the world. The neglect of this necessary contrast between the ideal and the actual has had a twofold effect on the Interpretation of Scripture. It has led to an unfair appropriation of some portions of Scripture and an undue neglect of others. The letter is in many cases really or apparently in harmony with existing practices, or opinions, or institutions. In other cases it is far removed from them; it often seems as if the world would come to an end before the words of Scripture could be realized. The twofold effect just now mentioned, corresponds to these two classes. Some texts of Scripture have been eagerly appealed to and made (in one sense) too much of; they have been taken by force into the service of received opinions and beliefs; texts of the other class have been either unnoticed or explained away. Consider, for example, the extraordinary and unreasonable importance attached to single words, sometimes of doubtful meaning, in reference to any of the following subjects:— (1) Divorce; (2) Marriage with a Wife’s Sister; (3) Inspiration; (4) the Personality of the Holy Spirit; (5) Infant Baptism; (6) Episcopacy; (7) Divine Right of Kings; (8) Original Sin. There is, indeed, a kind of mystery in the way in which the chance words of a simple narrative, the occurrence of some accidental event, the use even of a figure of speech, or a mistranslation of a word in Latin or English, have affected the thoughts of future ages and distant countries. Nothing so slight that it has not been caught at; nothing so plain that it may not be explained away. What men have brought to the text they have also found there; what has received no interpretation or witness, either in the customs of the Church or in ‘the thoughts of many hearts,’ is still ‘an unknown tongue’ to them. It is with Scripture as with oratory, its effect partly depends on the preparation in the mind or in circumstances for the reception of it. There is no use of Scripture, no quotation or even misquotation of a word which is not a power in the world, when it embodies the spirit of a great movement or is echoed by the voice of a large party. On the first of the subjects referred to above, it is argued from Scripture that adulterers should not be allowed to marry again; and the point of the argument turns on the question whether the words (εκτος λογου πορνειας) ‘saving for the cause of fornication,’ which occur in the first clause of an important text on marriage, were designedly or accidentally omitted in the second (Matt. v. 32:

‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery;’ compare also Mark x. 11, 12). 2. The Scripture argument in the second instance is almost invisible, being drawn from a passage the meaning of which is irrelevant (Lev. xviii. 18: ‘Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister to vex her, to uncover her nakedness beside the other in her lifetime’): and transferred from the Polygamy which prevailed in Eastern countries 3000 years ago to the Monogamy of the nineteenth century and the Christian Church, in spite of the custom and tradition of the Jews and the analogy of the brother’s widow. 3. In the third case the word (θεοπνευστος) ‘given by inspiration of God’ is spoken of the Old Testament, and is assumed to apply to the New, including that Epistle in which the expression occurs (2 Tim. iii. 16). 4. In the fourth example the words used are mysterious (John xiv. 26; xvi. 15), and seem to come out of the depths of a divine consciousness; they have sometimes, however, received a more exact meaning than they could truly bear; what is spoken in a figure is construed with the severity of a logical statement, while passages of an opposite tenour are overlooked or set aside. 5. In the fifth instance, the mere mention of a family of a jailer at Philippi who was baptized (‘he and all his,’ Acts xvi. 33), has led to the inference that in this family there were probably young children, and hence that infant baptism is, first, permissive, secondly, obligatory. 6. In the sixth case the chief stress of the argument from Scripture turns on the occurrence of the word (επισκοπος) bishop in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, which is assisted by a supposed analogy between the position of the Apostles and of their successors; although the term bishop is clearly used in the passages referred to as well as in other parts of the New Testament indistinguishably from Presbyter, and the magisterial authority of bishops in after ages is unlike rather than like the personal authority of the Apostles in the beginning of the Gospel. The further development of Episcopacy into Apostolical succession has often been rested on the promise, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.’ 7. In the seventh case the precepts of order which are addressed in the Epistle to the ‘fifth monarchy men of those days,’ are transferred to a duty of obedience to hereditary princes; the fact of the house of David, ‘the Lord’s anointed,’ sitting on the throne of Israel is converted into a principle for all times and countries. And the higher lesson which our Saviour teaches: ‘Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s,’ that is to say, ‘Render unto all their due, and to God above all,’ is spoiled by being made into a precept of political subjection. 8. Lastly, the justice of God ‘who rewardeth every man according to his works,’ and the Christian scheme of redemption, have been staked on two figurative expressions of St. Paul to which there is no parallel in any other part of Scripture (1 Cor. xv. 22: ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,’ and the corresponding passage in Rom. v. 12); notwithstanding the declaration of the Old Testament as also of the New, ‘Every soul shall bear its own iniquity,’ and ‘neither this man sinned nor his parents.’ It is not necessary for our purpose to engage further in the matters of dispute which have arisen by the way in attempting to illustrate the general argument. Yet to avoid misconception it may be remarked, that many of the principles, rules, or truths mentioned, as for example, Infant Baptism, or the Episcopal Form of Church Government, have sufficient grounds; the weakness is the attempt to derive them from Scripture. With this minute and rigid enforcement of the words of Scripture in passages where the ideas expressed in them either really or apparently agree with received opinions or institutions, there remains to be contrasted the neglect, or in some instances the misinterpretation of other words which are not equally in

harmony with the spirit of the age. In many of our Lord’s discourses He speaks of the ‘blessedness of poverty:’ of the hardness which they that have riches will experience ‘in attaining eternal life.’ ‘It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye,’ and ‘Son, thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,’ and again ‘One thing thou lackest, go sell all that thou hast.’ Precepts like these do not appeal to our own experience of life; they are unlike anything that we see around us at the present day, even among good men; to some among us they will recall the remarkable saying of Lessing, ‘that the Christian religion had been tried for eighteen centuries; the religion of Christ remained to be tried.’ To take them literally would be injurious to ourselves and to society (at least, so we think). Religious sects or orders who have seized this aspect of Christianity have come to no good, and have often ended in extravagance. It will not do to go into the world saying, ‘Woe unto you, ye rich men,’ or on entering a noble mansion to repeat the denunciations of the prophet about ‘cedar and vermilion,’ or on being shown the prospect of a magnificent estate to cry out, ‘Woe unto them that lay field to field that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.’ Times have altered, we say, since these denunciations were uttered; what appeared to the Prophet or Apostle a violation of the appointment of Providence has now become a part of it. It will not do to make a great supper, and mingle at the same board the two ends of society, as modern phraseology calls them, ‘fetching in the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind,’ to fill the vacant places of noble guests. That would be eccentric in modern times, and even hurtful. Neither is it suitable for us to wash one another’s feet, or to perform any other menial office, because our Lord set us the example. The customs of society do not admit it; no good would be done by it, and singularity is of itself an evil. Well, then, are the precepts of Christ not to be obeyed? Perhaps in their fullest sense they cannot be obeyed. But at any rate they are not to be explained away; the standard of Christ is not to be lowered to ordinary Christian life, because ordinary Christian life cannot rise, even in good men, to the standard of Christ. And there may be ‘standing among us’ some one in ten thousand ‘whom we know not,’ in whom there is such a divine union of charity and prudence that he is most blest in the entire fulfilment of the precept—‘Go sell all that thou hast,’—which to obey literally in other cases would be evil, and not good. Many there have been, doubtless (not one or two only), who have given all that they had on earth to their family or friends—the poor servant ‘casting her two mites into the treasury,’ denying herself the ordinary comforts of life for the sake of an erring parent or brother; that is not probably an uncommon case, and as near an approach as in this life we make to heaven. And there may be some one or two rare natures in the world in whom there is such a divine courtesy, such a gentleness and dignity of soul, that differences of rank seem to vanish before them, and they look upon the face of others, even of their own servants and dependents, only as they are in the sight of God and will be in His kingdom. And there may be some tender and delicate woman among us, who feels that she has a divine vocation to fulfil the most repulsive offices towards the dying inmates of a hospital, or the soldier perishing in a foreign land. Whether such examples of self-sacrifice are good or evil, must depend, not altogether on social or economical principles, but on the spirit of those who offer them, and the power which they have in themselves of ‘making all things kin.’ And even if the ideal itself were not carried out by us in practice, it has nevertheless what may be termed a truth of feeling. ‘Let them that have riches be as though they had them not.’ ‘Let the rich man wear the load lightly; he will one day fold them up as a vesture.’ Let not the refinement of society make us forget that it is not the refined only who are received into the kingdom of God; nor the daintiness of life hide from us the bodily evils of which the rich man and Lazarus are alike heirs. Thoughts such as these have

the power to reunite us to our fellow-creatures from whom the accidents of birth, position, wealth have separated us; they soften our hearts towards them, when divided not only by vice and ignorance, but what is even a greater barrier, difference of manners and associations. For if there be anything in our own fortune superior to that of others, instead of idolizing or cherishing it in the blood, the Gospel would have us cast it from us; and if there be anything mean or despised in those with whom we have to do, the Gospel would have us regard such as friends and brethren, yea, even as having the person of Christ. Another instance of apparent, if not real neglect of the precepts of Scripture, is furnished by the commandment against swearing. No precept about divorce is so plain, so universal, so exclusive as this; ‘Swear not at all.’ Yet we all know how the custom of Christian countries has modified this ‘counsel of perfection’ which was uttered by the Saviour. This is the more remarkable because in this case the precept is not, as in the former, practically impossible of fulfilment or even difficult. And yet in this instance again, the body who have endeavoured to follow more nearly the letter of our Lord’s commandment, seem to have gone against the common sense of the Christian world. Or to add one more example: Who, that hears of the Sabbatarianism, as it is called, of some Protestant countries, would imagine that the Author of our religion had cautioned His disciples, not against the violation of the Sabbath, but only against its formal and Pharisaical observance; or that the chiefest of the Apostles had warned the Colossians to ‘Let no man judge them in respect of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days’ (ii. 16). The neglect of another class of passages is even more surprising, the precepts contained in them being quite practicable and in harmony with the existing state of the world. In this instance it seems as if religious teachers had failed to gather those principles of which they stood most in need. ‘Think ye that those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell?’ is the characteristic lesson of the Gospel on the occasion of any sudden visitation. Yet it is another reading of such calamities which is commonly insisted upon. The observation is seldom made respecting the parable of the good Samaritan, that the true neighbour is also a person of a different religion. The words, ‘Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me,’ are often said to have no application to sectarian differences in the present day, when the Church is established and miracles have ceased. The conduct of our Lord to the woman taken in adultery, though not intended for our imitation always, yet affords a painful contrast to the excessive severity with which even a Christian society punishes the errors of women. The boldness with which St. Paul applies the principle of individual judgement, ‘Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind,’ as exhibited also in the words quoted above, ‘Let no man judge you in respect of the new moon, or of the sabbathdays,’ is far greater than would be allowed in the present age. Lastly, that the tenet of the damnation of the heathen should ever have prevailed in the Christian world, or that the damnation of Catholics should have been a received opinion among Protestants, implies a strange forgetfulness of such passages as Rom. ii. 1-16. ‘Who rewardeth every man according to his work,’ and ‘When the Gentiles, which know not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,’ &c. What a difference between the simple statement which the Apostle makes of the justice of God and the ‘uncovenanted mercies’ or ‘invincible ignorance’ of theologians half reluctant to give up, yet afraid to maintain the advantage of denying salvation to those who are ‘extra palum Ecclesiae!’ The same habit of silence or misinterpretation extends to words or statements of Scripture in which doctrines are thought to be interested. When maintaining the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity, we do not readily recall the verse, ‘of

that hour knoweth no man, no not the Angels of God, neither the Son, but the Father’ (Mark xiii. 32). The temper or feeling which led St. Ambrose to doubt the genuineness of the words marked in italics, leads Christians in our own day to pass them over. We are scarcely just to the Millenarians or to those who maintain the continuance of miracles or spiritual gifts in the Christian Church, in not admitting the degree of support which is afforded to their views by many passages of Scripture. The same remark applies to the Predestinarian controversy; the Calvinist is often hardly dealt with, in being deprived of his real standing ground in the third and ninth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. And the Protestant who thinks himself bound to prove from Scripture the very details of doctrine or discipline which are maintained in his Church, is often obliged to have recourse to harsh methods, and sometimes to deny appearances which seem to favour some particular tenet of Roman Catholicism (Matt. xvi. 18, 19; xviii. 18: 1 Cor. iii. 15). The Roman Catholic, on the other hand, scarcely observes that nearly all the distinctive articles of his creed are wanting in the New Testament; the Calvinist in fact ignores almost the whole of the sacred volume for the sake of a few verses. The truth is, that in seeking to prove our own opinions out of Scripture, we are constantly falling into the common fallacy of opening our eyes to one class of facts and closing them to another. The favourite verses shine like stars, while the rest of the page is thrown into the shade. Nor indeed is it easy to say what is the meaning of ‘proving a doctrine from Scripture.’ For when we demand logical equivalents and similarity of circumstances, when we balance adverse statements, St. James and St. Paul, the New Testament with the Old, it will be hard to demonstrate from Scripture any complex system either of doctrine or practice. The Bible is not a book of statutes in which words have been chosen to cover the multitude of cases, but in the greater portion of it, especially the Gospels and Epistles, ‘like a man talking to his friend.’ Nay, more, it is a book written in the East, which is in some degree liable to be misunderstood, because it speaks the language and has the feeling of Eastern lands. Nor can we readily determine in explaining the words of our Lord or of St. Paul, how much (even of some of the passages just quoted) is to be attributed to Oriental modes of speech. Expressions which would be regarded as rhetorical exaggerations in the Western world are the natural vehicles of thought to an Eastern people. How great then must be the confusion where an attempt is made to draw out these Oriental modes with the severity of a philosophical or legal argument! Is it not such a use of the words of Christ which He Himself rebukes when He says? ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing’ (John vi. 52, 63). There is a further way in which the language of creeds and liturgies as well as the ordinary theological use of terms exercises a disturbing influence on the interpretation of Scripture. Words which occur in Scripture are singled out and incorporated in systems, like stones taken out of an old building and put into a new one. They acquire a technical meaning more or less divergent from the original one. It is obvious that their use in Scripture, and not their later and technical sense, must furnish the rule of interpretation. We should not have recourse to the meaning of a word in Polybius, for the explanation of its use in Plato, or to the turn of a sentence in Lycophron, to illustrate a construction of Aeschylus. It is the same kind of anachronism which would interpret Scripture by the scholastic or theological use of the language of Scripture. It is remarkable that this use is indeed partial, that is to say it affects one class of words and not another. Love and truth, for example, have never been theological terms; grace and faith, on the other hand, always retain an association with the Pelagian or Lutheran controversies. Justification and

inspiration are derived from verbs which occur in Scripture, and the later substantive has clearly affected the meaning of the original verb or verbal in the places where they occur. The remark might be further illustrated by the use of Scriptural language respecting the Sacraments, which has also had a reflex influence on its interpretation in many passages of Scripture, especially in the Gospel of St. John (John iii. 5; vi. 56, &c). Minds which are familiar with the mystical doctrine of the Sacraments seem to see a reference to them in almost every place in the Old Testament as well as in the New, in which the words ‘water,’ or ‘bread and wine’ may happen to occur. Other questions meet us on the threshold, of a different kind, which also affect the interpretation of Scripture, and therefore demand an answer. Is it admitted that the Scripture has one and only one true meaning? Or are we to follow the fathers into mystical and allegorical explanations? or with the majority of modern interpreters to confine ourselves to the double senses of prophecy, and the symbolism of the Gospel in the law? In either case, we assume what can never be proved, and an instrument is introduced of such subtlety and pliability as to make the Scriptures mean anything—‘Gallus in campanili,’ as the Waldenses described it; ‘the weathercock on the church tower,’ which is turned hither and thither by every wind of doctrine. That the present age has grown out of the mystical methods of the early fathers is a part of its intellectual state. No one will now seek to find hidden meanings in the scarlet thread of Rahab, or the number of Abraham’s followers, or in the little circumstance mentioned after the resurrection of the Saviour that St. Peter was the first to enter the sepulchre. To most educated persons in the nineteenth century, these applications of Scripture appear foolish. Yet it is rather the excess of the method which provokes a smile than the method itself. For many remains of the mystical interpretation exist among ourselves; it is not the early fathers only who have read the Bible crosswise, or deciphered it as a book of symbols. And the uncertainty is the same in any part of Scripture if there is a departure from the plain and obvious meaning. If, for example, we alternate the verses in which our Lord speaks of the last things between the day of judgement and the destruction of Jerusalem; or, in the elder prophecies, which are the counterparts of these, make a corresponding division between the temporal and the spiritual Israel; or again if we attribute to the details of the Mosaical ritual a reference to the New Testament; or, once more, supposing the passage of the Red Sea to be regarded not merely as a figure of baptism, but as a pre-ordained type, the principle is conceded; there is no good reason why the scarlet thread of Rahab should not receive the explanation given to it by Clement. A little more or a little less of the method does not make the difference between certainty and uncertainty in the interpretation of Scripture. In whatever degree it is practised it is equally incapable of being reduced to any rule; it is the interpreter’s fancy, and is likely to be not less but more dangerous and extravagant when it adds the charm of authority from its use in past ages. The question which has been suggested runs up into a more general one, ‘the relation between the Old and New Testaments.’ For the Old Testament will receive a different meaning accordingly as it is explained from itself or from the New. In the first case a careful and conscientious study of each one for itself is all that is required; in the second case the types and ceremonies of the law, perhaps the very facts and persons of the history, will be assumed to be predestined or made after a pattern corresponding to the things that were to be in the latter days. And this question of itself stirs another question respecting the interpretation of the Old Testament in the New. Is such interpretation to be

regarded as the meaning of the original text, or an accommodation of it to the thoughts of other times? Our object is not to attempt here the determination of these questions, but to point out that they must be determined before any real progress can be made or any agreement arrived at in the interpretation of Scripture. With one more example of another kind we may close this part of the subject. The origin of the three first Gospels is an inquiry which has not been much considered by English theologians since the days of Bishop Marsh. The difficulty of the question has been sometimes misunderstood; the point being how there can be so much agreement in words, and so much disagreement both in words and facts; the double phenomenon is the real perplexity—how in short there can be all degrees of similarity and dissimilarity, the kind and degree of similarity being such as to make it necessary to suppose that large portions are copied from each other or from common documents; the dissimilarities being of a kind which seem to render impossible any knowledge in the authors of one another’s writings. The most probable solution of this difficulty is, that the tradition on which the three first Gospels are based was at first preserved orally, and slowly put together and written in the three forms which it assumed at a very early period, those forms being in some places, perhaps, modified by translation. It is not necessary to develop this hypothesis farther. The point to be noticed is, that whether this or some other theory be the true account (and some such account is demonstrably necessary), the assumption of such a theory, or rather the observation of the facts on which it rests, cannot but exercise an influence on interpretation. We can no longer speak of three independent witnesses of the Gospel narrative. Hence there follow some other consequences. (1) There is no longer the same necessity as heretofore to reconcile inconsistent narratives; the harmony of the Gospels only means the parallelism of similar words. (2) There is no longer any need to enforce everywhere the connexion of successive verses, for the same words will be found to occur in different connexions in the different Gospels. (3) Nor can the designs attributed to their authors be regarded as the free handling of the same subject on different plans; the difference consisting chiefly in the occurrence or absence of local or verbal explanations, or the addition or omission of certain passages. Lastly, it is evident that no weight can be given to traditional statements of facts about the authorship, as, for example, that respecting St. Mark being the interpreter of St. Peter, because the Fathers who have handed down these statements were ignorant or unobservant of the great fact, which is proved by internal evidence, that they are for the most part of common origin. Until these and the like questions are determined by interpreters, it is not possible that there should be agreement in the interpretation of Scripture. The Protestant and Catholic, the Unitarian and Trinitarian will continue to fight their battle on the ground of the New Testament. The Preterists and Futurists, those who maintain that the roll of prophecies is completed in past history, or in the apostolical age; those who look forward to a long series of events which are yet to come [εις αφανες τον μυθον ανενεγκων ουκ εχει ελεγχον], may alike claim the authority of the Book of Daniel, or the Revelation. Apparent coincidences will always be discovered by those who want to find them. Where there is no critical interpretation of Scripture, there will be a mystical or rhetorical one. If words have more than one meaning, they may have any meaning. Instead of being a rule of life or faith, Scripture becomes the expression of the everchanging aspect of religious opinions. The unchangeable word of God, in the name of which we repose, is changed by each age and each generation in accordance with its passing fancy. The book in which we believe all religious

truth to be contained, is the most uncertain of all books, because interpreted by arbitrary and uncertain methods.

On the Interpretation of Scripture, by Benjamin Jowett
It is probable that some of the preceding statements may be censured as a wanton exposure of the difficulties of Scripture. It will be said that such inquiries are for the few; while the printed page lies open to the many, and that the obtrusion of them may offend some weaker brother, some half-educated or prejudiced soul, ‘for whom,’ nevertheless, in the touching language of St. Paul, ‘Christ died.’ A confusion of the heart and head may lead sensitive minds into a desertion of the principles of the Christian life, which are their own witness, because they are in doubt about facts which are really external to them. Great evil to character may sometimes ensue from such causes. ‘No man can serve two’ opinions without a sensible harm to his nature. The consciousness of this responsibility should be always present to writers on theology. But the responsibility is really twofold; for there is a duty to speak the truth as well as a duty to withhold it. The voice of a majority of the clergy throughout the world, the half sceptical, half conservative instincts of many laymen, perhaps, also, individual interest, are in favour of the latter course; while a higher expediency pleads that ‘honesty is the best policy,’ and that truth alone ‘makes free.’ To this it may be replied, that truth is not truth to those who are unable to use it; no reasonable man would attempt to lay before the illiterate such a question as that concerning the origin of the Gospels. And yet it may be rejoined once more, the healthy tone of religion among the poor depends upon freedom of thought and inquiry among the educated. In this conflict of reasons, individual judgement must at last decide. That there has been no rude, or improper unveiling of the difficulties of Scripture in the preceding pages, is thought to be shown by the following considerations: First, that the difficulties referred to are very well known; they force themselves on the attention, not only of the student, but of every intelligent reader of the New Testament, whether in Greek or English. The treatment of such difficulties in theological works is no measure of public opinion respecting them. Thoughtful persons, whose minds have turned towards theology, are continually discovering that the critical observations which they make themselves have been made also by others apparently without concert. The truth is that they have been led to them by the same causes, and these again lie deep in the tendencies of education and literature in the present age. But no one is willing to break through the reticence which is observed on these subjects; hence a sort of smouldering scepticism. It is probable that the distrust is greatest at the time when the greatest efforts are made to conceal it. Doubt comes in at the window, when Inquiry is denied at the door. The thoughts of able and highly educated young men almost always stray towards the first principles of things; it is a great injury to them, and tends to raise in their minds a sort of incurable suspicion, to find that there is one book of the fruit of the knowledge of which they are forbidden freely to taste, that is, the Bible. The same spirit renders the Christian minister almost powerless in the hands of his opponents. He can give no true answer to the mechanic or artisan who has either discovered by his mother-wit or who retails at second-hand the objections of critics; for he is unable to look at things as they truly are.

Secondly, as the time has come when it is no longer possible to ignore the results of criticism, it is of importance that Christianity should be seen to be in harmony with them. That objections to some received views should be valid, and yet that they should be always held up as the objections of infidels, is a mischief to the Christian cause. It is a mischief that critical observations which any intelligent man can make for himself, should be ascribed to atheism or unbelief. It would be a strange and almost incredible thing that the Gospel, which at first made war only on the vices of mankind, should now be opposed to one of the highest and rarest of human virtues—the love of truth. And that in the present day the great object of Christianity should be, not to change the lives of men, but to prevent them from changing their opinions; that would be a singular inversion of the purposes for which Christ came into the world. The Christian religion is in a false position when all the tendencies of knowledge are opposed to it. Such a position cannot be long maintained, or can only end in the withdrawal of the educated classes from the influences of religion. It is a grave consideration whether we ourselves may not be in an earlier stage of the same religious dissolution, which seems to have gone further in Italy and France. The reason for thinking so is not to be sought in the external circumstances of our own or any other religious communion, but in the progress of ideas with which Christian teachers seem to be ill at ease. Time was when the Gospel was before the age; when it breathed a new life into a decaying world—when the difficulties of Christianity were difficulties of the heart only, and the highest minds found in its truths not only the rule of their lives, but a well-spring of intellectual delight. Is it to be held a thing impossible that the Christian religion, instead of shrinking into itself, may again embrace the thoughts of men upon the earth? Or is it true that since the Reformation ‘all intellect has gone the other way’? and that in Protestant countries reconciliation is as hopeless as Protestants commonly believe to be the case in Catholic? Those who hold the possibility of such a reconcilement or restoration of belief, are anxious to disengage Christianity from all suspicion of disguise or unfairness. They wish to preserve the historical use of Scripture as the continuous witness in all ages of the higher things in the heart of man, as the inspired source of truth and the way to the better life. They are willing to take away some of the external supports, because they are not needed and do harm; also, because they interfere with the meaning. They have a faith, not that after a period of transition all things will remain just as they were before, but that they will all come round again to the use of man and to the glory of God. When interpreted like any other book, by the same rules of evidence and the same canons of criticism, the Bible will still remain unlike any other book; its beauty will be freshly seen, as of a picture which is restored after many ages to its original state; it will create a new interest and make for itself a new kind of authority by the life which is in it. It will be a spirit and not a letter; as it was in the beginning, having an influence like that of the spoken word, or the book newly found. The purer the light in the human heart, the more it will have an expression of itself in the mind of Christ; the greater the knowledge of the development of man, the truer will be the insight gained into the ‘increasing purpose’ of revelation. In which also the individual soul has a practical part, finding a sympathy with its own imperfect feelings, in the broken utterance of the Psalmist or the Prophet as well as in the fullness of Christ. The harmony between Scripture and the life of man, in all its stages, may be far greater than appears at present. No one can form any notion from what we see around us, of the power which Christianity might have if it were at one with the conscience of man, and not at variance with his intellectual convictions. There, a world weary

of the heat and dust of controversy—of speculations about God and man— weary too of the rapidity of its own motion, would return home and find rest. But for the faith that the Gospel might win again the minds of intellectual men, it would be better to leave religion to itself, instead of attempting to draw them together. Other walks in literature have peace and pleasure and profit; the path of the critical Interpreter of Scripture is almost always a thorny one in England. It is not worth while for any one to enter upon it who is not supported by a sense that he has a Christian and moral object. For although an Interpreter of Scripture in modern times will hardly say with the emphasis of the Apostle, ‘Woe is me, if I speak not the truth without regard to consequences,’ yet he too may feel it a matter of duty not to conceal the things which he knows. He does not hide the discrepancies of Scripture, because the acknowledgement of them is the first step towards agreement among interpreters. He would restore the original meaning because ‘seven other’ meanings take the place of it; the book is made the sport of opinion and the instrument of perversion of life. He would take the excuses of the head out of the way of the heart; there is hope too that by drawing Christians together on the ground of Scripture, he may also draw them nearer to one another. He is not afraid that inquiries, which have for their object the truth, can ever be displeasing to the God of truth; or that the Word of God is in any such sense a word as to be hurt by investigations into its human origin and conception. It may be thought another ungracious aspect of the preceding remarks, that they cast a slight upon the interpreters of Scripture in former ages. The early Fathers, the Roman Catholic mystical writers, the Swiss and German Reformers, the Nonconformist divines, have qualities for which we look in vain among ourselves; they throw an intensity of light upon the page of Scripture which we nowhere find in modern commentaries. But it is not the light of interpretation. They have a faith which seems indeed to have grown dim nowadays, but that faith is not drawn from the study of Scripture; it is the element in which their own mind moves which overflows on the meaning of the text. The words of Scripture suggest to them their own thoughts or feelings. They are preachers, or in the New Testament sense of the word, prophets rather than interpreters. There is nothing in such a view derogatory to the saints and doctors of former ages. That Aquinas or Bernard did not shake themselves free from the mystical method of the Patristic times or the Scholastic one which was more peculiarly their own; that Luther and Calvin read the Scriptures in connexion with the ideas which were kindling in the mind of their age, and the events which were passing before their eyes, these and similar remarks are not to be construed as depreciatory of the genius or learning of famous men of old; they relate only to their interpretation of Scripture, in which it is no slight upon them, to maintain that they were not before their day. What remains may be comprised in a few precepts, or rather is the expansion of a single one. Interpret the Scripture like any other book. There are many respects in which Scripture is unlike any other book; these will appear in the results of such an interpretation. The first step is to know the meaning, and this can only be done in the same careful and impartial way that we ascertain the meaning of Sophocles or of Plato. The subordinate principles which flow out of this general one will also be gathered from the observation of Scripture. No other science of Hermeneutics is possible but an inductive one, that is to say, one based on the language and thoughts and narrations of the sacred writers. And it would be well to carry the theory of interpretation no further than in the case of other works. Excessive system tends to create an impression that the meaning of Scripture is out of our reach, or is to be attained in some other way than by the exercise of manly sense and industry. Who would write a bulky

treatise about the method to be pursued in interpreting Plato or Sophocles? Let us not set out on our journey so heavily equipped that there is little chance of our arriving at the end of it. The method creates itself as we go on, beginning only with a few reflections directed against plain errors. Such reflections are the rules of common sense, which we acknowledge with respect to other works written in dead languages; without pretending to novelty they may help us to ‘return to nature’ in the study of the sacred writings. First, it may be laid down, that Scripture has one meaning—the meaning which it had to the mind of the Prophet or Evangelist who first uttered or wrote, to the hearers or readers who first received it. Another view may be easier or more familiar to us, seeming to receive a light and interest from the circumstances of our own age. But such accommodation of the text must be laid aside by the interpreter, whose business is, to place himself as nearly as possible in the position of the sacred writer. That is no easy task—to call up the inner and outer life of the contemporaries of our Saviour; to follow the abrupt and involved utterance of St. Paul or of one of the old Prophets; to trace the meaning of words when language first became Christian. He will often have to choose the more difficult interpretation (Gal. ii. 20; Rom. iii. 15, &c.), and to refuse one more in agreement with received opinions, because the latter is less true to the style and time of the author. He may incur the charge of singularity, or confusion of ideas, or ignorance of Greek, from a misunderstanding of the peculiarity of the subject in the person who makes the charge. For if it be said that the translation of some Greek words is contrary to the usages of grammar (Gal. iv. 13), that is not in every instance to be denied; the point is, whether the usages of grammar are always observed. Or if it be objected to some interpretation of Scripture that it is difficult and perplexing, the answer is—‘that may very well be—it is the fact,’ arising out of differences in the modes of thought of other times, or irregularities in the use of language which no art of the interpreter can evade. One consideration should be borne in mind, that the Bible is the only book in the world written in different styles and at many different times, which is in the hands of persons of all degrees of knowledge and education. The benefit of this outweighs the evil, yet the evil should be admitted—namely, that it leads to a hasty and partial interpretation of Scripture, which often obscures the true one. A sort of conflict arises between scientific criticism and popular opinion. The indiscriminate use of Scripture has a further tendency to maintain erroneous readings or translations; some which are allowed to be such by scholars have been stereotyped in the mind of the English reader; and it becomes almost a political question how far we can venture to disturb them. There are difficulties of another kind in many parts of Scripture, the depth and inwardness of which require a measure of the same qualities in the interpreter himself. There are notes struck in places, which like some discoveries of science have sounded before their time; and only after many days have been caught up and found a response on the earth. There are germs of truth which after thousands of years have never yet taken root in the world. There are lessons in the Prophets which, however simple, mankind have not yet learned even in theory; and which the complexity of society rather tends to hide; aspects of human life in Job and Ecclesiastes which have a truth of desolation about them which we faintly realize in ordinary circumstances. It is, perhaps, the greatest difficulty of all to enter into the meaning of the words of Christ—so gentle, so human, so divine, neither adding to them nor marring their simplicity. The attempt to illustrate or draw them out in detail, even to guard against their abuse, is apt to disturb the balance of truth. The interpreter needs nothing short of ‘fashioning’ in himself the image of the mind of Christ. He has to be

born again into a new spiritual or intellectual world, from which the thoughts of this world are shut out. It is one of the highest tasks on which the labour of a life can be spent, to bring the words of Christ a little nearer the heart of man. But while acknowledging this inexhaustible or infinite character of the sacred writings, it does not, therefore, follow that we are willing to admit of hidden or mysterious meanings in them: in the same way we recognize the wonders and complexity of the laws of nature to be far beyond what eye has seen or knowledge reached, yet it is not therefore to be supposed that we acknowledge the existence of some other laws, different in kind from those we know, which are incapable of philosophical analysis. In like manner we have no reason to attribute to the Prophet or Evangelist any second or hidden sense different from that which appears on the surface. All that the Prophet meant may not have been consciously present to his mind; there were depths which to himself also were but half revealed. He beheld the fortunes of Israel passing into the heavens; the temporal kingdom was fading into an eternal one. It is not to be supposed that what he saw at a distance only was clearly defined to him; or that the universal truth which was appearing and reappearing in the history of the surrounding world took a purely spiritual or abstract form in his mind. There is a sense in which we may still say with Lord Bacon, that the words of prophecy are to be interpreted as the words of one ‘with whom a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years.’ But that is no reason for turning days into years, or for interpreting the things ‘that must shortly come to pass’ in the book of Revelation, as the events of modern history, or for separating the day of judgement from the destruction of Jerusalem in the Gospels. The double meaning which is given to our Saviour’s discourse respecting the last things is not that ‘form of eternity’ of which Lord Bacon speaks; it resembles rather the doubling of an object when seen through glasses placed at different angles. It is true also that there are types in Scripture which were regarded as such by the Jews themselves, as for example, the scapegoat, or the paschal lamb. But that is no proof of all outward ceremonies being types when Scripture is silent; —(if we assume the New Testament as a tradition running parallel with the Old, may not the Roman Catholic assume with equal reason tradition running parallel with the New?) Prophetic symbols, again, have often the same meaning in different places (e.g., the four beasts or living creatures, the colours white or red); the reason is that this meaning is derived from some natural association (as of fruitfulness, purity, or the like); or again, they are borrowed in some of the later prophecies from earlier ones; we are not, therefore, justified in supposing any hidden connexion in the prophecies where they occur. Neither is there any ground for assuming design of any other kind in Scripture any more than in Plato or Homer. Wherever there is beauty and order, there is design; but there is no proof of any artificial design, such as is often traced by the Fathers, in the relation of the several parts of a book, or of the several books to each other. That is one of those mischievous notions which enables us, under the disguise of reverence, to make Scripture mean what we please. Nothing that can be said of the greatness or sublimity, or truth, or depth, or tenderness, of many passages, is too much. But that greatness is of a simple kind; it is not increased by double senses, or systems of types, or elaborate structure, or design. If every sentence was a mystery, every word a riddle, every letter a symbol, that would not make the Scriptures more worthy of a Divine author; it is a heathenish or Rabbinical fancy which reads them in this way. Such complexity would not place them above but below human compositions in general; for it would deprive them of the ordinary intelligibleness of human language. It is not

for a Christian theologian to say that words were given to mankind to conceal their thoughts, neither was revelation given them to conceal the Divine. The second rule is an application of the general principle; ‘interpret Scripture from itself,’ as in other respects like any other book written in an age and country of which little or no other literature survives, and about which we know almost nothing except what is derived from its pages. Not that all the parts of Scripture are to be regarded as an indistinguishable mass. The Old Testament is not to be identified with the New, nor the Law with the Prophets, nor the Gospels with the Epistles, nor the Epistles of St. Paul to be violently harmonized with the Epistle of St. James. Each writer, each successive age, has characteristics of its own, as strongly marked, or more strongly than those which are found in the authors or periods of classical literature. These differences are not to be lost in the idea of a Spirit from whom they proceed or by which they were overruled. And therefore, illustration of one part of Scripture by another should be confined to writings of the same age and the same authors, except where the writings of different ages or persons offer obvious similarities. It may be said further that illustration should be chiefly derived, not only from the same author, but from the same writing, or from one of the same period of his life. For example, the comparison of St. John and the ‘synoptic’ Gospels, or of the Gospel of St. John with the Revelation of St. John, will tend rather to confuse than to elucidate the meaning of either; while, on the other hand, the comparison of the Prophets with one another, and with the Psalms, offers many valuable helps and lights to the interpreter. Again, the connexion between the Epistles written by the Apostle St. Paul about the same time (e.g. Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians,—Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians,—compared with Romans, Colossians,—Ephesians, Galatians, &c.,) is far closer than of Epistles which are separated by an interval of only a few years. But supposing all this to be understood, and that by the interpretation of Scripture from itself is meant a real interpretation of like by like, it may be asked, what is it that we gain from a minute comparison of a particular author or writing? The indiscriminate use of parallel passages taken from one end of Scripture and applied to the other (except so far as earlier compositions may have afforded the material or the form of later ones) is useless and uncritical. The uneducated or imperfectly educated person who looks out the marginal references of the English Bible, imagining himself in this way to gain a clearer insight into the Divine meaning, is really following the religious associations of his own mind. Even the critical use of parallel passages is not without danger. For are we to conclude that an author meant in one place what he says in another? Shall we venture to mend a corrupt phrase on the model of some other phrase, which memory, prevailing over judgement, calls up and thrusts into the text? It is this fallacy which has filled the pages of classical writers with useless and unfounded emendations. The meaning of the Canon ‘Non nisi ex Scriptura Scripturam potes interpretari,’ is only this, ‘That we cannot understand Scripture without becoming familiar with it.’ Scripture is a world by itself, from which we must exclude foreign influences, whether theological or classical. To get inside that world is an effort of thought and imagination, requiring the sense of a poet as well as a critic—demanding, much more than learning, a degree of original power and intensity of mind. Any one who, instead of burying himself in the pages of the commentators, would learn the sacred writings by heart, and paraphrase them in English, will probably make a nearer approach to their true meaning than he would gather from any commentary. The intelligent mind will ask its own questions, and find for the most part its own answers. The true use

of interpretation is to get rid of interpretation, and leave us alone in company with the author. When the meaning of Greek words is once known, the young student has almost all the real materials which are possessed by the greatest Biblical scholar, in the book itself. For almost our whole knowledge of the history of the Jews is derived from the Old Testament and the Apocryphal books, and almost our whole knowledge of the life of Christ and of the Apostolical age is derived from the New; whatever is added to them is either conjecture, or very slight topographical or chronological illustration. For this reason the rule given above, which is applicable to all books, is applicable to the New Testament more than any other. Yet in this consideration of the separate books of Scripture it is not to be forgotten that they have also a sort of continuity. We make a separate study of the subject, of the mode of thought, in some degree also of the language of each book. And at length the idea arises in our minds of a common literature, a pervading life, an overruling law. It may be compared to the effect of some natural scene in which we suddenly perceive a harmony or picture, or to the imperfect appearance of design which suggests itself in looking at the surface of the globe. That is to say, there is nothing miraculous or artificial in the arrangement of the books of Scripture; it is the result, not the design, which appears in them when bound in the same volume. Or if we like so to say, there is design, but a natural design which is revealed to after ages. Such continuity or design is best expressed under some notion of progress or growth, not regular, however, but with broken and imperfect stages, which the want of knowledge prevents our minutely defining. The great truth of the unity of God was there from the first; slowly as the morning broke in the heavens, like some central light, it filled and afterwards dispersed the mists of human passion in which it was itself enveloped. A change passes over the Jewish religion from fear to love, from power to wisdom, from the justice of God to the mercy of God, from the nation to the individual, from this world to another; from the visitation of the sins of the fathers upon the children, to ‘every soul shall bear its own iniquity;’ from the fire, the earthquake, and the storm, to the still small voice. There never was a time after the deliverance from Egypt, in which the Jewish people did not bear a kind of witness against the cruelty and licentiousness of the surrounding tribes. In the decline of the monarchy, as the kingdom itself was sinking under foreign conquerors, whether springing from contact with the outer world, or from some reaction within, the undergrowth of morality gathers strength; first, in the anticipation of prophecy, secondly, like a green plant in the hollow rind of Pharisaism—and individuals pray and commune with God each one for himself. At length the tree of life blossoms; the faith in immortality which had hitherto slumbered in the heart of man, intimated only in doubtful words (2 Sam. xii. 23; Psalm xvii. 15), or beaming for an instant in dark places (Job xix. 25), has become the prevailing belief. There is an interval in the Jewish annals which we often exclude from our thoughts, because it has no record in the canonical writings—extending over about four hundred years, from the last of the prophets of the Old Testament to the forerunner of Christ in the New. This interval, about which we know so little, which is regarded by many as a portion of secular rather than of sacred history, was nevertheless as fruitful in religious changes as any similar period which preceded. The establishment of the Jewish sects, and the wars of the Maccabees, probably exercised as great an influence on Judaism as the captivity itself. A third influence was that of the Alexandrian literature, which was attracting the Jewish intellect, at the same time that the Galilean zealot was tearing the nation in pieces with the doctrine that it was lawful to call ‘no man master but God.’ In contrast with that wild fanaticism as well as with the

proud Pharisee, came One most unlike all that had been before, as the kings or rulers of mankind. In an age which was the victim of its own passions, the creature of its own circumstances, the slave of its own degenerate religion, our Saviour taught a lesson absolutely free from all the influences of a surrounding world. He made the last perfect revelation of God to man; a revelation not indeed immediately applicable to the state of society or the world, but in its truth and purity inexhaustible by the after generations of men. And of the first application of the truth which He taught as a counsel of perfection to the actual circumstances of mankind, we have the example in the Epistles. Such a general conception of growth or development in Scripture, beginning with the truth of the Unity of God in the earliest books and ending with the perfection of Christ, naturally springs up in our minds in the perusal of the sacred writings. It is a notion of value to the interpreter, for it enables him at the same time to grasp the whole and distinguish the parts. It saves him from the necessity of maintaining that the Old Testament is one and the same everywhere; that the books of Moses contain truths or precepts, such as the duty of prayer or the faith in immortality, or the spiritual interpretation of sacrifice, which no one has ever seen there. It leaves him room enough to admit all the facts of the case. No longer is he required to defend, or to explain away, David’s imprecations against his enemies, or his injunctions to Solomon, any more than his sin in the matter of Uriah. Nor is he hampered with a theory of accommodation. Still, the sense of ‘the increasing purpose which through the ages ran’ is present to him, nowhere else continuously discernible or ending in a divine perfection. Nowhere else is there found the same interpenetration of the political and religious element—a whole nation, ‘though never good for much at any time,’ possessed with the conviction that it was living in the face of God—in whom the Sun of righteousness shone upon the corruption of an Eastern nature—the ‘fewest of all people,’ yet bearing the greatest part in the education of the world. Nowhere else among the teachers and benefactors of mankind is there any form like His, in whom the desire of the nation is fulfilled, and ‘not of that nation only,’ but of all mankind, whom He restores to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God. Such a growth or development may be regarded as a kind of progress from childhood to manhood. In the child there is an anticipation of truth; his reason is latent in the form of feeling; many words are used by him which he imperfectly understands; he is led by temporal promises, believing that to be good is to be happy always; he is pleased by marvels and has vague terrors. He is confined to a spot of earth, and lives in a sort of prison of sense, yet is bursting also with a fulness of childish life: he imagines God to be like a human father, only greater and more awful; he is easily impressed with solemn thoughts, but soon ‘rises up to play’ with other children. It is observable that his ideas of right and wrong are very simple, hardly extending to another life; they consist chiefly in obedience to his parents, whose word is his law. As he grows older he mixes more and more with others; first with one or two who have a great influence in the direction of his mind. At length the world opens upon him; another work of education begins; and he learns to discern more truly the meaning of things and his relation to men in general. You may complete the image, by supposing that there was a time in his early days when he was a helpless outcast ‘in the land of Egypt and the house of bondage.’ And as he arrives at manhood he reflects on his former years, the progress of his education, the hardships of his infancy, the home of his youth (the thought of which is ineffaceable in after life), and he now understands that all this was but a preparation for another state of being, in which he is to play a part for himself. And once more in age you may imagine him like the patriarch looking back on the entire past, which

he reads anew, perceiving that the events of life had a purpose or result which was not seen at the time; they seem to him bound ‘each to each by natural piety.’ ‘Which things are an allegory,’ the particulars of which any one may interpret for himself. For the child born after the flesh is the symbol of the child born after the Spirit. ‘The law was a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ,’ and now ‘we are under a schoolmaster’ no longer. The anticipation of truth which came from without to the childhood or youth of the human race is witnessed to within; the revelation of God is not lost but renewed in the heart and understanding of the man. Experience has taught us the application of the lesson in a wider sphere. And many influences have combined to form the ‘after life’ of the world. When at the close (shall we say) of a great period in the history of man, we cast our eyes back on the course of events, from the ‘angel of his presence in the wilderness’ to the multitude of peoples, nations, languages, who are being drawn together by His Providence—from the simplicity of the pastoral state in the dawn of the world’s day, to all the elements of civilization and knowledge which are beginning to meet and mingle in a common life, we also understand that we are no longer in our early home, to which, nevertheless, we fondly look; and that the end is yet unseen, and the purposes of God towards the human race only half revealed. And to turn once more to the Interpreter of Scripture, he too feels that the continuous growth of revelation which he traces in the Old and New Testament, is a part of a larger whole extending over the earth and reaching to another world.

On the Interpretation of Scripture, by Benjamin Jowett
Scripture has an inner life or soul; it has also an outward body or form. That form is language, which imperfectly expresses our common notions, much more those higher truths which religion teaches. At the time when our Saviour came into the world the Greek language was itself in a state of degeneracy and decay. It had lost its poetic force, and was ceasing to have the sway over the mind which classical Greek once held. That is a more important revolution in the mental history of mankind, than we easily conceive in modern times, when all languages sit loosely on thought, and the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of one are corrected by our knowledge of another. It may be numbered among the causes which favoured the growth of Christianity. That degeneracy was a preparation for the Gospel—the decaying soil in which the new elements of life were to come forth—the beginning of another state of man, in which language and mythology and philosophy were no longer to exert the same constraining power as in the ancient world. The civilized portion of mankind were becoming of one speech, the diffusion of which along the shores of the Mediterranean sea made a way for the entrance of Christianity into the human understanding, just as the Roman empire prepared the framework of its outward history. The first of all languages, ‘for glory and for beauty,’ had become the ‘common dialect’ of the Macedonian kingdoms; it had been moulded in the schools of Alexandria to the ideas of the East and the religious wants of Jews. Neither was it any violence to its nature to be made the vehicle of the new truths which were springing up in the heart of man. The definiteness and absence of reflectiveness in the earlier forms of human speech, would have imposed a sort of limit on the freedom and spirituality of the Gospel; even the Greek of Plato would have ‘coldly furnished forth’ the words of ‘eternal life.’ A religion which

was to be universal required the divisions of languages, as of nations, to be in some degree broken down. [‘Poena linguarum dispersit homines, donum linguarum in unum collegit.’] But this community or freedom of language was accompanied by corresponding defects; it had lost its logical precision; it was less coherent, and more under the influence of association. It might be compared to a garment which allowed and yet impeded the exercise of the mind by being too large and loose for it. From the inner life of Scripture it is time to pass on to the consideration of this outward form, including that other framework of modes of thought and figures of speech which is between the two. A knowledge of the original language is a necessary qualification of the Interpreter of Scripture. It takes away at least one chance of error in the explanation of a passage; it removes one of the films which have gathered over the page; it brings the meaning home in a more intimate and subtle way than a translation could do. To this, however, another qualification should be added, which is, the logical power to perceive the meaning of words in reference to their context. And there is a worse fault than ignorance of Greek in the interpretation of the New Testament, that is, ignorance of any language. The Greek fathers, for example, are far from being the best verbal commentators, because their knowledge of Greek often leads them away from the drift of the passage. The minuteness of the study in our own day has also a tendency to introduce into the text associations which are not really found there. There is a danger of making words mean too much; refinements of signification are drawn out of them, perhaps contained in their etymology, which are lost in common use and parlance. There is the error of interpreting every particle, as though it were a link in the argument, instead of being, as is often the case, an excrescence of style. The verbal critic magnifies his art, which is really great in Aeschylus or Pindar, but not of equal importance in the interpretation of the simpler language of the New Testament. His love of scholarship will sometimes lead him to impress a false system on words and constructions. A great critic who has commented on the three first chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians, has certainly afforded a proof that it is possible to read the New Testament under a distorting influence from classical Greek. The tendency gains support from the undefined feeling that Scripture does not come behind in excellence of language any more than of thought. And if not, as in former days, the classic purity of the Greek of the New Testament, yet its certainty and accuracy, the assumption of which, as any other assumption, is only the parent of inaccuracy, is still maintained. The study of the language of the New Testament has suffered in another way by following too much in the track of classical scholarship. All dead languages which have passed into the hands of grammarians, have given rise to questions which have either no result or in which the importance of the result, or the certainty, if certain, is out of proportion to the labour spent in attaining it. The field is exhausted by great critics, and then subdivided among lesser ones. The subject, unlike that of physical science, has a limit, and unless new ground is broken up, as for example in mythology, or comparative philology, is apt to grow barren. Though it is not true to say that ‘we know as much about the Greeks and Romans as we ever shall,’ it is certain that we run a danger from the deficiency of material, of wasting time in questions which do not add anything to real knowledge, or in conjectures which must always remain uncertain, and may in turn give way to other conjectures in the next generation. Little points may be of great importance when rightly determined, because the observation of them tends to quicken the instinct of language; but conjectures about little things or rules respecting them which were not in the mind of Greek authors themselves, are not of equal value. There is the

scholasticism of philology, not only in the Alexandrian, but in our own times; as in the middle ages, there was the scholasticism of philosophy. Questions of mere orthography, about which there cannot be said to have been a right or wrong, have been pursued almost with a Rabbinical minuteness. The story of the scholar who regretted ‘that he had not concentrated his life on the dative case,’ is hardly a caricature of the spirit of such inquiries. The form of notes to the classics often seems to arise out of a necessity for observing a certain proportion between the commentary and the text. And the same tendency is noticeable in many of the critical and philological observations which are made on the New Testament. The field of Biblical criticism is narrower, and its materials more fragmentary; so too the minuteness and uncertainty of the questions raised has been greater. For example, the discussions respecting the chronology of St. Paul’s life and his second imprisonment: or about the identity of James, the brother of the Lord, or in another department, respecting the use of the Greek article, have gone far beyond the line of utility. There seem to be reasons for doubting whether any considerable light can be thrown on the New Testament from inquiry into the language. Such inquiries are popular, because they are safe; but their popularity is not the measure of their use. It has not been sufficiently considered that the difficulties of the New Testament are for the most part common to the Greek and the English. The noblest translation in the world has a few great errors, more than half of them in the text; but ‘we do it violence’ to haggle over the words. Minute corrections of tenses or particles are no good; they spoil the English without being nearer the Greek. Apparent mistranslations are often due to a better knowledge of English rather than a worse knowledge of Greek. It is true that the signification of a few uncommon expressions, e.g., εξουσια, επιβαλων, συναπαγομενοι, κ.τ.λ., is yet uncertain. But no result of consequence would follow from the attainment of absolute certainty respecting the meaning of any of these. A more promising field opens to the interpreter in the examination of theological terms, such as faith (πιστις), grace (χαρις), righteousness (δικαιοσυνη), sanctification (αγιασμος), the law (νομος), the spirit (πνευμα), the comforter (παρακλητος), &c. provided always that the use of such terms in the New Testament is clearly separated (1) from their derivation or previous use in Classical or Alexandrian Greek, (2) from their after use in the Fathers and in systems of theology. To which may be added another select class of words descriptive of the offices or customs of the Apostolic Church, such as Apostle (αποστολος), Bishop (επισκοπος), Elder (πρεσβυτερος), Deacon and Deaconess (ο και η διακονος), love-feast (αγαπαι), the Lord’s day (η κυριακη ημερα), &c. It is a lexicon of these and similar terms, rather than a lexicon of the entire Greek Testament that is required. Interesting subjects of real inquiry are also the comparison of the Greek of the New Testament with modern Greek on the one hand, and the Greek of the LXX on the other. It is not likely, however, that they will afford much more help than they have already done in the elucidation of the Greek of the New Testament. It is for others to investigate the language of the Old Testament, to which the preceding remarks are only in part applicable. And it may be observed in passing of this, as of any other old language, that not the later form of the language, but the cognate dialects, must ever be the chief source of its illustration. For in every ancient language, antecedent or contemporary forms, not the subsequent ones, afford the real insight into its nature and structure. It must also be admitted, that very great and real obscurities exist in the English translation of the Old Testament, which even a superficial acquaintance with the original has a tendency to remove. Leaving, however, to others the consideration of the Semitic languages, which raise questions of a different kind

from the Hellenistic Greek, we will offer a few remarks on the latter. Much has been said of the increasing accuracy of our knowledge of the language of the New Testament; the old Hebraistic method of explaining difficulties of language or construction has retired within very narrow limits; it might probably with advantage be confined to still narrower ones—[if it have any place at all except in the Apocalypse or the Gospel of St. Matthew]. There is, perhaps, some confusion between accuracy of our knowledge of language, and the accuracy of language itself; which is also strongly maintained. It is observed that the usages of barbarous as well as civilized nations conform perfectly to grammatical rules; that the uneducated in all countries have certain laws of speech as much as Shakespeare or Bacon; the usages of Lucian, it may be said, are as regular as those of Plato, even when they are different. The decay of language seems rather to witness to the permanence than to the changeableness of its structure; it is the flesh, not the bones, that begins to drop off. But such general remarks, although just, afford but little help in determining the character of the Greek of the New Testament, which has of course a certain system, failing in which it would cease to be a language. One further illustration is needed of the change which has passed upon it. All languages do not decay in the same manner; and the influence of decay in the same language may be different in different countries; when used in writing and in speaking—when applied to the matters of ordinary life and to the higher truths of philosophy or religion. And the degeneracy of language itself is not a mere principle of dissolution, but creative also; while dead and rigid in some of its uses, it is elastic and expansive in others. The decay of an ancient language is the beginning of the construction of a modern one. The loss of some usages gives a greater precision or freedom to others. The logical element, as for example in the Medieval Latin, will probably be strongest when the poetical has vanished. A great movement, like the Reformation in Germany, passing over a nation, may give a new birth also to its language. These remarks may be applied to the Greek of the New Testament, which although classed vaguely under the ‘common dialect,’ has, nevertheless, many features which are altogether peculiar to itself, and such as are found in no other remains of ancient literature. (1) It is more unequal in style even in the same books, that is to say, more original and plastic in one part, more rigid and unpliable in another. There is a want of the continuous power to frame a paragraph or to arrange clauses in subordination to each other, even to the extent in which it was possessed by a Greek scholiast or rhetorician. On the other hand there is a fullness of life, ‘a new birth,’ in the use of abstract terms, which is not found elsewhere after the golden age of Greek philosophy. Almost the only passage in the New Testament which reads like a Greek period of the time, is the first paragraph of the Gospel according to St. Luke, and the corresponding words of the Acts. But the power and meaning of the characteristic words of the New Testament is in remarkable contrast with the vapid and general use of the same words in Philo about the same time. There is also a sort of lyrical passion in some passages (1 Cor. xiii.; 2 Cor. vi. 6-10; xi. 21-33) which is a new thing in the literature of the world; to which, at any rate, no Greek author of a later age furnishes any parallel. (2) Though written, the Greek of the New Testament partakes of the character of a spoken language; it is more lively and simple, and less structural than ordinary writing—a peculiarity of style which further agrees with the circumstance that the Epistles of St. Paul were not written with his own hand, but probably dictated to an amanuensis, and that the Gospels also probably originate in an oral narrative. (3) The ground colours of the language may be said to be two; first, the LXX.; which is modified, secondly, by the spoken Greek of eastern countries, and by

the differences which might be expected to arise between a translation and an original; many Hebraisms would occur in the Greek of a translator, which would never have come to his pen but for the influence of the work which he was translating. (4) To which may be added a few Latin and Chaldee words, and a few Rabbinical formulae. The influence of Hebrew or Chaldee in the New Testament is for the most part at a distance, in the background, acting not directly, but mediately, through the LXX. It has much to do with the clausular structure and general form, but hardly anything with the grammatical usage. Philo, too, did not know Hebrew, or at least the Hebrew Scriptures, yet there is also a ‘mediate’ influence of Hebrew traceable in his writings. (5) There is an element of constraint in the style of the New Testament, arising from the circumstance of its authors writing in a language which was not their own. This constraint shows itself in the repetition of words and phrases; in the verbal oppositions and anacolutha of St. Paul; in the short sentences of St. John. This is further increased by the fact that the writers of the New Testament were ‘unlearned men,’ who had not the same power of writing as of speech. Moreover, as has been often remarked, the difficulty of composition increases in proportion to the greatness of the subject; e.g., the narrative of Thucydides is easy and intelligible, while his reflections and speeches are full of confusion; the effort to concentrate seems to interfere with the consecutiveness and fluency of ideas. Something of this kind is discernible in those passages of the Epistles in which the Apostle St. Paul is seeking to set forth the opposite sides of God’s dealing with man, e.g., Rom. iii. 1-9; ix., x.; or in which the sequence of the thought is interrupted by the conflict of emotions, 1 Cor. ix. 20; Gal. iv. 1120. (6) The power of the Gospel over language must be recognized, showing itself, first of all, in the original and consequently variable signification of words (πιστις, χαρις, σωτηρια), which is also more comprehensive and human than the heretical usage of many of the same terms, e.g., γνωσις (knowledge), σοφια (wisdom), κτισις (creature, creation); secondly, in a peculiar use of some constructions, such as δικαιοσυνη Θεου (righteousness of God), πιστις Ιησου Χριστου (faith of Jesus Christ), εν Χριστω (in Christ), εν Θεω (in God), υπερ εμων (for us), in which the meaning of the genitive case or of the preposition almost escapes our notice, from familiarity with the sound of it. Lastly, the degeneracy of the Greek language is traceable in the failure of syntactical power; in the insertion of prepositions to denote relations of thought, which classical Greek would have expressed by the case only; in the omission of them when classical Greek would have required them; in the incipient use of ινα with the subjunctive for the infinitive; in the confusion of ideas of cause and effect; in the absence of the article in the case of an increasing number of words which are passing into proper names; in the loss of the finer shades of difference in the negative particles; in the occasional confusion of the aorist and perfect; in excessive fondness for particles of reasoning or inference; in various forms of apposition, especially that of the word to the sentence; in the use, sometimes emphatic, sometimes only pleonastic, of the personal and demonstrative pronouns. These are some of the signs that the language is breaking up and losing its structure. Our knowledge of the New Testament is derived almost exclusively from itself. Of the language, as well as of the subject, it may be truly said, that what other writers contribute is nothing in comparison of that which is gained from observation of the text. Some inferences which may be gathered from this general fact are the following:—First, that less weight should be given to lexicons, that is, to the authority of other Greek writers, and more to the context. The use of a word in a new sense, the attribution of a neuter meaning to a verb elsewhere passive (Rom. iii. 9 προεχομεθα), the resolution of the

compound into two simple notions (Gal. iii. 1 προεγραφη), these, when the context requires it, are not to be set aside by the scholar because sanctioned by no known examples. The same remark applies to grammars as well as lexicons. We cannot be certain that δια with the accusative never has the same meaning as δια with the genitive (Gal. iv. 13; Phil. i. 15), or that the article always retains its defining power (2 Cor. i. 17; Acts xvii. 1), or that the perfect is never used in place of the aorist (1 Cor. xv. 4; Rev. v. 7, &c.); still less can we affirm that the latter end of a sentence never forgets the beginning (Rom. ii. 1721; v. 12-18; ix. 22; xvi. 25-27; &c. &c.). Foreign influences tend to derange the strong natural perception or remembrance of the analogy of our own language. That is very likely to have occurred in the case of some of the writers of the New Testament; that there is such a derangement is a fact. There is no probability in favour of St. Paul writing in broken sentences, but there is no improbability which should lead us to assume, in such sentences, continuous grammar and thought, as appears to have been the feeling of the copyists who have corrected the anacolutha. The occurrence of them further justifies the interpreter in using some freedom with other passages in which the syntax does not absolutely break down. When ‘confusion of two constructions,’ ‘meaning to say one thing and finishing with another,’ ‘saying two things in one instead of disposing them in their logical sequence,’ are attributed to the Apostle; the use of these and similar expressions is defended by the fact that more numerous anacolutha occur in St. Paul’s writings than in any equal portion of the New Testament, and far more than in the writings of any other Greek author of equal length. Passing from the grammatical structure, we may briefly consider the logical character of the language of the New Testament. Two things should be here distinguished, the logical form and the logical sequence of thought. Some ages have been remarkable for the former of these two characteristics; they have dealt in opposition, contradiction, climax, pleonasm, reason within reason, and the like; mere statements taking the form of arguments—each sentence seeming to be a link in a chain. In such periods of literature, the appearance of logic is rhetorical, and is to be set down to the style. That is the case with many passages in the New Testament which are studded with logical or rhetorical formulae, especially in the Epistles of St. Paul. Nothing can be more simple or natural than the object of the writer. Yet ‘forms of the schools’ appear (whether learnt at the feet of Gamaliel, that reputed master of Greek learning, or not) which imply a degree of logical or rhetorical training. The observation of this rhetorical or logical element has a bearing on the Interpretation of Scripture. For it leads us to distinguish between the superficial connexion of words and the real connexion of thoughts. Otherwise injustice is done to the argument of the sacred writer, who may be supposed to violate logical rules, of which he is unconscious. For example, the argument of Rom. iii. 19 may be classed by the logicians under some head of fallacy (‘Ex aliquo non sequitur omnis’); the series of inferences which follow one another in Rom. i. 16-18 are for the most part different aspects or statements of the same truth. So in Rom. i. 32 the climax rather appears to be an anticlimax. But to dwell on these things interferes with the true perception of the Apostle’s meaning, which is not contained in the repetitions of γαρ by which it is hooked together; nor are we accurately to weigh the proportions expressed by his ου μονον—αλλα και or πολλω μαλλον: neither need we suppose that where μεν is found alone, there was a reason for the omission of δε (Rom. i. 8; iii. 2); or that the opposition of words and sentences is always the opposition of ideas (Rom. v. 7; x. 10). It is true that these and similar forms or distinctions of language admit of translation into English; and in every case the interpreter may find some point

of view in which the simplest truth of feeling may be drawn out in an antithetical or argumentative form. But whether these points of view were in the Apostle’s mind at the time of writing may be doubted; the real meaning, or kernel, seems to lie deeper and to be more within. When we pass from the study of each verse to survey the whole at a greater distance, the form of thought is again seen to be unimportant in comparison of the truth which is contained in it. The same remark may be extended to the opposition, not only of words, but of ideas, which is found in the Scriptures generally, and almost seems to be inherent in human language itself. The law is opposed to faith, good to evil, the spirit to the flesh, light to darkness, the world to the believer; the sheep are set ‘on his right hand, but the goats on the left.’ The influence of this logical opposition has been great and not always without abuse in practice. For the opposition is one of ideas only which is not realized in fact. Experience shows us not that there are two classes of men animated by two opposing principles, but an infinite number of classes or individuals from the lowest depth of misery and sin to the highest perfection of which human nature is capable, the best not wholly good, the worst not entirely evil. But the figure or mode of representation changes these differences of degree into differences of kind. And we often think and speak and act in reference both to ourselves and others, as though the figure were altogether a reality. Other questions arise out of the analysis of the modes of thought of Scripture. Unless we are willing to use words without inquiring into their meaning, it is necessary for us to arrange them in some relation to our own minds. The modes of thought of the Old Testament are not the same with those of the New, and those of the New are only partially the same with those in use among ourselves at the present day. The education of the human mind may be traced as clearly from the Book of Genesis to the Epistles of St. Paul, as from Homer to Plato and Aristotle. When we hear St. Paul speaking of ‘body and soul and spirit,’ we know that such language as this would not occur in the Books of Moses or in the Prophet Isaiah. It has the colour of a later age, in which abstract terms have taken the place of expressions derived from material objects. When we proceed further to compare these or other words or expressions of St. Paul with ‘the body and mind,’ or ‘mind’ and ‘matter,’ which is a distinction, not only of philosophy, but of common language among ourselves, it is not easy at once to determine the relation between them. Familiar as is the sound of both expressions, many questions arise when we begin to compare them. This is the metaphysical difficulty in the Interpretation of Scripture, which it is better not to ignore, because the consideration of it is necessary to the understanding of many passages, and also because it may return upon us in the form of materialism or scepticism. To some who are not aware how little words affect the nature of things it may seem to raise speculations of a very serious kind. Their doubts would, perhaps, find expression in some such exclamations as the following:—‘How is religion possible when modes of thought are shifting? and words changing their meaning, and statements of doctrine, though “starched” with philosophy, are in perpetual danger of dissolution from metaphysical analysis?’ The answer seems to be, that Christian truth is not dependent on the fixedness of modes of thought. The metaphysician may analyze the ideas of the mind just as the physiologist may analyze the powers or parts of the bodily frame, yet morality and social life still go on, as in the body digestion is uninterrupted. That is not an illustration only; it represents the fact. Though we had no words for mind, matter, soul, body, and the like, Christianity would remain the same. This is obvious, whether we think of the case of the poor, who understand such distinctions very imperfectly, or of those nations of the earth,

who have no precisely corresponding division of ideas. It is not of that subtle or evanescent character which is liable to be lost in shifting the use of terms. Indeed, it is an advantage at times to discard these terms with the view of getting rid of the oppositions to which they give rise. No metaphysical analysis can prevent ‘our taking up the cross and following Christ,’ or receiving the kingdom of heaven as little children. To analyze the ‘trichotomy’ of St. Paul is interesting as a chapter in the history of the human mind and necessary as a part of Biblical exegesis, but it has nothing to do with the religion of Christ. Christian duties may be enforced, and the life of Christ may be the centre of our thoughts, whether we speak of reason and faith, of soul and body, or of mind and matter, or adopt a mode of speech which dispenses with any of these divisions. Connected with the modes of thought or representation in Scripture are the figures of speech of Scripture, about which the same question may be asked: ‘What division can we make between the figure and the reality?’ And the answer seems to be of the same kind, that ‘We cannot precisely draw the line between them.’ Language, and especially the language of Scripture, does not admit of any sharp distinction. The simple expressions of one age become the allegories or figures of another; many of those in the New Testament are taken from the Old. But neither is there anything really essential in the form of these figures; nay, the literal application of many of them has been a great stumblingblock to the reception of Christianity. A recent commentator on Scripture appears willing to peril religion on the literal truth of such an expression as ‘We shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.’ Would he be equally ready to stake Christianity on the literal meaning of the words, ‘Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched‘? Of what has been said this is the sum:—‘That Scripture, like other books, has one meaning, which is to be gathered from itself without reference to the adaptations of Fathers or Divines; and without regard to a priori notions about its nature and origin. It is to be interpreted like other books, with attention to the character of its authors, and the prevailing state of civilization and knowledge, with allowance for peculiarities of style and language, and modes of thought and figures of speech. Yet not without a sense that as we read there grows upon us the witness of God in the world, anticipating in a rude and primitive age the truth that was to be, shining more and more unto the perfect day in the life of Christ, which again is reflected from different points of view in the teaching of His Apostles.’

On the Interpretation of Scripture, by Benjamin Jowett
It has been a principal aim of the preceding pages to distinguish the interpretation from the application of Scripture. Many of the errors alluded to arise out of a confusion of the two. The present is nearer to us than the past; the circumstances which surround us pre-occupy our thoughts; it is only by an effort that we reproduce the ideas, or events, or persons of other ages. And thus, quite naturally, almost by a law of the human mind, the application of Scripture takes the place of its original meaning. And the question is, not how to get rid of this natural tendency, but how we may have the true use of it. For it cannot be got rid of, or rather is one of the chief instruments of religious usefulness in the world: ‘Ideas must be given through something;’ those of religion find their natural expression in the words of Scripture, in the adaptation

of which to another state of life it is hardly possible that the first intention of the writers should be always preserved. Interpretation is the province of few; it requires a finer perception of language, and a higher degree of cultivation than is attained by the majority of mankind. But applications are made by all, from the philosopher reading ‘God in History,’ to the poor woman who finds in them a response to her prayers, and the solace of her daily life. In the hour of death we do not want critical explanations; in most cases, those to whom they would be offered are incapable of understanding them. A few words, breathing the sense of the whole Christian world, such as ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth ’ (though the exact meaning of them may be doubtful to the Hebrew scholar); ‘I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me;’ touch a chord which would never be reached by the most skilful exposition of the argument of one of St. Paul’s Epistles. There is also a use of Scripture in education and literature. This literary use, though secondary to the religious one, is not unimportant. It supplies a common language to the educated and uneducated, in which the best and highest thoughts of both are expressed; it is a medium between the abstract notions of the one and the simple feelings of the other. To the poor especially, it conveys in the form which they are most capable of receiving, the lesson of history and life. The beauty and power of speech and writing would be greatly impaired, if the Scriptures ceased to be known or used among us. The orator seems to catch from them a sort of inspiration; in the simple words of Scripture which he stamps anew, the philosopher often finds his most pregnant expressions. If modern times have been richer in the wealth of abstract thought, the contribution of earlier ages to the mind of the world has not been less, but, perhaps greater, in supplying the poetry of language. There is no such treasury of instruments and materials as Scripture. The loss of Homer, or the loss of Shakespeare, would have affected the whole series of Greek or English authors who follow. But the disappearance of the Bible from the books which the world contains, would produce results far greater; we can scarcely conceive the degree in which it would alter literature and language—the ideas of the educated and philosophical, as well as the feelings and habits of mind of the poor. If it has been said, with an allowable hyperbole, that ‘Homer is Greece,’ with much more truth may it be said, that ‘the Bible is Christendom.’ Many by whom considerations of this sort will be little understood, may, nevertheless, recognize the use made of the Old Testament in the New. The religion of Christ was first taught by an application of the words of the Psalms and the Prophets. Our Lord Himself sanctions this application. ‘Can there be a better use of Scripture than that which is made by Scripture?’ ‘Or any more likely method of teaching the truths of Christianity than that by which they were first taught?’ For it may be argued that the critical interpretation of Scripture is a device almost of yesterday; it is the vocation of the scholar or philosopher, not of the Apostle or Prophet. The new truth which was introduced into the Old Testament, rather than the old truth which was found there, was the salvation and the conversion of the world. There are many quotations from the Psalms and the Prophets in the Epistles, in which the meaning is quickened or spiritualized, but hardly any, probably none, which is based on the original sense or context. That is not so singular a phenomenon as may at first sight be imagined. It may appear strange to us that Scripture should be interpreted in Scripture, in a manner not altogether in agreement with modern criticism; but would it not be more strange that it should be interpreted otherwise than in agreement with the ideas of the age or country in which it was written? The observation that there is such an agreement, leads to two conclusions which have a bearing on our present subject. First, it is a reason for not insisting on

the applications which the New Testament makes of passages in the Old, as their original meaning. Secondly, it gives authority and precedent for the use of similar applications in our own day. But, on the other hand, though interwoven with literature, though common to all ages of the Church, though sanctioned by our Lord and His Apostles, it is easy to see that such an employment of Scripture is liable to error and perversion. For it may not only receive a new meaning; it may be applied in a spirit alien to itself. It may become the symbol of fanaticism, the cloke of malice, the disguise of policy. Cromwell at Drogheda, quoting Scripture to his soldiers; the well-known attack on the Puritans in the State Service for the Restoration, ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord;’ the reply of the Venetian Ambassador to the suggestion of Wolsey, that Venice should take a lead in Italy, ‘which was only the Earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof,’ are examples of such uses. In former times, it was a real and not an imaginary fear, that the wars of the Lord in the Old Testament might arouse a fire in the bosom of Franks and Huns. In our own day such dangers have passed away; it is only a figure of speech when the preacher says, ‘Gird on thy sword, O thou most Mighty.’ The warlike passions of men are not roused by quotations from Scripture, nor can states of life such as slavery or polygamy, which belong to a past age, be defended, at least in England, by the example of the Old Testament. The danger or error is of another kind; more subtle, but hardly less real. For if we are permitted to apply Scripture under the pretence of interpreting it, the language of Scripture becomes only a mode of expressing the public feeling or opinion of our own day. Any passing phase of politics or art, or spurious philanthropy, may have a kind of Scriptural authority. The words that are used are the words of the Prophet or Evangelist, but we stand behind and adapt them to our purpose. Hence it is necessary to consider the limits and manner of a just adaptation; how much may be allowed for the sake of ornament; how far the Scripture, in all its details, may be regarded as an allegory of human life—where the true analogy begins—how far the interpretation of Scripture will serve as a corrective to its practical abuse. Truth seems to require that we should separate mere adaptations from the original meaning of Scripture. It is not honest or reasonable to confound illustration with argument, in theology, any more than in other subjects. For example, if a preacher chooses to represent the condition of a church or of an individual in the present day, under the figure of Elijah left alone among the idolatrous tribes of Israel, such an allusion is natural enough; but if he goes on to argue that individuals are therefore justified in remaining in what they believe to be an erroneous communion—that is a mere appearance of argument which ought not to have the slightest weight with a man of sense. Such a course may indeed be perfectly justifiable, but not on the ground that a prophet of the Lord once did so, two thousand five hundred years ago. Not in this sense were the lives of the Prophets written for our instruction. There are many important morals conveyed by them, but only so far as they themselves represent universal principles of justice and love. These universal principles they clothe with flesh and blood: they show them to us written on the hearts of men of like passions with ourselves. The prophecies, again, admit of many applications to the Christian Church or to the Christian life. There is no harm in speaking of the Church as the Spiritual Israel, or in using the imagery of Isaiah respecting Messiah’s kingdom, as the type of good things to come. But when it is gravely urged, that from such passages as ‘Kings shall be thy nursing fathers,’ we are to collect the relations of Church and State, or from the pictorial description of Isaiah, that it is to be inferred there will be a reign of Christ on earth—that is a mere assumption of the forms of reasoning by the

imagination. Nor is it a healthful or manly tone of feeling which depicts the political opposition to the Church in our own day, under imagery which is borrowed from the desolate Sion of the captivity. Scripture is apt to come too readily to the lips, when we are pouring out our own weaknesses, or enlarging on some favourite theme—perhaps idealizing in the language of prophecy the feebleness of preaching or missions in the present day, or from the want of something else to say. In many discussions on these and similar subjects, the position of the Jewish King, Church, Priest, has led to a confusion, partly caused by the use of similar words in modern senses among ourselves. The King or Queen of England may be called the Anointed of the Lord, but we should not therefore imply that the attributes of sovereignty are the same as those which belonged to King David. All these are figures of speech, the employment of which is too common, and has been injurious to religion, because it prevents our looking at the facts of history or life as they truly are. This is the first step towards a more truthful use of Scripture in practice—the separation of adaptation from interpretation. No one who is engaged in preaching or in religious instruction can be required to give up Scripture language; it is the common element in which his thoughts and those of his hearers move. But he may be asked to distinguish the words of Scripture from the truths of Scripture—the means from the end. The least expression of Scripture is weighty; it affects the minds of the hearers in a way that no other language can. Whatever responsibility attaches to idle words, attaches in still greater degree to the idle or fallacious use of Scripture terms. And there is surely a want of proper reverence for Scripture, when we confound the weakest and feeblest applications of its words with their true meaning—when we avail ourselves of their natural power to point them against some enemy—when we divert the eternal words of charity and truth into a defence of some passing opinion. For not only in the days of the Pharisees, but in our own, the letter has been taking the place of the spirit; the least matters, of the greatest, and the primary meaning has been lost in the secondary use. Other simple cautions may also be added. The applications of Scripture should be harmonized and, as it were, interpenetrated with the spirit of the Gospel, the whole of which should be in every part; though the words may receive a new sense, the new sense ought to be in agreement with the general truth. They should be used to bring home practical precepts, not to send the imagination on a voyage of discovery; they are not the real foundation of our faith in another world, nor can they, by pleasant pictures, add to our knowledge of it. They should not confound the accidents with the essence of religion—the restrictions and burdens of the Jewish law with the freedom of the Gospel—the things which Moses allowed for the hardness of the heart, with the perfection of the teaching of Christ. They should avoid the form of arguments, or they will insensibly be used, or understood to mean more than they really do. They should be subjected to an overruling principle, which is the heart and conscience of the Christian teacher, who indeed ‘stands behind them,’ not to make them the vehicles of his own opinions, but as the expressions of justice, and truth, and love. And here the critical interpretation of Scripture comes in and exercises a corrective influence on its popular use. We have already admitted that criticism is not for the multitude; it is not that which the Scripture terms the Gospel preached to the poor. Yet, indirectly passing from the few to the many, it has borne a great part in the Reformation of religion. It has cleared the eye of the mind to understand the original meaning. It was a sort of criticism which supported the struggle of the sixteenth century against the Roman Catholic Church; it is criticism that is leading Protestants to doubt whether the doctrine

that the Pope is Antichrist, which has descended from the same period, is really discoverable in Scripture. Even the isolated thinker, against whom the religious world is taking up arms, has an influence on his opponents. The force of observations, which are based on reason and fact, remains when the tide of religious or party feeling is gone down. Criticism has also a healing influence in clearing away what may be termed the Sectarianism of knowledge. Without criticism it would be impossible to reconcile History and Science with Revealed Religion; they must remain for ever in a hostile and defiant attitude. Instead of being like other records, subject to the conditions of knowledge which existed in an early stage of the world, Scripture would be regarded on the one side as the work of organic Inspiration, and as a lying imposition on the other. The real unity of Scripture, as of man, has also a relation to our present subject. Amid all the differences of modes of thought and speech which have existed in different ages, of which much is said in our own day, there is a common element in human nature which bursts through these differences and remains unchanged, because akin to the first instincts of our being. The simple feeling of truth and right is the same to the Greek or Hindoo as to ourselves. However great may be the diversities of human character, there is a point at which these diversities end, and unity begins to appear. Now this admits of an application to the books of Scripture, as well as to the world generally. Written at many different times, in more than one language, some of them in fragments, they, too, have a common element of which the preacher may avail himself. This element is twofold, partly divine and partly human; the revelation of the truth and righteousness of God, and the cry of the human heart towards Him. Every part of Scripture tends to raise us above ourselves—to give us a deeper sense of the feebleness of man, and of the wisdom and power of God. It has a sort of kindred, as Plato would say, with religious truth everywhere in the world. It agrees also with the imperfect stages of knowledge and faith in human nature, and answers to its inarticulate cries. The universal truth easily breaks through the accidents of time and place in which it is involved. Although we cannot apply Jewish institutions to the Christian world, or venture in reliance on some text to resist the tide of civilization on which we are borne, yet it remains, nevertheless, to us, as well as to the Jews and first Christians, that ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation,’ and that ‘love is the fulfilling not of the Jewish law only, but of all law.’ In some cases, we have only to enlarge the meaning of Scripture to apply it even to the novelties and peculiarities of our own times. The world changes, but the human heart remains the same: events and details are different, but the principle by which they are governed, or the rule by which we are to act, is not different. When, for example, our Saviour says, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,’ it is not likely that these words would have conveyed to the minds of the Jews who heard Him any notion of the perplexities of doubt or inquiry. Yet we cannot suppose that our Saviour, were He to come again upon earth, would refuse thus to extend them. The Apostle St. Paul, when describing the Gospel, which is to the Greek foolishness, speaks also of a higher wisdom which is known to those who are perfect. Neither is it unfair for us to apply this passage to that reconcilement of faith and knowledge, which may be termed Christian philosophy, as the nearest equivalent to its language in our own day. Such words, again, as ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?’ admit of a great variety of adaptations to the circumstances of our own time. Many of these adaptations have a real germ in the meaning of the words. The precept, ‘Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,’ may be taken generally as expressing the necessity of distinguishing the divine and human—the things that belong to faith and the

things that belong to experience. It is worth remarking in the application made of these words by Lord Bacon, ‘Da fidei quae fidei sunt;’ that, although the terms are altered, yet the circumstance that the form of the sentence is borrowed from Scripture gives them point and weight. The portion of Scripture which more than any other is immediately and universally applicable to our own times is, doubtless, that which is contained in the words of Christ Himself. The reason is that they are words of the most universal import. They do not relate to the circumstances of the time, but to the common life of all mankind. You cannot extract from them a political creed; only, ‘Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s,’ and ‘The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; whatsoever, therefore, they say unto you do, but after their works do not.’ They present to us a standard of truth and duty, such as no one can at once and immediately practise—such as, in its perfection, no one has fulfilled in this world. But this idealism does not interfere with their influence as a religious lesson. Ideals, even though unrealized, have effect on our daily life. The preacher of the Gospel is, or ought to be, aware that his calls to repentance, his standard of obligations, his lamentations over his own shortcomings or those of others, do not at once convert hundreds or thousands, as on the day of Pentecost. Yet it does not follow that they are thrown away, or that it would be well to substitute for them mere prudential or economical lessons, lectures on health or sanitary improvement. For they tend to raise men above themselves, providing them with Sabbaths as well as working days, giving them a taste of ‘the good word of God’ and of ‘the powers of the world to come.’ Human nature needs to be idealized; it seems as if it took a dislike to itself when presented always in its ordinary attire; it lives on in the hope of becoming better. And the image or hope of a better life—the vision of Christ crucified—which is held up to it, doubtless has an influence; not like the rushing mighty wind of the day of Pentecost; it may rather be compared to the leaven ‘which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.’ The Parables of our Lord are a portion of the New Testament, which we may apply in the most easy and literal manner. The persons in them are the persons among whom we live and move; there are times and occasions at which the truths symbolized by them come home to the hearts of all who have ever been impressed by religion. We have been prodigal sons returning to our Father; servants to whom talents have been entrusted; labourers in the vineyard inclined to murmur at our lot, when compared with that of others, yet receiving every man his due; well-satisfied Pharisees; repentant Publicans:—we have received the seed, and the cares of the world have choked it—we hope also at times that we have found the pearl of great price after sweeping the house—we are ready like the Good Samaritan to show kindness to all mankind. Of these circumstances of life or phases of mind, which are typified by the parables, most Christians have experience. We may go on to apply many of them further to the condition of nations and churches. Such a treasury has Christ provided us of things new and old, which refer to all time and all mankind—may we not say in His own words—‘because He is the Son of Man?’ There is no language of Scripture which penetrates the individual soul, and embraces all the world in the arms of its love, in the same manner as that of Christ Himself. Yet the Epistles contain lessons which are not found in the Gospels, or, at least, not expressed with the same degree of clearness. For the Epistles are nearer to actual life—they relate to the circumstances of the first believers, to their struggles with the world without, to their temptations and divisions from within—their subject is not only the doctrine of the Christian religion, but the business of the early Church. And although their circumstances

are not our circumstances—we are not afflicted or persecuted, or driven out of the world, but in possession of the blessings, and security, and property of an established religion—yet there is a Christian spirit which infuses itself into all circumstances, of which they are a pure and living source. It is impossible to gather from a few fragmentary and apparently not always consistent expressions, how the Communion was celebrated, or the Church ordered, what was the relative position of Presbyters and Deacons, or the nature of the gift of tongues, as a rule for the Church in after ages;—such inquiries have no certain answer, and, at the best, are only the subject of honest curiosity. But the words, ‘Charity never faileth,’ and ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am nothing,’—these have a voice which reaches to the end of time. There are no questions of meats and drinks nowadays, yet the noble words of the Apostle remain: ‘If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.’ Moderation in controversy, toleration towards opponents or erring members, is a virtue which has been thought by many to belong to the development and not to the origin of Christianity, and which is rarely found in the commencement of a religion. But lessons of toleration may be gathered from the Apostle, which have not yet been learned either by theologians or by mankind in general. The persecutions and troubles which awaited the Apostle no longer await us; we cannot, therefore, without unreality, except, perhaps, in a very few cases, appropriate his words, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ But that other text still sounds gently in our ears: ‘My strength is perfected in weakness,’ and ‘when I am weak, then am I strong.’ We cannot apply to ourselves the language of authority in which the Apostle speaks of himself as an ambassador for Christ, without something like bad taste. But it is not altogether an imaginary hope that those of us who are ministers of Christ, may attain to a real imitation of his great diligence, of his sympathy with others, and consideration for them—of his willingness to spend and be spent in his Master’s service. Such are a few instances of the manner in which the analogy of faith enables us to apply the words of Christ and His Apostles, with a strict regard to their original meaning. But the Old Testament has also its peculiar lessons which are not conveyed with equal point or force in the New. The beginnings of human history are themselves a lesson, having a freshness as of the early dawn. There are forms of evil against which the Prophets and the prophetical spirit of the Law carry on a warfare, in terms almost too bold for the way of life of modern times. There, more plainly than in any other portion of Scripture, is expressed the antagonism of outward and inward, of ceremonial and moral, of mercy and sacrifice. There all the masks of hypocrisy are rudely torn asunder, in which an unthinking world allows itself to be disguised. There the relations of rich and poor in the sight of God, and their duties towards one another, are most clearly enunciated. There the religion of suffering first appears—‘adversity, the blessing’ of the Old Testament, as well as of the New. There the sorrows and aspirations of the soul find their deepest expression, and also their consolation. The feeble person has an image of himself in the ‘bruised reed;’ the suffering servant of God passes into the ‘beloved one, in whom my soul delighteth.’ Even the latest and most desolate phases of the human mind are reflected in Job and Ecclesiastes; yet not without the solemn assertion that ‘to fear God and keep his commandments’ is the beginning and end of all things. It is true that there are examples in the Old Testament which were not written for our instruction, and that, in some instances, precepts or commands are attributed to God Himself, which must be regarded as relative to the state of knowledge which then existed of the Divine nature, or given ‘for the hardness

of men’s hearts.’ It cannot be denied that such passages of Scripture are liable to misunderstanding; the spirit of the Old Covenanters, although no longer appealing to the action of Samuel, ‘hewing Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal,’ is not altogether extinguished. And a community of recent origin in America found their doctrine of polygamy on the Old Testament. But the poor generally read the Bible unconsciously; they take the good, and catch the prevailing spirit, without stopping to reason whether this or that practice is sanctioned by the custom or example of Scripture. The child is only struck by the impiety of the children who mocked the prophet; he does not think of the severity of the punishment which is inflicted upon them. And the poor, in this respect, are much like children; their reflection on the morality or immorality of characters or events is suppressed by reverence for Scripture. The Christian teacher has a sort of tact by which he guides them to perceive only the spirit of the Gospel everywhere; they read in the Psalms of David’s sin and repentance; of the never-failing goodness of God to Him, and his never-failing trust in Him, not of his imprecations against his enemies. Such difficulties are greater in theory and on paper, than in the management of a school or parish. They are found to affect the half-educated, rather than either the poor, or those who are educated in a higher sense. To be above such difficulties is the happiest condition of human life and knowledge, or to be below them; to see, or think we see, how they may be reconciled with Divine power and wisdom, or not to see how they are apparently at variance with them.

On the Interpretation of Scripture, by Benjamin Jowett
Some application of the preceding subject may be further made to theology and life. Let us introduce this concluding inquiry with two remarks. First, it may be observed, that a change in some of the prevailing modes of interpretation is not so much a matter of expediency as of necessity. The original meaning of Scripture is beginning to be clearly understood. But the apprehension of the original meaning is inconsistent with the reception of a typical or conventional one. The time will come when educated men will be no more able to believe that the words, ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son’ (Matt. ii. 15; Hos. xi. 1), were intended by the prophet to refer to the return of Joseph and Mary from Egypt, than they are now able to believe the Roman Catholic explanation of Gen. iii. 15, ‘Ipsa conteret caput tuum.’ They will no more think that the first chapters of Genesis relate the same tale which Geology and Ethnology unfold than they now think the meaning of Joshua x. 12, 13, to be in accordance with Galileo’s discovery. From the circumstance that in former ages there has been a fourfold or a sevenfold interpretation of Scripture, we cannot argue to the possibility of upholding any other than the original one in our own. The mystical explanations of Origen or Philo were not seen to be mystical; the reasonings of Aquinas and Calvin were not supposed to go beyond the letter of the text. They have now become the subject of apology; it is justly said that we should not judge the greatness of the Fathers or Reformers by their suitableness to our own day. But this defence of them shows that their explanations of Scripture are no longer tenable; they belong to a way of thinking and speaking which was once diffused over the world, but has now passed away. And what we give up as a general

principle we shall find it impossible to maintain partially, e.g., in the types of the Mosaic Law and the double meanings of prophecy, at least, in any sense in which it is not equally applicable to all deep and suggestive writings. The same observation may be applied to the historical criticism of Scripture. From the fact that Paley or Butler were regarded in their generation as supplying a triumphant answer to the enemies of Scripture, we cannot argue that their answer will be satisfactory to those who inquire into such subjects in our own. Criticism has far more power than it formerly had; it has spread itself over ancient, and even modern, history; it extends to the thoughts and ideas of men as well as to words and facts; it has also a great place in education. Whether the habit of mind which has been formed in classical studies will not go on to Scripture; whether Scripture can be made an exception to other ancient writings, now that the nature of both is more understood; whether in the fuller light of history and science the views of the last century will hold out —these are questions respecting which the course of religious opinion in the past does not afford the means of truly judging. Secondly, it has to be considered whether the intellectual forms under which Christianity has been described may not also be in a state of transition and resolution, in this respect contrasting with the never-changing truth of the Christian life (1 Cor. xiii. 8). Looking backwards at past ages, we experience a kind of amazement at the minuteness of theological distinctions, and also at their permanence. They seem to have borne a part in the education of the Christian world, in an age when language itself had also a greater influence than nowadays. It is admitted that these distinctions are not observed in the New Testament, and are for the most part of a later growth. But little is gained by setting up theology against Scripture, or Scripture against theology; the Bible against the Church, or the Church against the Bible. At different periods either has been a bulwark against some form of error: either has tended to correct the abuse of the other. A true inspiration guarded the writers of the New Testament from Gnostic or Manichean tenets; at a later stage, a sound instinct prevented the Church from dividing the humanity and Divinity of Christ. It may be said that the spirit of Christ forbids us to determine beyond what is written; and the decision of the council of Nicaea has been described by an eminent English prelate as ‘the greatest misfortune that ever befel the Christian world.’ That is, perhaps, true; yet a different decision would have been a greater misfortune. Nor does there seem any reason to suppose that the human mind could have been arrested in its theological course. It is a mistake to imagine that the dividing and splitting of words is owing to the depravity of the human heart; was it not rather an intellectual movement (the only phenomenon of progress then going on among men) which led, by a sort of necessity, some to go forward to the completion of the system, while it left others to stand aside? A veil was on the human understanding in the great controversies which absorbed the Church in earlier ages; the cloud which the combatants themselves raised intercepted the view. They did not see—they could not have imagined—that there was a world which lay beyond the range of the controversy. And now, as the Interpretation of Scripture is receiving another character, it seems that distinctions of theology, which were in great measure based on old interpretations, are beginning to fade away. A change is observable in the manner in which doctrines are stated and defended; it is no longer held sufficient to rest them on texts of Scripture, one, two, or more, which contain, or appear to contain, similar words or ideas. They are connected more closely with our moral nature; extreme consequences are shunned; large allowances are made for the ignorance of mankind. It is held that there is truth on both

sides; about many questions there is a kind of union of opposites; others are admitted to have been verbal only; all are regarded in the light which is thrown upon them by church history and religious experience. A theory has lately been put forward, apparently as a defence of the Christian faith, which denies the objective character of any of them. And there are other signs that times are changing, and we are changing too. It would be scarcely possible at present to revive the interest which was felt less than twenty years ago in the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration; nor would the arguments by which it was supported or impugned have the meaning which they once had. The communion of the Lord’s Supper is also ceasing, at least in the Church of England, to be a focus or centre of disunion— ‘Our greatest love turned to our greatest hate.’ A silence is observable on some other points of doctrine around which controversies swarmed a generation ago. Persons begin to ask what was the real difference which divided the two parties. They are no longer within the magic circle, but are taking up a position external to it. They have arrived at an age of reflection, and begin to speculate on the action and reaction, the irritation and counter-irritation, of religious forces; it is a common observation that ‘revivals are not permanent;’ the movement is criticized even by those who are subject to its influence. In the present state of the human mind, any consideration of these subjects, whether from the highest or lowest or most moderate point of view, is unfavourable to the stability of dogmatical systems, because it rouses inquiry into the meaning of words. To the sense of this is probably to be attributed the reserve on matters of doctrine and controversy which characterizes the present day, compared with the theological activity of twenty years ago. These reflections bring us back to the question with which we began—‘What effect will the critical interpretation of Scripture have on theology and on life?’ Their tendency is to show that the result is beyond our control, and that the world is not unprepared for it. More things than at first sight appear are moving towards the same end. Religion often bids us think of ourselves, especially in later life, as, each one in his appointed place, carrying on a work which is fashioned within by unseen hands. The theologian, too, may have peace in the thought, that he is subject to the conditions of his age rather than one of its moving powers. When he hears theological inquiry censured as tending to create doubt and confusion, he knows very well that the cause of this is not to be sought in the writings of so-called rationalists or critics who are disliked partly because they unveil the age to itself; but in the opposition of reason and feeling, of the past and the present, in the conflict between the Calvinistic tendencies of an elder generation, and the influences which even in the same family naturally affect the young. This distraction of the human mind between adverse influences and associations, is a fact which we should have to accept and make the best of, whatever consequences might seem to follow to individuals or Churches. It is not to be regarded as a merely heathen notion that ‘truth is to be desired for its own sake even though no “good” result from it.’ As a Christian paradox it may be said, ‘What hast thou to do with “good?” follow thou Me.’ But the Christian revelation does not require of us this Stoicism in most cases; it rather shows how good and truth are generally coincident. Even in this life, there are numberless links which unite moral good with intellectual truth. It is hardly too much to say that the one is but a narrower form of the other. Truth is to the world what holiness of life is to the individual—to man collectively the source of justice and peace and good.

There are many ways in which the connexion between truth and good may be traced in the Interpretation of Scripture. Is it a mere chimera that the different sections of Christendom may meet on the common ground of the New Testament? Or that the individual may be urged by the vacancy and unprofitableness of old traditions to make the Gospel his own—a life of Christ in the soul, instead of a theory of Christ which is in a book or written down? Or that in missions to the heathen Scripture may become the expression of universal truths rather than of the tenets of particular men or churches? That would remove many obstacles to the reception of Christianity. Or that the study of Scripture may have a more important place in a liberal education than hitherto? Or that the ‘rational service’ of interpreting Scripture may dry up the crude and dreamy vapours of religious excitement? Or, that in preaching, new sources of spiritual health may flow from a more natural use of Scripture? Or that the lessons of Scripture may have a nearer way to the hearts of the poor when disengaged from theological formulas? Let us consider more at length some of these topics. I. No one casting his eye over the map of the Christian world can desire that the present lines of demarcation should always remain, any more than he will be inclined to regard the division of Christians to which he belongs himself, as in a pre-eminent or exclusive sense the Church of Christ. Those lines of demarcation seem to he political rather than religious; they are differences of nations, or governments, or ranks of society, more than of creeds or forms of faith. The feeling which gave rise to them has, in a great measure, passed away; no intelligent man seriously inclines to believe that salvation is to be found only in his own denomination. Examples of this ‘sturdy orthodoxy,’ in our own generation, rather provoke a smile than arouse serious disapproval. Yet many experiments show that these differences cannot be made up by any formal concordat or scheme of union; the parties cannot be brought to terms, and if they could, would cease to take an interest in the question at issue. The friction is too great when persons are invited to meet for a discussion of differences; such a process is like opening the doors and windows to put out a slumbering flame. But that is no reason for doubting that the divisions of the Christian world are beginning to pass away. The progress of politics, acquaintance with other countries, the growth of knowledge and of material greatness, changes of opinion in the Church of England, the present position of the Roman Communion—all these phenomena show that the ecclesiastical state of the world is not destined to be perpetual. Within the envious barriers which ‘divide human nature into very little pieces’ (Plato, Rep. iii. 395), a common sentiment is springing up of religious truth; the essentials of Christianity are contrasted with the details and definitions of it; good men of all religions find that they are more nearly agreed than heretofore. Neither is it impossible that this common feeling may so prevail over the accidental circumstances of Christian communities, that their political or ecclesiastical separation may be little felt. The walls which no adversary has scaled may fall down of themselves. We may perhaps figure to ourselves the battle against error and moral evil taking the place of one of sects and parties. In this movement, which we should see more clearly but for the divisions of the Christian world which partly conceal it, the critical interpretation of Scripture will have a great influence. The Bible will be no longer appealed to as the witness of the opinions of particular sects, or of our own age; it will cease to be the battle-field of controversies. But as its true meaning is more clearly seen, its moral power will also be greater. If the outward and inward witness, instead of parting into two, as they once did, seem rather to blend and coincide in the Christian consciousness, that is not a source of weakness, but of

strength. The Book itself, which links together the beginning and end of the human race, will not have a less inestimable value because the spirit has taken the place of the letter. Its discrepancies of fact, when we become familiar with them, will seem of little consequence in comparison with the truths which it unfolds. That these truths, instead of floating down the stream of tradition, or being lost in ritual observances, have been preserved for ever in a book, is one of the many blessings which the Jewish and Christian revelations have conferred on the world—a blessing not the less real, because it is not necessary to attribute it to miraculous causes. Again, the Scriptures are a bond of union to the whole Christian world. No one denies their authority, and could all be brought to an intelligence of their true meaning, all might come to agree in matters of religion. That may seem to be a hope deferred, yet not altogether chimerical. If it is not held to be a thing impossible that there should be agreement in the meaning of Plato or Sophocles, neither is it to be regarded as absurd that there should be a like agreement in the interpretation of Scripture. The disappearance of artificial notions and systems will pave the way to such an agreement. The recognition of the fact, that many aspects and stages of religion are found in Scripture; that different, or even opposite parties existed in the Apostolic Church; that the first teachers of Christianity had a separate and individual mode of regarding the Gospel of Christ; that any existing communion is necessarily much more unlike the brotherhood of love in the New Testament than we are willing to suppose— Protestants in some respects, as much so as Catholics—that rival sects in our own day—Calvinists and Arminians—those who maintain and those who deny the final restoration of man—may equally find texts which seem to favour their respective tenets (Mark ix. 44-48; Romans xi. 32)—the recognition of these and similar facts will make us unwilling to impose any narrow rule of religious opinion on the ever-varying conditions of the human mind and Christian society. II. Christian missions suggest another sphere in which a more enlightened use of Scripture might offer a great advantage to the teacher. The more he is himself penetrated with the universal spirit of Scripture, the more he will be able to resist the literal and servile habits of mind of Oriental nations. You cannot transfer English ways of belief, and almost the history of the Church of England itself, as the attempt is sometimes made—not to an uncivilized people, ready like children to receive new impressions, but to an ancient and decaying one, furrowed with the lines of thought, incapable of the principle of growth. But you may take the purer light or element of religion, of which Christianity is the expression, and make it shine on some principle in human nature which is the fallen image of it. You cannot give a people who have no history of their own, a sense of the importance of Christianity, as an historical fact; but, perhaps, that very peculiarity of their character may make them more impressible by the truths or ideas of Christianity. Neither is it easy to make them understand the growth of Revelation in successive ages—that there are precepts of the Old Testament which are reversed in the New—or that Moses allowed many things for the hardness of men’s hearts. They are in one state of the world, and the missionary who teaches them is in another, and the Book through which they are taught does not altogether coincide with either. Many difficulties thus arise which we are most likely to be successful in meeting when we look them in the face. To one inference they clearly point, which is this: that it is not the Book of Scripture which we should seek to give them, to be reverenced like the Vedas or the Koran, and consecrated in its words and letters, but the truth of the Book, the mind of Christ and His Apostles, in which all lesser details and differences should be lost and absorbed. We want to awaken in them the sense

that God is their Father, and they His children;—that is of more importance than any theory about the inspiration of Scripture. But to teach in this spirit, the missionary should himself be able to separate the accidents from the essence of religion; he should be conscious that the power of the Gospel resides not in the particulars of theology, but in the Christian life. III. It may be doubted whether Scripture has ever been sufficiently regarded as an element of liberal education. Few deem it worth while to spend in the study of it the same honest thought or pains which are bestowed on a classical author. Nor, as at present studied, can it be said always to have an elevating effect. It is not a useful lesson for the young student to apply to Scripture principles which he would hesitate to apply to other books; to make formal reconcilements of discrepancies which he would not think of reconciling in ordinary history; to divide simple words into double meanings; to adopt the fancies or conjectures of Fathers and Commentators as real knowledge. This laxity of knowledge is apt to infect the judgement when transferred to other subjects. It is not easy to say how much of the unsettlement of mind which prevails among intellectual young men is attributable to these causes; the mixture of truth and falsehood in religious education, certainly tends to impair, at the age when it is most needed, the early influence of a religious home. Yet Scripture studied in a more liberal spirit might supply a part of education which classical literature fails to provide. ‘The best book for the heart might also be made the best book for the intellect.’ The noblest study of history and antiquity is contained in it; a poetry which is also the highest form of moral teaching; there, too, are lives of heroes and prophets, and especially of One whom we do not name with them, because He is above them. This history, or poetry, or biography, is distinguished from all classical or secular writings by the contemplation of man as he appears in the sight of God. That is a sense of things into which we must grow as well as reason ourselves, without which human nature is but a truncated, half-educated sort of being. But this sense or consciousness of a Divine presence in the world, which seems to be natural to the beginnings of the human race, but fades away and requires to be renewed in its after history, is not to be gathered from Greek or Roman literature, but from the Old and New Testament. And before we can make the Old and New Testament a real part of education, we must read them not by the help of custom or tradition, in the spirit of apology or controversy, but in accordance with the ordinary laws of human knowledge. IV. Another use of Scripture is that in sermons, which seems to be among the tritest, and yet is far from being exhausted. If we could only be natural and speak of things as they truly are, with a real interest and not merely a conventional one! The words of Scripture come readily to hand, and the repetition of them requires no effort of thought in the writer or speaker. But, neither does it produce any effect on the hearer, which will always be in proportion to the degree of feeling or consciousness in ourselves. It may be said that originality is the gift of few; no Church can expect to have, not a hundred, but ten such preachers as Robertson or Newman. But, without originality, it seems possible to make use of Scripture in sermons in a much more living way than at present. Let the preacher make it a sort of religion, and proof of his reverence for Scripture, that he never uses its words without a distinct meaning; let him avoid the form of argument from Scripture, and catch the feeling and spirit. Scripture is itself a kind of poetry, when not overlaid with rhetoric. The scene and country has a freshness which may always be renewed; there is the interest of antiquity and the interest of home or common life as well. The facts and characters of Scripture might receive a new reading by being described simply as they are. The truths of Scripture again would have

greater reality if divested of the scholastic form in which theology has cast them. The universal and spiritual aspects of Scripture might be more brought forward to the exclusion of questions of the Jewish law, or controversies about the sacraments, or exaggerated statements of doctrines which seem to be at variance with morality. The life of Christ, regarded quite naturally as of one ‘who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,’ is also the life and centre of Christian teaching. There is no higher aim which the preacher can propose to himself than to awaken what may be termed the feeling of the presence of God and the mind of Christ in Scripture; not to collect evidences about dates and books, or to familiarize metaphysical distinctions; but to make the heart and conscience of his hearers bear him witness that the lessons which are contained in Scripture—lessons of justice and truth—lessons of mercy and peace—of the need of man and the goodness of God to him, are indeed not human but divine. V. It is time to make an end of this long disquisition—let the end be a few more words of application to the circumstances of a particular class in the present age. If any one who is about to become a clergyman feels, or thinks that he feels, that some of the preceding statements cast a shade of trouble or suspicion on his future walk of life, who, either from the influence of a stronger mind than his own, or from some natural tendency in himself, has been led to examine those great questions which lie on the threshold of the higher study of theology, and experiences a sort of shrinking or dizziness at the prospect which is opening upon him; let him lay to heart the following considerations:—First, that he may possibly not be the person who is called upon to pursue such inquiries. No man should busy himself with them who has not clearness of mind enough to see things as they are, and a faith strong enough to rest in that degree of knowledge which God has really given; or who is unable to separate the truth from his own religious wants and experiences. For the theologian as well as the philosopher has need of ‘dry light,’ ‘unmingled with any tincture of the affections,’ the more so as his conclusions are oftener liable to be disordered by them. He who is of another temperament may find another work to do, which is in some respects a higher one. Unlike philosophy, the Gospel has an ideal life to offer, not to a few only, but to all. There is one word of caution, however, to be given to those who renounce inquiry; it is, that they cannot retain the right to condemn inquirers. Their duty is to say with Nicodemus, ‘Doth the Gospel condemn any man before it hear him?’ although the answer may be only ‘Art thou also of Galilee?’ They have chosen the path of practical usefulness, and they should acknowledge that it is a narrow path. For any but a ‘strong swimmer’ will be insensibly drawn out of it by the tide of public opinion or the current of party. Secondly, let him consider that the difficulty is not so great as imagination sometimes paints it. It is a difficulty which arises chiefly out of differences of education in different classes of society. It is a difficulty which tact, and prudence, and, much more, the power of a Christian life may hope to surmount. Much depends on the manner in which things are said; on the evidence in the writer or preacher of a real good will to his opponents, and a desire for the moral improvement of men. There is an aspect of truth which may always be put forward so as to find a way to the hearts of men. If there is danger and shrinking from one point of view, from another there is freedom and sense of relief. The wider contemplation of the religious world may enable us to adjust our own place in it. The acknowledgement of churches as political and national institutions is the basis of a sound government of them. Criticism itself is not only negative; if it creates some difficulties, it does away others. It may put us at variance with a party or section of Christians in our own neighbourhood. But,

on the other hand, it enables us to look at all men as they are in the sight of God, not as they appear to human eye, separated and often interdicted from each other by lines of religious demarcation; it divides us from the parts to unite us to the whole. That is a great help to religious communion. It does away with the supposed opposition of reason and faith. It throws us back on the conviction that religion is a personal thing, in which certainty is to be slowly won and not assumed as the result of evidence or testimony. It places us, in some respects (though it be deemed a paradox to say so), more nearly in the position of the first Christians to whom the New Testament was not yet given, in whom the Gospel was a living word, not yet embodied in forms or supported by ancient institutions. Thirdly, the suspicion or difficulty which attends critical inquiries is no reason for doubting their value. The Scripture nowhere leads us to suppose that the circumstance of all men speaking well of us is any ground for supposing that we are acceptable in the sight of God. And there is no reason why the condemnation of others should be witnessed to by our own conscience. Perhaps it may be true that, owing to the jealousy or fear of some, the reticence of others, the terrorism of a few, we may not always find it easy to regard these subjects with calmness and judgement. But, on the other hand, these accidental circumstances have nothing to do with the question at issue; they cannot have the slightest influence on the meaning of words, or on the truth of facts. No one can carry out the principle that public opinion or church authority is the guide to truth, when he goes beyond the limits of his own church or country. That is a consideration which may well make him pause before he accepts of such a guide in the journey to another world. All the arguments for repressing inquiries into Scripture in Protestant countries hold equally in Italy and Spain for repressing inquiries into matters of fact or doctrine, and so for denying the Scriptures to the common people. Lastly, let him be assured that there is some nobler idea of truth than is supplied by the opinion of mankind in general, or the voice of parties in a church. Every one, whether a student of theology or not, has need to make war against his prejudices no less than against his passions; and, in the religious teacher, the first is even more necessary than the last. For, while the vices of mankind are in a great degree isolated, and are, at any rate, reprobated by public opinion, their prejudices have a sort of communion or kindred with the world without. They are a collective evil, and have their being in the interest, classes, states of society, and other influences amid which we live. He who takes the prevailing opinions of Christians and decks them out in their gayest colours—who reflects the better mind of the world to itself—is likely to be its favourite teacher. In that ministry of the Gospel, even when assuming forms repulsive to persons of education, no doubt the good is far greater than the error or harm. But there is also a deeper work which is not dependent on the opinions of men, in which many elements combine, some alien to religion, or accidentally at variance with it. That work can hardly expect to win much popular favour, so far as it runs counter to the feelings of religious parties. But he who bears a part in it may feel a confidence, which no popular caresses or religious sympathy could inspire, that he has by a Divine help been enabled to plant his foot somewhere beyond the waves of time. He may depart hence before the natural term, worn out with intellectual toil; regarded with suspicion by many of his contemporaries; yet not without a sure hope that the love of truth, which men of saintly lives often seem to slight, is, nevertheless, accepted before God.

How to Study the Bible
by the Rev. James Stalker, D.D.
(Reproduced from The Bible Readers' Manual; or, Aids to Biblical Study, edited by C.H.H. Wright, 1895).

The best preparation for the successful study of the Bible is deep devotion to Him who is its Author, and to the Saviour of whom it speaks. But only second to this is a good method of study, which will conduct the mind naturally into the subject, and lead it on from attainment to attainment. Without love to God the Bible has little chance of being much read; but without an intelligent method a nascent love for it may be arrested or even extinguished. Love quickens study; and study, pursued in the right way, increases love. The purpose of this article is to give a few practical hints on the best ways of studying the Bible.

1. The Study of Texts
The way in which, as children, we are taught to read the Bible is to take a chapter, or perhaps a smaller portion, daily, or perhaps twice a day — in the morning and at night; and, when those who may have dropped the habit of Bible-reading take it up again, during some season of religious impression, this is usually the way they begin. Perhaps they go through a book, reading a chapter every day; or they may take a chapter of the Old Testament in the morning and one of the New Testament in the evening. There are in circulation many programmes of Daily Bible Readings, issued by different churches and societies, to guide in this kind of study. When this mode of reading is followed, that which the reader generally gets is a verse here and there, which warms his heart at the moment and remains for a shorter or longer period in the memory. Now and then, indeed, the chapter may be such a connected whole — like the fifty-third of Isaiah or the thirteenth of 1 Corinthians — that it goes into the mind entire; and sometimes a few verses are so connected that they can scarcely help making a united impression; but in general the profit of this kind of reading lies in the impression made by isolated and striking verses. And this may be no small blessing. It is a marvelous proof of the wealth of Scripture that there is hardly a chapter in which there does not occur some golden verse, which arrests the mind by the felicity of its diction, the beauty of its sentiment, or its spiritual depth; and in many chapters such verses are so numerous that the difficulty is to choose among them. The division of the Bible into chapters and verses facilitates this kind of study, and, indeed, was invented for the purpose. But these divisions do not belong to the original book. On the contrary, they are a comparatively modern device; and it has become common of late to rail at them as impediments instead of helps. On the whole, they have probably been a blessing, and are worth preserving. The chapters encourage the simple and the busy to read by presenting to the eye portions not too difficult to face; and the verses, by isolating the pithy, proverb-like sayings with which the Bible abounds, have caused them to be noted and remembered. But this arrangement has also serious drawbacks. One of these is the tendency to render devotion mechanical. Of all modes of Bible reading the most unprofitable and deadening is to read a daily chapter and then lay the book aside without attempting to retain any definite impression. This, it is to be feared, is often done; and, if it is allowed to become habitual, the reader will scarcely remember, after closing the book, a single thing he has read. Means, therefore, require to be taken to overcome this tendency. It is a good plan, as we read, to pick out the choicest verse in the chapter — the one most attractive in itself or most adapted to our circumstances — and, before closing the book, commit it to memory. Then let it be kept in the mind till the next reading, as something sweet is kept in the mouth till all its sweetness is extracted. In this way the attention is kept on the strain whilst the reading proceeds; the memory is gradually stored with a collection of choice texts, every one of which is tinged with the experience of the day on which it was learned; and, almost unawares, the reader becomes the possessor of spiritual wealth. The selected text may be imprinted still more deeply on the mind by writing out a few lines of reflection on it. Every one who knows what it is to give a lesson or an address occasionaly on Scripture is aware how the verse or paragraph on which he has had to prepare himself to speak stands out in his Bible afterwards from the rest of the text, as if its letters were embossed on the page. Something thus to awaken the mind and concentrate

the attention should be devised by every one; because it is not mere reading, but meditation — "meditation all the day," as the Psalmist says — which extracts the sweetness and the power out of Scripture. When the mind sinks down and down into a text, like a bee into a flower, and abides in it, applying to its study every energy its possesses — memory, imagination, reasoning, feeling — then it comes forth at length as the bee comes out of the flower, when it flies away laden with honey to build up the treasure of the honey-comb.

2. The Study of Books
There are many who never all their days advance beyond the method of reading the Scriptures which I have called the study of texts. But it is a more masculine and advanced method to study the books of the Bible as connected wholes. Here is an interesting sketch of an experience which some may recognize as similar to their own:
"I well remember something happening when I was a boy, which made a complete change in my classical studies. I had long been learning Greek as boys are taught it; that is to say, having a score of lines of poetry, or two or three paragraphs of prose, prescribed for each day. The attention for the day is fixed on this little bit, every word of which has to be examined as to its meaning, etymology, syntax, and so on. Now and then the boy may be struck with a choice line or a fine thought; but he pays little attention to these things, and has no idea of the history or treatise as a whole which he is reading. But one day I went away by myself into the woods with a volume of Plato in my pocket, and, stretched on the grass, commenced to read. The piece at which I chanced to open is one of the most wonderful products of Greek genius — the Apology of Socrates, that is, his address to his judges before his execution. I read on and on, not making out every word, but easily following the drift of the thought, till I forgot where I was, and my brain was aglow with the sublime scene and the immortal sentences. When I rose from the ground, Greek had become a new thing to me. Till then it had only meant lessons — parsing, construing, and drudgery. Now I knew it as literature; I knew that a Greek book could tell a thrilling story and pour into the mind thoughts that breathe and words that burn. And I obtained this new power by reading a book, not in fragments, but as a whole."

A precisely similar awakening in regard to the Bible may be experienced by beginning to read its books, not in separate chapters, but as wholes. The same pen goes on to describe this also:
"I remember perfectly well the first time I ever read an entire book of Scripture at one sitting. I chanced on the Sabbath to be in a continental country and in a town where there was no Protestant service of any kind. In the early morning I had gone to the Roman Catholic service, but it was over before breakfast; and I was thrown on my own resources for the rest of the day. Strolling out behind the hotel, I lay down on a green knoll, where I remained the whole forenoon. I opened the New Testament and dipped into the pages here and there, till, chancing on the Epistle to the Romans, I read on and on through it. As I proceeded, I caught the spirit of St. Paul's mighty theme, or rather was caught by it, and was drawn on to read. The argument opened out and rose like a great work of art above me, till at last I was enclosed within its perfect proportions. This was a new experience. I saw for the first time that a book of the Bible is a complete discussion of a single subject; I felt the full force of the whole argument; and I understood the different parts in the light of the whole as I had never done when reading them by themselves."

The advantages of this method are here indicated. In the first place, it makes you feel the impression of the book as a whole; and this must, in the nature of the case, be far greater than that produced by a single chapter or a single verse of the same book. Nearly every book of the Bible may be said to be a discussion of some particular theme. For example, Job is on the Problem of Evil, Ecclesiastes is on the Highest Good, Romans is on Righteousness, Timothy and Titus on the Pastoral Office, and so on. It has pleased God thus to give in His Word full statements on a number of the greatest subjects; and to master the contents of these books is to fill the mind with the great thoughts of God. The other advantage is that the different parts of a book are much more intelligible when read in the light of the whole. It is surprising how clear the meaning of obscure verses sometimes become when they are seen in their place in the entire structure to which they

belong; and verses which have been impressive by themselves sometimes receive an entirely new importance when they are seen to be the keynotes of an argument whose strength depends upon their truth. It must, indeed, be confessed that occasionally, when examined in this way, favourite texts are discovered not to mean what has been supposed. A meaning suggested by their sound has been attached to them; and, if this has been in accordance with the general teaching of Scripture, the text, so interpreted, may have done the reader good; but, when we come upon it in the course of the argument to which it belongs, we perceive that the meaning is different. Any exact study of Scripture will bring some disappointments of this kind, because many favourite texts have not really the meaning which they carry to the popular ear. But surely every virile mind will wish to know precisely what the writer meant by every word he wrote; and every reverent reader must believe that the very mind of the Spirit is the best. The application of texts to circumstances widely different from those to which they were first applied is quite legitimate; but the modern application ought in every case to be derived in a fair way from the original sense. Some may think this method of studying whole books to be above them, because demanding too much time. But few know how limited the Bible literature is; and it may serve a good purpose to compare its external compass with that of ordinary books. It would not be thought a great intellectual achievement to read through five of the Waverly Novels or three of the works of Thackeray; many would consider this a moderate allowance of reading for a few weeks. Yet either of these courses would contain as many words as the entire Bible. Even a long book, like Job, can be read without haste in a couple of hours; and many books scarcely take longer than ordinary letters. In fact, they are just letters. Of course, the Bible is not to be always read as quickly as this. But to read rapidly is a great advantage when what you wish is to catch the drift of a book as a whole. When this has been done, it is a good thing to note down somewhere, say at the top of the book in your Bible, what the theme is and where the chief hinges of the story or argument come in; because, in the subsequent reading of single chapters of the same book, you can refer to this scheme and see in what portion of the whole you are. A more serious impediment will sometimes be encountered in the difficulty of making out what the drift of a book is; and it may be asked if any aids are to be used in doing so. The articles on the different books in any Bible dictionary, or in Dr. Wright's Introduction to the Old Testament, or Dr. Dod's Introduction to the New Testament, will help (see also Farrar's Messages of the Books or Fraser's Synoptical Lectures on the Books of the Bible); and the use of the Revised Version along with the Authorised will clear away many obstacles. There are some books, especially among the Old Testament prophets, that cannot be read through with full intelligence without some assistance from commentaries; and to the reader who wishes to pursue the subject further, Collins' Critical and Experimental Commentary, by the Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D., the Rev. Canon Fausset, D.D., and the Rev. Principal Brown, D.D., can hardly be too highly recommended. The best help to the understanding of any book of the Bible is knowledge of the time and circumstances in which it was composed. If you know in what circumstances the author was when he was writing, and what was the condition of those he was writing to, there is generally little difficulty in understanding what he says. In this way some of the Bible books throw light on one another. The histories of the kings, for example, in the Old Testament, explain the prophets who wrote in the reigns of those kings; and the life of St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles throws light on his epistles. Some modern books make excellent use of the same method. There is, for example, a book worthy to be called one of the glories of the English Church in this century — Conybeare and Howson's Life of St. Paul — which thus casts a flood of light on the Apostle's writings. It follows his footsteps from stage to stage with the most patient accuracy and luminous fulness of information. It shows the precise condition in which he was when each of his epistles was penned, and what were the circumstances of those to whom he was writing. It inserts each epistle in its own place in the history; and at the same time gives a fresh translation. Any one who will take the trouble to master this great work will easily be able to discover what is the subject of every one of St. Paul's epistles, and what the course of its argument, and thus put himself in

possession of the substance of what, taken all in all, is, next to the four Gospels, the most instructive portion of Holy Writ. Yet let it always be remembered that, whatever assistance may be derived from these and similar sources, the most serviceable division for every one will be that which he has made for himself.

3. The Study of Groups of Books
This is a method of study more advanced than that of which we have just spoken, but following naturally upon it; and it is one which at the present time is proving to many so fascinating as almost to make the Bible a new book. When the books of the Bible are carefully examined, it is found that not only is each book a connected whole, but sometimes several books, either on account of their chronological proximity or from being penned by the same hand, or for other reasons, all bear the impress of the same type of thought. It is advantageous to study them together; because they cast light on one another and produce on the mind a united impression or effect. In the Old Testament there are three outstanding groups — The Historical, the Poetical, and the Prophetical books; and in the New Testament we may distinguish four great groups — first, the Synoptic Gospels and the Acts; secondly, the Writings of St. Peter and, along with them, Hebrews, St. James and St. Jude; thirdly, the Epistles of St. Paul; and fourthly, the Writings of St. John. Within these large groups smaller ones may be formed. In the Prophetic Books of the Old Testament, for instance, there are important divisions not only according to the size of the books (Major and Minor Prophets), but according to the different epochs to which the prophets belong (see the article Bible in Chambers' Encyclopedia) and in St. Paul's voluminous writings there are four minor groups distinguishable partly by the chronology and partly by the distinctive sets of ideas with which his mind was occupied at different stages of his career (see Stalker's St. Paul). The principal charm of this mode of study is the perception of the growth of revelation. When the books of the Bible are thus arranged, and the groups placed in chronological succession, it becomes manifest at once that there is in them a gradual unfolding of the truth. Even in the career of a single writer, like St. Paul, this is perfectly manifest. The ideas of his earlier epistles are much simpler than those of the later ones. Evidently the Spirit of inspiration made use of his growing experience as a means of leading him to more recondite and comprehensive views of the truth. So it was also with the men of revelation from age to age. Each of them, standing upon the attainments of his predecessors, was enabled to reach forward to the apprehension of the still undiscovered; and so all the facets of revelation by degrees flashed their light upon the world.

4. The Study of Doctrine
The three methods of study already spoken of inevitably lead on to a fourth, which is more advanced than any of them. This is the study of the Doctrine of Scripture. The study of verses and chapters yields us the truth contained in separate morsels of Holy Writ; and the study of whole books or groups of books gives the mastery of larger portions of the divine revelation. But it is inevitable to those who go so far to ask, What is the message conveyed by God to man in the Bible as a whole? Though the Bible is a large collection separate books, each of which contains its own leading thought, it is, in another aspect, one Book, conveying to the sinful children of men the mind of the loving and redeeming God. What then, is this message? As we ascertain the meaning of the verses and the messages of the books, we are collecting fragments of it; but what is it as a whole? The catechisms, the creeds, and the doctrinal systems of the churches are attempts to answer this question. It is well known that at the present time these do not stand in very high repute; and the use of them as tests is a question much disputed even among earnest Christians, and therefore not to be touched upon here. But, apart from this, it is difficult to see how the

human mind could have refrained from making these efforts. Every reader of the Bible is encouraged to try to understand the meaning of single texts and chapters and to state it in his own words. It is considered meritorious on the part of the student to grasp the drift and leading idea of a whole book, and to be able to show how every part of the book falls into its natural place when viewed in the light of this idea. It is even more in accordance with the intellectual fashion of the time to admire the mastery which any one may be able to display of a whole group of books, like the Minor Prophets or the writings of St. John. But, if we go a step further and, grasping the message conveyed by all the books taken together, express it in our own words, this is only doing what the earlier proceedure, which every one applauds, has made inevitable; and to forbid it is to put an arbitrary arrest on Christian thought and condemn the Christian mind to remain in a state of intellectual nonage. In like manner, to avail ourselves, in this study, of the help and guidance of the great and good who in the past have devoted themselves to the same task is only to do what is done in every other department of knowledge. A good catechism or manual of Christian doctrine serves to the student of Scripture the same purpose as is served to the tourist in Switzerland or Norway by his Murray or Baedeker. He will be ill-advised, indeed, if he does not use and trust his own eyes and allow the Scriptures to make on him their own natural impression, just as the traveller, if he has any wisdom, will not wait to see what the guidebook says before enjoying a lake or a mountain or a sunset, if it happens to be beautiful. But the catechism will direct him to the most important statements of Scripture and acquaint him with the relation of the different parts of truth to one another in the very same way as the guide-book conducts the tourist to the best points of view and shows him, in the map, the relation to each other of the different parts of the country. Nor is it wiser to scorn such assistance from the thinkers of the past, and act as if the study of the Bible had begun with us, than it would be to go to a foreign country without a guide-book on the ground that every one should see the world with his own eyes. Here, however, as before, the principle holds good that the truth most valuable to us will be that which, whether with assistance from others or not, we have appropriated by our own thinking and confirmed by our own experience. In point of fact, the earnest and intelligent reader of Scripture cannot help gradually forming a conception in his own mind of the entire message which the Scripture conveys. Nor is it so difficult to do as might be imagined. The leading features of it are written on the face of Scripture so plainly that he who runs may read. That God loves us; that we are fallen creatures, exposed for our sins to a terrible doom; that the Son of God died for sinners; and that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved — these and similar truths are written in capital letters, so to speak, in the divine record, and so large that they cannot be mistaken. Let them be clearly outlined in the mind as the essentials; and the smaller print will also by degrees fill itself up and take its proper place. A simple plan is to take a single doctrine at a time, such as the love of God, the person of Christ, or the destiny of man, and collect from the different books or groups of books in chronological order the most important passages bearing on the subject. This will frequently be found to yield surprising results, disclosing unexpected points of view, and producing on the mind an overwhelming total impression; and, applied to truth after truth round the circle of doctrine, it will supply to any diligent student a comprehensive and Scriptural theology. It has pleased God to give us the whole Bible; and it ought to be the ambition of the Christian mind to take complete possession of it. It is one of the principal means of preparing for the other world; and our stature in that world, the station and degree which we shall occupy, and the volume of our joy throughout eternity may depend on the faithfulness and diligence with which we now make use of this precious heritage. It will be observed that these different modes of study do not exclude but supplement one another. The simpler lead on to the more elaborate; but it is not less true that the attempt to cultivate the more difficult kinds of study will lend new interest to the daily reading of brief portions of the Word, which must always for the great majority of Christians be the common way of using this means of grace.

Bible Research > Interpretation > Commentaries Charles H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries: Two Lectures Addressed to the students of The Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle, by C. H. Spurgeon, President. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1890.

Commenting and Commentaries
by Charles H. Spurgeon
The present volume is the second of a series of works useful to Students and Ministers prepared by Mr. Spurgeon; and published at 2s. 6d. The first volume is "Lectures to my Students: a Selection from Addresses delivered to the Students of the Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle". Passmore and Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings. Mr. Spurgeon has other works of a similar character in contemplation, which will be issued, if the Lord will. It is hoped that The College Series may render efficient service to preachers of the gospel. Friends who appreciate the books will greatly oblige by making them known to others. The same motive which prompted the author to write, leads him to desire a large circle of readers.

When I issued the first volume of "Lectures to my Students" it was my intention to prepare another series as soon as time permitted, and I meant to include two addresses upon Commenting in the proposed selection. It struck me, however, that a better thing was possible. The two lectures might introduce the topic of exposition, and then a catalogue of Commentaries might help the student to carry the advice into practice. The making of that catalogue would, of course, be no small labour; but, once accomplished, it might be of service to many, and effect more in the direction aimed at than the most earnest exhortations. I therefore resolved to attempt the work, and here is the result. It would be easy to point out the deficiencies of the modern pulpit, and hold up one's own ideal of what preaching ought to be, but this has been so often attempted by others with such slender results that we decline the task. A judicious critic would probably complain that many sermons are deficient in solid instruction, Biblical exposition, and Scriptural argument: they are flashy, rather than fleshy; clever, rather than solid; entertaining, rather than impressive. He would point to rhetorical discourses in which doctrine is barely discernible, and brilliant harangues from which no food for the soul could ever be extracted. Having done this, he would probably propose that homilies should flow out of texts, and should consist of a clear explanation, and an earnest enforcement of the truths which the texts distinctly teach. Expository preaching he would advocate as the great need of the day, its best protection against rising errors, and its surest means of spiritual edification. To such observations most of us would offer no opposition; we should confess them to be full of wisdom, and worthy of being pondered. We should not unite in any indiscriminate censuring of hortatory addresses, or topical sermons, nor should we agree with the demand that every discourse should be limited to the range of its text, nor even that it should have a text at all; but we should heartily subscribe to the declaration, that more expository preaching is greatly needed, and that all preachers would be the better if they were more able expounders of the inspired Word. To render such a result more probable, every inducement to search the Holy Scriptures should be placed in the way of our ministers, and to the younger brethren some guidance should be proffered as to the works most likely to aid them in their studies. Many are persuaded that they should expound the Word, but being unversed in the original tongues they can only fall back upon the help of their English Concordances, and are left floundering about, when a sound comment would direct their thoughts. True, the Holy Spirit will instruct the seeker, but he works by means. The Ethiopian eunuch might have received divine illumination, and doubtless did receive it, but still, when asked whether he understood the Scripture which he read, he replied, "How can I unless some man shall guide me?" The guiding man is needed still. Divines who have studied the Scriptures have left us great stores of holy thought which we do well to use. Their expositions can never be a substitute for our own meditations, but as water poured down a dry pump often sets it to work to bring up water of its own, so suggestive reading sets the mind in motion on its own account. Here, however, is the difficulty. Students do not find it easy to choose which works to buy, and their slender stores are often wasted on books of a comparatively worthless kind. If I can save a poor man from spending his money for that which is not bread, or, by directing a brother to a good book, may enable him to dig deeper into the mines of truth, I shall be well repaid. For this purpose I have toiled, and read much, and passed under review some three or four thousand volumes. From these I have compiled my catalogue, rejecting many, yet making a very varied selection. Though I have carefully used such judgment as I possess, I have doubtless made many errors; I shall certainly find very few who will agree with all my criticisms, and some persons may be angry at my remarks. I have, however, done my best, and, with as much impartiality as I can command, I have nothing extenuated nor set down aught in malice. He who finds fault will do well to execute the work in better style; only let him remember that he will have my heifer to plough with and therefore ought in all reason to excel me.

I have used a degree of pleasantry in my remarks on the Commentaries, for a catalogue is a dry affair, and, as much for my own sake as for that of my readers, I have indulged the mirthful vein here and there. For this I hope I shall escape censure, even if I do not win commendation. The preface to the Catalogue will be found on pages 33 and 34, which the reader is requested to peruse before attempting to use the list. To God I commend this labour, which has been undertaken and carried out with no motive but that of honoring his name, and edifying his Church by stimulating the study of his Word. May he, for his Son's sake, grant my heart's desire.

The Pastors' College
The preparation of the present work was suggested by the author's connection with the Pastors' College, and the Library of that Institution has in a high degree assisted in its execution, therefore the reader must permit the College to be noticed in these pages in the same manner as in the former volume of this series. To make it known, and to win for it willing friends is confessedly one object, of these publications, which may indeed be viewed as merely the giving forth to a wider area the instruction carried on within the College walls. The Institution is intended to aid useful preachers in obtaining a better education. It takes no man to make him a minister, but requires that its pupils should, as a rule, have exercised their gifts for at least two years and have won souls to Jesus. These we receive, however poor or backward they may be, and our endeavours are all turned towards the one aim that they should be instructed in the things of God, furnished for their work, and practised in the gift of utterance. Much prayer is made by the Church that this end may be accomplished, nor has the prayer been in vain, for some 330 men are now declaring the gospel of Jesus who were trained in this manner. Besides the students for the regular ministry, several hundreds of street preachers, city missionaries, teachers, and workers of all kinds have passed through our evening classes, and a band of 250 such men are now with us, pursuing their callings by day and studying in the evening. We ask for much prayer from all our brethren, that the supply of the Spirit may sanctify the teaching, and anoint every worker for the service of the Lord. As it would be quite unwarrantable for us to interfere with the arrangements of other bodies of Christians, who have their own methods of training their ministers, and as it is obvious that we could not find spheres for men in denominations with which we have no ecclesiastical connection, we confine our college to Baptists; and in order not to be harassed with endless controversies, we invite those only who hold those views of divine truth which are popularly known as Calvinistic,--not that we care for names and phrases, but as we wish to be understood, we use a term which conveys our meaning as nearly as any descriptive word can do. Believing the grand doctrines of grace to be the natural accompaniments of the fundamental evangelical truth of redemption by the blood of Jesus, we hold and teach them not only in our ministry to the masses, but in the more select instruction of the class room. Latitudinarianism with its infidelity, and sectarianism with its intolerance, are neither of them friends of ours: we delight in the man who believes, and therefore speaks. Our Lord has given us no permission to be liberal with what is none of ours. We are to give an account of every truth with which we are put in trust. Our means for conducting this work are with the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth. We have no list of subscribers or roll of endowments. Our trust is in Him whom we desire to serve. He has supported the work for many years, by moving his stewards to send us help, and we are sure that he will continue to do so as long as he desires us to pursue this labour of love. We need, at least, 100 pounds every week of the year. Since our service is gratuitous in every sense, we the more freely appeal to those who agree with us in believing that to aid an earnest young minister to equip himself for his life work is a worthy effort. No money yields so large a return, no work is so important, just now none is so absolutely needful.

Nightingale Lane, Clapham, Surrey. C. H. Spurgeon

Lecture 1. A Chat about Commentaries
In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries. If there were any fear that the expositions of Matthew Henry, Gill, Scott, and others, would be exalted into Christian Targums, we would join the chorus of objectors, but the existence or approach of such a danger we do not suspect. The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences. Usually, we have found the despisers of commentaries to be men who have no sort of acquaintance with them; in their case, it is the opposite of familiarity which has bred contempt. It is true there are a number of expositions of the whole Bible which are hardly worth shelf room; they aim at too much and fail altogether; the authors have spread a little learning over a vast surface, and have badly attempted for the entire Scriptures what they might have accomplished for one book with tolerable success; but who will deny the preeminent value of such expositions as those of Calvin, Ness, Henry, Trapp, Poole, and Bengel, which are as deep as they are broad? and yet further, who can pretend to biblical learning who has not made himself familiar with the great writers who spent a life in explaining some one sacred book? Caryl on Job will not exhaust the patience of a student who loves every letter of the Word; even Collinges, with his nine hundred and nine pages upon one chapter of the Song, will not be too full for the preacher's use; nor will Manton's long metre edition of the hundred and nineteenth Psalm (Ps 119:1-176) be too profuse. No stranger could imagine the vast amount of real learning to be found in old commentaries like the following:--Durham on Solomon's Song, Wilcocks on Psalms and Proverbs, Jermin on Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, Greenhill on Ezekiel, Burroughs on Hosea, Ainsworth on the Pentateuch, King on Jonah, Hutcheson on John, Peter Martyr on Romans, &c., and in Willett, Sibbes, Bayne, Elton, Byfield, Daille, Adams, Taylor, Barlow, Goodwin, and others on the various epistles. Without attempting to give in detail the names of all, I intend in a familiar talk to mention the more notable, who wrote upon the whole Bible, or on either Testament, and I especially direct your attention to the titles, which in Puritan writers generally give in brief the run of the work. First among the mighty for general usefulness we are bound to mention the man whose name is a household word, Matthew Henry. He is most pious and pithy, sound and sensible, suggestive and sober, terse and trustworthy. You will find him to be glittering with metaphors, rich in analogies, overflowing with illustrations, superabundant in reflections. He delights in apposition and alliteration; he is usually plain, quaint, and full of pith; he sees right through a text directly; apparently he is not critical, but he quietly gives the result of an accurate critical knowledge of the original fully up to the best critics of his time. He is not versed in the manners and customs of the East, for the Holy Land was not so accessible as in our day; but he is deeply spiritual, heavenly, and profitable; finding good matter in every text, and from all deducing most practical and judicious lessons. His is a kind of

commentary to be placed where I saw it, in the old meeting house at Chester--chained in the vestry for anybody and everybody to read. It is the poor man's commentary, the old Christian's companion, suitable to everybody, instructive to all. His own account of how he was led to write his exposition, affords us an example of delighting in the law of the Lord. "If any desire to know how so mean and obscure a person as I am, who in learning, judgment, felicity of expression, and all advantages for such a service, am less than the least of all my Master's servants, came to venture upon so great a work, I can give no other account of it but this. It has long been my practice, what little time I had to spare in my study from my constant preparations for the pulpit, to spend it in drawing up expositions upon some parts of the New Testament, not so much for my own use, as purely for my own entertainment, because I know not how to employ my thoughts and time more to my satisfaction. Trahit sua quemque voluptas; every man that studies hath some beloved study, which is his delight above any other; and this is mine. It is that learning which it was my happiness from a child to be trained up in by my ever honoured father, whose memory must always be very dear and precious to me. He often minded me, that a good textuary is a good divine; and that I should read other books with this in my eye, that I might be the better able to understand and apply the Scripture." You are aware, perhaps, that the latter part of the New Testament was completed by other hands, the good man having gone the way of all flesh. The writers were Messrs. Evans, Brown, Mayo, Bays, Rosewell, Harriss, Atkinson, Smith, Tong, Wright, Merrell, Hill, Reynolds, and Billingsley--all Dissenting ministers. They have executed their work exceedingly well, have worked in much of the matter which Henry had collected, and have done their best to follow his methods, but their combined production is far inferior to Matthew Henry himself, and any reader will soon detect the difference. Every minister ought to read Matthew Henry entirely and carefully through once at least. I should recommend you to get through it in the next twelve months after you leave college. Begin at the beginning, and resolve that you will traverse the goodly land from Dan to Beersheba. You will acquire a vast store of sermons if you read with your notebook close at hand; and as for thoughts, they will swarm around you like twittering swallows around an old gable towards the close of autumn. If you publicly expound the chapter you have just been reading, your people will wonder at the novelty of your remarks and the depth of your thoughts, and then you may tell them what a treasure Henry is. Mr. Jay's sermons bear indubitable evidence of his having studied Matthew Henry almost daily. Many of the quaint things in Jay's sermons are either directly traceable to Matthew Henry or to his familiarity with that writer. I have thought that the style of Jay was founded upon Matthew Henry: Matthew Henry is Jay writing, Jay is Matthew Henry preaching. What more could I say in commendation either of the preacher or the author? It would not be possible for me too earnestly to press upon you the importance of reading the expositions of that prince among men, John Calvin! I am afraid that scant purses may debar you from their purchase, but if it be possible procure them, and meanwhile, since they are in the College library, use them diligently. I have often felt inclined to cry out with Father Simon, a Roman Catholic, "Calvin possessed a sublime genius", and with Scaliger, "Oh! how well has Calvin reached the meaning of the prophets--no one better." You will find forty two or more goodly volumes worth their weight in gold. Of all commentators I believe John Calvin to be the most candid. In his expositions he is not always what moderns would call Calvinistic; that is to say, where Scripture maintains the doctrine of predestination and grace he flinches in no degree, but inasmuch as some Scriptures bear the impress of human free action and responsibility, he does not shun to expound their meaning in all fairness and integrity. He was no trimmer and pruner of texts. He gave their meaning as far as he knew it. His honest intention was to translate the Hebrew and the Greek originals as accurately as he possibly could, and then to give the meaning which would naturally be conveyed by such Greek and Hebrew words: he laboured, in fact, to declare, not his own mind upon the Spirit's words, but the mind of the Spirit as couched in those words. Dr. King very truly says of him, "No writer ever dealt more fairly and honestly by the Word of God. He is scrupulously careful to let it speak for itself, and to guard against every tendency of his own mind to put upon it a questionable meaning for the sake of establishing some doctrine which he feels to be important, or some theory which he is anxious to uphold. This is one of his prime excellences. He will not maintain any doctrine,

however orthodox and essential, by a text of Scripture which to him appears of doubtful application, or of inadequate force. For instance, firmly as he believed the doctrine of the Trinity, he refuses to derive an argument in its favour from the plural form of the name of God in the first chapter of Genesis. It were easy to multiply examples of this kind, which, whether we agree in his conclusion or not, cannot fail to produce the conviction that he is at least an honest commentator, and will not make any passage of Scripture speak more or less than, according to his view, its divine Author intended it to speak." The edition of John Calvin's works which was issued by the Calvin Translation Society, is greatly enriched by the remarks of the editors, consisting not merely of notes on the Latin of Calvin, and the French translation, or on the text of the original Scriptures, but also of weighty opinions of eminent critics, illustrative manners and customs, and observations of travellers. By the way, gentlemen, what a pity it is that people do not, as a rule, read the notes in the old Puritan books! If you purchase old copies of such writers as Brooks, you will find that the notes in the margin are almost as rich as the books themselves. They are dust of gold, of the same metal as the ingots in the centre of the page. But to return to Calvin. If you needed any confirmatory evidence as to the value of his writings, I might summon a cloud of witnesses, but it will suffice to quote one or two. Here is the opinion of one who is looked upon as his great enemy, namely, Arminius: "Next to the perusal of the Scriptures, which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin's commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmich himself; for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the Library of the Fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent gift of prophecy."

Quaint Robert Robinson said of him, "There is no abridging this sententious commentator, and the more I read him, the more does he become a favourite expositor with me." Holy Baxter wrote, "I know no man since the apostles' days, whom I value and honour more than Calvin, and whose judgment in all things, one with another, I more esteem and come nearer to." If you are well enough versed in Latin, you will find in Poole's Synopsis, a marvellous collection of all the wisdom and folly of the critics. It is a large cyclopaedia worthy of the days when theologians could be cyclopean, and had not shrunk from folios to octavos. Query--a query for which I will not demand an answer--has one of you ever beaten the dust from the venerable copy of Poole which loads our library shelves? Yet as Poole spent no less than ten years in compiling it, it should be worthy of your frequent notice--ten years, let me add, spent in Amsterdam in exile for the truth's sake from his native land.

His work was based upon an earlier compilation entitled Critici Sacri, containing the concentrated light of a constellation of learned men who have never been excelled in any age or country. Matthew Poole also wrote Annotations upon the Word of God, in English, which are mentioned by Matthew Henry as having passed through many impressions in his day, and he not only highly praises them, but declares that he has in his own work all along been brief upon that which Mr. Poole has more largely discussed, and has industriously declined what is to be found there. The three volumes, tolerably cheap, and easily to be got at, are necessaries for your libraries. On the whole, if I must have only one commentary, and had read Matthew Henry as I have, I do not know but what I should choose Poole. He is a very prudent and judicious commentator; and one of the few who could honestly say, "We have not willingly balked any obvious difficulty, and have designed a just satisfaction to all our readers; and if any knot remains yet untied, we have told our readers what hath been most probably said for their satisfaction in the untying of it." Poole is not so pithy and witty by far as Matthew Henry, but he is perhaps more accurate, less a commentator, and more an expositor. You meet with no ostentation of learning in Matthew Poole, and that for the simple reason that he was so profoundly learned as to be able to give results without a display of his intellectual crockery. A pedant who is for ever quoting Ambrose and Jerome, Piscator and OEcolampadius, in order to show what a copious reader he has been, is

usually a dealer in small wares, and quotes only what others have quoted before him, but he who can give you the result and outcome of very extensive reading without sounding a trumpet before him is the really learned man. Mind you do not confound the Annotations with the Synopsis; the English work is not a translation of the Latin one, but an entirely distinct performance. Strange to say, like the other great Matthew he did not live to complete his work beyond Isaiah 58; other hands united to finish the design. Would it be possible to eulogise too much the incomparably sententious and suggestive folios of John Trapp? Since Mr. Dickinson has rendered them accessible, I trust most of you have bought them. Trapp will be most valuable to men of discernment, to thoughtful men, to men who only want a start in a line of thought, and are then able to run alone. Trapp excels in witty stories on the one hand, and learned allusions on the other. You will not thoroughly enjoy him unless you can turn to the original, and yet a mere dunce at classics will prize him. His writings remind me of himself: he was a pastor, hence his holy practical remarks; he was the head of a public school, and everywhere we see his profound scholarship; he was for some time amid the guns and drums of a parliamentary garrison, and he gossips and tells queer anecdotes like a man used to a soldier's life; yet withal, he comments as if he had been nothing else but a commentator all his days. Some of his remarks are far fetched, and like the far fetched rarities of Solomon's Tarshish, there is much gold and silver, but there are also apes and peacocks. His criticisms would some of them be the cause of amusement in these days of greater scholarship; but for all that, he who shall excel Trapp had need rise very early in the morning. Trapp is my especial companion and treasure; I can read him when I am too weary for anything else. Trapp is salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, and all the other condiments. Put him on the table when you study, and when you have your dish ready, use him by way of spicing the whole thing. Yes, gentlemen, read Trapp certainly, and if you catch the infection of his consecrated humour, so much the better for your hearers.
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A very distinguished place is due to Dr. Gill. Beyond all controversy, Gill was one of the most able Hebraists of his day, and in other matters no mean proficient. When an opponent in controversy had ventured to call him "a botcher in divinity", the good doctor, being compelled to become a fool in glorying, gave such a list of his attainments as must have covered his accuser with confusion. His great work on the Holy Scriptures is greatly prized at the present day by the best authorities, which is conclusive evidence of its value, since the set of the current of theological thought is quite contrary to that of Dr. Gill. No one in these days is likely to be censured for his Arminianism, but most modern divines affect to sneer at anything a little too highly Calvinistic: however, amid the decadence of his own rigid system, and the disrepute of even more moderate Calvinism, Gill's laurels as an expositor are still green. His ultraism is discarded, but his learning is respected: the world and the church take leave to question his dogmatism, but they both bow before his erudition. Probably no man since Gill's days has at all equalled him in the matter of Rabbinical learning. Say what you will about that lore, it has its value: of course, a man has to rake among perfect dunghills and dust heaps, but there are a few jewels which the world could not afford to miss. Gill was a master cinder sifter among the Targums, the Talmuds, the Mishna, and the Gemara. Richly did he deserve the degree of which he said, "I never bought it, nor thought it, nor sought it."

He was always at work; it is difficult to say when he slept, for he wrote 10,000 folio pages of theology. The portrait of him which belongs to this church, and hangs in my private vestry, and from which all the published portraits have been engraved, represents him after an interview with an Arminian gentleman, turning up his nose in a most expressive manner, as if he could not endure even the smell of freewill. In some such a vein he wrote his commentary. He hunts Arminianism throughout the whole of it. He is far from being so interesting and readable as Matthew Henry. He delivered his comments to his people from Sabbath to Sabbath, hence their peculiar mannerism. His frequent method of animadversion is, "This text does not mean this", nobody ever thought it did; "It does not mean that", only two or three heretics ever imagined it did; and again it does not mean a third thing, or a fourth, or a fifth, or a sixth absurdity; but at last he thinks it does mean so-andso, and tells you so in a methodical, sermon like manner. This is an easy method,

gentlemen, of filling up the time, if you are ever short of heads for a sermon. Show your people firstly, secondly, and thirdly, what the text does not mean, and then afterwards you can go back and show them what it does mean. It may be thought, however, that one such a teacher is enough, and that what was tolerated from a learned doctor would be scouted in a student fresh from college. For good, sound, massive, sober sense in commenting, who can excel Gill? Very seldom does he allow himself to be run away with by imagination, except now and then when he tries to open up a parable, and finds a meaning in every circumstance and minute detail; or when he falls upon a text which is not congenial with his creed, and hacks and hews terribly to bring the word of God into a more systematic shape. Gill is the Coryphaeus of hyper-Calvinism, but if his followers never went beyond their master, they would not go very far astray. I have placed next to Gill in my library Adam Clarke, but as I have no desire to have my rest broken by wars among the authors, I have placed Doddridge between them. If the spirits of the two worthies could descend to the earth in the same mood in which they departed, no one house would be able to hold them. Adam Clarke is the great annotator of our Wesleyan friends; and they have no reason to be ashamed of him, for he takes rank among the chief of expositors. His mind was evidently fascinated by the singularities of learning, and hence his commentary is rather too much of an old curiosity shop, but it is filled with valuable rarities, such as none but a great man could have collected. Like Gill, he is one sided, only in the opposite direction to our friend the Baptist. The use of the two authors may help to preserve the balance of your judgments. If you consider Clarke wanting in unction, do not read him for savour but for criticism, and then you will not be disappointed.

The author thought that lengthy reflections were rather for the preacher than the commentator, and hence it was not a part of his plan to write such observations as those which endear Matthew Henry to the million. If you have a copy of Adam Clarke, and exercise discretion in reading it, you will derive immense advantage from it, for frequently by a sort of side light he brings out the meaning of the text in an astonishingly novel manner. I do not wonder that Adam Clarke still stands, notwithstanding his peculiarities, a prince among commentators. I do not find him so helpful as Gill, but still from his side of the question, with which I have personally no sympathy, he is an important writer, and deserves to be studied by every reader of the Scriptures. He very judiciously says of Dr. Gill, "He was a very learned and good man, but has often lost sight of his better judgment in spiritualising the text"; this is the very verdict which we pass upon himself, only altering the last sentence a word or two; "He has often lost sight of his better judgment in following learned singularities"; the monkey, instead of the serpent, tempting Eve, is a notable instance. As I am paying no sort of attention to chronological order, I shall now wander back to old Master Mayer, a rare and valuable author. I have been in London a long time now, but I have only of late been able to complete my set. The first volume especially is rare in the extreme. The six volumes, folio, are a most judicious and able digest of former commentators, enriched with the author's own notes, forming altogether one of the fullest and best of learned English commentaries; not meant for popular use, but invaluable to the student. He is a link between the modern school, at the head of which I put Poole and Henry, and the older school who mostly wrote in Latin, and were tinctured with the conceits of those schoolmen who gathered like flies around the corpse of Aristotle. He appears to have written before Diodati and Trapp, but lacked opportunity to publish. I fear he will be forgotten, as there is but little prospect of the republication of so diffuse, and perhaps heavy, an author. He is a very Alp of learning, but cold and lacking in spirituality, hence his lack of popularity.

In 1653, Arthur Jackson, Preacher of God's Word in Wood Street, London, issued four volumes upon the Old Testament, which appear to have been the result of his pulpit expositions to his people. Valuable his works would be if there were no better, but they are not comparable to others already and afterwards mentioned. You can do without him, but he is a reputable author. Far more useful is Ness's History And Mystery of the Old and New Testament, a grand repository of quaint remarks upon the historical books of
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Scripture. You will find it contained in four thin folio volumes, and you will have a treasure if you procure it. Need I commend Bishop Hall's Contemplations to you? Haak's Annotations come to us as the offspring of the famous Synod of Dort, and the Westminster Annotations as the production of a still more venerable assembly; but if, with my hat off, bowing profoundly to those august conclaves of master minds, I may venture to say so, I would observe that they furnish another instance that committees seldom equal the labours of individuals. The notes are too short and fragmentary to be of any great value. The volumes are a heavy investment.
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Among entire commentators of modern date, a high place is usually awarded to Thomas Scott, and I shall not dispute his right to it. He is the expositor of evangelical Episcopalians, even as Adam Clarke is the prophet of the Wesleyans, but to me he has seldom given a thought, and I have almost discontinued consulting him. The very first money I ever received for pulpit services in London was invested in Thomas Scott, and I neither regretted the investment nor became exhilarated thereby. His work has always been popular, is very judicious, thoroughly sound and gracious: but for suggestiveness and pith is not comparable to Matthew Henry. I know I am talking heresy, but I cannot help saying that for a minister's use, Scott is mere milk and water--good and trustworthy, but not solid enough in matter for full grown men. In the family, Scott will hold his place, but in the study you want condensed thought, and this you must look for elsewhere.

To all young men of light purses let me recommend The Tract Society's Commentary, in six volumes, which contains the marrow of Henry and Scott, with notes from a hundred other authors. It is well executed, and for poor men a great Godsend. I believe the Society has some special arrangement for poor students, that they may have these volumes at the cheapest rate.

Gentlemen, if you want something full of marrow and fatness, cheering to your own hearts by way of comment, and likely to help you in giving to your hearers rich expositions, buy Dr. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary. Dr. Hawker was the very least of commentators in the matter of criticism; he had no critical capacity, and no ability whatever as an interpreter of the letter; but he sees Jesus, and that is a sacred gift which is most precious whether the owner be a critic or no. It is to be confessed that he occasionally sees Jesus where Jesus is not legitimately to be seen. He allows his reason to be mastered by his affections, which, vice as it is, is not the worst fault in the world. There is always such a savour of the Lord Jesus Christ in Dr. Hawker that you cannot read him without profit. He has the peculiar idea that Christ is in every Psalm, and this often leads him totally astray, because he attributes expressions to the Saviour which really shock the holy mind to imagine our Lord's using. However, not as a substantial dish, but as a condiment, place the Plymouth vicar's work on the table. His writing is all sugar, and you will know how to use it, not devouring it in lumps, but using it to flavour other things.

"Albert Barnes", say you, "what, do you think of Albert Barnes?" Albert Barnes is a learned and able divine, but his productions are unequal in value, the gospels are of comparatively little worth, but his other comments are extremely useful for Sunday School teachers and persons with a narrow range of reading, endowed with enough good sense to discriminate between good and evil. If a controversial eye had been turned upon Barnes's Notes years ago, and his inaccuracies shown up by some unsparing hand, he would never have had the popularity which at one time set rival publishers advertising him in every direction. His Old Testament volumes are to be greatly commended as learned and laborious, and the epistles are useful as a valuable collection of the various opinions of learned men. Placed by the side of the great masters, Barnes is a lesser light, but taking his work for what it is and professes to be, no minister can afford to be without it, and this is no small praise for works which were only intended for Sunday School teachers.

Upon the New Testament Doddridge's Expositor is worthy of a far more extensive reading than is nowadays accorded to it. It is all in the form of a paraphrase, with the text in italics; a mode of treatment far from satisfactory as a rule, but exceedingly well carried out in this instance. The notes are very good, and reveal the thorough scholar. Our authorised

version is placed in the margin, and a new translation in the paraphrase. The four evangelists are thrown into a harmony, a plan which has its advantages but is not without its evils. The practical improvements at the end of each chapter generally consist of pressing exhortations and devout meditations, suggested by the matter under discussion. It is sadly indicative of the Socinianism of the age in which this good man lived, that he feels called upon to apologise for the evangelical strain in which he has written. He appears to have barely finished this work in shorthand at the time of his death, and the later books were transcribed under the care of Job Orton. No Life Insurance Society should accept the proposals of a commentator on the whole of either Testament, for it seems to be the rule that such students of the Word should be taken up to their reward before their task is quite completed. Then, of course, gentlemen, you will economise rigidly until you have accumulated funds to purchase Kitto's Pictorial Bible. You mean to take that goodly freight on board before you launch upon the sea of married life. As you cannot visit the Holy Land, it is well for you that there is a work like the Pictorial Bible, in which the notes of the most observant travellers are arranged under the texts which they illustrate. For the geography, zoology, botany, and manners and customs of Palestine, this will be your counsellor and guide. Add to this noble comment, which is sold at a surprisingly low price, the eight volumes of Kitto's Daily Readings. They are not exactly a commentary, but what marvellous expositions you have there! You have reading more interesting than any novel that was ever written, and as instructive as the heaviest theology. The matter is quite attractive and fascinating, and yet so weighty, that the man who shall study those eight volumes thoroughly, will not fail to read his Bible intelligently and with growing interest.

The Gnomon of the New Testament, By John Albert Bengel, is the scholar's delight. He selected the title as modest and appropriate, intending it in the sense of a pointer or indicator, like the sundial; his aim being to point out or indicate the full force and meaning of the words and sentences of the New Testament. He endeavours to let the text itself cast its shadow on his page, believing with Luther that "the science of theology is nothing else but grammar exercised on the words of the Holy Spirit". The editor of the translation published by Messrs. Clarke, says in his preface, "It is quite superfluous to write in praise of the Gnomon of Bengel. Ever since the year in which it was first published, A.D. 1742, up to the present time, it has been growing in estimation, and has been more and more widely circulated among the scholars of all countries. Though modern criticism has furnished many valuable additions to our materials for New Testament exegesis, yet, in some respects, Bengel stands out still facile princeps among all who have laboured, or who as yet labour in that important field. He is unrivalled in felicitous brevity, combined with what seldom accompanies that excellence, namely, perspicuity. Terse, weighty, and suggestive, he often, as a modern writer observes, "condenses more matter into a line, than can be extracted from pages of other writers." In the passages which form the subject of controversy between Calvinists and Arminians, Bengel takes the view adopted by the latter, and in this respect I do not concur with him. But whilst he thus gives an undue prominence, as it would seem to me, to the responsibility and freedom of man in these passages, yet, in the general tenor of his work, there breathe such a holy reverence for God's sovereignty, and such spiritual unction, that the most extreme Calvinist would, for the most part, be unable to discover to what section of opinions he attached himself, and as to the controverted passages would feel inclined to say, Quum talis sis, utinam noster esses.

Men with a dislike for thinking had better not purchase the five precious volumes, for they will be of little use to them; but men who love brain work will find fine exercise in spelling out the deep meaning of Bengel's excessively terse sentences. His principles of interpretation stated in his "Essay on the Right Way of Handling Divine Subjects", are such as will make the lover of God's word feel safe in his hands: "Put nothing into the Scriptures, but draw everything from them, and suffer nothing to remain hidden, that is really in them." "Though each inspired writer has his own manner and style, one and the same Spirit breathes through all, one grand idea pervades all." "Every divine communication carries (like the diamond) its own light with it, thus showing whence it comes; no touchstone is

required to discriminate it." "The true commentator will fasten his primary attention on the letter (literal meaning), but never forget that the Spirit must equally accompany him; at the same time we must never devise a more spiritual meaning for Scripture passages than the Holy Spirit intended." "The historical matters of Scripture, both narrative and prophecy, constitute as it were the bones of its system, whereas the spiritual matters are as its muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. As the bones are necessary to the human system, so Scripture must have its historical matters. The expositor who nullifies the historical ground work of Scripture for the sake of finding only spiritual truths everywhere, brings death on all correct interpretations. Those expositions are the safest which keep closest to the text." His idea of the true mode of dying touched me much when I first saw it. He declared that he would make no spiritual parade of his last hours, but if possible continue at his usual works, and depart this life as a person in the midst of business leaves the room to attend to a knock at the door. Accordingly he was occupied with the correction of his proof sheets as at other times, and the last messenger summoned him to his rest while his hands were full. This reveals a calm, well balanced mind, and unveils many of those singular characteristics which enabled him to become the laborious recensor of the various manuscripts, and the pioneer of true Biblical criticism. The Critical English Testament. "A Critical New Testament, so compiled as to enable a reader, unacquainted with Greek, to ascertain the exact English force and meaning of the language of the New Testament, and to appreciate the latest results of modern criticism." Such is the professed aim of this commentary, and the compilers have very fairly carried out their intentions. The whole of Bengel's Gnomon is bodily transferred into the work, and as one hundred and twenty years have elapsed since the first issue of that book, it may be supposed that much has since been added to the wealth of Scripture exposition; the substance of this has been incorporated in brackets, so as to bring it down to the present advanced state of knowledge. We strongly advise the purchase of this book, as it is multum in parvo, and will well repay an attentive perusal. Tischendorf and Alford have contributed largely, with other German and English critics, to make this one of the most lucid and concise commentaries on the text and teachings of the New Testament.

Alford's Greek Testament, "for the use of Theological Students and Ministers", is an invaluable aid to the critical study of the text of the New Testament. You will find in it the ripened results of a matured scholarship, the harvesting of a judgment, generally highly impartial, always worthy of respect, which has gleaned from the most important fields of Biblical research, both modern and ancient, at home and abroad. You will not look here for any spirituality of thought or tenderness of feeling; you will find the learned Dean does not forget to do full justice to his own views, and is quite able to express himself vigorously against his opponents; but for what it professes to be, it is an exceedingly able and successful work. The later issues are by far the most desirable, as the author has considerably revised the work in the fourth edition.

What I have said of his Greek Testament applies equally to Alford's New Testament for English Readers, which is also a standard work.

I must confess also a very tender side towards Bloomfield's Greek Testament, and I am singular enough to prefer it in some respects to Alford; at least, I have got more out of it on some passages, and I think it does not deserve to be regarded as superseded.

The Commentary by Patrick, Lowth, Arnald, Whitby, and Lowman, is said by Darling to be of standard authority, but you may do without it with less loss than in the case of several others I have mentioned. The authors were men of great learning, their association in one commentary is remarkable, and their joint production has a place in all complete libraries.

Dr. Wordsworth's Holy Bible, With Notes and Introductions, is a valuable addition to our stores, but it is rendered much more bulky and expensive than it needed to be by the printing of the text at large. It gives many precious hints, and much of the choicest thought of mediaeval writers, besides suggesting catch words and showing connections between various passages. Although it is occasionally marred by the characteristic weaknesses of

the Bishop, and has here and there foolishnesses at which one cannot but smile, it is a great work, such as only an eminent scholar could have produced. I am not so enamoured of the German writers as certain of my brethren appear to be, for they are generally cold and hard, and unspiritual. As Dr. Graham says, "there are about twenty or thirty names in the literary world who have gained a conspicuous place in theological circles; and in German commentaries these are perpetually introduced. In some of them the bulk of the work is made up of these authoritative names, and quotations from their works. This gives their writings the appearance of prodigious learning and research. Every page is bristling with hard words and strange languages, and the eye of the common reader is terrified at the very appearance, as the peaceful citizen is at the pointed cannon of a fortress." I do, however, greatly prize the series lately produced under the presidency of Dr. Lange. These volumes are not all of equal value, but, as a whole, they are a grand addition to our stores. The American translators have added considerably to the German work, and in some cases these additions are more valuable than the original matter. For homiletical purposes these volumes are so many hills of gold, but, alas, there is dross also, for Baptismal Regeneration and other grave errors occur.

The Speaker's Commentary is issued (August, 1875) as far as the Lamentations. It is costly, too costly for your pockets, and I am therefore somewhat the less sorry to add that it is not what I hoped it would be. Of course it is a great work, and contains much which tends to illustrate the text; but if you had it you would not turn to it for spiritual food, or for fruitful suggestion, or if you did so, you would be disappointed. The object of the work is to help the general reader to know what the Scriptures really say and mean, and to remove some of the difficulties. It keeps to its design and in a measure accomplishes it.

I must also add to the list A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments. Of this I have a very high opinion. It is the joint work of Dr. Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and Dr. David Brown. It is to some extent a compilation and condensation of other men's thoughts, but it is sufficiently original to claim a place in every minister's library: indeed it contains so great a variety of information that if a man had no other exposition he would find himself at no great loss if he possessed this and used it diligently.

Several other works I omit, not because they are worthless, or unknown to me, but because for scant purses the best will be best. I must not omit upon the New Testament the goodly volume of Burkitt. If you can get him cheap, buy him. He is the celebrated "Rector" whom Keach "rectified" in the matter of infant baptism. Burkitt is somewhat pithy, and for a modern rather rich and racy, but he is far from deep, and is frequently common place. I liked him well enough till I had read abler works and grown older. Some books grow upon us as we read and reread them, but Burkitt does not. Yet so far from depreciating the good man, I should be sorry to have missed his acquaintance, and would bespeak for him your attentive perusal.

The best commentators, after all, are those who have written upon only one book. Few men can comment eminently well upon the whole Bible, there are sure to be some weak points in colossal works; prolixity in so vast an undertaking is natural, and dulness follows at its heels--but a life devoted to one of the inspired volumes of our priceless Bible must surely yield a noble result. If I find myself able to do so, at some future time I will introduce you to a selection of the great one book writers. For the present this much must suffice.
An Exposition of all the Books of the Old and New Testaments. By Matthew Henry, late minister of the gospel in Chester. (Many editions; to be met with at very low prices.)

The Works of John Calvin, in 51 volumes. Messrs. Clark, of Edinburgh, announce that they possess the copyright of the works of Calvin originally published by the Calvin Translation Society, and issue them on the following terms:--Complete sets in 51 volumes, 9 pounds, 9 shillings. The "Letters", edited by Dr. Bonnet, 2 vols., 10 shillings. 6d., additional, Complete sets of Commentaries, 45 vols., 7 pounds 17s. 6d. The "Institutes", 3 vols., 24 shillings.
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Werner Helmich, a Dutch Protestant divine, A.D. 1551-1608.

Synopsis Criticorum aliorumque S. Scripturae Interpretum. Opera Matthaei Poli. Londinensis, MDCLXIX.

Annotations upon the Holy Bible. Wherein the sacred text is inserted, and various readings annexed, together with the parallel Scriptures. The more difficult terms in each verse explained; seeming contradictions reconciled; questions and doubts resolved; and the whole text opened. By the late Rev. and learned divine, Mr. Matthew Poole. 1700.

Annotations upon the Old and New Testament, in five distinct volumes. Whereof the first is upon the five Books of Moses, and upon the following books, of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The second is upon Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, and Psalms. The third is upon Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon's Song, and the four major prophets, with a treatise called, "The righteous Man's Recompense". The fourth is upon the twelve minor prophets, the fifth and last is upon the whole New Testament, with a Decade of Divine Discourses, or Common-places, thereunto annexed. By John Trapp, M.A., pastor and preacher of the word of God at Weston-uponAvon, in Gloucestershire. 1662.

The reprint by Mr. R. D. Dickinson is edited by Rev. W. Webster, and Rev. Hugh Martin, with a Memoir of the Author, by Rev. A. B. Grosart, 5 vols., super royal 8vo., cloth; 3 pounds 2s. 6d. to Subscribers.

An Exposition of the Old Testament, in which are recorded the origin of mankind, of the several nations of the world, and of the Jewish nation in particular; the lives of the patriarchs of Israel; the journey of that people from Egypt to the land of Canaan, and their settlement in that land: their laws, moral, ceremonial, and judicial; their government and state under judges and kings; their several captivities, and, their sacred books of devotion: in the exposition of which, it is attempted to give an account of their several books and the writers of them; a summary of each chapter, and the genuine sense of each verse, and, throughout the whole, the original text and the versions of it, are inspected and compared; interpretation of the best note, both Jewish and Christian, consulted; difficult places at large explained, seeming contradictions reconciled, and various passages illustrated and confirmed by testimonies of writers as well Gentile as Jewish. By John Gill, D.D.

An Exposition of the New Testament, in which the sense of the sacred text is taken; doctrinal and practical truths are set in a plain and easy light, difficult passages explained; seeming contradictions reconciled; and whatever is material in the various readings and several Oriental versions is observed. The whole illustrated with notes taken from the most ancient Jewish writings. By John Gill, D.D. The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments. The text carefully printed from the most correct copies of the present Authorised Translation, including the Marginal Readings and Parallel Texts. With a Commentary and Critical Notes; designed as a help to a better understanding of the Sacred Writings. By Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., &c. A new edition with the Author's final corrections. London: Printed for Thomas Tegg, &c. (7 volumes.)

A Commentary upon the whole "Old Testament", added to that of the same author upon the whole "New Testament", published many years before, to make a complete work upon the whole Bible. Wherein the divers Translations and Expositions, Literall and Mysticall, of all the most famous Commentators, both Ancient and Modern, are propounded, examined, and judged of, for the more full satisfaction of the studious reader in all things, and many most genuine notions inserted for edification in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. A work, the like unto which hath never yet been published by any man, yet very necessary, not only for students in divinity, but also for every Christian that loveth the knowledge of divine things, or humane, whereof this comment is also full, &c. By John Mayer, Doctor of Divinity. London. MDCLIII.

A help for the understanding of the Holy Scripture. Intended chiefly for the assistance and information of those that use constantly every day to read some part of the Bible, and would gladly always understand what they read if they had some man to help them. The first part. Containing certain short notes of exposition upon the five books of Moses, &c. By Arthur Jackson, preacher of God's Word in Wood Street, London. Anno Dom. MDCDLIII.

A Complete History and Mystery of the Old and New Testament, logically discussed, and theologically improved. In three distinct volumes. The first beginning at the Creation of the World, and ending at Moses. The second continuing the History from Joshua till the Birth of Christ. The third from the Birth of Christ, to the Death of the last and longest living Apostle, John the Divine. The like undertaking (in such a manner and method) being never attempted before. By Mr. Christopher Ness, minister of the gospel in London. 1690. 3 vols., thin folio.

Contemplations on the historical passages of the Old and New Testament. By the right Rev. Joseph Hall, D.D., Bishop of Norwich. Numerous editions; the one before us has "a memoir of the author, by James Hamilton, M.B.S.", and was published by Mr. Nelson of Edinburgh. What wit! What sound sense! What concealed learning! His style is as pithy and witty as that of Thomas Fuller, and it has a sacred unction about it to which Fuller has no pretension.

The Dutch Annotations upon the whole Bible; or, all the Holy Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, together with, and according to, their own, translation of all the text: as both the one and the other were ordered and appointed by the Synod of Dort, 1618, and published by authority, 1637. Now faithfully communicated to the use of Great Britain, in English, &c. By Theodore Haak, Esq. London, 1657. 2 volumes folio.

Annotations upon all the Books of the Old and New Testaments. This third, above the first and second, edition so enlarged, as they make an entire commentary on the sacred Scriptures, the like never before published in English. Wherein the text is explained, doubts resolved, Scriptures paralleled, and various readings observed. By the labour of certain learned divines, thereunto appointed, and therein employed, as is expressed in the preface. London, 1657.

The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, according to the, authorised version, with explanatory notes, practical observations, and copious marginal references. By Thomas Scott, rector of Ashton Sandford, Bucks. A new edition, with the author's last corrections and improvements, with ten maps. London: L. B. Seeley and Son. 1827.

The Holy Bible; the text according to the authorised version; and a Commentary from Henry and Scott, with numerous Observations and Notes from other Authors; also, the Marginal References, Maps of the Countries mentioned in Scripture, and various useful Tables. London: The Religious Tract Society. (6 volumes.)

The Poor Man's Commentary on the Bible. By Robert Hawker, D.D., Vicar of Charles, Plymouth, 1822. (3 vols. folio, or 10 vols. 8vo.)

There are several English editions of Barnes's Notes; the one before us is thus advertised: "The Rev. Albert Barnes's Notes (Explanatory and Practical), designed for the Heads of Families, Students, Bible Classes, and Sunday Schools. Edited, and carefully revised, by the Rev. John Cumming, D.D., Minister of the Scotch Church, Crown Court." The Notes on the Entire New Testament, in 11 vols., on the Book of Isaiah, in 3 vols., on the Book of Job, in 2 vols., on the Book of Daniel, in 2 vols., or in 11 double vols. The "Notes on the Book of Psalms" are now being issued in 3 vols. by Messrs. Gall and Inglis.

The Family Expositor; or a Paraphrase and Version of the New Testament; with Critical Notes, and a Practical Improvement of each Section. By P. Doddridge, D.D. To which is prefixed a Life of the Author, By Andrew Kippis, D.D., F.R.S., and S.A. London: Longman, Orme, and Co., 1840. (4 vols. 8vo.)

Daily Bible Illustrations, being Original Readings for a Year, on subjects from Sacred History, Biography, Antiquities, and Theology. Especially designed for the family circle. By John Kitto, D.D., F.S.A. 8 volumes, small 8vo. (A New Annotated edition has just been brought out by Messrs. Oliphant of Edinburgh.)

Gnomon of the New Testament, by John Albert Bengal. But first translated, into English, with original notes explanatory and illustrative. Revised and edited by Rev. Andrew R. Fausset, M.A., of Trinity College, Dublin. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clarke, 38, George-street, 1863. (Five vols. demy 8vo.; Subscription, 31s. 6d.)

The Critical English Testament.--Being an adaption of Bengel's Gnomon, with numerous Notes, showing Precise Results of Modern Criticism and Exegesis. Edited by Rev. W. L. Blackley, M.A., and Rev. James Hawes, M.A. Published by Messrs. Isbister and Co, Ludgate Hill, London. (Three vols. 18s.)

The Greek Testament: with a Critically Revised Text; a Digest of various Readings; Marginal References to Verbal and Idiomatic Usage; Prolegomena; and a Critical and Exegetical Commentary. For the use of Theological Students and Ministers. By Henry Alford, D.D., Dean of Canterbury. In four volumes. London: Rivingtons, Waterloo Place; and Deighton, Bell, and Co., Cambridge. 1861.

The New Testament for English Readers; containing the Authorized Version, with a revised English Text; Marginal References; and a Critical and Explanatory Commentary; By Henry Alford, D.D., late Dean of Canterbury. New edition. 4 vols. 8vo. 54/6. London, Oxford, and Cambridge. Rivingtons, and G. Bell and Sons, 1872.

The Greek Testament, with English Notes, Critical, Philological, and Explanatory; partly selected and arranged from the best Commentators, ancient and modern, but chiefly original. Fourth edition, revised. 2 vols. 8vo. London. 1841.

A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament, and the Apocrypha. By Patrick, Lowth, Arnald, Whitby, and Lowman. A new edition, &c., in 4 vols. William Tegg and Co.

The Holy Bible; with Notes and Introductions [Old Testament only]. 6 vols. imp. 8vo. 6 pounds.-The New Testament in the original Greek; with Notes, Introductions, and Indexes. By Chr. Wordsworth, D.D., Bishop of Lincoln. 2 vols. imp. 8vo. 3 pounds. London, Oxford, and Cambridge. Rivingtons. 1872, etc.

A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, with special reference to Ministers and Students, by John Peter Lange, D.D., in connection with a number of eminent European divines. Translated from the German, and edited, with additions, by Phillip Schaff, D.D., in connection with American scholars of various Evangelical denominations. Imperial 8vo. Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark. 1868, etc. [18 volumes, price 21s. each, or to subscribers 15s.]

The Holy Bible, according to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611), with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary, and a Revision of the Translation by Bishops and other Clergy of the Anglican Church. Edited by F. C. Cook, M.A., Canon of Exeter, Preacher at Lincoln's Inn, and Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. Medium 8vo. London, John Murray. 1871, etc. [5 volumes published, Genesis to Lamentations. Vol. I in 2 parts, 30s. Vols. II and III, 36s. Vol. IV, 24s. Vol. V, 20s.]

A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments. By the Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D., St. Paul's, Glasgow; Rev. A. R. Fausset, A.M., St. Cuthbert's, York; and the Rev. David Brown, D.D., Professor of Theology, Aberdeen. 6 vols. medium 8vo. 3 pounds 12s.; or separately at 14s. each, vol. London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. W. Collins, Sons, & Co. 1871.

Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, wherein, &c. Endeavoured by William Burkitt, M.A. Late Vicar and Lecturer of Dedham, in Essex. (Numerous editions, folio and quarto.)

LECTURE 2 On Commenting
Having introduced you to the commentators, I must now press upon you one of the most practical uses of them, namely, your own public commenting upon the Scriptures read during divine service. Preaching in the olden time consisted very much more of exposition than it does now. I suppose that the sermons of the primitive Christians were for the most part expositions of lengthy passages of the Old Testament; and when copies of the gospels, and the epistles of Paul had become accessible to the churches, the chief work of the preacher would be to press home the apostolical teachings by delivering an address, the back bone of which would be a complete passage of Scripture: there would probably be but faint traces of divisions, heads and points, such as we employ in modern discoursing, but the teacher would follow the run of the passage which was open before him, commenting as he read. I suppose this to have been the case, because some of the early Christian modes of worship were founded very much upon that of the synagogue. I say some of the modes, since I suppose that as the Lord Jesus left his disciples free from rubrics and liturgies, each church worshipped according to the working of the free Spirit among them; one with the open meeting of the Corinthians, and another with a presiding minister, and a third with a mixture of the two methods. In the synagogue, it was the rule of the Rabbis that never less than twenty two verses of the law should be read at one time, and the preaching consisted of notes upon a passage of that length. Such a rule would be a mere superstition if we were slavishly bound by it, but I could almost wish that the custom were reestablished, for the present plan of preaching from short texts, together with the great neglect of commenting publicly upon the word is very unsatisfactory. We cannot expect to deliver much of the teaching of Holy Scripture by picking out verse by verse, and holding these up at random. The process resembles that of showing a house by exhibiting separate bricks. It would be an astounding absurdity if our friends used our private letters in this fashion, and interpreted them by short sentences disconnected and taken away from the context. Such expositors would make us out to say in every letter all we ever thought

of, and a great many things besides far enough from our minds; while the real intent of our epistles would probably escape attention. Nowadays since expository preaching is not so common as it ought to be, there is the more necessity for our commenting during the time of our reading the Scriptures. Since topical preaching, hortatory preaching, experimental preaching, and so on--all exceedingly useful in their way--have almost pushed proper expository preaching out of place, there is the more need that we should, when we read passages of Holy Writ, habitually give running comments upon them. I support my opinion with this reason, that the public reading of the abstruser parts of Scripture is of exceedingly little use to the majority of the people listening. I can recollect hearing in my younger days long passages out of Daniel, which might have been exceedingly instructive to me if I had obtained the remotest conception of what they meant. Take again, parts of the prophecy of Ezekiel, and ask yourselves what profit can arise from their perusal by the illiterate, "unless some man shall guide them"? What more edification can come from a chapter in English which is not understood than from the same passage in Hebrew or Greek? The same argument which enforces translation demands exposition. If but a few explanatory words are thrown in by a judicious reader, it is wonderful how luminous obscure portions may be made. Two or three sentences will often reveal the drift of a whole chapter; the key of a great difficulty may be presented to the hearer in half a score words, and thus the public reading may be made abundantly profitable. I once saw a school of blind children among the charming ruins of York Abbey, and could not help pitying their incapacity to enjoy so much beauty: how willingly would I have opened their eyes! Are ignorant people wandering among the glories of Scripture much less to be pitied? Who will refuse them the light? Abundant evidence has come before me that brief comments upon Scripture in our ordinary services are most acceptable and instructive to our people. I have often heard from working men, and their wives, and from merchants and their families, that my own expositions have been most helpful to them. They testify that when they read the Bible at home in the family, the exposition makes it doubly precious to them; and the chapter which they had unprofitably read in course at family prayers, when they pursue it the next time, recollecting what their minister has said upon it, becomes a real delight to them. The mass of our hearers, in London at least, do not, to any appreciable extent, read commentaries or any other books which throw a light upon the Scriptures. They have neither the money nor the time to do so, and if they are to be instructed in the Word of God in things which they cannot find out by mere experience, and are not likely to have explained to them by their associates, they must get that instruction from us, or nowhere else; nor do I see how we are to give them such spiritual assistance except through the regular practice of exposition. Besides, if you are in the habit of commenting, it will give you an opportunity of saying many things which are not of sufficient importance to become the theme of a whole sermon, and therefore would probably remain unnoticed, to the great loss of the Lord's people and others. It is astounding what a range of truth, doctrinal, practical, and experimental, Holy Scripture brings before us; and equally worthy of admiration is the forcible manner in which that truth is advanced. Hints given in the way in which the word of God offers them are always wise and opportune; as, for instance, the rebukes which the word administers might have seemed too severe had they been made by the pastor, unsustained by the word and unsuggested by it, but arising out of the chapter they cannot be resented. You can both censure sins and encourage virtues by dilating upon the histories which you read in the inspired records, whereas you might never have touched upon them had not the chapter read brought the matter before you. If you want to make full proof of your ministry, and to leave no single point of revelation untouched, your easiest mode will be to comment upon Scripture habitually. Without this, much of the word will be utterly unknown to many of your people. It is a very sad fact that they do not read so much as they should at home; the ungodly, in England, scarcely read the Bible at all; and if only that part which we preach upon be expounded to them, how little of the Bible can they ever know! If you will mark your Bibles with lines under the texts from which you have spoken, as I have always done with an old copy which I keep in my study, you will discover that in twelve or fourteen years very little of the book has been gone through; a very large

proportion of it remains unmarked, like a field unploughed. Try, then, by exposition to give your people a fair view of the entire compass of revelation; take them as it were to the top of Nebo, and show them the whole land from Dan to Beersheba, and prove to them that everywhere it floweth with milk and honey. Earnestly do I advocate commenting. It is unfashionable in England, though somewhat more usual beyond the Tweed. The practice was hardly followed up anywhere in England a few years ago, and it is very uncommon still. It may be pressed upon you for one other reason, namely, that in order to execute it well, the commenting minister will at first have to study twice as much as the mere preacher, because he will be called upon to prepare both his sermons and his expositions. As a rule, I spend much more time over the exposition than over the discourse. Once start a sermon with a great idea, and from that moment the discourse forms itself without much labour to the preacher, for truth naturally consolidates and crystallises itself around the main subject like sweet crystals around a string hung up in syrup; but as for the exposition, you must keep to the text, you must face the difficult points, and must search into the mind of the Spirit rather than your own. You will soon reveal your ignorance as an expositor if you do not study; therefore diligent reading will be forced upon you. Anything which compels the preacher to search the grand old Book is of immense service to him. If any are jealous lest the labour should injure their constitutions, let them remember that mental work up to a certain point is most refreshing, and where the Bible is the theme toil is delight. It is only when mental labour passes beyond the bounds of common sense that the mind becomes enfeebled by it, and this is not usually reached except by injudicious persons, or men engaged on topics which are unrefreshing and disagreeable; but our subject is a recreative one, and to young men like ourselves the vigorous use of our faculties is a most healthy exercise. Classics and mathematics may exhaust us, but not the volume of our Father's grace, the charter of our joys, the treasure of our wealth. A man to comment well should be able to read the Bible in the original. Every minister should aim at a tolerable proficiency both in the Hebrew and the Greek. These two languages will give him a library at a small expense, an inexhaustible thesaurus, a mine of spiritual wealth. Really, the effort of acquiring a language is not so prodigious that brethren of moderate abilities should so frequently shrink from the attempt. A minister ought to attain enough of these tongues to be at least able to make out a passage by the aid of a lexicon, so as to be sure that he is not misrepresenting the Spirit of God in his discoursings, but is, as nearly as he can judge, giving forth what the Lord intended to reveal by the language employed. Such knowledge would prevent his founding doctrines upon expressions in our version when nothing at all analogous is to be found in the inspired original. This has been done by preachers time out of mind, and they have shouted over an inference drawn from a "shall" or an "if" gathered out of the translation, with as much assurance of infallibility and sense of importance as if the same language had occurred in the words which the Holy Ghost used. At such times, we have been reminded of the story told by the late beloved Henry Craik, in his book on the Hebrew language. At one time, the Latin Vulgate was so constantly spoken of as the very word of God, that a Roman Catholic theologian thus commented upon Gen. 1:10, "The gathering together of the waters called he seas." The Latin term for seas is Maria. On this ground, the writer asks, "What is the gathering together of waters but the accumulation of all the graces into one place, that is, into the Virgin Mary (Maria)? But there is this distinction, that Maria (the seas) has the (i) short, because that which the seas contain is only of a transitory nature, while the gifts and graces of the blessed Virgin (Maria) shall endure for ever." Such superlative nonsense may be indulged in if we forget that translations cannot be verbally inspired, and that to the original is the last appeal. Fail not to be expert in the use of your Concordance. Every day I live I thank God more and more for that poor half crazy Alexander Cruden. Of course you have read his life, which is prefixed to the concordance; it exhibits him as a man of diseased mind, once or twice the inmate of a lunatic asylum, but yet for all that successfully devoting his energies to producing a work of absolutely priceless value, which never has been improved upon, and probably never will be; a volume which must ever yield the greatest possible

assistance to a Christian minister, being as necessary to him as a plane to the carpenter, or a plough to the husbandman. Be sure you buy a genuine unabridged Cruden, and none of the modern substitutes; good as they may be at the price, they are a delusion and a snare to ministers, and should never be tolerated in the manse library. To consider cheapness in purchasing a concordance is folly. You need only one: have none but the best. At the head of each notable word, Cruden gives you its meaning, and very often all its particular shades of meaning, so that he even helps you in sermonising. When you have read his headings, by following out the concordance, you will observe connections in which the word occurs, which most advantageously and correctly fix its meaning. Thus will the word of God be its own key. A good textuary is a good theologian; be then well skilled in using Cruden. I make but small account of most reference Bibles; they would be very useful if they were good for anything; but it is extremely easy to bring out a reference Bible which has verbal and apparent references, and nothing more. You will often turn to a reference, and will have to say, "Well, it is a reference, certainly, in a way, for it contains the same word, but there is no reference in the sense that the one text will explain the other." The useful reference cuts the diamond with a diamond, comparing spiritual things with spiritual; it is a thought reference, and not a word reference. If you meet with a really valuable reference Bible, it will be to you what I once heard a countryman call "a reverence Bible", for it will lead you to prize more and more the sacred volume. The best reference Bible is a thoroughly good concordance. Get the best, keep it always on the table, use it hourly, and you will have found your best companion. Need I after my previous lectures commend to you the judicious reading of commentaries! These are called "dead men's brains" by certain knowing people, who claim to give us nothing in their sermons but what they pretend the Lord reveals direct to themselves. Yet these men are by no means original, and often their supposed inspiration is but borrowed wit. They get a peep at Gill on the sly. The remarks which they give forth as the Spirit's mind are very inferior in all respects to what they affect to despise, namely, the mind of good and learned men. A batch of poems was sent me some time ago for The Sword and the Trowel, which were written by a person claiming to be under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit. He informed me that he was passive, and that what was enclosed was written under the direct physical and mental influence of the Spirit upon his mind and hand. My bookshelves can show many poems as much superior to these pretended inspirations as angels are to blue bottles; the miserable doggerel bore on its face the evidence of imposture. So when I listen to the senseless twaddle of certain wise gentlemen who are always boasting that they alone are ministers of the Spirit, I am ashamed of their pretensions and of them. No, my dear friends, you may take it, as a rule that the Spirit of God does not usually do for us what we can do for ourselves, and that if religious knowledge is printed in a book, and we can read it, there is no necessity for the Holy Ghost to make a fresh revelation of it to us in order to screen our laziness. Read, then, the admirable commentaries which I have already introduced to you. Yet be sure you use your own minds too, or the expounding will lack interest. Here I call to mind two wells in the courtyard of the Doge's palace at Venice, upon which I looked with much interest. One is filled artificially by water brought in barges from a distance, and few care for its insipid contents; the other is a refreshing natural well, cool and delicious, and the people contend for every drop of it. Freshness, naturalness, life, will always attract, whereas mere borrowed learning is flat and insipid. Mr. Cecil says his plan was, when he laid a hold of a Scripture, to pray over it, and get his own thoughts on it, and then, after he had so done, to take up the ablest divines who wrote upon the subject, and see what their thoughts were. If you do not think and think much, you will become slaves and mere copyists. The exercise of your own mind is most healthful to you, and by perseverance, with divine help, you may expect to get at the meaning of every understandable passage. So to rely upon your own abilities as to be unwilling to learn from others is clearly folly; so to study others as not to judge for yourself is imbecility. What should be the manner of your public commenting? One rule should be always to point out very carefully wherever a word bears a special sense; for rest assured in Holy

Scripture the same word does not always mean the same thing. The Bible is a Book meant for human beings, and therefore it is written in human language; and in human language the same word may signify two or three things. For instance, "a pear fell from the tree"; "a man fell into drunken habits". There the meaning of the second word, "fell", is evidently different from the first, since it is not literal, but metaphorical. Again, "the cabman mounted the box"; "the child was pleased with his Christmas box"; "his lordship is staying at his shooting box". In each case there is the same word, but who does not see that there is a great difference of meaning? So it is in the word of God. You must explain the difference between a word used in a peculiar sense, and the ordinary meaning of the word, and thus you will prevent your people falling into mistakes. If people will say that the same word in Scripture always means the same thing, as I have heard some assert publicly, they will make nonsense of the word of God, and fall into error through their own irrational maxims. To set up canons of interpretation for the Book of God which would be absurd if applied to other writings is egregious folly: it has a show of accuracy, but inevitably leads to confusion. The obvious literal meaning of a Scripture is not always the true one, and ignorant persons are apt enough to fall into the most singular misconceptions--a judicious remark from the pulpit will be of signal service. Many persons have accustomed themselves to misunderstand certain texts; they have heard wrong interpretations in their youth, and will never know better unless the correct meaning be indicated to them. We must make sure in our public expositions that obscure and involved sentences are explained. To overleap difficulties, and only expound what is already clear, is to make commenting ridiculous. When we speak of obscure sentences, we mean such as are mostly to be found in the prophets, and are rendered dark through the translation, or the Orientalism of their structure, or through their intrinsic weight of meaning. Involved sentences most abound in the writings of Paul, whose luxuriant mind was not to be restrained to any one line of argument. He begins a sentence, and does not finish it perhaps until eight verses further on, and all the interstices between the commencement and the end of the sentence are packed full of compressed truth, which it is not always easy to separate from the general argument. Hints consisting of but two or three words will let your hearers know where the reasoning breaks off, and where it is taken up again. In many poetical parts of the Old Testament the speakers change; as in Solomon's Song, which is mostly a dialogue. Here perfect nonsense is often made by reading the passage as if it were all spoken by the same person. In Isaiah the strain often varies most suddenly, and while one verse is addressed to the Jews, the next may be spoken to the Messiah or to the Gentiles. Is it not always well to notify this to the congregation? If the chapters and verses had been divided with a little common sense, this might be of less importance, but as our version is so clumsily chopped into fragments, the preacher must insert the proper paragraphs and divisions as he reads aloud. In fine, your business is to make the word plain. In Lombardy I observed great heaps of huge stones in the fields, which had been gathered out from the soil by diligent hands to make room for the crops; your duty is to "gather out the stones", and leave the fruitful field of Scripture for your people to till. There are Orientalisms, metaphors, peculiar expressions, idioms, and other verbal memorabilia which arise from the Bible having been written in the East; all these you will do well to explain. To this end be diligent students of Oriental life. Let the geography of Palestine, its natural history, its fauna and its flora, be as familiar to you as those of your own native village. Then as you read you will interpret the word, and your flock will be fed thereby.

The chief part of your commenting, however, should consist in applying the truth to the hearts of your hearers, for he who merely comprehends the meaning of the letter without understanding how it bears upon the hearts and consciences of men, is like a man who causes the bellows of an organ to be blown, and then fails to place his fingers on the keys; it is of little service to supply men with information unless we urge upon them the practical inferences therefrom. Look, my brethren, straight down into the secret chambers of the human soul, and let fall the divine teaching through the window, and thus light will be carried to the heart and conscience. Make remarks suitable to the occasion, and applicable to the cases of those present. Show how a truth which was first heard in the days of David

is still forcible and pertinent in these modern times, and you will thus endear the Scriptures to the minds of your people, who prize your remarks much more than you imagine. Clean the grand old pictures of the divine masters; hang them up in new frames; fix them on the walls of your people's memories, and their well instructed hearts shall bless you. Is a caution needed amongst intelligent men? Yes, it must be given. Be sure to avoid prosiness. Avoid it everywhere, but especially in this. Do not be long in your notes. If you are supremely gifted do not be long; people do not appreciate too much of a good thing; and if your comments are only second rate, why, then be shorter still, for men soon weary of inferior talking. Very little time in the service can be afforded for reading the lessons; do not rob the prayer and the sermon for the sake of commenting. This robbing Peter to pay Paul is senseless. Do not repeat commonplace things which must have occurred even to a Sunday School child. Do not remind your hearers of what they could not possibly have forgotten. Give them something weighty if not new, so that an intelligent listener may feel when the service is over that he has learned at least a little. Again, avoid all pedantry. As a general rule, it may be observed that those gentlemen who know the least Greek are the most sure to air their rags of learning in the pulpit; they miss no chance of saying, "The Greek is so and so." It makes a man an inch and a half taller by a foolometer, if he everlastingly lets fall bits of Greek and Hebrew, and even tells the people the tense of the verb and the case of the noun, as I have known some do. Those who have no learning usually make a point of displaying the pegs on which learning ought to hang. Brethren, the whole process of interpretation is to be carried on in your study; you are not to show your congregation the process, but to give them the result; like a good cook who would never think of bringing up dishes, and pans, and rolling pin, and spice box into the dining hall, but without ostentation sends up the feast. Never strain passages when you are expounding. Be thoroughly honest with the word: even if the Scriptures were the writing of mere men, conscience would demand fairness of you; but when it is the Lord's own word, be careful not to pervert it even in the smallest degree. Let it be said of you, as I have heard a venerable hearer of Mr. Simeon say of him, "Sir, he was very Calvinistic when the text was so, and people thought him an Arminian when the text was that way, for he always stuck to its plain sense." A very sound neighbour of ours once said, by way of depreciating the grand old reformer, "John Calvin was not half a Calvinist", and the remark was correct as to his expositions, for in them, as we have seen, he always gave his Lord's mind and not his own. In the church of St. Zeno, in Verona, I saw ancient frescoes which had been plastered over, and then covered with other designs; I fear many do this with Scripture, daubing the text with their own glosses, and laying on their own conceits. There are enough of these plasterers abroad, let us leave the evil trade to them and follow all honest calling. Remember Cowper's lines-"A critic on the sacred text should be Candid and learn'd, dispassionate and free; Free from the wayward bias bigots feel, From fancy's influence and intemperate zeal; For of all arts sagacious dupes invent, To cheat themselves and gain the world's assent, The worst is--Scripture warped from its intent." Use your judgment more than your fancy. Flowers are well enough, but hungry souls prefer bread. To allegorize with Origen may make men stare at you, but your work is to fill men's mouths with truth, not to open them with wonder. Do not be carried away with new meanings. Plymouth Brethren delight to fish up some hitherto undiscovered tadpole of interpretation, and cry it round the town as a rare dainty; let us be content with more ordinary and more wholesome fishery. No one text is to be exalted above the plain analogy of faith; and no solitary expression is to shape our theology for us. Other men and wiser men have expounded before us, and anything

undiscovered by them it were well to put to test and trial before we boast too loudly of the treasure trove. Do not needlessly amend our authorized version. It is faulty in many places, but still it is a grand work taking it for all in all, and it is unwise to be making every old lady distrust the only Bible she can get at, or what is more likely, mistrust you for falling out with her cherished treasure. Correct where correction must be for truth's sake, but never for the vainglorious display of your critical ability. When reading short psalms, or connected passages of the other books, do not split up the author's utterances by interjecting your notes. Read the paragraph through, and then go over it again with your explanations; breaking it up as you may think fit at the second reading. No one would dream of dividing a stanza of a poet with an explanatory remark; it would be treason to common sense to do so: sound judgment will forbid your thus marring the word of God. Better far never to comment than to cut and carve the utterances of inspiration, and obscure their meaning by impertinently thrusting in untimely remarks of your own. Upon many passages comments would be gross folly: never think of painting the lily or gilding refined gold; leave the sublime sentences alone in their glory. I speak as unto wise men; prove your wisdom in this thing also. If I were bound to deliver a sermon upon the subject in hand, I could not desire a better text than Ne 8:8: "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." Here is a hint for the reader as to his reading. Let it always be distinct. Aim to be good readers, and be the more anxious about it because few men are so, and all preachers ought to be so. It is as good as a sermon to hear our best men read the Scriptures; they bring out the meaning by their correct emphasis and tone. Never fall into the idea that the mere utterance of the words before you is all that is required of you in reading; good reading is a high, but rare attainment. Even if you do not comment, yet read the chapter previously, and become familiar with it; it is inexcusable for a man to betray the fact that he is out of his latitude in the reading, traversing untrodden ground, floundering and picking his way across country, like a huntsman who has lost his bearings. Never open the Bible in the pulpit to read the chapter for the first time, but go to the familiar page after many rehearsals. You will be doubly useful if in addition to this you "gave the sense." You will then, by God's blessing, be the pastor of an intelligent, Bible loving people. You will hear in your meeting house that delightful rustle of Bible leaves which is so dear to the lover of the Word; your people will open their Bibles, looking for a feast. The Word will become increasingly precious to yourself, your knowledge will enlarge, and your aptness to teach will become every day more apparent. Try it, my brethren, for even if you should see cause to discontinue it, at least no harm will come of the attempt. In all that I have said I have given you another reason for seeking the aid of the Holy Spirit. If you do not understand a book by a departed writer you are unable to ask him his meaning, but the Spirit, who inspired Holy Scripture, lives forever, and he delights to open up the Word to those who seek his instruction. He is always accessible: "He dwelleth with you and shall be in you." Go to him for yourselves and cry, "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law"; and, this being granted you, entreat him to send forth his light and power with the Word when you expound it, that your hearers also may be led into all truth. Commentaries, expositions, interpretations, are all mere scaffolding; the Holy Ghost himself must edify you and help you to build up the church of the living God.

Ten Steps to Biblical Literacy
by Michael D. Marlowe

"I know I should read the Bible more often, but I just don't enjoy doing it: I get frustrated when I don't understand a verse, and I get bored reading verses I've already read and understand. It's such a chore." Few people would put it so bluntly as this. But if we were honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that such discouraging thoughts are frequent enough, and practically prevent us from reading the Bible at home. After all, who wants to do irksome chores in his free time? In this pamphlet we will take this problem by the horns in a very practical manner, so as to really help those who wish to improve their Bible-reading ways.


You must first of all choose a version to stick with. This is very important. Skipping around

from version to version will continually distract and worry you, and you will never get anywhere. I recommend that you use a Bible version that is an essentially literal one, such as the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, New King James Version, or (if you can understand the old English in it) the good old King James Version. Whatever version you use should be one for which you can get audio tapes. Get an edition of the version that has the translators' notes and plenty of cross-references. This is important. Do not use a cheap edition that omits these notes and cross-references. Also get a set of tapes of the version for the whole Bible. The book and tapes will cost you about $150, but it will certainly be one of the best investments of your life.


Listen to the entire Bible on tape. Listen to an entire book at one sitting. Pay attention, but do

not worry about understanding difficult parts, backing up the tape, and so forth: just let the tape play. If you do this every day you will have heard the entire Bible after just two months. When you are finished, do it again, and again. Three times in all. After six months you should be pretty well familiar with the contents of the whole Bible.

3 4 5

Now listen to the tape of Paul's epistle to the Romans while following along in your Bible. Do

the entire epistle in one sitting. This will get you used to reading. Romans is the book to read at this point because it is the most important book of the Bible, and explains almost everything. Now read the epistle to the Romans again without the tape. As you read, never skip a lexical

note. Always read the notes. Do the whole book at one sitting. Now read the epistle to the Romans again while looking up the first cross-reference in every

chapter. Look up no more than one, or you will not be able to read the book in one sitting; and resist the temptation to go browsing as you look up the passages. Lightly cross out the references with a pencil as you look them up. The reason for this will be explained below. As you read, you will occasionally come across verses and phrases that you do not understand. Do not worry about it: just put a question mark next to the verse and continue reading.


Read the epistle again (including notes), this time looking up any cross-references given in the

places where you put a question mark before. You will find that the passages referred to usually

clear up your problem. Circle any references that prove helpful, and cross out the others. (If problems remain, don't trouble yourself about them: everyone has problems. If you continue to read other books of the Bible in this attentive manner you will find that most of the problems will just go away as you learn more. You will waste a tremendous amount of time if you try to figure them out now or if you go searching in commentaries.) Look up at least one reference for every chapter, whether you have a problem in it or not, and cross them out. This is a sort of game, which you may find silly at first, but it will greatly help you to maintain a high level of interest. It will keep the epistle interesting to you as often as you read it, because you will derive a slightly different or fuller meaning as you compare different passages every time you read it. By this time you have not only learned Romans well, but you have also learned and become accustomed to the method of profitable and interesting Bible reading which you should follow at all times.


Now begin to follow this daily routine:
1. Begin by reading one of the Psalms, taking them in order. 2. Then pray to God for understanding of his Word. 3. Then read at least three chapters of the New Testament, from the beginning. While you are reading: a. Look up at least one cross-reference for each chapter. In this you should always prefer the references to Romans, because by looking them up you will be building on a good foundation which is already familiar to you. Cross out references as you go. b. Put a question mark next to verses you have problems with, and look up any cross-references for the verses. Circle references that prove helpful, and continue reading. c. Read every marginal note. d. When you are done reading, go back and find a pithy sentence which seems to sum up a good portion of the things you have just read. This will cause you to reflect briefly on the reading. Underline the sentence, and commit it to memory. e. Bring your memorized portion to mind several times until the next day. When you take up where you left off you will be ready to read, having kept the substance of the previous day's portion in your mind by means of the sentence you have memorized.

If you do these things you will find that you are not bored, and that, with the help of the crossreferences, you are usually quite capable of understanding everything tolerably well. All will fall safely in place "theologically" if you keep referring to and remembering Romans as you go. You will also find that, by means of the memory work, what you have read will begin to fall into place in your life, because you will get in the habit of reflecting upon God's Word during the day, and you will be able to bring appropriate words of Scripture to mind at the time when they will be of real service to you and others.


When you are done with the New Testament, start on the Old Testament, from the beginning,

proceeding in the same manner as outlined above. Pay special attention to cross-references to the New Testament. (It is a bad idea to spend months in the Old Testament without staying in touch with the New Testament.)


When you are finished with the Old Testament, read the New Testament again. You will be

amazed at how much more you get out of the New Testament the second time, after having read the Old Testament.


When you have done all this, which should take at least three years, you will probably be

among the more biblically literate in your congregation, and you will feel confident in offering comments at Bible study meetings. This is good, but take heed: You should regard comments upon Scripture as a form of teaching ministry, to be regulated by such chapters of Scripture as First Timothy 1 and 2, Second Timothy 2, and James 3. You will avoid the worst errors of interpretation by the method prescribed above, being anchored on Romans, and habitually comparing Scripture with Scripture by means of the cross-references. But if you aspire to become a truly reliable help to others, begin now to acquaint yourself with some standard commentaries. You should avoid the use of commentaries up to this point, because people too often get bogged down in them, and end up learning less that way than if they were to simply read the Scripture without comment. Good commentaries often give so much interesting and unexpected help in matters of detail that the reader will begin to feel that he should always read the commentary along with the Scripture, in order to avoid missing anything or getting things wrong; but the duty of reading the lengthy commentary soon becomes irksome, and the student leaves off reading his Bible because he has made it into such an intolerable burden. The truth is, a better grasp of the Scripture is to be had by the mere reading and re-reading of it than by the disciplined use of commentaries. But by now you should be familiar enough with Scripture that it would not be inappropriate to spend some time with commentaries which would otherwise be spent in simply reading the Scripture. I recommend that you begin with the classic and very edifying commentary of Matthew Henry. This commentary not only explains many things, but it will also serve you well as a model of godly practical teaching. Afterwards, for explanations in a more technical or exegetical vein, consult Notes on the Old and New Testaments by Rev. Albert Barnes, or the Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown. All of these are available in inexpensive reprints. Any one of them will give you more commentary than you will ever have the time to read; you should use them as reference books, like encyclopedias of biblical interpretation and application. When you have obtained one of these commentaries, go through your Bible and find all those question marks you have made in the margins, and see what the learned commentator has to say about the passages. The next time you read a book of Scripture, refer to the commentary occasionally just to be sure that you are on the right track when you are unsure of your own understanding of a passage. Study the commentary thoroughly when you prepare a Scripture lesson for Sunday school, or if you are expected to take a leading part in Bible study meetings. If someone asks you a question about some passage, and you are not sure of the answer, refer to the commentary. It is my sincere hope and prayer that the program of "biblical literacy" described in this pamphlet will be of some good use to you. May the Lord Jesus Christ himself cause you to abound in all wisdom and understanding of his holy words, and help you to walk in them. To him be the glory!

Quotations on Bible Study

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. —Jerome, A.D. 340-420

Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thy house, and upon thy gates. — Moses, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy. — R.C. Sproul To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches. — John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407 The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New. — Augustine, A.D. 354-430 Though our covetous clerics are altogether carried away by bribery, heresy, and many other sins, and though they despise and oppose the scripture, as much as they can, yet the common people cry out for the scripture, to know it, and obey it, with great cost and peril to their lives — Prologue to the Wyclif Bible, c. 1395. Mark the plain and manifest places of the Scriptures, and in doubtful places see thou add no interpretation contrary to them; but (as Paul saith) let all be conformable and agreeing to the faith. — William Tyndale, Preface to the New Testament, 1526. Our malicious and wily hypocrites ... with wresting the scripture unto their own purpose clean contrary unto the process, order, and meaning of the text ... so delude [the laymen] in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them expounding it in many senses before the unlearned lay people (when it hath but one simple literal sense whose light the owls

cannot abide), that though thou feel in thine heart and art sure how that all is false that they say, yet couldest thou not solve their subtle riddles. Which thing only moved me to translate the New Testament. Because I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text. — William Tyndale, Preface to the Pentateuch, 1530. Again, it shall greatly help thee to understand scripture, if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and unto whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstance, considering what goeth before, and what followeth after. For there be some things which are done and written, to the intent that we should do likewise: as when Abraham believeth God, is obedient unto his word, and defendeth Lot his kinsman from violent wrong. There be some things also which are written, to the intent that we should eschew such like. As when David lieth with Urias' wife, and causeth him to be slain. Therefore (I say) when thou readest scripture, be wise and circumspect: and when thou commest to such strange manners of speaking and dark sentences, to such parables and similitudes, to such dreams or visions as are hid from thy understanding, commit them unto God or to the gift of his holy spirit in them that are better learned than thou. — Miles Coverdale, Preface to the Bible, 1535. But still ye will say I can not understand it. What marvel? How shouldest thou understand, if thou wilt not read, nor look upon it? Take the books into thine hands, read the whole story, and that thou understandest, keep it well in memory; that thou understandest not, read it again, and again. If thou can neither so come by it, counsel with some other that is better learned. Go to thy curate and preacher; show thyself to be desirous to know and learn, and I doubt not but God - seeing thy diligence and readiness (if no man else teach thee) - will himself vouchsafe with his holy spirit to illuminate thee, and to open unto thee that which was locked from thee. — Thomas Cranmer, Preface to the Great Bible, 1540. And considering how hard a thing it is to understand the holy Scriptures, and what errors, sects, and heresies grow daily for lack of the true knowledge thereof, and how many are discouraged (as they pretend) because they cannot attain to the true and simple meaning of the same, we have also endeavored both by the diligent reading of the best commentaries, and also by the conference with the godly and learned brethren, to gather brief annotations upon all the hard places, as well for the understanding of such words as are obscure, and for the declaration of the text, as for the application of the same as may most appertain to God's glory and the edification of his Church. — Geneva Bible Preface, 1560. For though, whatsoever things are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostom saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, Hope, and Charity. Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from loathing of them for their every-where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God's spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness ... — King James Version Preface, 1611. In the language of the sacred writings, we may observe the utmost depth, together with the utmost ease. All the elegancies of human composures sink into nothing before it: God speaks not as man, but as God. His thoughts are very deep; and thence his words are of

inexhaustible virtue. And the language of his messengers also, is exact in the highest degree: for the words which were given them accurately answered the impression made upon their minds: and hence Luther says, "divinity is nothing but a grammar of the language of the Holy Ghost." To understand this throughly, we should observe the emphasis which lies on every word; the holy affections expressed thereby, and the tempers shewn by every writer. — John Wesley, Preface to the New Testament, 1754. contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

— Anonymous Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet, and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. It comes into the palace to tell the monarch that he is a servant of the Most High, and into the cottage to assure the peasant that he is a son of God. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. It has a word of peace for the time of peril, a word of comfort for the time of calamity, a word of light for the hour of darkness. Its oracles are repeated in the assembly of the people, and its counsels whispered in the ear of the lonely. The wicked and the proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and the penitent it has a mother's voice. The wilderness and the solitary place have been made glad by it, and the fire on the hearth has lit the reading of its well-worn pages. It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, friendship, sympathy and devotion, memory and hope put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech, breathing of frankincense and myrrh. — Henry van Dyke The Bible is a corridor between two eternities down which walks the Christ of God; His invisible steps echo through the Old Testament, but we meet Him face to face in the throne room of the New; and it is through that Christ alone, crucified for me, that I have found forgiveness for sins and life eternal. The Old Testament is summed up in the word Christ; the New Testament is summed up in the word Jesus; and the summary of the whole Bible is that Jesus is the Christ. — Bishop Pollock All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them ... The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. — Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647.

In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. — C.H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries, 1890. Men must interpret to the best of their ability each particular part of Scripture separately, and then combine all that the Scriptures teach upon every subject into a consistent whole, and then adjust their teachings upon different subjects in mutual consistency as parts of a harmonious system. Every student of the Bible must do this, and all make it obvious that they do it by the terms they use in their prayers and religious discourse, whether they admit or deny the propriety of human creeds and confessions. If they refuse the assistance afforded by the statements of doctrine slowly elaborated and defined by the Church, they must make out their own creed by their own unaided wisdom. The real question is not, as often pretended, between the word of God and the creed of man, but between the tried and proved faith of the collective body of God's people, and the private judgment and the unassisted wisdom of the repudiator of creeds. — A. A. Hodge, A Short History of Creeds and Confessions, 1869. Every one who knows what it is to give a lesson or an address occasionaly on Scripture is aware how the verse or paragraph on which he has had to prepare himself to speak stands out in his Bible afterwards from the rest of the text, as if its letters were embossed on the page. Something thus to awaken the mind and concentrate the attention should be devised by every one; because it is not mere reading, but meditation — "meditation all the day," as the Psalmist says — which extracts the sweetness and the power out of Scripture. — Dr. James Stalker, How to Study the Bible, 1895. I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy Scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light, exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing ravishing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading. Used oftentimes to dwell long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders. — Jonathan Edwards, quoted in Jonathan Edwards and the Bible by Robert E. Brown (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), p.3. Again, we are taught by this passage [John 5:39-40], that if we wish to obtain the knowledge of Christ, we must seek it from the Scriptures; for they who imagine whatever they choose concerning Christ will ultimately have nothing of him but a shadowy phantom. First, then, we ought to believe that Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than from the Scriptures; and if it be so, it follows that we ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth; for what wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God? Next, as we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so he declares in this passage that our labors shall not be fruitless; for the Father testifies in them concerning his Son in such a manner that He will manifest him to us beyond all doubt. But what hinders the greater part of men from profiting is, that they give to the subject nothing more than a superficial and cursory glance. Yet it requires the utmost attention, and, therefore, Christ enjoins us to search

diligently for this hidden treasure. Consequently, the deep abhorrence of Christ which is entertained by the Jews, who have the Law constantly in their hands, must be imputed to their indolence. For the lustre of the glory of God shines brightly in Moses, but they choose to have a vail to obscure that lustre. —John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of John (1563). So then, from this we must gather that to profit much in the holy Scripture we must always resort to our Lord Jesus Christ and cast our eyes upon him, without turning away from him at any time. You will see a number of people who labor very hard indeed at reading the holy Scriptures -- they do nothing else but turn over the leaves of it, and yet after ten years they have as much knowledge of it as if they had never read a single line. And why? Because they do not have any particular aim in view, they only wander about. And even in worldly learning you will see a great number who take pains enough, and yet all to no purpose, because they kept neither order nor proportion, nor do anything else but gather material from this quarter and from that, by means of which they are always confused and can never bring anything worthwhile. And although they have gathered together a number of sentences of all sorts, yet nothing of value results from them. Even so it is with them that labor in reading the holy Scriptures and do not know which is the point they ought to rest on, namely, the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. —John Calvin, Sermon on Ephesians 2:19-22 (1559). Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. The heretic simply selects the parts of the Scripture he wants to emphasize and lets the rest go. This is shown by the etymology of the word heresy and by the practice of the heretic. "Beware," an editorial scribe of the fourteenth century warned his readers in the preface to a book. "Beware thou take not one thing after thy affection and liking, and leave another: for that is the condition of an heretique. But take everything with other." The old scribe knew well how prone we are to take to ourselves those parts of the truth that please us and ignore the other parts. And that is heresy. —A. W. Tozer, We Travel An Appointed Way. One does not hear God's word of grace in the Scriptures unless he has decided that this is the word he really needs and wants to hear. He must decide that as he hears he is prepared to submit to the voice of God, to be judged by it and to have it challenge all that he knows and intends. He must understand that what he hears the Bible say can change his very life. Therefore, he cannot come to the New Testament as the disputer, the wise man, the judge over the word of God. He can come only as the child who needs to be made wise by the Wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:18-31). —Glenn W. Barker, The New Testament Speaks (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), p. 18.

When I Read the Bible Through
by Amos R. Wells I supposed I knew my Bible Reading piecemeal, hit and miss, Now a bit of John or Matthew, Now a snatch of Genesis, Certain chapters of Isaiah Certain Psalms (the twenty-third);

Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs Yes, I thought I knew the Word; But I found that thorough reading Was a different thing to do, And the way was unfamiliar When I read the Bible through. Oh, the massive, mighty volume! Oh, the treasures manifold! Oh, the beauty of the wisdom And the grace it proved to hold! As the story of the Hebrews Swept in majesty along, As it leaped in waves prophetic, As it burst to sacred song, As it gleamed with Christly omens, The Old Testament was new, Strong with cumulative power, When I read the Bible through. Ah! Imperial Jeremiah, With his keen, coruscant mind; And the blunt old Nehemiah, And Ezekiel refined! Newly came the song idyllic, And the tragedy of Job; Deuteronomy, the regal, To a towering mountain grew, With its comrade peaks around it When I read the Bible through. What a radiant procession As the pages rise and fall, James the sturdy, John the tender Oh, the myriad-minded Paul! Vast apocalyptic glories Wheel and thunder, flash and flame, While the church triumphant raises One incomparable name. Ah, the story of the Saviour Never glows supremely true

Till you read it whole and swiftly, Till you read the Bible through. You who like to play at Bible, Dip and dabble, here and there, Just before you kneel, aweary, And yawn thro' a hurried prayer; You who treat the Crown of Writings As you treat no other book Just a paragraph disjointed, Just a crude, impatient look Try a worthier procedure, Try a broad and steady view; You will kneel in very rapture When you read the Bible through.

Tolle lege
A man was looking for some guidance from God so he asked God to make his Bible open at the page He wanted him to read. So the man opened his bible randomly and the first verse that his eyes met was 2 Corinthians 13:12, "Greet one another with a holy kiss." A little discouraged he tried again and this time he found himself at 1 Corinthians 14:39 "Do not forbid the use of tongues." He tried again the next day, and the first verse he found was Matthew 27:5, "he went and hanged himself." The next verse was Luke 10:37, "... go and do likewise!"

Tolle Lege - Take Up and Read!

St. Augustine (354-430) was one of the great figures of the early Church. The story of his conversion to Christ is told in his Confessions, in which he

describes how God used a single verse from the epistle to the Romans to suddenly convert him. He went on to serve the Church as an illustrious teacher and bishop in the African city of Hippo. Chapter XII.- Having Prayed to God, He Pours Forth a Shower of Tears, And, Admonished by a Voice, He Opens the Book and Reads the Words in Rom. xiii. 13; By Which, Being Changed in His Whole Soul, He Discloses the Divine Favour to His Friend and His Mother.

But when a profound reflection had, from the secret depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by as mighty a shower of tears. Which, that I might pour forth fully, with its natural expressions, I stole away from Alypius; for it suggested itself to me that solitude was fitter for the business of weeping. So I retired to such a distance that even his presence could not be oppressive to me. Thus was it with me at that time, and he perceived it; for something, I believe, I had spoken, wherein the sound of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and in that state had I risen up. He then remained where we had been sitting, most completely astonished. I flung myself down, how, I know not, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and the streams of mine eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee. And, not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee, - "But Thou, O Lord, how long?" How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry for ever? Oh, remember not against us former iniquities;" for I felt that I was enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries, - "How long, how long? Tomorrow, and tomorrow? Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness?" I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Antony, that, accidentally coming in whilst the gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read were addressed to him, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence. I grasped, opened, and in silence read that paragraph on which my eyes first fell, - "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended, - by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart, - all the gloom of doubt vanished away.

Closing the book, then, and putting either my finger between, or some other mark, I now with a tranquil countenance made it known to Alypius. And he thus disclosed to me what was wrought in him, which I knew not. He asked to look at what I had read. I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This it was, verily, "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye;" which he applied to himself, and discovered to me. By this admonition was he

strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, very much in accord with his character (wherein, for the better, he was always far different from me), without any restless delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother. We make it known to her, - she rejoiceth. We relate how it came to pass, - she leapeth for joy, and triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, who art "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think;" for she perceived Thee to have given her more for me than she used to ask by her pitiful and most doleful groanings. For Thou didst so convert me unto Thyself, that I sought neither a wife, nor any other of this world's hopes, - standing in that rule of faith in which Thou, so many years before, had showed me unto her in a vision. And thou didst turn her grief into a gladness, much more plentiful than she had desired, and much dearer and chaster than she used to crave, by having grandchildren of my body.

1. Text from "The Confessions of St Augustine" (Book 8, Chapter 12) translated from the Latin by J.G. Pilkington, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church edited by Philip Schaff, Series I, Vol. I (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1882). 2. On this practice of consulting the Bible randomly, see Pieter W. van der Horst, "Ancient Jewish Bibliomancy," Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 1 (2000). See also Van der Horst's "Sortes: Sacred Books as Instant Oracles in Late Antiquity," in L.V. Rutgers, P.W. van der Horst, H.W. Havelaar, L. Teugels (eds.), The Use of Sacred Books in the Ancient World (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology 22), Leuven: Peeters, 1998, 143-174.

How to Read the Bible
Charles H. Spurgeon
A sermon delivered in 1879, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, and first published in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Vol. 25, #1503. "But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless."—Matthew 12:3-7. The Scribes and pharisees were great readers of the law. They studied the sacred books continually, poring over each word and letter. They made notes of very little importance, but still very curious notes—as to which was the middle verse of the entire old Testament, which verse was halfway to the middle, and how many times such a word occurred, and even how many times a letter occurred, and the size of the letter, and its peculiar position. They have left us a mass of wonderful notes upon the mere words of Holy Scripture. They might have done the same thing upon another book for that matter, and the information would have been about as important as the facts which they have so industriously collected concerning the letter of the old Testament. They were, however, intense readers of the law. They picked a quarrel with the Saviour upon a matter touching this law, for they carried it at their fingers' ends, and were ready to use it as a bird of prey does its talons to tear and rend. Our Lord's disciples had plucked some ears of corn, and rubbed them between their hands. According to Pharisaic interpretation, to rub an ear of corn is a kind of threshing, and, as it is very wrong to thresh on the Sabbath day, therefore it must be very wrong to rub out an ear or two of wheat when you are hungry on the Sabbath morning. That was

their argument, and they came to the Saviour with it, and with their version of the Sabbath law. The Saviour generally carried the war into the enemy's camp, and he did so on this occasion. He met them on their own ground, and he said to them, "Have ye not read?"—a cutting question to the scribes and Pharisees, though there is nothing apparently sharp about it. It was a fair and proper question to put to them; but only think of putting it to them. "Have ye not read?" "Read!" they could have said, "Why, we have read the book through very many times. We are always reading it. No passage escapes our critical eyes." Yet our Lord proceeds to put the question a second time—"Have ye not read?" as if they had not read after all, though they were the greatest readers of the law then living. He insinuates that they have not read at all; and then he gives them, incidentally, the reason why he had asked them whether they had read. He says, "If ye had known what this meaneth," as much as to say, "Ye have not read, because ye have not understood." Your eyes have gone over the words, and you have counted the letters, and you have marked the position of each verse and word, and you have said learned things about all the books, and yet you are not even readers of the sacred volume, for you have not acquired the true art of reading; you do not understand, and therefore you do not truly read it. You are mere skimmers and glancers at the Word: you have not read it, for you do not understand it. I. That is the subject of our present discourse, or, at least the first point of it, that for the true reading of the Scriptures there must be an understanding of them. I scarcely need to preface these remarks by saying that we must read the Scriptures. You know how necessary it is that we should be fed upon the truth of Holy Scripture. Need I suggest the question as to whether you do read your Bibles or not? I am afraid that this is a magazine-reading age, a newspaper-reading age, a periodical-reading age, but not so much a Bible-reading age as it ought to be. In the old Puritan times men used to have a scant supply of other literature, but they found a library enough in the one Book, the Bible. And how they did read the Bible! How little of Scripture there is in modern sermons compared with the sermons of those masters of theology, the Puritan divines! Almost every sentence of theirs seems to cast side lights upon a text of Scripture; not only the one they are preaching about, but many others as well are set in a new light as the discourse proceeds. They introduce blended lights from other passages which are parallel or semiparallel thereunto, and thus they educate their readers to compare spiritual things with spiritual. I would to God that we ministers kept more closely to the grand old Book. We should be instructive preachers if we did so, even if we were ignorant of "modern thought," and were not "abreast of the times." I warrant you we should be leagues ahead of our times if we kept closely to the Word of God. As for you, my brothers and sisters, who have not to preach, the best food for you is the Word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the Word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace. Drink of the unadulterated milk of the Word of God, and not of the skim milk, or the milk and water of man's word. But, now, beloved, our point is that much apparent Bible reading is not Bible reading at all. The verses pass under the eye, and the sentences glide over the mind, but there is no true reading. An old preacher used to say, the Word has mighty free course among many nowadays, for it goes in at one of their ears and out at the other; so it seems to be with some readers—they can read a very great deal, because they do not read anything. The eye glances but the mind never rests. The soul does not light upon the truth and stay there. It flits over the landscape as a bird might do, but it builds no nest there, and finds no rest for the sole of its foot. Such reading is not reading. Understanding the meaning is the essence of true reading. Reading has a kernel to it, and the mere shell is little worth. In prayer there is such a thing as praying in prayer—a praying that is in the bowels of the prayer. So in praise there is a praising in song, an inward fire of intense devotion which is

the life of the hallelujah. It is so in fasting: there is a fasting which is not fasting, and there is an inward fasting, a fasting of the soul, which is the soul of fasting. It is even so with the reading of the Scriptures. There is an interior reading, a kernel reading—a true and living reading of the Word. This is the soul of reading; and, if it be not there, the reading is a mechanical exercise, and profits nothing. Now, beloved, unless we understand what we read we have not read it; the heart of the reading is absent. We commonly condemn the Romanists for keeping the daily service in the Latin tongue; yet it might as well be in the Latin language as in any other tongue if it be not understood by the people. Some comfort themselves with the idea that they have done a good action when they have read a chapter, into the meaning of which they have not entered at all; but does not nature herself reject this as a mere superstition? If you had turned the book upside down, and spent the same times in looking at the characters in that direction, you would have gained as much good from it as you will in reading it in the regular way without understanding it. If you had a New Testament in Greek it would be very Greek to some of you, but it would do you as much good to look at that as it does to look at the English New Testament unless you read with understanding heart. It is not the letter which saves the soul; the letter killeth in many senses, and never can it give life. If you harp on the letter alone you may be tempted to use it as a weapon against the truth, as the Pharisees did of old, and your knowledge of the letter may breed pride in you to your destruction. It is the spirit, the real inner meaning, that is sucked into the soul, by which we are blessed and sanctified. We become saturated with the Word of God, like Gideon's fleece, which was wet with the dew of heaven; and this can only come to pass by our receiving it into our minds and hearts, accepting it as God's truth, and so far understanding it as to delight in it. We must understand it, then, or else we have not read it aright. Certainly, the benefit of reading must come to the soul by the way of the understanding. When the high priest went into the holy place he always lit the golden candlestick before he kindled the incense upon the brazen altar, as if to show that the mind must have illumination before the affections can properly rise towards their divine object. There must be knowledge of God before there can be love to God: there must be a knowledge of divine things, as they are revealed, before there can be an enjoyment of them. We must try to make out, as far as our finite mind can grasp it, what God means by this and what he means by that; otherwise we may kiss the book and have no love to its contents, we may reverence the letter and yet really have no devotion towards the Lord who speaks to us in these words. Beloved, you will never get comfort to your soul out of what you do not understand, nor find guidance for your life out of what you do not comprehend; nor can any practical bearing upon your character come out of that which is not understood by you. Now, if we are thus to understand what we read or otherwise we read in vain, this shows us that when we come to the study of Holy Scripture we should try to have our mind well awake to it. We are not always fit, it seems to me, to read the Bible. At times it were well for us to stop before we open the volume. "Put off thy shoe from thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." You have just come in from careful thought and anxiety about your worldly business, and you cannot immediately take that book and enter into its heavenly mysteries. As you ask a blessing over your meat before you fall to, so it would be a good rule for you to ask a blessing on the word before you partake of its heavenly food. Pray the Lord to strengthen your eyes before you dare to look into the eternal light of Scripture. As the priests washed their feet at the laver before they went to their holy work, so it were well to wash the soul's eyes with which you look upon God's word, to wash even the fingers, if I may so speak—the mental fingers with which you will turn from page to page—that with a holy book you may deal after a holy fashion. Say to your soul—"Come, soul, wake up: thou art not now about to read the newspaper; thou art not now perusing the pages of a human poet to be dazzled by his flashing poetry; thou art coming very near to God, who sits in the Word like a crowned monarch in his halls. Wake up, my glory; wake up, all that is within me. Though just now I may not be praising and glorifying God, I am about to consider that which should lead me so to do, and therefore it is an act of devotion. So be on the stir, my soul: be on the stir, and bow not sleepily before the awful throne of the Eternal." Scripture reading is our spiritual meal time. Sound the

gong and call in every faculty to the Lord's own table to feast upon the precious meat which is now to be partaken of; or, rather, ring the church-bell as for worship, for the studying of the Holy Scripture ought to be as solemn a deed as when we lift the psalm upon the Sabbath day in the courts of the Lord's house. If these things be so, you will see at once, dear friends, that, if you are to understand what you read, you will need to meditate upon it. Some passages of Scripture lie clear before us—blessed shallows in which the lambs may wade; but there are deeps in which our mind might rather drown herself than swim with pleasure, if she came there without caution. There are texts of Scripture which are made and constructed on purpose to make us think. By this means, among others, our heavenly Father would educate us for heaven —by making us think our way into divine mysteries. Hence he puts the word in a somewhat involved form to compel us to meditate upon it before we reach the sweetness of it. He might, you know, have explained it to us so that we might catch the thought in a minute, but he does not please to do so in every case. Many of the veils which are cast over Scripture are not meant to hide the meaning from the diligent but to compel the mind to be active, for oftentimes the diligence of the heart in seeking to know the divine mind does the heart more good than the knowledge itself. Meditation and careful thought exercise us and strengthen the soul for the reception of the yet more lofty truths. I have heard that the mothers in the Balearic Isles, in the old times, who wanted to bring their boys up to be good slingers, would put their dinners up above them where they could not get at them until they threw a stone and fetched them down: our Lord wishes us to be good slingers, and he puts up some precious truth in a lofty place where we cannot get it down except by slinging at it; and, at last, we hit the mark and find food for our souls. Then have we the double benefit of learning the art of meditation and partaking of the sweet truth which it has brought within our reach. We must meditate, brothers. These grapes will yield no wine till we tread upon them. These olives must be put under the wheel, and pressed again and again, that the oil may flow therefrom. In a dish of nuts, you may know which nut has been eaten, because there is a little hole which the insect has punctured through the shell—just a little hole, and then inside there is the living thing eating up the kernel. Well, it is a grand thing to bore through the shell of the letter, and then to live inside feeding upon the kernel. I would wish to be such a little worm as that, living within and upon the word of God, having bored my way through the shell, and having reached the innermost mystery of the blessed gospel. The word of God is always most precious to the man who most lives upon it. As I sat last year under a widespreading beech, I was pleased to mark with prying curiosity the singular habits of that most wonderful of trees, which seems to have an intelligence about it which other trees have not. I wondered and admired the beech, but I thought to myself, I do not think half as much of this beech tree as yonder squirrel does. I see him leap from bough to bough, and I feel sure that he dearly values the old beech tree, because he has his home somewhere inside it in a hollow place, these branches are his shelter, and those beech-nuts are his food. He lives upon the tree. It is his world, his playground, his granary, his home; indeed, it is everything to him, and it is not so to me, for I find my rest and food elsewhere. With God's word it is well for us to be like squirrels, living in it and living on it. Let us exercise our minds by leaping from bough to bough of it, find our rest and food in it, and make it our all in all. We shall be the people that get the profit out of it if we make it to be our food, our medicine, our treasury, our armoury, our rest, our delight. May the Holy Ghost lead us to do this and make the Word thus precious to our souls. Beloved, I would next remind you that for this end we shall be compelled to pray. It is a grand thing to be driven to think, it is a grander thing to be driven to pray through having been made to think. Am I not addressing some of you who do not read the word of God, and am I not speaking to many more who do read it, but do not read it with the strong resolve that they will understand it? I know it must be so. Do you wish to begin to be true readers? Will you henceforth labour to understand? Then you must get to your knees. You must cry to God for direction. Who understands a book best? The author of it. If I want to ascertain the real meaning of a rather twisted sentence, and the author lives near me, and I can call upon him, I shall ring at his door and say, "Would you kindly tell me what you

mean by that sentence? I have no doubt whatever that it is very dear, but I am such a simpleton, that I cannot make it out. I have not the knowledge and grasp of the subject which you possess, and therefore your allusions and descriptions are beyond my range of knowledge. It is quite within your range, and commonplace to you, but it is very difficult to me. Would you kindly explain your meaning to me?" A good man would be glad to be thus treated, and would think it no trouble to unravel his meaning to a candid enquirer. Thus I should be sure to get the correct meaning, for I should be going to the fountain head when I consulted the author himself. So, beloved, the Holy Spirit is with us, and when we take his book and begin to read, and want to know what it means, we must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning. He will not work a miracle, but he will elevate our minds, and he will suggest to us thoughts which will lead us on by their natural relation, the one to the other, till at last we come to the pith and marrow of his divine instruction. Seek then very earnestly the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for if the very soul of reading be the understanding of what we read, then we must in prayer call upon the Holy Ghost to unlock the secret mysteries of the inspired word. If we thus ask the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit, it will follow, dear friends, that we shall be ready to use all means and helps towards the understanding of the Scriptures. When Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch whether he understood the prophecy of Isaiah he replied, "How can I, unless some man should guide me?" Then Philip went up and opened to him the word of the Lord. Some, under the pretense of being taught of the Spirit of God refuse to be instructed by books or by living men. This is no honouring of the Spirit of God; it is a disrespect to him, for if he gives to some of his servants more light than to others— and it is clear he does—then they are bound to give that light to others, and to use it for the good of the church. But if the other part of the church refuse to receive that light, to what end did the Spirit of God give it? This would imply that there is a mistake somewhere in the economy of gifts and graces, which is managed by the Holy Spirit. It cannot be so. The Lord Jesus Christ pleases to give more knowledge of his word and more insight into it to some of his servants than to others, and it is ours joyfully to accept the knowledge which he gives in such ways as he chooses to give it. It would be most wicked of us to say, "We will not have the heavenly treasure which exists in earthen vessels. If God will give us the heavenly treasure out of his own hand, but not through the earthen vessel, we will have it; but we think we are too wise, too heavenly minded, too spiritual altogether to care for jewels when they are placed in earthen pots. We will not hear anybody, and we will not read anything except the book itself, neither will we accept any light, except that which comes in through a crack in our own roof. We will not see by another man's candle, we would sooner remain in the dark." Brethren, do not let us fall into such folly. Let the light come from God, and though a child shall bring it, we will joyfully accept it. If any one of his servants, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, shall have received light from him, behold, "all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," and therefore accept of the light which God has kindled, and ask for grace that you may turn that light upon the word so that when you read it you may understand it. I do not wish to say much more about this, but I should like to push it home upon some of you. You have Bibles at home, I know; you would not like to be without Bibles, you would think you were heathens if you had no Bibles. You have them very neatly bound, and they are very fine looking volumes: not much thumbed, not much worn, and not likely to be so, for they only come out on Sundays for an airing, and they lie in lavender with the clean pocket handkerchiefs all the rest of the week. You do not read the word, you do not search it, and how can you expect to get the divine blessing? If the heavenly gold is not worth digging for you are not likely to discover it. Often and often have I told you that the searching of the Scriptures is not the way of salvation. The Lord hath said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But, still, the reading of the word often leads, like the hearing of it, to faith, and faith bringeth salvation; for faith cometh by hearing, and reading is a sort of hearing. While you are seeking to know what the gospel is, it may please God to bless your souls. But what poor reading some of you give to your Bibles. I do not want to say anything which is too severe because it is not strictly true—let your own consciences speak, but still, I make bold to enquire,—Do not many of you read the Bible m

a very hurried way—just a little bit, and off you go? Do you not soon forget what you have read, and lose what little effect it seemed to have? How few of you are resolved to get at its soul, its juice, its life, its essence, and to drink in its meaning. Well, if you do not do that, I tell you again your reading is miserable reading, dead reading, unprofitable reading; it is not reading at all, the name would be misapplied. May the blessed Spirit give you repentance touching this thing. II. But now, secondly, and very briefly, let us notice that in reading we ought to seek out the spiritual teaching of the word. I think that is in my text, because our Lord says, "Have ye not read?" Then, again, "Have ye not read?" and then he says, "If ye had known what this meaneth"—and the meaning is something very spiritual. The text he quoted was, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice"—a text out of the prophet Hosea. Now, the scribes and Pharisees were all for the letter—the sacrifice, the killing of the bullock, and so on. They overlooked the spiritual meaning of the passage, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice"—namely, that God prefers that we should care for our fellow-creatures rather than that we should observe any ceremonial of his law, so as to cause hunger or thirst and thereby death, to any of the creatures that his hands have made. They ought to have passed beyond the outward into the spiritual, and all our readings ought to do the same. Notice, that this should be the case when we read the historical passages. "Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shew-bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?" This was a piece of history, and they ought so to have read it as to have found spiritual instruction in it. I have heard very stupid people say, "Well, I do not care to read the historical parts of Scripture." Beloved friends, you do not know what you are talking about when you say so. I say to you now by experience that I have sometimes found even a greater depth of spirituality in the histories than I have in the Psalms. You will say, "How is that?" I assert that when you reach the inner and spiritual meaning of a history you are often surprised at the wondrous clearness—the realistic force—with which the teaching comes home to your soul. Some of the most marvelous mysteries of revelation are better understood by being set before our eyes in the histories than they are by the verbal declaration of them. When we have the statement to explain the illustration, the illustration expands and vivifies the statement. For instance, when our Lord himself would explain to us what faith was, he sent us to the history of the brazen serpent; and who that has ever read the story of the brazen serpent has not felt that he has had a better idea of faith through the picture of the dying snakebitten persons looking to the serpent of brass and living, than from any description which even Paul has given us, wondrously as he defines and describes. Never, I pray you, depreciate the historical portions of God's word, but when you cannot get good out of them, say, "That is my foolish head and my slow heart. O Lord, be pleased to clear my brain and cleanse my soul." When he answers that prayer you will feel that every portion of God's word is given by inspiration, and is and must be profitable to you. Cry, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Just the same thing is true with regard to all the ceremonial precepts, because the Saviour goes on to say, "Have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?" There is not a single precept in the old law but has an inner sense and meaning; therefore do not turn away from Leviticus, or say, "I cannot read these chapters in the books of Exodus and Numbers. They are all about the tribes and their standards, the stations in the wilderness and the halts of the march, the tabernacle and furniture, or about golden knops and bowls, and boards, and sockets, and precious stones, and blue and scarlet and fine linen." No, but look for the inner meaning. Make thorough search; for as in a king's treasure that which is the most closely locked up and the hardest to come at is the choicest jewel of the treasure, so is it with the Holy Scriptures. Did you ever go to the British Museum Library? There are many books of reference there which the reader is allowed to take down when he pleases. There are other books for which he must write a ticket, and he cannot get them without the

ticket; but they have certain choice books which you will not see without a special order, and then there is an unlocking of doors, and an opening of cases, and there is a watcher with you while you make your inspection. You are scarcely allowed to put your eye on the manuscript, for fear you should blot a letter out by glancing at it; it is such a precious treasure; there is not another copy of it in all the world, and so you cannot get at it easily. Just so, there are choice and precious doctrines of God's word which are locked up in such cases as Leviticus or Solomon's Song, and you cannot get at them without a deal of unlocking of doors; and the Holy Spirit himself must be with you, or else you will never come at the priceless treasure. The higher truths are as choicely hidden away as the precious regalia of princes; therefore search as well as read. Do not be satisfied with a ceremonial precept till you reach its spiritual meaning, for that is true reading. You have not read till you understand the spirit of the matter. It is just the same with the doctrinal statements of God's word. I have sorrowfully observed some persons who are very orthodox, and who can repeat their creed very glibly, and yet the principal use that they make of their orthodoxy is to sit and watch the preacher with the view of framing a charge against him. He has uttered a single sentence which is judged to be half a hair's breadth below the standard! "That man is not sound. He said some good things, but he is rotten at the core, I am certain. He used an expression which was not eighteen ounces to the pound." Sixteen ounces to the pound are not enough for these dear brethren of whom I speak, they must have something more and over and above the shekel of the sanctuary. Their knowledge is used as a microscope to magnify trifling differences. I hesitate not to say that I have come across persons who "Could a hair divide, Betwixt the west and north-west side," in matters of divinity, but who know nothing about the things of God in their real meaning. They have never drank them into their souls, but only sucked them up into their mouths to spit them out on others. The doctrine of election is one thing, but to know that God has predestinated you, and to have the fruit of it in the good works to which you are ordained, is quite another thing. To talk about the love of Christ, to talk about the heaven that is provided for his people, and such things—all this is very well; but this may be done without any personal acquaintance with them. Therefore, beloved, never be satisfied with a sound creed, but desire to have it graven on the tablets of your heart. The doctrines of grace are good, but the grace of the doctrines is better still. See that you have it, and be not content with the idea that you are instructed until you so understand the doctrine that you have felt its spiritual power. This makes us feel that, in order to come to this, we shall need to feel Jesus present with us whenever we read the word. Mark that fifth verse, which I would now bring before you as part of my text which I have hitherto left out. "Have ye not read in the law, how on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, that in this place is one greater than the temple." Ay, they thought much about the letter of the Word, but they did not know that he was there who is the Sabbath's Master —man's Lord and the Sabbath's Lord, and Lord of everything. Oh, when you have got hold of a creed, or of an ordinance, or anything that is outward in the letter, pray the Lord to make you feel that there is something greater than the printed book, and something better than the mere shell of the creed. There is one person greater than they all, and to him we should cry that he may be ever with us. O living Christ, make this a living word to me. Thy word is life, but not without the Holy Spirit. I may know this book of thine from beginning to end, and repeat it all from Genesis to Revelation, and yet it may be a dead book, and I may be a dead soul. But, Lord, be present here; then will I look up from the book to the Lord; from the precept to him who fulfilled it; from the law to him who honoured it; from the threatening to him who has borne it for me, and from the promise to him in whom it is "Yea and amen." Ah, then we shall read the book so differently. He is here with me in this chamber of mine: I must not trifle. He leans over me, he puts his finger along the lines, I can see his pierced hand: I will read it as in his presence. I will read it, knowing that he is the substance of it,—that he is the proof of this book as well as the writer of it; the sum of this Scripture as well as the author of it. That is the way for true students to become wise! You will get at the soul of Scripture when you can keep Jesus with you while you are reading. Did you never

hear a sermon as to which you felt that if Jesus had come into that pulpit while the man was making his oration, he would have said, "Go down, go down; what business have you here? I sent you to preach about me, and you preach about a dozen other things. Go home and learn of me, and then come and talk." That sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom, is a sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell to laugh, but might make the angels of God to weep, if they were capable of such emotion. You remember the story I told you of the Welshman who heard a young man preach a very fine sermon—a grand sermon, a highfaluting, spread-eagle sermon; and when he had done, he asked the Welshman what he thought of it. The man replied that he did not think anything of it. "And why not?" "Because there was no Jesus Christ in it." "Well," said he, "but my text did not seem to run that way." "Never mind," said the Welshman, "your sermon ought to run that way." "I do not see that, however," said the young man. "No," said the other, "you do not see how to preach yet. This is the way to preach. From every little village in England—it does not matter where it is—there is sure to be a road to London. Though there may not be a road to certain other places, there is certain to be a road to London. Now, from every text in the Bible there is a road to Jesus Christ, and the way to preach is just to say, 'How can I get from this text to Jesus Christ?' and then go preaching all the way along it." "Well, but," said the young man, "suppose I find a text that has not got a road to Jesus Christ." "I have preached for forty years," said the old man, "and I have never found such a Scripture, but if I ever do find one I will go over hedge and ditch but what I will get to him, for I will never finish without bringing in my Master." Perhaps you will think that I have gone a little over hedge and ditch tonight, but I am persuaded that I have not, for the sixth verse comes in here, and brings our Lord in most sweetly, setting him in the very forefront of you Bible readers, so that you must not think of reading without feeling that he is there who is Lord and Master of everything that you are reading, and who shall make these things precious to you if you realize him in them. If you do not find Jesus in the Scriptures they will be of small service to you, for what did our Lord himself say? "Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, but ye will not come unto me that ye might have life"; and therefore your searching comes to nothing; you find no life, and remain dead in your sins. May it not be so with us? III. Lastly, such a reading of scripture, as implies the understanding of and the entrance into its spiritual meaning, and the discovery of the divine Person who is the spiritual meaning, is profitable, for here our Lord says, "If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." It will save us from making a great many mistakes if we get to understand the word of God, and among other good things we shall not condemn the guiltless. I have no time to enlarge upon these benefits, but I will just say, putting all together, that the diligent reading of the word of God with the strong resolve to get at its meaning often begets spiritual life. We are begotten by the word of God: it is the instrumental means of regeneration. Therefore love your Bibles. Keep close to your Bibles. You seeking sinners, you who are seeking the Lord, your first business is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; but while you are yet in darkness and in gloom, oh love your Bibles and search them! Take them to bed with you, and when you wake up in the morning, if it is too early to go downstairs and disturb the house, get half-an-hour of reading upstairs. Say, "Lord, guide me to that text which shall bless me. Help me to understand how I, a poor sinner, can be reconciled to thee." I recollect how, when I was seeking the Lord, I went to my Bible and to Baxter's "Call to the Unconverted," and to Alleine's "Alarm," and Doddridge's "Rise and Progress," for I said in myself, "I am afraid that I shall be lost but I will know the reason why. I am afraid I never shall find Christ but it shall not be for want of looking for him." That fear used to haunt me, but I said, "I will find him if he is to be found. I will read. I will think." There was never a soul that did sincerely seek for Jesus in the word but by-and-by he stumbled on the precious truth that Christ was near at hand and did not want any looking for; that he was really there, only they, poor blind creatures, were in such a maze that they

could not just then see him. Oh, cling you to Scripture. Scripture is not Christ, but it is the silken clue which will lead you to him. Follow its leadings faithfully. When you have received regeneration and a new life, keep on reading, because it will comfort you. You will see more of what the Lord has done for you. You will learn that you are redeemed, adopted, saved, sanctified. Half the errors in the world spring from people not reading their Bibles. Would anybody think that the Lord would leave any one of his dear children to perish, if he read such a text as this,—"I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand"? When I read that, I am sure of the final perseverance of the saints. Read, then, the word and it will be much for your comfort. It will be for your nourishment, too. It is your food as well as your life. Search it and you will grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. It will be for your guidance also. I am sure those go rightest who keep closest to the book. Oftentimes when you do not know what to do, you will see a text leaping up out of the book, and saying, "Follow me." I have seen a promise sometimes blaze out before my eyes, just as when an illuminated device flames forth upon a public building. One touch of flame and a sentence or a design flashes out in gas. I have seen a text of Scripture flame forth in that way to my soul; I have known that it was God's word to me, and I have gone on my way rejoicing. And, oh, you will get a thousand helps out of that wondrous book if you do but read it; for, understanding the words more, you will prize it more, and, as you get older, the book will grow with your growth, and turn out to be a greybeard's manual of devotion just as it was aforetime a child's sweet story book. Yes, it will always be a new book—just as new a Bible as it was printed yesterday, and nobody had ever seen a word of it till now; and yet it will be a deal more precious for all the memories which cluster round it. As we turn over its pages how sweetly do we recollect passages in our history which will never be forgotten to all eternity, but will stand for ever intertwined with gracious promises. Beloved, the Lord teach us to read his book of life which he has opened before us here below, so that we may read our titles clear in that other book of love which we have not seen as yet, but which will be opened at the last great day. The Lord be with you, and bless you.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was the best-known preacher in Victorian England. In 1854, at the age of 20, he became pastor of London's famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the Baptist theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle, where the above sermon was preached in 1879.

Why People Find the Bible Difficult
by A. W. Tozer
Chapter 6 from Man: The Dwelling Place of God (Camp Hill, Penn: Christian Publications, 1966).

That many persons find the Bible hard to understand will not be denied by those acquainted with the facts. Testimony to the difficulties encountered in Bible reading is too full and too widespread to be dismissed lightly. In human experience there is usually a complex of causes rather than but one cause for everything, and so it is with the difficulty we run into with the Bible. To the question, Why is the Bible hard to understand? no snap answer can be given; the pert answer is sure to be the wrong one. The problem is multiple instead of singular, and for this reason the effort to find a single solution to it will be disappointing. In spite of this I venture to give a short answer to the question, and while it is not the whole answer it is a major one and probably contains within itself most of the answers to what must be an involved and highly complex question. I believe that we find the Bible difficult because we try to read it as we would read any other book, and it is not the same as any other book. The Bible is not addressed to just anybody. Its message is directed to a chosen few. Whether these few are chosen by God in a sovereign act of election or are chosen because they meet certain qualifying conditions I leave to each one to decide as he may, knowing full well that his decision will be determined by his basic beliefs about such matters as predestination, free will, the eternal decrees and other related doctrines. But whatever may have taken place in eternity, it is obvious what happens in time: Some believe and some do not; some are morally receptive and some are not; some have spiritual capacity and some have not. It is to those who do and are and have that the Bible is addressed. Those who do not and are not and have not will read it in vain. Right here I expect some readers to enter strenuous objections, and for reasons not hard to find. Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these selfsufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show. The notion that the Bible is addressed to everybody has wrought confusion within and without the church. The effort to apply the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount to the unregenerate nations of the world is one example of this. Courts of law and the military powers of the earth are urged to follow the teachings of Christ, an obviously impossible thing for them to do. To quote the words of Christ as guides for policemen, judges and generals is to misunderstand those words completely and to reveal a total lack of

understanding of the purposes of divine revelation. The gracious words of Christ are for the sons and daughters of grace, not for the Gentile nations whose chosen symbols are the lion, the eagle, the dragon and the bear. Not only does God address His words of truth to those who are able to receive them, He actually conceals their meaning from those who are not. The preacher uses stories to make truth clear; our Lord often used them to obscure it. The parables of Christ were the exact opposite of the modern "illustration," which is meant to give light; the parables were "dark sayings" and Christ asserted that He sometimes used them so that His disciples could understand and His enemies could not. (See Matthew 13:10-17.) As the pillar of fire gave light to Israel but was cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, so our Lord's words shine in the hearts of His people but leave the self-confident unbeliever in the obscurity of moral night. The saving power of the Word is reserved for those for whom it is intended. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. The impenitent heart will find the Bible but a skeleton of facts without flesh or life or breath. Shakespeare may be enjoyed without penitence; we may understand Plato without believing a word he says; but penitence and humility along with faith and obedience are necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures. In natural matters faith follows evidence and is impossible without it, but in the realm of the spirit faith precedes understanding; it does not follow it. The natural man must know in order to believe; the spiritual man must believe in order to know. The faith that saves is not a conclusion drawn from evidence; it is a moral thing, a thing of the spirit, a supernatural infusion of confidence in Jesus Christ, a very gift of God. The faith that saves reposes in the Person of Christ; it leads at once to a committal of the total being to Christ, an act impossible to the natural man. To believe rightly is as much a miracle as was the coming forth of dead Lazarus at the command of Christ. The Bible is a supernatural book and can be understood only by supernatural aid.

Exposition Must Have Application
by A. W. Tozer
Chapter 7 from Of God and Men (Harrisburg, Penn: Christian Publications, 1960)

There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Truth divorced from life is not truth in its Biblical sense, but something else and something less. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be, and often are, set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer.

The Bible is among other things a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out. They were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost took away that veil, no mortal man could know them. This lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation. The Bible, however, is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon those facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages. No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that he gave his only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions that know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action. What is generally overlooked is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally. Truth engages the citadel of the human heart and is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing. Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection. The truth is a lovely song, become sweet by long and tender association; and since it asks nothing but a few dollars, and offers good music, pleasant friendships and a comfortable sense of well-being, it meets with no resistance from the faithful. Much that passes for New Testament Christianity is little more than objective truth sweetened with song and made palatable by religious entertainment. Probably no other portion of the Scriptures can compare with the Pauline Epistles when it comes to making artificial saints. Peter warned that the unlearned and unstable would wrest Paul’s writings to their own destruction, and we have only to visit the average Bible Conference and listen to a few lectures to know what he meant. The ominous thing is that the Pauline doctrines may be taught with complete faithfulness to the letter of the text without making the hearers one whit better. The teacher may, and often does, so teach the truth as to leave the hearers without a sense of moral obligation. One reason for the divorce between truth and life maybe the lack of the Spirit’s illumination. Another surely is the teacher’s unwillingness to get himself into trouble. Any man with fair pulpit gifts can get on with the average congregation if he just “feeds” them and lets them alone. Give them plenty of objective truth and never hint that they are wrong and should be set right, and they will be content. On the other hand, the man who preaches truth and applies it to the lives of his hearers will feel the nails and the thorns. He will lead a hard life, but a

glorious one. May God raise up many such prophets. The church needs them badly.

by Benjamin Warfield
From The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, vol. 3 (Chicago, 1930), pp. 1473-1483.

1. Meaning of Terms
The word "inspire" and its derivatives seem to have come into Middle

English from the French, and have been employed from the first (early in the 14th century) in a considerable number of significations, physical and metaphorical, secular and religious. The derivatives have been multiplied and their applications extended during the procession of the years, until they have acquired a very wide and varied use. Underlying all their use, however, is the constant implication of an influence from without, producing in its object movements and effects beyond its native, or at least its ordinary powers. The noun "inspiration," although already in use in the 14th century, seems not to occur in any but a theological sense until late in the 16th century. The specifically theological sense of all these terms is governed, of course, by their usage in Latin theology; and this rests ultimately on their employment in the Latin Bible. In the Vulgate Latin Bible the verb inspiro (Gen. 2:7; Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21) and the noun inspiratio (2 Sam. 22:16; Job 32:8; Psalm 18:15; Acts 17:25) both occur 4 or 5 times in somewhat diverse applications. In the development of a theological nomenclature, however, they have acquired (along with other less frequent applications) a technical sense with reference to the Biblical writers or the Biblical books. The Biblical books are called inspired as the Divinely determined products of inspired men; the Biblical writers are called inspired as breathed into by the Holy Spirit, so that the product of their activities transcends human powers and becomes Divinely authoritative. Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.

2. Occurrences in the Bible

Meanwhile, for English-speaking men, these terms have virtually ceased to be Biblical terms. They naturally passed from the Latin Vulgate into the English versions made from it (most fully into the Rheims-Douay: Job 32:8; Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). But in the development of the English Bible they have found ever-decreasing place. In the English versions of the Apocrypha (both the King James Version and the Revised Version) "inspired" is retained in Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; but in the canonical books the nominal form alone occurs in the King James Version and that only twice: Job 32:8, "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding"; and 2 Tim. 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." the Revised Version removes the former of these instances, substituting "breath" for "inspiration"; and alters the latter so as to read: "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness," with a marginal alternative in the form of, "Every scripture is inspired of God and profitable," etc. The word "inspiration" thus disappears from the English Bible, and the word "inspired" is left in it only once, and then, let it be added, by a distinct and even misleading mistranslation. For the Greek word in this passage—θεοπνευστος, theopneustos—very distinctly does not mean "inspired of God." This phrase is rather the rendering of the Latin, divinitus inspirata, restored from the Wyclif ("Al Scripture of God ynspyrid is ....") and Rhemish ("All Scripture inspired of God is ....") versions of the Vulgate. The Greek word does not even mean, as the King James Version translates it, "given by inspiration of God," although that rendering (inherited from Tyndale: "All Scripture given by inspiration of God is ...." and its successors; cf. Geneva: "The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is ....") has at least to say for itself that it is a somewhat clumsy, perhaps, but not misleading, paraphrase of the Greek term in the theological language of the day. The Greek term has, however, nothing to say of inspiring or of inspiration: it speaks only of a "spiring" or "spiration." What it says of Scripture is, not that it is "breathed into by God" or is the product of the Divine "inbreathing" into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, "God-breathed," the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed. The "breath of God" is in Scripture just the symbol of His almighty power, the bearer of His creative word. "By the word of the LORD," we read in the significant parallel of Psalm 33:6 "were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." And it is particularly where the operations of God are energetic that this term (whether ‫ ,רוח‬ruach, or ‫ ,נשמה‬neshamah) is employed to designate them—God's breath is the irresistible outflow of His power. When Paul declares, then, that "every scripture" or "all scripture" is the product of the Divine

breath, "is God-breathed," he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation.

3. Consideration of Important Passages
(1) 2 Timothy 3:16. In the passage in which Paul makes this energetic assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture he is engaged in explaining the greatness of the advantages which Timothy had enjoyed for learning the saving truth of God. He had had good teachers; and from his very infancy he had been, by his knowledge of the Scriptures, made wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The expression, "sacred writings," here employed (verse 15), is a technical one, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, it is true, but occurring currently in Philo and Josephus to designate that body of authoritative books which constituted the Jewish "Law." It appears here anarthrously because it is set in contrast with the oral teaching which Timothy had enjoyed, as something still better: he had not only had good instructors, but also always "an open Bible," as we should say, in his hand. To enhance yet further the great advantage of the possession of these Sacred Scriptures the apostle adds now a sentence throwing their nature strongly up to view. They are of Divine origin and therefore of the highest value for all holy purposes. There is room for some difference of opinion as to the exact construction of this declaration. Shall we render "Every Scripture" or "All Scripture"? Shall we render "Every (or all) Scripture is God-breathed and (therefore) profitable," or "Every (or all) Scripture, being God-breathed, is as well profitable"? No doubt both questions are interesting, but for the main matter now engaging our attention they are both indifferent. Whether Paul, looking back at the Sacred Scriptures he had just mentioned, makes the assertion he is about to add, of them distributively, of all their parts, or collectively, of their entire mass, is of no moment: to say that every part of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed and to say that the whole of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed, is, for the main matter, all one. Nor is the difference great between saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, God-breathed and therefore profitable, and saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, because God-breathed as well profitable. In both cases these Sacred Scriptures are declared to owe their value to their Divine origin; and in both cases this their Divine origin is energetically asserted of their entire fabric. On the whole, the preferable construction would seem to be, "Every Scripture, seeing that it is Godbreathed, is as well profitable." In that case, what the apostle asserts is that the Sacred Scriptures, in their every several passage—for it is just "passage of Scripture" which "Scripture" in this distributive use of it signifies—is the product of the creative breath of God, and, because of this its Divine origination, is of supreme value for all holy purposes. It is to be observed that the apostle does not stop here to tell us either what particular books enter into the collection which he calls Sacred Scriptures, or by what precise operations God has produced them. Neither of these subjects entered into the

matter he had at the moment in hand. It was the value of the Scriptures, and the source of that value in their Divine origin, which he required at the moment to assert; and these things he asserts, leaving to other occasions any further facts concerning them which it might be well to emphasize. It is also to be observed that the apostle does not tell us here everything for which the Scriptures are made valuable by their Divine origination. He speaks simply to the point immediately in hand, and reminds Timothy of the value which these Scriptures, by virtue of their Divine origin, have for the "man of God." Their spiritual power, as God-breathed, is all that he had occasion here to advert to. Whatever other qualities may accrue to them from their Divine origin, he leaves to other occasions to speak of. (2) 2 Peter 1:19-21. What Paul tells us here about the Divine origin of the Scriptures is enforced and extended by a striking passage in 2 Peter (1:19-21). Peter is assuring his readers that what had been made known to them of "the power and coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ" did not rest on "cunningly devised fables." He offers them the testimony of eyewitnesses of Christ's glory. And then he intimates that they have better testimony than even that of eyewitnesses. "We have," says he, "the prophetic word" (English versions, unhappily, "the word of prophecy"): and this, he says, is "more sure," and therefore should certainly be heeded. He refers, of course, to the Scriptures. Of what other "prophetic word" could he, over against the testimony of the eyewitnesses of Christ's "excellent glory" (KJV) say that "we have" it, that is, it is in our hands? And he proceeds at once to speak of it plainly as "Scriptural prophecy." You do well, he says, to pay heed to the prophetic word, because we know this first, that "every prophecy of scripture ...." It admits of more question, however, whether by this phrase he means the whole of Scripture, designated according to its character, as prophetic, that is, of Divine origin; or only that portion of Scripture which we discriminate as particularly prophetic, the immediate revelations contained in Scripture. The former is the more likely view, inasmuch as the entirety of Scripture is elsewhere conceived and spoken of as prophetic. In that case, what Peter has to say of this "every prophecy of scripture"—the exact equivalent, it will be observed, in this case of Paul's "every scripture" (2 Tim. 3:16)—applies to the whole of Scripture in all its parts. What he says of it is that it does not come "of private interpretation"; that is, it is not the result of human investigation into the nature of things, the product of its writers' own thinking. This is as much as to say it is of Divine gift. Accordingly, he proceeds at once to make this plain in a supporting clause which contains both the negative and the positive declaration: "For no prophecy ever came (margin: "was brought") by the will of man, but it was as borne by the Holy Spirit that men spoke from God." In this singularly precise and pregnant statement there are several things which require to be carefully observed. There is, first of all, the emphatic denial that prophecy—that is to say, on the hypothesis upon which we are working, Scripture— owes its origin to human initiative: "No prophecy ever was brought—'came' is the word used in the English versions of the text, with 'was brought' in the Revised Version margin—by the will of man." Then, there is the equally emphatic assertion

that its source lies in God: it was spoken by men, indeed, but the men who spoke it "spake from God." And a remarkable clause is here inserted, and thrown forward in the sentence that stress may fall on it, which tells us how it could be that men, in speaking, should speak not from themselves, but from God: it was "as borne"—it is the same word which was rendered "was brought" above, and might possibly be rendered "brought" here—"by the Holy Spirit" that they spoke. Speaking thus under the determining influence of the Holy Spirit, the things they spoke were not from themselves, but from God. Here is as direct an assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture as that of 2 Tim. 3:16. But there is more here than a simple assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture. We are advanced somewhat in our understanding of how God has produced the Scriptures. It was through the instrumentality of men who "spake from him." More specifically, it was through an operation of the Holy Ghost on these men which is described as "bearing" them. The term here used is a very specific one. It is not to be confounded with guiding, or directing, or controlling, or even leading in the full sense of that word. It goes beyond all such terms, in assigning the effect produced specifically to the active agent. What is "borne" is taken up by the "bearer," and conveyed by the "bearer's" power, not its own, to the "bearer's" goal, not its own. The men who spoke from God are here declared, therefore, to have been taken up by the Holy Spirit and brought by His power to the goal of His choosing. The things which they spoke under this operation of the Spirit were therefore His things, not theirs. And that is the reason which is assigned why "the prophetic word" is so sure. Though spoken through the instrumentality of men, it is, by virtue of the fact that these men spoke "as borne by the Holy Spirit," an immediately Divine word. It will be observed that the proximate stress is laid here, not on the spiritual value of Scripture (though that, too, is seen in the background), but on the Divine trustworthiness of Scripture. Because this is the way every prophecy of Scripture "has been brought," it affords a more sure basis of confidence than even the testimony of human eyewitnesses. Of course, if we do not understand by "the prophetic word" here the entirety of Scripture described, according to its character, as revelation, but only that element in Scripture which we call specifically prophecy, then it is directly only of that element in Scripture that these great declarations are made. In any event, however, they are made of the prophetic element in Scripture as written, which was the only form in which the readers of this Epistle possessed it, and which is the thing specifically intimated in the phrase "every prophecy of scripture." These great declarations are made, therefore, at least of large tracts of Scripture; and if the entirety of Scripture is intended by the phrase "the prophetic word," they are made of the whole of Scripture. (3) John 10:34-35. How far the supreme trustworthiness of Scripture, thus asserted, extends may be conveyed to us by a passage in one of Our Lord's discourses recorded by John (John 10:34-35). The Jews, offended by Jesus' "making himself God," were in the act to stone Him, when He defended Himself thus: "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the

Scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified (margin "consecrated") and sent unto the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" It may be thought that this defense is inadequate. It certainly is incomplete: Jesus made Himself God (John 10:33) in a far higher sense than that in which "Ye are gods" was said of those "unto whom the word of God came": He had just declared in unmistakable terms, "I and the Father are one." But it was quite sufficient for the immediate end in view—to repel the technical charge of blasphemy based on His making Himself God: it is not blasphemy to call one God in any sense in which he may fitly receive that designation; and certainly if it is not blasphemy to call such men as those spoken of in the passage of Scripture adduced gods, because of their official functions, it cannot be blasphemy to call Him God whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world. The point for us to note, however, is merely that Jesus' defense takes the form of an appeal to Scripture; and it is important to observe how He makes this appeal. In the first place, He adduces the Scriptures as law: "Is it not written in your law?" He demands. The passage of Scripture which He adduces is not written in that portion of Scripture which was more specifically called "the Law," that is to say, the Pentateuch; nor in any portion of Scripture of formally legal contents. It is written in the Book of Psalms; and in a particular psalm which is as far as possible from presenting the external characteristics of legal enactment (Psalm 82:6). When Jesus adduces this passage, then, as written in the "law" of the Jews, He does it, not because it stands in this psalm, but because it is a part of Scripture at large. In other words, He here ascribes legal authority to the entirety of Scripture, in accordance with a conception common enough among the Jews (cf. John 12:34), and finding expression in the New Testament occasionally, both on the lips of Jesus Himself, and in the writings of the apostles. Thus, on a later occasion (John 15:25), Jesus declares that it is written in the "law" of the Jews, "They hated me without a cause," a clause found in Psalm 35:19. And Paul assigns passages both from the Psalms and from Isaiah to "the Law" (1 Cor. 14:21; Rom. 3:19), and can write such a sentence as this (Gal. 4:21-22): "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written ...." quoting from the narrative of Genesis. We have seen that the entirety of Scripture was conceived as "prophecy"; we now see that the entirety of Scripture was also conceived as "law": these three terms, the law, prophecy, Scripture, were indeed, materially, strict synonyms, as our present passage itself advises us, by varying the formula of adduction in contiguous verses from "law" to "scripture." And what is thus implied in the manner in which Scripture is adduced, is immediately afterward spoken out in the most explicit language, because it forms an essential element in Our Lord's defense. It might have been enough to say simply, "Is it not written in your law?" But Our Lord, determined to drive His appeal to Scripture home, sharpens the point to the utmost by adding with the highest emphasis: "and the scripture cannot be broken." This is the reason why it is worth while to appeal to what is "written in the law," because "the scripture cannot be broken." The word "broken" here is the common one for breaking the law, or the Sabbath, or the like

(John 5:18; 7:23; Mat. 5:19), and the meaning of the declaration is that it is impossible for the Scripture to be annulled, its authority to be withstood, or denied. The movement of thought is to the effect that, because it is impossible for the Scripture— the term is perfectly general and witnesses to the unitary character of Scripture (it is all, for the purpose in hand, of a piece)—to be withstood, therefore this particular Scripture which is cited must be taken as of irrefragable authority. What we have here is, therefore, the strongest possible assertion of the indefectible authority of Scripture; precisely what is true of Scripture is that it "cannot be broken." Now, what is the particular thing in Scripture, for the confirmation of which the indefectible authority of Scripture is thus invoked? It is one of its most casual clauses—more than that, the very form of its expression in one of its most casual clauses. This means, of course, that in the Savior's view the indefectible authority of Scripture attaches to the very form of expression of its most casual clauses. It belongs to Scripture through and through, down to its most minute particulars, that it is of indefectible authority. It is sometimes suggested, it is true, that Our Lord's argument here is an argumentum ad hominem, and that His words, therefore, express not His own view of the authority of Scripture, but that of His Jewish opponents. It will scarcely be denied that there is a vein of satire running through Our Lord's defense: that the Jews so readily allowed that corrupt judges might properly be called "gods," but could not endure that He whom the Father had consecrated and sent into the world should call Himself Son of God, was a somewhat pungent fact to throw up into such a high light. But the argument from Scripture is not ad hominem but e concessu; Scripture was common ground with Jesus and His opponents. If proof were needed for so obvious a fact, it would be supplied by the circumstance that this is not an isolated but a representative passage. The conception of Scripture thrown up into such clear view here supplies the ground of all Jesus' appeals to Scripture, and of all the appeals of the New Testament writers as well. Everywhere, to Him and to them alike, an appeal to Scripture is an appeal to an indefectible authority whose determination is final; both He and they make their appeal indifferently to every part of Scripture, to every element in Scripture, to its most incidental clauses as well as to its most fundamental principles, and to the very form of its expression. This attitude toward Scripture as an authoritative document is, indeed, already intimated by their constant designation of it by the name of Scripture, the Scriptures, that is "the Document," by way of eminence; and by their customary citation of it with the simple formula, "It is written." What is written in this document admits so little of questioning that its authoritativeness required no asserting, but might safely be taken for granted. Both modes of expression belong to the constantly illustrated habitudes of Our Lord's speech. The first words He is recorded as uttering after His manifestation to Israel were an appeal to the unquestionable authority of Scripture; to Satan's temptations He opposed no other weapon than the final "It is written"! (Mat. 4:4,7,10; Luke 4:4,8). And among the last words which He spoke to His disciples before He was received up was a rebuke to them for not understanding that all things "which are written in the

law of Moses, and the prophets, and psalms" concerning Him—that is (Luke 24:45) in the entire "Scriptures"—"must needs be" (very emphatic) "fulfilled" (Luke 24:44). "Thus it is written," says He (Luke 24:46), as rendering all doubt absurd. For, as He had explained earlier upon the same day (Luke 24:25-27), it argues only that one is "foolish and slow of heart" if he does not "believe in" (if his faith does not rest securely on, as on a firm foundation) "all" (without limit of subject-matter here) "that the prophets" (explained in Luke 24:27 as equivalent to "all the scriptures") "have spoken."

4. Christ's Declaration That Scripture Must Be Fulfilled
The necessity of the fulfillment of all that is written in Scripture, which is so strongly asserted in these last instructions to His disciples, is frequently adverted to by Our Lord. He repeatedly explains of occurrences occasionally happening that they have come to pass "that the scripture might be fulfilled" (Mark 14:49; John 13:18; 17:12; cf. 12:14; Mark 9:12,13). On the basis of Scriptural declarations, therefore, He announces with confidence that given events will certainly occur: "All ye shall be offended (literally, "scandalized") in me this night: for it is written ...." (Mat. 26:31; Mark 14:27; cf. Luke 20:17). Although holding at His command ample means of escape, He bows before on-coming calamities, for, He asks, how otherwise "should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Mat. 26:54). It is not merely the two disciples with whom He talked on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:25) whom He rebukes for not trusting themselves more perfectly to the teaching of Scripture. "Ye search the scriptures," he says to the Jews, in the classical passage (John 5:39), "because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life!" These words surely were spoken more in sorrow than in scorn: there is no blame implied either for searching the Scriptures or for thinking that eternal life is to be found in Scripture; approval rather. What the Jews are blamed for is that they read with a veil lying upon their hearts which He would fain take away (2 Cor. 3:15-16). "Ye search the scriptures"—that is right: and "even you" (emphatic) "think to have eternal life in them"—that is right, too. But "it is these very Scriptures" (very emphatic) "which are bearing witness" (continuous process) "of me; and" (here is the marvel!) "ye will not come to me and have life!"—that you may, that is, reach the very end you have so properly in view in searching the Scriptures. Their failure is due, not to the Scriptures but to themselves, who read the Scriptures to such little purpose.

5. Christ's Testimony That God Is Author
Quite similarly Our Lord often finds occasion to express wonder at the little effect to which Scripture had been read, not because it had been looked into too curiously, but because it had not been looked into earnestly enough, with sufficiently simple and robust trust in its every declaration. "Have ye not read even this scripture?" He demands, as He adduces Psalm 118 to show that the rejection of the Messiah was already intimated in Scripture (Mark 12:10; Mat. 21:42 varies the expression to the

equivalent: "Did ye never read in the scriptures?"). And when the indignant Jews came to Him complaining of the Hosannas with which the children in the Temple were acclaiming Him, and demanding, "Hearest thou what these are saying?" He met them (Mat. 21:16) merely with, "Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?" The underlying thought of these passages is spoken out when He intimates that the source of all error in Divine things is just ignorance of the Scriptures: "Ye do err," He declares to His questioners, on an important occasion, "not knowing the scriptures" (Mat. 22:29); or, as it is put, perhaps more forcibly, in interrogative form, in its parallel in another Gospel: "Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures?" (Mark 12:24). Clearly, he who rightly knows the Scriptures does not err. The confidence with which Jesus rested on Scripture, in its every declaration, is further illustrated in a passage like Mat. 19:4. Certain Pharisees had come to Him with a question on divorce and He met them thus: "Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? .... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." The point to be noted is the explicit reference of Gen. 2:24 to God as its author: "He who made them .... said"; "what therefore God hath joined together." Yet this passage does not give us a saying of God's recorded in Scripture, but just the word of Scripture itself, and can be treated as a declaration of God's only on the hypothesis that all Scripture is a declaration of God's. The parallel in Mark (10:5 ff) just as truly, though not as explicitly, assigns the passage to God as its author, citing it as authoritative law and speaking of its enactment as an act of God's. And it is interesting to observe in passing that Paul, having occasion to quote the same passage (1 Cor. 6:16), also explicitly quotes it as a Divine word: "For, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh"—the "he" here, in accordance with a usage to be noted later, meaning just "God." Thus clear is it that Jesus' occasional adduction of Scripture as an authoritative document rests on an ascription of it to God as its author. His testimony is that whatever stands written in Scripture is a word of God. Nor can we evacuate this testimony of its force on the plea that it represents Jesus only in the days of His flesh, when He may be supposed to have reflected merely the opinions of His day and generation. The view of Scripture He announces was, no doubt, the view of His day and generation as well as His own view. But there is no reason to doubt that it was held by Him, not because it was the current view, but because, in His Divine-human knowledge, He knew it to be true; for, even in His humiliation, He is the faithful and true witness. And in any event we should bear in mind that this was the view of the resurrected as well as of the humiliated Christ. It was after He had suffered and had risen again in the power of His Divine life that He pronounced those foolish and slow of heart who do not believe all that stands written in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25); and that He laid down the simple "Thus it is written" as the sufficient ground of confident belief (Luke 24:46). Nor can we explain away Jesus' testimony to the Divine

trustworthiness of Scripture by interpreting it as not His own, but that of His followers, placed on His lips in their reports of His words. Not only is it too constant, minute, intimate and in part incidental, and therefore, as it were, hidden, to admit of this interpretation; but it so pervades all our channels of information concerning Jesus' teaching as to make it certain that it comes actually from Him. It belongs not only to the Jesus of our evangelical records but as well to the Jesus of the earlier sources which underlie our evangelical records, as anyone may assure himself by observing the instances in which Jesus adduces the Scriptures as Divinely authoritative that are recorded in more than one of the Gospels (e.g. "It is written," Mat. 4:4,7,10 (Luke 4:4,8,10); Mat. 11:10; (Luke 7:27); Mat. 21:13 (Luke 19:46; Mark 11:17); Mat. 26:31 (Mark 14:21); "the scripture" or "the scriptures," Mat. 19:4 (Mark 10:9); Mat. 21:42 (Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17); Mat. 22:29 (Mark 12:24; Luke 20:37); Mat. 26:56 (Mark 14:49; Luke 24:44)). These passages alone would suffice to make clear to us the testimony of Jesus to Scripture as in all its parts and declarations Divinely authoritative.

6. Similar Witness of Apostles
The attempt to attribute the testimony of Jesus to His followers has in its favor only the undeniable fact that the testimony of the writers of the New Testament is to precisely the same effect as His. They, too, cursorily speak of Scripture by that pregnant name and adduce it with the simple "It is written," with the implication that whatever stands written in it is Divinely authoritative. As Jesus' official life begins with this "It is written" (Mat. 4:4), so the evangelical proclamation begins with an "Even as it is written" (Mark 1:2); and as Jesus sought the justification of His work in a solemn "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day" (Luke 24:46 ff), so the apostles solemnly justified the Gospel which they preached, detail after detail, by appeal to the Scriptures, "That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" and "That he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3,4; cf. Acts 8:35; 17:3; 26:22, and also Rom. 1:17; 3:4,10; 4:17; 11:26; 14:11; 1 Cor. 1:19; 2:9; 3:19; 15:45; Gal. 3:10,13; 4:22,27). Wherever they carried the gospel it was as a gospel resting on Scripture that they proclaimed it (Acts 17:2; 18:24,28); and they encouraged themselves to test its truth by the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). The holiness of life they inculcated, they based on Scriptural requirement (1 Pet. 1:16), and they commended the royal law of love which they taught by Scriptural sanction (James 2:8). Every detail of duty was supported by them by an appeal to Scripture (Acts 23:5; Rom. 12:19). The circumstances of their lives and the events occasionally occurring about them are referred to Scripture for their significance (Rom. 2:26; 8:36; 9:33; 11:8; 15:9,21; 2 Cor. 4:13). As Our Lord declared that whatever was written in Scripture must needs be fulfilled (Mat. 26:54; Luke 22:37; 24:44), so His followers explained one of the most startling facts which had occurred in their experience by pointing out that "it was needful that the scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David" (Acts

1:16). Here the ground of this constant appeal to Scripture, so that it is enough that a thing "is contained in scripture" (1 Pet. 2:6) for it to be of indefectible authority, is plainly enough declared: Scripture must needs be fulfilled, for what is contained in it is the declaration of the Holy Ghost through the human author. What Scripture says, God says; and accordingly we read such remarkable declarations as these: "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did I raise thee up" (Rom. 9:17); "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, .... In thee shall all the nations be blessed" (Gal. 3:8). These are not instances of simple personification of Scripture, which is itself a sufficiently remarkable usage (Mark 15:28; John 7:38,42; 19:37; Rom. 4:3; 10:11; 11:2; Gal. 4:30; 1 Tim. 5:18; James 2:23; 4:5-6), vocal with the conviction expressed by James (4:5) that Scripture cannot speak in vain. They indicate a certain confusion in current speech between "Scripture" and "God," the outgrowth of a deep-seated conviction that the word of Scripture is the word of God. It was not "Scripture" that spoke to Pharaoh, or gave his great promise to Abraham, but God. But "Scripture" and "God" lay so close together in the minds of the writers of the New Testament that they could naturally speak of "Scripture" doing what Scripture records God as doing. It was, however, even more natural to them to speak casually of God saying what the Scriptures say; and accordingly we meet with forms of speech such as these: "Wherefore, even as the Holy Spirit saith, Today if ye shall hear His voice," etc. (Heb. 3:7, quoting Psalm 95:7); "Thou art God .... who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage," etc. (Acts 4:25 KJV, quoting Psalm 2:1); "He that raised him from the dead .... hath spoken on this wise, I will give you .... because he saith also in another (place) ...." (Acts 13:34, quoting Isa. 55:3 and Psalm 16:10), and the like. The words put into God's mouth in each case are not words of God recorded in the Scriptures, but just Scripture words in themselves. When we take the two classes of passages together, in the one of which the Scriptures are spoken of as God, while in the other God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures, we may perceive how close the identification of the two was in the minds of the writers of the New Testament.

7. Identification of God and Scripture
This identification is strikingly observable in certain catenae of quotations, in which there are brought together a number of passages of Scripture closely connected with one another. The first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews supplies an example. We may begin with verse 5: "For unto which of the angels said he"—the subject being necessarily "God"—"at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?"— the citation being from Psalm 2:7 and very appropriate in the mouth of God—"and again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?"—from 2 Sam. 7:14, again a declaration of God's own—"And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him"—from Deut. 32:43, Septuagint, or Psalm 97:7, in neither of which is God the speaker—"And of the angels

he saith, Who maketh his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire"—from Psalm 104:4, where again God is not the speaker but is spoken of in the third person—"but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, etc."—from Psalm 45:6,7 where again God is not the speaker, but is addressed—"And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning," etc.—from Psalm 102:25-27, where again God is not the speaker but is addressed—"But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand?" etc.—from Psalm 110:1, in which God is the speaker. Here we have passages in which God is the speaker and passages in which God is not the speaker, but is addressed or spoken of, indiscriminately assigned to God, because they all have it in common that they are words of Scripture, and as words of Scripture are words of God. Similarly in Rom. 15:912 we have a series of citations the first of which is introduced by "as it is written," and the next two by "again he saith," and "again," and the last by "and again, Isaiah saith," the first being from Psalm 18:49; the second from Deut. 32:43; the third from Psalm 117:1; and the last from Isa. 11:10. Only the last (the only one here assigned to the human author) is a word of God in the text of the Old Testament.

8. The "Oracles of God"
This view of the Scriptures as a compact mass of words of God occasioned the formation of a designation for them by which this their character was explicitly expressed. This designation is "the sacred oracles," "the oracles of God." It occurs with extraordinary frequency in Philo, who very commonly refers to Scripture as "the sacred oracles" and cites its several passages as each an "oracle." Sharing, as they do, Philo's conception of the Scriptures as, in all their parts, a word of God, the New Testament writers naturally also speak of them under this designation. The classical passage is Rom. 3:2 (cf. Heb. 5:12; Acts 7:38). Here Paul begins an enumeration of the advantages which belonged to the chosen people above other nations; and, after declaring these advantages to have been great and numerous, he places first among them all their possession of the Scriptures: "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what is the profit of circumcision? Much every way: first of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." That by "the oracles of God" here are meant just the Holy Scriptures in their entirety, conceived as a direct Divine revelation, and not any portions of them, or elements in them more especially thought of as revelatory, is perfectly clear from the wide contemporary use of this designation in this sense by Philo, and is put beyond question by the presence in the New Testament of habitudes of speech which rest on and grow out of the conception of Scripture embodied in this term. From the point of view of this designation, Scripture is thought of as the living voice of God speaking in all its parts directly to the reader; and, accordingly, it is cited by some such formula as "it is said," and this mode of citing Scripture duly occurs as an alternative to "it is written" (Luke 4:12 replacing "it is written" in Matthew; Heb. 3:15; cf. Rom. 4:18). It is due also to this point of view that Scripture is cited, not as what God or the Holy Spirit "said," but what He "says," the present tense emphasizing the living voice of God speaking in Scriptures to the individual soul (Heb. 3:7; Acts

13:35; Heb. 1:7,8,10; Rom. 15:10). And especially there is due to it the peculiar usage by which Scripture is cited by the simple "saith," without expressed subject, the subject being too well understood, when Scripture is adduced, to require stating; for who could be the speaker of the words of Scripture but God only (Rom. 15:10; 1 Cor. 6:16; 2 Cor. 6:2; Gal. 3:16; Eph. 4:8; 5:14)? The analogies of this pregnant subjectless "saith" are very widespread. It was with it that the ancient Pythagoreans and Platonists and the medieval Aristotelians adduced each their master's teaching; it was with it that, in certain circles, the judgments of Hadrian's great jurist Salvius Julianus were cited; African stylists were even accustomed to refer by it to Sallust, their great model. There is a tendency, cropping out occasionally, in the Old Testament, to omit the name of God as superfluous, when He, as the great logical subject always in mind, would be easily understood (cf. Job 20:23; 21:17; Psalm 114:2; Lam. 4:22). So, too, when the New Testament writers quoted Scripture there was no need to say whose word it was: that lay beyond question in every mind. This usage, accordingly, is a specially striking intimation of the vivid sense which the New Testament writers had of the Divine origin of the Scriptures, and means that in citing them they were acutely conscious that they were citing immediate words of God. How completely the Scriptures were to them just the word of God may be illustrated by a passage like Gal. 3:16: "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." We have seen Our Lord hanging an argument on the very words of Scripture (John 10:34); elsewhere His reasoning depends on the particular tense (Mat. 22:32) or word (Mat. 22:43) used in Scripture. Here Paul's argument rests similarly on a grammatical form. No doubt it is the grammatical form of the word which God is recorded as having spoken to Abraham that is in question. But Paul knows what grammatical form God employed in speaking to Abraham only as the Scriptures have transmitted it to him; and, as we have seen, in citing the words of God and the words of Scripture he was not accustomed to make any distinction between them. It is probably the Scriptural word as a Scriptural word, therefore, which he has here in mind: though, of course, it is possible that what he here witnesses to is rather the detailed trustworthiness of the Scriptural record than its direct divinity—if we can separate two things which apparently were not separated in Paul's mind. This much we can at least say without straining, that the designation of Scripture as "scripture" and its citation by the formula, "It is written," attest primarily its indefectible authority; the designation of it as "oracles" and the adduction of it by the formula, "It says," attest primarily its immediate divinity. Its authority rests on its divinity and its divinity expresses itself in its trustworthiness; and the New Testament writers in all their use of it treat it as what they declare it to be—a God-breathed document, which, because God-breathed, is through and through trustworthy in all its assertions, authoritative in all its declarations, and down to its last particular, the very word of God, His "oracles."

9. Human Element in Scripture

That the Scriptures are throughout a Divine book, created by the Divine energy and speaking in their every part with Divine authority directly to the heart of the readers, is the fundamental fact concerning them which is witnessed by Christ and the sacred writers to whom we owe the New Testament. But the strength and constancy with which they bear witness to this primary fact do not prevent their recognizing by the side of it that the Scriptures have come into being by the agency of men. It would be inexact to say that they recognize a human element in Scripture: they do not parcel Scripture out, assigning portions of it, or elements in it, respectively to God and man. In their view the whole of Scripture in all its parts and in all its elements, down to the least minutiae, in form of expression as well as in substance of teaching, is from God; but the whole of it has been given by God through the instrumentality of men. There is, therefore, in their view, not, indeed, a human element or ingredient in Scripture, and much less human divisions or sections of Scripture, but a human side or aspect to Scripture; and they do not fail to give full recognition to this human side or aspect. In one of the primary passages which has already been before us, their conception is given, if somewhat broad and very succinct, yet clear expression. No 'prophecy,' Peter tells us (2 Pet. 1:21), 'ever came by the will of man; but as borne by the Holy Ghost, men spake from God.' Here the whole initiative is assigned to God, and such complete control of the human agents that the product is truly God's work. The men who speak in this "prophecy of scripture" speak not of themselves or out of themselves, but from "God": they speak only as they are "borne by the Holy Ghost." But it is they, after all, who speak. Scripture is the product of man, but only of man speaking from God and under such a control of the Holy Spirit as that in their speaking they are "borne" by Him. The conception obviously is that the Scriptures have been given by the instrumentality of men; and this conception finds repeated incidental expression throughout the New Testament. It is this conception, for example, which is expressed when Our Lord, quoting Psalm 110, declares of its words that "David himself said in the Holy Spirit" (Mark 12:36). There is a certain emphasis here on the words being David's own words, which is due to the requirements of the argument Our Lord was conducting, but which none the less sincerely represents Our Lord's conception of their origin. They are David's own words which we find in Psalm 110, therefore; but they are David's own words, spoken not of his own motion merely, but "in the Holy Spirit," that is to say—we could not better paraphrase it—"as borne by the Holy Spirit." In other words, they are "Godbreathed" words and therefore authoritative in a sense above what any words of David, not spoken in the Holy Spirit, could possibly be. Generalizing the matter, we may say that the words of Scripture are conceived by Our Lord and the New Testament writers as the words of their human authors when speaking "in the Holy Spirit," that is to say, by His initiative and under His controlling direction. The conception finds even more precise expression, perhaps, in such a statement as we find—it is Peter who is speaking and it is again a psalm which is cited—in Acts 1:16, "The Holy Spirit spake by the mouth of David." Here the Holy Spirit is adduced, of

course, as the real author of what is said (and hence, Peter's certainty that what is said will be fulfilled); but David's mouth is expressly designated as the instrument (it is the instrumental preposition that is used) by means of which the Holy Spirit speaks the Scripture in question. He does not speak save through David's mouth. Accordingly, in Acts 4:25, 'the Lord that made the heaven and earth,' acting by His Holy Spirit, is declared to have spoken another psalm 'through the mouth of .... David,' His "servant"; and in Mat. 13:35 still another psalm is adduced as "spoken through the prophet" (cf. Mat. 2:5). In the very act of energetically asserting the Divine origin of Scripture the human instrumentality through which it is given is constantly recognized. The New Testament writers have, therefore, no difficulty in assigning Scripture to its human authors, or in discovering in Scripture traits due to its human authorship. They freely quote it by such simple formulas as these: "Moses saith" (Rom. 10:19); "Moses said" (Mat. 22:24; Mark 7:10; Acts 3:22); "Moses writeth" (Rom. 10:5); "Moses wrote" (Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28); "Isaiah .... saith" (Rom. 10:20); "Isaiah said" (John 12:39); "Isaiah crieth" (Rom. 9:27); "Isaiah hath said before" (Rom. 9:29); "said Isaiah the prophet" (John 1:23); "did Isaiah prophesy" (Mark 7:6: Mat. 15:7); "David saith" (Luke 20:42; Acts 2:25; Rom. 11:9); "David said" (Mark 12:36). It is to be noted that when thus Scripture is adduced by the names of its human authors, it is a matter of complete indifference whether the words adduced are comments of these authors or direct words of God recorded by them. As the plainest words of the human authors are assigned to God as their real author, so the most express words of God, repeated by the Scriptural writers, are cited by the names of these human writers (Mat. 15:7; Mark 7:6; Rom. 10:5,19,20; cf. Mark 7:10 from the Decalogue). To say that "Moses" or "David says," is evidently thus only a way of saying that "Scripture says," which is the same as to say that "God says." Such modes of citing Scripture, accordingly, carry us little beyond merely connecting the name, or perhaps we may say the individuality, of the several writers with the portions of Scripture given through each. How it was given through them is left meanwhile, if not without suggestion, yet without specific explanation. We seem safe only in inferring this much: that the gift of Scripture through its human authors took place by a process much more intimate than can be expressed by the term "dictation," and that it took place in a process in which the control of the Holy Spirit was too complete and pervasive to permit the human qualities of the secondary authors in any way to condition the purity of the product as the word of God. The Scriptures, in other words, are conceived by the writers of the New Testament as through and through God's book, in every part expressive of His mind, given through men after a fashion which does no violence to their nature as men, and constitutes the book also men's book as well as God's, in every part expressive of the mind of its human authors.

10. Activities of God in Giving Scripture
If we attempt to get behind this broad statement and to obtain a more detailed conception of the activities by which God has given the Scriptures, we are thrown

back upon somewhat general representations, supported by the analogy of the modes of God's working in other spheres of His operation. It is very desirable that we should free ourselves at the outset from influences arising from the current employment of the term "inspiration" to designate this process. This term is not a Biblical term and its etymological implications are not perfectly accordant with the Biblical conception of the modes of the Divine operation in giving the Scriptures. The Biblical writers do not conceive of the Scriptures as a human product breathed into by the Divine Spirit, and thus heightened in its qualities or endowed with new qualities; but as a Divine product produced through the instrumentality of men. They do not conceive of these men, by whose instrumentality Scripture is produced, as working upon their own initiative, though energized by God to greater effort and higher achievement, but as moved by the Divine initiative and borne by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God along ways of His choosing to ends of His appointment. The difference between the two conceptions may not appear great when the mind is fixed exclusively upon the nature of the resulting product. But they are differing conceptions, and look at the production of Scripture from distinct points of view—the human and the Divine; and the involved mental attitudes toward the origin of Scripture are very diverse. The term "inspiration" is too firmly fixed, in both theological and popular usage, as the technical designation of the action of God in giving the Scriptures, to be replaced; and we may be thankful that its native implications lie as close as they do to the Biblical conceptions. Meanwhile, however, it may be justly insisted that it shall receive its definition from the representations of Scripture, and not be permitted to impose upon our thought ideas of the origin of Scripture derived from an analysis of its own implications, etymological or historical. The Scriptural conception of the relation of the Divine Spirit to the human authors in the production of Scripture is better expressed by the figure of "bearing" than by the figure of "inbreathing"; and when our Biblical writers speak of the action of the Spirit of God in this relation as a breathing, they represent it as a "breathing out" of the Scriptures by the Spirit, and not a "breathing into" the Scriptures by Him.

11. General Problem of Origin: God's Part
So soon, however, as we seriously endeavor to form for ourselves a clear conception of the precise nature of the Divine action in this "breathing out" of the Scriptures—this "bearing" of the writers of the Scriptures to their appointed goal of the production of a book of Divine trustworthiness and indefectible authority—we become acutely aware of a more deeply lying and much wider problem, apart from which this one of inspiration, technically so called, cannot be profitably considered. This is the general problem of the origin of the Scriptures and the part of God in all that complex of processes by the interaction of which these books, which we call the sacred Scriptures, with all their peculiarities, and all their qualities of whatever sort, have been brought into being. For, of course, these books were not produced suddenly, by some miraculous act—handed down complete out of heaven, as the phrase goes; but,

like all other products of time, are the ultimate effect of many processes cooperating through long periods. There is to be considered, for instance, the preparation of the material which forms the subject-matter of these books: in a sacred history, say, for example, to be narrated; or in a religious experience which may serve as a norm for record; or in a logical elaboration of the contents of revelation which may be placed at the service of God's people; or in the progressive revelation of Divine truth itself, supplying their culminating contents. And there is the preparation of the men to write these books to be considered, a preparation physical, intellectual, spiritual, which must have attended them throughout their whole lives, and, indeed, must have had its beginning in their remote ancestors, and the effect of which was to bring the right men to the right places at the right times, with the right endowments, impulses, acquirements, to write just the books which were designed for them. When "inspiration," technically so called, is superinduced on lines of preparation like these, it takes on quite a different aspect from that which it bears when it is thought of as an isolated action of the Divine Spirit operating out of all relation to historical processes. Representations are sometimes made as if, when God wished to produce sacred books which would incorporate His will—a series of letters like those of Paul, for example— He was reduced to the necessity of going down to earth and painfully scrutinizing the men He found there, seeking anxiously for the one who, on the whole, promised best for His purpose; and then violently forcing the material He wished expressed through him, against his natural bent, and with as little loss from his recalcitrant characteristics as possible. Of course, nothing of the sort took place. If God wished to give His people a series of letters like Paul's, He prepared a Paul to write them, and the Paul He brought to the task was a Paul who spontaneously would write just such letters.

12. Effect of Human Qualities: Providential Preparation
If we bear this in mind, we shall know what estimate to place upon the common representation to the effect that the human characteristics of the writers must, and in point of fact do, condition and qualify the writings produced by them, the implication being that, therefore, we cannot get from man a pure word of God. As light that passes through the colored glass of a cathedral window, we are told, is light from heaven, but is stained by the tints of the glass through which it passes; so any word of God which is passed through the mind and soul of a man must come out discolored by the personality through which it is given, and just to that degree ceases to be the pure word of God. But what if this personality has itself been formed by God into precisely the personality it is, for the express purpose of communicating to the word given through it just the coloring which it gives it? What if the colors of the stained-glass window have been designed by the architect for the express purpose of giving to the light that floods the cathedral precisely the tone and quality it receives from them? What if the word of God that comes to His people is framed by God into the word of God it is, precisely by means of the qualities of the men formed by Him for the

purpose, through which it is given? When we think of God the Lord giving by His Spirit a body of authoritative Scriptures to His people, we must remember that He is the God of providence and of grace as well as of revelation and inspiration, and that He holds all the lines of preparation as fully under His direction as He does the specific operation which we call technically, in the narrow sense, by the name of "inspiration." The production of the Scriptures is, in point of fact, a long process, in the course of which numerous and very varied Divine activities are involved, providential, gracious, miraculous, all of which must be taken into account in any attempt to explain the relation of God to the production of Scripture. When they are all taken into account we can no longer wonder that the resultant Scriptures are constantly spoken of as the pure word of God. We wonder, rather, that an additional operation of God—what we call specifically "inspiration," in its technical sense—was thought necessary. Consider, for example, how a piece of sacred history—say the Book of Chronicles, or the great historical work, Gospel and Acts, of Luke—is brought to the writing. There is first of all the preparation of the history to be written: God the Lord leads the sequence of occurrences through the development He has designed for them that they may convey their lessons to His people: a "teleological" or "etiological" character is inherent in the very course of events. Then He prepares a man, by birth, training, experience, gifts of grace, and, if need be, of revelation, capable of appreciating this historical development and eager to search it out, thrilling in all his being with its lessons and bent upon making them clear and effective to others. When, then, by His providence, God sets this man to work on the writing of this history, will there not be spontaneously written by him the history which it was Divinely intended should be written? Or consider how a psalmist would be prepared to put into moving verse a piece of normative religious experience: how he would be born with just the right quality of religious sensibility, of parents through whom he should receive just the right hereditary bent, and from whom he should get precisely the right religious example and training, in circumstances of life in which his religious tendencies should be developed precisely on right lines; how he would be brought through just the right experiences to quicken in him the precise emotions he would be called upon to express, and finally would be placed in precisely the exigencies which would call out their expression. Or consider the providential preparation of a writer of a didactic epistle—by means of which he should be given the intellectual breadth and acuteness, and be trained in habitudes of reasoning, and placed in the situations which would call out precisely the argumentative presentation of Christian truth which was required of him. When we give due place in our thoughts to the universality of the providential government of God, to the minuteness and completeness of its sway, and to its invariable efficacy, we may be inclined to ask what is needed beyond this mere providential government to secure the production of sacred books which should be in every detail absolutely accordant with the Divine will.

13. "Inspiration" More than "Providence"

The answer is, Nothing is needed beyond mere providence to secure such books— provided only that it does not lie in the Divine purpose that these books should possess qualities which rise above the powers of men to produce, even under the most complete Divine guidance. For providence is guidance; and guidance can bring one only so far as his own power can carry him. If heights are to be scaled above man's native power to achieve, then something more than guidance, however effective, is necessary. This is the reason for the superinduction, at the end of the long process of the production of Scripture, of the additional Divine operation which we call technically "inspiration." By it, the Spirit of God, flowing confluently in with the providentially and graciously determined work of men, spontaneously producing under the Divine directions the writings appointed to them, gives the product a Divine quality unattainable by human powers alone. Thus, these books become not merely the word of godly men, but the immediate word of God Himself, speaking directly as such to the minds and hearts of every reader. The value of "inspiration" emerges, thus, as twofold. It gives to the books written under its "bearing" a quality which is truly superhuman; a trustworthiness, an authority, a searchingness, a profundity, a profitableness which is altogether Divine. And it speaks this Divine word immediately to each reader's heart and conscience; so that he does not require to make his way to God, painfully, perhaps even uncertainly, through the words of His servants, the human instruments in writing the Scriptures, but can listen directly to the Divine voice itself speaking immediately in the Scriptural word to him.

14. Witness of New Testament Writers to Divine Operation
That the writers of the New Testament themselves conceive the Scriptures to have been produced thus by Divine operations extending through the increasing ages and involving a multitude of varied activities, can be made clear by simply attending to the occasional references they make to this or that step in the process. It lies, for example, on the face of their expositions, that they looked upon the Biblical history as teleological. Not only do they tell us that "whatsoever things were written afore-time were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4; cf. Rom. 4:23,24); they speak also of the course of the historical events themselves as guided for our benefit: "Now these things happened unto them by way of example"—in a typical fashion, in such a way that, as they occurred, a typical character, or predictive reference impressed itself upon them; that is to say, briefly, the history occurred as it did in order to bear a message to us—"and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come" (1 Cor. 10:11; cf. 10:6). Accordingly, it has become a commonplace of Biblical exposition that "the history of redemption itself is a typically progressive one" (Küper), and is "in a manner impregnated with the prophetic element," so as to form a "part of a great plan which stretches from the fall of man to the first consummation of all things in glory; and, in so far as it reveals the mind of

God toward man, carries a respect to the future not less than to the present" (P. Fairbairn). It lies equally on the face of the New Testament allusions to the subject that its writers understood that the preparation of men to become vehicles of God's message to man was not of yesterday, but had its beginnings in the very origin of their being. The call by which Paul, for example, was made an apostle of Jesus Christ was sudden and apparently without antecedents; but it is precisely this Paul who reckons this call as only one step in a long process, the beginnings of which antedated his own existence: "But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me" (Gal. 1:15,16; cf. Jer. 1:5; Isa. 49:1,5). The recognition by the writers of the New Testament of the experiences of God's grace, which had been vouchsafed to them as an integral element in their fitting to be the bearers of His gospel to others, finds such pervasive expression that the only difficulty is to select from the mass the most illustrative passages. Such a statement as Paul gives in the opening verses of 2 Corinthians is thoroughly typical. There he represents that he has been afflicted and comforted to the end that he might "be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith" he had himself been "comforted of God." For, he explains, "Whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer" (2 Cor. 1:4-6). It is beyond question, therefore, that the New Testament writers, when they declare the Scriptures to be the product of the Divine breath, and explain this as meaning that the writers of these Scriptures wrote them only as borne by the Holy Spirit in such a fashion that they spoke, not out of themselves, but "from God," are thinking of this operation of the Spirit only as the final act of God in the production of the Scriptures, superinduced upon a long series of processes, providential, gracious, miraculous, by which the matter of Scripture had been prepared for writing, and the men for writing it, and the writing of it had been actually brought to pass. It is this final act in the production of Scripture which is technically called "inspiration"; and inspiration is thus brought before us as, in the minds of the writers of the New Testament, that particular operation of God in the production of Scripture which takes effect at the very point of the writing of Scripture —understanding the term "writing" here as inclusive of all the processes of the actual composition of Scripture, the investigation of documents, the collection of facts, the excogitation of conclusions, the adaptation of exhortations as means to ends and the like—with the effect of giving to the resultant Scripture a specifically supernatural character, and constituting it a Divine, as well as human, book. Obviously the mode of operation of this Divine activity moving to this result is conceived, in full accord with the analogy of the Divine operations in other spheres of its activity, in providence and in grace alike, as confluent with the human activities operative in the case; as, in a word, of the nature of what has come to be known as "immanent action."

15. "Inspiration" and "Revelation"

It will not escape observation that thus "inspiration" is made a mode of "revelation." We are often exhorted, to be sure, to distinguish sharply between "inspiration" and "revelation"; and the exhortation is just when "revelation" is taken in one of its narrower senses, of, say, an external manifestation of God, or of an immediate communication from God in words. But "inspiration" does not differ from "revelation" in these narrowed senses as genus from genus, but as a species of one genus differs from another. That operation of God which we call "inspiration," that is to say, that operation of the Spirit of God by which He "bears" men in the process of composing Scripture, so that they write, not of themselves, but "from God," is one of the modes in which God makes known to men His being, His will, His operations, His purposes. It is as distinctly a mode of revelation as any mode of revelation can be, and therefore it performs the same office which all revelation performs, that is to say, in the express words of Paul, it makes men wise, and makes them wise unto salvation. All "special" or "supernatural" revelation (which is redemptive in its very idea, and occupies a place as a substantial element in God's redemptive processes) has precisely this for its end; and Scripture, as a mode of the redemptive revelation of God, finds its fundamental purpose just in this: if the "inspiration" by which Scripture is produced renders it trustworthy and authoritative, it renders it trustworthy and authoritative only that it may the better serve to make men wise unto salvation. Scripture is conceived, from the point of view of the writers of the New Testament, not merely as the record of revelations, but as itself a part of the redemptive revelation of God; not merely as the record of the redemptive acts by which God is saving the world, but as itself one of these redemptive acts, having its own part to play in the great work of establishing and building up the kingdom of God. What gives it a place among the redemptive acts of God is its Divine origination, taken in its widest sense, as inclusive of all the Divine operations, providential, gracious and expressly supernatural, by which it has been made just what it is—a body of writings able to make wise unto salvation, and profitable for making the man of God perfect. What gives it its place among the modes of revelation is, however, specifically the culminating one of these Divine operations, which we call "inspiration"; that is to say, the action of the Spirit of God in so "bearing" its human authors in their work of producing Scripture, as that in these Scriptures they speak, not out of themselves, but "from God." It is this act by virtue of which the Scriptures may properly be called "God-breathed."

16. Scriptures a Divine-Human Book?
It has been customary among a certain school of writers to speak of the Scriptures, because thus "inspired," as a Divine-human book, and to appeal to the analogy of Our Lord's Divine-human personality to explain their peculiar qualities as such. The expression calls attention to an important fact, and the analogy holds good a certain distance. There are human and Divine sides to Scripture, and, as we cursorily examine it, we may perceive in it, alternately, traits which suggest now the one, now the other factor in its origin. But the analogy with Our Lord' s Divine-human personality may

easily be pressed beyond reason. There is no hypostatic union between the Divine and the human in Scripture; we cannot parallel the "inscripturation" of the Holy Spirit and the incarnation of the Son of God. The Scriptures are merely the product of Divine and human forces working together to produce a product in the production of which the human forces work under the initiation and prevalent direction of the Divine: the person of Our Lord unites in itself Divine and human natures, each of which retains its distinctness while operating only in relation to the other. Between such diverse things there can exist only a remote analogy; and, in point of fact, the analogy in the present instance amounts to no more than that in both cases Divine and human factors are involved, though very differently. In the one they unite to constitute a Divine-human person, in the other they cooperate to perform a Divine-human work. Even so distant an analogy may enable us, however, to recognize that as, in the case of Our Lord's person, the human nature remains truly human while yet it can never fall into sin or error because it can never act out of relation with the Divine nature into conjunction with which it has been brought; so in the case of the production of Scripture by the conjoint action of human and Divine factors, the human factors have acted as human factors and have left their mark on the product as such, and yet cannot have fallen into that error which we say it is human to fall into, because they have not acted apart from the Divine factors, by themselves, but only under their unerring guidance.

17. Scripture of New Testament Writers Was the Old Testament
The New Testament testimony is to the Divine origin and qualities of "Scripture"; and "Scripture" to the writers of the New Testament was fundamentally, of course, the Old Testament. In the primary passage, in which we are told that "every" or "all Scripture" is "God breathed," the direct reference is to the "sacred writings" which Timothy had had in knowledge since his infancy, and these were, of course, just the sacred books of the Jews (2 Tim. 3:16). What is explicit here is implicit in all the allusions to inspired Scriptures in the New Testament. Accordingly, it is frequently said that our entire testimony to the inspiration of Scripture concerns the Old Testament alone. In many ways, however, this is overstated. Our present concern is not with the extent of "Scripture" but with the nature of "Scripture"; and we cannot present here the considerations which justify extending to the New Testament the inspiration which the New Testament writers attribute to the Old Testament. It will not be out of place, however, to point out simply that the New Testament writers obviously themselves made this extension. They do not for an instant imagine themselves, as ministers of a new covenant, less in possession of the Spirit of God than the ministers of the old covenant: they freely recognize, indeed, that they have no sufficiency of themselves, but they know that God has made them sufficient (2 Cor. 3:5,6). They prosecute their work of proclaiming the gospel, therefore, in full confidence that they speak "by the Holy Spirit" (1 Pet. 1:12), to whom they attribute both the matter and form of their teaching (1 Cor. 2:13). They, therefore, speak with the utmost assurance of their

teaching (Gal. 1:7,8); and they issue commands with the completest authority (1 Thess. 4:2,14; 2 Thess. 3:6,12), making it, indeed, the test of whether one has the Spirit that he should recognize what they demand as commandments of God (1 Cor. 14:37). It would be strange, indeed, if these high claims were made for their oral teaching and commandments exclusively. In point of fact, they are made explicitly also for their written injunctions. It was "the things" which Paul was "writing," the recognition of which as commands of the Lord, he makes the test of a Spirit-led man (1 Cor. 14:37). It is his "word by this epistle," obedience to which he makes the condition of Christian communion (2 Thess. 3:14). There seems involved in such an attitude toward their own teaching, oral and written, a claim on the part of the New Testament writers to something very much like the "inspiration'' which they attribute to the writers of the Old Testament.

18. Inclusion of New Testament
And all doubt is dispelled when we observe the New Testament writers placing the writings of one another in the same category of "Scripture" with the books of the Old Testament. The same Paul who, in 2 Tim. 3:16, declared that 'every' or 'all scripture is God-breathed' had already written in 1 Tim. 5:18: "For the scripture saith, Thou shall not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire." The first clause here is derived from Deuteronomy and the second from the Gospel of Luke (cf. Luke 10:7), though both are cited as together constituting, or better, forming part of the "Scripture" which Paul adduces as so authoritative as by its mere citation to end all strife. Who shall say that, in the declaration of the later epistle that "all" or "every" Scripture is God-breathed, Paul did not have Luke, and, along with Luke, whatever other new books he classed with the old under the name of Scripture, in the back of his mind, along with those old books which Timothy had had in his hands from infancy? And the same Peter who declared that every "prophecy of scripture" was the product of men who spoke "from God," being 'borne' by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21), in this same epistle (2 Pet. 3:16), places Paul's Epistles in the category of Scripture along with whatever other books deserve that name. For Paul, says he, wrote these epistles, not out of his own wisdom, but "according to the wisdom given to him," and though there are some things in them hard to be understood, yet it is only "the ignorant and unsteadfast" who wrest these difficult passages—as what else could be expected of men who wrest "also the other Scriptures" (obviously the Old Testament is meant)—"unto their own destruction"? Is it possible to say that Peter could not have had these epistles of Paul also lurking somewhere in the back of his mind, along with "the other scriptures," when he told his readers that every "prophecy of scripture" owes its origin to the prevailing operation of the Holy Ghost? What must be understood in estimating the testimony of the New Testament writers to the inspiration of Scripture is that "Scripture" stood in their minds as the title of a unitary body of books, throughout the gift of God through His Spirit to His people; but that this body of writings was at the same time understood to

be a growing aggregate, so that what is said of it applies to the new books which were being added to it as the Spirit gave them, as fully as to the old books which had come down to them from their hoary past. It is a mere matter of detail to determine precisely what new books were thus included by them in the category "Scripture." They tell us some of them themselves. Those who received them from their hands tell us of others. And when we put the two bodies of testimony together we find that they constitute just our New Testament. It is no pressure of the witness of the writers of the New Testament to the inspiration of the Scripture, therefore, to look upon it as covering the entire body of "Scriptures," the new books which they were themselves adding to this aggregate, as well as the old books which they had received as Scripture from the fathers. Whatever can lay claim by just right to the appellation of "Scripture," as employed in its eminent sense by those writers, can by the same just right lay claim to the "inspiration" which they ascribe to this "Scripture."

J. Gerhard, Loci Theolog., Locus I; F. Turretin, Instit. Theol., Locus II; B. de Moor, Comm. in J. Marckii Comp., cap. ii; C. Hodge, Syst. Theol., New York, 1871, I, 151-86; Henry B. Smith, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, New York, 1855, new edition, Cincinnati, 1891; A. Kuyper, Encyclopedia der heilige Godgeleerdheid, 1888-89, II, 347 ff, English translation; Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology, New York, 1898, 341-563; also De Schrift het woord Gods, Tiel, 1870; H. Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek , Kampen, 1906, I, 406-527; R. Haldane, The Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures Established, Edinburgh, 1830; J. T. Beck, Einleitung in das System der christlichen Lehre, Stuttgart, 1838, 2nd edition, 1870; A. G. Rudelbach, "Die Lehre von der Inspiration der heil. Schrift," Zeitschrift fur die gesammte Lutherische Theologie und Kirche, 1840, 1, 1841, 1, 1842, 1; S. R. L. Gaussen, Theopneustie ou inspiration pleniere des saintes ecritures , Paris, 1842, English translation by E. N. Kirk, New York, 1842; also Theopneustia; the Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, David Scott's translation, reedited and revised by B. W. Carr, with a preface by C. H. Spurgeon, London, 1888; William Lee, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, Donellan Lecture, 1852, New York, 1857; James Bannerman, Inspiration: the Infallible Truth and Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, Edinburgh, 1865; F. L. Patton, The Inspiration of the Scriptures, Philadelphia, 1869 (reviewing Lee and Bannerman); Charles Elliott, A Treatise on the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, Edinburgh, 1877; A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield, "Inspiration," Presbyterian Review, April, 1881, also tract, Philadelphia, 1881; R. Watts, The Rule of Faith and the Doctrine of Inspiration, Edinburgh, 1885; A. Cave, The Inspiration of the OT Inductively Considered, London, 1888; B. Manly, The Bible Doctrine of Inspiration, New York, 1888; W. Rohnert, Die Inspiration der heiligen Schrift und ihre Bestreiter, Leipzig, 1889; A. W. Dieckhoff, Die Inspiration und Irrthumlosigkeit der heiligen Schrift, Leipzig, 1891; J. Wichelhaus, Die Lehre der heiligen Schrift, Stuttgart, 1892; J. Macgregor, The Revelation and the Record, Edinburgh, 1893; J. Urquhart, The Inspiration and Accuracy of the Holy Scriptures,
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London, 1895; C. Pesch, De Inspiratione Sacrae Scripturae, Freiburg, 1906; James Orr, Revelation and Inspiration, London, 1910.

The Inspiration of Scripture in the English Reformers Illuminated by John Calvin
by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes
Westminster Theological Journal 23/2 (May 1961), pp. 129-151. The question of the divine inspiration of holy Scripture was scarcely a live issue four hundred years ago, for it was not in dispute. However fierce the debate concerning the precise meaning of certain passages of Scripture, or concerning the scriptural validity of the claims made for the authority of the Church or of ecclesiastical tradition, that the Bible was the inspired Word of God was universally acknowledged. Accordingly, those who turn to the writings of the English Reformers expecting to find works in which the doctrine of the inspiration of holy Scripture is systematically developed or defended will be disappointed. This does not mean, however, that, on the one hand, the principle of the inspiration of holy Scripture was consistently and scrupulously applied by all who acknowledged it (had that been the case, there would have been no need for the Reformation), or, on the other hand, that the Reformers did not have much to say about the Bible and its origin, for of course they did, particularly with a view to the exposure and confutation of error and within the framework of the controversy with the papists over the locus of authority. The purpose of this paper will be to examine the teaching of the English Reformers, allowing them to speak for themselves on this important subject, and then to turn to John Calvin in order to illustrate the Reformed approach to certain problems, if they are such, which present themselves in the course of a detailed study of the biblical text. Let us hear, then, what the English Reformers have to say. In the first place, they unhesitatingly believed that God was the primary author of the Bible. Thus in his “Exposition upon Nehemiah” James Pilkington affirms: “Scripture cometh not first from man, but from God; and therefore God is to be taken for the author of it, and not man….God then is the chiefest author of this book [Nehemiah], as he is of the rest of the scripture, and Nehemiah the pen or writer of all these mysteries.” Bishop Hugh Latimer, in his sermon preached before King Edward VI on 8 March 1549, proclaims: “The excellency of this word is so great, and of so high dignity, that there is no earthly thing to be compared unto it. The author thereof is so great, that is, God himself, eternal, almighty, everlasting. The Scripture, because of him, is also great, eternal, most mighty and holy.” Archbishop Thomas Cranmer exhorts: “Let us stay, quiet, and certify our consciences with the most infallible certainty, truth, and perpetual assurance of them [the Scriptures]. Let us pray to God, the only author of these heavenly studies, that we may speak, think, believe, live, and depart hence according to the wholesome doctrines and verities of them”—as indeed this great Archbishop faithfully did in his ministry and martyrdom. And William Whitaker, who was Queen’s Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, and whose Disputation on Holy Scripture is the one extensive work on the subject of the Bible written by an English Reformer, speaks as follows: “Scripture hath for its author God himself; from whom it first proceeded and
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came forth. Therefore the authority of Scripture may be proved from the author himself, since the authority of God himself shines forth in it.”

Together with his fellow-Reformers both at home and abroad, Bishop John Jewel delighted in the definition of the Bible as “the Word of God”—a definition which is consonant with the conviction that God is its author. “The scriptures,” he says, “are ‘the word of God’. What title can there be of greater value? What may be said of them to make them of greater authority, than to say, ‘The Lord hath spoken them?’ that ‘they came not by the will of men, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost?’….The word of the gospel is not as the word of an earthly prince. It is of more majesty than the word of an angel….For it is the word of the living and almighty God, of the God of hosts, which hath done whatsoever pleased him, both in heaven and in earth. By this word he maketh his will known….This word the angels and blessed spirits used, when they came down from heaven, to speak unto the people; when they came to the blessed virgin, and to Joseph, and to others: they spake as it was written in the prophets and in the scriptures of God: they thought not their own authority sufficient, but they took credit to their saying, and authority to their message, out of the word of God….Whatsoever truth is brought unto us contrary to the word of God, it is not truth, but falsehood and error: whatsoever honour done unto God disagreeth from the honour required by his word, it is not honour unto God, but blasphemy….Tyrants, and Pharisees, and heretics, and the enemies of the cross of Christ have an end; but the word of God hath no end. No force shall be able to decay it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Cities shall fall: kingdoms shall come to nothing: empires shall fade away as the smoke; but the truth of the Lord shall continue for ever. Burn it, it will rise again: kill it, it will live again: cut it down by the root, it will spring again.” “The Word of the Lord is the bush, out of which issueth a flame of fire,” Jewel says again. “The scriptures of God are the mount, from which the Lord of hosts doth show himself. In them God speaketh to us: in them we hear the words of everlasting life.”
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As the Word of God, the Scriptures are, of course, the Word of God to man. But the Reformers repeatedly emphasize the truth that it is only through the grace of the internal operation of the Holy Spirit in heart and mind that the message of Scripture can be understood and appropriated. The Divine Spirit is both the author of Scripture and the interpreter of his own Word. “The scripture speaketh many things as the world speaketh,” William Tyndale, the honoured father of our English Bible instructs us; “but they may not be worldly understood, but ghostly and spiritually: yea, the Spirit of God only understandeth them; and where he is not, there is not the understanding of the scripture, but unfruitful disputing and brawling about words. The scripture saith, God seeth, God heareth, God smelleth, God walketh, God is with them, God is not with them, God is angry, God is pleased, God sendeth his Spirit, God taketh his Spirit away, and a thousand such like: and yet is none of them true after the worldly manner, and as the words sound.” After citing 1 Cor 2:11f and Rom 8:14 and 9, Tyndale proceeds: “Now ‘he that is of God heareth the word of God’ John viii. And who is of God but he that hath the Spirit of God? Furthermore, saith he, ‘Ye hear it not because ye are not of God;’ that is, ye have no lust in the word of God, for ye understand it not; and that because his spirit is not in you. Forasmuch then as the scripture is nothing else but that which the Spirit of God hath spoken by the prophets and apostles, and cannot be understood but of the same Spirit, let every man pray to God to send him his Spirit.”

Whitaker enumerates the evidences which, as given by Calvin (Institutes, I, viii), are a testimony to the divine origin of the biblical writings; but then he adds the following admonition. “These topics may prove that these books are

divine, yet will never be sufficient to bring conviction to our souls so as to make us assent, unless the testimony of the Holy Spirit be added….In order, therefore, that we should be internally in our consciences persuaded of the authority of Scripture, it is needful that the testimony of the Holy Ghost should be added. And he, as he seals all the doctrines of faith and the whole teaching of salvation in our hearts, and confirms them in our consciences, so also does he give us a certain persuasion that these books, from which are drawn all the doctrines of faith and salvation, are sacred and canonical.” In this assurance too, of course, Whitaker and Calvin are entirely at one with each other. “The blind cannot perceive even the light of the sun,” says Whitaker again; “nor can they distinguish the splendour of the scriptures, whose minds are not divinely illuminated. But those who have the eyes of faith can behold this light. Besides, if we recognise men when they speak, why should we not also hear and recognise God speaking in his word?…But they [the papists] object that we cannot recognise the voice of God, because we do not hear God speaking. This I deny. For those who have the Holy Spirit, are taught of God: these can recognise the voice of God as much as anyone can recognise a friend, with whom he hath long and familiarly lived, by his voice.”
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In answer to the objection that “the Scripture is not the voice of God, but the Word of God; that is, it does not proceed immediately from God, but is delivered mediately to others,” Whitaker offers this comment: “We confess that God hath not spoken by himself, but by others. Yet this does not diminish the authority of scripture. For God inspired the prophets with what they said, and made use of their mouths, tongues, and hands: the scripture, therefore, is even immediately the voice of God. The prophets and apostles were only the organs of God.” This assertion he supports by citing Heb 1:1 and 2 Pet 1:21.

An important point at issue during the Reformation was the sense in which Scripture should be interpreted (and this, indeed, continues to be a matter of importance). It was the contention of the English Reformers that the only proper sense was that which the Holy Spirit intended, and this they defined as the literal sense (not to be confused with literalism: it is the equivalent of what we today would call the natural sense). This is a principle on which Tyndale insists with particular emphasis. “The scripture hath but one sense,” he affirms, “which is the literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal sense, thou canst not but go out of the way. Neverthelater, the Scripture useth proverbs, similitudes, riddles, or allegories, as all other speeches do; but that which the proverb, similitude, riddle, or allegory signifieth, is ever the literal sense, which thou must seek out diligently.” The literal sense, he further insists, is at the same time the spiritual sense, as follows from the premise of the divine authorship of Scripture: “God is a Spirit, and all his words are spiritual. His literal sense is spiritual, and all his words are spiritual.”
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Whitaker also expresses himself clearly to the same effect. “It is surely foolish,” he writes, “to say that there are as many senses of scripture as the words themselves may be transferred and accommodated to bear. For although the words may be applied and accommodated tropologically, allegorically, anagogically, or any other way; yet there are not therefore various senses, various interpretations and explications of scripture, but there is but one sense, and that the literal, which may be variously accommodated, and from which various things may be collected….The sense of scripture, therefore, is but one, —the literal; for it is folly to feign many senses, merely because many things follow from the words of scripture rightly understood. These things may indeed, be called corollaries or consequences, flowing from the right understanding of

the words, but new and different senses they are by no means….It is only from the literal sense that strong, valid, and efficacious arguments can be derived….It follows, therefore, that this and no other is the genuine sense of scripture….Therefore, tropology, allegory, and anagoge, if they are real meanings, are literal ones. Now the reason why sound arguments are always derived from the literal sense is this, because it is certain that that which is derived from the words themselves is ever the sense of the Holy Spirit….Since he is the author of the scriptures, it is fit that we should follow him in interpreting scripture.”

The question naturally arose (and this, too, is a question of importance for our day no less than it was in the sixteenth century) as to how far credence was to be given to the Church Fathers and their writings. Let Bishop Jewel answer: “What say we of the fathers, Augustine, Ambrose, Hierome, Cyprian, &c.? What shall we think of them, or what account may we make of them? They be interpreters of the Word of God. They were learned men, and learned fathers; the instruments of the mercy of God, and vessels full of grace. We despise them not, we read them, we reverence them, and give thanks unto God for them. They were witnesses unto the truth, they were worthy pillars and ornaments in the church of God. Yet they may not be compared with the word of God. We may not build upon them: we may not make them the foundation and warrant of our conscience: we may not put our trust in them. Our trust is in the name of the Lord.” Jewel cites the declaration of Augustine, the greatest of the Fathers, as follows: “‘Neither weigh we the writings of all men, be they never so worthy and catholic, as we weigh the canonical scriptures; but that, saving the reverence that is due unto them, we may mislike and refuse somewhat in their writings, if we find that they have taught otherwise than the truth may bear. Such am I in the writings of others, and such would I wish others to be in mine’“ (see Augustine, Ep. CXLVIII, ad Fortunatianum). “Some things I believe,” Jewel continues, “and some things which they write I cannot believe. I weigh them not as the holy and canonical scriptures. Cyprian was a doctor of the church, yet he was deceived: Hierome was a doctor of the church, yet he was deceived: Augustine was a doctor of the church, yet he wrote a book of Retractations; he acknowledged that he was deceived.” Jewel adduces further evidence from the writings of the Fathers, and then proceeds: “I could shew many the like speeches of the ancient fathers, wherein they reverence the holy scriptures; as to which only they give consent without gainsaying; which can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

“What is the cause,” asks Tyndale, “that we damn some of Origen’s works and allow some? How know we that some is heresy and some not? By the scripture, I trow. How know we that St Augustine (which is the best, or one of the best, that ever wrote upon the scripture) wrote many things amiss at the beginning, as many other doctors do? Verily, by the scriptures; as he himself well perceived afterward, when he looked more diligently upon them, and revoked many things again. He wrote of many things which he understood not when he was newly converted, ere he had thoroughly seen the scriptures, and followed the opinions of Plato, and the common persuasions of man’s wisdom that were then famous.”

If the authority of the Fathers must be subject to that of holy Scripture, so also must the authority of the Church. In particular, Scripture is not dependent on the pronouncements of the Church for its authentication, for it is authenticated to every believer by the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. “We do not deny,” says Whitaker, “that it appertains to the church to approve, acknowledge, receive, promulge, commend the scriptures to all its members; and we say that this testimony is true, and should be received by all. We do not, therefore, as

the papists falsely say of us, refuse the testimony of the church, but embrace it. But we deny that we believe the scriptures solely on account of this commendation of them by the church. For we say that there is a more certain and illustrious testimony, whereby we are persuaded of the sacred character of these books, that is to say, the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, without which the commendation of the church would have no weight or moment. The papists, therefore, are unjust to us, when they affirm that we reject and make no account of the authority of the church. For we gladly receive the testimony of the church, and admit its authority; but we affirm that there is a far different, more certain, true, and august testimony than that of the church. The sum of our opinion is, that the Scripture is αυτοπιστος, that is, hath all its authority and credit from itself; is to be acknowledged, is to be received, not only because the church hath so determined and commanded, but because it comes from God, not by the church, but by the Holy Ghost.” And again: “Now that it is in itself the word of God, they [the papists] do not deny, but they say that we cannot be certain of it without the help of the church: they confess that the voice of God sounds in our ears; but they say that we cannot believe it, except upon account of the church’s approbation. But now, if it be the word of God which we hear, it must needs have a divine authority of itself, and should be believed by itself and for itself.”
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The Bible is, in fact, the very touchstone of truth, by which the Church, the Fathers, and all traditions must be tested and judged. “The scripture is the touchstone that trieth all doctrines, and by that we know the false from the true,” asserts Tyndale in his “Prologue to the Book of Genesis.” “That word,” he says in another of his writings, “is the chiefest of the apostles, and pope, and Christ’s vicar, and head of the church, and the head of the general council. And unto the authority of that ought the children of God to hearken without respect of person.” Even in the case of learned and godly-minded men, we are to believe them, admonishes Cranmer, “no further than they can shew their doctrine and exhortation to be agreeable with the true word of God written. For that is the very touchstone which must, yea, and also will, try all doctrine or learning, whatsoever it be, whether it be good or evil, true or false.”
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There was no question, of course, of Scripture being regarded by the Reformers as a sort of handy philosopher’s yardstick by reference to which, in all mundane affairs, truth might be distinguished from error—though it is a cardinal fact that only in its light are we able to attain to the proper perspective of man and the universe in which he finds himself. But the Reformers’ view of Scripture is essentially dynamic and practical, as befits those who genuinely take their place before the Bible as Verbum Dei ad hominem. The Word of God, precisely because it is the Word of God, is living, powerful, penetrating (Heb 4:12). It is integrally bound up with the revelation to fallen man of God’s redemptive purpose and action in and through our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is indeed a testimony of the Holy Spirit to Christ (cf. in. 5:39, 15:26, 16:13f). “The scripture,” declares Tyndale in memorable words, “is that wherewith God draweth us unto him. The scriptures spring out of God, and flow unto Christ, and were given to lead us to Christ. Thou must therefore go along by the scripture as by a line, until thou come at Christ, which is the way’s end and resting-place.” Bishop Jewel speaks of the holy Scriptures as “the bright sun of God, which bring light unto our ways, and comfort to all parts of our life, and salvation to our souls; in which is made known unto us our estate, and the mercy of God in Christ our Saviour witnessed.”
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The reformers were not mere academic theologians in retreat! They were in the thick of the battle. They proved for themselves the vitality and faithfulness of God’s Word in the midst of fierce testing and persecution. The Bible was for

them essentially a practical book, relevant to every circumstance of daily life and struggle. Listen to Bishop Jewel speaking with reference to the apostolic affirmation that all Scripture is not only inspired but also profitable (2 Tim 3:16): “Many think the apostle’s speech is hardly true of the whole scripture, that all and every part of the scripture is profitable. Much is spoken of genealogies, and pedigrees, of lepers, of sacrificing goats and oxen, &c.: these seem to have little profit in them, but to be vain and idle. If they shew vain in thine eyes, yet hath not God set them down in vain….There is no sentence, no clause, no word, no syllable, no letter, but it is written for thy instruction: there is not one jot but it is sealed and signed with the blood of the Lamb. Our imaginations are idle, our thoughts are vain: there is no idleness, no vanity in the word of God. Those oxen and goats which were sacrificed teach thee to kill and sacrifice the uncleanness and filthiness of thy heart: they teach thee that thou art guilty of death, when thy life must be redeemed by the death of some beast: they lead thee to believe the forgiveness of sins by a more perfect sacrifice; because it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. That leprosy teacheth thee to know the uncleanness and leprosy of thy soul. Those genealogies and pedigrees lead us to the birth of our Saviour Christ. So that the whole word of God is pure and holy: no word, no letter, no syllable, no point or prlck thereof, but is written and preserved for thy sake.”

Jewel shows how the Scriptures speak to the condition of and should be heeded by kings, subjects, ministers, fathers, children, the wealthy, the poor, merchants, usurers, fornicators and adulterers, servants, the proud, those in adversity, sinners, those who despair of the mercy of God, and the dying—in short, all sorts and conditions of men. “Therefore,” he concludes, “hath Paul said well: ‘The whole scripture is profitable.’ It is full of great comfort. It maketh the man of God absolute, and perfect unto all good works; perfect in faith, perfect in hope, perfect in the love of God and of his neighbour, perfect in his life, and perfect in his death. So great, so large and ample, and heavenly, is the profit which we do reap by the word of God.”

Similarly, Pilkington advises us that “the Holy Ghost, who is the author of the holy scripture, hath not put down any one word in writing, whether in the new testament or in the old, that is either superstitious or unprofitable, though it seem so to many; but it hath his mystery and signification for our learning, and either for the plainness of it…or else for the deep mysteries that be hid in it is to be reverenced of all sorts of men, and with diligence and prayer is to be searched out, as far as we may.”

“The holy scriptures,” says Jewel again, “are the mercy-seat, the registry of the mysteries of God, our charter for the life to come, and holy place in which God sheweth himself to the people, and mount Sion where God hath appointed to dwell forever….Heaven shall shake: the earth shall tremble; but the man of God shall stand upright. His foot shall not fail: his heart shall not faint: he shall not be moved. Such a ground, such a foundation, such a rock is the word of God.” “Scripture is a light,” writes Tyndale, “and sheweth us the true way, both what to do and what to hope for; and a defence from all error, and a comfort in adversity that we despair not, and feareth us in prosperity that we sin not….As thou readest, therefore, think that every syllable pertaineth to thine own self, and suck out the pith of the scripture, and arm thyself against all assaults” —and who is there who has lived more closely with the Word of God or who has known more constantly the need for being armed against all assaults than the godly exile and martyr William Tyndale?
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So firmly did the Reformers believe that the Scriptures originated from God that they felt no embarrassment not merely in affirming their infallibility but

even in speaking of them as having been dictated by God. Thus Whitaker, for example, alluding to the supposition of Erasmus that the reading “Jeremiah” instead of “Zechariah” in Matt 27:9 was due to a slip of the memory on the Evangelist’s part, says; “It does not become us to be so easy and indulgent as to concede that such a lapse could be incident to the sacred writers. They wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as Peter tells us, 2 Pet i.21. And all scripture is inspired of God, as Paul expressly writes, 2 Tim iii.16. Whereas, therefore, no one may say that any infirmity could befall the Holy Spirit, it follows that the sacred writers could not be deceived, or err, in any respect. Here, then, it becomes us to be so scrupulous as not to allow that any such slip can be found in scripture. For, whatever Erasmus may think, it is a solid answer which Augustine gives to Jerome: ‘If any, even the smallest, lie be admitted in the scriptures, the whole authority of scripture is presently invalidated and destroyed’ [Ep. XXVIII, to Jerome]. That form which the prophets use so often, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ is to be attributed also to the apostles and evangelists. For the Holy Spirit dictated to them whatever things they wrote.”

The picture so far presented of the Reformed view of inspiration is not yet complete, however, and in order to round off this study it is necessary for us to turn to the writings of the great French Reformer John Calvin. I say it is necessary, because the English Reformers were placed in circumstances of theological conflict which scarcely permitted them to turn their attention to the prolonged and laborious task of producing commentaries, verse by verse, on the text of holy Scripture. The detailed exegesis in which they engaged was in the main confined to the explication of those passages which were at the centre of their dispute with Rome—such, for example, as the interpretation of the words, “This is My Body,” spoken by Christ at the institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion. I should not wish to contend that Calvin was less harassed by circumstances or less closely involved in ecclesiastical conflict than were the English Reformers: but he was a man who not only had from the time of his conversion set before himself the task of composing commentaries on the books of the Bible, but who also because of his phenomenal intellectual capacities (and the English Reformers were no pygmies) may justly be described as stupor mundi. The question which I wish now to investigate is that of the manner in which the principles, so plainly and emphatically enunciated by the English Reformers in respect of holy Scripture, worked out when applied to the text itself, and especially when applied to certain places or passages which might appear to offer problems and perplexities to men who held so fullblooded a view of inspiration as did the Reformers. Before doing so, however, let us be fully assured that Calvin’s view of inspiration differed not at all from that of the English Reformers. He, no less than they, held that Scripture is the very Word of God, so much so that he too did not scruple to speak of it as having been dictated by the Holy Spirit. “This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others,” he comments on 2 Tim 3:16, “that we know that God has spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him, first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated bv the Holy Spirit.” Again, writing on 2 Pet 1:20, he expresses his judgment as follows: “I think that the simpler meaning of Peter’s statement is that Scripture is not of men, or by the initiative of men. You will never come to it well prepared to read it unless you bring reverence, obedience, and teachableness with you. But reverence

comes from the knowledge that it is God who speaks to us and not mortal men. Therefore Peter in the first place urges us to believe without doubting that the prophecies are God’s oracles; which means that they were not set in motion by men’s own action. What comes next means the same thing. The holy men spoke as they were moved by the Spirit of God; that is, they did not babble out fables, moved by their own impulse and as they willed. In short, the first step in right understanding is that we believe the holy prophets of God as we do him. The Apostle calls them ‘holy men of God’ because they performed faithfully the task which was laid upon them; and in this service they were surrogates for the person of God. Peter says they were ‘moved’, not because they were bereft of their own minds (as the Gentiles imagined their prophets to have been during their ‘enthusiasm’), but because they did not dare to say anything of their own. They followed the Holy Spirit as their guide and obeyed him to such an extent that their mouths became his temple and he ruled in them.” So also in his exegesis of Psalm 8 Calvin declares that it was the Holy Spirit “who directed David’s tongue.” What could be more definite than Calvin’s assertion, with respect to the Apostle’s statement that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16), that “we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it”? No less than the English Reformers, Calvin taught that it is only by the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit that a man may understand and obey holy Scripture. “The same Spirit…who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling,” he says, “now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone” (idem). No less, again, than the English Reformers, Calvin held that Scripture is essentially practical in its purpose and that its primary function is to direct sinful men to Christ. “We ought to believe,” he comments on John 5:39, “that Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than from the Scriptures; and if it be so, it follows that we ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth; for what wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God?” And, regarding Paul’s declaration of the profitableness of all Scripture (2 Tim 3:16), he says that it “contains a perfect rule of a good and happy life….Hence it follows, that it is unlawful to treat it in an unprofitable manner; for the Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable.” There are many today who, on hearing such words as I have cited from Calvin and his fellow-Reformers in England, would immediately and scornfully dismiss the Reformers as bibliolaters and obscurantists, or (to use another fashionable word) “fundamentalists.” But the great leaders and moulders of the Reformation, in Britain and on the Continent, must not be summarily written off in this manner. Let us not forget the sort of men they were and the great things they achieved on the basis of these principles that they held to be so vital. They were men of exceptional intelligence, candour, and scholarship, whose study of the Scriptures was marked by both depth and integrity. Above all, they were

men of profound spirituality whose lives—mind as well as heart—had been radically transformed by the Good News of Jesus Christ which they had found set before them in no other place than in the Bible. When they spoke of the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit within the believer to the divine inspiration of Scripture, they were speaking of what they had themselves experienced, as well as of what the Bible taught about itself. Those critical souls who do not know this internal witness of the Spirit as a truth of their own experience should earnestly question within themselves whether they are in fact qualified to pronounce against this teaching. But, if there is what may be called a certain real “divinity” of holy Scripture, there is also what may be called a certain real “humanity” of holy Scripture. There is evidence at times of “human” weakness. The biblical authors, on the human side, were not mere “typewriters.” They were not (as we have already heard Calvin say) “bereft of their own minds.” It was as men, frail and imperfect, with all their diverse characteristics of temperament, personality, and style, that they functioned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Calvin does not attempt to sidestep or gloss over such weaknesses as may be apparent in what they wrote. Indeed, they leave him singularly unworried; for there can be no question of their being a reflection of weakness on the part of the Holy Spirit or a frustration of the purpose of inspiration. Let us take a few examples from the commentaries. 1. God’s Word is addressed to all men everywhere, and accordingly he speaks in a manner that all can understand. “Many hold the Gospel in less estimation,” says Calvin, commenting on John 3:12, “because they do not find in it highsounding words to fill their ears, and on this account do not deign to bestow their attention on a doctrine so low and mean. But it shows an extraordinary degree of wickedness that we yield less reverence to God speaking to us, because he condescends to our ignorance; and, therefore, when God prattles to us in Scripture in a rough and popular style, let us know that this is done on account of the love which he bears to us.” 2. The quotations by the Apostles from the Old Testament are seldom verbatim, but free and ad sensum (and especially according to the ampler sense of their fulfilment in the sphere of the New Covenant); for it is not the words by themselves, but what they teach, that matters. Referring to Ps 8:5 and its quotation in Heb 2:7, Calvin writes: “We know what freedoms the apostles took in quoting texts of Scripture; not, indeed, to wrest them to a different meaning from the true one, but because they reckoned it sufficient to show, by a reference to Scripture, that what they taught was sanctioned by the word of God, although they did not quote the precise words. Accordingly, they never had any hesitation in changing the words, provided the substance of the text remained unchanged.” And again, with reference to the quotation of Mic 5:2 in Matt 2:6, he says: “One must always notice that when the apostles quote a scriptural testimony they do not give it word for word, and sometimes depart quite far from its language; they nevertheless accommodate it in a fitting and proper way to their own purpose. Let the readers always keep in mind the purpose of the Evangelists in bringing forward passages of Scripture, so that they will not insist upon dwelling upon mere words, but will be content with the fact that the Evangelists never twist Scripture into a false meaning, but apply it properly to a genuine use.” 3. The biblical writers are not concerned always to speak in terms of the strictest scientific accuracy, but phenomenally, that is, in accordance, quite legitimately, with the appearance of things to the ordinary observer. “It would have been lost time for David to have attempted to teach the secrets of

astronomy to the rude and unlearned” comments Calvin on Ps 19:4; “and therefore he reckoned it sufficient to speak in a homely style, that he might reprove the whole world of ingratitude, if, in beholding the sun, they are not taught the fear and the knowledge of God….He does not here discourse scientifically (as he might have done, had he spoken among philosophers) concerning the entire revolution which the sun performs, but, accommodating himself to the rudest and dullest, he confines himself to the ordinary appearances presented to the eye.” And with reference to Ps 136:7 he writes: “Moses calls the sun and moon the two great lights, and there is little doubt that the Psalmist here borrows the same phraseology. What is immediately added about the stars is, as it were, accessory to the others. It is true that the other planets are larger than the moon, but it is stated as second in order on account of its visible effects. The Holy Spirit had no intention to teach astronomy; and, in proposing instruction meant to be common to the simplest and most uneducated persons, he made use by Moses and the other prophets of popular language, that none might shelter himself under the pretext of obscurity….Accordingly, as Saturn though bigger than the moon is not so to the eye owing to his greater distance, the Holy Spirit would rather speak childishly than unintelligibly to the humble and unlearned.” (See also comments on Gen 1:13ff; Ps 148:3; Jer 31:35.) I should wish to emphasize, however, that a description which is phenomenal, from the point of view of the observer, naive though it may seem to the astronomer, is neither unscientific nor untrue. 4. Nor are the biblical authors always concerned to set down things in precise chronological sequence. Thus Calvin observes, in his commentary on Ps 51:9, that “in Scripture, it is well known, things are not always stated according to the strict order of time in which they occurred.” This is illustrated, for example, in the difference between Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the sequence of our Lord’s temptations in the wilderness. Both cannot be correct. But the precise sequence is of no religious significance, and is immaterial to the spiritual teaching which the records are designed to convey (cf. Heb 2:18, 4:15). “It is not of great importance,” says Calvin, commenting on Matt 4:5, “that Luke’s narrative makes that temptation to be the second which Matthew places as the third: for it was not the intention of the Evangelists to arrange the history in such a manner, as to preserve, on all occasions, the exact order of time, but to draw up an abridged narrative of the events, so as to present, as in a mirror or picture, those things which are most necessary to be known concerning Christ. Let it suffice for us to know, that Christ was tempted in three ways. The question which of these contests was the second, and which the third, need not give us much trouble or uneasiness.” (See also comments on Matt 13:12 and 16.) 5. A difference, again, such as that between Acts 7:14, which states that Jacob came down to Egypt with seventy-five souls, and Gen 46:27, which gives the number as seventy, may well, in Calvin’s opinion, be due to a copyist’s error over a single letter in the original; but, whatever its cause, it in no way affects the religious significance, which points to the power and providence of God. “I think,” comments Calvin (on Acts 7:14), “that this difference came through the error of the writers which wrote out the books….This, so small a number, is purposely expressed, to the end that the power of God may the more plainly appear, in so great an enlarging of that kindred, which was of no long continuance….We ought rather to weigh the miracle which the Spirit commendeth unto us in this place, than to stand long about one letter, whereby the number is altered.” Calvin may, of course, be right, but I would suggest that the problem may be resolved even more simply by concluding that either one

or both of the numbers should be understood as round figures rather than as precise enumerations. 6. The question also arises of what appear to be definite mistakes in the text. Take, for instance, the attribution to Jeremiah of the quotation found in Matt 27:9, in connection with which the differing views of Erasmus and Whitaker have already been heard. Calvin comments as follows: “How the name of Jeremiah crept in, I confess that I do not know, nor do I give myself much trouble to inquire. The passage itself plainly shows that the name of Jeremiah has been put down by mistake instead of Zechariah (xi.13), for in Jeremiah we find nothing of this sort, nor any thing that even approaches to it.” The Reformer may, however, have been rather too hasty in his judgment that in Jeremiah there occurs nothing that even approaches to the quotation which Matthew gives, for, while the main reference would seem to be to Zech 11:13, yet, as modern scholars have pointed out, there are passages in Jeremiah which are not wholly unrelated in theme and appropriateness (such as Jer 18:2, 19:1, 11, and 32:7ff), and which the Evangelist may have had in mind at this point. 7. There are, of course, parts of Scripture that are not clear and easy to understand. But as we persevere in the study of the Bible, so our perception of its meaning will increase and its difficulties will diminish. Calvin cites the example of the Ethiopian eunuch, who did not comprehend the passage he was reading (Acts 8:28): “Though he were ignorant of many things, yet was he not wearied, so that he cast away the book. Thus must we also read the Scriptures. We must greedily, and with a prompt mind, receive those things which are plain, and wherein God openeth his mind. As for those things which are hid from us, we must pass them over until we see greater light. And if we be not wearied with reading, it shall at length come to pass that the Scripture shall be made more familiar by continual use.” It is important to notice that Calvin was in no way embarrassed or disconcerted by the difficulties and problems that from time to time confront the student of holy Scripture. In comparison with the comprehensive power and purpose of God’s Word they are matters of small moment; reasonable explanations may generally be suggested for their occurrence; and, in particular, they cannot possibly undermine the unshakable testimony of the Holy Spirit in every believing heart to the inspiration and authority of that Word. There is no doubt in my mind that the English Reformers and Calvin, who were at one in their doctrine of Scripture, were also at one in their use of it. Holy Scripture is a sacred mystery, divine in its origin and human in its mediation. Its inspiration is not a process to be analysed, but a fact to be known and experienced as the saving truth it reveals is imprinted on the heart and mind of the believer by its own divine author. The nature of the mystery that is Scripture may be illustrated by reference to the still more wonderful mystery of the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son, who at the same time is both God and man. Can this Son of Man who knows hunger and thirst and fatigue, yes, and death, be in truth the almighty and pre-existent Son of God? Is it really possible for human weakness and divine power to be brought together? Yes, for he is also the risen, victorious, and glorified Lord; and by that same inner certification of the Holy Spirit, which seals the testimony of the Scriptures, we know, unassailably, and we confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. The humanity of the incarnate Son does not and cannot annul his deity. Nor can it detract from or diminish his deity. Deity is an absolute category. It does not admit of degrees of more or less. The deity of Christ is at all times full and unimpaired. And so too (though of course in a quite different category) the Bible is the very Word of God. Its “ humanity” does not

annul or diminish its “divinity.” Its “weaknesses” do not contradict its strength and, especially, its dynamic ability to make us wise unto salvation through faith in the Saviour it proclaims. The Bible is an organic whole, a corpus (but not a corpse). Like the human body, some of its parts are less comely than others, but all have a specific function to perform within the whole. Some parts may even be removed without destroying its organic function—though not without maiming the body and impairing the harmony of the whole. Other parts are absolutely indispensable, just as the head and the heart and many other organs are essential to the life of the human body. Whatever their relative importance, all the parts belong together and have need of each other. I would venture to suggest that there are three dangers which we should be careful to avoid. There is, firstly, the danger, particularly in the specialized fields of scholarship, of treating the Bible as a corpse to be dissected and classified, instead of as the living Word of God to be heeded and obeyed. In saying this, however, there is no desire to depreciate the tremendous debt which, in biblical studies, is owed to modern scholarship. There is, secondly, the danger of treating the Bible like an embalmed body to be preserved intact, in a sort of perfection of death, as though it were a sacred and magical relic, the emblem of an orthodoxy without the Spirit. And, thirdly, there is the danger of robbing the Bible of its mystery—a mystery which belongs to God—by presuming to offer a quasi-rational (that is, humanly comprehensible) explanation of the “mechanics” of inspiration; just as there is a constant temptation to imagine that the ineffable mystery of the dual nature of our Lord’s theanthropic person can be rationalized and “made respectable.” We must not be afraid to let the Bible live, as it is and in its own right, unimpeded by our apologies and hesitations. What have we to fear if by the ineluctable witness of the Holy Spirit it is sealed to our hearts as the veritable dynamic Word of the Living God? The manner in which we approach and handle the Bible should be determined by the example of Christ himself, for, as the Christians’ Lord and God, himself the Truth and the Light of the world, his example is absolutely authoritative for us. The attitude of him who is the incarnate Word to the testimony of the written Word is entirely clear. And in the issue concerning the inspiration of Scripture it is nothing less than the supreme and inerrant Lordship of Christ that is at stake. Of the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture neither he nor his apostles had any doubts. They wielded it lustily and frontally as a sword, and without apology. The apostles cannot, however, be saddled with a “typewriter” view of inspiration, for had that been their belief the liberties they took in quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures would have been reprehensible. And when we find the Reformers of the sixteenth century speaking of “dictation,” we must understand that they are referring to the Godward as distinct from the manward aspect of inspiration, or, in other words, that they are emphasizing the sovereign action of almighty God in the giving of holy Scripture, not suggesting that the apostles and prophets were mere impersonal puppets when they uttered or wrote the words of Scripture. “Let it…be held as fixed,” says Calvin in a notable passage, “that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly, in Scripture; that Scripture carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. Enlightened by him, it is no longer on our own judgment or that of others that we believe the Scriptures to be from God; but in a way superior to human judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much as if we

beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our judgment, but we subject our intellect ind judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate. This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are accustomed to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth.”

Finally, let me quote once again that unforgettable saying of William Tyndale concerning the purpose of the Bible: “The scripture is that wherewith God draweth us unto him. The scriptures spring out of God, and flow unto Christ, and were given to lead us to Christ. Thou must therefore go along by the scripture as by a line, until thou come at Christ, which is the way’s end and resting-place.”

Marking the Watershed
by Francis A. Schaeffer
Chapter 2 from The Great Evangelical Disaster (Crossway Books, 1984)

A Watershed

Not far from where we live in Switzerland is a high ridge of rock with a valley on both sides. One time I was there when there was snow on the ground along that ridge. The snow was lying there unbroken, a seeming unity. However, that unity was an illusion, for it lay along a great divide; it lay along a watershed. One portion of the snow when it melted would flow into one valley. The snow which lay close beside would flow into another valley when it melted. Now it just so happens on that particular ridge that the melting snow which flows down one side of that ridge goes down into a valley, into a small river, and then down into the Rhine River. The Rhine then flows on through Germany and the water ends up in the cold waters of the North Sea. The water from the snow that started out so close along that watershed on the other side of the ridge, when this snow melts, drops off sharply down the ridge into the Rhone Valley. This water flows into Lac Leman — or as it is known in the Englishspeaking world, Lake Geneva — and then goes down below that into the Rhone River which flows through France and into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. The snow lies along that watershed, unbroken, as a seeming unity. But when it melts, where it ends in its destinations is literally a thousand miles apart. That is a watershed. That is what a watershed is. A watershed divides. A clear line

can be drawn between what seems at first to be the same or at least very close, but in reality ends in very different situations. In a watershed there is a line.

A House Divided
What does this illustration have to do with the evangelical world today? I would suggest that it is a very accurate description of what is happening. Evangelicals today are facing a watershed concerning the nature of biblical inspiration and authority. It is a watershed issue in very much the same sense as described in the illustration. Within evangelicalism there are a growing number who are modifying their views on the inerrancy of the Bible so that the full authority of Scripture is completely undercut. But it is happening in very subtle ways. Like the snow lying side-by-side on the ridge, the new views on biblical authority often seem at first glance not to be so very far from what evangelicals, until just recently, have always believed. But also, like the snow lying side-by-side on the ridge, the new views when followed consistently end up a thousand miles apart. What may seem like a minor difference at first, in the end makes all the difference in the world. It makes all the difference, as we might expect, in things pertaining to theology, doctrine and spiritual matters, but it also makes all the difference in things pertaining to the daily Christian life and how we as Christians are to relate to the world around us. In other words, compromising the full authority of Scripture eventually affects what it means to be a Christian theologically and how we live in the full spectrum of human life. There is a sense in which the problem of full biblical authority is fairly recent. Up until the last two hundred years or so virtually every Christian believed in the complete inerrancy of the Bible, or in the equivalent of this expressed in similar terms. This was true both before the Reformation and after. The problem with the pre-Reformation medieval church was not so much that it did not hold to belief in an inerrant Bible as that it allowed the whole range of nonbiblical theological ideas and superstitions to grow up within the church. These ideas were then placed alongside of the Bible and even over the Bible, so that the Bible's authority and teaching were subordinated to nonbiblical teachings. This resulted in the abuses which led to the Reformation. But note that the problem was not that the pre-Reformation church did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture; the problem was that it did not practice the inerrancy of Scripture, because it subordinated the Bible to its fallible teachings. Thus it is important to note that, up until recent times, (1) belief in the inerrancy of Scripture (even when it was not practiced fully) and (2) claiming to be a Christian, were seen as two things which necessarily went together. If you were a Christian, you also trusted in the complete reliability of God's written Word, the Bible. If you did not believe the Bible, you did not claim to be a Christian. But no one, until the past two hundred years or so, tried to say, "I am a Christian, but at the same time I believe the Bible to be full of errors." As incredible as this would have seemed to Christians in the past, and as incredible as this may seem to Bible-believing Christians today, this is what is now happening within the evangelical world. This problem which started some two hundred years ago has within the past two decades come to the forefront among evangelicals. It is a problem which I (and others) began to address publicly in the mid-sixties, again in the seventies and repeatedly in the eighties. We can be thankful for the many who have taken a strong stand on this; but we must also say, sadly, that the problem continues and is growing. Evangelicalism is divided, deeply divided. And it will

not be helpful or truthful for anyone to deny this. It is something that will not simply go away, and it cannot be swept under the rug. What follows in this chapter grows out of the study, thinking, and prayer, often with tears, which I have done concerning this watershed issue during my whole life as a Christian, but especially as I have dealt with this in my speaking and writing during the past two decades. The following, then, is a restatement on further development as a unified whole of my work in this area.

The Ground Cut out from Under
There are two reasons in our day for holding to a strong uncompromising view of Scripture. First and foremost, this is the only way to be faithful to what the Bible teaches about itself, to what Christ teaches about Scripture, and to what the church has consistently held through the ages. This should be reason enough in itself. But today there is a second reason why we should hold to a strong, uncompromising view of Scripture. There are hard days ahead of us — for ourselves and for our spiritual and physical children. And without a strong view of Scripture as a foundation, we will not be ready for the hard days to come. Unless the Bible is without error, not only when it speaks of salvation matters, but also when it speaks of history and the cosmos, we have no foundation for answering questions concerning the existence of the universe and its form and the uniqueness of man. Nor do we have any moral absolutes, or certainty of salvation, and the next generation of Christians will have nothing on which to stand. Our spiritual and physical children will be left with the ground cut out from under them, with no foundation upon which to build their faith or their lives. Christianity is no longer providing the consensus for our society. And Christianity is no longer providing the consensus upon which our law is based. That is not to say that the United States ever was a "Christian nation" in the sense that all or most of our citizens were Christians, nor in the sense that the nation, its laws, and social life were ever a full and complete expression of Christian truth. There is no golden age in the past which we can idealize — whether it is early America, the Reformation, or the early church. But until recent decades something did exist which can rightly be called a Christian consensus or ethos which gave a distinctive shape to Western society and to the United States in a definite way. Now that consensus is all but gone, and the freedoms that it brought are being destroyed before our eyes. We are at a time when humanism is coming to its natural conclusion in morals, in values, and in law. All that society has today are relativistic values based upon statistical averages, or the arbitrary decisions of those who hold legal and political power.

Freedom with Form or Chaos
The Reformation with its emphasis upon the Bible, in all that it teaches, as being the revelation of God, provided a freedom in society and yet a form in society as well. Thus, there were freedoms in the Reformation countries (such as the world had never known before) without those freedoms leading to chaos — because both laws and morals were surrounded by a consensus resting upon what the Bible taught. That situation is now finished, and we cannot understand society today for ourselves or our spiritual and physical children unless we understand in reality what has happened. In retrospect we can see that ever since the 1930s in the United States, the Christian consensus has been an increasingly minority view and no longer provides a consensus for society in morals or law. We who are Bible-believing Christians no longer represent the

prevailing legal and moral outlook of our society, and no longer have the major influence in shaping this. The primary emphasis of biblical Christianity is the teaching that the infinitepersonal God is the final reality, the Creator of all else, and that an individual can come openly to the holy God upon the basis of the finished work of Christ and that alone. Nothing needs to be added to Christ's finished work, and nothing can be added to Christ's finished work. But at the same time where Christianity provides the consensus, as it did in the Reformation countries (and did in the United States up to a relatively few years ago), Christianity also brings with it many secondary blessings. One of these has been titanic freedoms, yet without those freedoms leading to chaos, because the Bible's absolutes provide a consensus within which freedom can operate. But once the Christian consensus has been removed, as it has been today, then the very freedoms which have come out of the Reformation become a destructive force leading to chaos in society. This is why we see the breakdown of morality everywhere in our society today — the complete devaluation of human life, a total moral relativism, and a thoroughgoing hedonism.

Relativism or God's Absolutes
In such a setting, we who are Bible-believing Christians, or our children, face days of decision ahead. Soft days for evangelical Christians are past, and only a strong view of Scripture is sufficient to withstand the pressure of an allpervasive culture built upon relativism and relativistic thinking. We must remember that it was a strong view of the absolutes which the infinite-personal God gave to the early church in the Old Testament, in the revelation of Christ through the Incarnation, and in the then growing New Testament — absolutes which enabled the early church to withstand the pressure of the Roman Empire. Without a strong commitment to God's absolutes, the early church could never have remained faithful in the face of the constant Roman harassment and persecution. And our situation today is remarkably similar as our own legal, moral, and social structure is based on an increasingly anti-Christian, secularist consensus. But what is happening in evangelicalism today? Is there the same commitment to God's absolutes which the early church had? Sadly we must say that this commitment is not there. Although growing in numbers as far as name is concerned, throughout the world and the United States, evangelicalism is not unitedly standing for a strong view of Scripture. But we must say if evangelicals are to be evangelicals, we must not compromise our view of Scripture. There is no use of evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger, if at the same time appreciable parts of evangelicalism are getting soft concerning the Scriptures. We must say with sadness that in some places seminaries, institutions, and individuals who are known as evangelicals no longer hold to a full view of Scripture. The issue is clear. Is the Bible true and infallible wherever it speaks, including where it touches history and the cosmos, or is it only in some sense revelational where it touches religious subjects? That is the issue.

The New Neo-Orthodoxy
There is only one way to describe those who no longer hold to a full view of Scripture. Although many of these would like to retain the evangelical name for themselves, the only accurate way to describe this view is that it is a form of neo-orthodox existential theology. The heart of neo-orthodox existential theology is that the Bible gives us a quarry out of which to have religious experience, but that the Bible contains mistakes where it touches that which is

verifiable — namely history and science. But unhappily we must say that in some circles this concept now has come into some of that which is called evangelicalism. In short, in these circles the neo-orthodox existential theology is being taught under the name of evangelicalism. The issue is whether the Bible gives propositional truth (that is, truth which may be stated in propositions) where it touches history and the cosmos, and this all the way back to pre-Abrahamic history, all the way back to the first eleven chapters of Genesis; or whether instead of that, it is only meaningful where it touches that which is considered religious. T. H. Huxley, the biologist friend of Darwin, the grandfather of Aldous and Julian Huxley, wrote in 1890 that he visualized the day not far hence in which faith would be separated from all fact, and especially all pre-Abrahamic history, and that faith would then go on triumphant forever. This is an amazing statement for 1890, before the birth of existential philosophy or existential theology. Huxley indeed foresaw something clearly. I am sure that he and his friends considered this some kind of a joke, because they would have understood well that if faith is separated from fact and specifically pre-Abrahamic space-time history, it is only another form of what we today call a trip. But unhappily, it is not only the avowedly neo-orthodox existential theologians who now hold that which T. H. Huxley foresaw, but some who call themselves evangelicals as well. This may come from the theological side in saying that not all the Bible is revelational. Or it may come from the scientific side in saying that the Bible teaches little or nothing when it speaks of the cosmos. Or it may come from the cultural side in saying that the moral teachings of the Bible were merely expressions of the culturally determined and relative situation in which the Bible was written and therefore not authoritative today. Martin Luther said, "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."

Marking a Line
In our day that point is the question of Scripture. Holding to a strong view of Scripture or not holding to it is the watershed of the evangelical world. The first direction in which we must face is to say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not. What is often forgotten is that where there is a watershed there is a line which can be observed and marked. If one had the responsibility in Switzerland, for example, for the development of hydroelectric power from the flow of water, one would have a great responsibility to determine the topography of the country and then mark where the line would fall, and where the water would divide and flow. In the watershed of the evangelical world, what does marking such a line mean? It means lovingly marking visibly where that line falls, lovingly showing that some are on the other side of the line, and making clear to everyone on both sides of the line what the consequences of this are. In making visible where the line falls, we must understand what is really happening. With the denial of the full authority of Scripture, a significant section of what is called evangelicalism has allowed itself to be infiltrated by the general world view or viewpoint of our day. This infiltration is really a variant of

what had dominated liberal theological circles under the name of neoorthodoxy.

An Inner Feeling or Objective Truth
It is surprising to see how clearly the liberal, neo-orthodox way of thinking is reflected in the new weakened evangelical view. For example, some time ago I was on Milt Rosenberg's radio show "Extension 720" in Chicago (WGN) along with a young liberal pastor who graduated from a very well-known liberal theological seminary. The program was set up as a threeway discussion between myself, the liberal pastor, and Rosenberg, who does not consider himself to be a religious person. Rosenberg is a clever master of discussion. And with A Christian Manifesto and the question of abortion as the discussion points, he kept digging deeper and deeper into the difference between the young liberal pastor and myself. The young liberal pastor brought up Karl Barth, Niebuhr, and Tillich, and we discussed them. But it became very clear in that threeway discussion that the young liberal pastor never could appeal to the Bible without qualifications. And then the young liberal pastor said, "But I appeal to Jesus." My reply on the radio was that in view of his view of the Bible, he could not really be sure that Jesus lived. His answer was that he had an inner feeling, an inner response, that told him that Jesus had existed. The intriguing thing to me was that one of the leading men of the weakened view of the Bible who is called an evangelical, and who certainly does love the Lord, in a long and strenuous but pleasant discussion in my home a few years ago, when pressed backwards as to how he was certain concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, used almost the same words. He said he was sure of the resurrection of Jesus Christ because of the inward witness. They both answered finally in the same way. My point is that a significant and influential section of what is called evangelicalism has become infiltrated by a point of view which is directly related to the view that had dominated liberal theological circles under the name of neo-orthodoxy. To me, this was curious at the time when I saw it happening a certain number of years ago because where this ends had already been demonstrated by the Niebuhr-Tillich "God-is-dead" syndrome. Neoorthodoxy leads to a dead end with a dead God, as has already been demonstrated by the theology of the sixties. And is it not curious that some evangelicals are just now picking this up as if it were the thing we should hold if we are to be "with it" today? But equally significant, note that the liberal pastor and the leader with the weakened view of Scripture who calls himself an evangelical both end up in the same place — with no other final plea than "an inner witness." They have no final, objective authority. This points up just how encompassing the infiltration is. Namely, just as the neo-orthodox roots are only a theological expression of the surrounding world view and methodology of existentialism, so what is being put forth as a new view of Scripture in evangelicalism is also an infiltration of the general world view and methodology of existentialism. By placing a radical emphasis on subjective human experience, existentialism undercuts the objective side of existence. For the existentialist it is an illusion to think that we can know anything truly, that there is such a thing as certain objective truth or moral absolutes. All we have is subjective experience, with no final basis for right or wrong or truth or beauty. This existential world view dominates philosophy, and much of art and the general culture such as the novel, poetry, and the cinema. And although this is apparent in the thinking in academic and philosophical circles, it is equally pervasive in popular culture. It is impossible to turn on the

TV, or read the newspaper, or leaf through a popular magazine without being bombarded with the philosophy of moral relativism, subjective experience, and the denial of objective truth. In the new view of Scripture among evangelicals we find the same thing — namely, that the Bible is not objective truth; that in the area of what is verifiable it has many mistakes in it; that where it touches on history and the cosmos it cannot be trusted; and that even what it teaches concerning morality is culturally conditioned and can not be accepted in an absolute sense. But nevertheless this new weakened view stresses that "a religious word" somehow breaks through from the Bible — which finally ends in some expression such as "an inner feeling," "an inner response," or "an inner witness."

A Divided Bible
The following two quotations are clear examples of this. They come from men widely separated geographically across the world, both of whom are in evangelical circles, but who advocate the idea that in the area where reason operates the Bible contains mistakes. The first writes: But there are some today who regard the Bible's plenary and verbal inspiration as insuring its inerrancy not only in its declared intention to recount and interpret God's mighty redemptive acts, but also in any and in all of its incidental statements or aspects of statements that have to do with such nonrevelational matters as geology, meteorology, cosmology, botany, astronomy, geography, etc. In other words, the Bible is divided into halves. To someone like myself this is all very familiar — in the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, of Albert Camus, of Martin Heidegger, of Karl Jaspers, and in the case of thousands of modern people who have accepted the existential methodology. This quotation is saying the same thing they would say, but specifically relating this existential methodology to the Bible. In a similar quote another evangelical leader in a country far from the United States writes: More problematic in my estimation is the fundamentalist extension of the principle of noncontradictory Scriptures to include the historic, geographic, statistical and other biblical statements, which do not touch in every case on the question of salvation and which do belong to the human element of Scripture. Both of these statements do the same thing. They make a dichotomy; they make a division. They say that there are mistakes in the Bible but nevertheless we are to keep hold of the meaning system, the value system, and the religious things. This then is the form in which the existential methodology has come into evangelical circles. In the end it cuts the truth of the Scriptures off from the objective world and replaces it with the subjective experience of an "inner witness." It reminds us in particular of the secular existential philosopher Karl Jaspers' term "the final experience," and any number of other terms which are some form of the concept of final authority being an inner witness. In the neoorthodox form, the secular existential form, and this new evangelical form, truth is left finally as only subjective. All this stands in sharp contrast to the historic view presented by Christ himself and the historic view of the Scripture in the Christian church, which is the Bible being objective, absolute truth. Of course we all know that there are subjective elements involved in our personal reading of the Bible and in the

church's reading of the Bible. But nevertheless, the Bible is objective, absolute truth in all he areas it touches upon. And therefore we know that Christ lived, and that Christ was raised from the dead, and all the rest, not because of some subjective, inner experience, but because the Bible stands as an objective, absolute authority. This is the way we know. I do not downplay the experience that rests upon this objective reality, but this is the way we know - upon the basis that the Bible is objective, absolute truth. Or to say it another way: the culture is to be constantly judged by the Bible, rather than the Bible being bent to conform to the surrounding culture. The early church did this in regard to the Roman-Greek culture of its day. The Reformation did this in its day in relation to the culture coming at the end of the Middle Ages. And we must never forget that all the great revivalists did this concerning the surrounding culture of their day. And the Christian church did this at every one of its great points of history.

The New Loophole
But to complicate things further, there are those within evangelicalism who are quite happy to use the words "infallibility," "inerrancy," and "without error," but upon careful analysis they really mean something quite different from what these words have meant to the church historically. This problem can be seen in what has happened to the statement on Scripture in the Lausanne Covenant of 1974. The statement reads: We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written Word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Upon first reading, this seems to make a strong statement in support of the full authority of the Bible. But a problem has come up concerning the phrase "in all that it affirms." For many this is being used as a loophole. I ought to say that this little phrase was not a part of my own contribution to the Lausanne Congress. I did not know that this phrase was going to be included in the Covenant until I saw it in printed form, and I was not completely happy with it. Nevertheless, it is a proper statement if the words are dealt with fairly. We do not, of course, want to say that the Bible is without error in things it does not affirm. One of the clearest examples is where the Bible, says, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God."' The Bible does not teach that "there is no God." This is not something that the Bible affirms, even though it makes this statement. Furthermore, we are not saying the Bible is without error in all the projections which people have made on the basis of the Bible. So that statement, as it appeared in the Lausanne Covenant, is a perfectly proper statement in itself. However, as soon as I saw it in printed form I knew it was going to be abused. Unhappily, this statement, "in all that it affirms," has indeed been made a loophole by many. How has it been made a loophole? It has been made a loophole through the existential methodology which would say that the Bible affirms the value system and certain religious things set forth in the Bible. But on the basis of the existential methodology, these men and women say in the back of their minds, even as they sign the Covenant, "But the Bible does not affirm without error that which it teaches in the area of history and the cosmos." Because of the widely accepted existential methodology in certain parts of the evangelical community, the old words infallibility, inerrancy and without error

are meaningless today unless some phrase is added such as: the Bible is without error not only when it speaks of values, the meaning system, and religious things, but it is also without error when it speaks of history and the cosmos. If some such phrase is not added, these words today are meaningless. It should be especially noted that the word infallibility is used today by men who do not apply it to the whole of Scripture, but only to the meaning system, to the value system, and certain religious things, leaving out any place where the Bible speaks of history and the things which would interest science.

In Spite of All the Mistakes
Just a few months ago a very clear example of this was brought to my attention. Today we find that the same view of Scripture which is held by the modern liberal theologian is being taught in seminaries which call themselves evangelical. This view follows the existential methodology of secular thinkers which says that the Bible has mistakes but that it is to be believed somehow or other anyway. For example I recently received a letter from a very able thinker in Great Britain, in which he wrote: There are many problems facing evangelicals today not the least of which is the neoorthodoxy in relation to Scripture. I am studying at Tyndale House [a study center in Cambridge, England] for a few days. And down the corridor from me is a very amiable professor, from a prominent seminary in California which calls itself evangelical, who calls himself an "open evangelical." He has stated publicly in theological debate that he believes the Bible "despite all the mistakes in it." This Christian leader in England who wrote this letter to me is quite right in calling this neo-orthodoxy under the name of evangelical. Isn't it curious that evangelicals have picked this up now as that which is progressive, just at a time when the liberals have found that neo-orthodoxy led to the "God is dead" theology? And when it was clear a few years ago that this seminary and others were simply presenting a form of neo-orthodoxy in regard to Scripture under the evangelical name, did the evangelical leadership quickly draw a line? Was there a rush of the evangelical leadership to the cause of defending the Scriptures and the faith? Sadly we must say no. Except for a few lone voices there was a great, vast silence.

Cultural Infiltration
Those weakening the Bible in the area of history and where it touches the cosmos do so by saying these things in the Bible are culturally oriented. That is, in places where the Bible speaks of history and the cosmos, it only shows forth views held by the culture in the day in which that portion of the Bible was written. For example, when Genesis and Paul affirm, as they clearly do, that Eve came from Adam, this is said to be only borrowed from the general cultural views of the day in which these books were written. Thus not just the first eleven chapters of Genesis, but the New Testament is seen to be relative instead of absolute. But let us realize that one cannot begin such a process without going still further. These things have gone further among some who still call themselves evangelicals. They have been still trying to hold on to the value system, the meaning system, and the religious things given in the Bible; but for them the Bible is only culturally oriented where it speaks of history and the cosmos. In more recent years an extension has come to this. Now certain moral absolutes in the area of personal relationships given in the Bible are also said to be

culturally oriented. I would mention two examples, although many others could be given. First, there is easy divorce and remarriage. What the Bible clearly teaches about the limitations placed upon divorce and remarriage is now put by some evangelicals in the area of cultural orientation. They say these were just the ideas of that moment when the New Testament was written. What the Bible teaches on these matters is to them only one more culturally oriented thing, and that is all. There are members, elders, and ministers in churches known as evangelical who no longer feel bound by what the Scripture affirms concerning this matter. They say that what the Bible teaches in this area is culturally oriented and is not to be taken as an absolute. As a second example, we find the same thing happening in the area of the clear biblical teaching regarding order in the home and the church. The commands in regard to this order are now also considered culturally oriented by some speakers and writers under the name of evangelical. In other words, in the last few years the situation has moved from hanging on to the value system, the meaning system, and the religious things while saying that what the Bible affirms in regard to history and the cosmos is culturally oriented to the further step of still trying to hold on to the value system, the meaning system, and religious things, but now lumping these moral commands along with the things of history and the cosmos as culturally oriented. There is no end to this. The Bible is made to say only that which echoes the surrounding culture at our moment of history. The Bible is bent to the culture instead of the Bible judging our society and culture. Once men and women begin to go down the path of the existential methodology under the name of evangelicalism, the Bible is no longer the Word of God without error — each part may be eaten away step by step. When men and women come to this place, what then has the Bible become? It has become what the liberal theologians said it was back in the days of the twenties and thirties. We are back in the days of a scholar like J. Gresham Machen, who pointed out that the foundation upon which Christianity rests was being destroyed. What is that foundation? It is that the infinite-personal God who exists has not been silent, but has spoken propositional truth in all that the Bible teaches — including what it teaches concerning history, concerning the cosmos, and in moral absolutes as well as what it teaches concerning religious subjects. Notice though what the primary problem was, and is: infiltration by a form of the world view which surrounds us, rather than the Bible being the unmovable base for judging the ever-shifting fallen culture. As evangelicals, we need to stand at the point of the call not to be infiltrated by this ever-shifting fallen culture which surrounds us, but rather judging that culture upon the basis of the Bible.

What Difference Does It Make?
Does inerrancy make a difference? Overwhelmingly; the difference is that with the Bible being what it is, God's Word and so absolute, God's objective truth, we do not need to be, and we should not be, caught in the ever-changing fallen cultures which surround us. Those who do not hold the inerrancy of Scripture do not have this high privilege. To some extent, they are at the mercy of the fallen, changing culture. And Scripture is thus bent to conform to the changing world spirit of the day, and they therefore have no solid authority

upon which to judge and to resist the views and values of that changing, shifting world spirit. We, however, must be careful before the Lord. If we say we believe the Bible to be the inerrant and authoritative "Thus saith the Lord," we do not face the howling winds of change which surround us with confusion and terror. And yet, the other side of the coin is that if this is the "Thus saith the Lord," we must live under it. And without that, we don't understand what we have said when we say we stand for an inerrant Scripture. I would ask again, Does inerrancy really make a difference — in the way we live our lives across the whole spectrum of human existence? Sadly we must say that we evangelicals who truly hold to the full authority of Scripture have not always done well in this respect. I have said that inerrancy is the watershed of the evangelical world. But it is not just a theological debating point. It is the obeying of the Scripture which is the watershed! It is believing and applying it to our lives which demonstrate whether we in fact believe it.

We live in a society today where all things are relative and the final value is whatever makes the individual or society "happy" or feel good at the moment. This is not just the hedonistic young person doing what feels good; it is society as a whole. This has many facets, but one is the breakdown of all stability in society. Nothing is fixed, there are no final standards; only what makes one "happy" is dominant. This is even true with regard to human life. The January 11, 1982, issue of Newsweek had a cover story of about five or six pages which showed conclusively that human life begins at conception. All students of biology should have known this all along. Then one turns the page, and the next article is entitled "But Is It a Person?" The conclusion of that page is, "The problem is not determining when actual human life begins, but when the value of that life begins to outweigh other considerations, such as the health or even the happiness of the mother." The terrifying phrase is, "or even the happiness." Thus, even acknowledged human life can be and is ended for the sake of someone else's happiness. With no set values, all that matters is my or society's happiness at the moment. I must say I cannot understand why even the liberal lawyers of the American Civil Liberties Union are not terrified at that point. And, of course, it is increasingly accepted that if a newborn baby is going to make the family or society unhappy, it too should be allowed to die. All you have to do is look at your television programs and this comes across increasingly like a flood. It is upon such a view that Stalin and Mao allowed (and I'm using a very gentle word when I say "allowed") millions to die for what they considered the happiness of society. This then is the terror that surrounds the church today. The individual's or society's happiness takes supreme preference even over human life. Now let us realize that we are in as much danger of being infiltrated by the surrounding amoral thought-forms of our culture as we are in danger of being infiltrated by the existential thought-forms. Why? Because we are surrounded by a society with no fixed standards and "no-fault" everything. Each thing is psychologically pushed away or explained away so that there is no right or wrong. And, as with the "happiness" of the mother taking precedence over human life, so anything which interferes with the "happiness" of the individual or society is dispensed with.

Bending the Bible
It is obeying the Scriptures which really is the watershed. We can say the Bible is without mistake and still destroy it if we bend the Scriptures by our lives to fit this culture instead of judging the culture by Scripture. And today we see this happening more and more as in the case of easy divorce and remarriage. The nofault divorce laws in many of our states are not really based upon humanitarianism or kindness. They are based on the view that there is no right and wrong. And thus all is relative, which means that society and the individual act on what seems to give them happiness for the moment. Do we not have to agree that even much of the evangelical church, which claims to believe that the Bible is without error, has bent Scripture at the point of divorce to conform to the culture rather than the Scripture judging the present viewpoints of the fallen culture? Do we not have to agree that in the area of divorce and remarriage there has been a lack of biblical teaching and discipline even among evangelicals? When I, contrary to Scripture, claim the right to attack the family — not the family in general, but to attack and break up my own family — is it not the same as a mother claiming the right to kill her own baby for her "happiness"? I find it hard to say, but here is an infiltration of the surrounding society that is as destructive to Scripture as is a theological attack upon Scripture. Both are a tragedy. Both bend the Scripture to conform to the surrounding culture.

The Mark of our Age
What is the use of evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger if sufficient numbers of those under the name evangelical no longer hold to that which makes evangelicalism evangelical? If this continues, we are not faithful to what the Bible claims for itself, and we are not faithful to what Jesus Christ claims for the Scriptures. But also — let us not ever forget — if this continues, we and our children will not be ready for difficult days ahead. Furthermore, if we acquiesce, we will no longer be the redeeming salt for our culture — a culture which is committed to the concept that both morals and laws are only a matter of cultural orientation, of statistical averages. That is the hallmark — the mark of our age. And if we are marked with the same mark, how can we be the redeeming salt to this broken, fragmented generation in which we live? Here then is the watershed of the evangelical world. We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not. But remember that we are not just talking about an abstract theological doctrine. It makes little difference in the end if Scripture is compromised by theological infiltration or by infiltration from the surrounding culture. It is the obeying of Scripture which is the watershed — obeying the Bible equally in doctrine and in the way we live in the full spectrum of life.

But if we truly believe this, then something must be considered. Truth carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong. Just as what we may call holiness without love is not God's kind of holiness, so also

what we may call love without holiness, including when necessary confrontation, is not God's kind of love. God is holy, and God is love. We must, with prayer, say no to the theological attack upon Scripture. We must say no to this, clearly and lovingly, with strength. And we must say no to the attack upon Scripture which comes from our being infiltrated in our lives by the current world view of no-fault in moral issues. We must say no to these things equally. The world of our day has no fixed values and standards, and therefore what people conceive as their personal or society's happiness covers everything. We are not in that position. We have the inerrant Scripture, Looking to Christ for strength against tremendous pressure because our whole culture is against us at this point, we must reject the infiltration in theology and in life equally. We both must affirm the inerrancy of Scripture and then live under it in our personal lives and in society. None of us do this perfectly, but it must be the "set" of our thinking and living. And when we fail we must ask God's forgiveness. God's Word will never pass away, but looking back to the Old Testament and since the time of Christ, with tears we must say that because of lack of fortitude and faithfulness on the part of God's people, God's Word has many times been allowed to be bent, to conform to the surrounding, passing, changing culture of that moment rather than to stand as the inerrant Word of God judging the form of the world spirit and the surrounding culture of that moment. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, may our children and grandchildren not say that such can be said about us.

1. There was indeed at least one man who raised a lonely and courageous voice when this seminary began to accept a neo-orthodox view of the Scripture. This was Jay Grimstead, a graduate of the seminary, and I would mention him and honour him for his efforts. Jay Grimstead played a decisive role in founding the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. The Council was formally organized on May 16, 1977 in Chicago with ten of us present. It still did not have the backing of most of the evangelical leadership, and there was no rush of the evangelical leadership to this cause. The council was formed specifically for the purpose of defending the historic orthodox position concerning Scripture. Of particular note are the two statements issued by the Council. The first statement, issued in October 1978, is entitled "The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy." The second statement, issued in November 1982, deals with "Hermeneutics." Both statements are extremely valuable in setting forth first what it means to say that the Bible is without error, and second how this applies to the understanding and interpretation of the Bible. The second statement on Hermeneutics presents a remarkably balanced and helpful series of twenty-five "affirmations and denials" concerning how the Scriptures are properly to be studied and interpreted. Together these statements set forth the total integrity of biblical inerrancy.

The Interpretation of Scripture
by James I. Packer
from 'Fundamentalism' and the Word of God (Inter-Varsity Press, 1958), pp. 101-114.

The Word of God is an exceedingly complex unity. The different items and the various kinds of material which make it up—laws, promises, liturgies, genealogies, arguments, narratives, meditations, visions, aphorisms, homilies, parables and the rest—do not stand in Scripture as isolated fragments, but as parts of a whole. The exposition of them, therefore, involves exhibiting them in right relation both to the whole and to each other. God’s Word is not presented in Scripture in the form of a theological system, but it admits of being stated in that form, and, indeed, requires to be so stated before we can properly grasp it —grasp it, that is, as a whole. Every text has its immediate context in the passage from which it comes, its broader context in the book to which it belongs, and its ultimate context in the Bible as a whole; and it needs to be rightly related to each of these contexts if its character, scope and significance is to be adequately understood. An analogy may help here. A versatile writer with didactic intent, like Charles Williams or G. K. Chesterton, may express his thought in a variety of literary forms—poems, plays, novels, essays, critical and historical studies, as well as formal topical treatises. In such a case, it would be absurd to think any random sentence from one of his works could safely be taken as expressing his whole mind on a subject with which it deals. The point of each sentence can be grasped only when one sees it in the context, both of the particular piece of work from which it comes, and of the writer’s whole output. If we would understand the parts, our wisest course is to get to know the whole— or, at any rate, those parts of the whole which tell us in plain prose the writer’s central ideas. These give us the key to all his work. Once we can see the main outlines of his thought and have grasped his general point of view, we are able to see the meaning of everything else—the point of his poems and the moral of his stories, and how the puzzling passages fit in with the rest. We may find that his message has a consistency hitherto unsuspected, and that elements in his thought which seemed contradictory are not really so at all. The task of interpreting the mind of God as expressed in His written Word is of the same order as this, and must be tackled in the same way. The beginner in Bible study often feels lost; he cannot at first grasp the Bible’s over-all point of view, and so does not see the wood for the trees. As his understanding increases, however, he becomes more able to discern the unity of the biblical message, and to see the place of each part in the whole.

a. Interpreting Scripture Literally
Scripture yields two basic principles for its own interpretation. The first is that the proper, natural sense of each passage (i.e., the intended sense of the writer) is to be taken as fundamental; the meaning of texts in their own contexts, and for their original readers, is the necessary starting-point for enquiry into their wider significance. In other words, Scripture statements must be interpreted in the light of the rules of grammar and discourse on the one hand, and of their own place in history on the other. This is what we should expect in the nature of the case, seeing that the biblical books originated as occasional documents addressed to contemporary audiences; and it is exemplified in the New Testament exposition of the Old, from which the fanciful allegorizing practiced by Philo and the Rabbis is strikingly absent. This is the much-misunderstood principle of interpreting Scripture literally. A glance at its history will be the quickest way of clearing up the confusion. The Mediæval exegetes, following Origen, regarded the ‘literal’ sense of Scripture as unimportant and unedifying. They attributed to each biblical statement three further senses, or levels of meaning, each of which was in a broad sense allegorical: the ‘moral’ or ‘tropological’ (from which one learned

rules of conduct), the ‘allegorical’ proper (from which one learned articles of faith), and the ‘anagogical’ (from which one learned of the invisible realities of heaven). Thus, it was held that the term ‘Jerusalem’ in Scripture, while denoting ‘literally’ a city in Palestine, also referred ‘morally’ to civil society, ‘allegorically’ to the Church, and ‘anagogically’ to heaven, every time that it occurred. Only the three allegorical senses, the Mediævals held, were worth a theologian’s study; the literal record had no value save as a vehicle of figurative meaning. Mediæval exegesis was thus exclusively mystical, not historical at all; biblical facts were made simply a jumping-off ground for theological fancies, and thus spiritualized away. Against this the Reformers protested, insisting that the literal, or intended, sense of Scripture was the sole guide to God’s meaning. They were at pains to point out, however, that ‘literalism’ of this sort, so far from precluding the recognition of figures of speech where Scripture employs them, actually demands it. William Tyndale’s statement of their position may be quoted as typical: “Thou shalt understand, therefore, that the scripture hath but one sense, which is but the literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal sense, thou canst not but go out of the way. Nevertheless, the scripture uses proverbs, similitudes, riddles, or allegories, as all other speeches do; but that which the proverb, similitude, riddle or allegory signifieth, is ever the literal sense, which thou must seek out diligently.” Tyndale castigates the Scholastics for misapplying 2 Corinthians iii.6 to support their thesis that “the literal sense ... is hurtful, and noisome, and killeth the soul”, and only spiritualizing does any good; and he replaces their distinction between the literal and spiritual senses by an equation which reflects Jn. vi.63: “God is a Spirit, and all his words are spiritual. His literal sense is spiritual ... if thou have eyes of God to see the right meaning of the text, and whereunto the Scripture pertaineth, and the final end and cause thereof.” Fanciful spiritualizing, so far from yielding God’s meaning, actually obscured it. The literal sense is itself the spiritual sense, coming from God and leading to Him.

This ‘literalism’ is founded on respect for the biblical forms of speech; it is essentially a protest against the arbitrary imposition of inapplicable literary categories on scriptural statements. It is this ‘literalism’ that present-day Evangelicals profess. But to read all Scripture narratives as if they were eyewitness reports in a modern newspaper, and to ignore the poetic and imaginative form in which they are sometimes couched, would be no less a violation of the canons of evangelical ‘literalism’ than the allegorizing of the Scholastics was; and this sort of ‘literalism’ Evangelicals repudiate. It would be better to call such exegesis ‘literalistic’ rather than ‘literal’, so as to avoid confusing two very different things.

The modern outcry against evangelical ‘literalism’ seems to come from those who want leave to sit loose to biblical categories and treat the biblical records of certain events as myths, or parables—non-factual symbols of spiritual states and experiences. Many would view the story of the fall, for instance, merely as a picture of the present sinful condition of each man, and that of the virgin birth as merely expressing the thoughts of Christ’s superhuman character. Such ideas are attempts to cut the knot tied by the modern critical denial that these events really happened, and to find a way of saying that, though the stories are ‘literally’ false, yet they remain ‘spiritually’ true and valuable. Those who take this line upbraid Evangelicals for being insensitive to the presence of symbolism in Scripture. But this is not the issue. There is a world of difference between recognizing that a real event (the fall, say) may be symbolically portrayed, as

Evangelicals do, and arguing, as these persons do, that because the fall is symbolically portrayed, it need not be regarded as a real even at all, but is merely a picture of something else. In opposing such inferences, Evangelicals are contending, not for a literalistic view, but for the very principles of biblical literalism which we have already stated—that we must respect the literary categories of Scripture, and take seriously the historical character of the Bible story. We may not turn narratives which clearly purport to record actual events into mere symbols of human experience at our will; still less may we do so (as has been done) in the name of biblical theology! We must allow Scripture to tell us its own literary character, and be willing to receive it as what it claims to be. It may be thought that the historic Protestant use of the word ‘literal’ which we have here been concerned to explain is so unnatural on modern lips, and that such a weight of misleading association now attaches to the term, that it would be wisest to drop it altogether. We argued earlier that the word ‘fundamentalist’ should be dropped, as having become a barrier to mutual understanding, and the case may well be the same here. We do not contend for words. We are not bound to cling to ‘literal’ as part of our theological vocabulary; it is not itself a biblical term, and we can state evangelical principles of interpretation without recourse to it (as indeed, we did in the opening sentences of this section); and perhaps it is better that we should. If we do abandon the word, however, we must not abandon the principle which it enshrines: namely, that Scripture is to be interpreted in its natural, intended sense, and theological predilections must not be allowed to divert us from loyalty to what the text actually asserts.

b. Interpreting Scripture by Scripture
The second basic principle of interpretation is that Scripture must interpret Scripture; the scope and significance of one passage is to be brought out by relating it to others. Our Lord gave an example of this when he used Gn. ii.24 to show that Moses’ law of divorce was no more than a temporary concession to human hard-heartedness. The Reformers termed this principle the analogy of Scripture; the Westminster Confession states it thus: “The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” This is so in the nature of the case, since the various inspired books are dealing with complementary aspects of the same subject. The rule means that we must give ourselves in Bible study to following out the unities, cross-references and topical links which Scripture provides. Kings and Chronicles throw light on each other; so do the prophets and history books of the Old Testament; so do the Synoptic Gospels and John; so do the four Gospels and the Epistles; so, indeed, do the Old Testament as a whole and the New. And there is one book in the New Testament which links up with almost everything that the Bible contains: that is the Epistle to the Romans, of which Calvin justly wrote in the Epistle prefacing his commentary on it: “If a man understands it, he has a sure road opened for him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.” In Romans, Paul brings together and sets out in systematic relation all the great themes of the Bible—sin, law, judgment, faith, works, grace, justification, sanctification, election, the plan of salvation, the work of Christ, the work of the Spirit, the Christian hope, the nature and life of the Church, the place of Jew and Gentile in the purposes of God, the philosophy of Church and of world history, the meaning and message of the Old Testament, the duties of Christian citizenship, the principles of personal piety and ethics. From the vantage-point given by Romans, the whole landscape of the Bible is open to view, and the broad relation of the parts to the
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whole becomes plain. The study of Romans is the fittest starting-point for biblical interpretation and theology.

c. Problems and Difficulties
The scientific study of Scripture is a complicated and exacting task. The biblical languages have their own distinctive idioms and thought-forms. Each writer has his own habits of mind, vocabulary, outlook and interests. Each book has its own character, and is written according to stylistic conventions which it is not always easy to see. Each book has its own historical and theological background, and must be interpreted against that background; thus, we should not look in the Old Testament for clear statements about the Trinity, or the believer’s hope of a future life, for these things were not fully revealed till Christ came. All these factors must be borne in mind, or we shall misinterpret Scripture. This does not mean that only trained scholars can study the Bible to any profit. Its central message is so plainly stated in the text that the most unlearned of those who have ears to hear and eyes to see can understand it. “The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” The technicalities of scholarship may be out of the ordinary Bible-reader’s reach, but none the less he can, with God’s blessing, grasp all the main truths of God’s message. ‘Those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.’ It is only over secondary matters that problems arise. Here, however, ignorance of the background of biblical statements and allusions, coupled (no doubt) with failure to enter adequately into the writers’ minds, leave us on occasion in doubt as to what texts mean, and how they fit in with other texts and with the rest of the Word of God. But these uncertainties affect only the outer fringes of the biblical revelation. And in fact, this class of problem steadily yields to patient study as our knowledge grows. As in all scientific enquiry, however, the solution of one problem raises another and we have no reason to expect that all the problems that crop up in biblical exposition will ever be completely solved in this world.
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An idea that persistently haunts some people is that the presence in Scripture of passages which are hard to harmonize is an argument against regarding it as God’s Word written in the sense we have explained, and that one is not entitled so to regard it until one has first reconciled all the seeming discrepancies to one’s own satisfaction. If this were right, every apparent contradiction would be a valid reason for doubting the truth of the biblical doctrine of Scripture. But the idea rests on a confusion. Christians are bound to receive the Bible as God’s Word written on the authority of Christ, not because they can prove it such by independent enquiry, but because as disciples they trust their divine Teacher. We have pointed out already that no article of Christian faith admits of full rational demonstration as, say, geometrical theorems do; all the great biblical doctrines—the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the work of the Spirit in man, the resurrection of the body and the renewal of the creation—are partly mysterious, and raise problems for our minds that are at present insoluble. The doctrine of Scripture is no exception to this rule. But that should not daunt, nor even surprise us; for it is the very nature of Christian faith to believe, on the authority of God, truths which may neither be rationally demonstrated nor exhaustively understood. We must remember that God does not tell us everything about His acts and purposes, nor put us in a position to work them all out for ourselves. We shall not reach right views about the things of God by

backing our independent judgment, but only by taking His word. We are wholly dependent on Him for our knowledge of His ways. God, then, does not profess to answer in Scripture all the questions that we, in our boundless curiosity, would like to ask about Scripture. He tells us merely as much as He sees we need to know as a basis for our life of faith. And He leaves unsolved some of the problems raised by what He tells us, in order to teach us a humble trust in His veracity. The question, therefore, that we must ask ourselves when faced with these puzzles is not, is it reasonable to imagine that this is so? but, is it reasonable to accept God’s assurance that this is so? Is it reasonable to take God’s word and believe that He has spoken the truth, even though I cannot fully comprehend what He has said? The question carries its own answer. We should not abandon faith in anything that God has taught us merely because we cannot solve all the problems which it raises. Our own intellectual competence is not the test and measure of divine truth. It is not for us to stop believing because we lack understanding, or to postpone believing till we can get understanding, but to believe in order that we may understand; as Augustine said, “unless you believe, you will not understand.” Faith first, sight afterwards, is God’s order, not vice versa; and the proof of the sincerity of our faith is our willingness to have it so. Therefore, just as we should not hesitate to commit ourselves to faith in the Trinity although we do not know how one God can be three Persons, nor to faith in the incarnation, although we do not know how the divine and human natures combined in the Person of Christ, so we should not hesitate to commit ourselves to faith in Scripture as the infallible Word of the infallible God, even though we cannot solve all the puzzles, nor reconcile all the apparent contradictions, with which in our present state of knowledge it confronts us. On all these articles of faith we have God’s positive assurance; and that should be enough. Accordingly, our methods of interpreting Scripture must be such as express faith in its truth and consistency as God’s Word. Our approach must be harmonistic; for we know at the outset that God’s utterance is not selfcontradictory. Article XX of the Church of England lays down that it is not lawful for the Church so to “expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another”; no more is it lawful for any individual exegete. Not that we should adopt strained and artificial expedients for harmonizing; this will neither glorify God nor edify us. What we cannot harmonize by a natural and plausible hypothesis is best left unharmonized, with a frank admission that in our present state of knowledge we do not see how these apparent discrepancies should be resolved. We may not, with the heretic Marcion and some modern Liberals, “criticize the Bible by the Bible”, singling out some parts of Scripture as the authentic Word of God and denying the divine character of the rest because it seems to say something different from the parts approved; instead, we should confess the divine origin of all the Scriptures, and be guided in interpreting them by Augustine’s axiom: “I do not doubt that their authors therein made no mistake and set forth nothing that might mislead. If in one of these books I stumble across something which seems opposed to the truth, I have no hesitation in saying that either my copy is faulty, or the translator has not fully grasped what was said” (Augustine read Scripture in Latin), “or else I myself have not fully understood.” We must base our study of Scripture on the assumption that governed the New Testament men in their study of the Old— that God’s revealed truth is a consistent unity, and any disharmony between part and part is only apparent, not real.

d. The Holy Spirit as Interpreter

One final point concerning interpretation remains to be made. Scripture tells us that if we are to understand Scripture we need, over and above right rules, personal insight into spiritual things. Scripture sets before us spiritual truths— truths, that is, about God, and about created things in relation to God; and to grasp spiritual truths requires spiritual receptiveness. But no man has this by nature. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The habit of mind which enslaves the natural man, Paul tells us, is to set up his own “wisdom” and make it ultimate, and so he is compelled to dismiss as foolishness all that does not accord with it. Without spiritual enlightenment, he will never be able to see the foolishness of his own wisdom, nor the wisdom of the “foolishness of God” proclaimed in the gospel; hence he will never forsake the one for the other. Our Lord confirms this view of man. His repeated diagnosis of the unbelieving Pharisees was that they were blind, lacking the capacity to perceive spiritual realities; and He regarded spiritual perception, where He found it, as a supernatural gift from God.
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Now, the Holy Spirit has been sent to the Church as its Teacher, to guide Christians into truth, to make them wise unto salvation, to testify to them of Christ and to glorify Him thereby. To the apostles, He came to remind them of Christ’s teaching, to show them its meaning, to add further revelation to it, and so to equip them to witness to all about their Lord. To other men, He comes to make them partakers of the apostolic faith through the apostolic word. Paul indicates the permanent relation between the Spirit, the apostles’ word and the rest of the Church in 1 Cor. ii.10-16. The Spirit, he says, gave the apostles understanding of the gospel: “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God”; “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” Now the Spirit inspires and empowers their proclamation of these things to other men: “which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth”; Paul preaches, and knows that he preaches, “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”. And “he that is spiritual”—he in whom the Spirit abides to give understanding—discerns the meaning of the message and receives it as the testimony of God. This applies no less to the apostolic word written than to the apostolic word preached; and no more to the apostolic writings than to the rest of the written Word of God. The Spirit, who was its author, is also its interpreter, and such understanding of it as men gain is His gift.
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Not that the Spirit’s presence in men’s hearts makes patient study of the text unnecessary. The Spirit is not given to make Bible study needless, but to make it effective. Nor can anything in Scripture mean anything when the Spirit interprets. The Spirit is not the prompter of fanciful spiritualizing, or of applications of texts out of their contexts on the basis of accidental associations of words. The only meaning to which He bears witness is that which each text actually has in the organism of Scripture; such witness as is borne to other meanings is borne by other spirits. But without the Spirit’s help there can be no grasp of the message of Scripture, no conviction of the truth of Scripture, and no faith in the God of Scripture. Without the Spirit, nothing is possible but spiritual blindness and unbelief. It follows that the Christian must approach the study of Scripture in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit, sure that he can learn from it nothing of spiritual significance unless he is taught of God. Confidence in one’s own powers of discernment is an effective barrier to spiritual understanding. The selfconfidence of nineteenth-century critical scholarship was reflected in its slogan that the Bible must be read like any other book; but the Bible is more than a

merely human book, and understanding it involves more than appreciating its merely human characteristics. God’s book does not yield up its secrets to those who will not be taught of the Spirit. Our God-given textbook is a closed book till our God-given Teacher opens it to us. A century of criticism has certainly thrown some light on the human side of the Bible—its style, language, composition, history and culture; but whether it has brought the Church a better understanding of its divine message than Evangelicals of two, three and four hundred years ago possessed is more than doubtful. It is not at all clear that we today comprehend the plan of salvation, the doctrines of sin, election, atonement, justification, new birth and sanctification, the life of faith, the duties of churchmanship and the meaning of Church history, more clearly than did the Reformers, or the Puritans, or the leaders of the eighteenth-century revival. When it is claimed that modern criticism has greatly advanced our understanding of the Bible, the reply must be that it depends upon what is meant by the Bible; criticism has thrown much light on the human features of Scripture, but it has not greatly furthered our knowledge of the Word of God. Indeed, it seems truer to say that its effect to date has been rather to foster ignorance of the Word of God; for by concentrating on the human side of Scripture it has blurred the Church’s awareness of the divine character of scriptural teaching, and by questioning biblical statements in the name of scholarship it has shaken confidence in the value of personal Bible study. Hence, just as the Mediævals tended to equate Church tradition with the Word of God, so modern Protestants tend to equate the words of scholars with the Word of God. We have fallen into the habit of accepting their pronouncements at second hand without invoking the Spirit’s help to search Scripture and see, not merely whether what they say is so (in so far as the lay Bible student is qualified to judge this), but also—often more important—whether God’s Word does not deal with more than the limited number of topics with which scholars at any one time are concerned. The result of this negligence is widespread ignorance among Churchmen as to what Scripture actually says. So it always is when the Church forgets how to search the Scriptures acknowledging its own blindness and looking to God’s Spirit to teach it God’s truth. There is no more urgent need today than that the Church should humble itself to learn this lesson once more. We have now presented in positive outline the biblical approach to Scripture. Its text is word for word God-given; its message is an organic unity, the infallible Word of an infallible God, a web of revealed truth centered upon Christ; it must be interpreted in its natural sense, on the assumption of its inner harmony; and its meaning can be grasped only by those who humbly seek and gladly receive the help of the Holy Spirit.

1. Tyndale, Works (Parker Society), I. 304 ff. The judicious Richard Hooker was making the same point when he wrote: “I hold it for a most infallible rule in the exposition of Scripture, that when a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the literal is commonly the worst” (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, V. lix. 2). 2. For a good short review of some of the narrative and didactic forms of Scripture, see J. Stafford Wright, Interpreting the Bible (Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1955). 3. P. 102 above. 4. Mt. xix. 3-8, dealing with Dt. xxiv. I.

5. Westminster Confession, I. ix. 6. Ps. cxix. 130,

7. Westminster Confession, I. vii. 8. Cf. 2 Pet. iii.16. 9. Ep. lxxxii. 10. 1 Cor. ii:14. 11. 1 Cor. i.25; see the whole passage, i.18 ff. 12. Mt. xv.14, xxiii.16, 17, 19, 26; Jn. ix.39-41. 13. Mt. xi.25, xvi.17. 14. Jn. xiv.26, xv.26, xvi.13, 14. 15. Jn. xiv.26, xvi.12, 13, xvii.20. 16. 1 Cor. ii.4.

James I. Packer was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1926. In 1952 he was ordained as a minister in the Church of England. He was educated at Oxford University (BA, 1948, MA and D.Phil., 1954). He became recognized as a leader in the Evangelical movement in the Church of England. In 1978, he signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed the conservative position on inerrancy. In 1979 he moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he has served as Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Regent College.

Misinterpretation of Scripture by Early Heretics
Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-211) was an eminent teacher in the early Church, and was head of the catechetical school of the church in Alexandria. In his Stromata ('Miscellanies' written around A.D. 200), Book 7, chapter 16, he made some observations about the abuse of Scripture by certain heretics in his day. His remarks may just as well serve as a description of heretical Scripture-wresting in all ages. The English translation below is from The Ante-Nicene Christian Library, volume II.
... But if it is not enough merely to state the opinion, but if what is stated must be confirmed, we do not wait for the testimony of men, but we establish the matter that is in question by the voice of the Lord, which is the surest of all demonstrations, or rather is the only demonstration; in which knowledge those who have merely tasted the Scriptures are believers; while those who, having advanced further, and become correct expounders of the truth, are [the true] Gnostics.* Since also, in what pertains to life, craftsmen are superior to ordinary people, and model what is beyond common notions; so, consequently, we also, giving a complete exhibition of the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, from faith persuade by demonstration. And if those also who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of the prophetic Scriptures; in the first place they will not make use of all the Scriptures, and then they will not quote them entire, nor as the body and texture of prophecy prescribe. But, selecting ambiguous expressions, they wrest them to their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and there; not looking to the sense, but making use of the mere words. For in almost all the quotations they make, you will find that they attend to the names alone, while they alter the meanings; neither knowing, as they affirm, nor using the quotations they adduce, according to their true nature. But the truth is not found by changing the meanings (for so people subvert all true teaching), but in the consideration of what perfectly belongs to and becomes the Sovereign God, and in establishing each one of the points demonstrated in the Scriptures again from similar Scriptures.

Neither, then, do they want to turn to the truth, being ashamed to abandon the claims of self-love; nor are they able to manage their opinions, by doing violence to the Scriptures. But having first promulgated false dogmas to men; plainly fighting against almost the whole Scriptures, and constantly confuted by us who contradict them; for the rest, even now partly they hold out against admitting the prophetic Scriptures, and partly disparage us as of a different nature, and incapable of understanding what is peculiar to them. And sometimes even they deny their own dogmas, when these are confuted, being ashamed openly to own what in private they glory in teaching. For this may be seen in all the heresies, when you examine the iniquities of their dogmas. For when they are overturned by our clearly showing that they are opposed to the Scriptures, one of two things may be seen to have been done by those who defend the dogma. For they either despise the consistency of their own dogmas, or despise the prophecy itself, or rather their own hope. And they invariably prefer what seems to them to be more evident to what has been spoken by the Lord through the prophets and by the Gospel, and, besides, attested and confirmed by the apostles.

*Clement in his writings uses the word gnostikos in ironic opposition to those who called themselves Gnostics in his day. Against the extravagant doctrines of Gnostic heretics he aimed to promote a true gnosis or Christian philosophy, on the basis of the Scriptures.

Quotations on Biblical Interpretation
"If God has condescended to address men in the full particularity of their peculiar historical and cultured environments, then we have got to immerse ourselves fully and sympathetically in those environments, with their customs and values, ways of thinking and patterns of imagery, before we can understand either his demand or their response." —D.E. Nineham, The Church's Use of the Bible Past and Present (London: SPCK, 1963), p. 161. "As a Protestant I cherish the New Testament teaching on the priesthood of believers—that each Christian has the right to his own interpretation, but also that each Christian has the responsibility to get it right. If an individual Christian wrongly interprets and then misapplies the Word, the scope of his error may not be very wide. But when the leaders of the church do this, the impact can be vast. For this reason Paul tells Timothy to 'be zealous to show yourself approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed'; and why James declares that 'Not many of you should become teachers.'" —Daniel Wallace, "Biblical Gynecology" (2001). "... the main reason for studying texts, particularly old ones, is to expand the mind by introducing it to the immense possibilities in human actions and thoughts — to see and feel what other men have seen and felt, to know what they have known. Furthermore, none of these expansive benefits comes to the man who simply discovers his own meanings in someone else's text and who, instead of encountering another person, merely encounters himself." —E. D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (New Haven: Yale, 1967), pp. 25-6. "[Dynamic equivalence] translations (again, most Bibles today) often change the language, images, and metaphors of Scripture to make understanding easier. But for serious study, readers need a translation that is more transparent to the 'otherness' of Scripture. We need a translation that allows the Bible to say what it says, even if that seems strange and odd to readers at first glance. If God is 'other' than we are, we should be willing to work at the 'otherness' of the Bible, in order to understand what the Lord is saying through his Word. The purpose of the Bible is not to

make Jesus like us, but to make us like Christ. The Bible is designed to change us, to make us different, heirs of Abraham according to the promise fulfilled in Christ (Acts 2) ... By seeking familiar modern meanings, these newer translations make it much harder to see the deep biblical pattern of Paul's thought. They obscure the words and metaphors by which the Spirit has woven a coherent tapestry of meaning that stretches from Genesis to Revelation. This practice removes the information we need to understand, because it hides the Bible's dynamic unity and coherence ... Biblical metaphors drop into our hearts like a seed in soil and make us think, precisely because they are not obvious at first. The translator who removes biblical metaphors to make the text 'easier' for readers may defeat the purpose of the Holy Spirit, who chose a metaphor in the first place. Metaphors grab us and work on us and in us. They have the spiritual power to transform our minds. The abandonment of basic biblical metaphors in many translations follows naturally from [dynamic equivalence] theory, because the target languages may not use such expressions. But it is the foreignness of metaphors that is their virtue. Metaphors make us stop and think, Now what does that mean? ... The Bible creates a vast context of meaning through cross references and allusions, phrases and metaphors, echoes and types. For readers to discover this type of biblical meaning in their translations, translators of the Bible must be constantly aware of parallel passages, expressions, and images. Where this does not happen, much of the text's actual meaning may be lost, often to be replaced by modern meanings. —Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, "We Really Do Need Another Bible Translation," Christianity Today, Vol. 45, No. 13 (October 22, 2001), p. 28. "Individualistic reading of the Bible is unbiblical." —Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, "We Really Do Need Another Bible Translation," Christianity Today, Vol. 45, No. 13 (October 22, 2001), p. 28. "In the holy scriptures you can make no progress unless you have a guide to show you the way ... The art of interpreting the scriptures is the only one of which all men everywhere claim to be masters ... The babbling old woman, the doting old man, and the wordy sophist, one and all take in hand the Scriptures, rend them in pieces and teach them before they have learned them. Some with brows knit and bombastic words, contrary to one another, philosophize concerning the sacred writings among weak women. Others (I blush to say it) learn from women what they are to teach men; and as if even this were not enough, they boldly explain to others what they themselves by no means understand. I say nothing of persons who, like myself have been familiar with secular literature before they have come to the study of the holy scriptures. Such men when they charm the popular ear by the finish of their style suppose every word they say to be a law of God. They do not deign to notice what Prophets and apostles have intended but they adapt the most incongruous passages to fit their own interpretation, as if it were a grand way of teaching—and not rather the faultiest of all—to misrepresent a writer's views and to force the reluctant scriptures to do their will. —St. Jerome, to Paulinus (Letter LIII), A.D. 394. "Liberal preachers have tended to use Biblical texts as ornaments, attached to already arrived-at conclusions and convictions — a 'resource' rather than a 'source.' As an atheist put it: 'You hear what the psychologist says, what the historian says, what the New York Times editorial writer says, and then the sermon concludes with, And perhaps Jesus said it best..."' —Martin Copenhaver, 'The Making of a Postliberal,' Christian Century, Oct. 14, 1998, p. 937.

"Since we ought to be satisfied with the Word of God alone, what purpose is served by hearing sermons every day, or even the office of pastors? Has not every person the opportunity of reading the Bible? But Paul assigns to teachers the duty of dividing or cutting, as if a father in giving food to his children, were dividing the bread and cutting it in small pieces." —John Calvin "I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature pure theology cannot at all endure, just as heretofore, when letters have declined and lain prostrate, theology, too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate; nay, I see that there has never been a great revelation of the Word of God unless he has first prepared the way by the rise and prosperity of languages and letters, as though they were John the Baptists …. Certainly it is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies, as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily. ... Therefore I beg of you that at my request (if that has any weight) you will urge your young people to be diligent in the study of poetry and rhetoric." —Martin Luther, Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523. Werke, Weimar edition, Luthers Briefwechsel, III, 50. "The use of the Old Testament as the Canon of the divine revelation of the old covenant presupposes a determinate apprehension and exposition of its contents. But in every exposition of a book there is not a mere passive reception of its contents; there takes place an adjustment of the spiritual ideas of the expositor with the thoughts and teaching contained in the book which he is to expound. Consequently the purport of the Old Testament assumed various forms, as this was developed by exposition: and this not only according to the greater or smaller intellectual capacity of the interpreters to penetrate into its course of thought and its peculiar contents, as these were to be believed and taught; but also according to the relations subsisting between the expositor's principles in the views he takes, which are more or less under the dominion of the general spirit of his time and his people, and the purport of Scripture objectively set before him. The more the expositor is animated and borne along by the religious spirit which produced the Scriptures, just the more easily will he rightly understand and explain its sense and spirit. On the contrary, the more that the predominant spirit of the age, under whose influence the expositor is placed, or the chief interest of the kind of spiritual life which fills him, is removed from the spirit of Scripture, just the more difficult will it be for him to succeed in adjusting his ideas and views with the thoughts contained in Scripture, so that his exposition may develop the true sense of Scripture in a simple and natural manner." —Karl Friedrich Keil, Manual of Historico-Critical Introduction to the Canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament, trans. by George C.M. Douglas, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1870), p. 378.

The Use of Cross-References

One of the fundamental principles of Protestant biblical interpretation is that "Scripture is its own best interpreter." Luther expressed this principle with the words, Scriptura sui ipsius interpres ("Scripture is its own expositor"), and it was summed up by the authors of the Westminster Confession thus: "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture ... it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly." For this reason the most important feature of any edition of the Bible (aside from the quality of the translation itself) is the system of crossreferences provided in the margin, which helps the reader to find out the meaning of any hard place by "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor 2:13). A good set of crossreferences, when used diligently and with intelligence, will make much commentary unnecessary. One of the most useful study editions of the English Bible ever published, the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, has nothing but subject headings and cross-references in the margin, with index numbers pointing to a topical concordance in the back of the volume. Many a student has found that with the patient use of this convenient system, the Bible is virtually self-interpreting. Other less elaborate "Reference" editions will serve the same purpose for students of the English Bible. The cross-references ordinarily published in editions of the New American Standard Bible are especially full and helpful, and another very good set of references is to be found in the "Classic Reference Bible" edition of the English Standard Version. But the best resource by far in this department is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, first published in the 1800's and available in many reprints. This volume provides over a half million cross-references, with most verses of the Bible having more than a dozen references each. Students who are able to use a Greek New Testament will find invaluable help in the cross-references given in the side margins of the Nestle-Aland editions (though not in the UBS editions which use the same text). Frederick Danker in the third edition of his book Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study (1970) gives ten pages (27-36) to showing how helpful these margins can be, and says, "These are virtually inexhaustible mines of information. The average student is unaware of their potentialities, and many a preacher has wearied himself in vain while the answer to the problems in his text lay a few centimeters to the right." Likewise, the lateral margins of the Expositor's Greek Testament give much help in the form of cross-references, quite aside from the exegetical commentary at the bottom of the page. Indeed we might say that the cross-references nearly always suffice to explain the text, without the commentary, because it really is true that "Scripture is its own expositor." Such cross-references will go far to explain nearly everything in the Bible chiefly because, as Ray Van Leeuwen puts it, "The language, imagery, narratives and poetry of Scripture are pervasively cross-referential." The verbal "cross-references" are there in the very language of Scripture, and these were apparent to diligent students long before anyone had the idea of dividing the text into numbered verses and filling the margins with references. Many times students have grasped the correct interpretation of a difficult expression by remembering a parallel usage somewhere else in Scripture, or have hit upon the right interpretation of a passage by comparing it with another passage. What we have now in the margins of our reference Bibles is the scholarly deposit of generations of such insights, laid out for our inspection -- if we will only take the time to look them up.

The cross-referential nature of the Bible is most plainly seen by English readers who have become familiar with the words of an essentially literal translation, because the original "cross-references" are the verbal details which are reproduced in a literal translation. For this reason, the habitual use of a literal translation gives students the same "referential" capability which is given by cross-references. Below is an excerpt from Leland Ryken's book, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2002), pp. 149-151, in which the cross-referential advantages of an essentially literal translation are explained more fully.

The Unity and Interrelatedness of the Bible
Some principles of biblical interpretation belong to the realm of general hermeneutics -principles that apply to the interpretation of any text, whether in the Bible or the Harvard Classics. Other principles apply specifically to the Bible and are known as special or particular hermeneutics. The subject of the unified network of cross-references and foreshadowings and echoes that we find in the Bible is perhaps the preeminent example of special hermeneutics. As an entry into this complex subject, I would ask you to picture the pages of a Bible with cross-references listed in the margin. I would note first that the Bible is the only book I know where this format regularly appears. Even after we have eliminated the somewhat arbitrary listing of passages that express similar ideas or simply use identical words, we are left with an anthology of diverse writings that are unified by an interlocking and unified system of theological ideas, images, and motifs. Together the diverse elements make up a single composite story and worldview known as salvation history. Biblical interpretation has legitimately been preoccupied with tracing the intricacies of this system of references. Of particular importance has been the use that New Testament writers make of the Old Testament. Often a New Testament writer will evoke an Old Testament passage in such a way as to show its fulfillment in the New Testament, though many different scenarios also exist. To cite a random example, the poet in Psalm 16 at one point expresses his trust in God's providence and goodness with the claim that 'you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption' (verse 10, ESV). In the book of Acts we find a sermon of Paul in which he quotes this verse and applies it to Christ (Acts 13:35-39). The relevence of this to Bible translation is that although biblical interpretation insists on the importance of the network of cross-references, some Bible translations and translation theories do a much better job of retaining the system of cross-references than other translations do. It is easy to see why dynamic equivalent translations have been nervous about the New Testament metaphors and technical theological vocabulary that are rooted in Old Testament religious rituals. The New Testament references are frequently odd and difficult. That modern readers will find such references easy to understand is out of the question. But to remove them from sight violates a leading tenet of biblical hermeneutics. Many of the New Testament references of which I speak pick up something from the Old Testament system of sacrifices and offerings and turn it to metaphoric use in discussing some aspect of the Christian faith. James 1:18 provides a typical example: 'Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation' (ESV). The mention of firstfruits is an evocative allusion to one of the three most important annual festivals in Old Testament religion. The firstfruits were the first portions of a crop. It is impossible to overemphasize how evocative the first portion of a crop is in an agrarian society. (From my childhood on a farm I can remember the thrill of seeing the radishes that appeared on the supper table every spring as the first produce of our

garden.) In the Old Testament religious rituals, firstfruits were presented to God as part of the annual harvest festival known as the Feast of Weeks (also called Pentecost). When New Testament writers refer to believers as God's firstfruits, they are tying into a multilayered set of associations between believers and the firstfruits of Old Testament offerings to God. The first wave of believers were literally first -- the first of a long line of subsequent believers. In addition to these metaphoric meanings, by using the Old Testament frame of reference the New Testament writers were participating in the grand drama of unifying images and motifs that thread their way through the Bible. All of this gets lost in the following renditions of James's statement that believers are 'a kind of firstfruits of his creation':
• • • • 'He wanted us to be his own special people' (CEV). 'And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession' (NLT). '...showing us off as the crown of all his creatures' (The Message). '...so that we should have first place among all his creatures' (GNB).

By excising the reference to firstfruits, these translations eliminate the way in which James's statement positions itself in the unifying story of the Bible as a whole. The scholar who has written on this most incisively is Ray Van Leeuwen, who provides further examples and concludes this about a good translation: 'By consistency in rendering biblical expressions and metaphors, it helps readers see the unity and coherence of Scripture, how one part echoes or enriches another.' And again,

The language, imagery, narratives and poetry of Scripture are pervasively cross-referential. Much of the New Testament material consists of quotations, paraphrases, or allusions to Old Testament texts ... My argument is thus that the massive text we call the Bible is itself the primary context of meaning within which we must find the meaning of each smaller unit of text. (2)

Special hermeneutics tells us to respect the interrelatedness of Old Testament and New Testament references. Some dynamic equivalent translations fail to show that respect. Contrariwise, essentially literal translations and some dynamic equivalent translations preserve the network of cross-references. These translations assume that Bible readers will find the inner and outer resources to ascertain the meaning of a reference to firstfruits. Translations that are unwilling to make that assumption and that aim for immediate comprehension by an uninitiated reader are compelled by their very theory to abandon a hermeneutical principle that is a central tenet of evangelical hermeneutics, thereby obscuring the meaning of the original.

1. Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, 'We Really Do Need Another Bible Translation,' Christianity Today, October 22, 2001, p. 34. 2. Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, 'On Bible Translation and Hermeneutics,' in After Pentecost: Language and Biblical Interpretation, ed. Craig Bartholomew et al (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), pp. 306-307.

Irenæus on ‘the Treasure Hid in the Scriptures’
Irenæus was one of the leading churchmen of the second century. Around the year 178 he became bishop of the churches in Lyons. At that time Gnostic heresies were flourishing, and so shortly after his ordination as bishop, Irenæus wrote a five-part treatise against them called "The Refutation and Overthrow of

the Knowledge (Gnosis) Falsely So Called." Later writers referred to this work as Irenæus' Five Books Against the Heresies (Adversus Hæreses). Among the many errors of the Gnostics was their opinion that the Old Testament was not to be regarded as canonical Scripture. They contended that many things in the Old Testament did not agree with the message of the New Testament (as they understood it), and so they rejected it. But Irenæus argued that the Old Testament is a thoroughly Christian book when it is rightly understood. Below we give an excerpt from the fourth book of Adversus Hæreses, in which Ireanæus explains the right approach to the interpretation of the Old Testament.
A NOTE ON SOURCES. Irenæus wrote his book in Greek (at that time Greek was still commonly used even in Gaul), and during the third century a Latin version was published by an unknown translator. The Greek text has not survived. The work has come down to us only in copies of the Latin version, except for some portions of the original Greek preserved as quotations in writings of the Greek Fathers. For our passage, we present the Latin text with notes from the edition of Harvey: Sancti Irenæi Libros Quinque Adversus Hæreses; textu græco in locis nonnullis locupletato, versione latina cum codicibus Claromontano ac Arundeliano denuo collata, præmissa de placitis Gnosticorum prolusione, fragmenta necnon Græce, Syriace, Armeniace commentatione perpetua et indicibus variis edidit W. Wigan Harvey, vol. 2 (Cambridge: University Press, 1857), pp. 234-6. The English translation is by Alexander Roberts and William H. Rambaut, published in the Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 5, The Writings of Irenæus I (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1868), iv.26.1.

Χριστος εστιν ο θησαυρος ο κεκρυμμενος εν αγρω The Treasure Hid in the Scriptures is Christ
Si quis igitur intentus legat Scripturas, If any one, therefore, reads the Scriptures inveniet in iisdem de Christo sermonem, et with attention, he will find in them an novæ vocationis præfigurationem. Hic est account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of enim thesaurus absconsus in agro, id est, the new calling [vocationis]. For Christ is in isto mundo: (Ager enim mundus est,) the treasure which was hid in the field, absconsus vero in Scripturis thesaurus that is, in this world (for "the field is the Christus, quoniam per typos et parabolas world"); but the treasure hid in the significabatur, unde poterat hoc quod Scriptures is Christ, since He was pointed secundum hominem est intelligi, out by means of types and parables. Hence priusquam consummatio eorum quæ His human nature could not be consummata sunt veniret, quæ est understood, prior to the consummation of adventus Christi? Et propter hoc Danieli those things which had been predicted, prophetæ dicebatur: Muni sermones, et that is, the advent of Christ. And therefore signa librum usque ad tempus it was said to Daniel the prophet: "Shut up consummationis, quoadusque discant the words, and seal the book even to the multi, et adimpleatur agnitio. In eo enim time of consummation, until many learn, cum perficietur dispersio, cognoscent and knowledge be completed. For at that omnia hæc. Sed et Hieremias ait: In time, when the dispersion shall be novissimis diebus intelligent ea. Omnis accomplished, they shall know all these enim prophetia, priusquam habeat things." But Jeremiah also says, "In the
(1) (1) (2) (2) (3) (3) (4) (4)

effectum, ænigmata et ambiguitates sunt hominibus. Cum autem venerit tempus, et evenerit quod prophetatum est, tunc prophetiæ habent liquidam et certam expositionem. Et proper hoc quidem Judæis cum legitur Lex in hoc nunc tempore, fabulæ similis est: non enim habent expositionem omnium rerum pertinentem ad adventum Filii Dei, qui est secundum hominem: a Christianis vero cum legitur, thesaurus est, absconsus in agro, cruce vero Christi revelatus est, et explanatus, et ditans sensum hominum, et ostendens sapientiam Dei, et eas quæ sunt erga hominem dispositiones ejus
(4) (5) (5)

last days they shall understand these things." For every prophecy, before its fulfilment, is to men [full of] enigmas and ambiguities. But when the time has arrived, and the prediction has come to pass, then the prophecies have a clear and certain exposition. And for this reason, indeed, when at this present time the law is read to the Jews, it is like a fable; for they do not possess the explanation of all things pertaining to the advent of the Son of God, which took place in human nature; but when it is read by the Christians, it is a treasure, hid indeed in a field, but brought to light by the cross of Christ, and

manifestans, et Christi regnum præformans, et hæreditatem sanctæ Hierusalem præevangelisans, et prænuntians, quoniam in tantum homo diligens Deum proficiet, ut etiam videat Deum, et audiat sermonem ejus, et ex auditu loquelæ ejus in tantum glorificari, uti reliqui non possint intendere in faciem gloriæ ejus, quemadmodum dictum est a Daniele: Quoniam intelligentes fulgebunt, quemadmodum claritas firmamenti, et a multis justis sicut stellæ in sæcula, et adhuc. Quemadmodum igitur ostendimus, si quis legat Scripturas. Etenim Dominus sic disseruit discipulis post resurrectionem suam a mortuis, ex ipsis Scripturis ostendens eis, quoniam oportebat pati Christum, et intrare in gloriam suam, et in nomine ejus remissionem peccatorum prædicari in toto mundo. Et erit consummatus discipulus, et similis patrifamilias qui de thesauro suo profert nova et vetera.
(6) (7) (8)

1. Ar. omits thesaurus Christus. 2. Unde. The translator read μη εδυνατο...; Mass. inserts non. 3. For consummata I offer the conjectural emendation of concionata.

explained, both enriching the understanding of men, and showing forth the wisdom of God and declaring His dispensations with regard to man, and forming the kingdom of Christ beforehand, and preaching by anticipation the inheritance of the holy Jerusalem, and proclaiming beforehand that the man who loves God shall arrive at such excellency as even to see God, and hear His word, and from the hearing of His discourse be glorified to such an extent, that others cannot behold the glory of his countenance, as was said by Daniel: "Those who do understand, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and many of the righteous as the stars for ever and ever." Thus, then, I have shown it to be, if any one read the Scriptures. For thus it was that the Lord discoursed with the disciples after His resurrection from the dead, proving to them from the Scriptures themselves "that Christ must suffer, and enter into His glory, and that remission of sins should be preached in His name throughout all the world." And the disciple will be perfected, and [rendered]
(6) (7) (9)


The practice of giving a passive force to a deponent verb is not unusual with the translator, and concionor is προφητευειν. Cf. Idem hoc futurum, etiam Sibylla concionata est, Lact. iv.18. 4. Ar. omits prophetæ. ib. evenit. 5. Ar. prophetæ, and explantatus. 6. Ar. ut for quemadmodum. 7. Grabe considers the text of the following sentences to be transposed, and he takes the sentence, et erit consummatus—nova et vetera, immediately after legat Scripturas. But there is no Necessity for this. For having stated the advance towards spiritual perfection made by the Christian, Irenaus introduces the quotation from Daniel, and then resumes his subject, instancing the knowledge of Scriptural truth conveyed to his disciples by the glorified Saviour, and arrives at the conclusion, that the Christian thus throughly instructed will be as the wise householder, etc. One cause of obscurity is perhaps the rendering of φαινομεν by ostendimus, instead of lucemus or apparemus. 8. Ar. inserts et.

like the householder, "who bringeth forth from his treasure things new and old."

1. Matt. xiii. 44. 2. Matt. xiii. 38. 3. Harvey cancels "non," and reads the sentence interrogatively. 4. Dan. xii. 4, 7. 5. Jer. xxiii. 20. 6. The Latin is "a multis justis," corresponding to the Greek version of the Hebrew text. 7. Dan. xii. 3. 8. The text and punctuation are here in great uncertainty, and very different views of both are taken by the editors. 9. Luke xxiv. 26, 47. [The walk to Emmaus is the fountain-head of Scriptural exposition, and the forty days (Acts i. 3) is the river that came forth like that which went out of Eden. Ecclesiasticus iv. 31.] 10. Matt. xiii. 52. [I must express my delight in the great principle of exposition here unfolded. The Old Scriptures are a night-bound wilderness, till Christ rises and illuminates them, glorying alike hill and dale, and, as this author supposes, every shrub and flower, also, making the smallest leaf with its dewdrops glitter like the rainbow.]

New Testament Use of the Old Testament
by Roger Nicole
THE NEW Testament contains an extraordinarily large number of Old Testament quotations. It is difficult to give an accurate figure since the variation in use ranges all the way from a distant allusion to a definite quotation introduced by an explicit formula stating the citation’s source. As a result, the figures given by various authors often reflect a startling discrepancy.

The present writer has counted 224 direct citations introduced by a definite formula indicating the writer purposed to quote. To these must be added seven cases where a second quotation is introduced by the conjunction “and,” and 19 cases where a paraphrase or summary rather than a direct quotation follows the introductory formula. We may further note at least 45 instances where the similarity with certain Old Testament passages is so pronounced that, although no explicit indication is given that the New Testament author was referring to Old Testament Scripture, his

intention to do so can scarcely be doubted. Thus a very conservative count discloses unquestionably at least 295 separate references to the Old Testament. These occupy some 352 verses of the New Testament, or more than 4.4 per cent. Therefore one verse in 22.5 of the New Testament is a quotation. If clear allusions are taken into consideration, the figures are much higher: C. H. Toy lists 613 such instances, Wilhelm Dittmar goes as high as 1640, while Eugen Huehn indicates 4105 passages reminiscent of Old Testament Scripture. It can therefore be asserted, without exaggeration, that more than 10 per cent of the New Testament text is made up of citations or direct allusions to the Old Testament. The recorded words of Jesus disclose a similar percentage. Certain books like Revelation, Hebrews, Romans are well nigh saturated with Old Testament forms of language, allusions and quotations. Perusal of Nestle’s edition of the Greek New Testament, in which the Old Testament material is printed in bold face type, will reveal at a glance the extent of this practice. These facts appear even more impressive when one remembers that in New Testament times the Old Testament was not as today duplicated by the million but could be obtained only in expensive handwritten copies. If we limit ourselves to the specific quotations and direct allusions which form the basis of our previous reckoning, we shall note that 278 different Old Testament verses are cited in the New Testament: 94 from the Pentateuch, 99 from the Prophets, and 85 from the Writings. Out of the 22 books in the Hebrew reckoning of the Canon only six (Judges-Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezra-Nehemlah, Chronicles) are not explicitly referred to. The more extensive lists of Dittmar and Huehn show passages reminiscent of all Old Testament books without exception. It is to be noted that the whole New Testament contains not even one explicit citation of any of the Old Testament Apocrypha which are considered as canonical by the Roman Catholic Church. This omission can scarcely be viewed as accidental.

From beginning to end, the New Testament authors ascribe unqualified authority to Old Testament Scripture. Whenever advanced, a quotation is viewed as normative. Nowhere do we find a tendency to question, argue, or repudiate the truth of any Scripture utterance. Passages sometimes alleged to prove that the Lord and his apostles challenged at times the authority of the Old Testament, when carefully examined, turn out to bolster rather than to impair the evidence for their acceptance of Scripture as the Word of God. In Matthew 5:21-43 and 19:3-9, our Lord, far from setting aside the commandments of the Old Testament, really engages in a searching analysis of the spiritual meaning and original intent of the divine precept, and from this vantage point he applies it in a deeper and broader way than had been done before him. In some passages in which comparison is made between the revelation of the Old Testament and that of the New (John 1:17; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 3:19ff.; Hebrews 1:1, 2, and so forth), the superior glory of the New Testament is emphasized, not as in conflict with the Old, but as the perfect fulfillment of a revelation still incomplete, yet sanctioned by divine authority.

It is noteworthy that the New Testament writers and the Lord Jesus himself did not hesitate on occasion to base their whole argumentation upon one single word of Old Testament Scripture (Matthew 2:15; 4:10; 13:35; 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 4:8; 20:42, 43; John 8:17; 10:34; 19:37; Acts 23:5; Romans 4:3, 9, 23; 15:9-12; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 3:8, 10,13; Hebrews 1:7; 2:12; 3:13; 4:7; 12:26), or even on the grammatical form of one word (Galatians 3:16). Of special interest are the formulas by which the New Testament writers introduce their quotations. In a particularly significant way these formulas reflect their view of the Old Testament Scriptures, since they do not manifest any design to set forth a doctrine of Scripture, but are rather the instinctive expression of their approach to the sacred writings. The formulas emphasize strongly the divine origin of the Old Testament, and commonly (at least 56 times) refer to God as the author. In a number of passages God is represented as the speaker when the quotation is not a saying of God recorded as such in the Old Testament, but the word of Scripture itself, in fact, at times a word addressed to God by man (Matthew 19:5; Acts 4:25; 13:35; Hebrews 1:5-8, 13; 3:7; 4:4). These “can be treated as a declaration of God’s only on the hypothesis that all Scripture is a declaration of God’s” (B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, p. 143). Often passages of the Old Testament are simply attributed to the Scripture, which is thus personified as speaking (John 7:38, 42; 15:25; 19:37; Romans 4:3; 7:7; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; 1 Corinthians 14:24; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Galatians 3:8; 4:30; 1 Timothy 5:18; James 2:23; 4:5). In Romans 9:17 and Galatians 3:8 the identification between the text of Scripture and God as speaking is carried so far that the actions of God are actually ascribed to Scripture, which is represented as speaking to Pharaoh and as foreseeing justification by faith. Warfield urges that “These acts could be attributed to Scripture only as the result of such a habitual identification, in the mind of the writer, of the text of Scripture with God as speaking that it became natural to use the term ‘Scripture says,’ when what was really intended was ‘God, as recorded in Scripture, said’ “ (ibid., pp. 299 f.). The collaboration of man in the writing of Scripture is also emphasized. The names of Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Joel and Hosea appear in the formulas of quotation. It is noteworthy that, in the majority of the cases where the human author is named, reference is made not to a personal statement recorded in Scripture but to an utterance of God, which the writer was commissioned to transmit as such. In a number of passages both the divine and the human authorship appear side by side. “... which was spoken by the Lord through, the prophet... ” (Matthew 1:22). “David himself said in the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 12:36; cf. Matthew 22:43). “... the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David” (Acts 1:16; cf. 4:25). “Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet... ” (Acts 28:25). “He saith also in Hosea... ” (Romans 9:25). These passages supply clear evidence that the divine superintendence was not viewed as obliterating the human agency and characteristics of the writers, but rather, that God secured a perfectly adequate presentation of the truth through the responsible and personal agency of the men he called and prepared for this sacred task.

“It is written” is one of the frequent formulas of introduction, the one, in fact, which our Lord used three times in his temptation (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). This expression does not connote merely that an appeal is made to the written text of Scripture but, as Warfield so aptly has said, “The simple adduction in this solemn and decisive manner of a written authority carries with it the implication that the appeal is made to the indefectible authority of the Scriptures of God, which in all their parts and in every one of their declarations are clothed with the authority of God Himself” (ibid., p. 240). The use of the terms “law” (John 10:34; 15:25; Romans 3:19; 1 Corinthians 14:21), or “prophets” (Matthew 13:35), where reference is made to passages belonging, strictly speaking, to other parts of the Hebrew Canon, indicates that the New Testament writers viewed the whole Old Testament Scripture as having legal authority and prophetic character. In their formulas of quotation the New Testament writers give expression to their conviction as to the eternal contemporaneity of Scripture. This is manifest in particular in the many (41) instances where the introductory verb is in the present: “He says,” and not “he said.” This is reinforced by the use of the pronouns “we,” “you,” in connection with ancient sayings: “That which was spoken unto you by God” (Matthew 22:31); “The Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us” (Hebrews 10:15; cf. also Matthew 15:7; Mark 7:6; 12:19; Acts 4:11; 13:47; Hebrews 12:5). This implication gains explicit statement in Romans 15:4: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (cf. also Romans 4:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 9:10; 10:11). The New Testament writers used quotations in their sermons, in their histories, in their letters, in their prayers. They used them when addressing Jews or Gentiles, churches or individuals, friends or antagonists, new converts or seasoned Christians. They used them for argumentation, for illustration, for instruction, for documentation, for prophecy, for reproof. They used them in times of stress and in hours of mature thinking, in liberty and in prison, at home and abroad. Everywhere and always they were ready to refer to the impregnable authority of Scripture. Jesus Christ himself provides a most arresting example in this respect. At the very threshold of his public ministry, our Lord, in his dramatic victory over Satan’s threefold onslaught, rested his whole defense on the authority of three passages of Scripture. He quoted the Old Testament in support of his teaching to the crowds; he quoted it in his discussions with antagonistic Jews; he quoted it in answer to questions both captious and sincere; he quoted it in instructing the disciples who would have readily accepted his teaching on his own authority; he referred to it in his prayers, when alone in the presence of the Father; he quoted it on the cross, when his sufferings could easily have drawn his attention elsewhere; he quoted it in his resurrection glory, when any limitation, real or alleged, of the days of his flesh was clearly superseded. Whatever may be the differences between the pictures of Jesus drawn by the four Gospels, they certainly agree in their representation of our Lord’s attitude toward the Old Testament: one of constant use and of unquestioning endorsement of its authority.

A difficulty comes to the fore, however, when the New Testament citations are carefully compared with the original Old Testament texts. In their quotations the New Testament writers, it would

appear, use considerable freedom, touching both the letter and the meaning of the Old Testament passages. Opponents of verbal inspiration repeatedly have brought forward this objection mainly in two forms: 1. The New Testament writers, not having taken care to quote in absolute agreement with the original text of the Old Testament, it is urged, cannot have held the doctrine of plenary inspiration. Otherwise they would have shown greater respect for the letter of Scripture. 2. The New Testament writers, in quoting the Old “inaccurately” as to its letter, or “improperly” as to its sense, or both, cannot have been directed to do so by the Spirit of God. The first argument impugns mainly the inspiration of the Old Testament, the second mainly that of the New. Both will be met if it can be shown that the New Testament method of quotation is entirely proper and consistent with the highest regard for the texts cited. In the present treatment it is possible only to delineate the main principles involved, without showing their application to particular cases. We shall consider first, principles involved in the solution of difficulties arising from the New Testament manner of quoting, after which brief comments will be offered regarding the methods of interpretation exhibited by the New Testament authors in their application of Old Testament passages.

Form of Quotation
It must be recognized that each of the following principles does not find application in every case, but the writer is of the opinion that, singly or in combination, as the case may be, they provide a very satisfactory explanation of apparent discrepancies in almost all cases, and a possible solution in all cases. 1. The New Testament writers had to translate their quotations. They wrote in Greek and their source of quotations was in Hebrew. They needed therefore either to translate for themselves or to use existing translations. Now no translation can give a completely adequate and coextensive rendering of the original. A certain measure of change is inevitable, even when one is quoting by divine inspiration. When the New Testament writers wrote, there was one Greek version of the Old Testament, the LXX. It was widespread, well known, and respected in spite of some obvious defects when appraised from the standpoint of modern scholarship. In most cases, it was a fair translation of the Hebrew text, and possessed distinctive literary qualities. Its position in the ancient world is comparable to that of the Authorized Version before the Revised was published. A conscientious scholar writing nowadays in a certain language will use for his quotations from foreign sources the translations which his readers generally use. He will not attempt to correct or change them unless some mistake bears directly on his point. When slight errors or mistranslations occur, generally he will neither discuss them, for in so doing he would tend to direct the reader’s attention away from his point, nor correct them without giving notice, for this might tend to arouse the reader’s suspicion. This practice is followed by many preachers and writers who use the Authorized Version in English or Luther’s translation in German. They are often well aware that some verses rather inadequately render the Hebrew or the Greek, but no blame can be laid on them as long as they

base no argument on what is mistaken in the translation. Similarly, the writers of the New Testament could use the LXX, the only Greek version then existing, in spite of its occasional inaccuracy, and even quote passages which were somewhat inaccurately translated. To take advantage of its errors, however, would have been inadmissible. We do not find any example of a New Testament deduction or application logically inferred from the Septuagint and which cannot be maintained on the basis of the Hebrew text. Some of the recently discovered Dead Sea scrolls at times provide the Hebrew text which underlay the LXX where it differs from the Massoretic text. This is the case, for instance, in Isaiah 53:11, where the scroll Isaiah A reads “He shall see light,” thus supporting the LXX rendering. While great caution is still necessary in any textual emendation of the Massoretic text, the possibility that in some divergent translations the LXX occasionally represents the primitive Hebrew original may be held to have received some support from these discoveries. In such cases, of course, it would not only have been proper for the New Testament writers to quote from the LXX, but this would actually have been preferable. The use of the LXX in quoting does not indicate that the New Testament writers have thought of this version as inspired in itself. A fortiori they did not confer inspiration upon the translation of the passages they have used. Samuel Davidson was laboring under a regrettable confusion when he wrote: “It will ever remain inexplicable by the supporters of verbal inspiration that the words of the LXX became literally inspired as soon as they were taken from that version and transferred to the New Testament pages” (Sacred Hermeneutics, Edinburgh, Clark, 1843, p. 515). This statement misconstrues verbal inspiration. When the New Testament authors appealed to Scripture as the Word of God, it is not claimed that they viewed anything but the original communication as vested in full with divine inerrancy. Yet their willingness to make use of the LXX, in spite of its occasional defects, teaches the important lesson that the basic message which God purposed to deliver can be conveyed even through a translation, and that appeal can be made to a version insofar as it agrees with the original. It would be precarious, however, to rest an argument on any part of the LXX quotations which appears not to be conformed to the Hebrew original nor to the point of the New Testament writers, for the mere fact that the quotation was adduced in this fashion was not meant as a divine sanction upon incidental departures from the autographs. In the quotations made from the LXX we have indeed God’s seal of approval upon the contents of the Old Testament passage, but the form of the citation is affected by the language and conditions of those to whom the New Testament was first addressed. Such use of the LXX was not a case of objectionable accommodation. That the inspired Word is accommodated to humanity is an obvious fact: it is written in human languages, uses human comparisons, its parts are conditioned by the circumstances of those to whom they were at first destined, and so forth. But we cannot admit of an accommodation in which inspired writers would give formal assent to error. In their use of the LXX, however, the New Testament authors were so far from actual endorsement of error that the best scholars of all times have used similar methods in adducing translated quotations, as noted above. The frequent use of the LXX, it must also be noted, did not impose upon the New Testament authors the obligation to quote always in accordance with this version. Whenever they wanted to

emphasize an idea which was insufficiently or inadequately rendered in the LXX, they may have retranslated in whole or in part the passage in question. In certain cases the reason for their introduction of changes may remain unknown to us, but we are not on that account in a position to say either that a careful reproduction of the LXX is illegitimate or that a modification of that text is unjustifiable. 2. The New Testament writers did not have the same rules for quotations as are nowadays enforced in works of a scientific character. In particular, they did not have any punctuation signs which are so important in modern usage. a. They did not have any quotation marks, and thus it is not always possible to ascertain the exact beginning, or the real extent of quotations. They were not obliged to start actual citations immediately after an introductory formula, nor have we a right to affirm that their quotations do not end until every resemblance with the Old Testament text disappears. In certain cases they may very well have made shorter citations than is generally believed, and also may have added developments of their own, retaining some words taken from the original source but not actually intended as part of a quotation. Criticism of such passages if they were not intended as actual citations is manifestly unfair. b. They did not have any ellipsis marks. Thus special attention is not drawn to the numerous omissions they made. These ellipses, however, are not to be considered as illegitimate on that account. c. They did not have any brackets to indicate editorial comments introduced in the quotation. Thus we should not be surprised to find intentional additions, sometimes merely of one word, sometimes more extended (cf. Ephesians 6:2). d. They did not have any footnote references by which to differentiate quotations from various sources. Sometimes we find a mixture of passages of analogous content or wording, but we are not justified on that account in charging the writers with mishandling or misusing the Old Testament. We readily recognize that the New Testament writers fell into these patterns, whose legitimacy is universally granted, much more than a present-day author would. Modern punctuation rules make such practices tiresome and awkward. One tries nowadays to omit, insert or modify as little as possible in quotations, in order to avoid the complexity of repeated quotation marks, ellipsis marks, brackets, and so forth. Yet this common present usage is by no means a standard by which to judge the ancient writers. 3. The New Testament writers sometimes paraphrased their quotations. a. Under this heading we might first mention certain cases where we find a free translation of the Hebrew rather than a real paraphrase. Such a procedure certainly needs no justification, since a free translation sometimes renders the sense and impression of the original better than a more literal one. b. Slight modifications, such as a change of pronouns, a substitution of a noun for a pronoun or vice versa, transformations in the person, the tense, the mood or the voice of verbs, are

sometimes introduced in order to better suit the connection in the New Testament. These paraphrases are perhaps the most obviously legitimate of all. c. There are cases in which the New Testament writers obviously forsake the actual tenor of the Old Testament passage in order to manifest more clearly in what sense they were construing it. In this they are quite in agreement with the best modern usage, as represented, for example, in W.G. Campbell, A Form Book for Thesis Writing (New York, Houghton Mifflin 1939): “A careful paraphrase that does complete justice to the source is preferable to a long quotation” (p. 15). d. In certain cases the New Testament writers do not refer to a single passage, but rather summarize the general teaching of the canonical books on certain subjects in phrasing appropriate to the New Testament, although as to the essential thought they express indebtedness to, or agreement with, the Old Testament. This method of referring to the Old Testament teachings is obviously legitimate. The following passages might be viewed as examples of “quotations of substance,” as Franklin Johnson calls them in his able treatise on The Quotations of the New Testament from the Old Considered in the Light of General Literature (London, Baptist Tract and Book Society, 1896): Matthew 2:23; 5:31, 33; 12:3, 5; 19:7; 22:24; 24:15; 26:24, 54, 56; Mark 2:25; 9:12, 13;10:4; 12:19; 14:21, 49; Luke 2:22; 6:3; 11:49; 18:31; 20:28; 21:22; 24:27, 32, 44-46; John 1:45; 5:39, 46; 7:38, 42; 8:17; 17:12; 19:7, 28; 20:9; Acts 1:16; 3:18; 7:51; 13:22, 29; 17:2, 3; Romans 3:10; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 14:34; 15:3, 4, 25-27; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 3:22; 4:22; Ephesians 5:14; James 4:5; 2 Peter 3:12, 13. e. Finally, we must consider the possibility that the writers of the New Testament, writing or speaking for people well acquainted with the Old, may in certain cases have intended simply to refer their readers or hearers to a well-known passage of Scripture. Then, in order to suggest it to their memory they may have accurately cited therefrom some expressions, which they then placed in a general frame different from that of the original. At times the actual words quoted may have been intended merely or primarily to indicate the location of a passage, as the general context of the Old Testament in which the stipulated truth could be found, rather than as an express citation. 4. The New Testament writers often simply alluded to Old Testament passages without intending to quote them. It was quite natural that people nurtured and steeped in the oracles of God should instinctively use forms of language and turns of thought reminiscent of Old Testament Scripture. The speakers or writers, in such eases, do not profess to give forth the precise words and meaning of former revelations; their thoughts and language merely derived from these the form and direction, which by a kind of sacred instinct they took; and it does not matter for any purpose, for which the inspired oracles were given, whether the portions thus appropriated might or might not be very closely followed, and used in connections somewhat different from those in which they originally stood (Patrick Fairbairn, Hermeneutical Manual, Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1858, p. 355). Only in cases where the New Testament authors definitely manifest the intention of citing by the use of a formula of introduction can we require any strong degree of conformity. With respect to what might be viewed as formulas of introduction, the following remarks may be made:

a. Only a quotation which immediately follows such a formula is to be certainly considered as a formal citation. In cases of successive quotations “and again” always introduces an actual citation (Romans 15:11; 1 Corinthians 3:20; Hebrews 1:5; 2:13; 10:30), but in the case of “and” or “but,” or of successive quotations without any intervening link, criticisms are quite precarious, since no formal quotation may be intended. b. Even when a definite formula points directly to an Old Testament passage, we may not expect strict adherence to the letter of the source when this quotation is recorded in indirect rather than in direct discourse. In such cases we often find remarkable verbal accuracy, but we cannot criticize departure from the original when the very form of the sentence so naturally allows for it. c. When what may appear to be a citation is introduced by a form of the verbs “say” or “speak,” it is not always certain that the writer actually intended to quote. Rather, the possibility must at times be taken into consideration that we are facing an informal reference to some saying recorded in Scripture. Perhaps some of the clearest examples along this line may be found in the discourse of Stephen in Acts 7, in which free references are made to sayings of God, of Moses, and of the Jews, woven in the survey of covenant history presented by the first martyr. In Acts 7:26, a declaration of Moses is mentioned which is not found at all in the Old Testament and obviously was not intended as an actual quotation. In all cases of this type it must certainly be acknowledged that a considerable measure of freedom is legitimate and that one could scarcely expect here the exactness looked for in actual citations. The following passages may belong to this category: Matthew 2:23; 15:4; 22:32; 24:15; Mark 12:26; Acts 3:25; 7:3, 5-7, 26-28, 32-35, 40; 13:22; Romans 9:15; 11:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 3:8; Hebrews 1:5, 13; 6:14; 8:5; l0:30; 12:21, 26; 13:5; James 2:11; 1 Peter 3:6; Jude 1:14. 5. The New Testament authors sometimes recorded quotations made by others. Not all quotations in the New Testament are introduced by the writers themselves for the purpose of illustrating their narrative or bolstering their argument. Sometimes they record quotations made by the personalities who appear in the history, as by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, Stephen, the Jews, and Satan. In two cases we have a record of a reading -- Luke 4:18, 19 and Acts 8:32, 33. The New Testament writers had at their disposal at least three legitimate methods of recording such quotations: a. They could translate them directly from the original text; b. They could use the existing Septuagint and quote according to this version, as suggested earlier; c. They could translate directly from the form used by the person quoting, often presumably an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew text. A few words are needed here only with reference to the last possibility. Of course, we expect the persons quoting, at least those who were inspired (Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and probably Stephen), to quote accurately, so that in these cases no divergence from the original can be explained by the mere fact that somebody else’s quotation is recorded. Since, however, probably most of these quotations were originally made in Aramaic according to a current oral or written Aramaic translation, certain discrepancies between the Old

Testament and the New, which cannot be accounted for on the basis of the Septuagint, may have their true explanation in the use of this probable Aramaic version. 6. Other principles whose application must be limited. Under this heading we need to consider briefly three additional principles of explanation of apparent discrepancies between the text of the Old Testament and that of the New. These principles, in the writer’s opinion, may well be at times the ground of a legitimate explanation, but they ought to be handled with utmost discrimination, lest the assured present authority of Scripture appear to be placed in jeopardy. a. The texts may have been altered in the process of transmission. We have ample reasons to be grateful for the marvelous state of conservation of the text of Scripture: the New Testament possesses a degree of certainty no doubt unequalled by any other ancient text transmitted to us by manuscript; the Hebrew Old Testament has been the object of the loving and painstaking watchcare of the Jews and the accuracy of the Massoretie text has been confirmed in a striking way by the Dead Sea scrolls. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that at times an early mistake in copying may have vitiated our texts, thereby introducing a discrepancy which was not present in the autographs. Still, it would be very injudicious to indulge in unrestrained corrections of the texts on the ground of the quotations, and the present writer has not found any instance in the New Testament where such a correction might appear as the only possible legitimate explanation of a quotation difficulty. b. In the quotations, as well as in other inspired texts, the personality of the writers has been respected. It is an unsearchable mystery that the Holy Spirit could inspire the sacred writings so as to communicate his inerrancy to their very words and, at the same time, respect the freedom and personality of the writers so that we might easily recognize their style and their characteristics. The same thing is true of the quotations, for there also we may discern the individuality of the writers in their use of them, in the sources quoted, and in the method of quoting. There is, however, a dangerous distortion of this principle in the appeal made by some to slips of memory in order to explain certain difficulties in the quotations. Now the very idea of a slip of memory undermines seriously the whole structure of inerrancy and is therefore out of keeping with a consistent upholding of plenary verbal inspiration. In fact, as C. H. Toy himself recognized -- and he cannot easily be charged with undue bias in favor of the conservative view of Scripture I -- so many quotations show verbal agreement with the LXX “that we must suppose either that they were made from a written text, or, if not, that the memory of the writers was very accurate” (Quotations in the New Testament, p. xx). c. The Spirit of God was free to modify the expressions that he inspired in the Old Testament. While this is no doubt true with respect to the interpretation of Old Testament passages and with respect to allusions or distant references, the statement should not be made too glibly with respect to quotations, and some conservative writers may have been too prone to advocate this approach when other less precarious solutions might be advanced. Nevertheless, in this connection, one may well give assent to the judgment of Patrick Fairbairn: Even in those cases in which, for anything we can see, a closer translation would have served equally well the purpose of the writer, it may have been worthy of the inspiring Spirit, and perfectly consistent with the fullest inspiration of the original Scriptures, that the sense should have been

given in a free current translation; for the principle was thereby sanctioned of a rational freedom in the handling of Scripture, as opposed to the rigid formalism and superstitious regard to the letter, which prevailed among the Rabbinical Jews.... The stress occasionally laid in the New Testament upon particular words in passages of the Old... sufficiently proves what a value attaches to the very form of the Divine communication, and how necessary it is to connect the element of inspiration with the written record as it stands. It shows that God’s words are pure words, and that, if fairly interpreted, they cannot be too closely pressed. But in other cases, when nothing depended upon a rigid adherence to the letter, the practice of the sacred writers, not scrupulously to stickle about this, but to give prominence simply to the substance of the revelation, is fraught also with an important lesson; since it teaches us, that the letter is valuable only for the truth couched in it, and that the one is no further to be prized and contended for, than may be required for the exhibition of the other (op. cit., pp. 413 f.).

Meaning of the Old Testament Passages
It has been urged at times that the New Testament writers have flouted the proper laws of hermeneutics, have been guilty of artificial and rabbinical exegesis, and thus have repeatedly distorted the meaning of the Old Testament passages which they quote. 1. This type of objection may appear at first more weighty than those which affect merely the wording of the quotations, since an alleged discrepancy in meaning is more grievous than a mere divergence of form. Yet the problems raised in this area are probably less embarrassing to the advocates of plenary inspiration, since a verbal comparison is largely a matter of plain fact, while the assessment of the full extent of the meaning of a passage calls for the exercise of human individual judgment and fallible opinion. Few Christians, it is hoped, will have the presumption of setting forth their own interpretation as normative, when it runs directly counter to that of the Lord Jesus or of his apostles. 2. There is obviously a deep underlying relationship between the Old Testament and the New: one purpose pervades the whole Bible and also the various phases of human history, more especially of Israel. Thus the Old Testament can and must be considered, even in its historical narratives, as a source of prefigurements and of prophecies. It has been widely acknowledged that, in spite of certain difficult passages, the New Testament interpretation of the Old manifests a strikingly illuminating understanding of Old Testament Scripture. C. H. Dodd, although not a defender of verbal inspiration, could write: “In general... the writers of the New Testament, in making use of passages from the Old Testament, remain true to the main intention of their writers” (According to the Scriptures, London, Nisbet, 1952, p. 130). And again: “We have before us a considerable intellectual feat. The various scriptures are acutely interpreted along lines already discernible within the Old Testament canon itself or in pre-Christian Judaism -- in many cases, I believe, lines which start from their first, historical, intention -- and these lines are carried forward to fresh results” (ibid. , p. 109). 3. There are certain Old Testament passages in which the connection with the New Testament is so clear that there can hardly be doubt about their applicability and about the fact that the Old Testament writers foresaw some events or some principles of the new covenant. This is not necessary in every case, however, and the Spirit of God may very well have inspired expressions

which potentially transcended the thoughts of the sacred writers and of those to whom they addressed themselves. This certainly occurred in the case of Caiaphas (John 11:49-52), and there is no ground to deny the possibility of such a process in the inspiration of the Old Testament Scripture. 4. While the doctrine of verbal inspiration requires that we should accept any New Testament interpretation of an Old Testament text as legitimate, it does not require that such interpretation be necessarily viewed as exclusive or exhaustive of the full Old Testament meaning. In many cases the New Testament makes a particular application of principles stated in the Old, whose fulfillment is accomplished in more than a single event. Thus certain Old Testament prophecies may have conveyed to the original hearers a meaning more restricted than the perspective opened in the New Testament pages. The original understanding was a legitimate interpretation of the prophecy, yet one which does not preclude the propriety of the larger vistas, authoritatively revealed in the New Testament. 5. Not all the passages quoted in the New Testament are necessarily to be considered as definite prophecies, but many are cited as simply characterizing in a striking way the New Testament situation. At times the New Testament writers may have simply used Old Testament language without intending to imply that there is a distinct relationship of prophecy to fulfillment, or of antitype to type. 6. Writing about this subject, C. H. Toy makes a remark which he apparently intends only with respect to apostolic times, but which may well be viewed as having more general reference: “The deeper the reverence for the departed Lord and for the divine word, the greater the disposition to find him everywhere” (op. cit., p. xxv). Conservatives hope that, judged by this standard, they will not be found to have less reverence for their Lord and for the divine Word than the New Testament writers! In conclusion, one could wish to quote at length some remarks of B. B. Warfield (op. cit., pp. 218220), which for the sake of brevity we shall be constrained to summarize here. The student of Scripture is not bound to provide the solution of all the difficulties which he encounters in the Bible. It is better to leave matters unharmonized than to have recourse to strained or artificial exegesis. Even when no solution of a difficulty is offered, we are not thereby driven to assume that the problem is insoluble. Every unharmonized passage remains a case of difficult harmony and does not pass into the category of objections to plenary inspiration. It can pass into the category of objections only if we are prepared to affirm that we clearly see that it is, on any conceivable hypothesis of its meaning, clearly inconsistent with the Biblical doctrine of inspiration. In that case we would no doubt need to give up the Biblical doctrine of inspiration; but with it we must also give up our confidence in the Biblical writers as teachers of doctrine” (ibid., p. 220). It has been the writer’s privilege to devote substantial time to the consideration of all quotations of the Old Testament in the New. This study has led him to the conclusion that the principles mentioned above can provide in every case a possible explanation of the difficulties at hand in perfect harmony with the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture. There is no claim here that all the

difficulties are readily dispelled, or that we are in possession of the final solution of every problem. Nevertheless, possible if not plausible explanations are at hand in every case known to the present writer. It is therefore with some confidence that this presentation is made. In fact, the quotations, which are often spoken of as raising one of the major difficulties against the view of plenary inspiration, upon examination turn out to be a confirmation of this doctrine rather than an invalidation of it. To this concurs the judgment of men who can surely be quoted as impartial witnesses, in statements such as the following, made precisely with reference to Old Testament quotations in the New: We know, from the general tone of the New Testament, that it regards the Old Testament, as all the Jews then did, as the revealed and inspired word of God, and clothed with his authority (C. H. Toy, op. cit., p. xxx). Our authors view the words of the Old Testament as immediate words of God, and introduce them explicitly as such, even those which are not in the least related as sayings of God. They see nothing in the sacred book, which is merely the word of the human authors and not at the same time the very word of God Himself. In everything that stands “written,” God Himself is speaking to them (R. Rothe, Zur Dogmatik, Gotha, Perthes, 1869, pp. 177 f.). In quoting the Old Testament, the New Testament writers proceed consistently from the presupposition that they have Holy Scripture in hand.... The actual author is God or the Holy Spirit, and both, as also frequently the graphe, are represented as speaking either directly or through the Old Testament writers (E. Huehn, Die Alttestamentlichen Citate... im Neuen Testament, Tübingen, Mohr, 1900, p. 272). Such statements, coming as they are from the pen of men who were not at all inclined to favor the conservative approach to the Scripture, are no doubt more impressive than anything a conservative scholar could say. They may be allowed to stand at the end of this study as expressing in a striking way the writer’s own conclusions on the subject.
The following essay by Dan G. McCartney was presented as a paper at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2003.

Should we employ the hermeneutics of the New Testament writers?
by Dan G. McCartney

Should we employ the hermeneutics of the New Testament writers? The answer to this question is usually framed in one of two ways. The approach of Longenecker is to acknowledge that the apostles, in accordance with their age, did things quite differently than our grammaticalhistorical approach would allow, and concludes, “Our commitment as Christians is to the reproduction of the apostolic faith and doctrine, and not necessarily to the specific apostolic exegetical practices.”

The other approach is that presented by Greg Beale in his article in The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? (hereafter RDWT), who argues that “In fact, of all the many Old Testament citations and allusions found in the New Testament, only a few plausible examples of non-contextual usage have been noted by critics ... [and] it is by no means certain that even these examples are noncontextual....”, and concludes that the New Testament did (at least most of the time) follow what is effectively the grammatical-historical meaning, and we should follow their exegetical practice.
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I want to suggest a third answer: The New Testament writers were not doing grammatical-historical exegesis nor did they consistently interpret according to original historical contextual meanings, but we should follow their exegetical lead anyway. All would agree, I think, that the New Testament writers do sometimes follow “natural” or contextual meanings, and I think most would also agree that at times they find meanings in the Old Testament which are hard to justify by strict grammatical-historical interpretation. The question before us is whether and to what degree we can legitimately find meanings by means that do not conform to grammatical-historically derivable meanings. I agree with Longenecker on many things. The New Testament writers were not doing grammatical-historical exegesis. As Longenecker has pointed out, the New Testament writers were definitely people of the first century, and we are not. They moved in an interpretive world that is different from ours—their interpretive methods are visible in the Hellenistic Jewish world around them. And they were inspired and we are not. In this regard, then, there certainly are some necessary differences between our interpretive approaches and those of the apostles. So far as I can tell on the basis of the New Testament texts themselves, when the apostles used the Old Testament they never asked questions like “what did this text mean in its original historical context of several hundred years ago.” The few times they come close to doing so, they sometimes reject the original historical context as not particularly relevant. (e.g. 1 Cor 9:9, “Is God concerned with oxen? Does it not speak entirely for our benefit?”) Apostolic use of the Old Testament is not,

however, representative of the way they would interpret texts in general. For them the Old Testament was generically different from other literature. As the New Testament writers thought of the Old Testament as a divine word rather than a human word, they read the Old Testament not as they would a letter from home but as “the Holy Spirit speaking from God.” Granted, sometimes a fairly straightforward quotation of a general ethical command is cited (e.g. “the greatest commandment” in Mark 12 and parallels), but “original contextual meaning,” as though it were something isolatable and distinct from present application, is not their concern. And in its context in the Gospels even the greatest commandment is given a christological focus by virtue of its placement between the resurrection question and Jesus’ question about whom David was referring to in Psalm 110. We on the other hand must ask the question of historical meaning, for at least three reasons: 1) Inasmuch as Christianity is a historical religion and founded on the events which God has done in the past, the historical meaning, the meaning it would have had the first time the text was read, is religiously important. 2) Paying attention to the text’s cultural and historical context is important because as human creatures we communicate in certain ways that depend on our contexts. Grammatical-historical exegesis is a tool to help us examine the communicative process and is especially applicable to culturally remote texts. 3) Our professional vocation as biblical scholars means that we must work in a context of discipline, and grammatical-historical interpretation, which attempts to ask more narrowly defined questions about meaning in original historical contexts, preserves both the disciplined nature of what we do (science), and the rootedness of our faith in history. But I must also agree with Beale in raising the question, if we do not get our hermeneutics from the apostles, then where do we get them? Although Longenecker and I would agree on many points, I also share Greg Beale’s concern that our interpretation be in some way rooted in the apostles’ own use of the Old Testament. In his article in RDWT he argues forcefully that, if we believe God is the ultimate author of the whole of scripture, then the context of Christian interpretation ought to be the whole Bible, not just the immediate historical context of any particular text’s original author and audience. We are dealing with the intention of the divine Author as well as that of the human author, and though these will overlap they need not be identical. Indeed we would not expect a human author to exhaustively understand the implications of his divinely inspired words. If our perception of the larger divine intent in the Old Testament is limited solely to those passages for which the apostles inspiredly spell it out for us, it seriously limits a Christian use of the Old Testament. Further, the christocentric interpretation by the apostles is itself derived from the teaching of Jesus, who appears to be the fountainhead of this whole messianic way of reading the Old Testament.

Hence there is a sense in which we must emulate the exegetical practice of the New Testament writers. If we do not adopt the viewpoint of Jesus and the apostles that Christ’s death and resurrection is the key focus of the Old Testament, that Christ is himself the centerpiece of all God’s promises, that Christ is the true Israel, true Son of God, that the meaning of the biblical texts for the present-day people of God has to do with our relation to God in Christ, then how can our interpretation be deemed in any sense Christian? But Beale also concedes too much to modernism. Beale, and many others dealing with this issue, also feel the pressure of conforming to modern

expectations regarding grammatical-historical meaning. In order for an interpretation to be true, it is assumed that it must be, on some level, grammatical-historical in nature. Thus the approach of Beale and other recent interpreters is to make a valiant attempt to exonerate the New Testament writers of any “non-contextual” interpretation. They argue that (a) the New Testament writers found their christological meanings either in direct predictive prophecy, or more commonly by doing “typology,” rather than force-fitting allegories, (b) typology is not the same as allegory, because it builds on historical correspondence, and (c) the unity of God’s purpose in scripture means that typology is a derivative of grammatical-historical interpretation.
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Typology is not grammatical-historical. I very much accept the validity of typological interpretation. But even leaving aside for the moment those tricky passages which present enormous difficulty to those who would squeeze them into the mold of typology, and leaving aside as well the difficulties in interpreting predictive prophecies, I would challenge the whole notion as to whether typology can lay claim to a grammatical-historical pedigree. Attempts to distinguish typology from allegory only partially succeed. Both allegory and typology see the textual item as a symbol pointing to something more important. Allegorical interpretation sees a historical/textual item as a symbol for an idea; Typological interpretation sees an ancient historical/textual item as a symbol for a recent and more significant historical item. The difference between allegory and typology is thus not so much in method but in interpretive goal. Both typological and allegorical are taking the historical meaning of a text as symbolizing something else. But they are looking for different kinds of things to be symbolized.

Typology may very well build on historical correspondence, and may be able to link to grammatical-historical interpretation for one of the corners of typological housebuilding, but typology is not grammatical-historical exegesis. Typology is a theological construction based on a conviction that two events in history or an event in history and a (separate) event in a text are somehow actually related (not just comparable or similar, nor just literarily related) in that the meaning of the former event (or the written record of such) only becomes fully manifest in the later event. Such a construction cannot be derived purely from the events themselves. Historical meaning indeed provides a tethering point for typology, but what drives typology is the fulfilment in Christ, not the historical meaning itself.
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Summary to this point: The argument that has been enjoined in evangelical journals and books so far has usually centered on whether the New Testament writers conformed to the expectations of grammatical-historical exegesis. Beale says that they did (not that they had a carefully worked out methodology, but they stuck to the historical sense generally); therefore we do what they did because it fits with grammatical-historical (contextual) exegesis. Longenecker says that at least sometimes they did not. The New Testament writers were inspired, and by revelation saw applications and meanings that are not derivable by grammatical-historical method, but we do not have the advantage of inspiration; therefore we cannot follow them. Note that both Beale and Longenecker, and just about everyone else outside of postmodernism, simply assume that a grammatical-historical exegetical method is the correct and only correct way to go about the task of interpretation. Note the way G. Hugenberger put it in his article in RDWT: If New Testament writers do not follow original meaning, then “naturally the modern

interpreter cannot benefit from following the exegetical/typological methodology of the New Testament, which would be at variance with the method of grammatical-historical exegesis.”

These kinds of statements can be seen in many places. Note how it is simply assumed that anything at variance with the grammatical-historical method must be rejected. This is true for both radical critics and conservatives. One recent writer (John Walton) has even gone so far as to deny the term “hermeneutics” to anything which is not a strict application of grammaticalhistorical method. W. Kaiser, discussing Matt 2:17, quite logically applies this stricture even to the New Testament writers: “Did Matt use Jeremiah 31:15 in the same way that Jeremiah meant it to be understood, or did Matthew misappropriate Jeremiah’s text and shape it for his own purposes?” Note the either/or. Either the biblical writers were presenting the Old Testament text in the same way the original author intended it, or they were misappropriating it. To preserve the integrity of the New Testament writers, then, it becomes necessary to argue that somehow the New Testament writers were basically interpreting literally along the lines of what we do in grammatical-historical interpretation. Otherwise one would be forced to a conclusion like McCasland’s (reprinted in RDWT), that the New Testament writers simply distorted and misused the Old Testament, and their conclusions are simply false.

What ties all these viewpoints together, liberal and conservative, is the simple assumption that grammatical-historical exegesis alone is legitimate for the present-day Christian interpreter, and that true interpretation of the meaning of a text is, unless over-ridden by mysterious divine inspiration, completely constrained by grammatical-historical principles.

I challenge this, not on post-modernist grounds or by appealing to some recent subjectivist literary theory, but on biblical and theological grounds. Grammatical-historical exegesis is only a very limited method, which doesn’t always get us where we need to be, because grammatical-historical interpretation is strictly interested only in what may be derived from original historical human meaning. The idea of a singular, methodologically isolatable and static historical meaning that we humans can precisely define is an illusory modernist pipedream. Meaning is always dynamic and personal. (By “personal” I mean “involving relationships between persons,” not “individualistic,” and certainly not “subjectivistic.”) But even if one could isolate a static and impersonal meaning to the biblical text, the grammatical-historical method alone would still be inadequate. Grammatical-historical method does not, and by its very nature cannot, deal with the special hermeneutical considerations of a divine text. A text written by several individuals from different cultures over the course of several centuries, which is at the same time authored by One who knows where history is going before it gets there, is inherently unique. Grammatical-historical interpretation proceeds on the assumption of the similarity of its text to other texts. The Bible is indeed a text like other texts, but it is also in certain ways sui generis, and thus requires something more. Grammatical-historical interpretation is not new. Certainly the notion of attempting to understand the human author’s meaning in a text existed in ancient times, and non-divine texts were generally approached this way. (It is interesting to compare the arguments of Celsus and Origen in Origen’s Contra Celsum. Celsus and Origen agree that non-divine texts can only be interpreted “literally,” and only divine texts have a hyponoia, a deeper sense. But where

Origen sees the Bible as having allegorical meanings, Celsus finds them only in Homer.) But, the apostles and their Jewish contemporaries all understood the Bible to have divine meanings because it was a divine book. If we agree, then why should we limit our hermeneutic to a method that explicitly limits the meaning to the human intent? “Pure” grammatical-historical method in Old Testament study does not give us the gospel. When we try to read the Old Testament from the vantage point of its original context we find hints at the gospel, and we find principles about the nature of God and man that imply the gospel, and we find prophetic expectations of a gospel, but one cannot really see the gospel itself until one gets to the New Testament (cf. Heb 11:39-40). But then we are, after the fact, able to see how the Old Testament is as a whole, moving toward the gospel. A second reading, a re-reading of the Old Testament from the standpoint of knowing its eventuation in Christ, manifests what God was doing all along. The apostles regard the Old Testament as containing something that was hidden, something that is only now revealed. I think we can illustrate this, as others have done, by pointing to some similarities of the story of the Bible to a mystery story. A “first reading” is characterized by uncertainty, wondering what it’s all about, and how it’s going to conclude. There are clues, many of them ambiguous, which result sometimes in “false” leads (e.g. the notion that attempting to obey the law leads to life). The surprise ending is then really a surprise, but once a reader gets to the end, the story holds together. One can then see how the clues were really all there, but they didn’t make sense until the ending pulled it together. Just as a good mystery writer knows the solution to the puzzle even as he lays out the material, so the Bible’s divine Author knew the end of the story before he set out the process of revealing the story in time. I vigorously and wholeheartedly believe that Jesus was absolutely correct when he told the disciples in Luke 24 that the Old Testament was about him, his death and resurrection, and the offer of the gospel to the nations. And from our post-resurrection perspective, we can see it. But I have difficulty in seeing how one can aver that an ordinary time-bound human, believer though he be, could have seen it prior to the event. Where, in a strictly grammatical-historically understood Old Testament, is the death and resurrection of Messiah? Jesus and Paul and Peter all say that Jesus’ death and resurrection is not just predicted but lies at the core of the meaning of the Old Testament, yet not a single Old Testament passage, when viewed strictly from its ostensive grammatical-historically determinable meaning, unambiguously states that the messiah will die and rise three days later. We can only see it after the fact. A genuine “first reading” of the story allows for a surprise element. Or as Paul calls it, a mystery which is now revealed.
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Interpretive method is subservient to interpretive goals and assumptions. An interpretive method is a codification of procedures used to find or elucidate the meaning of a text. But the procedures are simply tools for understanding, and therefore method is chosen according to what one is trying to accomplish with the text, what the interpreter thinks the text is, and what it is about. In other words, what determines both method and results is the interpretive goal and assumptions about the text. Method, even a strict grammatical-historical method, does not guarantee correct results. What matters more is the questions one is expecting a text to answer, and the assumptions made about the text in question.

I was first made aware of this when I read a book by Samuel Levine entitled You Take Jesus; I’ll Take God: How to Refute Christian Missionaries. The thesis of his book is basically that if one pays strict attention to grammatical-historical original meaning then all the Christian “proof texts” from the Hebrew Bible go away. Levine puts his finger on something—for all evangelicalism’s vaunted attachment to grammatical-historical method, it is really finding Jesus as fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible in something other than the Old Testament text itself (most obviously the New Testament), and Levine is correct that pure grammatical-historical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible doesn’t at all “prove” that Jesus is the Christ. (Of course, neither does Levine’s grammatical-historical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible “prove” his point of view—he too has made decisions on what the Bible is all about on other grounds.) But Levine is certainly correct that “pure” grammatical-historical exegesis doesn’t yield the kind of meaning the New Testament writers, including Jesus, see. Jesus and the disciples assume Jesus is the focal point of the Old Testament, so they can see how Psalm 110 speaks of him. Could a Jew prior to the coming of Jesus have figured out that the text refers to the exaltation of a messiah who was both God and man and who suffered humiliation? Even if we want to argue that he could, I do not see how that could be demonstrated by grammatical-historical method.

Another way of putting it is that the significant decision is a large-scale genre decision. What is the purpose and character of the Bible? The interpreter’s answer to that question is far more important than any choice of method.

The Bible is redemptive-historical in character. This is not without any support in the text itself. The later Old Testament writers, for example, did understand the earlier parts of the Old Testament, as well as the events of their own time, as elements of a redemptive history, a redemptive history that is also eschatological. Redemptive history is not just about the past; it pushes its way into the future, and has eschatological purposes that could not be perceived in its original environment.

This understanding of God’s previous dealing with his people as eschatologically linked to the present is traceable throughout the Bible. In Deuteronomy 5:3 Moses tells the people, “it was not with our fathers that the Lord made this covenant, but with us.” Obviously Moses is not denying that God made a covenant with the generation at Sinai; he’s rather emphasizing that that covenant now stands in relation to the present generation. The assumption is that biblical promise, as a genre, applies to future generations more than it does to original hearers. The New Testament writers could thus persuade their contemporaries, because their contemporaries, like all the people of God from the beginning until the Enlightenment, have assumed that the Bible is God’s book, and God is at work now, and the Bible is meant for them. Now this might encourage us to think that the eschatological meaning was the original historical meaning that we can get by grammatical-historical exegesis. Unfortunately that doesn’t work because it isn’t usually the original contexts where those eschatological meanings are hinted at—it’s in the later references to them. Only rarely does an Old Testament writer indicate that his own material is intended for later generations.

If all one expects of an Old Testament text is to tell us something about Israel’s past, or on occasion what a prophet thought about the future, then grammatical-historical interpretation gives the appearance of working just fine.

But if one expects, along with the apostles, Jesus, the Jews of the first century, and the Christians of all ages (even the Antiochenes) until the Enlightenment, that the Old Testament text speaks to what for its writers were future generations, and if one thinks that all the promises of God, not just those the New Testament specifically interprets, are yea and amen in Christ, one will be unsatisfied with grammatical-historical interpretation (unless one fudges). Surely the New Testament writers have made authoritative statements about the genre of the Old Testament. This is more than simply putting forth some methods. Jesus and the apostles tell us what the genre of the Old Testament is: it is a book that points us to Christ. Yet we resist what they tell us, and argue, “no, no, it is a historical document—the only effective difference between it and other purely human documents is that it is without error.” Longenecker argues that to use the “pesher” approaches of the New Testament writers one must take a “revelatory stance” (RDWT 385). Non-inspired people who attempt it then devolve into subjectivism. But this assumes that grammatical-historical exegesis is somehow free of subjective elements of pesher, and also forgets that we can take a semi-revelatory stance based on what the New Testament has already revealed to us about the genre of the Old Testament being a Christbook. But where then is the control? Biblical study cannot be impersonal and strictly controlled. I’m afraid we are going to have to relinquish the illusion of impersonal scientific control of biblical study by strict method, for three reasons: 1. It is unsuited to the nature of the Bible as divine book (noted already). 2. Knowledge, meaning, and interpretation is tied up with the person who knows and interprets (Polanyi). 3. Method alone cannot force all rational people into agreeing on what a text says (quite apart from the question of its truthfulness). Even grammatical-historical method cannot really control meaning, because the interpretive goal will still determine how grammatical-historical method is used, and how consistently (e.g. Levine). This scares people, because it looks like all the certainty we achieved by holding to an inerrant bible has just been thrown out the window by recognizing that there is no way to rigorously control meaning. There are controls, but they are not ones that can, by dint of rational exactness or methodological rigor, guarantee correct results. The controls (which I’ll mention momentarily) are not rationally compulsory or mechanically ineluctable, but are, like meaning generally, personal. They come by hermeneutical process, which is not a straight line but a spiral, and the direction in which that spiral makes progress is determined not only by the text itself but also by personal factors, most especially whether one knows Jesus and seeks him. I believe that, as Jesus says in Luke 24, the Old Testament actually does speak of Christ’s death and resurrection and the resultant missionary people of God, but those things cannot be found purely by means of a grammaticalhistorical analysis of the Old Testament itself. Yet we must do as the apostles did and read the whole Old Testament, not just those texts the New Testament writers happened to cite, through the lens of the fulfilment of the story in Christ. This bothers some people. John Walton, who takes a viewpoint similar to Longenecker, says (in response to a statement of mine arguing for christological interpretation): “they [D. McCartney and C. Clayton, Let the Reader Understand (Baker, 1993; 2d ed. Presby. & Ref. 2002)] see this relation

to Christ as the most important part of any passage, yet that part has to be supplied, for the text says nothing of it. The primary authority of the passage is then connected to something entirely of the interpreter’s own design.” I concede that if by “the text” one means, the original grammatical-historically determinable meaning in its ancient Near Eastern setting alone, then with the exception of directly predictive prophecy this is correct. But if the context of “the text” is the whole Bible, and the whole context of God’s redemptive historical acts and purposes in the world, then “the text” does say something of it. And the authority of the passage isn’t connected entirely to something of the interpreter’s own design, but is connected to what God has revealed subsequently, and particularly to what Jesus and Paul say the Old Testament is about. This actually is a much better control than the methodological control Walton advocates, because it specifies the hermeneutical goal. S. Levine shares Walton’s methodology, but comes to anti-Christian conclusions.

The fact that controls are personal does not mean they are purely subjective. The New Testament writers were not doing grammatical-historical exegesis, but neither were their interpretations arbitrary. Neither, I hope, is what I advocate arbitrary. The real “control” for the apostles and for us comes from at least three directions: 1. An assumption of coherency of God’s story. 2. The conviction that Christ is the endpoint of the story. 3. The promise of the Holy Spirit’s involvement. These clearly don’t quite give us a “box” that clearly differentiates legitimate from illegitimate hermeneutical activity. They are rather like tethers or trajectories than walls, and hence cannot provide independently verifiable proof of legitimacy. And I make no claim that these “controls” are exhaustively adequate, and would even urge us to continue to think about how we can differentiate good from bad interpretations without jumping to the supposed haven of “pure” grammatical-historical exegesis. But the fact that God is not idle in the continuing story of the church which grew out of the story should give us confidence in interpretation, not despair at the lack of rational certitude. The Spirit leads his church (hence tradition, though not inspired, is certainly a big part of understanding the story). Further, the meaning of the Bible is very much tied up with knowing God (cf. Calvin, Institutes, Bk 1—knowing self and knowing God intertwined. Surely knowing the Bible and knowing God are equally entwined). And this is why every Christian instinctively reads the whole Bible as a Jesus book until he is taught not to do so. The knowledge of God and leading of the Spirit are not something we can intellectually use to argue for interpretations, but the first two “tethers” are, at least for those who acknowledge the divine inspiration of the Bible (though at the same time I would say that the last of the three, the involvement of God himself, is ultimately the most important). The text of the whole Bible, the assumption of its coherency, and its ultimate purpose in pointing to Christ, provide parameters for determining which interpretations correspond and appear valid, and which do not. Grammatical-historical exegesis serves us well as one tool among others in carrying forward the recognition of the Bible’s coherency, so long as the context for our exegesis remains not only historical but also canonical. None of these tethers provides certainty, but then not even “pure” original-meaning grammatical-historical interpretation offers certainty. But when coupled with faith in God in Christ these principles can give us confidence that we know the truth that God has revealed. Summary:

There is certainly a necessity for us to do disciplined grammatical-historical interpretation. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that grammaticalhistorical interpretation of the Old Testament is going to give us all we need. Grammatical-historical exegesis clearly demonstrates that neither New Testament nor Old Testament writers were doing anything like grammaticalhistorical exegesis when they referred to earlier revelation. John Walton’s recent diatribe against reading the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament at least gets this right: 1) that typology cannot be sneaked in under the banner of grammatical-historical exegesis, and 2) the New Testament writers frequently were not doing anything like grammatical-historical exegesis because they were more interested in the text’s fulfilment in Christ and the church than in what it meant ten centuries previous. Walton’s own solution, to make a distinction between a text’s meaning and its fulfilment, only resolves the issue by avoiding it. Note that the New Testament writers made no distinction between meaning and fulfilment. Not only did they understand a text to mean something on the basis of its fulfilment, they even engaged in a hermeneutical process to get to their non-grammatical-historical interpretation (e.g. Acts 2 and 13 give reasons why Psalm 16 wasn’t about David).

As Markus Barth asked some time ago, why are we so sure that the hermeneutical approaches of the ancients are now of no more use than a museum item? The answer will not come by trying to squeeze the apostles into a modern mold, but by recognizing the nature of their non-grammaticalhistorical activity and its connectedness to the text as a divine text, one that bears reference to a divine history that pushes beyond the limits of what grammatical-historical method can discover.

My conclusion then: Because we stand outside the immediate stream of biblical history we benefit enormously from carefully examining ancient Near Eastern environments and historical circumstances within which the text grew, and differentiating how the text functioned in its ancient Near Eastern setting from the way it functions later in the course of biblical history—i.e. unlike the apostles we engage in conscious historical study and grammatical-historical interpretation. On the other hand, even were such study as “objective” and independent of larger interpretive concerns as some people seem to think, we dare not stop there. If we do, the Old Testament will remain either an antiquarian curio, a museum piece from which, like Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, we might be able occasionally to draw a moral lesson or tidbit of wisdom, or alternatively a legal code, but it will not itself be a gospel book. We must rather, like Jesus and the apostles, go on to see and read the Old Testament text in the context not just of the Bible as a whole, but in the context of redemptive history as a whole. In particular, we must read the Old Testament with Christian eyes, with eyes that believe the Old Testament as part of a gospel book, as a vital story that becomes our story because it is Christ’s story. Should we employ the hermeneutics of the New Testament writers? Indeed we must.

1. Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 219 2. The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts?: Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New (ed. G. K. Beale; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994). 3. G. Beale, "Positive Answer to the Question," in RDWT, 388-89. 4. See note 6.

5. G. Beale, “Positive Answer to the Question,” in RDWT 387-404. 6. Subsequent to the actual delivery of this paper, Greg Beale indicated some dissatisfaction with being classed with the “grammatical-historical-only” people, and averred essential agreement with my material which follows. However, as the quotation on p.1 shows, Beale still labors to preserve the notion that the NT writers were only minimally midrashic; I am more sympathetic to Longenecker’s contention that the NT writers were, like their contemporaries, unabashedly midrashic, and we need not jump through exegetical hoops to try to maintain otherwise. 7. Such attempts are exemplified in David Instone Brewer's recent attempt (“Paul's Literal Interpretation of ‘Do Not Muzzle an Ox’,” in The Trustworthiness of God: Perspectives on the Nature of Scripture [ed. P. Helm & C. Trueman; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002], pp. 139-153) to demonstrate that Paul here was doing what in his own time would have been considered a “peshat” or literal interpretation, because 1) all commands were addressed not to animals but people, and hence were not for the benefit of animals but people, and 2) “oxen treading” in Deut 25 would have been understood by Paul's Jewish contemporaries as a metaphor for men laboring. The important issue for us, however, isn't whether Paul or his contemporaries thought he was doing literal exegesis, but whether he actually was doing so. But of course I would argue that even if the original author and audience of Deuteronomy understood “oxen” as a metaphor for human laborers (as I think Bruce Waltke has somewhere argued), it is still the case that Paul is not interested directly in what that original audience thought, but in what God meant in addressing Paul's audience. 8. Allegorical interpretation sometimes finds not the event but just the words of the text, or even smaller units, as having symbolic value (such as the well-known interpretation in the Epistle of Barnabas of Abraham's 318 men according to its Greek numerical letters: tau iota eta.) But this is very rare in Christian interpretation generally. Usually even allegorical interpretation looks at historical items as symbols (e.g. Rahab's scarlet thread was a historical item, not just a word). Further, even where it is only words or a grammatical feature of a word that is the basis of a meaning, one cannot really separate word and event. Events are only known through and given meaning by the text, and the text itself is an artifact of history. 9. The well known typological rectangle of Edmund Clowney [readily accessible in G. P. Hugenberger, “Introductory Notes on Typology” in RDWT, p. 340] shows the difference between allegorical, moralistic, and typological interpretation. 10. One of my colleagues (Poythress) also points out that all “meaning,” even “historical meaning” is really, until the eschaton anyway, an open-ended process. 11. Hugenberger, “Introductory Notes,” p. 336. 12. W. Kaiser, The Uses of the Old Testament in the New Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1985), p. 53. 13. To appeal to inspiration as somehow “allowing” the NT writers to do something no one else is allowed to do seems odd in the face of the fact that the apostles were simply interpreting the way their contemporaries did. They did not simply claim the blanket authority of inspiration; they argued their case (e.g. Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in Acts 13 both argue that Ps 16 refers not to David but to Christ because David died). What did make them different from their contemporaries was that their hermeneutic is consistently focused on Christ (F. F. Bruce, Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls), and derivatively on Christ's people the church (R. Hays, Echoes of Scripture). 14. For example, if we did not have the NT, then the exclusion of foreigners in Ezek 44 or Ezra’s prohibition of northerners’ participation in rebuilding the temple would certainly suggest that the eschatological temple would be more exclusive, not inclusive, of Gentiles. 15. Paul explicitly states in Eph 3:5 that previous generations did not know the musterion, because it was hidden (v. 9), and only now is the manifold (polupoikilos) wisdom of God made evident (v.10).

16. Method does help in supporting results, and helps to prevent certain wrong conclusions, and even helps to refine genre identification, but by itself it does not determine results. 17. Since Jesus berated the apostles for being slow to believe in Luke 24, one could conclude that they could have figured it out had they been better exegetes—but remember that the “slow-to-believe” apostles did already at that point have the benefit of having heard Jesus talk about his death and resurrection a number of times, and they heard him explain the centrality of Christ in the scriptures during his earthly ministry. Further, some Qumran sectaries apparently actually did recognize that Ps 110 was about Christ (or christs), but their approach could hardly be considered grammatical-historical. Analysis of the process by which both the Dead Sea community and the NT writers reached similar interpretive conclusions is informative and relevant to our topic, but would take us too far afield here. 18. This of course includes a canon decision, a decision not attainable via grammaticalhistorical method. 19. Unless we envision no historical development, making the story no longer a story. See A. Edersheim's instructive words in Prophecy and History, pp. 110f.: “...it is evident that if we were to maintain that those who uttered or heard these predictions had possessed the same knowledge of them as we in the light of their fulfilment, these things would follow: First. Prophecy would have superseded historical development, which is the rational order, and God's order. Secondly. In place of this order we would introduce a mechanical and external view of God's revelation.... Thirdly. It would eliminate from God's revelation the moral and spiritual element — that of teaching on His part, and of faith and advancement on ours. Fourthly. It would make successive prophecies needless, since all has been already from the first clearly and fully understood. Fifthly. Such a view seems in direct contradiction to the principle expressly laid down in 1 Pet i.10,11, as applicable to prophecy.” To restrict the meaning of a redemptive-historical text to what we think may have been understood in the original historical setting, is really to decide ahead of time that it is not really redemptivehistorical! 20. I admit John Sailhamer attempts to do this, but is in my view profoundly unsuccessful. See his article on Matt 2:15 in WTJ 63:1 (Spring 2001), and the response by Pete Enns and myself in the same issue. 21. John Walton, “Inspired Subjectivity and Hermeneutical Objectivity,” The Master's Seminary Journal 13/1 (Spring 2002), p. 72. 22. “Inspired Subjectivity and Hermeneutical Objectivity.” 23. “I am not yet convinced that the hermeneutical methods developed since the Enlightenment have yielded results so superior to those employed by the authors of the NT that we are entitled to put their hermeneutics on a Schandpfahl or into a museum for good.” M. Barth, “The O.T. in Hebrews: an Essay in Biblical Hermeneutics,” in Current Issues in New Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Otto A. Piper (eds. W. Klassen & G.F. Snyder; New York: Harper, 1962), p 78. Although he was mostly addressing the issue of historical-critical method, his words are still relevant. (Which goes to show that human authorial intent does not exhaust the meaning of even uninspired texts.)

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