The historic orthodox confessional view of WCF 1:8 is that
God has providentially preserved his word in faithful copies (apographa) of the
original manuscripts (autographa) in Greek and Hebrew. With the fall of
Constantinople to the Muslim Turks in 1453, copies of the Greek New Testament
came west and provoked both the Renaissance and the Reformation. Erasmus then
could publish a Greek New Testament along side the Latin in 1516, Luther could
read it and the rest is history. This particular Greek text of family of texts
became known as the Received Text or the Textus Receptus (TR).
view, popularized by BB Warfield of Princeton (1851-1921) was that God
providentially restored his Scripture with the priesthood of unbelieving
scholars and textual critics such as Hort (1828-92) who championed a NT
manuscript found in the Vatican library or Tischendorf (1815-74) who discovered
a manuscript in the wastebasket of a Mt. Sinai monastery. Manuscripts like these
are the basis for every modern English translation except one, begining with
the Revised Version of 1881.
In this view infallibility, if not the modern substitute of
inerrancy, only resides in the original autographa, not the
faithful apographa of the Textus Receptus. (Broadly speaking, infallibility does
not mean a text without minor scribal errors, but inerrancy does.) And since we
don't have the original autographa and never will, stay tuned for the next
United Bible Society/Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament to find out what the Bible
really said. In principle, the doctrinal chain of providential preservation
which connected the church to the original Scriptures through faithful
infallible copies has been broken.
The historic confessional view is that
these critical manuscripts of Hort and Tischendorf were providentially discarded
by the church, even if they are older than the copies of the TR we now have.
Erasmus and others at the time of the Reformation knew of them, but did not use
them in editing and publishing a Greek New Testament because they had not been
received and used historically in the church. On the other hand, the fruit of
the TR is seen in the Protestant Reformation. That God would let his church go
for so long without a faithful Bible till Hort and Tischendorf came along with
their views and texts is not only suspect, but akin to the Mormon argument for
their book. Rather the early church recognized not only the books of the canon,
but also essentially the text of the canon, of which by and large the most
copies are of the Textus Receptus. To have either the necessary critical texts
or the Book of Mormon show up at this late date 15-1800 years later to really
complete and perfect the Bible all the while previously the church has had to go
without them, is a bit much.
There have also been two other conservative reactions to
the modern distortion of WCF 1:8 from providential preservation to restoration.
One has been the bare scientific rational mathematical mode of just counting
noses. It combines the critical manuscripts with the Textus Receptus to form
the Majority Text which is the textual basis of the New King James. Yet since
the MT is not based exclusively on the providentially preserved TR, Thos. Nelson
Publishers cannot really claim it to be a new or updated King James, much more
publishing the Scripture is the church's business, not businessmen in the book
The other reaction is that of the fundamentalists
who affirm God's providential preservation of the Scriptures in the original
Greek and Hebrew up until 1611. Then with the King James translation, the
providential preservation of the Scriptures shifts to the infallible English
Bible. Again since simplistic arminian fundamentalism is essentially anti
intellectual and opposed to even genuine scholarship, favoring the English Bible
over the Greek and Hebrew might be expected, but is nonetheless inexcusable.
cordially in Christ
--- In email@example.com, "forisraelssake" <c_tylor@...> wrote:
> Liberalism aside, what words of the Greek and Hebrew originals are
> inspired? We don't have the originals. We have copies of copies of
> copies of copies. All the existing manuscripts and witnesses differ
> from each other. Textual criticism has to be done, unless we say all
> variants are equally inspired (which would lead to fascinating
> harmonizations) or we stipulated ex cathedra one particular printed
> edition or manuscript to be the perfect reproduction of the original.
> While the majority text position is a legitimate, if not clear
> minority position (Kurt Aland in his "Text of the Church" article is
> the best short answer to the inherent contradictions of claiming the
> early church used the medieval ecclessiastical text), I never
> appreciated the late Theo Letis rhetoric on this subject. Edward Hills
> was a terrible popularizer of KJV Onlyism. Was Hills even a scholar of
> the text?--his writing gives no indication of it. That Letis followed
> Hills rather than a true MT scholar like Maurice Robinson says a lot
> about Letis own scholarship.
> White has defended his degree in various places on his website,
> including here:
> It wasn't a fake degree. It just wasn't accredited by the national
> institution that accredits state universities and ivy league
> colleges--so yes it is obviously less prestigious, but it doesn't mean
> it is fake.
> Meanwhile, not to put too fine a point on it, but Letis' PhD is in
> history, not in Greek or theology, and he was never a professor at any
> recognized legitimate university himself, or am I wrong. Kettle. Pot.