HOME PAGE

TOPICS PAGE

The Intelligent Person

The Life Foundations Nexus

 

 

WE HAVE THE DOCTRINES, THE TEXT DOESN’T MATTER?

 

 

Copyright June 19, 2005 7:11 PM CST

By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti

 

Updated June 21, 2005 6:04 PM CST

Copyright June 21, 2005 6:04 PM CST

By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti

 

 

 

WE HAVE EDITED OUT THE NAME OF THE UNIVERSITY PREVIOUSLY REFERENCED IN THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE THE ENEMIES OF THE FAITH HAVE STARTED USING THEIR NAME TO OPPOSE THE FAITH.

 

 

Before we begin, we want it to be clear to everyone that we are advocates of and, more important, PROVERS (yes, that’s a real word), of the accuracy of what <University Name Edited Out> refers to as the “Middle Ages” family of New Testament Greek manuscripts.  This family includes the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Majority Text.  Also, we want to make it clear that there are many others besides <University Name Edited Out> who hold to the “we have the doctrines, the text doesn’t matter” position.

 

 

The purpose of this paper is NOT to detract from <University Name Edited Out> but to detract…and destroy…the “we have the doctrines, the text doesn’t matter” heresy.  We wish <University Name Edited Out> all the best.  We have informed them of their error and hope and pray that they will change their position.

 

 

<University Name Edited Out> teaches the truths of God contained in the Word of God, the King James Version of the Bible…on that we agree.  On SOME of the following we do NOT agree.  The following passage is taken from Position of the Bible Department of <University Name Edited Out> on the Scripture - LINK DEACTIVATED [<University Name Edited Out> Bible Department - <Author’s Name Edited Out>, <Author’s Name Edited Out>].  Those statements with which we do NOT agree are underlined.

 

Because (1) the Alexandrian manuscripts are much older and closer to the time the originals were written, (2) a careful comparison of these manuscripts with those of the Middle Ages has convinced us that a more accurate and careful job of copying was done by the Alexandrian scribes, and (3) Erasmus had to work in haste and with limited resources, it is our conviction that these Alexandrian manuscripts, which were not known to Erasmus, are, as a rule, the more accurate manuscripts to follow. Therefore, along with the great majority of conservative scholars, we believe that the text based upon the Alexandrian manuscripts is, as a whole, superior to the text based upon manuscripts of the Middle Ages.

 

The portion of the New Testament that has any substantial variation between the various manuscripts is only about one word in a thousand. These variations in no way change the teaching of the New Testament on any doctrine. Therefore, we consider this not an issue of modernism versus conservatism but a matter of individual judgment on the part of Fundamental Christians. Christians should be free to choose and use either of these texts and still work together in harmony to teach and preach the Word of God to those who are without it.

 

 

REFUTATION OF <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> POSITION STATEMENTS

 

We have extracted the relevant position statements.  (Note:  in case you don’t know, square brackets, “[ ],” inserted in quoted material mean that the words contained between those brackets were inserted by the person quoting the material, in this case us.  Such insertions are for the purpose of clarifying the meaning of quoted material when the written/spoken context is NOT provided with the material, as below.

 

 

MORE ACCURACY

 

1.      “these Alexandrian manuscripts…are, as a rule, the more accurate manuscripts to follow”

 

Frankly, we are flabbergasted (overwhelmed with shock) with <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT>’s position.  Note that in order to refute this position we must address the 3 arguments proffered (offered for acceptance) above.

 

(1) “the Alexandrian manuscripts are much older and closer to the time the originals were written”

 

The “oldness” of a manuscript is simply the explanation of the “closerness” to the time of the originals.  It is not an argument for their “more accuracy” position.  Their use of the word “older” may be for the purpose of seeming to strengthen their argument.  On the other hand, they may simply have gotten into the habit of quoting other writers/speakers without ever having closely analyzed the statements they were quoting.  What we are left with is:

 

“the Alexandrian manuscripts are much closer to the time the originals were written”

 

You know, I once wrote a short story about travelling to the moon when I was 10 years old.  I lent a copy of the story to a boyhood friend of mine named Sam.  He made a copy.  40 years later, Sam and I got together at my home.  He had become a doctor.  For the fun of it, he had brought the copy of my story he had made when I was 10 and told me an interesting story (keep in mind that Sam’s mother had known that we were best friends):

 

Mike, when you loaned me your story about travelling to the moon, my mother saw it and thought it was cute; so she made a handwritten copy of it to put in a book of remembrances.  Twenty years later the copy was fading; so she made another handwritten copy.  Here is my copy and here is my mother’s copy of the copy of your story.

 

Since we were at my home and I save everything (in a mile of filing cabinets), I went to extract my original writing (saved by my mother, etc., etc.) from “filing cabinet ‘Ch,’” where under “Childhood Remembrances” I found my original.

 

I compared all three copies.  Guess what (you probably see what’s coming)?

 

My original story matched perfectly with Sam’s mother’s copy of the copy of my story.  Sam’s copy of my story, on the other hand, did not.

 

IN OTHER WORDS, A LATER MANUSCRIPT WAS MORE ACCURATE THAN AN EARLIER MANUSCRIPT.

 

What does this prove?  It proves that the following postulate is FALSE:

 

A manuscript much closer to the time the original was written is ALWAYS more accurate.

 

This means that the CLOSENESS OF A MANUSCRIPT TO THE TIME OF THE ORIGINAL PROVES NOTHING WITH REGARD TO WHICH OF TWO MANUSCRIPT COPIES, AN OLD ONE AND A MORE RECENT ONE, IS MORE ACCURATE.  Thus, we have proven that <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT>’s statement “the Alexandrian manuscripts are much closer to the time the originals were written” PROVES NOTHING AND IS IRRELEVANT.

 

Taken together with everything we have stated above, this means that argument (1), “the Alexandrian manuscripts are much older and closer to the time the originals were written” PROVES NOTHING AND IS IRRELEVANT.

 

Well, we still have two more arguments to address.  Now for argument (2):

 

(2) “a careful comparison of these manuscripts with those of the Middle Ages has convinced us that a more accurate and careful job of copying was done by the Alexandrian scribes”

 

Note what must we do here.  Their argument has two parts, a premise and a conclusion:

 

Here is their premise:

 

“a careful comparison of these manuscripts with those of the Middle Ages has convinced us that”

 

Here is their conclusion:

 

“a more accurate and careful job of copying was done by the Alexandrian scribes”

 

A conclusion is only true if its premise is true (kindergarten logic followed by all).  Therefore, if a premise is false its (subsequent) conclusion is false.  Therefore, if <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT>’s premise is false, their conclusion is false.  We must simply show that their premise is false.  (The next statement is abstruse [difficult to understand] but we will explain it in the following statement.)  In other words, we must show that the premise that “a careful comparison of these manuscripts with those of the Middle Ages has convinced us that” is false.  Now, we must clarify their premise.  Their premise is:

 

A careful comparison of the Alexandrian manuscripts with those of the Middle Ages has convinced us.

 

WOW, DOES EVERYONE SEE WHAT I SEE!  THIS IS NOT A PREMISE AT ALL!  IT IS SIMPLY A REPORT THAT <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> DID SOMETHING AND THEN WAS CONVINCED OF SOMETHING.  They compared manuscripts and (then) obtained some results and, then, were convinced of something.  FURTHERMORE, NOTE THAT THEIR “CONVINCEDNESS” (CONVICTION) IS ONLY A BELIEF, IT IS NOT PROOF.  I REPEAT, “IT IS NOT PROOF!”

 

Now, we will be supergenerous.  We will assume that here is what <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> really meant to say:

 

We collected massive amounts of statistical data on the Alexandrian manuscripts and the M.A. manuscripts.  Next we performed multiple, sophisticated, computer-aided statistical analyses of this data…these analyses proved that the Alexandrian manuscripts were more accurate than the M.A. manuscripts.

 

NOW, IN ORDER FOR <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> TO COME TO A CONCLUSION THEY WOULD HAVE TO HAVE HAD A “STANDARD OF ACCURACY” AND GUESS WHAT?  THE ONLY POSSIBLE STANDARD OF ACCURACY IS ONE OF THE TWO FAMILIES OF MANUSCRIPTS THEMSELVES, THE ALEXANDRIAN FAMILY OR THE M.A. FAMILY.  I’m sure that most of you see the problem:

 

IN ORDER FOR <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> TO COME TO A CONCLUSION, THEY HAD TO ASSUME THAT EITHER THE ALEXANDRIAN STREAM WAS THE “STANDARD OF ACCURACY” OR THAT THE M.A. STREAM WAS THE “STANDARD OF ACCURACY.”

 

Since <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> did, indeed, come to a conclusion, they DID, INDEED, ASSUME THAT ONE OF THE TEXTUAL FAMILIES WAS “THE STANDARD OF ACCURACY.” THEY:

 

ASSUMED THAT THE ALEXANDRIAN FAMILY WAS THE “STANDARD OF ACCURACY.”

 

THIS BRINGS DISREPUTE ON <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> AND WE ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT THAT!

 

<UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT’S NAME EDITED OUT>, GET SOME EVEN SMARTER PEOPLE WORKING FOR YOU!

 

Since they used an assumption to arrive at their premise, their premise is an assumption.

 

We will now bring this train of thought to its logical and inevitable conclusion:

 

The premise behind the conclusion of the point under discussion has been shown to be AN ASSUMPTION.  THEREFORE, THE “OVERLYING” CONCLUSION HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN.  (AN ASSUMPTION NEVER PROVES ANYTHING [KINDERGARTEN LOGIC FOLLOWED BY ALL].)

 

Well, this leaves us with one more argument to refute with regard to <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT>’s “more accuracy” position.  Here is argument (3):

 

(3) Erasmus had to work in haste and with limited resources

 

We will assume that Erasmus did, indeed, have to work in haste and with limited resources.  But, for the record, note the following:

 

First, Erasmus was a genius.  Therefore, he could accomplish 10 times more in the same period of time as another person.  Second, there is no proof as to when Erasmus started his work.  Therefore, he may have been preparing his text for a considerable period of time.  Third, there is no proof as to the precise nature of the resources at Erasmus’ disposal.  WE HAVE, THEREFORE, ALREADY DISPROVEN THIS ARGUMENT!

 

However, we want to give <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> their “Erasmus claim” SO WE CAN MAKE AN EVEN STRONGER ARGUMENT AGAINST THEIR “ERASMUS CLAIM.”  Very simply, the King James Bible translators had A MULTITUDE OF SOURCES (AND RESOURCES) besides the text of Erasmus.

 

WE MUST PAUSE…FOR WE ARE AGAIN FLABBERGASTED!  HOW COULD <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> HAVE DEMONSTRATED SUCH INFERIOR SCHOLARSHIP?!

 

ACTUALLY, WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.  <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> FELL VICTIM TO THE “OJBECTIVITY DOCTRINE.”  THE OBJECTIVITY DOCTRINE SAYS THAT YOU MUST NOT ALLOW “EXTERNAL” MATTERS INTERFERE IN ANY INVESTIGATION.  AND THAT IS WHAT <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> DID.  THEY DID NOT LET ANY “EXTERNAL” MATTERS INTERFERE WITH THEIR INVESTIGATION.

 

THE PROBLEM IS:

 

THEY SET THEIR INTERNAL/EXTERNAL BOUNDARY IN THE WRONG PLACE.  THEY EXCLUDED ANCIENT EVIDENCE FROM A MILLION OTHER SOURCES.

 

NOW, THE <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> PEOPLE WERE GOOD “RULE FOLLOWERS” – THEY FOLLOWED THE “DOCTRINE OF OBJECTIVITY” – BUT THEY WERE NOT GOOD INVESTIGATORS!

 

Well, we have refuted the 3 arguments underlying <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT>’s “more accuracy” position.  ERGO (THEREFORE), THE “MORE ACCURACY” POSITION IS FALSE AND, THUS, DISPROVEN.

 

 

TEXT SUPERIORITY

 

2.      “Therefore, along with the great majority of conservative scholars, we believe that the text based upon the Alexandrian manuscripts is, as a whole, superior to the text based upon manuscripts of the Middle Ages.”

 

Well, this position involves two elements:

 

A Reference

 

“along with the great majority of conservative scholars”

 

Our latest research shows that the majority of conservative scholars do NOT believe their conclusion, stated in the next subsection.  However, if it were true that the majority of scholars did believe their conclusion AND WE EXCLUDED ALL OTHER AUTHORITIES, PROOFS, AND EVIDENCES, we could only conclude that it was more likely than not that their conclusion was true.  WE COULD NOT CONCLUDE WITH CERTAINTY THAT THEIR CONCLUSION WAS TRUE.  We could not conclude with either reasonable certainty or documented certainty that their conclusion was true.  LEST WE FORGET:

 

OUR LATEST RESEARCH SHOWS THAT THE MAJORITY OF CONSERVATIVE SCHOLARS DO NOT BELIEVE THEIR CONCLUSION.

 

A Conclusion

 

Their conclusion is:

 

“Therefore…we believe that the text based upon the Alexandrian manuscripts is, as a whole, superior to the text based upon manuscripts of the Middle Ages.”

 

This conclusion is based on <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT>’s first position statement in our list of their position statements.  We have disproven that position.  Therefore, this position is false.  That is:

 

It is not true that “…the text based upon the Alexandrian manuscripts is, as a whole, superior to the text based upon manuscripts of the Middle Ages.”

 

Okay, two down, two more to go.

 

 

NO ISSUE

 

3.      “this [is] not an issue of modernism versus conservatism”

 

Modernism says “knowing the precise words of Scripture in the original languages and in any translation of the Scriptures doesn’t matter.”  THIS IS WHAT <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> IS SAYING.  <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> HOLDS TO THIS TEACHING OF MODERNISM.  SO:

 

THIS IS AN ISSUE OF MODERNISM VERSUS CONSERVATISM.

 

 

EITHER TEXT

 

4.      “Christians should be free to choose and use either of these texts”

 

Obviously, since <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> doesn’t know if one or both textual families are correct, they have no grounds for this statement.  As far as <UNIVERSITY NAME EDITED OUT> is concerned, this statement is true or false and they don’t know which.  WE, HOWEVER, DO KNOW!  See Scientific Biblical Studies.