Friday, May 05, 2017

Word Magazine # 75: James White Versus Francis Turretin

I have posted WM # 75 James White Versus Francis Turretin to (listen here). In this episode I review JW’s May 3 issue of the Dividing Line: Thoughts on the King James, TR, Ecclesiastical text movement, etc. (watch it here or listen here) in which he interacts with Robert Truelove’s April 28 video: James White & the Received Text (watch it here).

I cover five points in the review:

1.    JW typically confuses the TR and Majority text position with KJV-Onlyism. Furthermore, he criticizes KJV-Onlyism for all the wrong reason.

I note that the problem with KJV-Onlyism is not, as JW argues, that the KJV was translated from 1604-11 and is, therefore, outdated, but that KJV-Onlyism is inconsistent with confessional Christianity’s assertion that the Bible was immediately inspired in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) and not in an English translation.

2.    JW wrongly describes Scrivener’s edition of the Greek NT as “not a real Greek NT” since it represents an edition of the TR which underlies the KJV.

3.    JW rejects the TR and Majority text positions on the basis of the fact that this is not, at present, the position taught “in every major” Reformed seminary” or by “leading scholars.”

4.    JW asserts that Protestant scholastics, like Francis Turretin, were just “wrong” when they defended the traditional text of the Bible, including texts like the traditional rendering of 1 Corinthians 15:47, the ending of Mark, the pericope adulterae, and the comma Johanneum.

I point out that Turretin likely was not denying the existence of textual variants but affirming that the traditional text was indeed found in all “faithful,” “received,” or “orthodox” copies of the Bible. See my upcoming article in PRJ “John Calvin and Text Criticism.”

5.    JW argues that p75 and Vaticanus (B) were “the text of the early church” and were more reliable than the text which was affirmed in the Reformation era.

I point out that although the TR was not printed until the Reformation era, it was based on mss. with antiquity equal to that of p75 and B. In addition, the line represented by p75 and B came to an end in the 500s and ceased to be copied, not appearing again till revived in the 1800s.

JW and other Reformed evangelicals who embrace the modern critical text have a rather difficult problem on their hands. They express admiration for the Protestant fathers (like Turretin—or Calvin, Owen, the framers of the 1689 confession, etc.) then are rather embarrassed to discover that these men defended the traditional text out of conviction and not, as they too often assume, out of ignorance.

Lastly, I make reference to my sermon last Sunday on the Trinity based on chapter two, paragraph three of the 1689 confession, noting not only the use of 1 John 5:7 there as a leading prooftext for the Trinity but also how the 1689 Baptist Confession refers to the second person of the Godhead as “the Word or the Son,” making specific and explicit use of the comma Johanneum in the articulation of the Trinity (cf. chapter two, paragraph three in the 1689 with the WCF and the Savoy here). This represents a significant problem for those who affirm the 1689 confession but reject the comma.



MCC said...

Maybe give it another listen, because you don't even come close to representing White's arguments fairly or correctly.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Thanks for the comment MCC. Can you let me know the specific points where you think I was unfair or incorrect in my assessments? JTR

Phil Brown said...

I personally think you made good solid points concerning White's examination of this issue. I think to refute anyone or anything correctly one must argue against their position without conflating it with another. White is bad about this because he conflates KJV onlyism with views like ours and also those like Maurice Robinson who hold to the Byzantine Priority position. I will say that White did write an article sometime back where he fairly critiqued Robinson on his view, but he doesn't do that when he is on You Tube or his Podcast. I also think that even though he tries very hard to distance himself from Bart Ehrman, you are correct to point out that they don't really differ much on the Science and Theory of Text Criticism.

Gazzini said...

I am confused by some comments here. By no means am I a theologian, but enjoy listening to topics about Canon development and transmission.
On occ White does encourage listeners to specific speakers such as Kruger. But on text issues he discusses the texts themselves. On textual issues I cannot recall him falling to "this is what is taught in Reformed seminaries, " perhaps you should have listed exactly the point you were referencing.

Here you imply that the 1689 Baptist Cofession understanding of the second person of the Trinity rests in the one point of the comma Johanneum. That seems are rather abrupt conclusion.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for the comment. Responses:

1. In the DL episode under review, JW argues that "every major Reformed seminary" and all "leading scholars" hold to the modern critical text method. He uses this as an argument against those who embrace the traditional text. My point was that this kind of argument is a logical fallacy (bandwagon and false appeal to authority). First, this is not true all of Reformed seminaries (I gave Joel Beeke's Puritan Seminary as an example). Second, it is not true of all scholars (see, e.g., Maurice Robinson who holds to Byzantine Priority). Finally, truth is not judged by majority opinion.

2. My point on the CJ was that it is cited as a prooftext in the 1689 for chapter two, paragraph three on the Trinity. Look it up online and see for yourself. Also, the 1689 confession differs from both the WCF and the Savoy Declaration in the wording for the second person of the Godhead, clearly drawing on the "Word" language of the CJ. This is a problem for those who embrace the 1689 but reject the text from which the framers drew their prooftexts. It is consistent.

Hope this helps, JTR

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Sorry, should be Gazzini. Scribal error. JTR