Earlier this week, I wrote part one concerning two separate videos posted by Mark Ward. The second one I saw first, and since my name was mentioned, I answered. He cherry-picks quotes without context. Ward made what he thought was a good argument against the Textus Receptus.
In part one, I said "yes" to his assessment of IFB preaching. I didn't agree, as he concluded, that a correction to preaching was the biggest step for IFB. A distorted gospel, I believe, is of greater import, something unmentioned by Ward.
Bob Jones Seminary (BJU) invited Ward to teach on problems with the Textus Receptus (received text, TR), the Greek text behind the New Testament (NT) of the King James Version (KJV) and all the other Reformation Era English versions. It was also the basis for all the other language versions of the Bible. There is only one Bible, and subsequent to the invention of the printing press, we know the TR was the Bible of true believers for four centuries. Unless the Bible can change, it's still the Bible.
Ward accepted the invitation from BJU, despite his own commitment against arguing textual criticism with anyone who disagrees with him. For him to debate, his opposition must agree with his innovative, non-historical or exegetical application of 1 Corinthians 14:9. It's the only presupposition that I have heard Ward claim from scripture on this issue.
Critical text supporters, a new and totally different approach to the Bible in all of history, oppose scriptural presuppositions. They require sola scientia to determine the Bible. Modern textual criticism, what is all of textual criticism even though men like Ward attempt to reconstruct what believing men did from 1500 to 1800, arose with modernism. Everything must subject itself to human reason.
In his lecture, Ward used F. H. A. Scrivener to argue against Scrivener's New Testament, giving the former an alias Henry Ambrose, his two middle names, to argue against Scrivener himself. It is an obvious sort of mockery of those who use the NT, assuming they don't know history. The idea behind it is that Scrivener didn't even like his Greek NT.
What did Scrivener do? He collated the Greek text behind the KJV NT from TR editions, and then printed the text underlying the NT of the KJV. It was an academic exercise for him, not one out of love for the TR. Scrivener was on the committee to produce the Revised Version.
The Greek Words of the New Testament
Did the words of that New Testament exist before Scrivener's NT? Yes. Very often (and you can google it with my name to find out) I'll say, "Men translated from something." For centuries, they did.
The words of Scrivener were available in print before Scrivener. Scrivener knew this too, as the differences between the various TR editions are listed in the Scrivener's Annotated New Testament, a leather bound one of which I own. Ward says there are massive numbers of differences between the TR editions. That's not true.
Like Ward's pitting Scrivener on Scrivener and the KJV translators against the KJV translation, claiming massive variants between TR editions is but a rhetorical device to propagandize listeners. The device entertains supporters, but I can't see it persuading anyone new. It's insulting.
When you compare Sinaiticus with Vaticanus, there you see massive differences, enough that Dean Burgon wrote, "It is in fact easier to find two consecutive verses in which these two MSS differ the one from the other, than two consecutive verses in which they entirely agree." There are over 3,000 variations between the two main critical manuscripts in the gospels alone. That is a massive amount. Moslem Koran apologists enjoy these critical text materials to attack the authority of the Bible. It is their favorite apologetic device, what I heard from every Moslem I confront at a door in evangelism.
There are 190 differences between Beza 1598 and Scrivener's. Scrivener's is essentially Beza 1598. Many of those variations are spelling, accents, and breathing marks. As a preemptive shot, I know that all those fit into an application of jots and tittles. We know that, but we also know where the text of the King James Version came from and we know that text was available for centuries. God preserved that text of the NT. Believers received it and used it.
Men Translated from Something
When you read John Owen, what Greek text was he reading? He had one. Ward says there wasn't a text until Scrivener. Wrong. What text did John Gill use? What text did Jonathan Edwards use? They relied on an original language text. What text did John Flavel and Stephen Charnock use? They all used a Greek text of the New Testament.
16th through 19th century Bible preachers and scholars refer to their Greek New Testament. Matthew Henry when writing commentary on the New Testament refers to a printed Greek New Testament. He also writes concerning those leaving out 1 John 5:7: "Some may be so faulty, as I have an old printed Greek Testament so full of errata, that one would think no critic would establish a various lection thereupon."
The Greek words of the New Testament were available. Saints believed they had them and they were the TR. This reverse engineering, accusation of Ruckmanism, is disinformation by Ward and others.
The Assessment of Scrivener and the Which TR Question
Ward uses the assessment of Scrivener and the preface of the KJV translators as support for continued changes of the Greek text. This is disingenuous. The translators did not argue anywhere in the preface for an update of the underlying text. They said the translation, not the text, could be updated. That argument does not fit in a session on the Greek text, except to fool the ignorant.
Just because Scrivener collated the Greek words behind the KJV doesn't mean that he becomes the authority on the doctrine of preservation any more than the translators of the KJV. It grasps at straws. I haven't heard Scrivener used as a source of support for the Textus Receptus any time ever. I don't quote him.
I have written on the "Which TR question" already many .times, the most used argument by those in the debate for the critical text. It's also a reason why we didn't answer that question in our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them. If we addressed it, that would have been all anyone talked about. We say, deal with the passages on preservation first. We get our position from scripture.
The position I and others take isn't that God would preserve His Words in Scrivener's. The position is that all the Words are preserved and available to every generation of Christian. That's why we support the Textus Receptus.
Ward never explains why men point to Scrivener's. I have answered that question many times, but he doesn't state the answer. He stated only the position of Peter Van Kleeck, because he had a clever comeback concerning sanctification. But even that misrepresented what Van Kleeck wrote.
The position I take, which fits also the position of John Owen, I call the canonicity argument. I have a whole chapter in TSKT on that argument. I've written about it many times here.
If pinned to the wall, and I must answer which TR edition, I say Scrivener's, but it doesn't even relate to my belief on the doctrine. What I believe is that all of God's Words in the language in which they were written have been available to every generation of believer. I don't argue that they were all available in one manuscript (hand-written copy) that made its way down through history. The Bible doesn't promise that.
Scriptural Presuppositions or Not?
The critical text position, that Ward takes, cannot be defended from scripture. The position that I take arises from what scripture teaches. It's the same position as believed by the authors of the Westminster Confession, London Baptist Confession, and every other confession. That is accepted and promoted by those in his associations.
Ward doesn't even believe the historical doctrine of preservation. Textual variations sunk that for him, much like it did Bart Ehrman. Ward changed his presupposition not based upon scripture, but based upon what he thought he could see. It isn't by faith that he understands this issue.
Some news out of Ward's speech is that he doesn't believe that God preserved every word of the Bible. He says he believes the "preponderance of the manuscripts" view. I call it "the buried text view." Supporters speculate the exact text exists somewhere, a major reason why Daniel Wallace continues looking. That is not preservation.
"The manuscripts" are an ambiguous, sort of chimera to their supporters. They don't think they have them yet. That view, the one supported by two books by BJU authors, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man and God's Word in Our Hands, they themselves do not believe. Ward walked it back during his speech too. They don't really believe it. It's a hypothetical to them. Men of the two above books don't believe at least that they possess the Hebrew words of 1 Samuel 13:1 in any existing manuscript. At present, like a Ruckmanite, they correct the Hebrew text with a Greek translation.
In the comment section of the above first video, Ward counsels someone in the comment section to use a modern translation from the TR, such the NKJV. The NKJV, Ward knows, doesn't come from the TR. There are variations from the TR used in the NKJV, a concession that Ward made in a post in his comment section after being shown 20-25 examples. He wrote this:
First the concession: I am compelled to acknowledge that the NKJV does not use “*precisely* the same Greek New Testament” text as the one underlying the KJV NT.
He could not find 2 John 1:7 of the NKJV in any TR edition. Does it matter? It does, especially a translation that calls itself the NEW King James Version. The translators did not use the same text as the KJV used, however Ward wants to represent that. I would happily debate him on the subject. I'm sure Thomas Ross would.
Mark Ward has committed not to debate on the text behind the KJV. He is committed now to taking shots from afar, leaving the safe shores of vernacular translation to hit on the text. Even though he says the variations do not affect the message of the Bible, he continues to argue against the text behind the King James Version.