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Evangelicals take seriously the Bible's own testimony to its nature.6 Besides the view of Jesus himself, the most central passage is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work'' (NRSV). Biblical inspiration is not a matter of romantic or ecstatic genius, a genus of the species enjoyed by artists. Rather, the term theopneustos has also been rendered recently as "God-breathed" (NIV). Sacred writings come, as it were, from God's mouth as divine speech and, lest this category of "Scripture" be limited to 2 Timothy's direct reference - roughly the Old Testament - 2 Peter 3:16 demonstrates its possible extension to writings included in the New Testament. Speaking in Scripture,7 God makes us wise for salvation in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15) and for sanctification resulting in good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Evangelicals accept the Protestant "canon" that collects the thirty-nine books known traditionally as the Old Testament together with the twenty-seven books known traditionally as the New Testament. They continue to reject the "Apocrypha" accepted by Roman Catholics, although popularly they perhaps neglect the legitimate value of these books more than they should. For the books listed as Scripture to be "canonical'' means that as one book (the "Bible'') they rule over Christian belief and practice.

It is important to note that evangelicals recognize the Bible as God's Word in a particular way. Scripture itself identifies God's Son Jesus Christ as the final, ultimate divine Word or speech (Heb. 1:1-3) - the Logos who reveals God the Father (John 1:1-18). Because this revelation makes truth claims with cognitive content, it is "propositional." Against the so-called "neo-orthodox" theologians who described revelation in "personal" or otherwise non-propositional terms, American evangelicals sometimes vociferously emphasized its propositional character during the middle of the twentieth century. At the dawn of the twenty-first, evangelicals realize that Scripture being God's Word in written form means it bears corresponding witness to the incarnate Logos and in another sense becomes God's contemporary speech dynamically through the power of the Holy Spirit.8 The propositional aspect of revelation conveys its central message personally, and these are not mutually exclusive.

For evangelicals, the inspiration of Scripture is often understood as "verbal" and "plenary." It is verbal because the words of the Bible themselves "count as,''9 indeed are, God's speech. Of course the words are not magical in isolation from each other, but convey a message together. Yet, on the other hand, it is not some idealized message that can be abstracted from the Bible, to the neglect of certain particular words within Scripture, which becomes authoritative. Understanding God's speech requires attending to the details of how every word does, or does not, distinctively help to communicate the message of divine revelation; inspiration is plenary because it extends fully to using all the words.

More qualifications are of course in order. While it is fair to say that evangelicals take an oracular view of the Bible as Scripture, this is true only in the sense that they view its authoritative message in terms of the model of divine speech. Consistently (though with some aberrations in popular practice), evangelicals reject a "dictation" theory of inspiration, in which God simply and directly communicates every word of the Bible without reference to human authorship, as if the writers were nothing more than impersonal divine pens. Evangelicals affirm the importance of Scripture's human authors: God communicates through their investigation and structuring of material (e.g., Luke 1:1-4); linguistic styles (e.g., compare Mark and Hebrews); personalities and histories (e.g., psalms, apocalypses, and prophetic writings); and so on. For many, an analogy between the "living Word'' Jesus Christ and the written Word is helpful: the Son of God was fully God yet embraced full humanity; so also the Bible's fully divine revelation is spoken by fully embracing human forms of communication.

scripture's infallibility . . . and inerrancy?

The comprehensiveness of the Bible's inspiration, or perhaps its significance in light of Scripture's humanity, became a matter of intra-evangelical debate, late in the 1800s and then again in the middle of the twentieth century. "Infallible" had been a Protestant characterization of Scripture for some time. The Word of God does not return void but accomplishes its divine purposes (Isa. 55:11). Of course, this had been noteworthy as a characterization exclusive to Scripture, in comparison with Roman Catholic ascription of infallibility also to the Pope, which became official at Vatican Council i in 1870.10

With the rise of so-called "higher" biblical criticism and various theological accommodations to culture, "Modernism'' infiltrated Protestant denominations with the tendency to reject supernatural claims and thus orthodox Christian teaching. The controversy gave rise to the reaction of "fundamentalism," which at first simply designated those who reaffirmed belief in the fundamentals of biblical Christianity rather than reinterpreting them. Labels aside, theologians at Princeton Seminary defended the Bible as without error and, in the face of scholarly ideals from the new German universities, further developed an understanding of theology as an inductive science that arranged biblical facts. Hardly naive or obscurantist, they interacted with the natural sciences quite openly; contrary to caricature, for example, at least one of them was open to Darwinian evolutionary theory as being compatible with Scripture.11

From these roots many conservative Protestants became committed to the Bible's "inerrancy," which continued as the self-understanding of new

"evangelicals'' such as Carl F. H. Henry when, in the 1940s, they revived that label in an effort to reinvigorate and redirect fundamentalism. Controversy ensued in the early 1960s, however, when the flagship evangelical seminary, Fuller, revised its doctrinal statement to be open to limited inerrancy - Scripture is infallible on matters of faith and practice, but might be in error concerning details of history, science, and the like. Karl Barth was influential: while "neo-orthodox" may be an unfair label, Barth's position was not the traditional one. He saw the Bible as indirectly the Word of God, a witness to God's Revelation, Jesus Christ, which only becomes the Word of God in events of personal encounter via the Holy Spirit.12 Thus the Bible in its humanity might err, yet God was inextricably bound to Scripture as the form of divine witness to Revelation. In the 1970s, as the "battle for the Bible'' intensified, Jack Rogers of Fuller and Donald McKim asserted that a form of this limited inerrancy, or infallibility without inerrancy, position was in fact the closest contemporary heir of traditional Protestantism.13 John Woodbridge of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (revitalized in the 1960s as an academically rigorous, inerrantist alternative to Fuller) responded with a strong historical rejection of their work:14 while biblical inerrancy was undoubtedly modern language responding to historical-critical controversies, it seemed to perpetuate commitments expressed by ancient and Protestant fathers. Meanwhile, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy produced the "Chicago Statement'' that defined this aspect of the doctrine of Scripture for many American evangelicals over the ensuing decades.15

The inerrancy of Scripture means "that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.''16 Most would say that inerrancy does not require the Bible to speak with scientific precision and technical vocabulary; to have equal relevance for today in all portions; to contain verbatim quotation of the Old Testament in the New or literalist agreement between parallel accounts of events; or to lack unclear passages, the recording of sinful acts or errant claims, quotations from non-inspired authors, or historical investigation and perspective.17 The inerrancy of the Bible certainly does not extend to interpretations of Scripture, and therefore does not imply that evangelicals will presently know all the answers to challenging historical-critical questions. But biblical inerrancy does entail that there can finally be no outright internal contradictions in Scripture's teaching (when rightly interpreted in canonical context), and no external contradictions between Scripture and genuine science or other forms of human knowledge (often associated with the concept of ''general revelation,'' as opposed to ''special revelation'' via Jesus Christ, the Bible, and so on). Thus, ''context, context, context'' becomes the hermeneutically paramount rule for implementing commitment to biblical inerrancy in interpretative practice; special attention must be paid to the diverse ways that literary genres relate to truth claims.

Conflict over scriptural inerrancy has not defined evangelicalism elsewhere as it did in the United States.18 British and other non-American evangelicals, for example, have held various other versions of a ''high'' view of Scripture.19 Even among Americans, some Reformed Christians have retained the classic Protestant language of biblical infallibility without taking a more specific position. Some non-Reformed Christians have rejected much of the controversy as a fixation on epistemology to the detriment of more holistic concerns in theological methodology and beyond. Many recent evangelicals have felt the need to distinguish carefully between a particular philosophical understanding of rationality or approach to apologetics using the Bible, and commitment to the trustworthiness of Scripture itself.

If, confessing Scripture's inspiration, one holds to a fairly direct relation between the Bible and the revealed Word of God, then a viewpoint approximating biblical inerrancy follows as a matter of course. God speaks truly. The question concerns whether the focus of Scripture's purpose -which clearly concerns faith and practice according to 2 Timothy 3 :i6-I7, among other passages - exempts certain aspects or affirmations of the Bible from truly being the Word of God in the sense implied by verbal, plenary inspiration. Or instead, as inerrantists claim, should Scripture's saving and sanctifying purpose focus our interpretative efforts on finding what the Bible as God's Word truly means?

biblical interpretation and the spirit's illumination

Indeed, stories of evangelical biblical interpretation range from the awe-inspiring to the absurd. While the aberrations of some biblical iner-rantists20 have given way to the steady increase of competent and even influential biblical scholarship by various evangelicals, there is still progress to make. Following up the Chicago Statement, the International Council on Biblical Hermeneutics of the 1980s was not very successful, and trickle-down effects from scholarship to the pews - and pulpits - have been modest. At worst, evangelicals must confess popular weaknesses such as the influence of the apocalyptic Left Behind novels; at best, they can claim the creative and academically influential work of scholars such as N. T. Wright, as well as the theological scholarship of non-Western Christians. In between, they can claim a long heritage of faithful saints who have loved to learn and live out basic biblical teaching.

Probably the chief evangelical tension over biblical hermeneutics concerns the contemporary work of the Holy Spirit in the reader(s), relative to Scripture's communication as written text(s). To what extent is the latter fixed by the Holy Spirit's already-completed witness to God's final Word having been spoken in Jesus Christ? That is, how do the implications of the Bible's inspiration set parameters for the Holy Spirit's work of ''illumination''? Practical questions follow from this doctrinal tension. Do biblical scholars seemingly aspire to function as a Protestant papacy or magisterium, ruling on acceptable versus unacceptable uses of Scripture to the exclusion of ''the priesthood of all believers''? Do such scholars and perhaps trained clergy (who have been to ''cemetery,'' as seminaries are sometimes called) often eclipse the spiritual power of the biblical text in their own lives and for others, by dogmatically insisting on the ''scientific'' pursuit of Scripture's single ''meaning'' to restrain lay people in practice? For, since the rise of evangelical biblical scholars in recent decades, their dominant hermeneutical approach (in the West) has typically followed E. D. Hirsch, Jr.:21 re-describing the author's intention is the initial goal of valid interpretation, gaining understanding of the text's meaning. This must be distinguished from, and determinative for, the many possible applications, or ''significance,'' of the text. If this distinction is not observed - if the Spirit's illumination can continually grant new cognitive insight into a text's meaning - then can biblical interpretation be public or shareable or even reliable? Any individual could idiosyncrati-cally claim the Spirit's leading for interpretations of Scripture that are private (at best), or even dangerous and dishonoring to the gospel (at worst). Democracy means disunity.

This tension relates to doctrinal trends more generally. Increasing emphasis upon the diversity of biblical material, especially its literary genres, has resulted in recognition of different models for Scripture's authority within the texts themselves.22 Address to God in the second-person, such as in the Psalms, functions differently than omniscient narrative that may describe God in the third-person, which is different still from the oracular model of God as first-person speaker in the

Prophets. Using the oracular model simplistically for all Scripture, flattening its variety into one model of translating propositional revelation into theological concepts, does injustice to the "whole counsel'' of divine speech and, ironically, to the evangelical conviction regarding Scripture's unity.23 Moreover, contemporary theologians have felt the need to emphasize more the Holy Spirit and the present relative to the Logos and the past, when constructing a doctrine of revelation. This trend suggests a less narrow focus on Scripture's authority, as statically construed around its subject matter or cognitive content, with more emphasis on its "functioning'' dynamically by the Holy Spirit to sanctify readers and shape communal identity.24 The work of David Kelsey is particularly challenging for evangelicals regarding the variety - legitimate and illegitimate - of theologians' actual practices in appealing to the Bible.25 Accordingly, whereas traditional evangelical theologies tended to place the doctrine of Scripture at the front, among "prolegomena" or introductory words justifying the task of theology along the lines of a scientific methodology, recently Stanley Grenz has placed the doctrine toward the end, under the community-forming work of the Holy Spirit.26 Such a move is consistent with the third article of the Nicene Creed.

More generally, evangelicals today are beginning to profit from greater attention to Trinitarian theology. Efforts to locate understanding of Scripture "in the economy of salvation''27 and with respect to "sanctification'' as the work of the triune God will pay dividends in more balanced understandings of "revelation" and "inspiration,''28 even as such older formulations are also being defended and revitalized.29 Often in these discussions, evangelicals are interacting with, and substantially contributing to, more general philosophical and literary hermeneutics at the same time.30 Yet they are doing so while making more consistent use of the resources within Trinitarian thought, partly at the instigation of Barth, rather than defensively borrowing from outside the Christian faith.31

Evangelical reasons for giving increased attention to the Holy Spirit's illumination, then, sometimes appear "postmodern,'' recognizing the inescapable and important role of interpretative communities or perhaps realizing that such generalities describe what was already true of evangelical piety in the first place.32 More doctrinally, the concern is one of balance in Trinitarian theology. However, evangelicals will not be able to agree in detail on the relationship of Word and Spirit. For evangelicalism is a form of ecumenical Protestantism, within which specific doctrinal traditions (or even communities undefined by formal theology) differ on precisely that point.

Moreover, an underlying and increasing cause of evangelical diversity and hermeneutical tension could be framed either in terms of culture or ethics. Two cases of this deserve mention. First, evangelicals realize acutely their failure in America, and as Protestants generally despite the legacy of William Wilberforce, to recognize the evil of slavery while they held cultural power. That is putting it mildly: indeed, many evangelicals argued from the Bible to justify slavery and racial division.33 Contemporary Western ''culture wars,'' then, especially regarding gender roles and sexual practices seem to present a case that could be analogous in some way.34 Often the issue is framed in terms of either fidelity to the inspired words of the Bible (labeled by opponents a ''static'' hermeneutic), or a "redemptive movement'' approach that follows the ''trajectory'' of the ''spirit'' of the text - away from its apparent toleration or tacit endorsement of an unjust structure (slavery or patriarchy) and toward an ''ideal'' or ''ultimate ethic'' based on broader biblical principles.35 The latter approach is labeled by opponents as ''liberal'' or unfaithful to the text itself.

These are the hermeneutical debates of evangelicals in the West, especially North America, and indeed they affect the lives and vocations of real people. But a second and more significant reality is the rise and spread of global Christianity. Well chronicled by Philip Jenkins and Andrew Walls among others, this expansion of communities with connections to ''evangelicals'' will have theological implications for their ecclesiastical culture. It is symptomatic of the current situation, however, that most sources cited in this essay are Western and even American. Partly that is due to the present author's limitations. Yet research coupled with help from colleagues in the World Evangelical Alliance theological list-serv did unearth some other resources. Much of the non-Western evangelical literature on Scripture, though, is not translated into English, is unavailable for ready Western distribution, or else it has not been definitive for the ''evangelical'' identity treated in academic theology. However, that situatedness in part begs the question of what a globally evangelical approach to Scripture and hermeneutics could or should be. For, indeed, the Western evangelical literature on Scripture, despite all its biblical sophistication, is also the product of a very local and particular set of conversational interests, as is the set of biblical passages on which Westerners typically focus. Yet those with the cultural power to define ''evangelical'' theology often have not been very attentive to these realities.

A fairly early example of global evangelical engagement with herme-neutical issues comes from the Context and Hermeneutics in the Americas Conference, which was sponsored by the Theological Students Fellowship and the Latin American Theological Fraternity in Mexico in 1983. Occurring partly in response to liberation theology's influence, its proceedings demonstrate the possibility of genuinely global conversation engaging hermeneutics via doctrine, biblical case studies, and practical theological issues.36 The World Evangelical Alliance has also fostered such dialogues on a variety of questions. Of recent hermeneutical import is the report of a working group on ''The Interpretation of Scripture as the Word of God in the Plurality of Cultures and Church.'' As part of its affirmations in addition to the doctrine of Scripture, the report calls evangelicals to the ''task of dynamic contextualization (or inculturation) of the message of the Bible,'' before detailing under various headings the cultural challenges pointed out here.37

''Contextualization'' has become a fairly popular way for evangelicals to describe their theological encounter with Scripture in culture(s), consistent with their persistent commitment to Bible translation. The translation/ contextualization model has undeniable virtues; perhaps most appealing is its consistency with a traditional doctrine of Scripture since it suggests something fixed or stable (the ''timeless truth'' of the Bible's meaning) and something variable upon reception (application or cultural significance and its effect even on linguistic form). Nevertheless, this model also maintains an undeniable power differential that can favor the status quo of the ''translator.''38 That may be simply one instance of a broader phenomenon about which non-Western evangelicals rightly complain: appeals to hermeneutical theory, even in dealing with questions of culture, have been socially conservative, not sufficiently challenging to open the eyes of Western Christians regarding questions of justice. Only such global concern brings an adequate range of alternative possibilities for reading Scripture into view.39

Somewhat ironically, then, our hermeneutical tour of culture brings us back to the horizon of tradition. Global evangelicals along with some Western theologians have renewed interest in pre-critical, spiritual practices of reading Scripture40 and in the hermeneutical role of the ancient Christian creeds. Certainly evangelicalism needs to improve its historical rootedness in the very orthodoxy (with attendant priority upon the church) that it claims to maintain for Protestants. An especially important classical retrieval may be the role of oral/aural culture, whereby some non-Western cultures today are much closer to the biblical audiences and to traditional church practices than are ''literate'' and image-saturated Westerners.41 Besides classic practices and confessional beliefs, other ''traditions,'' such as evangelicalism's approach to Scripture, have an appropriately foundational status for many of its Western institutions. Taken too far, though, such traditions can occlude openness to the illumination of the Spirit taking place via engagement with Scripture on the part of all global Christians. Thus, increased attention to the work of the Spirit in and through the Word of God does not settle hermeneutical concerns but newly crystallizes their form: the relative importance of corporate institutions and traditions vis-a-vis individual or cultural illumination, and how these affect evangelical understanding of God's authoritative teaching in the Bible.

No conclusion could predict the future on this subject; at best, one can point fingers in promising directions. Evangelicals will have to work out the hermeneutical implications of their existing commitments dialogi-cally,42 by careful listening to Scripture and to each other. Careful listening to Scripture requires paying attention to how the Bible itself addresses the relation of letter and Spirit, perhaps especially in the New Testament's use of the Old.43 Careful listening to each other suggests we need a theme for theological authority that addresses community generally and globally along with cultural density specifically. Various themes are possible that could orient this conversation to shared resources in Scripture, but ''wisdom'' may be particularly suggestive. Not only is it highlighted in the context of 2 Timothy 3 (v. 15); it embraces the dynamics of Word and Spirit, institution and illumination, plus corporate and individual. Furthermore, wisdom also holds together tradition and time, as well as creation and redemption.44 Ultimately, wisdom is found in Jesus Christ (e.g., Col. 2:3), and gives hope by reemphasizing that God's action precedes and undergirds our own. As evangelicals seek to fulfill the promise of their heritage to engage fully the world God has made and redeemed, they need wisdom to hear God and others ever more faithfully.

Further reading

Bacote, Vincent E., Laura C. Miguelez, and Dennis L. Okholm (eds.). Evangelicals and Scripture: Tradition, Authority and Hermeneutics. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004.

Carson, D. A., and John D. Woodbridge (eds.). Scripture and Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992.

Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon. Reprint. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995. Goldingay, John. Models for Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994. Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation, and Authority. Waco, TX: Word, 1976-83. Noll, Mark A. Between Faith and Criticism: Evangelicals, Scholarship, and the Bible in America. New York: Harper and Row, 1986. Packer, J. I. God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible. 3rd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994.

Stackhouse, John G., Jr. (ed.). Evangelical Futures: A Conversation on Theological Method. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Theology. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005.

Work, Telford. Living and Active: Scripture in the Economy of Salvation. Sacra Doctrina. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Wright, N. T. The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture. San Francisco: Harper, 2005.


1. It has become common to suggest that in the 1960s the Second Vatican Council introduced a shift from a two-source theory of Scripture and Tradition (in which Tradition could be a somewhat independent source of doctrine or practice) to an interpretation of the Council of Trent that made a one-source theory possible (in which Tradition's authority is subordinate to Scripture, as its interpreter, from which no doctrine can be undergirded independently). See, e.g., Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus (eds.), Your Word is Truth: A Project of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), especially the essays by Timothy George and Avery Cardinal Dulles, S. J. See also Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1997), pp. 26-27, esp. paras. 80-83.

2. Anthony N. S. Lane, "Tradition," in Kevin J. Vanhoozer (gen. ed.), Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Craig G. Bartholomew, Daniel J. Treier, N.T. Wright, assoc. eds.; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, and London: SPCK, 2005), pp. 809-12.

3. See Kevin J. Vanhoozer, "Scripture and Tradition,'' in Kevin J. Vanhoozer (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 168. Henri Blocher suggests a few factors that lead evangelical Protestants to this position: ''assessment of the effects of human sinfulness''; ''emphasis on divine transcendence''; a ''view of time'' emphasizing particular events more than ''continuous flow''; and, ultimately, ''the very understanding of salvation'' as focused on the problem of guilt rather than the change of human nature (''Scripture and Tradition: An Evangelical Response,'' Evangelical Review of Theology 21. 2 [April 1997]: 121-27, pp. 125-26). See also the theme issue ''Scripture and Tradition,'' Evangelical Review of Theology 19. 2 (April 1995).

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. i, para. vii.

5. The phrase is Edward Farley's, from Ecclesial Reflection: An Anatomy of Theological Method (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, i982).

6. As evident perhaps especially in D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (eds.), Scripture and Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992); Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, reprint (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995); J.I. Packer, God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994).

7. The Westminster Confession of Faith speaks of ''the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture'' (ch. i, para. x).

8. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, ''God's Mighty Speech-Acts: The Doctrine of Scripture Today,'' in Philip E. Satterthwaite and David F. Wright (eds.), A Pathway into the Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, i994), pp. i43-8i.

9. Following the recent use of speech-act theory by many, including Nicholas Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse: Philosophical Reflections on the Claim that God Speaks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), as one philosophical explanation of how this could be so.

10. This applies when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, from his representative throne making a definitive pronouncement on faith or morals for the whole church -which has only happened twice since.

11. So B. B. Warfield, according to Mark A. Noll, Between Faith and Criticism: Evangelicals, Scholarship, and the Bible in America (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), p. 38. See B. B. Warfield, Evolution, Scripture, and Science: Selected Writings, ed. with an introduction by Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingstone (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000).

12. For a more recent understanding, with nuance, of Barth's position vis-a-vis the evangelical view, see Bruce McCormack, ''The Being of Holy Scripture Is in Becoming: Karl Barth in Conversation with American Evangelical Criticism,'' in Vincent E. Bacote, Laura C. Miguelez, and Dennis L. Okholm (eds.), Evangelicals and Scripture: Tradition, Authority and Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004), pp. 55-75. An evangelical who has appropriated Barth significantly is Donald G. Bloesch; see esp. Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration and Interpretation, Christian Foundations 2 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994).

13. Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976); Jack B. Rogers and Donald K. McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979).

14. John Woodbridge, Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982).

15. The Evangelical Theological Society and many other institutions use ''Chicago'' officially or unofficially to guide their confessional understanding.

16. Paul D. Feinberg, ''Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of,'' in Walter A. Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 200i), p. i56.

17. This list was influenced by Carl B. Hoch, Jr.

18. A survey of evangelical doctrinal statements confirms the variety described in this paragraph. The National Association of Evangelicals (American) begins, ''We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God'' (see The World Evangelical Alliance likewise begins with a statement on the Holy Scriptures, ''as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct'' (see The global Lausanne Covenant (1974) is more detailed, but deals with the Bible after an article on God: ''We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written Word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice'' (at

19. The British branch of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (the InterVarsity movement) makes the following statement on Scripture: ''The Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour'' (at

20. A notable example was the idea that the time markers of the Gospels must be understood with literal precision, and since they apparently conflicted, Peter must have denied Jesus six times rather than three (e.g., Lindsell, Battle for the Bible, pp. 174-76).

21. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Validity in Interpretation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967).

22. John Goldingay, Models for Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994); Models for Interpretation of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995).

23. For further discussion and sources, see Daniel J. Treier, "Canonical Unity and Commensurable Language: On Divine Action and Doctrine,'' in Bacote, Miguelez, and Okholm (eds.), Evangelicals and Scripture, pp. 211-28; ''Scripture, Unity of,'' in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, pp. 731-34.

24. Again, for further discussion and sources, see Daniel J. Treier, ''Theological Hermeneutics, Contemporary,'' in Vanhoozer (gen. ed.), Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, pp. 787-93; Virtue and the Voice of God: Toward Theology as Wisdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), esp. ch. 7.

25. See David H. Kelsey, The Uses of Scripture in Recent Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), reissued as Proving Doctrine (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1999); the responses in Robert K. Johnston (ed.), The Use of the Bible in Theology: Evangelical Options (Atlanta, GA: John Knox, 1985) are only partially satisfying. Most recently, see Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005).

26. Stanley Grenz, Theology and the Community of God (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1994); for his recent methodological statements, see Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke, Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001).

27. Telford Work, Living and Active: Scripture in the Economy of Salvation, Sacra Doctrina (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002). See also the earlier Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), and, popularly, N.T. Wright, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture (San Francisco: Harper, 2005).

28. John Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, Current Issues in Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

29. E.g., Timothy Ward, Word and Supplement: Speech Acts, Biblical Texts, and the Sufficiency of Scripture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

30. E.g., Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text? The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998); First Theology: God, Scripture, Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002); the ''Scripture and Hermeneutics'' series led by Craig Bartholomew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Carlisle: Paternoster); and several works by Anthony C. Thiselton. In general, Hirsch is less dominant, while interaction with Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and certain ''postmodern'' theorists is on the rise.

31. The Word-centered yet somewhat rationalistic legacy of Carl F. H. Henry emphasizing propositional revelation (in his six-volume God, Revelation, and

Authority [Nashville, TN: Word, 1976-83]) still stands, but is more balanced with another stream of thinking via Bernard Ramm (see, e.g., The Evangelical Heritage, reprint [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000] and Special Revelation and the Word of God [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961]) that has interacted more constructively with Barth. Both Vanhoozer and Grenz seek to appropriate the legacy of Ramm, as their essays show in John G. Stackhouse, Jr. (ed.), Evangelical Futures: A Conversation on Theological Method (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000).

32. In addition to various works by Grenz, see, e.g., James Callahan, The Clarity of Scripture: History, Theology, and Contemporary Literary Studies (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001).

33. See, e.g., Mark A. Noll, America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), chs. 18-19.

34. See, e.g., Kevin Giles, "The Biblical Argument for Slavery: Can the Bible Mislead? A Case Study in Hermeneutics,'' Evangelical Quarterly 66.1 (1994): 3-17.

35. William J. Webb, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001).

36. Mark Lau Branson and C. Rene Padilla (eds.), Conflict and Context: Hermeneutics in the Americas (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986).

37. See "Faith and Hope for the Future: Towards A Vital And Coherent Evangelical Theology For The 21st Century: Summary Reports of the Working Groups,'' Evangelical Review of Theology 21. 1 (January 1997): 5-40, esp. pp. 5-7.

38. Although, in various works, Lamin Sanneh has emphasized the ways in which Bible translation (perhaps unintentionally) destabilized Western cultural hegemony and cultivated indigenous leadership.

39. A solid overview and some assessment of such hermeneutical models for doing theology can be found in David K. Clark, To Know and Love God: Method for Theology, Foundations of Evangelical Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003).

40. See "Faith and Hope for the Future,'' p. 6; Daniel J. Treier, "The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis? Sic et Non,'' Trinity Journal 24 ns no. 1 (Spring 2003): 77-103; more broadly, D. H. Williams, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999).

41. See, e.g., Paul Griffiths, Religious Reading: The Place of Reading in the Practice of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

42. A major theme from retrieval of Mikhail Bakhtin, dialogism suggests that voices may speak truly without speaking comprehensively - for the full truth, all the genuinely insightful voices must be spoken and heard together.

43. A recent example, though only one possibility, for working out such implications is I. Howard Marshall, Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004).

44. See Daniel J. Treier, "Wisdom," in Vanhoozer (gen. ed.), Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, pp. 844-47; Virtue and the Voice of God.

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