Archive for ‘New Testament Textual Criticism’

July 27, 2019

The Books and the Parchments

Cover Books and Parchments Book Description

“One thing that has impressed itself upon me time and again” writes Dr. Bruce in his preface to this, the third edition of his famous work, “has been the wealth of fresh discovery that has had to be recorded during these last few years.”

In these chapters on the transmission of Bible, the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester, England, presents for layman and student alike the results of the latest research and discovery in such fields as the languages of the Bible, the scripts in which they were written, the chief surviving manuscripts (including the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Canon of Scripture, the original text, the ancient versions, and the story of the English Bible, including some account of the New English Bible. Those who wish to have an up-to-date account of these varying aspects of Bible study within the compass of one volume will find their need met here. ~ from the dust jacket.

Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910-1990) was a Biblical scholar who taught at a variety of universities and was editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He wrote a number of influential books, such as Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?, New Testament History, The Defense of the Gospel in the New Testament, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1950 book, “This volume gathers together a number of articles written and papers read at various times on the transmission of the Bible. It is intended for non-specialists like those who have read them or heard them in their earlier forms, and who have frequently expressed a desire to have them in this form… I have tried to bear in mind the questions which are most frequently asked about these matters, and to answer them to the best of my ability. I hope that the volume may thus prove interesting and useful to the many who, without aiming at any specialist knowledge of Biblical learning, would welcome a handbook dealing with these questions.”

He points out, “Much of the vivid, concrete and forthright character of our English Old Testament is really a carrying over into English of something of the genius of the Hebrew tongue. Biblical Hebrew does not deal with abstractions but with the facts of experience. It is the right sort of language for the record of the self-revelation of a God who does not make Himself known by philosophical propositions but by controlling and intervening in the course of human history. Hebrew is not afraid to use daring anthropomorphisms when speaking of God. If God imparts to men the knowledge of Himself, he chooses to do so most effectively in terms of human life and human language.” (Pg. 45)

He observes, “a writer like Luke… commanded a good, idiomatic Greek style. Even in the English translation it is difficult to miss the transition in style which takes place between the fourth and fifth verses of his Gospel. From the fifth verse of his first chapter to the end of his second chapter we might be reading a continuation of the Old Testament, so reminiscent is the style of his nativity narratives of the characteristic phraseology of the Old Testament. Some scholars have supposed that for these nativity narratives Luke was dependent on a Hebrew document. This is possible—indeed, it seems to the writer more likely—but it is also possible that Luke was simply composing deliberately in ‘Septuagint’ style because he judged that most appropriate for the subject-matter of these two chapters.” (Pg. 71)

He notes, “It is sometimes claimed that the criterion which the early Christians applied in deciding whether a book was to be regarded as canonical or not was that of apostolic authorship. Now, it is certain that apostolic authorship counted for very much. It was for this reason that such a flood of apocryphal literature appears in the second century bearing the names of various apostles… And there is no example of a certainly apostolic writing being refused canonical recognition… But apostolic authorship, though an important factor, was not the only ground of canonicity. It is probably a mistake to think that we owe the presence of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our Bibles entirely to the happy accident that it was popularly ascribed to Paul. For, after all, two of the Gospels bear the names of men who were not apostles, and yet that did not stand in the way of accepting Mark and Luke as equally inspired with Matthew and John.” (Pg. 110)

Like all collections of diverse essays, this one is admittedly somewhat “uneven.” But Bruce’s scholarship is of the highest grade as always, and his explanations for a “popular” audience will be of help to many or most persons seriously studying the Bible. ~ Stephen H. Propp, Amazon Review, accessed 7/27/2019

About the Author

FF BruceFrederick Fyvie Bruce FBA (12 October 1910 – 11 September 1990), usually cited as F. F. Bruce, was a biblical scholar who supported the historical reliability of the New Testament. His first book, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (1943), was voted by the American evangelical periodical Christianity Today in 2006 as one of the top 50 books “which had shaped evangelicals”.[1]

Bruce was born in Elgin, Moray, Scotland, the son of a Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren) preacher and educated at the University of Aberdeen, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and the University of Vienna, where he studied with Paul Kretschmer, an Indo-European philologist.[2]

After teaching Greek for several years, first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Leeds, he became head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947. Aberdeen University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree on him in 1957.[3] In 1959 he moved to the University of Manchester where he became Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis.[4] He wrote over 40 books and served as editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He retired from teaching in 1978.

Bruce was a scholar on the life and ministry of Paul the Apostle and wrote several studies, the best known of which is Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit (published in the United States as Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free). He also wrote commentaries on many biblical books including Habakkuk, the Gospel of John, the Acts of the Apostles, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philippians, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Epistles of John.

Most of Bruce’s works were scholarly, but he also wrote many popular works on the Bible. He viewed the New Testament writings as historically reliable and the truth claims of Christianity as hinging on their being so. To Bruce this did not mean that the Bible was always precise, or that this lack of precision could not lead to some confusion. He believed, however, that the passages that were still open to debate were ones that had no substantial bearing on Christian theology and thinking. Bruce’s colleague at Manchester, James Barr, considered Bruce a “conservative liberal”.[5]

Bruce was in Christian fellowship at various places during his life, though his primary commitment was to the Open Brethren among whom he grew up.[6] He enjoyed the fellowship and acceptance of this group, though he was very much a maverick in relation to his own personal beliefs. He never accepted a specific brand of dispensationalism[7] usually associated with the Brethren, although he may have held a historic premillennialism[8] akin to George Eldon Ladd[9] and he was also an advocate of the public ministry of women[10] – something that many Plymouth Brethren would still disapprove of today.

Bruce was honoured with two scholarly works by his colleagues and former students, one to mark his 60th and the other to mark his 70th birthday. Apostolic History and the Gospel: Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce on his 60th Birthday (1970) included contributions from E. M. Blaiklock, E. Earle Ellis, I. Howard Marshall, Bruce M. Metzger, William Barclay, G. E. Ladd, A. R. Millard, Leon Morris, Bo Reicke, and Donald Guthrie. Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to Professor F. F. Bruce on his 70th Birthday (1980) included contributions from Peter T. O’Brien, David Wenham, Ronald E. Clements, and Moisés Silva. C. F. D. Moule and Robert H. Gundry contributed to both volumes.

Bruce was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 1965 served as President of the Society for Old Testament Study,[11] and also as President of the Society for New Testament Study. ~ Wikipedia

Book Details

Hardcover: 287 pages

Publisher: Fleming H Revell; 3rd ed rev edition (1963)

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January 19, 2018

The Virgin Birth of Christ

Cover Virgin Birth of ChristBook Description

In the spring of 1927, Dr. J. Gresham Machen delivered the Thomas Smyth Lectures at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, about the virgin birth of Christ. The content of these lectures comprise the substance of his book, The Virgin Birth of Christ, which was first published in 1930 by Harper & Row Publishers, and reprinted seven times with special permission between 1965 and 1980 by Baker Book House. Additional supplementary material was also drawn from a number of Machen’s articles published in the Princeton Theological Review—”The Virgin Birth in the Second Century,” “The Hymns of the First Chapter of Luke,” and “The Origin of the First Two Chapters of Luke,” which appeared in 1912, and “The Integrity of the Lucan Narrative of the Annunciation,” which appeared in 1927.

The first eleven chapters attempt to demonstrate that the virgin birth of Christ is a historical fact, and defends the character of the birth narratives in Matthew 1 and Luke 2 as authentic and reliable witnesses thereto. In chapters twelve through fourteen, he interacts with the competing claim that the idea of the virgin birth of Christ was derived from Jewish or pagan sources and only later added to the Christian creed.

In his second preface, Dr. Machen expresses encouragement by many affirming interactions with critical Protestant scholars who valued his work, despite their disagreement, as at least a useful “compendium of information.” “The author is encouraged by such recognition, since he believes that truth is furthered by full and open debate” (page vii). This work exemplifies a depth in Evangelical scholarship which is so often dismissed by skeptical and critical scholars, and Dr. Machen “makes bold to think that the scholarly tradition of the Protestant Church is not altogether dead even in our day, and he looks for a glorious revival of it when the narrowness of our metallic age (of modernist liberalism) gives place to a new Renaissance” (page x).

J Gresham Machen

Dr. J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

About the Author

John Gresham Machen, (born July 28, 1881, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—died January 1, 1937, Bismarck, North Dakota), was born to a prominent family in Baltimore. Machen studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He criticized liberal Protestantism as unbiblical and unhistorical in his Christianity and Liberalism (1923), What is Faith? (1925) and struggled to preserve the conservative character of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Machen defended the historical reliability of the Bible in such works as The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1921) and The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930). He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His continued opposition during the 1930’s to liberalism in his denomination’s foreign missions agencies led to the creation of a new organization, The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (1933). The trial, conviction and suspension from the ministry of Independent Board members, including Machen, in 1935 and 1936 provided the rationale for the formation in 1936 of the Presbyterian Church in America, which became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in 1939. Machen was the principal figure in the founding of the OPC if for no other reason than that the Presbyterian controversy in which he played a crucial role provided the backdrop for the founding of the denomination.

Sources: Britannica, and OPC.org

415 pages
Publisher: Baker Book House; distributed by Westminster Discount Book Service
Publication Date: 1930; Seventh Reprint, 1980
ISBN: 0801058856

April 3, 2016

Inspiration and Authority of the Bible

Inspiration and Authority CoverStatus: Checked Out 

Book Description

If the Bible is written by fallible human beings, how can its words convey divine revelation? Perhaps the greatest challenge of Warfield’s lifetime was the modernist skepticism of biblical inspiration and authority. Modern biblical scholars showed that textual and linguistic analysis proved the human authorship of the Bible, and from there proceeded to strip miracles of their power, texts of their authenticity, and God of his historical intervention in the lives of individuals. Warfield responded to modernist and higher biblical critics by showing that intellect of the biblical authors not only remained fully operational and engaged, but that God also worked through human words and texts to convey divine revelation.

B. B. Warfield’s volume on divine revelation and biblical inspiration defined the parameters of the twentieth century understanding of biblical infallibility, inerrancy, and the trustworthiness and authority of Scripture. He pioneered a view of biblical inspiration and authority which remains widely held today by many Reformed and evangelical Christians. Revelation and Inspiration contains ten of Warfield’s most influential articles on the subject, as well as two appendices—one on the divine origin of the Bible and the other on the canonicity of the New Testament.

Source: Monergism.com

BB Warfield

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921)

About the Author

Pastor, biblical scholar, and eminent theologian, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was born near Lexington, Kentucky in 1851. He studied at the College of New Jersey and afterwards enrolled as a student at Princeton Theological Seminary. He completed his seminary degree in 1876, and afterwards spent two additional years of study abroad under leading European theological tutors. After returning to America, Warfield served as pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland (1877-78). In 1878 he accepted a call to serve as a Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where he remained for the next nine years.

Following the sudden and premature death of A. A. Hodge in 1887, Warfield accepted the call to Princeton and began a distinguished teaching and publishing career that would conclude with his death in 1921. Warfield was a competent linguist and gifted exegete; his studies in textual transmission and the related field of biblical criticism provided a strong scriptural foundation for his work as Professor of Polemic and Didactic Theology at Princeton. Warfield’s individual mastery of theological encyclopedia represents the highpoint in the history of the gifted faculty who helped establish Princeton’s reputation for profound scholarship and eminent piety.

Warfield devoted his life to meticulous research, learned and pious publications, and caring for his invalid wife, Annie Pierce Kinkead, who he had married in 1876. She had suffered severe nervous trauma when they had been caught in a violent thunderstorm while walking in the Harz mountains in Germany not long after their marriage. Warfield’s domestic responsibilities limited his involvement in denominational activities and travels beyond Princeton. His time spent in study, however, paid rich dividends of lasting value for the Christian church through the steady stream of articles, reviews, lectures, collections of sermons, and monographs that flowed from his pen. Several of his books are published by the Trust: Counterfeit Miracles, Faith and Life, Biblical Doctrines, The Saviour of the World, and Studies in Theology.

Warfield sought to perform his work at Princeton as a continuation of the spirit and theological contours of Charles Hodge’s legacy. As editor of The Princeton Review for over twenty years, he helped re-establish the journal as a major presence in the world of theological academia. As a theologian, Warfield’s efforts were often drawn to an apologetic defence of the reliability of the Scriptures and the intellectual truth claims of biblical doctrine. Scientific naturalism, theological liberalism, and the effects of autonomous human reason were all brought under the searchlight of Scripture and exposed for the different species of unbelief that they each were. Warfield’s evidentialist approach to biblical apologetics places emphasis on the facts of divine revelation and the ability of the human mind to interpret the data in a way that should lead to responsive faith, but never at the expense of omitting the need for the work of the Holy Spirit in illumination and regeneration for the data to be properly interpreted and Christ embraced with genuine saving faith.

[Based upon James Garretson’s short memoir of Warfield in Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry, Volume 2.]

Source: Banner of Truth Trust

Book Details

446 Pages
Publisher: P&R Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1948
ISBN 10: 087552527X
ISBN 13: 9780875525273

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

June 29, 2015

The Transmission of the Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)

P1000083

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace (Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts) rubs elbows with Pastor Joseph L. Troutman.

On Sunday, June 14, 2015, Pastor Joe Troutman preached on the transmission of the apostolic tradition from 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15.

The Lord used spoken and written means to transmit his word that man might know him and know how to be saved.

1. Many Things Jesus Did—There was a tremendous amount of information about the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote his gospel after the fall of Jerusalem. Paul wrote his letters without the four gospels or the rest of the New Testament to consult. John included material in his gospel which adds to that which is found in the earlier synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and the rest of the New Testament (See John 20:30-31). Paul had to learn about Jesus from the other apostles and directly from the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23).

2. Hold To the Traditions—In addition to his letters, Paul also engaged in oral tradition. Paul writes to calm the Thessalonians’s fears regarding the return of Christ. Paul refers to the gospel as the traditions which have been believed by us. The traditions of the Roman Catholic Church differ from those to which Paul refers, and so are “traditions of men” (Colossians 2:8).

3. By Spoken Word or Letter—In the first century AD, the gospel was transmitted to the church by both spoken word and by letter. Many things about Jesus were written, and many others were only transmitted orally. These oral traditions were certainly passed on to the second and third centuries. One such story is called “The Pericope of the Adulteress” (or, pericope adulterae; hereafter “PA”) which is found in John 7:53-8:11. Notable Christian scholars such as F.F. Bruce, Bruce Metzger and Daniel Wallace believe the events in this passage actually happened. The Codex Bezae, which dates to the 5th century contains the pericope of the adulteress. Kyle Hughes reports that this pericope may be traced as far back as AD 50. Unbelieving scholars, such as Bart Ehrman, use the PA to argue against the reliability of the New Testament, and his recent books have persuaded many to disbelieve the Bible. What you don’t know about the transmission of the text of the New Testament is being exploited by unbelieving scholars like Ehrman to destroy the faith of the common believer.

Oral tradition is generally considered unreliable, yet true events in 2 Thessalonians were transmitted orally. Skeptical scholars doubt its reliability, and they err on the side of late dates for New Testament writings, and discard them as inauthentic. Appeals to the telephone game are often made to undermine the value of oral transmission, but this is a case of modern understanding being imposed on ancient people. Ken Bailey, in “Informal Controlled Oral Tradition in the Gospels” demonstrates that ancient traditions are transmitted with a high degree of accuracy, and so Western views of ancient Eastern traditions are inaccurate.

If the PA is not original to the gospel of John, then how did it get there? It was told and retold by the apostles between AD 50 through the 70s. The pericope features many similarities to the vocabulary of Luke in his gospel and his book of the Acts of the Apostles. It may be that Luke influenced the wording of this unique passage. Its textual pedigree includes a citation by Papias in his Didaskalia, the Codex Bezae and 900 New Testament manuscripts. These have been the means by which this oral tradition was transmitted to us from the apostolic era. No doubt, God orchestrated the transmission of this passage and its inclusion in the New Testament canon.

Simply put, the pericope of the adulteress in John 7:53-8:11 is just another story of Jesus showing compassion toward a repentant sinner, and his convicting hypocrites for their rejection of him. Be thankful for the means of God’s transmission of the gospel.

Listen to The Transmission of the Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15) at mcopc.org.

For further reading

Where is the Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery really from? (by Daniel B. Wallace)
Informal Controlled Oral Tradition in the Gospels (by Kenneth Bailey)