If the Bible is written by fallible human beings, how can its words convey divine revelation? Perhaps the greatest challenge of Warfield’s lifetime was the modernist skepticism of biblical inspiration and authority. Modern biblical scholars showed that textual and linguistic analysis proved the human authorship of the Bible, and from there proceeded to strip miracles of their power, texts of their authenticity, and God of his historical intervention in the lives of individuals. Warfield responded to modernist and higher biblical critics by showing that intellect of the biblical authors not only remained fully operational and engaged, but that God also worked through human words and texts to convey divine revelation.
B. B. Warfield’s volume on divine revelation and biblical inspiration defined the parameters of the twentieth century understanding of biblical infallibility, inerrancy, and the trustworthiness and authority of Scripture. He pioneered a view of biblical inspiration and authority which remains widely held today by many Reformed and evangelical Christians. Revelation and Inspiration contains ten of Warfield’s most influential articles on the subject, as well as two appendices—one on the divine origin of the Bible and the other on the canonicity of the New Testament.
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was born in 1851 in Lexington, Kentucky. He studied mathematics and science at Princeton University and graduated in 1871. In 1873, he decided to enroll at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was taught by Charles Hodge. He graduated from seminary in 1876, and was married shortly thereafter. He traveled to Germany later that year to study under Franz Delitzsch.
After returning to America, Warfield taught at Western Theological Seminary (now Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). In 1881, Warfield co-wrote an article with A. A. Hodge on the inspiration of Scripture—a subject which dominated his scholarly pursuits throughout the remainder of his lifetime. When A. A. Hodge died in 1887, Warfield became professor of Theology at Princeton, where he taught from 1887–1921. History remembers Warfield as one of the last great Princeton Theologians prior to the seminary’s re-organization and the split in the Presbyterian Church. B. B. Warfield died in 1921.
“The religion of the Bible is a frankly supernatural religion. By this is not meant merely that, according to it, all men, as creatures, live, move and have their being in God. It is meant that, according to it, God has intervened extraordinarily, in the course of the sinful world’s development, for the salvation of men otherwise lost.” (Page 3)
“The Church, then, has held from the beginning that the Bible is the Word of God in such a sense that its words, though written by men and bearing indelibly impressed upon them the marks of their human origin, were written, nevertheless, under such an influence of the Holy Ghost as to be also the words of God, the adequate expression of His mind and will. It has always recognized that this conception of co-authorship implies that the Spirit’s superintendence extends to the choice of the words by the human authors (verbal inspiration9), and preserves its product from everything inconsistent with a divine authorship—thus securing, among other things, that entire truthfulness which is everywhere presupposed in and asserted for Scripture by the Biblical writers (inerrancy).” (Page 173)
“The Biblical books are called inspired as the Divinely determined products of inspired men; the Biblical writers are called inspired as breathed into by the Holy Spirit, so that the product of their activities transcends human powers and becomes Divinely authoritative. Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.” (Pages 77–78)