Discuss the problems and assess the validity of the concept of inspiration in scripture

Essay by rafikiroz April 2004

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The Bible is considered by Christians to be a set of 'inspired' books; those which have been inspired by God in some way. This belief makes the Bible valued as a sacred text, a guide for life, God's words if you like. For Christians, the Bible is a superior source of literature and because of its holy nature cannot be compared to any human creation. The Bible holds authority because Christians believe God to be the true author. Although it was written by humans, this idea that God is the 'driving force' behind scripture is what this essay will look at.

The concept of inspiration is not clear cut. There are several theories and relationships involved that suggest different ways scripture can be 'inspired'. The concept can be looked at in the form of 'relationships of inspiration'; God's relationship with the author or text, the author's relationship with the text, the community's relationship with the text and finally, the reader's relationship with the text.

When studying 'inspiration' these factors must all be taken into account as they provide dimensions crucial in broadening understanding. However, at the same time, the more dimensions and theories that are added to the concept of inspiration, the more problematic it becomes to answer the question: 'what texts are inspired?'

The Bible claims to be inspired but on what basis is this claim made? Church tradition may play a part in that its doctrines have taught Christians to regard scripture with great authority (the community's relationship with the text). John 20:31 says that "these things are written that you may believe". This quote is an example of how the Bible expresses its purpose as existing through God's will in order for people to 'believe' in what it has to say. This is God's relationship with the...