One of the great influences on my understanding of the Bible is the work done by the father and son team of Leland and Phil Ryken. Leland–the father–teaches English at Wheaton College. Phil–the son–after pastoring Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania long enough to get me hooked on his sermon podcast, left to become President of his alma mater, the college where his father teaches. Together, they have worked to help the broader evangelical church enrich their historical-grammatical method of interpreting Scripture by helping us to better appreciate the literary nature of the panorama of literary genres in Scripture.
To that end, the doctors Ryken have edited the Literary Study Bible. In their application of the richness of the literary quality of Scripture, it has been their aim to help evangelicals not draw the same association that their counterparts in the mainline Protestant tradition too often make when they assume that “literary” is synonymous with “fiction,” thereby negating the historical claims and accounts of Scripture.
I found an interview Crossway produced for their podcast in which Phil Ryken explains the heart and thrust of their work to help us better appreciate the literary nature of God’s written word. It’s worth a listen.
VI. The providence of God has, in a most marvellous manner, PRESERVED the scriptures of the Old and New Testament from being lost or corrupted. While perhaps millions of other books, once of considerable fame in the world, and which no one sought to extirpate, are lost and forgotten, the Scriptures, though more early written, and though Satan and his agents unnumbered have hated them, and sought to cause their memory to perish from among men, or to corrupt them, still remain, and remain in their purity.
In great wisdom and kindness, God, for their preservation, ordered an original copy to be laid up in the Holy of Holies (Deuteronomy 31:26); and that every Hebrew king should write out a copy for himself (Deuteronomy 27:18); and appointed the careful and frequent reading of them, both in private and public. With astonishing kindness and wisdom has he made the contending parties who had access to the Scriptures–such as the Jews and Israelites, the Jews and Samaritans, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews and Christians, and the various parties of Christians–MUTUAL CHECKS upon each other for almost three thousand years past, that they might not be able either to extirpate or to corrupt any part of them. When the Christians had almost utterly lost the knowledge of the Hebrew originals, God, by his providence, stirred up the Jewish rabbins to an uncommon labour for preserving them in their purity, by marking the number of letters, and how often each was repeated, in their Masoras.
By what tremendous judgments did he restrain and punish Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syro-Grecian king; Dioclesian, the Roman emperor; and others who attempted to destroy the copies of Scripture, in order to extirpate the Jewish or Christian religion! And he has bestowed amazing support and consolation on such as have risked or parted with their lives rather than deny the dictates of Scripture, or in the least contribute to their extirpation or misinterpretation.
By quickly multiplying the copies or the readers of the Scriptures, he rendered it impossible to corrupt them in anything important, without causing the corruption all at once to start up into every copy dispersed through the world, and into the memories of almost every reader;–than which nothing could be more absurd to suppose. Nay it is observable that of all the thousands of various readings which the learned have collected, not one in the least enervates any point of our faith or duty towards God or man.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV).
Jeffrey A. Stivason discusses the development of B. B. Warfield’s understanding of how the words of Scripture were not just those of the human writers, but the very product of the breath of God.
Pleasing to the eye, desirable to make one wise 😉 Get one for yourself, and one for your church library!