Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Speaking of inerrancy, some make the assumption that what God intended was to teach us of salvation, and all the other details were chosen by the human authors and may be erroneous.

Jesus tells his disciples that the Father will send the Holy Ghost to:

  1. Teach them all things.
  2. Remind them of whatsoever he taught them

Furthermore, the scriptures warn us of prophets who teach lies:

Isa 9:15 The ancient and honourable, he [is] the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he [is] the tail.

A lie is a lie whether one knows that they are lying or not. Such is the potential harm of repeating gossip. So if the apostles taught things which are not true, knowingly or not, then they are false prophets. If the apostles were not sure that what they taught was true, they would have have preferred not to teach it.

The assumption then, also presupposes that the apostles were incompetent to determine truth from error, and places their whole testimony in jeopardy.

What indication is there that all and whatsoever should be interpreted as hyperbole such that we may assume that the apostles don't know what they are talking about?

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    I don't think there is any evidence that the gospel writers would always have left out details whenever there was any doubt. Compare, for example, the differences among the gospels in 1) the words exchanged between Jesus and John at Jesus' baptism, 2) the names of the twelve apostles, 3) the words exchanged between Jesus and Pilate at Jesus' trial, 4) the identities of the people who questioned Peter before the cock crowed, 5) the women who accompanied Mary to the tomb. There is considerable disagreement on the details, yet they all agree on the big picture, which is what really counts. Oct 31 '11 at 5:44
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    I understand that is your presupposition. The question asks what the justification for it is so that we can understand the scripture above in context. One way to 'resolve' apparent contradiction is to make the assumptions you do, another way is to presume that they are not contradictions and accept plausible answers. A third way is to assume they are intentional riddles. If there is no indication that we should accept it as hyperbole, you can just write it off as another error because of your presupposition, or by defining terms. For you truth = salvific truth.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 31 '11 at 12:58
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    This question seems overly confrontational and rhetorical. If this were your first question, I'd probably overlook it and try to answer earnestly. But I find myself having the same reaction to each of your questions. How can we convince you to write better, more approachable questions?
    – Jon Ericson
    Oct 31 '11 at 21:20
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    @Bob: As I say, feel free to re-edit. (You may even rollback to your original question.) I may be wrong, but I don't think we care about traffic enough (in the short term) to ask confrontational questions that will set the wrong tone for the community (in the long run). The site will be best served by the tortoise's strategy. We are not going to be in for a pleasant time together if you insist on asking overly-confrontational questions. I hope you'll reconsider.
    – Jon Ericson
    Nov 2 '11 at 16:06
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    @Bob: It isn't my site. It's our site. You are part of our at this point. (And I hope for a good long time to come.)
    – Jon Ericson
    Nov 5 '11 at 16:13

I'm going to attempt an answer at this even though I'm not entirely clear on the question or the assumptions beneath it.

I don't think that Jesus is directly addressing general hermeneutic principles, nor anything specific to the gospels, for three reasons:

  1. The identities of the authors
  2. The nature of the gospels
  3. The purposes of the authors

The identities of the authors

In this passage, Jesus was directly addressing the disciples - those who would eventually be known as the apostles. Yet, according to generally accepted authorship, only two of the four gospels were written by disciples. Likewise, half of the New Testament was written by someone who wasn't even present at this time and who would ultimately be a deadly opponent to the church during its early years prior to his amazing conversion. As near as we can tell, disciples only wrote 8 of the 27 books in the New Testament, and, except for Matthew, John and Revelation, they tend to be fairly short, focused doctrinal works. (And the authorship of some of those 8 is disputed.)

The nature of the gospels

Jesus does not seem to be instructing the disciples that they were to exhaustively document His words and ministry. Otherwise, they would have written significantly more than they did about His ministry. In fact, even John himself noted that he did not exhaustively document Jesus' ministry. If he had thought this was Jesus' command, wouldn't he have chosen to do so?

The purposes of the authors

Each of the gospel authors had a particular focus or goal in their writing. So yes, to some extent they picked and chose specific events. However, that does not mean that their witness is unreliable. John's purpose was to point out Jesus as the Messiah, so he didn't bother to include events such as the Sermon on the Mount because it didn't really match his purpose to do so. On the flip side, he included some events that the other gospels didn't, so presumably they left them out for the same reason.

  • Good job. Then what is the basis for inerrancy if not this passage or ones like it. It seems like circular reasoning to say that we believe it is inerrant because it is scripture, but we decided it was scripture. So it is inerrant because we said so.
    – Bob Jones
    Nov 7 '11 at 2:05
  • I don't think THIS passage necessarily has anything to do with inerrancy, because Jesus wasn't focusing on their writings. Most people I've seen tackle that do so from 2 Timothy 3:16 or 2 Peter 1:21. (In fact, see all of 2 Peter 1:16-21.) Nov 7 '11 at 3:58

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