Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Criticizing Professor Wallace part four

Fifteen years ago Professor Daniel Wallace from Dallas Theological Seminary wrote the essay, “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism.” In this now four part series, I have essentially, based upon Wallace’s recommendation, answered that article. I have contended that perfect preservation of God’s Word is both the Scriptural and the historic doctrine. He sent me to this journal publication as His refutation. In this we get a new position historically, so it has to be something very convincing to overturn the historic position. It isn’t. I don’t know how anyone could expect someone to believe it with some of the simple mistakes. In the first three posts in this series we have seen enough blatant errors to discredit the article. In this last portion, I will pick out some other problems with his presentation.

I don’t expect friends of Daniel Wallace to be happy about this series. So far, I’ve only been lectured about tone and style with him. Others have guessed that this is personal with me—that either Daniel Wallace or his supporters haven’t treated me very well, so I'm lashing out. They haven’t been nice and I haven't lashed out, but that has nothing to do with this. I’ve enjoyed a lot about Wallace and have said that repeatedly. I think it ironic that those who fixate on tone overlook their own. It makes that whole line of criticism to be a big red herring. Meanwhile, no one has refuted any of the points of the article.

Inspiration and Preservation

In the fourth paragraph of his introduction, Wallace writes this:
I wish to address an argument that has been used by TR/MT advocates—an argument which is especially persuasive among laymen. The argument is unashamedly theological in nature: inspiration and preservation are intrinsically linked to one another and both are intrinsically linked to the TR/MT.
Those keen on looking at style should have spotted the pejorative Wallace uses toward “laymen.” He says these exegetical arguments used by preservationists work well with the laymen, i.e., they’re overly simplistic, because that's what the corn-pone lay people will need. “Only the scholars or academics can really do the intellectual heavy-lifting.” So much for the Holy Spirit and the discernment He gives His church. He also assumes with his language that we’re supposed to be ashamed of using a theological argument, something like silly sole scriptura and sole fide.

So are inspiration and preservation intrinsically linked to one another? According to Wallace, I should feel ashamed of myself, but let’s go ahead and look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 anyway:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Those two verses tie the inspiration of “all scripture,” “every writing,” to the future sufficiency of Scripture. "May be" is present subjunctive. A. T. Robertson writes in his grammar (p. 926):
[T]he only fundamental idea always present in the subjunctive is that of futurity and . . . this is the primitive meaning from idiom of Homer.
There is the assumption of the future with God's Word continuing (present tense) to fulfill its sufficiency. Every God-breathed writing will be able to continue to throughly furnish the man of God. Doing everything that God wants us to do is tied into the inspiration of every Word. The verse implies that without every Word of God we would not be guaranteed the sufficiency described here. We can see an intrinsic connection between inspiration and preservation. What this asks is: what difference does it make if God gave us all His Words if we don’t have all of them in our possession?

Sundry Points

Wallace further insults first in the first paragraph of the next section when he calls TR-advocates “fundamentalist pamphleteers.” Then he attempts to trace the preservation position back to the work of the recent Seventh Day Adventist Jasper James Ray. And not much later he writes this clause concerning the work of Baptist pastor, David Otis Fuller: “dressed in more scholarly garb.” In other words, it isn’t scholarly; just adorned as such.

Wallace then makes a Latin translation argument that doesn’t recognize the historic doctrine of preservation, original language preservation, which is stated in the Westminster and London Baptist Confessions. His following argument reads:
If the TR equals the original text, then the editor must have been just as inspired as the original writers, for he not only selected what readings were to go in this first published edition, but he also created some of the readings.
Wallace is referring in this quote to the common assertion among textual critics that Erasmus missed one leaf in his manuscript of Revelation, so he back-translated that portion from the Latin Vulgate. Wallace can’t locate preservation in Scripture, easy as it is to see, but he’s sure he knows that none of the editions of the TR had Greek manuscripts with all the original Words of the book of Revelation. The Latin also varies from the TR, so it doesn't look like he was using that either. Textual scholar Herman C. Hoskier argued that Erasmus did not go Latin to Greek. Instead, he suggests that Erasmus used other Greek manuscripts such as 2049 (which Hoskier calls 141), and the evidence seems to support this position. Hoskier collated all the manuscripts for the book of Revelation. Manuscript 2049 contains the reading found in the Textus Receptus including the textual variant of Revelation 22:19. To this we can also add the Greek manuscript evidence of 296, and the margin of 2067 (Herman C. Hoskier, Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, vol. 2 (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1929, p. 644).

Wallace's Theological Argument

I never intended to show every error in the Wallace article. I wanted you to see that it does not disprove the Scriptural doctrine of preservation. I’ve written many articles laying out the doctrine of preservation, including editing an entire book about this subject. As we skip down to look for something that would treat that specific proposition, about all that’s left is a theological argument that Wallace ironically makes on this issue. He spends a lengthy chunk of space to parallel preservationists with Marcionites. In order to be one of these unbelieving heretics, however, the preservation-believer must fulfill so many criteria that it only applies to a group of men whom I have never met and may not exist. That makes it another straw man. It would only debunk people who would say that the Old Testament was not preserved like the New Testament. It really is a pathetic attempt at a very nasty smear on Bible believing people. It hardly serves as an argument against the doctrine of preservation of Scripture.

One reason why preservation of the Old and New Testaments differ somewhat in the means they were accomplished is because there is one Israel but several churches. Lots of copies were made for many churches. We see preservation in the majority of the manuscripts. Nonetheless, no one is saying that God said every Word would be kept in the majority of the manuscripts.

At the end of his introduction, Wallace wrote:
If inspiration and preservation can legitimately be linked to the text of the New Testament in this way, then the (new) KJV NT is the most accurate translation and those who engage in an expository ministry should use this text alone and encourage their audiences to do the same.
Scripture does say we'll have every Word and all the Words available to every generation of believer. We have a basis biblically for believing in a settled and perfect text of Scripture. We have legitimate linkage of the doctrine of preservation with the textus receptus. We know it was preserved and available for hundreds of years when nothing else was. The churches used it, viewed it as the very Words of God. Based on Wallace's above statement, we wait for him and others to join us in the Scriptural position.


Anonymous said...

With the insinuation about laymen, the "fundamentalist pamphleteers" pot shot, and the David Otis Fuller remark, I'm surprised the pro-Wallace tone police came knocking on your door.

Hey, we can take it...but we can dish it out, too. ;-)

Informative series. I'm interested in reading the arguments from those who deny the inspiration/preservation doctrine.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'm fine with giving and taking, as long as we can stop talking about it.


Kent Brandenburg said...

I had made one statement that was inaccurate in application of the "present subjunctive" that a commenter, Mike, gave me the heads up. I corrected it above. It does not change the sense that the King James or even the New King James gives to the sense of these words, that is, that it is ongoing.

Mike wrote: "There is no temporal reference in the oblique moods, including the subjective."

Jack Lamb said...

I have enjoyed this series. Thanks for taking the time to share your research.

Michael M said...

AMOS 8:11-12 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find [it].

I found it interesting that the phrase is from the North to the East. Our euphemism would be North to South or East to West, but the Lord chose North to East. If I am not mistaken, Textual Criticism came from German Rationalism, and Germany is in the North, could it be that our Modern Day German Rationalists are still wandering from the North to the East – the Middle East to be precise, to search for the Word of God? A quest they will never fill because they already have it and rejected it, hence, they shall seek the word of the LORD and shall not find it.

Mike Aubrey said...

I'm somewhat bothered that you wouldn't approve my comment. Especially since I enjoyed your series very much. And while I don't agree with you on everything, I do think you made a number of very excellent points.

I'd be very interested if you'd be willing to write a similar series examining the Doctrine of Providence for the Old Testament. I know that many, including Wallace, have used the text of the OT as evidence against the doctrine. I've always been interested in a response from someone who would know.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Mike.

I did approve of your comment. Instead of posting it, I just made a few adjustments in my post and then gave you a shout out in the comment above. Everyone, this is the Mike that gave me the heads up on something I said in the article!

Could you give me some links to his attacks on providence in the OT. I'd like to read it.

Mike Aubrey said...

Well, Wallace mentions it HERE

The discussion in question is under Point #3 sections c & d.

I'll provide a quote too. Wallace writes,

"It is our contention that majority text advocates follow in Marcion’s train when it comes to their doctrine of preservation because their theological argument does not work for the Old Testament. If our contention is true, then the dogmatic basis for the majority text is bibliologically schizophrenic. The evidence is of two kinds.

First, the argument that the divine motive for preservation is public availability—as poor an argument as it is for the Greek text—is even worse for the Hebrew. Not only is it alleged that “God must do more than merely preserve the inspired original New Testament text. He must preserve it in a public way … through the continuous usage of His Church,”65 but that “down through the ages God’s providential preservation of the New Testament has operated only through believers …”66 But the Hebrew scriptures were neither preserved publicly—on display through the church as it were—nor only through Christians. In light of this, how can majority text advocates escape the charge of Marcionism? In what way can they argue that a bibliological doctrine is true for the NT but is not true for the OT?"

That's a serious charge, one that I've never heard a response to. And the preface to the NKJV makes the claim that 1611 KJV followed the versions rather than the MT, which would seem to confirm Wallace's statements about the text of the OT.

Anyway, I've really wondered about this issue and have spent some time looking for an answer, so if you have any thoughts or comments, I am very, very interested.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for coming back and I'll look at that in more depth.

I did actually write Wallace about the Marcion portion of his article in my original direct dealings with him on his blog, the one that has now disappeared. Only someone in his position could get away with such a bogus claim. For one, I don't even hear the point he's arguing against made by those who believe in preservation. So he throws out preservation because he dominated his own straw man. What I believe and hear from others is that Scripture says that the Bible will be available to every generation of believers.

I will read it in context and sometime deal with it though. I have noticed this about the providence of God, and I have written about it. They separate providence from miracle. This is huge with Critical Text guys.

Thanks again.

Dmitry said...

thank you for these articles.
I am about 7000 miles away from where you are but I couldn't find anything I would disagree with :). Thank you for standing on the truth. Lord bless