Sunday, April 07, 2019

Kent Brandenburg and Frank Turk Debate on the Preservation of Scripture -- Part Four

Introduction to the Debate    Part One   Part Two   Part Three

by Kent Brandenburg

Answer to Q3

We need to get this settled immediately, even though it's the actual affirmation of this debate, what I have written everywhere, and in the first question I asked—I believe that every Word of God is preserved in the languages in which they were written. Worded another way: I don't believe that preservation of Scripture comes through a translation. A translation at best can accurately represent Greek and Hebrew words; it isn't those words though. Since we do have translation occurring in the NT by Jesus and the Apostles, we know that translation is God's will and can sufficiently communicate God's Word, but it isn't what God preserved.

You are correct that Turretin is speaking about translations in your quotes—I agree with him. Translations are not equal to preservation because they are not the words that God gave. They are a human effort. God doesn't ever promise a perfect translation. Turretin, like me, believes that preservation occurs in the original languages because that is what Scripture teaches. This is where Mr. Turk would do well first to study what the Bible says about its own preservation and then enter into a debate with set Scriptural presuppositions. God inspired Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words. He didn't breathe out English words. He promised that "jots" and "tittles" would not pass from the law (Matthew 5:18). Those were Hebrew letters—the jot is the smallest consonant in the Hebrew alphabet and the tittle (keraia) is the vowel point according to Gill and Owen. God promises to preserve the letters and words that He actually gave. You cannot defend an English preservationist view using Scripture. You can defend that God preserved the actual Words He inerrantly revealed to mankind in His Holy Word. I can hold up a translation and confidently say, "This is the Word of God," but it does not Scripturally represent the doctrine of preservation.

Comments for A3

Mr. Turk writes: "Kent wants to imply that unless all the words are present, none of the words are validly considered God's word." In my answer to his question #2, I write: "Neither the KJ translators, nor many others, would say that a translation in the places where it is faulty is the Word of God." I already implied that any translation is the Word of God where it accurately translates the preserved original language text.

Mr. Turk's "11 Greek words" versus "24 English words" illustrate the above point exactly. With a translation, we get as close as possible to the meaning of the original words in a formal equivalence, so we regularly use more words in the receptor language.

The nature of the word "preservation" says something was originally there that was kept intact. God didn't start with Spanish or Latin or English. Something had to be there first before it could be kept. Mr. Turk says that God kept ideas and concepts and no sweat on exact wording. That doesn't jive with Scripture.

Mr. Turk is right that it is ludicrous to abandon a translation because it has more words in it than the original text. However, we should abandon a text that has different words than what God has preserved. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, we know that impostor text was being offered up as genuine Scripture. Revelation 22:18-19 warns very seriously about adding or taking away from the Words of the book—not the ideas or the concepts, but the Words.

Mr. Turk writes—"even if the words of the Greek and Hebrew were not perfectly handled." Copyists made errors but that does not nullify Divine preservation. A good explanation of how a pure Word was maintained is written in 1658 by puritan Richard Capel:
[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings in any matter which may stumble any. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . As God committed the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to the Jewes, and did and doth move their hearts to keep it untainted to this day: So I dare lay it on the same God, that he in his providence is so with the Church of the Gentiles, that they have and do preserve the Greek Text uncorrupt, and clear: As for some scrapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, than to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scrapes in the printing, and ‘tis certain, that what mistake is in one print, is corrected in another.
This represents the historic position of NT Christianity on the doctrine of preservation, simply fleshing out what Scripture says on this doctrine but sharp contrasting with Mr. Turk's neo-orthodox conceptual Word of God. Neither does it fit with this monologue (John MacArthur on Matthew 24:35):
That's a convenient view. The idea that there's some idea, concept, religious notion there that may or may not be connected to the words, but the Bible claims to be the very words of God. First Corinthians 2:13 . . . . John 17:8 . . . . The message was in the words, there is no message apart from the words, there is no inspiration apart from the words. More than 3800 times in the Old Testament we have expressions like "Thus says the Lord," "The Word of the Lord came," "God said," it's about the words. There are no such things as wordless concepts anyway. When Moses would excuse himself from serving the Lord . . . . God didn't say, "I'll give you a lot of great ideas, you'll figure out how to communicate them." God didn't say, "I'll be with your mind." God said to him this, "I will be with your mouth and I will teach you what you shall say." And that explains why 40 years later, according to Deuteronomy 4:2 . . . . God did not give ideas without words but in some cases He gave words without complete ideas.
by Frank Turk

I like it when you call me "neo-orthodox", Kent, because it makes your view about things very clear. However, I think you have to say something explicitly for this exchange to go forward.

You said this in your last answer: 
Translations are not equal to preservation because they are not the words that God gave. They are a human effort. God doesn't ever promise a perfect translation.
But you have also conceded that "it is ludicrous to abandon a translation because it has more words in it than the original text."

How can anyone who does not read Greek or Hebrew trust their KJV Bible to deliver to them something other than a corrupt message which has displaced God's words with fallible, human substitutes? Please define the word "accurate" (or its synonyms) if you use it in your answer.

Ah shoot -- I accidentally pasted my Q#4 over my A#4.

There are no verses of Scripture which affirm the number of books in the Bible.

Since the scope of our debate is the NT, I affirm that there has never been any question about the list of books which comprise the NT, except for the Marcionites who rejected the OT and any part of the NT which agreed or affirmed the OT. These books have been received by the churches since the earliest times -- the first generation of Christianity.

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