I've been thinking about the idea of inspiration as it relates to the Bible.
Simple idea. Someone slaps down the NIV and says, "The Bible is the inspired word of God."
OK, but what does that mean? You may say, "The authors were inspired by God to write." Fine. But that's not the end of the story. Much of what is written in the Bible are compilations of oral tradition. So how does inspiration fit with that? Were the people who passed on the oral tradition inspired to do so?
Maybe. But what about the compilation of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible? When the men who compiled the canon of scripture at the various councils in the 3rd to 5th century inspired to do so?
Probably. But what about textual variants? Were the scribes who decided to clarify bits and pieces of scripture throughout the centuries inspired to make those clarifications?
Probably not... So what about the people who decided to translate the various books into English? Were they inspired when they chose which of the many textual variants to use as the most accurate to what was originally written? In other words, were the scholars who saw three different copies of a certain passage, and who ultimately chose one, inspired to do so?
I guess. What I'm trying to get at here is that the idea of "inspiration" is a tricky one. When we hold our English version, it's been in so many hands and so much scrutiny has already been placed on it that it's tricky to say it is inspired.
Sure, Paul said that scripture is "God-breathed," but what scripture did he mean? Revelation? James? Luke? Acts? His own writings? How did he know what would eventually be considered the canon of scripture some 300 years later?
I won't even address the question of what the Bible is inspired to do. That's a different post altogether.
It's a tricky thought, really. And it deserves a little attention. Ultimately, I think the Bible as we know it stands the test of time. It's an incredible book, and I'm more and more amazed when I think about how God is revealed in its pages.