Re: [Covenanted Reformation] Re: Degree
- x--- In email@example.com, "ghowmil" <garnetmilne@...> wrote:
>Did the Westminster divines possess
> the complete Word of God in the originals, or did they not? (AndExcellent question/reminder, Gary.
> incidentally they referred to the extant manuscripts etc as
As Hills among others makes plain, the orthodox position is that God has preserved his infallible word in the common use by the Greek speaking church of its faithful copies/apographa of the original autographa. To be constantly on edge wondering when a new manuscript will turn up and overturn all that we know, be it even the Koran or the Book of Mormon, much less the five providentially discarded manuscripts of higher textual criticism is to have forsaken the Reformed/confessional point of view.
Letis, whatever his faults, points out the development of the doctrine of providential preservation in his essays on Beza and Owen (particularly in the diagram on p.147) in The Majority Text: Essays in the Continuing Debate which he also edited. (The title is something of a misnomer. Only Part 1 regards the Majority Text. Parts 2 and 3 concern the AV and the TR respectively.) To the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, Rome answered, which version? There are many variants, much more aha, the most faithful copy, Codex B or Vaticanus is found in the Pope's library. Protestantism answered with the corresponding doctrine of providential preservation in WCF 1:8. It is confessed even more explicitly in the first three Canons of the Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675) which I have never been able to find in print, but found on the web here.
Yet as one of the two principium of theology, the doctrine of Scripture must be held in its entirety and completeness or not only will it unravel, but also else besides. Not for nothing is the doctrine of Scripture the first chapter of the WCF in contrast with most confessions which begin with the doctrine of God. And providential preservation is a necessary corollary of inspiration. Without it, we are lost. While on the one hand, if we never had an infallible revelation from God, we could never know what we are to believe about him or what duty he requires of us (LC Q&A5, SC Q&A3). But the more subtle denial of providential preservation, in the end, amounts to the same thing.
For all practical purposes, that faithful infallible revelation happened long ago and far away in some other galaxy. At best we would have to go to the Vatican and humbly request permission to use her library. And just when do we think Rome would give Protestantism liberty of the stacks? Either that or we could wait anxiously with baited breath upon the latest pronouncements of the textual scholars who will eventually give us the Historical Text, even as they have given us the Historical Jesus. Oh happy and hypothetical day. It is not going to happen.
There has been some discussion of this topic over at the Puritan Board. One thread is here. Rafalsky is the guy defending the confessional viewpoint, though IMO he seems to rely too much on the KJVOnlyites on other points than their pet hobbyhorse. Still as he says, `I won't flip out if you quote the liberal Bruce Metzger, so don't flip out if I quote Peter Ruckman'. Fair enough as a certain party in Edmonton used to say.
FWIW one of the posts also linked to an article by a Peter Kenaga, Skeptical Trends in New Testament Textual Criticism: Inside the Alexandrian Priority School and Why Bible Change is Coming. It is very interesting to read though he refuses to choose between the Byzantine-Alexandrian text families. That is, while he would not agree with the confessional argument for the Byzantine text per se, he points out the evident bias in the critical (Alexandrian) text position and says it has been oversold.
I'd say the same thing about the NIV, NKJV (though Kenaga excepts it) and the ESV, but enough is enough.
Hoping a profitable Lord's Day to all,
cordially in the Word become flesh,