Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christian McShaffrey Lectures: TBS Text and Translation Conference in Northern Scotland (11.11.22)




Phil Brown said...

"Nihilism (from Latin nihil 'nothing') is a philosophy, or family of views within philosophy, that rejects generally accepted or fundamental aspects of human existence, such as objective truth, knowledge, morality, values, or meaning. The term was popularized by Ivan Turgenev, and more specifically by his character Bazarov in the novel Fathers and Sons." I thought that Pastor McShaffrey brought up some interesting points. How we view the Bible is important. Most people tell me when I bring it up that I am "making a big deal out of nothing." Any translation can get the job done. In one sense I am inclined to believe they are right, then on the other hand, McShaffrey has a point also. I have had to take a step back and re-evaluate this. I've also found that studying this subject can only end either in faith or unbelief. Evidentially, you will go in circles.

Phil Brown said...

I received a response by Dr. Michael Heiser who is a Semitic scholar regarding this subject you are writing about once. He wrote the following:


Ultimately, Textual Criticism is about:
#1 - Gathering data.
#2 - Thinking about the data/ drawing conclusions.

Some Textual Critics seem to think that our lack of omniscience means we can't know anything, so it's all up in the air. That's an unreasonable conclusion because it's demonstrably unlivable in every other area of life. "We can't know exactly what causes cancer in one person and not another, so why bother trying to figure it out? Why bother treating it at all? Why not just say do whatever makes you happy and forget about the disease?" The analogies are endless. Scholars do this sort of thing -- they forget to apply their theories to how similar things in life could work. They forget to test "the coherence of their thought process." Other scholars, though, don't view a lack of omniscience this way. Instead of saying: "We can't know anything," they opt for: "We can know a lot with a high degree of certainty, but not everything -- there will always be some things we don't know." That's far more coherent. The above is fundamentally compatible with an eclectic view. Choosing one side claims a little too much omniscience (And we must also be eclectic when it comes to the Old Testament texts -- as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint make quite clear.).

I'll write more in the next section.

Phil Brown said...

It's really a matter of deciding which view we think is the most coherent and have faith in as a Christian. Personally I have been caught between two opinions for some time now, and while the one you are promoting seems logical in many ways, Heiser and the other scholars seems to be reasonable as well. What is interesting is that I can see a correlation between the Bible issue and Darwinism since they both came on the scene around the same time, and I read from Wescott and Hort's own writings that they were great admirers of Darwin and his work. I don't know if Wescott and Hort's Theory coupled with Darwin's Theory has caused much of the angst we see today, but I suspect it has. A lack of faith in the Bible is the source of most of the problems we are facing whether we like it or not, and I think Wescott and Hort had a hand in it to some degree. Of course they had a lot of help since their view wasn't popularized until after they left this mortal world. Most in our society live according to the ethic: "The end justifies the means." You can see it from the highest office in the land on down to the poorest among us. While societies have always had problems, most Americans were Bible believers in the 1900's. It was Bible believers that helped to end slavery and many other blights upon that generation. However, Darwinian Evolution and perhaps a "New Perspective" on the Bible blighted the church of the 20th century and even whole societies up to the present. Even if it wasn't the intent of those scholars, it certainly was a fruit of the discipline of Textual Criticism and many scientific theories divergent from Biblical truth. In 2017 24% of Americans believed the Bible was the Word of God, and now in 2022 it has gone down to 20% according to Gallup. A high price to pay for 19th century scientific theories.

Phil Brown said...

Most of my friends aren't interested in this subject, and they think that it is just a nostalgic clinging to Tradition. Ironically I was raised on the NIV 1984 model, so the KJV or any other TR translation isn't necessarily sentimental to me. Textual variants do challenge us though and bring more mystery to the table. Heiser also wrote to me that the Ancients weren't obsessed with precision as we are today, and he said to do so would be to force Modern thought into an Ancient context. He said that we can't rely on the Reformation, Medieval Church, or any of the Church Fathers to get the proper context, but rather we need to interpret the Bible in it's own context. He referred to a Textual Variant in Genesis 14:14 - "And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan." (Ge. 14:14) He observed that even the Masoretic text was edited. "Dan" wasn't in existence during the time of Abraham or Moses either. The town during the time of Abraham was actually named Laish. Later after the conquests of Israel the town was renamed "Dan." Heiser submits that an editor later inserted the name "Dan" so that the readers of the time would know where it was, since Laish had long gone out of existence. Not a big deal, but not the preserved original. So, it seems according to Heiser that we need to be more flexible. I went to seminary once upon a time, and they would present little tidbits like this to stir the pot. I appreciate your ministry and the challenge it brings to the table. I have to be honest that I am undecided. I have been following you for many years now and appreciate your commitment to the Bible. I am reading your most recent book: "Why I Preach From The Received Text." Even if you aren't 100% correct, there is something to the usage of the Byzantine Majority. The Alexandrian texts represent not only a minority, but also are provincial and cover a much smaller territory. Their representation isn't enough to accept them outright in my opinion. However, some of the minority readings in the TR are hard to defend, but aren't impossible. As far as the Old Testament, it is hard to know for sure. I do think scholars rely too much on the Septuagint. My apprehension is mainly because we don't know if the version of the Septuagint we have today represents what was used in the Early Church. Also, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in an area of a heretical sect where most Jews would reject out of hand. It doesn't mean that Heiser in incorrect, but I find that it does place a bit of suspicion on the "provenance" of the manuscripts as you have asserted regarding the Alexandrian manuscripts. Most of my friends and family hold to the ESV or the NASB as the best translations and I have pretty much been ignored. I do have a KJV Only friend, and while I think he has some interesting thoughts, I know he goes further than most would be willing to. I will pray for you, and if you think about it, pray for me. I am not convinced either way. I see where you are coming from for sure, and see the value in sticking to the Traditional Texts. However, Heiser and the others have some good points too. I am probably hovering around Maurice Robinson and James Snapp's view at the moment. However, I love the KJV and how it reads. I am also a fan of the Geneva Bible. Great translation!

Christian said...

Greetings Phil,

There are other “solutions” to the alleged anachronism in Genesis 14:14.

The great historian Josephus, for example, identified this “Dan” not as a city, but as a spring of the Jordan (Antiquities, 1.176).

Grace and peace,

Christian Mc.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Brother, thanks for posting these videos. I just got around to listening to them last week, and I found them very helpful. Brother McShaffrey made a point about how many folks who use modern versions nevertheless often accept the so-called disputed passages. It is good to think about this, as he pointed out, a profitable entry point of agreement.