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tartanarmy


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PostPosted: 06-07-2009 6:00 am
Post Number: 5193
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Greetings everyone.

I am not interested in resurrecting the closed thread of the same subject which I have almost entirely read, but rather I just want to simply mention a helpful illustration made by Dr James White regarding the subject matter of that thread.

Think upon the vast Manuscript evidence that we have as pieces if a jig saw puzzle.
But, instead of us having missing pieces, we actually have extra pieces.

So we do not actually have anything from the Word of God that is missing from the
evidence we have. We truly have The Word of God.

The debate, which is a positive one, lies in the area of textual study, whereupon, if we have three readings of a given text, we already know that one of them is original, so the issue is not the fear that we may not have an innerant or infallible text, the issue of textual study is attempting to find evidence from the vast collection of manuscripts that we have as to the correct reading of those amazingly few variants we have.

The variants that all good translations have marked in the margins and or at the bottom of the page in our Bibles.

It need not be a heated and or emotional subject, nor need it become an argument in which we need to pull out whatever "reformed" creed as evidence for our position.
As important and valuable those confessions are, (and I myself am confessional) the subject of that thread does not need to invoke the issue of creeds to grasp the issue of "Preservation of Biblical Text"

I hope this helps someone.

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Mark

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PostPosted: 06-07-2009 11:48 am
Post Number: 5195
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Tartanarmy:

Welcome back. It's good to see you here again. Thank you for the post. It is well stated. I am not sure however that the jig-saw puzzle with extra peices illustration really does justice to the debate.

I will concede that as homely illustrations go, this one makes the point well, but the debate and discussion over manuscript evidence, and textual variants, in all it's complexity can hardly be boiled down to something as simple as this illustration. I am sure Lyncx9 will have more to say on this matter, so I'll leave that for him.

tartanarmy wrote:
It need not be a heated and or emotional subject, nor need it become an argument in which we need to pull out whatever "reformed" creed as evidence for our position.


I agree. It need not be heated or emotional, but as you can see from the previous thread, that is what it all to often becomes. My first inclination when I saw the title of this thread, as I was on my way to church this morning was, "Oh no! Not again!!"   Shocked or Surprised

I fear that it might still be too soon after the last thread on this subject to reopen the issue, but, atleast for now, we'll allow it to continue. I wish to again state the cautionary reminder I gave in the last thread.

Let's remember that the topic is Biblical Preservation, not Defending the Westminster Standards (or other doctrinal statements).

and again Mark, welcome back. It's good to see you here again. Wave
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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 2:18 am
Post Number: 5205
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Respectfully, the argument using the illustration above is better known as the "Tenacity" of the text, which is a major argument used in the defense of the manuscript evidence containing the whole "Word of God".

See video link below from Dr James White

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3114

Mark

For those really interested in this very important subject, the link below is a full transcription of the debate between Dr White and Dr Bart Ehrman.

“Can the New Testament Be Inspired in Light of Textual Variation?”
Dr. James White vs. Dr. Bart Ehrman
January 21, 2009

http://mp3.aomin.org/805Transcript.pdf

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tartanarmy


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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 3:00 am
Post Number: 5206
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Here is a very brief quote from the debate,

Quote:
The original readings are still in the manuscript tradition. This is key! When we have a variant with three possibilities, A, B, and C, we do not have to worry about D, “None of the above!”

There is every reason to believe that our problem is not having 95% of what was originally written, but instead of having 101%.

As Rob Bowman has put it, it is like having a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, but you
have 1,010 pieces in the box. The task is weeding out the extra; the originals are there. This is important to emphasize in light of Dr. Ehrman’s repeated assertion that we “don’t know” what the original New Testament said.

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Lyncx9






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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 4:18 am
Post Number: 5207
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Mark, Sterling and the Forum:

Just a few notes of comment in a salient aspect of a critical subject.  First of all, I join with Mark in appreciative endorsement of the work of Dr. James White in the field of text critical matters.  I especially endorse Dr. White's continued distinction between two aspects of the work of Dr Bart Ehrman, one aspect which we ought to appreciate and another aspect which we must deplore.  We ought to appreciate and draw from Dr Ehrman's very considerable expertise in the scientific field of text criticism and evaluative judgment regarding manuscript evidences.  That said, we need to sharply divorce that appreciation from the sceptical agnosticism and scathing depreciation of Christian evidences that Dr Ehrman extrapolates and unfairly draws from those manuscripts evidences in a parade of popular books he admittedly has aimed at undermining Christianity.  Dr. White has carefully separated these two distinct postures without ignoring either aspect or allowing either aspect to deny the other.  This is a balance much to be admired in Dr. White and too often absent in evangelicals who dispense with every aspect of scholarly expertise coming from a scholar if that scholar is not coming to what are presupposed must be evangelical conclusions.  As a case in point, the dismissal of any scholar who draws upon any aspect from "Higher Criticism" simply because certain aspects of that scholarly investigation as employed by some scholars may lead to conclusions that either are, or seem to be, alien to evangelical presuppositions.

Second, Dr. White has made himself extremely knowledgeable in the field of text criticism and has not opposed the work or conclusions of scholars in the field except when there have been unscholarly extrapolations and popularizations evoked from it, such as those of Dr Ehrman which assail Christianity unfairly, as if they were really the results of expertise in the field of text criticism.

Third, Mark has passed on to us an interesting homely illustration from Dr White regarding which I should comment.  Furthermore, Mark has aptly clarified and made distinction regarding the aspect of "preservation" which plagued the previously closed thread.  He, reflecting the perspective of Dr. White (who is not subscribed to the Westminster Standards), does not tout "preservation" but instead uses the more valid concept of "tenacity" in its stead.

This concept is not original with Dr. White.  It has its origin, so far as I am able to determine, with Dr Kurt Aland, now deceased, who has been a long time respected authority in the field of text critical matters.  There is indeed a strong element of tenacity of essential concurrance running through all the various manuscript witnesses, a tenacity that has too often not been emphasized by scholars who, in their scholarly efforts, are more focused upon variants than upon concurrences.

As to the illustration proper.  Sterling, Presbyterian Deacon, is quite correct when he makes the observation that

Quote:
the debate and discussion over manuscript evidence, and textual variants, in all it's complexity can hardly be boiled down to something as simple as this illustration.


At best it gives an understandable graphic/picture that is helpful in presenting the nature of the situation faced by text critics.  However, despite the reality of "tenacity" it would be overly optimistic and wrong to presume that we nevertheless possess all the pieces that are required to perfectly complete the puzzle.  Indeed we do have an overabundance of pieces regarding certain aspects of the puzzle picture, but it is not correct to suggest we have no vital pieces yet missing.  We do not, and cannot, know that we possess somewhere in the available manuscripts the autographa, however autographa may be defined!  We cannot say that if we have three manuscripts of a text that one of them accurately reflects the original.

Mark, I think your position is overly optimistic.  Would that it were so, but the evidence, even with presumed tenacity, does not fully support it.  For example, could it have been declared at the time of Wescott and Hort?  Not hardly!  For had it been, the discovery of of a number of papyri antedating Aleph and B would have been meaningless.

Furthermore, the purpose of text criticism is not to establish an inerrant text.  It is to achieve the best text possible with the evidence at hand.  We are better able to do that now than we were a hundred years ago; we undoubtedly will be better able a hundred years from now than we are now!

Indeed the crucial variants are comparatively few and what ones that do exist only marginally impact core Christian doctrines.  But it does no one a favor to either overemphasize or underemphasize the actual situation.  Marginal notices in English versions are indeed helpful.  Those in the first edition of the New American Standard Bible are the most helpful that I have seen (frequently the more likely original is the one in the margin in that version!).

Finally, Mark, I heartily endorse these words of yours:

Quote:
It need not be a heated and or emotional subject, nor need it become an argument in which we need to pull out whatever "reformed" creed as evidence for our position.
As important and valuable those confessions are, (and I myself am confessional) the subject of that thread does not need to invoke the issue of creeds to grasp the issue of "Preservation of Biblical Text"


In fact, it seems to me, that it is precisely the impetus of creeds that has led to what I believe to be a thoroughly misguided movement to promote both the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text, in opposition to the Critical Text provided us by competent text critics.

In Christ

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tartanarmy


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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 5:06 am
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Thanks for the interaction...Could you please say more about the following comments you made, if you do not mind.

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Indeed we do have an overabundance of pieces regarding certain aspects of the puzzle picture, but it is not correct to suggest we have no vital pieces yet missing.


Bold emphasis mine...

Mark

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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 5:22 am
Post Number: 5210
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I would like to take a step back in the big picture and compare the historical documentary basis for the Bible as compared to the historical documentary basis for the Bible's peers of the same time period.

Please correct if I am wrong in any of which I am about to say, but it is my understanding that we Christians have an overwhelming treasure trove of historical biblical texts upon which we can reconstruct a very good approximation of the original text and that our embarrassment of historical documents supporting the Bible far outweighs any other historical evidential basis for any other ancient (1500 plus years ago) historical documents.  In light of this fact and in my opinion, the criticism and scrutiny under which the Bible goes far outweighs any of the Bible's closest historical non-biblical documentary peers.  I'm not saying that this extra criticism and scrutiny is a bad thing, but that this extra scrutiny and criticism should give us Christians far more reason to have a very great confidence in the historical and textual accuracy of our Bible than any of the Bible's historically documented peers of the same time period.  I just believe in my own opinion that the criticism the Bible receives is unjustified, but that God is behind the scenes (in His providence) using this extra scrutiny to magnify the glory of Himself and His Word...in addition to giving us confidence in His word as being true and accurate.

Mark  :D
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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 9:42 am
Post Number: 5213
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Mark. Sterling and Mark:

Just a quick note in answer:

Quote:
Thanks for the interaction...Could you please say more about the following comments you made, if you do not mind.

Quote:
Indeed we do have an overabundance of pieces regarding certain aspects of the puzzle picture, but it is not correct to suggest we have no vital pieces yet missing.


Bold emphasis mine...


My point is simply that at this juncture we cannot affirm with surety that no vital pieces are yet missing.  The problem here is simply that the text witnesses we possess only touch the fringes of the 2nd century.  We have, at present, no way of knowing what may have dropped out very very early in manuscript transmission, in first century or early second century.  In respect to the New Testament the earliest manuscript witnesses are of varying earliest age.  We can presume we have all the vital pieces, and it is indeed possible, perhaps even probable, that we have them.  But to suggest that is the case is by no means a  certainty.

In Christ

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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 10:51 am
Post Number: 5214
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Lyncx9 wrote:
...that has led to what I believe to be a thoroughly misguided movement to promote both the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text, in opposition to the Critical Text provided us by competent text critics.


Lyncx9:

While you often speak of "scholars" in the field of text criticism and the pursuit of critical text scholarship in glowing terms, you often use phrases like the one quoted above when referring to the other position, (my position), as though these poor misguided folks who follow in the train of the Textus Receptus and Majority Text were but unscholarly dolts.

It is not only the critical text side of the debate which has made advances in this area. The case for the Majority Text is no more tied to the limitations and conclusions of Erasmus and Stephanus, than is your side tied to the early findings of Westcott & Hort.

As I have said in the past, I have no desire to debate this topic with you publicly.  Frankly, I admitt that I have not studied it at the same level of scholarship as you have, but --whether we use terms like "preservation of the text" or "tenacity of the text" or even "transmission of the text" to catagorize the issue, I would ask that you not write so dismissively of the other side, as though there were no scholars, or thinkers, but only the "misguided" who would speak for the Majority text.

Thank you.
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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 12:03 pm
Post Number: 5215
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Presbyterian Deacon:

I apologize for my wording.  I used two qualifiers, one of which you quoted and one which you did not.  The first was "it seems to me," the second "I believe to be" and both within a single sentence.  That first was in reference directly to the creeds, the second obliquely so directed as well, and was given in response to Mark's specific words relative to creeds.  I did not, and do not, at all mean to suggest that holding to the Majority Text or the Textus Receptus is misguided nor bereft of scholarship nor that respectable scholars are not supporting that position.  What I said, or at least intended to say, was that I believed that to do so on the basis of creedal adherence is, in my opinion, misguided.  For example, Sterling, from your comments to me regarding Farstad, I do not believe that creedalism is your basis for adherence to the Majority Text.

I should have explained better.  Texual criticism is not something that can be legitimately driven by creeds, though present, modern, espousal of both the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text seem largely impelled by creedal considerations.  Text Criticism, of whatever sort, is entirely a scientific and not at all a theological endeavor.  Furthermore, there are a large number of scholars who have supported and are properly supporting the Majority Text on precisely that scienttific basis.  Among them are such scholars as van Bruggen, Wisselink, Hodges, Farstad et al.  On the other side, there are Critical Text scholars, such as Dr Bart Ehrman, who, as an agnostic, have been falsely motivated and misguided into parlaying their text critical expertise into a false attack on the Christian faith, using their scholarship to promote positions beyond their scientific task.

In future, whatever the impetus in answering a previous posting, I shall strive to be more even-handed.  I again apologize and will strive to further qualify my words in future.

In Christ

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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 12:25 pm
Post Number: 5216
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Lyncx9:

Thank you for the clarification. I thought that was what you meant.  :D  Just checking. As you well know, although I do now subscribe to the Westminster Standards, my position on this particular debate is not, nor has it ever been based on credal adherance.

Rather, as you know, I have long followed the scientific approaches of van Bruggen, Hodges, and Farstad in this area.

-- Sterling
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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 1:24 pm
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I see...........

So, are you saying that we have no inspired innerant original copies, providentially and also importantly and factually/historically handed down to us from the original and first primary manuscripts?

A simple yes or no shall suffice. No other words are necessary to get your point.

Mark

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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 1:34 pm
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Mark:

Yes.

In Christ

Lyncx

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PostPosted: 06-08-2009 7:31 pm
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Lyncx (and all),

What would you say if we found III Corinthians, and it was deemed to be an authentic  epistle of Paul (or at least devoid of anything that would challenge other canonical books)?  Should it be included in the Biblical canon?

Mitch
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PostPosted: 06-09-2009 7:09 am
Post Number: 5231
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Lyncx, a friend of mine and James White has written a piece today at Dr Whites website, interacting with some of your comments in this very thread.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3323

I had asked James White for some help with this subject and being quite busy at the moment, his good friend Tur8infan stepped up to the plate, for which I am thankful.

Perhaps you and some others might interact with the article.

Blessings
Mark

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