Monday, November 07, 2011
Thomas Vincent on the Apographa
I have started a new sermon series on Sunday afternoons through Spurgeon’s Catechism (an edited version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism). In preparation I am reading Thomas Vincent’s The Shorter Catechism Explained and Proved from Scripture (first published 1674; Banner ed., 1980).
In his comments on the second question, “What rule hath God given us to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?” Vincent lists ten ways the Scriptures can be proved to be the Word of God. The eighth of those reasons in the following (emphasis added):
Because the Scriptures were confirmed by miracles. We read of many miracles in the Scriptures, especially those which were wrought by Jesus Christ and his disciples, to confirm their doctrine, that it was from God; such as curing some who were born blind, raising the dead, calming the sea with a word, and many more. Now, these and like miracles were from the immediate hand of God; and the relation we have faithfully handed down unto us, as appeareth by the writings still amongst us, of several holy men upon them and concerning them, as also by the several copies of them (which could not be forged, and not be found out) agreeing in the same relation. And as surely as God did effect those miracles, so surely is God the author of the Scriptures, which are confirmed by them.
The thing I am struck by here is Vincent’s implied understanding of the transmission of the Scriptures. With regard to the Scripture’s “relation” of miracles which come “from the immediate hand of God” (cf. Vincent’s description of the source of miracles with the confession’s language concerning the immediate inspiration of Scripture), by the autographic hand of “several holy men” but “also by the several copies of them (which could not be forged, and not be found out)”. Note the high view of the preservation of the Word of God through the apographa and not merely the autographa. Again, contrast his view with that of modern inerrancy:
Vincent: Autographa→ faithfully preserved in apographa
Modern Inerrancy: Autographa→ corruption of apographa in transmission→ restoration of autographa by modern text critics