Archive | 2006

A Bit More on the Comma (Continuation of Previous)

I promised to continue responding to Sean McDonald (who called the DL) and the article he posted on the Puritanboard. He asked,

3. Is it just defense of the Johannine Comma which earns your stern rebuke, or do you include Byzantine priority and (general) defense of the TR in said rebuke?

I think I’ve been very clear that this entire discussion began because I “draw the line” at the Comma Johanneum as far as serious scholarship is concerned. I simply do not see how a person can have a full grasp of the current state of the question and continue to defend the Comma outside of a pre-commitment to a particular theological tradition that has nothing to do with the history of the text. I think we have seen this in the responses offered by supporters of the Comma on the board and surely in the kind of rhetoric that I have found in Stauffer’s writings.
Further, I think it is important to differentiate between those who attempt to support the Textus Receptus as an established textual platform and those who support Byzantine priority (such as Dr. Robinson). Dr. Robinson is dealing with the modern textual situation; those defending the TR (however they decide to define it, if they are even aware of the issues involved) often do so by using “majority text” arguments, but if they truly knew the history of their own text, they would realize they cannot do so. Hence, the only real defense of the TR is a theological/historical one, one that I believe is fraught with special pleading and circular arguments.

4. On what basis did the (non-KJV) Continental Reformers argue for the inclusion of the Johannine Comma (since it was not adherence to the KJV that was driving their argumentation, as could possibly be said for post-Westminster British Calvinists)?

I would have to ask for specifics here, as I do not know what Mr. McDonald is referring to and I would not like to attempt to hazard a guess. But once again, as I explained on the Dividing Line, none of these men are overly relevant witnesses today for the simple reason that any argument they would have made was not based upon any meaningful textual foundation in comparison to what is available to us today. Further, I have to wonder: is there something wrong in noting that textual criticism is a specialized field and that those who have never prepared to discuss it might not be in a real good position to offer weighty opinions on it? I mean, did the Westminster Assembly go out and do Jay Leno style “Jay Walking” segments to get a nice “broad, catholic” view of such issues as the procession of the Holy Spirit or the nature of justification just to avoid any inkling that maybe specialized study goes into doing good theology? If we recognize that it would be better to be John Owen than Dave Hunt on theology, why is it that everybody’s opinion on textual critical matters, even if they are not particularly trained in that area, are “equal”? Isn’t this the reverse of giving particular theological weight to a theological statement made by a textual critic?
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For Thursday’s DL…

I would like to respond to Dr. Stauffer’s incredible attempt to deal with the translation of Titus 2:13 by the KJV noted earlier on the DL on Thursday. This kind of argumentation reminds me a great deal of Thomas Holland’s attempt to defend the KJV by saying Romans 9:5 is not a proof text for the deity of Christ. Anything to protect the KJV, even if the KJV translators would have recoiled in horror at such an activity and attitude. If no callers wish to take up the topic, I really do need to get back to the Dr. Davis “Why I’m not a Five Point Calvinist” sermon in light of that material being the background to my upcoming debate in Sedalia on that topic (4/21).

Dr. Stauffer on Codex Sinaiticus

I did a little looking around the net for materials by Dr. Stauffer, and very quickly ran across this article. And it took just a moment to read this:

The Codex Vaticanus (discovered in the Pope’s library in 1481) and Sinaiticus (discovered in 1859 in a trash can at St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai) were the two texts that influenced the Alexandrian text type the most.

I’m sorry, but any “scholar” who can’t even get this story straight is not really worth reading, to be honest. I remember correcting Dave Hunt on this very same error a few years ago in St. Louis. Sure it is common to say this, but repeating an error does not make it true. And for someone who claims the level of expertise necessary to write a book on the translation of the Bible and the issues of the King James Version should surely know better than to repeat errors like this. What is worse, he cites from my book frequently, which means he knows this statement is factually untrue. Here is the section from my work:

   The single greatest example of an uncial codex written on vellum is Codex Sinaiticus, which today is almost always abbreviated with the single symbol of the Hebrew letter “aleph,” written like this: a. This great codex contains the vast majority of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, in Greek. The story of how it was found(1) is evidence of God’s providence. Constantin von Tischendorf embarked on a journey to the Middle East in 1844 searching for biblical manuscripts. While visiting the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, he noted some scraps of parchment in a basket that was due to be used to stoke the fires in the oven of the monastery. Upon looking at the scraps he discovered that they contained part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This was exactly what he was looking for, and so he asked if he could take the scraps to his room for examination, warning the monks that they should not be burning such items. His obvious excitement worried the monks, who became less than cooperative in providing further information about manuscripts at the monastery. Years passed by. Tischendorf attempted to find more manuscripts at the monastery in 1853, but to no avail. Six years later he visited yet once again, and this time on the very evening before he was to leave he presented a copy of the Septuagint (which he had published) to the steward. Upon looking at Tischendorf’s gift, the steward remarked that he, too, had a copy of the Septuagint. From the closet in his cell he produced a manuscript, wrapped in a red cloth. The monk had no idea of the treasure he held in his hands, for this was none other than Codex Sinaiticus, which at that time was no less than 1,500 years old! Tischendorf, having learned his lesson years earlier, hid his amazement and asked to examine the work. He spent all night poring over it, and attempted to purchase it in the morning, but was refused. The story of how the codex was eventually obtained is long, involved, and controversial. It resides today in the British Museum.
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Today on the DL: the Comma Revisited

Today on the DL I responded to a series of posts that appeared on the Puritanboard web-board, and then took two calls, one from one of the folks on the Puritanboard itself (though not the fellow who I invited to call in). We even went a little long to get our second caller in. Here’s the program.
One of the comments made by a defender of the Comma was that I must be “afraid” of a 2001 book, One Book Stands Alone by Doug Stauffer. Evidently, the sure proof of this is that I haven’t responded to it. And, as I said on the program today, I had never heard of the book. I have ordered it now, and just this evening I was directed to a URL containing portions of the book. Here’s the link. I haven’t read all of it yet, but I did read his attempt to deal with Titus 2:13 and Granville Sharp’s Rule. I am simply speechless. This kind of writing is being promoted by a Reformed man? I would gladly invite anyone to read my comments on Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 and then read Stauffer’s incredible attempt to defend the KJV rendering. To call it amazing is an understatement.
I am glad to have been directed to this book. I would very much like to see if Dr. Stauffer would be available to debate the topic, both on the DL as well as in formal, moderated debate.

Apostasy in Alaska Courtesy of the BAS

You may be one of those who received an e-mail from the Biblical Archaeology Society today. In case you had ever thought of supporting this group, I hope the following will give you an idea what they are really all about. BTW, this cruise costs more than three times what ours did. I wonder where that extra money is going? Hmm.

Jesus Is Not Who You Think He Is
There’s More to Jesus Than You Know
(And learn it on a 10 day cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage.)
Let Professor Bart Ehrman, best-selling author and prominent Biblical scholar, lead you through the mysterious Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, James, Peter, and the lost Gospels of Mark and John.
• Learn why the true meaning behind the Gospels of Mark and John might have been lost in translation.
• Learn what happened to Mary before the birth of Jesus and why she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus in the Proto-Gospel of James.
• Learn about the mischievous, but powerful, five-year-old Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
• Learn what actually happened when Jesus emerged from the tomb and why his cross is shown speaking to the heavens in the Gospel of Peter.
• Learn how Jesus’ secret teachings, and their correct interpretation, can bring eternal life in the famous Gospel of Thomas.
• Learn why Jesus reveals different secrets of salvation to a woman in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
• Discover how these lost gospels are changing the most powerful religion in the world.

If that doesn’t prove Ehrman is on a crusade, what possibly could? Just unreal. See for yourself.