Friday, November 22, 2019

WM 142: Rejoinder to James White on p46: Refutation Refuted

WM 142: Rejoinder to James White on p46: Refutation Refuted is available. Listen here.

The first word that came to mind while listening to yesterday’s DL (11/21/19) from the PIA JW was “bombastic.” An online dictionary defines “bombastic” as high-sounding but with little meaning; inflated. It gives as an example: "bombastic rhetoric."

This was vintage PIA. This DL is now titled, in part, “Jeffrey Riddle’s abuse of p46.” IMHO, it should instead be titled, “The PIA abuses Jeff Riddle’s blog posts on textual witnesses to Eph 3:9.”

In this DL, JW essentially rifled through three recent blog posts and comments from my blog (, appropriated ideas from that material, sometimes to make them sound like they were his own (when in fact they came from others; see e.g., his references to minuscule 2817, the Complutension Polyglot, etc.), or misrepresented the facts as they were presented. I would encourage anyone interested in this matter to read my three posts for yourself and this will be evident.

What he did was lacking in honesty and scholarly integrity. I can see better now why for many, the more contact they have with the PIA, the less contact they often want. I’m in that category.

His treatment of my post on p46 was a total straw man and misrepresentation of the facts.

The shame is he missed out on a very interesting discussion across all three blog posts.

I was reminded of comments apparently from Bart Ehrman which were posted in the comments section to the video of the one and only joint appearance he had with the PIA nearly 11 years ago. He wrote:

"I wasn’t sure whether I should post this debate or not. Frankly, it was not a good experience. I normally do not have an aversion to the people I debate. But James White is that kind of fundamentalist who gets under my skin….  He’s not a scholar because he does not have scholarly training, does not have scholarly credentials, and never publishes any works of scholarship. My aversion to him is simply rooted in the fact that he does not seem to be a nice guy. I have no problem with him being a committed Christian believer; but when someone is that offensive, I tend to take offense!"

My blog posts and the conversations within them via the comments which the PIA grossly misrepresented began with my first blog post on WM 138: Text Note on Ephesians 3:9 (to which he is supposedly writing a response). The comments section on this post were extensive, with back and forths primarily between me, a commentor named CC, and Elijah Hixson.

One of the challenges I had offered JW in WM 138 was to provide the minuscule evidence for the TR at Eph 3:9. I offered this challenge since it seemed apparent to me that the PIA had no first-hand information drawn from his own study of this variant but was completely dependent on secondary literature, probably Metzger (and Hills).

After Elijah Hixson offered some suggestions in the comments about Metzger’s confusion in his Textual Commentary, he suggested that perhaps there was no minuscule evidence other than that which came from mss. influenced by the printed TR editions. It was CC who was able to discover that minuscule 2817 actually has the reading κοινωνια. Elijah Hixson then suggested its possible relationship to two other minuscule mss., in an effort to suggest that the 2817 was in error.

I then did a second post on minuscule 2817 and Ephesians 3:9, in which I initially posted an image of only the citation of the verse in the side annotation, and which I later updated to include an image of the verse as it also appears in the main text. So, minuscule 2817 actually provides a double witness to the κοινωνια reading, demonstrating it as a minority tradition in the extant Greek ms. tradition.

Then CC also pointed out that p46 did not, in fact, clearly read οικονομια but only κονομια.

This led to the third post on a closer look at p46 that included images from p46.

Aside: This was actually a very interesting conversation, and we uncovered collectively some pretty cool things about Eph 3:9. The conversation was charitable, even though we were in disagreement about the evidence.

This is what I wrote in the post about p46:

The conversation continues on Ephesians 3:9...

In the comment thread for the WM 138 post, CC shared another striking observation:

"Take another look at P46 in the NTVMR. It seems to me that it only reads κονομια. A case could be made that the exemplar had κοινονια (ο rather than ω) and the ι got squished into the Ν and the second Ν became μ. The transcription includes the οι in red brackets, but those letters aren't actually on the page...."

And, indeed, when I took a look at p46 the evidence in favor of the MCT is not as clear as it first seems.

And here was the concluding paragraph:

This closer look reveals that p46, the earliest ms. of Ephesians 3:9, is, at the least, not a clear witness to the οικονομια reading. Textual scholars will suggest the possibility that the οι- was either omitted by error or that it was there and the ink has rubbed away.  CC suggests an alternative possibility, "that the exemplar had κοινονια (ο rather than ω)." This would, in fact, argue in favor of the TR reading of κοινωνια.

Please notice three things about this post that the PIA egregiously misrepresents and distorts:

First: Neither CC nor I ever claimed that the reading in p46 is anything other than κονομια. CC’s speculation was about whether the “exemplar” (the source from which p46 was copied) might have read κοινονια (ο rather than ω).

All of JW’s computer screen overlay showing the reading to be κονομια was literally knocking down a straw man, attacking an argument that was never made in my blog post by anyone! No one ever disputed that the current extant reading at p46 is κονομια.

Second: My blog post clearly acknowledged the possibility that, as I wrote, the “the οι- was either omitted by error or that it was there and the ink has rubbed away.” So all that self-important, arrogant, supposed “expert” instruction by JW was to make a point that was clearly already acknowledged in the blog post itself and in the blog comments.

Third: The suggested reconstruction (by JW or anyone else) that the original reading was οικονομια must of necessity remain an unproven speculation, no matter how probable one might consider it to be. As CC points out the INTF transliteration lists the reading as [οι]κονομια. The brackets here are a sign of intellectual honesty and transparency, which I respect. I, therefore, stand by what I wrote in my blog, “p46, the earliest ms. of Ephesians 3:9, is, at the least, not a clear witness to the οικονομια reading.” This is a plain fact and is hardly “abuse” to p46.

JW was not alone in misreading the blog post. One person posted this question in the comments: “On what authority can one uphold this reading (κοινωνία)? I'm trying to understand the reasoning behind why you could ever think it's authentic.”

And this was my response:

Please re-read the post. I wrote: "This closer look reveals that p46, the earliest ms. of Ephesians 3:9, is, at the least, not a clear witness to the οικονομια reading."

CC was not saying that p46 reads κοινωνία here. It is κονομία. If I understand him correctly his question was about whether the *exemplar* of p46 might have read κοινονια, a form of κοινωνία, and it got written as κονομία here. I do not think he was dogmatically saying this was the case but just raising the possibility. If this were the case it would support the TR reading at Eph 3:9.

Again, my point is to say that p46 is not (for whatever reason) a clear witness for οικονομια. Therefore, it takes the number of extant pre-800 witnesses down from six to five and means there are no clear papyri witnesses for Eph 3:9, and it makes the earliest clear witness to the οικονομια reading a fourth century uncial. I think these are facts upon which all can agree.

Again, in his most recent DL, JW the PIA completely misunderstands, distorts, and misrepresents this online conversation on p46. He seems to do so in order to make himself look like some sort of scholarly “expert” by debunking claims that were never made and claiming discoveries that were already thoroughly comprehended.

His doctrinaire pronouncements about p46 and “what the Reformers would definitely believe” about it, if they lived today and had the glories of modern text criticism, demonstrate a deficit not only of scholarly insight, but also humility.

One of the many odd things about this DL were the digs that PIA took at my scholarly credentials, noting that I teach adjunctly at a community college (as if this is some kind of inferior responsibility?) and that my page lists a number of my scholarly articles and book reviews which have appeared in various supposedly subpar journals. I say it is particularly odd given questions that might be raised about the PIA’s own academic credentials (see this post by a RC apologist). Yes, I am “guilty” of having a credentialed PhD from an accredited seminary (accredited by the same agency which accredits all major universities, graduate schools, divinity schools, and seminaries in the US), where I had to pass graduate level exams in subject areas, complete a doctoral dissertation overseen by a committee, and publicly defend my thesis before being granted my degree. And I am guilty of having an page where I share some (but not all) of my published works. The PIA fails to note, however, that my primary calling is not as an academic scholar, but as a pastor of a confessional Reformed Baptist church, where I pursue a Word and Sacrament ministry. But apparently this doesn’t count for much or make me legit enough to be able to comment on these things on my own personal blog.

BTW, can anyone point me to the PIA’s page where I can check out his published scholarly articles and book reviews from peer reviewed journals on text criticism?

This pseudo-scientific academic “Gnosticism” reinforces everything that makes the Enlightenment text a dead-end for spiritual fidelity and vitality, and it makes the confessional text, in comparison, all the more winsome. Has God’s Word been kept pure in all ages? Is it self-authenticating?  Or is it a hopeless jumble of puzzle pieces that the self-appointed academic experts have to reassemble for us, and then reassemble again every couple of years based on “the newest discoveries” or the “newest algorithms” to give us a rough approximation of what it is?

One of the things experientially that prompted my interest, as a pastor, in the subject of text and translation was the doctrinal and practical impact on the church that have resulted from the abandonment of confidence in the confessional text in favor of the ever-shifting, naturalistically constructed critical text.

In my recent devotional reading, I ran across this quote from Gregory of Nyssa in his Life of Moses: “For truly barren is profane education, which is always in labor but never gives birth.”

I don’t see any evidence that this Enlightenment text method produces faithfulness or fruitfulness in the church; reverence for the inspiration, authority, preservation, and sufficiency of the Word of God; and practical piety, virtue, and godliness in the people of God. And this DL is just one more contribution to that conviction.

In the end, I’d rather follow John Owen’s approach to Scripture than Bruce Metzger’s or JW’s.

As the apostle John said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1a).

And as Christ himself said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16a) and “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt 11:15).



A. J. MacDonald, Jr said...

Refutation refuted indeed. Check with the Complutenian Polyglot (CP) whenever you run down a variant like this one. White and others who embrace the critical text rarely think about the CP, even though it's the best scholarly edition of the era. See: Complutensian Polyglot Bible online at the Library of Congress:

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Thanks for the comment AJ and for the link. We still have to have that conversation on text and ecclesiology sometime.

Seth said...

I really appreciate your work Dr. Riddle. In my experience, disciples of the PIA act like their teacher. I am new to the CT position and have parroted the PIA more than once while mocking the uneducated who believe they can trust their KJV or the underlying text. After listening to your WM's and doing quite a bit of reading, I have made some apologies for my behavior and changed my position.

Beau from Christ Reformed Church said...

I have been so disturbed by White lately that I cannot and will not recommend his books going further. He displays no charity or a Pastoral spirit with the people whom he interacts with.

We met at the Text and Canon Conference and you showed more of a Pastoral spirit to people who were not even a part of your own flock than I have ever seen him show to his "opponents".

It seems that you and Robert are growing tired of handling him with kid gloves and I do not blame you.

Dave Carrig said...

Pastor - I can tell from this WM that you are getting frustrated - and rightfully so. Please hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. I greatly appreciated this WM - as it has helped me to stay the course on this issue. Your ministry is a great encouragement. Thank you so much for what you do. I will have you in my prayers.

Dave Carrig

nilo de roock said...

R.C. Sproul once said that the people who have a real problem are those who think they are saved, but are not. The PIA is probably one of them (I can not be sure if he thinks that he is saved). How can he not be saved? Because he acts as if he is the all knowing centre of the Christian Universe on Earth: he and he alone owns the Truth.

His sin is pride. I would be very afraid of him if he was in a position of power.

Matthew M. Rose said...

Dr. Riddle,

Please revise your incorrect assessment of my comment. You were simply asked why you think κοινωνία is the correct and authentic reading. My question had nothing to do with your novel opinions on the reading in P46. Anyone who reads the comment in it's entirety, and my subsequent comment (which followed your response) can see this. Thank you!

CC said...

The more I begin to think about this, the more I'm tending toward κοινωνία rather than οικονομία. Listening to the PIA rant and rave about this pushes me further and further from anything remotely related to his position. He completely misrepresents what we all said and continues to use small TR conundrums like these to justify him ripping Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53-8:11, 1 John 5:7, et al out of the canon of scripture.

ConcerningFurure said...

Well, your inability to reason and logically come to the same conclusion shows he was correct. Only by inconsistent flawed eczues could you come to your conclusion by defending a tradition instead of facts.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for the encouragement!


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for the encouragement and good to meet you in Atlanta. Great hospitality was extended there. I really enjoyed fellowship with the brethren.


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Dave C,

Glad you have found some profit in the WMs. Yes, hope I did not cross the line of civility in this WM but thought a firm response was needed in light of the inaccuracies.

Peace, JTR

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


A couple things you should know:

As you've discovered the comments are moderated. This means not all comments will be accepted or posted immediately. Of course, some people (like the DL on youtube) don't allow any comments.

If someone posts something simple (positive: I like this; or negative: I don't like this), it will probably get quickly approved.

If someone posts something that might require a longer response then it will not be posted till I get around to it (and that might take a few days or even weeks, if then). FYI, I also don't usually do much on this blog from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, in light of the Lord's Day.

In response to your request here: I stand by my assessment. Readers are welcomed to read your original comment in the context of the overall discussion and draw their own conclusions.

If you want to offer a more detailed critique on this or other matters, which will not be limited by my editorial decisions, I would encourage you to begin your own blog where you can exercise your own editorial control over your content.

Best wishes, JTR

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


I feel your pain on the PIA's antics. Yes, this just deflects from the big issues. How can you have a Gospel without resurrection appearances (Mark 16:9-20)?

Thanks for your rigor in uncovering the evidence for this variant in Eph 3:9 in minuscule 2817 and p46. As I noted in this WM, it was really intriguing to discover these things. It is sad that some ETOs (Enlightenment Text Onlyists) can't enjoy the discussion without getting so upset and defensive when their method and findings are questioned.


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Regarding Anon's comment:

Ordinarily I would delete this sort of comment. I get this sort of thing every once in a while, especially from zealous ETO, anti-TR partisans. I've posted this one, however, since it serves as a good example of why I moderate comments, for any who might have been wondering.

It is interesting that while the courageous Anon (not providing his identity) confuses the possessive pronoun "your" with the contraction "you're", he does have the decorum to use the noun "c***" rather than "s***". Thus, we can see the high minded level of argumentation that the PIA's rhetoric sometimes inspires in his most ardent followers. Smiles. And I thought this sort of thing was supposed to come from KJVOs?

In all seriousness, Anon, can I ask you to really look back at this comment and give it some spiritual consideration? If you are a professed Christian, is this the sort of thing that if fitting for a follower of the Lord Jesus?


Unknown said...


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

In this blog PIA refers to "Popular Internet Apologist". It has no other intended meaning.