Wednesday, September 16, 2015

on the Ecclesiastical Text of the Bible

    I have recently seen a video that was put up about two months ago on James White's YouTube account. I didn't get a chance to see it until now, due to my obsession with Anglish, which I'd like to put away for now. James White seemed very concerned that the proponents of the ecclesiastical text, however that is defined, don't have any leg to stand on when it comes to public debates with those who are familiar with textual criticism. So I'd like to take a moment to address the issue of having an objective methodology for criticizing the ecclesiastical text of the Bible.

  First, we are not criticizing the Bible based on its literary value, but rather on how are we going to get the same text that the Prophets and the Apostles had wrote down for their audience. That should be the goal of textual criticism, but that is a very broad outlook, so I'd like to the focus on how the proponents of the 'ecclesiastical text' might go about establishing the key passages that Dr. White has cited in his video. If you have not yet seen the video, it's here for your interest:

    So I think that those who promote the 'ecclesiastical text' are wondering how on earth can Dr. White do textual criticism, if he doesn't use the text of the Bible that we're familiar with. If you don't have 'the text' that the church has handed down to us, how do you begin to examine it at all? This question is asking for a textual tradition that could be accepted by those who are part of the church. So I feel that those who want to go back to the time of the Reformation would have a skeptical climate of opinion toward James's direct questions of how the ecclesiastical text might be founded.

    In response to the skepticism, the proponents would say that we have what the text of the Reformers had, but there has been much development since those early days. Wouldn't it be nice to live in the 16th century, when the science of textual criticism was just budding? To have the work of Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and so on, however, wouldn't answer the question of how the text of the Scriptures is established, which is a process that requires sharp criteria, if you are going to do meaningful criticism of the text. So we should appreciate the work of those men, but we should also consider how they came to their conclusions in establishing what the Apostles wrote to the church.

    If we are going to find out what textual tradition we should use to do textual criticism, let's take a bird's eye of the field. We have many manuscript traditions that show how the text has come down to us. But the church dose't have to be the keeper of these documents to feel that we have the 'true' text of the Bible. For instance, if 19th century statists were influential in preserving the text of the Word of God, could we not use their insights to understand where our Book has come from? So I'd say that the proponents of this undefinable text of the church have to, at least, give an attempt to answer the questions that were raised in the video.

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