IVP - Addenda & Errata - Wise Old Henry

October 17, 2008

Wise Old Henry

I recently rediscovered a quote I’d copied out a couple of years ago from James Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament, pp. 486-87. Orr quotes from Matthew Henry (1662-1714):

Inspiration does not create the materials of its record, but works with those it has received. It reveals itself in the insight it shows into them, and in the use it makes of them. An interesting illustration of this truth is furnished in a note of the old commentator, Matthew Henry, on 1 Chron. viii. 1-32. “As to the difficulties,” he says, “that occur in this and the foregoing genealogies we need not perplex ourselves. I presume Ezra took them as he found them in the books of the kings of Israel and Judah (chap. ix. 1), according as they were given in by the several tribes, each observing what method they thought fit. Hence, some ascend, others descend; some have numbers affixed, others places; some have historical remarks intermixed, others have not; some are shorter, others longer; some agree with other records, others differ; some, it is likely, were torn, erased, and blotted, others more legible. Those of Dan and Reuben were entirely lost. This holy man wrote as he was moved of the Holy Ghost; but there was no necessity for the making up of the defects, no, nor for the rectifying of the mistakes of these genealogies by inspiration. It was sufficient that he copied them out as they came to hand, or so much of them as was requisite to the present purpose, which was the directing of the returned captives to settle as nearly as they could with those of their own family, and in the places of their former residence.”

There has been a lot of work done on OT genealogies since the time of Matthew Henry. But his approach to the problem is interesting to find in an evangelical forebear of the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, and it is certainly applicable to various other historical issues we encounter. A mature evangelical doctrine of Scripture today should be capacious enough to embrace this approach.

Posted by Dan Reid at October 17, 2008 10:03 AM Bookmark and Share

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