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God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship Paperback – March 1, 2008
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From the Back Cover
"This important volume provides a bridge between critical scholarship and traditional views on Scripture. In the process of surveying the flash points created by modern critical scholarship, Sparks champions 'practical realism' as an approach that provides a more productive middle ground. Both evangelicals and nonevangelicals will benefit from this very frank discussion of the history and possible future for biblical scholarship."--Victor H. Matthews, Missouri State University
"Sparks issues an irenic invitation to reconcile academic consensus with evangelical conviction in ways that respect and inform both. His plea for his fellow evangelicals to take historical criticism much more seriously features impressive and honest arguments for mainstream critical stances toward Old and New Testament texts, informative tours of fields from hermeneutics to Assyriology to patristic and Reformation theology, and a bold proposal to affirm biblical inerrancy in terms of perfect divine accommodation to human error. May it encourage and shape the fruitful conversation we evangelicals absolutely need to have."--Telford Work, Westmont College
"Sparks asks hard questions. In this volume he provides answers that he believes satisfy intellectually as well as spiritually. His erudition is evident on every page. Of course, not all will agree with his version of 'practical realism' and how it relates to biblical hermeneutics, but few can deny that he has advanced the conversation in a way that is helpful and healthy."--Bill T. Arnold, Asbury Theological Seminary
"Sparks emphatically affirms both the methodology and results of historical and modern biblical criticism and the authority of Scripture. He distinguishes divine inerrancy from the finite and fallible human vessels through whom God chose to reveal God's Word. This is a valuable window into the 'progressive evangelical' approach to the nature of Scripture."--Elaine A. Phillips, Gordon College
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Sparks begins by noting that scholars who study ancient Egypt and Assyria don't just accept any inscription they find at face value and call it authentic. They have tests that can reveal the inscription's authenticity. The same is true with the Bible. Sparks goes on to show that scholarly and critical studies of the Scriptures reveal that Moses didn't write the Pentateuch (there were several different traditions combined together over many centuries), the Flood may not have happened as it is written, the Exodus story may not have happened as it is written, the Creation accounts differ and reflect literary art more than they do actual science and history, John and the Synoptic gospels contradict each other at certain points (as do the OT books of Samuel and Chronicles), and Paul didn't write the pastoral epistles.
But after all this and more, Sparks still wants to hold to a doctrine of biblical inerrancy, holding that God speaks inerrantly through Scripture while accommodating Himself to all the errors that human beings made when they wrote the Scriptures. In other words, God is inerrant, but the Bible writers were not.
Sparks believes that if we allow for the possibility that large swaths of Scripture are inspired sagas or legends or myths that teach spiritual truth, many of the critical problems scholars face will disappear.Read more ›
However, it seemed to me like Sparks coming down on the side of male headship in marriage, contradicted everything he had said through the rest of the book. It was as if he was saying, "Yes, you can be free of traditionalist readings that have held you in bondage-- unless you're a woman, and married. In that case, go submit to your husband's authority-- and by the way, he should also be nice to you while holding the power to override you at any time he so pleases." It was kind of like a slap in the face.
Spark's Preface narrates a crisis of faith which may sound familiar to many Evangelical scholars. Through this crisis, Spark's describes the problem which is the impetus for this book. His Introduction describes this problem with a bit more detail and invites the reader to consider the possibility that critical scholarship, the antagonist in his original crisis of faith and the opponent to so much contemporary Evangelical biblical scholarship, is built on a solid foundation and is crucial to the future of that scholarship.
Chapter 1 is a useful sketch of the history of epistemology and hermeneutics. In addition to providing a background for the modern critical approach to the Bible, it lays the foundation for the epistemological position that will inform much of Spark's hermeneutic, namely practical realism. According to this position, a kind of "soft" post-modernism, real knowledge is sufficiently available to the investigator, even if theoretically never absolute. Hermeneutic is a secondary concern of this chapter, but it will receive more attention in later chapters.Read more ›
This book challenged my more conservative, traditional beliefs about things like miracles, the exodus, Jonah, Daniel, and David. But it pushed me to see the Bible as something I hadn't before. Sparks' contention—and he is convincing—is that the Bible is more of a collection of traditions and documents that may have all kinds of ethical issues in them, but God is able to work in and through broken and limited human communication.
Sparks loses a star for his tone and another star for his unrefined (and unabridged) writing style in the second half of the book, getting progressively harder to read. But he receives stars for challenging me to think, and forcing me to interact with items I had never seen in the Bible.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
prof wanted this book for a religion class .but was not used in classPublished 7 months ago by Crusader
When the evangelical movement began not so very long ago, its one, defining doctrine that unified people from diverse ecclesiastical backgrounds was belief in the inerrancy of the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by charding
Very good book. I recommend this book to all who want to look at the text of the bible seriously.Published on July 27, 2014 by derrick allen
Rejection of Biblical Authority
The greatest danger of historical criticism is in its undermining of the Bible's authority. Read more
I enjoyed this book very much. It was one of the best books I read in 2013. I especially liked the introduction, chapter 2 Historical Criticism and Assyriology, and chapter 3 The... Read morePublished on January 22, 2014 by Bill
I suppose that if someone is going to hold to the tenets and conclusions of historical criticism and its approach to Scripture, this book contains the approach they should... Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by Jeremy Myers - Writing at RedeemingGod
This book is written by a "progressive" evangelical addressing a tough issue for many evangelicals--as best as I can tell. Read morePublished on December 29, 2012 by Rhea H. Forman