Everyone has probably heard the quote “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” — 2 Timothy 3:15.
You may or may not know that the word “scripture” in that citation is γραμματα which means “a letter, note, epistle, book, etc.; plural learning — bill, learning, letter, scripture, writing, written” — basically religions writings from religious romance novels to essays to the five books of Moses and popular music and poetry.
Apocrypha? Scripture (even the fish story). Romance novels, even? Already addressed. Words of prophets?
a “prophet of God — not in the cheap and triumphant manner of [an LDS] Church video, but in a hard-won, Old Testament way, where a frustrated God chooses one who is willing to serve despite personality flaws and limited understanding.”
Which is where Brigham Young and Joseph Smith come in, talking about the limits of language, of how our understanding of what God says to us is limited by our experience, context and vocabulary. Where they gave sermons about how the LDS (Mormon) Church did not possess all the truth and that we needed to go to and study other churches to bring back the truth they had in them for our own use.
In addition, most “old” scripture is constrained by being oral tradition and addresses for an oral, not a written society. Even most new scripture is the same. Consider how much of the inspirational writing we have (which is a better translation from Timothy) consists of talks reduced to print for us.
So, what is scripture? Too often we think of it a a proof-text from God (and when you look at the Bible, especially the New Testament, we don’t have anything on proof-texting as it was done in the “good ol’ days”). Too often we lean too heavily on the “inspired” and not enough on the “inspirational” — too much on “text” and too little on “textual.”
So that, I suspect, we over-sell ourselves on the scope and value of scripture, while underselling ourselves on the sue of it as well.
Or so I think. What do you think scripture is, and what qualifies as scripture to you?