Saturday, February 7, 2009

We need a realistic view of scripture

"Even for those with sufficient skills in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek , the problem remains that we still do not have an established authoritative text that all Christian biblical scholars have adopted. Likewise, we do not yet have one universally accepted set of books that all Christians acknowledge as divinely inspired, and there is no single text or translation of the Bible that garners the full support of the Christian community. The history of the Bible's development teaches us that it is very difficult to establish hard and fast rules that apply in every situation. That was true in antiquity and is still true today. In the midst of some of the uncertainty that we have shown, wherein lies authority for the church? Jesus himself said that all authority has been given to him (Matt. 28:18), and he did not speak of transferring this authority to a particular collection, text, or translation of books to rival his authority in the church...

...perhaps scholars and church leaders should consider statements of faith that are more reflective of the actual state of canonical inquiry, textual investigation, and translation practice."

-Lee Martin McDonald, "Wherein Lies Authority? A Discussion of Books, Texts, and Translations," in Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, ed. C. A. Evans and E. Tov (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 238-239.