21 August, 2005

The Healing of the Blind Textual Critics

It always amazes me when I hear of students and scholars in the same field of study as me attempt to explain away hard sayings in the Scriptures. There are many people who study in this field as though it is any other type of discipline within the realm of humanities.

I do not fall in this category of Theologians (or budding Theologians). My presupposition is that the Bible is the Word of God and that the sections with which I have difficulty I must study more thoroughly and attempt to reconcile these with other areas of Scripture. The famous Augustine of Hippo (c.354-430, African Theologian) has a wonderful quote. He says, "I believe that I may understand". This needs to be our attitude toward the Scriptures if we are going to have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must believe as our presupposition and seek out understanding.

My friend Adam Boone emailed me the below article to show, once again, the evidence that "modern scholarship" stumbles upon to bear witness to the Words of Christ and the Scriptures. It reminded me of the mid-20th century "higher critics" that thought that they would disprove portions of the Old Testament with the recovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940s. What did they find? They found that the Word of God has been well preserved through-out the centuries just as he said that he would. There was little to no difference between these ancient texts and the ones that we have today. The Word has been preserved. We can trust our Bible.

He is a faithful, covenant keeping God.


Below is the article concerning the discovery of a biblical location that has been lost for centuries. Realize that the article is from CNN and not from a "right wing" news source out to prove Christianity. There is not a news source in postmodern America that is more hostile to Christianity than that of CNN. Enjoy.

Pool of Siloam

Discussion Points:
Augustine's quote
The Authority of Scripture
Presuppositional versus Classical Apologetics

24 comments:

notliberal said...

Yesterday I listened to Brian Schwertley's sermon on this subject over at Sermonaudio.com. I thought his point was excellent, for us to say we're Christians we must believe in scripture and that scripture is without error. The minute we start making excuses for not believing this passage or that passage or when we go into scripture with a presupposition against what is being taught, we can no longer consider ourselves believers.

We can't fall into the various traps that Satan has laid out for us concerning God's word. We can't run around making scientific exceptions to what God has taught us in His word, we can't run around claiming cultural differences in order to get around various commands of God. To do so is a sign of unbelief, not to mention arrogant.

Scripture is God's word given to us, it is a blessing for us to have. How dare we make excuses not to believe in what our Lord has taught us. As believers, we have to be on the lookout for those who seek to tear down the authority of scripture. Sadly, these people are often in the church and well studied.

Nate said...

I went to Dutton URC last week to hear fellow Seminarian William Boekestein. Bill preached on the last petition in the Lord's prayer.

Dutton URC uses the NIV. The NIV does not have that in the Lord's prayer; instead they footnote it. "This may or may not be part of the Bible."

Bill said FROM THE PULPIT "I will be using the New King James because as Christians we are not to read the Word of God out of the footnotes."

This is just another case of those who claim to be the church's scholars bowing their knee to unbelieving scholarship. This is where churches begin to fall:
when the pride of men in the name of scholoarship trumps the wisdom of God.

Mark said...

It's disturbing to see Christians pick and choose which parts of Scripture they consider to be authoritative. As far as aplogetics go, we can throw all the proof we want at an unbeliever using either system and they'll still deny the truth unless the Spirit works in them. That's why it's important not to get overly worked up about things like this - it only proves what we already know, it does nothing for the heathen.

notliberal said...

Well, I can't say I mind ripping into the HIV version of scripture. The HIV has no business footnoting the Lord's Prayer.

Mark said...

The NIV is commendable inasmuch as it tries to make the Bible more understandable to modern audiences, but from what I hear it's not as good of a translation as the KJV. (I'm not a Hebrew or Greek scholar, so I have to trust those who know that sort of thing.) And if they're footnoting the Lord's prayer, then there are more severe issues then bad translation.

All that said, I think that there's a lot to be said for easier-to-read translations, there's nothing inherently holy about "thees" and "thous". I use the KJV myself in part because I'm so used to it, but provided that the translation is good there's no problem with a translation in today's English.

notliberal said...

I have no problem with modern translation so long as it is in line with the original text. Peter doesn't become Rocky and Jesus doesn't become Bullwinkle just to appease teens and others. Let's not forget that the creators of the HIV have also come out with so called 'gender neutral' versions of scripture. I think when you have that sort of thing going on it makes the HIV version look a little shady.

Schwertley used to use the NKJV which was decent. I happen to like KJV, it helps that not only do we use it at the ARP but for some strange reason everyone seems to pray in KJV English.

Mark said...

But if you pray in Old English, God's more likely to say yes. You're quite right, some of the modern translations are awful. There's one, and I forget which, which included the verse "I Paul say unto you, do not be bad". And let's not forget the phenomenon of turning Biblical characters into animated vegetables.

Nate said...

I say lets pray and read in the venacular(spelling?).

Google NIV errors and see what you come up with.

Also for those on the non majority text side of the debate I would reccomend the New American Standard. It is pretty good. (The problem that I have is the same textual critic problems that the NIV essentially have.)

We need an accurate translation that is current, based on the majority text of scripture, and approved for reading and teaching in the churches by a general assembly or some other high court in the churches.

We have too many translations as it is...so we have to be very careful in going this route...

I will stick with the Authorized Version until that day comes. (Maybe little Owen will someday get to lead family worship from a modern-majority text-assembly approved version.

Nate said...

VERNACULAR

Droll Flood said...

I was taking with Billy and a couple others after that sermon just mentioned. I observe even within seminaries this tendency to make sure that students call into question the Word of God before recognizing it as the Word of God. I can't recall a single instance in Scripture where God says "Better check this against your better judgement." It is revealed in His Word that the sinner is proclaimed to by God as guilty and has no place talking back to Him and told to repent of his wickedness (which is only made to come to pass by Christ's death and resurrection if he does repent: EFFECTUAL GRACE). Billy was very correct and to be commended for not caving in to this unauthoritative footnoting. By the way fellow blogspoters: see my blog (sorry nate...I don't mean to take any attention away from your blog...Your is FAR superior):
drollflood.blogspot.com

Droll Flood said...

Is it now a sure sign of Christian piety to slit one's Theological and epistemological throat in ever more daring ways?

KElizabeth said...

Scripture is not to be interpreted anyway one wants it to be. That's one of the problems I see in today's churches. People find the passage too convicting so they change the meaning to fit their thinking. There are serveral times that I had to rethink what I thought about a passage because I misinterpreted it. The Bible is offensive. It is written by a holy God and goes right to the core of our wicked and sinful heart. As Christians, we should find this liberating.
As for translations, I prefer the NASB or the KJV since they are both literal translations. These modern version are yet another attempt to dumby things down for our generation.

Julio said...

But even for those of us in the Byzantine Priority side of the text-critical divide, the doxology at the end of the Oratio Dominica is problematic. While Chrysostom comments on the doxology as part of his text, older Greek (Origen) and Latin (Tetullian, Cyprian) commentaries ommit it altogether.

Also, the historic liturgical recitation of the Lord's Prayer has not included the doxology. In the ancient Constantinopolitan liturgy, it comes at end of the prayer proper as an exclamation of the priest (Οτι σου εστιν η Βασιλεια και η δυναμις και η δοξα, του Πατρος και του Υιου και του Αγιου Πνευματος, νυν και αει και εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων. Αμήν.). In the Roman rite, it exists not at all--and in fact, it's not even a part of the text of the Vulgate, which usually preserves Byzantine/ecclesiastical readings. Which is not to say that the doxology isn't in fact quite ancient: a form of it appears already in the Didakhe (Οτι σου εστιν η δυναμις και η δοξα εις τους αιωνας, 8.2) and in the Old Syriac version.

The point is this: even the external witnesses that help us establish confidently the Byzantine/ecclesiastical text do not offer us very sure footing in this particular instance. The Hodges-Farstad Majority Text edition may proclaim itself as definitive, but it really isn't.

About the NIV, apart from the issue of its textual basis, the main difficulty is that it simply incorporates heavy exegetical decisions into the text without so much as a notice, and often right alongside perfectly good renderings. Protestations of lack of "literal translation" are less relevant in my mind, because a literal translation of anything from a donor language to a recepient language is impossible, as anyone who speaks more than one language fluently can attest. My favorite example, which I share with my students in day two of Greek I, is the Spanish phrase "Mi mamá me dio aliento". A literal translation into English would read "My mom gave me breath". English speakers would likely understand this as a metaphor meaning "my mom gave me life", when in fact it simply means "My mom encouraged me".

Nate said...

Julio (translated into English as Hulio)

I agree that a text cannot be translated literally. You as well as I know that this is non-theologically trained speak for most accurate (Ie, not dynamic equivolentally translated.).

The point is understood. If we believe that the autographs are the verbally inspired Word of God we would want this to come into our own language both in word and in purpose.

As far as the argument on the last petition of the Lord's prayer: I know the arguments and I do not buy them. I cannot go for the idea that the Holy Spirit did not preserve the very Words of God. (Not saying that there are not God fearing men on both sides of the argument.)

Thanks for the imput though professor.

KElizabeth said...

nate kelizabeth here. So where in Pa are you from? I lived here my whole life. I've never been to Mi. Not Liberal knows who I am.

Droll Flood said...

Julio: An observation: "My mom inspired me" could carry the same weight as "My mom encouraged me." The word 'inspired' has the same connotations as giving breath and has the idea of encouragement there.

Droll Flood said...

Nate:
I understood what you meant (fortunately for us language isn't such a strict thing...context dictates a word's meaning and words dictate the context meaning) but I believe a better term would be 'transliterate' (i.e. to change letters, words, etc.) into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language.
You know me and my techinicalities...

Droll Flood said...

er...technicalities. A slight mis-type there...sorry.

The Director said...

psst...

www.theministryofvocabulary.blogspot.com to read the tragic tale of the demise of the original blog.

Julio said...

Nathan> But my point is precisely that accuracy makes some functionally equivalent renderings necessary. Reproducing, say, the syntactical structures of Greek in an English translation can prevent the grammatical understanding of the text by an English-speaking reader. I'm hardly suggesting anything less than elevated language and high style, but rather am only objecting to translations that are good in Greek but bad in English (Spurgeon's criticism of the 1881 RV).

As for textual criticism, I would only like to mention that I'm not on the other side of the issue from you, but rather, that I too hold to Byzantine Priority precisely because I belive the text to be divinely preserved. What I'm saying is that the Doxology at the end of the Lord's Prayer, like the Comma Johanneum, is not an indisputably attested part of the Byzantine/Ecclesiastical/Majority text. Incidentally, I should like to mention that the recent Robinson-Pierpont Majority Text edition (2000) is in many ways far superior to the earlier Hodges-Farstad edition.

Meanwhile, it is thrilling to be called "professor" by everyone's favorite divine! :-)

"Droll Flood"> Actually, "inspire" has a much broader semantic range than "encourage", and while their domains do overlap at points, their "first-thought meanings" don't coincide. Using "inspire" to translate "dar aliento" would muddle the rendering of a rather unambiguous idiom, and the result would be an imprecise translation, at best.

notliberal said...

Julio and Durwood are typing way to much. Oh my, I'm turning into James. Someone fork me.

Droll Flood said...

So what your pleading is the principle underlying this post:
“I understood what you meant (fortunately for us language isn't such a strict thing...context dictates a word's meaning and words dictate the context meaning) but I believe a better term would be 'transliterate' (i.e. to change letters, words, etc.) into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language.
You know me and my techinicalities...”
At the same time what is the place then for this post?:
"Protestations of lack of "literal translation" are less relevant in my mind, because a literal translation of anything from a donor language to a recepient language is impossible, as anyone who speaks more than one language fluently can attest. My favorite example, which I share with my students in day two of Greek I, is the Spanish phrase "Mi mamá me dio aliento". A literal translation into English would read "My mom gave me breath". English speakers would likely understand this as a metaphor meaning "my mom gave me life", when in fact it simply means "My mom encouraged me".

Your saying the best translation as possible, right?

Chris said...

Bill said FROM THE PULPIT "I will be using the New King James because as Christians we are not to read the Word of God out of the footnotes."

This sort of arrogance is the cause of needless factions and division within the visible church. There is a point, following Burgon, to have an authorized text to read from... but to decry the use of footnotes to show marginal variants and alternative translations as being heretical is what is itself schismatic. Following this road, we would travel with the schismatic Edward F. Hills and call anyone who did textual research atheists for daring to change the mainbody text of the 1769 edition of the KJV, as if that was the definitive textual and translational standard which the church can never improve on. What blindness.

Nate said...

Chris we believe that the autographs are the Word of God..not some crazy 17oo whatever of the KJV.
The KJV is a great translation...but the Word is in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Thanks for joining the discussion. What autograph do you think is the best?