The Inspiration of the Old Testament -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 107:428 (Oct 1950)
Article: The Inspiration of the Old Testament
Author: Merrill F. Unger


The Inspiration of the Old Testament

Merrill F. Unger

Although the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible is frequently considered as a purely theological subject and commonly omitted altogether in studies in Biblical Introduction, this procedure is fraught with the utmost hazard. The reason is obvious. Since all evangelical Christian doctrines are developed from the Bible and rest upon it for authority, the correct Biblical teaching of inspiration is, as it were, “the mother and guardian of all the others.”1 A faulty view of the inspiration of Scripture is bound to produce unsound views and foster radical hypotheses.

I. The Scriptural Definition of Inspiration

In defining Inspiration in the distinctive sense in which it is employed in the Holy Scriptures it is necessary first to distinguish between Revelation, Inspiration, and Illumination.

The Definition of Revelation. Revelation is the divine act of communicating to man truth which otherwise man could not know. Revelation may be oral or written. Most commonly God spoke His revelation audibly or communicated His message by supersensory impressions upon the human agent (inspiration). In rare instances He Himself wrote His revelation, as He did upon the tables of stone on Sinai in the case of the first draft of the Ten Commandments (Exod 34:28, Deut 4:13, 5:22, 10:4). Since, however, God’s spoken message was usually soon written down, revelation is most generally understood of the communication in its written form.

Man being created in God’s image and endowed with capacity to commune with God, it is reasonable to expect

that God would communicate Himself and His mind to man. If unfallen man, being a finite creature, needed divine revelation and instruction (Gen 2:16, 17; 3:8), how much more fallen man, completely undone and incapacitated by sin! Hence, revelation may be defined as an act of God whereby He communicates to the mind of man truth unknown and unknowable to the mind of man unaided.

The Definition of Inspiration. Inspiration is “a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.”2 Three factors must constantly be kept in mind in de...

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