Thursday, October 31, 2019

Confessional/Canonical Text on Josh Gibbs's "Talking Christianity" Podcast

I was a guest last evening on Josh Gibbs's podcast "Taking Christianity." He was in Kansas City and I was in Charlottesville. Unfortunately, due to a skype malfunction only my audio feed would work (and even then I sometimes had a hard time hearing/following--sorry Josh!). We discussed the recent Text and Canon conference, along with general discussions on the Confessional Text and Modern Text Criticism, apologetics, etc. The podcast appears on multiple platforms, but here is the version:


Matthew M.Rose said...

Dr. Riddle, greetings!

I have a quick question (if there is such a thing). The present interview sent me down a rabbit trail which ended up at the 35:35 mark of the Q&A portion of the recent "Text and Canon Conference".

At this point, the question is asked: "Does a reading have to have extant Greek manuscript support for it to be valid?". To which you reply that, "it is best" or "optimal" to have "some Greek ms. support for the readings in the Received Text", but, "there maybe some readings" which have only survived in the form of "versional evidence".

My question is; wouldn't this (by default) categorize such a reading as Non-Confessional? To put it another way, how can a reading with *no* Greek ms. support be deemed "Confessional" in light of the 1689 LBC Ch.1.8? I was under the impression that a reading must needs be found in the original Greek to be considered "authentical". -MMR

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for your comment and insightful questions.

I think the key term here is "extant." Most of the TR is supported by extant Greek mss. In fact, most are supported by the majority of extant Greek mss. (like Mark's ending) but others only by a minority (like the CJ).

For some, however, like Beza's reading at Rev 16:5, we do not have an extant ms.

I do not think this invalidates such readings as non-confessional. It does not deny that they were immediately inspired in the original, just that we may not (in God's providence) have direct access to them in an extant ms. now. Let's also remember that there are very few examples of this.

I can draw a parallel here to the loss of the original autographs. The Bible is not invalid just because we do not have the originals and are dependent on copies. We have the immediately inspired original language texts as preserved in copies and in printed forms.

What do you think?

Matthew M.Rose said...

Dr. Riddle,

Thank you for the very thorough and very timely response! I truly appreciate it.

Honestly and respectfully, I think it would be unwise to put 'ad fontes' on the shelf and disregard the testimony of Universal Antiquity for the purpose of retaining poorly attested readings simply because they're contained within a favorite Greek or English edition. Especially when *the* better attested readings are also present within the TR tradition.

Personally, I would not take the risk of 'opening the door' to conjectural emmendation or rarely attested readings for the sake of; Luke 2:22, Acts 9:5-6, I Jo.5:7-8 Rev.14:1, Rev.16:5 etc.. I see no reason to follow Beza, when Stephanus reads better. No reason to follow the 3rd edition of Erasmus, when his 1st edition is backed by Catholic Antiquity. No reason to follow the TR when it has little or no evidence behind it. In my view, poorly attested readings don't transform into gold just because they happen to make their residence amongst the pages of the various TR editions as opposed to one of the Critical Text variety. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?"

Therefore, if on one hand I loathe the practice of "Conjectural Emmendation" and any methodology which permits scantly attested readings to grace (nay disgrace) the pages of so many printed editions of the Greek New Testament,-- then how could I allow it within my own system, within the walls of my own house?

~~~You state: "For some, however, like Beza's reading at Rev 16:5, we do not have an extant ms.

I do not think this invalidates such readings as non-confessional."~~~

I was under the impression that the immediate context of the Confession implies (if not demands) that the term "authentical" applies specifically to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Please correct me on this if I'm mistaken, as I am by no means an expert on the Confessions.

~~~You also state;"Let's also remember that there are very few examples of this."~~~

Indeed(!), and praise God for his province in this matter. With that said, I must state that I agree with your general disdain and refusal of the Modern Critical Text, and the subsequent methodologies upon which it's built. So Godspeed and thank you again! -MMR

Matthew M.Rose said...

...praise God for his *Providence in this matter.

Apologies for the typo. -MMR