This site is for those who care about biblical preaching, not just preaching that includes a bit of Bible. Consequently I presume the majority of us reading this have a high view of inspiration. The Bible tells us that ‘all Scripture is given by inspiration of God’ – it is “God-breathed.” In a sense, inspired implies it was ex-spired from God. It was written by humans, in their own style and wording, fully conscious, etc. But what was written was exactly what God intended.
In discussions of this issue, we often end up focusing on the implication of “verbal plenary inspiration.” That is, that God inspired the very words (verbal), all of ‘em (plenary). This is critical on many levels. But in this post I want to point out another implication:
Perhaps we could call it “form plenary inspiration” – that is, that God inspired the very forms in which the Bible is written, all of ‘em. As Paul Borden put it in a seminar I was listening to, (I paraphrase slightly); “when God wanted letters written, he inspired a good letter writer, Paul. But when he wanted narrative written, he inspired great narrative writers.” I think that’s a good point. The narrative in the Bible is there by design, God’s design. God knows how powerful and effective narrative is, so he inspired very good narrative.
Narrative in the Bible is not there primarily to give historical account, although it is historically accurate. The goal was not to write a school history text-book with a balanced chronology. Accurate, yes, but balanced? Not in the way we might expect. Narrative in the Bible is theological writing, it is story-telling with a goal, a point. It is designed to convey truth about God, about His dealings with humanity, about our responses. It tells the story, but it is not “mere history.”
All this to say that we should honor the text as inspired down to the words, and down to the form it is in. Let’s strive to handle every text in the Bible as well as we possibly can, because when God inspired it, his work was very good!