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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Inspiration

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INSPIRATION.—The term employed to denote the action of the Divine Spirit upon the writers of Scripture. Literally signifying a breathing into, it has the secondary meaning of breathing a certain spirit into the mind or soul, and is therefore naturally employed to express the influence of God upon the sacred writers. ‘Inspiration in general is the influence of one person upon another; Divine inspiration is the influence of the Divine Person upon the human’ (Wood, A Tenable Theory of Insp. p. 10). In Scripture itself we find the idea in Hosea 9:7 (LXX Septuagint) expressed by the word πνευματοφόρος—though in this case the inspiration was not Divine. In the NT (2 Peter 1:21) similarly ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι. In non-Christian literature inspired men are spoken of as θεοδίδακτοι, θεόφοροι, θεοφορούμενοι, θεόδοχοι, θεόπνευστοι, ἔνθεοι, ἐπίπνοοι, βακχευόμενοι, μαινόμενοι, divino numine afflati, inspirati, furentes. The use of the word ‘inspiration’ to express the Divine factor in Scripture is probably derived from the fact that the words of 2 Timothy 3:16 πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος are rendered in the Vulgate ‘omnis Scriptura divinitus inspirata.’ The definition given by Lee (Insp. p. 27 f.) is sufficient as conveying the general idea attached to the word. ‘By inspiration I understand that actuating energy of the Holy Spirit, in whatever degree or manner it may have been exercised, guided by which the human agents chosen by God have officially proclaimed His will by word of mouth, or have committed to writing the several portions of the Bible.’ Sanday’s explanation of the word is excellent: ‘Just as one particular branch of one particular stock was chosen to be in a general sense the recipient of a clearer revelation than was vouchsafed to others, so within that branch certain individuals were chosen to have their hearts and minds moved in a manner more penetrating and more effective than their fellows, with the result that their written words convey to us truths about the nature of God and His dealings with man which other writings do not convey with equal fulness, power, and purity. We say that this special moving is due to the action upon those hearts and minds of the Holy Spirit. And we call that action Inspiration’ (Bampton Lect. p. 127). Or we may say that as God revealed Himself in creation, in the history of His people, and especially, in Jesus Christ, He also enabled certain persons to perceive and express the significance of that revelation; and this ability is what we mean by inspiration.

Inspiration is claimed not only for our Scriptures, but for the other sacred books of the world. The Vedas, the books of Zoroaster and of the Buddhists, the Koran, all rest their claim to be received on the belief that they proceed from a Divine source. Even where tribes are too uncivilized to possess sacred writings, there exists a belief that God makes known His mind through dreams, oracles, or inspired individuals; and the presence and influence of God is frequently spoken of as an afflatus, the blowing of a breath or wind upon the inspired person. To the idea that knowledge is supernaturally conveyed to persons who are not in the historic line of Scriptural revelation, sanction is given in the OT by the instances of Abimelech, Pharaoh, and Balaam. And while in the sacred books of the world there is a great deal that is superstitious, contemptible, and degrading, there is also much that illustrates man’s thirst for God, and much also to show that God responds to that thirst. We naturally expect to find a fuller inspiration in those who were in touch with, and were called to record, the great progressive historical revelation which culminated in Christ; but we need not therefore deny all Divine response and assistance to those who on other lines were setting their faces Godwards.

1. The claim of Scripture to be inspired.—The OT was accepted as inspired both by the NT writers and by all their Jewish contemporaries. At that date certain of the books eventually included in the OT had not been definitely admitted to canonical authority; but, speaking generally, the writings of the OT were universally held to be Divine, sacred, in some true sense the word of God. Of this there is abundant evidence.

(a) Our Lord Himself appeals to the OT as a final authority (Matthew 19:4, John 5:46). He refers to it as the prophetic index to, and justification of, the providential dealings of God (Luke 24:44, John 10:35). Expressly, in citing Psalms 110, He introduces the quotation with the words, ‘David himself by the Holy Spirit said’ (αὐτὸς Δαυεὶδ εἶπεν ἑν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ), Mark 12:36. And significantly in adducing the Law in contrast to the traditions of the elders, the highest human authority, He altogether neglects the human mediation of the writer, and simply says, ‘For God said’ (Matthew 15:4). His personal reliance upon Scripture is visible in His use of it as His defence in the stress of temptation (Matthew 4:4; Matthew 4:7; Matthew 4:10) and as the authentication of His ministry (Luke 4:17-21). It was the OT which preserved the knowledge of the marvellous history of which He recognized Himself to be the culmination. In it He met all that was Divine in the past, and acknowledged the regulating Divine Spirit throughout.

(b) As with the Master, so with the disciples. In the First Gospel the writer has ever in his eye τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διἀ τοῦ προφήτου (John 1:22). In their first independent action the disciples were determined by their belief that they must fulfil the Scripture ἥν προεῖπεν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἁγιον διἀ στόματος Δαυείδ (Acts 1:16; cf. Acts 28:25). For St. Paul as for St. Peter the utterances of the OT are the λόγια θεοῦ (Romans 3:2; 1 Peter 4:11). ‘It is written’ is the ultimate authority. The Scripture is identified with God, so that St. Paul can say (Romans 9:17) ‘the scripture saith unto Pharaoh’; and it is God who speaks in the prophets (Romans 9:25). In the Epistle to the Hebrews the same conception of Scripture prevails. Quotations are introduced with the formula, ‘the Holy Spirit saith’; and the revelation of Christ is but the completion of the revelation of the OT. It was God who spoke in the prophets (Hebrews 1:1). The very titles under which the OT Scriptures are designated sufficiently manifest the belief that they were written under the inspiration of God. (For these titles, see Ryle, Canon of OT, p. 302).

(c) As representative of contemporary Jewish thought it is enough to cite Philo and Josephus. The former explicitly affirms the inspiration of Moses, speaking of him as ‘that purest mind which received at once the gift of legislation and of prophecy with Divinely inspired wisdom’ (θεοφορήτῳ σοφίᾳ, de Congr. Erud. c. 24, ed. Mangey, i. 538) and as καταπνευσθεὶς ὑπʼ ἔρωτος οὐρανίου (dc Vita Mos., Mangey, ii. 145). To Isaiah and Jeremiah ‘as members of the prophetic choir,’ he expressly ascribes inspiration (τοῦ προφητικοῦ θιασώτης χοροῦ, ὂς καταπνευσθεὶς ἐνθουσιῶν ἀνεφθέγξατο, de Conf. Ling. c. 12, Mangey, i. 411). Josephus is equally explicit. Vying with Philo in reverential esteem for the OT, he bases this esteem on the belief that the authors of the various books wrote under the influence of the Divine Spirit (Ant. iv. viii. 49, iii. v. 4, x. ii. 2; cf. c. Apion. i. 7).

No belief of later Judaism was more universal or constant than this acceptance of the OT Scriptures as inspired. ‘Die heilige Schrift ist entstanden durch Inspiration des heiligen Geistes, stammt also von Gott selbst ab, der in ihr redet.’ This statement of Weber’s (Lehren d. Talmud, p. 78) is amply justified by the passages he cites, as, e.g., ‘He who affirms that the Thora is not from heaven, has no part in the future world’ (Sanhed. x. 1). Bousset (Die Religion d. Judentums, p. 125) reaches the same conclusion: ‘Die heiligen Schriften sind nach spätjüdischem Dogma inspiriert.’

This belief in the inspiration of the OT was the natural and inevitable result of the phenomena it presented; and was not, as has sometimes been suggested, the mere reflexion of the vague idea that all ancient writings, especially if poetical, were inspired.* [Note: Hatch, Hibbert Lect. p. 51.] Moses is represented as speaking face to face with God and as receiving the Law from Him. The prophets demand attention to their words by prefacing them with the announcement, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ In Exodus 4:10-12, Isaiah 59:21, Jeremiah 1:7-9 the equipment of the prophet is described by the expression, ‘I have put my words in thy mouth.’ From these two phenomena it was a necessary inference that at any rate the Law and the Prophets were inspired. Prof. Sanday (Insp. p. 128) justly remarks that ‘the prophetic inspiration seems to be a type of all inspiration. It is perhaps the one mode in which the most distinctive features of Biblical inspiration can be most clearly recognized.’ It must, however, also be borne in mind that among the Jews themselves it was the Law, rather than the Prophets, which satisfied, and perhaps suggested, their idea of inspiration. Latterly they went so far as to say that, had the Law found in Israel recipients worthy of it, nothing beyond would have been required. The Law itself was a perfect and complete revelation, and neither Prophets nor Hagiographa were indispensable (see passages in Weber, Lehren d. Talm. p. 79). The response of conscience to the Law confirmed the traditional accounts of its origin, and the belief in its inspiration was inevitable. Possibly it was the belief that the whole OT was normative that prompted the usage by which even the Prophets and the Psalms were cited in the NT as ‘the Law’ (see John 15:25; John 10:34, 1 Corinthians 14:21, Romans 3:19).

The inspiration of the NT stands on a somewhat different footing. The supreme instance of inspiration is our Lord Himself (Luke 4:17-21); and He is also its source to His followers. At His Baptism, Jesus was formally called to, and equipped for, His ministry; and His equipment consisted in His receiving the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Under the influence of this Spirit all His works were done and all His words spoken. ‘He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for he giveth not the Spirit by measure’ (John 3:34); ‘My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me’ (John 7:16); ‘as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things’ (John 8:28). And it is His words, spoken under the influence of the Divine Spirit, that form the nucleus of the NT Canon. They were the first portion of that Canon to be recognized as authoritative, and however difficult certain writings found it to gain access to the Canon, the words of our Lord were from the first, and universally, regarded as Divine by all Christians.

But those whom He appointed to be His witnesses and to explain to the world the significance of His manifestation, required above all else the inspiration of the Author of salvation. This was emphatically and reiteratedly promised to them. The presence of the Divine Spirit was promised not only to prompt and support them on critical occasions, as when they were summoned before magistrates (Mark 13:11, Matthew 10:20, Luke 12:11), but as the Spirit of truth He was promised as the very substitute of Christ Himself: ‘He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you’ (John 14:26; John 16:13). This promise cannot be understood as meant to assure the disciples that they would be able to recall every word their Lord had said; as little as this assurance is conveyed to all Christians by the words of St. John (1 John 2:27), ‘His anointing teacheth you concerning all things.’ At the same time it was meant to encourage them to believe that their sympathy with their Lord and their acceptance of His Spirit would give them a sufficient remembrance and understanding of His teaching.

That this promise was fulfilled is certain. The relation of the risen Lord to His Church, His presence with those who represented Him, and the aid He afforded them in accomplishing His purposes, compel the conclusion that His Spirit dwelt in those who taught and built up the Church by word and letter. Those who preached the gospel discharged their function ‘with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven’ (1 Peter 1:12). Of this the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was the earnest. In guiding the Church the aid of this Spirit was experienced (Acts 13:2; Acts 15:28 etc.). In writing to the Galatians, St. Paul claims to have been instructed by the Lord in the gospel he preached. In 2 Corinthians 13:3 he is prepared to give ‘a proof of Christ that speaketh in me.’ And even in less essential matters regarding which he can claim no definite instructions or revelation, he yet in the exercise of his own judgment believes himself to be guided by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:40). In his enumeration of the various manifestations of the Spirit, the writing of sacred books, it is true, finds no place, neither do the writers of the Gospels claim to be inspired. But ‘the word of wisdom,’ ‘the word of knowledge,’ the charism of the prophet and the teacher, may quite reasonably, if not even necessarily, be supposed to include written as well as spoken discourse.

2. The significance of the claim to be inspired, or the meaning and effects of inspiration.—Several opinions or theories present themselves. And in determining which of these is correct, we must be guided not by a priori ideas of the results which must flow from inspiration, but only by the phenomena presented in the Bible; in other words, by the actual effects of inspiration as these are seen in the writings of inspired men. ‘What inspiration is must be learned from what it does.… We must not determine the character of the books from the inspiration, but must rather determine the nature of the inspiration from the books’ (Bowne’s Christian Revelation, p. 45).

(1) Themechanicalordictationtheory, or theory of verbal inspiration.—This is the theory that in writing the books of Scripture the human author was merely the mouthpiece of the Divine, and that therefore every word in the Bible as truly represents the mind of God as if He had dictated it. ‘Facts, doctrines, precepts, references to history or chronology, quotations from writers sacred or profane, allusions to scientific truth, visions or prophetic declarations, mere references to the most ordinary actions of life, according to this view, are not the work of man but of Omniscience. The only use which has been made of human agency in the book has been to copy down with pen, ink, and paper what has been dictated by the Divine Spirit.’ Absolute inerrancy is on this theory presumed to be the accompaniment of inspiration. As one of its defenders says: ‘God employed men in writing. But these men were so controlled by Him, that He is the Author of the writing and to the Author, that any charge of inaccuracy against the record, or Scripture, as originally given, must be preferred against Him’ (Kennedy, The Doctrine of Insp. 1878, p. 6). To use the common way of putting it, the writers were ‘the pens, not the penmen’ of God. They were possessed by God, so that it was not so much their own mind and their own experience, but the mind of God that was represented in their writings.* [Note: ‘Omnes et singulae res quae in S. Scriptura continentur, sive illae fuerint S. Scriptoribus naturaliter incognitae, sive naturaliter quidem cogniscibiles, actu tamen incognitae, sive denique non tantum naturaliter cogniscibiles, sed etiam actu ipso notae, vel aliunde, vel per experientiam, et sensuum ministerium, non solum per assistentiam et directionem divinam infallibilem literis consignatae sunt, sed singulari Spiritus S. suggestioni, inspirationi, et dictamini acceptae ferendae sunt’ (Quenstedt, cited with other similar dicta, in Hutterus Redivivus, s.v. ‘Inspiration’).]

This theory has all the prestige which antiquity can give it, for it runs back to those primitive stages of civilization in which possession by a deity was produced by inhaling fumes, or by violent dancings and contortions. This frenzied state being induced, the words spoken were believed to be Divine. The theory has also the prestige which is conferred by the advocacy of great names. Plato countenanced the idea that the inspired man is so possessed by the Divine that his words and thoughts are not his own. In the Timœus (p. 71) and in the Phaedrus (p. 244) he maintains that when a man receives the inspired word, either his intelligence is enthralled in sleep, or he is demented by some distemper or possession. The relation of the Divine to the human is viewed quantitatively. As the Divine comes in, the human must go out and make room for it. It was probably through Philo that this view gained currency in the Church. Philo’s account of Inspiration is quite explicit. ‘A prophet,’ he says, ‘gives forth nothing of his own, but acts as interpreter at the prompting of another in all his utterances; and as long as he is under inspiration he is in ignorance, his reason departing from its place and yielding up the citadel of his soul, when the Divine Spirit enters into it and dwells in it, and strikes at the mechanism of his voice, sounding through it to the clear declaration of that which he prophesieth’ (de Sp. Legg. ii. 343, quoted in Sanday’s Insp. p. 74). Again (in the tract Quis rer. div. i. 511) Philo explains that ‘so long as we are masters of ourselves we are not possessed; but when our own mind ceases to shine, inspiration and madness lay hold on us. For the understanding that dwells in us is ousted on the arrival of the Divine Spirit, but is restored to its own dwelling when that Spirit departs; for it is unlawful that mortal dwell with immortal.’ A theory identical with or similar to this of Philo’s has been largely held in the Church.

There are also expressions in the NT which seem, at first sight, to countenance such a theory. In Matthew 5:18 our Lord is reported as saying: ‘Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all things be accomplished.’ But, as the context shows, that which our Lord intimates in these words is that it was in Himself the Law and the Prophets were to find their fulfilment. Immediately upon giving utterance to this saying He Himself proceeds to repeal commandments of the Law, substituting for them His own better principles, and thus showing that what He had in view was not Scripture as Scripture. Another passage which to the superficial reader might seem to countenance this theory is that in which St. Paul contrasts the wisdom of God with the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). After speaking of the things revealed by the Spirit of God, he says, ‘which things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth’ (1 Corinthians 2:13). But a consideration of the passage makes it apparent that what he means is that he had arrived at the conclusion that his style of address should be in keeping with his subject, and that ‘the mystery of God’ did not require the garnishing of meretricious ornament or anything which the world might esteem as ‘excellency of wisdom,’ but such simplicity and directness as the Holy Spirit prompted. He is contrasting two methods, two styles, the worldly and the spiritual, and he is justifying the style he himself adopted. To conclude from this that St. Paul considered that every word he spoke was dictated by infallible wisdom is quite illegitimate.

This mechanical theory is beset by grave difficulties. (a) Inspiration and dictation are, as has more than once been pointed out, two different, even mutually exclusive, operations. Dictation precludes inspiration, leaving no room for any spiritual influence. Inspiration precludes dictation, making the prompting of words unnecessary by the communication of the right spirit.

(b) It is irreconcilable with the phenomena presented in Scripture. The authors, instead of being passive recipients of information and ideas and feelings, represent themselves as active, deliberating, laborious, intensely interested. The material used by the historical writers has been derived from written sources, or, as in the case of the Third Gospel, from careful critical inquiry at the most reliable witnesses. They do not tell us that their knowledge of events had been supernaturally imparted, but either that they themselves had seen what they relate, or that they had it from trustworthy sources. The Apostles were inspired witnesses of Christ, and proclaimed what they had seen and heard. But if supernatural information was even more trustworthy, why should they have been chosen only from those who had been with our Lord during His ministry? ‘If they did not really remember those facts or discourses when they asserted their reality, they are found false witnesses of God. If they were the mere dictation of the Spirit to their minds, St. Peter’s declaration which he made to the Jewish Council, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” would have to be corrected into, “We cannot but speak the things which the Spirit has introduced into our minds” ’ (Row, Insp. p. 154). Similarly, if the intense emotions expressed in the Psalms or in the Epp. of St. Paul are not the outpouring of human sorrow and human experience, they at once become artificial and false. When St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:17 says, ‘That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting,’ it is intelligible to say that an inspired man is speaking, it is not intelligible to say that this is God speaking. The mind of God is discernible through the words, but it is not the mind of God we are directly in contact with.

(c) Another class of phenomena presented by Scripture is inconsistent with this theory. For if God be the sole Author, then it is impossible to account for errors in grammar, imperfections of style, discrepancies between one part and another. But such errors, imperfections, and discrepancies exist. The sayings of our Lord are variously reported in the several Gospels. Even in reporting the Lord’s Prayer the Evangelists differ. It is impossible to remove from the Book of Acts all disagreement with the Pauline Epistles. And in the disagreement between Peter and Paul at Antioch, we see how possible it was that men equally inspired should hold divergent and even antagonistic opinions upon matters essential to the well-being of the Church. In the face of these discrepancies, it is impossible to suppose that inspiration carries with it literal accuracy of expression.

(d) The manner in which the NT writers quote the OT books proves that while they believed these books to be authoritative and their writers inspired, they did not consider that their inspiration rendered every word they uttered infallible. Taking 275 quotations from the OT in the NT, it has been found that there are only 53 in which the Hebrew, the LXX Septuagint, and the NT writer agree: while there are 99 passages in which the NT quotation differs both from the Hebrew and from the LXX Septuagint, which also differ from one another, and 76 in which the correct rendering of the LXX Septuagint has been erroneously altered.* [Note: These statistics are taken from D. M‘Calman Turpie’s OT in the NT, 1868. There are many more quotations than those here given, but these give a fair sample of the whole. A full list of quotations is given in the 2nd vol. of Westcott and Hort’s Greek Testament. And Dittmar in his Vetus T. in Novo gives the NT text, the LXX, and the Hebrew.] No doubt when the correct citation of a single word serves the writer’s purpose, as in the insistence by St. Paul on the singular instead of the plural (Galatians 3:16), there stress is laid upon the very word; but in the face of the general style of quotation above indicated, it is impossible to believe that inspiration was supposed to make each word infallible.

(2) To escape the psychological and other difficulties of a mechanical, verbal inspiration, other theories have been devised. Observing the different values of the various books of Scripture, the Jews themselves supposed that there were three degrees of inspiration corresponding to the tripartite division of the OT. Attempts were made by the Rabbis, by the schoolmen, and by some modern writers to differentiate between suggestion, direction, superintendence, and elevation. Thus Bishop Daniel Wilson (Evidences of Christianity, i. 506, quoted by Lee) defines as follows: ‘By the inspiration of suggestion is meant such communication of the Holy Spirit as suggested and dictated minutely every part of the truths delivered. The inspiration of direction is meant of such assistance as left the writers to describe the matter revealed in their own way, directing only the mind in the exercise of its powers. The inspiration of clevation added a greater strength and vigour to the efforts of the mind than the writers could otherwise have attained. The inspiration of superintendency was that watchful care which preserved generally from anything being put down derogatory to the Revelation with which it was connected.’ Obviously this theory is very open to criticism. That there are different degrees of inspiration is true, but it is very questionable whether any such classification is complete. In this theory there are hints of truth, but not the whole truth.

(3) The so-called dynamical theory brings us somewhat nearer the truth, though it too falls short. This theory is a reaction against the mechanical, and affirms that the human qualities of the writers are not superseded, but are cleansed, strengthened, and employed by the Divine Author. ‘The Divine influence acted upon man’s faculties in accordance with their natural laws’; classical expression is given to this theory in the words of Augustine (in Joan. i. i. 1), ‘inspiratus a Deo, sed tamen homo.’ The Divine Agent selects suitable media for His communications, and does not try ‘to play Iyre-musie on flutes, and harp-music on trumpets.’ The imperfections and weaknesses found in Scripture are human, the truths uttered are Divine. The theory in its most acceptable form, and as held by Erasmus, Grotius, Baxter, Paley, and many modern writers, suggests that the Biblical writers were so inspired as to secure accuracy in all matters of conduct and doctrine, while it declines to pledge itself to their perfect accuracy in non-essentials or subsidiary particulars. Hence it is sometimes called the ‘essential’ theory.

This theory, while it endeavours to recognize the facts of Scripture and to account for them, yet fails to give us an understanding of inspiration. It does not explain, or even attempt to explain, how writers should be possessed of supernatural knowledge while inditing one sentence, and in the next be dropped to a lower level. It fails to give us the psychology of that state of mind which can infallibly pronounce on matters of doctrine while it is astray on the often simpler facts of history. It makes no attempt to analyze the relation subsisting between the Divine mind and the human which produces such results. Nor does it explain how we are to distinguish essentials from non essentials, or disentangle the one from the other.

(4) Constructively we may make the following affirmations regarding Inspiration, derived from the facts presented in the Bible:

(a) It is the men, not directly the writings, that were inspired. ‘Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost’ (2 Peter 1:21). Inspiration does not mean that one inspired thought is magically communicated to a man in the form in which he is to declare it to his fellows, and in no connexion with the previous contents and normal action of his mind. As he sits down to write, he continues in that state of mind and spirit in which he has been living and to which the Spirit of God has brought him. The book he produces is not the abnormal, exceptional product of a unique condition of mind and spirit, but is the natural and spontaneous outflow from the previous experience and thought of the writer. All his past training and knowledge, all his past strivings to yield himself wholly to the Spirit of Christ, enter into what he now produces.

(b) When we say that a writer of Scripture is Divinely inspired, we mean that as he writes he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. All Christians possess this same Spirit, and are by Him being led into a full knowledge of the truth that is in Christ, to a full perception of that whole revelation of God which is made in Christ; and when some of their number are characterized as inspired, this means that such persons are distinguished above their fellow-Christians by a special readiness and capacity to perceive the meaning of Christ as the revelation of God and to make known what they see.

(c) Inspiration is primarily a spiritual gift, and only secondarily a mental one. The Spirit of God may dwell richly in a man and yet not render him infallible even in matters of religion. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9 St. Paul speaks of his converts as θεοδίδακτοι, but to one end, and that a spiritual not a mental end. Our Lord (John 6:45) applies to all those who come to Him in Spirit the prophetic words, ‘They shall be all taught of God,’ but no one can suppose that this involves infallible knowledge. It cannot be summarily argued that because God dwells in a man, all that the man speaks partakes of the Divine omniscience. Inspiration operates as any newborn passion, such as maternal love, operates. It does not lift the person out of all limitations, but it seizes upon and uses all the faculties, elevating, refining, and directing to one purpose. It illuminates the mind as enthusiasm does, by stimulating and elevating it; it enriches the memory as love does, by intensifying the interest in a certain object, and by making the mind sensitive to its impressions and retentive of them. It brings light to the understanding and wisdom to the spirit, as purity of intention or a high aim in life does. It brings a man into sympathy with the nature and purposes of God, enables him to see God where others do not see Him, and to interpret His revelations in the same Spirit in which they are given.

Literature.—The history of opinion may partly be traced in Westcott’s Introd. to Study of Gospels, Appendix on ‘Primitive Doctrine of Insp.’; in Hagenbach’s Hist. of Doctrine; and in Sanday’s Bampton Lectures. Lutheran teaching is represented and traced in Hutterus Redivivus, and Anglican in Fitzjames Stephens’ Defence of the Rev. Rowland Williams (1862).—From the mass of literature one or two representative books may be named: The Insp. of Holy Scrip., by William Lee, 1854; The Nature and Extent of Divine Insp., by Rev. C. A. Row, M.A., 1864; Plenary Insp. of Holy Scrip., by Gaussen; Insp. and the Bible, by R. F. Horton; A Tenable Theory of Insp., by Professor Wood; cf. also the present writer’s The Bible: its Origin and Nature. Schleiermacher’s interesting statement of his views occurs in Der christliche Glaube, iv. §§ 128–132. Weiss gives an excellent specimen of moderate opinion in Die Religion d. NT, p.3 ff.

Marcus Dods.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Inspiration'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/i/inspiration.html. 1906-1918.

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