Home > Brandenburg, King James Only > What’s In the Bible?

What’s In the Bible?

February 7, 2007

In a New Testament manuscript dating from the fourth century, Codex Vaticanus (so named because it was found in the Vatican library), a scribe copied in Hebrews 1:3, “Christ manifests [Gk: phaneron] all things by the word of his power.” That is a different reading than the one found in most manuscripts available, which say, “Christ bears [Gk: pheron] all things by the word of his power.” Some centuries later, another scribe read Vaticanus and decided to change the unusual word “manifests” to the more common reading “bears”—erasing the one word and writing in the other. A few centuries later a third scribe read the same manuscript, noticed the alteration his predecessor had made, and he erased the word “bears” and rewrote “manifests.” This third scribe wrote this derisive comment in the margin concerning the second scribe: “Fool and knave! Leave the old reading, don’t change it!”

That one difference does alter the interpretation of the text. Saying that Christ reveals all things is different than saying that He bears or keeps all things.

Copyists of the text of the Old and New Testament through the years have changed the words found in the original, so that almost every copy is different. We also don’t have one scrap of the original parchment of one book of the Bible, so we are dependent on copies for our readings of the Scripture. Most Christians agree that there is one perfect copy in heaven (Ps. 119:89). That heavenly edition does not do us much good down here, so if based upon Scriptural promises we believe that God has both perfectly preserved and also made accessible every one of His Words for us on earth, how did that happen?

SOME STORIES

Story #1Â

In the late 1830s one young and particularly ardent scholar became convinced that it was his mission to restore the Bible as close as possible to its original condition. He wrote his fiancee, “I am confronted with the . . . struggle to regain the original form of the New Testament.” This young man was named Lobegott (German for “Praise God”) because before he was born, his mother had seen a blind man and surrendered to the superstition that this would cause her child to be born blind. When he was born healthy, she dedicated him to God by calling him Lobegott Friedrich Constantine von Tischendorf. He first made his reputation concerning a fifth-century Greek manuscript, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, which was erased in the twelfth century so its vellum pages could be reused to record some Syriac sermons. The pages had not been thoroughly erased, so Tischendorf used newly discovered chemical reagents to help bring out the handwriting so producing the first successful transcription of this early text. The accomplishment induced people to provide financial support for journeys that led him to the foot of Mt. Sinai and the Convent of St. Catherine in May of 1844.

Visiting that monastery he saw in the middle of the great hall a large and wide basket full of old parchments. He was told by the librarian that two heaps of papers just like these had already been committed to the flames. Amid the remaining pile were many sheets of a copy of the Old Testament in Greek, and the monastery allowed him to take only a third or forty three pages, since his excitement aroused their suspicions as to the value of the parchment. He could take no more.

Nine years later he returned and could find no trace of it. In 1859 under the patronage of Czar Alexander II of Russia, he set out again but with repeated failure until the very last day. Then he was invited to the room of the convent’s steward and discussed with him the Greek Old Testament. The steward told him, “I too have read a Septuagint,” and he pulled from the corner of his room a copy wrapped in red cloth. Tischendorf recounts:

I unrolled the cover, and discovered, to my great surprise, not only those very fragments which, fifteen years before, I had taken out of the basket, but also other parts of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and in addition, the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Pastor of Hermas.

Today Codex Sinaiticus rests in the British Library as a part of its permanent collection, prominently displayed in its manuscript room.Â

Story #2Â

In December, 1945, Egyptian fellahin rode their camels out to the Jabal al-Tarif, a huge cliff near the Nile River honeycombed with caves. They came in search of sabakh, a natural fertilizer they used to nourish their crops. Hobbling their camels at the foot of the cliff, the men began to dig in the soft soil around a massive boulder resting against the cliff face. Striking something hard, they swiftly uncovered a red earthenware jar nearly a meter high. Fearing that the jar might contain an angry jinn, or spirit, the men hesitated. Quickly the legends of treasure buried in the caves of the Jabal al-Tarif overcame their fear. Muhammad Ali al-Samman raised his mattock and smashed the jar with a single blow. Golden dust, he swore afterwards, flew out of the jar and vanished into the air. However, among the shards of pottery the men found no gold, only some old books bound in cracked leather. Disappointed, Muhammad Ali carried the books and loose papers home and dumped them on the floor near the oven. For several nights, his mother fed the fire with sheets of the papyrus.

The remaining texts, after a torturous journey through the black market, were eventually identified by scholars as Christian gospels missing for nearly two thousand years. Bound in tooled gazelle leather, the 52 manuscripts were turned over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, and teams of scholars from Canada, Germany, Scandinavia and the United States have worked together to decipher the poems, prayers and sayings that were translated from the original Greek into Coptic, an African language that transposes hieroglyphics into an alphabetical mode.

Story #3Â

When Napoleon seized the Vatican in 1809 he exiled the Pope to Avignon, transported the Vatican library to France in 50 wagons, and carried off a prize to Paris—a fourth century Greek manuscript of the Bible. There it remained until 1815 when it was finally returned to Rome along with its owner. The manuscript was known by scholars to exist in 1475 when it was listed in a catalogue of manuscripts in the Vatican Library. Vatican authorities kept it under lock and key desperately hoping this recently rediscovered treasure would be soon forgotten. The Catholic Church considers the manuscript dangerous because it shows so clearly how corrupt their Vulgate is. But in 1845, a young English scholar, Samuel Tregelles—self taught—applied for permission to investigate this find in the Vatican library. Unable to avoid granting permission, the Vatican put every obstacle in his path. He was not allowed to take pen or paper with him, he was searched going in and coming out, and two clerics stood by him to turn the pages so he could not look too long at any one passage. Before he left, he was only allowed six hours to examine the text.

In 1866 Lobegott Tischendorf was granted permission to once more examine this manuscript. He was also given many restrictions; only 14 days and three hours each day. However, with his photographic memory he was able to publish the most perfect edition of the manuscript which had yet appeared in 1867. This forced the Vatican to finally publish a copy, Codex Vaticanus, in 1881.

SOME HISTORY

The New Testament was completed when John finished Revelation in A.D. 90. We know they were making copies and circulating them. Colossians 4:16 reads, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the from Laodicea.” Early Christianity spread like wildfire across the Roman Empire, so rapidly that by the end of the second century Christian groups were proliferating everywhere there despite efforts to stop them. Tertullian, living in the port city of Carthage in North Africa 100 years after John’s Revelation was written, boasted to outsiders that “the more we are mown down by you, the more we multiply; the blood of Christians is seed!” Assemblies of them were popping up everywhere; some were taking off, but going the wrong direction, orthodox doctrine eroding. This widespread movement was becoming enormously diverse, so that the leadership faced the problem of how to unify Christianity so that it could survive its enemies. From the breadth of the materials preserved from that period, we know that many other books were written besides the twenty-seven in the New Testament. Several of those books were mentioned and refuted by Irenaeus in his five book treatise, Against Heresies. Irenaeus also made these statements in those writings:

In like manner he also . . . . retains unchangeable in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism. . . . [T]his class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith. . . . For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins.

Those statements manifest no true conversion for Irenaeus. He, however, was the man who most scholars see as responsible for the canonization of the New Testament text, also despite the fact that he himself never listed the twenty-seven New Testament books. He is most often given credit for nailing down the four Gospels by writing in Against Heresies:

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel . . . it is fitting that she should have four pillars.

Does that sound like good evidence for the four Gospels to you? The final decisions among all of these varied groups about which books should finally be considered canonical were not automatic or problem free. We are able to pinpoint the first time that any professing Christian of record listed the twenty-seven books of our New Testament as the books of the New Testament. The first surviving instance of anyone affirming our set of books as the New Testament was Athanasius, the powerful bishop of Alexandria, in A.D. 367. Even that did not settle the issue historically—debates continued for decades, even centuries.Â

SOME QUESTIONS

Is there any passage in Scripture that lists the twenty-seven books of the New Testament? How can anyone be sure that the original New Testament did have twenty-seven books? We don’t have the originals. Does the Bible even teach canonicity of books? Why did canonization take so long? Do you believe that God used these three discoveries of texts recounted above in order to restore the New Testament back to a condition closer to the original manuscripts? How could we possibly have a perfect Bible when no two hand-written ancient copies are alike? How does anyone know what the Word of God actually is? Is canonization a natural process? Is having errors in the Bible a suitable position for you?  Do you believe God preserved Words or the Content of Scripture?

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  1. February 7, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Hey, I like all that history stuff thus far. Thank you. Your “Some Questions” are thought provoking.

  2. February 7, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Yesterday, Bob and I had a debate going. Rather than tack it on to the end of all those comments, I’ll move it here (I’m not ignoring you, Kent) and answer one particular that I think needs answered. “If you’re off-thread and you know it clap your hands… (clap, clap).”

    OK, so here goes…

    Bob said, “Now I must admit I agree with much of what you are saying here. However…”

    Always amazing what a great gulf is represented by that word “however.” I’ll try to put it as concisely as possible.

    I think that Bob is agreeing with this statement of mine… “We believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to preserve His Word in mountains of various and diverse copies.”

    Now, Bob, even as our agreement begins, it quickly vanishes away. Our agreement is similar to the agreement of scientists, of all stripes and persuasions, looking together at the entire collection of fossils. For a fleeting moment, the Creation Scientists agree with the Evolutionists… “Yep, they’re fossils alright.” But at this point, the agreement breaks down.

    There are manuscripts. Lots of ’em. Just as there are lots of fossils. But all the fossils in the world can never tell you anything. They just sit there and say nothing. They don’t tell us where they came from or how they got here. They just sit there being fossils. The scientists must interpret them. And, of course, that is where the disagreement begins.

    The difference between your view of “many copies” and my view of “many copies” is the difference between forensics and faith. You approach the manuscripts like a crime scene investigator searching for evidence. I approach these manuscripts by faith. You walk by sight, by what can be proven to you. I walk by faith. Your faith stands in the wisdom of men, mine in the power of God.

    I’m sure there will be a temptation to say that my faith is in the KJV, or that my faith is in the TR, or something like that. My faith is in the Providence of God. My faith is in His Sovereign ruling over the care of His Word, His power in preserving it. My faith accepts that God has a particular agency for this preservation — in the NT era, His Church.

    Bob said, “in the multiplicity of the textual evidence (both Greek/Hebrew and other ancient translations which serve as evidence as to what the Greek/Hebrew at that time may have read) God has preserved His Word perfectly.” (emphasis mine)

    So, in a sense, we are all “eclectic” – we are all making choices about which texts to use. The difference is in how we choose (not in what we choose. Bob and his crew choose based on the evidence – what they can see, what they can prove to themselves. They practice forensics. We that are persuaded of the KJV choose based on faith – faith in what God has done. We are not proving. We are not establishing. We are recognizing. We recognize the work that God has done through his church since the closing of the NT canon.

    We acknowledge that God used some strange sources to do this work. That is fine. I guess if our side is going to parade out the ad hominems against Westcott and Hort, then their side will parade out the ad hominems against “Greek Orthodox”, “printers”, “King James”, “Erasmus”, “Beza” and “Scrivener.” Nevertheless, God preserved His Word through His Church, and we simply accept what has been received.

  3. February 7, 2007 at 9:50 am

    We acknowledge that God used some strange sources to do this work. That is fine. I guess if our side is going to parade out the ad hominems against Westcott and Hort, then their side will parade out the ad hominems against “Greek Orthodox”, “printers”, “King James”, “Erasmus”, “Beza” and “Scrivener.” Nevertheless, God preserved His Word through His Church, and we simply accept what has been received.

    Dave,

    That admission sounds suspiciously incompatible with the “Local Church Only” position.

    Interesting conversation. I noticed someone had mentioned Van Kleeck’s booklet in another comment. Peter performed my wedding ceremony, and has been one of the strongest influences in my life for doctrine and theology (I sat under him in my first formal theology classes back in the early 1990s when he was at Wealthy). His arguments in defense of the KJV would seem to go against the Local Church only position that I have seen some here espouse. I can’t quote from Fundamentalism’s Folly (I lent my copy out some time ago and forget who I lent it to 😦 ), but if memory serves, part of his argument rests on the fact that the believing Church has affirmed it through history- while understanding that (as you said) that the believing contingent sometimes involved some “strange sources.”

    Another interesting tidbit- in a conversation I had with Bauder once, he acknowledged to me that Van Kleeck’s arguments in defense of the TR/KJV position were different in substance than others he had encountered. I have often thought it would be interesting to see Bauder and Van Kleeck weigh in on this topic- perhaps in an online exchange.

  4. February 7, 2007 at 10:23 am

    I’d be interested in seeing Bauder and VanKleeck discuss this topic, too. I read VanKleeck’s work and seem to remember that he was similar to Jacob VonBruggen’s approach—again an approach which is not necessarily local-church only. Bauder’s work on the subject in One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible (Kregel) is the best I’ve seen.

  5. February 7, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Pastor Mallinak,

    You guys insist on setting up a dichotomy between faith and forensics (or whatever you want to call it). I certainly don’t want to exclude faith from this or any other realm. The same faith-oriented approach which sees God at work in Erasmus’ hastily produced first printed Greek text edition, can also see God at work in rasing up Granville Sharp to rediscover a rule of Greek grammar. And it can also see God at work in improving the Greek text that was produced in the 1500s.

    God doesn’t drop the Bible down to us out of the sky. He inspired fallible men to write it infallibly. And in His wisdom he allowed fallible men to copy it fallibly but in such a way as to ensure that His words which comprise His message and His doctrines are not lost.

    Now, did local church people actively “receive” the TR? Or did they utilize the best available (and for a long time only decent text available)? If God worked by allowing text editors like Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza to improve the text they had, why should God stop working in 1611? Why couldn’t God be moving such men of faith as Tregelles to work toward a full revision of the text?

    It seems that you guys are simplifying things too much, and reading into history what you want found there. God never promised all His words would be all in one book. Indeed they aren’t (in any language) as even Pastor B. would have to admit. (Ps. 22:16 and Ruth 3:15, etc.).

    So is faith just a leap in the dark? You mean we aren’t supposed to use the history and evidence that God has left as determining factors in which text we “receive”? I mean, isn’t that what the TR-onlyists do too?

    And again, how do you deal with Erasmus and others composing an eclectic text, and not just copying verbatim from one manuscript copy?

    It seems in this new article that Pastor B. is just setting the stage. I would not disagree with the history here. So again, I am waiting for future posts.

    The discussion has been good so far. And I think we are all being charitable in our disagreement. And as this is an important issue, such disagreement is not a bad thing.

    Blessings because of Christ,

    Bob

  6. February 7, 2007 at 11:15 am

    I’ll be back, as they say. Hang by your thumbs!

  7. February 7, 2007 at 11:18 am

    By the way, Bob, I’m disappointed that you aren’t answering Brandenburg’s questions… I thought you’d have some for sure.

  8. February 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    I’m here a little earlier than normal. I don’t have internet at the church property so when I’m there all day which is the case on Mondays and Tuesdays especially, I don’t get a constant update here.

    First, Greg, why does the generic use of the singular noun “church” assume a universal church?

    Second, Bob, why not be pro-active and give a shot at answering the questions? We need a well-rounded Bibliology, not just being MVO apologists. 🙂 I’m going to answer them in comments and in future posts, so why not do some acting and not just reacting? 🙂

  9. February 7, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Kent,

    I would assume that you would not contend that the text was providentially preserved through a single local congregation. Otherwise, I would think that Dave would have used “churches.” But hey, I do tend to be literal in my interpretation… 😀

  10. February 7, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Greg,

    The generic use of the singular assumes that there is more than one of something. When he used the word “church,” (even as I often do because I don’t want to give up that intellectual ground by always either saying “churches” or “local church,” for fear that someone think that I’m universal) I understood him to see the church the same way as I do. “They used the phone the entire campaign to update their polls.” Did the entire campaign use a single phone in communicating with one another?

    There is only one church of Jesus Christ, not two churches, so I use the singular church, because He only has one church, local only.

  11. February 7, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Bob said: So is faith just a leap in the dark? You mean we aren’t supposed to use the history and evidence that God has left as determining factors in which text we “receive”? I mean, isn’t that what the TR-onlyists do too?

    Bob, Use some history and evidence that God has left to answer my questions from the post. They shouldn’t take you that long. Just give a basic answer, nothing elaborate.

  12. February 7, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Pastor B.,

    You seem to want to peg me on this. Okay, I’ll answer them. But understand this is a hurried and rushed answer, as I was taking a test today at work, and I have to run now and then it’s off to work, etc.

    Here goes (your questions are in bold)…

    Is there any passage in Scripture that lists the twenty-seven books of the New Testament?

    No

    How can anyone be sure that the original New Testament did have twenty-seven books? We don’t have the originals.

    Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth and that he would bring to the apostle’s minds the things they were taught by Jesus. We can assume that God the Holy Spirit was active in leading his people and His churches to accepting the 27 canonical books. The NT seems to also teach that very soon the books were recognized as authoritative (Paul quotes Luke as equal in authority to Deut. in 1 Tim. 5:18; and Peter recognizes Paul’s letters as scripture in 2 Pet. 3:16). So very soon God’s people recognized the authority of the canonical books and while there may have been some disagreement and/or ignorance over certain books, in time God directed his people to affirm only the 27 NT books.

    Does the Bible even teach canonicity of books?

    Not exactly. Jesus affirmed the Hebrew canon as it was in his day, and he anticipated the NT books. The end of Rev. seems to preclude the possiblity of future books being added.

    Why did canonization take so long?

    We don’t exactly know how long it took for sure. We know that farily soon people were treating the 27 books as Scripture, but some people treated more than just the 27 as Scripture for a while. God in His Sovereignty allowed it to take a while.

    Do you believe that God used these three discoveries of texts recounted above in order to restore the New Testament back to a condition closer to the original manuscripts?

    Yes I do. In history we see a progressive growth in doctrine. First the deity of Christ, then the Trinity, then the canonicity of Scripture, later in the Reformation the doctrine of justification by faith alone was delineated more, and in our day the inerrancy of Scripture and eschatological concerns are being stressed. This is not to say that these doctrines are not all in Scripture. Scripture is sufficient. But God led his people to understand these doctrines with greater clarity and unity at differnt times. Granted there have always been those who respect all of Scripture’s doctrines. The church has never ceased to exist in a pure form. But just like God allowed the Jews to misplace a copy of Scripture for years and years and then find it again, I have no problem believing that God would allow the church to have a better understanding of the finer points of what are the preserved words of Scripture.

    How could we possibly have a perfect Bible when no two hand-written ancient copies are alike?

    The Bible actually never promises that God would preserve all the inspired words in one Bible/book.

    How does anyone know what the Word of God actually is?

    God, in fulfillment of his promises, has preserved His Word remarkably. Even with the differences between the modern Greek texts, the TR, and the handwritten copies, there is a remarkable level of agreement. No doctrine of Scripture depends wholly on one of the disputed passages. And even in the disputed passages, there is quite a bit of agreement. Remember, we are to receive the Word, and God gave it to us in a multiplicity of copies. Therefore we should not doubt because of problem passages, but rather look to receive the readings which seem to be the most probably original. We can trust that the message of Scripture is not diminished even with the minor textual differences. Remember the words of Scripture are important in that they are what frames the message of Scripture. Having a “the” or not having a “the” at a particular place does not affect the message, although it may affect the nuance in some passages. But the words themselves are not necessarily the point, it is the oral message of the Gospel, “the word” as Acts consistently calls it.

    Is canonization a natural process?

    No God’s Spirit has been leading His church and we can trust the 27 books are God’s words.

    Is having errors in the Bible a suitable position for you?

    The Bible was infallibly inspired and inerrant in the original manuscripts. God has promised to preserve His message and even His words, but He has not delineated that those words will be in only one manuscript or one group of manuscripts, or even how he will preserve them. God used fallible man to preserve them, evidently, and as such we have a collection of fallible manuscripts within which God’s preserved words are. There may well be errors in any text or manuscript, but with comparison as well as with God’s leading and utilizing the gifts we have been given (modern technology, understanding of scribal transmission, etc.) we can be fairly sure we have essentially the Bible as God gave it.

    Do you believe God preserved Words or the Content of Scripture?

    God preserved the Words and the content of Scripture. We may not be exactly sure on each specific word or especailly the spellings of them, but we can be sure of the content.

    …….

    I am sure this is going to result in me saying some damaging thing, which will make you jump for joy. (I won’t be able to delete it however, like you site owners can 🙂 )

    Anyways, before everyone assumes the worst from this, realize that you as yet don’t have all God’s words in one book. And further there isn’t agreement among local churches as to which decisions (I said “decisions”) to make in each case of discrepancies between the 1611 KJV and 1769 KJV or between either of those or both and the various TR editions and the Hebrew MT. And there is also disagreement over whether to go with the MT’s margin or just the MT text [and the KJV picks and chooses, sometimes going with the margin (over 200 times), and most of the time with the MT text, albeit in some instances disagreeing with both].

    Hope that helps you guys out….

  13. February 7, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Oh, I just saw that Pastor B. said: “They shouldn’t take you that long. Just give a basic answer, nothing elaborate.”

    He should know that I have a hard time being ultra simple and too the point. I am incurably long-winded.

    Sorry…

  14. February 7, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Bob, you were actually very under spoken for you. Thanks for answering the questions. I’ll come back and give full critique of them tomorrow, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to analyze what he said, go ahead and give it a shot. Let me say these few things however, before I go off to Wed. Eve. prayer meeting.

    Canonicity is a good test case for MVO or Critical Text people. In a very transparent way, it shows the double standard they have for the doctrine of preservation. We have a far more developed doctrine of preservation in Scripture than a doctrine of canonicity. Most defense of canonicity comes from the patristics and their councils. They are quite unwilling to add or take away one book from the 27 when there is compatible “evidence” and “history” to add or take away one or more books. No passage says there are 27, so they practice fideism regarding their very limited doctrine of canoncity, a “leap in the dark.” When the dust settles, they use the exact same argument for the preservation of books as we do for words, when there is actually nothing in Scripture to defend their preservation of books. Scripture only teaches preservation of words.

    This also shows the very shaky ground they stand on. They are willing to argue against their own arguments. What happens when someone starts applying their same arguments against books as they do against words? Of course, people do, and that’s where the Bart Ehrmans and the Elaine Pagels of the world come from. This was definitely a test case. The second story above. Read that story again. It is the story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas. Bob said that those would be helpful in the preservation of Scripture. None of those found at that site are part of the four Gospels. All we have standing against that in “evidence” is a quotation from irenaeus.   Of course, we have more copies of the four Gospels, but what does a minority text matter if it is very old.  And the Gospel of Thomas, part of Nag Hammadi is very old.  But then, Tischendorf found the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Pastor of Hermas. Why are those not included along with those ancient manuscripts?

    Consider Tischendorf and Irenaeus as a parallel as well.

    Enough for now. Enjoy. 🙂

  15. February 8, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    I didn’t think we’d go all day with nothing said here. What makes this all effective is that it’s the truth and it doesn’t involve name-calling, the standard fare in this conversation, at least what Mike Sproul had to hand out in large doses in the latest offer from the MVO side.

    Many don’t want to discuss these questions, because they might have to conclude something that they don’t want to conclude. I respect that Bob at least gave them a shot and used his real name.

    Is there any passage in Scripture that lists the twenty-seven books of the New Testament?

    NO. There is no passage that says that the TR is what God would preserve. That’s a big argument on the MVO side. That get’s a big ouch here. Sheer fideism on their part. Or is it? Aren’t we to get Biblical presuppositions and then look for their fulfillment? That’s what we do in the matter of preservation. That’s what we both do in the matter of canonization. This should shut down this argument.

    How can anyone be sure that the original New Testament did have twenty-seven books?

    They can be sure by faith. They can be sure that it is exactly, perfectly, accurately 27 by faith. Is it just that God gets to do an easier miracle that we believe in 66 books of the Bible? But we can’t believe in a miracle that we have every Word for us in one edition of the Hebrew and Greek OT and NT?   And this is even though the Bible actually says something about preserving Words and nothing about Books.  Our faith is in the Holy Spirit through the pillar and ground of the truth. Jesus said He would be with His church.

    Does the Bible even teach canonicity of books?

    Not once. So why do we believe it? The clear teaching is canonicity of Words. God keeps preserving, that’s the nature of preservation. Inspiration is a one time event. Preservation is an ongoing process. God guides into all truth through His Spirit. Can we trust the Holy Spirit? Or is our latest trust “guidelines of textual criticism?” I think it is interesting that anyone would place strong trust in Irenaeus, who was obviously a baptismal regenerationist.  They gladly do, bowing at the altar of scholarship. His reasoning behind four gospels would be considered a joke if it was brought up today by a KJV supporter.

    Why did canonization take so long?

    God’s ways are not my ways. We wait on Him, not He on us. We also are depending on “history” and “evidence” to say it took long. We don’t know that it may have been much shorter, like 50-100 years, or the number of years that it took for the Holy Spirit to guide the church into the exact Words of Scripture from those copies and editions.

    Do you believe that God used these three discoveries of texts recounted above in order to restore the New Testament back to a condition closer to the original manuscripts?

    No way. I think they are all three Satanic. They are a trap for those who do not “receive Scripture.” Tischendorf was determined to restore Scripture, not receive it. He thought too highly of himself. If we are going to accept an old minority manuscript that is missing the first verses of John 8, but has the Epistle of Barnabas, then why not accept the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas. It’s old and minority. There are those that put it on par with John’s Gospel. When we start depending on extra-Scriptural methodology and not Divinely established principles from Scripture, we are open to anything and everything and are left with nothing perfect. And sadly, it doesn’t even matter.

    How could we possibly have a perfect Bible when no two hand-written ancient copies are alike?

    I will answer this in a later entry on one of my Wednesdays.

    How does anyone know what the Word of God actually is?

    By faith with Scriptural presuppositions.

    Is canonization a natural process?

    No. It is a miracle. Oops. Providence is a miracle? That’s what Henry Morris said in his book on miracles. He had a whole chapter on it. The foreword was written by John MacArthur, endorsing it.  Of course, I believed that already, but now maybe others will because their man MacArthur liked it.

    Is having errors in the Bible a suitable position for you?

    No way. If there is anything that the Bible teaches about itself is that it is perfect.

    Do you believe God preserved Words or the Content of Scripture?

    The Bible teaches preserved letters and Words, not content. Those who believe “content” are espousing a neo-orthodox position.

    I wasn’t really laying a trap for Bob and others like him.  I just recognized the trap because of their double standard, two faced Bibliology.  I would hate being in their position; it isn’t exegetical.  It is evidentiary, historical-rationale apologetics.  It isn’t pleasing to God; it isn’t faith.  And then it leaves them adding and taking away from the Words of God.

  16. February 8, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    There is a lot here which I obviously don’t agree with. And there are some conclusions and argumentational lines of thought which are incorrect I believe. But it will take me a bit to produce a response, as I don’t want to devote a lot of time right now to this. Perhaps tomorrow night or Saturday I will have time for a rebuttal of sorts.

    There are a lot of misconceptions and it is easy to get swept away in rhetoric, particularly when it gives us what we want: a totally perfect translation. Now I know that you have commenters arguing that you are insinuating such is not the case. And you have said preservation does not rest in a translation. But you have not admitted any errors at all in the KJV. You are not prepared to point out any errors to your people, and you prefer to allow the possibility for a revision but as yet have not made a case as to why that would be necessary. In many ways your position seems more consistent, but nevertheless depends upon the churches receiving this one English Bible and that then settles everything else for you. You can’t live without a perfect English Bible, or so it seems.

    More later.

  17. February 8, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    There’s a different standard for “perfection” with a translation. I know you’d like to make this a translation issue, but it isn’t. We believe it is preserved in the Hebrew and Greek. I say this with a smile and a sweet tone, but you already know that, Bob. You know there are synonyms, there are different ways of translating the same thing that are acceptable, and explanations for why the translators did what they did. That’s good enough for me, a man who took 8 years of Greek and has preached through most of the NT, has read through AT Robertson at least three times, taught through it three times, and received an award as top Greek student when I graduated from college with a Biblical language major. I think a translation should be explained by teachers in the local church, but that doesn’t mean the translation is wrong. An update would simply clarify older words that people today do not use. This is something you also know, Bob. The update isn’t necessary when we already have a good translation.

    Our Scriptural predisposition and faith guides us. We tend toward believing what God said He would do, even in the midst of opposition and barriers. Repeatedly when Jesus saw that in the NT, he called it “great faith.” Faith doesn’t crumble under the pressure of Metzger and the like.

  1. February 9, 2007 at 10:49 am
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