The Human Preservation of Scripture

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Jun 6, 2006.

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  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I mentioned in another thread that I believed in the human preservation of Scripture, based on the priesthood of the believer. We as believers are responsible our own selves to preserve Scripture, and there are plenty of passages in both the OT and NT. There seemed to be some interest in the topic, so I thought I would start a thread on it.

    Can you think of Scriptures that teach a doctrine of human preservation? What say ye?

    Here is how I believe we preserve Scripture:
    (1) Each believer should have his or her own Bible, take good physical care of it, and hide it in his or her heart. The kings of Israel were required to have their own scroll of the Law.
    (2) Some gifted individuals, like Dr. Cassidy, should concentrate on textual criticism, to give us the best possible editions of the original language texts. By gifted in this and (3), I mean given the gift of language ability ("tongues," if you will) by God. In the OT, the "oracles of God" were given to the Jewish people (Rom. 3:2), and the priests were the literal preservers of Scripture since the scrolls were kept in the temple.
    (3) Some gifted individuals should labor in translating the Word of God into the languages of the world. And enough with the English versions, already. :rolleyes: There are still 1000's of languages and dialects with no Bible or even Bible portion. The Great Commission says "All the world." (Caveat: I don't find where God promised to make my Japanese translation inerrant.:smilewinkgrin: )
    (4) Ministries should offer their services to print the Word of God. Psalm 68:11--"The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it."
     
  2. TCassidy

    TCassidy
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    The doctrine of preservation is not man-centered. Nor is it bible centered. It is God centered. That means that God has promised to Providentially preserve His word, and God will do so regardless of the actions of men.

    The error that too many make is to assume that God's promise of Providential preservation applies to translations, or that any single manuscript, textform, or translation is "Perfectly" preserved by God. Such is not the case, and God never made any such promise. The most that can be said of any translation is that it is preserved only in the derivative sense. (The same applies to inspiration and infallibility.)

    There are three separate and distinct areas that must be understood. They are:

    1. Inspiration. God breathed into the words of the autographs (original manuscripts) His Life and they became living words. (2Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12)

    2. Preservation. God Providentially preserved the apographs (copies of the apographs) until this day.

    3. Derivation. Men have taken the inspired words of the autographs, as preserved in the apographs, and translated them into their own language.

    Only in the last is man's agency the driving factor.
     
  3. Pastor_Bob

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    I believe that human agents were used to confirm the preservation of God's Word. The preservation itself, I believe is Providential. The mere fact that history attests to the fact that the Received Text was predominately used by believing churches in each generation confirms to us that God's Word has been preserved in that text.


     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Pastor_Bob, as you know I too am a TR/Byz/Maj man. However, within that tradition believers had to take responsibility and make choices. For example, there are many places where the Stephanus TR and the Scrivner TR differ, never mind the different editions of the Stephanus TR. Furthermore, any TR differs from the Hodges Majority Text or the Robinson Byzantine Text in many more places. The textual critics had to make choices, and God did not guarantee anywhere in the Bible that their choices would be perfect.
     
  5. Deacon

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    I’m familiar with the doctrine of inspiration, and even with preservation.
    But where does God give man the task of preservation?

    If imperfect translations, including the Septuagint, were used by the apostles, and perhaps by Christ Himself, how does that effect our understanding of the doctrine of preservation?

    God works His will thorugh imperfect man.
    Could this even include the transcription of His word?
    ...which at sundry times may be imperfectly perserved, yet still fulfills His will and purpose.

    “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
    Matthew 24:35 NAS
    God’s words are preserved even though everything else has passed away.
    Do we have a part in this?

    Rob
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Note these specific cases of human preservation of Scripture:

    1. In Old Testament Israel, the priests were entrusted by God with the task of preserving the Scriptures (Deut. 17:18, Ezek. 44:8 and 15, Mal. 2:7). Remember that the Decalogue of Moses was to be kept in the ark of the covenant, and that the Temple was where the scrolls of Scripture were to be kept. (2 Kings 22:9-10).

    2. God commanded the Jews to bind God's law on their hands and on their foreheads (Ex. 13:9, Deut. 6:8 & 11:8, Prov. 3:3, 6:2, 7:3).

    3. Each king of Israel was required to write out his own copy of the Bible. "And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites" (Deut. 17:18). Not only was he to have his own copy of the law, he was to live and rule by it (v. 19).

    4. Moses cared enough about the Decalogue to make an box of shittim wood in which to preserve it. (Deut. 10:3-5)

    5. The ark of God was called variously "the ark of the testimony" (Josh. 4:16) and "the ark of the covenant" (Josh. 4:18), obviously referring to the fact that God's Word was to be kept inside it (Deut. 31:26).

    6. God commanded the Jews to build an altar and write the law on the stones of it when they crossed the river into the Promised Land. (Deut. 27:1-8) Joshua obeyed God's command and did so (Josh. 8:30-35).

    7. The Apostle Paul specifically asked Timothy to bring his personal copy of some of the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Tim. 4:13).

    So, Man has a responsibility in the preservation of Scripture. The first edition of the John R. Rice Reference Bible (KJV) had many mistakes in it. That wasn't God's fault, it was the fault of the proof readers at Nelson's. The Japanese Shinkaiyaku Bible was proof read eight times, which is twice the usual requirement. Therefore it is remarkably free from transcription, spelling and punctuation errors.
     
  7. Deacon

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    John, you noted a few cases where Scripture was copied for personal use.
    I do that on a much smaller scale myself with memorization cards.

    I know there is a desire in those transcribing the Scriptures to ensure the words are copied correctly.
    ...but as I copy my memorization cards, I don't use a particular version but craft them from a number of versions for ease of memorization and best understanding.

    I do not observe any special holy empowerment to ensure correctness, in myself, in history or in Scripture itself.
    There is a desire to ensure correctness.

    I'd certainly have to reassess my views regarding spiritual giftedness if I believed a special empowerment of preservation was occuring today.

    One of the reasons I generally believe that "earlier is better" in old Greek manuscripts is that there seems to be a tendancy to improve or better define passages when comparing older manuscripts to the newer ones.

    Do I believe in the human preservation of Scriptures? You bet!
    We need to diligently work at it and trust that God has given us the proper tools to ensure that His word remain true.

    The "Textus Receptis", the "recieved text", wasn't given by God, it was recieved from earlier generations of believers.

    IMO there is nothing magical about it.
    The TR has no special endowment other than it was developed over time by men desiring to honor and worship our God.

    I see a similar desire in those that reach back through time and study the earliest preserved manuscritpts to find what may have been the original words penned by the original authors.

    Rob
     
    #7 Deacon, Jun 8, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2006
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I think we see eye-to-eye here, Rob. I believe the Byz/Maj is closer to the originals myself, but either way you look at it, I agree that while there are commands in Scripture to preserve it, there is no guarantee that it will be done perfectly. As God put the "oracles of God" in the hands of the Jews for preservation, in particular the priests, so we who are the priests of this dispensation have the responsibility to preserve the Word in the ways I listed in my OP. So, whoever copied those early manuscripts, the proper question to ask is, how diligent were they with their priestly responsibilities?

    We are currently on the second draft of our new Japanese Gospel of John, and should finish it in in the committee in a couple of weeks. After that I will check through my son's notes on the accuracy of my translation compared to the Greek. (He is fluent in both Greek and Japanese.) Then I hope to have notes from a number of Japanese pastors about Japanese style. After that will begin the proof-reading--and no matter how many times we proofread it, there are bound to be errors in it!!

    In the past, I have asked several in this forum who believe in a perfect translation how I can guarantee my Japanese translation to be perfect, but I get no takers. There are simply no Scriptures on the matter. However, there are plenty of verses on diligence, honesty, hard work, etc. Hopefully we are doing the work necessary to ensure a good translation. It is our responsibility as priests of Jesus Christ!

    To give credit where credit is due, I must say that it was through the works of Edward Hills that I first began thinking this through.

    Side note: one who is often used to defend the "perfect translation" concept is Jasper Ray and his little book, God Only Wrote One Bible. Alas, Jasper mis-quoted the KJV several times in his little book!
     
  9. LRL71

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    That's nice, concise, and precise....and biblical. Thanks! :thumbs:
     
  10. David J

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    Finally a voice of reason! :thumbs:



    I wonder if those promoting "special" preservation to the TR or KJV ever stop to ponder why the CT, TR, and MT have very little differences and the fact that between the CT and MT not one single doctrine or gospel truth is missing.


    Personally I think the CT's agreement with the MT only proves that God preserved His Word. The discovery of older manuscripts only proves Biblical preservation. One must consider the fact of language barriers, time periods, wars, Roman Empire destroying manuscripts, Viking raids, the Dark Ages, etc... when talking about God preserving His Word. I simply don't see another complex set of works surviving these time periods and in different languages without God's preservation.


    Humans did copy the word and humans make errors. That's why no two manuscript sets agree 100%. To claim some special preservation to the TR or KJV or NIV is against logic, historical facts, and it's not supported by the Scriptures.



    The bottom line is being TR, CT, or MT preferred is just a preference. All sides can scream all day about tradition, use, etc... but when the smoke clears it's all about personal preference. All of the above have some human error but that does not mean that God did not use all of the above.
     
  11. TCassidy

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    I agree with the addition that it is a well studied and historically supported preference on my part. :)
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Good posts, all. I'm still waiting for someone to debate with!

    Here's the deal: I can use any Greek or Hebrew text for my translation, and if I translate faithfully and stick strictly to the Scriptures for my beliefs I will come out the same. Either ms tradition has: all the doctrines (with the possible exception of snake-handling! :smilewinkgrin: ), all the names of Christ, all the prophecies, all the history (with the possible exception of John 8--but even then all texts leave it in, but some put it in brackets), etc., etc.
     
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