Thursday, April 19, 2007

Transmission vs inspiration

David Bryan has recently claimed that:
this issue with holding a "high view" of Scriptural innerancy that is free even of historical or mathematical contradiction (as opposed to a supposedly "low" one wherein these things are allowed for) is one on which you yourself have been inconsistent. If it does not matter if a canonical book of Scripture as accepted today contains numerical discrepancies ("Did God lose count somewhere between Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles?") then it should not matter that the book of Judith contains a curious reference to Nebby, King of Assyria.
in reference to my accusation of Eastern Orthodoxy's resembling liberal Prot-ism. I admit 2 things:

1) I came to that conclusion (ie, that EO-xy in many ways resembles liberal Prot-ism, particularly in terms of epistemology) a while back (ie, more than 2 yrs ago) and then kind of forgot why I did, b/c I shortly thereafter ceased heavy polemical discussions on the subject, and
2) I forgot to list my 2nd objection to the Book of Judith's canonicity earlier. Not only does it list Nebuchadnezzar as king "in Nineveh" (as opposed to "king of Assyria") (which I mentioned), but it also places the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem chronologically prior to its destruction (which I neglected to mention).
W/ that in mind, I apologise to David Bryan for not putting all my cards on the table at first. 'Twas bad of me.

David Bryan has challenged me on the copyist errors of the OT, as listed by Ben in the first link Bryan posted.
I note in passing that Ben and I once discussed the biblical basis for capital punishment over AIM chat; he finished it by appealing to papal decree. Just sayin'.

In my combox, David Bryan neglects to mention that, in his subsequent forum post he "stand(s) corrected; point conceded."
'Twas in response to this link, posted by another member of the forum, that he said that.
So we can go ahead and disregard Ben's post, as David Bryan went on to say in his comment here. And he himself seemed back then on the forum to agree that this is unimportant.

Finally, it may not have been sufficiently brought out by either of us in our 2004 convo the difference between inspiration and transmission of the biblical text. My claim is that the original manuscripts (MSS) were inerrant, not necessarily the copies.

Bryan asks:
how do we know which number to "correct," as did the editors of the NIV? Do we know for certain in each case that one number is more ancient than the other?
I'm not certain how we know. But again, that's why I said what I said at the time, which was:
is it absolutely necessary to know for certain which numbers are the correct ones in each of these cases? Which important Church doctrine rests on getting these right at this time in the modern era? These comprise such a small amount in comparison to the vastness of the biblical text that it's not worth the worry.
Bryan asks:
Also: even if these were mere "copyist errors," is it not still a contradiction within the manuscripts God saw fit to preserve for the Church? How do we know that these lost, "original" manuscripts did not also contain these discrepancies?
How could it be a contradiction w/in the MSS? This stuff is God-breathed, man.
And obviously God did not see fit to preserve the copies w/o any error - that's, um, how there are those errors.
Speaking of which, this just occurred to me - this is eXACTly what I was talking about when I compared EO-doxy w/ liberal Prot-ism. Doubting the biblical MSS - it's like a can't-miss proposition for Roman Catholic and EO-dox apologists. Never ceases to amaze me - it's the old saw-off-the-limb approach.

As for James vs Paul...I dunno - we can keep talking about that too, maybe we can put headers on our comments. Or you could tackle it on your blog.

3 comments:

Rhology said...

I edited this post moderately about an hour later. It now approaches coherency. My apologies to anyone who read before the editing.

David Bryan said...

So...

I've tried several times to go into lengthy responses to this. I realized just now that I could respond to two things here that would say everything I've been trying to say.

"My claim is that the original manuscripts (MSS) were inerrant, not necessarily the copies."

Really, this is a useless position. What GOOD does it do us, really, if an original-yet-lost-to-time manuscript was innerant down to the last details if God didn't see fit to preserve it in such a state through all generations? God, according to this criterion, made innerant Scriptures, then let them suffer corruption which, in your view, detracts from their innerance.

"How could it be a contradiction w/in the MSS? This stuff is God-breathed, man...this is eXACTly what I was talking about when I compared EO-doxy w/ liberal Prot-ism. Doubting the biblical MSS - it's like a can't-miss proposition for Roman Catholic and EO-dox apologists. Never ceases to amaze me - it's the old saw-off-the-limb approach."

You assume that it is ONLY the MSS that is God-breathed. Never mind the fact that the NT authors themselves almost ALWAYS preferred to quote the Greek Septuagint text instead of the Hebrew Masoretic. The writer of Hebrews bases a MAJOR Christological argument on a verse from the LXX that, if read from the Hebrew, makes no sense. Someone should have told him, it seems, to stay away from "inferior" texts when writing Holy Writ. In fact, from the late first century/early second century onward, "doubting the biblical MSS" was considered something that made you more faithful to apostolic Christian teaching rather than the Synagogue of Satan--the unbelieving Jews, in the minds of the apostolic fathers.

David Bryan said...

Two more things, unrelated to my points (or the topic) above:

1) My admission of being corrected was in reference to HOW the errors were accomplished; someone took me to task for not understanding HOW the errors crept in. THAT the errors existed within the texts AS WE HAVE THEM was never in question, nor did I admit any error regarding whether or not the errors existed. You were still a bit incoherent in your saying what I did and/or did not admit to.

2) I am beginning a response to the Ss. Paul and James/Faith and Works issue on my blog.