Partial review of D.A. Carson's "The King James Only Debate"

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CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Hi All:

I recognize that the below is a very brief critique, but I would appreciate any feedback on this review.

Dr. Carson’s book is intended for a lay audience that has little to no understanding of a very complex subject. He presents the case for the modern scientific approach to textual criticism with clarity and sensibility. The book is useful to both laymen and scholars alike as a brief, broad, and basic presentation of the modern theory. Nevertheless it suffers from its generality, and, consequently principles are assumed to be true rather than proved to be true. The modern theory of textual criticism, however, is fraught with problems that lend one to question the value of the theory in regards to its subject.

In chapter 4 of his book Dr. Carson sets forth “Some Criteria for Making Textual Changes.” He mentions quite a few of them, but those criteria which he sets forth which should be proved rather than assumed are: 1) The genealogical method, 2) The older document is more authoritative, 3) Manuscripts must be weighed rather than counted, 4) The shorter reading is to be preferred (though he qualifies this principle), and, 5) The most difficult reading is to be preferred. Because of the brevity of this review only one of these principles will be investigated - #5 “The more difficult reading is to be preferred.”

In Luke 4:44 the reading of the Critical Text is, “Καὶ ἦν κηρύσσων εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς τῆς Ἰουδαίας.” The questionable text reading here is, “Ἰουδαίας.” Dr. Metzger, in defending this reading writes, “the reading “τῆς Ἰουδαίας” (P75 a B C L f1 892 Lect syrs,h al) is obviously the more difficult, and copyists have corrected it to τῆς Γαλιλαίας.” Thus the reading used in the Critical Text at Mark 4:44 (τῆς Ἰουδαίας) is justified by the principle that the more difficult reading is to be preferred. This reading is translated into the following English texts: LB, NIV, NASB, NEB, RSV and ESV. A problem arises when using the Reformed hermeneutic of comparing Scripture with Scripture. In Mark 1:35 both the Critical Text and the Textus Receptus read that Jesus went, “τῆς Γαλιλαίας.” Comparing Luke 4:44 and Mark 1:35 creates a contradiction in the Greek text. Thus, the Critical Text reading in Luke 4:44 are contradictory to what the Critical Text reads in Mark 1:35, and this reading are justified only by a few manuscripts and lectionaries as well as the principle “the more difficult reading is to be preferred.” The Bible does not contradict itself. Nevertheless, using the modern principles of textual criticism by modern scholar’s error and contradiction has been inserted into the Scriptures. The reader is drawn farther away from the original by a text critical principle which has no foundation in fact, and causes a contradiction rather than a clarification. The Textus Receptus does not produce a contradiction in these passages, and is consistent in both verses with the vast majority of manuscripts.

This is simply one example wherein one principle of the modern textual theory is examined. However, there are many such examples of problems in the Greek text that arise from the principles which Dr. Carson lists above. The principles of modern textual theory do not produce a manuscript that is closer to the originals. The Critical Text can be shown to be factually in error, flawed, and contradictory to the very teachings of the Bible and the Reformed faith.

Blessings,

Rob
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
A problem arises when using the Reformed hermeneutic of comparing Scripture with Scripture.

I believe that is a doctrinal hermeneutic, not a linguistic one.

The main problem I found with D. A. Carson's empiricism was, (1.) it did not lead to a first century text; (2.) its rejection of faith-based criteria really left one without any possibility of affirming that the original has come down to us; (3.) it is highly selective and inconsistent in following its own canons of criticism; and (4.) could not often sustain itself even on critical grounds.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Pastor Winzer:

Have you posted a more "fuller" (pardon the pun) explication of your points above? I would like to read your points.

I am a bit confused about what you wrote about comparing Scripture with Scripture as being doctrinal and not linguistic. As I see it both doctrine and linguistics are relevant to text criticism.

Blessings,

Rob
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Have you posted a more "fuller" (pardon the pun) explication of your points above? I would like to read your points.

I am a bit confused about what you wrote about comparing Scripture with Scripture as being doctrinal and not linguistic. As I see it both doctrine and linguistics are relevant to text criticism.

I only have my hand written notes which I took while reading the book. Nothing published. Those four points are a summary of weaknesses.

The Scripture interpreting Scripture rule applies to the "one meaning" of Scripture, that is, to the ultimate formulation of "faith and life." It doesn't pertain to the historical and literary varieties which lead up to the ultimate formulation. It is bound to be used with relation to the "unity" of Scripture without prejudicing the "diversity."
 

tleaf

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor Winzer:

For those of us who follow the TR/CT debate, are there any balanced discussions out there of the issues involved, i.e., that give a fair evaluation? Most everything seems too biased and argumentative.

I'll always hold on to my KJV, but what do the vast amount of witnesses really have to tell us?

Just searching for what we would have heard in the first century (not in English!).

BTW, I sense that your posts, as well as others on the PB, are greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and insight.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
For those of us who follow the TR/CT debate, are there any balanced discussions out there of the issues involved, i.e., that give a fair evaluation? Most everything seems too biased and argumentative.

For more balanced conservative approaches it is helpful to consult some of the 19th century works, e.g., Scrivener, Burgon, Dabney. We should remember that there was a conservative approach to text criticism before Westcott and Hort, and there was a conservative rejection of their thesis when it came out. In the 20th century the fundamentalist-modernist debate tends to polarise positions. The work of Hills and then of Letis continued to move along the older conservative lines, but is sometimes caricatured as fundamentalist. There is also the academic work of men who have seen some legitimacy, in whole or in part, to the Byzantine text type, and these help to show that the main contentions relative to the received text cannot be put down to fundamentalism or fanaticism.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Hi:

Reverend Winzer - I am still a little confused by your statement - help! Let me illustrate: When I am reading the ESV (or the Critical Text for that matter) at Luke 4:44 and I want to read the cross-reference in Mark 1:35 I will then come to a problem in the text - that is the two verses contradict each other. That is all that I meant.

I hope that the tone of the OP was not argumentative?

Blessings,

Rob
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Reverend Winzer - I am still a little confused by your statement - help! Let me illustrate: When I am reading the ESV (or the Critical Text for that matter) at Luke 4:44 and I want to read the cross-reference in Mark 1:35 I will then come to a problem in the text - that is the two verses contradict each other. That is all that I meant.

I hope that the tone of the OP was not argumentative?

Rob, I didn't find anything argumentative in your OP. Without going into the details of the case you have mentioned, it sounds like you have found a genuine discrepancy. This is one of the problems involved with the selectivity of certain canons of criticism. I'm not criticising your method, just pointing out that the "Scripture interpreting Scripture rule" might not be the appropriate rule to invoke in this instance. Blessings!
 

tleaf

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor Winzer,

I came across a PB post by Jerusalem Blade on 2/25/09, a response to James White. Printed out at 33 pages with replies!

What a great read: balanced, referenced, with consideration for all believers. This is what I had in mind when I asked my question.

Blessings to all.
 
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