Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
MSJ 1:1 (Spr 90) p. 75
Gleason L. Archer. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. 476 pp. $20.95 (cloth). Reviewed by James E. Rosscup, Professor of Bible Exposition.
A widely-known defender of biblical inerrancy has added this substantial work to many others about alleged discrepancies. Archer is a longtime Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. He is the author of such books as The Epistle to the Romans, The Epistle to the Hebrews, and Survey of Old Testament Introduction, as well as many articles in scholarly journals.
The pages measure 6 x 9–1/2 inches and most are set up in two columns, making the book more lengthy than the 476 pages might suggest. The work includes good indices of persons, subjects, and Scripture references.
Archer believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. He holds that the right approach to it is one of humility, patience, and waiting on God with a surrendered heart and mind (p. 15). He advises careful use of context, recognizes that the same word may have several meanings and suggests using the best commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and concordances. These solve most of the problems. He points out that some difficulties result from inadvertent copyist slips, and advocates an openness to believe that the Bible can be right even if other ancient sources disagree. He reasons that Christ as God cannot err, that Christ believed the Hebrew Bible to be completely accurate in all details of science and history, and that we ought to embrace Christ’s view as correct (p. 20). Jesus regarded as factual the historicity of Adam and Eve, the events of the Noahic flood, the giving of manna, the story of Jonah, etc. Rom 5:12–21 assumes the historicity of Adam, his sin, and its results just as it assumes the truth of Jesus’ substitutionary death and justification through Him (p. 22). Archer contends that if the Bible errs in history or science, which can be tested, it could err and be untrustworthy in areas where it cannot be tested. Nowhere, he argues, does Scripture indicate a distinction between historical or scientific truth and doctrinal, metaphysical truth (p. 24). Old Testament authors were just as convinced that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea as the New Testament apostles were of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
The author has a section on why inerrancy is crucial. He reasons that early orthodoxy believed in inerrancy, and this view prevailed
MSJ 1:1 (Spr 90) p. 76
until the rise of rationalism and deism in the eighteenth century. Early in the twentieth century, critical scholars and liberals reje...
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