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What is the "verbal plenary" view of the inspiration of Scripture and to what texts is it considered to apply? What hermeneutical approaches hold this view and how does it affect the way they prioritize different manuscripts in their pursuit of the meaning of a given passage?

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Verbal Plenary Inspiration means that the very words of the original manuscripts were directly inspired by God, although he did not change the author's intelligence or understanding while doing so. Meaning, that God choose, inspired and sovereignly guided the biblical authors who were equipped by Him to write the very words of scripture. This is the foundation of the evangelical view of the inerrancy of scripture.

This should only apply to the canonical books within the tradition in which the doctrine is accepted. As a Protestant I believe this applies only to the canonical books of the Protestant Bible.

This is a view mainly held by Protestants, so I would offer this as a general statement: if you hear someone espouse this view then they are probably referring to the Protestant Bible. If I am incorrect I would gladly take correction, but I do not think my Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brothers would agree with this doctrine or apply it to their canon.

From Wikipedia as an outside source:

Evangelicals see the Bible as a truly human product whose creation was superintended by the Holy Spirit, preserving the authors' works from error without eliminating their specific concerns, situation, or style. This divine involvement, they say, allowed the biblical writer to reveal God's own message to the immediate recipients of the writings and to those who would come later, communicating God's message without corrupting it. Some Evangelicals have sought to characterize the conservative or traditional view as verbal, plenary inspiration in the original manuscripts, by which they mean that every word (not just the overarching ideas or concepts) is meaningfully chosen under the superintendence of God. Evangelicals acknowledge that there is textual variation between accounts of apparently identical events and speeches, which would seem to have God saying different things. Some of these differences are accounted for as deviations from the autographa that were introduced by copyists, while other cases are considered intentional deviations that were inspired by God for particular purposes (for instance, the Gospel of Matthew was intended to communicate the Gospel to Jews, while the Gospel of Luke was intended to communicate it to non-Jews). Many Evangelicals consider biblical inerrancy and/or biblical infallibility to be the necessary consequence of the Bible's doctrine of inspiration (see, for example, the Westminster Confession of Faith or the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy), though not all do.

Note: Although I think there is some evident bias against this doctrine in the Wikipedia entry it does represent a valid, secular look at the idea.

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re: "This is a view mainly held by Protestants," or more precisely, by Evangelical Protestants –  Bruce Alderman Oct 27 '11 at 5:09
Sensus plenior is found in the canonical books of the Protestant Bible and not in the apocryphal books. Being a meaning which is verifiable and reproducible, and unknown to the human authors, the sensus plenior is hard evidence of verbal plenary inspiration. –  Bob Jones Nov 14 '11 at 4:55

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