The Problem of Textual Recovery
Scholars are working hard
They say that there are many scholars working very hard on recovering the original text of the New Testament. They may be working hard but that task has already been completed.
At last count 3 English versions can be counted on to being faithful to what God had his New testament authors write. Those 3 versions are the King James, The New American Standard and the early New International Version.
Since those versions were published more versions have come out and made the claim that they have take advantage of new scholarship, new knowledge of ancient languages and their use and so on. These claims are used to support their declaration that their version is the closest thing to the original languages used to write the New Testament.
There are major problems with this goal
First off, not only has God said he would preserve his word until the end, there must always have been no era without God’s o=original words. New scholarship is not going to improve on God’s preservation.
A second more pressing and important problem is found in the form of a question. How can the scholars say they have achieved their goal when according to the same scholars, the originals do not exist.
In other words, there are no original manuscripts available to compare their work with to see how accurate they were. Believing they have a fragment or closest copy to the original works of the New Testament is not the same as having and knowing one has a copy of the originals.
Another problem is found in the assumption many scholars have that all older biblical manuscripts were[produced by saintly people. They do not seem to take into account that people with alternative views may have altered these texts that were fortunate enough to survive.
We know of several people who have done this and their presence leaves open the possibility that there were more anonymous writers with their own view of Christ and his word.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are but one modern group that continues this practice. Unfortunately, this assumption by modern scholars may have true words of god excluded while retaining false ideas. The last chapter of Mark is a good possible example of this.
Scholars and ancient languages
Another influential factor in creating texts that claim to be true to the originals is the attitude of the scholars. Many of them study the ancient languages and draw their conclusions on word use and meanings.
When new information arrives through more recent ancient manuscript discoveries, those conclusions and word meanings, etc., are often changed to meet the newly discovered use of certain terms.
The issue here is these scholars do not have any insight as to how God may have used ancient words. They do not know if he used those new insights or not. Like English, some ancient words come with several different definitions. An example of this is the Old Testament word Yom, meaning day.
That word has a variety of uses and many scholars who reject the creation account use those different definitions to say that creation was not done in a 24 hour 7 day earth week.
This speaking for God factor influences what many English biblical texts say are God’s actual words to his creation. The scholar uses their best judgment in deciding how the word should be used and what it means.
The scribe argument
This has been going on for centuries now. It is the go to argument both Christian and unbelieving scholar use when they find something does not line up between the different manuscripts.
This does happen, most likely when someone is making a copy for personal use or writing a letter to a friend and other situations. Yet cannot God guide those scribes when they are making serious copies to preserve his word?
It would be difficult trying to separate which New testament fragment or book was of the former and which was of the latter. Yet with the Spirit of Truth helping them the scholar or average person should be able to know which is true and which is not.
Jesus promised we would know, his promise did not exclude knowing which were the true manuscripts and which were not. The presence of different people writing scriptures is no different today than it was in the ancient world. People often paraphrase for a variety of reasons.
The ancient people were no different from modern people.
The scholarly attitude
Often gets in the way of finding the truth and the correct manuscript. Ideas, talents and abilities, or a lack thereof are often read into the original New Testament writers and the scribes that followed them.
Scholars make claims that the New Testament writers were following Herodotus’ example when they wrote. This conclusion flies in the face of what the Bible says how God’s word was written
The scholarly attitudes does not stop there though. For some reason they like, for the most part, to remove the divine work and make the Bible out to be just another book. They call it literature when it is not.
It is these types of attitudes that mar many modern English versions of the Bible Neither the Old Testament or the New are literary works. The Bible is a book filled with the truth and provides instructions for people to follow today.
As stated earlier, we have at least 3 good versions that make sure we have God’s word to follow. Contrary to what scholars may think, they are not the last word on what is or isn’t God’s word.
That is because many of them do not believe in Jesus as their Savior. What that means is that the modern believer needs to be more careful about who they listen to. It is not the experience and education that matters. It is if they are true believers or unbelievers that count.
The believer cannot assume that scholar has it right. They have to measure the scholar’s words with God’s word and then take God’s over the scholar if there is a difference. God is never wrong.
© 2019 David Thiessen