The past decade has seen an energetic resurgence of books and articles by Protestants on the subject of biblical inspiration. For many prior decades the topic lay dormant, a condition fostered by naïveté and neglect from church "conservatives" and outright dismissal from church "liberals." The current renascence of interest in inspiration may thus be seen as a judgment by both wings of the church upon their former ways of treating the subject, a judgment which, like all honest reappraisals, carries with it the potential of significant advances in theological understanding. As such, there is reason enough to justify the effort.
There exists, though, another and perhaps more positive reason why this subject deserves greater attention within the church. Father James T. Burtchaell notes in his Catholic Theories of Biblical Inspiration since 1810 that "the controversy over biblical inspiration is an excellent test case whereby to diagnose many of the ills that have weakened Catholic theology, especially since the Reformation. The real issue here is what confounds scholars in so many areas: the manner in which individual human events are jointly caused by both God and man." He then goes on to suggest that "today the most easily examined instance of divine-human responsibility is the Bible." 1
This diagnosis and suggested therapy is one with which I heartily agree, not just for Catholics but for Orthodox and Protestants as well. The topic of inspiration gives theologians the opportunity to conjoin many discrete fields of inquiry: theology proper (the doctrine of God), theological anthropology (Christian reflection upon human beings), biblical exegesis (the science of text criticism and hermeneutics), and ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church). Inspiration thus calls for specialists in each of these fields to expand their horizons to the others, for at this conjunction, as at few others, nearsightedness guarantees superficiality.