Monday, April 02, 2018

Kay Jay Vee Potpourri

Mike Harding writes:
Most of the arguments in the KJVO debate have been adequately answered in the numerous books written by both Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals.  Dr. Bill Combs has written extensive articles in the DBTS journal debunking the false theories of KJV Onlyism.
In the past, I wrote a post debunking the false assertion that Combs has refuted the presuppositions for perfect preservation of scripture, so I'm not going to repeat that -- it's still there to read.  Combs's articles weren't written for people like myself -- it's obvious they were written for his own people with their minds already made up.

Bill Hardecker in a comment section of my last two posts (here & here), wrote:
Conservative evangelicals and historic fundamentalists have no problem standing on the Scriptures alone for their apologetic on the inspiration of the Holy Bible. They got the doctrine of inspiration down pat. Inspiration is recognized, received, yea even canonized. But where may we find their doctrine of preservation? It is virtually non-existent. Many (dare I say all) modern evangelical/fundamental Systematic Theology textbooks contain next to nothing. Differing from systematic theology but nonetheless systematic in their theology, The historic confessions recognizes the preservation of Scriptures. 
I've written many pieces here, making the same point.  They ignore the historic doctrine and the biblical presupposition.  They disregard the absence of a doctrinal statement, which would undergird their position.  The critical or eclectic text position did not proceed from teaching of scripture.  All I've read in dealing with preservation of scripture, as I've pronounced multiple times here, is a criticism of the biblical and historical position.  That's all you're going to get.  You can't find a biblical eclectic or critical text presupposition, because it doesn't exist.

What does it mean that modern textual criticism and its accompanying modern versions deviates from biblical and historical doctrine?  Something that divides from orthodoxy, what is that?  I think folks like myself have been very respectful, too much so probably, to the purveyors and those acceding to this novel and different view from the stream of orthodox doctrine.  Like God in Isaiah 41:21, I say, "Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons," and I get nothing.  Daniel Wallace refers to a journal article that he wrote, one that is now typical, that is full of errors.  I've found that nobody cares.  They are angry when one points them out.

Harding hints at a biblical proof for his position without saying that it is one.  Not only isn't it a proof, but it comes with very serious consequences if one takes his assertion to its completion.  He said:
The fact that the LXX is quoted throughout the NT by the NT authors is proof enough that the KJVO understanding of miraculous, perfect preservation in one line of manuscripts is not biblical. 
This is the only argument I have ever read as an attempt to go to scripture to provide biblical support for a critical or eclectic text position.  I could say, at least its proponents are trying, except that the implications are so very bad (I'll explain briefly, but I have already here and here).  It isn't actually a biblical position, because it's not making a point from biblical teaching or propositional statements, but based upon an assumption that scripture does not make, that is, the New Testament quotes the Septuagint.

One, for more than any other reason, the LXX is by almost everyone's estimation, a corrupt translation.  It doesn't match up with the Hebrew Masoretic.  This would be saying that Jesus quoted a known corrupt Bible and was fine with it.  I've not read any of the proponents deal with the implications of their own argument.  They throw it out as a reactive argument, not the way to do theology, I guess, because either it doesn't matter to them or they haven't thought through its ramifications to a high view of scripture.

Two, we don't have a biblical basis for Jesus' usage of the LXX, because He exclusively follows the divisions of the Hebrew Old Testament, not the LXX (cf. Luke 24:44).

Three, the usage of the Old Testament in the New is not identical to the LXX either.  Very often the usage of Jesus follows the Hebrew Masoretic.

Four, a historical and biblical position with a high view of scripture is the one taken by John Owen in his biblical theology, and men at least need to deal with Owen.   Owen didn't say, like Harding assumes, that the usage of the Old Testament was "fact" and "proof" of authentication of the LXX.

Much more could be said here about Harding's LXX statement, but it's thrown out, as I see it, for people ignorant of what's going on or what it means.  It opens a can of worms that's bigger than what these men think is a KJVO problem.  In other words, it creates a far bigger problem to deal with a perceived problem.

I can't take the time to answer every clueless statement, but I want to answer one as a representation of what I believe.  Someone named Darrell Post writes unchallenged:
Kent not only believes the 'preservation passages' refer to the written copies, he has proposed which copies are the right ones.
Scripture teaches the preservation of words and that's what I believe.  Scripture is written.  That's part of a biblical belief.  A copy is something that is written, so all the words and every one of them are available in copies.  I've never said I believe one perfect copy has made its way through all the way through history.  All those like Post, who do not believe that God preserved every and all of His words in written form, do not believe what God said He would do.  The denial of preservation is an unproven assertion.  The existence of textual variants doesn't prove God didn't do what He said He would do in preservation of scripture.

Regarding a graspable, comprehensible translation, the vernacular argument, Andy Efting asks:  "Regarding the Defined KJV -- doesn't the fact that there is a need for this type of thing prove Mark's point?"  Mark Ward says use many translations for the purpose of understanding.  I don't know if he makes that point in his book, but he's made it multiple times in interviews about the book and articles related to the book.  The Defined King James aids in understanding, and Mark Ward implies or assumes that every translation should be compared with multiple translations.  A Defined King James (read editorial review and consider whether that Bible is doing what Ward says that he wants) seems to be right in the wheelhouse of what Mark Ward wants, definition of terms that alleviate the "false friends" to which Ward refers.

Someone said that Ward's argument for the update of the KJV, to rid it of false friends and archaic words, hasn't been answered.  I have answered it multiple occasions even before Ward made his argument (herehere, and here especially), but also after he wrote the book (here).  I'm not opposed to an update according to certain parameters based upon biblical teaching or principles.   As almost anyone knows, there are already multiple updates already done, which themselves illustrate why it is wrought with so many harmful possibilities (as one example consider the very weird and expensive update called "The Pure Word," which I have a copy and have examined).

I ask, why are critical or eclectic text men so interested in separating men from the King James Version?  They say that they want more people to understand the Bible and these people are losing out.  I have a hard time believing it.  Love wants to believe the best, and I want to, but I also know not to be gullible.  I'm more concerned that these same men don't believe the biblical and historical doctrine of the preservation of scripture.


Anonymous said...

Brother Brandenburg,

You said this:

"I ask, why are critical or eclectic text men so interested in separating men from the King James Version? They say that they want more people to understand the Bible and these people are losing out. I have a hard time believing it."

Exactly. It would be OK to update the KJV if certain things were done. However, the fact that pro-CT guys promote it really, really makes me wonder!

E. T. Chapman

Andy Efting said...

I tried to post a comment on an earlier article in reply to Bill, but I don't see it. Maybe I did something wrong. At any rate, it was a follow up to the same issue I raised that Kent refers to in this post. Basically I think my point stands. There would be no need for a Defined KJV if the KJV was "easy to be understood" per 1 Cor 14:9. The article that Bill referred me to said we can always look up words we don't understand in the dictionary. We can if we know to do so -- which we don't always know. Either way, it seems we are putting an unnecessary obstacle in people's way.

But, Kent, your post here has reminded me that all this was discussed in great detail earlier. Somehow I missed all that.

Kent Brandenburg said...


As much as some have said I've not answered Mark, if someone were to read what I've written, then they would know that I've answered Mark very much. I don't believe Mark answers me, and he doesn't, and even says, because he doesn't care. He says he wants this one thing for Us, since it doesn't apply to him anyway, but we are fine. We think the Defined King James Version does what he says we need...we need, according to Mark Ward, who recommends not using the King James.

This is what I think the real goal of Mark Ward is. He doesn't like the arguing on the King James Version. He doesn't like the "division in fundamentalism," so he is looking for a different path to solution other than discussing textual criticism. This is an attempt to solve it. I don't like his goal, because I don't believe in it. I don't think that everyone ignoring the percentage of differences is good. It ignores historic and biblical theology, what the Bible teaches, what the church has taught about preservation. That has so many more worse things for the churches than the vernacular problem. They can use the Defined King James. Shouldn't Mark be happy? He isn't, I think, because that isn't his goal. I've heard him express that his underlying reasoning is approaching this division in a different way.

Kent Brandenburg said...

E. T.

I agree with you.

Jon Gleason said...

Hi, Kent. Very inactive on the blogosphere these days, but will climb out of my hole for this one.

Is the Scripture sufficient? These men would affirm it is. Does the Scripture give us all we need for life and godliness, that the man of God may be completely equipped? They would say so.

Do the Scriptures say anything at all about how we can know which words are Scripture? Any guidelines, anything that could inform us as we encounter today's situation with multiple translations based on multiple underlying texts? Do the Scriptures say ANYTHING at all?

If they don't, how can we affirm that the Scriptures are sufficient, if they've not helped us in this at all?

If anyone had given me any kind of coherent Bibliology that underpinned a Critical Text position, I might still be CT today. But the CT/Eclectic edifice was built on an apostate Bibliology. There are many who have thrown away its foundation and hold to a much better Bibliology, but they have not connected their Bibliology to the edifice.

For these men, that edifice hangs in the air, supported by nothing except human logic. They can't say that their view of textual criticism is Biblical, taught by Scripture. The best they can say is that Scripture doesn't address it -- but that's a denial of sufficiency.

Mike Harding loves the Lord, I'm sure he does. I've got a lot of respect for him. But if he believes in the sufficiency of Scripture he should be able to support his philosophy of the text with his Bibliology. His view of the text is based on assumptions that can't be supported by Scripture, assumptions that the shortest reading is to be preferred (where do we get that in Scripture?), that the most difficult reading is to be preferred (a completely extra-biblical idea), assumptions that early believers were all careless in their copying of Scripture (extra-biblical), etc. Does he accept those assumptions? I don't know, but he's using a translation that is the fruit of those assumptions. How about starting with Scripture rather than starting with adaptations of Griesbach's and Hort's theories?

Darrell Post says that the Scriptures have nothing at all to say about this question. He even denies that the Scriptures command us to be careful with the words of Scripture. He knows a lot about modern theories of textual criticism and manuscripts but he's never connected his theology to his theories. There are no Biblical principles at all that shed any light on this question, according to him. He's quite militant about something that he says the Scriptures simply do not address. Nice to be so sure, I guess.

Where's the Bibliology that underpins the CT position? Where are the Biblical teachings that guide us? Is the Scripture sufficient or not? They don't like the way you've applied theology, but at least you've TRIED.

They might actually get back to the Bible, start there, and see if their edifice can be built on it. If not, maybe they need to stop being so absolutely cocksure about that edifice. If Scripture didn't teach what they are saying, then just maybe they are wrong. Even if they think your edifice is wrong, even if they think one or two of the walls are crooked and the floor tilts, they haven't actually built a better one. Their edifice was built by Hort on quicksand and they've discarded the quicksand, so they have it floating in the air without any Scriptural support at all.

I'll wander back to my cave now.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I agree with everything you're saying. It's refreshing. I think there are others all over the UK that think the same way, and they think the same way. We're going to be in the UK this summer, and likely go to your church. I hadn't told you because we hadn't sealed when and where we would have been yet, but in early June on a Sunday there. We are staying in Edinburgh a few days, renting a car to drive up.

I agree about Mike Harding. I love him in so many ways. Many. I believe that people know you're right. They know. IMO, it's why they are so angry about this. Again, IMO, it's conviction. They know they are hanging in the air. I get no answers, as don't you, to what I'm writing. I think we have influenced some people to believe the Bible though.

Bill Hardecker said...

Pastor Brandenburg,
Would you please post your discussions with Mark Ward on the sidebar of your blog under "Posts on the Preservation of Scripture"? Just asking. FWIW.

Andy Efting said...

FWIW, I don’t think Jon is right with his sufficiency argument. I’m not convicted at all after reading TSKT or any of your arguments on your blog. I don’t feel like I’m hanging in the air and I’m not mad. I’m passionate because I think the KJVO movement, as a whole, makes it harder for the average person to know the Bible by its insistence on using a non-vernacular translation. But I’m not mad.

I believe in the sufficiency of the Bible and if the Bible does not teach perfect preservation – and it doesn’t – then I am content and confident on what the Bible does teach because it says I have everything I need for life and godliness.

I appreciate a lot of what you guys stand for. That’s why I read your blog. But on this topic, we part ways, unfortunately.

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks, Kent. Will be really nice to meet you, I'll look forward to that very much.

Some of that anger you mention comes due to conflation, identifying you with Ruckman and/or Riplinger. I can understand, in that some of the things R&R have said make me angry, too.

It's not fair, they shouldn't conflate you or me with those people, but it happens. But it's really unlikely to damage my ministry, much less impact my eternal reward, if they make that mistake. So the only thing likely to be damaged is my pride (I'll survive) and their knowledge of me (they'll survive).

But I think you are on to something. They may not realise that they are accepting apostates' theories and terms of discussion (like "text types", an 18th century idea from a German rationalist), but they do know they aren't using Scripture. That can't be comfortable for those who are serious about Scripture, as many of these men are.

Last comment: If anyone has explained how starting with an orthodox Bibliology leads to a Critical Text position, I've never seen it. I've seen sniping / criticism of how others have tried to apply orthodox Bibliology to this question, but nothing ever that says, "I'm Critical Text because sound application of true Biblical doctrine leads me to that position, and here's why."

Will be great to see you in June.

Anonymous said...

" I think we have influenced some people to believe the Bible though."

Yes, you have. I left one church over this issue. It was so discouraging. My current pastor and I have both greatly profited from books and article by you and Mr. Gleason. Thank you so much.
Please keep sounding the alarm.

Mr. Gleason, I would really like to hear how Mike Harding or others who hold his position would respond to your sufficiency argument as outlined above.


Jon Gleason said...

So would I, Chris. Andy said above he doesn't think my sufficiency argument is right, but he hasn't answered it, he's just said it is wrong.

1. Does the Scriptures give us any principles that help us know how we can recognise the true words of Scripture?
2. If it doesn't, how can we say it is sufficient?
3. If it does, what are the Biblical doctrines/principles that lead us to a Critical Text position?

I would love to see a serious, substantive response, from Andy or Mike Harding or anyone else, rather than merely, "You've got it wrong." I'd be a lot happier, even if we didn't end up seeing it the same way, if I could at least respect them for trying to derive their position from Scripture.

Andy Efting said...

I’ve interacted with Kent more than you on this issue, so I don’t know if you and he view things exactly the same way. I’m going to respond to you as though you do.

My understanding of your position is that God has preserved all of the true text of Scripture within the TR family of manuscripts. There are differences within those manuscripts and so someone has to do some sort of textual criticism to determine the original text.

My position is that God has preserved *all* of the true text of Scripture within the extant manuscript evidence. There are differences within those manuscripts and so someone has to do some sort of textual criticism to determine the original text from that larger pool.
I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that teaches directly or indirectly that your position is correct. Since I do believe that the Bible is sufficient to supply me with everything I need for life and godliness, I don’t see any Biblical reason to restrict the pool of manuscripts from which I would determine the original text.

Regarding “all” that I have highlighted above, here is what I have in my personal doctrinal statement regarding preservation:

1.DEFINITION – Preservation is the providential safeguarding of Scripture.
2.EXPECTATION – The Bible gives its readers an expectation of some level of preservation of its contents (Isa 30:8-9, “write it . . . that it may be for the time to come,” including essential doctrines so that a godly remnant might be maintained (Isa 59:20-21, “my words…shall not depart…out of the mouth of your offspring”). Verses such as Psalm 119:152 (“testimonies that you have founded them forever”) and Psalm 119:160 (“every one of your righteous rules endures forever”) teach the enduring nature of scriptural truth and its everlasting faithfulness and dependability. It is possible, though, since the context of these verses is the written word of God, that these verses also teach God’s promise to physically preserve his inspired word for all time. While there is, therefore, an expectation, if not an outright promise, that God will preserve his word, the Bible does not indicate that it will be done miraculously and inerrantly as it does with the doctrine of inspiration, nor does it specify any details regarding the extent or method of its preservation. Counterclaims, using such verses as Ps 12:6-7 (“thou shalt preserve them”) to teach perfect verbal plenary preservation are based on faulty exegesis. Thus believers should expect God to providentially preserve his word (God working indirectly through natural means) rather than miraculously as he did with the inspiration of scripture.
3.STATE – The OT scriptures were copied by the Masoretics using great care and a painstaking error detection methodology. The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls and comparisons to Greek (Septuagint) and other ancient translations have all confirmed the work of the Masoretics and the remarkable reliability of the OT text. On the NT side, we have nearly 6000 extant Greek manuscripts from various geographic locations, along with other translations and quotation from church fathers, all of which provides a consistent testimony to reliability of the NT text as well. While all of these extant manuscripts contain errors, the variants are almost without exception very minor and none impact any critical doctrine.
4.CONCLUSION – The God who gave the Scriptures has exercised a remarkable care in the transmission of his Word so that it has been preserved through all ages in a state of “essential purity.” He has seen fit to preserve his Word within a great number of extant manuscripts; although none of these manuscripts are exactly the same, it is possible in the vast majority of cases to determine with near certainty, using a proper method of textual criticism, the exact words of the original autographs.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thomas Ross has done a good job of representing exactly what I and our church believes. We also have established that this is the historic position of the church. There is none other that I have read.

You can read it here:

Kent Brandenburg said...

We have a book, Thou shalt keep them, that represents a Biblical theology of the preservation of scripture. I also have written many articles here from which someone could glean our exact position without misrepresenting it.

Andy, I would be interested in someone showing how that the position is unscriptural. I also would like to see a historic defense of biblical presuppositions behind the critical text position.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I await Jon Gleason's answer to what Andy has written. I know you are all busy.

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks, Andy. I'm going to respond in more than one comment. I hope you and Kent don't mind.

First, as to where I stand relative to Kent. I doubt any two thinking people view any broad or deep topic in exactly the same way. I've not written as extensively as Kent on preservation. We have a different view of Psalm 12, though it doesn't lead to a different understanding on preservation. He sees that passage as explicitly teaching preservation, I see it as implicitly teaching it. We both believe the Scriptures clearly teach preservation.

My blog has been silent for some time, but I have spent some time on this. This article deals with Psalm 12. Near its top are links to articles on some other aspects of Bibliology, and beneath those, there are five links to other articles on preservation. This link ( takes you to kind of an index page with some of my articles on textual criticism.

I'd say my approach is quite different from Kent's, and certainly my background is. I learned textual criticism from Harry Sturz, the same man who taught Daniel Wallace. Neither of us adopted Sturz' views, but we certainly share an immense respect for that man.

That, I hope, gives you enough, if you bother to read a few of those articles, to get a feel for how much I am like and yet not like Kent. :) We did interact on one of my articles on inspiration (and Warfield's redefinition of the word) a few years ago.

More to come...

Andy Efting said...

I'm not expecting Jon to have to reply. I was just trying to explain how I can believe in sufficiency and take the position that I do. I know you guys don't agree.

Jon Gleason said...

To Andy, part two, your view on preservation and the miraculous / providential question.

First, there's much here on which we can agree. You've gone to the Scriptures. You've got the essence of preservation: the message must and will be preserved.

Second, there is no doubt the Scriptures describe both miraculous and providential preservation. Kings were to write out a copy of the Law, no hint that it was miraculous. The Proverbs of Solomon were copied by Hezekiah's men -- a providential process, perhaps, but guaranteed in this case to be perfect, so perhaps also miraculous. Jeremiah and Baruch were able to completely reproduce a book Jehoiakim destroyed, that's almost certainly miraculous. A second table of stones was written by the finger of God.

So I won't agree to exclude miraculous preservation. The Scripture neither requires nor excludes it. My conclusion is God has used whatever means He saw fit to preserve His Word. I also think the means is a rabbit trail. God can perfectly preserve every word by providential or miraculous means, either one.

But I will readily concede the point that the Scriptures do not say God would "miraculously" preserve every word. Nor do I think anything in history or the manuscript evidence would lead us to conclude that He has. The Scripture gives examples of providential preservation. As a cessationist that is what I would primarily expect, and that also is the way the manuscripts point. The fact that we don't have a bunch of perfect manuscripts, and the fact that there is no spiritual gift of Bible transcriber nor any gift listed that approximates it, puts this mostly and perhaps exclusively in the realm of providence.

None of that in the least invalidates a perfect preservation position. It just means that if God perfectly preserved, He did so through providential means, using imperfect copyists and imperfect manuscripts, but providentially causing the ultimate retention of the true words of God.

More to come....

Jon Gleason said...

To Andy, third response. I'm not going to recreate everything I've written on my blog, but I'll say a few things here about perfect preservation.

Is Scripture perfectly preserved? I think we can safely conclude that the first few words of Psalm 82:6 are perfectly preserved. I think we can also safely conclude that the Lord Jesus and Paul spoke as if they were using an Old Testament that could be trusted in its very words and their preservation when they constructed arguments out of a single word, in Paul's case out of plural vs singular. There was no doubt expressed as to the certainty of those very words. I think we can also say they were modeling for us the principle that we also should be able to teach the very words of Scripture as if the very words are inspired and preserved.

The biggest problem I have with your statement is that it is out of tune with the whole tone of Scripture on the subject. Everything you read in Scripture is certainties about the Word of God. Paul said to Timothy that he had known from a child the Holy Scriptures. He didn't say "a 99.9% accurate version". It's all certainty. Peter said, "We have a more sure word of prophecy." There's just not any doubt that they HAD it. There's no, "It's in the manuscripts somewhere." It is all, "It is written."

Your statement, and the modern statements that have come out since Warfield and Hort, does not reflect the certainty that is expressed in the New Testament.

Now, I'm going to make another concession here. That is that many of the preservation texts COULD be interpreted with the interpretation that you, and Aaron Blumer, and Dr. Combs, and most modern writers, have put on them. Many of them, in isolation, could mean exactly that -- it's the word (message) being preserved, not the words (explicit). But when you begin to put them all together, and you see the absolute certainty that is expressed in the NT about the very words of the OT, when you see the strong emphasis placed on the very words of both the Old and New, when Jesus Himself said, "The words that I speak unto you," when He said to the Father, "I have given unto them the words...", it collapses. Why such an emphasis on the words if we can't trust that we have them? The logic of verbal inspiration, the tone of certainty, the implicit and explicit statements, the emphasis on the very words, these all point in the same direction.

Do I see difficulties with perfect preservation? Of course. But if I start with Scripture and say, "What does the Scripture teach?" the case for perfect preservation is compelling. And so I arrive at the conclusion that the Scriptures are true, and that where I see difficulties, there's an answer even if I don't see it today. For me, that's comparable to believers, 200 years ago, saying, "I believe there was a King Belshazzar in Babylon, because the Bible says so, even if I don't know how that fits with the history." Those believers were right to believe the Bible, as we now know.

More to come....

Jon Gleason said...

To Andy, one more.

You said, " is possible in the vast majority of cases to determine with near certainty, using a proper method of textual criticism, the exact words of the original autographs."

Here's what I was after. Even if you were right about preservation (which I don't accept), you haven't given a shred of a Biblical rationale for what "a proper method" is.

Is it "proper" to assume we have better evidence now than Jerome had when he included the Pericope in his version of John 8? Why? What Scriptural principle drives that?

Can we assume we care more about the text than early believers did, because they didn't view the NT writings as Scripture? Why? What Scriptural principle drives us to that conclusion? Doesn't Scripture teach us that they DID see the NT writings as Scripture? Did you know that today's "proper method" is built on that assumption?

Can we assume that the shortest reading is to be preferred, because devout scribes would add or conflate? What in Scripture leads to this conclusion? Doesn't it teach differently, that those who are devout won't add? What in Scripture teaches us that the most difficult reading is to be preferred?

Today's textual criticism is "an art" as well as a science, many decisions are subjective. Why do we bring fools (as Biblically defined, people who do not fear the Lord) into our counsels? What in Scripture makes us expect God to use the subjective judgments of apostates to let us know which words are truly His?

I did not intend to suggest that you or others have not engaged with the doctrine of preservation. I know many have. You've done so here and I'm glad, and I agree with much of your view.

I DID intend to suggest that the modern construct of "a proper method" of textual criticism has absolutely no Scriptural basis. The Scripture gives us absolutely no reason to accept the underpinnings or outcome of what is today known as a proper method.

If someone would start with Scripture and use it to define a Biblically based proper method, there would be reasons for us to consider their method.

Instead, what we're being offered is something constructed by Griesbach, popularised by Hort, without a shred of Biblical support for it. It's only a proper method because apostates have said so, not because anyone can point to Scriptures that say so. The only authority is Scripture. I don't have to follow Hort or Griesbach, or for that matter Metzger or Wallace, on what is a proper method. What possible reason is there for me to accept today's "proper method"? The only one I can think of is that "everybody says so" (but not everybody who says so actually agrees, either). It's not compelling.

Some of Hort's theories have been discarded, but it was Bruce Metzger who said his work underpins all of modern textual criticism. To which I say, then modern textual criticism with all of its canons and assumptions is not worth the paper on which it is written and does not deserve to be called a proper method.

And so, we come back to sufficiency. If the Scripture is sufficient, it should say something about how we can know which words are God's. You've not accepted Kent's exegesis (and presumably not mine, either) on some of these passages, and that's fair enough. We're human, too. But what can you give us in its place to help us know how to identify which words we should believe? It needs to be more compelling than "everybody says" or "underpinned by Hort".

Andy Efting said...

Thanks, Jon, for taking the time to respond so thoroughly to me. For what it is worth, even though we don't agree on this topic, I have appreciated your blog and much of what you have written and stood for over the years. I appreciate your testimony and your heart of ministry.

I'd like to just say a few more things in response but I can't right now. I have to prepare for SS tomorrow and do some family things. Perhaps later...

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks, Andy, the appreciation is mutual. I'm glad you prioritise real face-to-face ministry over online discussion, no matter how important the online topic may be.

Gary Webb said...

Andy said: "It is possible, though, since the context of these verses is the written word of God, that these verses also teach God’s promise to physically preserve his inspired word for all time. While there is, therefore, an expectation, if not an outright promise, that God will preserve his word, the Bible does not indicate that it will be done miraculously and inerrantly as it does with the doctrine of inspiration, nor does it specify any details regarding the extent or method of its preservation."

These statements are a direct contradiction of the specific statement by Jesus in Matthew 5:18 about the very letters of the Hebrew text (not the LXX, by the way), as well as Jesus' clear statement about the wordS in Revelation 22:18-19.

My response to that is Isaiah 8:20.

Andy Efting said...

Thanks for your understanding. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to respond as thoroughly to your questions/comments as I would like. These discussions get detailed and long very quickly. So if you don’t mind I’ll just make a few comments to try to explain my position.

First, regarding preservation by providence or miracle, I don’t have any real issue with what you are saying. The distinction in my mind is between an act that seems to overrule the normal laws of nature and that which seems to within in the normal laws of nature. I don’t know if that is the best distinction or not but in both cases it is God working supernaturally to accomplish his purposes.

Second, I care deeply about the words of scripture. I believe in the vast majority of places, those words are perfectly preserved and we can have absolute certainty regarding them. In the places where I see uncertainty, there is little doubt as to what the options are. In the vast majority of those cases, the differences are of no consequence. It’s not done, yet, but Mark Ward is working on a site that helps show the real differences between the TR and the CT: Just scroll through there and you’ll see. What’s left are a few places where there is any significant impact if you prefer one text to the other. There are some to be sure, but, if we are going to be honest, there is way more uncertainly due to difficulty in our interpretation/understanding of a passage than there is due to uncertainty in the underlying text. It is because I care about the very wording of a passages that I am CT. I view that approach to TC as the very best way to get the most accurate Greek text we possibly can. Does that leave me with come uncertainty? Yeah, there are some place where I’m not completely sure which reading is correct. Just like there are many more places where I’m not sure of the exact interpretation. Nor do I see God promising me that I can have perfect certainty regarding every single word – I have carefully considered the so-called preservation texts and I just cannot agree. But honestly, I am completely confident in the Bible I hold in my hands. I make points in my messages on the very words of the Bible and don’t have any qualms in doing so. But I’m also going to be honest with my audience if there are places of uncertainty in my interpretation or in the text.

Just an example of the above, I was teaching through Judges 1 this past Sunday. In Judges 1:28, it says that Israel put the Canaanites to “forced labor” (ESV) or “tribute” (KJV). This is a translation issue not a textual issue, and I think the ESV is probably right, but gave both options as possibilities. Either way, the point of the passage is the same in regard to Israel’s disobedience. If they could put them to “force labor” or “tribute” they could have driven them out completely. I just think that is being a responsible teacher.

Finally, you say, “If the Scripture is sufficient, it should say something about how we can know which words are God's. I don’t know, how about, “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Or “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” On one hand I would say that Scripture doesn’t have anything to say about textual criticism. On the other, maybe someone could cobble together some principles like these, since I view textual criticism as mostly making wise and common sense decisions about how copying errors enter into a text. I probably haven’t answered this to your satisfaction but I’m out of steam….

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks, Andy.

1. I agree, translation/interpretation differences can be more important than textual ones. We need all three: text, translation, interpretation. Any deviations obscure truth. But the existence of bigger errors doesn't make smaller errors unimportant, either.

2. Re: last paragraph. Not entirely satisfactory :), but more than I've ever seen from anyone on the Critical Text side of things. Thank you. The verses you cited are relevant.

2.a) A multitude of counselors. A multitude through the centuries attested the text. They accepted and rejected words, perhaps in some cases consciously, perhaps in others guided by providence. These people attested to what they believed was the true text. They are implicit witnesses to God's providential preservation. They overwhelmingly testified to John 5, John 8, Mark 16, and others.

Their counsel, accepted for centuries, was rejected by Hort, using an unbiblical view of the Canon to attack their credibility. Modern theories follow him and reject their counsel, concluding repeatedly that these thousands of witnesses were wrong. They instead follow people we would never let teach in our churches, whose counsel on God's Word I can't value. Jesus' sheep know His voice and for them, His words are life -- for wolves, His words are at best an academic matter. In knowing which words are His voice, the sheep are more credible than the wolves. A multitude of counselors, yes, but we are not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly.

2.b. Answering a matter before hearing. Of course. This deserves a careful and honest hearing, starting with Scripture, and looking at the theological underpinnings of the different views.

For those who believe in preservation, they must scrutinise what the Scriptures really say, and whether the doctrine really implies their conclusions. If they haven't done so, they answer a matter before they've heard it.

Those who accept the CT should read Hort's Introduction and ask themselves of his doctrine, and whether this foundational document of modern theory is built on the sand. They should ask as to Scriptural support for (or problems with) the canons of modern Textual Criticism. If they haven't, they answer a matter before they've heard it. Many pastors and seminary professors, even some who teach NTTC, stand accused here.

They don't know how Hort's view of the Canon underpins modern theory. They haven't tried to find a better, more Biblical basis for those theories, or asked whether they should be discarded.

For them, "text types" are a certainty. They never ask if this is a late extra-Biblical invention to undercut the testimony of centuries of believers, or if there is any Biblical reason to view manuscripts through a "text type" lens. They answer a matter without hearing in just accepting the "text type" view of the manuscripts.

They don't question the assumption that the true text (in some passages) was hidden for 1500 years. They don't ask if there are theological implications to the idea that our Lord never gave the true text to His people through 15 centuries, when men like Tyndale were dying for His Word. In the Bible, once a reformation began (under Josiah), the Book was found, in the Temple. In this theory, it took centuries after a reformation began, and the Book was found in the Vatican and the "Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mt Sinai." I've not seen a CT advocate address this. That's a matter I wish they'd hear before answering.

And so on.... Yes, we agree, people should not answer a matter before they've heard it.

Thank you again, Andy, for at least beginning to interact with the substance of the question. Most won't, and I really do appreciate it. I doubt I'll respond again unless you or someone else specifically asks me to, but I certainly will read anything you add.

Larry said...

I have raised this before and Kent still has no answer for it. I understand why and he understands why. It doesn't exist. He can't answer is without undermining his position. Jon faces the same problem. Here it is: Even if we grant all the exegesis for the perfect preservation position, the Bible does not tell us which set of words is that perfectly preserved set. Therefore, the position abandons the sufficiency and authority of Scripture and institutes another authority, a nebulous authority. To say that the church (however one defines that) has always accepted a particular set of words is simply historically unprovable at best. There is a strong argument that it is incorrect.

That, in and of itself, should end the discussion, and it does for most. I think this is one reason why the position that Kent advocates is not held by many who have given much thought to this. It cannot be sustained from the Scripture. At some point, it crosses the line of false teaching because it teaches something false, even if well-intended.

The better position is to embrace the scriptural teaching on preservation (that God does preserve his word) and embrace that he has apparently done that in the multitude of manuscripts (which would be expected based on Scripture and seems to be what God has actually done). The Bible does not teach there is "one set of words" that is the

Is there argument for a CT position from Scripture? Yes, if we look at Scripture itself. The OT use in the NT is varied from direct MT quotes to LXX quotes to paraphrases or translations of texts we don't have. In other words, the NT cites the OT as if the CT argument is correct. The NT quotations of the OT undermine the perfect preservation argument. That too should end the discussion. Unfortunately it doesn't, which again, shows the issue of authority. It isn't really what the Bible says or teaches. We know that because the Bible doesn't say or teach that this particular set of words is the perfectly preserved text. So when someone says something is the perfectly preserved set of words, you know they have abandoned biblical authority.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Hi Larry,

I think I’m an open minded person. I’ve changed on quite a few things in my lifetime and as I’ve preached through every verse of the Bible at this point, scripture has altered the belief and practice even of our whole church. When I evangelize, I’m open to change even at a door, if I can have evidence. With all that being said, I don’t see critical text people such as yourself as open minded. Your position isn’t biblical or historical. I’d like to hear an explanation for how that the church had apostatized on this position for hundreds of years until those surrendered to biblical authority were persuaded by scripture of your position in the middle to late 19th century. I would enjoy that read. It would be helpful to me with my open mind.

I’ve answered everything given to me on this issue. We haven’t written the second volume of Thou Shalt Keep Them and we should in order to answer the applications of the biblical and historical position, but that’s where folks such as yourself want the argument, rather than dealing with what scripture says. I have also answered what you have written here. I have a whole chapter answering the question, and it is the canonicity argument, if you read that chapter and the many posts on it. The application of scriptural doctrine occurs in the real world. God prophesies Cyrus and you go outside the Bible to find Cyrus. You do the same with Antiochus Epiphanes. You yourself do the same thing with the canon, because there is. no. passage. of. scripture. that says there will be 66 books. So why do you believe that, Larry?
What you’re advocating for, a verse that tells what the exact words of scripture are, and if I don’t have that, well, you can take about whatever view you want from the seat of your pants, seems just crazy to me. I think, he can’t be serious. You don’t really deal with biblical arguments, but you bring that. A verse that would tell what every word in the Bible is would be as long as the entire Bible. That isn’t a biblical teaching that anyone should hope for, but instead should treat this issue like many other biblical, doctrinal ones.

The discussion shouldn’t end with your point about there not being a verse (or passage) that tells what the exact words of the Bible are. I don’t think that’s the clincher for almost anyone. We should, however, expect what God says in His Word about its own preservation. We should assume it to be true, like we assume we continue to be justified by faith, because He said so, and that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, because He said so. That’s how we live as Christians – by faith. Something the Bible says is not false teaching. False teaching proceeds from doubt because of our own lying eyes, that contradicts what the Bible says, like modern textual criticism.

Kent Brandenburg said...


You suggest “to embrace” “the better position,” which is “that [God] has apparently [preserved his word] in the multitude of manuscripts” and “seems to be what God has actually done.” “Apparently” and “seems” is not how scripture reads about preservation. You say that “the Bible does not teach there is “one set of words.” Wow. It actually does say that. It doesn’t say those exact words, so that’s a strawman, but the teaching itself, yes, it does say that. What’s the alternative to “one set of words”? Two sets of words or five or ten. The Bible teaches against that in the way that it teaches many doctrines including the doctrine of preservation.

You say that the argument for the CT is “the LXX” argument. Jobes and Silva in their Invitation to the Septuagint (2001) write: “Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as the Septuagint. This may seem like an odd statement in a book entitled Invitation to the Septuagint, but unless the reader appreciates the fluidity and ambiguity of the term, he or she will quickly become confused by the literature . . . . The term Septuagint, which has been used in a confusing variety of ways, gives the inaccurate impression that this document is a homogeneous unit." There was no “the Septuagint from which to quote that anyone knows of, and that argument isn’t taught in scripture. When Jesus referred to the Old Testament, he used the Hebrew divisions, not Greek ones. It’s also not a historic argument, which John Owen lays out in his biblical theology. His position reflects a high view of scripture. You see that position mentioned in Jobes and Silva’s, Invitation to the Septuagint (2001). They write: “We need to remember that the scribes who copied the surviving manuscripts of the LXX were by and large Christians who would have been familiar with the NT writings. When, in the process of producing a Greek OT manuscript, they came to a passage that was quoted in the NT, they sometimes adjusted the text, either inadvertently (because of their memory of the NT form) or purposefully (because they assumed the NT was correct).”
I see the modern LXX argument as more of an attack on scripture, because it says that Jesus quoted from a corrupt text. That clashes with everything else the Bible says about itself.

If someone believes there are perfectly preserved words, he is relying on what scripture says. You can’t take away or add to something that isn’t settled. This is what the church has and had believed for centuries. Your position, that the text needs to be restored, and that it was lost for centuries, that will still don’t know what the words are or that we have them available -- that’s the one that is outside of biblical authority.

Larry said...

Kent, I can't help but notice you (again) wrote a lot and didn't say much about the actual issue. I don't view it as "open-minded" or close-minded. I am willing to entertain the argument. I think there is a good case to be made for one of the Majority Text views. For me, it is a matter of authority.

The canonicity argument isn't really the same argument for a number of obvious reasons, not the least of which is books are not the same as sets of words.

I have dealt with all the biblical arguments. I find your take on them to be wanting, to be a form of special pleading. I know you disagree, but again, I remind you that you can't prove your point from Scripture.

I think we should absolutely expect what God says in his word about preservation. But that is to beg the question. You think it says something, but what you think it says (1) isn't required by Scripture and (2) doesn't match what God actually did. So your options seem to be that either God said one thing and did another or you are wrong about what God said. To me, that's a pretty easy choice.

I say "seems" and "apparently" because I don't have revelation on it. You don't either, but you don't seem to hold your conclusion in proper relation to what God has revealed. You are very dogmatic, but being dogmatic and being correct are not the same thing.

Your LXX argument is essentially the same as the Received Text argument. There is no such thing as the "Received Text" if by that we mean a historically traceable set of words that was always the same and never in dispute. It just doesn't exist. The current iteration of a Received Text is a restored text. The main difference is the method of restoratio--the method of textual criticism used to restore it. Whether we like it or not, there are the multitude of manuscripts that have to be dealt with.

At the end of the day, we have to draw conclusions based on what the text says and what God has done.

The alternative to "one set of words" is not confusing. It is the multitude of manuscripts which we have because God preserved them. So to set God's work of preservation as being in opposition to what actually exists by virtue of God's preservation is a difficult argument to make.

Nonetheless, the question remains unanswered. Even if we grant your argument on the exegesis of the preservation texts, it still doesn't inescapably get us where you are. And that is a major problem in your position. You are dogmatic without sufficient authority.

Jon Gleason said...

Hi, Larry. There's a lot to be said here. Whether I will respond to it all I don't know, but I'll do a little.

You said the way the NT cites the OT undermine the perfect preservation argument, and that should end the discussion.

It's a basic axiom of logic and evidence, that if there can reasonably be more than one way of the evidence having come into existence, it doesn't prove either of those ways. Kent has provided a perfectly reasonable explanation for the "LXX quotes" that appear in the NT, and one that modern textual scholars approve when applying to parallel NT texts. If you reject his explanation of the LXX/NT parallels, you also reject the CT explanation of many variant readings. You are kind of between a rock and a hard place here if you want to use the LXX to support a CT view.

But it's not only that. Some of those OT citations may not be OT citations at all. They might be citations of oral tradition, as in Jude's citation of Enoch. Since I accept the absolute truth of Scripture, I am certain that Enoch said what Jude cited him as saying, but it isn't a citation of Scripture.

Matthew's mention of Jeremiah may be another example, that Jeremiah said it first, Zechariah wrote it later, and Matthew cited the original. There are other ways we could understand Matthew 27:9-10. At the very least that passage should give us pause in assuming we're seeing evidence in the NT of a confused textual position for the OT.

What we are actually seeing is that ancient writers weren't bound by modern academic ideas of what is proper citation protocols. And in some cases, we're just seeing evidence of the manifest truth that there can be more than one way to translate a text, and that in some cases a translation was used to bring out those aspects of the original text which are particularly appropriate to the context and current message.

None of that forces a conclusion that the status of the true OT text was uncertain or confused. But even if it did, it's a further massive leap to get from that conclusion to the conclusion that the CT methodology for resolving an uncertain/confused text is the right one.

You may not like Kent's or my approach to the issue, but you haven't given us any Scriptural basis to accept the CT approach. It rests only on the theories of men, and not men I'd like to follow.

Jon Gleason said...

And one more. Having to break up my responses because long responses aren't allowed on this platform. :)

Larry, you said this: "Even if we grant all the exegesis for the perfect preservation position, the Bible does not tell us which set of words is that perfectly preserved set. Therefore, the position abandons the sufficiency and authority of Scripture and institutes another authority, a nebulous authority. To say that the church (however one defines that) has always accepted a particular set of words is simply historically unprovable at best."

I'd like to restate your argument, numbering the key points:
1. There are disputed readings.
2. The Bible doesn't tell us which of those to accept.
3. Kent has argued that a general consensus of true believers through history is God's way of letting us know which to accept.
4. There is no clear consensus we can trust, at least not in every case.
5. Because of #2 and #4, we don't have any clear way to know what the perfectly preserved text is, and that calls into question Kent's exegesis that there is a perfectly preserved text.
6. Even if we accept that exegesis, it means that there's no authority for Kent's conclusions as to what that perfectly preserved text is.

I've used Kent's name because you are addressing him primarily but you'd apply it to me as well. Is that a fair representation of your argument? I'd like to respond, Lord willing, after you've affirmed or clarified if I've got it wrong.

Bill Hardecker said...

The current Majority Text is provisional meaning unsettled (imagine centuries of Christian ministry operating without a settled text - mind you, under these assumptions, we may never see one even in our lifetime; whatever happened to God keeping His word pure in all the ages?). It calls into question Biblical words, phrases, and verses (not to mention that historical church documents utilizing traditional text readings are also affected). No thank you, despite its acceptance by Pickering, Van Bruggen, and Jay Green.

The Bible teaches us how the words were received by the Lord's churches: you have apostles warning churches about false letters; believers were circulating divinely inspired writings as instructed and that they are to be read among the churches. You have "holy men" authenticating the O.T. and N.T. (in the case of our Lord Jesus, He authenticated the O.T. and "pre-authenticated" the N.T. (cf. Jn. 14:26). From this we can assume that copies were made for circulation and public reading and collated with apostolic supervision until the close of the canon around 96 A.D. There was no discussion of what books should be in the canon until the Gnostic heretic Marcion's mess in A.D. 160.

Besides the Greek manuscripts, there are authentic and early lectionaries, quotations, and ancient versions (which Burgon utilized to defend the Biblical verses and sections that were called into question during his lifetime) each one contributing to the formation of the Traditional texts as we have them even today.

Is the Bible reliable? Is it authoritative? How can it be if you don't have a settled text?