"Black letter Scripture"

A commenter, Milton Stanley, noted that he hadn’t come across the term before. So, a brief explanation.

Black letter Scripture is a term I’ve used for some years to describe those elements of Scripture that are, or should be, self-evident. Perhaps self-revealing is a better term, given the source of Scripture. Sort of God’s little self-extracting bit of knowledge, like a self-extracting zip file.

This is parallel to what is called “black letter law,” which means law that is codified (hence, “black letter”) and whose prima facie meaning is generally accepted. Not universally; there will be among us always legal beagles who can argue night is day and black is, if not white, at the least some hazy shade of gray.

Getting back to Scripture, not all that is codified in Scripture is accepted as being part of God’s book of laws, of course. Enter into discussion with many Anglican churchmen if you doubt this. Or even some of my Baptist colleagues. But I would argue that goodly parts of Scripture are self-evident, and should be generally accepted.

Among these parts I include things such as the Gospel message of salvation through Jesus the Son of God, the Decalogue, and prohibitions against all manner of beastly behavior. Which, in Scripture, most assuredly includes incest, homosexual behavior, and bestiality. And, among Protestants, it should not be necessary to even provide citations for such things (but, for those who need them, try Matthew 1; Exodus 20; Leviticus 18 for these particulars).

“Black letter” Scripture, all. In that they are written down, in black letters, in plain language, and whose first meaning is quite sufficient. To quote a Fox News host from this morning’s show about one of those sins, he kind of shouted something like, “you mean you need a law for what’s written in the Bible!?!” Meaning, some things are self-evident from Scripture. Black letter Scripture.

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One comment

  1. Milton Stanley · · Reply

    Thanks for the explanation, JL. You’ve given me a new term for my toolbox. Peace.

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