Re: Text types
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "timmopussycat"
Tim-What I have said is that no fundamental doctrine of the
Christian faith is lost if a) the Byzantine text is correct and b)
we rely on an Alexandrian text alone, something no major modern
And I will say again, this is mere Evangelcial propaganda. This are
NOT the facts of teh case. Not what the leading authority in this
very subject of doctrinal alterationof the manuscripts resulting is
altered doctrine, Prof. Bart Erhaman in his book, The orthodox
corruption of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 1993. I provide his
informed assessment on this with a reply I wrote to James "phony
Ph.D." White (who represents the same position as Tim Pussycat), and
Gail Riplinger, a crazt women with repsetns the "KJV Only wackos"
(this is taken from my book, The Ecclesiastical Text):
REVIEWS OF JAMES R. WHITE'S THE KING JAMES ONLY CONTROVERSY: CAN YOU
TRUST THE MODERN VERSIONS? (1995) AND GAIL RIPLINGER'S NEW AGE
Theodore P. Letis, Ph.D.
The Institute for
Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies
AN ASSESSMENT OF JAMES R. WHITE'S THE KING JAMES ONLY CONTROVERSY:
CAN YOU TRUST THE MODERN TRANSLATIONS?
James White and Gail Riplinger are both cut from the same bolt of
cloth. Hence, the old saying holds true: "it takes one to know one."
They are, in fact, "kissing cousins," in terms of religious genus.
The very fact that White felt that Riplinger's book, New Age Bible
Versions (which will be addressed below), merited an entire book
length reply indicates that he must have felt that her propositions
were compelling enough to deserve such treatment. In other words,
her superficial treatment of the subject was, nevertheless,
disturbing enough for him to treat it seriously. This speaks as much
about his grasp of the subjector lack ofas it does about
I dealt with her work in three or four double spaced pages and said
all that could responsibly be said without granting her more
validation than her book demands. Some arguments having no merit can
be enlivened and given artificial significance simply by treating
them as though they did. I suspect that were it not for Riplinger
offering White a soft target he would still be labouring away in near
obscurity. Her book, in effect, made his high-profile publishing
WHITE'S QUALIFICATIONS TO ADDRESS TEXT CRITICAL THEORY, PRAXIS, AND
ITS HISTORY, AND HIS QUALIFICATIONS TO ADDRESS THE TOPICS OF
TRANSLATION PHILOSOPHY AND PHILOLOGY
White has a B.A. from Grand Canyon University (must be hard to get
to) and an M.A. from Fuller Seminary. He admits to taking several
years of N.T. Greek but I read nowhere that he has any training in
the classics, a near necessary foundation for doing text critical
studies. Nor do I note that he has done any work under a trained and
recognized text critic. Nor does he have a Ph.D. in this, or even a
related field (he, in fact, has never attained the Ph.D. in any area-
-he does havce a phony one he purchaed from a degree mill, but we
will pass by this for now). In short, he has little more than a
ministerial level of education.
Granted, some have gone on to do substantial text critical work with
such a background by pure industry and ability. But this always
manifests itself in the literature where peer assessment in the
discipline ratifies one's work in the field. I see no such body of
published literature from the pen of James White, either in the area
of text criticism, translation philosophy, or philology. In short, he
has no qualifications for writing on these subjects other than the
basic ability to read secondary sources and so critique a woman even
less qualified than himself. Prior to the publishing of this book he
was a self-styled crusader against the cults. Little more than a
generalist at best.
1) WHITE'S LACK OF CONNECTION WITH CURRENT LITERATURE
Because of these rather substantial short-comings in his background
preparation his treatment of the subject shows some glaring and
substantive problems. I say these things not to be mean-spirited but
to make a very valid point. When one is not at the core of one's
discipline mistakes, over simplifications, and misjudgments of
arguments and data are bound to take place. And we are not
disappointed by White on this occasion.
On pp. 27-28 White wants to make the claim that text criticism never
affects doctrine and that only the higher criticism does so. He is,
of course, quite wrong about this, as nearly all text critics would
agree, but on page 40 he makes this claim very explicit:
The simple fact of the matter is that no textual variants in either
the Old or New Testaments in any way, shape, or form materially
disrupt or destroy any essential doctrine of the Christian faith.
This is a fact that any semi-impartial review will substantiate
Because White does not know the literature on this subject he has no
knowledge of my essay: "B.B. Warfield, Common-Sense Philosophy and
Biblical Criticism," which appeared in the Journal of the
Presbyterian Historical Society a few years back (1991), where I show
that not only did text criticismformerly known as "lower" criticism
open the way for the higher criticism, but that Warfield's
introduction of this discipline to Princeton Seminary led in a
significant way to its eventually adopting higher criticism. Warfield
himself, therefore, I argued, contributed in a substantive way to the
eventual reorganization of Princeton to allow for the modern critical
approach to studying the Bible, currently practiced in most mainline
seminaries and religious studies departments in universities
throughout the world. He did this by teaching his colleagues and
students the art of lower criticism.
Nor does White know of my Ph.D. dissertation research which
established that his assertion, that doctrine is never affected by
text criticism, is a rather old one and not without a pedigree: it
was an ideological stratagem created as early as the 18th century
during debates by the orthodox with the challenges of the English
But the most damning indictment of White's book is the fact that
because he is not, properly speaking, part of the text critical
guild, he shows no knowledge whatsoever of the most important book
written in text critical studies in the past fifty years, that is,
Professor Bart Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The
Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New
Testament (Oxford University Press, 1993). This, it should be added,
was published the same year as Riplinger's. Riplinger's he knows,
this book he does not know.
This, the most important book ever written on the very subject of
the doctrinal influence of text critical practice--which White raises
with such certainty--by the world's leading authority on the subject,
comes to just the opposite conclusion to which White himself arrives!
Professor Ehrman would remind White that,
"The textual problems we have examined affect the interpretation of
many of the familiar and historically significant passages of the New
Testament: the birth naratives of Matthew and Luke, the prologue of
the Fourth Gospel, the baptismal accounts of the Synoptics, the
passion narratives, and other familiar passages in Acts, Paul,
Hebrews, and the Catholic epistles. In some instances, the
interpretations of these passages were understood by scribes
who "read" their interpretations not only out of the text but
actually into it, as they modified the words in accordance with what
they were taken to mean . Naturally, the same data relate to the
basic doctrinal concerns of early Christianstheologians and,
presumably, laypersons alike: Was Jesus the Messiah, predicted in the
Old Testament? Was Joseph his father? Was Jesus born as a human? Was
he tempted? Was he able to sin? Was he adopted to be the Son of God
at his baptism? At his resurrection? Or was he himself God? Was Jesus
one person or two persons? Did he have a physical body after his
resurrection? And many others. The ways scribes answered these
questions affected the way they transcribed their texts. And the way
they transcribed their texts has affected, to some degree, the way
modern exegetes and theologians have answered these questions" (pp.
276; 281-82, n. 11).
This puts White's confident assertion that no doctrine is ever
affected by text criticism in a very dim light indeed.
Furthermore, White seems not to be aware of other essays of mine that
demonstrate the connection between the lower criticism--which White
wants to sanitize--and the higher criticism, as found in a book I had
published in 1987 titled: The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in
the Continuing Debate. Because of this gap in his reading he misses
entirely the point of the Jesus Seminar and its debt to the lower
criticism (cf. p. 28).
2) WHITE'S DISTORTION OF THE POSITION AND CONTRIBUTION OF EDWARD F.
White addresses Edward Hills more favorably than anyone in his book,
e.g. pp. 83, n.18; 85; 92; But then lumps him with the likes of
Riplinger, Gipp, Grady and Ruckman (p.93). This is known as the
fallacy of "guilt by association" and he plays this hand with deft
skill. Hills is given a backhanded compliment only to be brought
needlessly in connection with those with whom he shared neither a
theological method, nor manner of presentation:
"Dr. Edward F. Hills represents the best of the KJV Only position
[[this, in fact, was never Hills's position, as will be demonstrate
below] in the sense that he does not engage in the kind of insulting
rhetoric that is characteristic of the presentations made by other
individuals (p. 92)."
Why not just add that and "at least he was not a child molester ;"
or "at least he did not beat his wife" or "cheat on his income
taxes." Only in this sense was his position superior to the rabble-
rousers? This is crucifixion by faint praise.
By never providing his readers with Hills's qualifications White
succeeds in leaving the impression that Hills is a bit of a misguided
populist, not unlike the other irresponsible authors White wishes to
deservedly castigate. A "polite" representative, but nevertheless, of
the same class.
In reality, Hills was a Yale University classics graduate with a
Th.D. from Harvard University in New Testament text criticism. His
doctoral dissertation addressed the harmonizations of Caesarean text-
type, and was a rather significant contribution to the discipline in
its day, as can be seen by the fact that it is still referred to in
the literature. Three essays followed in the Journal of Biblical
Literature. The omission of this material in White's analysis of
Hills's position is a grossly unfair distortion that others who
differed from Hills from within the discipline would not have dreamed
of doing to a colleague. Moreover, White does his readers no service
at all in offering them something qualitatively short of a true
measure of who Hills was.
To return to the theme that it "takes one to know one," ironically,
one of the severest charges White lodges against the hapless
Riplinger is the following:
Belief in grand conspiratorial schemes often leads one to sacrifice
commitment to fairness when it comes to representing "THEM," whoever
they might be . Sadly, modern Christianity provides us with all too
many examples of less-than-exemplary reporting in the cause
of "good." It seems we are often guilty of focusing upon the extreme,
the exciting, the sensational, all at the cost of being honest,
forthright, and accurate in our speech and writing . Christians are
to be lovers of truth, and as such, should hold to the highest
standards thereof. Misrepresenting otherseven those we strongly feel
are in erroris not an option for one who follows Jesus (p.95).
Eloquently put! Now let's see if what is good for the goose is also
equally good for the gander.
Like Riplinger, his antagonist, White, too, has fallen prey to his
own snare. He says of Hills that,
[t]he desire for absolute certainty in all matters plainly lies
behind [Hills's] statements [emphasis mine] (p. 93).
Hence, on this basis he lumps the Harvard Ph.D. with the lady home
economics teacher. In my preface to the fourth edition of Hills work,
The King James Version Defended, (1984), I make it perfectly clear
that this certainly was not Hills position:
"Finally, it must be stated that Hills did not hold to an uncritical,
perfectionist view of the TR as some have assumed . What he did argue
for, however, was a "canonical" view of the text (KJV Defended p.
106), because, in his experience, this was the only way to be assured
of "maximum certainty" (KJV Defended pp. 224-225) versus the results
of a purely naturalistic approach to the text of the New Testament
[emphasis mine](p. viii)."
"Maximum" is not "absolute."
In Hills own words on this matter of certainty, he put his argument
deliberately in the following terms so as not to be classed with
"In other words, God does not reveal every truth with equal clarity.
In biblical textual criticism, as in every other department of
knowledge, there are some details in regard to which we must be
content to remain uncertain. But the special providence of God has
kept these uncertainties down to a minimum. Hence, if we believe in
the special providential preservation of the Scriptures and make this
the leading principle of our biblical textual criticism, we obtain
maximum certainty, all the certainty that any mere man can obtain,
all the certainty that we need (p. 224)."
Here we see an example of a classically trained text critic, well
familiar with the rules of semantics, of logic and, of rhetoric,
offering a finely tuned and nuanced argument in one direction, while
Mr. White publicly misrepresents him, steering him down a path Dr.
Hills was consciously repudiating, and advocating that others avoid.
The irony of Mr. White's earlier homily on honesty is palpable.
3) WHITE'S DOUBLE STANDARD
White next admonishes his readers that,
Protestants should be quick to question any such notion of absolute
religious certainty. The concept of the individual's responsibility
before God is deeply ingrained in Protestant theology. We cannot hand
off our responsibility in religious matters to someone else (p. 94).
Well put again. And yet White advocates that Christians surrender to
the small committees who worked on the UBS4, the Nestle/Aland27, and
the consensus represented by the committee who gave the world The New
International Version, which would be better termed the The Rupert
Murdoch New International Diversified Media Conglomerate Corporate
Boardroom Bible for Maximum Profits.
4) WHITE'S TEXT CRITICAL CASE STUDIES
These amount to childish displays of pedantry with little critical
value whatsoever. His evaluations appear as just so many borrowings
from the UBS Textual Commentary. He treats each variant in a
deplorably superficial way, devoting a paragraph or two to variants
that could well require an entire Ph.D. dissertation to crack, or at
least a full journal essay, but he is content to come off as an
authority to an audience that cannot discriminate.
In summary, White would have done well to remain in his own terrain
treating cults, or at best he should have followed his own good
advice while addressing a subject beyond his reach.
AN ASSESSMENT OF GAIL RIPLINGER'S BOOK NEW AGE BIBLE VERSIONS
The author seems sincere but her comments on p. 420 sum up her
audience as well as her method:
"Conspiracy buffs will prick up their ears to hear..."
Most of the time her logic works like this:
1. Westcott knew Blavatsky, therefore
2. Westcott read Blavatsky, therefore,
3. "It appears then that Westcott was a theosophist, of
How can one be a theosophist "of sorts." Either you are, or you
aren't. Where are the quotes from Blavatsky in Westcott's works? Yes,
she shows that Blavastsky read Westcott, but he was a very popular
author (I have nearly everything he wrote). If I had to bear the
burden of guilt by association from everyone who has quoted from my
works, I would be in real trouble.
Elsewhere J.B. Phillips drank sherry; Westcott and Hort drank Ale;
and so this proves their translation work was influenced by "evil
spirits," so she argues. But what are we then to do about the fact
that Burgon drank as well: this must have influenced his famous book,
Revision Revised. And nearly all the A.V. translators drank--some
very heavily, indeed--and so this also must mean that it was the work
of evil spirits as well. And Luther's imbibing is notorious, so we
should conclude that the doctrines of grace, which he re-established,
are inspired by the Devil. You see how silly all this is.
Yes, they (Westcott and Hort) were both part of this guild--intended
to collect data on the paranormal, what in their day they called
the "metaphysical"--but there was a craze in British society around
such matters during this time and it appeared to me long ago when I
looked into all of this (about ten years ago) that they wanted to
objectify the study of this in a somewhat scientific manner. That is,
they busied themselves with collecting supposed accounts of
paranormal activity. Nowhere in any of the accounts I read in the
life and letters of either Hort or Westcott does it ever say they
practiced spiritualism or advocated this as a religion, and yet, from
Riplinger's account one would think that this was the case. She has
completely misrepresented the sources in a very prejudicial manner.
This does not justify what they were doing, mind you, but I do not
read that they were holding hands around a table.
The same type of Greek text like the W&H edition had already been
produced in Germany by Griesbach, which differs very little from
W&H's Greek text and shall we also look for the spiritualist
connection here as well? (perhaps this will be her sequel). I feel
that Chick comics will soon have out a more popular form of Gail's
book since it is very much in the same genre as his other
conspiratorial treatments of this subject.
This kind of book is one long sermon to the already converted (and a
very bad sermon at that). Only those who already hold to the A.V.
would take the time to read this nonsense. Others will find it as
ludicrous as I do. The modern translations tend to be a problem not
because all the translators are part of a New Age conspiracy--how
surprised most of them would be to learn this--but because they are
1) based on questionable translation philosophy; 2) and are founded
on highly confusing and dubious textual theories. If we are ever to
make a dent on the academic world--it can be done if we do our home
work and really make valid arguments, such as Burgon did in his day
and Hills did in our own--we simply must give-up the amateur mystery
novel approach so loved by the marginalized conspiracy obsessed.
Both Burgon and Hills were learned men who knew about W&H's silly
association with this guild, but neither of these good scholars ever
used this fallacious ad hominem approach to the subject because they
knew it always backfires, i.e. it can always be turned against you
and your allies as well, without ever really getting at the merit of
the arguments at hand. But then, perhaps Burgon and Hills are part of
the "conspiracy" as well because neither of them attacked W&H for
being in the ghostly guild? You see how this begins to work?
One could go further in using this technique by asking: what does the
author's training as a home economics teacher have to do with
attempting to interpret demanding historical, theological and
biographical sources treating text criticism and religious belief
(and I am quite certain when I phoned the personnel department of the
university where she was employed that they told me this was her
Could it be that her over-indulgence of theosophical sources has had
an adverse effect on her, causing her to mishandle data in her
obsession to prove her conspiracy theory? Ellen G. White, the founder
of the Seventh-Day Adventists, wrote a very similar book around the
turn of the century called: The Great Controversy. One result was the
birth of Seventh-Day Adventism; another was a cult in Waco, Texas!
As for W&H, they were against the Oxford Movement and so whatever
they said about Mary worship they were speaking as historians not as
advocates of Mary worship. On this Hort's extensive letter to a women
contemplating joining the Roman Catholic Church, is very interesting,
indeed. Here Hort says:
I cannot see that the doctrine of the Roman supremacy has a shred of
support from the Bible, or from the history of the early Church....
[I]ts influence on society has been almost wholly mischievous (Life
and Letters vol.I, p. 464).
As for their comments on the word "Evangelical," it had a different
connotation in Victorian England from what it has in 20th century
American society. Evangelicals were then looked upon as Jehovah's
Witnesses are today which explains Hort's comments. Evangelicals
tended to be non-conformist dissenters from the Church of England
which meant there were all kinds of political implications to being
an "Evangelical," outside the established state Church, to which
Church W&H and Scrivener and Burgon and Miller all belonged. The
latter three would have shared very similar sentiments to those of
Westcott and Hort regarding 19th century English "Evangelicals."
By the standards of their day both W&H were considered orthodox. They
held to the orthodoxy of the Church of England and never advocated
theosophy, or spiritualism, or German rationalism as alternative
religions. The following is a typical example of Riplinger's complete
mishandling of the evidence which she has twisted and distorted
beyond all recognition on p. 407 of her "book" (and sadly this is
typical of the entire book):
What happened to this guild in the end I have not discovered. My
father [Westcott] ceased to interest himself in these matters, not
altogether, I believe, from want of faith in [i.e. belief in, that
is, that such phenomena really exist], what for lack of a better
name, one must call Spiritualism, but because he was seriously
convinced that such investigations led to no good (Life and Letters
vol. 1, p. 119).
Westcott's son says nothing here of Westcott's "life long" faith in
spiritualism. In fact, he is making the opposite claim, namely, that
Westcott gave up all such investigations! Here she just misled her
readers on a very serious point--there is no other way of putting the
matter--about what was actually in her source. This was in the
1850's, at least twenty years before the R.V. committee ever met.
W&H's ready acceptance of Darwin was wrong--but then there was no
creation science in those days, Darwin was the only scientific
Such irresponsible "conspiracy theory" in the long run keeps real
criticisms of the corporate boardroom bibles from being taken
Theodore P. Letis
- Sorry Chris,
Didn't see this before my last.
Finally an acknowledgment of PP according to the WCF contra the
previous discussion on nothing would be lost regardless of which
text/manuscript family used etc.etc.
cordially in Christ,
--- In email@example.com, "forisraelssake"
> > What good is it simply to know that there is anpurity
> > original out there somewhere?
> I think what I am saying is that we know about the providential
> of the Scripture text (a priori) and so any corruption mustseems
> necessarily be insignificant by definition, or preservation isn't
> The autograph is not some hypothetical entity existing at the end of
> research, it is present with us in the apogpraphs (copies) by virtue
> of providential preservation (WCF 1:8). This isnt Kantianism, where
> the ding-an-sich is unknowable and always beyond perception. The
> apographs are of course pure themselves.
> I just thought this up and the logic of it might be wrong but it
> to me as if your position is the one that puts the Scripture outsidecertain
> somewhere. True, you believe we can by a leap of pure faith all
> together 'reach' out and grab the original variant. You therefore
> think any sincere Christian can know the words of the original.
> But your position, if I followed you correctly (which I am not
> I have!), considers all but the autographical readings impure andthe
> entire manuscript tradition literally a big mass of inchoatecorrupted
> uninspired variants. You suggest we can by "inner ostention", pickpure
> out individually (or corporately in some capacity) the autographical
> reading through sincere faith (and perhaps, some scholarship).
> However it seems to me that is inadequate, since it more or less
> treats the manuscript tradition as wildly infused with corruptions.
> How can God by a singular providence kept the autograph readings
> if the autograph reading must by definition be only a single variantor
> among the several that usually exist for each sentence?
> (Forgive me if I reduced a strawman to absurdity, Daniel!)
> The proper confessional way to view it seems to me to say the
> manuscripts in church use have been kept pure from heresy or schism
> infidelity. Isn't that what WCF 1:8 is saying? The TRs of theOther
> Reformation are the RPNA's ecclessiastical text(s) because it was a
> homologated text of the Reformers and it is a known pure text.
> printed texts (or even manuscripts) are of indeteriminate purity andare
> so can't be authoritative use until we have a Covenanted synod or
> assembly trained in all the requisite fields homologate that those
> [For instance, what if someone wanted to teach doctrine today based
> off a manuscript of Marcion?! Or another gnostic hacked up text?
> Providential purity protected only the visible church's
> ecclessiastical preaching texts and not mutilated versions of
> heretics. One big reason to put a question mark on the Alexandrianrelevence
> and Western (and now Caesarian) text types is John Burgon's
> scholarship to prove these were isolated, heretical texts that never
> had widespread ecclessiastical use. Was he right?]
> The apograph variants are all literally insignificant on this way of
> viewing things, and the lost autographs are not of any great
> to us today. Of course the fact that the many variants for anygiven
> pericope originate from a single original entail that only onevariant
> is autographical, and textual criticism works towards that. But theis
> enterprise of suggesting most likely autographical readings (which
> what textual criticism is) is not of any great importance because ofin
> the known factor of providential purity of the manuscript tradition.
> That's why it is not right to think of the implications of accepting
> textual criticism as implying some sort of
> Letis-style-interpretion-of-Warfield, the eternal and unreachable
> search for the autographs, and replacing the apographs with some
> scholarly probabilistic autograph reconstruction. Who knows, maybe a
> lot of people who deny the enduring providential purity of the text
> the framer's sense might believe that. Not sure if Warfield did.bible
> So that is kind of why I think textual criticism doesnt make the
> the preserve of the "specialist" and the scholar and destroy
> infallibility. I think if anything your view (or the one I am
> ascribing to you in this post for the sake of argument) of treating
> any non-autographical variant as a life-or-death end of inerrancy
> (saved only by our inner ostending--a Wittgenstein word--the one and
> only pure variant) is the death of infallibilty.
> What do you think?
> Sincerely in Christ,
> Chris T.
> Montreal, QC