This is a question about the topicality of this question on BH.SE:

Do any scholars argue a textual theory where the NT text was edited to make the autographa?

Which, as of this writing, is "on hold" and possibly to be closed because:

This question does not appear to be about the analysis of biblical text within the scope defined in the help center.

Other discussion about the topicality of it has occurred in The Library, starting about here. But it was here that spurred this meta post.

The current "on-topic" list is:

  • interpretation of a specific Bible passage
  • hermeneutical approaches
  • translation of Biblical texts
  • historical context (with regards to a particular text)
  • source criticism

But also, previous meta posts have clearly shown that

though for whatever reason has not been added to the list.

By those measures, I see my question as "on topic" in four ways:

  1. Hermeneutical approaches: A particular approach is a major subject of the question, in particular, those who hold to inspiration/inerrancy as part of their hermeneutical approach, and particularly the view of the "authoritative" or "original" text as the basis (the autographa).
  2. Historical context: The particular text here is the NT as opposed to the OT, but the question is clearly about circumstances of the creation/finished form of the NT autographa.
  3. Source criticism: The question is related to what "sources" (original author and editors) that may be related to the formation of the autographa.
  4. Textual criticism: The question is related specifically, though not exclusively, to one of the main viewpoints on proper textual criticism theory (the Majority Text view); and specifically whether a competing version of that view with respect to the NT that may parallel a view of the OT.

So four of six areas BH.SE is designed to cover are found within this one question, yet it is being considered as possibly not "on topic."

Why? Because there is some "doctrinal" points noted in the question. Doctrine is deemed generally off topic for the site, as here, here, and elsewhere, though here was in point of fact that "systematic theology" was too nondescript. Specifically the doctrinal points in the question related to the hermeneutical and textual approach of the group in question, the idea of "inerrancy" and "inspiration" of the Scripture. NOTE: I am not seeking an answer supporting inerrancy or inspiration, so I am not seeking a doctrinal answer, that is just the background for the group in question.

However, multiple questions related to hermeneutical approaches on the site have some form of doctrinal skew to them:

The doctrinal skew in these questions is because one's doctrine affects their hermeneutic and textual view at fundamental levels, such that most differences in hermeneutics come from some form of doctrinal distinctions between groups.

So the question is: Why can those other questions pass, while this one cannot?

Especially when this question relates to four on topic areas, and many of those only relate to one: hermeneutical approaches.

I fully believe those other questions belong, and that questions about hermeneutical approaches should be allowed, even though doctrinal distinctions are what sometimes distinguish those.

But I also do not see how my question differs on that level from those, and so is also "on topic."

  • 2
    My close vote wasn't that it is off-topic, but that it's too broad/open ended. You first sub question, strictly on the MT would be good, but the second just opens the question up to numerous discussions of source theory, multiple editors, whether Ephesians was a form letter, if James and Hebrews are collations of sermons, etc...
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jan 19, 2016 at 5:29
  • @curiousdannii Now that is interesting, because I purposefully added the #2 sub question so that it could be more inclusive of other views that were not necessarily advocating the MT view. If I read you right, if I dropped sub #2, you would consider it not too broad? I'm still not sure, however, that keeping #2 is too broad, because of the qualification that adherents "still considered the additions/changes inspired and inerrant." Cont....
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:03
  • Most "source theory" people that follow inspiration/inerrancy would say Matthew still wrote Matthew, he just borrowed material from Mark and Q. Any later editing would typically be considered not inspired, and "multiple editors" not allowed.
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:03
  • 1
    Yeah if you dropped 2 or asked it separately I'd say it's not too broad and would vote to reopen.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:38
  • You're ruling out positions and I'm not sure why. If the development of the MT was inspired then I see little functional difference between that and the development of Matthew and Luke from their inspired sources, from John 87:53-8:11 and chapter 21 being added on later, from someone who wasn't James taking the things he said and compiling them together etc...
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:40
  • Are you still considering narrowing the question? It currently has 2 reopen votes (including mine) and I think narrowing it could encourage more. Jan 23, 2016 at 21:52
  • 1
    @JackDouglas Reconfiguring might be a better word, whether it ends up narrowed or not I cannot say. But yes, I'm thinking through how to better present it and phrase it to fit BH.SE by considering how different people interpreted it (per the answers provided here).
    – ScottS
    Jan 23, 2016 at 22:04
  • @ScottS Are you still planning to edit it or ask a related question? I still think it's an interesting topic.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Mar 14, 2016 at 8:10
  • @curiousdannii: Yes, but I just have not had time yet.
    – ScottS
    Mar 14, 2016 at 16:01

5 Answers 5


Why can those other questions pass, while this one cannot?

With exegesis questions, we draw a distinction between those that arise from a text and those that do not, with the latter being off-topic.

By analogy, it may make sense to do the same with questions: allow them when they are about a known, practised, hermeneutic but not when they are 'searching for a hermeneutic'.

This has two useful side-effects:

  1. It discourages questions that have an element of 'fishing' which is my only cause for concern about the question on main that prompted Scott's post here (it is unhelpful to label it 'doctrinal', because arguably every question is, and because 'doctrine' it is a religiously loaded word. The definition of 'doctrine' is itself doctrinal).

  2. By mirroring the most easily understood topicality guidelines, it is going to make it easier for everyone including newcomers to understand what is on-topic. Questions must then:

    1. Respect the text (or hermeneutic).
    2. Arise from a text (or hermeneutic).
    3. Show logical progression from the text (or hermeneutic).

(of course (3) applies also to answers but it is helpfully applied to questions, especially where the question includes research effort.)

  • I would agree w/the "fishing" aspect-even the OP agrees that was a 'weakness' in posting it. Would it, IYO, have qualified if he had stated an OT example of it's application, then asked if it could apply to the NT?
    – Tau
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:29
  • @Tau and Jack, I did "state" an OT example and ask "if it could apply to the NT," that was the entire point of my question and the long OT lead in. I agree against "fishing," but here is why I do not see the question as a true "fishing" expedition and in fact posted it. You state "allow them when they are about a known, practised, hermeneutic." The point of my extensive lead to that question is that it is a text critical view applied to the OT. Cont....
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:45
  • So then with your three points, in (1) respecting that practice, (2) arising from that practice, it seems the (3) logical progression of that practice should be some people who are holding a similar view for the NT. In other words, the logic you posed for validity is precisely the logic I used that initiated the solicitation of my question.
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:45
  • Sorry for the pedantic edit. If you did intend to say "logically", it needs to trade places with "progression" and it will work that way.
    – Dan
    Jan 20, 2016 at 5:52
  • @Dan much better, thanks :) Jan 20, 2016 at 7:09

1. Reason for VtC

OP notes the "hold" reason provided by the system. Just to be clear, I did not point to that text with my VtC, but rather invoked the "bespoke" field, filled with this text:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it concerns a specifically Christian and doctrinally-related understanding of inerrancy and inspiration, and thus belongs on Christianity.SE.

It appears as my "comment" under the original question.

On reflection, I should have stopped at the comma. No matter: the rationale remains the same, even if the further recommendation was out of order.

2. Off-topicality

And I stand by the reason, even after much reflection.

Still, I could have worded that "close-text" better. My attempt to improve that same rationale now would be this:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it revolves on matters of theological commitment rather than textual interpretation or hermeneutics.

That, anyway, is what I was attempting to convey with my original wording. My observations leading to this conclusion could be summed up (briefly!) this way:

Grisanti is not theorizing about text, per se, but about how inspiration might be related to aspects of textual development. His theorizing develops a category of "early, non-inspired textual intervention" as a "variant". That the term "variant" is also used in textual criticism does not make what Grisanti is talking about into textual criticism: it remains a theological reflection on the nature of inspiration.

"Autographa" are the domain of an Old Princetonian formulation of inerrancy, typically associated with B.B. Warfield. It is not a concept that has traction in the academic study of the Hebrew Bible (where the concept for quite a few books would be properly nonsensical), although it could make sense for some NT documents, especially the letters of Paul.

OP's questions (#1: Majority Text as "culmination of inspired development"? / #2: Any who see editorial activity as "inspired and inerrant"?) bring together these concerns, and both have theological commitment as their focal point, rather than any of the following:

  • a hermeneutical approach;
  • the historical context of biblical documents;
  • "source criticism"; or
  • textual criticism.

Rather, both questions are about:

  • the relationship of "inspiration" and putative editorial activity (i.e., a question about inspiration); and
  • scholars who believe continuing editorial activity to be compatible with a commitment to a doctrine of inerrancy (i.e., a question about inerrancy and commitment to it).

And neither of those things is "on-topic" on BH.SE.

3. Other questions

OP: Why can those other questions pass, while this one cannot?

Of the questions listed, I would happily close this one:

Of the remainder, these are clearly about recognized hermeneutical approaches (whatever loose doctrinal relationships they might also have), as opposed to doctrinal commitments that imply a hermeneutical approach:

This one, I think, inhabits something of a grey area in this discussion -- possibly, perhaps even probably, close-worthy -- but not quite so clear-cut:

Further Reading

The following works provide some background and context for my thinking this meta-question. They are provided as such (in the FWIW category), and do not constitute an "appeal to authority":

  • 1
    Thanks. With this and the other answers, I may be able to rework the question, yet still get what I hope from it (we will see). But I disagree that the question is not about "historical context of biblical documents" (i.e. Grisanti's argument is the context spans through the editing period, beyond initial penning) and "source criticism" (i.e. it is about whether editing of the text is part of the source of its final form) and "textual criticism" (i.e. it is about what variations are "transcription errors" versus development of the text).
    – ScottS
    Jan 23, 2016 at 21:42
  • I'm not sure I understand "revolves on matters of theological commitment rather than textual interpretation or hermeneutics". If you mean what I think you mean then I think you are creating a false dichotomy: textual interpretaion and hermeneutics can't be divorced from one's framework. You also appear to reason that Scott's question is not about a "about recognized hermeneutical approaches" and if that is the case then I agree it should remain closed but I am on the fence about it: I still think the waters are muddied because the question is a little broad (which could be fixed). Jan 23, 2016 at 21:50
  • @David So, when James E. Smith uses Grisanti's "thesis" in considering the scribal annotations to Gen. 14:14 it is merely a matter of 'theological speculation' and therefore "Off-Topic"? Here
    – Tau
    Jan 24, 2016 at 1:13
  • @ScottS - Grisanti's article does look at historical moments, but in order to apply a theological judgement of "inspired" or "not-inspired". That's neither "history" nor "text criticsm". :) It is, properly, theological.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 24, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    @JackDouglas It is possible to make methodological distinctions without forcing dichotomies, "false" or otherwise. The risk you run is dissolving everything into a puddle of sameness. And it isn't. (I agree with you that "textual interpretaion and hermeneutics can't be divorced from one's framework", but that does not render impossible distinguishing aspects of the work. Things that "can't be divorced" are still different things.)
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 24, 2016 at 15:57
  • 1
    @Tau Correct. (For all that Smith is publishing with Lulu, and not answering on BH.SE.) Smith (on p. 127) is using Grisanti to make a judgment about whether Genesis 14:14 can be regarded as "inspired". That is theological speculation, whether "mere" or mighty.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 24, 2016 at 15:59
  • 1
    @Davïd it's not the 'distinguishing' I'm objecting to, it's the implicit opposition between things that are not opposed. "matters of theological commitment" are a superset of "textual interpretation or hermeneutics", it is not one or the other. I am also making distinctions, not suggesting sameness. Or in other words we cannot critique a question or answer with the words "matters of theological commitment" as all questions resolve on such things, but we can and should ask whether they really arise from textual interpretation or hermeneutics. Jan 24, 2016 at 18:37
  • @David So you would disregard any "Inscripturation"(term coined by Grisanti) of which Smith describes as "inspired editorial activity"(modernizations, glosses) as being nothing more than theological speculation. At what point would you discuss "editorial activity" as relating to Textual Criticism?
    – Tau
    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:05
  • 1
    @Tau - Judgements regarding "inspiration" are by definition "theological", and not relevant to textual criticism. E.g.: your average medical doctor would resist assessing the degree of divine involvement in the diagnosis (and prognosis) of some health issue. Similarly, your average text critic would resist assessing the degree of divine involvement in the diagnosis (and prognosis) of some textual issue. These (medical science, textual science, theological science) are different modes of discourse. That's all.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:26
  • @Tau (cont'd) So this: "what point would you discuss "editorial activity" as relating to Textual Criticism" is irrelevant. Of course editorial activity can play a part in text critical discussions. What is irrelevant to the text critic is whether that activity is divinely inspired or not. Over to the theologues at that point. (Or switch "mode of discourse", of course.)
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:28
  • 1
    @JackDouglas "...we cannot critique a question or answer with the words 'matters of theological commitment' as all questions resolve on such things..." "All questions"? Really? My hunch is that it would not be difficult to turn up many questions (and answers, although Q's is what we're interested in here) on BH.SE which neither imply nor require any theological commitments at all.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:33
  • 1
    @Davïd if that is the case you are using a different definition of 'theological' to me: but that is not surprising, because every framework has it's own definition and yours won't be any exception. To me the very idea that the universe is rational and comprehensible is a theological commitment so all logical argument and reasoning depends on it. Jan 25, 2016 at 11:39
  • @Tau Btw (not that it really matters!) "inscripturation" has a long pedigree, and is not of Grisanti's coinage.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:42
  • @JackDouglas As Harry Nilsson once put it, a point in every direction is the same as no point at all. If everything is "theological" then nothing is "theological". I'd be content with a fairly basic lexical definition, the sort of thing which makes most human communication possible. ;)
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:45
  • 1
    @David Nilsson-Schmilsson...;>) This is looking like "an orange on it's way to Calcutta" discussion-though I appreciate the levity. Your reasoning is circular. Thank you, btw, for stating "inscripturation" wasn't original to Grisanti-because it proves that "serious textual scholars" DO consider whether the process of becoming 'scripture' includes inspiration-I know Wallace does. How that 'process' comes about is debateable-but the point is more than just 'theology' is involved in the discussion, which certainly makes it "On-Topic" for BHSE.(cont.)
    – Tau
    Jan 26, 2016 at 1:29

To me, the other questions you mention inquire about an exegetical method that is influenced to varying degrees by doctrine. Although they involve doctrine, the endpoint is a method of interpreting the text.

On the other hand, your question, in an (undoubtedly unfairly) simplified form:1

I observe that:

  1. Some OT scholars define the inspired text as one that has been edited.
  2. NT scholars generally go about the project of textual criticism by trying to identify the text prior to editing.

Therefore I am wondering:

  • Does anyone apply this OT paradigm (for identifying the inspired text) to the NT?

This involves various text critical and historical considerations, but the endpoint is the ascertainment of the inspired (authoritative, inerrant) text. The existence of such a text is a matter of doctrinal commitment, and the project of identifying it is irrelevant outside of such a commitment. This is why I continue to see it as off-topic.

1. Please do correct me if I've misunderstood the basic point. The many nuances that you bring to it do much to bolster its coherence and its appeal, but to me this seemed adequate for considering the issue of topicality.

Note: I have purposely avoided the terms "hermeneutic(al)" and "autograph(a)" here because it seems to me that they can be used in ambiguous ways that straddle a line that is decisive for the issue at hand.

  • "The existence of such a text is a matter of doctrinal commitment, and the project of identifying it is irrelevant outside of such a commitment. This is why I continue to see it as off-topic." Can you flesh out why the second sentance follows from the first: what is it about 'matter's of doctrinal commitment' that could make a question off-topic? I have in mind the help page which says "…explore what a Biblical text means (exegesis) using techniques or rules of interpretation (hermeneutics). We welcome Jewish,Christian,Atheist and other…" Jan 19, 2016 at 15:31
  • Let me recast twice part of your final statement as to why your objection does not seem valid to me. For source theory, "the endpoint is the ascertainment of the [Q] text. The existence of such a text is a matter of doctrinal commitment, and the project of identifying it is irrelevant outside of such a commitment." For sensus plenoir, "the endpoint is the ascertainment of the [various senses in one] text. The existence of such [variety of senses] is a matter of doctrinal commitment, and the project of identifying it is irrelevant outside of such a commitment."
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:36
  • Just to be clear about my last comment, I believe discussions related to the Q text theory and sensus plenoir (or a four-fold sense, etc.) hermeneutic should be allowed on BH.SE, even though they come from doctrinal perspectives different from my own.
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:20
  • @JackDouglas Not sure I follow the connection with the help pages excerpt. This question both starts and ends with a doctrine. Caleb fleshed out early on the notion that such questions are better suited to C.SE.
    – Susan
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:00
  • @ScottS Agreed that SP is slippery, but it's at least posited as a method of interpreting the text. Q ....? I think you're making a point there, but in general, I see the existence of Q as a scholarly hypothesis, not a doctrine.
    – Susan
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:05
  • @Susan I have no idea what Caleb meant by 'doctrine', but I think it's fairly likely he meant something different than you do: I've had dozens of conversations in chat on this site and never found two people who define it the same way. What do you mean by doctrine? Also, I still see no reason why we should care in the least what is on topic on any other site on the network. It's a network of communities, not topics and topic overlap is the norm. Jan 19, 2016 at 18:06
  • @Susan (1) My question does not start with/end with a doctrine, it starts with one view on what the "text" should be we are to be interpreting for the OT, and ends with whether a similar view exists of the "text" for the NT. Doctrine is the presuppositional background for the group's view in question. Cont...
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:20
  • As to this, (2) I demonstrated the method is "at least posited" for OT, and (3) "the existence of Q" doctrinally presupposes inspiration from God is not the connection for textual similarity.
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:21
  • @ScottS (1) But who cares which text we should be interpreting unless we want to identify an inspired text? Text criticism sans inspiration doesn't need to choose. (Obviously they "choose", but that can change according to what their purposes are. Your question, as I read it, is about settling this for the sake of a doctrine (a necessary endeavor on behalf of a doctrine that I fully subscribe to and would like to talk about -- just not here).) (2)(3) I'm going to drop.
    – Susan
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:54
  • @JackDouglas Sorry, that was unclear. Here by doctrine I refer specifically to the notion of inspiration, which -- is that not what this question is about?
    – Susan
    Jan 19, 2016 at 19:09
  • 1
    @Susan in which case I would say that the notion of inspiration is one of those doctrinal subjects which is on-topic in the sense that the idea of inspiration is an issue under the heading of 'hermeneutics'. We even have a tag for 'inspiration', used (for example) on this question from Caleb. Jan 19, 2016 at 19:22
  • Regarding "who cares which text we should be interpreting": that is the point of text criticism, to determine the "original" text and how it has changed since, for whatever reasons it changed. So for those sans inspiration, finding the "authoritative" textform that is the "original" parent to the variants is paramount (a view that includes inspiration or not). My question relates to those viewing that "original" parent not as the 1st text produced, but rather the edited/refined text it has become (whether because of inspiration or not; I am more interested in those holding to inspiration).
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 19:29
  • 2
    @Susan I don't think we can make inspiration off-topic entirely, that would be fraught with problems. The problems with inspiration on this site would be fights over what is inspired, and debates over the meaning and process of inspiration. This question is neither. It is tightly scoped, and asks simply (if question 2 was dropped) if anyone who argues the majority text is the inspired text uses this kind of argument.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:48

The reason for my close vote is that I view this question as moving beyond the scope of hermeneutics and source/text criticism. This question is not asking about a framework a scholar uses for interpreting the text, but instead asks if any scholars holding a particular hermeneutic framework also adhere to a specific theology.

How this question does not meet help center guidelines

Your question (in my view) does not meet the help center criteria in the following ways:

  • Source/textual criticism

    For the purposes of my answer, I think source criticism is a subset of textual criticism. At the least these can be adddressed together for the purposes of this question.You are asking if there are any scholars who view canon in a certain manner. Source and textual crititicism tells us how a text was formed and edited and tells us about some of the features of that text, but does not tell us what should be regarded as inspired text. Theology does that. Canon on the other hand is a theological decision as to what is and is not regarded as inspired text. Your question asks about a specific understanding of Canon, but Canon is theology, not hermeneutics. Source/text cirticism never state what should or should not be regarded as Canon.

  • Historical context

    The help center states that question about historic context are on topic, but only historical context with regards to a particular text:

    If your question is about...

    • interpretation of a specific Bible passage
    • hermeneutical approaches
    • translation of Biblical texts
    • historical context (with regards to a particular text) <<<<<
    • source criticism

    ... then this is the right place to ask.

  • Hermeneutical approaches

    What you are essentially asking is if any scholars who hold a particular hermeneutic framework also have a theological belief. This is different than asking about the approach or framework itself.

Breaking down some excepts of the question

In your question, you ask,

...are there any branches of text-critical theories where the adherents hold to inspiration/inerrancy as part of their hermeneutcal core

In a sense, the close vote answers this question because what we (I) am essentially saying is "No - because text-ctirital theories never consider inspiration or inerrancy as a part of their hermeneutical core." I simply fail to see any context in which inspiration/inerrancy would be an integral part hermeneutics and source/textual criticism. This is, by nature always secondary, theological and could not be integrated and still be considered "hermeneutics". It would, by nature, be something else.

You go on to ask:

Question AnsComment
have any scholars argued the NT texts developed over some periodYesHermeneutics
and yet still considered the adds/changes inspired and inerrant N/ATheology < !!

Hopefully, you can see from this breakdown how the first part of your question was on topic, but the last part moved into the realm of theology and was off topic. Similarly, you ask,

I.E. that the MT is in fact the culmination of inspired development of the text

With the removal of the bolded word, this would be on-topic, but has moved beyond the scope when asking about inspiration.

How your question is different from example questions

Grammatical Historical Approach

An excerpt from an answer to this question:

The grammatical-historical principle works within these points to understand the text. In other words, the language, culture, environment, practices, etc. of the authors and original readers are foundational to a correct understanding and application of the text and its principles.

This question is asking for an explanation of this approach which utilizes language, culture, environment or practices to determine how a specific text should be interpreted. Your question does not ask for an explanation of a framework, but is asking if a framework exists. That framework you are asking about is also not a hermeneutic framework, but a theological one.

  • What are the differences between allegorical and typological interpretation
  • During the Patristic Period in the Middle Ages practiced an exegetical tactic known as the fourfold sense of Scripture.
  • "Spiritual" sense of scripture
  • How does “Sensus Plenior” differ from Allegory, Gnosticism, Kaballah, and Midrash?

All of the above referenced questions ask about hermeneutic approaches for determining the genre of a text. In contrast, your question does not do this. It instead asks about scholars who hold a specific understanding of textual and source criticism who also hold a particular theological view.

How does John 5:28-29 fit with the dispensational hermeneutic

As as matter of fact, I fail to see how your question is substantially different from this question too - so I have nominated it for closure. The reason I gave for doing so was this:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question begins about asking the dispensational hermeneutic, but then asks about dispensationalism itself. The two are distinct. Dispensationalism is a theological concept, while dispensational hermeneutic is a method of interpreting the text. Discussion of why dispensationalism is inconsistent with this theology's chosen hermeneutic is outside the scope of this site and should be asked on Christianity.SE

Two others also noted this was off topic and these comments received 2 up-votes each. This means that with my vote included at least 4 people, and possibly more now feel this question was off-topic as well.


While asking about a hermeneutic approach is on topic, asking if those using a hermeneutic approach also hold a particular theology is not on topic. There is probably a correlation between the two since those holding a particular theology will probably find it hard to continue to hold that theology if they apply certain hermeneutical approaches, but at its' core, this question is asking how inerrantists interpret scripture. That is theology, and therefore not a good fit for this site, but a perfect fit for the Christianity stack exchange. The question does some gymnastics to try to go the other direction, but at the end of the day, the question must flow one direction Inerrantist theology -> Hermeneutic Framework and you cannot integrate the theology into the framework or approach. In contrast, good hermeneutics should go the other direction or become eisegesis - the hermeneutic framework should lead to a theological conclusion. Inerrancy is a theological concept, so it can only use a hermeneutic approach - it can never be part of the approach.

In summary, Hermeneutics generates theology. It cannot be theology. Thus when we encounter a theological concept in a question, that question is asking about theology and not Hermeneutics and should therefore be off topic.

  • I believe your answer most carefully explains the objection in posing this question-therefore +1. However, I have to disagree with your conclusion in that "Bring Your Own Framework"(a term used until the Help Menu was revised-I don't know when) implies the 'theological' framework an individual holds as they view the text. Some have argued for a "Neutral" framework, and I perceive this is the direction you're heading. However, after long and lengthy debates on this topic, it is patently dishonest to 'presume' neutrality, when the text itself doesn't do it.
    – Tau
    Jan 19, 2016 at 22:28
  • @Tau - I am not presuming neutrality - just that a discussion of that bias towards specific hermeneutic methods as it arises out of theology is off topic. In fact, I think I implied the opposite in my conclusion - "There is probably a correlation in that those holding a particular theology will probably find it hard to continue to hold that theology if they apply certain [hermeneutic] approaches..." - my personal bias is that the texts are not inerrant, only infallible. This informs my choice of hermeneutic, but discussion of the merits of that theology in Qs are outside the scope of this SE. Jan 19, 2016 at 22:36
  • 1
    (cont.)It is dishonest for all persuasions(Jewish, Christian, Agnostic/Atheist) to "assume" a textual neutral position that neither they, nor arguably the authors of the text assumed. It's like examining the laws of gravity in a pure vacuum, find a place on earth where that exists. What we have "agreed" and expressed in our agreement is that the "framework" specifically(in this case inerrancy) is Off-Topic, but it's application to the text is entirely On-Topic, and the merits of the framework can be approached within that context. That's what I perceived the OP was trying to do.
    – Tau
    Jan 19, 2016 at 22:41
  • @Tau - "it's application to the text is entirely On-Topic" - I disagree. Inerrancy's application to the text (how does inerrancy even effect your hermeneutic anyway?) is no more on topic than the application of Existentialism or Calvinism or Arminianism/Open Theism or Systematic Theology are. Calvinism is a great example in that it can certainly color how we understand a text, yet it is wholly off-topic. And as I argue, it is actually/should be the other way around - the hermeneutic is what impacts the theology. Jan 19, 2016 at 22:58
  • What you cited was the OP's point; those that take the "MT" view apply Textual-Critical rules in evaluating "the text". Consequently, those that review their works are mindful that such a process is in play. This goes beyond a 'theological discussion', it is basic to how we interpret the text, and what rules of interpretation we follow.
    – Tau
    Jan 19, 2016 at 23:07
  • I'm not disputing that ones' theology extremely important and indicative of their hermetic method. I'm only arguing that it's probably best for the effect to be one direction and that discussion of this is outside of the scope of this site. It may be beyond a theological discussion, but it is also well beyond a discussion of textual criticism and thus off-topic. Jan 19, 2016 at 23:14
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    Your walk through is useful (many of the answers here I've upvoted as useful to this discussion), particularly in how you read both the parameters and my question. Some counter points: (1) Canonicity does have a certain place within this site and roughly defines what texts are topically valid, which is the same use of canonicity by the group in the question for defining its view of the autographa. Cont....
    – ScottS
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:00
  • (2) Historical context (with regards to a particular text) I already addressed, as the particular text is the NT text versus the OT text ("particular text" is vague enough to flex with context of a question, here it is testament distinction). (3) Hermeneutical approaches I am asking "about the approach or framework itself," i.e. of those that approach the OT textual formation as I noted, do any follow through in approaching the NT textual formation that way as well? Cont....
    – ScottS
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:01
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    (4) In your answer and a comment you note your struggle to see "inerrancy" as in any way able to affect a hermeneutic. Yet (a) Grisanti's view of textual formation I noted was to specifically to maintain that (yes, theological) position, and (b) if one deems the text inerrant, then what it states will not be considered inaccurate, which affects the hermeneutic because an authorial error is not possible as an answer to interpreting the text. I'll leave it at that, though I could address some other points. Thanks for the input, if nothing else, it may help me to clarify my question.
    – ScottS
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:03

Disclaimer: Since this is a 'Meta' and not a "BHSE" answer, my remarks must be construed to support the 'why' of this question and not the overall topic of Inerrancy, of which I have my particular views.

The Subject of Inerrancy and Why(for some) it is not an Appropriate Topic on BHSE

The OP incorrectly 'suggests"(through his red highlight addition) that Textual Criticism was the source of the numerous VtC's he received on his probing question. We have in the past and will in the future receive and discuss serious Textual Criticism questions.

Since the term "Autographa"(Divine Autograph) was used, it is my opinion that those who are not persuaded or have a differing opinion on the Topic of Inerrancy reacted to what they perceived as a "theological question"(direct discussion of theology is deemed "Off Topic") and since no particular text was referred to in the question, it seemed 'merely a matter of faith' and not the praxis by which the text is treated.

Therein lies the "subjectivity" that the OP is referring to: by denying a question that may include but was never 'centered' on the "Topic of Inerrancy", we "denied" an opportunity to Critically Examine the Text, a goal of which our purpose has been emphatically stated.

So now we have the dilemma of the "Double Standard". 'You' can talk about the text anyway you like, but the minute you mention "Autographa" it suddenly becomes "Off-Topic".

This of course is unacceptable; we have already established that any discussion of the text includes certain presuppositions concerning it: whether it be Jewish, Christian, Agnostic, even Atheistic as long as it's about the text and those "methodologies"(hermeneutics) which aid in deciphering the text.


It is my view that this question and those like it must be included in our repertoire, not because they favor a certain view but it's simply being honest with our Site Directives. We have not changed the meaning or intent of them, we are simply acknowledging an area of investigation of the text that has been occurring for millenia. I would push even further and say, "How does Biblical Inerrancy affect the substance and treatment of Newly Discovered Manuscripts" and I would not have transgressed any site 'laws'.

Numerous avenues of previously 'unapproachable' topics have opened during the history of BHSE, I propose that this is merely one of those avenues which 'pique' the interest of certain folks and make BHSE more available.

  • You misrepresent me by saying "The OP incorrectly states that Textual Criticism was the source of the numerous VtC's he received on his probing question." I do not state Textual Criticism was the source of the VtC's. I in fact acknowledge that TC is on topic and that others have acknowledged that as well and used that as one of 4 points in support of it being on topic. Rather, I believe I clearly state that it is the doctrinal points of inerrancy/inspiration that the group I am asking about is the primary issue people are having.
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:48
  • Additionally, I do not think the term "autographa" itself is an issue, since that is a text critical term used to indicate the "original" text (whatever one may conceive that to be). But the question I proposed does explore what "original" text means, as one that was originally written by the author or one that was originally produced through a process of being edited.
    – ScottS
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:51
  • @ScottS I "interpreted" your remark in red as meaning that "since Textual Criticism is not specifically mentioned, therefore it is outside the purview of BHSE, and is deemed "Off Topic". The 'inference' is that someone 'mistakenly' thought Text Criticism was "Off Topic" and VtC'd thinking it was so. I wanted to clear up any misconceptions about Text Criticism before proceeding to my Main Point-which is the "Inerrancy" issue-upon which we both agree. The "Autographa" shouldn't be a point of contention, either, but by definition includes inspiration, and that in the minds of some make Off Topic.
    – Tau
    Jan 19, 2016 at 22:01
  • @ScottS I've edited my response to use 'suggestion' rather than statement-that's how I perceived your presentation.
    – Tau
    Jan 20, 2016 at 5:02
  • @ScottS I agree-and my presentation was that "Textual Criticism" has always been on topic, in case someone was misinformed. The "true" reason was "Inerrancy" which we all agree is the point of contention.
    – Tau
    Jan 20, 2016 at 16:19

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