Letter #3 from James White, responding to Mr. McKinsey’s comments as contained in the above two editions of Biblical Errancy. I contacted Mr. McKinsey a number of times to determine if the letter was going to be printed. It was, partially, in the April, 1987 edition, though the original letter was written and sent on October 13, 1986.
Dear Mr. McKinsey:
I briefly respond to your comments found in the October 1986 edition of Biblical Errancv. I simply intend to correct a number of logical and factual errors present in your rebuttal. First, you did not at all deal with the facts that I brought up relevant to our main discussion, that being your original charge that Jesus and Paul did not agree on the wording of the 6th commandment. I pointed out that both said the same thing – ou phoneuseis – Your reply involved a number of issues, most of which lie outside the realm of a brief reply. You spent some time discussing the subject of textual criticism, and later said that “the problems associated with lower (textual) criticism seem to elude you, JW.” I am enclosing two papers that should be sufficient enough to demonstrate my proficiency in the realm of textual criticism. Instead of proving your point, your comments demonstrate a lamentable lack of knowledge of the field. Such comments as your disbelief that the original writings ever existed 7, that textual criticism involves “educated guesses,” that Geisler and Nix have no way of proving that most errors are the result of copyist errors, etc. and etc. simply prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to anyone who has studied the field that you have not. I would challenge you to dispute the findings of such scholars as Bruce Manning Metzger, Kurt Aland, or F.F. Bruce in regards to this science. Your lack of understanding of the subject is clearly demonstrated by your comment concerning Geisler and Nix’s comment about the variation in the text providing the means of its own correction. Anyone who has done work with the actual text knows this is true – only a person who is looking in from the outside would find it “absurd.” Your example of the homicide detective demonstrates your misunderstanding of the subject.
You made at least three major errors in this section: 1) there is no textual variation at Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew is almah the Greek (LXX) is parthenos. The dispute is on rendering, not text. If you insist on saying there is a textual difficulty here, please provide the textual sources you are relying on. I am referencing Kittel’s Biblia HebraicaStuttgartensia, 1983, pg. 685, and Rahlf’s Septuaginta 1979, pg. 575, and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Isaiah, pgs. 216-217. 2) You intimated that I may have “picked inaccurate manuscripts among the thousands available.” May I ask you to provide a single textual source giving a different reading other than ou phoneuseis at either Matthew 19:18 or Romans 13:9? I have consulted the Textus Receptus, the Stephens Text, the Majority Text, Westcott and Hort, the UBS 3rd edition (corrected), and the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland text – all indicate that there are no textual variants at this point whatsoever – all read ou phoneuseis. 3) You postulated a difference in meaning between the two instances of the same word. Could you please provide lexicographical support for this? You said that “context is a major factor.” Since the context of these two instances is the same (the quotation of the commandment), how could this change the meaning?
The facts are quite clear: 1) Both Paul and Jesus said the same thing; 2) both quoted the same passage in the same context; 3) the text at this point is perfectly pure – there are no textual variations known; 4) there is no lexicographical data that would support the idea of “different meanings” for identical usage of the same word in the same grammatical form. Hence, your original language charge is again shown false.
[The following section continued this letter. However, Mr. McKinsey refused to print it in Biblical Errancy, and gave no indication other than closing the above section with “…” after the word “false.” The reader is left to decide just why it was deleted. McKinsey denied any knowledge of deleting the material when confronted with the fact while on the Dividing Line radio program. He promised to look into it and respond to the rest of the letter. At this time (12/87) no response has been made.]
Quickly, in reference to your material on immortality and eternal life, I would like to simply point out that you again made two very basic, factual errors. You referenced Mark 9:17 and John 10:20, indicating that my explanation of the usage of echon was in error due to the use of echon in these two passages. Unfortunately, echon is not used in either passage, as anyone familiar with the language could see. Echon at 1 Timothy 6:16 is in the present participle active nominative singular masculine form; the word at Mark 9:17 is echonta, the present participle active accusative singular masculine form (a completely different case), and the word at John 10:20 is not even a participle – it is a finite verb, echei. Hence, you completely misidentified the two examples you listed, while continuing to ignore the factual presentation I made concerning the syntax of the participle at 1 Tim. 6:16.
Finally, you wrote, “You also dwell on ad hominem comments to such an extent that if it continues you could notice a change in the tenor of my responses.” Seemingly, you have arbitrarily decided that when I point out errors on your part in regards to subjects that you are ignorant of (there is nothing wrong with being ignorant of something as long as you don’t try to act like you know what you are talking about) I am being “patronizing” and utilizing “ad hominem” argumentation. When you question my information and make ad hominem comments about me, you are simply debating. I have pointed out on a factual level that you made errors in the topics under discussion – if you can only respond by charging me with patronization and ad hominem argumentation while threatening me with a “change in the tenor” of your responses, I hardly see that further discussion is advisable. If you will admit your factual errors, and come up with facts and documentation of your own to support your charges, maybe we could continue this debate in the way debates are supposed to run. Till you are able to deal with this subject on a scholarly level, I thank you for your time and the opportunity of discussing this issue.
7. I did not go into depth in dealing with all the facts that demonstrate Mr. McKinsey’s errors at this point See footnote #1 for suggested sources for scholarly information on this subject. BE is only six pages long, and I could have filled all six pages with documentation on any one of the areas I here listed. Of course, Mr. McKinsey, in his response, will criticize my brevity, but as he knew, I could not send him a letter that was excessively long. Any person who bothers to read even an introductory text on the subject of textual criticism will he able to see Mr. McKinsey’s errors.