Autopistos

“autopistos: trustworthy in and of itself;

specifically, a term used by the Protestant scholastics to denote the self-authenticating character of scriptural authority.

Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholasticism, autograph.

As we have noted other place regarding the self-attesting character of Scripture as the principium cognoscendi we see here as well that the Protestant scholastics argued for the self-authenticating nature of Scripture. That is, the Scripture itself proves who its author is and as such authenticates its own message and authority. Autopistos emphasizes the truth that the Scriptures are trustworthy in and of themselves apart from any external dependent authoritative source. Muller goes on to explain,

“If Scripture is trustworthy in and of itself (in se and per se), no external authority, whether church or tradition, need to be invoked in order to ratify Scripture as the norm of faith and practice.”

Muller, Dictionary, autopistos.

Where Muller notes “church or tradition,” one could also include academia, the sciences, and among those sciences, textual criticism. Because the Scriptures have God as their primary author, they are by virtue of this quality self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting. No other authority, indeed derivative authority can ratify or make officially valid the Scriptures.

Muller concludes this entry with the following words,

“The use of autopistos as an attribute of Scripture figures importantly in the Protestant orthodox debate with Rome and with the Roman Catholic concept of the church’s magisterium.”

Muller, Dictionary, autopistos

So the self-authenticating character of Scripture “featured importantly” with the Protestant orthodox in their apologetic endeavors. What of its use today? What of its use among the Protestant text critics and their regular commenting on the theological veracity of the Scriptures [i.e., no major doctrine is changed by variants]? It seems we have come from “featured importantly” to something more like “ignored despisedly.”

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