On the Inspiration of Scripture

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by Robert W. Jenson

What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?

For many Lutherans, the inspiration of the Scriptures is mostly about why the Bible is rightly the source and norm for the church’s teaching.

Robert W. Jenson, a life-long Lutheran and widely respected theologian and teacher, believes that this approach to the subject of the inspiration of the Scriptures obscures more than it illuminates. In this small book he first examines where this traditional approach falls short and then begins the process of constructing something more helpful to our understanding.

What is obscured, according to Jenson? For one thing, the actual “interests” or subjects of the Scripture itself: the stories, liturgies, visions and the rest of what is in the Bible which goes well beyond directives and information. For another, the continuing overarching narrative from Genesis to Revelation of God’s action to save the world. For yet another, the actual uses the Spirit makes of Scripture in the church for worship, for preaching and meditation.

In the chapters devoted to building his new approach to the doctrine of biblical inspiration, Jenson considers what a religion’s scripture is, how the Spirit’s actions in the Old and New Testaments differ, Old Testament prophecy, the Old Testament’s concept of inspiration, the Spirit in the Trinity, the Spirit’s action in the church, and the narrative of the Scripture.

This is a book that will richly reward careful reading and rereading. Russell R. Reno, Professor of Theological Ethics, Creighton University and Editor of First Things, says of it: “Concise, fundamental, and spiritually rich, Jenson leads us out of narrow, anxious views of Scripture’s inspiration to a fuller understanding of how the Bible is the living and active word of God.”

Paper, 80 pp., $10.00 + postage

5 or more copies: $8 each + postage