Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
GTJ 8:1 (Spr 87) p. 143
Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon, edited by D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986. Pp. 468. $14.95. Paper.
This book is a major evangelical contribution to the recent deluge of books on the issue of biblical inerrancy and authority. Intended as a companion and supplement to the editors’ Scripture and Truth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), it attempts to maintain a place in the “central tradition of the church’s understanding of the Bible—but pressing beyond that tradition at points to address new questions and to articulate as carefully as possible a responsible doctrine of Scripture in light of those new questions” (p. ix). In this respect, it is self-consciously in contrast to the recent publications of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy which for the most part, according to Carson, has “simply aimed to restate the traditional positions and delineate the weaknesses of their opponents” (p. 7).
The overall quality and scholarship of the articles is very good, and most chapters are filled with insightful discussions and new suggestions for dealing with some of the difficulties facing the inerrantist view of Scripture. As is to be expected, it is doubtful that anyone will accept all the conclusions found here. Nevertheless, this volume commends itself to all who hold (or reject) an inerrantist approach as an important work that must be reckoned with.
As the title suggests, the essays in this book cover a broad range of topics. Four of the essays speak, at least in a general sense, of the relationship between hermeneutics and inerrancy. Vanhoozer provides an important discussion of how to understand biblical literature. He follows modern theories of language in suggesting a new approach to understanding proposition and genre. By broadening the understanding of infallibility and truth (beyond science, history, etc.), he reinforces the evangelical conviction that the Bible is wholly true, infallible, and inerrant. Silva notes the difficulties of historical reconstruction in the NT. The brevity of the biblical record explains some of the difficulties in understanding the Pharisees and first century Christianity. Blomberg’s discussion of harmonization justifies the method as one of several ways to deal with difficulties in historical accounts. Examples are drawn from both biblical and non-biblical histories. The difficulties of sensus plenior for an inerrantist hermeneutic are addressed by Moo. He suggests a variety of approaches to the relevant passages, including a broad “canonical” approach (cf. Jack R. Riggs, “The ‘Fuller Meaning’ of Scripture: A Hermeneutical Question for Evangelicals,” GTJ 7  213-28).
The question of authority is the to...
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