In 6th Century BCE lived a Greek philosopher Epimenides. Quite a fellow. Fell asleep for 57 years and woke up with the gift of prophecy. Wrote a poem Cretia. Ever read it? You may have read a portion and never knew it:
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one—
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.
Paul, in his speech to Athens, quotes the last line (originally referring to Zeus, but Paul attributes it to the “Unknown God”) stating, “…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” Acts 17:28. The author of Titus quotes the second line with approval in Titus 1:12: “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’”
If I declared Epimenides as Divinely inspired writing, after the initial reaction of “Who?” I would be laughed out of most churches. Yet when Luke quotes Paul using Epimenides’ statements, the very same words become forever encased in the Holy Bible. When Titus’ author quotes him directly, Epimenides words become immortal.
In the Second Century, BCE, the apocryphal work, ”Book of Enoch” was written with subsequent revisions over the next 200 years. In the second chapter, Enoch states:
Behold, he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him.
Jude 14-15 recognizes this portion and writes, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’” I find it amusing every Bible I own has quotation marks within these verses, yet not a single one provides a footnote to inform me where it comes from. Even my Bibles which contain extensive footnotes in other quoted portions, as to where to find the corresponding passage in the Tanakh.
How odd Epimenides and Book of Enoch are solely human works, yet when another author in another time uses their words (even quoting them) these words become “God-breathed.” Did they sit dormant for centuries, waiting for the opportune moment to come alive? Or is it that inspiration comes, not from the words themselves, but the status of the author?
What status must one obtain in order to have one’s words God-Breathed? We know Paul wrote works unpreserved. (1 Cor. 5:9) We know Paul used a secretary. Rom. 16:22. (One of the common apologetics for the difference between 1 Peter and 2 Peter is the use of a Secretary.) What is the status of Hebrew’s author? That person is unknown!
It can’t be just the words. It can’t be just the status of the person putting pen to paper. It cannot be the status of the original author. Could it be the concept of “Inspiration” is a term arbitrarily utilized to grant favored standing to certain writings, but remains elusively undefined?
Naw--only a skeptic would presume that!