Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sawing off the limb he's sitting on

Bryan says:

-What GOOD does it do us, really, if an original-yet-lost-to-time manuscript was innerant (sic) down to the last details if God didn't see fit to preserve it in such a state through all generations?


I should've said "autograph" (ie, the original manuscript written by the hand of the biblical author or his amanuensis) instead of "MSS" before, so just wanted to clear that up.
As I said before, the Scriptures are God-breathed. So if the autographa weren't inerrant and error-free, then God screwed up. This is what I mean when I say that the Eastern Orthodox (EO) and Roman Catholic (RC) positions on this question are nearly always saw-off-their-own-limb.

-God, according to this criterion, made innerant (sic) Scriptures, then let them suffer corruption which, in your view, detracts from their innerance (sic).

I'm not sure of the antecedent to "their inerrance". If you mean the MSS that we have in our possession now, then obviously, yeah. If you mean the autographa, I don't see how that logically follows.

-You assume that it is ONLY the MSS that is God-breathed.

I don't see how taking what 2 Timothy 3:16 says and believing it is an assumption. You yourself are telling me the copied MSS have these problems, so you don't believe that the copied MSS are inerrant. You are in fact questioning whether the autographa are inerrant; on this one you're going back on your own position, which I find strange.

-Never mind the fact that the NT authors themselves almost ALWAYS preferred to quote the Greek Septuagint text instead of the Hebrew Masoretic.

OK.
Are you saying the LXX doesn't contain these copyist errors?

-The writer of Hebrews bases a MAJOR Christological argument on a verse from the LXX that, if read from the Hebrew, makes no sense.

This is tangential, but I'm genuinely curious to know which one.

-Someone should have told him, it seems, to stay away from "inferior" texts when writing Holy Writ.

Or one might reasonably conclude that when a God-inspired writer cites sthg, that psg at least has the seal of approval from God.

-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 private correspondence, I've given you citation after citation of Early Ch Fathers who showed nothing but the highest respect for the authority of Scripture and who indeed considered it their foundational authority. You didn't buy them then; I don't expect you to now. But just to say.
Besides, I don't see how it matters to this question whether many in the early church overreacted to the Jews' general rejection of their Messiah by throwing the baby out w/ the bathwater.

-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.

When did I ever deny that there exist errors in the extant MSS?

The article that was pasted into the comment correcting you also included this:

-Christians readily admit, however, that there have been 'scribal errors' in the copies of the Old and New Testament. It is beyond the capability of anyone to avoid any and every slip of the pen in copying page after page from any book, sacred or secular. Yet we may be sure that the original manuscript (better known as autograph) of each book of the Bible, being directly inspired by God, was free from all error. Those originals, however, because of the early date of their inception no longer exist.


Include me among the "Christians (who) readily admit..." that errors exist in the extant MSS. I don't see what you are trying to say here.

It might be profitable to the discussion if Bryan could elucidate why he thinks that it doesn't matter whether the autographa are inerrant.
What method SHOULD God have used to preserve His written Scriptures throughout history, as opposed to the one He used, to ensure that a correct and trustworthy copy of the Scriptures got into our hands years later, even 2000 years later?

3 comments:

David Bryan said...

We must be talking past each other...

Please understand...I'm not even talking about the autographa, the original manuscripts, because for the purposes of our arguments, that doesn't matter one way or another.

So the originals were inerrant (sorry). OK. Granted. What good does that do us, though, if we don't have that inerrant text today?

"I'm genuinely curious to know which [prophecy is quoted in Hebrews]."

From here: "Hebrews 10:5 quotes Psalm 40:6 as a messianic prophecy: 'Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, but a body Thou hast prepared for Me.' The author has directly quoted from the LXX Psalter. A quick turn to our modern Bibles will confirm that the Hebrew text reads: 'Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired; My ears Thou hast opened.' Based on the Hebrew text, the author of Hebrews has not only misquoted the passage, but has made his mistaken citation a central part of his argument. Only the rendering of the LXX justifies this as a Messianic passage. Did the author of Hebrews get it wrong? Was it an inspired mistake?"

Also...based on the sheer weight of quotation of the LXX in the NT over and above the divergent MSS, I'd be interested in knowing why you insist that it is only the MSS (or the MSS at all) that is referred to by St. Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16...

David Bryan said...

Pt. 2:

"As I said before, the Scriptures are God-breathed. So if the autographa weren't inerrant and error-free, then God screwed up. This is what I mean when I say that the Eastern Orthodox (EO) and Roman Catholic (RC) positions on this question are nearly always saw-off-their-own-limb."

Well, I would agree with you, personally, that the originals were correct. This is not my issue, though, as the above post makes clear -- my issue is that God breathed the originals but let man copy it incorrectly. For your position, this could pose two problems:

1) Who's to say other, more serious errors couldn't have crept in due to copyist error, or even outright bias?
2) What's to stop someone like me, then, from saying, "Well, all right, then...in that case, the original version of Judith really agreed with the Scriptures that got the historical facts right, so we can now count it as originally inerrant, albeit miscopied, Scripture."

This is my big issue with what started all this...if you can dismiss copyist errors as inconsequential, then your reason for dismissing Judith as canonical Scripture--that all extant manuscripts in our posession have glaring historical errors--is insufficient, as well.

"You yourself are telling me the copied MSS have these problems, so you don't believe that the copied MSS are inerrant. You are in fact questioning whether the autographa are inerrant; on this one you're going back on your own position, which I find strange."

I do not understand how you got to that point -- my question was never about whether the original manuscripts were inerrant; rather it was always about how God would allow originally inerrant manuscripts to disappear from the face of the earth completely.

"Are you saying the LXX doesn't contain these copyist errors?"

You know, I've never looked to see. Doesn't matter all that much to me, really.

"Or one might reasonably conclude that when a God-inspired writer cites sthg, that psg at least has the seal of approval from God."

Which would leave the God-inspired Hebrew text as...what? Second fiddle? One would think that, were it so clear in the minds of the apostles that the Hebrew text, as opposed to the Greek, were the preferred text, they would have avoided using such an obviously divergent text; no matter how "messianic" it might have looked, it was not the "God-breathed" Hebrew and therefore inferior.

Unless, of course...the apostles thought the Greek was inspired, too...as indeed the story of its authorship would suggest...

"In private correspondence, I've given you citation after citation of Early Ch Fathers who showed nothing but the highest respect for the authority of Scripture and who indeed considered it their foundational authority. You didn't buy them then; I don't expect you to now. But just to say."

Say...what, exactly? You continually refer to those citations as if they proved your position of sola scriptura and stood in contrast to my quotes...as if you'd bothered to read the works in their entirety (which you've admitted repeatedly that you haven't)...had you the benefit of reading the whole source documents you'd see prima scriptura espoused, not sola scriptura...the very fact that they also espouse holding to extrabiblical tradition as authoritative in addition to lauding the inerrant Scriptures should say as much, but regardless...

"Besides, I don't see how it matters to this question whether many in the early church overreacted to the Jews' general rejection of their Messiah by throwing the baby out w/ the bathwater."

Ah, they were just following the example of the apostles in preferring the Greek to the Hebrew...

"When did I ever deny that there exist errors in the extant MSS?"

When did I ever accuse you of this?? Seriously, this is getting impossible for me to follow...

"It might be profitable to the discussion if Bryan could elucidate why he thinks that it doesn't matter whether the autographa are inerrant."

...or, it might be more profitable if Alan could tell me exactly where I explicitly said that the autography weren't inerrant in the first place...!

"What method SHOULD God have used to preserve His written Scriptures throughout history, as opposed to the one He used, to ensure that a correct and trustworthy copy of the Scriptures got into our hands years later, even 2000 years later?"

Well, if He can guide the original authors to inerrancy, why didn't He preserve the copyists from the same...? A method like that would be a good start, if indeed it's essential that the Church possess the inerrant Word of God to be its final authority...if we don't have that anymore, at least by your criteria, then apparently the gates of hell triumphed over the Church via copyist errors, since her "sole authority" as we have it is no longer inerrant in this world....

...but anyways...

...to bring this all the way back to the original point...what, other than errors that could be attributed to copyist error, are your objections to including Judith in the canon when similar errors are insufficient to exclude other books from said canon?

Rhology said...

BRYAN: So the originals were inerrant
RHOLOGY: OK. I honestly didn't know whether you agreed w/ that or not.

BRYAN: What good does that do us, though, if we don't have that inerrant text today?
RHOLOGY: For all intents and purposes we do have it, though. That's the beauty of the fact that there exist multiple 1000s of copies from all diff parts of the world.

BRYAN: The author (of Hebrews) has directly quoted from the LXX Psalter
RHOLOGY: OK, cool. It's not surprising, since most (or maybe even all, I do not know) of NT quotations of the OT are from the LXX not the Masoretic text, though the citations are not always verbatim from the LXX.
But I don't see the big force of the argument you seemed to be making. It's not as if there is some lack of Messianic references in the OT; if Heb 10 had cited from the Masoretic *as it exists today* then we'd still have all those others.
But just hypothetically - what if the MT of his day read the same as the citation he made? I don't know if we can know that for sure...maybe you have thought about that more than I.

BRYAN: I'd be interested in knowing why you insist that it is only the MSS (or the MSS at all) that is referred to by St. Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16
RHOLOGY: Hmmm... >:-\
Paul is referring to Scripture. That has several implications:
1) He regarded the stuff available to Timothy and him as trustworthy
2) He believed it was possible to understand, interpret, and use it correctly (contra EO-xy)
3) He held it out as the rule of faith to Timothy (again, contra EO-xy)

I'm probably just missing the thrust of what you're trying to say here, and it seems this may not be the only time. Clarify?

BRYAN: my issue is that God breathed the originals but let man copy it incorrectly.
RHOLOGY: OK, gotcha. And "God breathed the originals but let man copy it incorrectly" is the only plausible position to hold, BTW.

BRYAN: Who's to say other, more serious errors couldn't have crept in due to copyist error, or even outright bias?
RHOLOGY: Rendered improbable by the fact that there exist multiple 1000s of copies from all diff parts of the world. And by trust in God's faithfulness - am I to assume that He revealed Himself in His Word and then let it get subsequently marred beyond recognition? It's the rule of faith He ordained!

BRYAN: What's to stop someone like me, then, from saying, "Well, all right, then...in that case, the original version of Judith really agreed with the Scriptures that got the historical facts right, so we can now count it as originally inerrant, albeit miscopied, Scripture."
RHOLOGY: That's a good question, and is actually the reason why I've had to sit on this response for a few days.

1st and for the record, these historical inaccuracies are not the only reason we must reject the book of Judith from canonical status. I wonder why quite a few ECFs who actually knew Hebrew and knew Jewish people rejected at least a good portion of the Apocryphal books, like Jerome and Melito of Sardis? Anyway...
2nd and more relevant, the quality of the error in Judith related to King Nezzar is different than those you've cited. No doubt you know that Hebrew writes numbers w/ letters and, as the article that the other poster explained, there are difficulties in recognition particularly of multiples of 10 but I think there are others as well. What's Judith's excuse?
BTW, doesn't Judith appear in Greek in the LXX (given that the LXX is in Greek)? Do those same difficulties arise in Greek as in Heb?
There are no textual variants to which to appeal for Judith, while some of the OT references do have textual variants.
I would add that a very common excuse from the ranks of the Romish is sthg along the lines of (paraphrase follows) "the error is so glaring and obvious that nobody could have been so stupid as to make it in good faith."

BRYAN: Which would leave the God-inspired Hebrew text as...what?
RHOLOGY: As the autograph, obviously: THE parchment/vellum/papyrus on which the hand of the apostle/prophet/amanuensis wrote.

BRYAN: were it so clear in the minds of the apostles that the Hebrew text, as opposed to the Greek, were the preferred text, they would have avoided using such an obviously divergent text;
RHOLOGY: You're acting like I'm arguing that the LXX is worthless.
And there's great profit in citing the LXX rather than the Hebrew text when you're talking to people who, for the most part, spoke Greek and didn't even speak Hebrew.

BRYAN: Unless, of course...the apostles thought the Greek was inspired, too...as indeed the story of its authorship would suggest...
RHOLOGY: Or maybe they thought it was accurate. Kind of like when my pastor quotes the NASB every Sunday.
And I confess the "story of its authorship" is less than earth-shaking for me. But you probably knew it would be. ;-)
Oh, but I did get a little further in figuring out why I prefer the MT to the LXX in general. The MT is in Hebrew. The LXX is a translation from Hebrew into Greek. Why would I base my text to translate on a translation? The MT is in the original language - that's one less level of translation. Adding 1 level of translation isn't the end of the world, true, but why do it more than necessary?


BRYAN: You continually refer to those citations as if they proved your position of sola scriptura and stood in contrast to my quotes...as if you'd bothered to read the works in their entirety (which you've admitted repeatedly that you haven't).
RHOLOGY: It is true I haven't read them. However, I gave you a hex of a lot more in private correspondence than I posted at OC.net (just to avoid crashing y'all's server).

BRYAN: had you the benefit of reading the whole source documents you'd see prima scriptura espoused, not sola scriptura
RHOLOGY: I believe it is disingenuous of you to claim that you are following in the ECFs' footsteps if they truly held to prima scriptura. Depending on what you mean by that, I can definitely see how prima scriptura fits my position well. And part of my thesis when citing all those ECFs to you was that they saw big T Tradition as interping of Scr, rather than bringing extra stuff into the Faith. And I was challenging your claim of authority to define what is Tradition and what is not.

BRYAN: When did I ever accuse you of this?? Seriously, this is getting impossible for me to follow...
RHOLOGY: I apologise then.

BRYAN: if He can guide the original authors to inerrancy, why didn't He preserve the copyists from the same...?
RHOLOGY: Another Liberal Protestant Resemblance has been sighted here. You sound like Bart Ehrman.
What should God have done? Lightning-bolt fry every scribe who was copying the Scr right before he made a slip of the pen? Break in and Sovereignly, Calvinistically change the stroke of the pen and clarify his vision in the smoky, dim scriptorium? Dose him w/ some caffeine to keep him awake?

BRYAN: if we don't have that anymore, at least by your criteria, then apparently the gates of hell triumphed over the Church via copyist errors, since her "sole authority" as we have it is no longer inerrant in this world
RHOLOGY: But I haven't admitted that, so we can let that go.

BRYAN: what, other than errors that could be attributed to copyist error, are your objections to including Judith in the canon
RHOLOGY: Actually, I don't think that was the original topic. I had made the claim that EO-xy often resembles liberal Prot-ism in its approach to epistemology. In the way that you parrot Bart Ehrman (perhaps unknowingly) and the way you are willing to throw the biblical text under the bus
1) by bringing up the copyist errors in the original OC.net forum post and
2) by mentioning them again here despite being corrected on it back in 2004

in order to shore up support for your traditional stance says a lot about that.


Peace,
ALAN