Inerrancy and grammar

Awhile ago I had a discussion over dinner with a friend about inerrancy. One of his objections to it was the bible’s incorrect use of grammar.

Here’s what Edward Young would (did) say:

The question, however, may be asked, Are there not barbarisms or grammatical errors in the Bible? In the last book of the Bible, the Prophecy of Revelation, does not a word which is usually constructed as feminine appear as a masculine? And what about the Hebrew language? Are there not many errors of grammar in the Hebrew of the Old Testament? How can we maintain that the Scriptures are inerrant, when there are grammatical errors, errors which without any doubt were to be found in the original? If the Bible were infallible, it might be claimed, these grammatical errors would not appear in it.

In answer to this several remarks need to be made. First of all, what do you mean by an error of grammar? An error of grammar, it would seem, is, after all, nothing more than a departure from customary usage. Sometimes, that which is regarded as an error of grammar at last comes to be an accepted manner of speech. When it has thus been accepted it can no longer be considered a mistake. If someone asks me, “Did you seem him?” and I reply, “Yes, I saw him,” I have simply employed the customary form of the verb. If, on the other hand, I reply, “Yes, I seen him,” I may be charged with ignorance. When someone thus employs the past participle without an auxiliary, we consider him to be unlearned. Our judgment will probably be correct … When therefore we find in the Bible departures from the so-called standards of speech – and we do find them – we need not be surprised. God gave His Word to men that they thereby might come to know and to serve Him. He employed the language which men themselves used … Inerrancy does not involve a mechanical and stilted formality of style.

That’s from Edward Young’s Thy Word is Truth. The book means a lot to me. An old professor emeritus at Tyndale, Doctor Bob Duez, Reformed Baptist extraordinaire, gave it to me right before me passed away.