Re: Inerrancy and writing style

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Feb 18 1997 - 20:00:43 EST

At 1:01 PM -0600 2/18/97, Randy Leedy wrote:
>Carl Conrad wrote [you knew I'd respond, didn't you, Carl?]:
>>>>Let me confess that one reason I am not an inerrantist is that I
>believe that God speaks to us THROUGH these imperfect writings of
>imperfect human beings, WITHOUT annulling or overriding the humanity
>of the composers. >
>Of course I don't expect everyone to agree, as much as I wish
>otherwise. And I trust that those who will allow Carl the liberty to
>disparage the Scripture (by contradicting its claims) while
>unnecessarily dragging the issue of inerrancy into a discussion of
>writing style will also allow me the liberty to defend the Scripture
>in the process of trying to pull the two issues apart again.

No, honestly I was stupid enough not to imagine that my expression of an
opinion on the stylistic levels of different NT texts from the perspective
of my own faith-stance--an opinion that I certainly knew was at odds with
that of many another--would evoke anything like an accusation of
"disparaging Scripture (by contradicting its claims)." I deeply regret my
reckless and intemperate reference to the doctrine of inerrancy; I
certainly ought not to be referring to a notion which I obviously do not
understand, despite an endeavor to do so. The last thing I ever had in mind
was "disparaging Scripture by disputing its claims," and that is not what I
understood myself to be doing. My sincerest apologies to all whom I have
offended insofar as it must seem to them that I was attacking their

Finally, as Randy says, the style of writing is the real issue. I've said
that I think the clear narrative of the gospels of Matthew and Luke -- not
so much their writing styles as their lucidity of communication ranks above
that of Ephesians. I have no quarrel with those who feel that the style of
Ephesians 1 is sublime, but my personal preference is for clean syntactic
structures and relative pronouns with ready antecedents. Quite frankly, I
DO think there are sublime passages in Ephesians, but I personally don't
feel that chapter 1 is one of them. That's no more than a personal opinion,
which it might be wise for me not to keep stating over and over. I'm
sincerely sorry for any offense I've given anyone.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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