Wednesday, January 27, 2010

AA Hodge on the Accuracy of Scripture

This quote from AA Hodge has probably been endlessly reproduced, but here goes anyway:

It is not claimed that the Scriptures, any more than their authors, are omniscient. The information they convey is in the forms of human thought, and limited on all sides. They were not designed to teach philosophy, science, or human history as such. They were not designed to furnish an infallible system of speculative theology. They are written in human languages, whose words, inflections, constructions and idioms bear everywhere indelible traces of human error. The record itself furnishes evidence that the writers were in large measure dependant for their knowledge upon sources and methods in themselves fallible, and that their personal knowledge and judgments were in many matters hesitating and defective, or even wrong. AA Hodge and BB Warfield, Inspiration (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 27-28.

Note also Hodge's words regarding his fathers famous statement ('The errors in matters of fact which skeptics search out bear no proportion to the whole. No sane man would deny that the Parthenon was built of marble, even if here and there a speck of sandstone should be detected in its structure') when he writes to Warfield,

But the question remains was this book [the Bible] with its (1) human (2) oriental & (3) Hebrew characteristics intended to stand the test of microscopic criticism as to its accuracy in matters of indifferent detail? It appears my father [Charles Hodge] was speaking of the possibility of infinitesimal inaccuracies of no importance relating to the end designed, in Systematic Theology, Vol. I, p. 170. I say so too – very heartily. But the question remains what degree of minute accuracy do the facts prove that God designed to effect? That is for you critics and exegetes to determine.

Letter from AA Hodge to BB Warfield, November 14, 1880 (in Warfield’s papers, Speer Library, Princeton Theological Seminary), emphasis added.