Mittwoch, 19. August 2015

St Augustine on the truth of Scripture

Putting St. Augustine's argument on the truth of Scripture as I understand it:

The authors of Scripture were completely free from error - thus, Scripture contains a genuine revelation of the truth (Truth). Moreover, and in contrast to other writings regardless of their author's quality and qualifications: The truth that can be found in Scripture doesn't depend on external factors, it is a non-contingent truth. In other words: We can really find (the self-revelation of) God in the Scripture. Therefore: Scripture is the word of God.

However, there is the question: What if it seems as though there was an error in Scripture? Then, it boils down to one or more of three possibilities:

  • There is either a problem with the manuscript, i.e. that the text itself isn't handed down properly.
  • Or there is a problem with the translation, i.e. that the meaning of the text isn't handed down properly.
  • Or there is a problem on the part of the reader, i.e. that the text and/or its meaning isn't picked up properly.

All those problems are common issues in hermeneutics, in philosophical and historical understanding; they concern either the translatio ("transfer") or the interpretatio ("translation") of Scripture. That means that even if we can find non-contingent truth in Scripture, it is still transmitted like any other truth we may find in any other writing. Therefore: Scripture is the word of God in the words of man.

Nota bene: This doesn't address the question of whether or not Scripture is a journalistic or scientific account, or if Scripture should be read that way in the first place. That is an entirely different subject matter.

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