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KJV Defended

Introduction

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

 

Second Pages to Chapters

1  2  4  6  8

 

 

 

   
     

 

A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE BIBLICAL TEXT

 The King James Version Defended, by Edward F. Hills

 

CHAPTER FOUR

CONTINUED

 

(f) Manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament — The Dead Sea Scrolls
 


The Jewish rabbis venerated their copies of the Old Testament so much that they did not allow them to be read to pieces. As soon as their Old Testament manuscripts became too old and worn for ordinary use, they stored them in their synagogues and later buried them. Hence, until rather recently no ancient Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts were available to scholars, the oldest known manuscript dating from no earlier than the 9th century A.D. All the available manuscripts, however, were found to contain the Masoretic (Traditional) text and to agree with one another very closely. The first critic to demonstrate this was Bishop Kennicott, who published at Oxford in 1776-80 the readings of 634 Hebrew manuscripts. He was followed in 1784-88 by De Rossi, who published collations of 825 more manuscripts. No substantial variation among the manuscripts was detected by either of these two scholars. (28)
 


The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has altered this situation. These scrolls had been placed in earthen jars and deposited in caves near Wadi Qumran by the Dead Sea. They were first brought to light in 1947 by an Arab who was looking for a goat which had wandered away. After a few months some of the scrolls from this first cave were sold by the Arabs to the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St. Mark and others to the Hebrew University. In 1955 the Monastery of St. Mark sold its share of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the State of Israel. Thus these two lots of ancient writings were finally reunited under the same owners. (29)



This collection includes the following documents: (1) Isaiah A, an almost complete copy of Isaiah in Hebrew; (2) Isaiah B, another copy of Isaiah in Hebrew, reasonably complete from chapter 41 onwards but containing only fragments of earlier chapters; (3) a copy in Hebrew of the first two chapters of Habakkuk with a verse-by-verse commentary also in Hebrew; (4) the Rule of the Community, a code of rules of a community written in Hebrew; (5) a collection of hymns in Hebrew; (6) the Rule of War, a description in Hebrew of ancient warfare; (7) an Aramaic paraphrase of chapter 5 to 15 of Genesis. (30) Of these seven manuscripts Isaiah A is regarded as the oldest. One expert sets its date at 175-150 B.C.; another expert makes it 50 years younger. The other manuscripts are thought to have been written from 50 to 150 years later than Isaiah A. (31)
 


After these manuscripts had been discovered in the first cave, ten other caves in the same vicinity were found to contain similar treasures. Of these Cave 4 has proved the most productive. Thousands of fragments, once constituting about 330 separate books, have been taken from this location. These fragments include portions of every Old Testament book except Esther. (32) Rather recently (1972) O'Callaghan has claimed that certain fragments found in Cave 7 are from New Testament manuscripts. This discovery, however, has been rejected by most other scholars. (33)
 


The discovery of the first Dead Sea Scroll, Isaiah A, was generally regarded by scholars as a victory for the Masoretic (Traditional) Hebrew text of the Old Testament. According to Burrows (1948), this manuscript agreed with the Masoretic text to a remarkable degree in wording. (34) And according to Albright (1955), the second Isaiah scroll (Isaiah B) agreed even more closely with the Masoretic text. (35) But the discovery in 1952 of Cave 4 with its vast store of manuscripts altered the picture considerably. It became apparent that the Proto-Masoretic text of the Isaiah scrolls was not the only type of Old Testament text that had been preserved at Qumran. In the manuscripts from Cave 4 many other text-types have been distinguished.

 

Accordingly, in 1964 F. M. Cross presented some of the conclusions which he had drawn from his Qumran studies. He believed that three distinct ancient texts of Samuel can be identified, namely, ( 1 ) an Egyptian text represented by the Septuagint, (2) a Palestinian text represented by manuscript 4Q from Cave 4, and (3) a Proto-Masoretic text represented by a Greek text of Samuel also from Cave 4. And in the Pentateuch also Cross divides the text into the Egyptian, Palestinian, and Proto-Masoretic varieties. (36) G. R. Driver (1965), however, disagreed with Burrows, Albright, and Cross. According to him, the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in the first and early second centuries A.D. (37)
 


Thus we see that, despite the new discoveries, our confidence in the trustworthiness of the Old Testament text must rest on some more solid foundation than the opinions of naturalistic scholars. For as the Qumran studies demonstrate, these scholars disagree with one another. What one scholar grants another takes away. Instead of depending on such inconstant allies, Bible-believing Christians should develop their own type of Old Testament textual criticism, a textual criticism which takes its stand on the teachings of the Old Testament itself and views the evidence in the light of these teachings. Such a believing textual criticism leads us to full confidence in the Masoretic (Traditional) Hebrew text which was preserved by the divinely appointed Old Testament priesthood and the scribes and scholars grouped around it.



3. How The New Testament Text Was Preserved



At the Council of Trent the Roman Catholic Church not only added the Apocrypha to the Old Testament but also claimed to be in possession of certain unwritten traditions "which," the Council asserted, "received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand." A solemn curse was pronounced against anyone who should "knowingly and deliberately" despise these traditions and also against anyone who, "in matters of faith and morals," should "presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church hath held and doth hold." (38) According to Roman Catholicism, therefore, a knowledge of the unwritten traditions of the Church is necessary in order to interpret the Scriptures properly. But who has the power to determine what these unwritten traditions are? In 1870 the Vatican Council of bishops answered this question. The Pope, they declared, is infallible when he "defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church." This, however was a most illogical procedure, for if only the Pope was infallible, then where did the other bishops get the infallibility with which to declare the Pope infallible?
 


According to Roman Catholic doctrine, then, the authority of the Bible depends upon the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and ultimately of the Pope. But this line of reasoning leads to an endless regression. Why do we believe that the Bible is infallible? Because, Roman Catholics answer, the infallible Pope says that the Bible is infallible and interprets it for us infallibly in accordance with ecclesiastical traditions which only he can define with certainty. But how do Roman Catholics know that the Pope is infallible? To be sure of this they would need an angel to certify that the Pope was truly infallible and then a second angel to establish that the first angel was truly an angel and not the devil in disguise and then a third angel to authenticate the two previous angels, and so on ad infinitum.
 


True Protestants have always rejected these false claims of Roman Catholicism and maintained the very opposite. The true Church derives its authority from the Bible and not the Bible from the Church. In the Bible God reveals Himself, first, as the almighty Creator God, second, as the faithful Covenant God, and third, as the triune Saviour God. And since God thus reveals Himself in the holy Scriptures, we need no human priest to stand between us and Jesus Christ, the great High Priest. Nor do we need an allegedly infallible Pope to assure us that these Scriptures are truly God's Word, for the Holy Ghost Himself gives us this assurance, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

In order, therefore, to discover the true principles of New Testament textual criticism we must turn neither to the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church nor to the equally arbitrary dicta of the naturalistic critics but to the teaching of the New Testament itself. The following is a brief outline of this teaching which will be developed more fully in the chapters that follow.
 


(a) The Universal Priesthood of Believers
 


As we have seen, the study of the Old Testament indicates that the Old Testament Scriptures were preserved through the divinely appointed Old Testament priesthood. The Holy Spirit guided the priests to gather the separate parts of the Old Testament into one Old Testament canon and to maintain the purity of the Old Testament text. Have the New Testament Scriptures been preserved in this official manner? In the New Testament Church has there ever been a special, divinely appointed organization of priests with authority to make decisions concerning the New Testament text or the books that should belong to the New Testament canon? No! Not at all! When Christ died upon the cross, the veil of the Temple was rent in sunder, and the Old Testament priesthood was done away forever There has never been a special order of priests in the New Testament Church. Every believer is a priest under Christ, the great High Priest. (1 Peter 2: 9, Rev. 1: 5-6).
 


Just as the divine glories of the New Testament are brighter far than the glories of the Old Testament, so the manner in which God has preserved the New Testament text is far more wonderful than the manner in which He preserved the Old Testament text. God preserved the Old Testament text by means of something physical and external, namely, the Aaronic priesthood. God has preserved the New Testament text by means of something inward and spiritual, namely, the universal priesthood of believers, through the leading, that is to say, of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individual Christians of every walk of life.
 

(b) The Writing of the New Testament Books
 


The writing of the New Testament as well as the preservation of it was a fulfillment of the promises of Christ that His Word should be forever preserved. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away (Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21-33). As the Saviour was about to return to His heavenly Father, He left His Apostles this blessed assurance: These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:25-26). Here we see that both the agreements of the Four Gospels with one another and their differences are due to the inspiration which the Apostles received from the Holy Spirit and the control which He exercised over their minds and memories.
 


In the Gospels, therefore, Jesus reveals Himself through the story of His earthly ministry. The rest of the New Testament books are His divine commentary on the meaning of that ministry, and in these books also Jesus reveals Himself. These remaining books were written in accordance with His promise to His Apostles: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself: but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come (John 16:12-13). It was in fulfillment of this promise that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, filled their minds and hearts with the message of the risen, exalted Lord, and sent them out to preach this message, first to the Jews at Jerusalem and then to all the world. Then followed the conversion of the Apostle Paul and the Epistles which he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Then James, Peter, John, and Jude were inspired to write their Epistles, and Luke to tell the story of the Acts of the Apostles. Finally, the Revelation proceeded from the inspired pen of John on Patmos, announcing those things that were yet to come. Volumes, of course, could be filled with a discussion of these sacred developments, but here a bare statement of the essential facts must suffice.
 


(c) The Formation of the New Testament Canon
 


After the New Testament books had been written, the next step in the divine program for the New Testament Scriptures was the gathering of these individual books into one New Testament canon in order that thus they might take their place beside the books of the Old Testament canon as the concluding portion of God's holy Word. Let us now consider how this was accomplished under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (39)
 


The first New Testament books to be assembled together were the Epistles of Paul. The Apostle Peter, shortly before he died, referred to Paul's Epistles as Scripture and in such a way as to indicate that at least the beginning of such a collection had already been made (2 Peter 3:15-16). Even radical scholars, such as E. J. Goodspeed (1926), (40) agree that a collection of Paul's Epistles was in circulation in the beginning of the 2nd century and that Ignatius (117) referred to it. When the Four Gospels were collected together is unknown, but it is generally agreed that this must have taken place before 170 A.D. because at that time Tatian made his Harmony of the Gospels (Diatessaron), which included all four of the canonical Gospels and only these four. Before 200 A.D. Paul, the Gospels, Acts, 1 Peter and 1 John were recognized as Scripture by Christians everywhere (as the writings of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian prove) and accorded an authority equal to that of the Old Testament Scriptures. It was Tertullian, moreover, who first applied the name New Testament to this collection of apostolic writings. (41)
 


The seven remaining books, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation, were not yet unanimously accepted as Scripture. By the time the 4th century had arrived, however, few Christians seem to have questioned the right of these disputed books to a place in the New Testament canon. Eminent Church Fathers of that era, such as Athanasius, Augustine, and Jerome, include them in their lists of New Testament books. Thus through the Holy Spirit's guidance of individual believers, silently and gradually—but nevertheless surely, the Church as a whole was led to a recognition of the fact that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, and only these books, form the canon which God gave to be placed beside the Old Testament Scriptures as the authoritative and final revelation of His will.
 


This guidance of the Holy Spirit was negative as well as positive. It involved not only the selection of canonical New Testament books but also the rejection of many non-canonical books which were mistakenly regarded as canonical by some of the early Christians. Thus the Shepherd of Hermas was used as holy Scripture by Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria, and the same status was wrongly given to the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles by Clement and Origen. Clement likewise commented on the Apocalypse of Peter and the Epistle of Barnabas, to which Origen also accorded the title "catholic." And in addition, there were many false Gospels in circulation, as well as numerous false Acts ascribed to various Apostles. But although some of these non-canonical writings gained temporary acceptance in certain quarters, this state of affairs lasted for but a short time. Soon all Christians everywhere were led by the Holy Spirit to repudiate these spurious works and to receive only the canonical books as their New Testament Scriptures.
 


2. The Preservation of the New Testament Text
 


Thus the Holy Spirit guided the early Christians to gather the individual New Testament books into one New Testament canon and to reject all non-canonical books. In the same manner also the Holy Spirit guided the early Christians to preserve the New Testament text by receiving the true readings and rejecting the false. Certainly it would be strange if it were otherwise. It would have been passing strange if God had guided His people in regard to the New Testament canon but had withheld from them His divine assistance in the matter of the New Testament text. This would mean that Bible believing Christians today could have no certainty concerning the New Testament text but would be obliged to rely on the hypotheses of modern, naturalistic critics.
 


But God in His mercy did not leave His people to grope after the True New Testament Text. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit He guided them to preserve it during the manuscript period. God brought this to pass through the working of His preserving and governing providence. First, many trustworthy copies of the original New Testament manuscripts were produced by faithful scribes. Second, these trustworthy copies were read and recopied by true believers down through the centuries. Third, untrustworthy copies were not so generally read or so frequently recopied. Although they enjoyed some popularity for a time, yet in the long run they were laid aside and consigned to oblivion.

 

Thus as a result of this special providential guidance the True Text won out in the end, and today we may be sure that the text found in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts is a trustworthy reproduction of the divinely inspired Original Text. This is the text which was preserved by the God-guided usage of the Greek Church. Critics have called it the Byzantine text, thereby acknowledging that it was the text in use in the Greek Church during the greater part of the Byzantine period (452-1453). It is much better, however, to call this text the Traditional Text. When we call the text found in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts the Traditional Text, we signify that this is the text which has been handed down by the God-guided tradition of the Church from the time of the Apostles unto the present day.



A further step in the providential preservation of the New Testament was the printing of it in 1516 and the dissemination of it through the whole of Western Europe during the Protestant Reformation. In the first printing of the Greek New Testament we see God's preserving providence working hiddenly and, to the outward eye, accidentally. The editor, Erasmus, performed his task in great haste in order to meet the deadline set by the printer, Froben of Basle. Hence this first edition contained a number of errors of a minor sort, some of which persisted in later editions. But in all essentials the New Testament text first printed by Erasmus and later by Stephanus (1550) and Elzevir (1633) is in full agreement with the Traditional Text providentially preserved in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts. This printed text is commonly called the Textus Receptus (Received Text). It is the text which was used by the Protestant Reformers during the Reformation and by all Protestants everywhere for three hundred years thereafter. Hence the printing of it was, after all, no accident but the work of God's special providence.
 


The special providence of God is particularly evident in the fact that the text of the Greek New Testament was first printed and published not in the East but in Western Europe where the influence of the Latin usage and of the Latin Vulgate was very strong. Through the influence of the Latin-speaking Church Erasmus and his successors were providentially guided to follow the Latin Vulgate here and there in those few places in which the Latin Church usage rather than the Greek Church usage had preserved the genuine reading. Hence the Textus Receptus was a further step in the providential preservation of the New Testament. In it the few errors of any consequence occurring in the Traditional Greek Text were corrected by the providence of God operating through the usage of the Latin speaking Church of Western Europe.



Thus God by His special providence has preserved the New Testament text in a three-fold way through the universal priesthood of believers. In the first place, during the fourteen centuries in which the New Testament circulated in manuscript form God worked providentially through the usage of the Greek-speaking Church to preserve the New Testament text in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts. In this way the True New Testament Text became the prevailing Traditional Text. In the second place, during the 16th century when the New Testament text was being printed for the first time, God worked providentially through the usage of the Latin-speaking Church to influence Erasmus and the other editors and printers of that period to follow the Latin Vulgate in those few places in which the Latin Church usage rather than the Greek Church usage had preserved the genuine reading. Then in the third place, during the 450 years which have elapsed since the first printing of the New Testament, God has been working providentially through the usage of Bible-believing Protestants to place and keep the stamp of His approval upon this God-guided printed text. It is upon this Textus Receptus that the King James Version and the other classic Protestant translations are based.
 


(e) Alternative Views of the Providential Preservation of the New Testament
 


We see now how Christ has fulfilled His promise always to preserve in His Church the True New Testament Text, namely, through the universal priesthood of believers. In the special providence of God believers down through the ages have been guided to reject false readings and preserve the true, so that today the True New Testament Text is found in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts, in the Textus Receptus, and in the King James Version and the other classic Protestant translations. But because of the opposition of unbelievers conservative Christian scholars have become increasingly reluctant to adopt this view and have offered various alternatives in place of it. Let us therefore consider briefly these alternative views of God's providential preservation of the New Testament text.



1. The alleged agreement of all the New Testament manuscripts in matters of doctrine. In dealing with the problems of the New Testament text most conservatives place great stress on the amount of agreement alleged to exist among the extant New Testament manuscripts. These manuscripts, it is said, agree so closely with one another in matters of doctrine that it does not make much difference which manuscript you follow. The same essential teaching is preserved in them all. This reputed agreement of all the extant New Testament manuscripts in doctrinal matters is ascribed to divine providence and regarded as the fulfillment of the promise of Christ always to preserve in His Church a trustworthy New Testament text.



This is the thought that was emphasized by Richard Bentley (1713) in his celebrated reply to the free-thinker, Anthony Collins, who asserted that New Testament textual criticism had made the sacred text uncertain. This charge, Bentley rejoined, was baseless. "The real text of the sacred writers does not now (since the originals have been so long lost) lie in any single manuscript or edition, but is dispersed in them all. 'Tis competently exact indeed even in the worst manuscript now extant; choose as awkwardly as you can, choose the worst by design, out of the whole lump of readings.... Make your 30,000 (variant readings) as many more, if numbers of copies can ever reach that sum: all the better to a knowing and serious reader, who is thereby more richly furnished to select what he sees genuine. But even put them into the hands of a knave or a fool, and yet with the most sinistrous and absurd choice, he shall not extinguish the light of any one chapter, nor so disguise Christianity but that every feature of it will still be the same." (42)
 


Since the days of Bentley countless conservative scholars have adopted this same apologetic approach to the study of the New Testament text. New Testament textual criticism, they have affirmed, can do no harm to the Christian faith, because the special providence of God has brought it to pass that the differences which exist among the extant New Testament manuscripts do not affect any essential point of doctrine. This theory, however, presupposes an extremely mechanical and unhistorical conception of the providential preservation of Scripture. According to this theory, God in some mechanical way must have prevented heretical scribes from inserting into the New Testament manuscripts which they were copying readings that favored their false views. Or, if God did now and then allow an heretical reading to creep into a manuscript, He must have quickly brought about the destruction of that manuscript before the false reading could be transferred to another manuscript and thus propagated. But the testimony of history indicates that God's providential preservation of Scripture did not function in any such mechanical fashion but organically through the Church. Heretical readings were invented and did circulate for a time, but they were rejected by the universal priesthood of believers under the guidance of God.
 


(2) The true reading preserved in at least one of the extant manuscripts. Many conservative scholars seem to feel that God's providential care over the New Testament text is adequately defined by the saying that the true reading has been preserved in at least one of the extant New Testament manuscripts. Theodor Zahn (1909) gave expression to this point of view in the following words: "Though the New Testament text can be shown to have met with varying treatment, it has never as yet been established from ancient citations, nor made really probable on internal grounds, that a single sentence of the original text has disappeared altogether from the text transmitted in the Church, that is, of all the manuscripts of the original and of the ancient translations." (43) In other words, the true reading is always to be found in some one or other of the extant manuscripts. The only question is, which one.
 


Zahn's doctrine seems to be comforting at first glance, but on closer analysis this comfort soon disappears. Has the special providence of God over the New Testament text done no more than to preserve the true readings somewhere, that is to say, in some one or other of the great variety of New Testament manuscripts now existing in the world? If Christ has done no more than this, how can it be said that He has fulfilled His promise always to preserve in His Church the True New Testament Text? How can His people ever be certain that they have the True New Testament Text? For not all the extant New Testament manuscripts have yet been discovered. No doubt many of them still remain in the obscurity into which they were plunged centuries ago, concealed in holes, ruins, and other unknown places. How can we be sure that many true readings are not hiding in these undiscovered manuscripts? And even if this is not the case, how can we be certain which of the known manuscripts contain the true reading in places in which these manuscripts differ? For Christians troubled with doubts like these Zahn's theory is no help at all.
 


(3) Are naturalistic New Testament textual critics providentially guided? Many conservatives have adopted the theory that it is through textual criticism, and especially through the textual criticism of Westcott and Hort, that Christ has fulfilled His promise always to preserve in His Church the True New Testament Text. In regard to this matter J. H. Skilton (1946) writes as follows: "Textual Criticism, in God's providence, is the means provided for ascertaining the true text of the Bible." (44) And half a century earlier Dr. B. B. Warfield (1893) expressed himself in a very similar manner. "In the sense of the Westminster Confession, therefore, the multiplication of copies of the Scriptures, the several early efforts towards the revision of the text, the raising up of scholars in our own day to collect and collate manuscripts, and to reform them on scientific principles— of our Tischendorfs and Tregelleses, and Westcotts and Horts—are all parts of God's singular care and providence in preserving His inspired Word pure." (45)
 


Dr. B. B. Warfield was an outstanding defender of the orthodox Christian faith, so much so that one hesitates to criticize him in any way. Certainly no Bible-believing Christian would wish to say anything disrespectful concerning so venerable a Christian scholar. But nevertheless it is a fact that Dr. Warfield's thinking was not entirely unified. Through his mind ran two separate trains of thought which not even he could join together. The one train of thought was dogmatic, going back to the Protestant Reformation. When following this train of thought Dr. Warfield regarded Christianity as true. The other train of thought was apologetic, going back to the rationalistic viewpoint of the 18th century. When following this train of thought Dr. Warfield regarded Christianity as merely probable. And this same divided outlook was shared by Dr. Warfield's colleagues at Princeton Seminary and by conservative theologians and scholars generally throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Even today this split-level thinking is still a factor to be reckoned with in conservative circles, although in far too many instances it has passed over into modernism.
 


Dr. Warfield's treatment of the New Testament text illustrates this cleavage in his thinking. In the realm of dogmatics he agreed with the Westminster Confession that the New Testament text had been "kept pure in all ages" by God's "singular care and providence," but in the realm of New Testament textual criticism he agreed with Westcott and Hort in ignoring God's providence and even went so far as to assert that the same methods were to be applied to the text of the New Testament that would be applied to the text of a morning newspaper. It was to bridge the gap between his dogmatics and his New Testament textual criticism that he suggested that God had worked providentially through Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort to preserve the New Testament text.

 

But this suggestion leads to conclusions which are extremely bizarre and inconsistent. It would have us believe that during the manuscript period orthodox Christians corrupted the New Testament text, that the text used by the Protestant Reformers was the worst of all, and that the True Text was not restored until the 19th century, when Tregelles brought it forth out of the Pope's library, when Tischendorf rescued it from a waste basket on Mt. Sinai, and when Westcott and Hort were providentially guided to construct a theory of it which ignores God's special providence and treats the text of the New Testament like the text of any other ancient book. But if the True New Testament Text was lost for 1500 years, how can we be sure that it has ever been found again?



(f) The Principles of Consistently Christian New Testament Textual Criticism
 


Bentley, Zahn, Warfield, and countless others have tried to devise a theory of the special providential preservation of the Scriptures which leaves room for naturalistic New Testament textual criticism. But this is impossible, for the two concepts are mutually exclusive. Naturalistic New Testament textual criticism requires us to treat the text of the New Testament like the text of any other ancient book, in other words, to ignore or deny the special providential preservation of the Scriptures. Hence if we really believe in the special providential preservation of the Scriptures, then we cannot follow the naturalistic method of New Testament textual criticism.
 


For a believer, then, the only alternative is to follow a consistently Christian method of New Testament textual criticism in which all the principles are derived from the Bible itself and none is borrowed from the textual criticism of other ancient books. In the preceding pages we have striven to present such a consistently Christian New Testament textual criticism, and now we will recapitulate and summarize its principles briefly:
 


Principle One: The Old Testament text was preserved by the Old Testament priesthood and the scribes and scholars that grouped themselves around that priesthood.
 


Principle Two: When Christ died upon the cross, the Old Testament priesthood was abolished. In the New Testament dispensation every believer is a priest under Christ the great High Priest. Hence the New Testament text has been preserved by the universal priesthood of believers, by faithful Christians in every walk of life.



Principle Three: The Traditional Text, found in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts, is the True Text because it represents the God-guided usage of this universal priesthood of believers.
 


Principle Four: The first printed text of the Greek New Testament represents a forward step in the providential preservation of the New Testament. In it the few errors of any consequence occurring in the Traditional Greek Text were corrected by the providence of God operating through the usage of the Latin-speaking Church of Western Europe. In other words, the editors and printers who produced this first printed Greek New Testament text were providentially guided by the usage of the Latin-speaking Church to follow the Latin Vulgate in those few places in which the Latin Church usage rather than the Greek Church usage had preserved the genuine reading.



Principle Five: Through the usage of Bible-believing Protestants God placed the stamp of His approval on this first printed text, and it became the Textus Receptus (Received Text). It is the printed form of the Traditional Text found in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts.

Principle Six:
The King James (Authorized) Version is an accurate translation of the Textus Receptus. On it God has placed the stamp of His approval through the long continued usage of English-speaking believers. Hence it should be used and defended today by Bible-believing Christians.
 


(g) New Testament Textual Criticism and Evangelism
 


Why should we Christians study the New Testament text from a neutral point of view rather than from a believing point of view? The answer usually given is that we should do this for the sake of unbelievers. We must start with the neutral point of view in order that later we may convert unbelievers to the orthodox, believing point of view. Sir Frederic Kenyon expressed himself to this effect as follows: "It is important to recognize from the first that the problem is essentially the same, whether we are dealing with sacred or secular literature, although the difficulty of solving it, and likewise the issues depending on it are very different. It is important, if for no other reason, because it is only in this way that we can meet the hostile critics of the New Testament with arguments, the force of which they admit. If we assume from the first the supernatural character of these books and maintain that this affects the manner in which their text has come down to us, we can never convince those who start with a denial of that supernatural character. We treat them at first like any other books, in order to show at last that they are above and beyond all other books." (46)



Although Kenyon probably advised this oblique approach with the best of intentions, still the course which he advocated is very wrong. Orthodox Christians must not stoop to conquer. We must not first adopt a neutral position toward the Bible in order that later we may persuade unbelievers to receive the Bible as God's Word. There are several reasons why we must not do this. In the first place if we should take this step, we would be inconsistent. We would be denying the conclusion that we were seeking to establish. In the second place, we would be ineffective. In taking up this neutral position we would not be doing anything to convert unbelievers to the orthodox Christian faith. On the contrary, we would be confirming them in their confidence in the essential rightness of their unbelieving presuppositions. And in the third place, we would be sinning. To approach unbelievers from this neutral point of view would be not only allowing them to ignore the divine inspiration and providential preservation of the Scriptures but even doing so ourselves. In other words, we would be seeking to convert unbelievers by the strange method of participating in their unbelief.
 


If we truly believe in Christ, then God is real to us, more real even than our faith in Him. Otherwise we are not believing but doubting. Therefore we must begin all our thinking with that which is most real, namely, God and His three-fold revelation of Himself in nature, in the holy Scriptures, and in the Gospel of Christ. This is the system of truth which we must proclaim to others, both to unbelievers and to our fellow Christians. And in this system of truth, as we have seen, the principles of consistently Christian New Testament textual criticism occupy a very necessary and important place.



(h) Believing Bible Study on the Graduate Level — Christ and Grammar



We must make God and Jesus Christ His Son the starting point of all our thinking. But how can we do this on the graduate level at a theological seminary or a university? How can we know for example whether the King James Version is a correct translation or not? Don't we have to rely on dictionaries, such as Brown-Driver-Briggs, Thayer, Kittel, and Liddel-Scott? And for grammar don't we have to go to the great authorities in this field, such as Gesenius, Bauer, and Blass-Debrunner? And how, really, do we know that the Textus Receptus is a trustworthy reproduction of the majority New Testament text? For our knowledge of the New Testament manuscripts are we not obliged to depend almost entirely on the writings of experts, such as Gregory, Kenyon, Colwell, Metzger, and Aland? When we study the Bible on the graduate level, therefore, how can we begin with God? Must we not rather begin with men? With the information provided by scholars, most of whom are unbelievers?



Questions like these cause many conservative seminary students to panic and become virtual unbelievers in their biblical studies. In order therefore, to prevent such catastrophes, we must always emphasize the Christian starting point that all our thinking ought to have. If we are Christians, then we must begin our thinking not with the assertions of unbelieving scholars and their naturalistic human logic, but with Christ and the logic of faith.



For example, how do we know that the Textus Receptus is the true New Testament text? We know this through the logic of faith. Because the Gospel is true, the Bible which contains this Gospel was infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit. And because the Bible was infallibly inspired it has been preserved by God's special providence. Moreover, this providential preservation was not done privately in secret holes and caves but publicly in the usage of God's Church. Hence the true New Testament text is found in the majority of the New Testament manuscripts. And this providential preservation did not cease with the invention of printing. Hence the formation of the Textus Receptus was God-guided.
 


And how do we know that the King James Version is a faithful translation of the true New Testament text? We know this also through the logic of faith. Since the formation of the Textus Receptus was God-guided the translation of it was God-guided also. For as the Textus Receptus was being formed, it was also being translated. The two processes were simultaneous. Hence the early Protestant versions, such as Luther's, Tyndale's, the Geneva, and the King James, were actually varieties of the Textus Receptus. And this was necessarily so according to the principles of God's preserving providence. For the Textus Receptus had to be translated in order that the universal priesthood of believers, the rank and file, might give it their God-guided approval.
 


In biblical studies, in philosophy, in science, and in every other learned field we must begin with Christ and then work out our basic principles according to the logic of faith. This procedure will show us how to utilize the learning of non-Christian scholars in such a way as to profit by their instruction. Undeniably these unbelievers know a great many facts by virtue of God's common grace. They misinterpret these facts however, because they ignore and deny God's revelation of Himself in and through the facts. Hence our task is to point out the inconsistencies and absurdities of unbelieving thought and then to take the facts which learned unbelievers have assembled and place them in their proper framework of biblical truth.



For example, if we begin with Christ, then we will understand what language is, namely, the medium by which God reveals the facts unto men and also Himself in and through the facts And if we adopt this basic position, then the study of Greek grammar, and especially the history of it, will prove immensely profitable to us and will strengthen our faith, for then we will see how God in His providence has preserved the knowledge of Greek grammar from the days of the ancient Alexandrian grammarians down to the time of Erasmus and the Protestant Reformers and even up until now. Such a survey certainly increases our confidence in the King James translators. Judged even by modern standards, their knowledge of the biblical languages was second to none.
 


Begin with Christ and the Gospel and follow the logic of faith. This is the principle that must guide us in our graduate studies, especially in the biblical field. If we adhere to it, then everything we learn will fit beautifully into its place in the Christian thought-system. But if we ignore Christ and adopt a neutral approach to knowledge, we will soon lose ourselves in a wilderness of details and grow more and more chaotic in our thinking.

 

 

THE FACTS OF NEW TESTAMENT TEXTUAL CRITICISM

 

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