copies of an original;

specifically, the scribal copies of the original autographa (q.v.) of Scripture.”

Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, Term: apographa.

The term apographa deserves close attention in that the documents were not merely understood to be copies of copies of copies, but for the Protestant Scholastics and for us here at StandardSacredText.com the apographa is in one sense the copies of the original autographa. Muller observes under the same entry,

“The Protestant scholastics distinguished between the absolute infallibility of the original copies of the biblical books and the textual imperfection of the apographa.”

Muller, Dictionary, apographa.

For the Protestant scholastics there were two kinds of “copies.” First, there were the copies which made up the sacred text of God’s people from which the Protestant scholastics did battle with Roman Catholic apologists. Second, the apographa as “manuscript tradition” which though essentially correct, did possess imperfections which Protestant scholastics thought easily remedied through “their exegetical method intended, by means of mastery of the languages and the comparative study of the extant texts, to overcome errors caused by transmission.”

“In addition, the Protestant orthodox held, as a matter of doctrinal conviction stated in the locus de Scriptura Sacra of their theological systems, the providential preservation of the text throughout history.”

Muller, Dictionary, apographa.

This “matter of doctrinal conviction” is born out quite clearly in the declaration of the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.8:

“The Old Testament in Hebrew…and the New Testament in Greek…being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.”

Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.8.

In short, first, the historic Protestant orthodox position on this point was to hold that the original text they held to as the sacred text, which was a copy, was equal to the autographa. Second, the textual tradition [i.e. the apographa] did indeed possess corruptions, but these corruptions could be easily overcome through “their exegetical method intended…to overcome errors caused by the transmission of the text.”

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