Authoritas Divina Duplex

twofold divine authority;

a distinction between (1) the authoritas rerum, or authority of the things of Scripture, the substantia doctrinae (substance of doctrine); and (2) the authroitas verborum, or authority of the words of Scripture arising from the accidens scriptionis, the accident of writing.”

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

Muller here states, and we here at StandardSacredText.com are in agreement, that there are two kinds of authority associated with Scripture: that of the substance of Scripture and that of the form of Scripture. That is, both the meaning of the word and the very shape of the word [i.e., jots and tittles] bear out the authority of the Author. Muller writes concerning “authority,”

“authoritas: authority, originality, genuineness;

the power, dignity or influence of a work that derives from its author, or auctor.”

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

For the Protestant Scholastics then, both the substance [i.e., meaning] of the words as well as the accidents [i.e., shape] of the word are original, genuine, and authoritative. In common twenty-first century parlance both the meaning and the shape of the original languages are original, genuine, and authoritative. What then of translations – Russian, Chinese, Urdu, English etc.? Muller concludes,

“The authority of the substantia, or res, is a formal, inward authority that belongs both to the text of Scripture in the original languages and to the accurate translations of scripture. The authoritas verborum is an external and accidental authority that belongs only to the text in the original languages and is a property or accident lost in translation. Thus the infallibilitas of the originals is both quoad verbum and quoad res, where as the infallibilitas of the translations in only quoad res.”

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

Muller changes up the terminology here a bit but the sum of it is that the original text [i.e., the copy of the Hebrew and Greek held to be Holy Scripture], is infallible and authoritative both in the meaning of the words and in the shape of the words. A translation on the other hand, being of a different language and therefore having different shaped words, is not infallible and authoritative in the shape of the words. Still, said translation is infallible and authoritative as to substance or res. So while “word” and “λόγος” do not share the same accidents/shape they do share in the same substance/res/meaning.

The argument for authoritas divina duplex is one reason why we here at StandardSacredText.com argue for both the infallibility and authority of the original as well as a translation, the King James Bible.

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