Customer Reviews: Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible: An Historical and Exegetical Study
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 11, 2013
Robert Laird Harris (1911-2008) was a Presbyterian minister (including leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church of America, the Bible Presbyterian Church, and the Presbyterian Church in America) and Old Testament scholar. He also helped found the Covenant Theological Seminary, and was chairman of the Old Testament department until he retired in 1981, then taught as an adjunct professor of Old Testament at Knox Theological Seminary. He wrote other books such as Introductory Hebrew Grammar,Exploring the Basics of the Bible,God's Eternal Creation: A Study of Old Testament Culture, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1957 book, "in the present study, the canonicity of both the Old Testament and the New is treated with the doctrine of inspiration, and attention is also given to... the transmission of the Biblical text through the centuries... The author is one of those who believes... that higher criticism---constructed, as it plainly was, in an era when virtually nothing was known about ancient times as a result of archaeological investigation---has not measured up the the new information and must be greatly modified or totally rejected." (Pg. 7-8)

He observes, "It is occasionally assumed that the apostles were not conscious of writing authoritative books... This ... contradicts Paul's express testimony in his undoubted Epistles... he concludes his instructions in [I Cor] 14:37 by declaring that the mark of a spiritual man is to receive his, Paul's, writings as 'the commandments of the Lord.' To the same effect he maintains in I Corinthians 2:10-13 that he speaks what God has revealed to him, not in words of human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit." (Pg. 64-65)

He explains, "A more serious contradiction is allegedly found in the accounts of the Last Supper... the solution is simple. The point is that the Jewish preparation was a preparation for the Satuday Sabbath---it was Friday until sundown... This is made abundantly clear in Mark 15:42, which declares that 'it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sababath,' when the body of Jesus was entombed... The preparation of the Passover, therefore, is simply the preparation for the Saturday Sabbath of the Passover week. John 19:14 merely indicates that it was Friday afternoon of that week." (Pg. 109)

He admits that "The other books called pseudepigrapha were also not received. The only disputable passage in this connection is Jude 14 and 15, which refers to a quotation from Enoch, the seventh from Adam. It may be that this quotation is from the book by that name, though the text of Enoch is not too certain and this quotation could possibly be a post-Christian interpolation. In any event... Jude does not by this sanction the Book of Enoch any more than Paul sanctions the writings of the Greek poets Aratus, Menander, and Epimenides, from each of which he quotes a sentence (Acts 17:28, I Cor 15:33, Titus 1:12)." (Pg. 183)

He notes that "The minor Epistles are of less importance. External testimony to them is naturally more sparse... External testimony for II Peter is weak... [but] Jude, which was well established in an early time, definitely quotes II Peter, not only in Jude 17f., where it is called apostolic, but also in Jude 4. This should settle the matter, even though we cannot say why it was neglected in the early centuries." (Pg. 260)

He concludes, "the canonicity of a book of the Bible depends upon its authorship... It is freely recognized that other views of the principle of canonicity have been held and that there are some problems connected with our thesis. The chief problem is that we cannot name with certainty all the authors of the Old Testament books and that the apostolic authorship of some of the New Testament books may be questioned... the authorship of the major parts of both Testaments is clear... and for the remaining portions where the authorship is less certain there is not positive evidence against, indeed, there is some evidence for, the authorship by prophets and apostles. (Pg. 284)

Although more than fifty years old, this remains a "classic" work of evangelical scholarship, that will be of great help to anyone researching these issues.
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on January 29, 2016
I may be a bit too generous with 3 stars, but it does indeed cover the fundamentals and bases. Sadly, without any depth and with a lot of circular reasoning inside the Scriptures, without much credible material for skeptics.
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on July 23, 2008
This book was written by my great uncle who was a great biblical scholar- he has been a contributor to multiple translations of the bible, and passed away recently. This work is essential for study of the basis of biblical inspiration and canonicity.
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