B. B. Warfield and the Inspiration of Scripture -- By: Matthew McDill

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 21:3 (Summer 2004)
Article: B. B. Warfield and the Inspiration of Scripture
Author: Matthew McDill


B. B. Warfield and the Inspiration of Scripture

Matthew McDill

Ph.D. Student in Biblical Studies (New Testament)
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

Across the historical landscape of the study of biblical inspiration, one scholar towers as a mountain above the rest: Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. Referring to the study of inspiration, John H. Gerstner writes that Warfield’s work “may well be the greatest contribution to the theme ever made by any Christian scholar before or since.”1 Whether this is the case or not, he is certainly one who deserves attention when one undertakes a study of inspiration.

Warfield was born near Lexington, Kentucky, on November 5, 1851. Reared by Christian parents, “The atmosphere of his home was one of vital piety.”2 He attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and graduated at the head of his class at age nineteen. Later, while studying in Europe, he decided to go into the ministry. Warfield then entered Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated in 1876.3 In the same year, he married Miss Annie Pearce Kinkead and then departed for Europe to study at Leipzig for a year. Returning to America, he taught New Testament language and literature at Western Theological Seminary from 1878–1887.4 He was then named professor of didactic and polemical theology at Princeton Seminary, where he taught for thirty-three years.5 Warfield’s wife became ill during their honeymoon and never fully recovered. Until she died in 1915, he limited his travels and work in order to stay close by and care for her.6 Warfield died at Princeton on February 16, 1921.7

Warfield wrote many books and articles during his career. He most clearly addressed the subject of the inspiration of Scripture in his articles, such as “The Church Doctrine of Inspiration,” “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration,” “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” “The Terms ‘Scripture’ and ‘Scriptures’ as Employed in the New Testament,” “God-Inspired Scripture,” “ ‘It Says,’ ‘Scripture Says,’ ‘God Says’,” “The Oracles of God,” “Inspiration and Criticism,”8 “The Divine and Human in the Bible,”9 “Inspiration,”

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