Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Text of the New Testament - Lecture 2 Part 1

At the Family Conference 2014, Pastor Jeff Riddle presented three lectures on the text of the New Testament.  You can see my notes from his first teaching here & here.  His second lecture was given on 11/15/2014 and titled "The Text: From the Enlightenment to Critical Text."  Pastor Riddle opened his talk by reading Col. 2:8.  His teachings on the Traditional Text are highly important for all Christians, so I'm posting my notes from his lectures.
The Traditional Text includes the Masoretic Text in Hebrew (OT) and the Textus Receptus in Greek (NT).  These texts should be defended against the modern Critical Text which is the fruit of the Enlightenment and of Protestant liberalism.  The Critical Text has contributed to undermining the integrity and authority of the Scripture in our day.

Do you want a Bible based in the Enlightenment, or do you want a Bible based in the Reformation?  Do you want Bart Ehrman's Bible, or do you want John Owen's Bible?

The Enlightenment of the 18th century was a philosophical movement in Europe.  It threw off the hindrances of orthodoxy and applied reason to faith; the Age of Faith gave way to the Age of Reason.  Attacks started on the historicity of the Bible.  An overflow of the Enlightenment included the critical and rational study of the Bible.  The modern period of the 19th century gave rise to modern historical criticism.  The Bible was studied like any other piece of ancient literature, and scholars did not accept as a presupposition that the Bible was the Word of God; that it was the revelation of God's Truth.

Paraphrasing Edgar Krentz: From 1820-1920, modern historical criticism secularized the Scriptures.  Biblical books became historical documents to study and question like any other ancient source.  The Bible was no longer the criterion for the writing of history; history became the criterion for understanding the Bible.  The Bible stood before criticism as defendant before judge.

The Traditional Text dominated for 300 years.  Eventually, attacks upon it primarily came from Germany where higher criticism and rationalism caught hold.

Johann Albrecht Bengel formulated the dictum used by modern textual critics that the difficult reading is to be preferred over the easier reading (because scholars assumed that primitive Christianity did not have as high a view of Jesus as later Christianity; therefore, 1 Tim. 3:16 should read 'he' and not 'God').  Bengel also said that we can look at the variants of the NT, but they do not affect any cardinal doctrine of Christianity.

German scholar Johann Jakob Griesbach developed a list of rules for text criticism, including the rule that the shorter reading is to be preferred over the longer reading (because the tendency would be to expand the text rather than take things away).

Another 19th century rule for text criticism was that manuscripts are to be weighed rather than counted.  For example, Mark 16:9-20 is omitted in the modern Critical Text, but it is only missing from 3 Greek manuscripts; it is included in over 1,000 manuscripts.

For the first time in 1831, a copy of the New Testament (NT) that diverged from the Traditional Text was produced by the German scholar Karl Lachmann, who relied primarily on readings he found in early manuscripts (called Uncials) that omitted the longer passages (discussed in the first lecture).  He believed that the Uncials were better texts of the NT.  Lachmann quote: "I am confronted with a sacred task, the struggle to regain the original form of the New Testament."  He thought that with new resources and rationalistic thought, he could take the "inflated" Traditional Text and use the powers of his mind to get back to what the original text really said.

The more recently discovered manuscripts (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) are the bases for the 19th century modern critical scholars who want to change and overthrow the Traditional Text of the NT.

Modern text critic Eldon Epp said that "Karl Lachmann created a beachhead for the eventual assault upon and overthrow of the Traditional Text by modern scholarship...Another leading general in the battle against the Textus Receptus was the German scholar Tischendor who published his own Greek NT."

The last update of the King James Bible was the 1769 Benjamin Blaney revision (an update of spelling for modern usage).  In 1870 a committee met to revise the language of the King James.  Instead, they decided to produce their own critical edition of the NT.  In 1881, British scholars Westcott & Hort published their landmark edition of the modern critical Greek NT.  They also published an entirely new modern English translation based on their new Critical Text called the English Revised Version, which was the first modern translation to challenge the King James Bible.

~~This ends the first half of Pastor Riddle's second lecture~~
For me and my house, we choose the Bible of the Reformation and of John Owen: the King James Bible based on the Traditional Text.

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

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"Beware lest  any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ," (Col. 2:8).