Here is an overlooked paragraph from Hodge and Warfield’s 1881 essay on “Inspiration“:

It must be remembered that it is not claimed that the Scriptures, any more than their authors, are omniscient. The information they convey is in the forms of human thought, and limited on all sides. They were not designed to teach philosophy, science or human history as such. They were not designed to furnish an infallible system of speculative theology. They are written in human languages, whose words, inflections, constructions and idioms bear everywhere indelible traces of human error. The record itself furnishes evidence that the writers were in large measure dependent for the their knowledge upon sources and methods in themselves fallible, and that their personal knowledge and judgments were in many matters hesitating and defective, or even wrong. Nevertheless, the historical faith of the Church has always been that all the affirmations of Scripture of all kinds, whether of spiritual doctrine or duty, or of physical or historical fact, or of psychological or physical principle, are without error when the ipsissima verba of the original autographs are ascertained and interpreted in their natural and intended sense.

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3 thoughts on “Did the Princetonians Neglect the Human Character of Scripture?”

  1. rcjr says:

    You know it never ceases to amaze me how little credit we give to our fathers. This is excellent, which should not surprise us given the men, however infallible, who were its source. Well put, and may it shut the mouths of the naysayers

  2. Gearoid says:

    Can we surmise from the broader context of this essay what specific errors and defects in Scripture the authors were referring to?

  3. Jim says:

    I would LOVE a further explanation. I tried getting through the full essay on the bus on my phone. It didn’t go very well. I feel like a dummy after reading things written in 1881. But seriously, having sat through countless small group bible studies where everyone just goes around in a circle sharing they’re opinion from this verse or that verse I struggle with idea of spending the rest of my life studying it.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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