Sep 30

The Authority of Scripture, by Edward J. Young, as found on iTunes U, Westminster Seminary ★★★★★

This series is 12 lectures averaging an hour each. It was given during the mid-1970’s, of moderate recording quality.  I found this lecture set to be totally awesome. I don’t understand why Dr. Young is only limited in his popularity, as he is a true theological giant. Young was a professor at Westminster Seminary, worked with JG Machen, and ist best known for his lengthy commentary on Isaiah.
Young gives some general lectures on Scriptural authority and infallibility, mostly in the context of discussing the attacks that have come upon denying the authority of Scripture. He spends a number of lectures on Genesis, discusses the issue of the authorship and authority of the Pentateuch, provides several lectures discussing the issue of the authorship of Isaiah, and then of Daniel. He speaks in a raised monotone voice, like an old-time preacher. Each sentence is thick. He has no trouble holding ones attention.
There are some particular aspects of this lecture series that I deeply appreciated.
1. He doesn’t coddle with the documentary hypothesis. For those who are unaware, the documentary hypothesis claims that the Pentateuch is an assembly of writers, the Eloistic writer, the Jawistic writer, and the Priestly writer, with one other thrown in at times. The immediate way to spot a documentary hypothesis believer is when one speaks of two accounts of creation. Now, Young does a superlative work of demolishing the entire notion of the documentary hypothesis, showing how it is unnecessary, unScriptural, and irrational and inconsistent. Why so many conservative scholars give credence to the documentary hypothesis is beyond me. They should have had Prof. Young as their teacher.
2. He doesn’t force a young earth/old earth distinction but completely destroyed the notion of theistic evolution. Young admits that when he gave the lecture series, theistic evolution was not yet being suggested, showing insight in Young’s ability to know what darling heresies might arise among conservative theologians. He was definitely ahead of his time. He absolutely demolishes the Francis Collins theistic evolution theory.
4. His refutation of the Barthian notion of Historie vs. Geschichte is priceless. Young explains in detail Barth’s thinking, and it is best to just hear it from him.
5. He is majesterial in his response to the 2 or 3 authorship theory of Isaiah, the other authors being a Deutero-Isaiah and a Tritero-Isaiah.
Young makes clear that many of the so-called assaults on Scripture are simply nothing more than unbelief. Why so many conservative scholars have given in to these assaults, including professors at Westminster and Covenant Seminary, is beyond me. Young has very choice and humorous words for these folk.
The series is a total must listen to series, and it is free. Just get into iTunesU and download it onto your iPod, and then enjoy some of the best teaching on Scripture available,  for the next 12 plus hours.
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2 Responses to “Authority of Scripture”

  1. Onkel Dennis says:

    I have nothing to say about the competency or otherwise of the humoring Young as a theologian, though his choice of targets is indicative of how the church generally has lost its way in the 20th century.

    1. The JEPD theory is certainly the result of staring too long at the Bible as a stack of Rorschach inkblots. It also reflects the rationalism of the Tuebingen school of the 19th century. However, I would cut the Tuebingen theologians some slack. They were more arduous in pursuit of the truth of biblical history than most others in the church. Their biggest problem was timing. It was in the 1840s that A. Henry Layard started the revelation of ancient history by digging up Nineveh. They had essentially nothing more than the Greek and Roman sources on the ancient world, and such limited and biased Quellen they were (and are). Ancient history as recounted today is still oriented around the classical view. What a long-lasting ongoing mistake. The organized church has continued to make it too, so one has to be careful in criticizing the Tuebingen theologians (or else start reading some better history, but the church at large is not). If you are intent on getting to the bottom of the truth about biblical history and you have none of the last 150 years of Mideast archaeology, you might be inclined to (in a sophisticated way) invent history. JEPD is one consequence.

    The lesson to be learned in rejecting JEPD is to make a break from the presently-accepted misleading history. That means reading sources on biblical history outside the Bible on Israel and the ancient world. (See for books on updated history.)

    2. If Young has said anything about “theistic evolution” (whatever he means by it) that has not already been worked over thoroughly by the ASA ( then it would be interesting to bring it out. The creation-evolution issue has been one of the Devil’s best ways of diverting the church from important issues (like the social order, which scripture talks much about, and history pertaining to the biblical record) to those that are, for the most part, based on dubious science and speculative theology. Young gets no good points for going there in the way he did. However, in the early 20th century, nobody seemed to be catching on to what the root issues of the creation-evolution controversy are. Young might well (retrospectively) benefit greatly from the ASA record.

    3. The authorship of Isaiah is an interesting problem since the settings for chapter 40 and onward are clearly at a different time in history, about 150 years later, so it would appear. There are clearly unresolved issues in this and the issue in itself is not superfluous.

    Does Young say anything about the descent of the American social order and the church in attaching itself to the evils of the world-system? That was what was going on in his time. The church was failing by becoming entangled in the world and the theologians were, like the medieval theologians, arguing about side-issues and ignoring the main battle, to use Luther’s analogy. What a shame. The church in our time as a consequence is wandering blindly, not knowing what the battle is that is going on around them.

  2. Dennis;
    Your ability to offer profound insights with no information is astounding. None of your points make sense in regard to the authority of Scripture. The lecture series is free, so, you have no excuse for not listening to it. Please listen to the series before offering any further comments. Your arguments should not be with me, but with the claims of E.J. Young.

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