Read Free The Lost World of Scripture – instanbooks.live
Iming the word of God could be the oral reading of the written texts of Scripture something to which Timothy was to give attention 1 Tim 413 The book concludes with a list of uestions that are safe to ask Another uestion could be added to this list is it safe to ask if our pursuit of a robust doctrine of biblical authority is seeking to accommodate critical scholarship Walton and Sandy seem to take a mediating position between traditional evangelical arguments for inerrancy and the conclusions of critical scholarship For instance they suggest that books in the ancient Near East did not have authors so much as they had communities that produced them There was an authority behind the text the authors say who produced the oral teaching that was later recorded by scribes who could alter it to some degree In this model then the existence and role of Moses are both heartily affirmed and remain central in the preserved tradition 65 They reject the skepticism of critical scholarship 65 but readers are left wondering if they have been drawn into dialogue with this skepticism or asked merely to shake hands with it Until hard evidence is produced that demonstrates this process took place in the production of the Bible the hypothesis remains speculative While Walton and Sandy present a fascinating view into the world of ancient literary production which helps students of the Bible better understand the Scriptures and the world of our forefathers their conclusions are overreaching Nevertheless this book is a valuable contribution to the discussion of inerrancy Whether one agrees or disagrees with its conclusions he will need to engage this book as the inerrancy debate continues into the future Ministers and lay people may benefit from this book but it will be especially helpful for college students studying Scripture Great study and really important look at the differences and authority rooted in orality and textuality Everyone loves a good story of discovery Whether it is in the pages of a good book or watching Indiana Jones on the big screen people love to be drawn into the discovery of lost artifacts and even so lost worlds The field of archeology and its attending fields has unearthed artifacts buried tombs treasures and entire villages and cities that give us a glimpse into the lives and ways of the people and civilizations of the ancient past It many ways we are discovering things and worlds that have been lost and are very different than oursAmong these discoveries are the ancient writings of the various people groups We have found much but there is to discover and even much that we will probably never find The discovery of various writings from ancient times provides us with a wealth of information for how people thought and lived in the past They are a window into the culture More so for Christians they are a window not only into Scripture itself but how others viewed Scripture and its role in the life of the early ChristiansThere is no doubt that modern readers of the Bible have to fight reading their own world into the world of the Bible when it comes to the task of interpretation Unfortunately there are many readers of Scripture Christians included who do this without nowing it The world in which the Bible was born is lost to them and they don t realize itIn an effort to bring the reader of Scripture into the world in which it was born Wheaton professors John Walton Old Testament and D Brent Sandy New Testament have teamed up to write The Lost World of Scripture Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority The purpose of the book is to present as clearly as possible given what we now about the ancient world a picture of the function and authority that oral traditions and written texts had in ancient societies The authors want readers of Scripture to appreciate the fact that while modern cultures especially Western and European cultures are text dominant and therefore have a high literacy rate ancient cultures were oral and hearing dominant and therefore had a low literacy rate Understanding the oral and manuscript galaxy of the biblical world before the watershed of print culture is essential for grasping how the Bible was written 11 It is this lost world of oral and hearing dominance in which Scripture was bornOverviewThe book is divided into four parts For those familiar with Walton s The Lost World of Genesis One the same proposition pattern is used for the chapter structure Through the proposition structure the authors systematically bring the reader through the thought process ancients had about the role and authority of oral traditions and written texts so that modern readers of Scripture might accurately understand what Biblical authority is and specifically what the inerrancy of Scripture does and does not and can and cannot meanPart One lays the ground work in understanding the composition of texts in the Old Testament and how information was communicated orally If we are to understand fully the development of biblical literature and our view of its authority we need to adjust or thinking about how information was disseminated and traditions transmitted in the ancient world 18 Here the authors address the nature of authority in an oral and hearing dominant culture Authority it is said was not connected to a document but to the person of authority behind the document when that person was nown or to the tradition itself 27 The oral transmission of information was primary and thus carried through people Written texts were not unimportant but only carried authority in so far as the person behind the information had authority One of the ey concepts discussed here is speech act theory which examines How Communication Is Carried And Meaning Is Intended Through Locutions communication is carried and meaning is intended through locutions and genres which embody illocutions the intention to do something with locutions such as a blessing with a perlocution view to seeing a response from the audience like obeying 41 Important to the author s argument is the distinct role each part plays in the communicative act of meaning and expressing authority God s authority and the inerrancy of the text it is argued are located in its illucutions 42 44 45 On the other hand inspiration takes place at the locution level 44 Why is this distinction important It is said thatEven though people in Israel believed there were waters above the earth held back by a solid sky or that cognitive processes took place in the heart or idneys the illocution of the texts is not affirming those beliefs as revealed truth Culture specific aspects of an illocution do not have a universal perlocution eating pork circumcision head covering Culture specific aspects of the perlocution need to be translated to an appropriate contemporary perlocution 45Walton and Sandy are trying to help us make a separation between those things which are culture specific and authoritative truth that God is communicating by His Spirit through the human authors of Scripture Admittedly part one will be the most difficult section of the book for readers to grasp especially if they are not familiar with speech act theoryWhile I appreciate and even agree with much of what the authors are trying to prevent in Biblical interpretation I do have some reservations and concerns with some of their conclusions Two examples will suffice First while I do not dispute the value of speech act theory and its distinguishing between words affirmations and expectations upon the readers it feels that the different parts have been so separated so as to ignore the fluid and wedded relationship they share Yes words have meaning in a context and contexts are where authors intentions are but this belief is not to be held at the expense of the value of words and phrases Words are not just inspired but certain words are given through which meaning and affirmations are to be conveyed Second and in conjunction with the first concern is with how the authors view the role of textual criticism In analyzing the nature of textual criticism that is finding the accurate wording of the originally inspired manuscripts of Scripture Walton and Sandy conclude that since we do not have the originals with which to compare our best Hebrew and Greek texts we cannot now what the originals were and it does not matter according to their model 67 Therefore it does no good to say the originals were inspired if we do not have them In my estimation and that of many this conclusion will not do and unnecessary It may be so that oral dominant cultures viewed texts differently than moderns do but this is not a basis upon which to overly devalue determining the wording of the originals Just because we have little confidence in the exact wording of a few places in Scripture is not a warrant to say the whole task is irrelevant Why let uncertainties over a very small part of the text drive our understanding of the rest of the text and not vice versaPart Two deals with the same issues of composition and communication but for the New Testament The hearing and oral dominance of the ANE world continues into the NT world though there is a shift to use of texts around 700 BC 79 With the Greeks and Romans paving the way for text it is clear the orality still dominated texts as they were written primarily for oral use and memorization 85 Even philosophers bemoaned the use of text as they felt it would undermine oral lectures and created a lazy mind 104Moving to the NT era we see a noticeable shift to dependence on texts most notably within Christianity Many myths are dispelled concerning a correspondence between illiteracy in reading with intelligence and even education The ministry of Jesus is examined through the lens of His oral communication to people who were oral and hearing centered Proposition 8 The authors deduce that Jesus was educated and could read despite his meager background as a carpenter in Galilee 119 There is a good discussion of Jesus as the logos word of God and how this is to inform our understanding of most of the texts that speak of the word of the Lord in both testaments Prop 9 Some Christians will have minor disagreements with some of their conclusions here but generally they make good arguments for their case This moves into Proposition 10 which deals with how Jesus would have thought of the transmission of His own wordsProposition 11 and 13 address how variants within oral tradition were handled Since they were common within secular oral tradition it is believed that they were accepted within the oral tradition of Jesus words and sayings This is why many NT scholars when referring to the words of Jesus in the Gospels refer to them as containing the ipsissima vox voice of Jesus words and not the ipsissma verba exact words 149 This may come as a shock to many readers of red letters Bibles which have the words of Jesus in red so they can be found and easily distinguished from the rest of the text The result is that what we have in the Gospels is not the exact words of Jesus word for word as He said them in the moment but we do have the essential words He spoke and can be confident that the Gospels are reliable that "regard Oral tradition had acceptable ranges of variation in the retelling "Oral tradition had acceptable ranges of variation in retelling stories and the words of Jesus would have fared no betterPart Three tackles the Biblical world of literary genres Here the nature of modern historiography and ancient myth telling are compared as well as the implications this has for the authority of Scripture One of the points the authors try to make is that when the writers of the OT recounted and wrote about events in the past they did so with varying purposes in mind This explains some of the differences between the same accounts in Kings and Chronicles as well as the Gospels in the NT The varying accounts of the same events do not mean that the writers thought truthfulness about the events was unimportant but they had different standards of retelling events and they had agendas in doing so Here again the authors make use of the locution and illocution distinction which leads them to make a number of confusing and concerning statements regarding the written text of Scripture For instance in the discussion of the role law had within ANE cultures and Israel they make the following conclusionNothing from ancient Near East suggests that any society had a normative written set of laws that contained a comprehensive legal code for that society From the discussion of hearing dominant cultures in the early chapters of this book it is easy to see why that is the case Written documents did not hold position of authority in a hearing dominant context There is no reason to think that there was a comprehensive written authoritative document containing the legislation for Israelite society 219This statement and other like it is confusing to say the least It leads one to ask what does one make of the Pentateuch if it is not viewed as a written document containing Israelite legal code If readers are familiar with Walton s previous work on ANE literature and culture then this statement is not surprising For all of the valuable information Walton has uncovered he has tunnel vision when he uses the comparisons between ANE cultures and Israel at the expense and almost complete ignorance of the differences It is precisely that Israel had a written legal code as extensive as they did regardless of how long after it was verbally given that makes them uniue among ANE peoples This is the phenomenon of ScriptureConclusionSo what about inerrancy and authority How does the oral and hearing dominant culture of the OT and NT shape our understanding of the authority and inerrancy of the written text of Scripture God s word For the authors inerrancy is useful as long as it is properly defined While it could die the death of a thousand ualifications its basic meaning without error is true of Scripture But Walton and Sandy are wary of the future of the term inerrancy Not because they believe the Bible has errors but because the term inerrancy may no longer be clear enough strong enough or nuanced enough to carry the weight with which it has been traditionally been encumbered 275 Time will tell in this regard but I think inerrancy still has a future and books like Five Views on Inerrancy show not only its value but necessityFor the authority of Scripture the authors do believe Scripture is authoritative for Christians over any other possible book It is our standard of faith rule and practice they would say It has authority because it is in written form what God said verbally What I am not sure of is whether or not they see Scripture since it is the words of God as having a self understanding of its own authority What does God say to us about His word in His word Further Scripture is our only access to the oral tradition of the OT and NT It is now the Christians only authority to God s spoken word This is not something the authors touch on and needs to be exploredThe Lost World of Scripture is a mixed bag for me Readers will be captivated by the historical explanation of how oral tradition worked and the mindset of people in these cultures The book is far from disengaging They do a good job of contrasting the value and place of written texts within hearing and text dominant cultures and how modern notions of accuracy do not line up with ancient notions The authors recognize that they are making possible scenarios and conclusions based on their research but they seem to be dogmatic in their theological conclusions about the inerrancy and authority of Scripture then is warranted As mentioned previously what is missing is a discussion on the phenomenon of Scripture as the written revelation of God to man While much if not most of the OT was given orally first most of the NT was not see the letters of Paul Why is it that we have so much writing from Christianity as opposed to other religions of their time Why did Christians write their oral tradition down as much as they didThe Lost World of Scripture is an intriguing book but needs to be read carefully and with discernmentNOTE I received this book for free from IVP and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review The thoughts and words expressed are my own. Ct our current doctrine on the authority of Scripture In this book we are exploring ways God chose to reveal his word in light of discoveries about ancient literary culture write Walton and Sandy Our specific objective is to understand better how both the Old and New Testaments were spoken written and passed on especially with an eye to possible implications for the Bible's inspiration and authority. Walton and Sandy think through the doctrine of inerrancy and biblical authority within the world of the Bible rather than through anachronistic impositions They seek to contribute to the doctrine in a way that makes sense of evidence from the ancient world and that is productive and helpful for the church Many good thoughts and uestions are raised and it is all done with a desire to better understand and submit to the authoritative revelation of God Walton and Sandy give a helpful and detailed look into the oral dominant world in which the Bible originated and shows how many Christians both through critical scholarship and fundamentalist apologetics have anachronistically imposed our modernWestern text dominant modes of thought onto it It s difficult for people of a text dominant culture to put ourselves into the mindset of an oral dominant culture but Walton and Sandy are very helpful in this regard Through the use of Speech Act Theory language of illocution locution and perlocution they work through the implications of Scripture being a product of oral dominant culture in terms of authority and inerrancy Their conclusions regarding authority are excellent Their conclusions regarding inerrancy are very good but may be little bit too conservative on one or two points Chicago Statement inerrancy is the standard of today s evangelical world and Walton and Sandy do their best to work with and defend that definition of inerrancy while showing where it needs to be reformed or at least better nuanced This is where the book falls somewhat short There are other better and historical models of inerrancy The Chicago Statement as this book makes painfully obvious is horribly anachronistic Walton and Sandy only make it work by bending it and finding the loopholes that I think most evangelicals and nearly all fundamentalists would reject Review This book has a lot in common with Denis Lamoureux s Evolutionary Creation but without the focus on evolution They both approach the Old Testament by recognizing that God is accommodating scripture to the culture and worldview of people living in the Ancient Near East Our task is to discern the cultural package from the eternal contents and this is not easily done without careful study Lamoureux calls this the MessageIncident principle and Walton refers to LocutionIllocutionPerlocution Depending on whether a reader is familiar with science or with scripture either Lamoureux s or Walton s book would be appropriate for themIn this book I found Part 1 to be the most stimulating I m glad that the book addressed the oral culture of the New Testament too but the writing was not as lively Ultimately it s fascinating to now that written Scripture is not essential to the Judeo Christian faith Oral Scripture in the hearts and minds of its adherents is the source of God s revelation and Scripture was slowly written long afterwards The unusual phrasings and occasional inconsistencies are reflective of oral culture and transmission and that those people had very different values and expectations than we do Ironically both liberals and conservatives tend to read Scripture through a modern lens and both distort the message in doing soNotesIntroductionp11 Transition from print to digital culture is comparable to the transition from oral to literary culture It changes how we think access information and perceive realityPart 1p19Writing locates authority in a text and its reader instead of in a tradition and its community Authority in ancient oral culture was different than today Lest one think that writing is superior remember that if you uestion them they always say only one and the same thing Plato s Phaedres In an orally transmitted culture you can ask for clarification p24 How do you Rozwazania o Psalmach know that a text was originally composed orally Includes repetition within a passage use of formulas and formula patterns and conventionalized patterns of contentIn the ancient world there were no books and no authors Instead there were authorities documents and scribes Tradents are authorities that are involved in the perpetuation of traditionsp27 Let s not forget that much of what wenow about modern science is given to us by Tradents too We certainly don t do the original experiments ourselvesp31 In an oral culture documents do not carry the authority the community and tradition does Documents are occasionally updated to reflect the changes in language and oral tradition The locus of authority is the community itselfp32 The Old Testament Hebrew language that we have is not what Abraham spoke nor even what Moses spoke The text was modified over time to reflect the contemporary cultureWhat Grumpy, Frumpy, Happy, Snappy A Silly Monster Opposites Book kinds of changes were made1 updated language and place names2 Explanatory glosses no such thing as marginal notations in an oral culture3 Added sections such as the death of Moses4 Updated formulations legal interpretations5 Revised to address a new audience in relevant waysp38 The canonical status of particular texts developed much later than the content of the text itself Texts only became authoritative once literary culture began to thrivep43 Every successful act of communication reuires some degree of accommodation to bridge the gap between speaker and listenerp49 In God s revelation to Israel he was not focused on giving them precise information about cosmology or natural history His message was importantp50 The only relevant causes were divine causes and human causes There wasn t a separate category for natural causesp60 Moses is best understood as the authority and tradent of the Pentateuch not the author The written text came together over many centuries within the oral culture and tradition that he presided overPart 2p91 A speaker has to adjust to his listener Oral speech is adaptive to its listeners Written language is not A written text can become stale outdated sperseded damaged or lost completelyp95 Oral cultures house their central convictions in fundamental narratives that are repeated over and over again Narratives and repetition are central to oral culturep101 Thucydides is wellnown for admitting that he used historical imagination in reconstructing speeches and placing them in the mouths of statesmen and generals In doing so he conveyed real history through a literary mediump111 Isn t it curious that Jesus never wrote anything down He didn t write the gospels and he didn t "write any theology Jesus preached few sermons yet told freuent stories His audience was non literate and "any theology Jesus preached few sermons yet told freuent stories His audience was non literate and Jesus communication was truth telling at the highest level even though his parables weren t literalp121 The LogosWord referred to oral communication not written textsp128 The Bible is not what Western modern Christians might expect or even wish from God The Bible is some of the best literature ever written in the history of the human race But it is not a newspaper telling you exactly what happened yesterday And it is not a science textbook telling you how everything is physically constructed And that s good because newspapers and textbooks go out of date almost as soon as they are publishedp149 The Gospels preserve the voice of Jesus not necessarily his exact words He didn t speak Greek anywayp176 Even the New Testament writers were not really authors in the modern sense They were responsible for transmitting the oral traditions Based on their جامع التواریخ جلد 4 فهرست ها knowledge of the oral texts of their community they crafted written versions that would have been fully recognizable to and probably subject to the approval of the communityp178 Modern presupposition Print culture assumes that if oral culture did not preserve someone s exact words then what that person said cannot benown accuratelyp186 Jesus message was radical his method of communicating was routine The importance of his message did not reure that it be written down either by him or his disciples Although he left behind only oral texts his message was no less authoritative He affirmed the divine source of his speech and the permanence of his words Authority did not begin in the written textp196 Preserving exact wording was not necessary in the minds of New Testament authors when they uoted from the Old Testament Differences in wording and details did not put truth at riskPart 3All the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph What ind of historical claim is being made hereOur understanding of myth and history are both modern concepts that map poorly onto ancient textsBecause of the composition conventions of ancient authors it is very difficult and potentially destructive to try to precisely reconstruct historical events from the text We can affirm that the Bible is dealing with real events in the real past but that does not necessarily mean that we can reconstruct the past like a photographThe widespread work on the hypothetical document referred to as is largely based on a literary assumptionPart 4The Bible primarily relates truth through narratives of human experience and through poetic language that transcend the normal boundaries of expression What has been written with imagination must also be read with imagination the creative side of your brain must be engaged not just your logical systematic side otherwise you make it into a lifeless sterile textWhen we press the Bible into tasks that are not within its purview we are violating its authority by trying to extract a word from God and presenting our conclusion as God s Word when in reality he has said no such thingEpilogueInspired truth was communicated and preserved without the necessity of exact wording Speeches for example were reconstructed after the factGod often works through processes that we would label as naturalThe authority behind a book is important than identifying someone as the sole or direct author Later material could be added and later editors could have a role in the compositional history of a canonical bookThe Bible used numbers rhetorically within the range of the conventions of the ancient world I was impressed with John Walton s books on the Genesis creation accounts So I decided to read this book on biblical authority that he co authored with Brent Sandy Like with his books on the creation accounts the authors take a close look at the literary culture in the Ancient Near East and then use that to evaluate the traditional way that evangelicals approach biblical authority and inerrancy Also like Walton s creation account books this book is structured as a set of propositions that build on one another as the authors make their argumentsIn the American evangelical world we have often rooted our ideas about biblical authority and inerrancy in our modern culture which is primarily a print culture As such we ve tended to think of a biblical author who wrote a book under the guidance of God But biblical culture didn t really have a concept of authors and books Instead it was an oral culture where authoritative stories and texts were passed down orally By New Testament times written books were common but most people were illiterate When Paul wrote a letter to a church he often had co authors and another person who actually wrote it down When it was sent to a church most of the people in that church would not have been able to read it Instead it was read to them out loud Another interesting thing is that in New Testament times and later believers did not think that written texts were in any way accurate or preferable to the oral texts that had been passed down For the most part the written Scriptures that we have all have their origin in oral texts that had been passed down sometimes for many generations until they were written down at a later point in timeThis book discusses the implications of this for our notions of biblical authority and inerrancy In many ways we approach the Scriptures in an anachronistic way because we t really fathom a non
world where was the primary way getting information and memorization was the primary way of retaining it As believers we get worried when we find variants in different accounts of the same event in the Bible But that would not have been a problem in the ancient world where exact wording was not something that was expected of biblical narratives and messages The important thing is the intent or the message that is being told by the narratives the poetry the prophecy and the teaching So we need to judge the Scriptures according to the standards of the world in which they were written not according to our modern standardsThe bottom line is that God has spoken through people in the past and that spoken message was passed on until it was eventually written down and accepted as canonical God oversaw this whole process and has seen to it that His message has been faithfully transmitted to us The biblical message is authoritative because God inspired it The biblical message is inerrant in the sense that the message has not been distorted along the way The fact that we find variants between biblical manuscripts does not mean the message is errant because exact wording is not reuired to preserve and communicate the messageI think one weak point in the book is that it doesn t discuss how communities of faith decided that a particular narrative or message was from God and therefore authoritative Maybe that s because we don t really now We see instances in the New Testament where Old Testament scripture is interpreted in a new way that is different from the intention of that scripture We accept this new interpretation as inspired because it s authoritative So what if someone or some community today comes up with a new interpretation of a scripture passage that differs from the original intent How would we judge whether this new interpretation was inspired and authoritative The authors pretty much punt on this one I get the impression that they believe that divine inspiration stopped when the New Testament canon was agreed upon But I find that a little hard to swallow I for one believe that the truth in the Scripture runs deeper than we can fathom and that with the help of the Holy Spirit God may open our eyes to new truths through it But the authors don t really acknowledge that as a possibility I realize that it might reuire another book to adeuately discuss and explore that But I would have appreciated it if the authors had at least touched on the possibility of new authoritative revelation from GodBottom line for meAs someone who has struggled with the idea of biblical inerrancy I found this book to be immensely helpful in thinking through what the real issues are I would highly recommend it to anyone that struggles with what Biblical inerrancy actually means Was tempted to rate lower because I still have so many uestions Way than when I started But I suppose that is how this thing works We are misinformed readers when we use the Bible for purposes that exceed its intents This was a fantastic book that radically moved my understanding of scripture Many of these things were floating around in the back of my mind but this analysis provided all the scholarly work and insight that I was sorely lacking and will certainly help to elevate my discourse on this subject in the future It is challenging for evangelicals but in a good positive continuing to build our Dragon Ball Anime Comics, Vol. 2 knowledge of scripture way Scripture is not undermined in this book but re positioned and given a newind of authority and can change the way we read it There is a LOT to pull from this book and the claims the co authors are making are not insignificant These claims are remarkably well argued though which makes it an indispensable read John Walton contributes the chapters on Old Testament composition and while I did enjoy these I particularly love some of Walton s other work on Genesis I was extremely impressed by newcomer Brent Sandy s chapters on the New Testament texts I ve always heard pastorsteachers say things like these stories would have been spoken and passed around orally for years before they were actually written down but never before have I actually approached understanding WHAT THAT MEANS for our modern interpretation This book goes to remarkable lengths to explain what a culture of orality would look like and how our modern culture of textuali. 2014 Readers' Choice Awards Honorable MentionPreaching's Preacher's Guide to the Best Bible Reference for 2014 ScriptureHermeneuticsFrom John H Walton author of the bestselling Lost World of Genesis One and D Brent Sandy author of Plowshares and Pruning Hooks comes a detailed look at the origins of scriptural authority in ancient oral cultures and how they inform our understanding of the Old and New. .literary world where
Ty compares to it Most importantly the authors draw implications of this contrast for biblical interpretation and application Issues like inerrancy modern science and ethicslegislation are all unpacked in incredibly helpful ways One brief word of caution the early chapters delve into some abstract speech act theory terms are used like locution illocution and perlocution These can be difficult to read but truly do lay an essential foundation for understanding the arguments laid out in the rest of the chapters Push through these and you are truly in store for a perspective changing look at the bible Highly highly recommended Inerrancy is a tricky word Though as told by this book it was coined as a statement of trust in God against the hermeneutic of skepticism employed by scholars bent on discovering new ways of deconstructing religion today it is often used as a purity check for whether someone is a real Christian or not But as the meaning of the word has changed so has our What Well Leave Behind (Thirty-Eight, knowledge of the past and specifically about ancient literature This book takes what we have learned about ancient literature and applies it to what wenow about the production of the bible and then discusses whether inerrancy can still be affirmed of the scriptures and what exactly it meansMuch of this book centers around the idea that the bible was produced in an oral culture instead of a print culture like ours Most of the bible was probably composed orally long before it was written down Written text was not considered superior or authoritative than oral text in fact it was often considered inferior since some of the passion or clarity would be lost if the author were not there to speak hisher words in person Even when things were written down they were written for preservation or other practical purposes and the written version did not supersede the oral tradition that would continue to be the primary way of communication Therefore much of the inerrancy debates over authorship and the importance of exact wording are based off of our modern Western idea of authorship and the importance of exact wording and need to be reexaminedIn this book the authors also present the helpful categories of locution illocution and paralocution These roughly correspond to the content and form of the text itself the intended purpose of the producer and the response of the hearerreader The authors place inerrancy and the authority of scripture at the level of illocution what is authoritative is the purpose of the speaker So if the speaker is speaking for the purpose of conveying information then inerrancy applies in the way many take it to mean today that the information is factually true But if the speaker s purpose is to sketch a biographical picture of a person like the gospels do of Jesus then inerrancy applies primarily to the picture of Jesus conveyed by the speaker s words and not necessarily to the minor details Another example would be to consider in what way a proverb could be inerrant since a proverb by definition is a generalization of the way the world works sometimes but not always According to this model inerrancy would mean that learning the proverb and pondering it would indeed be useful in making us wise which is the purpose of the speakerI would be interested in a in depth treatment of this model as applied to scripture since in some areas I don t think I completely understood the authors arguments The authors are pretty strong on the idea that inerrancy applies to illocution and also that the illocution of the author is stable and cannot be added to This presents a problem when we see a NT biblical author taking the words locution of a previous OT author to mean something different than what the author probably meant originally The authors of this book resolve this problem by saying that though the locution was borrowed the illocution of the NT biblical author is authorized in its own right by the Holy Spirit Thus the NT author is not claiming and does not have to claim that his illocution in using an OT prophesy is the same as the illocution of the uoted OT author To me this seems a little disjointed since for any reader the meaning and authority of the NT text would certainly be bolstered by the already established OT text That is most readers would not naturally separate the two texts as being independently authorized but would immediately make the connection in their mind that the authority of the two are interconnected perhaps by the purpose of God So to me it seems that there is to be said hereIf it takes a whole book to ualify what the word inerrancy then is it still a useful word If a majority of people in the Christian world read this book and agreed upon a definition then maybe it would be But I personally have stopped using the word since I think for most people it still implies a perspective on the bible that makes it something it is not But whether the church continues to use the word or not the book provides some well supported suggestions on how we ought to think about what the bible is and how it conveys authority I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to get their feet wet in learning about the ancient context of the bible Walton and Sandy s book is a reexamination of the evangelical doctrines of inerrancy and biblical authority in light of current research in ancient literary production Specifically their objective is to understand better how both the Old and New Testaments were spoken written and passed on especially with an eye to possible implications for the Bible s inspiration and authority 9 This wide scope limits the depth of the book so that each of its twenty four chapters rarely receive than fifteen pages of attention However the authors acknowledge this limitation as a conseuence of tackling such an immense subject Walton and Sandy direct their arguments to believers with a high view of Scripture This book is not intended for outsiders that is it s not "an apologetic defense of biblical authority 10 In fact the book assumes a belief in "apologetic defense of biblical authority 10 fact the book assumes
A BELIEF IN BIBLE AS GOD S SELF DISCLOSUREbelief in Bible as God s self and that the Holy Spirit was involved in all aspects of the Bible s production and preservation The twenty four chapters of this book are put forward as propositions twenty one propositions with three summarizing sections Part One consisting of propositions one through four treats composition and communication in the OT world as well as lays the foundation for the rest of the book by arguing that ancient Near Eastern societies were hearing dominant proposition one expansions and revisions of texts were possible proposition two texts can communicate only as well as they accommodate to the intended hearers andor readers proposition three and that the Bible contains no new scientific revelation proposition four Of these four propositions chapter three is the most significant for the argument of the book as it introduces concepts of speech act theory locution illocution and perlocution that are cited constantly throughout the book Part Two propositions five through thirteen treats composition and communication in the NT The fundamental arguments in this section are that the world of Jesus and the early church was predominantly oral textual variants occurred even in the oral teaching of Jesus and that precise wording is not significant to transmit truth Part Three propositions fourteen through seventeen deal with literary genres of the Bible arguing that we must read Scripture in light of what the authors intended to communicate being careful not to expect these ancient readers to share our modern methods of communication Literary genre then is a major indication of the intent of the author Part Four propositions eighteen through twenty one is a series of affirmations from the authors regarding their views of Scripture s authority and inerrancy A final chapter titled Faithful Conclusions for Virtuous Readers tidies up the theological mayhem with lists of things safe to believe things not safe to believe and things safe to ask Walton and Sandy want their work to contribute to a robust doctrine of biblical authority 309 among evangelical Christians robust is used at least six times in their book I would like to offer a robust critiue of their arguments The authors succeed in bringing decades of scholarly work in ancient literacy into an accessible format for all readers They explain the abstract concepts of speech act theory in a way that most will understand and they slowly and progressively apply these concepts to the Bible For example many readers will benefit from learning the difference between the Bible s locution and illocution of Old World Science in Gen 1 No student of Scripture would not appreciate the clarity that a discussion of biblical genre propositions fourteen through seventeen will bring to their understanding of Scripture In one way then this book popularizes academic research for an evangelical audience The fundamental problem of this book however is that it runs the risk of letting the background of ancient literary production control the foreground of Scripture itself a fact they plainly admit saying oral and communal culture is than background to supplement our understanding of ancient texts it is foreground 185 Previous discussions about inerrancy and authority have treated the Bible as if it were an absolutely uniue literary composition Walton and Sandy bring valuable information from recent scholarship for their evangelical peers to consider However the pendulum swings too far in the opposite direction from those previous discussion They are careful to say that the Bible is not a book just like any other book 303 However the lion s share of their arguments leads one to consider otherwise Their thesis contradicts the notion that the Bible is a uniue book like no other Yes the authors confess their belief that the Bible is God s self disclosure Yes the authors suggest the Bible is similar to its contemporary texts primarily in its language method hearing dominant culture and transmission not the illocution of its content However Judaism and Christianity have always been distinguished from other religions as being revealed religions It is not enough to say that the Bible is different only in its source The vast amount of early manuscripts are a witness to the value that early Christians or Second Temple Jews such as the umran community placed on the written Scriptures In short Walton and Sandy are overreaching in their conclusions One example of reaching too far is in their contrast of oral culture manuscript culture and print culture in proposition thirteen Handwritten texts were essentially oral texts that had been inscribed in writing They were ancillary not primary surrogates not principals derivative not superlative 178 The dominance of oral culture within early Christianity and even the ancient world as a whole may have had to do with the source of the oral tradition in this case the apostolic witness and less to do with the medium itself Papias clearly preferred the living word ie oral testimony from eyewitnesses yet he is the primary source for patristic traditions regarding the composition of Matthew and Mark Clement of Rome Ignatius of Antioch and even the composers of the Didache were all clearly familiar and reliant on the written testimony of Scripture All of these with the possible exception of the Didache were within a generation of those who walked with the first generation of Christians In other words an oral culture did not reuire that written texts were inherently inferior Orality was important only to the degree that it was connected with eyewitnesses It seems that Walton and Sandy put too much stress on the medium of orality and not enough stress on the uniue testimony of the eyewitnesses which were what gave the oral texts their significance Certainly we must not fall into the trap of thinking about the New Testament in terms of our modern text dominant culture 98 nor should we fall into the trap of thinking about the New Testament only in terms of modern critical scholarship Another overstatement by the authors is diluting the significance of authors and autographs in the ancient world They are correct in arguing that ancient notions of authorship are different than modern notions of authorship However they overstate their case when they argue that the authority behind a book is important than identifying someone as the sole or direct author 298 If the early church did not see the sole and direct author as significant recognizing written forms to have eual authority 298 why did the early church so uickly and universally associate the canonical Gospels with Matthew Mark Luke and John Regarding the autographs of NT documents it is possible that secretaries may have made multiple copies of certain of Paul s letters 250 such as Galatians but Paul s directive for the churches of Colossae and Laodicea to exchange the letters he sent to them Col 416 suggests that the churches bore the weight of preserving the text Further the fact that Paul s corpus was collected and distributed early and widely enough for Peter and his recipients to be familiar with it 2 Pet 316 speaks volumes about the early church s view of the written word Walton and Sandy briefly mention the work of Kelber and Rodriguez arguing that the freuency of oral performances of early Christian texts left a stability within the oral tradition that did not depend on a script or a transcript 130 32 Strangely however they do not mention how this same evidence causes a problem for their arguments about textual variants in the NT in proposition thirteen The authors admit that out of all the variants very few make any significant doctrinal difference 173 which they state rather oddly after treating the two most significant textual variants Mark 16 and John 8 as if variants of their size occur regularly in the NT Nevertheless their argument for a solid oral tradition imprinted by freuent oral performances should contribute to the discussion of textual variants but they do not make the connection Recent scholarship of ancient social memory which is closely connected to the work of Kelber and Rodriguez helps validate the reliability of the NT text A oral dominant culture reinforces its social memory through the aforementioned oral performances which would then reinforce a strong connection between the oral tradition and the written documents If this connection were made Walton and Sandy would not need to undervalue the significance of textual manuscripts As it is however the authors avoid the problem of textual variants altogether by arguing that precise wording is not necessary to communicate truth Some of Walton and Sandy s arguments are based on assumptions For example they say Regarding the New Testament Jesus spoke in Aramaic 296 The notion that Jesus spoke Aramaic and that the writers of the canonical Gospels translated his oral teaching into Greek is helpful to Walton and Sandy s argument that inspired truth was communicated and preserved without the necessity of exact wording which means that the true essence of his words were remembered 296 but not his exact words While this has been the scholarly consensus within the academy it is no less an assumption and is not without challengers At other times the authors beg the uestion with statements like When the New Testament speakers refer to the work of Isaiah they are referring to the literary documents in their time that have been subsumed under the authority of the prophet 65 The academic consensus may support multiple sources for Isaiah but this is far from being an established fact In proposition nine Walton and Sandy present a good case for the early Christians having an aural relationship with the Hebrew Scriptures and an oral focus in their own proclamation of the gospel The authors argue that the word logos primarily referred to that which was spoken orally and heard aurally 122 which leads to their conclusion that the phrase word of God in the NT refers primarily to the oral forms of the text behind the written forms 126 However this does not reuire that the written texts were somehow secondary to the oral teaching In fact procla. Testaments today Stemming from uestions about scriptural inerrancy inspiration and oral transmission of ideas The Lost World of Scripture examines the process by which the Bible has come to be what it is today From the reasons why specific words were used to convey certain ideas to how oral tradition impacted the transmission of biblical texts the authors seek to uncover how these issues might affe.