Personality Differences And Inspiration -- By: Paul L. Kaufman
CenQ 1:4 (Winter 1958) p. 9
Personality Differences And Inspiration
Registrar, Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary
Every thoughtful reader of the N. T. has sensed the difference in style and vocabulary among the various writers. This phenomenon of individual differences becomes even more abundantly evident to those who read the Greek text. The dramatic motion picture type of presentation which we encounter in Mark’s Gospel stands in sharp contrast to the cultured style of Luke. The intensity of Paul’s epistles differs markedly from the simple and direct style of John. Each writer has his own peculiarities of language and style and as Gaussen observes: “So far are we from not acknowledging this human individuality stamped throughout on our sacred books, that, on the contrary, it is with profound gratitude—with an eve r -growing admiration—that we contemplate this living, actual, dramatic, humanitary character diffused with so powerful and charming an effect through all parts of the book of God” (The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, p. 41).
A theory of inspiration which does not take account of these individual differences can hardly be called an adequate theory. It shall be the purpose of this present consideration to examine the existing phenomena of individual differences, not exhaustively, but with sufficient thoroughness to give a good cross-section of the N. T. evidence and then seek to explicate them in the light of a theory of inspiration which not only accounts for their presence but also insures a completely inspired record.
The matter of the individuality of the N. T. writers is put quite clearly by A. T. Robertson when he says: “The language of Christianity was not stereotyped at first and there was more play for individualism. If the style is not all of the man, certainly each writer has his own style. But style varies with the same man also at different stages of his own development, with varying moods and when discussing different themes. Style is thus a function of the subject. All these points of view must be kept in mind with several of the N.T. writers, as Paul, Luke, Peter and John, whose writings show marked variations.. .. In thus accenting the individuality of the N. T. writers one must not forget that each writer had access to the common religious terminology of early Christianity. There was a common substratum of ideas and expressions that reappear in them all, though in certain cases there may have been actual use of documents,. . .Differences in culture, in environment, in gifts, in temperament inevitably affect style, but this fact is not to be stressed so as to make a new dialect for each writer” (Grammar of the Greek N.T. in the Light of Historical Research, pp. 116ff).
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