One of the troubles which arise in discussion of biblical inerrancy lies with the scope of the claim. For instance, I have read critics rise to the microphone and present what they believe to be a crushing question: Which translation do you believe is inspired — there are so many translations who knows which one is right?
The answer is easy, None. They are all pretty good; but no sane Christian has ever claimed that a translation is “inspired” or even perfect. They are at best pretty good.
Inerrancy also does not entail a claim that everyone who speaks in the Bible is telling the truth. The first time anyone (beside God) speaks it is the Serpent — and the Serpent is busy lying.
- The claim for inerrancy is only for the autographa: the original documents. Inerrancy is not the claim that the copies are inerrant. I have copied out portions of the Scripture and have made all sorts of mistakes in my copying.
- The lack of errors has to do with facts, not grammar. There are odd constructions and even spelling errors (although to be fair, the concept of a spelling error is difficult to support since that assumes a degree of standardization which became much greater after the widespread use of the printing press. But comprehensible spelling variants are quite common before the press.)
- Inerrancy does not mean uniformity of interpretation. Two Christians may disagree with one another without calling inerrancy into question. However, inerrancy does relate to inerrancy as to point two: inerrancy of facts. Interpretation tells us what facts are actually being asserted in the Scripture. Joshua does not claim that the sun revolves around the earth when he writes of the sun “standing still” — even though the text was read in that manner at various times in the past.
Adapted from “What Does it Mean to Say that the Bible is True?” Douglas K. Blount in In Defense of the Bible B & H 2013, p. 55.