Mark Ward and Why Not The N/A 28

In a recent podcast Mark Ward asked the question, ”Why can’t we say the N/A 28 is further sanctified?” For context, on the same podcast but in a different episode I stated that the TR had gone through refinement across its several iterations. I argued further that the impelling force behind the transitions from one iteration of the TR to another was because the Spirit of God was doing a sanctifying work in His people and thus His people were able to recognize subsequent iterations to be more clearly and more perfectly the word of God in Greek particularly but also for the whole canon in general. To this declaration, Ward asked the question mentioned above. The “we” he has in mind includes himself as well as other text-critics like Dr. Hixon and Dr. Gurry. So why can’t the “we” thusly construed say the N/A 28 is further sanctified or is the next iteration of the Greek New Testament beyond the Trinitarian Bible Society’s TR?

In short, they haven’t the biblical mandate, biblical authority, or historical grounding to make that claim. They haven’t the biblical mandate in that no where in Scripture is a deontic reason given to the scholar, because of his scholarship, to make the claim, “The N/A 28 is the next iteration of the Greek NT.” In other words, the Bible does not command scholars to make such definitive claims. They haven’t the biblical authority to make said claim because no where in Scripture is such authority granted the scholar or academy. Whereas the Scriptures clearly teach that the believing community ought [deontic mandate] to claim God’s word is God’s word [Mark 16:15] and they have been given the authority to declare God’s word to be God’s word [Galatians 1:8].

Finally, Ward et al haven’t the historical grounding to make the claim, ”The N/A 28 is the next iteration of the Greek NT.” Modern evangelical textual criticism is predicated upon the rejection of the Church’s Bible, the TR, followed by an attempt to start from scratch. In a word, modern evangelical textual criticism rejects TR priority in their text-critical work even though it served as the standard Greek for over 400 years. Now it is said that such a maneuver of rejection is necessary in order to ensure faithful and neutral assessment of the manuscript evidence. But in rejecting the TR as the starting place for text-critical work, what they have ostensibly said is, ”The historical working of the Holy Spirit through His people by faith to accept the TR counts as less then dust in the balance of decision.” Put more tersely, ”God the Spirit’s opinion doesn’t matter.” Such a transcendentless Archimedean Point precludes the possibility that Ward et al can rationally and with warrant, given fundamental Christian precommitments, make the claim that the N/A 28 is the next iteration of the Greek NT.

But perhaps an objection may arise in the neighborhood of, “Well that’s what you do, Pete. You foist your scholarly opinion on those who don’t know better.” First, this would be a gross mischaracterization of the our position. We have from the start maintained that it is the people of God through the leading of the Spirit of God by the reading of the word of God which brings about the iterative process of apographa and versions. We have been arguing in favor of the very things that Ward and company make zero claim to. In fact, Ward makes clear in at least two places in his episode, which I will address in a later post, that the people to have this discussion are those who are formally educated and/or know Greek. Which is to say that Christian plumbers and stay-at-home moms need not apply. Here at StandardSacredText.com, we argue the opposite. Sure, the scholars are going to do their work but the real work, the heaviest lift is done by the Spirit-led average Joe in the pew faithfully reading and obeying the word of God by faith. In sum, we are defending the mandate and authority of the believing community to decide what is or is not God’s word.

Second, we don’t begrudge a person their personal Christian belief. If Ward believes the N/A 28 is the word of God in Greek to the exclusion of all others, then, ok, let’s work from there. Still, I’d like to hear him say it. I mean he had the opportunity in this last episode. That said, one’s personal Christian belief is not automatically correct or biblically sound. For that personal Christian belief to be rational and warranted it must be first derived from the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit speaking in His word to that person receiving that testimony by faith. So what is Ward’s theological grounding for claiming that the N/A 28 is the word of God in Greek to the exclusion of all others? To my knowledge no such grounding exists in the CT camp and the appeals to Brash and Younkin [which I will deal with in a future post] are, in my estimation, like calling on Hillary Clinton while you hunker down in a Benghazi embassy. Help is not on the way. Or to borrow words from Gandalf, “Don’t look to Brash and Jongkind’s coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east and you will find more hurt than help.”

In sum, Ward et al cannot make the claim that the N/A 28 is the next iteration of the Greek NT because Academia hasn’t the mandate, authority, or historical grounding to do so. And so long as Academia insists that the textual/version discussion can only fruitfully happen or happen at all among the formally trained and/or those who know Greek, we at StarndardSacredText.com will argue that the academy and the Bride of Christ are at odds. And this is not a false dichotomy because a true and abiblical usurpation has taken place and it has taken place on the part of Academia over against the Church.

7 thoughts on “Mark Ward and Why Not The N/A 28

  1. The so-called scholars in the Academy have assigned the role of identifying and safeguarding the text of Scripture to themselves. The Church should never have allowed this condition to develop in the first place, but now that it has it must be resisted with all out might. These text critics have put themselves in the same place as was formerly occupied by “the pope and all his laws”, attempting to exert authority they do not have. Like Tyndale, I’ll side with the believing and Spirit-filled ploughboy, he has more discernment than they do.

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  2. Interesting article! So where do you draw the line with Academia? Clearly there should be learning, the Bible tells us that Teachers are required, and in todays day and age (for the most part) people spend lots of time in the academy learning the Bible in order to be effective teachers and preachers. Now I will grant that not all preachers need to have a phD (I do not have one, and preach weekly), but we do need people who know what they’re doing. We wouldn’t want just any Joe being a pastor, we would want someone who’s called to the position and able to do it. If this is the case for preaching, why would it not be the case for determining the text of scripture?

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    1. Thanks for the comments and for the question, Dwayne. “Drawing the line” in academia is an issue of priority. Indeed, we ought to have trained clergy. Paul commands that the under-shepherd must not be a novice. Part of keeping that injunction is to be trained formally or informally, but training should take place. That said, it is not the pastor’s training that makes him a the pastor he ought to be. The pastor’s training only exists to support his primary call, to say what God has already said i.e., to say only what the Bible teaches. If the pastor were to include his own ideas or personal scholarly machinations in addition to the message taught by the Holy Spirit through the word then he has not performed his calling. In fact, he has elevated his words to those of God’s. For example Rob Bell famously taught that Jesus’ disciples were formerly in Torah school so when Jesus said, “Follow me,” they saw this as a second shot at Torah school. None of this is in the Bible either explicitly or by good and necessary consequences via the analogy of faith or Scripture interpreting Scripture. Bell used his “scholarship” to supplement God’s revelation as if he substantively added to God’s revelation. As such, Bell’s words are not in submission to the word of God and he has erred theologically, hermeneutically, and morally.

      The same goes for modern evangelical textual critics. Certainly, they should receive training. Additionally some version of textual criticism should take place, specifically pre-critical transcendent textual criticism or the kind that strongly and obviously bases their conclusions on the work and teaching of the Holy Spirit through the believing community starting with the TR. That said, modern evangelical textual criticism has overstepped its bounds as to authority, mandate, and history for longer than Rob Bell has existed, as I have noted in the post to which this comment is appended.

      In sum, study, get training, test your ideas, but know that your study, training, and ideas make you more and more a slave of the Bride of Christ and less and less a wizard in some high tower. As such the scholar’s knowledge is not his own. It is the property of the Bride of Christ. Furthermore, Christ’s word revelation does not sanction the idea that there are errors in your Bible or that 1% is not the Bible or that the manuscript evidence can locate the words of God or that scholarship is the answer to any of these assertions. To say otherwise is to mingle one’s own scholarly ideas with God’s revelation or syncretism of a revelatory sort.

      I hope this helps answer your question. Undoubtedly other questions have arisen. Let me know if there is anything else you need. Blessings.

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  3. Actually, the TR has only been the community’s Greek text for a bit over 200 years when the Anglican Church decided to replace it. So it does not have much of a historical grounding itself. But if you want a real and true “deontic mandate”, there is the real historic text of the church found in the Byzantine Textform. It also easily claims the historic moniker having been around 1,200 years longer than the TR. Relatively speaking there is not a lot of difference between the TR and the Byzantine but what differences there are demonstrate the ahistoricity of the TR. It is the Byzantine Textform that has been sanctified by the believing church through out history, not the TR.

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    1. Thanks again for your observations, Ross. It is unclear to me why you think the decision of the Anglican Church is the line of demarcation for when the TR was or was not the standard Greek underlying the versions of the English-speaking church. Second, it is unclear to me why I should assume that supposition seeing that the TR remained the grounding Greek in the USA for much longer than 200 years. The Byzantine Text Form is not a text. Certainly it is feasible to believe that apographical Byzantine texts were standard sacred text at the times in which they were written, but iterations and collations have passed since then. So the assertion that the Byzantine Text Form is a text is both materially and historically false. Materially in that the Byzantine Text Form is a hypothetical synthesis of Byzantine readings as such it is not materially a text. It is a text form. If you believe a “text form” is a “text” then we are equivocating on the word “text” and standard sacred “text”. Historically, the Byzantine Text Form, not being a text, has not been a text in the history of the church. Still, I am willing to accept that the canonical Greek apographa of the 13th century was the standard sacred text of the Greek speaking community of the 13th century. All said though, I do agree that the Byzantine Text Form has been the dominant text form certainly Pre-Enlightenment and has come under the gun Post-Enlightenment. Thanks again for your comments. I hope these things can serve to clarify our position for you. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

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