I come from a conservative evangelical background in which much emphasis was placed on the Bible as the Word of God and relatively little emphasis was placed on the Bible as a word of man. Everyone agreed that men wrote the 66 books of the Bible, but the general understanding was that the Holy Spirit through the process of divine inspiration ensured that those words we the words of God. The doctrine of inerrancy attempts to capture this idea by insisting that the Bible, though written by men, contains no errors. I no longer subscribe to this understanding of the Bible.
The more I studied the Bible as an adult, the more I became convinced that this is an inadequate understanding of the divine inspiration of Scripture. I have come to believe that the Bible is in its entirely both Word of God and word of man; not in the sense that some of it is God’s word and some of it is man’s word (this was the error of 19th century theological liberalism), but in the sense that every word in it is both a Word of God and a word of man.
An analogy can be drawn to the two-fold nature of Jesus Christ: wholly and indivisibly true God and true man. At no point do we encounter the one without also encountering the other. Thus it is with the Bible.
Here is something I ran across in The Interpreter’s Bible on Genesis:
Genesis, as the book has come down to us,is made up of many strands; and as the Exeg. repeatedly points out, those who wove them had their different ways of writing. The divine Spirit does not operate mechanically. It takes men’s separate gifts and uses these. There is a dignity of the individual and of that individual’s manner of apprehending and expressing truth which inspiration does not destroy but rather heightens. It takes the human ability and gives it wings. So of the writers of the book of Genesis it may be said essentially what George Eliot said of the supreme maker of violins:
’Tis God gives skill,
But not without men’s hands: He could not make
Antonio Stradivari’s violins
Similarly, the Word of God was written through the instrumentality of human hands.
What do you think?