Toward A Narrow View Of Ipsissima Vox -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 14:1 (Spring 2001)
Article: Toward A Narrow View Of Ipsissima Vox
Author: Robert N. Wilkin

Toward A Narrow View Of
Ipsissima Vox

Robert N. Wilkin

Journal Of The Grace Evangelical Society
Irving, Texas

Since the late 1940s the Evangelical Theological Society (of which I have been a member since 1982) has been dedicated to two issues that are very dear to my heart—a defense of the inspiration and the inerrancy of Scripture. For if the Bible is not dependable, then neither is its gospel message. Indeed, the veracity of all biblical teachings depends on the authority of Scripture.

At the 1999 annual ETS meeting in Boston Dr. Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary presented a provocative paper entitled: “An Apologia for a Broad View of Ipsissima Vox.” He suggested that the authors of the NT did not approach the reporting of history in the same way that current historians do. In order to interpret the NT correctly, we must be aware of this different approach. Practically speaking this brings into question the NT authors’ concern about historical accuracy in terms of the speaker, the location, the date, and the precise content of what was said.

(The expression ipsissima vox means “the very voice.” It is contrasted with the Latin expression ipsissima verba, “the very words.” The latter refers to direct quotes [verbatim is related to verba]. The specific meaning of ipsissima vox is the subject of this article.)

In the June 1999 issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Dr. Grant Osborne voiced similar concerns in an article entitled, “Historical Criticism and the Evangelical.” A rejoinder by Dr. Robert Thomas and a surrejoinder by Osborne followed in the next issue.

I am in agreement with Wallace and Osborne on the following points: (1) Many of the words of Jesus recorded in Scripture are indirect discourse, not direct quotes, and (2) since Jesus spoke in Hebrew and Aramaic as well as Greek, some of His recorded words are translations.

I am, however, uncomfortable with a broad view of ipsissima vox. What the broad view terms inerrant, an unbiased observer would call errant. Accurately paraphrasing or translating what someone said is one thing. Inaccurately reporting what someone said is an error. Changing what someone said and reporting it as though that is what the person said is another matter altogether.

Misindentifying who said something and when and where he said it are errors.

A broad view of ipsissima vox renders the interpreter an agnostic on the life and ministry of Jesus. The interpreter cannot be sure wha...

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