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When did the idea that Scripture was inerrant first come about?
- fisherman carl
- When did the idea that Scripture was inerrant first come about?
Especially the NT like Paul’s letters, the gospels and so forth.
- Wasn't it when Luther condemned the Catholic four senses of scripture and declared that instead we should only use the literal sense?
Does anyone else know the history of the idea? Patrick 457? Somebody?
God bless, Annem
- Own comment here on blog:
- No, Luther did condemn four senses, but not in the sense that four senses had not been inerrantist, only in the sense that senses other than the literal (that is three of the four) were no longer either inerrant nor even inspired according to him.
He was not condemned by Trent for "inventing inerrantism", but for attacking the four senses and other parts of patristic understanding.
- Khalid (myself numbering his paragraphs and numbering my answers equally)
- 1) "Inerrancy", in the sense that the Bible was believed to be completely true in all of its parts (although not denying an allegorical sense, nor even denying that an allegorical sense could be the "literal" [primary] sense of some passages) was certainly believed by St Paul, but he spoke only of the Old Testament: "all Scripture is breathed by God" implies inerrancy, since God can not lie.
2) Now, as far as the NT goes, I think Augustine may have been the first to propose something like it, and inerrancy of either Testament is just as certainly rejected by Origen (who believed that there were material errors and absurdities in the Bible which would cause the observant and clever student of the Bible to look for the deeper meaning: Origen placed a near-exclusive emphasis on extreme allegorization, typical of the Alexandrian school).
3) The idea of inerrancy or infallibility in the Biblical text, such as is typified in its purest form by Fundamentalist Protestant Ruckmanites (who believe the English KJV is the only inspired Bible in the world, "more inspired" than the Greek and Hebrew) is very modern.
4) The typical "Chicago Statement" evangelical scholars' view (inerrancy according to the literal or historico-grammatical sense at all points) feels modern, but I wouldn't be surprised if it went back a lot further. It also may not go back much beyond the late 1800s.
5) As always, there is the doctrine proper, antecedent fragmentary doctrines, etc. which become modern formulations of doctrines through the development of doctrine (in response to heresy) as basically explained by Cardinal Newman. I wouldn't be surprised if the full formulation of the modern doctrine of inerrancy (acknowledging antecedents in both the Fathers, and, more strongly, in the Reformers such as Calvin) didn't arise (or, more accurately, is still arising) from the Church's assault by the heresy of evolutionism and historical-critical assaults upon the Bible. Old-age geology, evolutionism, and historical-criticism all came in to their own around the same time - the early 19th century - and soon after came the Church's (in the broadest sense) renewed thinking and emphasis on inerrancy. Even if the full elucidation of inerrancy is modern, or even if it has not been fully elucidated yet, does not mean the doctrine is not ancient and apostolic: the fullest expression of the Trinity was not given until at least four centuries after Christ's death, and likely not for eight centuries: but the doctrine is ancient and apostolic. Doctrines are fully defined only as circumstances (generally the challenge of a heresy focussing on said doctrine) demand.
6) The Protestants felt the hit of these attacks the quickest and the hardest due to "sola Scriptura", obviously (and thus the Protestants either liberalized to the point of Deism/apostasy or began elaborating the doctrine of inerrancy long before Catholics began to feel the shock, which was pretty much only after Divino Afflante Spiritu and mostly after Vatican II) but the Catholic religion is no less based in and completely dependent on the word of God written and the word of God incarnate.
- My comment here on blog:
- 1) St Paul supported inerrancy of Old Testament but also of already extant parts of New Testament. "Keep to all of my tradition whether by epistle or by word of mouth." And his word of mouth traditions certainly included any already extant Gospel that he knew of, to recommend it as infallible word of God.
2) So, St Augustine cannot have been the first to propose inerrancy of all New Testament. Especially as that inerrancy is already implicit in the Council of Carthage enumerating the books of the Old and New Testament, a list which would have made no sense unless it had already been believed in the Church that all Divine Scripture of either Testament was inerrant word of God. Note that the list for the Old Testament includes the books that Protestants reject. The NT list of Council of Carthage was not the earliest one, that the Four Gospels (all of them, including St John which was presumably not written when St Paul came with the Gospel and which he can therefore not have personally recommended while on earth) all are inerrant Scripture is apparent already from Papias and St Irenaeus, way before St Augustine of Hippo. As for Origen rejecting inerrancy of Old Testament in the literal sense, that is no more significant than Luther rejecting inerrancy of Old Testament in the allegoric sense, since neither Origen nor Luther were Church Fathers. It is true that the Alexandrian school was exclusively for allegory, as it is true that Antiochean school was all for letter. And St Augustine, way closer to Rome when learning under St Ambrose, was not for either exclusivity, but for inerrancy of both senses.
3) Believing that the King James Version is inerrant is indeed modern, but believing that the Bible as such is so is not. Trent had defined that the Bible as such and thus each original manuscript was free from all error whatsoever. It took a lower case for Vulgate version, because it is a version, but nevertheless, wherever either Vulgate or LXX or both agree with original manuscript, they are inerrant. It was rejection of inerrantism, namely by Socinians, that was a modernity and rejected by Trent. Also by Jerusalem and Iasi, I think.
4) If Chicago statement was made for KJV, it was wrong, since that translation has even heretical errors in doctrine pertinent to salvation. But if it was made for the Bible in general it was perfectly at one with the Roman Catholic Tradition - with a leeway where Vulgate and LXX prefer, of course. And Trent was not convoked to condemn CHicago statement, and Vatican I, insofar as it condemned anything in it did not condemn its Biblical inerrantism.
5) Calvin was not a Biblical inerrantist, insofar as he considered that Book of Jonah could have been a pious novel without factual background. This I know from the scholarship of C S Lewis. Just as he dealt with Tobit which he rejected. He was however part inerrantist insofar as he declared that the Bible does not teach only what the Church wants it to teach, but all that it in fact teaches. Qualify "the Church" to "the Church at a particular time taken in its hierarchy" and it may be truth to it. Unless there are of course even now clearly inerrantist bishops. Or one of them is the real Pope.
6) The Catholic Church teaches that all of Scripture is inerrant. The Protestants that only Scripture - to exclusion of any particular magisterium and its traditions such as the Reformers presumed as human - is inerrant. Now, Tota Scriptura and Sola Scriptura are not the same concept.
And though the reflection on Sola Scriptura occasioned the reflection on Tota Scriptura in some such Protestants as reflected thereon, only part of Protestantism accepted this Tota Scriptura, whereas loads of Protestants are following Anglican Broad Church in rejecting Inerrancy as "another Papist superstition."
BpI, Georges Pompidou
St Augustine of Hippo Regia