Inerrant in the original autographs

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Andy T., Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Andy T.

    Andy T.
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    I do not want this to turn into a KJVO debate. Mods, please feel free to move this to the Bible versions forum if you deem appropriate. I am posting it here, since me question is more theological in nature.

    This Sunday I am beginning to teach a class on the Bible (how we got the Bible, overview, intepretation, etc). There is a question I am anticipating on inerrancy (or mostly for my own satisfaction). Most statements on inerrancy will say that only the original autographs are inerrant. Why is this qualification necessary? What are some examples in the copied manuscripts that are shown to be errant? Are they simply in some mistyped numerical values like in the O.T.? Or are there more significant errors in the copies? Is there any good reading material on this subject via the internet?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Hope of Glory

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  3. Deacon

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    Good question Andy!
    Why only in the originals?
    EVERY NT manuscript (with the exception of the smaller fragments) is different from one another.

    Try coping a page from any book, (by hand-no computer copying and pasting allowed :tongue3: ).

    Then carefully go over each letter.
    It would be amazing if you could do it without some degree of error.

    Now imagine that you a copying from a language that is not your own.
    Then add the fact that you are not copying typed-text but hand-written text....
    And that you don't have paper but either papyrus or leather (woody, grainy, uneven, un-lined, etc.)

    Lastly, remember that you don't have electric lights, only sunlight or lamp-light.

    Rob
     
    #3 Deacon, Jun 6, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2006
  4. Salamander

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    Hmm? No confidence in the scribes abilities to proofread their own and others texts?

    With thinking like that, it leaves plenty of open-room for the destroyer.

    Hope the study does more than just self-satisfy, and why are you teaching on it if you're not sure what you are trying to teach?

    Study to show thyself approved, then teach.
     
  5. Salamander

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    Now who did that? and how is it they didn't know the language they copied?

    Why? Isn't the sun bright enough? Aren't candles enough to disect a human body by and help map out it's insides?

    Poor logic at best.:praying:
     
  6. Dave

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    I would say part of the problem is also that one language doesn't translate perfectly into another. There are differences, some major, some minor, that would hinder perfect understanding of the original from reading a translated text.

    As an example, there are tenses in Greek that have no equivalent in English. At best, reading English might be akin to a black and white photograph, where the original language would be akin to living color as a pure representation.
     
  7. blackbird

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    It would be a travisty before the face of the Lord Jesus to declare that the original manuscripts NOT be inerrant

    This too----although the Bible we preach out of is not "original" manuscript----it must be preached still as inerrant, inspired, and infallable---as if the ink from God's Quill is still wet on the pages you are reading before you!!!

    Bro. David
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    This statement has always raised several questions in my mind:

    1. Has anyone in modern times ever actually seen an original?

    2. Even if we did see one, how would we even know it?

    3. Does the Bible teach that only the originals are inerrant?

    4. Were there not already copied of scripture even as Paul was writing his letters? Could it be that his statements about Scripture being God breathed might have also referred to the copies and not just the originals?

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. Baptist Believer

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    Very good questions!



    I don’t know. I imagine that it is possible. I’ve wondered the same thing.



    I doubt there’s any real objective way to know.



    Frankly, I don’t think the Bible teaches what we moderns call “inerrancy”. In my opinion, the modernistic obsession with certainty (flowing out of the scientism of the 19th century) has manufactured an issue within Christianity. The truth of the scripture is demonstrated by the ability for it to be used for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; to make us competent disciples and prepare us to minister in the name and power of Jesus.

    Certainly we need to teach that the Bible is a collection of writings given to us through those who are inspired by God and that the Bible is reliable in its ability to teach us the living reality of the Kingdom of God, but the simple fact is that we do not knowingly have any original copies.

    The KJVO crowd is right to point out the problems with claiming inerrancy in the originals when we don’t have any. The other side of that coin is the implicit claim that we don’t have inerrant scriptures that we can embrace with absolute certainly. Of course, I disagree with their modernistic solution to the problem – embrace the KJV as the only true version – but at least they are being consistent.



    I think the solution is to realize that the meaning and teaching of the words of scripture is what is completely reliable (no error) instead of obsessing about variant spellings, readings and word usage. Using conservative methods of textual criticism, we can assemble a solid manuscript of scripture that is completely reliable for faith and practice. Since we are to be led by the Spirit and not simply by a religious rule book, we can have confidence that whatever questions we might have about scripture will not prevent us from living in the fullness of the Kingdom of God as Christ’s disciple. The Spirit bears witness to the living word of God of the scripture and enlightens us to the voice and calling of God in the text.

    Therefore, the references to the scripture being God-breathed, in my opinion, must refer to copies as well as the originals.
     
  10. tinytim

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    We can't forget the historical truth that no two manuscripts are alike!

    It may not preach pretty, but it is the truth..
    Now how do we handle that truth?
    By ignoring it, or honestly dealing with it like truth loving Christians.

    The originals were inerrant.
    What we have are exactly what God wants us to have.
     
  11. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Tim,

    Where in the Bible does it say that the originals are inerrant? How do you know the originals are inerrant? Have you ever seen an original? I am not trying to be difficult here, BTW. These are honest questions that I have honestly thought about for many years.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  12. Charles Meadows

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    Joseph has a point here. If we posit inerrancy forthe originals then that means that many MSS, including the ones from which all of our bibles were translated are not inerrant.

    Languages are limited vehicles for conveying meanings. They can be translated into other languages but the line up is never 100%.

    I think that insisting on inerrancy for the "original autographs" isd a bit of a safety net which allows us to consider the bible as completely inerrant but yet still allow for manuscript differences. Personally I can accept that two manuscripts can be slightly different textually but still be God's inerrant word to us.
     
  13. Gold Dragon

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    Some great points here. I agree that the doctrine of inerrancy is a product of modernistic cultural influence on evangelical Christianity. The "original autographs are inerrant" position is a convenient unprovable position that respects the authority of the bible while being intellectually honest about the variants that have arisen from the transmission of the bible over the years.

    While I would never say that the bible is errant, I avoid using the word inerrant to describe the bible. I fully believe it is God's inspired Word that is authoritative and trustworthy. Adding the modernistic descriptor "inerrant", even to the autographs, is one that I find unnesessary and extraneous to scripture itself.
     
  14. AVL1984

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    Obviously, no.

    Probably not unless they were very well versed in dead languages.

    Does the Bible teach that anything beyond the originals were inerrant?

    Good question. I would tend to believe that they were "preserved" copies of the originals translated down throughout the years. Remember, there were a whole group of people (scribes) whose sole mission in life was to copy the copy and copy some more...correctly. Yet, as time went on and these things were translated into different languages, there could not have been a word for word translation that would have been "perfect" in the sense that it was "every word of God" only without words being added or deleted. There is a certain amount of "dynamic equivalency" involved. This, however, in no way nullifies the perfection of God's Word.

    Joseph Botwinick
    [/quote]
     
  15. IveyLeaguer

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    The 'inerrant original' position is provable logically, however. For example, a number of theologians have taken the evidence to its logical conclusion with the result that the possiblity of the Scriptures not being the Word of God something like 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000 ............. a number long enough to reach New Jersey from New York City, or something like that.

    From there, it's easy to conclude that if God is the author of the canonical books, then the Scriptures must, by definition, be inerrant since it is impossible for God to be in error.

    :Fish:
     
    #15 IveyLeaguer, Jun 7, 2006
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  16. Gold Dragon

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    That is exactly the sort of modernistic nonsense that I wish to avoid by not using the term inerrant. How do you calculate the probability of something not being the Word of God?

    By faith in the words of the bible and what God has done on this earth, I believe the scriptures is the inspired word of God that is authoritative and trustworthy. No need for silly modernistic logical proofs.
     
    #16 Gold Dragon, Jun 7, 2006
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  17. TCassidy

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    The word "inerrant" is a 20th century addition to Christian doctrine. Prior to the early 20th century the bible was referred to as "infallible." I believe that the autographs were without any form of error at all, and that the copies, and even competant translations are without error of fact.
     
  18. Baptist Believer

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    Let me throw something else in the mix...

    "Inerrant" = "no error"

    It is possible for a human being to write something that is inerrant. Here's one:

    "I like most kinds of pizza."

    There is no error in that statement. Unfortunately, the usefulness of that information is rather limited unless you are planning to call Pizza Hut for both of us.

    The 66 books and letters of scripture that we commonly know as the Bible gets its validity and power because of the usefulness and truthfulness of the information it contains, and not because of a claim that it is error-free. Furthermore, our security in the Bible's reliability needs to come from our experience learning from it and putting the teachings into action in our lives, not theories about manuscripts we don't possess.
     
    #18 Baptist Believer, Jun 7, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2006
  19. Marcia

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    Of course the originals are inerrant.
    If God gives us scripture, it will be without error. We have copies of the originals and they are close enough to show where there are scribal errors or other variances (such as in names of people or places).

    If God is perfect, how can he inspire imperfect writing? Does God make mistakes in grammar or fact? Yes, he used men but he is perfectly capable of getting them to write it down inerrantly. Either the original manuscripts are the word of God or they are not. The idea that the originals are without error reflects the revelation of a perfect God, not modern concepts of anything.

    There are books that explain this process, even websites.
    http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=697
     
  20. Charles Meadows

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    Marcia,

    I think we would all agree that the autographs were just what God wanted them to be.

    The position which I am criticizing is that which states that the autographs were perfectly inerrant but the manuscripts we have now may contain some scribal errors. That position is born out of a desire to still claim absolute word for word inerrancy while still acknowledging differing manuscript readings.

    That, taken to its conclusion, means that our bibles today are not inerrant - if only the originals were inerrant. What would be the point? The fact that we have a great deal of small differences between manuscripts suggests that those differences do not constitute error.

    God did see fit to use people to transmit the scriptures. And He did see fit to use human language. The state of inerrancy of a scripture relates to its meaning and what the Spirit will write on the heart of the believer who reads it - not on the presence of absence of a word here or there.

    I think Doc C's use of "infallible" is to be preferred over term "inerrant".
     

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