“Errors” Of The Scriptures -- By: Frederic Gardiner
BSac 36:143 (July 1879) p. 496
“Errors” Of The Scriptures
Since the emancipation of history, natural science, and human learning generally from the control of the theologian, many conclusions have been reached which are in conflict with the older interpretations of the Scriptures. These interpretations have been modified, and fresh conflicts have arisen. Is interpretation still to be changed with each fresh discovery; and, if so, has the Bible any fixed meaning at all? Or is it to be frankly conceded that the various books constituting what is known as the Scriptures were written by men at various times and in possession of various degrees of truth, and so have come down to us with a not inconsiderable admixture of error? Many varying opinions on these questions have each their own honest and earnest advocates. There seems but one way out of the perplexity; and that is the scientific one — to examine carefully the facts, and base our theory exclusively upon the result.
The first fact to be observed is, that the Scriptures have in them both something which is divine and something which is human. This is so generally admitted that it is not worth while to spend much time in its re-examination. That there is in them somewhat that is divine, and divine in a higher sense than Homer or Dante may be said to have a divine element, is abundantly shown by the work which they have done and are doing in the world; that they have also somewhat which is human is sufficiently obvious from the idiosyncrasies of the several writers, and from the varying style and manner in which they have delivered the message intrusted to their care. Yet, inasmuch as both sides of this fundamental fact have been called in question by the advo-
BSac 36:143 (July 1879) p. 497
cates of opposite theories, it may be well to point briefly to a single and satisfactory proof of each of them.
That the Scriptures have in them something which is human we conceive to be absolutely proved by the fact that both the Old and the New Testaments, as we have them, do contain undeniable errors. In the New Testament errors of copyists—most of them of little consequence, but still errors — have been brought to light in great abundance. It may be replied that these are matters which human care can rectify, and that inspiration was never intended to take away from man the trouble of ascertaining what it really said. This does not matter. These errors remained in the text unsuspected for centuries, and some of them still, and probably always will, remain; for no competent critic would pretend to say that the text is in all cases now definitely settled, or that it is ever likely to be. In the Old Testament manuscripts of proportionate antiquity are wanting, and the best and...
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