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THEOLOGY > Bible > Revelation > Question of Dictation 


To say that the Revelation was verbal is to say that the authors were given words and then penned the words they were given. This was the work of the Holy Spirit who so came upon those who wrote that what they wrote was what the Spirit gave them to write. A legitimate question to ask is how did the Spirit assure that the finished product was indeed the Word of God. At times the idea of dictation has been raised in this connection. Should the word be used? Should such a concept even be entertained?

Basic to a proper understanding is the relationship of the words the Spirit gave to the recipients of the Revelation to the natural capabilities that belonged to the recipients. The words given by the Spirit were consistent with the particular author’s vocabulary and personality; they were not foreign or alien to the capabilities of the recipient of the Revelation. The author’s style, vocabulary, and individuality were not overridden or negated but were incorporated, such that the finished product was consistent with the one who wrote even though he wrote what had been given to him by the Spirit. Young observed: “Their personalities were not held in abeyance; their talents were not obscured; they were not somehow placed in a state of suspended animation. Rather, God used them as they were. All their gifts of training and native talent God called into play” (Thy Word is Truth, 69).

It was not the dictation of a boss to a stenographer, but it was dictation. It would seem that one could not believe in verbal revelation without believing in dictation; but Erickson who disassociated himself from the dictation theory stated: “The work of the Holy Spirit is so intense that each word is the exact word which God wants used at that point to express the message” (CT, 270)—it may not be called dictation by Erickson but it sounds like dictation; later Erickson added: “The inspiration of the Scripture was so intense that it extended even to the choice of particular words” (214). Again, it sounds like dictation.

The important matter is how the dictation is defined. Words were given (dictation) but the words that were given reflected accurately the author who received them and who wrote them down, not a mechanical dictation but a dynamic dictation—not a dictation in a vacuum but a dictation incorporating the author’s unique personality and ability. Only God is capable of this type of dictation.

Thus, the styles of Isaiah and Jeremiah are different, as are the styles of Romans and Revelation. The words in all four were given by God but the words God gave to each of the authors were true to each individual author’s vocabulary, style, and personality. This fact (words from God that reflect an author’s ability) distinguishes the Bible as a distinctive Book. In the Bible are the precisewords of God that God gave to the particular author.

Then Yahweh said to Moses,
"Write these words,
for according to the tenor of these words
I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
Ex. 34:27

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