The above image is a perfect example of why the Multiple Version Only approach is a failure and why we here at Standard Sacred Text cannot advocate for that position. The difference between the two measuring tapes is 3/16ths, a very minor difference. Certainly no major measurement is at stake for something so small, right?
Both measuring tapes are sufficiently reliable standards to determine the distance between inch 1 and inch 2, as well as inch 1 to inch 3 and then to 4 and on and on. But the top tape fails miserably on two fronts: 1.) the measurement from 0 to inch 1 is simply wrong when compared to the rest of the standard 2.) When using the top tape any and all measurements taken from 0 will be wrong. In fact they will be too short, but of course, shortest is best…
The point really is, simply put, the top tape can make a host of accurate measurements that are sufficiently reliable as long as they start at inch 1. The distance between 1 and 2 is 1 inch and the distance between 1 and 3 is 2 inches and on and on. But if you are going to start your measurement at 0 and measure a 9 foot 2 inch section of handcraft cherry crown molding the measurement will come up short every time.
To then turn around and claim that both tapes are sufficiently reliable seems foolish. The bottom tape does everything the top tape does except the bottom tape is more accurate in the first inch. To say these two tapes are the same in accuracy, authority, and reliability is equally foolish and false to boot.
What is more, how are you to tell which is the original tape, the top or the bottom? Well it would stand to reason that you would compare the standard with the standard itself. In theological terms we call this self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting.
The tragedy and hilarity of it all though is that modern evangelical textual scholars do not use exegesis and theology as their standard for how they treat the Bible rather they choose a relative standard via the scientific method and declare the CBGM or shortest, hardest, and oldest is best, none of which are substantiated as authoritative criteria for determining which words are God’s words.
As such, modern evangelical textual scholars are merely taking another tape, a third tape, which has a relatively accurate measurement from 0-1 inch and comparing that to the top tape in the image and saying, “Yep, close enough.” Therefore, declaring that the top tape is just as much a standard as the bottom tape by means of a third relatively accurate tape.
In short, modern textual scholarship is using a relative standard [i.e., CBGM and the scholars relative artistic sense of the reading in question] to judge whether the top tape’s first inch is close enough to an inch and if it is, then they declare that inch to be sufficiently reliable and the top tape as a whole to be a sufficiently reliable standard of measurement just like the bottom tape.
On the textual issue though the measuring tape has more than a few doubtful places. The 4th revised edition of the UBS critical text has over 1400 rated readings which is to say that there are ~1400 measurements on the tape that scholars doubt are accurate. Sometimes its one of the five scholars that doubt its authenticity and sometimes is four of the five scholars.
In the end we have Greek texts and subsequent English versions that are unreliable “measuring tapes” and many think if they have more and different measuring tapes that somehow that will make their measurement more accurate.
Try that as a carpenter on the job and see how many work orders come in. Or think of those who work with semiconductors where measurements fall to angstroms [i.e., 0.000000004 of an inch]. The most irksome thing of it all is that we demand far greater precision in making microchips and in cutting trim than we do in recognizing and translating the words of God.
My brother worked in microchips for over 15 years. A tech could burn up/destroy a million dollars worth of microchips in a matter of seconds and would be fired for that one mistake, but textual scholars can toy with the Bible or experiment on it like some kind of science project and the evangelicals will applaud their work. Indeed, sometimes the children of darkness are wiser than the children of light.
Apart from the Holy Spirit, man can measure length in angstroms but apart from the Holy Spirit he cannot measure what are or are not the words of God. Yet modern evangelical textual scholars with their regular inaccuracies and quaint transcendentless tools compass sea and land to make one MVO advocate, and when he is made, they make him twofold more the child of confusion and ineptitude than themselves.
2 thoughts on “This Is Why We Don’t Trust Modern Version Onlyism”
The presupposition that Scripture should be self-attesting, self-authenticating is infinitely important, yet totally lost on the vast majority of modern text critics, even the believing ones. If you need an external standard to assess Scripture, then Scripture cannot be a final/ultimate authority. Past generations of believers understood this, it’s only been lost in our postmodern world.
Well said. “If you need an external standard to assess Scripture, then Scripture cannot be a final/ultimate authority.” So true.