The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Part IV: The Bible and History -- By: Edward J. Young

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:485 (Jan 1965)
Article: The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Part IV: The Bible and History
Author: Edward J. Young


The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures
Part IV:
The Bible and History

Edward J. Young

“Whatsoever things were written aforetime,” declares the apostle, “were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4). This is an all-embracing statement; it covers the entire Old Testament. It means that everything that is found in the Old Testament is for our learning. It does not say that everything is equally important, but it does imply that nothing in the Old Testament is unimportant. And it brings to the fore a point that is in particular need of emphasis today, namely, the fact that every part of the Old Testament, including so-called background material and details of history, is important; indeed, is for our learning.

When Paul employs the word learning (Gr., διδασκαλίαν), he has in mind something far more than the mere acquisition of additional information. Paul does not mean that the Old Testament was written merely so that we might receive additional information of an intellectual nature therefrom and as a result be more learned. That is not his meaning at all. Rather, by his usage of the word learning he has in mind a learning that tends to godliness. He himself goes on to say that the purpose of such learning and reading of the Scriptures is that we might have hope. It is all, in other words, for a spiritual purpose. All the Old Testament, therefore, is for our spiritual benefit.

This emphasis is needed today in particular, for we are witnessing the attempts of some to stress in the Bible those parts which they think are of value for our spiritual lives, and

to cast aside the rest. For many years, the phenomenon of Heilsgeschichte has been with us. This movement gained impetus through the writings of J. von Hoffman, and is today quite widespread. In brief it would hold that in the Old Testament there is a spiritual history which in reality is to be divorced from the historical background. In that historical background there may be many errors and contradictions, but the spiritual history is the thing that is of benefit for us. We are concerned with sacred or holy history in particular. Now, it is not always clear whether the advocates of this position really believe that such a holy history actually took place or not. The flood, for example, was a mighty judgment, and the lessons of the flood are very clear, but we may ask, could one have gotten his feet wet in that flood? The Exodus is of supreme importance, we grant, but did it really occur, or was it simply the Israelitish conception of its own e...

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