Models of Scripture

ISBN 978 1894667 41 8
436 pages.
Published 1/1/2004



This work looks at the task of interpreting Scripture as “witnessing tradition,” “authoritative canon,” “inspired word,” and “experienced revelation.” The diversity of interpretive approaches implied by the use of these four models of Scripture is carried further by a methodological catholicity and openness within each of the four major divisions of the book. Throughout, Goldingay also continually moves toward the interpreter’s final task- communication to others of what has been gained in interpretation.

JOHN GOLDINGAY is David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is the author of numerous scholarly books and commentaries on Daniel (Word Biblical Commentary) and Isaiah (New International Biblical Commentary). He has also written several more popular expositions such as After Eating the Apricot and Men Behaving Badly.

This is a book that will make all who think they know what they are reading when they read the Bible, think again.

Richard Bauckham

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Scripture’s Varied Forms 1

Categories for a Doctrine of Scripture 1

Models for Scripture 7

Reconsidering Models for Scripture 12



2. Witness and Tradition 21

The Nature of Scriptural Faith and the Nature of Scripture 21

Biblical Narrative as Witness and Tradition 25

3. The Factuality Involved in Witness 29

As Witness Scripture Asks to Be Investigated Critically

( Even If It Implies a Critique of Criticism) 30

Investigating the Witness of the Second Testament 34

Investigating the Witness of the First Testament 39

Living in Trust and Living with Ambiguity 42

As Witness Scripture Invites Us to Learn  from the Events

Themselves to Which It Points 46

4. The Interpretation Involved in Witness 49

The Gospels as Interpretative Witness 49

Witness and Tradition: Fact and Interpretation 52

The Theological Nature of the Witnessing Tradition’s

Interpretation 58

5. Witness in the Form of Story 61

History and Story: How Stories Work 61

The Place of “Fiction” in a Historical Story 67

The Witness of “Pure” Fiction 71

6. Scripture as a Whole as Witnessing Tradition 77

The Authoritative Canon as Witness 78

The Inspired Word as Witness 78

The Experienced Revelation as Witness 80



7. Authority in Scripture 85

Worshipping by Scripture and Living by Scripture: Psalm 119 87

Worshipping by Scripture and Living by Scripture:

The Example of Jesus ( Matthew 4:1-11) 89

The Bible’s Approach to 8iblical Authority 93

8. Scripture as a Whole as Authoritative Canon:

Narrative and Prophecy 99

“It Is Written” 99

Scripture and Canon 102

Biblical Narrative as Authoritative Canon 108

The Inspired Word as Authoritative Canon 115

9. Scripture as a Whole as Authoritative Canon:

Norms for Christian Doctrine 117

The Crisis of Authority 117

Authority and Scripture 121

The Experienced Revelation as Authoritative Canon 125

The First Testament as Authoritative Canon for Jesus

and the Second Testament Writers 131

Contents lX

10. The Development of a Canon of Jewish Scriptures 138

From the Beginnings to the Persian Period 138

Jewish Canons in the Greek and Roman Periods 142

Developments during the Christian Era 145

11. The Development of a Second Testament 151

The First Two Christian Centuries 151

The Crises of the Late Second Century 155

The Catholic Church’s Response 158

A Canon of Second Testament Scriptures 164

12. The Bounds of the Canon 168

Which Books Belong in the First Testament? 168

Criteria for Inclusion: Canon, Prophets, and Apostles 171

The Determination and the Openness of the Canon 177

13. Scripture as Resource and Norm 183

Tradition 183

Reason and Secular Thought 187

Human Experience 189

Our   Commitments 194

Scripture as Resource and Norm 196



14. The Words of God in Human Words 201

The Word of God at the Critical Moment: Jeremiah 36 201

Prophecy as the Inspired Word of God 204

15. An Effective and Meaningful Word 209

The Word of God: Certain to Come About 209

The Inspired Word: Significant beyond Its Original Context 215

The Inspired Speaker of God’s Word 219

16. Forms of Inspiration 222

Inspiration as God Using an Instrument 223


Inspiration as God Dictating to a Messenger 227

Inspiration as God Standing behind a Prophet’s Own Words 231

17. Understanding the Inspiration of a Text 237

The Inspiration of Scripture in the Light of the

Incarnation 238

The Inspiration of Scripture in the Light of the

Spirit’s Involvement in the Church 241

The Inspiration of Scripture in the Light of

Creative Inspiration 244

The Inspiration of Scripture in the Light of the

Nature of the Sacraments 246

The Inspiration of Scripture in the Light of

God’s Acts in History 248

18. Scripture as a Whole as Inspired Word 252

Extending the Model of Inspired Word of God:

Its Application to Narrative 252

Authoritative Canon and Experienced Revelation

as Inspired Word of God 257

19. Inspiration and Inerrancy 261

Attitudes to Factual Accuracy over the Centuries 261

The Nineteenth-Century Elaboration 266

Difficulties with Inerrancy and Approaches to Solving Them 268

Difficulties in Principle and Disadvantages in Practice 273

The God-Givenness of a Broadly Accurate Text 279



20. Revelation in Theology and in Scripture 287

Revelation as a Theological Theme and as a Scriptural Theme 288

Revelation in the Apocalypses 292

21. Revelation: Personal, Propositional, Historical,

and Reasonable 299

Personal Revelation? 299

Propositional Revelation? 302

Revelation in History? 304

Revelation and Reason 311

22. The Truth of Revelation 314

The Place of Imagery in Scripture 314

The Logic of Scripture’s Language about God 319

The Truth of Daniel 10-12 322

The Symbolism of Patriarchy 326

23. Scripture as as a Whole as Divine Revelation 329

Revelation Elsewhere in Scripture 329

Diversity and Unity in the Scriptural Revelation 332

Theological Inerrancy 338

Progressive Revelation and Divine Condescension 341

The Clarity of the Scriptural Revelation 345

24. Human Experience and Theological Reflection

in the Two Testaments 348

Human Experience in Scripture 348

The Experience of Israel and Christian Experience 351

Theological Reflection and the Christ Event 355

25. Scripture as a Manual of Theological Reflection 360

The Reflective Nature of Scripture as a Whole 360

Modes of Theological Reflection in Scripture 364

Abbreviations 372

Bibliography 374

Index of Authors 404

Index of Scriptural and Other Ancient Jewish

and Christian Writings 412

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