April 22, 2011

Inerrancy = Perfect Preservation of the Bible? Part 2

For the first part of this discussion see here. The following conversation continues in a discussion of the the main issue involved - perfect preservation of the inspired word.

In order to grasp the gravity and nature of this issue - pertinent questions such as the following must be asked:  Does the Bible say that it would be preserved for all time in a state of perfection? Does it need to be "perfect" to be trusted? How close to the original are our modern translations? In what follows - I seek to answer those questions through the means of debate with a friend who holds to KJV primacy.

Friend #2 Response to my Interjection: 
Ok Chris, now I'm not trying to convert you to the KJV or anything like that, the bible you choose is your choice... However, here's what I know. The KJV was translated from the Textus Receptus. You're right, there have been many new discoveries of manuscripts since 1611. BUT, there have been no new READINGS discovered. Meaning nothing new has been found that they didn't already have 400 years ago.

I believe you said more "complete" manuscripts have been found, yet when I read the NIV, I find MANY verses "missing". My favorite is Acts 8:37. So you see, if you have an NIV, you don't have a complete Bible. We can get deeper into the manuscripts they used if you want.

And that isn't all, if you have an NIV, you have a bible which is hard to understand. I'll give you an example, which of these texts makes more sense to a 21st century reader? 

"The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure."
"The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure." 

Both come from Job 12:6. I'll give you one guess which one is the NIV.
I'll give you another one. "I will stand at my watch, and stand myself at the ramparts." OR "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower."
Now, you may know what "ramparts" and "marauders" mean, but the majority of 21st century readers don't, although they sing that word in their national anthem 100 times each year. 

The point is, we are not capable of understanding everything that's in that Book. The Bible says that "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." The Holy Spirit is our interpreter.
When you look at the origins of modern versions, their omissions, & contradictions, it's hard (for me at least because I'm a skeptic of everything) to believe they are the word of God. If you dont think Satan is trying to attack this book, you don't know Satan very well. He started attacking God's words right from the beginning in Genesis 3:1.

Like I said I'm a skeptic to everything, even my own religion & Book, but when you set out to disprove something that can't be disproven, your faith only strengthens. 

Now, try to disprove the modern versions, & see what happens.
My Response:

I am going to have to completely disagree with you - the last 400 years has brought an abundance of textual data that was previously unknown - a cursory look of a textual apparatus of a Greek New Testament makes this plain (see UBS4 or look here http://www.sblgnt.com/.)

More than that the "Textus Receptus" is not even a complete manuscript - but a composite of many different manuscripts put together by Greek scholars just after the Middle Ages (basically it was the forerunner of our modern day Greek New Testaments - a great, pioneering work for its time.) But even they placed a priority on older texts - to say that we have less information or a less complete picture of the Greek NT than those living in the early 17th cent. is completely false.

You are right in saying that the KJV has more words (or verses) than modern English translations - however - you are wrong in assuming that the existence of more words equals a more complete text. Ancient texts that are copied over and over again - by nature become conflated - words and phrases are usually added or corrupted - not lost. In other words, it's far more likely for an ancient scribe to add a few explanatory notes to an account than it would be for that same scribe to omit a paragraph (for instance see the ESV's treatment of Acts 8:37-40, John 8:1-11, Mark 16:9-20). We are not looking for the largest text possible - but the most accurate text possible.

In fact there is an entire discipline founded upon discovering the actual, ancient text by looking at a variety of ancient manuscripts - this discipline is called textual criticism.

In this regard (as I do have a degree in Biblical Languages - not to sound uppity, but just to let you know that I am not coming out of right field with this stuff) - I can speak with complete confidence in saying that our modern English translations are based on the best and earliest ancient texts possible. Sure there are issues related to translation, but you would be lying if you said that the KJV does not have translation issues. Feel free to use the KJV as your Bible - but don't presume to think that you have a better text or a an uncorrupted one.

I am not sure what you mean by contradictions, omissions, etc. in modern English translations. Those issues are related to interpretation - don't mix interpretation with translation. You want to have as accurate a text as possible before you start dismissing it because of its "errors."

While it's certainly true that Satan tries on every occasion to malign God's Word - that does not mean that we need to hold on to a set of assumptions that is without any basis in reality. Namely, that the KJV is the most complete, accurate text of the Bible- this assumption is based on outside influences and has nothing to do with the translation's antiquity. The reality is this - God supernaturally spoke his revelatory truth to men who in turn wrote down those words (2 Tim. 3:16) for their/our instruction - but God said nothing about preserving that text in its perfect, uncorrupted state (it's not the Book of Mormon after all).

I hope that as you study God's Word, regardless of translation, you will be convinced of it's truth and life-changing worth through the illuminating work of the Spirit.

 Look for the conclusion of our discussion - part 3 - tomorrow 

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