An Inadequate View of God's Providence Regarding Manuscripts of the NT

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
One side may seem less charitable in the current climate, but the logical conclusion of each side seems equally offensive to the other: TR folk essentially feel/believe the CT folk are taking away from Scripture, and the CT folk essentially feel/believe the TR folk are adding to it. It's Luke 16:17 vs Revelation 22:18 Perhaps the only peaceable way forward is for each to submit to the rule of their fellowship (and if no rule, then petition for one) and depart from parachurch discussions on this topic. In other words, work it out in your own church body and/or limit such discussions to that sphere - if more needs to be said, let fellowship speak to fellowship instead of individual-to-individual or side-to-side. This topic is different than other discussions because it is foundational to all other beliefs. Just a thought...
I have to disagree with the type in bold.

Sufficiency of Scripture, inspiration, infallibility—those are foundational to all other beliefs.

A broad or narrow view of God’s providence regarding manuscripts is a completely different category.


Does it not make sense what was happening? Unregenerate men had infiltrated the church, and not only the church, but the inner precincts of scholarship and textual reproduction. The enemy had taken the inner stronghold, and put unholy hands on the written Word of God, to alter it.

Are we circling back to this stuff again?
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Logan, is there not a difference in usage between Matt 1:25, Luke 2:7, "her firstborn son", and Col 1:15, "the firstborn of every creature", i.e., preeminent, and likewise Col 1:18, "the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence"?
Or John 3:13 concerning his Omnipresence? There are a lot of areas we can specifically tackle. There are a lot of Attributes that can be looked at too. I am about ready to delve in.

This mess we are discussing has too much bias in it. We all have it. We have worked 1 John 5:7 to death. I am not sure I have ever delved into this argument here because I think I could raise more questions than answers, especially concerning historicity and scriptures use in the Church and writings. I do know that I think I have sufficient answers for me but not sure if I will raise more questions for you. There are too many other places in Scripture that scream also. Yes, I said scream. Maybe it is that testimony you all are talking about inside of me that testifies. I kind of tilt my head at that a bit but I digress. I believe we have a lot of other answers that are not being given because there is a lack of discussion concerning specific families of manuscripts and the historical writings that include the scriptures. There are particular families of manuscripts that are very basic to follow as I understand. The CT is supposedly the best because they are the oldest attestations to the original autographs. Then there is the argument that the oldest might not be the best. That is about how this discussion is going and sounds to me. It always sounds like that to me. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I think I might delve into this subject again. Be it known that I will be using Jay Greens work and Dean John Burgon's works. I have already cut two yards today. I have two more. The reason why I don't participate in these discussions is because it is extremely time consuming for me and I have a hard enough time just checking in on the PB. I will try my best.
I think I would like to start with John 3:13 and 1 Timothy 3:16.

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
The Person and Work of Christ are two very important doctrines. I believe the manuscript history can tell us the same thing. There has always been opposition to the Word of God. Who hates scripture and wants to divide us more than depraved man? We aren't alone in this fight. It has two sides. There is so much at Stake, especially in the times to come no matter how you view the Last Days. God's word will not fail.

Please give me some time and I will try a different approach to this discussion from a different angle in the future. I just need to get my ducks in a row. I will have a lot of questions to ask. Also, on another matter, since we are discussing manuscripts and translations the mode of translation needs to be acknowledged. There is no such thing as a word for word or grammatical to grammatical translation. There are such things as Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence translations and there is a mixture of both in each translation.

You all have a good weekend. I will check in and break my old books out. They need dusting anyways.
Edit: I evidently gave my books away. I will download what I can find.
 
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John Yap

Puritan Board Sophomore
Any view worth its salt can stand on itself by proving itself positively without going down the wormhole of investigating the morals of men behind other views. Even Burgon did not do it in Revision Revised, did he? Even if you want to go there, it doesn't refute the Majority Text method.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
That sounds very close to the genetic fallacy.

Sorry Jacob, I just got home from racing my slot cars. LOL. It wasn't set up to be that. I was honestly asking. I have asked in a few of these threads if anyone has interacted with Burgon. That is an honest question. I don't mean to be a snob or sound like I know the whole ins and outs in this discussion. It is just an honest question to help lead me somewhere.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Sorry Jacob, I just got home from racing my slot cars. LOL. It wasn't set up to be that. I was honestly asking. I have asked in a few of these threads if anyone has interacted with Burgon. That is an honest question. I don't mean to be a snob or sound like I know the whole ins and outs in this discussion. It is just an honest question to help lead me somewhere.
I've read Burgon. I appreciate a lot of what he had to say. However, he was no "confessional bibliologist", in that he offered many places that the traditional text should be updated, and as far as I know, he didn't defend 1 John 5:7. I would place him more in the "majority text" or "Byzantine" camp, if we're using today's terms.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
I've read Burgon. I appreciate a lot of what he had to say. However, he was no "confessional bibliologist", in that he offered many places that the traditional text should be updated, and as far as I know, he didn't defend 1 John 5:7. I would place him more in the "majority text" or "Byzantine" camp, if we're using today's terms.
Which book(s) by him?
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
Are there any published authors who represent the “official” so-called Confessional Bibliology position?

Hills, Letis, Van Kleeck, etc.?

From talking to CB proponents, I get the sense that each of these men has good points and bad points. The bad being where they occasionally stray into KJVO-type argumentation.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Which book(s) by him?
The main book is The Revision Revised. Amidst much irritating rhetoric, you will find a bona fide text-critical scholar who argues ably for his position. I especially found his argument concerning 1 Timothy 3:16 convincing, and his evidence regarding possible changes in reading in the same manuscript over centuries to be quite fascinating.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
The main book is The Revision Revised. Amidst much irritating rhetoric, you will find a bona fide text-critical scholar who argues ably for his position. I especially found his argument concerning 1 Timothy 3:16 convincing, and his evidence regarding possible changes in reading in the same manuscript over centuries to be quite fascinating.
Thank you.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Are there any published authors who represent the “official” so-called Confessional Bibliology position?

Hills, Letis, Van Kleeck, etc.?

From talking to CB proponents, I get the sense that each of these men has good points and bad points. The bad being where they occasionally stray into KJVO-type argumentation.

Personally I think that's the issue: each person has their own path to getting to the KJV but their methodology is typically very different. I'm sure Jerusalem Blade has some good resources from that perspective.

But you have Burgon, an Anglican who was arguing for certain readings (but not all) in the traditional text, finding many sources in the early church fathers.

You have Hills, who was a Presbyterian, more or less interested in defending the KJV and in my opinion his take on the Greek text secondary to that. He believed that the KJV could be considered its own version of the "received text".

Then you have Letis, whom I would avoid. He ended up Lutheran. His scholarship is either incompetent or dishonest. There were multiple instances where I read him and he quoted a sentence from someone (e.g., Warfield) and then built a case off of that for how horrible Warfield was and how Warfield meant X. However, when I went to the source and read Warfield, there were a couple of times when Warfield said, on the very same page, that he did NOT mean X! Letis also intentionally obscured his own views but there were several times when he said things like he didn't know whether the long ending of Mark was original or not, but what mattered is that the church "canonized it" so it was now part of the canon. You can read some of my interactions with Letis in this (lengthy) thread.

See any doctrinal similarity between these individuals? I don't, but they shared a common goal on this one topic. The "confessional bibliology" group uses a different approach than any of these three. Steve has his own unique approach. Jeff Riddle has some of his own ideas. Matthew Winzer argued from a unique position as well. Robert Truelove is different from them. But they all eventually arrive at the KJV. There just isn't one argument, or one theological view here.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
Personally I think that's the issue: each person has their own path to getting to the KJV but their methodology is typically very different. I'm sure Jerusalem Blade has some good resources from that perspective.

But you have Burgon, an Anglican who was arguing for certain readings (but not all) in the traditional text, finding many sources in the early church fathers.

You have Hills, who was a Presbyterian, more or less interested in defending the KJV and in my opinion his take on the Greek text secondary to that. He believed that the KJV could be considered its own version of the "received text".

Then you have Letis, whom I would avoid. He ended up Lutheran. His scholarship is either incompetent or dishonest. There were multiple instances where I read him and he quoted a sentence from someone (e.g., Warfield) and then built a case off of that for how horrible Warfield was and how Warfield meant X. However, when I went to the source and read Warfield, there were a couple of times when Warfield said, on the very same page, that he did NOT mean X! Letis also intentionally obscured his own views but there were several times when he said things like he didn't know whether the long ending of Mark was original or not, but what mattered is that the church "canonized it" so it was now part of the canon. You can read some of my interactions with Letis in this (lengthy) thread.

See any doctrinal similarity between these individuals? I don't, but they shared a common goal on this one topic. The "confessional bibliology" group uses a different approach than any of these three. Steve has his own unique approach. Jeff Riddle has some of his own ideas. Matthew Winzer argued from a unique position as well. Robert Truelove is different from them. But they all eventually arrive at the KJV. There just isn't one argument, or one theological view here.
In this vein, as a TR advocate myself I think it is absolutely true that the modern defense of the TR is still very much in its early stages of being formed and coming to coherence, because historically speaking the modern challenge to the TR is relatively new. Thus while preference for the TR has been around for some time, the current effort to articulate why the TR is to be preferred is still in some senses just getting going in earnest.

As TR advocacy has surged in recent years, I think we will see development and refining of arguments which will make the position a little more easily approachable and coherent, and will hopefully eliminate many of the bad arguments which have popped up.
 
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NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
To clarify, I'm not saying no good or coherent arguments have been made yet, just that the position as a whole is still being developed/consolidated.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Sophomore
In this vein, as a TR advocate myself I think it is absolutely true that the modern defense of the TR is still very much in its early stages of being formed and coming to coherence, because historically speaking the modern challenge to the TR is relatively new. Thus while preference for the TR has been around for some time, the current effort to articulate why the TR is to be preferred is still in some senses just getting going in earnest.

As TR advocacy has surge in recent years, I think we will see development and refining of arguments which will make the position a little more easily approachable and coherent, and will hopefully eliminate many of the bad arguments which have popped up.
I for one find the most persuasive form of the pro-TR view to be the providential preservation one. Things start get wonky once some pro-TR views start talking about evidences for the minority readings of 1 Jn 5:7, Eph 3:9 and then shift to a majority view for Mark 16 etc.

And I think that is where the split should be among TR views. My 2c.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
I am back. I had a good weekend guys. Slept most of it. I am so glad Summer is winding down.
Jay Green Sr. was more of a Majority Text guy. He use to publish Burgon's works. Most of us end up with the KJV because it is an excellent translation based on manuscripts from that family. Most of the Eclectic Text translations tend to be more Dynamic Equivalence. The Majority Text side tend to translate with a Formal Equivalence mind.

Yes, 1 Timothy 3:16 is one of the passages that should have made it into the Eclectic Text. I was up at Wheaton for a Reformation and Revival Conference many years ago now. (I got to meet J. I. Packer) They had a representative there for the ESV translation. I mentioned the 1 Timothy 3:16 text to him and he noted to me that they were wrestling with that passage. Evidently it didn't make the cut to say God was manifest in the flesh.

Logan, Despite what Dr. Oakley (James White) says Jay Green was a Majority text guy like Burgon. Of course it is easier to label all guys who like that family of manuscripts to be KJVO. Bring me a better translation and I will surely recommend it. I do recommend the ESV.

Man, I became a Christian reading a Living Bible in a Navy Barracks. But that doesn't mean I recommend it for study. We all mature at different times in different ways. God's word will not return void. It accomplishes what he wants when he wants. There is a Providence in this whole thing. It just doesn't appear to be revered the same generationally. Our reverence level for the word is dropping quickly.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
Personally I think that's the issue: each person has their own path to getting to the KJV but their methodology is typically very different. I'm sure Jerusalem Blade has some good resources from that perspective.

But you have Burgon, an Anglican who was arguing for certain readings (but not all) in the traditional text, finding many sources in the early church fathers.

You have Hills, who was a Presbyterian, more or less interested in defending the KJV and in my opinion his take on the Greek text secondary to that. He believed that the KJV could be considered its own version of the "received text".

Then you have Letis, whom I would avoid. He ended up Lutheran. His scholarship is either incompetent or dishonest. There were multiple instances where I read him and he quoted a sentence from someone (e.g., Warfield) and then built a case off of that for how horrible Warfield was and how Warfield meant X. However, when I went to the source and read Warfield, there were a couple of times when Warfield said, on the very same page, that he did NOT mean X! Letis also intentionally obscured his own views but there were several times when he said things like he didn't know whether the long ending of Mark was original or not, but what mattered is that the church "canonized it" so it was now part of the canon. You can read some of my interactions with Letis in this (lengthy) thread.

See any doctrinal similarity between these individuals? I don't, but they shared a common goal on this one topic. The "confessional bibliology" group uses a different approach than any of these three. Steve has his own unique approach. Jeff Riddle has some of his own ideas. Matthew Winzer argued from a unique position as well. Robert Truelove is different from them. But they all eventually arrive at the KJV. There just isn't one argument, or one theological view here.
Thanks for this.

That’s part of the frustration when interacting with this position; you hit a target and then it’s moved.

Perhaps one should focus on the foundations—the supposed “gotcha” assertions of superior theology, presuppositions, and epistemology that undergird the position.

But then again, the leaps that have to be made to support the dogmatic form of so-called CB are past the point of debate.

Or perhaps the focus should be on the tangible problem with this view: the division and lack of trust in the Bible* it causes in the church when it is asserted that it is “CB” or nothing.

*They would argue the same for other text positions; but I believe this charge rightly lies with them.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry for the multiple replies, but one last thing to add. I'd also say that in reality the arguments for modern critical texts are just as diverse. There is hardly a uniform textual critical position that 100% characterizes all pastors and scholars who prefer the critical text today. Rather, there is broad agreement mixed with many individual idiosyncracies.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
In this vein, as a TR advocate myself I think it is absolutely true that the modern defense of the TR is still very much in its early stages of being formed and coming to coherence, because historically speaking the modern challenge to the TR is relatively new. Thus while preference for the TR has been around for some time, the current effort to articulate why the TR is to be preferred is still in some senses just getting going in earnest.

As TR advocacy has surge in recent years, I think we will see development and refining of arguments which will make the position a little more easily approachable and coherent, and will hopefully eliminate many of the bad arguments which have popped up.
Perhaps you are right.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
Or perhaps the focus should be on the tangible problem with this view: the division and lack of trust in the Bible* it causes in the church when it is asserted that it is “CB” or nothing.

*They would argue the same for other text positions; but I believe this charge rightly lies with them.
I agree with you that some TR advocates argue in a way that can be seriously damaging to people's confidence in the Bible; I experienced this when I first encountered the position. Some critical text guys do this as well, which I think we all can acknowledge. It's really more about how you're arguing than which position you're taking.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry for the multiple replies, but one last thing to add. I'd also say that in reality the arguments for modern critical texts are just as diverse. There is hardly a uniform textual critical position that 100% characterizes all pastors and scholars who prefer the critical text today. Rather, there is broad agreement mixed with many individual idiosyncracies.
The problem though is that the dogmatic “CB” position claims modern texts are not truly and fully the Word of God. Otherwise we could all live in relative unity, each believing and trusting his own Bible. Much like we do with baptism or church government.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
The problem though is that the dogmatic “CB” position claims modern texts are not truly and fully the Word of God. Otherwise we could all live in relative unity, each believing and trusting his own Bible. Much like we do with baptism or church government.
I agree that we should be able to have unity, and that some hardliners take the argument too far, but it is worth noting that as with baptism and church government, churches as well as individuals have to make decisions on these things which affect their congregations. That's why the conversation is worth having-- though it should be a brotherly one.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree with you that some TR advocates argue in a way that can be seriously damaging to people's confidence in the Bible; I experienced this when I first encountered the position. Some critical text guys do this as well, which I think we all can acknowledge. It's really more about how you're arguing than which position you're taking.
I agree that we should be able to have unity, and that some hardliners take the argument too far, but it is worth noting that as with baptism and church government, churches as well as individuals have to make decisions on these things which affect their congregations. That's why the conversation is worth having-- though it should be a brotherly one.

1. I’m curious what parts of the TR arguments caused you problems?

2. Yes, some CT guys could damage someone’s trust in the Bible, but I submit that it is the unbelieving scholars, or overzealous laymen—not the position itself that causes this problem.

Otherwise the position isn’t being understood correctly—or, more likely, the unfounded assertions for the TR being something that it is not are then colouring how the CT is being viewed.

On the flip side, I think it is the “CB” position itself (not just poor examples of men holding to it) that causes this same problem because it’s baked into the position to distrust all else than the TR.

Speaking solely of the positions (not men), believing modern scholarship says to the ESV and KJV reader alike, “You have the Word of God.”

The “CB” position says, “That ESV is not really the Word of God.”

(I don’t know if the position even has a name or category for the ESV or NASB, etc.)

Which of those two statements will cause more trouble to the man or woman in the pew? “CB” all day.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
1. I’m curious what parts of the TR arguments caused you problems?

2. Yes, some CT guys could damage someone’s trust in the Bible, but I submit that it is the unbelieving scholars, or overzealous laymen—not the position itself that causes this problem.

Otherwise the position isn’t being understood correctly—or, more likely, the unfounded assertions for the TR being something that it is not are then colouring how the CT is being viewed.

On the flip side, I think it is the “CB” position itself (not just poor examples of men holding to it) that causes this same problem because it’s baked into the position to distrust all else than the TR.

Speaking solely of the positions (not men), believing modern scholarship says to the ESV and KJV reader alike, “You have the Word of God.”

The “CB” position says, “That ESV is not really the Word of God.”

(I don’t know if the position even has a name or category for the ESV or NASB, etc.)

Which of those two statements will cause more trouble to the man or woman in the pew? “CB” all day.
I think you may have only encountered certain variants of the TR argument that are more extreme. While I will acknowledge some TR advocates argue in a damaging way, I do not think it is inherent to the position. Most TR advocates I know would not say, as your hypothetical argument says, that those who have the ESV, for instance, do not possess the word of God, nor does our position necessitate such a statement. Some people claim that it does, but they do not speak for all TR advocates when they say this.


I believe the TR is the best edition of the Greek NT, but that all others are the Word of God insofar as they represent the originals, which is still quite substantially-- just as many CT guys would say about the TR.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm going to state this again (since it appears by comments that people are ignorant of the process of looking at variants), but there is really not a "CT position".

Yes, the CT "platform" exists where scholars have decided that, of all the variants found among manuscripts, which is most likely the original. What they have not done, however, is "deleted" any readings.

The ad hoc nature of the TR position will always exist because it will always have to account for (in some way) manuscripts discovered since the 17th (or even 19th centuries). Some story has to be put forward as to why the Church should ignore manuscripts that were, well, preserved.

It is remarkable, is it not, that we have papyri fragments within the first century? I suppose some are so devoted to an account of preservation that the answer is "No".

The reason why most Reformed Elders don't take the TR position is that they don't have a specific position on whether an academic "vote" settles a reading. The apparatus is available and the "position" of Reformed Churches is to train its Pastors to be able to translate from the original languages and look at the variants themselves. We do not ignore the providential preservation of thousands of additional manuscripts in favor of some ad hoc account as to why the ought to be ignored.
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you may have only encountered certain variants of the TR argument that are more extreme. While I will acknowledge some TR advocates argue in a damaging way, I do not think it is inherent to the position. Most TR advocates I know would not say, as your hypothetical argument says, that those who have the ESV, for instance, do not possess the word of God, nor does our position necessitate such a statement. Some people claim that it does, but they do not speak for all TR advocates when they say this.


I believe the TR is the best edition of the Greek NT, but that all others are the Word of God insofar as they represent the originals, which is still quite substantially-- just as many CT guys would say about the TR.
My comments were directed specifically at dogmatic “Confessional Bibliology.” You are right otherwise, brother.

I appreciate your position!
 

Imputatio

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm going to state this again (since it appears by comments that people are ignorant of the process of looking at variants), but there is really not a "CT position".

Yes, the CT "platform" exists where scholars have decided that, of all the variants found among manuscripts, which is most likely the original. What they have not done, however, is "deleted" any readings.

The ad hoc nature of the TR position will always exist because it will always have to account for (in some way) manuscripts discovered since the 17th (or even 19th centuries). Some story has to be put forward as to why the Church should ignore manuscripts that were, well, preserved.

It is remarkable, is it not, that we have papyri fragments within the first century? I suppose some are so devoted to an account of preservation that the answer is "No".

The reason why most Reformed Elders don't take the TR position is that they don't have a specific position on whether an academic "vote" settles a reading. The apparatus is available and the "position" of Reformed Churches is to train its Pastors to be able to translate from the original languages and look at the variants themselves. We do not ignore the providential preservation of thousands of additional manuscripts in favor of some ad hoc account as to why the ought to be ignored.
How do you account for the recent groundswell of dogmatic “Confessional Bibliology”?
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was just wondering, if a prospective Pastor wants to use, say the ESV, in the FCC for example, is there any official clause to prohibit from doing so? Or would the elders just not call him (and if so, what is their official rejection reason?)
 
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