Course: History and Authenticity of the Bible
Difficulties of Inspiration — Part One
Let’s have a word of prayer.
Father, thank You for Your wonderful word that You’ve exalted above Your name. Thank You for the privilege we have to study and to learn and to grow in our knowledge of its beauty and majesty, its sufficiency, its completeness, its inerrancy, its inspiration. Lord, I pray that You would build our confidence in this Book. For You have told us that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” And it’s through faith that we understand that even the worlds were framed by the word of God. So the things which do appear were not made of things which we see. We thank You that You created out of nothing and brought all of it into existence, and we have that revelation in Your word. Teach us to trust what You say. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
We are talking about the difficulties of inspiration. Two very well-known scholars of New Testament criticism got involved with fighting over the difference between the Greek text behind the King James and the one behind the modern English like New International and so forth. They represent some pretty strong seminaries and schools. And it just shows you among evangelicals how critical they can be.
Well, there are two passages in the Bible that we’re going to be getting into here just in a moment. But there are two passages in the Bible that have become the subject of enormous fighting and seriousness.
One is 1 Timothy 3:16, which says: “Great is the mystery of godliness: God manifest in the flesh,” that’s King James. Many of the modern English like, New American Standard, New International, drop the word “God” out, and have the word “who.” They say it’s a relative pronoun.
It’s interesting. I give you a summary of the scholars on it just to show you somewhat of the problem. It says:
This verse has been neither beyond all question nor without controversy, as it opens up, without controversy, great is the mystery. In the realm of Bible translations, some say the first line of the verse should read, “He appeared, or better, who appeared.” While others say, following the King James, “God appeared.” The answer lies in understanding the biblical discipline known as textual criticism. Very few Christians seem to understand the problem that is behind the English translations of the Bible. Textual criticism is a science that compares all [listen to this carefully, compares all] known manuscripts.
Now, I just want you to know that there is no textual critic who has ever compared all known manuscripts. First of all, it would be very expensive to fly between all the museums that have these all over the world…plus the fact getting access to it, plus the fact taking the time to read them all would take more than one person’s lifetime. There are 5,500 Greek manuscripts and pretty close to 20,000 Latin. Not counting other translations and versions. So, it’s just interesting as you read. Do you understand?
Now this is coming from a very top-notch seminary scholar in New Testament. But you see, already there’s a statement that, you know, leads your mind to think a certain way. Because there’s no way anybody has compared all of those texts. Anyway…“Textual criticism is an effort to locate the reading that best reflects the words of the author.” By the way, I’ll tell you the guy that did this was one of translators on New International because he believes in dynamic equivalent. “But the important thing is not to literally translate the words, but to give the sense or meaning of that word”—which a guy translating is really trying to come up with, isn’t he? So then, the question is: how’s he coming up with it? What gave him this idea? But, boy is that subtle! He said, “It’s an effort to locate the reading that best reflects the words of the author.” Locate the reading? Locate it where? Best reflects the author? Why, do you know him? See a lot of people don’t ask.
Listen to this:
The original biblical autographs have been lost [which is true] and for subsequent centuries, until the time of printing, every copy of the Bible was reproduced by hand. Today there exists thousands of ancient New Testament manuscripts, [that’s true] the earliest fragments, papyrus uncials.
Class, what is an uncial? Capital Greek letters. Papyrus was the first writing materials from the first three centuries.
The earliest fragments, papyrus uncials, and early style of Greek writing using all capital letters, date from the second century A.D. [Actually, there are several in the first century A.D.] Today ninety-eight of these fragments are cataloged.
[Now it says] There also exist 301 uncial manuscripts on vellum.
Listen to this class. This is a set-up for what we are going to get into.
There are 301 early unctual manuscripts written on vellum [or sheepskin, animal skin] some of which date from as early as the second century. Of these, [now see, he laid in your mind second century, of these] the only uncial manuscript that contains the entire New Testament is the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus. Half of the leaves are missing in the New Testament.
Half of the leaves are missing in the New Testament, now isn’t that interesting! As a matter of fact, when Tischendorf went into that monastery at Mount Sinai, they were burning the leaves of the Bible. He asked them what they were burning, because they were manuscripts and didn’t know what it was. And that’s how he found it. No, it doesn’t contain the entire New Testament. But that’s what he said. This is one of the leading scholars. Now isn’t that interesting! See in this whole ball game, class, you are going to have to really be alert. People are going to undermine you so fast you can’t see straight.
I just got a whole paper I was going to bring today from the Islamic center, in which they attack the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, based on 1 John 5:7. And they say that this is a heresy in the Christian church. It goes on to explain that the Christian argument of how we have a completed Bible, and they quote our verses that we have in here and show why they are not correct. And why the Bible is not completed until you have the Koran. It is the most “scholarly,” tricky thing you have ever read.
You know, the devil’s coming out with some heavy guns lately. You better know what you believe about the Bible. The real issue is going to be the Bible. It has started already several years ago with multiple translations and people’s confidence in the Bible is getting worse with every passing day. If you can get rid of the authority of the Bible, you can completely eliminate Christianity’s authority. There isn’t anything else to stand on.
Listen to this. It says:
Later manuscripts known as miniscules [that’s small letters, cursive writing] came to the fore in the eighth and ninth century and outnumber the uncials eight to one. The versions [or early translations: Old Latin, Syriac, Coptic] inform us in the discussion of textual criticism as do biblical references of the church fathers, known as the patristic evidence. [It’s like a little summary of what we’ve been studying.] Anyone who has copied a recipe or written down a phone number knows how easy it is to make a mistake in the transmission. [That’s what we’re getting ready to study today, the difficulties of inspiration.] You know how easy you can make a mistake. When it came to the dissemination of the New Testament text, errors were made, some inadvertent, some intentional. The scribes at the time recognized that these writings were sacred, of course, but they had not yet started to think [listen carefully—in quotes] “canonically.”
What is he talking about? He’s talking about when they transmitted the text, they really didn’t think about it until they were told that they should all belong in one completed edition. Hmmm!
As a result, during the first and second century they felt a great deal of liberty.
Now, he doesn’t know them. He’s telling you that this is what he thinks they did. He doesn’t know one single one of them and neither do I and neither do you. But this is typical journalism of our day, making it up as you go along. Then it gets in print and people believe it.
During the first and second century they felt a great deal of liberty to enhance the biblical authors’ intent. And if a particular reading was difficult, they helped the readers by glossing over the discrepancy. It was not until A.D. 400 that a canonical mentality became entrenched and free–flowing emendations stopped.
Let me tell you something, my friends, under the argument that the oldest manuscripts are best, that’s how they undermine the King James. And why we have New International and New American version. But I told you in passing that the papyrus manuscripts, which are the oldest, in the first three centuries, ninety percent of them agree with the King James Greek text. You see, they know that. Now he just set in your mind to undermine the first four centuries by saying the early guys who translated by hand, the first four centuries, they weren’t thinking of the canon, that is, how many books were in it. So they were free to change and do whatever they want. But boy, in the fourth century it all stopped!
Now why do they say that? Because they don’t want you to put your confidence in the manuscripts of the first three centuries because they [the manuscripts] by and large, agree with the Greek text that’s behind the King James. I hope you are following this. I know some of you are saying, “Wow. It is serious.” This is one of the leading evangelical textual criticism scholars in America today—very interesting!
Let me just read a little bit more. Then we’ve got to get on.
It should be noted that no significant doctrine of the New Testament hinges on any of these variants.
How many times have you heard that? Well, excuse me. In 1 Timothy 3:16 it is pretty significant doctrine, the deity of Jesus Christ. How significant do you want to be? 1 John 5:7 is pretty significant. That’s the only mention of the Trinity in the entire Bible, with the exception of the baptismal formula, which they say doesn’t indicate the Trinity. But anyway… “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” sounds like it to me. But anyway…now he comes back to 1 Timothy 3:16.
The confusion about the rendering in 1 Timothy 3:16 that causes Christians to be upset, the difference between God or He who can be easily understood when one recognizes the similarity between how they would have looked in the early manuscripts. If they were capital, the masculine relative pronoun, it could easily have been a Theta, they were really looking at. And maybe the word was an abbreviation for God or they thought it was.
Now what he’s doing is not dealing with the evidence. What he’s doing is trying to suggest why the word “God” got in the text when it’s actually reversed. The word “God” appears in the early manuscripts, the whole evidence is for God in the text. But see, to get you to think, he switched the order of talking about it very subtly and said, “Well, they probably misunderstood the relative pronoun to be an abbreviation for the name God.”
I don’t know if you’re Jewish or not, but let me just tell you what a few of us with Jewish blood would say. Nobody ever, who ever did any translation was ever confused about the word God. And I’ll tell you something else. Nobody abbreviated it with two letters instead of four. You see how subtle this stuff is? It’s unbelievable. Now he’s going to attack the King James.
Defenders of the word “God” in the text, [which would clearly indicate that Jesus is God and I wonder if he believes it?] based their argument on the fact that the majority of extant manuscripts…
Do you know the meaning of extant? E–X–T–A–N–T. That’s a very important word. You will see it a lot. What are extant manuscripts? They are in existence, but what?—they are the oldest. Okay.
Wilbur Pickering in his book, The Identity of the New Testament Text, says, “Fully three hundred Greek manuscripts read ‘God,’ while only eight read something else.” Pickering and others would argue that the transmission of the New Testament text take place under normal circumstances, but we don’t have any proof of that!
Do you see what I’m saying? He’s undermining a simple little fact about how it was done. Did he answer the problem of why out of three hundred Greek manuscripts in the early church, why do all of them read God, except eight that read “who”? Would you say that’s pretty, you know, 292 against eight, pretty good odds that it’s “God”? And how did he undermine it? He said, “Well, we’re acting like it was translated under normal circumstances with, you know, carefulness and all.” Do you see how he undermines you, right there? Why wouldn’t it be under any other circumstances? It’s very interesting what they do.
Where changes occur, these are largely introduced into the text to alter the theological meaning behind a given reading, usually for heretical purposes. Are we to assume that everyone who made copies of New Testament books in the early years was a fool or as stupid, asks Pickering? We have the majority text, today’s King James Version, dominating the stream of transmission with very few individual witnesses going their own ideocentric ways [his answer to this]. But most biblical scholars contest this assumption. We err to presume that changes in the text were attributed to heretical tendencies. Leading textual critical scholar Gordon Fee of Conwell, Gordon Conwell Seminary, writes in the Westminster Seminary Theological Journal, “For the early Christians it was precisely because the meaning was so important that they exercised a certain amount of freedom to make the meaning clearer to one another.”
Either he’s misquoted here or I wouldn’t want to sit under him. Do you really believe that the transcribers of the original autographs actually just kind of winged it for Jesus’ sake? I’m sorry. Not only is that not the history of transcribing the text, I think it’s close to an abomination and a blasphemy. And that’s a scholar in the field!
I told you there were two texts, 1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 John 5:7. Will you turn in your Bibles to 1 John 5:7 for a moment? What are we going to talk about? We are going to talk about the difficulties of inspiration and boy, there’s lots of trouble!
Go to 1 John 5:7, I’d like you to read that for me in NIV.
Student #1: “There are three that testify the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
Is that verses 7 and 8? Would you mind reading that again for us?
Student #1: “For there are three that testify, the spirit, the water and the blood…”
There are three that testify. They dropped out “Father, word, and Holy Ghost, these three are one?” “There are three that testify the spirit, the water, and the blood, these three are in agreement.” Man, I couldn’t have asked for it better! What edition is this? This is a Thompson Reference, but of course that goes in all translations. It’s a New International and the date on it is 1983. All right, and the footnote…
Student #2: The footnote says, (7 and 8) Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify “in heaven, the Father, the word and the Holy Spirit and these three are one.” Verse 8, “and there are three that testify on earth the…”
Okay. Thank you very much. It says late manuscripts of what? What did it say, class?—the Latin Vulgate. That’s what they said. They said “late manuscripts.” Whenever you read “late,” they are talking after the tenth century, A.D. All these late manuscripts of the Vulgate contain the reading. Did they say anything in that footnote about where else it might be found? No, they didn’t. All they said was “late manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate contain the reading.”
Student #3: It says, “It’s not found in any Greek manuscripts before the sixteenth century.”
Oh I love it! There it is. You heard it. Say it out loud again.
Student #3: It says, “Not found in any Greek manuscripts.”
It says, “Not found in any Greek manuscripts before when? The sixteenth century!” Look up in the beginning of your New International under the back page behind the title, and see when the date on that was. This one was 1983. Copyrighted 1985, you heard it. No manuscript before the sixteenth century. Now when the King James was written they used the sixteenth–century Greek text by Stephanus in 1550 A.D. So, they are referring to the fact that is the first time any Greek text has the reading in it. Did you catch that? Boy, is that subtle!
The King James was translated off of a Greek text that was produced by Stephanus (a lot of Erasmus’ influence), 1550 A.D. And Martin Luther nailed his Ninety–five Theses in 1517; so you see just some thirty–three years later we have a Greek text, which becomes the text upon which the King James was translated. The note says that there was no Greek manuscript before the late sixteenth century. What they are arguing (it’s very subtle) is that the first known edition of 1 John 5:7 in Greek is the King James Greek text. So they added to God’s word. Everybody follow that? That’s exactly what they said. Oh I could not…. Thank you both!
Does anyone have a New American Standard Bible? Okay, right over here. What does yours say? Read it, 1 John 5:7-8.
Student #4: “And it is the spirit that bears witness because the spirit is truth; for there are three that bear witness, the spirit, and the water, and the blood and the three are in agreement.”
We left off heaven and earth again and left out Father, word, and Holy Ghost. Amen? That’s what it said.
Well, you know class, I’ve been trying to tell you that we have a real battle going on in the evangelical world and I’ve been trying to tell you that this snow job that’s been going on all during this century is being undermined by some guys who started asking some questions. I started asking them in seminary. I took textual criticism under some very important scholars who did translation work. And they fed me the Wescott and Hort tradition and I started asking some questions and doing some research myself. So, nobody taught me in school what I’m teaching you now. That’s a bottom line truth. I learned the other side.
What’s the copyright on that Bible?
Student #5: 1994
David: Whoa! 1994! Praise God. That’s what I’ve been looking for. All right. Say it again.
Student #5: “The rest of verse 7 and the first words of verse 8 are not original and are not to be considered as part of the word of God.”
David: “Are not to be considered as a part of the word of God!” This is more interesting with every passing moment.
There’s a librarian, master of library silence, uh science. It’s a joke! A librarian from the University of Arizona, he’s no evangelical scholar, name, nothing. But he became interested in this. I have in my possession, a book that hardly anybody knows about. But you now know about it. Are you ready for this? The entire book is a history of the debate over 1 John 5:7 and 8, with every documentation imaginable! And you know what? It’s an anthology that traces it historically. In other words, it starts from the beginning and goes straight through. We go all the way back.
Let me just take the opening after his brilliant introduction. He starts right out with the first century A.D., goes to the second century. It goes blow by blow quoting everybody, all that they say, examining it. It goes all the way to 1990 in quotations dealing with 1 John 5:7-8, all the way from the time of Christ until now. However, within this book is not only the evidence to the contrary of everything you’ve heard, but he also nails down, quoting who and where it came from and why. You see you get these old librarian types on a problem and they don’t really care, all they want to do is research the accuracy of something. Very interesting! So all he does is put it all here, quoting them and all these documents. Documentation exactly where it comes from, what page, etc. It’s the most amazing thing you ever saw in your life.
Now let me give you a few of the conclusions. First of all, it’s a “lack of knowledge,” that there are no Greek manuscripts that contain the reading before the sixteenth century. Secondly, the Latin tradition, which all these guys depend upon enormously because Latin of course was the language that it was put into. One of the first languages, we have thousands; we have more Latin manuscripts than we have Greek! So, all that evidence is very crucial. All of the translations that are used early would be off of more copies that are closer to the originals. Okay? And all of them into old Latin, all of them have 1 John 5, no exceptions! We have a problem here.
Let me give it to you another way. Most of the manuscripts that we have in Greek—5,500 of them and the Latin, some 10,000—you know most of them are after the tenth century. One of the big arguments that they have against King James is that there are a lot of late manuscripts involved, rather than early. And so, early is best. But when they found out that the papyri agrees more with the King James then they started to undermine that, as I read in this article.
Now they have another problem. And that is that if we go before the tenth century A.D., using their same arguments related to 1 John 5:7, low and behold we come up with an amazing discovery! There are only fourteen manuscripts that leave it out. Oops! But they have led you to believe that their remarks are correct. But if we use the same arguments about the oldest manuscripts, why would you leave this verse out? Why would most of the testimony start with the fourth century, exactly when we had the Arian and Athanasius controversy over the deity of Christ and over the Trinity? Why would you take it out of the text from then on? If you didn’t believe in the Trinity; if you didn’t accept the deity of Jesus Christ! It is very interesting what this whole thing just completely undermines!
He quotes scholar after scholar, including Westcott and Hort and all of those guys, and what they said about it, and how they reasoned with it. It’s unbelievable! I sat there and I just could hardly believe it. He shows you quotations that will appear in your Bibles, like what we have heard here and where they actually came from. And the guys who said them never even looked them up! And it’s still being quoted?
Here’s a little interesting thing.
Today the Syriac and the Latin Vulgate remain largely unexamined. The truth is no one in any field of scholarship in this endeavor with whom I consulted or read their works has any idea as to whether 1 John 5:7 is in any of those manuscripts. [Oooh!] Yet they take liberties in Bibles to say whatever they want to say in the margin, when the truth of the matter is nobody has ever checked. We don’t even know the precise total of these manuscripts. The great scholar, Bruce Metzger, who dominates Bible translation in our time, who makes all these amazing quotations has in fact himself never seen the evidence. We do not even know the precise totals of these manuscripts, yet they are quoted in many people’s books. [And I might add in the notes of your teacher.] Why, in this space age of abundant technological breakthroughs, do these scholars provide us with only estimates? Why do great Greek scholars as Kenyon, Metzger, Vobus, still refer to an outdated list? The likely answer is that all the Latin and Syriac manuscripts are not studied in a comprehensive manner because in fact, as we know from the studies we have already done of several of them, they all agree with the King James. Why is there not even a catalogue of manuscripts? Metzger, [He gives the date, the documentation and his book.] on the Syriac manuscripts said, “In view of the abundance of the Peshitta, some of them of great antiquity, it is to be regretted that during the twentieth century so little effort has been directed to solving the many problems that clamor for their attention. [Yet he turns right around and gives his opinion without ever looking at them.]
What are we going to do about all of this, class? Listen to this. What’s the name on the Greek text up there that you buy in the bookstore? You buy a something Greek text, a Nestle’s Greek Text. It’s about the twenty–seventh edition now. A lot of people don’t know when it started. It was in 1904. But anyway, listen to Nestle’s admission.
It was not until 1904 that a Greek text lacking 1 John 5:7 was widely distributed and accepted by professors of the Greek New Testament. [Boy, this is exactly the opposite of what those footnotes are telling you. Isn’t that interesting?] Eventually the Nestle text became the foundation for all current English translations, including New American Standard, Revised Standard, Good News Bible, New International, etc., etc.… The editors, according to Kenyon the great Greek scholar said, ‘Only seventeen manuscripts from 8000 extant manuscripts left out 1 John 5:7.’ [Bingo!] To put it in percentages, the actual amount of the manuscripts that leave it out, especially before the tenth century, represent less than one percent of the manuscripts.
That’s interesting. Wow! Who are you going to believe? Sure like the documentation though. You can look it up for yourself. This is an interesting book.
Here’s a good statement.
Old Latin is the most important translation outside of the Greek—[the old Latin]. The old Latin evidence for 1 John 5:7 is critical. And most editors of Greek New Testaments admit that the evidence for early versions has to be derived primarily from the manuscripts of old Latin. All of the Greek Bibles the United Bible Society, which have resulted in our modern English translations, state in their opening introductions that they depend heavily upon the latest old Latin evidence.
Isn’t that interesting? He lists the translation committee, 1989 Board of Directors of the United Bible Society that produces a Greek text and all of that. You are going to find this interesting.
The Board of Trustees of this organization, which insists that it is a secret body, consists of twenty-five members. At the top of the list are three Roman Catholic priests. Next is Kurt Aland [his name is on the Nestle-Aland Greek text] and in the thirteenth place on the list of twenty-five is Mr. Bruce Metzger himself. [Who are these people? I inquired about a visit to this institute of scholars and was told that it is closed to the public].
How are you guys doing? And we’re going to talk about the difficulties of inspiration! I just want to throw a couple more out at you. Did you know in the Greek text that is currently being used for this modern English, there were only twenty-nine manuscripts used for the epistles? They dismissed 99.63% of the quantity of 8,000 Latin manuscripts, many which were never catalogued or glanced at. I don’t know what to tell you here. I don’t want to bore you to death, but this is just unbelievable. It just keeps going on and on with this.
It seems to me that 1 John 5:7-8 is in the Bible and belongs there and should stay there. And it means we have a reference to the Trinity for our Jehovah’s Witness friends that come to the door. And it seems to me that 1 Timothy 3:16 is abundantly clear that the word “God” belongs in the text, which means we have a clear statement that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh.
What I’m trying to say is this will never be looked at, talked about or consulted or paid any attention to and that’s been true all along. The business of selling Bibles is too big, too much money.
But seriously, the real issue is still not English. It’s Greek. It’s not English at all. I really am not here to knock New International translation methods or New American Standard methods. What I’m concerned about is our Bible. What is the word of God? It was written in Greek. What Greek text we use is critical and the English translation. I don’t care if we have a new English translation, as long as we use the right Greek text. And that’s what’s bothered me for years.
Now you understand why the scholars of the Jesus Seminar can just pick and choose and say Jesus didn’t say this, didn’t say that and why they just throw things out. They just play games with it. That’s where we are headed.
Do you know that the number one reason we are called “fundamentalists,” which a lot of people have changed the meaning of that, now it’s an Islamic Fundamentalist. So they have now made it the radical right. But the original meaning of the fundamentals, which were written by the way back at the turn of the century, we have had copies of the book up there. The Fundamentals. But did you know the number one thing is the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible? All that we are, all that we believe is from this Book.
I want you to know what you believe and why. I’m not afraid of controversy. I’m not afraid of difficult things. I want you to be students and not just check your brains off at the door. Do not fight over English translations, but fight over the original autographs. We don’t have them, but we have more manuscripts to guide us in determining that than any book in history has ever hoped to have or even to be worthy of sitting on the same shelf with the book of the Bible. There is no comparison whatsoever to anything ever written in ancient history. The Bible is the most copied, most distributed book in the history of the world, by far.
Now, we come to the difficulties of inspiration. And I want to start by talking about, the theories. There are various theories and you know a lot of Bibles will not tell you what the theory is in inspiration. They won’t tell you. But these theories, at least five major ones, are what you will find in the Christian world today.
We have those who believe in what we call ordinary inspiration. It’s inspired like Shakespeare. It’s on the level of mere human genius. This is the number one view. I am sad to say. It’s the view of secular people and liberal minds. “Oh yeah, the Bible. It sure has some wonderful things in it!” But it’s just human genius that’s all it is to some people.
We have the dynamic theory of inspiration, thinking that the thoughts of God are of God, the words are of men. So you have to realize that and men make mistakes. They will say God does not make mistakes. Which I am sure, God appreciates them saying. They will say the thoughts are important. They are of God. Now class, what’s wrong with this? Well, you tell me how we express thoughts without words?
You cannot express thoughts without words. Watch out! This is one of the most subtle views of inspiration. It’s used by a lot of evangelicals. People say, “Of course the thoughts are of God. Those were inspired. But you know the words are of man. You’ve got to deal with human error and all of that.” You see how tricky it is? Wait a minute. The only way I know what your thoughts are is by the words that express those thoughts.
Number three, argument of degrees that is: some parts are more inspired than others. Now this gets them out of the historical and geological problems. By the way, the most accurate account of ancient history is in the Bible. We know that from archaeology. But you understand people are threatened by a lot of things. They say, “Well some parts are more inspired than others.” And it’s interesting how many Christian schools have decided that the first eleven chapters of Genesis of course are not inspired. “They are an attempt by a man in his generation trying to figure out how it all started. But, it’s expressing some basic stuff. But really, you can’t trust it. Some parts are more inspired than others.” I asked you a question. Who is to determine which parts are inspired? Who makes the decision?
Here’s fourth one, what they call the Moral Theory. This is very popular, very popular in a world where we’re having a battle over moral values. You’ll hear this quoted, “It’s the moral and spiritual teachings that are inspired” This way you can continue to question history and science.
Then [the fifth view] we have what we call the Mechanical and what we mean there is dictation. Now I want to ask you, do you think the Bible was dictated? I don’t know how many Christians say it wasn’t. The Bible says the exact opposite. Let me ask you a question. Did God ever say to a man who didn’t have one blooming idea about anything God was talking about and did God ever say to him, “Write it”? Did He? Oh yeah, many times. The whole book of Revelation for instance. Or did God say, “Well you know, you guys, you hung around Jesus for a while. Why don’t you come up with four unique views! Matthew, you were a tax collector, I’ll bet you’re interested in things like the king. So you do a king deal. Mark, you’re nothing but a servant boy, so why don’t you do a servant deal. Luke, hey doctor, physician, we need the human side, Son of Man deal. And John, you knew Him better than anybody else, you do the God deal.”
Now if I’m being real critical you’ll forgive me, but sometimes there’s no other way to shock us into very commonly held views of evangelicals. You and I both know, you open a book on the gospels, that’s exactly what they do. Matthew presents Jesus as king, Mark as servant, Luke as Son of Man, and John as Son of God. Watch out! Somehow these guys all of a sudden made it up. And that’s supposed to explain things. You know, he saw it in the context of his own vocabulary; and what he saw, it doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate, the point is there.
Excuse me, most of the Bible is dictated, most of it. There are some exceptions but most of it is dictated. Here’s a good question for guys who are liberal critics. Okay, Moses wrote the first five books. Okay, how did he write about his death? Joshua wrote it. Or the other possibility is that God prophesied it and predicted it and said, here Moses, I’m going to write about it. But actually it was after the fact because he was already dead. So, you understand? People come up with some brilliant things. Why is that brilliant? No, God did not use Moses after he was dead.
Now class, you are hearing a lot of junk out there. And it is parroted a lot of times by good men and I don’t mean to be critical of them because some times we think, we read something, we don’t really think about it that much. We just quote it and keep it going.
It’s not just the theories that present the difficulties of inspiration, but it’s in terms of the transmission of the text. And when you talk about transmission of the text, we’re talking about how we copy it. Whether one Greek manuscript is being copied onto another Greek manuscript or whether it’s another version, another language. And class, when we try to analyze this, I put it down into five major categories. And I will want you to know this. In terms of the transmission of the text, we have five difficulties. We have first of all, inexact quotation, which we’ll talk about. Two, variant reports where the same story is told differently. We have contradictory statements, unscientific expressions, and of course, the big one they all use, human errors.
Let’s take a break and afterwards, we’ll start in with five major problems in copying the Bible.
Pickering, Wilbur. The Identity of the New Testament Text. Thomas Nelson, Inc., May 1981
Nestle, E. Aland, Kurt. The Greek New Testament, American Bible Society; 27 edition, January 2004