Evangelical Theories of Biblical Inspiration: A Review and Proposal

Synopsis

The inspiration of the Bible is central to Christian faith, yet there is no general agreement on the nature of this inspiration. In this provocative book, Kern Robert Trembath reviews seven major evangelical explanations of inspiration and demonstrates that all either view the Bible itself as the actual recipient of inspiration or explain biblical authority on grounds more appropriate to the doctrine of God--in effect investing the Bible with characteristics that properly belong only to God. Building on the work of William Abraham, Trembath constructs his own theory of inspiration--one that regards inspiration as a tripartite concept involving the elements of initiator, means, and receiver. He insists that only a human being can be the recipient of inspiration and that the Bible must therefore be understood as the means, rather than the end, of the process. He goes on to articulate a new definition of biblical inspiration--as "a mediated enhancement of human experience by God, through the Bible"--and argues that this new understanding of inspiration is most compatible with a Thomistic doctrine of God, which insists that God's acts are mediated through the world, rather than immediately occurring in it.