Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Vince Krivda: Which Textus Receptus?! A Response to Mark Ward's Critique of Confessional Bibliology


My friend Vince Krivda has written a solid and detailed response to Mark Ward's "Which TR?" objection to the Confessional Text position. He shared this with me in August, and I am just getting around to doing a post on it. Sorry for the delay. You can read the full article here on academia.edu.

The conclusion to the paper begins:

Although Ward’s paper is to be welcomed for thoughtfully engaging CB, his insistence to forge the position as a kind of KJV-Onlyism is overreaching. If anything, his argument is a sure warning for CB proponents not to fall into the motions of KJV-Onlyist tendencies that ignore the slight differences in the micro-TR editions or to view Scrivener’s GNT as a diplomatic text. Perhaps, besides any typographical misprints, the latest Scrivener revision is a perfect replication of the authentic NT texts. But to assert so dogmatically risks the type of special pleading that Ward accuses CB proponents of committing because it is not a claim that is necessitated by the position. Rather, CB proponents may pragmatically appeal to the Scrivener GNT prima facie, recognizing that any defeaters to this position are not sufficient to upset the authority of the macro-TR or its baring on matters of faith and practice. 

Glad to see Vince makes use and reference to some of my material in WM 140: Responding to the "Which TR?" Objection and that he pointed out Ward's reluctance to engage with it.

Enjoy, JTR



13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Riddle,

You have a typo in your final sentence. No need to post this comment :) -MMR

M.M.R. said...

Hi Dr. Riddle,

Thank you for posting this article; it's actually very interesting and well written. I'm about halfway through and I have a few questions.


1.) Is this article representative of the "official" (and current*) stance of the CB position?

(* I say current because it seems somewhat nuanced and improved upon from previous statements given by CB advocates...and perhaps it may continue to evolve/improve.)


2.) "Perhaps, besides any typographical misprints, the latest Scrivener revision is a perfect replication of the authentic NT texts."


Could you *please* expand on "perhaps"? (From your point of view at least.)


3.) "Nevertheless, it must be reemphasized that studied CB adherents recognize difficult variants like this. Yet, post-critical CB advocates tend to answer that the authentic reading nonetheless is preserved in at least one of the historical TR editions, if not the Scrivener. The possibility that the KJV and the Tyndale tradition do not preserve the authentic reading does not impinge on the translation’s
practical value of communicating the same point. But by conceding that no translation or TR edition is
ideally perfect..."

Do you agree with Mr. Krivda's assessment of I Tim. 1:4 (on pgs. 10-11) and specifically the quotation given above?

I'm asking because I have not heard this type language from CB advocates.

Thank you.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

MMR,

First, thanks for catching the typo. Corrected.

On Krivda's article:

1. As you likely know I've given my own tentative proposal for responding to the "Which TR?" challenge (WM 140). I'm glad to see that VK has taken his own stab at the question. This does not mean that he necessarily agrees with me on all points or I with him. If I share someone else's work on this blog, it does not mean that this is the "official" CB position or even that I agree with every point.

As has, I hope, been evident by the material I've shared over the last couple of weeks on the blog, it is very encouraging to see so much interest in the defense of the traditional text arising from so many different corners.

2. I'm not sure what you want me to say to this. This sounds like a question you might like to pose to VK since it is his statement and not mine. That said, I like and use Scrivener. I don't see any problems with it. I also agree with the TBS statement on Scripture which says the authoritative TR is found in the group/family of printed TRs of the Reformation era. Do you have a list of places in Scrivener that you think are in error?

3. Not sure why you want to parse this statement from VK. Are you trying to prove whether the TR position is not KJVO? That's already been stated. I affirm WCF/2LBCF 1:8 on text and translation. Enough said.

Best, JTR

Vincent Krivda said...

MMR,

Thanks for engaging the article!

I am happy to respond to the questions you posed. First, you ask if my article is the "'official' (and current*) stance of the CB position." To start, I would say that the official position is summarized in chapter one of the WCF/Savoy Declaration/1689LBCF tradition. But in the article, I described a post-critical perspective of the CB position that seeks to develop the historic Confessional view in light of current issues. Hence, I relied upon certain insights of Hills and Letis--which I suggested are not always embraced or clearly articulated in the CB community. So, the short answer is that this article does not represent every CB advocate.
I think Dr. Riddle is right to point out that there is some diversity in opinion among CB advocates because the doctrine of Scripture is so fundamental that believers of different stripes tend to find common ground on this issue. Accordingly, there are a few other ways that I challenge CB advocates that I expect to find some disagreement. Firstly, I propose developing a philosophy of media. I have not found that this is a common concern of CB advocates. Secondly, I advance an argument that the AV is not ideally perfect. Although I attempt to show that I am in the company of Hills and Letis on this point, I expect that this will be challenging for some CB advocates. Thirdly, I gesture towards a classical Reformed historicist account of the Apocalypse to support the special prediction of the Bible's accessibility at the time of the Reformation. While I believe that this perspective was generally assumed during the Reformation--and could provide further scriptural support for the CB position--many of today's CB advocates are not necessarily committed to classical Reformed eschatology.
You also ask Dr. Riddle to elaborate on what I mean by "perhaps" in my statement "Perhaps, besides any typographical misprints, the latest Scrivener revision is a perfect replication of the authentic NT texts." From the article, I advance Hill's position that finds Scrivener's GNT as practically identical--but not necessarily perfectly identical--to the autographs of the NT. While some CB's may disagree, I think that would fall into Ward's trap. Still, I say "perhaps" to leave open the possibility that the latest Scrivener was by accident or providence perfectly identical to the authentic texts of the NT. However, my point is that there is no need to maintain this dogmatically as Ward charges CBs of doing.

Kindly, Vince

M.M.R. said...

Thank you Dr. Riddle and Vince for your helpful replies.


Hi Vince, you state: ", I advance an argument that the AV is not ideally perfect."

Would you consider those who do to be essentially KJV-only? (Not the Ruckmanite sort naturally.)

And what type of range are we talking about here, 5, 10, 50, 100 or more textual and/or translation errors in the AV? Not that I expect that you have had the opportunity to put your finger on every one, but any qualification helps. (Or is this simply a theoretical safeguard?)

I have basically the same questions in regards to Scrivener's text. What type of magnitude are we talking here, a couple bad readings, 10, 20, 50, 100...what's the boiling point?

And I'm not asking for an official statement, nor do I intend to argue, I'm just trying to understand your perspective.

Thanks


Dr. Riddle,

You ask: "Do you have a list of places in Scrivener that you think are in error?"

Not specifically for Scrivener; although I do log and note TR oddities, splits, and readings that I consider incorrect. It wouldn't be to difficult to dig a bunch up for you, but I don't know how much it would help. Several have been brought to your attention in the past couple of years--which have little or *no* Greek manuscript support, and your method has always been to uphold the reading found in the Scrivener/KJV tandem. If you're not going to budge on Luke 2:22, Eph. 3:9, Rev. 16:5, etc., I don't see you budging on anything. But...if you're game, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on I Tim. 1:4 for starters?

Vincent Krivda said...

M.M.R.,

Thank you for your follow-up questions and interest.

You first ask if I would consider those who maintain that the AV is ‘ideally perfect’ are essentially KJV-Only. You help by defining KJV-Onlyism as not the same thing as Ruckmanism. And, if you mean to ask whether CB advocates who hold that the AV is the ideally perfect representation of the autographs are thereby to be considered as their own strand of KJV-Onlyism, then, by that broad definition, I would be compelled to say that they indeed would fall under that definition. Still, I want to underline Ward’s description of KJV-Onlyism is much narrower than the definition I believe you have in mind. My proposal clearly is meant to formulate a plausible formulation of CB that is self-consciously distant from the descriptions that Ward describes.

Nonetheless, I do not think that the KJV-Only label is very helpful, and I am not sure if there are many people to whom the label would apply to in the CB camp. Perhaps no one at all!

Ward’s point was to show that CB’s distance themselves from the KJV-Only label but still are logically committed to its general conclusions. Ward responded to me privately saying that I validated his underlying point, that a thoroughgoing CB would have to abandon the idea of a diplomatic text. But if that was his underlying point, then I do not see why he belabors the opposite point in his main argument.

Vincent Krivda said...

M.M.R.,

You also ask me to gauge the numerical range of textual and translational errors in the AV, if the thesis that ‘the AV is not ideally perfect’ is not simply a theoretical safeguard from critical scrutiny. I appreciate the question because of its practical bent at tracing out the implications of my position while combing for its tipping point. I offered one example of a translational problem in the AV but was quick to qualify this as not an error, per se. Besides, my example was not even from the NT. But my point was to demonstrate the AV cannot function as a diplomatic text because there is at least one place where it cannot be relied upon, as such. I also suggested that the same case could be made concerning the mediation of acrostics, name-meanings, and plays on meaning that may be slightly obscured by a translation. Still, in my paper, I describe such issues as ‘problems,’ not downright errors. Hence, I believe that in all matters of controversy the church is finally to appeal to the text in its original tongues, and there is no place in the TR tradition where any variant is serious enough to detract from its practical function. Yet, I do not think that there are any boldfaced errors in the KJV.

But I would certainly allow that there are dozens of difficulties, maybe hundreds, that require scrutinous exegetical attention of the traditional texts in their original tongues. For example, I think that there are places where αἰών might be better translated today as “age” instead of “world,” or in Acts 12:4 where I think πασχα should be translated as “Passover” instead of Easter. Accordingly, I stressed the importance of developing a philosophy of media that can account for the shortcomings of translations while still recognizing their pragmatic function and validity. But neither of these instantiations of being an unperfect translation—aside from the inconclusiveness of these sorts of in-house debates—could be construed as an “error,” as such, by anything I have asserted in my paper.
But, if by “error” you mean any sort of translational or textual difficulty, then I could not provide you with a definitive guess about how many that would be, without also allowing for some debate. On the one hand, they are seldom enough and trivial enough to not undermine the average reader’s confidence in the AV or its infallibility. On the other hand, they are common enough to underline the importance of exegesis and the teaching office in the church. I imagine that this perspective is no different than how the majority of the readers of modern versions think about their own bibles.

Vincent Krivda said...

M.M.R.,

You lastly ask me how many bad readings there are in Scrivener’s text. By that, I take it that you are asking how many instances of variants there are in Scrivener’s GNT that I think are different from the NT autographs. In my paper and in my initial response to you, I explain that I allow the possibility that there are no meaningful variants in Scrivener from the NT autographs. Notwithstanding, I also suggested that concluding that Scrivener’s GNT is identical to the autographs is not something that can be verified or held dogmatically. In my paper, I argue that this is not a serious difficulty since maintaining that Scrivener is identical to the autographs is not logically required by the CB position. Nevertheless, I argued that whatever variants there are that do not conform to the autographs—however many that might be—they are never serious enough to delegitimize a prima facie case for relying on Scrivener and considering variants in the TR editions on a case-by-case basis. In many of the variants between the TR editions, I assume some uncertainty about which variant to privilege. So, while I would allow the possibility that there are no textual differences between the latest Scrivener’s GNT and the NT autographs, I would estimate that there is probably less than 3% of the TR which contains meaningful variants (maybe less than 300 variants). I have not counted all the variants of the major TR editions, but most of the major editions tend to provide the variant in the margin or annotations. So, even when there is some doubt about which variant should be privileged, most of the time there is some witness to the alternative reading.

My reading of Hills lends me to see this as a minimal uncertainty between certain variants, contrasted with the maximum uncertainty of the naturalistic method where every word of the text is theoretically subject to question and revision. So, I do not see the issue as a “boiling point,” as it were, where a certain number of variants crosses the line but have adopted Hills’ paradigm instead. It is not a question about which position has fewer uncertainties but how the two positions are characterized either by their theoretical adoption of a foundationalist or anti-foundationalist epistemology. If you are interpreting my argument as a case for the TR simply because it has fewer variants than the entire manuscript catalog, then you would still be missing the point that I have emphasized here.

Kindly,

Vince

Matthew M. Rose said...

Vince,


Thank you for your explanations! It seems obvious that much of your logical maneuvering is done for the purpose of distancing your position from the KJV-only label.–And in doing so you're leaning strongly upon Edward F. Hills for your defense of the TR (and subsequently the A.V.).

Which begs the question: do you not consider Hills a KJVO?

Academic accolades and learning aside–Hills has generally been recognized as KJVO; albeit the cream of the crop. Would you disagree with that assessment?


Here's an example:

"Hills, who — regardless of all his former training and apparently favorable comments regarding the Byzantine or majority text — is never willing absolutely to reject any KJV reading derived from a minority of Greek manuscripts (or even no Greek manuscripts whatever!). Through scholastic sophistry similar to that applied by most other KJVOs, Hills ultimately defends every aspect of the KJV and its underlying text, regardless of where the factual data might point. Like most other KJVOs, Hills also ignores the methodological dichotomy whereby he on the one hand claims Byzantine superiority while on the other hand he denies such in favor of minority or unsupported readings — this demonstrates a KJVO mentality quite clearly." –M. A. Robinson


Again, would you disagree with this assessment?

Thanks

Vincent Krivda said...

Matthew M. Rose,

Thanks for the question and conversation!

You ask whether I consider Hills a KJV-Onlyist, in light of popular opinion and Maurice Robinson’s blog interview remarks. There is no doubt that he has been misunderstood that way. Accordingly, in Letis’ preface to the King James Version Defended/Text and Time he points out that Hills is unfairly caricatured as committed to TR readings that depart from the Majority Text. The example Letis cites is where Hill only affords the Johannine Comma a “at least possible” status of authenticity. In my paper, I pointed out that Hills considered the clause from 1 John 2:23b and interpolation.

Yet, to be fair, Hills does adopt minority readings like Dr. Robinson charges. So, how does Hills justify his method—considering Robinson’s critique of a methodology repugnant to the Majority Text commitments? In King James Version Defended/Text and Time, he argues that he is upholding a Protestant conception of scripture. Letis backs him up on this in the Preface, underscoring that Hills’ method stems from his theology of inspiration and preservation, a philosophy of truth, and a canonical view of the text. Hills maintains the same posture in his book Believer’s Bible Study.

What I find interesting about Dr. Robinson’s quote, is that he does not clearly define what he means by KJVO, besides suggesting that the KJVO mentality is the willingness to privilege minority readings—or even unsupported ones—over the majority of Byzantine MSS. If that is the scope of his definition of all KJVOs, then that may include some critical text people if we get finicky. However, it is clear Dr. Robinson’s remarks are clearly meant to marginalize Hills without a fair account of his philosophy.

I stand with Letis, Hills was not a KJV-Onlyist. It was my point to show that Hills was not absorbed in the fantasy that the AV is an ideally perfect text.

I am curious whether Dr. Robinson uses the same methodology to decide on the readings of the Old Testament as he does for the New Testament. What about you? Should we count the MSS readings before we read the Old Testament? Or do we have to rely on a “KJVO mentality” if we are to read it at all?

M.M.R. said...

Vince,

Thank you again for your response!

You write: "The example Letis cites is where Hill only affords the Johannine Comma a “at least possible” status of authenticity. In my paper, I pointed out that Hills considered the clause from 1 John 2:23b and interpolation."


Yes, but the beef is that Hills: "is never willing absolutely to reject any KJV reading derived from a minority of Greek manuscripts (or even no Greek manuscripts whatever!)"–And in the case of I Jo. 2:23, he believes, " the King James translators enclosed this but in brackets, thus indicating that it was not properly speaking part of the text but merely a help in translation." [Although it's not placed within brackets–but only printed in italics(?).] So this (I Jo. 2:23) is a mute point, because Hills' interpretation of the matter excludes the possibility of error.


You state: "What I find interesting about Dr. Robinson’s quote, is that he does not clearly define what he means by KJVO, besides suggesting that the KJVO mentality is the willingness to privilege minority readings—or even unsupported ones—over the majority of Byzantine MSS. If that is the scope of his definition of all KJVOs, then that may include some critical text people if we get finicky. However, it is clear Dr. Robinson’s remarks are clearly meant to marginalize Hills without a fair account of his philosophy."


Well, I obviously cannot speak for Dr. Robinson, but the most appropriate litmus test from my perspective is in regards to the existence or non-existence of error within the KJV. Yet, I would urge all to keep the context of Robinson's remarks much closer, and in doing so keep oneself from bringing, "critical text people" into the discussion needlessly.

Let's move forward...

Robinson states:

"Through scholastic sophistry similar to that applied by most other KJVOs, Hills ultimately defends every aspect of the KJV and its underlying text, regardless of where the factual data might point."


Personally, I find that this type of aporoach is all too common in the CB camp. The constant pushing of narrative;–the weaving of history, and theological stance concerning preservation and providence (when it's becoming to said position);–and a peculiar disregard of the "factual data" in many an instance. And (personally) I think that Hills marginalized himself by not putting forth a fuller examination for public examination. This was not remedied by Letis, who also dealt with a very slight amount of textual variation. In short, Burgon and Scrivener should have been enlarged upon–not reduced!


Again you write: "I stand with Letis, Hills was not a KJV-Onlyist. It was my point to show that Hills was not absorbed in the fantasy that the AV is an ideally perfect text."


Although Letis was privy to much private intercourse with Hills, I couldn't go this far. Hills was not an extreme KJVO, as Ruckman, Gipp or Riplinger,–but he is very close to the more moderate position of D. A. Waite. I think that your input on pages 17-18 is a very good example of the confusion in this area. You essentially go around in circles to prove whether or not the KJVO label is appropriate for your camp. In some ways yes, and in some ways no.

Truthfully, it's all going to come down to a further (in-house) examination of the pool of variant readings; An examination which will probably take several more years. I suspect that some within your camp will progress, some 'stick to their guns' and some will perhaps settle into a more concrete KJVO stance. My take on Hills is that he stands on the border of KJVO and TRO/TRP in theory, and is essentially KJVO in practice. (Although I can only go on what he has left behind to evaluate.)

The OT is another issue altogether, and I don't fully understand your final questions. But FWIW, I'm not a MT or Byz. Priority advocate, and therefore the counting of MSS is neither here nor there. Thank you again for your thoughts.

Vincent Krivda said...

Matthew M. Rose,

You write:
“Personally, I find that this type of aporoach is all too common in the CB camp. The constant pushing of narrative;–the weaving of history, and theological stance concerning preservation and providence (when it's becoming to said position);–and a peculiar disregard of the ‘factual data’ in many an instance.”

I think this is a valid concern of yours; it serves as an interesting discussion point. I get the impression that you believe that a theological metanarrative underpinning the CB position compromises a sober attentiveness to raw facts. The same criticism has been lodged against Christianity at large by dyed in the wool Modernists, but it has had little effect in dampening the zeal of genuine believers. So, perhaps you can appreciate this characteristic of CBs because it is a crucial aspect of their Christian posture in today’s world. But let me press whether an empirical starting point can evaluate evidence meaningfully without its own storytelling. Modern textual criticism is a highly theoretical enterprise, and I think that a major concern in CB is that this approach to the text lends itself to historical criticism to explain the enigmas embedded in the gaps between the facts. I may also ask whether empirical inquiry can sincerely account for certain facts that the CB camp emphasizes—such as the large-scale loss and destruction of manuscripts from war and other disasters of history. I think the concern is that a reliabilist epistemology ignores a dynamic conception of history—where material artifacts of the past are the privileged objects used to reconstruct history. The victims of history, therefore, have no voice. This historical realism accounts for the brute fact of history and instinctively strives towards a meta-narrative to explain it, of which there is no shortage of meta-narrative in the Reformed story of Christian history. Rather than ignoring the facts, I think that CB tends to assign value to facts that the modernist ignores—e.g. that the story of the Bible is the story of God’s Word overcoming a hostile world of darkness. I think that the reason why outsiders may perceive CBs to be hard-nosed against the facts is that outsiders tend not to make the effort to appreciate the sophistication of weighing evidence by a priority of categories. From a reliabilist epistemological paradigm, any appeal beyond empirical inquiry is necessarily invalid. But then, I think that you might admit that a thoroughgoing reliabilist epistemology leaves no room for Christian faith.

In my last response to you, I asked about how you know whether the OT that you read is reliable. You helpfully explained that you do not take the majority text view of the NT, so you have no methodological commitments to counting manuscripts and that, besides, the text of the OT is categorically different than the NT. Could you elaborate, then, on your opinion of the textual situation of the OT today?

Matthew M. Rose said...

Vince Krivda,


You state:

"I think this is a valid concern of yours; it serves as an interesting discussion point. I get the impression that you believe that a theological metanarrative underpinning the CB position compromises a sober attentiveness to raw facts."

I believe that it can, and has to some extent...but, it doesn't necessarily have to. Ultimately, it comes down to the amount of overall certainty one needs to 'sleep well at night' (if that makes sense). I don't think that this aspect has been properly addressed and thought though.


Again you write:

"Modern textual criticism is a highly theoretical enterprise, and I think that a major concern in CB is that this approach to the text lends itself to historical criticism to explain the enigmas embedded in the gaps between the facts."

Very true, and to be clear–I'm not advocating for the CB crowd (or anyone else) to jump in bed with Academia or align themselves with the thoughts and theories of "modern textual criticism." I think that there's a very respectable (& respectful*) middle ground here. It comes down to a logical methodology, a conservative praxis, and a wise choice of base Text in my view.

(*Respectful in regards to God, as the author and preserver of the Text:–And to the extant evidence afforded us by providence.)


You continue:

"I may also ask whether empirical inquiry can sincerely account for certain facts that the CB camp emphasizes—such as the large-scale loss and destruction of manuscripts from war and other disasters of history. I think the concern is that a reliabilist epistemology ignores a dynamic conception of history—where material artifacts of the past are the privileged objects used to reconstruct history. The victims of history, therefore, have no voice."

If you are pleading that some pertinent historical events have not been fully accounted for in the transmission history of the Greek NT (?)–then you have many allies (myself being one) on this front. Although, the act of weaponizing these details to procure doubt is probably not helpful. E.g., the often heard complaint that we don't really have that many early MSS., and therefore calling for a discount in the
collective weight of the textual apparatus. The law of averages and a healthy respect for providence should be enough to check the historical calamities that have befallen the Text. Although MSS. who's survival has likely benefitted from advantageous climate and geographical situations should be understood as privileged *everytime* they're brought forth as evidence and weighed.

Other than that, I do think that CB adherents tend to see in black and white, when there is indeed color in the equation as well (and gray area to boot). This can create a false dichotomy in certain areas of debate (e.g. methodology, praxis, resultant text).

You ask:

"Could you elaborate, then, on your opinion of the textual situation of the OT today?"

The politics are different, both academically and spiritually. This is also true of the pool of evidence and the amount of corruption. This is not to say that there's no overlap, but it's a different ballgame altogether. When dealing with "Jewish" culture and religion 'the powers that be' generally walk on eggshells for fear of backlash by equally powerful quarters; and then there's always the threat of being pinned with the dreaded "anti-Semitic" label. The careful custodianship of the OT also makes it easier to simply adhere to tradition. Imagine if Academia tried to overhaul the Hebrew OT and make several thousand changes like they did to the NT. There would be problems! (Likewise, imagine if Academia tried to revise or reconstruct the Quran.) Point being, trampling on Christ is palatable within the halls of the Academy. And unless one chooses to give an unwarranted amount of weight to the "LXX" or DSS, there's really not much to consider relatively speaking,–and in contrast to the NT.