He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
In no particular order, here are some of the questions (the questions in italic and color; answers in normal font).
No, there is not one single manuscript which is THE preserved, perfect text. We agree. But, if no manuscript is EXACTLY the same, how is it that, despite the differences between the earliest known MS and the received text, it is the received text which is the correct one?
We know that copies were not made of the earliest known manuscripts, which is why they are in the minority.
Thomas Ross adds: Actually, there has been, as far as I am aware, no actual objective dating method for aleph and b. It is simply internal evidence that is used to say that they are the oldest—so maybe they aren't even the oldest. Furthermore, codex w has the received text in large portions of the gospels, and it is, according to unbelieving textual critics, equal in age to aleph and b. Furthermore, the oldest papyri have received text readings in them (see Forever Settled by Jack Moorman, which is on the web).
Furthermore, the reason there aren't any perfect copies is because when one copies something by hand, it will never be exactly the same. The printed text under the KJV is perfect. Before that time, copies were available and the words were available, but they were not all in one location. Today, if the words under the KJV are not the right ones, we cannot have certainty, but God promises certainty (Matthew 4:4; Rev 22:18-19; Prov 30:5-6; etc.).
I continue: Believers have rejected the minority manuscripts. God has promised availability (Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 4:4; etc.), and the minority were not generally accessible. The churches agreed on the TR. The Holy Spirit is guiding believers (John 16:13). God has promised preservation. We look at what God did and we see it was the TR. We trust God. This is not an "academic" approach based upon "scientific" principles, but based upon biblical ones. That's how we walk by faith, that is, by obeying God's Word.
Thomas Ross adds: I don't have a problem calling this method scientific. I think it is scientific and academic, in the true sense of the words. It is not unbelieving science, etc.
The TR was what was available when the printing press was invented. There is not a basis of saying that men used just a few manuscripts to consolidate the words into one printed edition. Richard Capel, the puritan, expresses the historic (and my) position, when he writes (Capel's Remains, London, 1658, pp. 19-43):
[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings in any matter which may stumble any. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . As God committed the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to the Jewes, and did and doth move their hearts to keep it untainted to this day: So I dare lay it on the same God, that he in his providence is so with the Church of the Gentiles, that they have and do preserve the Greek Text uncorrupt, and clear: As for some scrapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, than to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scrapes in the printing, and 'tis certain, that what mistake is in one print, is corrected in another.
And if they do not agree perfectly, then how can God be said to have perfectly preserved the actual words of the autographs?
The words were available even as they were consolidated into a printed edition. You can't prove otherwise, so why not go the direction of faith and not doubt, perfection and not errors. Our position is that God promised to preserve the very Words and Letters of the original manuscripts. He didn't promise to preserve ink and paper. God knows what the Words are so He made sure that we had them. He performed a miracle to do so.
Thomas Ross adds: I don't see why the God who works all things after the counsel of His own will could not have sovereignly made it happen without the kind of direct intervention in history that was the same as the kind that makes blind men see, Christ rise from the dead, etc.
I continue: I can explain the miracle, but I can't fully understand it because it is a miracle. The alternative is not believing God and having errors in Scripture, which is acceptable to textual critics and many modern MVO people.
Thomas Ross adds: I would like to hear the MVO people explain the certainty verses.
I don't believe that true churches settled on the Vulgate. As well, the Vulgate is not Greek and Hebrew. Scripture presents original language preservation.
Thomas Ross adds: The medieval Baptists used the received text--but because printing wasn't invented yet, when they copied it there were errors in copies. However, all the words were still available. In the ancient church period, as long as the autographs were around, all the words were obviously preserved and available (and the autographs were around a while, as far as we can tell, as I demonstrated in my essay on the subject on my website). Once the autographs were gone, the true words were available and preserved by the true churches. True churches did not agree on Jerome's Latin Vulgate--the Waldenses, for example, continued to use a version of the old Latin instead of the Catholic Vulgate. By the way, the Greek TR was called the "Greek Vulgate," and it was, through God's sovereignty, copied by the Greek Catholic Church, so believers in that area didn't even need to fight with the Catholics over the Bible, since the unconverted monks were copying the truth that they did not know.
Do you ascribe to the following statement made by Francis Turretin: "Although we give to the Scriptures absolute integrity, we do not therefore think that the copyists and printers were inspired (theopneustos), but only that the providence of God watched over the copying of the sacred books, so that although many errors might have crept in, it has not so happened (or they have not so crept into the manuscripts) but that they can be easily corrected by a collation of others (or with the Scriptures themselves). Therefore the foundation of the purity and integrity of the sources is not to be placed in the freedom from fault.of men, but in the providence of God, which (however men employed in transcribing the sacred books might possibly mingle various errors) always diligently took care to correct them, or that they might be corrected easily either from a comparison with Scripture itself or from more approved manuscripts. It was not necessary therefore to render all the scribes infallible, but only so to direct them that the true reading may always be found out. This book far surpasses all others in purity."
In what substantial way does the textual criticism behind the KJV differ from the tc behind the newer translations?
Those men didn't apply modern evolutionary principles of textual criticism. They also believed in a perfect Bible and in perfect, Divine preservation of Scripture. What they did is not the equivalent to 19th century textual criticism, when the words "textual criticism" actually came into existence. I understand the point that CT and eclectic people want conceded, but it can't be conceded historically or definitionally, and they should admit that themselves. They won't because they want "providential preservation" to mean "textual criticism." Those two are not the same. Look at Capel's quote above and I can give many others like that to show that this was not their attitude.
How do you defend Erasmus' choice to include the very questionable rendering in 1 John 5:7-8 in spite of the textual evidence in the Byzantine manuscripts which argues vehemently against this?
Much good defense is written for the preservation of 1 John 5:7.
Thomas Ross add: On my website I link an excellent defense of 1 john 5:7 on evidential principles. Also, the CT people are not very consistent when they pull their hair out over receiving 1 john 5:7--which was also in the medieval baptist bible, and was received unanimously by baptist confessions for hundreds of years--when there are many, many places in the ubs/ct where they follow only one manuscript and don't even footnote it!
I continue: Consider what Gill says about 1 John 5:7:
That is, that Jesus is the Son of God. The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher's copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens's, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius (z), in the beginning of the "sixth" century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the "fourth" century; and it is cited by Athanasius (a) about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian (b), in the middle, of the "third" century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian (c) about, the year 200; and which was within a "hundred" years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation.
Ipsissima verba is clearly taught in Scripture. It is affirmed every time the NT states Christ "said" something. God means what He says, and if the declaration that the Lord said certain Words does not mean that He actually said them, language no longer has meaning. When the Bible declares, "these words spake Jesus" (John 8:20,30; cf. 8:31,37,43,47), who dares conclude He did not say those Words, but some "vox" paraphrase of them? The retort that the Words of the gospels are the Holy Spirit’s Words, so they are authoritative although Christ did not speak them, neglects the fact that He is the Spirit of truth, so He would not inspire a "Jesus said . . .," which Jesus did not say. Indeed, ipsissima verba is essential to spiritual growth, for the saints cannot live by His Words if they don’t have them (Mt. 4:4). God’s people must hear the Words of the Son (John 12:47), receive His Words (John 12:48; 17:8), keep His Words (John 14:23), have His Words abiding in them (John 15:7) and remember His Words as from the Father (John 14:10). Furthermore, were Christ’s Words not in the gospels, the declaration of Matthew 24:35 (and Mk. 13:31 & Lk 21:33) would be false. The penalty for being ashamed of Christ’s Words (Mk 8:38) would be irrelevant to today if only His "voice" was preserved. How horrible to say that the wonderful prayer of John 17, which begins, "These words spake Jesus . . ." (v. 1) is really only the words of John the apostle, who paraphrased to give the "genuine voice" of the Great High Priest! Of course, were this the case, the fact that the Savior, in that prayer, said, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them . . ." (John 17:8) would be irrelevant, since it would only be John’s paraphrase of something else Christ actually spoke, which is now irrecoverably gone. Peter asked, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). A vox position means that those invaluable Words of eternal life are gone, replaced by whatever the human writers of Scripture apparently thought better met the needs of their community than the actual Words of the Christ of God. Peter’s recorded recollections of Christ’s Words are verbatim (Mt. 26:34,75; Acts 1:5; 11:16). John 21:15-17 provides an indisputable example of Christ repeating teaching several times with different Words. If He can do it here, why can He not have actually spoken the same teaching on either the same or different occasions? Christ promised that the Spirit would bring to the minds of the writers of Scripture "whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
While it is important to seek reconciliation of the gospel accounts for exegetical and apologetical purposes, to argue for a vox position because it makes reconciliation of the synoptics simpler is to come at the issue from an improper perspective. The saint must first see what Scripture teaches, and evaluate everything else from the presupposition of the absolute truthfulness of everything found in the Bible; to take the "evidence" first and try to accommodate Scripture to it is to live by sight, not by faith (Hab. 2:4), and to suppose that "facts" can exist and be evaluated independently from the truth of the God of Scripture—essentially an unstated presupposition of atheism. Furthermore, traditional non-redactive methods of harmonization are able to solve problems in Scripture without compromise on Biblical statements on inspiration. Scripture records clear instances where Christ repeated Himself in different words within individual gospels on what can hardly be viewed as amalgamations of different sources (cf. Mk. 10:23,24; Jn. 21:15-17); why cannot verbal differences among the synoptics be instances of the same sort of repetition, so that the gospels at times record different sets what are with equal truth the Words of Christ?
A good article that will answer this question is at: www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj12d.pdf
How can you hold to the theory that Jesus was merely translating from the Hebrew behind the MT tradition when there are times when His quotations differ significantly enough from the Hebrew Text so as to make it such that a literal translation of the Hebrew would not have made His point? Specifically, I would ask you to deal with the passage I reference above - Matthew 13:14-15.
You could translate the Hebrew text of Isaiah 6:9 in the imperative or in the future. The Old Testament text renders them in the imperative and the New Testament quotation, an accurate one renders them in the future. Since the words may be understood the way they were used in Matthew 13:14, this vindicates this citation of them. Many Jewish commentators actually render the OT text in the future just like the NT text does in Mt. 13. This is an English translation of a Greek text rendering of a Hebrew text. We shouldn't be surprised when they are not exactly the same.
Thomas Ross adds: Why not just say that the NT is "targumming" or paraphrasing, rather than intending to give a direct, word for word translation? We do this all the time: "the bible says that if you don't get saved you will be eternally lost," etc. "The Bible says to obey the pastor, Hebrews 13:17." Why can't the gospels do this as well?
I continue: By the way, when I satisfy the demands of a question, does that mean a person is now willing to believe instead of continuing questioning? At what point should I require faith in God's promises of preservation and availability, Scriptural presuppositions, before we continue?
How do you defend a very literal reading of Mt. 5:18 that not one jot or tittle will pass from God's Word in light of the fact that prior to Erasmus (the vast majority of the church age) there was no agreement as to any 'preserved text' to the degree of 'jots and tittles' having been preserved?
I don't have evidence there wasn't agreement. Have you ever seen evidence besides reading Metzger and Ehrman? My Capel quote above states the positions that God's people have taken.
Thomas Ross adds: Actually, you don't have Baptist churches questioning what the words were before the Reformation era. There was agreement on the words. The words in the mss that the churches had became the printed TR. Notice that the NT never, ever says something like "manuscripts of the OT have been corrupted here" or something like that. The received OT was perfect, in that all the words were available and God's people could know where they were to live by them. And, based on Scripture, the received NT was also always perfectly available.
In what way had God preserved 'jots and tittles' in the NT manuscripts prior to Erasmus and the Textus Receptus?
My assumption, based upon my presuppositions, is that the Words were available. I haven't said that they were all available in one place at one time. I can't prove they were or they weren't. We don't possess the exact physical copies that were available to them at that time, and we never will. What we might find today doesn't represent what they had. I believe all the Words were generally accessible. I believe God's Word is perfect. I believe God promised preservation of every one of them.
Thomas Ross adds: We aren't responsible to know how a Waldensian church in the 1100's knew where the Words of God were. We are responsible to know where they are today. Scripture says we can know, so we can know. We don't even know how the Waldenses managed to not all get killed, but they did somehow--we can see that they were still around in the 1600s.
Did He preserve a little in this text and a little in that text prior to Erasmus putting them together in one? If so, in what sense is this a preserved text at all?
I would answer this the same way as I did the previous question.
Some are not satisfied with these answers, I'm sure. I am. They are answers based on Scriptural presuppositions. I won't stagger in unbelief at the promises of God.
Here are some questions for anyone else:
How can you add or take away from something that isn’t settled? In other words, what difference does Revelation 22:18, 19 make?
How is the Bible considered perfect if there are errors in it? If the errors aren’t related to the words, then what difference does verbal inspiration make? What is the Scriptural basis for errors in the Bible?
Where does the Bible say there would be sixty-six books? If it doesn’t say, then how do we know there are not more or less?
As a Professor in a Theological Seminary, it has been my duty to make a special study of the Westminster Confession of Faith, as have I done for twenty years; and I venture to affirm that no one who is qualified to give an opinion on the subject, would dare to risk his reputation on the statement that the Westminster divines ever thought the original manuscripts of the Bible were distinct from the copies in their possession.