Are they really sawing the lady in half?

If the 4th century neutral text of Westcott and Hort or the 4th century initial text of Wasserman and Gurry have an unquantifiable link to the autographs, the 16th century Received Text may also be reasonably considered to possesses an unquantifiable link to the autographa through the apographa. Unquantifiable cannot be quantified by historical duration, which is of course relative to your place in history. It is a different duration epochally but of the same kind unquantifiably. If the Lord further delays his coming, in a millennium secular scholars will be calling the Received Text another iteration of the “initial” text. The vast difference is that the foundations of the critical text was rejected by the Church while the Received Text has been the ecclesiastical text since the early 16th century.

Indeed, Wasserman and Gurry’s CBGM and the “initial” text have given the critical text community something to ponder. If these men are correct in their assessment of data and the conclusion that only the initial not the original text of Scripture is scientifically discoverable, then, Westcott, Hort, Tregelles, Warfield, Wikgren, Martini, Black, Aland, Nestles, Metzger, et al., along with all their pliant evangelical and fundamentalist disciples, were fundamentally mistaken and the publishing and academic empire built upon this failed premise is constructed on thin air. With a schism in the critical tradition, which tradition of critical scholarship is now owed allegiance, the old school mainline textual critical search for the originals or the conspicuously truer to the historical critical method presentation of Wasserman and Gurry and the “initial” text?

The controversy then is between the ecclesiastical reception of an unquantifiable text and the two ideas of the critical unquantifiable text. It seems that the expressed purpose of reconstructing the originals was necessary to counter the Orthodox historical, exegetical, and theological argument of providential preservation through the apographa. It is logical to conclude that the façade was maintained because no one would accept the critical text if the critic acknowledged it could not reconstruct the autographs. Furthermore, to solidify the ruse, the textual critical discipline was performed by elite scholars writing in highly specialized and technical terminology. The entire method, however, was nothing more than a highly elaborate magic trick. They did not saw the lady in half, and after 150 years they did not reconstruct the autographa all the while like all magicians giving the impression that the impossible was actually being done. This magic trick has been so convincing that the Evangelical seminaries of America have taught this method as orthodoxy. “Yes,” seminary X tells the student, “they really are sawing the lady in half,” giving the impression that to reject this alternate reality is to be unscholarly.

How then should the evangelical and fundamental institutions of higher learning proceed? Like any change in trajectory, practical adjustments must be made. For example, stock the bookstore with Turretin, Whitaker, Owen, and Muller, and prepare lectures based on their writings. Already having a handle on the critical process, a robust series of apologetic lectures could be produced to show the rise and fall of the historical critical method and the strength of the Christian principium. To round out the return to a philosophical, exegetical, and theological grounding of the Doctrine of Scripture also make the Trinitarian Bible Societies Received Text available in the bookstore and require that the TR be used in language and NT theological courses.

The Church and Christian Academy are on the threshold of great strides for the sake of the Gospel if it will only admit that the critical path has run its course, no longer serves the church and academy as it might have once been thought to do and return to the Protestant orthodox theological bedrock of pre-critical exegesis and theology.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

5 thoughts on “Are they really sawing the lady in half?

    1. Ross, what have we written that would lead you to conclude that the Byzantine “form” is our obvious choice? And why would we revert to a bankrupt and arbitrary old-school textual critical method for our apologetic. I’m sure you are aware that the idea of text types was created to limit the witness of over 90% of the extant manuscripts under the UBS nomenclature Byz or Byzpt for the majority of the Byzantine manuscripts or part of the Byzantine manuscript tradition. Because of the continuity of the Byzantine text type, the entire text type is given only one vote against one vote of 1 single Alexandrian, Cesarean, or Western manuscripts so-called. Give or take 5,000 manuscripts get one vote against 1 manuscript of the minority reading. Welcome to the prejudiced and feckless old-school textual critical methodology in its interpretation of the evidence and that is determined according to the critic’s self-imposed rules of which reading is the shortest, hardest to read, oldest, or best explains the origin of another. Remember, it’s not the number, but the weight or the significance of the manuscript as prescribed by the critic that determines the manuscript’s worth. Now I ask, rhetorically, have we posted anything vaguely familiar to this nonsense favorably? I trust none of this is news to you. Thanks for your comments. I’m sure others may have similar questions.


      1. The Byzantine Textform is the only text type recognized anymore despite many critics using the obsolete terms and needing to qualify their language. To NOT choose the Byzantine on the basis you gave is what the modern text critics do. So I am confused by your stance. To choose the Byzantine is in fact to deny the corrupt method you identified. So again, your response is confusing. To be clear, I am saying vote for the 5000 mss against the novel critical text and against the TR which is rather novel and not historical compared to the Byzantine! The TBS TR has only existed since Scrivener did his best to back translate it from the KJV based on printed texts not existing before the invention of the printing press. On the other hand, the obvious choice is the historical text of the church which is the Byzantine Textform. It will actually match real mss closer than any printed Greek Text including the TR in its many iterations.


      2. Thanks Ross. Are you suggesting the published scholarly yet marginalized Hodges and Farstad so-called 1985 (2 ed) Majority Text should be preferred to the TBS TR? As you know, the Hodges/Farstad work fails in that the editors held to a quantifiable genealogical method that Wasserman and Gurry have demonstrated is impossible. H/F should have said they could only begin with the “initial” text with their genealogical method, and that according to their method they could not recover the autographs, but of course they didn’t, giving their work the appearance of authenticity. The H/F Greek text’s genealogical methodology (see the Preface, p. vi) is as much “cutting the lady in half” as CT methodology only for a broader range of MSS. The so-called MT had its chance to replace the TR and AV but so far hasn’t received any academic or ecclesiastical traction. You seem to be camped on the false notion that the transmission of the text of Scripture is quantifiable, whether critical, MT, or TR, and, that you somehow think StandardSacredText should be adopting the same failed quantifiable methodology you persist in calling “obvious.” As you know, nothing is obvious, thus the necessity of teachers. Self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting applies to words, and then to sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, and finally the canon of Scripture. It is the substantia doctrina not substantia verba, the doctrinal substance, not the shape of the letters whether Greek, Latin or the vernacular that is autopistos. Therefore, a minority Greek reading can be self-authenticating in the vernacular, i.e., Latin, which is the case with the TR. Hills lists Matt. 10:8, Matt. 27:35, John 3:25, Acts 8:37, Acts 9:5, Acts 9:6, Acts 20:28, Romans 16:25-27, Rev. 22:19 amounting to 131 words and the placement of Romans 16:25-27. No external criterion exists to systematize the transmission of the autographa, the self-attesting, self-authenticating, self-interpreting, inspired words of Holy Scripture. If you’re not referring to the H/F text, what publication are you referring to when you say “Byzantine textform” to replace the UBS text in America’s seminaries? My prior three posts on “The unquantifiability of the historic canonical collating process” should help clear things up as to our position. Just looking for some clarification on what printed edition of the Byzantine “textform” you’re referencing. Thanks. Peter


      3. Sure Peter. I am referring to the Robinson and Pierpont Byzantine Textform. Robinson and Pierpont’s work has gotten some traction. There are a number of translations of it and most are free to use or public domain even just like the Robinson and Pierpont text itself. Robinson also critiques H & F for their relapse into Genealogical method in the story of the adulteress and Revelation if I recall correctly. Practically speaking, the H & F text did not do too bad when compared to the Byzantine Textform. There is also the F35 family collation by Pickering. He has put out quite a lot of written material that you would appreciate. Family 35 is quite tight in its transmission and Pickering has done more collating of manuscripts today than anyone. The collation outright justifies the Byzantine Textform and H & F for that matter against any cavils for using Von Sodden. All three are very close and represent the actual historical Bible used by the church. I don’t believe any minority reading is self-authenticating but I certainly do not mind seeing them noted.


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