Textual Manuscripts?

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I dare say that I would have argued with the Reformers, since there were hardly any Alexandrian texts available, and thus it was easy to argue that the Alexandrian tradition was an aberration. However, that is not true anymore.

So after all that has been said, it would appear you believe the reformers only possessed something which approxiimated to the word of God, and that they did not possess the word of God in its purity -- that the Westminster divines were in fact incorrect in their claim to possess the authentical word of God. Would this be a fair assessment of your position?
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear Reverence Keister,

I'm going to attempt to respond to a couple of things, although the thread has pretty much surpassed my time to be very involved. Although, from what I've seen, I would suggest that you consider reading some of the works that Brother Raflalsky has cited, such as Letis's "Ecclesiastical Text."

I didn't enter this thread to set out to debate over points that people aren't equally studied on, just to provide some caution to the original poster and then briefly answer some questions that were asked. I'd be happy to defend my position to much greater detail, but arguing into the void of knowledge doesn't seem to be very profitable.

Here is just a couple answers to your statements and questions:


You said:

"Furthermore, the WCF 1.8 nowhere mentions "the received text."

The Westminster Confession is referring to the text of Protestant development as against the Tridentine attack. To understand this you have to understand the actual scholastic development and circumstances as they arose and comprehend them as a totality.

Our Protestant forebears worked in terms of what we call the Received Text tradition claiming Sola Scriptura, the Romanists responded with Trent and variants to counter it, thus they said we cannot claim Sola Scriptura not knowing what the original autograph was amongst all the variants; the Protestants responded with Providential Preservation.

That is the scholastic defense of their textual work and it is manifested in the Westminster Confession as well in many other works. Hence, they held that the apographic texts they were using were the Providentially Preserved autographs. The Received Text is what the Protestants defended, really this should be self evident since that was the universal text of Protestantism for three hundred years, and your man stated it very plainly:

(1) “…it is undisputed that from the 16th century to the 18th century orthodoxy’s doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed… [the] Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the ‘original’ text.” (Kurt Aland, “The Text of the Church” Trinity journal 8 (1987), p. 131.

It appears to me that you are simply rejecting what is undisputed fact in your own camp.


"You are reading into the confession an issue that didn't come to light with regard to textual criticism until much later. Even the Enlightenment didn't happen until well after the WCF was written. I utterly repudiate the notion that the Enlightenment is responsible for textual criticism, for this very simple reason: even the TR is the result of textual criticism! They had to compare manuscripts one with another. Textual criticism is not inherently evil. The fact that some have put humanity over the text of Scripture and wanted to play God over the Word of God is no reason to throw out the baby with the bath-water. "

The Received Text is not a result of textual criticism, that statement doesn't make any sense to me. They never set up the text of Scripture in a form/matter dialectical presupposition that textual criticism does, they never approached it from this perspective.

It appears to me from your statements that someone has deceived you into thinking that textual criticism is a field of study that is somehow neutral at best, when it's origins are rabidly counter-reformational. Hence, one can't enter that ground, devoid of that knowledge, and not be affected by the underlying intent of the presuppositions and principles involved in it.

Textual criticism is inherently counter-reformational, as I stated, it is the product of the enlightenment and was born by Richard Simon in 1689, whose "Critical History of the New Testament" is the origin of modern criticism and its purpose, whereby:

"The study of the New Testament was divorced for the first time from the study carried on by the ancients. Kummel, The New Testament, p 40

Baird tells us, "Simon sharpened historical criticism into a weapon that could be used in the attack on Protestantism's most fundamental error: the doctrine of Sola Scriptura." Baird, History of New Testament Research, p 19

And Simon himself explains plainly his purpose:

"The great changes that have taken place in the manuscripts of the Bible - as we have shown in the first book of this work - since the first originals were lost, completely destroy the principle of the Protestants...if tradition is not joined to scripture, there is hardly anything in religion that one can confidently affirm." Simon, Critical History

Your position is analogous to someone defending theistic evolution against atheistic evolution as standing upon true Christian ground, when in reality one is attempting to syncretise Creation with evolution and the other is outright denying it. The same situation exists between the Reformers work on Scripture and the rise of textual criticism, modern Reformed folks are like the "theistic evolutionists," just in terms of Scripture.

If we were discussing evolution against modern scientific presuppositions, you'd clearly see this and we'd be on the same side. But since you are standing upon the claims of neutrality of scientific presuppositions you don't see it. Hence, you claim that your intentions are honest, which I assume they indeed are, but my point is that once you accept those presuppositions it really doesn't matter what your intentions are - you simply can't syncretise those things together and still be standing upon the same ground as the Reformed Fathers.

So, I go back to the intent of my first post, one needs to know what ground they are standing upon and why and what that means. It's a sad truth that the majority of the Reformed Church is standing upon counter-reformational ground in terms of Scripture, and they are carrying on the work of the enemy of Sola Scriptura.


Then you said:

"Thirdly, your interpretation of WCF 1.8 is also flawed when it comes to saying that the TR is what the divines had in mind as opposed to the autographa. First of all, your quotation of Muller is not accurate. I looked in every volume of Muller's PRRD on page 433 and did not find the quotation that you said he had. Furthermore, the divines clearly had the autographs in mind: the exact wording is this: "being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages." The immediately inspired document is not the copy, for that would be mediate, not immediate. It was the autograph that has been preserved through the manuscripts. But to say that the Westminster divines would have rejected Westcott and Hort (who were NOT Romanists) is most anachronistic. The debate simply wasn't around in the days of the Westminster Assembly. By far and away the majority of *Confessional* adherents today hold to the critical text. To suggest that all these fine men are Enlightenment, proto-Roman Catholic rejecters of the true, pure Word of God is slanderous. No advocate of the critical text, as far as I know, makes any such vituperative claims about TR people. I have slammed Riplinger's book because it completely lacks scholarly integrity."

Well, you've taken my statements out of their context and redefined them as I was clearly never defending Riplinger's book, scholarly or otherwise, rather I was explaining their thinking and the way in which people like James White disparage them. Maybe you should go re-read my original statements, because it sure seemed to me, and still does, that you read into it what you wanted to read into, not anything I said.

The Reformers never set the apographs against the autographs, never embraced a claim of scientific neutrality establishing imagining principles that Providence must adhere to. They were biased, they were biased against Rome and it's Bible, and they explicitly approached the whole issue theologically. This is a big no - no today, if you approach Scripture theologically you aren't being scientific, thus you are immediately dismissed from the debate. Without the Received Text tradition the Reformation would have never happened, neither could it have happened, neither can it be continued on other ground.

For example, you accused me of slander in regards to my statements that Wescott and Hort's text was foisted off on the Church in secrecy, this is common knowledge. It's also common knowledge that they never applied their theories to the texts, nor has it ever been applied, it was created for the sole purpose of attacking the Received Text.

Colwell stated in 1947 that the "genealogical method as defined by Westcott and Hort was not applied by them or by any of their followers to the manuscripts of the New Testament. Moreover, sixty years of study since Westcott and Hort indicate that it is doubtful if it can be applied to New Testament manuscripts." Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies, p.158.

He further noted, "Hort utilized this principle solely to depose the Textus Receptus, and not to establish a line of descent." and finally, "Yet, in truth, all of Hort's main points were subjectively-based and were deliberately contrived to overthrow the Byzantine-priority hypothesis."

I'm not interested in winning an argument with you, and I'm not going to get involved in that style of debate, as I don't find it edifying for either of us. I've got to leave for worship.

Cordially,

Thomas
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
From post #35

Thomas:

“The critical text and the philosophy behind it was brought upon the Church in secrecy, denying Authority of Scripture and attacking its establishment...”


Lane:

“This is slanderous. The people who discovered manuscripts immediately published them for all scholars to look over. Westcott and Hort were very open about their methods...”

Lane, Thomas is actually right here. Westcott and Hort distributed their own revised Greek Text to the Committee in 1871 when it first gathered in the Jerusalem Chamber (the place where their work was conducted), with the stipulation that it be kept secret until the publication of the finished product. They violated the stipulations of the Church of England which were laid upon them for the work, and they threatened to resign when Dr. Vance Smith, a Unitarian, outraged England by his presence on the committee (who later gloatingly wrote about the damage the Committee had done to the NT’s testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ).

In a letter to Westcott, in April of 1861, while they were unofficially* working on their revision of the Greek text, Hort wrote,

Also—but this may be cowardice—I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not easily be banished by subsequent alarms.**​

Hort was worldly-wise in this, for it was not until dogged research by scholars in the 20th century unearthed their “dangerous heresy”*** (though “damnable” be a more apt description) in many areas, that we have learned things about them their contemporaries were unaware of. In a letter to Lightfoot in May of 1860, concerning a proposed commentary they would write with Westcott on the New Testament, Hort said,

Depend on it, whatever either you or I may say in an extended commentary, if only we speak our mind, we shall not be able to avoid giving grave offence to…the miscalled orthodoxy of the day.†​
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Notes
* They did not receive their official appointment to revise the New Testament – not the Greek text, but make minor revisions in the English text – until 1871.
** Life and Letters of J.F.A. Hort, Vol. I, page 445. By his son.
*** 2 Peter 2:1 more accurately classifies theirs as “damnable heresies” – there being a distinction between the two types.
† Ibid., page 421.

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Actually, Thomas was not slanderous, but rather barely uncovered their treachery, as recorded by each of their sons in their written biographies.

And I do not think Thomas in any way supported or condoned Riplinger, or her work, but instead showed how the attack on the Scripture was interpreted by her, and fueled her ranting errors. I didn’t think you were being fair to him – perhaps just mistaking what he said.

More on Alexandria to come!

Steve
 
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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I will try to respond. Life has become a bit busy here lately. I certainly wouldn't mind if there are any other defenders of the critical text out there, if they would chip in and answer some of the arguments for the TR side. Debating 4 guys at once is rather exhausting!
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Lane, Thomas is actually right here. Westcott and Hort distributed their own revised Greek Text to the Committee in 1971 when it first gathered in the Jerusalem Chamber (the place where their work was conducted), with the stipulation that it be kept secret until the publication of the finished product. They violated the stipulations of the Church of England which were laid upon them for the work, and they threatened to resign when Dr. Vance Smith, a Unitarian, outraged England by his presence on the committee (who later gloatingly wrote about the damage the Committee had done to the NT’s testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ).

Should that be '1871'?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I will try to respond. Life has become a bit busy here lately. I certainly wouldn't mind if there are any other defenders of the critical text out there, if they would chip in and answer some of the arguments for the TR side. Debating 4 guys at once is rather exhausting!

Try being a credobaptist in the PB Baptism Forum!
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Lane, Thomas is actually right here. Westcott and Hort distributed their own revised Greek Text to the Committee in 1971 when it first gathered in the Jerusalem Chamber (the place where their work was conducted), with the stipulation that it be kept secret until the publication of the finished product. They violated the stipulations of the Church of England which were laid upon them for the work, and they threatened to resign when Dr. Vance Smith, a Unitarian, outraged England by his presence on the committee (who later gloatingly wrote about the damage the Committee had done to the NT’s testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ).

Should that be '1871'?

It's 1971 according to the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Lane, Thomas is actually right here. Westcott and Hort distributed their own revised Greek Text to the Committee in 1971 when it first gathered in the Jerusalem Chamber (the place where their work was conducted), with the stipulation that it be kept secret until the publication of the finished product. They violated the stipulations of the Church of England which were laid upon them for the work, and they threatened to resign when Dr. Vance Smith, a Unitarian, outraged England by his presence on the committee (who later gloatingly wrote about the damage the Committee had done to the NT’s testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ).

Should that be '1871'?

It's 1971 according to the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.

:lol:
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Oops! Thanks for the correction, guys!

And I do have to hand it to you, Lane — taking on 4 opponents is a feat!

Steve

P.S. The hippie Calvinists have a good sense of humor!
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Lane has asked what is wrong with the Alexandrian manuscripts. He said,

post #18 “In your mind, what elevates the Reformation editors, and the texts used in the Reformation, over the early third and fourth century manuscripts that are Alexandrian? Were the Alexandrians not part of the church? Why is the Alexandrian text-form illegitimate?”

post #49 “On what basis do you say that the Alexandrian texts were rejected by the Reformed church? The manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, for instance, were not discovered or known until the 19th century. Furthermore, you seem to be disenfranchising the Alexandrian church. Were they not part of the church? Did they not receive those texts when they were written?"

These are good questions, and I would briefly like to respond by quoting from chapter 5 ("The History of the Text") of Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text, where he talks about the history and factors involved concerning the copies made from the autographs. Please note that this later version of the book (the online version) is slightly different from the earlier hardcopy book:

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We have objective historical evidence in support of the following propositions:

  • The true text was never "lost".

  • In A.D. 200 the exact original wording of the several books could still be verified and attested.

  • There was therefore no need to practice textual criticism and any such effort would be spurious.

However, presumably some areas would be in a better position to protect and transmit the true text than others.

[size=+1]Who Was Best Qualified?[/size]

What factors would be important for guaranteeing, or at least facilitating, a faithful transmission of the text of the N.T. writings? I submit that there are four controlling factors: access to the Autographs, proficiency in the source language, the strength of the Church and an appropriate attitude toward the Text.

Access to the Autographs

This criterion probably applied for less than a hundred years (the Autographs were presumably worn to a frazzle in that space of time) but it is highly significant to a proper understanding of the history of the transmission of the Text. Already by the year 100 there must have been many copies of the various books (some more than others) while it was certainly still possible to check a copy against the original, should a question arise. The point is that there was a swelling stream of faithfully executed copies emanating from the holders of the Autographs to the rest of the Christian world. In those early years the producers of copies would know that the true wording could be verified, which would discourage them from taking liberties with the text.

However, distance would presumably be a factor—for someone in north Africa to consult the Autograph of Ephesians would be an expensive proposition, in both time and money. I believe we may reasonably conclude that in general the quality of copies would be highest in the area surrounding the Autograph and would gradually deteriorate as the distance increased. Important geographical barriers would accentuate the tendency.

So who held the Autographs? Speaking in terms of regions, Asia Minor may be safely said to have had twelve (John, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Philemon, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 and 3 John, and Revelation), Greece may be safely said to have had six (1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Titus in Crete), Rome may be safely said to have had two (Mark and Romans)—as to the rest, Luke, Acts, and 2 Peter were probably held by either Asia Minor or Rome; Matthew and James by either Asia Minor or Palestine; Hebrews by Rome or Palestine; while it is hard to state even a probability for Jude it was quite possibly held by Asia Minor. Taking Asia Minor and Greece together, the Aegean area held the Autographs of at least eighteen (two-thirds of the total) and possibly as many as twenty-four of the twenty-seven New Testament books; Rome held at least two and possibly up to seven; Palestine may have held up to three (but in A.D. 70 they would have been sent away for safe keeping, quite possibly to Antioch); Alexandria (Egypt) held none. The Aegean region clearly had the best start, and Alexandria the worst—the text in Egypt could only be second hand, at best. On the face of it, we may reasonably assume that in the earliest period of the transmission of the N.T. Text the most reliable copies would be circulating in the region that held the Autographs. Recalling the discussion of Tertullian above, I believe we may reasonably extend this conclusion to A.D. 200 and beyond. So, in the year 200 someone looking for the best text of the N.T. would presumably go to the Aegean area; certainly not to Egypt.

Proficiency in the source language

As a linguist (PhD) and one who has dabbled in the Bible translation process for some years, I affirm that a 'perfect' translation is impossible. (Indeed, a tolerably reasonable approximation is often difficult enough to achieve.) It follows that any divine solicitude for the precise form of the NT Text would have to be mediated through the language of the Autographs—Greek. Evidently ancient Versions (Syriac, Latin, Coptic) may cast a clear vote with reference to major variants, but precision is possible only in Greek (in the case of the N.T.). That by way of background, but our main concern here is with the copyists.

To copy a text by hand in a language you do not understand is a tedious exercise—it is almost impossible to produce a perfect copy (try it and see!). You virtually have to copy letter by letter and constantly check your place. (It is even more difficult if there is no space between words and no punctuation, as was the case with the N.T. Text in the early centuries.) But if you cannot understand the text it is very difficult to remain alert. Consider the case of P66. This papyrus manuscript is perhaps the oldest (c. 200) extant N.T. manuscript of any size (it contains most of John). It is one of the worst copies we have. It has an average of roughly two mistakes per verse—many being obvious mistakes, stupid mistakes, nonsensical mistakes. From the pattern of mistakes it is clear that the scribe copied syllable by syllable. I have no qualms in affirming that the person who produced P66 did not know Greek. Had he understood the text he would not have made the number and sort of mistakes that he did.

Now consider the problem from God's point of view. To whom should He entrust the primary responsibility for the faithful transmission of the N.T. Text? If the Holy Spirit is going to take an active part in the process, where should He concentrate His efforts? Presumably fluent speakers of Greek would have the inside track, and areas where Greek would continue in active use would be preferred. For a faithful transmission to occur the copyists had to be proficient in Greek, and over the long haul. So where was Greek predominant? Evidently in Greece and Asia Minor; Greek is the mother tongue of Greece to this day (having changed considerably during the intervening centuries, as any living language must). The dominance of Greek in the Aegean area was guaranteed by the Byzantine Empire for many centuries; in fact, until the invention of printing. Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453; the Gutenberg Bible (Latin) was printed just three years later, while the first printed Greek New Testament appeared in 1516. (For those who believe in Providence, I would suggest that here we have a powerful case in point.)

How about Egypt? The use of Greek in Egypt was already declining by the beginning of the Christian era. Bruce Metzger observes that the Hellenized section of the population in Egypt "was only a fraction in comparison with the number of native inhabitants who used only the Egyptian languages."[21] By the third century the decline was evidently well advanced. I have already argued that the copyist who did P66 (c. 200) did not know Greek. Now consider the case of P75 (c. 220). E.C. Colwell analyzed P75 and found about 145 itacisms plus 257 other singular readings, 25% of which are nonsensical. From the pattern of mistakes it is clear that the copyist who did P75 copied letter by letter![22] This means that he did not know Greek—when transcribing in a language you know you copy phrase by phrase, or at least word by word. K. Aland argues that before 200 the tide had begun to turn against the use of Greek in the areas that spoke Latin, Syriac or Coptic, and fifty years later the changeover to the local languages was well advanced.[23]

Again the Aegean Area is far and away the best qualified to transmit the Text with confidence and integrity. Note that even if Egypt had started out with a good text, already by the end of the 2nd century its competence to transmit the text was steadily deteriorating. In fact the early papyri (they come from Egypt) are demonstrably inferior in quality, taken individually, as well as exhibiting rather different types of text (they disagree among themselves).

The strength of the Church

This question is relevant to our discussion for two reasons. First, the law of supply and demand operates in the Church as well as elsewhere. Where there are many congregations and believers there will be an increased demand for copies of the Scriptures. Second, a strong, well established church will normally have a confident, experienced leadership—just the sort that would take an interest in the quality of their Scriptures and also be able to do something about it. So in what areas was the early Church strongest?

Although the Church evidently began in Jerusalem, the early persecutions and apostolic activity caused it to spread. The main line of advance seems to have been north into Asia Minor and west into Europe. If the selection of churches to receive the glorified Christ's "letters" (Rev. 2 and 3) is any guide, the center of gravity of the Church seems to have shifted from Palestine to Asia Minor by the end of the first century. (The destruction of Jerusalem by Rome's armies in A.D. 70 would presumably be a contributing factor.) Kurt Aland agrees with Adolf Harnack that "about 180 the greatest concentration of churches was in Asia Minor and along the Aegean coast of Greece." He continues: "The overall impression is that the concentration of Christianity was in the East. . . . Even around A.D. 325 the scene was still largely unchanged. Asia Minor continued to be the heartland of the Church."[24] "The heartland of the Church"—so who else would be in a better position to certify the correct text of the New Testament?

What about Egypt? C.H. Roberts, in a scholarly treatment of the Christian literary papyri of the first three centuries, seems to favor the conclusion that the Alexandrian church was weak and insignificant to the Greek Christian world in the second century.[25] Aland states: "Egypt was distinguished from other provinces of the Church, so far as we can judge, by the early dominance of gnosticism."[26] He further informs us that "at the close of the 2nd century" the Egyptian church was "dominantly gnostic" and then goes on to say: "The copies existing in the gnostic communities could not be used, because they were under suspicion of being corrupt."[27] Now this is all very instructive—what Aland is telling us, in other words, is that up to A.D. 200 the textual tradition in Egypt could not be trusted. Aland's assessment here is most probably correct. Notice what Bruce Metzger says about the early church in Egypt:

Among the Christian documents which during the second century either originated in Egypt or circulated there among both the orthodox and the Gnostics are numerous apocryphal gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses. . . . There are also fragments of exegetical and dogmatic works composed by Alexandrian Christians, chiefly Gnostics, during the second century. . . . In fact, to judge by the comments made by Clement of Alexandria, almost every deviant Christian sect was represented in Egypt during the second century; Clement mentions the Valentinians, the Basilidians, the Marcionites, the Peratae, the Encratites, the Docetists, the Haimetites, the Cainites, the Ophites, the Simonians, and the Eutychites. What proportion of Christians in Egypt during the second century were orthodox is not known.[28]​

It is almost enough to make one wonder whether Isaiah 30:1-3 might not be a prophecy about N.T. textual criticism!

But we need to pause to reflect on the implications of Aland's statements. He is a champion of the Egyptian ("Alexandrian") text-type, and yet he himself informs us that up to A.D. 200 the textual tradition in Egypt could not be trusted and that by 200 the use of Greek had virtually died out there. So on what basis can he argue that the Egyptian text subsequently became the best? Aland also states that in the 2nd century, 3rd century, and into the 4th century Asia Minor continued to be "the heartland of the Church." This means that the superior qualifications of the Aegean area to protect, transmit and attest the N.T. Text carry over into the 4th century! It happens that Hort, Metzger and Aland (along with many others) have linked the "Byzantine" text-type to Lucian of Antioch, who died in 311. Now really, wouldn't a text produced by a leader in "the heartland of the Church" be better than whatever evolved in Egypt?

Attitude toward the Text

Where careful work is required, the attitude of those to whom the task is entrusted is of the essence. Are they aware? Do they agree? If they do not understand the nature of the task, the quality will probably do down. If they understand but do not agree, they might even resort to sabotage—a damaging eventuality. In the case of the N.T. books we may begin with the question: "Why would copies be made?"

We have seen that the faithful recognized the authority of the N.T. writings from the start, so the making of copies would have begun at once. The authors clearly intended their writings to be circulated, and the quality of the writings was so obvious that the word would get around and each assembly would want a copy. That Clement and Barnabas quote and allude to a variety of N.T. books by the turn of the 1st century makes clear that copies were in circulation. A Pauline corpus was known to Peter before A.D. 70. Polycarp (XIII) c. 115, in answer to a request from the Philippian church, sent a collection of Ignatius' letters to them, possibly within five years after Ignatius wrote them. Evidently it was normal procedure to make copies and collections (of worthy writings) so each assembly could have a set. Ignatius referred to the free travel and exchange between the churches and Justin to the weekly practice of reading the Scriptures in the assemblies (they had to have copies).

A second question would be: "What was the attitude of the copyists toward their work?" We already have the essence of the answer. Being followers of Christ, and believing that they were dealing with Scripture, to a basic honesty would be added reverence in their handling of the Text, from the start. And to these would be added vigilance, since the Apostles had repeatedly and emphatically warned them against false teachers. As the years went by, assuming that the faithful were persons of at least average integrity and intelligence, they would produce careful copies of the manuscripts they had received from the previous generation, persons whom they trusted, being assured that they were transmitting the true text. There would be accidental copying mistakes in their work, but no deliberate changes. It is important to note that the earliest Christians did not need to be textual critics. Starting out with what they knew to be the pure text, they had only to be reasonably honest and careful. I submit that we have good reason for understanding that they were especially watchful and careful—this especially in the early decades.

As time went on regional attitudes developed, not to mention regional politics. The rise of the so-called "school of Antioch" is a relevant consideration. Beginning with Theophilus, a bishop of Antioch who died around 185, the Antiochians began insisting upon the literal interpretation of Scripture. The point is that a literalist is obliged to be concerned about the precise wording of the text since his interpretation or exegesis hinges upon it.

It is reasonable to assume that this "literalist" mentality would have influenced the churches of Asia Minor and Greece and encouraged them in the careful and faithful transmission of the pure text that they had received. For example, the 1,000 MSS of the Syriac Peshitta are unparalleled for their consistency. (By way of contrast, the 8,000 MSS of the Latin Vulgate are remarkable for their extensive discrepancies, and in this they follow the example of the Old Latin MSS.) It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Antiochian antipathy toward the Alexandrian allegorical interpretation of Scripture would rather indispose them to view with favor any competing forms of the text coming out of Egypt. Similarly the Quarto-deciman controversy with Rome would scarcely enhance the appeal of any innovations coming from the West.

To the extent that the roots of the allegorical approach that flourished in Alexandria during the third century were already present, they would also be a negative factor. Since Philo of Alexandria was at the height of his influence when the first Christians arrived there, it may be that his allegorical interpretation of the O.T. began to rub off on the young church already in the first century. Since an allegorist is going to impose his own ideas on the text anyway, he would presumably have fewer inhibitions about altering it—precise wording would not be a high priority.

The school of literary criticism that existed at Alexandria would also be a negative factor, if it influenced the Church at all, and W.R. Farmer argues that it did. "But there is ample evidence that by the time of Eusebius the Alexandrian text-critical practices were being followed in at least some of the scriptoria where New Testament manuscripts were being produced. Exactly when Alexandrian text-critical principles were first used . . . is not known."[29] He goes on to suggest that the Christian school founded in Alexandria by Pantaenus, around 180, was bound to be influenced by the scholars of the great library of that city. The point is, the principles used in attempting to "restore" the works of Homer would not be appropriate for the NT writings when appeal to the Autographs, or exact copies made from them, was still possible.

Conclusion

What answer do the "four controlling factors" give to our question? The four speak with united voice: "The Aegean area was the best qualified to protect, transmit and attest the true text of the N.T. writings." This was true in the 2nd century; it was true in the 3rd century; it continued to be true in the 4th century. And now we are ready to answer the question, "Was the transmission normal?", and to attempt to trace the history of the text.

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Notes

[21]Metzger, Early Versions, p. 104.
[22]Colwell, "Scribal Habits," pp. 374-76, 380.
[23]K. and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), pp. 52-53.
[24]Ibid., p. 53.
[25]Roberts, pp. 42-43, 54-58.
[26]K. and B. Aland, p. 59.
[27]K. Aland, "The Text of the Church?", Trinity Journal, 1987, 8NS:138.
[28]Metzger, Early Versions, p. 101.
[29]W.R. Farmer, The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (Cambridge: University Press, 1974), pp. 14-15. He cites B.H. Streeter, The Four Gospels, 1924, pp. 111, 122-23.​

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I post this fairly lengthy section of Pickerings to give an idea of the text-critical hypothesis he gives to account for the existence of the Byzantine text, and also to put in perspective the phenomenon of the Alexandrian textform. Remember what Dr. Maurice Robinson said,

A sound rational approach which accounts for all the phenomena and offers a reconstruction of the history of textual transmission is all that is demanded for any text-critical hypothesis. (From the Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont.

This "Introduction" of Robinson's is also an excellent resource for information concerning the early transmission of the autographs, and the status of the various textforms.

For those who are interested in looking at Pickering’s examination and critique of Eclecticism and the Eclectic Text, please see here. (I don’t post it because it would make this too lengthy!)

Steve
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I cannot possibly respond to all of the arguments, especially since I am only using my own argumentation, not quoting long sections of other people's work. Forgive me, but I simply do not have the time. However, there are a couple of things I would like to bring up. Firstly, who likely held manuscripts. I disagree with Pickering's assessment of John and Mark. I don't think we can know where those manuscripts were held. The same with Luke, Acts, and 2 Peter. I think it most likely that Matthew and James were held in Jerusalem. However, Pickering's assessment of Alexandria leaves out quite a few facts. Firstly, if any manuscripts were held in Palestine, they would be far more likely to get to Alexandria first. Alexandria is only 314 miles from Jerusalem, as opposed to Istanbul's (aka Byzantium and Constantinople) 727. Secondly, the majority of the population in Alexandria was Jewish (see Davidson's The Birth of the Church, pg. 45), and the city was enormous (Davidson estimates 400,000, certainly the second most important city if the entire Roman empire after Rome itself). There was a strong Christian presence early in Alexandria, so his conclusion that the 70 AD massacre of Jerusalem meant that the manuscripts were more likely to go to Antioch is pure speculation. They could just as easily have gone to Alexandria (for those manuscripts held in Palestine). Further, the Mediterranean Sea was easily traversible in those days with the pax Romana in place. So, this idea that the manuscripts held in Turkey, Greece and Rome could not have made it down to Alexandria is absurd, but more importantly, speculation. Again, they constitute no reason whatsoever to reject the Alexandrian texts.

As to the Greek language, it is illogical to conclude that because Greek was on the decline in Alexandria, that therefore the scribes who copied these manuscripts must not have known Greek. Alexandria was a center of learning in the old world. Itacisms are not a logical criteria in the slightest in this regard, since this is a matter of pronunciation, not of Greek knowledge. In other words, someone whose mother tongue was Greek could make an itacistic mistake.

With regard to WH, they published their work, and they openly discussed their methods in their publications. That is not secret. That they did not want it distributed beforehand is common to all scholars' work. They have a sense of propriety about their work, not wanting others to steal from them. It is extremely unwise, at this great distance, to read motives into their reasons for not distributing their work ahead of time.

What is Thomas going to do about the fact that Stephanus published a critical apparatus to his text? Is that not textual criticism? Did Stephanus have just one Byzantine manuscript, which he received, and said, "This is it: the exact copy of the original." No, of course not. He compared all manuscripts at his disposal. CT folk do the same thing today.
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
What is Thomas going to do about the fact that Stephanus published a critical apparatus to his text? Is that not textual criticism? Did Stephanus have just one Byzantine manuscript, which he received, and said, "This is it: the exact copy of the original." No, of course not. He compared all manuscripts at his disposal. CT folk do the same thing today.

You know, you posted a very good opinion today on the beauty of women, when I read it, I thought, "Why doesn't he see that this same principle is applicable to the textual issue?"

You related that female beauty today is an external standard of perfection that exists only in the photographers studio, whereby if women are to attain unto it, she has to have the head of one woman, the body of another, the legs of a third &c, to meet this unattainable "ideal." Modern textual criticism approach to the text of Scripture, is in principle, very similar to that concept - and it results in the same analogous frustration for the Bride of Christ and her orthodox ministers, as you related between man and wife.

I will now attempt to clarify my statements since I've apparently been unclear. If I remember correctly you alluded to a concept that modern criticism is engaged in the same activity as our Protestant fathers, synonymously relating them as textual criticism the same way you did here, I then said that doesn't make any sense to me.

I provided a quote from Kummel, explaining that the text critical method developed by Simon and applied to the study of the New Testament "was divorced for the first time from the study carried on by the ancients." This was in 1689, long after the Protestants work was finished, by this time the high orthodox dogmaticians were hard at work defending the text against Simon's attack.

Our Protestant fathers did not consider every manuscript to be an authentic text, they never engaged in what you are calling "textual criticism," because what comes with that is the entire paradigm in which the discipline is exercised. They never approached the text of Scripture through that paradigm, you should know that as well as I do. If you don't, you've got Muller's work, have you not read it? Plenty of works have been cited in this and other threads that conclusively prove that your claim is incorrect.

I'll correct my terminology so we can know precisely what each other is talking about, in the future I'll try and stick to this. Modern textual criticism can really only be described as "textual eugenics," a self directed evolving text subjective to an external hypothetical standard of perfection, that God Himself has not chosen to preserve. In contrast, our Protestant fathers received the text of Scripture, within its historical context, from the Greek speaking Church where it was actually used for centuries. They have a history of the text, in ancient catholic orthodoxy, and thus they can make informed and intelligent decisions dealing with scribal errors.

Childers explains the foundation of the concept, from which I develop the terminology "textual eugenics," which I will further clarify and explain below:

"[The] text-critical method functions properly only in conjunction with a view of the history of the transmission of the text….Indeed, in his famous 1968 article on “Hort Redivivus,” Colwell excoriated the discipline for its near-universal failure to deal with or take into account the history of the manuscript tradition....What Colwell wrote over three and a half decades ago remains essentially true: the discipline has largely neglected to give due attention to writing the history of the text. But no method works without such a history of the text, so what has filled the void? The lingering influence of Wescott & Hort’s view of the history of the text, it would seem; Epp recently suggested that their text (and by implication the historical view associated with it) has become the unconscious “default setting” of the discipline.

Jeff W. Childers, Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies, p 112-113

Now, then, that takes us back to Colwell and the citations I posted:

"[T]he "genealogical method" as defined by Westcott and Hort was not applied by them or by any of their followers to the manuscripts of the New Testament. Moreover, sixty years of study since Westcott and Hort indicate that it is doubtful if it can be applied to New Testament manuscripts." Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies, p.158.

He further noted, "Hort utilized this principle solely to depose the Textus Receptus, and not to establish a line of descent." and finally, "Yet, in truth, all of Hort's main points were subjectively-based and were deliberately contrived to overthrow the Byzantine-priority hypothesis."

Since the text critical method doesn't work in the absence of a history of the text and the critical camp has no history of the text other than Wescott and Hort deliberately contrived and never utilized hypothesis, then it is not and cannot be engaged in any legitimate activity when it approaches the Biblical texts.

It was 1689 and it is today textual eugenics, whose sole purpose is to attack and overthrow the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and the Protestant Text they stand upon as that authentic and authoritative text of Scripture.

The discipline you are supporting rejects centuries of continual use of the Protestant text by Reformed and Protestant Churches, altering it back to Latin Vulgate readings, which are universally rescensions from Reformed doctrine, claiming they are the autographic readings which our Protestant Fathers rejected as corrupt and false along with the Ancient Fathers anathematizing their teachings and teachers.

So, in answer to your question, none of the Protestant fathers were engaged in textual eugenics.

Cordially,

Thomas
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Lane,

In your post #71 you said,

“I am only using my own argumentation, not quoting long sections of other people's work.”​

Regarding the first clause, “I am only using my own argumentation…”, this is not necessarily a good thing, especially if not supported by evidences with substance. And regarding the latter, “…quoting long sections of other people’s work”, this is not necessarily a bad thing! For I am a researcher, and a teacher, and what I do is the online equivalent of using textbooks or selected materials chosen for their relevance to the topic under discussion.

I want to look at something you said, as an example of what I consider inadequate “argumentation”:

"…there are a couple of things I would like to bring up. Firstly, who likely held manuscripts. I disagree with Pickering's assessment of John and Mark. I don't think we can know where those manuscripts were held."​

John first. I will refrain from “quoting long sections of other people’s work,” but will indicate where material may be found. William Hendriksen, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, marshals much evidence from the writings of the early fathers that the apostle John lived in Ephesus both before and after his banishment to Patmos. The tradition of the early church was that John fled Jerusalem around the time of its destruction in A.D. 70 and went to Asia Minor, settling in Ephesus. He quotes numerous people to this effect, both fathers and contemporary scholars. See pages 29-31 for this. This also would be where the autographs of his Gospel, the Apokalypse, and Epistles would be – where the apostle himself was living.

I use Hendriksen because his works are readily available, and he is very good on chronologies and locations, as well as being one of the premiere NT scholars – in my view.

Regarding Mark, we turn again to Hendriksen and his commentary on that Gospel. I will quote but two sentences, and those interested may pursue it further. WH says (on p. 13, in the section “When and Where Was It Written?):

What has just been said with respect to the relation of Mark’s Gospel to Peter holds also with reference to its connection with Rome. Here too this Gospel, though nowhere definitely indicating and proving its place of origin, confirms the statements of Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, etc., that it was written in Rome and for the Romans.

Although in my previous post (#70) I quoted Pickering at length – seeing him as a responsible proponent of not only the Byzantine priority hypothesis, but generally accepted history concerning the early situation of the NT mss. This history is not in dispute – the possessors and locations of the autographs and the copies made from them – although other factors are, such as the (may I call it bizarre?) theory of the Lucian/Antiochian official rescension (per Westcott and Hort, and their followers) which is without a shred of historical attestation, it being just an imaginary construct designed to depose the confidence of many in the Byzantine/Traditional Text.

I could post a good bit more on Alexandria, but I shall restrain myself with but a brief quote from a work of my own:

…we go back to Egypt of the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., and in particular to Alexandria – a city of pleasure, learning, culture, and the arts – out from which came forth certain Greek manuscripts containing a version of the New Testament. These Alexandrian manuscripts – exemplars of the ones used by W&H in their revision ([size=+1]a[/size] and B) – came from (or at least came through) the theological school of Clement (150-220?), Origen (185-253), Pamphlius (died 309), and Eusebius of Caesarea (265-339), this latter the historian and scholar who served the emperor Constantine, and provided him with 50 Bibles made from these manuscripts.

Alexandria was famous for its luxuries and pleasures, renown for its world-famous library, and for its scholars and learned men. When the city was conquered in 641 A.D., the invading Moslem commander, Amr, said,

It is impossible to enumerate the riches of this great city, or to describe its beauty; I shall content myself with observing that it contains 4000 palaces, 400 baths, 400 theaters.*​

Truly this place in Egypt was a marvelous type of the world, with its beauty, wisdom, wealth, status, and power! And in this place of high culture, to which we have no Biblical record of any apostolic autographs (original gospels or letters of the New Testament) being sent, a “Christian” school arose, as well as New Testament manuscripts which were identified with it. Historian Albert Newman comments,

The Alexandrian theologians with whom the scientific spirit had its birth were Platonists…not that they had been simply brought up as Platonists (as were Justin and Athenagorus, who yet, after they adopted Christianity, rejected Platonism as the work of demons); but they remained Platonists, and sought to explain Christianity according to the Platonic categories, in somewhat the same way in which Philo had, two centuries earlier, attempted to explain Judaism. In fact these Christian Platonists were greatly indebted to Philo.**​

Clement and Origen, two of the “Christian Platonists,” have both been condemned as heretics by the church…

----------

* The Story of Civilization, Vol. 4, The Age of Faith (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1950), page 282. Cited by Dr. William P. Grady, in Final Authority: A Christian’s Guide to the King James Bible, (Grady Publications, Inc. 1993), page 77.
** A Manual of Church History, Vol. 1, Ancient and Medieval Church History (To A.D. 1517), 1st ed., rev., by Albert Henry Newman (PA: Judson Press, 1933), page 272. Cited in Grady, page 81.​

[end excerpt]

-------

I could go on about Alexandria, and Clement, Origen, and Pamphlius, but as information about them is common I will refrain.

Lane, you said,

Pickering's assessment of Alexandria leaves out quite a few facts. Firstly, if any manuscripts were held in Palestine, they would be far more likely to get to Alexandria first. Alexandria is only 314 miles from Jerusalem, as opposed to Istanbul's (aka Byzantium and Constantinople) 727. Secondly, the majority of the population in Alexandria was Jewish (see Davidson's The Birth of the Church, pg. 45), and the city was enormous (Davidson estimates 400,000, certainly the second most important city if the entire Roman empire after Rome itself). There was a strong Christian presence early in Alexandria, so his conclusion that the 70 AD massacre of Jerusalem meant that the manuscripts were more likely to go to Antioch is pure speculation.

Where I live now, Turkey is closer to me than Athens, where I have close Presbyterian friends, but that does not mean if I were fleeing for my life I would head for Turkey! Yes there are some Christians there, but it is not a strong evangelical church, as are the churches I know (and would go to) in Athens. The strong churches John knew when Jerusalem was about to fall were in Asia Minor, not Alexandria (the NT tells us this); and the accounts of early church historians and fathers confirm that is where he went. With the Jewish population against the Jewish followers of Jesus, especially after the fall of the city (for Jesus’ disciples fled the city, according to Jesus’ prior warning, and were considered deserters), why would John seek aid with the Jewish unbelievers rather than the brethren in the apostolic churches? Paul had evangelized (himself and his disciples) the area of Asia Minor for about three years, establishing many churches there (Acts 19:9, 10; 20:31) – so these were apostolic churches, of which there were none in Egypt. Would the last remaining apostle have brought the New Covenant documents – that precious Deposit – with him to his new area of residence?

The fact that no New Testament Gospel or Epistle original manuscripts were sent to Egypt, but to the churches the apostles labored for or in, lessens the likelihood that the NT mss Egypt did have were able to be compared with an autograph, and corrected if in error.

Lane, I appreciate – painfully – that in positing my view of the transmission of the NT documents, and refuting yours, I am assailing an aspect of your faith, which you hold to as precious truth, a foundation of your life. I do not mean to cause you grief. And I am sorry if do. I do, however, assert gladly that we do have the word of God preserved by Him, and on this the church stands. The differences in the various textforms range from what I would call adequate preservation – which all churches in all ages have possessed at the very least – to preservation in the minutiae. There is good news, and there is the best news. I am glad to herald both, but especially the latter.

Steve
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
First Thomas, then Steve.

Nice move, using my post on women's beauty! Let me answer it by answering also your claim that Muller supports your position. He doesn't really. Listen to what he says (this is the second edition, now) on page 399, the only time the term textus receptus occurs in this volume of PRRD, by the way:

It needs to be noted here that the so-called textus receptus was merely a part of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century process of establishing a normative or definitive text of the New Testament. The phrase "textus receptus" or "received text" comes from the Elzevir New Testament of 1633- and as the context of the phrase itself and the use of the Greek New Testament in the seventeenth century both testify, there was no claim, in the era of orthodoxy, of a sacrosanct text in this particular edition. Nor did it, in the era of orthodoxy, provide some sort of terminus ad quem for the editing of the text of the Bible: the statement that this was the "text now received by all" simply meant that it was the text, produced by Stephanus and Beza, and slightly reedited by the Elzevirs, that was then regarded (by Protestants!) as the best available text of the Bible: namely, the critically examined combination of the Masoretic text of the Old Testament and the so-called Byzantine text of the New Testament. Both in the era of the Reformation and the era of orthodoxy, there was a close adherence to the Old Testament Hebrew test inherited from the Western rabbinici tradition and to the New Testament Greek text that had served the Greek Orthodox church- and the text-critical work of the era was intended primarily as the method of establishing the genuine "original" of that text tradition of the Hebrew and the Greek. (emphasis added)

This is precisely the same aim that modern Reformed textual critics have today. So, unfortunately, Muller does not support your position here. He supports the idea that the Reformers and the post-Reformation tradition engaged the manuscript tradition, and engaged in textual criticism. I suspect that a huge problem of miscommunication that we're all having here is the definition of this term "textual criticism." What Muller means by it is surely defined by the above quotation: comparing one manuscript with another to try to figure out what the original was. I agree with this definition of textual criticism as to its methods and goals. What you TR guys seem to mean by it is an inherent denial of sola Scriptura, an autonomous attitude towards the text, and a completely subjective approach to the evidence. Your actual words are, "Modern textual criticism can really only be described as 'textual eugenics,' a self directed evolving text subjective to an external hypothetical standard of perfection, that God Himself has not chosen to preserve." I would reject such an approach equally as vehemently as you guys do. My point is this: Reformed textual criticism has always seen itself as supporting sola Scriptura, and has magnificently accomplished such a goal. So, the ultimate problem with your illustration is that the original perfect version did actually exist, whereas a modern "Platonic" perfect woman does not exist, except in the imagination. You quotation from Kummel (himself a liberal scholar) does not speak for all textual critics. Just because some textual critics use the techniques to deny sola Scriptura does not mean that all textual critics do so.

The Childers quotation does not take into account modern eclecticism. Modern eclecticism takes into account every manuscript, denying no manuscript its own voice, unlike the TR position, which denies any validity at all to any other textual tradition except the Byzantine.

The Colwell quotation only asserts, but does not prove its point, which would take quite a bit of documentation.

You assert that it is necessary to have a history of the text in order to engage in this discussion. What do you mean by the term "history of the text?" There is a history of the Alexandrian text. It is told for us in Metzger's work on the NT manuscripts. I suspect you mean "churchly authorization." Again, though, and none of you TR people have answered this point yet: the Alexandrian textual tradition was accepted by the Alexandrian church at that time. You cannot escape this point.

Okay, now Steve.

Firstly, regarding quotations. My point was not to say that your argumentation was illegitimate just because it used long quotations from other people's work. My point was that is extremely difficult to answer points, when the points to which I am to respond have been cut and pasted from enormous tracts of material. It makes me feel like I am trying to get a drink of water from a fire hydrant! It is the job of a scholar to summarize, summarize, and summarize!

The point about John completely begs the question of when John was actually written. John was at least a teenager when Jesus was alive. By some accounts he lived until 98 AD. There is a spread there from maybe 40 AD onward when he could have written the Gospel. There are no references to the Fall of Jerusalem. If John was written closer to 40, then there were maybe 25 or thirty peaceful years when it would have time to mosey on down to Alexandria. There is no evidence to suggest that it written after his move to Ephesus. So your entire argument depends on it being written at least close to 70 AD. There is no obstacle to supposing that it was written even twenty years previously to that. John is a thoroughly Jewish Gospel. I think it likely that its target audience was first Jewish (see Carson's commentary on this point). If that is so, then its more likely provenance was Jerusalem, in which case it is still quite possible that it got to Alexandria before it got to Ephesus. At any rate, there is no reason to reject the Alexandrian manuscripts of John on this line of argumentation. There is no proof possible in these kinds of reconstructions. However, all I need to prove is that we should not reject the Alexandrian manuscripts from the process of textual criticism. How we weight those manuscripts is a completely separate question.

Hendriksen on Mark is a bit confusing. If there is no confirmation of its place of origin, then how can Mark confirm the early church fathers' assessments of it? Could you provide a page reference, please, so I can look it up in my copy?

This history is not in dispute – the possessors and locations of the autographs and the copies made from them

Is this not precisely what we are disputing here? You are using shaky arguments here about the location of the autographs to discredit the Alexandrian tradition, and I am challenging that move.

About Clement, where exactly did he get condemned, and who condemned him? Origin's condemnation was not because of his theological views (which would become controversial enough later), but because he was teaching without ordination (see Davidson, The Birth of the Church, pg. 257). Besides, the supposed Platonic-ness of the Alexandrian school is utterly irrelevant to the question of manuscript transmission. Classic case of "poisoned well" fallacy. The manuscripts are automatically corrupt because of the nature of the people who transcribed them. The Medieval church (which transcribed the Byzantine tradition) was afflicted by Aristotelianism, especially in Aquinas. Does this make the Byzantine textual tradition problematic?

The fact that no New Testament Gospel or Epistle original manuscripts were sent to Egypt

This is speculation. It is quite easy to conceive of manuscripts being written in Jerusalem, carefully copied there, being compared to the originals, and then being sent out to all the churches, Alexandria included. There would be only one generation even in that case between the copies being made in Alexandria and the autographs. And there is nothing to suggest that the Jerusalem-provenance manuscripts didn't ever travel down there. What you've got here is speculation, Steve. You cannot reject the Alexandrian tradition on speculation.

I deeply appreciate your last paragraph. There are some who have viciously attacked me personally for holding to a non-TR position. I am glad that you do not. Would you agree that my position is consistent with sola Scriptura?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This is precisely the same aim that modern Reformed textual critics have today.

Muller acknowledges the differences on p. 415. He states the issue was one of "linguistic continuity," and distinguishes this from the approach of Hodge and Warfield. Further, the section beginning on p. 417, entitled The Problem of Corruptions in the Text, shows the Protestant scholastic commitment to the traditional text both against Romanist apologists and Anti-trinitarian free thinkers.

To progress beyond Muller for a moment -- from the Princeton school modern reformed thinking has inherited a mindset which tends to seek out the original reading in terms of the autographa. In the reformed orthodox period the belief was that the original is preserved in the apographa, and the apographa was considered to be preserved in its purity as the final court of appeal.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Lane,

Re Mark, in the Gospel itself there is no indicator to prove where it was written, but tradition has it in Rome. It is page 13 of WH on Mark.

Re John, if you are positing a date of the Gospel before 70 (the Apokalypse and Epistles would be included) because there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, you are entering a new topic. Do you actually hold to a pre 70 date for all of these writings on that basis? I do not.

Hendriksen says,

For several years John lived in Ephesus. But sometime during the reign of Domitian, who ruled from 81-96, he was banished to the island of Patmos. With the accession of Nerva he was allowed to return to Ephesus, where he died at the beginning of Trajan’s reign; i.e., about the year 98.

Now tradition is well-nigh unanimous in maintaining that the place where the apostle wrote his Gospel was Ephesus (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III, xxiii, 1, 6; V, viii, 4; xxiv, 4; Clement of Alexandria, Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? XLII, ii). Repeated attempts, also in recent literature, to discredit this strong tradition have not been successful. (pp. 29, 30 ff.)​

Hendriksen continues with a discussion on the merits of the view of a late date for John. And although the Apokalypse was written on Patmos (Rev 1:9) after the accession of Domitian, there is no mention of the destruction of the temple there either. It had happened quite a while back.

But what I have said here will not in the least convince a firm believer in the early dating of John and Revelation, and I do not want to enter that topic now.

What I had meant was that no autograph itself was sent to Alexandria.

How about this, Lane, that between you and me, we call it a draw? Those who have listened in can form their own conclusions from the material presented by each of us thus far. In fact, I am willing to let you have the last word.

One of the problems with discourse in the Kingdom of God – at least in the earthly sector of it – is that it too often becomes more important than the Spirit of Christ, after whose manner we should conduct ourselves. There is a time to get tough, and severe, but certainly not in a discussion such as we are having. I realize John Burgon was tough on his opponents in the controversy following the publication of the new Greek NT and the RV, but that was a different situation entirely; and even there he stuck to the issues and did not indulge in verbal abuse. Even so, his manner was too passionate for the English “gentlemen” he disputed, and they ignored him. We are told that verbal abuse is a prohibited activity for would-be saints, and that it is “railing” (1 Cor 5:11), an offense of such seriousness that we are “not to eat” with such who are habitually so, and to put them away from our company.

We are brothers, both adopted into the royal family of Heaven, and should carry ourselves with that dignity, graciousness, and kindness appropriate to our stations – and eternal kinship.

The problem is, the Holy Bible is so precious to God’s people, that to disparage their version of it is – to many – tantamount to attacking the Faith, and the Lord. But seeing as there are so many who hold to the CT or ET, and to modern versions based on them, and who with all their hearts and minds seek to love the Lord and follow Him, that one has to look at their hearts and not their judgment – right or wrong in our eyes – as to what Scripture is best. There is a saying that applies to topics such as we are discussing: “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

The reason I suggest a draw between us in our contest, is that we both are busy, and to wrangle over small points that can be argued fairly well from our differing points of view, is not being good stewards of the precious time allotted to us. What do you say?

And yes, your position is consistent with Sola Scriptura (the title of James White’s book is the English of that: Scripture Alone) within the context of your paradigm (and White’s), which is that the NT text can be discerned through textual criticism and the multitude of manuscripts scrutinized thereby. I do not accept your or White’s paradigm, and I would say that your approach to Sola Scriptura may be consistent with the Princeton School’s post-Warfield view, but not with the earlier paradigm of the Reformation and post-Reformation.

It comes down to this: how well you can defend your position vis-à-vis the secular/demonic onslaught against the written Word of God. A for-instance would be posts #55 & 56 on the http://www.puritanboard.com/f63/do-textual-variants-give-us-confidence-22188/#post344408 thread.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Steve, I appreciate so much your willingness to see what is important in this debate, and engage in honest and fair debate. I think we can let the arguments stand as they are. I don't feel the need to have the last word. :cheers2::handshake:

Matthew, it is quite possible that Hodge and Warfield were not entirely consistent in their argumentation. But don't you think that they appealed to the manuscripts as the final court of appeal with regard to doctrine? I mean, that is all they had. I would not be so quick to posit a complete wedge between Hodge/Warfield on the one hand, and the Reformers on the other. Besides, what are you going to do with the fact that Muller describes the Reformers' method as textual criticism? Do you acknowledge the differences among definitions that I posited in the last post?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks!

I appreciate the contributions by everyone in this thread. It has been edifying to me.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Matthew, it is quite possible that Hodge and Warfield were not entirely consistent in their argumentation. But don't you think that they appealed to the manuscripts as the final court of appeal with regard to doctrine? I mean, that is all they had. I would not be so quick to posit a complete wedge between Hodge/Warfield on the one hand, and the Reformers on the other. Besides, what are you going to do with the fact that Muller describes the Reformers' method as textual criticism? Do you acknowledge the differences among definitions that I posited in the last post?

Lane, as noted in my first post on this thread, no one supposes the received text is to be found in a single MS. It is acknowledged the orthodox reformed engaged in a textual criticism of sorts; but they faithfully maintained the "authentic" word of God was preserved in its purity in all ages -- believing criticism, in other words, as over against the sceptical criticism which predominates today. Please read the afore cited section in Muller, where he shows the way in which high reformed orthodoxy defended traditional readings against Romanist and Infidel attacks. Modern textual criticism has no time for this kind of process, which demonstrates it is a critical method of a completely different stamp.
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear Pastor Keister,

I'm going to try and be brief.

Nice move, using my post on women's beauty! Let me answer it by answering also your claim that Muller supports your position. He doesn't really. Listen to what he says (this is the second edition, now) on page 399, the only time the term textus receptus occurs in this volume of PRRD, by the way.

It needs to be noted here that the so-called textus receptus was merely a part of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century process of establishing a normative or definitive text of the New Testament. The phrase "textus receptus" or "received text" comes from the Elzevir New Testament of 1633- and as the context of the phrase itself and the use of the Greek New Testament in the seventeenth century both testify, there was no claim, in the era of orthodoxy, of a sacrosanct text in this particular edition. Nor did it, in the era of orthodoxy, provide some sort of terminus ad quem for the editing of the text of the Bible: the statement that this was the "text now received by all" simply meant that it was the text, produced by Stephanus and Beza, and slightly reedited by the Elzevirs, that was then regarded (by Protestants!) as the best available text of the Bible: namely, the critically examined combination of the Masoretic text of the Old Testament and the so-called Byzantine text of the New Testament. Both in the era of the Reformation and the era of orthodoxy, there was a close adherence to the Old Testament Hebrew test inherited from the Western rabbinici tradition and to the New Testament Greek text that had served the Greek Orthodox church- and the text-critical work of the era was intended primarily as the method of establishing the genuine "original" of that text tradition of the Hebrew and the Greek. (emphasis added)

I think Reverend Winzer has already responded to this, I quoted the section he is referring to in post 16 of this thread several days ago.

This is precisely the same aim that modern Reformed textual critics have today. So, unfortunately, Muller does not support your position here. He supports the idea that the Reformers and the post-Reformation tradition engaged the manuscript tradition, and engaged in textual criticism. I suspect that a huge problem of miscommunication that we're all having here is the definition of this term "textual criticism." What Muller means by it is surely defined by the above quotation: comparing one manuscript with another to try to figure out what the original was. I agree with this definition of textual criticism as to its methods and goals.

The issue is two different a priori presuppositions with both utilizing the same language. What I've been trying to consistently point out to you is that the Protestants were in opposition to the nature/grace dialetic of the Roman Catholic Church which is the philosophical foundation of their claim of Authority. The Protestants did not approach the text dialetically, as Muller states: "For them, the autographa were not a concrete point of regress for the future critical examinations of the text but rather a touchstone employed in gaining a proper persepective on current textual problems. " p 434

On the other hand, the modern critical camp is standing upon claimed scientific neutrality with a presupposed assumption negating the Byzantine text as a reliable witness and then positing the lost autographa (form), as a concrete point of regress against the apographa (matter) and has reasserted the form/matter dialetic, or what Muller called the "logical device like that employed by Hodge and Warfield." p 435 ( quote incorporated by reference in link to post 16, above)

When two different people approach the text of Scripture and "compare manuscript to manuscript" upon two diametrically opposition presuppositions they are not engaged in the same activity, moreover, when the modern critical camp has reasserted the form/matter dialetic they invariably arrive at the exact same identification of texts as the Roman Catholics which the Protestants vehemently opposed and held were corruptions of the authentic text.


What you TR guys seem to mean by it is an inherent denial of sola Scriptura, an autonomous attitude towards the text, and a completely subjective approach to the evidence. Your actual words are, "Modern textual criticism can really only be described as 'textual eugenics,' a self directed evolving text subjective to an external hypothetical standard of perfection, that God Himself has not chosen to preserve."

Sir, I recognize that you are a Reformed Pastor, called of God and preserved by Him for that calling whereby you meet the qualifications of Timothy and Titus and have been ordained and set apart for this honorable use.

Even though you are a Reformed and honest man, and even though you don't personally have an autonomous attitude, it is impossible to stand upon the form/matter dialetic holding to the identical basic rational and approach the texts without having that a priori presupposition affect your perspective.

To the Protestant Reformers the autographa are represented quoad verba and quoad res in the apographa, to the modern critical camp these are held in dialetical tension.

While certainly the Reformed in the critical camp are attempting to stand in the trajectory of Sola Scriptura, they simply cannot maintain it because they have accepted the dialetical presupposition as being normative in the infinite regress to the lost autographa - as a result the concept of Authority is not the same, which is why I labeled it "textual eugenics," or a self directed evolving standard.

Letis has an interesting quote by Marsden that explains where the Reformed took a wrong turn by embracing the rational of scientific neutralism:

"Rather than challenging modern science's first principles, they came to be chief defenders of these principles. They were entirely confident that objective scientific inquiry could only confirm Christian truth...The Christian community, having thoroughly trusted science and the scientific method, had welcomed them, even parading them as their staunchest friends. So,...this superficial accomodation left them with no defenses when the celebrated ally proved to be a heavily armed foe...Biblical criticism turned the fire power of such scientific historical explanation point-blank on the origin of Hebrew religion and the Bible itself. With awesome swiftness the edifice built by the method of addition that had worked so well for Christians in accomodating Christianity to the first scientific revolution had been demolished by the second." Edward Freer Hills Contribution to the Ecclesiastical Text, p 90

I would reject such an approach equally as vehemently as you guys do.

I understand and I agree concerning the intention, but would you at least consider what I've said?


My point is this: Reformed textual criticism has always seen itself as supporting sola Scriptura, and has magnificently accomplished such a goal. So, the ultimate problem with your illustration is that the original perfect version did actually exist, whereas a modern "Platonic" perfect woman does not exist, except in the imagination.

Well, sir, He made them male and female and he didn't preserve them in their perfection, He let them fall in order to make manifest His Grace. Likewise, He delivered His word in perfection through the Apostles, but He has let it fall in that precise form, yet He has promised to preserve it for His Church for the glory of Jesus Christ - we believe He has consistently done so and we believe that Protestant Churches have always been depositories of the authentic text, that is the Byzantine tradition.

You quotation from Kummel (himself a liberal scholar) does not speak for all textual critics. Just because some textual critics use the techniques to deny sola Scriptura does not mean that all textual critics do so.

Yeah, I wish men with good intentions could divorce themselves from bad first principles, but it just doesn't work that way. A large ship is steered by a small rudder, everyone on board goes where the ship goes. There is no wall of separation between higher and lower criticism, it just doesn't exist, because the starting point and basic scientific rational is the same, one exists because of the other and they must acknowledge one another to be able to even function.

This is precisely what Warfield tried to do, a good man that just didn't see the danger and didn't properly understand the nature of the humanism in rise of the scientific method, he determined that if German enlightenment text criticism could be separated from the higher criticism that fathered it, that common sense philosophy could deliver the Church across the proverbial Red Sea and arrive safely in the Promised Land. He was mistaken, because he didn't perceive the enemy that had transformed himself as a minister of light.

The Childers quotation does not take into account modern eclecticism. Modern eclecticism takes into account every manuscript, denying no manuscript its own voice, unlike the TR position, which denies any validity at all to any other textual tradition except the Byzantine.

He was critiquing modern eclectism in light of Zundt's work and hypothesis.

The Colwell quotation only asserts, but does not prove its point, which would take quite a bit of documentation.

OK, well I'm growing wearing like Steve, so it's getting to the point where it isn't a good use of our time.

You assert that it is necessary to have a history of the text in order to engage in this discussion. What do you mean by the term "history of the text?" There is a history of the Alexandrian text. It is told for us in Metzger's work on the NT manuscripts. I suspect you mean "churchly authorization." Again, though, and none of you TR people have answered this point yet: the Alexandrian textual tradition was accepted by the Alexandrian church at that time. You cannot escape this point.

Childers went over Metzger's work as not fulfilling that requirement, I just didn't quote it, in order to focus the point. But no, I don't mean "churchly authorization," hence we do not hold to an inversion of WCF 1:4, rather we believe that God has preserved His authentic words for the use of His Church, and we are not trying to escape the fact that the Alexandrian tradition was used in the Alexandrian Church, anymore than it is used in ours. It's just that with the rise of this text is accompanied the rise of Arianism and Statism, it was back then and it is now.

Finally, in your last comment to Steve, you mentioned that some have attacked you personally and viciously for not holding to the TR position. I certainly hope you haven't interpreted me that way.

Hopefully, you can at least recognize that defenders of the Authorized Version and the Byzantine tradition are not all embicile nincompoops, but we have legitimate and serious scholarship from which we've arrived at our position.

Cordially In Christ,

Thomas
 
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