J. R. Dummelow discusses how prophets are products of their own times and scripture is a synergy of the human and the divine.

J. R. Dummelow

A Commentary on the Holy Bible, ed. J. R. Dummelow (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1908), cxxxiv-cxxxv

MacMillan Publishing Company
J. R. Dummelow
Reading Public


There are two answers. First, that in the Bible the divine and human are blended (see art. ‘Inspiration’). We must not regard the Bile as an absolutely perfect book in which God is Himself the author using human hands and brains only as a man might use a typewriter. God used men, not machines—men with like weakness and prejudice and passion as ourselves, though purified and ennobled by the influence of His Holy Spirit; men each with his own peculiarities of manner or want of education—each with his own way of looking at things—each influence differently from another by the different experiences and discipline of his life. Their inspiration did not involve a suspension of their natural faculties; it did not destroy their personality, nor abolish the differences of training and character; it did not even make them perfectly free from earthly passion; it did not make them into machines—it left them men.

Therefore we find their knowledge sometimes no higher than that of their contemporaries, and their indignation against oppression and wrong-doing sometimes breaking out into desire of revenge. This would not surprise us in the least in other good men who were, we knew, striving after God and righteousness. It surprises us in the Bible, because of our false preconceptions; because it is in the Bible we do not expect the actors to be real and natural; because of our false theory of Verbal Inspiration we are puzzled when the divine is mingled with the human. We must learn that the divine is mingled with the human.

We cannot draw a line between the divine and the human. We cannot say of any part, ‘This is divine,’ or ‘That is human.’ In some parts, as the Gospels, there is more of the divine; in others, as the Chronicles, more of the human. It is as a mine of precious ore where the gold is mingled with the rock and clay—the ore is richer in one part than another, but all parts in some degree are glittering with gold. It is as sunlight through a painted window—the light must come to us coloured by the medium—we cannot get it any other way. In some parts the medium is denser and more imperfect, in others the golden glory comes dazzlingly through. It is foolish to ignore the existence of the human medium through which the light has come; it is still more foolish to ignore the divine light, and think that the tinted dome is luminous itself, that the light of heaven has only come from earth. Both must be kept in mind—the divine and the human—if the Bible is to be rightly understood.

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.