Friday, December 12, 2014

The Text of the New Testament - Lecture 1 Part 2

At the Family Conference 2014, Pastor Jeff Riddle presented three lectures on the text of the New Testament.  His first teaching was on 11/14/2014 and titled "The Text: From the Apostles to the Reformation."  Pastor Riddle opened his talk by reading 2 Timothy 1:13-14.  His teachings on the Traditional Text are highly important for all Christians, so I'm posting my notes from his lectures.  You can read my notes for the first part of Pastor Riddle's first lecture here.  The following notes conclude his first lecture:
Pastor Riddle's presupposition is that the Traditional Text is the text that the Lord has sovereignly preserved for His people.  It is the text that pastors and elders should diligently study and from which they should confidently and without embarrassment or hesitation exegete, exposit, and expound in their preaching and teaching.

The Traditional Text from the Apostles to the Reformation:
  • The period of time of the actual writing of the New Testament (NT) by the Apostles and by their apostolic associates, (2 Peter 1:21).
  • The period of time in which those writings were copied by faithful men.
  • The period of time when providentially the text was put into printed form.
We do not have the original autographs of the NT, but we do have the preserved copies of Scripture, or the apographa.

Scribal mistakes were made accidentally, but sometimes they were made intentionally.  During the first few centuries of the Christian movement there was an ongoing battle over the heresy of Arianism.  This heresy was named after Arius, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and denied the deity of Jesus by claiming that Jesus was not equal in essence to God the Father, but that He was subordinate to God.  Many of the texts underlying the modern Critical Text came from the region of Alexandria, Egypt.  Could this be why 1 John 5:7 and 1 Tim. 3:6 are different in some manuscripts?  Jehovah Witnesses' are modern-day Arians.

A consensus text of the NT emerged from early Christianity that came to be copied and widely used within the Church.  It didn't arise from church councils; it was not dictated by universal decree; it didn't come through scholarly reconstruction; but it emerged simply, organically, and naturally to be known as the traditional apographic text of the NT.

There are four providential factors of the Reformation period that led to the traditional hand-copied text being placed in a standard, printed form:
  1. The prior introduction of cloth-based paper led to the development of paper mills and paper being used as a writing material instead of vellum.
  2. The printing press with movable type was invented by Gutenberg in 1453.  Printing gave the Bible a fixed and stable format.
  3. Humanism in Europe revived interest in the classical languages.
  4. The Protestant Reformation erupted in 1517 when Luther tacked his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg.
The culmination of these events led to interest in reading the Bible in Hebrew and Greek.  The first printed Greek NT was edited by Erasmus in 1516.  His NT was an eclectic text because he chose the best readings based on the evidence.  His work became the basis for Protestant printers and scholars to produce a faithful edition of the Greek NT.

For the first time in the history of Christianity, a standard, uniform received text (i.e. the Textus Recptus) of the NT emerged by God's providence.

~~This ends Pastor Riddle's first lecture~~
In 2011, my husband and I realized that God had preserved His Word through the Traditional Text, and since that time, we read, study, and memorize from the King James Bible as a family.  Unfortunately, the unity and the clarity (given by using just one Bible translation) that we have at home is lost at church.  

In our local church, men from our congregation read from their personal Bibles during the worship service; however, those in attendance usually have no idea what Bible version they are using.  It's very difficult to follow along with a reading from a different Bible translation, so each week I experience the disharmony caused by the various translations being used.

Our local church elders fully subscribe to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.  They know that the preaching of God's Word is a means of grace, and they preach and teach from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  Sometimes a sermon or teaching is based on a word that isn't even in my Bible, and therefore, the message is confusing and I find myself distracted.  It brings to mind 1 Cor. 14:33 which says "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

As Americans we relish our individuality and freedom to choose, but the Bible is clear that God's Word is incorruptible and will endure forever (1 Peter 1: 23, 25).  I pray that God will bring His Church back under His preserved Word of the Traditional Text and providentially silence the cacophony produced by the plethora of man-made translations.

In my next post on the Text of the New Testament, I'll share my notes on Pastor Riddle's second lecture.

"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us," (2 Tim. 1:13-14).