Home
Society of St Francis
Latest News
Who we are
Where we are
Getting in Touch
Pray for us
franciscan
Thinking of joining us?
Ways of Supporting Us
C/SSF Worldwide
Wider Links

franciscan

Book Review

David Law
Inspiration
ISBN 0-8264-5183-7

Continuum, London, 2001, £18.99

(price at publication of review)

Reviewed January 2003; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2002

At first I wondered if this would be a useful book for those engaged in dialogue with Christian or Moslem fundamentalists who find security in their infallible book Certainly it is a very thorough, scholarly examination of 'word-centred' and then of 'non-verbal' theories of biblical inspiration, giving the strengths and weaknesses of each. The author lectures in the history of Christian Thought in the University of Manchester and the book resulted from research during a visiting fellowship in Kiel University: it has the quality of Germanic detail and the teacher's repetitive summaries. I enjoyed his description of theories of inspiration, through Farrer to Hanson and other contemporaries.

But it was the third section of the book that interested me. Recognising that beyond all human knowledge there is a factor he calls 'the Transcendent', he takes Karl Jasper's word 'ciphers' for the signs or pointers to this factor. These clues can only be decoded by those committed enough to engage in an interactive way. This will take them beyond the subject/object distinction. An exact prose rendering of a poem, for instance, misses the poetry. In Christian terms this leads to recognising that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is both the writer and the reader, each with their human limitations. He concludes the argument (which is worth the struggle to follow) by saying that, though the Bible is full of 'ciphers', the ultimate cipher is Jesus, the Incarnate Christ.

Bernard SSF

 

 

General Information about this site from: websterssf@franciscans.org.uk

Copyright 1998-2010 Society of Saint Francis, European Province

CSF European Province First Order Sisters: Registered Charity Number 286615
SSF European Province First Order Brothers: Registered Charity Number 236464
SSF Central Fund (for supporting SSF worldwide): Registered Charity Number 280238