N. T. Wright on what the Bible is*

The Bible is far more…than what some people used to say a generation or so ago: that it was simply the (or a) “record of revelation,” as though God revealed himself by some quite other means and the Bible was simply what people wrote down to remind themselves of what had happened. The Bible offers itself, and has normally been treated in the church, as part of God’s revelation, not simply a witness or echo of it. Part of the problem is the assumption that what’s required is after all simply “revelation,” the communication of some kind of true information. The Bible does indeed offer plenty of information, but what it offers in a more primary way is energy for the task to which God is calling his people. Talking about the inspiration of the Bible is one way of saying that the energy comes from the work of God’s Spirit.

It helps, in all of this, to remind ourselves constantly what the Bible is given to us for. One of the most famous statements of “inspiration” in the Bible itself puts it like this: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Equipped for every good work; there’s the point. The Bible is breathed out by God (the word for “inspired” in this case is theopneustos—literally, “God-breathed”) so that it can fashion and form God’s people to do his work in the world.

N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, 182.

*The section of the chapter, “The Book God Breathed,” from which this quote is taken is entitled, “God’s Inspired Word.”