Textual Criticism does not equal Providential Preservation.
In his latest Dividing Line, Mr. White calls the non-CT views among other things “dangerous, counter-productive, non-confessional, ahistorical and indefensible.” Now Mr. White holds to the mid-20th century view of Restorationist Textual Criticism. Actual textual critics like Dr. Bart Ehrman, Dr. D. C. Parker have long abandoned Mr. White’s naive view that textual criticism can “recover and restore” the autographic text. Mr. White over the past year has attempted to portray his RTC view of Scripture as being consistent with the confessions and as historical.
So, for this post we will turn to the eminent scholar of church history, Dr. Richard Muller and his inestimable series Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, and volume 2, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology.
By “original and authentic” text, the Protestant orthodox do not mean the autographa which no one can possess but the apographa in the original tongue which are the source of all versions. The Jews throughout history and the church in the time of Christ regarded the Hebrew of the Old Testament as authentic and for nearly six centuries after Christ, the Greek of the New Testament was viewed as authentic without dispute. It is important to note that the Reformed orthodox insistence on the identification of the Hebrew and Greek texts as alone authentic does not demand direct reference to autographa in those languages; the “original and authentic text” of Scripture means, beyond the autograph copies, the legitimate tradition of Hebrew and Greek apographa.
The case for Scripture as an infallible rule of faith and practice . . . . rests on an examination of the apographa and does not seek the infinite regress of the lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility.
A rather sharp contrast must be drawn, therefore, between the Protestant orthodox arguments concerning the autographa and the views of Archibald Alexander Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. . . . Those who claim an errant text, against the orthodox consensus to the contrary, must prove their case. To claim errors in the scribal copies, the apographa, is hardly a proof. The claim must be proven true of the autographa. The point made by Hodge and Warfield is a logical leap, a rhetorical flourish, a conundrum designed to confound the critics—who can only prove their case for genuine errancy by recourse to a text they do not (and surely cannot) have.
Turretin and other high and late orthodox writers argued that the authenticity and infallibility of Scripture must be identified in and of the apographa, not in and of lost autographa.
All too much discussion of the Reformers’ methods has attempted to turn them into precursors of the modern critical method, when in fact, the developments of exegesis and hermeneutics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries both precede and, frequently conflict with (as well as occasionally adumbrate) the methods of the modern era. “
According to Dr. Richard Muller, Mr. White’s view is not found among the Reformers.