The late Fr. William Most was a well known theologian and scripture scholar who never fell in with any fads and was a counter-ballance to so many more well know theologians and scripture scholars of the era. His book “Free from All Error: Authorship Inerrancy Historicity of Scripture” is an example of this. We so often hear about so-called errors in scripture and especially lists of these “errors” from atheists who are often literal fundamentalists when it comes to scripture. This calling out of errors though is not confined to atheists and such charges have been made from those in the Church including her clergy. Even worse, often no attempt is made to reconcile these passages and when done within the Church is often a denial of what Vatican II’s Dei Verbum says. Fr. Most notes:
Precisely at the time when new techniques enable us to do what seemed impossible before, so many scholars are not only not solving the problems but even saying that problems are insoluble whose answers have been known for a long time!
This book goes through the topics of inspiration and authorship, the cannon, senses of scripture, and the genre of scripture. He takes us through some cases of supposed errors and show how they can be reconciled using these tools and understandings. He also addresses modern techniques such as historical-critical method, source criticism, form and redaction criticism, etc. Fr. Most is totally inline with what Pope Benedict has written about these tools in that they can and should be used within their limits and under the guiding light of the magisterium.
In regard to the methods themselves, some think that only highly trained specialists can understand them. These people are too easily awed. Anyone can grasp at least the basics of these methods, and more too. These methods are not mysterious or formidable. They are our friends.
These methods when used without the analogy of faith quickly become deformed into a type of skepticism that produced the Jesus Seminar where miracles are ridiculous and the hard sayings were added later. Fr. Most gives examples when these tools have been used incorrectly and especially in the case of scripture scholar Fr. Raymond Brown.
This book provides a good introduction to scripture study and how to be able to read difficult passages using the methods as old as the Fathers of the Church or of the modern era and would be a good companion with Mark Shea’s Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did.
All of Father Most’s writings are available for free online at The Most Theological Collection at Catholic Culture. This includes both his books and his articles.
For those with an eBook reader I took the text online and created an eBook version of “Free from all Error.”