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Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture Paperback – July 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1565633636 ISBN-10: 1565633636

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Hendrickson Pub (July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565633636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565633636
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,803,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

In an evaluation of the Scriptures as the word of God, inspiration is an essential element. The long Protestant experience with this issue is both fruitful and painful, for many have drawn false conclusions from the justified belief in inspiration. Paul Achtemeier is a first-rate scholar who combines scientific investigation with faith, and his sensitivity and honest make this a most useful book for all interested in the Bible. . . . A better practical book on the subject would be hard to find.
—†Raymond E. Brown, former Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, New York

". . . if Achtemeier's book reaches that large body of Christians looking for a nonfundamentalistic doctrine of Scripture, it could play a major role in creating a framework for them. He comes across as possessing a deep love and respect for the Bible and for the Lord, and eager for people to place their minds and lives beneath its authority. He offers us in the end of the doctrine of a covenental Scripture given by God to his people for their edification and renewal, a dynamic document which can perform this service two thousand years after its completion, confronting us with God's Word for our situation, through the power of the Spirit. I am highly grateful for this book and recommend it highly to others."
—Clark H. Pinnock, Professor of Theology, McMaster Divinity College -- Review

From the Back Cover

"In an evaluation of the Scriptures as the word of God, inspiration is an essential element. The long Protestant experience with this issue is both fruitful and painful, for many have drawn false conclusions from the justified belief in inspiration. Paul Achtemeier is a first-rate scholar who combines scientific investigation with faith, and his sensitivity and honesty make this a most useful book for all interested in the Bible. It will save Catholics from repeating simplistic attitudes that distort the authentic biblical message. A better practical book on the subject would be hard to find."

--Raymond E. Brown, former Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, New York

" . . . if Achtemeier's book reaches that large body of Christians looking for a non-fundamentalistic doctrine of Scripture, it could play a major role in creating a framework for them. He comes across as possessing a deep love and respect for the Bible and for the Lord, and eager for people to place their minds and lives beneath its authority. He offers us in the end the doctrine of a covenantal Scripture given by God to his people for their edification an renewal, a dynamic document which can perform this service two thousand years after its completion, confronting us with God's Word for our situation, through the power of the Spirit. I am highly grateful for this book and recommend it highly to others."

--Clark H. Pinnock, Professor of Theology, McMaster Divinity College


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Eventually, Achtemeier will argue that the results of modern biblical criticism oblige us to abandon so individualistic a conception.
David A. Baer
This book is likely to help its readers navigate that territory with greater care, even if it does not leave them with nice and tidy definition.
C. Lambeth
It should be required reading for all those in advanced Biblical study, but it is written in a way that is accessible to all readers.
David Baer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By David A. Baer VINE VOICE on July 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Nearly two decades after initial publication under a different title, this lightly revised and expanded second edition renews Paul Achtemeier's irenic arbitration of a discussion which tends in more acerbic directions. In seven accessible chapters, he seeks to understand how the Bible is different.

After a brief apologia for the study, chapter 1 ('Locus and Mode of Inspiration') tries to locate the phenomenon we call 'inspiration'. Seeking a point of departure on which all Christian readers can agree, Achtemeier treats claims for inspiration as a way of saying that the Bible continues to speak to readers today as it has spoken to readers in the past. From that modest agreement, however, the paths quickly lead us in divergent directions, for it is more problematic to state exactly how the voice of Scripture continues to be heard.

Without saying so at this early stage, Achtemeier is drawing us towards examination of the common assumption that an individual author is responsible for each biblical book, and therefore that the manner in which inspiration was experienced by that person is among the most pressing of questions. This view of inspiration depends upon the analogy of how a prophet receives revelation. Eventually, Achtemeier will argue that the results of modern biblical criticism oblige us to abandon so individualistic a conception.

Achtemeier sketches two historical lines of approach to inspiration: 'inspired authors' and 'inspired content', usefully pausing now and again to identify ancient and modern proponents of each Tendenz. Indeed, one of the main contributions of his approach is to help the modern reader to perceive that Christians have from the beginnings of the faith struggled with what sometimes appears to be a merely modern problem.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Baer on February 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
All those who treasure and study the Bible should read this book. Paul Achtemeier loves the Bible and treats it as the inspired Word of God. He is also a leading Bible scholar who takes modern Biblical scholarship seriously.

One of the struggles faced by students of the Bible on a college or seminary level is how to respect the inspired content of Scripture and at the same time what to do with modern critical study of the Bible. For some, modern scholarship can feel threatening to the Bible and to their faith.

In a very readable way, Achtemeier walks the reader through the struggles and the inadequate answers offered by both conservatives and liberals to the question of inspiration. He offers a way for Christians to continue to treasure Scripture and to respect its inspiration and authority while being willing to take Scripture seriously and study it with all of the resources available to us in modern scholarship.

I wish I would have read this book when I was in seminary. It should be required reading for all those in advanced Biblical study, but it is written in a way that is accessible to all readers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rick Watts on November 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
SUMMARY

It is often thought in modern Christian theology that Scripture is either totally inspired by God, and thus inerrant in all respects, or that Scripture is a human work, written by and for its contemporary authors, and thus is nothing more than wonderful literature. Dr. Paul J. Achtemeier finds neither of these answers sufficient in explaining how Scripture is inspired, and therefore proposes a different approach. He first sets the stage for this proposal by explaining the two predominate views of inspiration, explaining why each is inadequate explanations. He then continues with his proposed understanding of inspiration.

Achtemeier begins his discussion by focusing on the "Locus and Mode of Inspiration" (chapter one). There are two historical approaches to the locus of inspiration - inspired authors and inspired content. He explains how the idea of inspired authors was taken from the Greek notion that poets and prophets were actually possessed by some sort of spirit. Jews and early Christians embraced this idea and applied it to God's inspiration of Scripture.

The second historical approach to the inspiration of Scripture holds that the locus of inspiration is not in the author, but in the text itself. "In sum, the words in Scripture are the words that God, not a human being, has chosen" (page 19-20).

Achtemeier continues by discussing some implications of these approaches. Most notably, he discusses the problem of the certainty of faith in Scripture. When we question the inspiration of Scripture, we are consequently questioning its reliability.

In the second chapter, ("Two Contemporary Views Considered") Achtemeier makes the risky use of the labels "liberal" and "conservative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Lambeth on October 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a rare book on inspiration in the sense that it is short (only 176 pages). It is also rare in the regard it has for presenting multiple sides clearly and fairly. I cannot fully explain my understanding of what "divine inspiration" means in a book review. I am still trying to figure out a tenable expression of it in the first place. But suffice it to say that "inspiration" doesn't mean what I used to think that it did. This book is likely to help its readers navigate that territory with greater care, even if it does not leave them with nice and tidy definition. A sampling of questions that Achtemeier's book explores is: Does "inspiration" refer to the authors of the Bible's books or to their words? Does it have to do with the meaning behind the message, the Spirit behind the message, or the God who stood behind the Spirit who stood behind all of the authors, scribes and editors of the words? The issues are far more complex than I was ever taught in church.

Because it is so succinct, the author doesn't spend much time discussing the multiple authors, redactors, editors and versions (especially in the Old Testament) of the text that have filtered their way in to the scriptures as we have them now. But, if you have studied that lurching process and been dismayed at its haphazard and seemingly underhanded way of compiling what we have as "the Bible," this book can calm some nerves and maybe even rekindle some confidence in the text. However, IF a reader thinks that the Bible as we have it today is the same as that which all of our faithful forbears (and the original audiences) possessed, then a lot of this book may be lost on him or her.
This is well worth the read, but if you are new to the subject, buckle up.

Thanks for reading,
-C. Lambeth
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