Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Text Note: Luke 2:33 (43)

The Issue:

The textual question in Luke 2:33 is whether the verse should read “his father and mother [ho pater autou kai he meter]” (modern critical text) or “Joseph and his mother [Ioseph kai he meter autou]” (traditional text).  The primary issue, then, is whether or not the text makes use of the noun “father [pater]” or the personal noun “Joseph [Ioseph].”

This distinction is reflected in modern English translations:

Translations based on the traditional text (emphasis added):

KJV:  And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

NKJV:  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.

Translations based on the modern-critical text (emphasis added)

NIV:  The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

ESV:  And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

External Evidence:

The traditional text is supported by codices A, Theta, Psi, family 13, 33, and the vast majority of Greek manuscripts.  It is also supported by several ancient versions such as the Old Latin and the Gothic.  Metzger also notes that this is the reading of Tatian’s Diatesseron (c. 2nd century) (Textual Commentary, p. 134).

The modern critical text is supported by Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, in addition to a few other codices.  It is also supported by several ancient versions, including a few Vulgate manuscripts.

Internal Evidence:

Metzger explains the conventional thinking of modern text critics that “father” was replaced by “Joseph” “in order to safeguard the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.”  He also concedes that this must have occurred, given the textual evidence, at a very early stage in the transmission of the text.  At the least, under this construal, this would indicate that the doctrine of the virginal conception was an ancient doctrine and not a later church development.

Metzger does not address alternative explanations.  Could another explanation be that the original reading of “Joseph” was altered to “father” in order to downplay or subvert the doctrine of the virginal conception?  Could this reflect Christological controversies in post-apostolic Christianity?

This tension is also reflected elsewhere in the text of Luke 2.  Metzger notes that in Luke 2:41 the phrase “his parents [hoi goneis autou]” (the reading of both the traditional and modern critical text )is altered “by a few copyists and translators” to read “Joseph and Mary” “in the interest of safeguarding the doctrine of the virgin birth” (p. 135).  More controversial is the reading of Luke 2:43 where the divide is similar to that found in v. 33, as the traditional text reads “Joseph and his mother” (supported by A, C, Psi etc.), while the modern critical text reads “his parents” (supported by Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, etc.).


Support for the traditional reading is ancient and diverse.  Furthermore, it subtly supports the doctrine of the virginal conception of Jesus.  It is interesting that modern criticism sees this as undermining rather than authenticating the traditional text.  When one considers the anti-supernaturalist bias, not to mention the Arian bias, reflected particularly in German historical-critical methodology of the 19th century, he should not be surprised to find that the modern critical text arising in that same era would prefer the readings of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus in Luke 2:33, 43 over the readings of the traditional text.  The Reformers were, no doubt, also aware of these variations but preferred the traditional reading as that preserved and authentic.  With them, we prefer to maintain the traditional reading.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Vision (7/26/12): Dr. W. Gary Crampton preaching at CRBC this Sunday (July 29th)

We enjoyed having Dr. W. Gary Crampton speak last Spring at CRBC and welcome him back this Sunday morning to preach again in our 10:30 am service.  Dr. Crampton has served as a pastor and scholar and is a prolific writer.  One part of his writing ministry includes frequent contributions to The Trinity Review. For a sampling of some more recent Trinity Review articles by Dr. Crampton check out these links:

            Are UFOs Biblical?

Dr. Crampton also serves as an elder at the Reformed Baptist Church in Richmond.  We welcome him to CRBC this Sunday.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Scenes from 2012 "Puritan" Vacation Bible School

Image:  All smiles at the 2012 VBS

CRBC hosted our annual "Puritan" Vacation Bible School this week from Monday through Wednesday evening.  We call it a "Puritan" VBS, because we don't buy a pre-fab plan out of a box but simply use the Bible to teach age-integrated lessons from a portion of Scripture, along with Scripture memory songs, crafts, snacks, and recreation.  You might also call it a "Regulative Principle" VBS.  The focus of this year's study was the Life of Moses.  Here are a few scenes:

Image:  I had the privilege of doing the teaching sessions on the Life of Moses.

Image:  There was lots of music and singing.  Among the favorite Scripture songs of the week:  The fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); Beloved, let us love one another (1 John 4:7-8); and Be bold!  Be strong! (Joshua 1:9).

Image:  Casey H. oversaw great theme-related snacks each evening.

Image:  Stephanie O. used her art teacher background to lead craft time.

Images:  One night's craft included making a tablet with the ten commandments.

Images:  Llew and Hannah R. led the ever-popular recreation time with outdoor games like "sharks and minnows" and indoor games like "Pass the hula hoop."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Text Note: Luke 2:14

The Issue:

The textual issue in this well-known “Christmas” passage is reflected in the renderings of various English translations.  Whereas translations based on the traditional text read:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (AV, emphasis added), those based on modern texts read, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (NIV, emphasis added).

In Greek, the issue is the matter of the case of a single word, eudokia.  Should it be a nominative eudokia:   “goodwill toward men” [en anthropais eudokia] or genitive eudokias:   “among men of goodwill” [en anthropais eudokias]?

Is the angelic announcement threefold (glory, peace, and goodwill) or twofold (glory and peace) with the expanded emphasis on his peace bestowed among those “on whom his favor rests” (NIV) or “among men with whom He is pleased” (NASB)?

External evidence:

The traditional reading of eudokia is supported by L, Theta, Psi, family 1, family 13, and the vast majority of manuscripts.  It is also supported by the Syriac and Bohairic versions, as well as by the Church Fathers Eusebius and Epiphanius of Constantia.

The modern critical reading of eudokias is supported by the original hands of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, as well as codices A, D, W, and a few Latin manuscripts.  Among the Church Fathers it is found in some texts from Origen and in Cyril of Jerusalem.

Internal evidence:

Metzger (see Textual Commentary, p. 133) asserts that the genitive is “the more difficult reading” and notes its support by “the oldest representatives of the Alexandrian and the Western groups of witnesses.”  Here we see the typical scholarly weight given to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.  He further explains that the nominative reading “can be explained either as an amelioration of the sense or as a paleographical oversight.”  Metzger notes that the difference between the nominative (eudokia) and the genitive (eudokias) is distinguished “only by the presence of the smallest possible lunar sigma, little more than a point.”

Metzger seems also to defend against the charge that the modern critical reading makes for a more man-centered translation:  “The meaning seems to be, not that divine peace can be bestowed only where human will is already present, but that at the birth of the Saviour God’s peace rests on those whom he has chosen in accord with his good pleasure.”

In his commentary on Luke 2:14, F. Godet offers a contrasting view to Metzger (p. 82).  He asserts that the genitive reading “is hardly natural.”  He adds that the term eudokia “does not suit the relation of man to God, but only that of God to man.”  Thus, he concludes, “this use of the genitive is singularly rude, and almost barbarous.”  It is “a mode of expression without any example” (but contrast Metzger’s appeal to supposed parallel Hebraic expressions in the Dead Sea Scrolls).  Godet concludes:  “We are thus brought back to the reading of the T. R., present also in 14 [mss.], among whom are L and Z, which agree generally with the Alex., the Coptic translation, of which the same may be said, and the Peschito.”

Godet notes, in particular, that the traditional reading results in a more symmetrical and parallel rendering of v. 14 consisting of “three propositions, of which two are parallel, and the third forms a link between the two.”  Of course, for Metzger, the more sonorous rendering of the traditional text makes it suspect and the more asymmetrical alternative preferable, because the latter is supposedly “the more difficult reading.”  The modern text provides two propositions with the final phrase an extended explanation of the type of men (i.e., those of goodwill) who are the recipients of God’s peace.


The traditional reading has early, strong, and widespread support.  As Metzger notes, the difference in renderings is the matter of a single sigma.  This final letter might just have easily been added (whether intentionally or unintentionally) as omitted.  The main difficulty with the modern text is the shift in theological emphasis. Metzger’s defense aside, the modern rendering does appear subtly to shift the emphasis away from a God-centered to a man-centered focus, from God’s unconditioned bestowal of his goodwill among men to his bestowal of his peace upon men “of goodwill.”  The traditional reading is, therefore, to be preferred.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Benjamin Keach: Eight Duties of Church Members to Pastors

Note:  The article below appeared as the Paradosis column in the last issue of the RBT.  Note Keach's references to Owen as an authority as evidence of the respect he enjoyed and influenced he exercised among early Particular Baptists. 

Benjamin Keach was a Puritan Particular Baptist pastor who lived from 1640-1704.  He is the namesake for the annual Keach Conference.  The slightly edited extract below is taken from The Glory of a True Church and its Discipline Displayed (1697), one of Keach’s many works addressing ecclesiology and ministry.

Eight Duties of Church Members to Pastors

By Benjamin Keach

Of the duty of church members to their Pastor

1.      It is the duty of every member to pray for his Pastor and Teachers.

“Brethren pray for us” (1 Thess 5:25; Heb 13:18) that the Word of the Lord may run and be glorified.  Again, saith Paul, “praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ” (Col 4:3).  Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.  Those that neglect this duty seem not to care either for their Minister, or their own souls, or whether sinners be converted, or the church edified or not. They pray for their daily bread, and will they not pray to have the Bread of Life plentifully broken to them?

Motives to this:

(a)   The Minister’s work is great:  “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor 2:16).

(b)    The opposition is not small which is made against them (see 1 Cor 16:9).

(c)    God’s loud call (as well as Minister’s themselves) is for the saints’ continual prayers and supplications for them.

(d)   Their weaknesses and temptations are many.

(e)   The increase and edification of the church depends on the success of their ministry.

(f)     If they fall or miscarry, God is greatly dishonored, and his ways and people reproached.

2.      They ought to show a reverential estimation of them, being Christ’s ambassadors, also called Rulers, Angels, etc.

They that honor and receive them, honor and receive Jesus Christ.  “Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess 5:13).   Again, he saith, “Let the elders that rule well, be accounted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in word and doctrine” (1 Tim 5:17).  That is, as I conceive, those that are most laborious.

3.      It is their duty to submit themselves unto them, that is, in all their exhortations, good counsels, and reproofs.

When they call to any  extraordinary duty such as prayer, fasting, or days of thanksgiving, if they see no just cause why such days should not be kept, they ought to obey their Pastor or Elder, as in other cases also.  “Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves” (Heb 13:7).

4.      It is their duty to take care to vindicate them from the unjust charges of evil men, or tongue of infamy, and not to take up a reproach against them by report, nor to grieve their spirits, or to weaken their hands (Jer 20:10; Zeph 2:8; 2 Cor 11:21, 23).

5.      It is the duty of members to go to them when under trouble or temptations.

6.     It is their duty to provide a comfortable maintenance for them and their families, suitable to their state and condition.

“Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal 6:6).  “Who goeth a warfare at his own charge? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof?.... (1 Cor 9:7).  “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (v. 14).  “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (v. 11).  They should minister to them cheerfully, with all readiness of mind.  Ministers are not to ask for their bread, but to receive it honorably (Matt 10:9-10).  Though the Minister’s maintenance is not by tithes, etc., as under the law, yet they have now as just a right to a comfortable maintenance as they had then.  The equity of the duty is the same.  Our Savior, saith Dr. Owen, pleads it from the grounds of equity and justice.  All kind of rules and laws of righteousness among men of all sorts calls for it.

7.      It is their duty to adhere to them and abide by them in all their trials and persecutions for the Word.

“Ye were not ashamed of me in my bonds…” (cf. 2 Tim 1:16-18).

8.      Dr. Owen adds another duty of the members to their Pastor, viz., to agree to come together upon his appointment.

“When they were come, and had gathered the church together…” (Acts 14:27). 

Friday, July 20, 2012

New issue of "The Reformed Baptist Trumpet" posted online

I sent out the April-May-June edition of The Reformed Baptist Trumpet (Vol. 3, No. 2) yesterday.  The pdf of this issue has also been posted to the RBF-VA website.  Here’s the note we sent with our email to those on our list:

Dear friends,

Attached is the April-May-June issue of “The Reformed Baptist Trumpet,” the quarterly e-journal of the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia.

In this issue:

·        An Announcement about the upcoming 2012 Keach Conference;

·        An article by Dr. W. Gary Crampton on Jonathan Edwards' doctrine of the Holy Spirit;

·        A book review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's "Behind the Bible";

·        An excerpt from Benjamin Keach on "Eight Duties of Church Members to Pastors".

We hope you'll join us for the Keach Conference on Friday evening-Saturday morning, September 28-29, 2012.  You can register online at the RBF-VA website.
If you want to be added or to add someone to the RBT mailing list, send your request to reformedbaptist.va@gmail.com


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Vision (7/19/12): On a New Bible Museum and Hostility to Scripture

This week I ran across an online article from the Washington Post (7/10/12) on plans to construct a large-scale Bible Museum in our nation’s capitol within the next four years.  The museum project is being funded by a wealthy philanthropist and will draw from a collection of over 40, 000 Bible related artifacts.  It sounded like an interesting project, and I plan to make a pilgrimage to visit when it opens.

Beyond the article, however, I was also intrigued by the hostile comments that were posted in response.  Here are a few of the various comments:

I thought that institutions that had books containing fiction were called Libraries rather than museums.

Maybe we can create a museum for the Collected Works of the Grimm Brothers as well?
User ID:http://washingtonpost.com/RH03qTQnCLIJ8%2BZXDADR8/JkV59ZvvsM2tG8oZLe/1VoGeVxxh
The Bible should be reclassified in the Dewey Decimal system from 220 to 753 (mythology) or to 813 (fiction).

Religion has always been the enemy of culture, the enemy of the human intellect, and the enemy of progress. The Bible certainly belongs in a museum, as do the neanderthals who continue to build their lives around it.

How wonderful...just where all those Bibles belong...in a museum right alongside all the other relics of mythology.

It is striking how some in our increasingly secular society are not content merely to be indifferent to Scripture but feel compelled vocally and vociferously to oppose and disparage it.  Paul’s insightful analysis of men in their unregenerate state who “hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18 AV; NKJV:  “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness”) still rings true.

May we who live in such a time as this be emboldened to admire and uphold the Scriptures even more boldly.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note:  One opportunity we have to study and teach the Bible comes next week with our third annual “Puritan” Vacation Bible school for youth and children.  Pray for this outreach and ministry as we meet Monday-Wednesday (July 23-25) from 6:00-8:00 pm.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sermon the Week: David Silversides on Social Networking

David Silversides has a good ministry of addressing various contemporary issues in the midweek meetings of his church.  His message on Social Networking:  Blessing or Curse? was recently featured on sermonaudio.com and is worth a listen.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thomas Watson on Christ our Prophet

Note:  The afternoon sermon last Sunday at CRBC was a meditation on Question 23 in our Spurgeon Catechism Series on Jesus our Prophet.  I closed with a summary of Thomas Watson's applicatory "usages" from this question: 
After Thomas Watson addresses this catechism question in A Body of Divinity, his study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, he offers three practical usages or applications on Christ as our Prophet:

1.      It is useful for information.  That is tells us more about Christ, “who is the great doctor of his church.”

2.     It tells us that we are to labor to have Christ as our teacher.

“A man can no more by the power of nature reach Christ, than an infant can reach the top of the pyramids, or the ostrich fly up to the stars.”

“Knowledge is in Christ for us as milk in the breast for the child.  Oh then go to Christ for teaching.  None in the gospel came to Christ for sight, but he restored their eyesight; and sure Christ is more willing to work a cure upon a blind soul than ever he was to do so upon a blind body.”

Christ can take the dullest man and make him “a good scholar’ so that “they know more than the great sages and wisemen of the world.”

Watson also points out that Christ does this through his appointed means.  “Ministers are earthen vessels, but these pitchers have lamps within them to light souls to heaven. Christ is said to speak to us from heaven now, by his ministers, as the king speaks by his ambassador.”

3.     It tells us to be thankful:   “If you have been taught by Christ savingly, be thankful.”

Watson draws on an ancient analogy. He says if Alexander the Great expressed thanks that Aristotle had been his teacher, then, “how are we obliged to Jesus Christ, this great Prophet, for opening to us the eternal purposes of his love, and revealing to us the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven!”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Godet on Luke 2:19 and speculation on Luke's use of a Marian source

“And Mary kept [syntereo, to protect, to keep safe, to preserve, to keep in good condition, to treasure] all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

I preached Sunday morning in our Luke series on Luke 2:8-20.  I was struck by Frederick Godet’s comments on Luke 2:19.  He argues for v. 19 as giving evidence that Luke used an oral recollection of Mary of the birth of Jesus as a source for his narrative of Jesus’ birth  (cf. 1:1-4).  Here are his observations:

The Aramaean coloring of the narrative indicates an ancient source.  The oftener we read the nineteenth verse, the more assured we are that Mary was the first and real author of this whole narrative.  This pure, simple, and private history was composed by her, and preserved for a certain time in an oral form until someone committed it to writing, whose work fell into the hands of Luke, and was reproduced by him in Greek (p. 84).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Spurgeon Textual Note

On the first day we met to begin our summer men’s Bible Study, reading together Spurgeon’s The Soul Winner, we ran into an interesting textual issue.  One of the brothers had an edition of Spurgeon’s book from Whitaker House (WH), while I had read the first chapter on my phone online from spurgeon.org.  When my friend read the opening paragraph from his edition, I noted some differences.  The WH edition begins as follows:

I purpose, dear ones, if God will enable me, to give you a short course under the general head of "The Soulwinner." Soulwinning is the chief business of the Christian; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer. We should each say with Simon Peter, "I go fishing” (John 21:3), and our aim should be, along with Paul, "That I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  We will begin our messages on this subject by considering the question:  What is it to win a soul?
While my version read:
I purpose, dear brethren, if God shall enable me, to give you a short course of lectures under the general head of "THE SOUL-WINNER." Soulwinning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer. We should each say with Simon Peter, "I go a fishing," and with Paul our aim should be, "That I might by all means save some."
We shall commence our discourses upon this subject by considering the question— WHAT IS IT TO WIN A SOUL?

When we examined the WH edition we noted the brief “publisher’s note” in the book’s front matter which read, “This new edition from Whitaker House has been edited for the modern reader.  Words, expressions, and sentence structure have been updated for clarity and readability.”

The line that struck me by its difference was the one in WH that reads, “Soulwinning is the chief business of the Christian…,” versus the original which reads, “Soulwinning is the chief business of the Christian Minister….”  The original reflects Spurgeon’s high view of office and the preaching duty of the Minister, though the continuation of the line clearly shows that Spurgeon also saw evangelism as a duty for all believers.  The WH edition reflects a more modern, egalitarian, Brethren, “every member minister,” type approach.

The caution here is that when one gets such a reprint he should always check the front matter to determine whether he is reading the original in an unabridged form or in an abridged and modernized form.  I am not against abridgements.  I have, after all, done one myself.  Still, it is usually a good idea to compare the original with the abridgement to track theological influences in the interpretation.


Friday, July 13, 2012

The Vision (7/12/12): Prayer Support

“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18)

When I was editing John Owen’s Gospel Church Government last year, one of the passages that really struck me concerned prayer as part of the fellowship that churches and individual Christians enjoy.  Owen makes the following point:

They have a blessed fellowship in prayer continually.  This fellowship is more evident in that the prayers of all are for all.  There is not a single particular church or a single member of any of them that does not have the prayer support of all the churches in the world and all the members of them every day.  Though this fellowship is invisible to the eyes of flesh, it is glorious to the eye of faith.  It is a part of the glory of Christ the mediator in heaven.  This fellowship in prayer gives to all churches a communion far more glorious than any outward rite or plan of men’s devising (p. 101).

Upon reading this passage, I particularly remember being deeply humbled and encouraged as I considered the fact that though the prayers of the saints and the intercession of Christ, I had “the prayer support of all the churches in the world and all the members of them every day.”  The Lord knows our needs.  An army of his saints are constantly praying for the concerns of his people and for the expansion of his kingdom.  We have prayer support.    

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Classic Book Note: Martin Kähler's "The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ"

Note: I am continuing my summer reading survey of works from 19th century historical-critical Biblical studies.  Here are some notes from Martin Kähler's 1896 classic:
Book Note
Martin Kähler, The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ, trans. by Carl E. Braaten (Fortress Press, 1964 [original Der sogennante historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus, 1896]):  153 pp.

Kähler writes to oppose 19th century attempts to reconstruct the life of Jesus based on the Gospels.  He begins, “I regard the entire Life-of-Jesus movement as a blind alley” (p. 46).  The title of the book distinguishes between the “historical” (historische) Jesus and the “historic” (geschichtliche) biblical Christ.  Braaten discusses and compares translation of these important terms on p. 21:

                                                  historische (historie)             geschichtliche (geschichte)

C. Braaten/R. Fuller               “historical”                              “historic”

J. Macquarrie                         “objective history”                  “existential history”

H. R. Niebuhr                         “outer history”                        “inner history”

For Kähler, the Gospels do not provide an adequate “historical” picture of Jesus, but they do provide an adequate “historic” picture.  He contends that “we have no sources for a biography of Jesus of Nazareth which measures up to the standards of contemporary historical science” (p. 48).  He rejects, in particular, attempts to present psychological studies of Jesus’ inner life or of development in his thought from the Gospels, stating, “The New Testament presentations were not written for the purpose of describing how Jesus developed” (p. 51). Indeed, he notes, “The inner development of a sinless person is as inconceivable to us as life in the Sandwich Islands is to a Laplander” (p. 53)!  Thus, he concludes, “Without a doubt the Gospels are the complete opposite of the embellishing, rationalizing, and psychologizing rhetoric of the recent biographies of Jesus” (p. 93).  Along these lines, Kähler also adds his famous aphorism that one could well call the Gospels “passion narratives with extended introductions” (p. 80, no. 11).

Kähler wants to walk the line between both traditional (pre-critical) and modern (historical-critical) understandings of the Scripture.  He calls the choice between the two “an Either/Or.”  This means, “Either we retreat to the standpoint of the seventeenth century … affirming the inerrancy of the external features of the Bible as it was taken over at the Reformation, and rejecting any kind of historical study of the sacred text.  Or we deny that there is any essential difference between the biblical writings and other books….” (p. 110).  Both approaches, he claims, are misguided.  The purpose of the Gospels is not to provide “for a scientifically reconstructed biography of Jesus” but their purpose “is to awaken faith in Jesus through a clear proclamation of his saving activity” (p. 127).

In his critique of modern theology, Kähler offers this observation:  “The assertion of the absolutely unlimited inerrancy of everything found in our vernacular Bibles has caused a progressive uneasiness ever since the investigation of the traditions of Judaism hit its full stride” (p. 115).  In a footnote for the word “everything” in the previously quoted sentence, Kähler notes how this “uneasiness” in “everything” has included the undermining of the traditional text found in Luther’s Bible which he notes has met more opposition in Germany than in England (!):

This word has been chosen advisedly.  The situation is such that a devoted reader of the Bible has usually felt himself entitled to rely literally upon all the statements made in the headings and subheadings in Luther’s translation of the Bible.  How reluctantly a person resigns himself to the elimination of the pericope of the adulteress and of the end of Mark’s Gospel.  How enraged people become when doubt is cast upon the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, etc.  This attitude has been partly to blame for the difficulties encountered in connection with the revising of Luther’s translation.  In England, devotedness to the letter of Scripture produces zeal for a continual improvement of the translation; among us Germans it has produced a certain resentment of any such attempts; and in still others it has inspired the naïve confidence of being able to give Bible readers a more faithful reproduction of the original text, even though the translator may have a most inadequate knowledge of the biblical languages and often not the vaguest notion of the textual problems.  These mutually exclusive examples show that the starting point, the same in each instance, cannot be the correct one (p. 115, n. 26).

In the end, one might question whether Kähler’s supposed effort to stand above and beyond the fray between traditionalists and modernists is sincere.  In truth, Kähler stands steadfastly with modern theology.  Efforts like his, and that of others in liberal Protestantism, to forfeit the historical reliability of the Gospels while affirming their unique spiritual content did not salvage a high view of the Scriptures or a vibrant Christian faith.  Would that Kähler had, instead, stood with the seventeenth century Reformers in affirming both the “historic” and “historical” Jesus of the Gospels and the “historic” and “historical” Christ of faith, with no contradiction between the two.  His critique of the “Life-of-Jesus” movement, however, is usefully on target and anticipated the devastating critique of this movement in Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus.  Though his remedy is inadequate, Kähler also rightly anticipated the way in which the application of the historical-critical method was undermining Christian faith in Germany and beyond.

Jeffrey T. Riddle, Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia