Slightly Imperfect Bibles?

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Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Perkins is talking about a completely different issue though, and in a different category - he's talking about a missing word in a passage, which doesn't change the meaning of the passage. So the Perkins quote does not support the argument RSC is making.

As a point of clarification, Perkins is speaking specifically about the words in Galatians 3:1 "that ye should not obey the truth." So a phrase rather than a single word.

In answer to the two questions:
1. Has the Word of God been kept pure in all ages?
2. Is there any uncertainty as to minor points in the text?

Perkins is able to answer both with "yes". That is in sharp distinction to the strict (and forced) interpretation of "kept pure in all ages" many TR advocates use WCF 1:8 for. It can be shown over and over again that the men of that historical context could both affirm that purity, and recognize that there were variants they could not determine which was original. They recognized it and it didn't seem to bother them or hinder their faith in the purity of God's word.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
As a point of clarification, Perkins is speaking specifically about the words in Galatians 3:1 "that ye should not obey the truth." So a phrase rather than a single word.

In answer to the two questions:
1. Has the Word of God been kept pure in all ages?
2. Is there any uncertainty as to minor points in the text?

Perkins is able to answer both with "yes". That is in sharp distinction to the strict (and forced) interpretation of "kept pure in all ages" many TR advocates use WCF 1:8 for. It can be shown over and over again that the men of that historical context could both affirm that purity, and recognize that there were variants they could not determine which was original. They recognized it and it didn't seem to bother them or hinder their faith in the purity of God's word.
Granted. The point though is that the elasticity of interpretation of WCF 1.8 implied in Perkins is a far cry from that advocated by those who reject, or at least allow that it is within the bounds of WCF 1.8 to reject, Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53 - 8:11, etc. Including the article which cited the Perkins quote as support for that view.

It's one thing to say that a word (or a few words) in a passage, which dont alter the meaning of said passage, can be debatable (which is precisely what Perkins is saying), and yet adhere to WCF 1.8. It's another thing entirely to say that a whole standalone passage of scripture is of debatable provenance, and argue that one is still within the bounds of WCF 1.8.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
It's one thing to say that a word (or a few words) in a passage, which dont alter the meaning of said passage, can be debatable (which is precisely what Perkins is saying), and yet adhere to WCF 1.8. It's another thing entirely to say that a whole standalone passage of scripture is of debatable provenance, and argue that one is still within the bounds of WCF 1.8.

A difference of degree, or of kind?
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
A difference of degree, or of kind?
Of kind. The entire point in the quote from Perkins is that, despite the variance in words, "the sense of the verse is one and the same". There are differences of degree in how much variance (in words) might fit into that. Once the variances go from words which may or may not affect the meaning of a particular verse or passage, to whole verses or passages, that is a different kind of variance. You can demonstrate this by trying to apply the same argument Perkins is making - "whether these verses be left in or left out, the sense of the verse is one and the same" - doesn't make sense.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Of kind. The entire point in the quote from Perkins is that, despite the variance in words, "the sense of the verse is one and the same". There are differences of degree in how much variance (in words) might fit into that. Once the variances go from words which may or may not affect the meaning of a particular verse or passage, to whole verses or passages, that is a different kind of variance. You can demonstrate this by trying to apply the same argument Perkins is making - "whether these verses be left in or left out, the sense of the verse is one and the same" - doesn't make sense.

I think you're misunderstanding Perkins. He says "the providence of God has so watched over the Bible that the sense thereof remains entire, sound, and incorrupt, specially in the grounds of religion." The "specially in the grounds of religion" is his test, and he's talking about the sense of the Bible itself, not whether removing a few words leaves the sense the same in a particular passage.

The "sense of the verse is one and the same" is specifically noted in this example, but that is a smaller example of his larger point: the Bible being uncorrupted in the grounds (or essentials) of religion. It is an example, but not a limiting one.

Now, how far one is willing to stretch that "specially in the grounds of religion" is certainly debatable. The CT folks will say that no doctrine is at stake, but there are definitely some entire thoughts at stake (e.g., Pericope Adulterae).

Regardless of whether we agree or disagree on exactly what Perkins means, I think it's clear that Perkins would not have held to a position that "kept pure" means an established text with no variants (e.g., only the TR). I'm pretty sure that pointing this out was the intent behind bringing his quote up. He might not take the CT position either, but that wasn't the point.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you're misunderstanding Perkins. He says "the providence of God has so watched over the Bible that the sense thereof remains entire, sound, and incorrupt, specially in the grounds of religion." The "specially in the grounds of religion" is his test, and he's talking about the sense of the Bible itself, not whether removing a few words leaves the sense the same in a particular passage.

The "sense of the verse is one and the same" is specifically noted in this example, but that is a smaller example of his larger point: the Bible being uncorrupted in the grounds (or essentials) of religion. It is an example, but not a limiting one.

Now, how far one is willing to stretch that "specially in the grounds of religion" is certainly debatable. The CT folks will say that no doctrine is at stake, but there are definitely some entire thoughts at stake (e.g., Pericope Adulterae).

Regardless of whether we agree or disagree on exactly what Perkins means, I think it's clear that Perkins would not have held to a position that "kept pure" means an established text with no variants (e.g., only the TR). I'm pretty sure that pointing this out was the intent behind bringing his quote up. He might not take the CT position either, but that wasn't the point.
I might be misunderstanding Perkins, though I don't think I am. If the point stretches as far as you suggest though, it essentially means that it doesn't really matter what is added to or subtracted from scripture, so long as the "sense of the Bible" is not changed, and no doctrine is omitted or denied. That might be some people's view, but I doubt it was Perkins' (though I could be wrong, it might have been), and it's certainly at odds with the confessional view of scripture. If our view of "pure and entire" stretches this far, there is really no strong argument against appending the story of Bel and the Dragon to the book of Daniel, for instance.

What I think Perkins means (I might be wrong) is the God in his providence has so watched over the Bible that the sense of every part of it has been kept pure and entire in all ages. This makes sense, because each each passage of scripture has a sense in itself, and it's not really true to say that the bible as a whole has a single "sense", or even to say that it has many/any senses separate and distinct from the senses of each of its passages. His final sentence about the verse he is referring to then exemplifies that point, whereas if he's making the point you suggest he might be, his last sentence runs somewhat counter to it.

Edit to add, regarding your last paragraph, yes I agree, I think it's fair to infer from the quote that Perkins would not subscribe to the particular position you mention. That may have been the point of bringing it up, and as I said before, I apologise to @Irenaeus if I misunderstood him. I did think the quote was being wheeled out in support of the CT position, which it does not support. Also, having read the article, I do think that was RSC's point in using the quote, even if it was not the point being made by our brother on this forum.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
I might be misunderstanding Perkins, though I don't think I am. If the point stretches as far as you suggest though, it essentially means that it doesn't really matter what is added to or subtracted from scripture, so long as the "sense of the Bible" is not changed, and no doctrine is omitted or denied. That might be some people's view, but I doubt it was Perkins' (though I could be wrong, it might have been), and it's certainly at odds with the confessional view of scripture. If our view of "pure and entire" stretches this far, there is really no strong argument against appending the story of Bel and the Dragon to the book of Daniel, for instance.
I don't think that it essentially means that what is added or subtracted does not matter. I think that Perkins is saying is that, in the textual variations we have, the sense of Scripture is unchanged. In applying Perkins' point to the present, I (and Prof. Clark, if I am reading him correctly) freely acknowledge that he did not have the CT in mind but I think his point is valid and relevant to the CT/MT debate. Granted, we are now talking about passages rather than phrases, but we are still - and this is the commonality - talking about well-supported textual variants that have come down to us from ancient manuscripts and though the differences be larger the principle is the same. It's a difference of degree, not kind. The sense of Scripture is preserved entire. This is not an argument for or against the CT but it is an argument that the presence of the CT and the CT/MT question fails to negate in any way the point made by Perkins.

@Jerusalem Blade, I don't necessarily agree that the CT/MT debate undermines the trust and confidence that one can have in Scripture. What undermines that trust is a doubting heart and the fiery darts of an unbelieving and hostile world. There have always been nagging questions about Scripture. Calvin had to grapple with the numerical discrepancies between the Hebrew text of Genesis and the Septuagint version quoted by Stephen, or Matthew seeming to confuse Jeremiah and Zechariah. This is a larger issue in degree, to be sure! I hope one day we find evidence to resolve it (personally, my money is on the MT and on a positive re-evaluation of the Byzantine text tradition) but in the meantime I don't consider the CT any less Scripture nor do I consider God's providential oversight of Scripture, or his ability to show forth its credibility in all ages, to be in any way diminished by his allowing us to discover a set of texts that appear to complicate the picture. It's a matter of perspective. To the unbeliever, this is fresh ammunition for the arrows of doubt - AS IF the world would regard Scripture without this discovery: one might as well believe that the Pharisees who asked for a sign were on the cusp of belief. To me, the texts actually simplify the picture. This is, and always has been, God's inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word to all ages and I think we have more reason for certainty than ever before, if, perhaps, a little less comfort in our ability to wrap our minds around the whole thing.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't think that it essentially means that what is added or subtracted does not matter. I think that Perkins is saying is that, in the textual variations we have, the sense of Scripture is unchanged. In applying Perkins' point to the present, I (and Prof. Clark, if I am reading him correctly) freely acknowledge that he did not have the CT in mind but I think his point is valid and relevant to the CT/MT debate. Granted, we are now talking about passages rather than phrases, but we are still - and this is the commonality - talking about well-supported textual variants that have come down to us from ancient manuscripts and though the differences be larger the principle is the same. It's a difference of degree, not kind. The sense of Scripture is preserved entire. This is not an argument for or against the CT but it is an argument that the presence of the CT and the CT/MT question fails to negate in any way the point made by Perkins.
But the point ceases to apply once you start talking about passages rather than words, or even phrases, which do not change the sense of the passage. The sense of scripture is not preserved entire if John 8:1-11 is missing. And if you allow the principle to extend to whole passages, why not whole chapters? Perhaps whole books?

I don't know the answer to this, but were there any bibles published between the Reformation and the late 18th Century with the two passages in question missing (Mark 16 and John 8)?
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
But the point ceases to apply once you start talking about passages rather than words, or even phrases, which do not change the sense of the passage. The sense of scripture is not preserved entire if John 8:1-11 is missing. And if you allow the principle to extend to whole passages, why not whole chapters? Perhaps whole books?

I don't know the answer to this, but were there any bibles published between the Reformation and the late 18th Century with the two passages in question missing (Mark 16 and John 8)?
At this point I think we are talking past each other, so I'll make one final restatement/summation of my points and then I'm bowing out.

1) Your post assumes the premise that the MT position is the correct one.
2) I believe the sense of Scripture is preserved entire with or without the Pericope Adulterae.
3) I do not believe I am the one extending the principle. I see a manuscript tradition that is now more complicated. The question about whole chapters and books is a red herring and an unnecessary and rather tiring one because it creates the impression that CT defenders are sitting around deciding how much Scripture can be omitted without changing the sense as opposed to evaluating manuscript traditions. That's not a fair depiction of the view.
4) The MT/CT debate is not the only time there has been a textual question. In fact, as I think about it, I am no longer sure that it's a unique difference in degree, in light of the differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew OT and other textual issues across time, space, and language barriers.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hello JP (Irenaeus),

When the phrase "the sense of Scripture" is used, it is so vague – to me and others – as to be almost useless. I see it as far less accurate, and meaningful, than the phrase I use regarding God's preservation of Scripture "in the main" as distinguished from "in the minutiae". In the main is a good thing!

Okay, learned and godly men differ on the textual situation, but let's please keep the differences distinct, so respecting each camp's distinctives.

When you say of Scripture (in post #97), that it "is, and always has been, God's inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word to all ages" – while holding to the view of it you have – you divest the word "infallible" of all meaning. We might as well just toss that word in the garbage bin, were your view and usage of it to prevail (though you're not the first I have heard so use it).

Infallible means without error, incapable of being in error, unerring and the like. Yet we have the ERROR of Asaph and Amos in Matt 1:7, 10 instead of the correct Asa and Amon, in the Greek of the CT (and the English of the ESV). We have in Luke 2:22 the CT saying that either Joseph or Jesus (or both) went with Mary to Jerusalem "for their purification according to the Law of Moses", when the law of Moses required only her, Mary's, purification. I could go on, but I have work to get to.

I find it far more wholesome in scholarly discourse to keep to the integrity of language than to blur it.

The AV and the ESV cannot both be infallible and differ, likewise with the TR and the CT.

That little phrase in Galatians 3:1, "that ye should not obey the truth", is omitted by Westcott and Hort's Revised Greek and Revised English versions, on the basis of Codex Vaticanus – which latter's reading the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies editions also maintain. It's not in the NU Bibles. It is in the AV and the 1599 Geneva. I don't know William Perkins' background (1558–1602), but, as I said, learned and godly men differ in this area.'

When "infallible" becomes a mere slogan without substance we lose the sense of our very language.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
At this point I think we are talking past each other, so I'll make one final restatement/summation of my points and then I'm bowing out.

1) Your post assumes the premise that the MT position is the correct one.
2) I believe the sense of Scripture is preserved entire with or without the Pericope Adulterae.
3) I do not believe I am the one extending the principle. I see a manuscript tradition that is now more complicated. The question about whole chapters and books is a red herring and an unnecessary and rather tiring one because it creates the impression that CT defenders are sitting around deciding how much Scripture can be omitted without changing the sense as opposed to evaluating manuscript traditions. That's not a fair depiction of the view.
4) The MT/CT debate is not the only time there has been a textual question. In fact, as I think about it, I am no longer sure that it's a unique difference in degree, in light of the differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew OT and other textual issues across time, space, and language barriers.
Not trying to provoke you to continue the discussion, I'm done with it too, but just to respond to these points:

1. I actually favour the TR rather than the MT, but in the context of this discussion it doesn't matter much as I deliberately avoided advocating for a particular text in order to avoid the endless, and often unedifying debates that go on here on the topic. It might sound like I'm assuming the correctness of a particular text, actually I'm assuming providential preservation, which is both scriptural and confessional, and simply pointing out what it cannot stretch to mean, even if we allow it the elasticity Perkins does. (As an aside, I also didn't pass comment on the merit of Perkins' view deliberately, same reason as above).

2. That's interesting, and quite problematic in terms of believing the whole confessional doctrine of scripture - not merely preservation (I'm not accusing you of being unconfessional, as I hope you understand, just pointing out the issue with that reasoning). I tried to show above why that is, but probably didn't do a great job. One thing I will say though is that, if we allow that whole passages of scripture are debatable in their authenticity, and can be included or omitted in scripture indifferently, we are indeed subject to the charge our brother made earlier in the thread - conducting textual criticism this way amounts to saying "hath God said" to chunks of scripture.

3. I'm aware that CT advocates are using actual manuscripts and not deleting scripture willy-nilly. I assumed nobody here would think I thought that, so apologies if it seemed I was characterising the view that way, it wasn't my intention. Manuscripts can be unreliable though, and given that the mass of manuscripts we have differ from each other, some must be unreliable. While of course deciphering the original text from all that is the point of textual criticism, it seems to me that the TR position (and I'm aware there are varieties of it) starts with the doctrine of preservation and conducts textual criticism through that lens, while the CT position does not, and those of a confessional bent (a small minority of its advocates) attempt to fit it into the bounds of the confession ex post facto as it were. The point about whole chapters and books I think is legitimate, but since we both plan to end the discussion I won't go into why. I understand why you feel it was a red herring and I'm sorry for bringing it up.

4. True, but the same principles apply whatever biblical texts one is comparing. Biblical criticism is not the same as criticism of, for example, Homer or Plato - the doctrine of preservation has to be a starting point, otherwise we risk being altogether loosed from a scriptural mooring in the course of the work. The question of LXX vs Hebrew for OT is of a different nature though, since Hebrew is the original language and LXX is a translation. There are uses for existing translations when making new translations, but using an existing translation as a base language and preferring it over the actual base language is evidently problematic in the main.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
@Scottish Presbyterian, although I think some parts of your post are begging the question, I did want to say that I really appreciate the thought and humility that is going into your posts. It's a nuanced subject and I really appreciate anyone who doesn't immediately devolve into tribalism!
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
The AV and the ESV cannot both be infallible and differ, likewise with the TR and the CT.

Maybe I'm having an "aha" moment here, but if your theological position demands that there be an infallible authority (i.e., "without error"), then you believe there must exist one, and therefore the best candidate (in English) would be the KJV?

Or would you even apply the word "infallible" to the KJV? If I recollect correctly, Turretin would apply the term to any Bible translation or copy, insofar (and only insofar) as it represented the original words. So the KJV and ESV could both be different, and yet both be infallible---insofar as they represent the autographs. They contain God's infallible word, even if they are themselves fallible and the products of fallible men.
 

gcdugas

Puritan Board Freshman
Gillespie refers to the AV as our English translators and our English translation in his EPC (1637). In his 1641 Assertion of the Government he refers to it as the new English translation. Corrections were already being made before 1641, notably 1 Cor. 12:28 which figures in the case for ruling elders. That this was corrected to the Greek despite the heavy hand of the Stuart bishops is interesting.
“It would take a goodly volume to contain the misprints of the various editions {of the Authorized Version}. There are also many variations from the issues of 1611. Rom. 12:2 'What is that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God,' passed into the present more literal reading in 1629. In the same way 'helps in governments,' 1 Cor. 12:28, became in the same year, more correctly, 'helps, governments'… .” John Eadie, The English Bible: An External and Critical History of the Various Translations of Scripture… (London: Macmillan and Co., 1876), vol. 2, p. 194.
The OP is agitating for the TR not the KJV and although the author presently uses the KJV in his pulpit ministry, he does not conflate the two in his arguments. Thus this is nice information to have regarding the KJV, it doesn't touch the matter the OP raises.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The OP is agitating for the TR not the KJV and although the author presently uses the KJV in his pulpit ministry, he does not conflate the two in his arguments. Thus this is nice information to have regarding the KJV, it doesn't touch the matter the OP raises.
I wasn't responding to the OP but interacting on the subject of the Geneva vs the AV in subsequent posts.
 

gcdugas

Puritan Board Freshman
Very well Naphtali. I thought your material was good to stuff away for future debates as I found it very helpful.

And as long as we are branching out a bit...

Here is my take from the WCF Ch 1...

6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.a Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word;b and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.c

a. Gal 1:8-9; 2 Thes 2:2; 2 Tim 3:15-17. • b. John 6:45; 1 Cor 2:9-12. • c. 1 Cor 11:13-14; 14:26, 40

I would argue that "nothing at any time is to be added" is not limited by the phrase "new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men" and that the "archaeologist's shovel" and the "critic's scalpel" come within the scope of "nothing at any time shall be added" [or altered]. Especially as it is only separated from "singular care and providence kept pure in all ages" by two sentences.


AND if that isn't enough....

5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture;a and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.b

a. 1 Tim 3:15. • b. Isa 59:21; John 16:13-14; 1 Cor 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27

I would further argue that the phrase "the majesty of the style" agitates for a "formal equivalence" translation methodology.

OK... I've put a bunch out there, now let the fur fly while I duck for cover. ;);)
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
I would argue that "nothing at any time is to be added" is not limited by the phrase "new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men" and that the "archaeologist's shovel" and the "critic's scalpel" come within the scope of "nothing at any time shall be added" [or altered]. Especially as it is only separated from "singular care and providence kept pure in all ages" by two sentences.

This has been covered in extensive detail earlier in this thread. Read the primary source quotes from the authors Warfield cites in the link I listed earlier. The framers of the WCF themselves (together with their peers) describe what they meant by "kept pure", so we don't even have to guess.

What you are saying proves too much:
If you say that "nothing" shall ever be added or subtracted from the "archeologist's shovel" and the "critic's scalpel", and you apply that to textual criticism, then you have to have a known textual standard to add to or subtract from. What standard is that? Erasmus' first, second, third editions (all which had variations), Stephanus' or Beza's editions, the Elzevir editions, the 1881 edition Scrivener put together, etc.? They all have differences---generally minor, but differences nonetheless. As noted earlier, the KJV translators didn't use any one published manuscript but consulted individual manuscripts as well. And no two manuscripts agree in every point.

They all have some changes, even if minute. But if you allow even one change, even minor ones, then you've destroyed your position and are forced to make qualifications for your exceptions or to broaden your definitions somewhat arbitrarily to some kind of textual family. So which absolutely unchanged textual standard would the WCF framers have used? Which absolutely unchanged textual standard do you use? And on what specific date was that standard set? No matter which date you set, either the people before it or the people after it did not have it "unaltered", according to your restrictive reading of the WCF. And once you make exceptions (e.g., "minor differences are okay", "a word here or there is okay"), the argument for the restrictive "kept pure" falls apart and becomes arbitrary and subjective. The only way to avoid that is if that phrase refers to something more general than "The TR".
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I am seeing another problem here that needs to be addressed. Manuscripts are being characterized as reliable or unreliable as complete wholes. This is not how copying works. If a manuscript were to be completely unreliable, then what we would have to posit is either a completely unreliable copyist, or a malevolent copyist. Neither can be assumed for any particular manuscript of the NT. Every existing manuscript has copyist errors in it, some more than others. Therefore, manuscripts cannot be rejected wholesale. Rather, individual readings at certain verses are compared. My estimate just from looking at, say, Sinaiticus compared with the TR is that they agree well over 90% of the time. And of the 10% remaining differences, the vast majority of them are spelling differences or word order differences. Yes, the ending of Mark and the PA are special text-critical cases. But to go from having a minus there to make the leap to "unreliable" is quite a stretch. In other words, manuscripts should not be designated "reliable" or "unreliable" as a whole, but should rather be judged so in individual readings, not as a whole.

As an aside, Nicholas Lunn has proffered an outstanding argument for the longer ending of Mark from a CT perspective, arguing that the evidence against the longer ending based on Aleph-B is much less sturdy than previously thought. In fact, he argues that there is no unambiguous evidence that the longer ending of Mark was minus in Aleph-B. His argument has already persuaded several people in the CT camp, and I imagine that more will follow. He certainly persuaded me that the longer ending of Mark is original.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
From the preview: "It is demonstrated that the church fathers knew the Markan ending from the very earliest days, well over two centuries before the earliest extant manuscripts."

This can also be said of other dispited passages such as Acts 8:37, which Irenaeus and others quote in the late 2nd century.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hi Logan, you said,

So the KJV and ESV could both be different, and yet both be infallible---insofar as they represent the autographs. They contain God's infallible word, even if they are themselves fallible and the products of fallible men.

Now this really isn't about textual matters, but just language, and logic – though it could be applied to texts.

Infallible means without error, incapable of error, yet if the two versions differ they can't both be infallible (though logically they could neither be such). Even if they both "'contain' God's infallible word", what they purport to "contain"of it differs. At least one of them has to be wrong.

I do acknowledge that the ESV contains God words, but in Matt 1:7,10 it differs in the ESV (and the Greek CT) in those verses: ESV, vs 7 "and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph", v 10 "and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah". That precludes infallibility, does it not?

I'll be almost incommunicado for a while when I depart for Cyprus (Dec 9), amid the vicissitudes of international travel, the new Omicron covid variant and its repercussions, and my own infirmities – plus my needing to focus on the significant details of packing, medical issues, and managing flight stuff.
 
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Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Now this really isn't about textual matters, but just language, and logic – though it could be applied to texts.

Infallible means without error, incapable of error, yet if the two versions differ they can't both be infallible (though logically they could neither be such). Even if they both "'contain' God's infallible word", what they purport to "contain"of it differs. At least one of them has to be wrong.

Hi Steve, sorry to reply when you might not have the chance to clarify, but I was specifically responding to your comment "The AV and the ESV cannot both be infallible and differ, likewise with the TR and the CT."

I reject the assumption that, in the sense you seem to mean it, the KJV is "infallible", or even that the TR and CT are infallible. I understand what you are getting at but I don't think that is the correct starting point from which to judge all other versions. Each is only infallible insofar as they represent the autographs.

Turretin, Q. 13:XIX p. 126
"Although any version made by fallible men cannot be considered divine and infallible with respect to terms, yet it can well be considered such with respect to the things, since it faithfully expresses the divine truth of the sources even as the word which the minister of the gospel preaches does not cease to be divine and infallible and to establish our faith, although it may be expressed by him in human words. Thus faith depends not on the authority of the interpreter or minister, but is built upon the truth and authenticity of the things contained in the versions."

Turretin, Q. 11:VIII p. 114
"The various readings which occur do not destroy the authenticity of the Scriptures because they may be easily distinguished and determined, partly by the connection of the passage and partly by a collation with better manuscripts. Some are of such a kind that although diverse, they may nevertheless belong to the same text."
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hello Logan,

The Turretin quotes you've offered pertain to versions; I prefer to consider the original languages – for this reason: when I am discussing these things, say, in a class, I focus not on the minutiae of differences in versions / translations, but on the variants. I can accept the translation of the ESV (though I prefer the KJV, while at times the ESV can be quite good), but I cannot accept its variant readings. That's the primary issue for me in a classroom setting.

When talking of the original Hebrew and Greek Turretin speaks thus:

ON SCRIPTURE

QUESTION 5: Are there in Scripture true contradictions, or any irreconcilable passages, which cannot be resolved or harmonized in any way? We deny.


VII. (2) Unless unimpaired integrity is attributed to Scripture, it cannot be regarded as the sole rule of faith and practice, and a wide door is opened to atheists, libertines, enthusiasts, and others of that sort of profane people to undermine its authority and overthrow the foundation of salvation. Since error cannot be part of the faith, how can a Scripture which is weakened by contradictions and corruptions be regarded as authentic and divine? Nor should it be said that these corruptions are only in matters of little significance, which do not affect the fundamentals of the faith. For as soon as the authenticity of Scripture has been found wanting, even if it be a single corruption [of the text] that cannot be corrected, how can our faith any longer be sustained? If corruption is conceded in matters of little importance, why not also in others of more significance? Who will be able to give me faith that there has been no forgetfulness or deceit in the fundamental passages? What answer can be given the subtle 'atheist or heretic who persistently claims that this or that text, unfavorable to him, rests on falsehood? The reply should not be that divine providence has willed the [Scripture] be preserved from serious corruptions, but not from minor ones. For not only is this an arbitrary assumption, but it also cannot be made without grave insult [to Scripture], implying that it lacks something necessary for its full self-authentication, nor can it easily be believed that God, who spoke and inspired every single word to God-inspired men, would not have provided for the preservation of all. If human beings preserve their words with the greatest care so that they will not be changed or corrupted, especially when--as is the case, for instance, with wills and contracts--they are of some importance, how much more should God be thought to have taken care for his Word, which he willed to have the status of testament and public notice of his covenant with us, so that nothing could corrupt it, especially when he could have easily foreseen and prevented such corruptions, to uphold the faith of his church? (p 71 in the hardcopy)

QUESTION 10: Has the original text of the Old and New Testaments come to us pure and uncorrupted? Affirmative, against the Roman Catholics.

I. This question is forced upon us by the Roman Catholics, who raise doubts concerning the purity of the sources in order more readily to establish the authority of their Vulgate and lead us to the tribunal of the church.

II. By "original texts" we do not mean the very autographs from the hands of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, which are known to be nonexistent. We mean copies (apographa), which have come in their name, because they record for us that word of God in the same words into which the sacred writers committed it under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. [emphasis added]

III. There is no question of the sources being pure in the sense that no error has crept into many sacred codices, either from the ravages of time, or the carelessness of copyists, or the malice of Jews and heretics. This is recognized on both sides, and the variant readings, which Beza and Robert Stephanus have noted in Greek, and the Jews in Hebrew, witness sufficiently to this. But the question is whether the original text, in Hebrew or in Greek, has been so corrupted, either by the carelessness of copyists or by the malice of Jews and heretics, that it can no longer be held as the judge of controversies and the norm by which all versions without exception are to be judged. The Roman Catholics affirm this; we deny it. (p 106 in the hardcopy)
_____

From Monergism, 21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture by Francis Turretin (1623-1687)

I realize that Turretin has more to say, in fine-tuning this matter, but this is a good starting point.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Hello Logan,

The Turretin quotes you've offered pertain to versions; I prefer to consider the original languages – for this reason: when I am discussing these things, say, in a class, I focus not on the minutiae of differences in versions / translations, but on the variants. I can accept the translation of the ESV (though I prefer the KJV, while at times the ESV can be quite good), but I cannot accept its variant readings. That's the primary issue for me in a classroom setting.

Bit of a correction: the first quote pertains to versions (which is what we were talking about, since you seemed to be implying the KJV was infallible, without error, so that's where my focus was), the second quotation is indeed about the original languages. For that, 10.III, which you quoted, is very relevant as to what is meant when we talk about "purity".
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hi Logan,

Yes, you are right, the second quote – in 10:III – does pertain to the originals, and does reflect on their “purity”, which, if it is such, may be reflected in versions.

And this is part of my point: that, per Turretin (and myself) the originals were preserved pure in the apographs – and are thus infallible – while a version that is faithful in translating the original may have a derived infallibility, but only insofar as it is faithful.

Turretin, Q. 13:XVIII. It is one thing to conform to the original, another to be on a par with it. Any accurate translation conforms to the original because the same teaching, in substance, is presented; but it is not for that reason on a par with it, because the form of expression is human, not divine.

XIX. Although a given translation made by human beings subject to error is not to be regarded as divine and infallible verbally, it can be properly so regarded in substance if it faithfully renders the divine truth of the sources, for the word which a minister of the gospel preaches does not fail to be divine and infallible, and to uphold our faith, although proclaimed by him in human words. But faith does not depend on the authority of translators or ministers, but on the substance (res ipsi) which is, in truth and authenticity, in the versions. (emphasis added)​

So, while a version/translation of a pure original is not equal to the apograph, yet it may have a derived, or secondary, infallibility. But only if it is true to the original Hebrew or Greek.

But then we come back to the original mss., those of the (as regards the Greek) TR or the CT. Which do you think Turretin favors?

One can see in the Eleventh Question on the “Authentic Version” (of the originals), section X, that he favors the TR:

X. The statement that the Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New have become defective is false, and the passages which are offered in proof of this by our adversaries cannot demonstrate it. Not the pericope of adultery (John 8), which, although it is lacking in the Syriac, is found in all the Greek manuscripts. Not the saying in I John 5:7, although formerly some called it into question, and heretics do so today. All the Greek witnesses (exemplaria) have it, as Sixtus Senensis recognizes: "The words always were of unquestioned truth, and are read in all Greek manuscripts from the time of the apostles themselves." Not Mark 16, which was lacking in a number of manuscripts in Jerome's time, as he admits, but now is found in all, and also in the Syriac, and is clearly necessary to complete the account of Christ's resurrection.​

One may question this but that’s what he says. It is fairly clear in Q.10:III, seeing the Greek mss. he mentions are those of the editors Beza and Stephanus, that he does not consider Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and their fellows.

I don’t go by everything Turretin asserts (and of course one is free to disagree with him) ; for example, in the matter of Cainan in Luke 3:36, he thinks that is an error, and talks about it. (Oddly, in the monergism version of the “21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture by Francis Turretin”, section XII, dealing with Cainan is missing – omitted – without explanation. In the P&R hardcopy edition it is present.)

Here’s a brief entrée on that:

As for Luke 3:36, which places Cainan in the lineage between Arphaxad and Salah (Sala), where the Genesis genealogy omits mention of Cainan, some remarks:

First, the absence of a person in the lineage does not annul the tightly interlocking numeric values between the patriarchs and their offspring. As Floyd Nolan Jones, in his Chronology of the Old Testament puts it,

For regardless of the number of names or descendants that might be missing between Arphaxad and Salah (or any other two patriarchs) their lives are mathematically interlocked and a fixed relationship exists; when Salah was born, Arphaxad was thirty-five years old and so on across the entire span in question. Consequently, no time can possibly be missing even though names may so be. Strange as it may seem at first, in this instance the two concepts are mutually exclusive. (p. 34)​

Dr. Jones is firm that both the Genesis genealogy and the one in Luke 3 are correct and both the infallible word of God. While admitting there is no explanation for the omission given in Scripture, Jones gives a number of scenarios to show how it may have come to be. Here is one of them:

In this scenario both Arphaxad and Cainan (Arphaxad’s son) married young. Cainan dies after conceiving Salah but before his birth. At age 35, Arphaxad then adopts his grandson, Salah (like Jacob adopted his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh) (Mat. 1:1; Heb. 7:9-10). [Footnote: Compare Ruth 4:17 which declares that “there is a son born to Naomi”, whereas technically she is his step mother-in-law. . .] (Ibid., p. 35)​

At any rate, the Cainan spoken of in Luke 3:36 poses no threat to the timeline of Genesis 11, only a mystery. The LXX versions of Genesis 11 which posit a Cainan in them are spurious, patently contriving to construct an order which fails.

Again, my statement on the “infallibility” of the KJV NT pertains only as regards its fidelity to the original Greek. If it is not faithful then this derived infallibility is null and void. Any questioning of this is then to be fought out “in the trenches” of particular readings.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
The AV and the ESV cannot both be infallible and differ, likewise with the TR and the CT.

If I recollect correctly, Turretin would apply the term to any Bible translation or copy, insofar (and only insofar) as it represented the original words. So the KJV and ESV could both be different, and yet both be infallible---insofar as they represent the autographs. They contain God's infallible word, even if they are themselves fallible and the products of fallible men.

Again, my statement on the “infallibility” of the KJV NT pertains only as regards its fidelity to the original Greek. If it is not faithful then this derived infallibility is null and void. Any questioning of this is then to be fought out “in the trenches” of particular readings.

I'm finding this exchange a bit puzzling. So...you agree with me?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hi Logan,

The ESV would be infallible – in its particulars – insofar as it was faithful to a faithful original. Thus, it could be infallible in the main, while being fallible (and indeed erroneous) in those particulars where it reflected flawed readings from the original it is based on.

You said, “insofar as they represent the autographs” both the KJV and ESV could be derivatively infallible, but if they use different “autographs” (via the apographs they respectively use) that takes it beyond anything Turretin says, for the autographs/apographs must be without error. Do you think Turretin would accept the Critical Text readings of its apographs, seeing what his view is in the Eleventh Question on the “Authentic Version” (of the originals), section X, which I noted above in post #117?
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
You said, “insofar as they represent the autographs” both the KJV and ESV could be derivatively infallible, but if they use different “autographs” (via the apographs they respectively use) that takes it beyond anything Turretin says, for the autographs/apographs must be without error. Do you think Turretin would accept the Critical Text readings of its apographs, seeing what his view is in the Eleventh Question on the “Authentic Version” (of the originals), section X, which I noted above in post #117?

No one can say what Turretin would accept were he presented with the same evidence we are.

You say that he favors the TR. I would say that is a false assumption. What he favors is what the manuscript evidence shows, e.g., he favors John 8, 1 John 5:7, Mark 16 because it "is found in all the Greek manuscripts". Now clearly he was mistaken about the evidence, but note that this is his criteria. He was working from an extremely limited amount of knowledge and evidence.

We should also recognize the context in which he is responding: is the Word of God (in the original languages) so corrupt that we have to use the Latin Vulgate instead? He says no. Does he mean by this that it is perfect? No, as you noted:

"There is no question of the sources being pure in the sense that no error has crept into many sacred codices, either from the ravages of time, or the carelessness of copyists, or the malice of Jews and heretics. This is recognized on both sides, and the variant readings, which Beza and Robert Stephanus have noted in Greek, and the Jews in Hebrew, witness sufficiently to this. But the question is whether the original text, in Hebrew or in Greek, has been so corrupted, either by the carelessness of copyists or by the malice of Jews and heretics, that it can no longer be held as the judge of controversies and the norm by which all versions without exception are to be judged. The Roman Catholics affirm this; we deny it."

Turretin noted that we do not have perfect copies. There are variants. And he did not simply accept or receive a text, he was for additional textual criticism! He didn't just say "Beza's edition perfectly encapsulates the autographs," or "we just need to use Stephanus", he does not say that this work is finished, he indicates there is work yet to be done:

"The various readings which occur do not destroy the authenticity of the Scriptures because they may be easily distinguished and determined, partly by the connection of the passage and partly by a collation with better manuscripts. Some are of such a kind that although diverse, they may nevertheless belong to the same text."

So would Turretin have been a CT guy? I have no clue since he didn't have CT evidence and wasn't even attempting to answer that question, but he was far from being a TR guy in the sense of merely receiving a text, believing it to be entirely pure, and ceasing textual criticism. He was clearly for additional textual criticism and he doesn't limit himself to one subset of Greek manuscripts either. To assume he knew about other manuscripts and rejected them is an assumption and an argument from silence.
 
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