[Covenanted Reformation] Re: Degree
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).
The modern 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 publishing business.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, "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.
- 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,