There are no commentators on the WCF I know of who argue that the phrase "kept pure in all ages" means only texts in use. The phrase must be interpreted in the light of the Roman Catholic claim that the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts were corrupt and only the Latin Vulgate is the pure authentic version (see William Whitaker's Disputations for the best dismantling of the RCC position). The phrase, in other words, is not actually a text-critical phrase, but an expression about versions versus the original.I would argue the every paragraph of Chapter 1 of the Confession presupposes providential preservation extending only to texts in use and custody of the churches, and NOT to texts buried in the desert for hundreds or thousands of years. You can’t appeal to a non-existent authority. As soon as you allow some “new discovery” (I.e. with no history of use throughout the ages) to replace what has been commonly received and used, there’s in theory no foundation to reject a radically altered text of Romans or a gospel according to Bartholomew when dug up tomorrow and is “ancient and reliable”.
Now, I’m not a purist in terms of taking Scrivener’s 1881 or Stephen’s 1550 etc. as THE word of God over against others in the TR tradition, and think there is still a place for textual criticism but within the bounds of the received texts. Since the Printing Press and the reformation and the textual work of our orthodox church forefathers in that era, the locus of textual examination largely shifted from mss to printed editions, because that’s what church then used and propagated. I think one could hold an MT position within a “received” framework as well (not just an evidentialist approach of counting noses, and also must account for the printed editions and not reverting solely to mss).
I’m also not KJV only, and recognize the authority and authenticity of other translations within the reformed tradition, like Tyndale, Geneva, etc. Neither do I think Bibles outside the TR lack all authority, but at the points of discrepancy the true word is to be found in the TR. We use the NLT a lot in our family devotions, particularly through the OT and the gospels.
@greenbaggins , I love your last paragraph in #14!
So I took TC from Maurice Robinson but was more influenced by David Alan Black. He studied under Harry Sturz who made a good case for the Byzantine text being an ancient witness. Dr. Black would say almost verbatim with you that geographical dispersion is primary and internal evidence is only cobberative but not decisive/probative.I haven't even read Sturz, but I will have to now! I didn't know there was anyone else who thought like I do on TC.