Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Debate follow Up: Vlad Stefan's Analysis of Debate One on Mark 16:9-20

Image: Closeup of the Ending of Mark in Codex Sinaiticus with its anomalous final two lines with decorative marks filling in the blank spaces, likely to block any addition.

More debate follows up:

Vlad Stefan sent me his moment by moment breakdown of both debates from a Confessional Text advocate's perspective which he posted to the Confessional Bibliology FB Group. Here are his notes from the first debate on Mark 16:9-20:

Analysis Of James White's Views In His First Debate Versus Jeff Riddle:

00:08:40 - [ULTIMATE AUTHORITY] Mr White asks the key question: "What is our ultimate authority?" Then he goes on to talk about how he wants to know what the apostles wrote because that is what is inspired. The problem is that for Mr White and the modern school of textual critics, their ultimate authority is themselves, the "Guild" of textual critics, who use their man-made infidel reasoning to decide what is and isn't scripture. Mr White's ultimate authority is himself and his textual critic mates, who have set themselves up as the modern popes who will tell you, o ordinary Christian in the pew, what is and isn't scripture.

The Confessional View of scripture is completely opposed to this false view of epistemology; in the Confessional View our ultimate authority is God's Pure & Preserved Word. God has preserved His Word, our job to is to receive it, read it, love it, live by it, and transmit it to the next generation as it was transmitted to us. We do not raise ourselves up as judges over God's Word, rather we submit ourselves in judgement to it. God's Word is not deemed authentic because of "the Guild", because of this critic, or that critic - but first and foremost by the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. For further reading check out Logos Autopistos by Thomas Ford ( https://www.westminsterassembly.org/primary-source/logos-autopistos-or-scriptures-self-evidence/ )

00:09:20 - [APPEAL TO MAJORITY, INCONSISTENT] Mr White appeals to the majority of Reformed scholars today sharing his modern critical view of the text. In the lead-up to this debate, Mr White has attempted to poison the well by accusing Dr Riddle of being inconsistent. Mr White loves to paint those who oppose his views as being inconsistent, however Mr White is very inconsistent himself with the argumentation and appeals he makes. If Mr White applied "majority rules" consistently, then in the 4th century Mr White would have been an Arian arguing against Athanasius, and in the 16th century a Papist arguing against Luther. Mr White loves to be "Mr Consistency" but keep an eye out for the inconsistency of his own argumentation and appeals.

00:10:00 - [IGNORANT] Mr White keeps talking about "manuscripts". This is ironic since it shows Mr White has not kept up with the latest and greatest developments in the modern school of textual criticism he champions. The correct terminology (to my knowledge) is now "witnesses".

00:15:45 - [FALSE CLAIM] Mr White says that there isn't enough room in Vaticanus / Sinaiticus to put the traditional ending of Mark into the space at the end. But actually this was proven to be false by James Snapp in April 2016 when he used copy&paste to copy characters from the same page to reconstruct the traditional ending, producing a beautiful picture showing it can fit ( http://www.thetextofthegospels.com/2016/04/codex-vaticanus-and-ending-of-mark.html ). Often both in audio and in his written works Mr White makes very confident grand claims, that upon further research turn out to be false, if only one will do the research. Always fact check anything Mr White says.

00:22:40 - [INCONSISTENT] Mr White says he was taught as a young man that you never build a doctrine or dogma based upon disputed texts. This is not "Reformed" in any way shape or form; for the Reformers built doctrine and dogma on texts they knew to be disputed such as Mark 16:9-20, 1 John 5:7 etc, and they did this knowing that these texts were disputed, because they received these texts as the Word of God, by the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit as well as the common faith of the saints. Mr White's own claimed confessional standard, the 1689 London Baptist Confession, quotes Mark 16:9-20 and 1 John 5:7 as proof texts, so here Mr White, the self-proclaimed Mr Consistency, is once again being inconsistent. If Mr White believes doctrine should not be built on Mark 16:9-20 then Mr White must renounce the 1689 LBCF and get together with his modernist mates and come up with a modernist baptist confession. Mr White is also inconsistent in the application of this principle, since in both his written and audio/visual teaching he builds doctrine upon the disputed text of John 1:18, using the textual variant Θεὸς and the modernist understanding of μονογενὴς to argue that Jesus is the "one and only unique God".

00:23:15 - [FALSE CLAIM] Mr White makes the startling claim that "the evidence is wide-spread that in the earliest centuries, it, the longer ending, was not the majority reading". Mr White has proved nothing of the sort. All he has proved is that it was a contested reading. Personally I believe that the evidence is overwhelming that the traditional ending of Mark has absolutely the best and earliest attestation as Dean Burgon has conclusively proved ( https://www.gutenberg.org/files/36722/36722-pdf.pdf & http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26134/26134-pdf.pdf ). Note, however, that the Confessional View is ultimately not based on evidence, but on what scripture teaches regarding its own preservation, and a view of history through this presuppositional lens.

00:25:35 - [CONJECTURE] "what if" - Mr White makes conjectures about when Mark may have been written and how that may have led to the later development of the traditional ending. One thing to look out for Mr White and modern critics is that most of what they teach is based on conjecture. They basically just make stuff up but teach it as the authority. Look out for this when they talk about what scribes did, as if they were on the shoulder watching the scribe actually do it. They are just playing guessing games. You want a PhD? Make up a bunch of crap that downgrades the Christian faith you will get PhD, books deals, invited to speak around the world.

00:27:18 - [NOGOSPEL] "what if Mark is a rather effective gospel tract?" - more conjecture. But White's Mark is no gospel because it doesn't contain a resurrection; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that the resurrection is a key part of the gospel; without the resurrection there is no gospel, no "good news". Mark without 16:9-20 is not just no gospel, but it is the *worst* gospel tract of all time - there is no good news, just a failed false messiah who predicted his own resurrection but it never happened. This is what they teach at seminaries around the world. Dr Riddle will later stand on the authority of scripture and make this point to Mr White from 1 Cor 15:1-4.

00:50:20 [APPEAL TO MAJORITY, INCONSISTENT] Mr White once again appeals to majority, calling Dr Riddle's view "very unique, very minority". This is a false and inconsistent standard for reasons previously highlighted. Furthermore, Dr Riddle's view is simply the majority Reformed view of the 16th and 17th century, the fact that it is in the minority today is of no relevance to whether it is correct or not. So Mr White's absolute claim that Dr Riddle's view is "very unique, very minority" is actually a false claim as it is only true in our day, not throughout history.

00:50:40 [CONJECTURE, FALSE CONCLUSION] Mr White makes the argument that the Reformation-era divines who wrote the historical reformed confessions did not possess all the data we had today, implying that if they did they wouldn't have come up with the same doctrines. Apart from being pure conjecture (they could have had for better and older witnesses which we don't have today) this is also an incorrect conclusion; as the Confessional View is first and foremostly based on what scripture teaches about its own preservation, "evidence" doesn't change the position. Mr White here once again shows that he doesn't understand the historical Confessional View of scripture.

00:52:30 [UNBIBLICAL] Mr White rebukes Dr Riddle for "having a theological position, that determines everything he sees in the historical column, in the historical data". Of course Riddle does, just as all Christians should do - the view of scripture, its transmission etc, must be based on scripture first and foremost. Scripture is the ultimate authority and cannot be set aside when we come to the text of scripture or the history of the transmission of the text. What scripture says about itself, its own transmission and preservation, must of necessity form the core set of presuppositions that we hold to when we examine the question of the authentic text. Here Mr White shows that his view is thoroughly UNBIBLICAL; that when it comes to the text of scripture, Mr White sets aside the Bible, and adopts his secular atheistic presuppositions as his ultimate authority.

00:52:45 [DANGER OF HERESY, NOT REFORMED] Mr White mocks and rejects the doctrine of Logos Autopistos. Mr White is completely and utterly not reformed, he is a modernist ... who has rejected one of the core doctrines of the Reformers concerning the biblical view of the scriptures. At best, if one wishes to be as charitable as possible, Mr White is a New Evangelical with Calvinistic tendencies.

00:58:30 [CONJECTURE, FALSE CONCLUSION] Mr White keeps asking why there are multiple endings? Modern critics like White just make up a story about why there are multiple endings to suit their established conclusion, that the traditional ending is not authentic. They simply can't prove or provide any concrete evidence about why there are multiple endings because that would require a complete video recording and interview with every scribe who ever copied Mark to actually know the exact certain reasons. Modern textual criticism is not a science, it is an art, an art of making stuff up to suit your conclusion.

00:59:35 [CONJECTURE, FALSE CONCLUSION] Mr White says the TR has no consistent historical perspective. Mr White claims Erasmus was just doing textual criticism like the modernists do today. E.F Hills ( https://www.amazon.com/Text-Time-Reformed-Testament-Criticism-ebook/dp/B07DB7ZBLC ) makes the argument that Erasmus was providentially restrained by God through the common faith, such that his more eratic tendencies were confined to the annotations and did not impact the text itelf. I believe E.F Hills is correct here. When Mr White says the TR has no consistent historical perspective, Mr White is denying that God could have preserved His Word using the means that He chose. In contrast the Confessional View sees history through the presuppositional lens of what scripture teaches concerning its own preservation, and simply accepts the means and men God used to preserve His Word.

01:04:15 [MASSAGING THE TRUTH] Dr Riddle points out the craftiness of the modern critical scholars, how they massage their presentation of the evidence to stack the deck in their favour. Mr White is especially guilty of this both in his written and audio/video materials, this is a debating tactic to "win the point", at the expense of sacrificing the truth.

01:06:30 [DIFFICULT QUESTION FOR MR WHITE] Dr Riddle makes the point that Mark couldn't end in γάρ, that would be abrupt and bizarre grammatically. Dr Riddle puts it to Mr White that if the traditional ending is not authentic, then the real ending has been lost, which would contradict what scripture teaches regarding its own preservation. Mr White never really answers this, apart from his conjecture about Mark being a gospel tract to lead into a gospel conversation, which is just that, conjecture.

01:23:40 [CONJECTURE] Mr White makes up a story about how and when the traditional ending of Mark came about as a later development. Someone get this man a legit PhD! Remember and watch out for modern critics like White who invent stories and theories to justify their conclusions and recognize that these are just that, conjectures.

01:27:30 [CONJECTURE] More stories and inventions from Mr White about how the traditional ending of Mark came to be.

01:35:15 [ULTIMATE AUTHORITY, UNBIBLICAL] Mr White says the key issue is "what did the Apostles write? We want to know what the Apostles wrote". The major difference between Mr White & Dr Riddle is that Mr White wants to use his own man-made infidel reasoning and atheistic presuppositions to make himself and his critical scholar mates the ultimate judges of what the Apostles wrote. In contrast Dr Riddle and the Confessional View stands on the authority of scripture that God has preserved His Word as the scriptures teach, and receive, believe and submit to the text that God has preserved. The Confessional View looks at scripture and its transmission through biblical presuppositions and submits itself to scripture, while White's modern critical view divorces itself from what the Bible teaches concerning its own preservation and sets itself up as the judge over the scripture, who will decide what is and isn't scripture.

01:40:28 [NOT REFORMED, UNBIBLICAL] Mr White defines his view of preservation, that "every single original reading of the apostles continues to exist in the manuscript tradition today". We just don't know what they are and we are still trying to work it out, 2000 years after Christ, we still haven't figured out the definite text the apostles wrote. If you read your Bible, do you get that from what the scripture teaches concerning itself? Absolutely not, that doctrine is not from the scriptures, it is from the minds of nonbelieving infidels, atheists. This is quite clearly not the Reformed view; the Reformation-era divines believed they possessed in their day the autographs in the faithful apographs, extant in their day, and hence these could be the ultimate standard against the Papacy for all faith and practice. The Reformation-era divines were not seeking an infinite regress to an ever-elusive hypothetical autographa. Mr White is clearly not Reformed by any historical standard, he is clearly a modernist heretic.



Dr Riddle destroyed Mr White. Dr Riddle put forth the historical confessional reformed view of scripture based upon what scripture teaches about itself. Mr White's view is totally divorced from biblical presuppositions and instead based on man-made infidel reasoning often total pure conjecture and invention.

Further Research:


For anyone who wants to better understand the Confessional View of Scripture, the following books are good starting points:

* G.H Milne "Has The Bible Been Kept Pure" ( https://www.amazon.com/Westminster-Confession-providential-preservation-Scripture/dp/1522039155 )

* William Whitaker "A Disputation On Holy Scripture" ( https://www.bookdepository.com/Disputation-on-Holy-Scripture-William-Whitaker/9780343925000 )

* Thomas Ford "Logos Autopistos" ( https://www.westminsterassembly.org/primary-source/logos-autopistos-or-scriptures-self-evidence/ )

* E.F Hills "Text & Time" ( https://www.amazon.com/Text-Time-Reformed-Testament-Criticism-ebook/dp/B07DB7ZBLC )

* To understand the origins of Mr White's school of modern critcism Dean Burgon "The Revision Revised" ( https://www.bookdepository.com/Revision-Revised-Dean-John-William-Burgon/9781888328011 )

* For more material by Dr Riddle check out his "Word Magazine" series on SermonAudio, particuarly the many episodes where he steps through and debunks James White, Daniel Wallace, etc ( https://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?seriesOnly=true&currSection=sermonstopic&sourceid=crbchurch&keyword=Word+Magazine&keyworddesc=Word+Magazine )


Septextura said...

Great debate analysis.

Speaking of the Lord's providence, I wonder if someone in a book or article made a parallel between Ezra's Quattuordecim and Erasmus Textus Receptus together with all the Bibles following it. They are exactly 2 millennia apart.

The second most venerated national hero after Moses for the 2nd temple Israelites wasn't David nor Solomon. It was Ezra the scribe. Once his work for translating the Torah from Paleo-Hebrew to Hebrew-Aramaic was done (458 BC - 454 BC), God stops talking to Israel until the coming of Christ (430 BC).

Ezra and the 14 translators worked with multiple languages and alphabets. I wonder if they would pass the rigorous standards of CT scribes such as Daniel Wallace, Bart D. Ehrman, Walter Bauer, JW. From what I see, even Ezra is accused of making mistakes by (conjecture warning) likely using corrupt manuscript from the Samaritans because he had no other sources after the temple was destroyed. The poor man didn't have any manuscripts to work with, unlike the spoil of riches we have today.

1 Corinthians 2:14 - But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

God bless

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Ezra and Erasmus. Interesting historical parallel. Of course Ezra was an inspired author of Scripture and Erasmus was not, no matter how much JW wants to "straw man" the TR position by saying we argue for "re-inspiration" in Erasmus's 1516 Greek NT. How many times do we have to point to WCF 1:8: "immediately inspired in the original languages"? Anyhow, the historical parallels you suggest are intriguing. Not something I had considered before.