Prophecy, Inspiration, And Sensus Plenior -- By: William Sanford Lasor

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 29:1 (NA 1978)
Article: Prophecy, Inspiration, And Sensus Plenior
Author: William Sanford Lasor

Prophecy, Inspiration, And Sensus Plenior

William Sanford LaSor

The Annual Lecture Of The Institute For Biblical Research, 1977*

* Delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research, San Francisco, 31 December. 1977.

The Institute for Biblical Research is committed to two main concepts. We are committed to rigorous scholarly methodology, and we are committed to the proposition that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the infallible rule of faith and practice. These two concepts - and I am sure that here I voice the testimony of each one of us - these two concepts keep us continually in a state of tension. So much is this true that at times, we must confess, we devote our scholarly activities to questions that do not directly involve our theological presuppositions. How easy it is to prepare a paper on “The Sibilants in Old South Arabic”, or “The Masoretic Accents in Hebrew Poetry”, or “The Version Quoted by the Author of Hebrews”! I have contributed my share of papers on such subjects, so what I say is not an attempt to ease my own conscience while making you squirm.

The Institute for Biblical Research, however, must exist for something more than secular scholarship. I am not too happy about that word “secular” for we have shifted its meaning greatly. The saecula are the ages, and secular scholarship should be scholarship that is intended for or concerns the ages. But we have made it mean the opposite of “sacred”. Secular scholarship may be biblical scholarship, in that it discusses some area that is derived from the biblical text or is in some way related to the biblical world of ideas, but it is nevertheless secular in that the methods and results are no different than they would be in nonbiblical scholarship. We, however, believe that the Bible is the Word of the living God. We believe that it is authoritative for our generation and for every generation. Therefore we dare not treat the Bible as we would treat any other book.

While it is true that there is no special knowledge necessary for biblical studies, while it is true that we deny any esoteric key to Scripture, while it is true that we approach the Bible with the conviction that it means exactly what it say’s, it is not true that the Bible means nothing more than that. We are fully committed to the exegetical method commonly known as the “grammatico-historical method”. We believe that the first step in biblical exposition is to discover as precisely as is humanly possible, given the data available to us in our day, what the passage meant to those who first heard or read the passage. But, as has been pointed out several time...

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