The Descriptive Names Applied To The New Testament Books By The Earliest Christian Writers -- By: Benjamin B. Warfield

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 042:167 (Jul 1885)
Article: The Descriptive Names Applied To The New Testament Books By The Earliest Christian Writers
Author: Benjamin B. Warfield


The Descriptive Names Applied To The New Testament Books By The Earliest Christian Writers

Benjamin B. Warfield

One of the most important sources of information concerning the attitude of the early church towards what we call the New Testament books is found in the epithets and descriptive titles assigned to them by the early Christian writers. Its value may be illustrated from the titles given to the Old Testament by the writers of the New. We find the New Testament writers, for instance, speaking of the Old Testament books, severally and collectively, as “Scripture,” “the Scripture,” “the Scriptures,” and quoting them, accordingly, with “the sacred formula,” “It is written.” “The use of these nouns,” says Dr. Ladd,1 “implies a belief in the divine origin of the writings to which the titles are applied…..The Old Testament appears in his view as Scriptura Sacra κατ᾿ ἐξοχήν.” Accordingly, we find certain adjectives which appropriately describe the sacred character of the books thus designated, attached to these nouns, e. g., ἅγιος (Rom. 1:2), ἱερός (2 Tim. 3:15), προφητικός (Rom. 16:26). Even more strongly, the pregnant term τὰ λόγια designates the books to which it is applied as the utterances of God,— “the Oracles” by way of eminence,— the “living oracles” (Acts 7:38), or, more precisely, “the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 4:11). It seems to be in accordance with this title that the Scriptures are adduced with the formulae, τὸ εἰρημένον, τὸ ρηθέν, and the like, and what it says is ascribed to a higher author, either by the simple subjectless λέγει, φησί or by the outspoken declaration that it is said only through (διά) the human writers. The extent of the Scripture thus declared to be God’s word is witnessed by the general title, “the Law and the Prophets,” or, more fully, “the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms “(Luke 24:44), by which we are advertised that all these epithets describe the

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