Why the Textual Confidence Collective is Going to Get Confessional Bibliology Wrong (Again)

I have not yet listened to the third installment of the Textual Confidence Collective [TCC]. I will later today and post about it tomorrow.

That said, I am going to make a prediction and I am going to make that prediction based on words Daniel Wallace said three days ago on the Reason and Theology podcast. Wallace is of particular import here because one of the TCC, Elijah Hixon, worked directly with Wallace. It stands to reason that they share a similar textual worldview. The video below appears to be the third part of an ongoing series with Daniel Wallace addressing certain text-critical questions.

In this third part Wallace begins by addressing the presence or absence of the Long Ending of Mark in both the Greek as well as in versions. Wallace admits that the Long Ending is printed by the vast majority of modern versions and critical Greek texts. He even admits to agreeing to print it in his own version, the NET Bible.

So if the Long Ending in Mark is so clearly not Scripture and men like Wallace consider themselves servants of God, why then do they print the Long Ending in the Scripture and then pass it off to the people in the pew?

Wallace has a theory. He says the reason why the Long Ending and the story of the woman caught in adultery are left in the text is because of a “tradition of timidity.” [00:30] To what does this “timidity” refer?

Starting around 1:30 Wallace begins to recount the history of those who attempted to do as they believed, those who attempted to act on the strength of their convictions that the Long Ending did not belong in the Bible. Wallace says a few such translators and translations relegated the Long Ending to a footnote; taking the Long Ending out of the body of the text.

How did the believing community respond? Well, according to Wallace’s own account the believing community saw such a relegation to be a sign and symptom of anti-supernaturalism. As a result, Wallace says, “They [the publishers] couldn’t sell the Bible [that omitted the Long Ending].” [2:00] As a result, Bible publishers have had to “go a different direction.”

What direction is that? Why, its the include-the-Long-Ending direction, because if they don’t go that direction they won’t sell any Bibles. As a result, even Wallace won’t stand on the strength of his own convictions for fear that his NET Bible won’t be accepted and so he includes in the Scripture what he says is clearly not Scripture. Interestingly though, he included the Long Ending in a smaller font-size for the expressed purpose of making it “harder to read from the pulpit.” [2:16].

So let’s be clear here. For the sake of acceptance or money, Wallace and his ilk include something in the Scripture they confidently believe is not Scripture. Put more tersely and inflammatorily, Wallace and those like him will put things in the Bible that they don’t believe belong in the Bible to either please men or to make money.

And not just a few verses here or there which would be bad enough. No, they will insert 12 verses in Mark and 12 verses in John simply because timid traditionalist won’t accept their Bible and therefore won’t pay for it. Remember, boys and girls, the love of money is the root of all evil. That love will even get you to put verses in the Bible you don’t believe belong there.

From here Wallace breaks into a one-sided treatment of the external and internal evidence for why he believes the Long Ending should be excluded only to in several places reference Church Fathers who admit the existence of manuscripts containing the Long Ending though said Church Fathers had few of those manuscripts. [e.g., 5:46]

This short video is a perfect example for why Wallace, the TCC, and the like are going to get us wrong every time on the issue of theology. We argue that the reason why the Long Ending and the story of the woman caught in adultery remain in the text is not because of a “tradition of timidity”. Rather, these texts remain in our Bibles because the Spirit of God is moving through the word of God in the people of God who receive these words by the gift of faith. And through this mechanism the Long Ending was preserved for God’s people

Think about it. The Long Ending existed and was disputed at the time of Eusebius [~300’s AD], and yet the reading remains. The Long Ending existed and was disputed at the time of Jerome and his writing of the Latin Vulgate. The Long Ending was included in the Latin. Erasmus put it in his Greek NT even though he knew it was disputed by some. In our current day only two or three manuscripts [Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and perhaps one other] exclude the Long Ending.

There are only a maximum of three manuscript of Mark 16 that do not include the Long Ending, and yet Wallace tells us that it is not Scripture while simultaneously included the Long Ending for the sake of man’s timid and traditional opinion and their wallets.

In sum, Wallace and the TCC can watch the Spirit of God working through the words of God in the people of God by faith, reject that work, call such working a “tradition of timidity”, and then claim themselves to be on the side of history, orthodox theology, and robust scholarship. The whole thing reminds me of a bit from Lutheran Satire Videos where Donall and Conall debate Richard Dawkins.

Barrowing that bit it would go something like this:

Confessional Bibliology proponent: So your strategy for disproving the preservation of Scripture through the Spirit/word/faith paradigm is to systematically rule out every piece of evidence for the preservation of Scripture through the Spirit/word/faith paradigm solely because that evidence could be used to prove the preservation of Scripture through the Spirit/word/faith paradigm. What a perfectly reasonable use of the scientific method. We’d love to see you employ this strategy in the laboratory.

Scientist 1: Hey, I just proved there is no such thing as Barium.
Scientist 2: And how’d ya do that.
Scientist 1: By throwing out all the sample of Barium.

In sum, what Wallace and his friends call a “tradition of timidity” we call the Spirit of God moving through the word of God in the people of God by faith. Where Wallace sees fear; we see robust theological discourse between Christ and His Church. Where Wallace hasn’t the courage to stand on his beliefs and apparently would trade his beliefs for money or prestige; we here at StandardSacredText.com stand on our theological convictions and precommitments while receiving neither money nor prestige. Rather, the reverse is often true.

I can see an objection at this point and it looks something like, “You point out that Wallace includes the Long Ending for the sake of ‘acceptance’. Isn’t that what you are arguing with the Spirit/word/faith paradigm?” No, not at all. Wallace regards the persistence of the Long Ending as a product of timidity/fear born out of a love for tradition, which is not a product of Spirit-led godliness. I, on the other hand, have argued that the persistence of the Long Ending is a Spirit-led, Bible-based, faith-driven, after-the-fact observable historical phenomenon and the means by which all words of Scripture are known and understood to be the words of God and not men.

My prediction is this. The TCC is not going to understand and therefore not properly construe the Spirit/word/faith paradigm of orthodox Reformed theology. In fact, they may wholly ignore the paradigm altogether. As a result, they are not going to address the depth and breadth of that theology, and are therefore going to wholly miss the mark…again. What is more, I predict that they will select a handful of verses we often use, tell us what they think these verses do not mean, and then confidently leave a theological crater there while portraying themselves as both scholarly and virtuous. The End.

5 thoughts on “Why the Textual Confidence Collective is Going to Get Confessional Bibliology Wrong (Again)

  1. This highlights an issue that should be of great concern to the people of God. Namely, translation, text critical, and publishing decisions are being made based on sellability of the product (that is, money). Why is the church not outraged?

    Liked by 1 person

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