Saturday, May 10, 2014

God-Breathed: A Proposal

"God-breathed" is a beautiful term often used in ugly ways. For example, those who want to "take Genesis 2-3 literally" say that. given the text God-breathed, it must give us the facts about what really happened at the moment of creation. Since God is truthful, then something that is God-breathed must be truthful, that is to say, factual. Those who deny that Genesis gives us an accurate historical-scientific account of the world's beginning are thus denying the "God-breathedness" of scripture.

As beautiful as the term is, its precise meaning is notoriously difficult to grasp. But can Genesis 2 actually help in this regard? Perhaps being God-breathed is not a sign of scripture's divinity but of its humanity. It is humans, after all, who are said to be "inspired" by God, made alive by God's breath (Gen. 2:7). We are, in a sense, God-breathed. As are other animals. The primary function of God's breath is to make animals alive. Is that also what it means for scripture to be God-breathed? That it is "made alive"?

A reasonably common view of scripture is that it is both divine and human, a sort of literary version of the incarnation. But given the God-breathedness of humans in general, is scripture more like humans in general than Christ in particular?

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