A few quick thoughts on how I think the Bible's truthfulness has been conceived over time and has changed throughout church history.
Phase 1: Pre-Reformation
From the New Testament authors to the Reformation, there was an assumption that the Bible was the very words of God and that it was obviously truthful in everything it said. However, there was no restriction that would limit that truthfulness to the literal. If a passage seemed problematic from a literal standpoint, it could be interpreted allegorically.
Basically, the meaning of the Bible was tethered to the "rule of faith" rather than to history. Passages perceived to be difficult in relation to orthodoxy or their sense of the world were interpreted in a different way. We see this still in the church today in the pew, as church members who were not trained to read the Bible in context search for interpretations that fit with what they have already been taught to believe.
Phase 2: Reformation
The Reformation untethered the meaning of the Bible from orthodox tradition and forbid figural interpretation. Sola scriptura in effect retethered the meaning of the Bible to history rather than to the rule of faith. The moment this change of meaning orientation happened, Protestant liberalism and higher criticism immediately became one likely eventuality.
The orientation of meaning shifted from being a premodern mirror of common Christian understanding to an individual quest to "get back" to what it meant. The operating mode became one of pealing back, which would lead eventually to the quest for the historical Jesus and the pealing away of historical layers in the gospels.
It would take a few centuries for this to take its course. Luther, Calvin, Wesley continued to some extent to read the Bible in a premodern way, as a big picture mirror of their own theologies. They continued to read a single theology into the biblical texts taken as a whole. And of course they believed the Bible (meaning their own theologies which they saw in the Bible) was completely truthful.
Phase 3: The Princeton Calvinists
The modern doctrine of inerrancy was arguably born of Charles Hodges' support of slavery. (By the way, few people know that the Southern Baptist Church itself was also formed in defense of slavery.) Hodge's doctrine of inerrancy pushed the locus of meaning down to the verse level rather than the overall, big picture theological level as before. So since individual verses in Colossians, 1 Peter, etc. told slaves to obey their masters, Hodge argued that the abolitionist movement was going against the details of the Bible. Meanwhile, abolitionists such as my Wesleyan forebears argued from the big principles of Scripture.
We see this same hermeneutic in play today with the question of women in ministry. Rather than an overall theology informing the whole meaning of the Bible as before, individual, "inerrant" trump verses are brought to play in debates. This was a shift in the way the Bible's truthfulness is approached.
In the late 1800s, B. B. Warfield continued to push Hodge's approach to Scripture at Princeton. He argued literal interpretation of the Bible against my holiness, revivalist ancestors. It was during his time that historical criticism and evolution were coming into play, and he made some early responses. He did not completely rule out evolution (it's hard for us to "feel" that there was ever a time when emotions weren't as polarized as ours are now). Warfield also accepted a kind of dual authorship of the biblical texts, with the personalities of the authors being involved.
My key take-away here is that modern inerrancy originated in direct opposition to the values of the Wesleyan tradition of which I am a part.
Phase 4: Fundamentalist Inerrancy
The form that inerrancy took in the mid-twentieth century was a defensive mechanism against developments in science and biblical studies. It set down assumptions that created a wall against these perceived threats. No matter what science says, you can't believe in evolution. No matter what Bible scholars say, you have to believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch.
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is the codification of these fences. The CSBI assumes an evidentiary, modernist approach but only within certain boundaries. If the evidence seems to be pointing in a direction that crosses one of the boundary lines, the evidence must be reinterpreted. This is analogous to the way the patristic fathers reinterpreted biblical texts but now it is the historical and scientific evidence that is reinterpreted rather than the meaning of the biblical text.
Phase 5: Evangelical Inerrancy Today
As the new book, Five Views of Inerrancy, reflects, evangelical scholars today have resorted to more complex understandings of inerrancy in an attempt to be faithful to the biblical texts themselves. Kevin Vanhoozer reflects the complications of genre (the Bible does much more than affirm propositional truths). Michael Bird points to the cultural-embeddedness of the whole American debate and pushes us in some ways back toward the ways the truthfulness of the Bible was understood before Hodge. John Franke reminds us of the "plurivocity" of the biblical texts.
Some thoughts after walking through the book...