Thursday, August 20, 2009

David Law on Scripture, subjectivity, and "ciphers"...

Not exactly sure what I think about all this yet, but it's an intriguing approach to contemplating biblical authority...

[Note: "Cipher" is a philosophical term used by Karl Jaspers to describe terms in human language that are not signs or symbols but terms that open up human beings to the reality of the "Transcendent" (aka God).]

"[T]he inspiration of the Bible is situated in three areas. Inspiration is a feature of human being... the opening up of human being to Transcendence and the (trans)formation of human existence in the light of Transcendence... But this 'existential inspiration' and grounding of human being in Transcendence is not self-produced. It comes about through engagement with the ciphers of Transcendence communicated by the Bible. Insofar as the existential coherence of the human being is dependent on the ciphers, the source of these ciphers, namely the Bible, can be said to be inspired. Finally, inspiration is situated in Transcendence-itself... These three factors and the dialectical relationship that exists between them constitute the complex phenomenon that is inspiration.

The knowledge the Bible provides is not 'objective' in the normal sense, for the knowledge which it provides is first and foremost existential knowledge. This does not mean, however, that the epistemological content of the Bible has no objective dimension or cannot be objectively expressed... However, the crucial thing is that this objectivity is not central, but secondary to, and dependent on, the existential impact and content of these statements... [however], the believer comes to realize that this existential development is possible only if God is prior to this development."

(from "Inspiration" by David Law)

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