Are the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek version of the New Testament the only authentic versions? We affirm against the papists.

Turretin writes,

“All admit that the Hebrew of the Old and the Greek of the New Testament are the original and primitive. But we and the papists dispute whether each is authentic, of itself deserving faith and authority and the standard to which all the versions are to be applied.”

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, Second Topic, Q. 11, Sec. I.

If you recall from a prior post, regarding the originals Turretin has in mind the copies which Christ had in His hand when He said, Search the Scriptures. The originals are also those copies which the Church has in her position both then and now. As such, when Turretin asks the above question his focus is on the faithful copies of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and particularly those that comprise the Greek and Hebrew text of believing community at the time of the Reformation.

Addressing the quote specifically, the question revolves around whether or not the Greek and Hebrew Bible possessed by the church at the time of this dispute between Rome and the Protestants is of itself deserving of faith and authority and the standard by which all other versions are judged. This standard text which is also considered by the Protestants as sacred, ergo a standard sacred text, is the judge of all versions which includes English versions like the KJV and Latin versions like the Vulgate, but it is also the judge of other Greek and Hebrew versions.

If Turretin’s position is typical of the Reformation church as his time, and I believe it is, all we are trying here at is to argue for and conclude with our Reformation era forefathers. We believe there is a version of the Greek and Hebrew as well as an English version of that particular Greek and Hebrew which serves as standard and judge of all other versions of the Greek and Hebrew and their subsequent English versions. Are we so far off the mark if our Protestant era forefathers position is the bullseye? Are we so off the mark if believing what the Bible says about itself is the bullseye?

Turretin goes on to explain what is meant by “authentic” in authentic version. First,

“An authentic writing is one in which all things are abundantly sufficient to inspire confidence; one to which the fullest credit is due in its own kind; one of which we can be entirely sure that it has proceeded from the author whose name it bears; one in which everything is written just as he himself wished.”

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Q. 11, Sec, III.

Is anyone in the modern text critical enterprise ever going to say this should they sustain their current evidential trajectory? How would they know and then tell the rest of us plebs that they are and we can be entirely sure that this book, God’s word, proceeded from God – the one for whom the book was named? How are the scholars to know that everything in that Greek and Hebrew text is written just as God intended it to be written? Is that even on their non-theological a priori radar? Anyway, Turretin is arguing against the Roman Catholics that he has such a book. He goes on explain that there are two ways a writing can be authentic.

“That writing is primarily authentic which is autopiston (‘of self-inspiring confidence’) and to originals or royal edicts, magistrates’ decrees, wills, contracts and the autographs of authors are authentic.”

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Q. 11, Sec, III.

The word “autopiston” is the combination of two Greek words auto meaning “self” and piston meaning “faith.” A text is authentic when it is able to in and of itself inspire faith in the reader to believe that what they are reading is in form and substance from the author whose name is on the text. In this case, there is nothing outside of the text which is needed to validate the authenticity of the text. The second way a text is considered authentic is when there are

“copies accurately and faithfully taken from the originals by suitable men; such as the scriveners appointed for that purpose by public authority (for the edicts of kings and other public documents) and any honest and careful scribes and copiers (for books and other writings).

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Q. 11, Sec, III.

Plainly stated a text is authentic when it in and of itself inspires confidence in its own words and message. A text is also authentic when that text is a faithful and accurate copy of the original text and are in this sense original and authentic texts. So the text written at the hand of Moses is original and authentic in that Moses is the first to write these words and that by immediate inspiration. As such the text written at the hand of Moses by inspiration is original and authentic in form [shape of the words] and substance [meaning of the words]. As for the copies, they are not written at the hand of Moses and in this sense are not original, nor are they immediately inspired. That said, seeing that they are faithful and accurate copies, such a text construed this way is also original and authentic as to form and substance. Turretin concludes as much when he writes,

“The autographs of Moses, the prophets and apostles are alone authentic in the first sense. In the latter sense, the faithful and accurate copies of them are also authentic.”

Turretin, Institutes, Second Topic, Q. 11, Sec, III.

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