Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism

Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism

Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism

Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism


The Sprunt Lectures delivered at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia, February 1982.

The men of the Bible did not themselves have a Bible to be their supreme guide and authority. This book discusses the way in which the canon of scripture was formed and the effects that it has.


This book is based upon the James Sprunt Lectures delivered in February 1982 at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia, and in fact is very close to the text as then delivered, with only some additions and modifications. It was a great honour to be invited to lecture in this very distinguished series, and the lecturer benefited greatly from the stimulus of the intelligent and appreciative audience that Richmond provided. Thanks are due to the President of the Seminary, T. Hartley Hall IV, and to the entire Seminary community, but especially to the three professors of Old Testament there, James L. Mays, Patrick D. Miller Jr., and W. Sibley Towner, all of them close friends.

Material of this kind, however, requires a long gestation and a good deal of experiment; and in fact various versions of the same basic thoughts were presented by me in the Clark Lectures in Pomona College, California, in the spring of 1981; in the Laidlaw Lectures at Knox College, Toronto, also in the spring of 1981; and in the Sanderson Lectures at Ormond College, Melbourne, Australia, in 1982. I acknowledge with gratitude the encouragement and stimulus that was received through the opportunity to lecture on this and related subjects in these fine institutions. Many of the thoughts here expressed were also worked out in normal lecture courses given in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago in spring 1981 and in Oxford University in the same year. Discussion with students in these courses was most valuable and creative.

The discussions in this book are not intended to lead to any kind of final solution of problems, nor to a history of the question, and least of all to any hermeneutical programme which, once explained, can then be put into action. Only limited questions can be taken up within the space available here. In particular, no attempt is made to give any complete discussion of the matter of biblical authority. In such a respect this book may be read in conjunction with my other earlier books, in particular Old and New in Interpretation (1966, soon to be republished in a second edition), The Bible in the Modern World . . .

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