God's Word in Human Words
In their studies, students at conservative colleges and seminaries are introduced to the methods and conclusions of critical biblical scholarship. These conclusions often produce a disconcerting challenge to the faith students came to explore. A few embrace the skeptical stance,...
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In their studies, students at conservative colleges and seminaries are introduced to the methods and conclusions of critical biblical scholarship. These conclusions often produce a disconcerting challenge to the faith students came to explore. A few embrace the skeptical stance, resulting in a "secular" response. Many display a "traditional" response, rejecting biblical criticism as a threat to biblical authority and a faulty result of Enlightenment thinking. Between these two poles, is there a third way? Can evangelical students and scholars incorporate the insights of biblical criticism and at the same time maintain a high view of Scripture and a vital faith?
Kenton Sparks has wrestled with these questions as a student, pastor, and scholar. In God's Word in Human Words, he argues that the insights from historical and biblical criticism can indeed be valuable to evangelicals and may even yield a new set of solutions to seemingly intractable problems in biblical studies while avoiding pat answers. This constructive response to biblical criticism includes taking seriously both the divine and the human aspects of the Bible and acknowledging the diversity that exists in the biblical texts. The discussion is substantive, thorough, and even controversial, as the author offers up challenges to the evangelical status quo.
Kenton L. Sparks is professor of biblical studies and special assistant to the provost at Eastern University.
"This is a fine survey of the issues that historical criticism raises for an evangelical understanding of Scripture and a useful survey of options in approaching those issues."--John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary"This important volume provides a bridge between critical scholarship and traditional views on Scripture. Sparks''s aim is to present a reasoned and sometimes impassioned insider look at evangelical approaches to biblical scholarship. In the process of surveying the flash points created by modern critical scholarship, he champions ''practical realism'' as an approach that provides a more productive middle ground between traditionalist views of authorship and dating of the text, which depend on harmonization or forced interpretations, and the antirealists of postmodern scholarship, who disregard historical context or the original audience. Both evangelicals and nonevangelicals will benefit from this very frank discussion of the history and possible future for biblical scholarship."--Victor H. Matthews, associate dean, College of Humanities and Public Affairs, Missouri State University"What do we mean when we say our Bible--written by prophets, chroniclers, sages, evangelists, and apostles--is the word of God? In this book, Kenton Sparks engages that very question, emphatically affirming both the methodology and results of historical and modern biblical criticism and the authority of Scripture. He distinguishes divine inerrancy from the finite and fallible human vessels through whom God chose to reveal God''s Word. The biblical text manifests significant theological diversity that is best addressed by recognizing the distinct genres of human and divine discourse; God accommodates his message to the finite and fallen perspectives of his human audience. While some readers will be uncomfortable with Sparks''s characterization of conservative evangelical scholarship and his conclusions regarding the historicity of biblical narratives, this is a valuable window into the ''progressive evangelical'' approach to the nature of Scripture."--Elaine A. Phillips, professor of biblical and theological studies, Gordon College"Sparks issues an irenic invitation to reconcile academic consensus with evangelical conviction in ways that respect and inform both. His plea for his fellow evangelicals to take historical criticism much more seriously features impressive and honest arguments for mainstream critical stances toward Old and New Testament texts, informative tours of fields from hermeneutics to Assyriology to patristic and Reformation theology, and a bold proposal to affirm biblical inerrancy in terms of perfect divine accommodation to human error. May it encourage and shape the fruitful conversation we evangelicals absolutely need to have."--Telford Work, assistant professor of theology, Westmont College"Finally, a fresh, creative, carefully nuanced approach to biblical criticism from an evangelical! Sparks skillfully makes his case for a ''believing criticism'' by carefully assessing the current available alternatives. In the process, he offers a useful survey of, and response to, typical hot-button issues. His thorough, methodical work stakes out for many thoughtful evangelicals a credible, theologically based, devout place to stand in integrating critical work and faith. I highly recommend it."--Robert L. Hubbard Jr., professor of biblical literature, North Park Theological Seminary"Kent Sparks asks hard questions. In this volume he provides answers that he believes satisfy intellectually as well as spiritually. His erudition is evident on every page, whether summarizing the epistemological heritage of the Enlightenment, the historical-critical methods as applied to Assyriology, the constructive features of Barthian hermeneutics, or the ways in which the church has ''trumped Scripture.'' Of course, not all will agree with his version of ''practical realism'' and how it relates to biblica
The conclusions of critical biblical scholarship often pose a disconcerting challenge to traditional Christian faith. Between the two poles of uncritical embrace and outright rejection of these conclusions, is there a third way? Can evangelical believers incorporate the insights of biblical criticism while at the same time maintaining a high view of Scripture and a vital faith? In this provocative book, Kenton Sparks argues that the insights from historical and biblical criticism can indeed be valuable to evangelicals and may even yield solutions to difficult issues in biblical studies while avoiding pat answers. This constructive response to biblical criticism includes taking seriously both the divine and the human aspects of the Bible and acknowledging the diversity that exists in the biblical texts.
Kenton L. Sparks (PhD, University of North Carolina) is professor of biblical studies and special assistant to the provost at Eastern University. He is author of several books, including Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible and God's Word in Human Words.
- Introduction<br>1. Epistemology And Hermeneutics<br>2. Historical Criticism<br>3. The Problem Of Biblical Criticism<br>4. "traditional" Responses To Biblical Criticism<br>5. Constructive Responses To Biblical Criticism<br>6. The Genres Of Human Discourse<br>7. The Genres Of Divine Discourse<br>8. The Context Of The Whole And Biblical Interpretation<br>9. Negotiating The Context Of The Whole<br>10. Biblical Criticism And Christian Theology: A Few Examples<br>conclusions: Biblical Criticism And Christian Institutions