Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Dr. Stauffer: Brave Behind the Keyboard, Unwilling to Defend His Assertions
03/25/2006 - James WhiteWell, I've given him more than enough time. I know he has received my e-mails. He simply will not respond. Though I have asked him to back up his strong statements, Dr. Douglas Stauffer, author of One Book Stands Alone, will not do so. Though he has stooped to unsubstantiated, false ad-hominem, he will not so much as respond to an invitation to appear on the DL, let alone do a debate. So, he joins a long list of KJV Only advocates who will attack you, lie about you, but when faced directly by you, will run and hide, all the while waiting for you to "go away" so they can begin their diatribes again.
In case any of my gentle readers have forgotten the kind of rhetoric KJV Only folks produce, here is a portion of the last e-mail one of those KJV Onlyists sent me just a few days ago:
Listen you filthy devil: people don't bother debating you because you're still smoking from every time someone has taken the time you set you straight already. You're what's called a reprobate. You've been hardened by God. You are going to hell. You hold to the devil's line no matter what. Good riddance. Have fun with your filthy, satanic manuscripts in hell. In hell when you can finally meet in person your little spiritualist masters Westcott and Hort. Oh, what fun.
Waiting to Hear From Dr. Stauffer
03/22/2006 - James WhiteI've written to Dr. Stauffer and asked him to stand behind his published statements. I've invited him to join me on the DL, and inquired about his willingness to publicly debate the issues. Though a number of days have passed, he has so far declined even replying to my e-mails. I'm wondering if he will end up like D.A. Waite, another KJV Only advocate who is brave and boisterous in monologue but utterly unwilling to defend his statements in the presence of knowledgable opposition. One can only think of this statement, which I will quote from the KJV itself:
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. (Proverbs 18:17)The point is more clearly expressed here, however:
The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him. (NASB)
On Painting with Broad Brushes
03/20/2006 - James WhiteA lot of you were a bit shocked at the vitriol expressed by Mr. Dries a few days ago. Believe me, in the years since I wrote The King James Only Controversy I've seen it all before. "You God-hater! You Bible-hater! You are trying to destroy people's faith!" etc. and etc. Emotionalism is an ever-present part of dedication to that particular system. And for the few who thought that might bother me, let me assure you: after the fiftieth time you are called the "high priest of the Alexandrian cult" or the like, it really doesn't have the sting it once had.
Some might say, "Hey, you are painting with a broad brush." I wasn't painting at all. There is a wide, loud, vitriolic stream of KJV Onlyism out there. Ruckmanism, Riplingerism--call it what you will. Even Mr. Dries, an alleged Calvinist, was promoting a book written by a hyper-dispensationalist whose views are very much in line with Ruckman. Are all KJV Only folks a part of this stream? No. In fact, men like David Cloud, though anti-Reformed and surely guilty of poor research in the field, recognize the utter incongruity of the kind of behavior exemplified by these folks and a profession of faith in the Bible: he well knows how difficult it is to maintain some kind of decorum as a promoter of the KJV and yet refrain from behaving in the Ruckmanesque style. He takes heat from that "side" all the time, for to be anything less than utterly nasty is to "compromise" from their viewpoint.
While I was in the UK I sat down over lunch/dinner with a fine Christian brother. I could never identify this brother simply because he would never hear the end of having broken bread with the anti-Christ himself. Let's call him Rob. I think he would accept the identification of at least being TR Only, if not KJV Only. We discussed, specifically, the Comma Johanneum. We did so forcefully, but in the bonds of brotherhood. I did not convince him, he did not convince me. I personally think I asked some questions that I hope he will think through, but the fact of the matter is that he will remain my brother in Christ whether he does or does not. I pray for him, appreciate his kind spirit and his smiling countenance, and I hope and pray that he recognizes in me the Spirit of Christ and the heart of one who loves the Lord. Not everyone "over there" is as nasty as Mr. Dries.
But it is just here I have to point out that Rob is the exception that proves the rule. In other words, it is his rarity that exemplifies the attitude we saw in the Dries e-mails, that we see in Stauffer's twisting of almost anything I say, in Ruckman's writings, etc. and etc. The fact that a conversation with him is memorable proves that most of the conversations I have had were just the opposite. It is hard to get very far when the other person identifies you as a "devil-priest." So, I am truly not seeking to paint with a broad brush: I appreciate the minority in that camp that can hold their position without putting me on a greased aerodynamic bobsled destined for a lightning fast ride to the seventh level of hell itself. But the fact that those folks are in the minority is just that: a fact. Anyone who would dare to address the issue directly, as I have, knows I speak the truth.
A Bit More on Stauffer
03/18/2006 - James WhiteEvidently Dr. Stauffer is a hyper-dispensationalist, limiting the NT Scriptures that are "for the church" to the Pauline epistles, etc. No wonder his "exegesis" of Titus 2:13 is next to impossible to understand. David Cloud writes,
According to Stauffer, Paul is THE spokesman for the church age (p. 17); the general epistles of Hebrews to Revelation, while containing some church age applications, are actually written for Great Tribulation saints (pp. 20, 27); salvation is obtained by works during the Tribulation (p. 23); Hebrews and James do not teach eternal security (pp. 23, 29); Peter did not preach the gospel of the grace of God (p. 26); the seven churches of Revelation 1-3 are not the body of Christ (p. 29); the epistle of first John teaches that salvation is through works (p. 56); the book of Acts was not given “to show how to establish the local church or its functions” (p. 72), Abraham had to keep his salvation through works (p. 175).He likewise identifies Ruckman as the source of Stauffer's views. Irony of ironies. Mr. Dries, who claims to be a Calvinist, relying upon Ruckmanite hyper-dispensationalism. The world is truly an odd place at times.
I've Received Stauffer's One Book Stands Alone
03/18/2006 - James WhiteFirst impression: absolutely nothing new here, nothing beyond what KJV Onlyism has been offering for forty years. Not a smidgeon of meaningful interaction with my own work. Same ol' same ol'.
But, there are a few almost humorous things, and some completely absurd things. You will find this book filled with standard KJV Only "loaded language" throughout. In the index under my name, we read some really fascinating stuff. For example:
admits modern versions use of different manuscript
admits that Mormon's [sic] challenged his faithOK, gotta look that one up. I did? Hmm. Could Dr. Stauffer actually misread me that badly? Answer? Well, if you listened to the DL, you know the answer. Of course he could.
In my book I had narrated my first encounter, at age 19, with LDS missionaries Reed and Reese (a story I've told often). Here's what I wrote, in context:
In Other Words . . .After this I went through the alleged contradiction, much as I did in Letters to a Mormon Elder as well. This is part of the chapter documenting problems in the text of the KJV itself.
Most people who are not committed to the KJV Only position will admit that the AV needs some level of revision. No matter how strongly AV Only believers assert the alleged simplicity and clarity of the KJV, the fact remains that there are many passages that are anything but clear and understandable in this venerable old translation. And, at times, those ambiguities get in the way, and even give ammunition to those who would attack the Bible.
The first alleged “contradiction” that was ever shown to me was based upon the KJV translation. Two young LDS missionaries, Elders Reed and Reese, were sitting in my sister-in-law’s home, explaining to me that I could not really trust the Bible because it had been “translated so many times.” I was a young person at the time (I was the same age as the missionaries), and had not encountered too many real strong challenges to my faith, so I asked them for examples of the “errors” they were talking about. They took me to the KJV at Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9. (228-229)
Now, for all regular folks, the reason I mentioned elders Reed and Reese and the context of my first encounter with the alleged contradiction is clear. But, what does a commitment to KJV Onlyism do to your ability to read fairly? Let's find out. After quoting the immediately preceding paragraph cited above, Stauffer writes, ...
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The Spirit of KJV Onlyism
03/17/2006 - James WhiteThe gentleman on the Puritanboard (since banned) that I replied to Tuesday on the DL--the one who referred me to Stauffer's book--has informed me of his views of me and my replies to his statements. I post this to illustrate the spirit of KJV Onlyism and as evidence, since some seem to need it, in support of my statement that the nastiest folks I run into are KJV Only folks.
Sorry, the Holy Spirit doesn't fall into the category of a circular argument. You're similar to, once again, atheists who argue that quoting the Bible on the existence of God is circular. It's called faith and having the Spirit of Truth inside you and having, hence, discernment and ability to see.
This is a regeneration issue. Anybody who can't see the devil's hand in the corrupt manuscripts and the devil's ability to cast delusions and illusion over the eyes of people regarding them, usually with throwing some worldly motive and gain into the picture, just doesn't have the discernment that comes with regeneration and having the Spirit of Truth.
That you mock Christians who defend the Word of God against your atheist higher critics and your ridiculous 'better manuscripts' (just your thinking that that ridiculous story about a man going to a monastery and finding scraps in a garbage can and going back and having a manuscript presented to him "wrapped in red" - oooh - is somehow evidence of the glorious nature of God's providence, when everything that occured in the Reformation regarding the Bible coming into the light after the darkness of the Rome and Protestants literally giving their lives for it to happen IS GOD'S TRUE GLORIOUS PROVIDENCE AT WORK, whereas everything you write and speak is the devil's demands manifesting through his servants - shows you are warped on this subject) again, that you mock God's elect while defending atheist 'scholars' and manuscripts that oh just so happen to delete and distort the Word of God in areas that the devil would want the Word of God defiled and distorted shows you are working for the darkness.
The Word of God is the foundation of the faith. You'll pay for what you been doing. God comes down hard on any who affect to teach in His name and do as much damage to the faith as you and others like you have done.
Have fun in hell, witch. - mdries
Listen, devil-priest, just post the entire email. The ENTIRE email, if you do. This one too. And be sure to throw in the de riguour 'sic' where appropriate. Yes, as you read from my own reply to you the Spirit is indeed the Spirit of Truth. And the Spirit of discernment. You don't have it. You fear man and side with man. You have to fear only God to have the Spirit of Truth and discernment in you. By the way, your recent statement that only specialists should have opinions regarding manuscript issues was very Roman Catholic of you, hence my opening above. God's elect know the voice of the Shepherd, devil-priest; what you push is the filth and death of the devil. You're not even a Calvinist. Like theonomists and Federal Visionists and other similar knaves within the tent of Calvinism you just use Calvinism to get an audience, but your main effort is to do the work of the devil in pushing the devil's manuscripts. No, you're not even a Calvinist; and if you tried to push those devil manuscripts on Calvin himself he wouldn't even bother to burn you. He'd pin a note to your collar and buy you a ride to Rome... - mdries
A Bit More on the Comma (Continuation of Previous)
03/16/2006 - James WhiteI 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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Dr. Stauffer on Codex Sinaiticus
03/15/2006 - James WhiteI 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
03/14/2006 - James WhiteToday 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.
James White Like an Atheist?
03/14/2006 - James WhiteI was just reading a post by Michael Dries of Christ Community Church, Folsom, CA, which likened me to an atheist and refers to my "sophistry." I think I'll respond to Mr. Dries on the DL this morning, and if perchance he should be made aware of this (I looked for an e-mail address, but could not find one), I invite him to call in. I'd love to dialogue about his assertions.
The Puritanboard and the Comma Continued
03/13/2006 - James WhiteThe discussion continues in articles posted on the Puritanboard by my fellow Reformed believers regarding the Comma Johanneum. Two immediate things: I have been asked why I don't just join the Puritanboard and post there. Simple answer: I don't have time to join all the web boards out there where relevant conversations are taking place. However, I have received a number of e-mails thanking me for this particular discussion on this blog, and, though this sounds self-serving, it is merely a statement of fact: a lot more people read this blog than read the Puritanboard. Therefore, as long as I believe the wider audience would benefit from the conversation, I will continue to invest time in it.
Secondly, I am disappointed that my primary objection to the inclusion of the Comma has seemingly passed by the supporters of the Comma on the Puritanboard without so much as a single attempt at response. Once again, let me make it as plain as I can. There are plenty of readings found in Codex Bezae Catabrigiensis that are likewise mirrored in a small number of Greek manuscripts as well as Latin versions (Bezae is a bilingual manuscript in Greek and Latin) that, if the textual arguments proffered by supporters of the Comma are consistently applied would have to be included in the TR, calling for a very large realignment of the text itself. Yet, we all know why it is that no one is calling for this re-editing of the TR: the TR is the standard here, and its readings are being defended, albeit in a circular fashion. The only reason these brothers find any of the arguments put forward in defense of it compelling is because they are already pre-disposed to the acceptance of the TR (well, at least the TR that is post-AV, depending on just how you define the term "TR" in the first place). If these same arguments were used to support an emendation of the TR, such arguments would be dismissed instantly (and rightfully so). But such inconsistency is the sign of untruth, is it not? Personally, I would like to hear a meaningful explanation of this objection.
Now, to some of the statements posted since our last installment:
Yes, it's a pity that Dr White has his textual criticism blinkers on and can't see that the question of the Comma is decidedly nothing to do with T.C. If it were, then the question would be long over since there are precious few Greek texts in which it occurs.Am I wearing textual criticism "blinkers" or is this brother wearing "TR Tradition" blinkers? But please note the admission inherent in this statement: this brother accepts the Comma not because it has been transmitted within the manuscript tradition. Instead, "internal evidences" take precedence: once again using one standard for the TR, another standard for all others. Would this person, for example, accept the "internal evidence arguments" for reading "God" at John 1:18 over "Son"? If not, why not?
The question, insofar as there is one, concerns the internal evidences as I posted before. Did the Holy Spirit inspire John to use some rather dodgy grammar at that point, or was the Comma excised at some stage from most Greek texts by over-zealous Arians?Note again that this would, logically, open up a Pandora's box whereby all readings that could be questioned on a grammatical basis (as if we have a basis for so doing) no matter what their textual basis become "fair game." Again, this is clearly not this writer's intention, but he is operating within a context that not only allows the use of double standards, but encourages it by avoiding apologetic defense of the text outside theological circles. As I have pointed out before, this kind of argumentation goes absolutely positively nowhere in dealing with critics of the faith.
Secondly, if the Arians could do this to one text (a text that is not nearly as strong against Arianism as so many others), what did the Sabellians manage to mess up before the Arians came along? This brother simply does not see that he is, in essence, sacrificing the entirety of the NT for the sake of a tradition regarding the TR. And given the relatively late date of the Arian controversy, we know that numerous manuscripts would already exist containing the reading that no Arian could ever get to, and many would have read those manuscripts and would have continued to use the text in defense of the truth. This kind of "internal argument" is vacuous at best, and tremendously dangerous at worst.
I wish Dr White well in his discussions with the Moslems, but I seriously doubt if anyone is likely to be converted one way or the other by arguing about the text. In my, admittedly limited, discussions with Moslems, the matter has never come up. The question to broach with Moslems IMO is the need of a Saviour.I'm disappointed this brother would think that all I do is "argue about the text" with Muslims. But I would like to ask him: how do you proclaim a Savior to the Muslim who does not believe the Bible is the Word of God because it has been corrupted? And if this brother has not spoken to a Muslim who believes that, well, he obviously has not spoken to many Muslims.
Dr White is of course right that Henry, Dabney et al did not have access to all the Greek manuscripts that are available today. However, they had sufficient to know that the Comma was not in most of them. Their support for it was based on other reasons than the texts.The point that this brother is missing is that with the tremendous expansion of knowledge of the earliest form of the manuscript tradition, our confidence in the entirety of the text, including the exclusion of the Comma as a much later addition, has been greatly increased.
Finally, this particular brother wrote, "Dr White can have his Critical Text and God bless it to him. However, I feel very confident using the NKJV and cannot see where it is likely to lead me into theological error." I never said using the NKJV leads you to theological error. I have, however, lamented the willingness to abandon, en toto, a defensible, historical, consistent view of the transmission of the text of the New Testament just so that a later addition will remain in one's tradition. I do believe a person who commits himself to the text underlying the NKJV (which Byzantine priority proponents will confirm demands emendation and editing) for the reasons this brother has offered is putting himself in a very difficult position should he ever find himself having to "refute those who contradict" as is the duty of every elder.
I will respond to brother McDonald as time allows. Honestly, I believe I have responded to much of what he said by posting my comments from The King James Only Controversy. Let me just respond to his first statement regarding the nature of the arguments in defense of the Comma by referring he, and others, to a disputatio I did with Douglas Wilson a number of years ago where, I believe, we find Wilson (following Letis) presenting just such an argument as he says is not being made. Here's the link.
Replying to My Reformed Brethren
03/12/2006 - James WhiteI would like to offer some replies to those commenting on the textual issue on the "Puritanboard."
However, it's unfortunate that White has a bee in his bonnet about the Greek Text. What heresy is one imbibing if one holds to the Johannine Comma? That 1John 5:7 is true is beyond dispute. Why all the fuss?I believe I have explained this: if we are going to be consistent in our apologetics, we cannot use one standard in defending the text against the likes of Ehrman or Ally and another "internally." The defense offered of the Comma would be torn to pieces by any well-read Islamic apologist, and for good reason, since the vast majority of competent critics, including conservative Calvinist scholars, reject it for the later addition it so clearly is. Are we truly to defend the inspiration and preservation of the text of Scripture by arguing, "Well, you see, history may tell us that John did not write this, however, we believe the Reformation was a great move of God, and this text had a small role therein, and was part of the text generally used at that time, so, it must be original because it has been blessed of God!" Would anyone accept that kind of argumentation if it was used in reverse? "Oh, yes, there may be variants in the text of the Qur'an, however, Ayatollah Khomeini read this Surah in this fashion, and he was blessed by Allah, so the historical fact of the variants is irrelevant." I do not get the idea that those defending the Comma are the same folks doing front-line defense of the faith in the apologetic realm. I simply do not see how their defense could be presented with a straight face in that context.
Moreover, to discard the views of men like Matthew Poole, Matthew Henry and Robert Dabney because they are not 'modern' is a wretched argument.The question at hand is a textual one. The state of the body of data available on that subject has radically altered since the days of Poole, Henry and Dabney. Beyond that simple and compelling fact--a fact that has been sufficient to convince the vast majority of those who study in the field--having read these men I find their arguments utterly convincing for one major reason: the consistent application of their arguments would demand the utter overthrow of the TR as a Greek text of the New Testament. As I pointed out in my comments in The King James Only Controversy, there are all sorts of readings with similar manuscript support to the Comma that would, by logical necessity, have to be inserted into the TR. But, of course, none of these men argued in that fashion. They stand convicted, therefore, of inconsistency, one borne, to be sure, of orthodox desires, but inconsistency nonetheless, and unless we are going to openly admit that we will use one set of arguments in defense of orthodoxy and hold our opponents to a completely different set, we cannot follow them no matter how well meaning they may have been. ...
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And Some More on the Comma
03/11/2006 - James WhiteI had not intended to spend so much time on this, but those who have been following the topics on this blog for the past few months realize how very relevant to my current work the issue of textual criticism, and in particular, the Comma Johanneum, really is. That is, given that I have been dealing with Islamic attacks upon the Scriptures (Ahmed Deedat, Shabir Ally) and those of unbelievers (Bart Ehrman), the reason for my concern over seeing fellow believers defending the simply indefensible should be plain. If I am to be consistent, and I point out the errors of Muslim apologists, for example, should I then close my eyes when my fellow believers make inconsistent statements about the text of Scripture? I can't, if I am to be honest.
Just to make sure we are all on the same page, here is what I wrote about the Comma Johanneum in The King James Only Controversy:
Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum
The single most famous incident that is related to Erasmus’ work on the New Testament revolves around the words of 1 John 5:7 as found in the KJV: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Most KJV Only preachers and believers make the acceptance of this passage the test of “orthodoxy.” If your Bible does not have this passage, you are in deep trouble.
The story of how this passage ended up in the King James Version is very instructive. When the first edition of Erasmus’ work came out in 1516 this phrase, dubbed today the “Johannine comma,” or in Latin, the Comma Johanneum, was not in the text for a very simple reason: it was not found in any Greek manuscript of 1 John that Erasmus had examined. Instead, the phrase was found only in the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus rightly did not include it in the first or second editions. The note in the Annotations simply said, “In the Greek codex I find only this about the threefold testimony: ‘because there are three witnesses, spirit, water, and blood.’” His reliance upon the Greek manuscripts rather than the Latin Vulgate caused quite a stir. Both Edward Lee and Diego López Zúñiga attacked Erasmus for not including this passage and hence encouraging “Arianism,”(1) the very same charge made by KJV Only advocates today. Erasmus protested that he was simply following the Greek texts. In responding to Lee, Erasmus challenged him to “produce a Greek manuscript that has what is missing in my edition.”(2) Likewise Erasmus rebutted Zúñiga by pointing out that while he (Zúñiga) was constantly referring Erasmus to one particular Greek manuscript, in this case he had not brought this text forward, correctly assuming that even Zúñiga’s manuscript agreed with Erasmus’ reading. He also said, “Finally, the whole passage is so obscure that it cannot be very valuable in refuting the [Arian] heresies.” (3) ...
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The Comma Johanneum Again
03/04/2006 - James WhiteA few days ago I just happened to see a series of posts on the topic of the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7, KJV) in a mail list I scan through (but rarely read). Someone was asking for information on the topic as a lady in a Bible study had "freaked out" to discover the variant. I was once again reminded of just how vital it is for believers to know how to explain and ground new converts in a sound historical view of where the Bible came from. Anyway, as I scrolled down the few replies, I ran into one from the KJV Only perspective, and no rebuttals of it offered. I just sighed. "Another confused person created thanks to the traditions of men."
The link took me to good ol' Tom Holland and his defense of the Comma Johanneum. Now, let me say up front: while I disagree with Byzantine priority, etc., at least that position can put together some form of defense of its position. But I draw the line with the Comma. Anyone who defends the insertion of the Comma is, to me, outside the realm of meaningful scholarship, unless, I guess, they likewise support the radical reworking of the entire text of the New Testament along consistent lines (and no, I have never, ever met anyone who wanted to do that---every defender of the Comma I have met defends the KJV, hence, their inherent inconsistency is, to me, proof of their holding to tradition over against truth).
Right off the bat I caught Dr. Holland playing with the facts, as he must, to defend this plainly uninspired insertion. Here's the claim:
The External Support: Although not found in most Greek manuscripts, the Johannine Comma is found in several. It is contained in 629 (fourteenth century), 61 (sixteenth century), 918 (sixteenth century), 2473 (seventeenth century), and 2318 (eighteenth century). It is also in the margins of 221 (tenth century), 635 (eleventh century), 88 (twelveth century), 429 (fourteenth century), and 636 (fifteenth century). There are about five hundred existing manuscripts of 1 John chapter five that do not contain the Comma. It is clear that the reading found in the Textus Receptus is the minority reading with later textual support from the Greek witnesses. Nevertheless, being a minority reading does not eliminate it as genuine. The Critical Text considers the reading Iesou (of Jesus) to be the genuine reading instead of Iesou Christou (of Jesus Christ) in 1 John 1:7. Yet Iesou is the minority reading with only twenty-four manuscripts supporting it, while four hundred seventy-seven manuscripts support the reading Iesou Christou found in the Textus Receptus. Likewise, in 1 John 2:20 the minority reading pantes (all) has only twelve manuscripts supporting it, while the majority reading is panta (all things) has four hundred ninety-one manuscripts. Still, the Critical Text favors the minority reading over the majority in that passage. This is common place throughout the First Epistle of John, and the New Testament as a whole. Therefore, simply because a reading is in the minority does not eliminate it as being considered original.The knowledgable reader can see through this argument with a glance: sadly, most lack the background to see how inconsistent and irrelevant the argument actually is. Let's unpack it: ...
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