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Re: Canons of Criticism

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  • Robert B. Waltz
    Let me thank Evensen for his honesty -- and also his patience in the face of many people who argue, with justice, that he has no view of *textual criticism*;
    Message 1 of 36 , Sep 12, 1997
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      Let me thank Evensen for his honesty -- and also his patience
      in the face of many people who argue, with justice, that he
      has no view of *textual criticism*; he merely has a view on
      the text.

      Clearly this is a pointless discussion, but for the sake of any
      lurkers out there I wish to point out the logical inconsistency
      of Mr. Evensen's position. Note that this does not "prove" him
      wrong; I can offer no proof that God is logical. (In fact, I could
      offer a pretty strong case for the reverse.) So Evensen may
      be right. "God knows; I do not know." He merely cannot claim to
      practice anything resembling a scientific method of criticism.

      Thus, I would note to the readers that I am arguing logic and
      Evensen is arguing faith. I can only hope you'll make the right
      choice between the two. To me, it's obvious -- but then, I am
      trained as a physicist and mathematician. No doubt I'm biased. :-)

      On Fri, 12 Sep 1997, "Mr. Helge Evensen" <helevens@...> wrote, in part:

      >Mr. Waltz,
      >I'll be glad to answer your question.
      >First, let me remind of the fact that *no* resultant text of *any* text
      >editor or bible translator is reflected in any known manuscript.

      True, because of slips of the pen. However, I suspect (and I have not
      checked this with Robinson) that you could find manuscripts that
      agree almost completely (i.e. except for clear errors and orthographic
      differences) with Maurice Robinson's text.

      Also, didn't somebody try to create an exact English translation of
      B (or was it Aleph?) a while back? (I will admit I could be wrong
      on this -- the memory is very vague.)

      What's more, this is not a faith issue for me. Since I don't
      believe in providential preservation in any form, I don't
      *expect* the text to be preserved in any one manuscript (although
      B comes close in the Gospels, and 1739 in the Epistles). I don't
      *want* to adopt the text of any one manuscript -- so I don't. :-)

      >You say that "the TR does not agree with *any* known manuscripts except a
      >handful copied from it after it was published". But the MSS used by
      >Erasmus were *very* close to his resultant Greek text.

      Not entirely true. Obviously 2e and 2apc and 1r were -- but not 1eap!

      >It has even been
      >called by some "a late form of the Byzantine text". Erasmus' text was, of
      >course, to a certain extent, an "eclectic" text. But Clark noted that
      >"the Erasmus text is a typical Byzantine text", and he also stated that
      >"the Erasmus text is largely a printing of Codex 2".

      The latter is true. The former is not. As the apparatus of Hodges and
      Farstad shows, there are thousands of differences between the TR
      (*any* TR) and *the* Byzantine text.

      It is true that the TR is more Byzantine than anything else, and by
      a large margin. But it is by no means typically Byzantine. If the
      Byzantine text is adopted as a standard, then the best text is either
      H&F or R&P. Which editions Evensen has explicitly rejected.

      [ ... ]

      >Now to your question, which, to my mind, has serious problems. Christians
      >in the time prior to Erasmus' edition *may* in fact have had a "TR text"
      >available through several MSS. It does not necessarily have to be found
      >in just *one* MS!

      But how, in that case, were people to identify it? Divine inspiration?
      In that case, why did they need the Bible in the first place?

      >It may be true that they did not have any one MS with such a text. But we
      >really do not know that for sure, either. It is clearly to overstate the
      >case to say that it was *impossible* for a Christian to use a "TR
      >edition" before 1516. I think it would be better to use terms like
      >"probably" or "more/less likely" in cases such as these!

      You're right. There are some 3,000 Greek and 10,000 Latin manuscripts
      of the Bible. Not one of which agrees with the TR. (Excluding lectionaries,
      etc.) None of which match the TR. That's 13,000 manuscripts.
      None of which agree with the TR. Let's assume that the majority of
      all manuscripts ever copied were TR-equivalent. So that's at least
      13,001 manuscripts equivalent to the TR that have been lost.
      The odds of losing one, therefore, are given by 13,001/26,001,
      or for all intents and purposes .5.

      That makes the odds that the TR was once the majority text no
      better than .5 to the 13,001 power.

      This number is so small that, even using logarithms, I cannot
      get a value off my calculator. Let's put it in colloquial terms:
      "One in a gazillion gazillion."

      In other words, for the TR to be the true Byzantine text, someone
      would have had to go out and deliberately destroy all the copies.

      >It is even possible that MSS with such a text could have perished through
      >extensive use. At least, it should be clear that thousands of MSS that
      >were extant in the 13th, 14th, 15th centuries have perished. To my mind,
      >it is even possible to regard the printed TR editions as
      >a transmission of the text of MSS which now have perished. (More heresy!)

      All I can say is, Do the math! It should be easy, since I already
      did it. :-)

      >You say that people prior to the time of Erasmus' edition did not and
      >could not use the TR. How can you be so sure? Since the TR was based on
      >several sources that were extant at the time of its formation, is it any
      >wonder if these sources (and the predecessors of these sources) would
      >have been available to the peoples' use in the time prior to 1516?

      But, again, how were they to know which reading was right?


      Robert B. Waltz

      Want more loudmouthed opinions about textual criticism?
      Try my web page: http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn
      (A site inspired by the Encyclopedia of NT Textual Criticism)
    • Ronald L. Minton
      ... It is not beyond me. The answer is that religious people who do not have a foundation for their faith that is based on truth will always invent artificial
      Message 36 of 36 , Sep 15, 1997
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        On Mon, 15 Sep 1997, Maurice Robinson wrote:
        > ...
        > If the TR advocates would simply claim that the TR was a "reasonably
        > adequate" text reflective of Reformation-era scholarship and practice,
        > which still could be used today with profit -- I think none of us would
        > have a major objection. The problem comes in claiming what amounts to an
        > unwarranted assertion that the TR (especially the Scrivener edition) "is"
        > the autograph text, and that all other texts are not what God has
        > "providentially preserved". But for whatever reason (and I suspect the
        > modern KJV-only movement is the primary cause), the TR-as-autograph issue
        > has come to the fore among a small faction, and a warped view of textual
        > transmission and criticism is somehow co-opted into the support of their
        > theory. Why must this take place? Why is it not sufficient merely to
        > claim "reasonable adequacy" and merely "prefer" to use the TR or KJV
        > without making those two items into the one and only touchstone? That is
        > the part that is beyond me.

        It is not beyond me. The answer is that religious people who do not have
        a foundation for their faith that is based on truth will always invent
        artificial supports. Certainty is more important to them than truth. In
        the case of KJVOs, evidence is of no concern, because no matter what it
        consists of, it will be discarded if it does not fit their need for
        certainty. They can and will do incredible hermeneutical gymnastics to
        rescue their version from every peril or possibility of tarnishing. The
        sad thing is that those who need this certainty the most do not even have
        it because their premise is wrong. The truth is, there is not one verse
        in the Bible that speaks of preserving any copy, edition, or translation.
        I am tempted to include a paper I read last year at the ETS national "The
        Role of the Spirit in Bible Copying and Translating," but I have rambled
        on too long as it is. (Sorry, I almost got to preching)

        Prof. Ron Minton: rminton@... W (417)268-6053 H 833-9581
        Baptist Bible Graduate School 628 E. Kearney St. Springfield, MO 65803
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