The Same Old, Same Old

Under the question, “Are the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek version of the New Testament the only authentic versions?” Turretin addresses the idea propounded by the Roman Catholics that the original Hebrew and Greek are mutilated and therefore untrustworthy in themselves. He then goes on to deal with three passages which the Roman Catholics say account for this mutilation. Turretin writes,

“There is no truth in the assertion that the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament and the Greek edition of the New Testament are said to be mutilated; nor can the arguments used by our opponents prove it.”

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

Guess what passages the Roman Catholics pointed to in order to besmirch the Hebrew and Greek originals? Guess. 400 years ago, the Roman Catholics argued that the inclusion of the long ending in Mark 16, John 8:1-11, and I John 5:7 all pointed to the mutilation of the Greek Text. What major passages do you suppose Protestants now have issue with when it comes to the King James Bible over against the critical versions? You guessed it; the long ending in Mark 16, John 7:53-8:11, and I John 5:7. My how the tables have turned. Turretin goes on,

“Nor the history of the adultress (Jn. 8:1-11), for although it is lacking in the Syriac version, it is found in all the Greek manuscripts. Not 1 Jn. 5:7, for although some formerly called it into question and heretics do now, yet all the Greek copies have it, as Sixtus Senensis acknowledges: ‘they have been the words of never-doubted truth, and contained in all the Greek copies from the very times of the apostles’ (Bibliotheca sancta [1575], 2:298). Not Mark 16 which may have been wanting in several copies in the time of Jerome (as he asserts); but now it occurs in all, even in the Syriac version, and is clearly necessary to complete the history of the resurrection of Christ.”

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

My point in bringing this up is that 400 years ago Protestants had to defend these passages from the Roman Catholics. 400 years ago, it was the heretics that questioned the veracity of 1 John 5:7. Now Protestants are called to defend these same passages against…Protestants, and the folks who defend the validity of 1 John 5: 7 are now called the heretics, the schismatics.

“But, but, but we have more manuscript evidence now,” you might say. So. We have more evidence now that dead people do not rise from the grave and that manna does not fall from the sky, but is that going to change your belief so easily simply because I say we have more evidence? If such evidence won’t change your mind so easily about resurrection beliefs or manna beliefs, why do you think “we have more evidence now” somehow automatically and uncritically trumps your Scripture beliefs? Certainly, “we have more evidence now” can inform our beliefs but it need not and sometimes it ought not and sometimes it does not. For example, “we have more evidence now” than ever that dead people do not rise from the dead therefore the evidence continues to mount that Eutychus did not rise from the dead seeing he is a person who died. This evidence ought not apply because the apostle Paul is a full legal representative of Christ on earth and therefore has unique capacities. Furthermore, this new evidence does not apply for the same reason.

Regarding the Scriptures, simply because “we have more evidence” about the long ending in Mark or the woman caught in adultery does not mean that that evidence is the New Testament, is God’s word. Simply by being evidence does not mean that evidence is God’s word. What determines that it is God’s word? For most of you it is Daniel Wallace or the CBGM or David Parker who let you know what is and is not the New Testament. Such a conclusion is no different than the Roman Catholics except that their people wear red robes and your people wear suits and bowties. For us here at StandardSacredText.com, we argue that the Holy Spirit through the word of God to the people of God by faith speaks to God’s people through His words and in this way God’s people hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and know that those words are indeed God’s words.

So, you have more evidence. Good for you. Good for all of us. Is it the word of God? Is it really the original words of the New Testament? That recognition and conclusion rests in the purview of God’s people – the stay-at-home mom, the local plumber, dairy farmer, high-school basketball coach, community college professor, and pastor as a corporate body and the bride of Christ. New Testament scholars, do your work and then step aside and let the people of God by the Spirit of God through the word of God tell us all what is the Bible and what is not by its use and preaching.

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