Receiving God’s Word, Part One

Oikia Ministries of Biblical Theology
Oikia Ministries of Biblical Theology

Revelation & Inspiration

God has communicated to man in various manners throughout history.  To some, such as Joseph the son of Jacob, and Joseph the husband of Mary, He spoke in dreams.  To Adam and Moses, He spoke as though face-to-face.  To the nation of Israel, He spoke through the prophets.  And alas, He spoke to the world through His Son, the Lord Jesus, the Christ, whom the world crucified.

God’s direct communication to the various men and women in history is called divine revelation.  He chose certain individuals for this blessing.  Most of humanity, believer and non-believer alike, will never experience revelation.

While revelation is solely the activity of God, through which He directly reveals truth to man, inspiration involves man in an active sense.  By inspiration the prophets passed on to others what they had received from God. (Norman Geisler, and William Nix.  A General Introduction to the Bible, Chicago: Moody Press 1968, p. 30.)  Today, we call their works the Bible or Holy Scripture.  Through this medium the inspired, recorded Words of God indirectly speak to all of us.

Transmission of the Message

When these chosen men received God’s revelation, there were no copy machines or printing presses.  Men called scribes copied the original and subsequent manuscripts.  It was their job to transcribe these documents with accuracy.  This methodic and tedious process was carried on for almost three thousand years with the Old Testament and over sixteen hundred years with the New Testament.  During this time relatively few variant readings ensued, and when they did they were remarkably harmless: a word doubled appearing twice in a row, a variant spelling, Jesus versus Messiah, etc.

Such longevity of literature is without precedent in history.  Even with the advent of modern technology the accuracy of Scripture remains an accomplishment without equal.  It has been observed that more variant readings exist in Shakespeare’s documents than in the thousands of ancient biblical transcripts.  This is a feat made possible only by God’s providential care.

Yet, the eminent Greek scholar and textual critic, Dr. Hort, calculated that substantial variations, among the some 5,300 partial or compete extant New Testament Greek manuscripts, were so rare that only one word in a thousand summoned a critic’s attention.  Rather than alarming, there is something very reassuring about the textual variations (or the comparative lack of them), in these many manuscripts.  Furthermore, if we simply neglected to read all the variant passages, the Gospel message would not be affected, nor would any doctrine of our theology.  For us to squabble over benign variant passages is unwarranted and unwise.  To do so over subsequent translations into a second language is even more imprudent.

To Determine the Author’s Intent - The Theologian's Approach Desmond Paul Allen, PhD, MDiv
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Desmond Allen

I have many interests, which I pursue (or have pursued) with relentless persistence. Once a particular interest latches onto me I am obsessed with it until mastery is achieved; or my near mastery is overwhelmed by sudden disinterest. In either case the fixation subsides, the mania is abandoned, and I pursue the next. Although this personality defect can be quite frustrating it has also yielded some insignificant accomplishments. A series of oil paintings and charcoal drawings that won blue, red, and white ribbons at a county fair -- a very small county -- I have not painted since. A shoot-off in a state championship trap shoot; I have not shot since. Mastery of the nunchakus -- which was mandated before my Kung-fu instructor would teach me the staff. I have not practiced them since. A teacher’s certificate with the Billiard Congress of America; I stopped playing the very week I received the certificate. A private pilot’s license; I don’t fly anymore. Two trivial literary awards and numerous articles published in obscure journals. Several poorly promoted books on various topics, as well as many songs in different genres from country to light rock, and blues to hymns. Multiple graduate degrees -- most of which I do not use. A few successful small businesses with which I’ve eked out a meager living, and other conquests hardly worth mentioning such as: many trips crisscrossing the continent with visits to Canada, Mexico and 46 of the lower 48 states; a onetime only, two-over-par on a rather difficult nine-hole golf course (of course, I don’t golf anymore); a two time Babe Ruth all-star -- and since you have not heard of me in the majors, it is safe to assume I do not play baseball any longer. For the last few years I have been obsessed with chess; which has resulted in an as yet unpublished book on chess theory. I am very anxious for this mania to cease. However, amidst the many fleeting passions, certain interests have retained their lure; demanding as much attention now as did their initial obsessions. Regardless of the intensity of my pursuit their mastery remains elusive, with something new and challenging forever emerging; thus, the inevitable languor never manifests. Theology, music, and my marriage are as intriguing today as they were nearly four decades ago when I met each of them in my teens. My Christian theology, like a compass, continues to influence my life’s decisions. My musical ability and creativity (negating the vocals), continue to grow. And my enchanted marriage is nothing short of a blessing from God; from which appeared three beautiful daughters who, fortunately, have grown to be more like their mother than me.

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