The Inspiration Of The Old Testament -- By: Merrill Frederick Unger

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 01:4 (Winter 1958)
Article: The Inspiration Of The Old Testament
Author: Merrill Frederick Unger

The Inspiration Of The Old Testament

Merrill F. Unger

From Introductory Guide to the Old Testament Copyright 1951 by
Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan


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.

1. 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 fare 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 (Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13; 5:22, 10:4). Since, however, God’s spoken message was usually soon written down, revelation is most generally understood to be the communication in its written form.

2. 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.” Three factors must constantly be kept in mind in defining the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture. First, there is the primary efficient, Cause, the Holy Spirit, who acts upon man. Secondly, there is the subject of inspiration, man, the agent, upon whom the Holy Spirit acts directly. Finally, there is the result of inspiration, a written revelation once for all given and thoroughly accredited, attested by miracle and fulfilled prophecy.

It is manifest that this method of an objective, once-for-all revelation is far superior to an immediate revelation to each person, which would interfere with human free-will, involve endless repetition and open the way for contradiction and imposture. It is, moreover, demonstrably more certain, satisfactory

and permanent than oral tradition. Such a record or report of revelation, inerrant and thoroughly accredited, as the Bible is, is one of God’s greatest benefits to man and the most priceless heritage of the human race.

3. The Definition Of Illumination.

Illumination is that influence or ministry of the Holy Spirit which enables all who are in right relation with God to understand the objective written revelation.

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