Saturday, August 4, 2018

Basics On Biblical Transmission And Textual Criticism

  • Inerrancy Is A Foundational Article Of The Christian Faith:
          -The Bible documents the creation of the world, fall of man, God calling the Nation of Israel to be His people, His plan of redemption, and the means of redemption. It records the rise and fall of various governments. It was written over a period of 1,600 years by approximately 40 authors.
          -The term "canon" is defined as standard or rule of faith. Therefore, the collection of books which comprise the Bible are to function as the spiritual measuring stick of discernment for the Christian church. 
          -The historic Christian position in regards to the Bible is that it is inspired revelation from God. The Bible proclaims itself to be a product of divine inspiration.
          -If a professing Christian rejects the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, then how can he or she know with certainty truths related to salvation and godliness?
  • How The Old Testament Canon Was Established:
          -The formation of the Old Testament canon began with God inscribing the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets. Moses was commanded by God to pen down the words of the Law so as to provide the Israelites a rule or faith or standard of judgement.
          -Evidence that the Old Testament revelation gradually expanded over time is the fact that Old Testament authors recognized other authors. For example, the Prophet Daniel makes mention of the books documenting how the Lord spoke to Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2). The twofold division of the Law and prophets points to the Old Testament canon (Matthew 5:17-18). The threefold division of the Law, prophets, and the psalms also signifies the full Old Testament (Luke 24:44). This demonstrates the overall consistency within the Old Testament writings.
  • Primary Ancient Witnesses Consulted In Reconstructing And Verifying The Old Testament Canon:
          -The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered near Wadi Qumran, are the earliest known extent Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. Codex Leningrad is the earliest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Old Testament, dated around the timing of the eleventh century and reflects Masoretic tradition. Other important ancient witnesses supporting the accurate preservation of the Old Testament Scriptures would include the Samaritan Torah, the Greek Septuagint (LXX), and the Aramaic Targums.
  • How We Can Know That The Old Testament Has Been Accurately Transmitted:
          -The Jews carefully preserved the writings that they deemed to be of canonical status. Any texts and scrolls that were reputed to have the unique characteristic of divine inspiration were kept in the temples, under the intense care and supervision of the priests who ministered and the scribes. In short, the concept of canonicity was known to the Israelites. Moreover, Near Eastern scribal practices in religious and political contexts involved meticulous preservation of important documents. Manuscripts would be copied. Manuscripts would be revised. They were compared, and examined letter per letter. The Jews no doubt venerated the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus, the closed and standardized text of the Old Testament has been passed down to us almost totally unchanged.
  • The Establishment Of The New Testament Canon:
          -The New Testament Scriptures were being read and circulated even as the apostles lived. Consequently, it can be affirmed that the New Testament canon was being established in the middle to the later end of the first century. Most conservative scholars agree that the 27 books of the New Testament were completed by the end of the first century, with the epistle of James being the first and Revelation being last in order of completion. The canon was settled by the end of the second century.
          -There has always been a general consensus as to which books should be included in the New Testament canon. The four gospel accounts and the Pauline corpus were not disputed. The books of Hebrews, James, 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, and Revelation were questioned for a time. Even so, they passed the test for canonicity by the divine providence of God. Factors used in the process of crystallizing the New Testament canon would include the dating, authorship, textual consistency, and level of circulation of texts in the church. 
  • Outline Information On The New Testament Manuscripts:
          -The earliest manuscripts of the New Testament available are papyri, which can be dated back as early as the second century.
          -Leather parchment eventually replaced papyrus because the material was more durable. 
          -Codex Vaticanus is significant because it contains the entire New Testament. Another manuscript which contains most of the New Testament is Codex Sinaiticus. 
          -There are ancient Syrian, Coptic, and Latin translations which enhance our understanding of the New Testament autograph manuscripts. Those arose due to intense missionary work in the early church.
  • Why Textual Variations Exist:
          -Causes of unintentional scribal alterations in manuscripts would include poor eyesight, faulty inspection, mistakes in memory, spelling errors, and wrongly viewing inserted marginal notes as corrections of the text.
          -Causes of intentional scribal alterations in manuscripts would include attempts to update archaic grammar and spelling, clarify or harmonize more obscure texts, and protect important doctrines.
  • Most Textual Variations Can Be Resolved:
          -Most manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments have differences in spelling or grammar that do not pervert the meaning of the text.
          -There are textual variants among manuscripts that read synonymously. For instance, there are manuscripts that render the same passage of Scripture with Christ's name as being "Lord Jesus" or "Lord Jesus Christ".
          -There are textual variants that can readily be ignored due to seeming outright irrational or found in poor quality manuscripts.
          -The New Testament documents alone are almost one hundred percent textually pure. They have much earlier and wider source attestation than any other document of antiquity. Not one variation among the manuscripts comes close to harming an article of Judeo-Christian tradition.
          -"If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer, and the other authors mentioned in the chart at the beginning of the paper. On the other hand, if the critics acknowledge the historicity and writings of those other individuals, then they must also retain the historicity and writings of the New Testament authors; after all, the evidence for the New Testament's reliability is far greater than the others. The Christian has substantially superior criteria for affirming the New Testament documents than he does for any other ancient writing. It is good evidence on which to base the trust in the reliability of the New Testament." (https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence)
  • Textual Criticism:
          -The purpose of textual criticism is to accurately convey what was written in the inspired original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts. It is not designed to criticize divine revelation. Rather, this process of refinement involves sifting through all the available manuscript evidence. That is the authentic science of biblical textual criticism.
          -Biblical criticism has been separated into two main categories: higher and lower criticism.
          -Textual criticism should be opposed when there are liberal, humanistic, or anti-supernatural motivations involved. It should be done only on the presupposition that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

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