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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Bible # 2

"Question: If the Holy Spirit is the author of the words of Scripture, how do we account for variations in style and wording? For example, how do we account for the fact that Paul uses Pauline language, and Johannine language, and so on?"

Even if we could not account at all for this fact, it would have little weight against the explicit statements of God's Word. Anyone who is humble enough and wise enough to recognize that there are a great many things that we cannot account for at all that could be easily accounted for if we knew a little more, is never staggered by an apparent difficulty of this kind. But in point of fact, it is easy enough to account for these variations. The simple explanation is this: the Holy Spirit is wise enough and has facility enough in the use of language in revealing truth, to and through any individual, to use words, phrases, and forms of expression that are in that person's vocabulary and forms of thought to which that person is accustomed, and in every way to make use of that person's particular individuality. It is one of the many signs of the divine wisdom of this Book that the same divine truth is expressed with absolute accuracy in such widely varying forms of expression.

If the Bible is verbally inspired, why did the gospel writers not give Jesus' and other people's words exactly? I can understand how their accounts of events may differ, but Jesus' words cannot properly be rendered one way by Matthew and another way by Luke if verbal inspiration is correct. Note that Galatians 3:16 stresses the importance of accurate wording in Scripture: "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "and to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.

The gospel writers did give people's words exactly when they claimed to give them exactly. When they only claimed to give the substance of what people said, the words may not be given exactly s they were spoken. But even when the gospel writers gave Jesus' words exactly, they did not always claim to record everything that He said, so that the book of Matthew may give part of what He said, and Luke another part of what He said. To get all that He said, both accounts must be taken together. Matthew gave the part that was adapted to the purpose of his book, and Luke gave the part that was adapted to his. It is well that they were given in just this way, for it is one of the many incidental proofs that the Gospels are independent of one another and were not composed by writers who were in collusion with one another.

Furthermore, it must be kept in mind that the words of Jesus recorded by Matthew and Luke were spoken in Aramaic and were translated by Matthew and Luke into Greek. There is reason to suppose that the utterances recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke were largely utterances that Jesus gave in Aramaic, while those recorded  by John were largely those that Jesus spoke in Greek. It must be remembered that in the time of Jesus, the people in Palestine were a bilingual people.

~R. A. Torry~

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