Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Theological Studies PhD

First Advisor

Raoul F. Dederen

Second Advisor

Fernando L. Canale

Third Advisor

Richard M. Davidson


Evangelical scholars have forcefully articulated their views on the Holy Spirit's supernatural work in producing an inspired and authoritative Bible. Yet, comparatively little attention has been given to the Spirit's role in biblical interpretation. Two vital questions are prompted by this apparent indifference to the Spirit's work in interpretation: (1) Should the Evangelical doctrine of Scripture be rested on the deistic concept that the Holy Spirit, having inspired the Bible, departed and left the church alone to wrestle with the problems of interpretation? (2) If one admits that the Holy Spirit plays a part in the interpretative process, what is the exact nature of His role, and who qualifies as a Spirit-guided interpreter?

The purpose of this dissertation was to set forth, analyze, and evaluate the view of Evangelical theologian James I. Packer on the Holy Spirit's role in biblical interpretation.

Following the introduction, chapters 1 and 2 offer an overview of the wider and immediate Evangelical contexts for Packer's doctrine of Word and Spirit. These chapters investigate how the doctrine was articulated during the period spanning the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, and also how Packer came to develop his own view.

Chapters 3 and 4 set forth Packer's view of the Spirit's role in the interpretative process. Whereas chapter 3 describes and analyzes the divine dimension of biblical interpretation, exploring the necessity of illumination, its nature, and its essential characteristics and parameters, chapter 4 examines the actual task of interpretation (exegesis, synthesis, and application), investigating how the human interpreter cooperates with the divine Spirit in the hermeneutical enterprise. Chapter 4 also probes the relationship between the Spirit's ongoing guidance in applicatory interpretationtoday and His leading of believers throughout the postapostolic ages.

Chapter 5 summarizes the results of the study and assesses Packer's doctrine of Word and Spirit against his wider and immediate Evangelical contexts, and in terms of its logical consistency and coherence with some relevant biblical data. Finally, some tensions in Packer's views are raised as fruitful areas for further investigation.

Subject Area

Holy Spirit, Packer, J. I. (James Innell), Bible -- Hermeneutics

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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