Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration, and Interpretation

Article excerpt

THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK in a sevenvolume systematic theology which has been hailed by conservatives as likely to be, when complete, the most substantial theological contribution of any American evangelical since the work of Carl Henry. There are differences. Bloesch opposes "liberal or modernist" models of biblical authority, as one would expect, but also distances himself from Henry's "scholastic" model in favor of a "sacramental" one. While the succession in which he sees himself includes, for example, Augustine, Calvin, and Forsyth, he borrows most on this particular point from Luther and Barth. He says, with Luther, that "the human is capable of bearing or conveying the divine" (p. 40), and "the Bible is the swaddling clothes in which the Christ child is laid." Barth resounds in Bloesch's insistence that the "human witness" to "God's revelation" is "analogous to the coexistence or coinherence of the divine and human natures" in Christ with the result that scripture "can be spoken of as `the Word of God' and `the word of man' at the same time" (p. 41). It is thus fitting to speak, on the one hand, of "ambiguities and inconsistencies in the Bible, even imperfections, rather than error" and, on the other, of its "truthfulness or veracity . . . rather than of its inerrancy." Yet the latter word "should not be abandoned, for it preserves the nuance of truthfulness which is necessary for a high view of Holy Scripture" (pp. 1156).

After an introduction making clear this book is written chiefly as an evangelical contribution to evangelical discussions, Bloesch expounds his sacramental model in chapters dealing with biblical authority, revelation, inspiration, hermeneutics, the relation of scripture to church and tradition, and philosophical issues. Two chapters, on Bultmann and on the Bible and myth, can be read separately, but the one on Bultmann in particular should not be omitted. …