Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Text of the New Testament - Lecture 2 Part 2

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."  His teachings on the Traditional Text are highly important for all Christians, so I'm posting my notes from his lectures.  Pastor Riddle opened his talk by reading Col. 2:8.  You can read my notes for the first part of Pastor Riddle's second lecture here.  The following notes conclude his second lecture:
In 1859, Charles Darwin published his Origins of Species.  There are parallel thoughts of evolution by the text criticism scholars who want to strip away the accretions and get back to the originals because the texts have evolved and become flawed.  Scholars believe that they can use modern science to restore the NT to its primitive original.  Unlike the Reformation Fathers, modern text scholars do not believe in the preservation of the Scriptures in the vast majority of existing manuscripts.

The new Bible translation of 1881 based on a different text caused an uproar in England and America.  John Burgon wrote against the modern Critical Text and against the English Revised Version. In 1901 an American version of the English Revised Version was published called the American Standard Version.

In 1952 another committee was put together to produce another modern translation called the Revised Standard Version.  In 1989, the New Revised Standard Version was published.  Today's ESV is a daughter version of the 1881 Revised Version.

The real issue of translation is the underlying text.  This is what has lead to the various modern translations.  Dean Burgon won the battle, but lost the war, even among conservative Christians.  Today, the modern Critical Text has been embraced by scholars and pastors alike.

B.B. Warfield accommodated the modern science of text criticism and the modern Critical Text through his defense of a new concept, the idea of the inerrant, original autograph of the Bible.  This represented a significant shift in interpretation of the reformed confessions.  No longer was the emphasis on the providential, preservation of the Word of God in the extant copies or apographs of Scripture, but in the elusive inerrancy of the autographs.  The autographs of Scripture no longer exist; therefore, they have to be reconstructed by the modern text critics.

In 1899, Vincent offered this definition of text criticism: the process by which it is sought to determine the original text of the document or of a collection of documents and to exhibit it free from all errors, corruptions, and variations which it may have accumulated in the course of transmission by successive copying.  This is NOT the same viewpoint as the London Baptist Confession of Faith (LBCF), Chapter 1, paragraph 8.

The 20th century leading text critic was Bruce Metzger.  He was a tireless promoter of the modern Critical Text, of modern translations, and of the method that came to be known as reasoned eclecticism.  He influenced evangelical scholars and wrote The Text of the New Testament.  His doctrinal student Bart Ehrman co-edited the 4th edition of this book in 2005.  The subtitle is Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, which shows a 19th century Enlightenment mindset.  Text criticism was promoted as a confessionally neutral academic discipline.  Metzger influenced D.A. Carson, James White, and Dan Wallace.
Protests of text criticism did come from Reformed Christians. In 1956, Edward F. Hills published The King James Version Defended based on his belief of the divine preservation of Scripture.  Hills influenced Theodore Letis who argued for the ecclesiastical text of Scripture.  Also, the Trinitarian Bible Society in the UK has stood firm for the Traditional Text.
Scholars Arthur Farstad, Zane Hodges, & Wilbur Pickering from Dallas Theological Seminary defended the Majority Text or Byzantine Text over against the modern Critical Text.  In 1985 they published The Majority Text of the New Testament in Greek.  In 1979 & 1982, they were behind the printing of the New King James Version which based the NT on the Textus Receptus (but had problems with the OT).  In 2005 Maurice Robinson produced The Byzantine Text in Greek.
The Fundamentalist reaction was the King James Only movement which promoted an inspired status for the King James Bible itself.  Although Pastor Riddle is sympathetic with their desire to use the King James Bible, the movement can be cultish and contradicts the LBCF which teaches that the Scriptures were immediately inspired in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, not in translations.
The Traditional Text was attacked and toppled.  What has been the fruit of the embrace of the modern Critical Greek Text of the NT?  And what has been the fruit of all the modern translations that have flowed from the presses?  Has it produced a vigorous, confident Church?  Has it provided unity and cohesion?

~~This ends Pastor Riddle's second lecture~~
Pastor Riddle's ending rhetorical questions are of course answered in the negative.  The plethora of Bibles that have flooded Christian bookstores has not produced a vigorous, confident church that is united and cohesive.
The issue is not which English translation is best based on the correct translation philosophy.  As succinctly summarized by Pastor Riddle:  "The real issue of translation is the underlying text."

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

"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).