Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Answering the TR (Textus Receptus), Perfect Preservation of Scripture Question. One More Time.

Scripture teaches presuppositionalism, and being a presuppositionalist, I look at the problem of volition versus intellect.  Applying this to the doctrine of bibliology, specifically what the Bible teaches about the preservation of scripture, I think most misunderstandings are a matter of the will and not the intellect.  Almost all of them.

Like most other truth, where people are wrong, they are rebellious against the true, scriptural position on the preservation of scripture.  I can't tell why for each individual, but I could give you a long list of why it is that people won't believe it, that relates to "won't" rather than "can't."  Again though, I don't believe it is intellect, but volition.  People just won't believe what the Bible says.  For most, I think it is pride, but a multitude of sins comes out of pride, so that's an easy one of the reasons.

I've explained what I believe here and elsewhere again and again and again and again.  And then people straw man it again and again and again and again.  The position they say I take isn't very convincing and easily shot down.  The biblical position is biblical, so it can't be shot down, so rather than deal with that, they go to the easier target and then celebrate like they got the actual thing.  They get the plastic duckie at the fair and now they think they're skeet shooters.

For the sake of new readers and those with thick heads and even for the rebellious or deceitful, I'm going to explain it one more time.  Some of it I'm going to repeat several times even here, so there will be no doubt.  I'm not going to attempt to prove the position from the Bible, because I've done that again and again.  People are fine to ask about it, but we do have a whole book on it (why not buy it?).  I'm not even going to show that it is historical, but I've done that already again and again.  We'll probably have a second book about that some day soon.  I'm going to talk about the true, right position, so people will know what it is.

To start, I got this position from the Bible, from reading it and studying it.  There is not a whiff of anything else taught in the Bible.  Then when I went to find out what the historical doctrine of preservation was, I found the biblical position was also the only historical Christian position.  I have never had anyone prove what I'm saying in this post to be wrong.  No one.  I'm not saying people won't say it's wrong.  They do say it's wrong, but they don't give you any biblical reasons why it is wrong.  They don't have any.  You will read no other position in history, so, in other words, every other position is brand new and is assuming that the only historic Christian position was apostate -- all genuine believers were apostate on this position.  How possible is that?  Then that brings up another point, that is, can there be a brand new position or can there be a position that was totally apostatized in the history of biblical Christianity?  You'll have to believe the brand new position in addition to the total apostasy of the true position for centuries and centuries if you reject the position I'm espousing here.  Enjoy that.  I won't be joining you.

By the way, I've discussed the above position at pretty good length with Daniel Wallace and he believes that third from the last sentence of the last paragraph.  He believes this is the only position that was believed after the printing press for hundreds of years and even before, but that it was an apostasy of the biblical position.  Wallace also has a novel position of inerrancy, not found in historical literature.  All of this is actually developed on the run to conform to what he does.  It's pragmatic.  It works for his situation, but he's a scholar, so it works for many others too, who are under his influence.  He doesn't have to prove his position from the Bible.  That should be bad for a Bible professor.  Not anymore.

Next is a clear statement I think is important for everyone to understand.  Here goes.

The Bible teaches that God would preserve every one of His inspired Words in the language in which they were written, accessible to every generation of believers.

What I want to repeat is that we believe that God would preserve His Words.  Words.  We are not saying God preserved the paper or parchment or vellum of the original manuscripts or one perfect copy that made its way down through the annals of history.  Scripture doesn't teach that.  It teaches the preservation of Words and letters, and so that's what I believe.

What I have written is what I believe, but it also just so happens to answer the "which TR?" question for anyone who cares, which most don't.  I've found that they just try to discredit the position that can be taught by the Bible and the one found in Christian history without providing one of their own.  I've found it's their only option.  The "which TR?" question is a red herring.  It just takes away from the doctrinal point that needs to be considered first, that is, what does the Bible teach about preservation?

God preserved all the Words of scripture and they were all available for believers of every generation.  That is not saying that all those Words were, again, in that perfect copy that made its way down through history -- you know, just one perfect copy.  Scripture doesn't teach that.  That particular view is one of the main straw men.  No one teaches that or believes that.  We should believe what God said, no more and no less.  Even if there was no evidence that a perfect copy made its way all the way through, it doesn't prove anything that there is no evidence.  The straw man is more than what the Bible teaches, so it can't be defended.  I don't want to defend it.  It's not in the Bible and I don't believe it.  We live by the Words, not by the parchment or vellum or scroll that the Words are written on, or even by the ink.  Those are what God said He would preserve.

The Words accessible to believers in the 16th century were what they received, hence the received text.  They had them.  It's not "which TR?".  It's that the Words are available.  The King James Translators translated.  The King James Version is a translation.  They translated the New Testament from Greek words into English ones.  The Greek words from which they translated were available.  They didn't translate from Scrivener's (1881/84).  They translated from what was available then.

When you compare all those various editions of the TR, you have very few differences -- in the low hundreds of variants.  And most of those are spellings.  We're not talking about entire passages, entire verses, just individual words and sometimes just letters.  What I'm saying is that those editions are nearly identical.  But all the Words were available, and that is the biblical standard.  Since they were available, they were the ones that God preserved.  Perfect preservation is that God perfectly preserved all of the Words.

I own and I believe you can still purchase an annotated Scrivener's that marks each difference from the 1598 Beza.  1598 is before 1611.  Just thought I'd tell you.  The differences are very little.  You would hardly notice it in a translation.  For those who say that Scrivener is some type of reconstruction, they really are giving you the wrong impression of the differences.  They are tiny.  Some would say that if there is one difference, open wide the door to textual criticism or don't believe the doctrine of perfect preservation.  Again though, the belief is that we have all the Words accessible, and I'm saying that believers came to an agreement about which those Words were.  They were already almost identical to begin with, so the "which TR?" question indicates either misunderstanding or it's trying to give a false impression that these editions were vastly different.

I know that next is where the most major rub will come in, for those who choose to doubt God's promises.  Do we know what those very Words are?  Historically, Christians have said, yes.  This is in their doctrinal statements, in their sermons, and in their writings.  How do we know which words are the exact ones?  We know by means of the canonicity of the Words.  God promises the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and the church has agreed what the Words are.  This is how we have been directed, just the same as we were directed to the very books.  The Holy Spirit directs or guides the believers to the very ones.  The providence of God is involved, just like it was in the preservation of the Godly line that led to Jesus, the preservation of the nation Israel, and the preservation of our eternal souls.

The King James Version comes from the Words that were available to believers.  The Words behind the modern versions weren't available.  They weren't what Christians agreed upon by faith.  They had agreed on the text received by the churches.  Since I believe we will also know what the Words are, when it comes to those 300 or so differences between the editions of the TR, then I see that God's people agreed on what was behind the King James Version.  Can we know what those Words are?  I believe we can.  Are they found in one edition?  If you want those, you will get Scrivener's.  That is what represents what God's people have received.

At this point, the critics of the biblical and historical view have various attacks.  They don't offer a biblical point of view.  They look for inconsistencies in the application of the biblical position.  They'll say that the text of scripture was reverse engineered or that the Greek text comes from the trajectory of the English.  I've already answered those two criticisms in the paragraphs above.  They will also say that there are a few words that are unsure or uncertain.  They want to argue about the scientific veracity of those examples.  Were they the actual Greek words from which the English translation comes?  Are they found in an existent hand copy?   I don't think those questions should lead to a wholly unbiblical and new point of view.  They don't merit it.  I am glad to discuss them, especially since that's where the critics want to park.  They don't want to talk about the doctrine.  I just believe God did what He said He would.  We don't need to keep looking for God's Words.  We've already had them throughout all history since their inspiration.

27 comments:

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.

I'm not going to go into this at any length. We've done that plenty. I get the avenue by which you arrive at your position. In fact I have respect for your approach. That isn't the issue.

1. It doesn't matter if the editions were vastly different or minutely different. Differences are. It isn't a red herring to discuss them.

2. Scrivener himself basically describes his work as a reconstruction. Doesn't matter if he got most of it from one edition or a small group of editions. It's a reconstruction that uses the English as the determination for which Greek (or Latin) he selected.

I have said here (I think) and elswhere that yours is the KJVO position with the most integrity. I don't want to fight with you about it, even though I remain unconvinced.

Bobby mitchell said...

Your last three sentences should silence anyone who is tempted to argue but has a humble heart. This is the position that is consistent with living by faith, taking God at Hos Word. Proverbs 3:5.

Tyler Robbins said...

Appreciate this post. I now understand your position much more clearly. I've browsed through your book, but haven't sat down and read the thing yet. It's on my list!

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Kent, thank you for this exposition. It is extremely useful.

It isn't just the Critical Text/Alexandrian/Bible reconstructionist position that relies on a lot of the flawed arguments that you addressed above. Many of the same arguments are used by the Ruckmanist/pseudo-Ruckmanite crowd as well (especially the "which TR" red herring). I've had some interaction with Will Kinney who operates the Brands Plucked website (which bills itself as defending the KJV), and he seems to take the position that the Word of God basically did not exist until the KJV was translated. When it is pointed out to him that this basically denies God's promise of perfect preservation of His Words for all generations, he will fall back onto the "which TR" argument. The answer I've given him repeatedly, and which he has never really satisfactorily addressed, is "the TR which the KJV translators used, obviously."

Kinney also has an...odd...interpretation of Psalm 12:6-7 which he uses to get around the plain reading of the text. He has argued that the v.6,

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times."

Is referring to seven times in which the Word was (presumably progressively) purified until we finally received the KJV as the septice-purified product. Again, basically rejecting that God's perfectly preserved Words existed all along.

Lance Ketchum said...

Good article! Although I would use the word "autopistic" rather than "presuppositional."

Kent Brandenburg said...

D4,

Certain points, like which TR?, are meant as a red herring? Which TR? behaves like it was a different TR. It was still the TR. The differences were not enough to make it different. Nobody thought that way until this question became a red herring. For instance, the interlinear I owned by the time I was in high school was this one: https://archive.org/details/englishmansgreek00step

It was the Englishmen's Greek New Testament, and in the margins were the King James, and there was the literal English translation under the TR. TR right? It was Stephanus 1550. How could they use the Stephanus? It wasn't the same. You've got to have scrivener's!

These people are giving the impression that you've got a different text, and by their own standards, you don't. This is why it is a red herring. I don't see it as honest. And it is a red herring because it gets away from the actual point, which is what I said.

You can say that Scrivener says it is a reconstruction, but that is Scrivener. Why quote Scrivener for our position? I can go to Beza or Stephens, use either one, and I'm thinking TR. They are so close. If you have a 1598 text that is essentially identical, how can you call it a reverse engineering. It sounds like a joke.

Could you point me to a careful exegesis on preservation in any form, booklet, book, interested in what God says about preservation (not an attack on our position) that I can read from a critical or eclectic text person?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Titus,

You are correct that 'which TR' is also a Ruckman argument, and it does in fact deny preservation. It isn't presuppositional or as Bro. Ketchum says, autopistic.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Tyler,

I'm glad you can understand it. True theology is on a razor's edge. You fall off on one side or the other and you are wrong. I find this to be like any of the other doctrines in that way.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bro. Ketchum,

Thanks. I'm glad you want to comment here. People need to believe this and you add your encouragement, love rejoices in the truth.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Tyler,

If you would like to get a more careful understanding of the position of Pastor Brandenburg (which is my position also) on the preservation of Scripture, please read the article "A Declaration of My Own Position on the Inspiration and Preservation of Holy Scripture" here:

http://faithsaves.net/bibliology/

Both of us have subscribed to this confession.

Jim Peet said...

2 questions:

1.) Would you be OK with a modern translation based upon the TR. Say the NKJV (or other)?

2.) Do you view your position as essentially the same as D A Waite's (looks the same to me but wanted to have you respond)

Finally: I read your blog from time to time and I appreciate you.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jim,

To 1) -- yes, but the NKJV in fact comes from a different text, which is the primary reason I don't accept it. It's authors weren't so concerned about the same text, as seen in their footnotes. I've written about that here. The translation would come with a consensus of churches that believe in the perfect preservation of scripture with the quality control by those churches. Even though that wasn't the criteria for the KJV, those churches accepted that translation. I would be suspect of the wrong motive today, in this world in which we live. Waite as a Defined King James that would accomplish the essence of a retranslation.
2)--Waite and I wouldn't explain it the same way. We both come to the same conclusion. We both agree that the Bible teaches providential preservation that should end in a perfect text. If you read our material, you would find the nature of the exegesis different. I would leave it to you to judge.

Thanks for asking. I appreciate that you can talk about these things. Most people don't.

Don Johnson said...

Kent, I know you do this elsewhere, but this post contains exactly ZERO references to Scripture. It seems a little odd to be making the claim that your position is strictly from the Bible and then you fail to cite the Bible even one time.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don,

People, I know, wonder why I have such an affinity for you, but I just do and I can explain it, but I don't think people would appreciate what I have to say. They might be jealous.

Anyway, I mention in my post that I am not going to mention scripture because I have written this in so many different places, and even written a book on it. Since I said that, I thought it might buy me an out there. I also have tons of articles on the sidebar. I thought that it would be good, this one time, to explain the position without complicating someone's ability to understand by exegeting verses. Did you see how long it was without that?

I also say it is historical and give zero historical references, because I have those all over my post too. In the side bar, if someone read my debate with Frank Turk or if they read the link that Thomas Ross gave above in his comment, they would get a good basic scriptural and then historical presentation. But there is even more than that.

Thanks.

Joe Cassada said...

Kent,

Received your book A Pure Church yesterday and ordered Thou Shalt Keep Them today. Looking forward to reading both.

Tyler Robbins said...

KJB 1611:

I read your confession. I'm going to be taking a close look at Bro. Brandenburg's book this week, too.

Why do you believe the words of the text were preserved in the TR? I really appreciate your emphasis that preservation was providential, not miraculous. It seems to me that you believe the preservation was sealed and delivered in the TR. Why has this preservation not continued? Is it that there was a unanimity around the TR in a way there simply isn't about the critical text?

KJB1611 said...

Dear Tyler,

I've replied to your comment at the Comment on this Declaration, part 2 link here:

http://faithsaves.net/bibliology/

which is also here:

http://www.kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2012/06/confession-of-faith-on-inspiration-and_21.html

Tyler Robbins said...

KJB 1611:

I found it. I'll take a look at it and get back to you later. Appreciate it!

Don Johnson said...

Hi Kent,

Thanks for the reply. I obviously didn't read that sentence as carefully as I should have. Also you obviously didn't type it slowly enough! (Plus you used the word "Bible" instead of "Scripture" and that really threw me off!)

Let's see... can I think of any other excuses?

Seriously, though, the most important part of this argument is the Scriptural one. I read most of what you write here, and so far have never been convinced of the Scriptural argument for your views. So still unconvinced.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Peter said...

Dear Kent,

Thanks for the brief distillation of your position it is helpful. Just a quick question. You say the text was generally accessible. How do you understand the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. They were with unbelieving Jews for centuries not really with the church until the reformation in terms of all the words.

Thanks.

God bless,

Peter

Peter said...

Hi Kent,

Thanks for the help. The scriptures teach general accessibility. How do you understand the Old Testament scriptures since they were with the Jews not really the church for centuries before the reformation?

Thanks,

Peter

Kent Brandenburg said...

Peter,

I never have to answer about the accessibility of the OT text, because it hasn't been an issue. I'm not sure I understand your premise that the churches didn't have the OT text. It was generally accessible to them.

Peter said...

Kent,

Well when I ask about general accessibility of the OT text the question pertains to how you view the reality that the church did not have the Hebrew Scriptures until the reformation. Could anyone just take a trip to the masoretes to get them?

Thanks.

God bless,

Peter

Peter said...

Kent,

I ask because when you say general accesibility do you mean they existed and were in human hands somewhere or that every OT reading was with the Church?

I ask because the argument against the CT is that there were readings buried in sands in egypt that no one had.

Thanks for the clarification.

God bless,

Peter

KJB1611 said...

Dear Peter,

The words of the Hebrew Old Testament were indeed available to the true Christians. We know this because:

One, Scripture promises it, so it must be true.

Two, it certainly cannot be proven that the words were not available to them.

Three, the fact that Jewish scribes did most of the copying of the Old Testament text no more proves that the words were unavailable to true churches than the fact that secular printing presses, unbelievers, etc. do much of the modern copying of Bibles through publishers run by unbelievers today proves that the words of the Old Testament are unavailable to Christians even at this very hour.

Thanks for the comment.

Peter said...

KJB1611,

Thanks for the reply it is helpful. You said the Old Testament was "available" and can't be proven to be "unavailable".

So then it is your understanding that passages like Isaiah 59:21 are saying that all the words were available not that they were in actual possession through the ages for the true Church at large?

Thanks.

Peter

KJB1611 said...

Dear Peter,

I believe, based on passages like Isaiah 59:21, that true believers have all the words available. Isaiah 59:21 does not promise that every single believer in the world will always have a perfect Bible, but that at least some believers would have all the words.

Something else that we need to keep in mind is that the true churches in the dark ages were a tiny minority, and that groups such as the Waldensians were the true churches, not Roman Catholicism. While we know that the true churches were always around, and there is historical evidence to validate Scripture's promises, it is difficult enough at times to know even where the true churches were, as they were in hiding, so that being sure about how they had access to the whole Word of God may be a very difficult if not impossible task. We know that the words were available because God said so, but God did not promise that we in 21st-century America would be able to know how Waldensians in 1200 had access to all the words. We know that they did, but we may not be able to know for sure how they did, because at times we may not even know where they were hiding.

By the way, I would suggest that you read the study "A Word Study Demonstrating the Meaning of the Word Church, Ekklesia (Ecclesia), and consequently the Nature of the Church as a Local Assembly only, not a Universal, Invisible Entity" here:

http://faithsaves.net/ecclesiology/

You may also find studies on preservation here:

http://faithsaves.net/bibliology/

valuable.

Thanks again.