All your questions have adequate answers - and you must be aware of
these if you have studied this subject at all. The skeptical approach
is akin to that of RCsm on this matter. This points to why it is such
an important issue, and why the Reformed orthodox, including the
Westminster divines, were so adamant that God had always maintained
the true Word of God as to both meaning and form pure in all ages (WCF
1:8)by His special providence. Protestantism rightly realised that
true Christianity is based on Scripture Alone. This meant that the
teaching of Scripture, such as the maintenance of every jot and tittle
both in form and meaning, was a truth which could not be contradicted
- a truth contradicted, nonetheless, by the skeptical approach you
advocate which can never be sure that one actually possesses the Word
of God. This matter is about God's honesty and truth. It is a
profound mistake to take the humanistic principles of the textual
critics as one's authority over and against the authority of the Word
Without the biblical position that the Protestants possessed the
entire and complete Word of God as to both form and meaning in the
sixteenth century, the Reformers would have had no argument against
the forces of the Antichrist who maintained, against the Protestants,
that the Bible was not the complete rule of faith and life.
It is no accident that modern churches (including reformed ones
so-called) which have adopted the view that the complete Scriptures
were only discovered in the nineteenth century continue to depart
from the Bible as the rule of faith and life, and from the Reformation
which rediscovered this crucial truth.
--- In email@example.com, "forisraelssake"
> I am not sure I agree with this framework in the least. It appears to
> generate important recalcitrant anomalies that throw the paradigm into
> a crisis continually.
> For instance, this supposed TR tradition that is the alleged alone
> faithful witness to the originals would generate unpleasant anomalies.
> For instance it would mean that the six manuscripts or so utilized by
> Erasmus found in Basle, Switzerland are the alone preserved words of
> God. This would in turn mean
> -the rest of the churches (Greek, Latin, Coptic, etc.) did not have
> accurate manuscripts or versions in their collection in 1516 [why?]
> -the churches everywhere before 11th century did not use accurate
> manuscripts/witnesses [why?]
> -only the Protestant churches of the Reformation supernaturally used
> accurate witnesses [why?]
> -most Protestant churches today do not use accurate witnesses [why?]
> Further to this problem there would be yet more
> -a half dozen to a dozen editions of the TR exist, with fifty to
> several hundred variants apiece between each of them, so which TR
> exactly is the preserved one (the King James 1769 Oxford readings?)
> -some verses in all the TRs are not found in any manuscripts or
> witnesses whatsoever (e.g. the last chapter of Revelation)
> -scholars like Turretin engaging in reasoned eclecticism and using
> textual criticism make no sense if he could just point to one variant
> in a particular edition of the TR
> -why were various TRs, especially the editions of Stephenus, printed
> with textual variants in the footnotes using all known important
> variants as of 1555
> -when faced with variants, rational discussion over originality is
> lost because of a mystical theory that whatever verse Calvin used or
> the King James (and what edition of the KJV?) used is the correct one
> This in turn creates other intractable dillemas,
> -if some amount of textual criticism is allowed between variants
> within the TRs, then why can not other variants, not uncovered by
> 1600, but still found within the latest and newest manuscripts in the
> medieval text be used as witnesses to the text?
> -and if some amount of textual criticism is allowed, then what
> non-arbitrary rigorous criteria eliminate manuscripts, versions,
> liturgies, and Fathers from before the 9th and 10th centuries from
> relevant consideration as being witnesses to the original text?
> Hence, this is why it seems to me that TR-Onlyism, as well as
> KJV-Onlyism, is a theory in crisis. It is an attempt to dodge textual
> criticism while still subtly engaging in it. The anamolies in the
> paradigm seem intractable and point to larger flaws within the
> paradigm itself, showing its need for replacement.
> Hope your doing well, Bob.
> > Greetings,
> > The historic orthodox confessional view of WCF 1:8 is that God has
> > providentially preserved his word in faithful copies (apographa)
> > original manuscripts (autographa) in Greek and Hebrew. With thefall of
> > Constantinople to the Muslim Turks in 1453, copies of the Greek Newpriesthood
> > 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
> > of unbelieving scholars and textual critics such as Hort(1828-92) who
> > championed a NT manuscript found in the Vatican library orTischendorf
> > (1815-74) who discovered a manuscript in the wastebasket of a Mt.Sinai
> > monastery. Manuscripts like these are the basis for every modernVersion of
> > English translation except one, begining with the Revised
> > 1881. In this view infallibility, if not the modern substitute ofdoes
> > inerrancy, only resides in the original autographa, not the faithful
> > apographa of the Textus Receptus. (Broadly speaking, infallibility
> > not mean a text without minor scribal errors, but inerrancy does.) Andtuned
> > since we don't have the original autographa and never will, stay
> > for the next United Bible Society/Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament tochain
> > find out what the Bible really said. In principle, the doctrinal
> > of providential preservation which connected the church to theoriginal
> > Scriptures through faithful infallible copies has been broken.even
> > The historic confessional view is that these critical manuscripts of
> > Hort and Tischendorf were providentially discarded by the church,
> > if they are older than the copies of the TR we now have. Erasmus andonly
> > 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
> > suspect, but akin to the Mormon argument for their book. Rather the15-1800
> > 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
> > years later to really complete and perfect the Bible all the whilescholarship,
> > 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
> > favoring the English Bible over the Greek and Hebrew might beoriginal.
> > expected, but is nonetheless inexcusable.
> > cordially in Christ
> > Bob S
> > --- 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
> > > While the majority text position is a legitimate, if not clearHills
> > > 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
> > > was a terrible popularizer of KJV Onlyism. Was Hills even ascholar of
> > > the text?--his writing gives no indication of it. That Letisfollowed
> > > Hills rather than a true MT scholar like Maurice Robinson says a lotdoesn't mean
> > > about Letis own scholarship.
> > >
> > > White has defended his degree in various places on his website,
> > > including here:
> > > http://www.aomin.org/CrEd.html
> > > http://www.aomin.org/Novak1.html
> > >
> > > 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
> > > it is fake.at any
> > >
> > > 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
> > > recognized legitimate university himself, or am I wrong. Kettle.Pot.
> > > Black.
> > >
> > > Chris
> > >
- 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,