Saturday, February 25, 2012

Old King James was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he…

Textual Philosophy
    The present writer favors the Majority Text–Byzantine Priority school philosophically, though he does not always agree with their methods. The fact remains that between eighty to ninety percent of the MSS usually agree with each other and belong to the Byzantine text-type. While it is true that the Byzantine did not become the majority until the ninth century, never the less, it did have a presence in the fifth century. Another point to be suggested is the fact that if eighty to ninety percent of the MSS do agree with the Byzantine text-type, what is to be said concerning the percentage for the Alexandrian or the Western? Proponents of the Alexandrian or Western texts often suggest that the Majority Text ignores history, though this suggestion seems to betray the very people who purport such a fact; for is it not also an ignorance of history to suggest that for the better part of a millennium God chose to use the Byzantine as the majority text? Also, the proponents of the Alexandrian/Western schools by their suggestion, seem to rule out the Eastern Church and ignore the history of the church. One major half of the Christian church has always used this text-type. This tends to be overlooked by western eyes, especially those of an Alexandrian/Western agenda.
    It is suggested that the Majority Text school must do business with internal evidence, and that the only way to accept this line of thinking is to completely rule out internal evidence. For instance, how many internal variants do we have? In 1707 John Mills figured over 30,000 differences. With just around 100 manuscripts. Today the number of manuscripts is over 5,700. It would seem that no one knows how many differences there really are. Wallace suggests that the problems dealt with in the USB apparatus are just the tip of the iceberg. Bart Erhman suggests, “there are more differences than there are words in the NT.” But it must be adamantly insisted that most of these differences are insignificant and make no difference at all. Why does a proponent of the Majority Text have to deal with internal evidence at all? Do the differences change major doctrines? Of course not. If not, then it seems valid to suggest that where the majority of texts agree there is a comfortable security, especially when one considers the providence of God and the history of the church.
    Textual criticism is culpable of causing the faith of people to be possibly greatly shaken, when one sees the apparent differences of texts and finds that there is no original autograph, or that we can not know for certain the exact words of Scripture to one hundred percent certainty. This may in fact be the result of the scientific age and rationalism upon the spirituality of the church. After all, observation and hypothesis have their place, but before a specimen can be evaluated it sometimes has to be killed and cut up before it can be placed on the microscope for inspection.
     One important fact must not be overestimated that the proponents of the Majority Text school are consistent advocates for the inerrancy of Scripture. This does not suggest that other schools of textual criticism are guilty of denying inspiration, only that the Majority Text school is unabashedly staunch in their insistence of theological priority. An issue that is evident among textual critics is that some scholars deny the inspiration of Scripture using the errors of MSS to “prove” their points. Bart Erhman is one such scholar for example. Moreover, what makes the system of the Majority Text even more admirable is it’s affirmation of theological priority. Consider the words of Pickering: “It is demonstrable that God preserved the New Testament Text, so therefore He must have inspired it! I consider that the preservation of the N.T. Text is a strong argument for its inspiration, and since its inspiration that gives it its authority, the two doctrines go hand in hand.”# The only thing the present author would suggest differently is that the message was preserved, not the exact words. An example of this is seen in the gospels. There are many occurrences in the synoptics which reveal the same meaning but different variations of word order. Moreover, concerning the doctrine of providence, it is true that God could have preserved the original text if he wanted to. The fact that he did not is obviously significant in this light.
    All conservative, orthodox Christians hold to the view of inspiration, and ironically, they are backed into the same corner, philosophically, as the Majority Text school, whether they admit it or not. Specifically, when dealing with the plausibility of arguments—say for the existence of God. For, all human knowledge rests on either empirical (sensory) or rational (intellectual) understanding. That which is not attainable through observation, explanation, or verification is rejected by natural, scientific man. Thus, all conservative Christians hold to a third avenue of human knowledge, namely, that of revelation. It does not have to be “proven” either empirically or rationally; it is taken by faith. For ultimately, as Kant proved, even the argument for the existence of God is filled with holes. It is not through rational arguments that mankind is persuaded of the reliability of Scripture. The Majority Text school makes no apologies for its stance on theological priority—and this is precisely why it is more acceptable philosophically than the other schools. At the end of the day, whether a person holds the KJV or the NIV, God’s Word is still presented and believed by those who accept the third avenue of knowledge, which is revelation.
    A valid response to the statement made by Berkhouwer would be fitting to hear from the proponents of the Alexandrian/Western schools:  A super naturalistic view of revelation would consider any human ‘research’ puzzling and inconceivable.”#

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