Textual Manuscripts?

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Lane,

Thanks for your response. I'll be pondering it till I have a chance to get back. This thread is moving along so quickly, and my pastoral tasks keep me away — but I have told the Lord that the care of His people takes priority over my writing. I have to find a psych ward in the country's capitol tomorrow (a city I am mostly unfamiliar with), and see an African sister — she just turned 19 — who's been incarcerated for two years for coming into the country with bad papers (converted in prison), and now for some reason put into psych. She told me over the phone that God will use this for good for her. I solicit prayer for this girl (Marie), that her faith in Christ be true and strong, and that He have mercy and get her out.

I found the Muller quote of Thomas' in Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: Vol 2, Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology (Baker 1993), p. 433; ISBN: 0801062993, paperback.

This is what it looks like: IEC BOOKS
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Ah, I see the problem with the Muller. Different editions. I have the second edition of that work, available here. In that volume, the quotation in question is found on pp. 413-414, with the footnote being number 192. The quotation is unaltered from the first to the second edition. However, the quotation was not given its full context (and Turretin certainly wasn't, as I shall prove below). After the portion that Thomas quoted, the footnote goes on to explain: "This issue must be raised because of the tendency in many recent essays to confuse the two views. Like virtually all exegetes and theologians before and after them, they recognized that the text of Scripture as we now have it contains contradictory and historically problematic statements. They also recognized the futility of harmonizations of the text-but they insisted that all such difficult or erroneous passages ought to be understood as the result of scribal errors. Those who claim an errant text, against the orthodox consensus to the contrary, must prove their case. To claim errors in the scribal copies, the apographa, is hardly a proof: the claim must be proven true of the autographa. The point made by Hodge and Warfield is a logical trap, a rhetorical flourish, a conundrum designed to confound the critics- who can only prove their case for genuine errancy by recourse to a text they do not (and surely cannot) have."

However, the case that Muller makes is by no means so clear-cut (that the Reformers are sharply distinguished from Hodge/Warfield on this). Muller seems to have forgotten, first of all, that Turretin was Hodge's text used in his class. Secondly, this useful distinction by Turretin is vital to the discussion (and completely missed by Thomas): Turretin makes a distinction between writing that is primarily authentic (which includes the autographs of authors) and secondarily authentic, which inclues "all the copies accurately and faithfully taken from the originals by suitable men" (volume 1, pg. 113 of the IET). He ascribes primary authenticity only to the autographs of Scripture, and secondary authenticity to the copies, which are "accurately and faithfully taken from the originals." Again, I ask the question: I, as an eclectic text critic, hold that just about all the manuscripts we have today are "accurate" and "faithful." The differences are minuscule (pun intended). Why then are we supposed to ignore completely Sinaiticus and Vaticanus and the rest of the Alexandrian tradition? As soon as one starts harping on the fact that the TR is the *received* text, then is this not the argument that the text used in the church is the right one? Is this not saying that the church gives legitimacy to the manuscripts?

Secondly, the Turretin quotation on page 106 of the first volume is not directed against different Greek manuscripts, but against the Vulgate. This is clear from the immediately preceding context where Turretin is setting forth the question about the Vulgate version. By original, then, Turretin obviously means original language, which can obviously be found in the copies, not only the autographs. Immediately following the quotation that Thomas referred to, is the argument that the apographs are not perfectly pure. There are faults in the manuscripts, as both sides have acknowledged. Turretin denies that such faults amount to such a crippling that "they can no longer be regarded as the judge of controversies." Again, Thomas has distorted Turretin's view here, since Turretin plainly ascribes perfection only to the autographs. There are textual corruptions that have entered into the apographs. Otherwise, why introduce the distinction referred to in the previous paragraph?
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear Reverend Keister,

I'm finally getting to answer some of your many posts, I'm going to try and provide some brief answers for several of them in this one response, consolidating them together.

Thomas, what do you do with all the differences among TR manuscripts? Which one is original?

First, I don't do anything with them, I simply receive the established Bible and stand upon it, exercising dominion to the extent I still can between my private and public life upon that established version. I receive it upon the same grounds as I receive the early creeds, and this is the ground the Reformers received it as well.

I'm simply not willing to subjugate my life to the enemy over arguments that ultimately boil down to mere opinion. In my view, Providence hasn't worked out the text in terms of the perfection of original autograph, nor do I believe He has intended us to have this perfection, or He would have preserved it in that form. Either that, or the whole idea of "Providential preservation" is wrong, as many of the critical proponents argue today.

I believe we are to come unto submission to the word of God and unto one another in the fear of God as brethern, in my mind it is impossible to have Confessional Unity when we are constantly arguing over the text. While you claim there is very little difference, that doesn't comport to practical experience, at least in my world as a former minister of the Word myself, neither does it address the issue of Authority. Rather, in my eyes it seem to skirt the real issue. The modern paradigm I find to be shameful, because there are consequences to it that no one seems to be willing to recognize or accept.

In my view the Church has swung open the door to the world questioning the validity of its Authority, with practically neon lights inviting it in, "Come, make merchandise of the Bride of Christ," and then disowns it's responsibility when it reaps the consequences of that.

The issue is Authority, men don't create Authority, they merely recognize it. Perfection is not Authority, rather it is recognition and submission unto obedience.

The critical text and the philosophy behind it was brought upon the Church in secrecy, denying Authority of Scripture and attacking its establishment, the public life of the Church has been the battle ground. Various hypothesis are brought forward as theories without any ability to actually test them, and thus no true theory exists, just mere opinions of men that substantively differ from our Reformed fathers whose fruit we can clearly ascertain. What is the fruit of this work? The pew, to me, isn't a hypothetical realm that I come unto, it is where I bow my heart and seek covenant renewal each week before a Just and Holy God that offers me redemption by One that kept "every word of God." (Luke 4:4)

The only thing that is argued as a certainty is that the established Authorized Version is full of so many errors, that apparently don't affect any doctrine, but it must be put down nevertheless - and what goes with that, especially in America, is the public standing of the Church and it's ability to govern itself as an independent realm, relinquishing the Authority of its Apostolic witness to the opinions of men.

If you have verifiable proof of the textual issue, bring it forward in its proper sphere and make your case - but in my opinion and belief, the public life of the Church is not the proper sphere, where every layman is then rallied to various positions that none are truly qualified to take, based upon mere supposition and opinion.

The burden of proof isn't upon us, we are simply receiving what our Reformed fathers have handed down to us, the burden of proof is upon those that deny it as reliable Authority.


It seems to me that a lot of TR folk are arguing against Westcott and Hort, who were overly imbalanced in favor of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Modern textual criticism is much more eclectic, and gives much more weight to the Byzantine text form than WH did. The arguments against WH are not applicable to today's eclectic methods.

The argument is one of reality about the Bible's in people's hands, not some future perpetually evolving text that may be published under eclectic methodologies. Modern criticism philosophically stands upon the same grounds as Wescott and Hort, they've fully incorporated those hypothesis in differening methologies, which in no way distinguishes the principles of the underlying issue.

There is no way that I would ever say that if someone has the TR that they do not have the Word of God.

Maybe you wouldn't, but for nearly a century now, the Received Text and those that use it have suffered under very grotesque assaults and ridicule. I was introduced to Calvinism, for example, under the pretext of disparagment and ridicule over the Bible I used.

As Owen said, they came out of Rome under the purity of the text, and would not wish to see men return thither under the pretence of their corruption - but that is precisely what has happened. Elder Rafalsky posted a very good defense of the Lord's Prayer, and although the modern Bible's that everyone is using negates the validity of it's doxology, when congregations recite it they invariably recite the Received reading. If you really believed the critical text position, and the doxology is nothing more than errant tradition, then under the Regulative Principle of Worship you should bear down on that and disallow it. Our Reformed fathers, if they would have believed what modern critics tell us, would have bore down on that with manliness.

Again, until verifiable proof is brought forward, the public life of the Church is not the proper domain for the debate, as far as I am concerned. There is a reason it was brought there and there is a reason it is continually fought there. All they have is hypothesis and mere opinion, so they bring it forth upon the public life of the Church, where they can rely upon the ignorance, to rally a democratic stand. The whole attitude of people today toward the Scriptures has been lowered, if you try to bind a man today to the Scripture, the general response is this or that text can be translated this or that way, generally licensing his behavior - every body has become a judge, a critic and a translator.

Thomas, if you put one single ounce of confidence is Gail Riplinger's book, then you are making a huge mistake. Try this experiment. Go through every single quotation of her category "the modern versions" and check how often the reading is found in only *one* of the modern versions, not all of them, though she quotes them as all having the reading. Also check out how bad her hermeneutics are. I went through every single quotation in the first chapter, and found *hundreds* of factual and quotational errors, not to mention hermeneutical fallacies. For TR positions, trust Burgon and Hill. Don't go to Riplinger.

Is not the scope of my reference self evident? I made it through the first couple of chapters of Mrs Riplingers book when it came out, what maybe ten years ago now, and I never finished it - didn't need to. From what I could tell, if memory serves me correctly, she has what appears to me a "mystical" interpretation of Scripture. But that doesn't change the fact than in her eyes and those that follow that thinking, that approaches like Mr White's does nothing to contradict it but rather simply establishes the principle.

She accused modern versions as being AntiChrist, and in the light of Scripture, her credentials or credibility, notwithstanding - the textual changes on the identifying traits of what or what is not antichrist is substantively changed in Bible's based upon the critical texts.

My Bible tells me to try the spirits whether they are of God, and then instructs me on precisely how to do that:

"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that is should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1 John 4:2-3

Bible's based upon critical texts invariably leave out the flesh in verse 3, what does that mean? Do I doctrinally insert it because it's in verse 2, or do I acknowledge everyone that merely confesses "Jesus" as being from God? The flesh of Christ is conspicuously absent from several texts, it's absent from Ephesians 5:30. Do these changes, based upon their emphasis, affect any doctrines if re-interpreted independent of our Confessional Standards? I think they do and I think it changes the Confessional Unity of the Church by allowing questions to stand, and opinions to vary, that are settled upon the emphasis demanded in the Received Text.

Can you offer me certainty to build up my faith advocating the Critical Texts when questions like this arise, or just doubt clouded in a mist of technicality and opinion? When a man is dealing with a real spiritual battle, do we Pastorally advise him, "Well, son, Aleph as set against B and its varying families, in contradistinction to the Received Text certainly, indicates that we should consider the weight of these evidences in light of opinion of eclectic critical methodologies whereby we can certainly be assured that less than 1% of the text is unknown, and this important text just happens to be one of them." Ultimately, though, this is the undercurrent of Scriptural answers to the real problems of life today - and we wonder why the word of God doesn't convict the public conscience anymore. It's because we don't approach the word of God as the word of God anymore, even 1% is enough leaven to leaven the Ninety and Nine, and it is the leaven of the Pharisee's and it leavens it!

"Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation." Luke 20:46-47

There is an appearance of impropriety that is inherit in the critical camp, that is because it is real, instead of dealing with the facts and the means in which the debate broke out into the Church its proponents have chosen disparagement and ridicule. Then they are offended when these folks, like Riplinger and others, have lashed back. Have they acted properly, no, but brother - we are not offend one another in our food and drink, we are to take into consideration the weaker brethern in the smallest of things, yet the whole public life of the Church has become a battleground over the very Foundation of our Faith. This should not be so and I lament over it, it just breaks my heart.

I'm out of time, I'll try to answer some of your other questions later.

Cordially,

Thomas
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Matthew, I appreciate your stand for the uncorrupted nature of the Word of God. You say, "That fundamental theological point is the conviction that the church possesses the Word of God uncorrupted." My question is this: do you really think that advocates of the critical text have abandoned this point?

Yes, and I could quote any number of modern textual critics to demonstrate it. They hold that the current state of textual criticism has restored the New Testament text to what it would have been about the fourth century. They also maintain (and I agree with them on this point) that the corruption of the NT text is to be dated to the second century -- which effectively refutes the simpleton idea that the earliest MSS. are more reliable. The fundamental point of difference between traditional text advocates and critical text exponents is the belief of the former that the church possesses the word of God over against the misguided opinion of the latter that the church must discover the word of God. The WCF, chapter 1, sections 1 and 8, uncompromisingly comes down on the side of the former, as did the reformed tradition which preceded this faithful standard.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Matthew, I appreciate your stand for the uncorrupted nature of the Word of God. You say, "That fundamental theological point is the conviction that the church possesses the Word of God uncorrupted." My question is this: do you really think that advocates of the critical text have abandoned this point?

Yes, and I could quote any number of modern textual critics to demonstrate it. They hold that the current state of textual criticism has restored the New Testament text to what it would have been about the fourth century. They also maintain (and I agree with them on this point) that the corruption of the NT text is to be dated to the second century -- which effectively refutes the simpleton idea that the earliest MSS. are more reliable. The fundamental point of difference between traditional text advocates and critical text exponents is the belief of the former that the church possesses the word of God over against the misguided opinion of the latter that the church must discover the word of God. The WCF, chapter 1, sections 1 and 8, uncompromisingly comes down on the side of the former, as did the reformed tradition which preceded this faithful standard.

Matthew, my hunch is that you could quote any number of modern liberal textual critics to demonstrate that. I solemnly declare to you that the shoe fits me so badly that I have blisters and bleeding from it. ;) So, I'm not sure what you are going to do about people like me, who say that we have the original text uncorrupted

The fundamental point of difference between traditional text advocates and critical text exponents is the belief of the former that the church possesses the word of God over against the misguided opinion of the latter that the church must discover the word of God.

Unfortunately, since the Reformers did textual criticism in order to come up with the TR, this argument can be turned right around and directed back at the TR folk. The methods are at the very least analogous to what modern critics do. The texts have to be weighed and categorized, compared carefully, with all the differences catalogued. Modern text critics are not the only people who could be accused of trying to discover the text. You are driving a rather large wedge between the Reformed world of the 16-17th centuries and Reformed folk of today.

On the issue of earliest manuscripts, no one today uses that as the only criteria. That is only one criteria among many that have to be weighed in each and every instance of variance. Other criteria include family relationships of manuscripts, geographical distribution of variant readings, number of manuscripts (which considerations are known as external evidence), and lectio difficilior, scribal probability, harmonization, etc. for the internal evidence (which is rather subjective, and therefore to be weighed much less than the external evidence). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but modern textual critics are not under the illusion that earlier is better without heavy qualification.

Thomas, you say (to my question about what to do with the variants in the TR manuscripts)

First, I don't do anything with them, I simply receive the established Bible and stand upon it, exercising dominion to the extent I still can between my private and public life upon that established version. I receive it upon the same grounds as I receive the early creeds, and this is the ground the Reformers received it as well.

All I can say to this is that it is a good thing that the Reformers did a bit more work in textual criticism than you would be willing to do. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been a TR. They would have received the first manuscript that fell into their laps and declared that they had received it, and that would be the end of the discussion.

The critical text and the philosophy behind it was brought upon the Church in secrecy, denying Authority of Scripture and attacking its establishment...

This is slanderous. The people who discovered manuscripts immediately published them for all scholars to look over. Westcott and Hort were very open about their methods. Von Soden was open about his methods. Furthermore, modern textual criticism is not the enemy here. The enemy here is people who practice textual criticism from the standpoint of autonomy. The shoe doesn't fit me, Thomas, nor does it fit any other Reformed textual critic. And if you say it does, then I have nothing further to say to you.

The only thing that is argued as a certainty is that the established Authorized Version is full of so many errors, that apparently don't affect any doctrine, but it must be put down nevertheless

Complete and utter straw man. I believe that the KJV was the very best translation of its time, and for many centuries. The issue is not whether it was accurate. The issue is that language changes over time. Here is Psalm 118:148 in the KJV: "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word." This is a perfectly accurate translation that is incomprehensible because of the change in language. How many people today use the word "prevent" in the sense of "come before in time." The KJV translators meant that the person was up before the night watches in order to study the Word. The KJV translators did NOT mean that the Psalmists eyes stopped the night watches from happening. By the way, I happen to own a fascimile of the 1611 KJV. Did you know that the KJV has been modified over time (without a lot of fanfare, I might add!) so that spelling has been standardized, punctuation standardized, etc.? How do you know that you have the real KJV? Why not give people the real KJV in fascimile and ask them to read its practically illegible script?

She accused modern versions as being AntiChrist, and in the light of Scripture, her credentials or credibility, notwithstanding - the textual changes on the identifying traits of what or what is not antichrist is substantively changed in Bible's based upon the critical texts.

Thomas, Riplinger has zero credibility. As I said, I went through the first chapter and detailed all the misquotations. What she did was to quote one modern version and say it was all modern versions, when, as a matter of fact, most of the modern versions agreed with the KJV at that point! Are you seriously agreeing with her that modern versions are the AntiChrist? Again, if so, I have nothing further to say to you. I have already answered your other arguments, and have no wish to continue this conversation with you.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
All I can say to this is that it is a good thing that the Reformers did a bit more work in textual criticism than you would be willing to do. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been a TR. They would have received the first manuscript that fell into their laps and declared that they had received it, and that would be the end of the discussion.

:amen:
While I think a sensible case can be made for Byzantine priority, I would advise TR proponents to study the matter a bit further before coming to such dogmatic conclusions against their brethren. It was a position that I used to hold myself (I was a member of the Trinitarian Bible Society), however, having looked into the subject further I was persuaded that their dogmatism and (in many cases) Separatism over this issue was completely over the top.
 

Stephen

Puritan Board Junior
I would recommend NOT getting Metzger's book as he was quite liberal in his theology...to the point of not even considering the original inspired documents to be inerrant.

I would recommend "A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible"

Are you sure about that brother? He was one of the most noted scholars in the area of textual criticism. He did not deny the innerancy of the original documents. He very much opposed putting gender neutral language in the NRSV. His textbooks are used in a number of Reformed Seminaries. He was certainly not Reformed, but he made a great contribution to the study of the New Testament.
 

Stephen

Puritan Board Junior
Thomas, I hope you are not stating that the KJV is based on the Textus Receptus. If you are then what edition of the KJV is based on the TR? It has been translated many times. The Reformers rejected the KJV and translated the Geneva Bible. The Puritans who came to the U.S did not bring the KJV but the Geneva Bible.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks for your patience, Lane! From your post #27:

“I will briefly respond to the issues raised about Matthew 1. My brief response is that Matthew has very good reasons for saying Asaph and Amos, not Asa and Amon. It was no mistake. First of all, the idea of "begetting" has a larger semantic range than merely father to son. This is proved absolutely conclusively in Matthew 1 by the fact that Matthew deliberately skips three entire generations, thus having grandfathers being said to father their grandchildren. The reason he did that was so that the generations would work out to 3 sets of 14 generations (there is numerical symbolism present here in that DVD, the Hebrew consonants in David's name, corresponds to this numerical setup: the theological point is that Jesus is the Davidic King). However, the semantic range of "begetting" is even larger than direct line of descendents. This is shown by the phrase "children of disobedience," "children of wrath." The idea of generation does not always have to be genealogical. It could be that Matthew simply wanted to include these names in the genealogy for their prophecies and Psalms.”​

It was the Committee which put together both the UBS 4 and NA 27 editions (Drs. Aland; J. Karavidopolous; Carlo Martini, and Bruce Metzger) that spoke on the matter of Asaph and Amos, through Dr. Metzger in his, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition:

Since, however, the evangelist may have derived material for the genealogy, not from the Old Testament directly, but from subsequent genealogical lists, in which the erroneous spelling occurred, the Committee saw no reason to adopt what appears to be a scribal emendation in the text of Matthew. (p.1)

In other words, because of the Committee’s presupposition “that the name ‘Asaph’ is the earliest form of text preserved in the manuscripts” (Ibid.) they decided that Matthew had to have made an error, and this error is recorded in the “earliest and most reliable” MSS, and they weren’t going to tamper with “corrections” made by later scribes. “Like Duh, Matthew! Couldn’t you have found a reliable source!?”

But wait a minute! Although Matthew was the human writer of the first Gospel account, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God….[and] no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20)

But it is not surprising that Dr. Metzger (and presumably – & co.) would aver error in the apostle’s account, for he has said that the Pentateuch was not only not written by Moses, but was not to be taken as history but as “religion”.

In the next post I will quote an article on the topic and then move on.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In the book Dr. Theodore Letis edited (and contributed to), The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate, James A. Borland has an essay, “Re-Examining New Testament Textual-Critical Principles and Practices Used to Negate Inerrancy” [reprinted from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; Vol. 25, No. 4 (December 1982), by permission]. In this essay Borland shows how that one thrust of TC practice is indeed used to negate the inerrancy of the apostles’ original writings; in other words, the apostles were in error in the things they wrote. I quote the opening paragraph of the essay:

Perhaps it is not shocking to assert that Satan uses every means at his disposal to attack the credibility, reliability and authority of God’s Word. He began the assault in the garden with Eve and has not stopped yet. But often his ways are more subtle than the blatant lie succumbed to by Eve. We live in a modern era of sophistication. Even in Biblical and textual studies we hear more and more about the use of computers and other highly technical tools. And Satan is more than willing to accommodate our sophistication in the area of textual criticism. Especially is this so when it occasionally allows men to assert fallibility in the New Testament autographs based on widely accepted principles and practice of textual criticism.​

He briefly surveys the established tenets of NT text critical theory, and then in particular Dr. Hort’s, which postulates the “primacy of the two earliest uncial MSS, Aleph (Sinaiticus) and B (Vaticanus), which date from the middle of the fourth century A.D. These two MSS were given the question-begging designation of being the ‘neutral text.’” He continues,

In short, the resultant practice of these new sophisticated principles was to overturn completely the textual critical practices of the past. Since the majority Byzantine text was judged to be a later text, the supposedly more ancient, more pure “neutral text” was substituted at the junctures of innumerable variants…

In referring to the Westcott and Hort theory, George Ladd approvingly writes, “The basic solution to the textual problem has been almost universally accepted.” He goes on to assert that “it is a seldom disputed fact that critical science has to all intents and purposes recovered the original text of the New Testament.” Ladd believes that “in the search for a good text, piety and devotion can never take the place of knowledge and scholarly judgment.” [the quotes are from Ladd’s book, The New Testament and Criticism (Eerdmans 1967) In a footnote Borland quotes Gordon Fee in the same vein saying, “Fee is equally bold in asserting that ‘the task of NT textual criticism is virtually completed’” (in “Modern Textual Criticism and the revival of the Textus Receptus,” JETS 21, 1978, 19-33).] Yet it is precisely this “almost universally accepted” “knowledge and scholarly judgment” that if followed too often leads to the conclusion that the very autographs of Scripture recorded errors and blunders.​

He then considers more deeply Westcott and Hort’s rules of external evidence regarding the manuscripts (by which they were able to dispose of the testimony of the majority of manuscripts), and then their rules of internal evidence, which came to the forefront after their external rules had gotten rid of the MT. Borland goes on,

Naturally each of these canons [of internal evidence] to a large degree must be subjectively applied. When a decision is difficult in the area of the internal evidence of readings, scholars often resort to the old circular reasoning that “certain MSS tend to support the ‘original’ text more than others and that those MSS are the early Alexandrian. Therefore, when internal evidence cannot decide, Gordon Fee advises, “the safest guide is to go with the ‘best’ MSS.” [Fee, “Textual Criticism of the New Testament,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 431] Thus all too often external evidence is the last resort, and when it is appealed to, the results have already been determined by a preconception of which MSS are the “best.”….[L]et us examine several examples of this prevalent textual-critical method—which ultimately asserts that the autographs did indeed contain incontrovertible mistakes.

In other words, the prevalent textual methodology can be and is being used to deny the inerrancy of the original autographs.

Nearly a century ago George Salmon astutely observed that Westcott and Hort had attributed to the gospel writers “erroneous statements which their predecessors had regarded as copyists’ blunders.” Salmon noted that “there was indeed but little rhetorical exaggeration in the statement that the canon of these editors was that Codex B was infallible and that the Evangelists were not. Nay, it seemed as if Hort regarded it as a note of genuineness if a reading implies error on the part of the sacred writer.” [G. Salmon, Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: John Murray, 1897)]

I. The Case of Asa and Amon

One example of current import is found in the readings of Matthew 1:7, 10. These texts contain part of the kingly genealogy of Christ. Many conservative commentators seem almost oblivious to the problem [and in a footnote he lists a number]. But scholars who do not adhere to the doctrine of inerrancy do not pass up a chance to point out what they consider to be a fallacy in Matthew’s autograph. The majority of all MSS read Asa (Asa; v. 7) and Amon (Amon; v. 10), easily recognized as two kings of Judah who were ancestors of Christ. Matthew’s point is to demonstrate our Lord’s royal lineage. But the United Bible Societies’ text instead chooses alternate readings based on the “better” manuscripts as well as some very subjective internal considerations. They substitute for the kings Asa and Amon the names “Asaph” and “Amos,” a psalmist and prophet respectively. They reason that “the evangelist may have derived material for the genealogy, not from the Old Testament directly, but from subsequent genealogical lists, in which the erroneous spelling occurred.” [B.M. Metzger, et al., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (NY: United Bible Societies, 1971), p.1] Prior to that confident assertion, Bruce Metzger and others, claimed that “most scholars are impressed by the overwhelming weight of textual evidence supporting Asaph.” [Ibid.]

What is the composition of this “overwhelming weight of textual evidence” in favor of the Asaph blunder? Heading the list are the fourth and fifth century codices, Aleph B and C. Next come the minuscules of families 1 and 13 and two eleventh- and twelfth-century cursives, 700 and 1071, followed by fourteenth-century manuscript 209. Among the versions are several Old Latin MSS (notably k, Bobiensis, a fourth or fifth century production), along with others of the seventh century and beyond. The Coptic, following the basic Egyptian text of Aleph and B, agrees; and the Armenian, Ethiopic and Georgian translations, each perhaps related to Caesarean origins (of f1 and f13), indicate Asaph also. In the Harclean Syriac it merits only a listing in the margin. In summary, barely more than a dozen Greek MSS carry the Asaph reading, followed by a few Old Latin MSS, the Coptic and several minor versions.

On the other hand, the expected reading of Asa is found in literally hundreds of Greek witnesses beginning with uncials E K L M U V W G D and P. These MSS date from the fifth through the tenth centuries and no doubt represent a wide geographic distribution, including Washingtoniensis (the Freer Gospels of the fifth century) and Regius (L), which in Metzger’s opinion has a good type of text, “agreeing very frequently with codex Vaticanus.” [Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 2nd ed. (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1968), p. 54] In addition, hundreds of cursives lend their support including numbers of those known “to exhibit a significant degree of independence from the so-called Byzantine manuscript tradition.” [Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. xvii] These would include 33 (the queen of the cursives and constant ally of Aleph and B) and other minuscules beginning with the ninth century. To this may be added the entire bulk of cursive manuscripts that must represent nearly every geographical point where Greek was studied and copied throughout the middle ages and demonstrates an unbroken continuity of evidence sorely lacking in the paucity of material supporting the Asaph reading.

The lectionaries too stand solidly behind Asa, as do a number of Old Latin MSS including the notable fourth-century Vercellensis. the entire Vulgate is another early and uniform witness to Asa—as are the Curetonian, Sinaitic, Peshitta, Harclean and Palestinian versions of the Syriac. To these may be added both Ephiphanius and Augustine of the first quarter of the fifth century. Only a preconceived notion as to which witnesses are best would cause anyone to deny that the truly “overwhelming weight of textual evidence” favors the traditional reading of Asa.

If such is the case, then Asaph should be viewed as an early scribal blunder injudiciously copied into (fortunately) only a handful of Greek MSS. The evidence for Amon versus Amos in Matthew 1:10 is somewhat similar. It is difficult to believe that Matthew, no doubt an educated literary Jewish writer, was incapable of distinguishing between the Hebrew ’āsā’ and ’āsāp’ or between the even more distinguishable ‘āmôn and ‘āmôs. Not only would he have known the names of Israel’s kings by memory, but he probably would have used the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 3:10-14 in securing the names he used.

Lest one thinks this all amounts to academic irrelevance, we should be aware that the Revised Standard Version places the prophet’s name Amos in the text of Matthew 1:10 with the note “other authorities read Amon.” The Catholic New American Bible (1970) reads Amos without explanation. The American Standard Version, the RSV and the New American Standard Bible each read Asa for Matthew 1:7 but append a note indicating that the Greek reads Asaph. But where does the reading for Asa come if not from the Greek? The ASV and NASB do the same for Amos in Matthew 1:10, and the Jerusalem Bible is similar. At the least, this nomenclature is certainly inconsistent with the usual way of introducing a textual variant. We might well believe that Matthew got his kings, prophets and psalmists a bit confused! (excerpted from pp. 46-52)​
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
To reply briefly, you haven't addressed my arguments. You have addressed Metzger's erroneous arguments. The fact that I agree with Metzger's conclusion as to the correct reading has nothing to do with how we got there. Metzger's argumentation posits an error in the original. My argumentation does not. To argue that because Metzger argued this way, we should ditch the critical text is not logical. Further, arguments against Metzger are not arguments against me.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Lane, I’d like to respond to a couple of things you said, one in response to a statement of mine. First, my statement:

By Steve

These 90% [of mss] are what is called the Traditional or Majority or Byzantine textform, in contradistinction to the Critical textform, which is not Byzantine but Alexandrian.

And you replied,

By Lane

This is highly inaccurate. Modern textual criticism is *eclectic,* not *Alexandrian* only. It is fair to say that the Alexandrian text-type is more heavily weighted, usually, in modern textual traditions. However, there are many examples in the NA 27th where the Alexandrian text-type is *rejected.*

At another point you said

By Lane

It seems to me that a lot of TR folk are arguing against Westcott and Hort, who were overly imbalanced in favor of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Modern textual criticism is much more eclectic, and gives much more weight to the Byzantine text form than WH did. The arguments against WH are not applicable to today's eclectic methods.

What you say, Lane, has merit to it. Eclectic critics do pick and choose among the various manuscripts, varying from the older WH dominance, and often picking Byzantine readings over the Alexandrian. I can’t argue with that. However (and it’s a BIG however!), in the main those readings that are distinctively Alexandrian (per B, [size=+1]a[/size], and P75, along with a few others) are continued in the “eclectic” texts, so they might say they are not Alexandrian – with an element of truth in that – but as regards the distinctive Alexandrian variants they contain they might as well be.

I respond a bit more at length to these points:

Concerning my referring to what some will term the outdated methodology of FJA Hort, consider:

It has been said by Dr. James White that “While modern Greek texts are not identical to that created by Westcott and Hort, one will still find defenders of the AV drawing in black and white, saying that all modern versions are based upon their work.” (The King James Only Controversy, by James White [Bethany, 1995], p. 99). Is not this equivalent to saying, “Modern versions are not based upon the W&H Greek text”?

For those interested in looking at this issue, I suggest David Cloud’s book, Examining “The King James Only Controversy" – the link is to the online version’s part 3 – and enter into your browser’s Find feature WHITE DENIES A DIRECT CONNECTION to be taken to the section on this. An excerpt from that section:

White and many others attempting to discredit King James Bible defense also claim that Westcott and Hort are not important because (as they say) "the modern versions (NASV and NIV) are not based on the Alexandrian text or on the Westcott and Hort text. They are based on an eclectic text which sometimes favors the TR over Aleph or B."

This is true as far as it goes, but it ignores the heart of the issue. The fact is that the United Bible Societies (UBS) text is almost identical to the W-H text of 1881 in significant departures from the Received Text. For example, both the W-H and the UBS delete or question almost the same number of verses (WH--48, UBS--45). Both delete almost the same number of significant portions of verses (WH--193, UBS 185). Both delete almost the same number of names and titles of the Lord (WH--221, UBS--212). An extensive comparison of the TR against the WH text, the Nestle’s Text, the UBS text, and key English versions was done by the late Everett Fowler and can be seen in his book Evaluating Versions of the New Testament, available from Bible for Today.

The W-H text of 1881 and the latest edition of the United Bible Societies’ text differ only in relatively minor points. Both represent the same TYPE of text with the same TYPE of departures from the Received Text.

The fact is that the Westcott-Hort text represents the first widely-accepted departure from the TR in the post-Reformation era, and the modern English versions descend directly from it. It is a very significant text and its editors are highly significant to the history of textual criticism. Any man who discounts the continuing significance of Westcott-Hort in the field of Bible texts and versions is probably trying to throw up a smoke screen to hide something. [In the hard-copy book, this section is found on pp. 88-91 –SMR]​

[end of Cloud]
------------

[The following, in the same vein, is from a paper of my own.] The two MSS, [size=+1]a[/size] and B, are the basis of both Westcott and Hort’s Greek Revision supplanting the TR, and subsequently most all modern Bible versions.

This is to show the vital connection between the W&H text and the modern versions, a connection denied by both Alan Kurschner and Dr. White. In 1928 textual critic and scholar, Professor Kirsopp Lake of Harvard, wrote:

…more important than anything else was the publication of the critical text and introduction of Drs. Westcott and Hort…This work is the foundation of nearly all modern criticism, and demands close attention.[1]​

In 1964 Greek scholar J. Harold Greenlee was still able to affirm,

The textual theories of W-H underlie virtually all subsequent work in NT criticism.[2]​

In 1990 Philip Wesley Comfort, textual critic and scholar, although lauding new manuscript discoveries (from Egypt), still builds upon the Hortian theory, maintains the foundational validity of his and Westcott’s text, and supports his “minority” readings.[3] In The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament,[4] Alfred Marshall (editor) states (p. xix) that although the Greek text used in the interlinear is Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece (based essentially on W&H’s Greek Revision), the NIV uses “an eclectic” Greek text (i.e., the translators choose from various readings). But in practice the NIV – and modern versions generally – retain the distinctive readings which are found in the W&H text.


1 The Text of the New Testament, by Kirsopp Lake (London: Rivingtons, 1928), page 67.
2 Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, by J.H. Greenlee (MI: Wm. B. Erdmanns Publishers Co., 1964), page 78.
3 Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament, by Philip Wesley Comfort (MI: Baker Books, 1996 ed,), pages 12, 13, and 14.
4 (MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976).

--------------

This all to clear the ground a bit to further discuss the things you spoke of, Lane.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
What is wrong with the Alexandrian texts? Why is there prejudice against them? The TR was received in the time of the Reformation. The Alexandrian texts are received now. What's the difference in how these came to the church?

I don't deny that WH is foundational. I just want to make sure that arguments that might have applied to WH are not applied to modern eclectic texts, since modern eclectic texts do not ignore any manuscript tradition, unlike the TR tradition, which wants to throw out the Alexandrian manuscripts completely.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Come on, Lane, you say “it was no mistake” Matthew wrote Asaph and Amos….and then discuss the “semantic range” of the word “begetting” (which I find no fault with per se), and end with, “It could be that Matthew simply wanted to include these names in the genealogy for their prophecies and Psalms.” [emphasis mine –SMR] Isn’t that somewhat lame? Why, for the sake of “their prophecies and Psalms,” would he falsify the genealogical record? It doesn’t make sense. It’s too far-fetched. What on earth do their prophecies and psalms have to do with literal royal forebears? “Semantic range” is too feeble a reason to explain such a discrepancy.

I interacted with Metzger’s argument because it had more substance to it, and it showed the specific reason why this vagary was foisted upon the church – it was the decision of the textual critics, based upon their presuppositions.

Sorry to depart. In this part of the world it’s way past my bedtime. Back tomorrow.

I'll continue the discussion then. I have a list of the things you mentioned earlier to discuss, such as you just mentioned in your latest.

Steve
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I believe that you are taking a modern approach to an ancient text. In other words, history has to look a certain way for it to be history. Otherwise, it is "falsifying" the genealogical record. Why would this be a falsifying of the record, given the fact that Matthew already omitted three whole generations? By your argument, all the manuscripts are wrong here, because they do not follow the genealogies in Kings and Chronicles. In fact, how dare Matthew falsify the genealogical record by omitting three whole generations? The fact is that this is ancient history writing, not modern, meaning NOT that it is less accurate, but that it has broader aims. Every historian picks and chooses the facts that he wants to portray (witness the fact that we have four Gospels). Matthew picked and chose the names that he wanted to include in his genealogy, including Asaph and Asa. Besides this, you still have not answered the alternate spelling argument. In any case, these are two ways to explain why the critical text has the readings it does without resorting to Metzger's arguments, which posit an error in the original. There is no reason that any scribe would intentionally change Asa to Asaph, is there? But there is definite reason why a scribe might change Asaph to Asa, since this more closely matches the Kings/Chronicles genealogies (but doesn't necessarily match Matthew's theology). What you have to reckon with here is that the final explanation for a variant's reading must be able to explain why all the other variants arose, or it is not the best reading. I can explain easily the origin of the reading Asa. You cannot explain the origin of the reading Asaph.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Matthew, my hunch is that you could quote any number of modern liberal textual critics to demonstrate that. I solemnly declare to you that the shoe fits me so badly that I have blisters and bleeding from it. ;) So, I'm not sure what you are going to do about people like me, who say that we have the original text uncorrupted.

The method itself presupposes a corrupted text; the liberal critics are merely stating a reasonable conclusion based on the experience of their research. What are we to do with reformed people who take it on board? Point out the painfulness of trying to walk both sides of a barbed wire fence. :D

Unfortunately, since the Reformers did textual criticism in order to come up with the TR, this argument can be turned right around and directed back at the TR folk. The methods are at the very least analogous to what modern critics do. The texts have to be weighed and categorized, compared carefully, with all the differences catalogued. Modern text critics are not the only people who could be accused of trying to discover the text. You are driving a rather large wedge between the Reformed world of the 16-17th centuries and Reformed folk of today.

Again, no one denies that a textual criticism of sorts is necessary. The difference between the reformers and modern critics was the belief of the reformers that the text of the NT is that which has been "received" by the church. There was no divorce between canon and text, higher and lower criticism. MS. evidence merely bore witness to the text. Modern critics make MS. evidence the judge and jury of the case. Here again we find modern reformed exponents of the critical text to be inconsistent, maintaining one criterion for canon and an alotogether inconsistent criterion for text.

On the issue of earliest manuscripts, no one today uses that as the only criteria. That is only one criteria among many that have to be weighed in each and every instance of variance. Other criteria include family relationships of manuscripts, geographical distribution of variant readings, number of manuscripts (which considerations are known as external evidence), and lectio difficilior, scribal probability, harmonization, etc. for the internal evidence (which is rather subjective, and therefore to be weighed much less than the external evidence). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but modern textual critics are not under the illusion that earlier is better without heavy qualification.

These other criteria are merely subjective tools; the genealogical theory of the critic predominates his choice of readings. One needs only to consult Metzger's Textual Commentary to see this is the case.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
The method itself presupposes a corrupted text; the liberal critics are merely stating a reasonable conclusion based on the experience of their research. What are we to do with reformed people who take it on board? Point out the painfulness of trying to walk both sides of a barbed wire fence. :D

I don't see the critical method as implying this. I see the critical method as positing that the original text is there among all the manuscripts. Plus, the word "corrupt" is ambiguous. If you mean are there mistakes made by the copiers, then every text is corrupt. If you mean that the texts are unable to be used as the inerrant basis for our faith, then no, the manuscripts are not corrupt.

Again, no one denies that a textual criticism of sorts is necessary. The difference between the reformers and modern critics was the belief of the reformers that the text of the NT is that which has been "received" by the church. There was no divorce between canon and text, higher and lower criticism. MS. evidence merely bore witness to the text. Modern critics make MS. evidence the judge and jury of the case. Here again we find modern reformed exponents of the critical text to be inconsistent, maintaining one criterion for canon and an alotogether inconsistent criterion for text.

What prevents us from saying that the newly discovered manuscripts are currently received by the church? Unless, of course, you wish to define the church in such a way that 99% of the church isn't the church. Besides this, TR people make manuscript evidence the basis for judgment as well: the manuscripts that they had were compared and contrasted in order to come up with the TR. That is the same thing that is being done today. Again, I have not yet seen any reason to reject the Alexandrian text from the discussion. I reject no Byzantine text, and yet you reject outright the Alexandrian texts.


These other criteria are merely subjective tools; the genealogical theory of the critic predominates his choice of readings. One needs only to consult Metzger's Textual Commentary to see this is the case.

There were several criteria that I mentioned that are not subjective in the slightest, such as geographical diversity of readings, which heavily favors the eclectic method.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I don't see the critical method as implying this. I see the critical method as positing that the original text is there among all the manuscripts. Plus, the word "corrupt" is ambiguous. If you mean are there mistakes made by the copiers, then every text is corrupt. If you mean that the texts are unable to be used as the inerrant basis for our faith, then no, the manuscripts are not corrupt.

It seems you're using "text" as that which is written on a piece of paper instead of that which is the form of the text. I'm using "text" in the latter sense. The point I am making is that modern textual critics hypothesise corruption into the text form, that is, the loss of the original NT text by the second century, and subsequently aver the task of the text critic is one of recovery. And when they do this, they can only confidently lay claim to having recovered a particular text form which they regard to be the earliest, and that this text form dates back to the fourth century, with occasional attestations from the third and second centuries.

What prevents us from saying that the newly discovered manuscripts are currently received by the church? Unless, of course, you wish to define the church in such a way that 99% of the church isn't the church. Besides this, TR people make manuscript evidence the basis for judgment as well: the manuscripts that they had were compared and contrasted in order to come up with the TR. That is the same thing that is being done today. Again, I have not yet seen any reason to reject the Alexandrian text from the discussion. I reject no Byzantine text, and yet you reject outright the Alexandrian texts.

I do not reject outright the Alexandrian texts. Where these agree with the traditional text they serve as a confirming witness. There are points where variant readings can be exegetical, and serve to show us how original Greek speakers of a later era interpreted the NT text.

Nothing prevents us from saying newly discovered MSS are currently received by the church. That is a sad reality. But the fact is, the readings and especially the omissions in those MSS were once rejected by the reformed church.

There were several criteria that I mentioned that are not subjective in the slightest, such as geographical diversity of readings, which heavily favors the eclectic method.

Geographical diversity is merely an offshoot of the genealogical principle. Given the current theory of priority as to which influenced what, it remains a subjective criteria. If on genealogical principles the critic maintains the Byzantine text form is mostly a conflation of readings, the presence of a variant from that tradition is not really taken seriously.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
It seems you're using "text" as that which is written on a piece of paper instead of that which is the form of the text. I'm using "text" in the latter sense. The point I am making is that modern textual critics hypothesise corruption into the text form, that is, the loss of the original NT text by the second century, and subsequently aver the task of the text critic is one of recovery. And when they do this, they can only confidently lay claim to having recovered a particular text form which they regard to be the earliest, and that this text form dates back to the fourth century, with occasional attestations from the third and second centuries.

I'm not quite following your distinction between something written and something which is the "form" of the text, and how that affects my argument. Could you help me out a bit, brother?

I do not reject outright the Alexandrian texts. Where these agree with the traditional text they serve as a confirming witness. There are points where variant readings can be exegetical, and serve to show us how original Greek speakers of a later era interpreted the NT text.

Nothing prevents us from saying newly discovered MSS are currently received by the church. That is a sad reality. But the fact is, the readings and especially the omissions in those MSS were once rejected by the reformed church.

On what basis do you say that the Alexandrian texts were rejected by the Reformed church? The manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, for instance, were not discovered or known until the 19th century. Furthermore, you seem to be disenfranchising the Alexandrian church. Were they not part of the church? Did they not receive those texts when they were written? Is the Reformation the only part of church history that matters with regard to textual criticism? I was thinking about why it is that the Alexandrian text-form has so few manuscripts. Then it hit me: Alexandria was over-run by Islam in the Middle Ages. That's probably why these texts have not come out into the open before now. It is still a theory right now. However, that Alexandria was over-run by Islam is not theory. And I can easily believe that Islamic groups would not be very favorable to retaining NT manuscripts. If the Reformation had much of any Alexandrian texts to reject, they were so few that the balance of weight would still favor the Byzantine text-form at the time. But the Reformers never had an opportunity to reject the more full-orbed Alexandrian tradition that we have now. To say otherwise seems anachronistic to me.


Geographical diversity is merely an offshoot of the genealogical principle. Given the current theory of priority as to which influenced what, it remains a subjective criteria. If on genealogical principles the critic maintains the Byzantine text form is mostly a conflation of readings, the presence of a variant from that tradition is not really taken seriously.

I simply cannot go with this. The country of origin is fairly well-known for many if not most manuscripts. So there is definitely an element there that is not subjective in the slightest. The connection with genealogical principle can be granted. However, the genealogical principle by no means exhausts the geographical principle.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
On what basis do you say that the Alexandrian texts were rejected by the Reformed church? The manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, for instance, were not discovered or known until the 19th century. Furthermore, you seem to be disenfranchising the Alexandrian church. Were they not part of the church? Did they not receive those texts when they were written? Is the Reformation the only part of church history that matters with regard to textual criticism? I was thinking about why it is that the Alexandrian text-form has so few manuscripts. Then it hit me: Alexandria was over-run by Islam in the Middle Ages. That's probably why these texts have not come out into the open before now. It is still a theory right now. However, that Alexandria was over-run by Islam is not theory. And I can easily believe that Islamic groups would not be very favorable to retaining NT manuscripts. If the Reformation had much of any Alexandrian texts to reject, they were so few that the balance of weight would still favor the Byzantine text-form at the time. But the Reformers never had an opportunity to reject the more full-orbed Alexandrian tradition that we have now. To say otherwise seems anachronistic to me.

If your theory is correct, and even if it isn't, is there any way we can say with certainty that the Alexandrian texts were 'received' by any church? It is my understanding, correct me if I'm wrong, that when they were discovered, the Alexandrian texts were not being used by any church. What eveidence do we have that they were ever truly used by any church at any time?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Fair question. I would say that the it is difficult to argue one way or the other as to whether they were received. However, the fact that an Alexandrian text-type exists surely proves that the Alexandrian text-type itself was used in Alexandria. There are a lot more than one Alexandrian manuscript. Plus, there are no Byzantine texts from Alexandria! Therefore, the Byzantine text-type was not received in all branches of the church, at least in the fourth century. I'm sure that this was because the Byzantine texts were not distributed. So, I could turn the question around and say this: what reception in the third and fourth centuries did the Byzantine text-form have in the West and in Alexandria? Is there any evidence at all of the Byzantine text being received in all branches of the church at that time?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm not quite following your distinction between something written and something which is the "form" of the text, and how that affects my argument. Could you help me out a bit, brother?

A "text form" is not a text which exists in any particular MS. per se, but a uniformity of readings over numerous MSS.

On what basis do you say that the Alexandrian texts were rejected by the Reformed church? The manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, for instance, were not discovered or known until the 19th century.

Again, you are confining your comments to particular MSS. rather than to the text form. The Alexandrian readings were well known to the reformers and their successors. The existence of these "variants" formed the basis for the Roman Catholic claim that the fountains are corrupted. Some Alexandrian corruptions are to be found in the Vulgate itself. The reformers insisted that the fountains were not corrupted, that God had preserved His living Word with "singular" providence, and rejected the Alexandrian readings of the Vulgate together with the translations which were founded on it.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
With a claim this sweeping, it is only fair to ask about the sources which have led you to this conclusion. The Vatican never let Vaticanus out of its library until the 1880-1890's. Sinaiticus was not available. Many of the Alexandrian papyri also were not available. This raises the question of how much of the Alexandrian tradition there was to reject. Yes, I do bring up individual manuscripts. In fact, I have brought up the most important Alexandrian manuscripts precisely to address this point. The fact that some have abused the manuscript tradition to argue for corruption in the text is not even remotely a logical argument against the manuscripts themselves, or against the text-form. I dare say that I would have argued with the Reformers, since there were hardly any Alexandrian texts available, and thus it was easy to argue that the Alexandrian tradition was an aberration. However, that is not true anymore.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
With a claim this sweeping, it is only fair to ask about the sources which have led you to this conclusion. The Vatican never let Vaticanus out of its library until the 1880-1890's. Sinaiticus was not available. Many of the Alexandrian papyri also were not available. This raises the question of how much of the Alexandrian tradition there was to reject. Yes, I do bring up individual manuscripts. In fact, I have brought up the most important Alexandrian manuscripts precisely to address this point. The fact that some have abused the manuscript tradition to argue for corruption in the text is not even remotely a logical argument against the manuscripts themselves, or against the text-form. I dare say that I would have argued with the Reformers, since there were hardly any Alexandrian texts available, and thus it was easy to argue that the Alexandrian tradition was an aberration. However, that is not true anymore.

In this thread: http://www.puritanboard.com/f63/do-textual-variants-give-us-confidence-22188/ Mr. Rafalsky posted the following from an article titled "REFORMATION EDITORS LACKED SUFFICIENT MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE" by David Cloud:

THE VATICANUS READINGS WERE KNOWN AND REJECTED BY THE PROTESTANT
TRANSLATORS

Erasmus, Stephanus, and other sixteenth century editors had access to the
manuscript from the Vatican called Codex B, the manuscript most preferred
by Westcott and Hort and the English Revised translation committee. Yet
this manuscript was rejected as corrupt by the Bible publishers of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Consider the following quotation from Benjamin Wilkinson, author of Our
Authorized Bible Vindicated:

"The problems presented by these two manuscripts [the Vaticanus and the
Sinaiticus] were well known, not only to the translators of the King James,
but also to Erasmus. We are told that the Old Testament portion of the
Vaticanus has been printed since 1587. The third great edition is that
commonly known as the `Sixtine,' published at Rome in 1587 under Pope
Sixtus V ... Substantially, the `Sixtine' edition gives the text of B ...
The `Sixtine' served as the basis for most of the ordinary editions of the
LXX for just three centuries" (Ottley, Handbooks of the Septuagint, p. 64).

"We are informed by another author that, if Erasmus had desired, he could
have secured a transcript of this manuscript" (Bissell, Historic Origin of
the Bible, p. 84).

"There was no necessity, however, for Erasmus to obtain a transcript
because he was in correspondence with Professor Paulus Bombasius at Rome,
who sent him such variant readings as he wished" (S.P. Tregelles, On the
Printed Text of the Greek Testament, p. 22).

"A correspondent of Erasmus in 1533 sent that scholar a number of selected
readings from it [Codex B], as proof [or so says that correspondent] of its
superiority to the Received Text" (Frederic Kenyon, Our Bible and the
Ancient Manuscripts, Harper & Brothers, 1895, fourth edition 1939, p. 138).

"Erasmus, however, rejected these varying readings of the Vatican
Manuscript because he considered from the massive evidence of his day that
the Received Text was correct. ...

"We have already given authorities to show that the Sinaitic Manuscript is
a brother of the Vaticanus. Practically all of the problems of any serious
nature which are presented by the Sinaitic, are the problems of the
Vaticanus. Therefore the [editors of the 1500s and the] translators of 1611
had available all the variant readings of these manuscripts and rejected
them.

"The following words from Dr. Kenrick, Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia,
will support the conclusion that the translators of the King James knew the
readings of Codices Aleph, A, B, C, D, where they differed from the
Received Text and denounced them. Bishop Kenrick published an English
translation of the Catholic Bible in 1849. I quote from the preface:

"`Since the famous manuscripts of Rome, Alexandria, Cambridge, Paris, and
Dublin were examined ... a verdict has been obtained in favor of the
Vulgate. At the Reformation, the Greek Text, as it then stood, was taken as
a standard, in conformity to which the versions of the Reformers were
generally made; whilst the Latin Vulgate was depreciated, or despised, as a
mere version'" (H. Cotton, quoted in Rheims and Douay, p. 155).

"In other words, the readings of these much boasted manuscripts, recently
made available, are [largely] those of the Vulgate. The Reformers knew of
these readings and rejected them, as well as the Vulgate. ...

"On the other hand, if more manuscripts have been made accessible since
1611, little use has been made of what we had before and of the majority of
those made available since. The Revisers systematically ignored the whole
world of manuscripts and relied practically on only three or four. As Dean
Burgon says, "But nineteen-twentieths of those documents, for any use which
has been made of them, might just as well be still lying in the monastic
libraries from which they were obtained."

"We feel, therefore, that a mistaken picture of the case has been presented
with reference to the material at the disposition of the translators of
1611 and concerning their ability to use that material." <Benjamin G.
Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated.>

To this testimony I add one more quote:

"In the margin of this edition [his fourth] Stephanus entered variant
readings taken from the Complutensian edition and also 14 manuscripts, one
of which is thought to have been Codex D." If this was not actually Codex
D, at the very least it was another one of that small family of manuscripts
which presents a similar reading that contradicts the majority text."
<Hills, p. 204.>

ERASMUS KNEW OF THE VARIANT READINGS PREFERRED BY MODERN TRANSLATORS

The notes which Erasmus placed in his editions of the Greek New Testament
prove that he was completely informed of the variant readings which have
found their way into the modern translations since 1881.

Even though Erasmus did not have access to all of the manuscripts
translators can use today, there can be no doubt that he did have access to
the variant readings in other ways.

"Through his study of the writings of Jerome and other Church Fathers
Erasmus became very well informed concerning the variant readings of the
New Testament text. Indeed almost all the important variant readings known
to scholars today were already known to Erasmus more than 460 years ago and
discussed in the notes (previously prepared) which he placed after the text
in his editions of the Greek New Testament. Here, for example, Erasmus
dealt with such problem passages as the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer
(Matt. 6:13), the interview of the rich young man with Jesus (Matt. 19:17-
22), the ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), the angelic song (Luke 2:14), the
angel, agony, and bloody seat omitted (Luke 22:43-44), the woman taken in
adultery (John 7:53-8:11), and the mystery of godliness (I Tim. 3:16)."
<Hills, pp. 198-199.>
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
"Through his study of the writings of Jerome and other Church Fathers
Erasmus became very well informed concerning the variant readings of the
New Testament text. Indeed almost all the important variant readings known
to scholars today were already known to Erasmus more than 460 years ago and
discussed in the notes (previously prepared) which he placed after the text
in his editions of the Greek New Testament. Here, for example, Erasmus
dealt with such problem passages as the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer
(Matt. 6:13), the interview of the rich young man with Jesus (Matt. 19:17-
22), the ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), the angelic song (Luke 2:14), the
angel, agony, and bloody seat omitted (Luke 22:43-44), the woman taken in
adultery (John 7:53-8:11), and the mystery of godliness (I Tim. 3:16)."
<Hills, pp. 198-199.>

Since it is the case that scholars have known about these things, and debated them for centuries, then are we likely to sort out the dispute with posts on the PB?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ken, you beat me to it, but I’m glad you posted the entire piece by Cloud.


Lane, responding to your post #45:

I appreciate Matthew’s is not a “modern” genealogy, and that ancient writers would often abbreviate lineage, especially when the line was well known. There are many ideas as to why the number 14 was so prominent in Matthew’s. Some say that “the numerical value of 'David' in Hebrew is fourteen” (Cf., D.A. Carson, EBC, p. 69), others that there was mystical meaning in the number to Matthew’s contemporaries (Leon Morris, [Eerdmans 1992], p. 25); David Cloud (quoting George DeHoff’s book on alleged contradictions) says, “The Jewish genealogies are marvels of accuracy even in this modern age. Every genealogy does what it purports to do—even an infidel could not ask more. There are genealogies which leave out some names. The object in such cases was not to include every name but to keep a regular line of descent; hence sometimes a genealogy may be found which skips from grandfather to grandson.”

Your point here is well taken: “The idea of generation does not always have to be genealogical.” But when you add, “It could be that Matthew simply wanted to include these names in the genealogy for their prophecies and Psalms”, you descend into speculation bordering on the absurd. For Matthew is clearly writing of lineage, not moving elsewhere in the “semantic range” of the word “generations”! You do your defense in behalf of the CT or ET a disservice when you grasp at such will-o’-the-wisp exegeses!

Because you can find an aberrant form of the aberrant LXX which contains the error of Amos for Amon (post #27) doesn’t make your case. When I say “aberrant” for the LXX itself I refer to the fact that it has been back-corrected in places to conform to the NT readings (see thread http://www.puritanboard.com/f63/psalm-14-3-lxx-15502/ for example), so this is not a good source for precision in wording, in my view. There are many other criticisms which may be leveled at the LXX, but this is not the place to do it.

The alternate spellings for the king of Babylon in the Masoretic Text are found, not in Daniel, but in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and evidently these were acceptable, but to have Matthew write names which were not accepted (I do not include a lone variant or two in LXX mss “accepted” as alternate spellings), but rather distinct spellings for other men’s names, is error, plain and simple, no matter how you try to defend it.

You said,

“There is no reason that any scribe would intentionally change Asa to Asaph, is there? But there is definite reason why a scribe might change Asaph to Asa, since this more closely matches the Kings/Chronicles genealogies (but doesn't necessarily match Matthew's theology). What you have to reckon with here is that the final explanation for a variant's reading must be able to explain why all the other variants arose, or it is not the best reading. I can explain easily the origin of the reading Asa. You cannot explain the origin of the reading Asaph.”​

A scribe could easily write Asaph in error (and on the face of it it is an error), without it being deliberate. The origin of the reading Asa is that it is from Matthew’s pen, and reflects the authentic lineage, and was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The fact remains the CT has Matthew err, despite your protestations.

But I really want to get at a more basic issue – and one that drives your presuppositions.

These are some questions/statements you have made. I compile them so as to answer them:

post #18 “In your mind, what elevates the Reformation editors, and the texts used in the Reformation, over the early third and fourth century manuscripts that are Alexandrian? Were the Alexandrians not part of the church? Why is the Alexandrian text-form illegitimate?”

post #49 “On what basis do you say that the Alexandrian texts were rejected by the Reformed church? The manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, for instance, were not discovered or known until the 19th century. Furthermore, you seem to be disenfranchising the Alexandrian church. Were they not part of the church? Did they not receive those texts when they were written? Is the Reformation the only part of church history that matters with regard to textual criticism? I was thinking about why it is that the Alexandrian text-form has so few manuscripts. Then it hit me: Alexandria was over-run by Islam in the Middle Ages. That's probably why these texts have not come out into the open before now. It is still a theory right now. However, that Alexandria was over-run by Islam is not theory. And I can easily believe that Islamic groups would not be very favorable to retaining NT manuscripts. If the Reformation had much of any Alexandrian texts to reject, they were so few that the balance of weight would still favor the Byzantine text-form at the time. But the Reformers never had an opportunity to reject the more full-orbed Alexandrian tradition that we have now. To say otherwise seems anachronistic to me.”​

To answer these thoughts. First, Vaticanus (B) has been in the Vatican Library at least since 1481, when it was catalogued. Erasmus knew of it, as one of his friends in Rome, Professor Paulus Bombasius, often sent him readings from it – many readings – and he rejected them as departures from the common text accepted by the people of God, and from the Greek texts he came into contact with during his travels and searching out of manuscripts. Nor will it do to say he did not know the people of God, belonging to Rome as he did, because he fellowshipped with Protestants (and died among them), and was intimately acquainted with some of their teachers. The Reformers did know of the Vaticanus readings.

In John Owen’s day, Brian Walton published his Biblia Polyglotta, which was intended to attack the Reformation’s text – the Textus Receptus – and it exhibited the variants, including Vaticanus’, in this (ultimately Romish) attempt to subvert the Reformation.

Ted Letis has done remarkable research (well documented) in this area, in his book, The Majority Text, and I highlight the essay, “John Owen Versus Brian Walton.” Also David Cloud, in his, Myths About the Modern Versions, the chapter on Erasmus and the one following, “Myth Number Two: Reformation Editors Lacked Sufficient Manuscript Evidence,” gives abundant documentation that the variant readings of B were well known at that time. Aleph, or Sinaiticus, is another story. It was as you say, discovered in the 1800s; but this leads to another topic. Seeing as Aleph ([size=+1]a[/size]) is, after B, the main exemplar of the Alexandrian textform, and is one of the “oldest and most reliable manuscripts” (per the margin notes of the modern versions), it is an odd circumstance that it differs from its co-exemplar in many places.

It will be edifying to see how these two manuscripts were resurrected from obscurity into places of prominence in the 19th century, and to take a brief peek at what the characters of each are.

Herman C. Hoskier was a textual scholar of the Greek New Testament who minutely examined and then opposed Westcott and Hort’s principal texts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in a two-volume study. The first is titled, Codex B And Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment; the second volume, which we will quote from here, is titled, Codex B And Its Allies, Part II: Chiefly concerning [size=+1]a[/size], but covering three thousand differences between and [size=+1]a[/size] and B in the Four Gospels, with the evidence supporting each side, including the new manuscript evidence collected by VON SODEN, and the collateral readings of other important authorities.(1) Hoskier states,

In the light of the following huge lists let us never be told in the future that either [size=+1]a[/size] or B represents any form of “Neutral” text…

Our little study [after the examination of B in Volume I] would be quite incomplete without a further account of the idiosyncrasies of [size=+1]a[/size]. This is best shown by exhibiting the principal places where [size=+1]a[/size] and B differ, which, in number, far exceed what anyone might suppose who does not go deeply into the comparative study of the two documents. As a matter of fact the “shorter” text of the two is found in [size=+1]a[/size] …

I have tabulated the major part of these differences between [size=+1]a[/size] and B in the Gospels and given the supporting authorities on each side. They amount to—

Matt……..656+
Mark…….567+
Luke…….791+
John……1022+
Total....3036+ (2)​

Hoskier’s study continues on for 381 pages of documentation (412 including a Scriptural index), if anyone is interested in pursuing a comparative examination of [size=+1]a[/size] and B, the foundation of all critical texts.
----------
(1) Codex B And Its Allies, by Herman C. Hoskier (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914).
(2) Ibid., Vol. II, page 1.
-----------

In a courtroom when two witnesses testifying to the same matter disagree sharply with one another, they cannot be called “reliable” witnesses, but rather they impugn one another’s testimony. And when such unreliable witnesses are scrutinized in the light of a virtual multitude of other witnesses who disagree with the two while agreeing with one another, the evidence becomes preponderant in favor of the majority. Mere “age” of a manuscript may easily be offset by other more weighty factors. It is a given regarding the condition of a manuscript that those exhibiting the least wear have been used the least; often it is because they have been set aside as of inferior quality. In my own library the books that are in the worst shape, and which sometimes have to be replaced, are those I use the most. Those in the best shape I use the least.

[size=+1]a[/size] was discovered by Tischendorf at St. Catharine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery on Mt. Sinai in 1844. Vaticanus has been in the Vatican Library at least since 1481, when it was catalogued, as noted above. Those with some historical knowledge will remember that these were the years of the Inquisition in Spain during the reign of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484). In 1481 some 2,000 believers dissenting with Rome were burned alive, with multitudes of others tortured (M’Crie, History of the Reformation in Spain, p. 104). When Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) sat in the royal “Throne of Peter,” he followed in the vein of his namesake Innocent III and commenced anew a persecution against the peaceful Waldensian Christians in the northern Italian Alps, commanding their destruction “like venomous snakes” if they would not repent and turn to Rome. (Wylie, History of the Waldenses, pp. 27-29) Bloodbaths followed against these harmless mountain peoples, who had their own Scriptures from ancient times, and worshipped in Biblical simplicity and order.

It perplexes many people that the Lord of these many hundreds of thousands of Bible-believing saints who were tortured with unimaginable barbarity and slaughtered like dogs by the Roman Catholic “church” for centuries (it is no exaggeration to say for over a millennium) should have kept His choicest preserved manuscript in the safekeeping of the Library of the apostate murderers, designating it by their own ignominious name: Vaticanus.

I am indebted to David Cloud’s research for some the historical information above.

I will answer more of your questions/remarks, Lane (particularly concerning the Alexandrian church, and the transmission of their manuscripts), but for the moment I have to focus my mind on my sermons for tomorrow. I appreciate your willing to engage in this discussion, especially in an amicable spirit.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Daniel, you said, “Since it is the case that scholars have known about these things, and debated them for centuries, then are we likely to sort out the dispute with posts on the PB?”

That’s a good point. My own purpose in posting re this “debate” is to show those seeking understanding of this matter that the KJV and TR position can be held to – and defended – by thinking, intelligent, godly believers, contra the disinformation that is widely spread about them, and not only that, but that our position is the most reasonable and in accord with the Biblical statements concerning the preservation of the Scripture. I submit a brief excerpt from the “Answering Alan Kurschner” thread to show how this disparity of views comes to be:

----------

Just as we stand on God’s word as regards the creation account in Genesis, despite all the supposed evidences of the evolutionists and evolutionary theorists – believing His word to be true notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary – even so do we believe His promises that His word is not only directly inspired by Him but that it will also be preserved by Him through time and eternity. We do not stand on science or scientific method – although we are glad to see true science as it aligns with the realities of God’s universal sovereignty – but on the realities of God’s word, and in this case, His promises. We may be ridiculed and scorned by scoffers of all stripes, but we will trust in Him and hold our heads high in His truth.

A pertinent quote from an essay by Dr. Theodore Letis:

Both schools interpret the data of NT textual criticism and modern translations differently, and both groups fill in the gaps in the data with assumptions which favor their given position. I hope some are beginning to see that this is not an argument between scholarship (the established school represented by Carson) and non-scholarship (the challenging school which has traditionally been treated as non-scholarly and completely uncritical). To the contrary, the best representatives of both schools display genuine scholarship. Why is it, then, that these two schools co-exist on this all-important issue of the very wording of the NT text?​

He closes the essay with these words,

Some will fault me for not answering every objection of Carson’s, but it was only our intention to raise the old issue of presuppositions and to underscore the fact that this debate is not one between experts with data and non-experts with dogma, but rather one between experts with the same data, but different dogma—the dogma of neutrality versus the dogma of providence…(pp. 201-204). [From, The Majority Text: Essays And Reviews In The Continuing Debate, the essay, “In Reply to D.A. Carson’s ‘The King James Version Debate’”.]​

[end of excerpt]
----------

This discussion on the PB may not settle the dispute, but it may clarify the issues for some who do not see them clearly, and also give them a chance to see intelligent proponents of each side amicably (if pointedly!) exchange remarks on the matter.

Steve
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
My own purpose in posting re this “debate” is to show those seeking understanding of this matter that the KJV and TR position can be held to – and defended – by thinking, intelligent, godly believers, contra the disinformation that is widely spread about them, and not only that, but that our position is the most reasonable and in accord with the Biblical statements concerning the preservation of the Scripture.

:amen:
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Daniel, you said, “Since it is the case that scholars have known about these things, and debated them for centuries, then are we likely to sort out the dispute with posts on the PB?”

That’s a good point. My own purpose in posting re this “debate” is to show those seeking understanding of this matter that the KJV and TR position can be held to – and defended – by thinking, intelligent, godly believers, contra the disinformation that is widely spread about them, and not only that, but that our position is the most reasonable and in accord with the Biblical statements concerning the preservation of the Scripture.

Thanks Steve. :cheers2:
 
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