25 December, 2012

Athenagoras on the Inspiration and Primacy of Scripture

 "If we satisfied ourselves with advancing such considerations as these, our doctrines might by some be looked upon as human. But, since the voices of the prophets confirm our arguments—for I think that you also, with your great zeal for knowledge, and your great attainments in learning, cannot be ignorant of the writings either of Moses or of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the other prophets, who, lifted in ecstasy above the natural operations of their minds by the impulses of the Divine Spirit, uttered the things with which they were inspired, the Spirit making use of them as a flute-player breathes into a flute;—what, then, do these men say? “The Lord is our God; no other can be compared with Him.”    Isa. xli. 4; Ex. xx. 2, 3. And again: “I am God, the first and the last, and besides Me there is no God.”Isa. xliv. 6. In like manner: “Before Me there was no other God, and after Me there shall be none; I am God, and there is none besides Me.” Isa. xliii. 10, 11. And as to His greatness: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is the footstool of My feet: what house will ye build for Me, or what is the place of My rest?”Isa. lxvi. 1. But I leave it to you, when you meet with the books themselves, to examine carefully the prophecies contained in them, that you may on fitting grounds defend us from the abuse cast upon us."

Athenagoras (c.133-190), A Plea for Christians, ch 9, The Testimony of the Prophets ANF vol. 2.

Note - This quote provides an interesting early testimony to the ecstatic view of inspiration (the various forms of scripture clearly require a more sophisticated view of inspiration than this), but more importantly Athenagoras appeals to "the voice of the prophets", i.e. the Old Testament, as the arbiter of divine doctrine.     
Free Hit Counter