Friday, October 05, 2012

Grammatical "mistakes"

That seems like an “all or nothing” view to me. The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit points me to Jesus Christ, the center and purpose of Scripture. If there are factual errors of history and/or cosmology in the Bible, they are irrelevant to the Bible’s main purpose and don’t bother me. Evangelicals have always acknowledged that the Bible is both human and divine, that is, the authors were human beings. No evangelical author I know would contest that some of Paul’s grammar, for example, is not perfect. Why does imperfect grammar not bother you? It seems you want a “manuscript from heaven”–the traditional Islamic view of the Koran. Christians have never thought of the Bible that way. How can a few discrepancies damage or undermine your confidence in the Bible as the book of Jesus Christ and the medium of God’s will for our lives? I just don’t get that way of thinking.

This is just inept,

i) To begin with, Olson is assuming that Koine Greek grammar was standardized by the 1C. But why assume there were ever uniform rules for Koine Greek? Consider the regional and dialectical variations.

ii) But even if, for the sake of argument, we say Pauline constructions sometimes depart from standard Koine Greek, that doesn’t implicate the inerrancy of Scripture. Inerrancy concerns truth or falsehood. What we call “incorrect” grammar isn’t factually incorrect. A grammatical “mistake” is not a falsehood.

“Correct” grammar is simply a social convention. And what constitutes correct grammar varies according to social class, geographical regions, and ethnic subcultures.

For instance, there’s a tradition of “correcting” working-class English. But working-class English is correct grammar for that social class. Likewise, slang is correct in social settings where it’s natural to use slang.

Of course, that is always the question that comes up. (It’s like pushing a button on a machine that always has the same result.) Surely you don’t think that if I say a person is “trustworthy” I mean every story he tells is absolutely accurate. I mean he doesn’t lie and you can depend on him to keep his word (promises). What is your answer to the dilemma about rooster and Peter’s denial (and David’s census as either inspired by God or Satan)?

What conservative commentaries or monographs has Olson read on the subject? Has he engaged their arguments? Or is this a disingenuous question?

As Gary Dorrien says in his critique of conservative evangelicalism, it isn’t “inerrancy or the abyss!” That’s a false either-or. I hope your faith in Scripture is not based on its factual inerrancy but on the Spirit’s testimony that it is the unique and infallible witness to Jesus Christ.

Except that our knowledge of the person and work of the Holy Spirit comes from the Bible. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is the primary author of the Bible. How does it honor the Holy Spirit to say he fell down on the job?

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