The Bible And Non-Inspired Sources -- By: Joseph A. Hill
BETS 3:4 (Fall 1960) p. 78
The Bible And Non-Inspired Sources
Unity Christian High School
It is well known that the writers of the biblical books sometimes depended for their knowledge of facts on ordinary sources of information, such as public registers, official chronicles and journals, genealogical lists and other documents. Some of the genealogies and historical data found in the Bible were undoubtedly copied verbatim from such sources. Matthew Henry in his comments on the complex genealogies of 1 Chronicles 8 presumed that “Ezra took them as he found them in the books of the kings of Israel and Judah” and that “he copied them out as they came to his hand.”
The writers of the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles mention several sources of historical data from which they evidently drew information. Among these sources are the following: “the book of the acts of Solomon,” “the chronicles of the kings of Judah,” “the chronicles of the kings of Israel,” “The history of Samuel the seer,” “the history of Nathan the prophet,” “the history of Gad the seer,” ‘‘the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite,” arid “the visions of Iddo the seer” (See 1 Kings 11:41; 14:29; 15:31; 1 Chron. 29:29; 2 Chron. 9:29). “The book of the kings of Israel” is mentioned seventeen times (for all kings except Jehoram and Hoshea) and “the book of the kings of Judah” is cited fifteen times (for all but five of Judah’s kings). The history recorded in Kings and Chronicles covers a span of more than four centuries. That being the case, the writers could not have had firsthand knowledge of all that they relate, but had to rely on earlier documents.
2 Chronicles 20:34 is a typical notation of the writer’s source: “And the rest of the affairs of Jehoshaphat, early and latter, behold, they are written along with the affairs of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are inscribed in the book of the kings of Israel” (Translation is my own).
The frequent occurrence of such references indicate a rather large measure of reliance upon extra-canonical documents on the part of those who composed and wrote these books of the Bible. The use of non-inspired materials poses a problem for the Bible-believing Christian. The problem is brought to a focus in the question raised by Dr. Everett F. Harrison in Revelation and the Bible (C.F.H. Henry, ed., Baker Book House, 1958, p. 249):“Does inspiration require that a Biblical writer should be preserved from error in the use of sources?”
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