Thursday, January 02, 2014

What Do the Multiple Version Men Leave Us With? pt. 2

Hopefully, I'll get back to and then finish the unpopular music series starting next week.  In the meantime, I wanted to write one more thing on the multiple version issue that I approached on Monday.

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Sinaiticus is being questioned based upon extra-scriptural evidence.  The debate is extra-scriptural.  Did Constantine Simonides forge the manuscript?  There is irony here not to be lost.  The evidentialists will always be subject to further evidence.  Those are the terms by which they operate.  The decisions are being made by so-called scientists, who weigh this issue like truth in a test tube.  If they are going to be scripture in the laboratory for experimentation, then they will always be subject to the same type of criteria.

You'll have to pardon me if I've got to laugh some here.  I watched the White-Ehrman debate, and Ehrman questioned White's credentials on textual criticism.   This is what you get when you've brought the issue down to science.  Ehrman is the textual critic on the speed dial.  He is the guy in the footnotes.  Metzger was his mentor.  He is the go-to scientist.  He puts down White.  White says that's not fair.  White isn't a big boy.  Sorry, but on his own terms, he's not.  White is getting his stuff out of the cracker jacks box next to Ehrman.  White dies by his own standard, hung by his own petard.  White, therefore, wants to argue Ehrman based upon scriptural presuppositions.  Again, sorry, but you guys were the ones who said that the evidence is how we judge this, so you don't even get to have an opinion, because you don't have the credentials.

Fast forward to Chris Pinto.  How does White and some of his followers like Alan Kurschner deal with Pinto?  I've read their articles.  Kurschner says he can't even read the manuscript he's talking about.  Excuse me, but Alan Kurschner was arguing for Sinaiticus before he could read the manuscript too.  I'm not saying he couldn't have a say then, but those are his terms.  White says that Pinto can't have an opinion, because he doesn't have the credentials.

Today, however, a documentary film maker does have at least popular credentials.  He makes films.  How many documentaries has White made?  Now, I'm not saying that making documentary films gives you credentials, but pop culture probably does.  Evangelicalism loves celebrity and making a film raises your celebrity.  You're involved in the "art."  Pinto even talks like the documentary film makers I've heard.  He has the disposition of those film makers, even in the way that he converses.

Let's consider conspiracies for a moment.  Was justification by faith corrupted by Roman Catholics?  Were several doctrines mutilated by Roman Catholics, even Jesuits?  Would White say this was the case?  He would.  When you are operating with historic evidence so prominent, then you are going to be subject to the same terms.  Is it is possible that a manuscript could be spoiled by Roman Catholics?  Don't dispensationalists think that there is some kind of conspiratorial trail that will lead to a one world church and one world government?  Doesn't a Christian view of history say that there is the evil, Satanic side, which includes corrupt religion, and then the righteous, Godly side, which is the line of truth and those who have been persecuted?  This is talked about a lot at Christmas, because didn't the line of Christ come down to one child living or dying?  You've got Herod, the magi, etc.  It reads like a conspiracy plot.  Isn't the narrative of Alexander Hislops, Two Babylons, indicating a conspiratorial view of the main narrative of history?  You have Esther with Haman's conspiracy.  This is one reason why I say, "Please stop the 'tin foil hat' references."  These guys know that pop culture makes fun of conspiracy theorists, so they use it as a smear job.  You are conspiracy theorists!  Enjoy it!

So, White makes Pinto subject to questioning of credentials.  White says he's a bigger boy than Pinto and so Pinto must shush up in the corner.  Ehrman says that he's a bigger boy than White, so White can shush up in the corner.  White goes to theological presuppositions that Dan Wallace says should not be mentioned in textual criticism, so there's a contradiction (maybe even a conspiracy).

We're talking about scripture here.  It's important.  We're talking about what the Words are.  It's important.  Pinto says that there was a conspiracy.  Satan wants to corrupt the Word of God and destroy the confidence in Scripture.  He sees Roman Catholicism as being a part of it.  I'm not even saying it's true, what he's saying.  I'm saying that if you are going to determine your Bible based on external evidence, on science, then you are always going to be subject to that.  However, that is not how God wants us to deal with these issues.  We are to operate by faith.  Faith is the means by which we know what the Bible is.  You really can't decide that based upon documents and modern scientific principles.  This is not God's way.  It doesn't please God.

Now would be the time for my credentials to be questioned, at least to get a tin foil hat or a Gail Riplinger mention.  These are the strategies of the world.  This is not how the men who wrote the Westminster Confession understood what scripture was.  This is not how churches have accepted what the Bible was.  It isn't how we've decided canonicity, for instance, which is a similar, if not the same issue here.  And even when the multiple version men are done with their science, what do they leave us with?  Doubt, uncertainty, less obedience to scripture, more apostasy.  That is their heritage.  I guess that's a conspiracy.

Someone critiqued what I wrote in part one, dismissed essentially the right way to deal with the issue of preservation, for knowing what God's Words are.  He wrote:

There’s a type of argument I’ve heard for decades, it goes something like this: ‘If we’d only look at what the Bible promises about God preserving His word, we’d all be TRO, and perhaps use the 1611 KJV Bible alone. Happy, happy, happy.’ Sounds so pious, no?

No amount of tortured eisegesis can produce a Biblical promise stating that ANY one complete, canonical “version” of sacred writ will exist, all together, at the same place, at the same time, continuously, & without interruption through history. Nor do legit ‘preservation texts’ specify what percentage of people would have uninterrupted access to God’s word down through time, or even that a MAJORITY of people would have access, or the majority of the elect etc.

Preservation texts, taken at face value (a normal hermeneutic) don’t state any of this wishful thinking, no matter how long we waterboard them. Let’s not hold God accountable for something He didn’t specifically promise.

What’s promised is that God’s inspired word will be preserved perfectly, forever. What’s NOT promised about NT preservation & its transmission are little details like: where, how, with whom, with how many, on what type of material, uncial or miniscule script, skins or vellum etc. The FACT of it’s preservation is promised. The details of how & where (etc) are not stated in scripture. God’s a big God though, and I believe He keeps all His promises.

History shows that the Greek NT was UNavailable to the majority of man for a thousand years, give or take. If the ‘MY kinda God wouldn’t do this or that’ folks want to peddle some pious sounding argument about how ‘God would never let His NT be so sequestered for so long’, then maybe they should argue for the primacy of the Latin Vulgate?

I thought this was a good little synopsis to reveal the straw men and poor exegesis on the multiple version side.  It's short, so I can hit everything.  It is also typical.  I don't hear anything better than what he wrote.  You'll notice that he offers no argument.  He's just taking shots.  He's like the scoffer in 2 Peter 3, because that's the best argument for these so-called scientists, scoffing.

The first paragraph is mockery.  Obviously, if you believe in preservation in the languages in which the Bible was written, then you read a 1769 edition of the KJV translation, which differs than the 1611.  People in Germany can use a German translation, etc.  He's reducing a historic and biblical position to something in the Ruckman path, which isn't true.  Ruckman and Riplinger are not the ugly cousins of the historic position on perfect preservation.

Paragraphs two and three are a straw man.  Here and in many other places, we and those who believe like us have never argued this.  This isn't the position of Owen or the divines.  Scripture teaches God would preserve His Words and that they would be accessible to every generation of believers.  I know of no one who believes the straw man that he represents in paragraph two.  I don't know who he's arguing with.  This covers paragraph three too, because we're not speculating a percentage of Christians who have their own complete copy of the perfect text.  I'm not left to speculate, however, because I trust what God did say.  The man who wrote the paragraphs is left himself, however, with speculation.  He's reduced the Bible to percentages, to best hope, not perfection.  He offers possibilities with the Bible, not anything concrete.

I can't trace a historic basis in every century since Christ for the doctrine of justification by faith.  So, did it exist in every century?  Based on science, we can't determine that?  Can we base that on faith?  Is faith true science?  This is ultimately an argument of epistemology.  How do we know what we know?  Scripture says we know by faith.  I can hear the answer:  yours isn't faith, but fideism.  And we start all over again.

For paragraph four, we do take a historic and grammatical, historical position on the preservation texts. We have written a whole book dealing with those texts.  Our position is the same as what I read in Muller's Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2.   Muller reports our position as the position.  There is a reason they called the "received text."  None other than Kurt Aland says the same.  This is not a new position.  The new position is modern textual criticism -- post enlightenment textual criticism.

Then our author of paragraph five says he believes in perfect preservation.  No one, I repeat, no. one., who believes in modern textual criticism, who claims to be eclectic as he does, believes in perfect preservation.  I'd be happy if it were true, but I've never seen it.  I've seen them claim it, but they don't believe it.  I have read no one that is multiple version that believes we have the original wording of 1 Samuel 13:1 in a manuscript.  They don't.  They think it might be buried somewhere and hope to find it (based on their actual view of perfect preservation, what I call the "buried text view") sometime in the future.  But they can't admit that we have all the Words right now.

Paragraph five is another straw man, because we aren't looking to kind of materials, etc.  We argue for Words, and, yes, scripture promises Words (and letters), not ink, papyrus, etc.  This straw man type of argument is a smoke cloud.  It just diverts attention from the biblical theology.  It's why I would love to debate James White on this.  I want to.  It would have to be agreed upon rules and moderators, but I would love to do that sometime (no I'm not going to call in on his show, because that doesn't count).

Paragraph six is tell-tale.  He asserts before that God is big enough to do what He says, and then he says, "History shows."  So he is willing to relinquish a biblical position for "what history shows."  Scripture doesn't say that "history will show."  It doesn't.  There is a lot of what we believe that all of history doesn't show.  We can't depend on history, but we can depend on scripture.  I'm not saying history is unimportant, for those ready to hop on that.  I'm saying that we don't depend on it.  It is an accessory at most -- an important one, even based upon scripture -- but we don't depend on it.

He includes the "Latin Vulgate" straw man in paragraph six.  The position isn't what words were most available or available to the most people.  That is not the position that can be defended by scripture.  The historic position is original language, not translation.  The Vulgate is a translation, of course.

When I conversed with Dan Wallace about this, he admitted that our view was historic.  He knew his view was not.  His position was that there was some kind of total apostasy of the correct position.  He knew he couldn't prove it, but he didn't care that his position had no historical basis, that is, believers did not historically believe his position.  Maybe this seems ironic.  History matters selectively.  

This post is going end like a bad college skit.  It has no ending.  I'm going to stumble offstage.  I'm just going to stop here, but these are some thoughts I wanted you to have, and I wanted to write.  That's my ending.

4 comments:

George Calvas said...

What a complicated rabbit trail that leads to confusion.

I can look at any Christian who reads in English, give him a Holy King James Bible and tell him to trust EVERY WORD in it and if anyone tries to correct it, do not believe a word he says, and "note that man" who is trying to take something from you by exalting himself to a higher position of authority than the scriptures.

That is the historical biblical position that can be used in ANY language where the scriptures have been believed and practiced by faith (the common faith of the scriptures once delivered to the saints), by the church of Jesus Christ. You will find those scriptures in the hands of spiritual men willing to DIE for them.

You can take any textual criticism and shove its precepts and practices into hell from where it received its powers.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Great post, brother!

I would pay to listen/watch the Kent Brandenburg v. James White debate.

John Maheu said...

Perhaps we should be asking the CT people where in Received Text are we told that we are missing God's Word or that we need to be on the lookout for "better" manuscripts.

Perhaps it is too late for an offensive but this would show that it is extra-Biblical material that drives their agenda.

Within His Word said...

Since I also trust the Lord's promises, that, whoever seeks Him will find Him, then I don't worry about arguments about some man in Papua New Guinea and his ability to get the whole Bible. I know that if such a man is seeking for it, the Lord will get it to Him. Not a popular view, but a view that I believe the Scriptures clearly teach.

Those that work in textual criticism, just want to leave you with, 1) Them alone as the source of truth, and, 2) No Bible to counter them with.