Friday, October 25, 2013

The Voice from the Past - Charles Hodge

From the beginning to the end of the Bible the sacred writers present themselves in the character of witnesses. They demand faith in their teaching and obedience to their commands not on the ground of their superiority in wisdom or excellence; not on the ground of rational demonstration of the truth of what they taught, but simply as the organs of God, as men appointed by Him to reveal His will.

Charles Hodge, 1797-1878, Systematic Theology, Volume I, Theology, Chapter 3, Rationalism, 4, B, 5 (Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing, 1982, p. 47)

What does it mean to be a witness? How might that differ from a philosopher? What significance does this have?


  1. A bit confusing Mike. Some of the scriptures were written by witnesses to the events but much is written from orally communicated accounts of past events. And some like Chronicles were written 100+ years after the events and probably copied from other documents.

    1. The question of the process of the compilation of many of many of the Old Testament documents is a difficult one. Certainly a book that covers 100s of years of history could not be put in final form by the people who witnessed the initial events.

      But I think what Hodge is saying is that the Bible is not a philosophical treatise that tries to deduce the truths about God abstractly, but a record (however compiled) of those who met with God and witnessed His deeds directly. It is not just one more attempt to figure God out.

    2. My point was simply to say that not everything in the bible was written by "witnesses" (as the quote indicates) of the events recorded.

    3. That is not how I understood the quote, but I cannot claim to be final interpreter of what Hodge really meant. To hold that every writer of Scripture was a direct eyewitness to the events they record is a position to the best of my knowledge no one holds. But I could be wrong.