For the Weekly Question this week I wanted to talk a bit out the TR; it’s existence versus the TR as an object of knowledge.
In my last post I posited that the Early-Modern-English-is-too-hard-to-read argument is an old, outdated argument because of the copious number of learning tools and learning opportunities at the saint’s disposal. Indeed, when Tyndale threatened the Roman Catholic Church with putting the Scriptures in the hand of the plow boy that was a profound threat/promise. But nowadays the “plow boy” has biblegateway.com, biblehub.com, and Alexa all on a device the size of the plow boy’s hand. Thus, I concluded that the aforesaid argument is anachronistic.
Recently it has been argued that the Confessional Bibliology folks [falsely portrayed in said argument as a species of KJV-Onlyism] need to know which TR is the TR. But I believe this question is also anachronistic but in a different way as that above. You see, it is a good thing that the Bible be so accessible by the plow boy through the internet and the YouVersion app, but the American church’s knowledge of Greek in general and New Testament Greek in specific is tragically lacking. The “Which TR?” question is to our shame anachronistic because a vast majority of the English-speaking church cannot read the Greek and as such cannot have the Spirit of God speak through the word of God in Greek to the people of God by faith.
The above meme is right, Greek and Latin were staples in a high-school classical education 100 years ago, but now we teach neither in high-school or college unless you major somehow demands it. What is more, we do teach remedial English in college because we don’t know our own language that well. In the early years of Princeton, a part of meeting your entrance criteria was to demonstrate a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. If you read Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards you find that though women were not at that time allowed into formal higher education the Edwards daughters where proficient in the original languages. As recent as my own experience at Westminster Theological Seminary [East], a student could not take an OT or NT course until he/she had either passed proficiency exams in the original languages or took remedial Hebrew and Greek. Still, this is graduate level work, several steps removed from high-school expectations.
Tersely put, the American church cannot read the TR or the N/A 28. They barely read their English Bibles more than once a month. In many many ways we are not more educated than our forebearers. So, when it is asked, “Which TR?”, how is the Christian in the pew supposed to answer that? For that matter if the Christian is asked, “Which edition of the Nestle/Aland?”, how is a Christian who does not know Greek supposed to answer that? The question is basically, How do you know which Nestle/Aland edition is the New Testament in Greek? The same goes for the Latin Vulgate and the LXX. Very very few of the American believing community can read these texts and are therefore unable to determine their respective veracity historically, textually, or by faith. The
Well, if you don’t know the Greek then it seems the best answer rest in warrant transfer. Somebody you trust tells you that version of the TR or N/A is the New Testament in Greek. That person you may trust is some Ph.D. teaching is some seminary or your pastor with one year of graduate Greek under his belt. Either way, dear churchgoer, you are at the mercy of their knowledge so long as you do not know the original languages and the answer the question “Which TR?” or “Which N/A?” is positioned as the sole gateway for your knowing the Bible you read in English is indeed the words of God and not men. So, while some claim that they are all about the Bible for the plow boy in the 21st century they then go on to demand you know the Greek and Hebrew, which of course is the opposite of Tyndale’s claim mentioned earlier.
We here at StandardSacredText.com argue that you can know the Bible you read in English is indeed the words of God and not men and we argue it here, here, here, here, here, and here. That said, because your English Bible is a translation it may stand in need of revision. But who is to determine whether the text should be revised? Certainly, those who know Greek and Hebrew could humbly offer their English revisions the bride of Christ, the apple of His eye. But it is ultimately the English-speaking church which much approve of these revisions. Until which time, there is no approval and persistence on the part of the scholar can amount to casting doubt and aspersions on the Scripture rather than assisting in the care of Christ’s bride.
Still, the English-speaking church ought not to be at the mercy of the academy which is why at a bare minimum I would advocate that every preacher of the word of God know the original languages, and that is a minimum. If the Scriptures are the word of God, then learning two languages in order to better understand what you read in the English and to free yourself from the academic oppressors is a small price to pay. But then there’s that job and Netflix so maybe my ask is too pricey of an ask.
Why then do certain TR advocates hold to the TR they do? I would say a large portion hold to the TR they do because they hold to the teaching and belief of the church that has gone before them. So, while the church of today cannot read the Greek she comes to trust in the work of the Holy Spirit which transpired at an earlier time in the church’s history causing that church to belief this or that. Others undoubtedly hold to the TR or TR tradition because it is the Greek which underlies the King James Version. Some hold to the TR because they actually can read Greek and the Holy Spirit of God speaks to them through those Greek words.
As for the N/A crowd I really don’t know why the hold to the version of the N/A they hold to other than, “Because the evidence compels me.” They don’t rely on the church. They don’t rely on the belief that Spirit guided past generations of the church into truth therefore they hold this or that version of the N/A. I assume the readers of other versions of the Bible are in the exact same boat when it comes to the Greek language [i.e., they can’t read it]. Anecdotally speaking in all my years in the academy I have never heard a critical text advocate claim the reason why they hold to this or that version of the critical Greek is because the Spirit of God speaks through the word of God in Greek and those words bear witness with his/her spirit by faith that these Greek words are indeed the word of God and not men.
I think my argument here cuts both ways – toward the TR crowd and toward the CT crowd. In the end, it is a critique of the sorry state of the American English-speaking church, but that is in large part why we are here at StandardSacredText.com. We want to see the English-speaking church unified around a standard sacred text of Scripture – “Belief in Scripture to Change the World.”