Captain Deflector vs The Tiber

In James White, Preservationist Textual Criticism, Tall Tales of Textual Criticismby Chris ThomasLeave a Comment

In yesterday’s episode of the Dividing Line, Mr. White took exception to the following post by Taylor DeSoto. Sadly much of what he said was his typical ranting and contained no substance and not much interaction with the post itself.

The post entitled, There is No Modern Doctrine of Preservation, seems to have been too much for Mr. White to handle. The post was making a simple claim. Namely, that the modern view of preservation is not different than the generic preservation we see attending all artifacts of the ancient world. But this is diametrically opposed to the DOCTRINE of Providential Preservation taught in Scripture. The idea that the text of Scripture has the same generic preservation attending it as the writings of any author of the ancient world, mummies of Egypt, Sumerian artifacts, etc. is simply false. Mr. White needs this type of “preservation” because he has admitted to rejecting the doctrine of Providential Preservation that is taught in Scripture and explicated in the writings of the Reformers, whom he doesn’t read, and in our confessions.

But in this post I want to deal with the Papist View of Scripture that Mr. White affirms. One of his constant complaints is his belief that those of us who affirm the Confessional View of Scripture have no consistent methodology for evaluating Greek mss & their variants. This is of course a false claim on his part that has been dealt with elsewhere on this site.

To refresh our memories lets examine the claim that we have no consistent methodology. First, this claim assumes that the work of manuscript collation is not finished. We see this expressed by John Owen when he was dealing with Walton’s Polyglot

We add, that the whole Scripture, entire as given out from God, without any loss, is preserved in the copies of the originals yet remaining; what varieties there are among the copies themselves shall be afterward declared. In them all, we say, is every letter and tittle of the word. These copies, we say, are the rule, standard, and touchstone of all translations, ancient or modern, by which they are in all things to be examined, tried, corrected, amended; and themselves only by themselves.

(Of the Integrity & Purity of the Hebrew & Greek Texts of Scripture by John Owen)

In this statement we see the sentiment of the Reformers concerning the autographic text. It was contained in the apographs that they had access to during the 17th century.

Edward Leigh makes a similar statement:

Preservation of the books of the Scripture: the fury of many wicked Tyrants which sought to suppress and extinguish them, Many of the Bibles were taken from Christians and burnt in those cruel persecutions under Diocle­sian and Maxminianus his Collegue. but could not. As God caused it to be writ­ten for the good of his people, so by divine providence he hath preserved the same whole and entire.

John Jewel:

By the space of so many thousand years the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of Pharisees, of heretics, of fire, and of sword, and yet continueth and standeth until this day, without altering or changing one letter. This was a wonderful work of God, that, having so many, so great enemies, and passing through so many, so great dangers, it yet continueth still, without adding or altering of any one sentence, or word, or letter. No creature was able to do this: it was God’s work. He preserved it, that no tyrant should consume it, no tradition choke it, no heretic maliciously should corrupt it. For his name’s sake, and for the elect’s sake, he would not suffer it to perish. For in it God hath ordained a blessing for his people, and by it he maketh covenant with them for life everlasting. Tyrants, and Pharisees, and heretics, and the enemies of the cross of Christ, have an end; but the word of God hath no end. No force shall be able to decay it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Cities shall fall : kingdoms shall come to nothing : empires shall fade away as the smoke ; but the truth of the Lord shall continue for ever. Burn it, it will rise again : kill it, it will live again: cut it down by the root, it will spring again. ” There is no wisdom, neither understanding, nor counsel against the Lord.” (Prov 21)

Many more such quotes could be provided, and you can find their writings here at the site. But these and the one’s in this post Providentially Preserved? show that the Reformers believed that in the extant apographs, to which they had access, that they had the autographic text. Which see expressed by Richard Capel in his Remains:

Well then, 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 scapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, then to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scapes in the printing, and ’tis certaine, that what mistake is in one print, is correct in another. (p.79, 80)

Capel’s Remains

They believed that in their day, with the manuscripts they had, that through collation, they could arrive at the autographic text and that they had done so. So there is no need for those of us who agree with them to have a “consistent methodology for developing the TR from all the mss and papyri we have today.” We merely rely on the methodology the Reformers used which is not the methodology used by Mr. White and other RTC advocates. We agree with the Reformers that what Scripture teaches about its own miraculous Providential Preservation must be the foundation by which we evaluate all Greek mss and their variants. So where texts disagree, the rest of Scripture’s teaching must be the foundation by which we evaluate readings. This is how we know that in Matthew 1:7,8, & 10, that the correct readings are Asa & Amon and not Asaph & Amos. The work is done.

But now let’s look to see if Mr. White has a consistent methodology. If he does, then textual critics should use the same methods over time to arrive at the same conclusions concerning the same text. But is this the case? Obviously not. RTC methods change over time as does the method for evaluating manuscripts. In the late 19th & early 20th centuries mss were broken up into “families”. Yet now the idea of textual families is considered passe and out of date. The idea that RTC has a consistent methodology is ludicrous when you read through this list of 105 verses that in many places did not exist until the modern age. (105 Verses in the CT)

Or let’s look at the Greek in NA28 for 2 Peter 3:10

NA28: Ἥξει δὲ ἡμέρα κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν ᾗ οἱ οὐρανοὶ ῥοιζηδὸν παρελεύσονται, στοιχεῖα δὲ καυσούμενα λυθήσεται, καὶ γῆ καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔργα οὐχ εὑρεθήσεται.

The Greek word “οὐχ” is at issue.

KJV 2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up [kai ge kai ta en aute erga katakaesetai].”

2 Peter 3:10: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will not be laid bare [kai ge kai ta en aute erga ouch eurethesetai].

“The NA 28 editors simply followed Metzger’s trajectory by offering a conjecturally emended reading which inserts the negative particle ouch, even though it is found in no extant Greek manuscripts and only weakly attested in the versional witnesses.”

Dr. Jeffrey Riddle has demonstrated here (Word Magazine 91), from where the above is taken, that not only does NA28 change the doctrine of the verse, it adds a word never before known in the Greek text.

So in previous NA editions, it would read as follows:

2 Peter 3:10: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare [kai ge kai ta en aute erga eurethesetai].

But now it would read:

2 Peter 3:10: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will not be laid bare [kai ge kai ta en aute erga ouch eurethesetai].

How on earth is adding a word with ZERO Greek support a logically consistent methodology? Especially when the added word changes the entire meaning of the passage and the doctrines associated with it? This, and the 105 examples above, demonstrates that Mr. White is the one lacking a cohesive and consistent textual methodology.

But to drive it home even further, what about the methodology of RTC in general? It has changed now from what was put forth in Metzger’s book to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method outlined in this book by Wasserman & Gurry:  A New Approach to Textual Criticism an Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method. And it was apparently this new theory that led to the inclusion of “not” in 2 Peter 3:10. A consistent methodology should be, consistent.

But I said we were going to deal with Mr. White’s Papist view of Scripture.  How is this view consistent with the Roman view?  Because Mr. White’s view of the “preservation” was originally formulated during the counter-reformation as an attack on Sola Scriptura by Richard Simon.  You can find his works dealing with the Old & New Testaments here.  Perhaps before Mr. White 1) claims those of us who hold to the Confessional View of Scripture have no methodology, & 2) imply we’re somehow papists, he actually deals with the tangled web of anti-biblical nonsense that is RTC.  And he needs to stop committing the fundamental sin of Romanism:  replacing the authority of God’s word with his own autonomous human reasoning. Well done Mr. White, you played yourself.

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