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Featured What if we wrote a course on preservation?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by John of Japan, Sep 11, 2023.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Lecture 5—Preservation
    The Human Preservation of Scripture

    INTRODUCTION: Down through church history, when controversy rocked the churches, God worked through His people to systematize the Biblical doctrine being attacked. For example, the threat of Gnosticism forced God's people to study the doctrine of God, various heresies developing in the eastern half of the Roman Empire forced preachers to develop the doctrine of Christ, etc.

    The question of how God uses men to preserve Scripture is a burning issue today. Unfortunately, though, God's people are not seeking to produce a Biblical theology of preservation to counteract the heresies dividing the church. The sole exception I have found is Edward F. Hills, a genuine Bible-believing textual critic who did important work in the Caesarean text-type. (See his books, Believing Bible Study and The King James Version Defended.) Hills did not delve very deeply into the doctrine, but I am indebted to him for the concept that the priesthood of the believer means that we are obligated individually to preserve the Scriptures.

    Let's examine deeply what the Bible says about its own human preservation.

    I. Statement of the Doctrine

    A. God has committed the earthly preservation of the Word of God to every believer in Christ, even while taking it upon Himself to oversee that preservation.

    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 (Deut. 31:26), and that the Temple was where the scrolls of Scripture were to be kept (2 Kings 22:9-10).

    2. In the Church Age, each individual believer is a priest of God (1 Peter 2:5 & 9, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6).

    B. Therefore, each individual believer has a personal responsibility to preserve the Word of God.

    1. Each believer ought to have his own Bible in his or her own language.

    2. Each believer is obligated to God to rightly study and learn God's Word. (2 Tim. 2:15), and to hide it in his heart (Ps. 119:11).

    3. Some believers with special God-given abilities in scholarship or language ought to dedicate themselves to translating the Word of God. (Preferably such a believer should labor as a missionary, since the English language already has over 200 translations of the Bible. See So Many Versions? by Sakae Kubo and Walter F. Specht.) Others might feel led to work as textual critics or teachers of the Biblical languages.

    4. Each believer ought to do his part to obey the Great Commission and help spread the Word of God to all nations. In the Bible, the seed is the Word and the field is the world!

    II. The Forms Taken by Human Preservation of Scripture

    A. Each believer ought to have his own copy of the Bible, as evidently did the Bereans (Acts 17:11), and ought to learn it and care for it himself, judging every doctrine he is taught by it alone.

    B. Translating the Bible is a form of preserving it. Bible translation will be dealt with more fully in the next outline.

    C. Textual criticism is the very specialized, though very necessary discipline of studying manuscripts in the original languages to determine as well as possible what the words of the original manuscripts of the Bible. This is a form of preservation, and a few gifted and devout Christians ought to be doing this.

    D. Printing the Word of God with a machine as the kings and priests of Israel were to do by hand is a worthy and important form of the preservation of Scripture.

    III. Bible Examples of Personal Preservation of the Scriptures

    A. God commanded the Jews to bind God's law on their hands and on their foreheads (Ex. 13:9, Deut. 6:8 & 11:18-20, Prov. 3:3, 7:1-3).

    B. 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).

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

    D. 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).

    E. 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).

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

    G. The Bereans (Acts 17:11)

    IV. God's Part in the Human Preservation of Scripture

    A. Has God abandoned us, giving us no help in our earthly efforts to preserve His Word? No, of course not!

    B. How, then, does He help?

    1. By the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

    2. By giving linguistic gifts (the gift of "tongues" is, I believe, ability in languages) to some of His servants (1 Cor. 12:10, 30). The phrase "kinds of tongues" clearly indicates linguistic ability.

    3. By guiding the process of restoration when some seek to alter His Word (Prov. 30:6).

    4. By preserving the truths of His Word (Mark 13:31). No matter which Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible are used, some things will not change.

    a. Every single name of the Lord Jesus may be found.

    b. Every single major doctrine and practice, and virtually all of the minor doctrines and practices (with the possible exception of snake-handling, if you believe that Mark's longer ending is spurious!) will remain.

    c. Only one incident in the life of Christ, the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), will be in doubt (and even those who say this passage was not in the originals do not doubt its veracity).

    d. Every prophecy will remain intact.

    C. At the risk of being disproved, I will go out on a limb and make some revolutionary statements about the edited and printed texts of the Greek (Textus Receptus, UBS Greek Text, Nestle's Greek Text, Majority Text) and Hebrew Bible (Masoretic, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia).

    1. Though individual manuscripts may have serious problems within themselves, God has guided editors so that each edited text that we have is, by itself, inerrant. If I am wrong, please do your own research and prove that I am.

    2. God has guided the editors of the original language texts that we have so that not a single major passage has been lost from the Word of God, despite the differences in wording that various texts display. For example, notice that even the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament includes such controversial passages as John 8:1-11 and Mark 16:9-20 (though in brackets), despite the editors' doubts that they were in the original. I believe this to be nothing less than God's preserving power at work.

    CONCLUSION: What an awesome responsibility God has given us! We are each responsible, in our own way, for the preservation of God's Word on Earth. It would be a solemn thing to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and admit that we had not done our part.
     
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  2. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I like the idea you present.
    Unlike you I am an advocate for the Critical text but I’ve memorized many verses from the KJV.
    In fact as a youth I hybridized verses, taking a phrase that resonated better with me from one version and then the next phrase from another version.

    My Saturday morning Study group leader teaches from the NKJV.

    So John, (and others reading),
    What do you see as objections to this proposal?
    Why don’t present-day Christians readily accept this idea?

    Rob
     
  3. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Not to debate it here. Briefly, what convence you the Critical text approach to be the best to identify the readings of the original text? Thank you.
     
  4. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    If it has a problem, it would, I suspect, be subjectiveism. But then, I am not sure what is propsed here.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    What is proposed is that, though we on earth argue much about divine preservation, we miss the fact that we ourselves are to contribute to the preservation of the Word of God: translation, memorization, textual criticism, etc.

    When the KJV issue comes up in my classes, I tell the men, "It's a sword. Don't argue about it, go out and stab someone with it!!"
     
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  6. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    Yeah… not here.

    Rob
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Lecture 6—Preservation
    Biblical Textual Criticism

    INTRODUCTION: Textual criticism is the scholarly discipline that seeks to determine from the preserved manuscripts of a document what the words and form of the original manuscripts were. It is not a science; as far as I have been able to find, this discipline has never been approached scientifically (i. e., using the scientific method). That is, I have never read about experiments in which Greek (or any other language) students or scholars have been asked to copy Greek manuscripts or documents, with a control group to check the experiment.

    Textual critics usually study the discipline, examine documents, then form theories. Therefore the discipline is subjective, and textual critics differ widely in their theories and methodology, though the theories of Westcott and Hort (in their two volume Greek New Testament of 1887), two 19th century textual critics, have been more widely followed than any other. Personally I subscribe to the Byzantine priority theory of Dr. Maurice Robinson. Please note that this differs quite a bit from the Majority Text theory of Hodges and Farstad.

    I am convinced, however, that the Bible itself must provide guidelines, if not methodologies, for textual criticism. By studying the Word of God with an open mind and a good knowledge of the problems of textual criticism, we ought to be able to mine gems of wisdom from God's Word to help us.

    I. The Need of Textual Criticism

    A. We must be aware that the Bible teaches that men will try to change the Word of God, adding to it and subtracting from it (Deut. 4:2 & 12:32, Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:18-19).

    B. However, the Bible also teaches that God will preserve His Word. Please notice, however, that the promises are not immediate preservation, but providential, meaning it is a process. God does not promise that no errors will be made in the copying or printing of God's Word. However, I think the following passages do promise that God will help the spiritual and honest textual critic as he seeks to restore the original text.

    1. "The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor" (Prov. 22:12).

    2. "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (Prov. 30:6).

    II. Theological Presuppositions

    A. Any textual critic, regardless of how carefully he seeks to approach the subject with an open and unbiased mind, will still have certain theological presuppositions that will affect his theory and practice of textual criticism.

    B. Presuppositions to be careful of:

    1. False doctrines of inspiration: if the theology of the textual critic is neo-orthodox, then he may not be as careful in his efforts to determine the exact words of the original manuscripts, since he believes that only thoughts, not words, of Scripture, are inspired.

    2. Some textual critics evidently do not believe in the inerrancy of God's Word, so they will have no scruples in suggesting that the originals had errors of fact in them. (For an example, see The Text of the New Testament, 2nd edition, by Bruce Manning Metzger. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968, 199.)

    3. Textual critics from liturgical churches will put too great an emphasis on tradition and the Church Fathers, and denominational authority. John W. Burgon is one such, though his methods were quite helpful.

    C. Proper theological presuppositions. The godly, reverent textual critic ought to have settled in his mind some important doctrines about the Bible, taught in the Word of God itself:

    1. The verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture

    2. The inerrancy of Scripture

    III. Principles to be considered

    A. The Bible can be added to or subtracted from (Deut. 4:2 & 12:32, Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:18-19). This would seem to point to the Byzantine text-type as being the closest to the original manuscripts, since the Alexandrian text-type has the fewest words and the Western text-type the most.

    B. Qualifications for the textual criticism that we should accept as authoritative ought to be both spirituality (godly textual critics) and scholarship, since as was previously taught the human preservation of scripture has been committed to believers. As for scholarship, the book of Proverbs over and over urges us to get wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

    C. A study of how the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament ought to give us some good principles for textual criticism.

    1. In particular, good Christian scholars who believe in the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture will agree that God would not misquote Himself, so the manuscript or text-type that quotes the OT most accurately is most likely to be closest to the originals.

    2. Having said that, there are times when the quotes of the LXX as given in the NT are inaccurate and poorly translated. So this study would be somewhat speculative.

    IV. God's Preservation of the Manuscripts

    A. There are manuscripts that have obvious additions to or subtractions from the Word of God in them, particularly in the Western text family of the Greek NT. However, common sense, or even cursory textual criticism has eliminated virtually all such passages.

    B. Therefore, though I do not have room or time to do so here, I believe a case can be made that God's preservation of His Word extends so far as inerrancy in any edited text of the Word of God in its original languages: either the Masoretic or Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia text in the Hebrew, and in the Greek: the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text, the Byzantine Textform, Westcott and Hort, Nestle's, the United Bible Societies editions, etc. That is, each text is inerrant within itself, in spite of the fact that they may differ on individual readings or even passages such as John 8:1-11. Most, if not all, of the passages suspected by liberals of being errors in the Word of God depend on translation or interpretation.

    CONCLUSION: I consider this outline on textual criticism to be a bare beginning. Although I have studied many years in preparing for these outlines, I have much to learn and much more thought to do. Any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated.
     
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  8. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    Emanuel Tov begins his textbook on Hebrew textual criticism with the statement, “Textual criticism is not an exact discipline. We try to be as precise and comprehensive as possible, but the text-critical praxis is subjective and often impressionistic.”
    Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Revised and Expanded Fourth Edition. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2022), xxi.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Please provide a quote of the sentence or paragraph where Bruce Metzger specifically says that the original NT documents had errors in them.

    I have the 3rd edition and am unsure of the location.
    Perhaps....
    (Chapter VII, Causes of Error in the Transmission of the Text of the New Testament;
    II. Intentional Changes.
    4. Clearing up Historical and Geographical Difficulties.)
    p. 199.

    There Metzger specifically calls the problem areas “difficulties” rather than “errors”.
    Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Third, Enlarged Edition. (New York. Oxford University Press, 1992), 199.

    Rob
     
  9. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    There are different translations I like for different reasons. But on no one translation. So I fall back to the KJV.
     
    #29 37818, Sep 23, 2023
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2023
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  10. Conan

    Conan Well-Known Member

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    Metzgers liberalism is well known. Perhaps in his textual commentary it is easier to find examples of his less than conservative views.
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Interesting quote.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    "Since the quotation which Matthew (xxvii.9) attributes to the prophet Jeremiah actually comes from Zechariah (xi.12 f.)..." (Metzger, The Text of the NT, 2nd edition, p. 199)

    I've read that it was Metzger's opposition to inerrancy that was at least part of the cause for the defection to atheism of his disciple Bart Ehrman. And I think it is appalling that Ehrman did the revision for the 4th edition. The man should not be allowed to spout his stuff anywhere in Christianity.
     
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  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I'm sure you're right about this. I may have time to do that tomorrow--unless you get to it first! :)
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    This outline could ruffle some feathers!

    Lecture 7—Preservation
    Conclusions from the Doctrines

    INTRODUCTION: Every Biblical doctrine has various practical conclusions to be drawn from it. Doctrine definitely influences life; what we believe and think determines what we do.

    True Bible believers believe in the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice. Therefore, what we believe and teach about the Bible ought to be based on the Bible. You may believe that a paraphrase of the Bible such as The Living Bible is acceptable and properly translates God's Word. If you do, just make sure your belief is based on the Bible. On the other hand, you may believe that the King James Version is an inerrant translation, or you may even believe (as Peter Ruckman does) in a doctrine of progressive revelation or double inspiration, and that you can and should correct the Bible in its original languages with a translation. If you cannot base such a belief on the Bible itself, though, you run the risk of being a heretic in the eyes of others, and indeed in the sight of Almighty God Himself.

    With these things in mind, remembering what I have taught in these outlines from the Bible itself about the Bible's preservation, read this final outline. Then, if you feel some of its conclusions are unbiblical (never mind your opinions and emotions), please correct me. Otherwise, I'm not interested.

    I. Concerning the King James Version

    A. I personally love the KJV. I believe it is the greatest literature ever produced in the English language, far better than Shakespeare, and I have read many of Shakespeare's works. (See The Literary Impact of the Authorized Version, by C. S. Lewis.) I use it for personal devotions and when I preach in English. However, from what I have learned from the Bible itself, there are no perfect translations, including the KJV. What God inspired was the original manuscripts, and what He preserves is the Bible in the original languages, though He may give guidance in the translation of the Bible.

    B. To believer that the KJV (or any other translation) is inerrant is heresy (in the sense of being divisive—it will split churches). There are mistakes in translation in the KJV which, if believed, are heretical. Let me give several examples which any orthodox believer must recognize as mistakes in translation in the KJV.

    1. To believe that the KJV is inerrant one must believe that we are commanded to be idolaters. The KJV says in Exodus 22:28, "Thou shalt not revile the gods."

    2. To believe that the KJV is inerrant one must believe that God sometimes breaks His promises. The KJV says in Numbers 14:34, "And ye shall know my breach of promise."

    3. To believe that the KJV is inerrant one must believe that the Holy Spirit is, at least at times, an impersonal influence, an "it," as the Jehovah's Witnesses believe. See Romans 8:16--"the Spirit itself...." This is a slavishly literal translation that ignores the difference in the usage of the definite article in Greek and English.

    4. To believe that the KJV is inerrant one must believe that God creates evil. See Isaiah 45:7—"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

    5. To believe that the KJV is inerrant one must believe that vegetable life can be immoral. See Jeremiah 24:2—“One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.”

    C. It is amazing how easy the KJV is to understand after four centuries. In comparison, the works of Shakespeare, produced about the same time, have a much higher percentage of archaic words. However, as has been pointed out many times, there are words in the KJV that have changed 180 degrees in meaning. One example is "let," which in 17th century English meant hinder but now means permit. We would be foolish to deny problems such as this in our emotional attempt to make perfect what is not--a human translation.

    D. So, do I hold in my hand the Word of God when I hold a KJV? Yes, I do. We can't negate God's Word by our human failures.

    1. God's Word is too powerful to be stopped by man's imperfect translation. "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

    a. The first edition of the John R. Rice Reference Bible had many typographical errors in its first edition, but it was still the Word of God, used mightily for Him.

    b. God Only Wrote One Bible, the little book by Jasper Ray defending the KJV, was filled with typographical errors and misquotes of the KJV. How ironic that one claiming to love the KJV should treat it so carelessly. However, his mistakes in quoting did not negate the Word of God that he quoted, whatever his mistakes in interpretation might have been.

    c. Many a preacher misquotes the Bible when he preaches it, but is still humbled when God uses the Word when it is preached.

    2. "Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:9).

    II. Concerning Modern Translations

    A. Is it right to use modern translations?

    1. We have shown how important it is that people understand the Word of God in their own language (Neh. 8:8, etc.), clearly and distinctly.

    2. Remember also that the very structure of the original New Testament shows that God wants the Bible to be in the language of the people. Remember that the New Testament was written in Attic, or koine Greek, which was the language of the common people, and not the Classical Greek of the ancient philosophers and poets. Therefore, it is obvious that God wants the common man to understand His Word.

    3. Therefore, YES, I believe that a modern-language Bible version can be helpful and good, if chosen with Biblical principles of translation in mind.

    B. What are some guides for choosing a modern translation? You may be perfectly satisfied with your King James Version, as I am, but Biblical principles for choosing a Bible version are important for missionaries and others.

    1. It must be a literal translation, with what is called by translators the optimal equivalence method. However, some translations done with a rigidly literal approach are hard to read and understand—for example, Young's Literal Translation.

    2. Since the Bible teaches verbal-plenary inspiration, paraphrases such as the Living Bible are out of the question for Bible believers who want to know what God's Word truly says. Translations done with the dynamic equivalence method of Eugene Nida, for this reason, ought to be avoided. The truth is that this is a fundamentally flawed method of translation, used in few places other than Bible translation. The worlds of business translation, news translation, diplomatic translation, scholarly translation, etc., all use a methodology close to optimal equivalence. The major exception might be in the area of movie translation!

    3. It ought to be translated by conservative, Bible-believing scholars, since God has given the earthly preservation of His Word into the hands of believers.

    C. Practically speaking, what modern versions are we left with in the English language?

    1. I personally do not use the New International Version. My primary reason is that it leans toward the dynamic equivalence method of translation, so that sometimes when reading it, it is hard to know how close to the original language its meaning is. (Yes, I did read it through before making this conclusion.) However, the translators were conservative. Its Greek text, being eclectic, is also closer to the Byzantine textform that I prefer than most modern versions. (For example, it includes the so-called "Western Omissions" in the book of Acts, not included in translations done from Nestle's or the United Bible Societies Greek texts.) Also, since it was submitted to a panel of English scholars before the final edition, as literature it is pleasing to read.

    2. In Japan we used the Shinkaiyaku Version, which is the Japanese version of the New American Standard Version. This is a good, solid version (though occasionally woodenly literal, leaning toward a formal equivalence translation), though I wish it had been translated from the Byzantine textform. Also, the Japanese version has more errors in translation than the English version (due mostly to cultural bias). I have read through both the English and Japanese versions of this Bible, and so make my judgment with first-hand knowledge of them.

    3. Though I generally refer to the Greek and Hebrew Bibles as my court of first resort, I do occasionally enjoy the New King James Version, said to be a full revision of the Authorized Version. (Most other of the KJV's many revisions have been cosmetic.) This version meets all of my criteria for a translation based on Biblical principles.

    CONCLUSION: We have God's wonderful word. We need to ask: are we getting our doctrine from it or from tradition and emotion? More than that, are we obeying it?
     
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  14. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I began searching various Systematic Theology texts for a doctrine of PRESERVATION OF THE SCRIPTURES and was surprised that very few directly mention it. (I may get back to it eventually)

    I was going to list the few and became distracted by...of all authors... John Calvin!

    REFER TO: John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Book 1, Section 8

    Now the Section is not dedicated completely towards the preservation of Scripture, but it hits some high points...
    ...and it is dated by its author's prejudice against the Jews...

    ...but it reminds me of what you have written above.​


    Here's just a bit...

    The law of Moses was wonderfully preserved by heavenly providence rather than by human effort. And although by priests’ negligence the law lay buried for a short time, after godly King Josiah found it [2 Kings 22:8; cf. 2 Chron. 34:15], it continued to be read age after age. Indeed, Josiah did not put it forward as something unknown or new, but as something that had always been of common knowledge, the memory of which was then famous. The archetypal roll was committed to the Temple; a copy was made from it and designated for the royal archives [Deut. 17:18–19]. What had happened was merely this: the priests had ceased to publish the law itself according to the solemn custom, and the people themselves also had neglected the habit of reading it. Why is it that almost no age goes by in which its sanction is not confirmed and renewed? Was Moses unknown to those who were versed in David? But, to generalize concerning all sacred authors, it is absolutely certain that their writings passed down to posterity in but one way: from hand to hand. Some had heard their actual words; others learned that they had so spoken from hearers whose memories were still fresh.
    John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 88–89.​

    10. God has marvelously preserved the Law and the Prophets

    ... let us rather ponder here how much care the Lord has taken to preserve his Word, when, contrary to everybody’s expectation, he snatched it away from a most cruel and savage tyrant, as from a raging fire. Let us consider how he armed godly priests and others with so great constancy that they did not hesitate to transmit to their posterity this treasure redeemed, if necessary, at the expense of their own lives; and how he frustrated the whole fierce book hunt of rulers and their minions. Who does not recognize as a remarkable and wonderful work of God the fact that those sacred monuments, which the wicked had persuaded themselves had utterly perished, soon returned and took their former place once more, and even with enhanced dignity? For the Greek translation followed, which published them abroad throughout the world.

    The miracle appeared not only in that God delivered the Tables of his covenant from the bloody edicts of Antiochus, but also in that the Jewish people, ground down and wasted by such manifold misfortunes, were soon almost exterminated, yet the writings remained safe and intact. The Hebrew language lay not only unesteemed, but almost unknown; and to be sure, if God had not been pleased to care for their religion, it would have perished completely. For after the Jews were brought back from exile, how much they departed from the true use of the mother tongue appears from the prophets of that age, a fact worth noting because from this comparison one more clearly perceives the antiquity of the Law and the Prophets. And through whom did God preserve for us the doctrine of salvation embraced in the Law and the Prophets, that Christ in his own time might be made manifest [Matt. 22:37–40]? Through the Jews, Christ’s most violent enemies, whom Augustine justly calls the “bookmen” of the Christian church, because they have furnished us with reading matter of which they themselves do not make use.
    Ibid. 89-90.​

    Since the publication of Scripture, age after age agreed to obey it steadfastly and harmoniously. By countless wondrous means Satan with the whole world has tried either to oppress it or overturn it, to obscure and obliterate it utterly from the memory of men—yet, like the palm, it has risen ever higher and has remained unassailable. Indeed, there has scarcely ever been either a sophist or rhetorician of superior ability who did not try his power against it; yet all were unsuccessful. Such facts as these should be accounted of no slight importance. The whole power of earth has armed itself to destroy it, yet all these efforts have gone up in smoke. How could it, assailed so strongly from every side, have resisted if it had relied upon human protection alone? Rather, by this very fact it is proved to be from God, because, with all human efforts striving against it, still it has of its own power thus far prevailed. Besides this, it is not one state, not one people, that has agreed to receive and embrace it; but, as far and as wide as the earth extends, it has obtained its authority by the holy concord of divers peoples, who otherwise had nothing in common among themselves. Such agreement of minds, so disparate and otherwise disagreeing in everything among themselves, ought to move us greatly, since it is clear that this agreement is brought about by nothing else than the divine will.
    Ibid. 91–92.

    3. Word and Spirit belong inseparably together


    They censure us for insisting upon the letter that kills, but in this matter they pay the penalty for despising Scripture. For it is clear enough that Paul there [2 Cor. 3:6] contends against the false apostles, who indeed, in commending the law apart from Christ, were calling the people away from the benefits of the New Testament, in which the Lord covenants “to engrave his law in the inward parts of believers, and to write it in their hearts” [Jer. 31:33 p.]. The letter, therefore, is dead, and the law of the Lord slays its readers where it both is cut off from Christ’s grace [2 Cor. 3:6] and, leaving the heart untouched, sounds in the ears alone. But if through the Spirit it is really branded upon hearts, if it shows forth Christ, it is the word of life [cf. Phil. 2:16] “converting souls, … giving wisdom to little ones,” etc. [Ps. 18:8, Vg.; 19:7, EV]. What is more, in the very same place the apostle calls his preaching “the ministration of the Spirit” [2 Cor. 3:8], meaning, doubtless, that the Holy Spirit so inheres in His truth, which He expresses in Scripture, that only when its proper reverence and dignity are given to the Word does the Holy Spirit show forth His power. And what has lately been said—that the Word itself is not quite certain for us unless it be confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit—is not out of accord with these things. For by a kind of mutual bond the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit so that the perfect religion of the Word may abide in our minds when the Spirit, who causes us to contemplate God’s face, shines; and that we in turn may embrace the Spirit with no fear of being deceived when we recognize him in his own image, namely, in the Word. So indeed it is. God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of his Spirit to abolish it. Rather, he sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word.
    Ibid. 95.​

    Rob
     
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  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Thank you! Excellent contribution to the thread, even if it is Calvin! ;)

    I'll read the whole thing when I get time. I assume you scanned that or had it digitally. It'd a whole lot of work to type it all in! :confused:
     
  16. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I use Logos Bible Software
    When I study I’m primarily digital now.
    There are so many resources available.
    With the current version of Logos you can search the books on your personal library shelves as well.

    Rob
     
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