Textual Criticism: Why modern Bibles stink

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Nazaroo, Sep 19, 2011.

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  1. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    The Juggling of Certainty vs. Science



    [Graphic deleted]


    One obvious problem which has been a repeated barrier to both correction and progress in the field of Textual Criticism of the NT has been a basic ideological and fundamental conflict, not just between parties, but influencing individuals attempting to practice TC.

    The conflict is this:

    Fundamentally, the Scientific Method is tentative and agnostic. In order to remain truly scientific, it must deal in probabilities, and ever hold the door open to new discoveries which can not only modify current ideas, but completely overthrow them. Diagrammed as above, one can see that it forms an Endless Loop, without ever establishing any permanent, universal truth.

    Those engaged in Textual Criticism on the other hand, while desperately desiring to garner the support and also credibility of scientific method, nonetheless cling to ideas which at base are in fundamental opposition to science. First, is the idea of a fundamental Objective Reality, a non-changing universal truth applicable to every situation, and second is the idea that science 'progresses' inevitably toward greater and greater accuracy and surety in regard to believed facts.

    Neither of these ideas is really a part of Scientific Method, or a necessary ingredient of Scientific philosophy, even though both ideas have been around as long as science, and have been more often than not inextricably bound up with scientific investigation.

    The growth of science in the 19th century, also saw advancing alongside it the field of mathematics. In this field, especially the concepts of Convergence, developing from Calculus, led men to believe that almost any problem could be solved by honing and improving the appropriate method of approximation, which would naturally and result in more and more accurate statements about the world.

    The New Testament Text was regarded no differently: It was believed to be only a matter of time before textual-critical methods would tighten up and produce a more and more accurate 'original text', finally as sharp and accurate as a photograph, or a scientific measurement of light-speed to 8 decimal places.



    Eureka! - Hort's Innovation

    Surprisingly, F.J.A. Hort was instrumental in forwarding this ideology. Contrary to current historians and various opponents, Hort's real innovation in Textual Criticism was not "the genealogical method", or the advancement in the evaluation of various sources. It was the innovation of what is now called in modern mathematics and computing as "iteration".

    Iteration is the application of a set of instructions, a 'program' or algorithm,
    repeatedly, usually to refine or home in on a result. Imagine for instance, a lathe that shapes table-legs. It shapes the wood by repeated cutting away of waste, leaving the desired pattern behind.

    An Algorithm is usually fixed, but sometimes having optional paths or choices built in. The flexibility comes through a testing, measurement or decision process (as in the flowchart above, where the 'diamond' shapes mark points in the flow where choices will be made).

    Some objects in mathematics are better and more efficiently expressed as algorithms - a group of ordered steps or instructions, meant to be applied like a recipe or prescription, and often actually acting as a description of a process or phenomenon. Other objects can ONLY be described by algorithms. Unfortunately, some objects cannot be expressed by algorithms at all.

    When mathematicians began to notice algorithms, they discovered other sometimes disturbing properties of said 'objects', such as the fact that some mathematical objects and ideas have no algorithm at all. (the calculation of PI or the search for Prime Numbers are examples of things that must be calculated by 'brute force' and crude testing rather than elegant formulas).

    When mathematicians noticed that some problems and ideas cannot be expressed by algorithms, it became clear that some problems were by their very nature "unsolvable".

    On a simpler level, it was clear that some 'formulas' simply did not and could not 'converge'; that is could not settle down and spit out one single numerical answer. Likewise, algorithms simply did not always produce a useful or reliable result, nor could they even come to an end. They were like run-away processes, and if left to themselves would get stuck in endless loops, or randomly wander the universe of numbers.

    Hort's assumption was that by using the novel idea of "iteration", meaning the repeated application of textual-critical principles and techniques, to further and further refine the content and certainty of the text, one could arrive as close as possible to the original text as the extant data and the scientific process allowed.

    Unfortunately, Hort was wrong on this entire idea:

    (1) There was nothing in the realm of science that indicated that discovering the 'original text' was even possible let alone probable.

    (2) There was nothing that suggested that text-critical methods could or should converge toward any fixed text, let alone the true original text.

    (3) Iteration itself had no magical power to force the textual variants to converge into a 'near certain' text, in spite of its allure and mathematical usefulness in certain situations. If the applied method was flawed, or ill-defined, the opposite result was inevitable.

    (4) The success of iterative methods in other areas of science had no bearing on iteration as an intelligent or useful technique in textual criticism. In order for iteratiion to work, the techniques to be iterated must first be sound.

    Later, when men of religion attempted to apply mathematical and scientific concepts and techniques to the problem, they were inevitably biased and their work tainted by their own conviction that these methods would converge to an absolutely certain 'original text', and that this was the way God intended us to acquire this certainly established, authoritative, original text.

    Nobody thought to inquire and investigate thoroughly what methods that God Himself chose to preserve and deliver the text, and what this meant for the credibility of textual criticism of the NT as a historical science.

    As it turned out, God did not use the historical-critical techniques of NT Textual Criticism to preserve and supply the NT text. God chose simpler, and quite apparently, more reliable methods than those proposed and used by modern Textual Critics to 'reconstruct' the NT text.

    These facts strongly suggest that those who wish to establish, secure, or restore the NT text ought to imitate the methods used historically by God Himself for the last 2000 years.

    Nazaroo
     
    #1 Nazaroo, Sep 19, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2011
  2. Deacon

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    Neat graphics - poor reasoning

    Rob
     
  3. Dr. Walter

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    Well Deacon, I for one would be interested in how you demonstrate what he said was "poor reasoning"???

    I do not believe the value of inspiration was to simply produce a perfect original. I believe it was to produce a perfect original as a self-defining contextual pattern that could not be broken by copyist and translator errors.

    Obviously God permitted copyist errors and translation errors but overruled by divine providence errors that would destroy the self-defining contextual pattern.

    Furthermore, this self-defining contextual pattern was assured by providential supply of sufficient copies that could be compared with one another in addition to the contextual pattern found in each.
     
  4. Deacon

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    My review

    You charge that those who perform textual criticism today “cling to ideas which at base are in fundamental opposition to science.”
    ”First,
    [you say] is the idea of a fundamental Objective Reality, a non-changing universal truth applicable to every situation.

    I’m not sure what believing in a “fundamental Objective reality” has to do with the practice of textual criticism. It’s vague enough charge to attach to anyone with a strong opinion. You lost me there.

    and second is the idea that science 'progresses' inevitably toward greater and greater accuracy and surety in regard to believed facts.

    You described it well…
    The scientific method searches for explanations to observed phenomena, these explanations are called theories, which must be consistently repeatable. As a theory meets this objective, the theory is truth for its time. As further observations fall outside the explanatory framework of the theory, exceptions are developed. When exceptions become more frequent, a new theory is proposed.
    As you note, once further information [data] is found, the scientific theory reexamines the phenomena and modifies the theory. This second statement of yours is simply the goal of using the scientific method.


    Pardon the expression but this is blather.

    You really need to shorten your sentences and make a single point in each one. Mathematics itself is a science. You’ve complicated the issue by introducing a number of different influences.
    The task of science is to explain observable phenomenon.
    The goal of modern science is to better explain the phenomena we observe.

    Enter Fenton John Anthony Hortnot the first to observe that the text of the Greek text of the New Testament had been corrupted in places.
    The fact is that every translator struggles with “fixing the text” they use [by using the word “fixing”, I mean determining what they feel is the original text]. This has been done from the earliest written records of translation.
    You are using mathematical jargon to explain a non-mathematical endeavor. Westcott and Hort simply developed a set of principles from which they formed a Greek text. They were not the first to do so.
    Their theories were not perfect and have been modified and developed over decades of study.
    The mythical "textus receptus" is actually a number of different Greek texts developed by men who made decisions based upon their own [unwritten] criteria.

    This paragraph turns the argument.
    First observation is that the principles of textual criticism are not something God used to preserve a text, rather it is a method researchers use to reveal the original text.

    This is also your first use of the term, “historical-critical” in the thread.
    Let me note, after criticizing the science of textual criticism without really getting into any specifics you changed the terms.
    The science of textual criticism is really the application of “historical-critical techniques”, which are not exclusively a scientific endeavor but include historical investigation.
    It chops your “iteration” argument in pieces! Historical events can not be treated with mathamatic precision.

    As you initlally noted, "..the Scientific Method is tentative and agnostic. In order to remain truly scientific, it must deal in probabilities..." The modern Greek text developed by scholars is a patchwork of various manuscripts that were written in ages past. The texts that have been developed have an apparatus that notes the major possibilities.
    The textual criticis understand their limitations and offer a proposed text, providing their reasons in some instances... but they also provide more data for the beniifit of those who might disagree.

    Again noting your above statement: "God chose simpler, and quite apparently, more reliable methods than those proposed and used by modern Textual Critics to 'reconstruct' the NT text." - the statement is simply presumptous! It confuses the various ways translators chosen between various textual variants over the ages, with what God preserved.

    This brings us right back to that first "fundamental Objective" you noted.
    ["a fundamental Objective Reality, a non-changing universal truth applicable to every situation"]
    Modern scholars recognise their limitations and offer their knowledge and expertise for God's people to use, but as in the scientific method, their work is open for review and change to those who present reasonable evidence.

    Well enough is enough.

    Rob
     
  5. Nazaroo

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    As I tried to make clear, there is a difference between what science actually does accomplish, and what people believe about it. You are not making the distinction, but every scientist does.

    Here it is again. Most people believe that:

    (1) Science requires and proves the existence of a fundamental universal objective reality. - But it has done nothing of the kind.

    (2) that science 'progresses' inevitably toward greater and greater accuracy and surety in regard to believed facts. Science doesn't necessarily or always do this either.

    For example, the field of Quantum Mechanics, for all its power of prediction and tecnological advance, has if anything, exposed our inability to discover an objective, stable, cause-and-effect reality. Most quantum physicists now view the world as a very mysterious place, behind which there may be no ordered deterministic reality at all, but rather something 'random', statistical, and uncontrolled at its fundamental base.

    Again with point (2), the Newtonian deterministic world-view has collapsed probably forever, and even our most accurate theory (Quantum ElectroDynamics QED) has as its theoretical base a statistical but incomprensible and self-contradictory set of axioms.

    Science may appear to give the confidence and stability of an objective world-view, but when we look real close, its a perplexing incomprehensible world of which we know nothing at all, but a few 'magic rules' that we can manipulate technology with, without really understanding what we are doing.


    Again, your view of scientific method is out of date. Science has long since stopped attempting to "explain" things. At best, practical science merely describes things, in the kind of small-frame detail that connects local-causal effects and makes reasonable short-term predictions (sometimes). Theories of real large-scale causality are still a modern myth.

    I'll try again.

    Hort's real innovation in Textual Criticism was to introduce the idea of repetition of method, namely iteration, to successively 'hone' and purify the text in multiple 'passes' or stages.

    What people think Hort did, namely introduce the 'genealogical method', is an outright lie. As Colwell noted, Hort never actually applied the genealogical method (in any form) to the manuscripts. He just talked about it imaginatively.

    The idea of genealogical method was in fact mostly traceable to Lachmann (1831), and was already proved a farce long before Hort was out of diapers.

    I agree. They certainly were not the only simpletons flooding the textual-critical world, and these dodo-birds number in the thousands today, due to inbreeding.

    Not modified or developed enough. In fact, more accurately, these textual critical methods have never been properly scientifically analyzed and evaluated.

    But here's a start:
    TC Canons: ...text-critical rules

    Griesbach (1796) - 13 Canons (xlat./Notes:Alford)

    Lachmann (1842) - 6 TC Canons

    Hort (1882) - canons extracted by G.Fee

    Burgon (1896) - 7 TC Principles
    K.Aland (1989) - 'reasoned eclecticism'
    D.A. Black (1994) - 4 Views/Methods


    The problem is, no original text is revealed by the principles of textual criticism. Instead, the methods result in a more mutilated and corrupt text than ever, when actually applied.


    Wrong again. Anything physical in the space-time dimension can be studied scientifically. The precision of results may vary with the amount of reliable data available. But 'historical-critical' investigation should be scientific, just as every other field of science is. There are no excuses. Scientific procedures and standards don't change.


    More detail would be less obscurantist.

    'various manuscripts' is uninformative to the point of deliberately misleading.

    In fact, the modern Greek text (e.g. the UBS text) is a patchwork of a very narrow base of manuscripts, for the most part exactly two, from the 4th century: Codex Sinaiticus (א) and Codex Vaticanus (B), with only a handful of earlier papyri used for additional support, mostly in Luke/Acts. The result is a reconstruction of one early text-type, the so-called Alexandrian. All the manuscripts chosen and preferred sport an Egyptian text quite unlike all the other other manuscript, ECW (patristic), and versional (early xlations) evidence, which is utterly ignored on a wholesale basis.

    Another blatant falsehood. The apparatus is woefully deficient, and full of errors, especially in patristic citations and in regard to versional evidence. It is wholly unreliable in those two categories.
    Nor do they provide data for the benefit of those who disagree. Instead they provide selective and biased data to support their own textual choices.


    No. I merely noted the distinction between the two objects and processes controlling them.

    Textual Critics, like all modern academics, engage in a variety of subterfuges to keep outsiders out of their business. From endless and needless jargon-invention, to overpricing their publications and findings, to falsifying, fudging and manipulating data.

    Indeed, enough is enough.
     
    #5 Nazaroo, Sep 19, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2011
  6. billwald

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    >Fundamentally, the Scientific Method is tentative and agnostic. In order to remain truly scientific, it must deal in probabilities, and ever hold the door open to new discoveries which can not only modify current ideas, but completely overthrow them. Diagrammed as above, one can see that it forms an Endless Loop, without ever establishing any permanent, universal truth.

    CORRECT! The problem is that in the US "science" has been turned into a religion. Ignorant people think that the use of expensive equipment mysteriously turns every topic into "science." There is no "scientific" analysis of ancient texts. The meaning of ancient words can not be determined by science.
     
  7. Nazaroo

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    I agree with you. What they are doing to the Bible now is not science.
     
  8. mandym

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    The KJV was at one time a "modern" translation.
     
  9. Dr. Walter

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    Not really! The vast majority of the KJV had been in print since Tyndale's version as it is really an updated version of Tyndale's Bible. Various versions of Tyndale had preceded the KJV. It was the oldest English translation with a few new trimmings
     
  10. gb93433

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    Wasn't that about 400 years after English came into being. I wonder what people did before English came on the scene? I wonder how many could read before the KJV? About 2%? I wonder how many lived for Jesus before the KJV?
     
  11. annsni

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    Why is there a thread that is allowed to continue that degrades the Word of God?
     
  12. Pastor_Bob

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    This thread is in no way denigrating the Word of God. This thread is simply one member's opinion of modern textual criticism.

    Carry on.
    :type:
     
  13. annsni

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    I'm sorry but I disagree. Look at the title: "Why modern Bibles stink".

    What if I started a thread "Why the KJV stinks"? Would that be OK?
     
  14. Pastor_Bob

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    Please, do not apologize for disagreeing. After all, that's why we're all here to a degree - to engage in debate about that which we disagree. The title is a bit misleading. The thread attacks the means by which the "modern Bibles" were translated. Please note that the OP capitalized the word "Bibles" in the title, indicating at least a measure of value in some cases.

    I suppose it would be largely determinant upon the content of the thread. If you had that for a title and then went on to point out the difference in formal -vs- dynamic equivalency, then I, for one, would allow the thread to remain.

    Now, back to the topic at hand, if you please. :flower:
     
  15. Rippon

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    Yeah,he's a bit more generous than you. You don't believe the NLTse is a Bible for instance.

    I sincerely doubt that a thread called :Why The KJV Stinks would be allowed to remain an active thread.

    I think you are under the false impression that the KJV stands uniquely as a formally-equivalent version. But there are a number of modern translations that are also form-driven and perhaps more than any KJV of your choice.
     
  16. Pastor_Bob

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    Perhaps, but this isn't about me or what I personally believe.

    You're probably right, but as I said, it wouldn't be shut down by my hand if the content was as I described.

    How is this relevant to this thread?
     
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