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Preservation? Where?

February 12, 2007

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth shall pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18

This verse of Scripture gives great comfort to believers. In it we find that God’s Law will stand unchanged until all of it is fulfilled even until the end of heaven and earth as we know them. But there is another more academic point we can understand from Christ’s words here. He promised that the law would be preserved; he also pointed out where they would be preserved.

Someone asked, “Is preservation found in translations, or in jots and tittles?” It seems to me by asking the question this way the answer becomes obvious. What do you think? If preservation is found in translations, in which one is it found? Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish?

The Scripture says, “jot and tittle.” The “jot” is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The “tittle” is the vowel points of Hebrew letters. The common denominator here is the Hebrew alphabet. The letters that make up the Hebrew language. It is likely that Jesus was not speaking in Hebrew when He said this. The common language of the world was Greek; another common language of the region was Aramaic; but he could also have been speaking Hebrew. My point is that he told the people the language that would be preserved. It was the language that the Law had been written in.

So here, we have scriptural support for believing that God will not allow anything to be lost from His Word until heaven and earth shall pass away and everything in His Word be fulfilled. No “jots;” no “tittles” will pass from the Law, and we can confidently carry the promise to the Word given to us in Greek to say not one “iota” will pass from His Word until all be fulfilled.

God’s Word is preserved for us in its purest form, in just exactly the way it came at the first. Like fresh water from the fountainhead, we have the pure Word of God in just the form that He gave it.

Categories: King James Only, Voegtlin
  1. February 12, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Just wanted to quickly say I agree. God preserved each and every word. This text affirms that. I would be prepared to say even the spelling was preserved. But the text doesn’t say how it would be preserved, as in one line of manuscripts only. Since it doesn’t say that, and since no other Scripture does, we are left with a certain amount of freedom in this debate.

  2. Bobby Mitchell
    February 12, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    “On several occasions members of the established church confronted Bunyan with his supposed ignorance of Greek and insinuated that he could not know the Scriptures without such knowledge. Bunyan, however, believed that God had chosen the poor and foolish and rejected the wise, mighty, and noble of this world. And if the poor were to be saved, they could understand the Scripture without knowing Greek. On another occasion, Bunyan replied to the upbraiding of an arrogant critic who claimed that his Greek Testament was a true copy of the original, ‘So do I believe our English Bible to be a true copy of the original’ (Philip, The Life, P. 587). These retorts by Bunyan should not be understood as deprecation of the Greek text. Rather they are judgments upon the haughtiness of those who would refuse to allow a man like himself to exercise his gift of preaching. Also, the answers serve as witnesses to Bunyan’s confidence in the clairity of Scripture. Even the unlearned, under the guidance of the Spirit, with a tenacious mind and an English text can know God’s truth.”

    From page 91 of Baptists and The Bible by L. Rush Bush and Tom J. Nettles, Moody Press.

    I say “amen” to John Bunyan and thank God that I have His Words translated into the English language in the King James Bible.

  3. February 12, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Excellent quote, Bobby. Obviously, if you said this yourself, no one could respect it, but they can respect Bunyan. It might have been his hair. Bunyan, incidentally, must have been a Ruckmanite. Well wait a minute…..the vector toward Ruckman only works one way, oops. Or could you be a Ruckmanite before Ruckman?

    Bob, welcome back over. Again, you are just ignoring our position, which is Scriptural. 1) Every Word and All of Them, 2) Generally Accessible, 3) Standard of Perfection, and 4) Recognized or Used by the Churches–the canonicity argument. Please stop ignoring the position. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 do differ than your non-Scriptural position. You say “no how.” Just because people say that all the time, doesn’t make it true. God uses His churches.

  4. Bobby Mitchell
    February 12, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I’m glad you liked the quote. I remembered it from a Baptist History course I took from Luther Rice College and Seminary about 12 years ago. Thankfully, it was easy to find the book and page. (I threw in the college thing to add even more credibility, of course.)

    I’ve actually discovered a few pre-Ruckman Ruckmanites. Philpot would be another. Of course, the CT guys will say that Bunyan had no access to what Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort had.

    At any rate, this was aimed primarily at the idea that we can only have the “real Word of God” if we have Greek.

    Bunyan should be respected by YF’s everywhere because he had “liberty” with his hair length and he was, of course, a Calvinist.

  5. February 13, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Jeff, on this one, just a minor quibble. The vowel points were added by the Masoretes many years after Christ. (600s? 800s? — I can’t quite remember the dates) In any case, the tittle is the difference between letters, like the hebrew “d” and “r” which have the same shape except one has a rounded corner and the other has a right angle corner.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  6. February 13, 2007 at 9:42 am

    What if the vowel points were already there before the Masoretes? Could the tittle refer to vowel points?


  7. February 13, 2007 at 4:52 pm


    You should read this defense of the inspiration of the Hebrew vowel points.  Have you done any study on the word keraia?  The Greek word for tittle.  Most have just read Archer’s OT Introduction and taken his position.

    It may be that you have never been an introduced to this side, the side of historic, New Testament Christianity.

  8. February 14, 2007 at 4:17 am

    Note regarding the Bunyan quote:

    Notice, this is a “judgment” on the haughtiness of the scholar, not a commentary on the textual criticism. Bunyan was right to boldly proclaim God’s Word, and right to not allow someone with more education speak evil of his good things. Certainly, we regard Bunyan as mightily used by the Holy Spirit, as his ministry affects us hundreds of years later, but that places no stamp of approval on his “textual critical” views.

  9. February 14, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Hi Kent,

    First, do the Dead Sea Scrolls have vowel points or not?

    Second, regardless, I don’t think the meaning of tittle is changed by an assertion that the vowel points precede the Masoretes.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  10. February 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm


    Thanks. First, did you read the paper on vowel points? I know it was long, but it has a lot in it that most haven’t read. I appreciate the work that Brother Ross put into it. I think it is amazing that so many won’t even give it the time of day.

    As to your question, the DSS do not have vowel points. I thought I would be as straightforward with the answer as possible to begin, but the DSS are of questionable veracity. They do differ from the Masoretic 1%. I believe the DSS have great value, but not to crticize already established doctrine and practice.

    A study of keraia is significant, because I think it important to understand the word as people would have understood it in that day.

    One more thing.   Jacob ben Chayyim, the most outstanding Hebrew scholar of his day, who left Judaism for some kind of Christianity in his lifetime, in the Intro to Bomberg 1524-25, said that this text with its vowel points was the equivalent to the originals—he took a faith position himself.

  11. February 14, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Hi Kent. I skimmed through the article and read the conclusion. I think a lot of effort was put into it, but the only answer to the question lies in evidence, not in the various citations of men. Of course, you can just believe, but I don’t see how that makes a position more valid.

    My understanding is that the DSS like ALL Hebrew mss prior to the Masoretes have NO vowel points. If my understanding is correct, then how could the vowel points have been in the originals, the last of which was written 1000 years before the Masoretes.

    As for keraia, here is Liddell and Scott, others are similar:

    any thing projecting like a horn; a yard-arm, (as Lat. cornua antennarum), Aesch., Thuc., etc.
    2. the projecting beam of a crane, Thuc.
    3. a branching stake of wood, Plut.:-of the forked ends of the ancilia, Id.
    4. the apex of a letter, a dot, tittle, N.T.
    5. the projecting spur of a mountain, Anth.
    II. a bow of horn, Id.


    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  12. February 15, 2007 at 12:58 am


    First, DSS is a corrupt Hebrew text. No one doubts that manuscripts exist without vowel points. Most think that this was a manuscript copied by a Jewish cult, the Essenes.

    Read this on keraia.  A historic article exists in Latin, that is supposed to be the best defense of the meaning of keraia as vowel points, but someone that knows Latin will need to do it. By Buxtorf.  Others refer to it.

    Your Liddell and Scott definitions describe Hebrew vowel points.

  13. February 15, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Hi Kent

    I guess I’ll drop the topic here. I think you are misreading LS. In definition I. 4., it is true that they say “a dot”. Every other part of the definition refers to a projection out from something, as I described the difference between daleth and resh.

    The issue is not whether the DSS are corrupt or not. They actually confirmed the Masoretic text and were a major blow against liberal assumptions, BTW. But I offered them as an example of Hebrew texts pre-Masoretes. My understanding, which you haven’t yet contradicted, is that NO pre-Masoretic Hebrew texts have the vowel points. That doesn’t mean that no such manuscripts ever existed, but it does tend to lend support to the notion that the Masoretes invented the vowel points.

    Nevertheless, this particular point is not worth a lot of energy, so I’ll leave it there. You can have a last go at it if you like.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  14. February 15, 2007 at 1:25 pm


    If you interacted with the materials that I referenced, my argument for inspiration of vowel points, like my argument for preservation, which seems to be lost on Bob and others, comes from Scripture. These men and others have made great contextual, exegetical arguments. This is a faith position, as is yours by the way. You place faith in the DSS, and I place faith in what we have in the way of vowel points, the testimony of Godly men, the historic meaning of tittle (not the revised meaning to fit a modern understanding in updated lexicons), and that words aren’t words without vowels.

    It is a matter of faith either way, and again, no strange thing, we see Turretin and Owen arguing for the inspiration of vowel points, Jacob ben Chayyim himself advocating them, among many others listed by both. This has changed. I know that.  The inspiration of vowel points was once the dominant position.  I decide to go with the historic, conservative, believing position, rather than a revised position that I believe is weak in doctrinal backing and in IMO, the rationalist-influenced crowd.

  15. February 16, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Kent, I wasn’t going to comment on this again, but I just have to say a few more things in response. I don’t place my faith in the DSS. I have seen fragments of them when they were on exhibit down in San Francisco a few years back. But I certainly am no expert on Hebrew and only knew that I was looking at really old writing. All I am saying is that the evidence, as far as I know, is completely against you. I think you are saying that also.

    Further, I offered you Liddell-Scott as the lexicon for several reasons. L-S is not an updated lexicon, it is quite old. The edition I quoted is from 1925, the work goes back to the mid-1800s. L-S focuses on classical, not Biblical Greek, so is concerned with the meaning of words prior to the Koine period. As such, it is important for informing us concerning meaning prior to the time of the NT, meaning which would have been the bedrock of any NT speakers understanding of the words they were saying or writing.

    You can choose whatever view you like. I don’t see how the view you choose on this rather minute point advantages your position, but you are welcome to it.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  16. February 16, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Ahh.. oops.. I may have an error in my post above. The wikipedia article I was reading re L-S refers to two different dates for the ninth edition, the second one being 1940. I am not sure exactly which I have, since it is the one included with Bibleworks, and it has a date for the electronic edition, which I assume is merely a digitized version of the 9th without revision.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  17. February 16, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    It is old Don, but it doesn’t go back to the debate on this issue, the history of it. The fact that L and S do say dot opens a door. When you look at the vowel points, they are described by what he says to a large degree. I think the older literature on it is best, older than L and S, but the exegetical work like Strouse did I believe is even more important. Of course, ben Chayyim himself, who was inspiration of vowel points, goes back to 1200s.

  18. March 8, 2007 at 1:21 am

    John Gill wrote an excellent article in defense of the originals having vowel points, and not just added later. Perhaps someone else can post a link to this article online. I have read it, but do not have it handy.

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