Flesh and Bone

Here’s the question: when we talk about the inspiration of Scripture, do we mean that the content is inspired alone, or do we maintain that the form is inspired as well? Is the form of Scripture, as Peter Leithart asks in Deep Exegesis, merely a husk from which the kernel of truth must be extracted, or is it as much a part of God’s revelation to man as the abstracted truths we derive from it?

This isn’t an ivory-tower question. If we answer that only the content is inspired, then it doesn’t matter what violence we do to the husk in order to abstract the kernel, so long as the kernel is abstracted. It doesn’t matter where I pull my verses from as long as I haven’t presented them in a way that the rest of the verses would disagree with. It doesn’t matter that Ruth occupies a certain place in the canon, in the flow of redemptive history. What matters is the propositional truth which is taken from Ruth, the “principles” for belief and godly living which Ruth presents to us.

I deny this. We do not simply need the flesh of propositional truth, but the internal structure which God provides in the Scripture. In order to understand God’s truth fully in the way he wishes it to be understood, we must understand the medium. In fact, I believe that we will understand less of the truth if we don’t take it in the medium in which it has been delivered. It matters that Ruth is a part of the Writings, and it matters that Joseph’s run-in with Potiphar’s wife happens after Judah’s fling with Tamar, and it matters that Psalm 95 is a psalm. God speaks, and just as it is disobedient and disrespectful to disobey or disbelieve his words, so it is to disregard the method of his delivery.

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