Monday, January 27, 2020

Rejoinder to Hixson on the CJ: Part Two of Three

Enjoyed a trip to DC last weekend (Friday-Saturday) to visit my daughters and take our Korean exchange student to see the highlights on the mall [we went to the Jefferson, Lincoln and Korean War memorials, saw the Capital building, visited the US Botanic Garden Conservatory, the Air and Space Museum, the National Art Gallery, the Museum of American History, went to the top of the Washington Monument, and the National Archive (where we saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights)]. Wow!

Now, back to my rejoinders to Dr. Elijah's Hixson's comments posted to my blog on WM 149.

For part one of my rejoinder look here.

Here is the continuation of the rejoinder (EH's comments in blue and my responses in black):

(2/~3) You write: “This ms. only has a short entry. EH concludes, ‘Still, the King James Version already existed by the time this manuscript rolled around.’ One wonders about the mention here of the KJV, in particular. The implication, of course, is that defense of the TR is simply a variety of KJV-Onlyism.” This was not at all my implication though. My implication is that the manuscript it so late that it doesn’t support the presence of the Comma in editions of the TR. 1611 is such a well-known date that it’s a good way to represent how late this manuscript is.

You write: “Because this likely does not fit with EH’s assumption that defense of the TR can only be perceived as a variety of KJV-O.” This is not my assumption at all. I would grant that it’s one possibility of four (explained at the end).

JTR: Interesting. So, does this mean that you recognize the Confessional Text preference for the TR as not being a variety of KJVO? So, this means that you also disagree with those like Mark Ward who have recently suggested that “Confessional Bibliology” is really just “upscale KJVO”?

Are you also saying that your specific mention here of ms. 2473’s suggested date of c. 1634 as being after the KJV (1611) is not related to any attempt to make a connection between the TR preference and KJVO? OK. Sounds good. If this is the case, might I offer a friendly suggestion: Given that many modern text advocates (like Mark Ward) do, in fact, argue that any defense of the TR is really just some variety of KJVO, you might want to be sensitive to making singular references to the KJV (and ignoring other Protestant translations based on the TR in English and other languages) if you write something again that specifically addresses the TR position.

A few more questions on ms. 2473 since your comments here were so brief: On what basis is ms. 2473 dated to c. 1634? Does this date come from Wachtel? On what basis did the person assigning this date make this assessment?

You write: “One wonders what EH means by “grand claims.”” I’m happy to elaborate. The TR position is essentially a “grand unified theory of textual criticism.” That is the only way it can be legitimate for TR advocates to claim that they can interpret the evidence correctly (or even that they can do it more correctly than someone like me). By ‘grand unified theory’, I mean that every single page of every single manuscript is an outworking of “kept pure in all ages” throughout history. This includes not only every page of Vaticanus and Bezae but also minuscules 177, 1739, 35, 1582, every Latin manuscript that supports “In Isaiah the Prophet” at Mark 1:2, and the 99 (or more?) Armenian manuscripts that lack Mark 16:9–20 and the ~1600 Greek manuscripts that do have it. Every single one of the Byzantine Greek minuscules that lacks the Comma and every single one of the ones that have it fall under the purview of ‘kept pure in all ages’ and as a result, a TR advocate should be able to make a better case for how to interpret the evidence than I have given.

JTR: I found this paragraph confusing. I had asked what you meant by your reference to the “grand claims” of TR advocates, since you cited no authors or works directly. I even suggested what I thought you might have meant by this: “Is it simply the claim that the TR has historically been and should continue to be looked to as the authoritative and authentic text of Protestant Scriptures?”

Your elaboration here, however, seems to be something completely different. You describe the TR position as a “grand unified theory of textual criticism” that must take into consideration “every single page of every single manuscript” in order to satisfy the “kept pure in all ages” view of preservation (presumably as articulated in WCF/SD/2LBCF 1:8).

Again, this seems to be a departure along a completely different track. When you made reference in your original article to “the grand claims” of TR advocates, I was assuming you were attempting to address “grand claims” actually made by those who hold to some form of TR advocacy, and especially to those of us who do so on a confessional basis, since this was stated as a special interest and focus in your article. The paragraph in your original article in which you mention these “grand claims” begins, in fact, as follows (bold added): “Maybe I have been reading too much from textus receptus advocates, but it struck me that some of the arguments I hear from them actually works against the textus receptus position once you take the time to step away from the grand claims and look at how the specifics about manuscripts fit with those grand claims.”

Your “grand unified theory” noted above, however, is not a “grand claim” made by any TR advocate I have read. It certainly does not reflect my view. Instead, you seem to have shifted the focus of the term “grand claims” from what TR advocates actually hold (as seemed to be the intent in your original article) to what you think they should hold (what you address in these comments). Do you see why I find this so confusing? I’m probably not the only one.

Again, this “grand unified theory” is not one held by any TR advocate of whom I am aware but seems to be your own theory (your own “grand claim”, as it were). Your view, if I understand you correctly, is that any legitimate view of the text of Scripture must take into consideration the legitimacy of every extant ms. (Greek and versional) to the NT (“every single page of every single manuscript”).

With all due respect, I must tell you that I completely disagree with your “grand unified theory of textual criticism.” I believe, for example, that the c. 900 Armenian mss. that omit the traditional ending of Mark (along with Sinaiticus and Vaticanus at this point) were in error, and their reading should be rejected.

Your “grand unified theory”, in fact, seems to describe the classic modern critical text view of reconstruction, but not the confessional view of preservation. This was not the view of providential preservation held by the men who framed the WCF/SD/2LBCF. I know your training is not in historical theology and, as I understand it, you are not yourself confessionally Reformed. If you have not yet done so, I’d encourage you to read vol. 2 of Richard Muller’s PRRD, as well as Garnet Howard Milne’s Kept Pure in All Ages to understand what the Protestant orthodox meant by “kept pure in all ages.” I think you would profit from it. If you think I have misread you here, please feel free to clarify things for me and point me in the direction of what I should read.

“I’m not sure about his drift in reference to lectionary markings in Codex Bezae. Is his point that it was used in some church tradition? But its obscure readings were, in fact, rejected as authentic, right?” In a sense, no they weren’t, not by the church that used it. And that church falls under the purview of ‘kept pure in all ages’, unless that phrase means little more than special pleading. Codex Bezae is the text received by that church.

JTR: With all due respect, I completely disagree with your premise here. Are you really saying that just because any church or churches made use of any reading in any manuscript in the entire history of Christendom, then that reading should be accepted as being as legitimate and authoritative as any other?

What you are proposing here, I am afraid, is a radical redefinition of “kept pure in all ages” which has nothing to do with how the framers of the Protestant confessions would have understood it (see suggested reading above). In fact, I hardly see how this view could even be comprehended as being broadly evangelical. It seems more in line with Bart Ehrman’s view that we should talk about “early Christianities” (plural) rather than “early Christianity” (singular), or Elaine Pagel’s view that the Gnostic writings should be acknowledged with equal legitimacy in the “Christian” tradition alongside those received by the “paleo-orthodox.”

In contrast, consider Eusebius’s account of Serapion of Antioch in EH 6:12. When he heard that those in Rhossos were making use of the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, he at first permitted it to be read by them, having never read it himself, assuming it was orthodox, and that it actually came from Peter. When he later examined the document, however, and found that it was pseudonymous and included heretical docetic teaching, he rejected it as non-Petrine and spurious, and warned against its acceptance. According to the view you have articulated above, however, the Gospel of Peter should, however, perhaps be received, since it was once used (received) by a church.

The Serapion anecdote demonstrates that not every text was received by the orthodox in the history of the church just because it was received and used by any particular church or churches. If this was true of the rejection of the Gospel of Peter, surely it is also true of discernment applied to the NT canon. This type of discernment, for example, led to the rejection of the following: the canonicity of the so-called “Shorter Ending of Mark”, the omission of the traditional ending of Mark, as in codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, the insertion of the spear piercing the side of Jesus before he died on the cross in codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, et al. at Matthew 27:49 [from John 19:34], the inclusion of Psalm 151 in the Psalter in codex Sinaiticus, the inclusion of the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas in the NT in codex Sinaiticus, the omission of 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude and Revelation in the early Syriac NT, etc.

In short, not every reading in Bezae or any other early ms. should be conferred legitimacy, just because it is extant and was used at some point by some church or churches. Not all evidence is to be treated equally. We cannot separate the matters of canon and text. We are not dependent on empirical reconstruction but on providential preservation of the self-authenticating Scripture.

“Does EH realize he writes this after an exercise in which he has literally been “scrambling” through the extant CJ evidence attempting to show the impact of RC provenance?” But this is not true. As I clarified earlier, I merely set out to see what the manuscripts themselves said. I had no idea what I would find. It sounds like you are projecting motives onto me that aren’t there.

JTR: Despite the protests here to the contrary, you clearly stated more than once in your original article that one of your purposes was to refute those who defended the CJ on the basis of their Protestant, confessional convictions. The particular attempt you made to show the RC provenance of some of these witnesses to the CJ and to argue that this was an example of inconsistency in the Protestant confessional defense of the CJ seems to be an especially obvious example of how your implicit bias shaped the article’s “findings.” On one hand, you protest here that you “merely set out to see what the manuscripts themselves said”, but, on the other hand, you plainly tell us in the original article that you did some special “scrambling” to look for RC provenance for these mss. Why did you especially look for RC provenance for these mss.? You wanted to buttress your preconceived argument against the Protestant defense of the CJ.

Do you really think that one can approach the study of the text of Scripture without any preconceived notions or presuppositions? If so, how very modern of you. But even in the modern period, didn’t the text critics always argue that the discipline was both an art and a science? IMHO, your article clearly reflects a good deal of art and not merely dispassionate, objective scientific description. I’m not necessarily downing you for this. I gladly admit that I have a bias toward the TR as I examine the empirical evidence. My question is simply, “Why not acknowledge that?”

In summary, three main headings of responses.

1. First, you make some incorrect assumptions. “… he assumes that TR advocates are engaged in the same sort of reconstruction methodology as modern/postmodern text critics.” “Because this likely does not fit with EH’s assumption that defense of the TR can only be perceived as a variety of KJV-O.” “EH wrongly implies that TR advocates affirm the CJ based on analysis of extant Greek mss evidence.” “Does EH realize he writes this after an exercise in which he has literally been “scrambling” through the extant CJ evidence attempting to show the impact of RC provenance?” Not only are you saying things about me and my assumptions that simply aren’t true, in some of these cases, your incorrect assumptions led you to incorrect conclusions (such as why I mentioned the KJV).

JTR: This paragraph protests that I misunderstood and misrepresented your position in my review. I’m not convinced of that. I guess we will have to leave it to the readers/listeners to draw their own conclusions.

To be continued...


1 comment:

Steven Avery said...

Thanks, Jeffrey!


"Do you see why I find this so confusing? I’m probably not the only one."

Hand rises!

"This paragraph protests that I misunderstood and misrepresented your position in my review. I’m not convinced of that. I guess we will have to leave it to the readers/listeners to draw their own conclusions."

You understood perfectly well. Elijah is trying to straddle two sides.
a) Playing innocent scholar simply looking at manuscripts.
b) Self-appointed attack man against Reformation Bible and heavenly witnesses defenders.

And Elijah continually misrepresents the Reformation Bible positions. Then he tries the "bury" technique. 2,000 words to avoid any direct response.


"the c. 900 Armenian mss. that omit the traditional ending of Mark"

Metzger in 1971 said about 100.
Maybe the year and date are being mixed up?


"Thou Shalt Keep Them : A Biblical Theology of the Perfect Preservation of Scripture" - Kent Brandenburg, editor

Might be another book that would help Elijah. Granted, might have some different doctrinal perspectives.


May I suggest you look closely at the Sinaiticus issues. The 4th century date does not fit, and the evidence supports c. 1840. I'd be happy to share on this, text or voice. :)


Very fine blog post!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY