Ecclesiastical Text Theory, Textual Criticism, and Elitism?

I don’t have much time to write, as I am currently in the home stretch of getting all of my work done for the end of the semester. However, I did want to write to say that I have been doing some interesting work recently. I have taken a class in textual criticism, and have learned a ton about the text criticism of the Hebrew Bible. However, there have been many people who have not been so enthusiastic.
I have ran into several fellow Reformed Christians on the internet who say that they are from the “Ecclesiastical Text Theory” position. These folks basically hold that the church has decided which text is the preserved word of God, and that this text can be found in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. Most of them will go back to the time of the reformation, and cite the Westminster Confession’s teaching on preservation. However, they argue that the confession requires that you hold the exact same view of preservation that was held by the Puritans who wrote the confession. They argue that every single word that was in the original must be in the Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus for the NT. We cannot accept anything that deviates from these, because that is what the church has chosen. I even ran into some folks who went so far as to defend the inerrancy of the vowel pointings! They argued this on the basis of John Owen’s work. Now, keep in mind, John Owen was a Puritan, and his work is around 400 years old. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it does seem odd to assume that we cannot learn anything in 400 years. In other words, the Masoretic Text at the time of the reformation has always existed clear back to the autographs, so that people were running around at the time of Isaiah with Masoretic texts, all using vowel pointings! I even ran into one man who was arguing for the inerrancy of the script, such that the Isaiah was using a square script to write his text, even though we know that the script in use at that time was a PaleoHebrew script from the Siloam Tunnel Inscription.

Now, as I mentioned, what is behind this is an entire theological system. The problem is that the system, itself is exegetically weak. However, on the basis of their exegesis, some of the most nasty comments I have ever received, and some of the most groundless accusations I have ever received have came from this group, every bit as nasty and groundless as the accusations of Debbie Maken. There are some notable exceptions to this, but that has been the character of the comments I have received. I have been identified as a liberal, neo-orthodox denier of inerrancy, and that is just for saying that I don’t believe in the inspiration of the vowel pointings!

Let me just give you an example of this position from the blog of Kent Brandenburg, who has recently written an article on the Septuagint. Let us take a look at some of the rhetoric that this movement uses.

Brandenburg opens up his post with the following:

The Bible teaches the perfect preservation of Scripture. That’s why the people in the pew of churches all over the country believe it, despite the pressure from academics and elitists. They read their Bible and that is the plain reading of the text. It really is like the public schools drowning the nation in evolution, but still only convincing a minority of Americans. And then most people that do use new versions do not know that they are studying a different text of the Bible. They think it’s just updated English. And most new or multiple version advocates don’t mind that myth perpetuating itself.

Notice how those who study textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible are called “elitists.” Brandenburg, and those who hold to this position, liken our usage of textual criticism in Bible translation to the indoctrination that is found in public schools on the topic of evolution. So, in other words, if you look at Hebrew manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Masoretic manuscripts such as the Aleppo Codex or the Leningrad Codex, study Hebrew paleography to learn the scripts in the various stages of the transmission of the text, learn Greek, Latin, and Syriac so you can study the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Peshitta, and then take all of this mountain of information into account, and render a decision with the understanding of common copyist errors, translation technique, and internal evidence from the author himself, you are considered to be just as bad as public school indoctrination on evolution. You have to understand, that is the mindset of these folks. However, what is even worse is that he is going to try to defend this from scripture:

The following verses are just a few of what convince Christians that they should expect to have all the Words God inspired in the original manuscripts:

Isaiah 59:21, “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”

Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Matthew 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Psalm 12:6-7, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

These aren’t all, but they are a sampling of what people have seen and then depended on as a basis for a belief in the perfect preservation of Scripture. It has seemed plain to your average Christian that this is what God has said.

Now, one has to really shake their head at the gross misuse of scripture here. Take, for example, the quotation from Isaiah 59. The context is Israel’s transgression before the Lord [vrs.12-13], and the resultant mistreatment of them by their enemies [vrs.14-17]. However, the text says that God will repay them for their deeds, and will bring them a redeemer, so that all will fear the Lord [vrs.18-20]. It is in that context that you find the statement about the covenant being with them in verse 21. Hence, the words here are the *promises* of God to his people, not individual words of the text itself. It is parallel to the usage of Numbers 30:3:

Numbers 30:2 “If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

Now, are we really to suggest that his vow was just one word? No, of course not. Yet, this is the very same context of covenants and promises of vengance etc. that we find Isaiah 59:21! All I can say is that this is a gross misuse of Isaiah 59:21.

As far as Matthew 5:18, I have had that text used against me by these guys before. The argument that they raise is quite simple. Jots and tittles refer to letters or sections of letters in the Hebrew Bible [a jot refers most probably to a yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and a tittle most probably refers to the smallest distinguishing characteristics of Hebrew letters such as the sharp corner of the dalet [d] versus the curved corner of the resh [r]. What they will say is that, therefore, this text is talking about preservation even down to the individual letters.

Of course, again, this is a crassly literal way to take this text. For example, the term “iota” is likewise a letter, a Greek letter. Yet, if we say, “Not one iota of Homer’s Iliad is true!” are we somehow trying to invest iotas with meaning in the Greek language? No, the point is that not the smallest part of it is true! That is similar to what is going on here. The words jot and tittle are metonomies for the smallest teachings of the law. In fact, this can be verified by looking at the very next verse!:

Matthew 5:19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Notice, in these very context, Jesus clarifies what he is talking about. He is talking about the smallest *commandments* of the law, not individual words and letters of the text! This fact is also confirmed in the fact that Jesus is going to go on to deal with the law, and the rabbinical distortions of the law in the following sections! The context could not be clearer as to what is being referred to here.

With regards to Matthew 24:35, one is going to have a real problems with the following verse:

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.

Now, I obviously don’t believe the Bible is that thick a book that it takes up the whole world! So, we either have a contradiction in scripture, or we have another crassly literal interpretation of a passage. It is, very clearly, the latter.

The reason is that the context is dealing with prophecy. Hence, we are talking about *prophetic* words. That is, we are dealing with Jesus’ teachings, and, more specifically, his prophecy about what would happen to the temple in A.D. 70. What Jesus is saying here is that his prophecies would never fall to the ground, and would come to pass exactly as he said, which is exactly what happened in A.D. 70.

Now, Psalm 12 is a complicated text, and to quote it glibly like this shows how sloppy Brandenburg is being in his exegesis to try to prove his point. There are real questions about whether the “them” in the phrase “you shall keep them, O Lord” refers to the words. In the first place, the genders don’t match up. The “words” of verse 6 are feminine [hr’m.ai], while the suffix “them” on “keep” in verse 6 is masculine [~rEm.v.Ti]. Also, consider the context. Who is being protected in the context?:

Psalm 12:5-7 “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” 6 The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. 7 You, O LORD, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever.

Notice how the whole context of verse 5 is about the protection of people. Hence, if this were correct, it would be a simple a b a’ pattern:

verse 5: a
verse 6: b
verse 7: a’

This is very common in Hebrew poetry, both on a micro and on a macro level. Hence, although these things are not conclusive, it does give us good reason to question whether or not the “words” are what are being kept in verse 7. Interestingly enough, this was the view of John Calvin:

Some give this exposition of the passage, Thou wilt keep them, namely, thy words; but this does not seem to me to be suitable. David, I have no doubt, returns to speak of the poor, of whom he had spoken in the preceding part of the psalm. With respect to his changing the number, (for, he says first, Thou wilt keep them, and, next, Thou wilt preserve him it is a thing quite common in Hebrew, and the sense is not thereby rendered ambiguous. These two sentences, therefore, Thou wilt keep them, and Thou wilt preserve him, signify the same thing, unless, perhaps, we may say that, in the second, under the person of one man, the Psalmist intends to point out the small number of good men. To suppose this is not unreasonable or improbable; and, according to this view, the import of his language is, Although only one good man should be left alive in the world, yet he would be kept in perfect safety by the grace and protection of God.

The reason I point this out is because these people are going back to reformational views of scripture. Why not go back to John Calvin’s view of this text?! It is quite arbitrary for those ecclesiastical text advocates who do not do so.

However, it is not necessarily certain that this view is true, although I think it is the strongest. However, let us say that the “them” in the phrase “You shall keep them” in verse 7 refers back to the words. Again, keep the passage in context. What are we dealing with here? We are dealing, in context, with God’s promise to protect the weak and needy [v.5]! Hence, like Isaiah 59:21, the words here are not referring to individual words, but are, instead, dealing with the promise of God to protect the weak and the needy! That can be readily seen in that the promise of setting them to safety is immediately followed by, “The words of the Lord are pure words,” etc. It is a reassurance of the promise spoken of in the previous verse!

If you remember these principles outlined in thusfar, you can refute any ecclesiastical text theory advocate’s usage of any passage. Look at the context. If we are dealing in context with a promise, then the word is most likely referring to the promise[s] in the context. If we are in the context of prophecy, then the words are most likely referring to the prophecies in the context. If we are in the context of teaching, then the words are most likely referring to the teachings in the context. If you remember this, you will be able to refute 99.9% of the passages ecclesiastical text theory advocates use to prove their idea that every single individual word must have been preserved, and thus, we should not do text criticism.

Now, you might be asking yourself why I would take so much time to deal with these passages exegetically when it is so obvious that these people are reading the text in a crassly literal fashion, and totally ignoring context. The reason is very simple. Because of their crassly literal interpretation of these passages as referring to individual words, ecclesiastical text theorists will dismiss any text critical evidence. They argue that their position is exegetical, while our position is based in the wisdom of man. As we have seen, though, their exegesis is very poor, and the only reason anyone would ever have their faith shaken by needing to look at manuscripts is if one is careless in their exegesis to begin with. Brandenburg continues with:

You have those who have read about textual variants and textual criticism and superior or older manuscripts, and their faith is shaken in these promises of God. They’ve had to react to men preaching these verses to them. They didn’t approach their view of preservation beginning with exegesis, so now they are scrambling for an explanation for what they believe from Scripture. The best they can come up with, besides revising the meaning of verses like those above or just attacking the already developed and historic doctrine of preservation, is “The LXX Argument” or “The Septuagint Argument.”

Notice how he is accusing those who say his interpretation of these texts is wrong of “revising the meaning of verses like those above.” Let me ask you. Who actually examined the context? Who is interpreting the usage of the term “word” in the light of the context, and in light of the way the term is used in other passages? Notice how he never argued from the context, he never argued lexicographically, and he never did anything remotely resembling exegesis, and then says that it is *us* who are revising the meaning of these verses!

Now, we get into the text critical meat and potatoes. One of the problems with this perspective is that the Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible predating the time of Christ, abbreviated “LXX”] is different from the Masoretic text. Yet, the New Testament authors quote from the LXX around 80% of the time. Brandenburg states the problem this way:

Here’s how the argument goes. Many of the quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament do not match up with the Hebrew of the Old Testament. They match up more word for word and in more places, however, with the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the LXX (the Septuagint). So Jesus and the Apostles must have been relying upon the Septuagint, an inaccurate or corrupt translation, as an adequate version of the Bible to use. In so doing, they validated or justified an inaccurate or corrupt text as permissible.

One of their favorite Old Testament quotations is the one in Luke 4:14-21:

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

They often testify that the reading of Jesus here is much closer to the LXX than it is the Hebrew Masoretic text. And they also make a point that Luke says “it was written” and that Jesus “stood up for to read.” They conclude that Jesus was using and endorsing the Septuagint, based on this passage. And if He was, He was also showing that some differences in wording of the text of the Bible are insignificant as long as the same message is found in the various readings.

Now, let us take a look at his arguments against this position one by one:

Alright, so what about this argument, the LXX argument. Is it correct? Is there anything wrong with it?

First, we interpret the possible implications from a passage in light of plain statements, explicit teachings, that are made elsewhere. This is a corollary to “interpret Scripture with Scripture.” It is to interpret the obscure in light of the plain. Wouldn’t a doctrine that God would allow Scripture to change or be lost or be altered be a doctrine that we would find somewhere else in the Bible, if that is what is to be implied from Luke 4:14-21? That would seem to be an important doctrine, the one about the Words of God being amended or modified. But that idea flies in the face of the preservation passages already written.

What we see happening in Luke 4 and other places like it, we should interpret based upon the plain teaching found elsewhere. This is how you come to true doctrine. The Bible will not deny itself or contradict itself (2 Tim 2:13). God will not contradict a teaching about perfect preservation, especially when there are zero passages that tell us that God would allow or that it would be permissible for the Words of Scripture to change. Whatever implications might be made about the preservation of Scripture from Luke 4:14-21 should be made in light of the plain statements that the Bible already makes on the subject.

You are seeing now why I spend so much time on Brandenburg’s misuse of scripture. It is the very foundation of the very poor argumentation that is found here. In other words, “I am just going to put my fingers in my ears to this evidence because of my crassly literal understanding of these texts of scripture.” Now, as far as “zero evidence” that God would allow for textual variation, the simple fact of the matter is that the Bible does not address the issue of textual variation. As we saw in looking at the above texts, there are many texts that these folks use that actually teach that the message and the teachings of scripture will endure forever. However, in terms of textual variation, the Bible is silent. God expects us to think, and not just sign our brain over to a text from the time of the Reformation.

Second, nowhere does the Bible say that Jesus or the apostles are quoting from a translation. We read nothing about a translation anywhere in Scripture. That teaching must be put into the text in order to get it out. One would think that a translation would be mentioned if one of the apostles were depending on it. Not one time in the gospels or the epistles does a writer ever allude to the Septuagint. It isn’t in there.

Of course, this completely and totally ignores the mammoth agreement between these quotations and the Septuagint. If 80% of the quotations you use match up to a particular translation, don’t you think someone could say that you have access to that translation? What we are expected to believe here is a huge coincidence, namely, that 80% of quotations agree word for word with the LXX, differing from anything found in the Masoretic texts, and yet, the authors had no access to it.

Also, no one ever claimed that the Bible contains all knowledge. We can discover things about the time period of the Bible that are never mentioned in scripture. Does that mean that we are somehow violating Sola Scriptura? No, quite the contrary. It means we are interpreting scripture in its historical context, and the reality is that the LXX was available to Jesus and the disciples, and their quotations match up 80% of the time! That is the historical reality in terms of which we are interpreting the text.

Third, there is tremendous Scriptural evidence that Jesus and the Apostles were using the Hebrew text. Even in the passage in question, we should consider what kind of scroll would be used in a Jewish synagogue. It would not have been a Greek one. By saying, “It is written,” Jesus would not have been referring to a translation. “It was written” (v. 17) is perfect passive, so it is a past action with ongoing results. What Moses had written was still written to that day, which is why Luke would have used that word.

This is a tremendously false statement. First off, there is absolutely, positively no reason whatsoever to believe that a scroll of the Septuagint would not have been in a Jewish synagogue. At Qumran, for example, we have found several copies of the LXX. The reason for this is because of the fact that, after the conquest of Alexander the Great, the two main languages in Palestine were Greek and Aramaic. That is precisely the reason why the LXX was translated, so that Greek speaking Jewish people could have the Bible in their own language. Now, I don’t think that is what is necessarily going on in Luke 4, but I will get to that later.

When Jesus refers to Scripture, He refers to the three fold division of the law (Luke 24:27, 44). which was not the case with the Septuagint. The Apostle Paul does the same in Acts 26:22. The Hebrew text had the three fold division.

Actually, the idea of a longer canon is a myth. Roger Beckwith has written an excellent book called The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, and he shows that the apocryphal writings were added much later to the text of the Septuagint.

Also we should see exactly how Jesus uses the Hebrew text of the Old Testament in Luke 11:51, moving from the first book, Genesis, with the example of Abel, to the last book, 2 Chronicles, with the example of Zacharias. If you were looking for the last book of the Old Testament in the Septuagint, you would look in Malachi for Zacharias. He isn’t in there. 2 Chronicles is the last book of the Hebrew Old Testament.

There is a kind of bait and switch that is being used here that must be pointed out. The LXX was not translated all at once. It was translated over a very long period of time, and was probably not finished until around the mid second century B.C. Second, the actual order of the books that we have for the LXX is a Christian invention, not a Hebrew invention. The first collection we have of all the books of the Septuagint does not exist until around the time of the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century! Hence, to say that Jesus is rejecting the LXX on the basis of a canonical order that would not come about for another 300 years is absurd.

I would also say that Jesus is not dealing with the validity of translations in this text, nor is he dealing with their usage in textual criticism. Hence, even if one were to demonstrate that this arrangement of the LXX went back before Christ, it would be total eisegesis to read into this text the idea that the LXX cannot be used in Textual criticism.

Jews knew Hebrew. They didn’t need a Greek translation at that time. Pilate included Hebrew as one of the languages in the signage he placed over Jesus on the cross (John 19:20). In Acts 21:40, Paul spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem in “the Hebrew tongue.” Jesus talked to Paul in the Hebrew tongue in Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:14). The Torah was the basis for teaching in the Jewish synagogue in that day (Acts 15:21). We should assume that Jesus and the Apostles spoke to the Jews in Hebrew. We don’t have a basis to believe otherwise. We have a strong exegetical basis to believe that they did.

The references to “Hebrew” in the New Testament, unless context demonstrates otherwise, is most likely the Aramaic language. In fact, BDAG says that this word was used in the Bar-Kokhbah revolt, in which we are certain that Aramaic was spoken because there are documents that survive from this revolt.

Fourth, the words from Jesus in Luke 4:14-21 do not fit the Septuagint word-for-word either. The words there allude to more than just Isaiah 61, but also to Isaiah 58:6. The actual words Luke penned obviously were not the exact equivalent of any text, Hebrew or Greek. You have definite problems with wording if you think that Jesus was quoting from the Septuagint. The words aren’t the same in the Greek of Luke 4 and Isaiah 61.

Which, of course, is irrelevant since all that is needed for the argument is departing from the Masoretic text. Why would the Lord Jesus do that if the Masoretic text is supposed to be the preserved word of God?

Fifth, Luke 4:16 does say that Jesus stood up to read. He did read. However, as we move along, it doesn’t say that he read the words that begin in verse 18. It was normal for the synagogue rabbi to read and comment, to read and targum. It is the equivalent of my saying, “In John 3:16 we have written that if we believe in Jesus we’ll have everlasting life, but if we don’t believe in Him, we’ll perish.” I’m teaching the truth of the verse and using some of its words to do so.

And, of course, everyone who has read the Targums is just shaking their heads right now. That is not the character of Targumim. Jesus’ statement stays way to close to both the LXX and the MT for anyone to seriously consider that this is a Targum. Even worse, we have the Jewish targums for this passage, and they don’t read anything like what Jesus said here. Furthermore, as Brandenburg himself said, Jesus is reading here. Luke 4:16 makes it abundantly clear that Jesus stood up “to read” [avnagnw/nai]. What Brandenburg is not telling you is that the scriptures would be read first, and *then* a targum would be given. Hence, the actual Targum of the text is what Jesus is giving when he says that the words that he has just given are fulfilled in their hearing [v.21].

This is a question to be answered. Even in the consideration of the question, however, one should understand that we are talking now about an extra scriptural argument with the LXX argument. Above we have scriptural arguments. They should stand as a basis for the position we take, since the Bible is our authority for faith and practice as Christians. If we use an extra scriptural argument to take a position, we are depending on human reasoning for our position, not faith. That isn’t acceptable for a Christian and it doesn’t please God.

One who depends on the Septuagint argument should also consider this. He is using a translation as a basis for determining what is the Old Testament text. Isn’t this a Ruckman argument? Don’t those who support a critical or eclectic text position have a problem with using a translation to amend or correct an original language text?

Of course, Brandenburg is throwing up a rather self-refuting argument. He has to rely on the decisions of the Masorites and the Puritans as to what is God’s word. Second, he says that human reason doesn’t please God. Actually, the Bible says that God cannot lie [Titus 1:2]. God himself is a rational being, and when we apply the laws of logic, imparticular with regards to text criticism, we are thinking God’s thoughts after him, since he, himself, is a rational being. The only kind of “human reason” that is forbidden is the kind that does not do its reasoning under the Lordship of Christ, and, as I stated earlier, because of the gross misuses of scripture in service of Brandenburg’s unbiblical position, he is actually the one who is using “human reason.”

Secondly, no one is using the Septuagint as the “basis” for “determining” the text of the Hebrew Bible. We are using it as evidence, along with the Peshitta, the Vulgate, the Targums, and the material from Qumran, as well as the Masoretic manuscripts. It is from all of this evidence that we seek the logic of the facts, with a knowledge of common scribal errors, in order to reconstruct the Hebrew text. To say that we use the LXX as a “basis” for “determining” the text of the Hebrew Bible is a gross strawman.

The problem with Ruckman is that he thinks that the King James Version is inspired. That is the foundation upon which Ruckman wants to amend the Hebrew text. However, no textual critic would ever say that the LXX is inerrant. It is evidence that, if used properly, can help us get back to the original, along with the other sources I just mentioned. The readings of the LXX can be accepted, or they can be rejected, given what the LXX says in the light of the rest of the evidence.

To answer the question, first, we have a plausible explanation for why the Septuagint may match up with Greek quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament. Septuagint experts have posited this as a reason and John Owen gave it as one in his Biblical Theology in the 17th century. This is a position presented in Invitation to the Septuagint by Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silva, a standard work on the Septuagint. Owen wrote this view (p. 544): “Christian users and copiers of the Septuagint would naturally adapt their quotations to those given in the New Testament.” What we use today, called the Septuagint, was amended out of respect of Christ to match the words of Christ in those locations in the Greek New Testament. This is a historical explanation for a historical argument that allows the actual exegetical arguments to stand. It is an argument that harmonizes with Scripture.

First of all, the idea that Jobes and Silva would accept this view is simply ridiculous. While they mention it, it is hardly something that can withstand the current state of Septuagintal studies. For example, while the NT quotes the LXX 80% of the time, that leaves 20% of the time in which they do not quote it. 20% is enough to question the idea that they were just altering the text to match the words of Jesus and the apostles. Why did they not change the text there? Furthermore, the discovery of the Qumran scrolls absolutely tears the heart out of this argument. Why? Because there were several Hebrew texts that match the Septuagint rescention. In other words, these Hebrew manuscripts could clearly be seen to form the Hebrew tradition underlying the LXX. Hence, it is clear that the LXX was translated from actual Hebrew manuscripts. Hence, when Brandenburg tries to argue:

Second, the words that we read of Jesus and the Apostles do not match the Old Testament text exactly because they were not exact quotations. They were referring directly to the text of the Old Testament, but they were in the nature of targuming. In Luke 4, Jesus referred to what “was written,” when He opened the scroll. However, He didn’t quote it word for word. He was doing what Jewish teachers did, that is, comment on the text on the fly, using His own words. Thomas Strouse writes about what Jesus did in His targum:

Christ’s expanded and inspired interpretation of Isa. 61:1-2a not only becomes part of the canonical Scripture, but is also an object lesson in bibliological interpretation, enhancing one’s understanding of the Lord’s eschatology. Dispensationally, He divided up Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming of the Lord into the first coming and the second coming (cf. Lk. 4:21). The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Isa. 61:1-2a with His first advent, and will fulfill Isa. 61:2b with His second advent in connection with the conclusion of “the day of vengeance” (Isa. 61:2b; cf. 34:8; 35:4; 63:4). Christ’s employment of targuming OT Hebrew texts gave further complementation to the interpretation of these texts and additional contribution to the whole of Christian theology.

He is just simply in error. The Qumran scrolls such as 4QJerb and 4QJerd as well as 4QSama very clearly demonstrate that when the LXX departs from the MT it is doing so because of a different Hebrew vorlage, not because it is somehow a targum of those texts. That was one of the important things that we learned from the Qumran scrolls.

Now, for this reason [and other historical reasons], that is what I think is going on in Luke 4. I don’t believe Jesus is reading from a Greek scroll [although, it is quite possible that there could have been Greek scrolls in the Synagogue]. I think what is happening is that Jesus is using a manuscript of the book of Isaiah that is closer to the LXX vorlage than the MT. The point is that the LXX could not be targuming the text, since we now know that the LXX was relying on a different Hebrew vorlage because of the Qumran scrolls.

Now, we return again in the final part of Brandenburg’s post to another misuse of scripture. He will, again, misuse Matthew 24:35, but he will misuse another text. If you remember what I said before, you should be able to spot what the proper interpretation of the text is:

We should take our positions about the text of Scripture from Scripture itself. Jesus wouldn’t have used or quoted from a terribly corrupt text of Scripture. He would not have endorsed it. It was the position of Jesus that God would preserve His Words for every generation (Matt 24:35). Jesus Himself testifies at the very end of the New Testament as to the perfection and the settled nature of the text, which we read in Revelation 22:18-19:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Remember what I said. The term “words” in scripture can be used to refer to teachings, sayings, promises, and…prophecy! Notice how it is right under Brandenburg’s nose, and if it would have been a snake it would have bit him. What are we not to take away? The words of the prophecy of this book. I would maintain that this genitive is an appositional genitive, with the semantic force of something like “every man that heareth the words [which are] the prophecy of this book.” In other words, again, the words here are prophetic words, and not individual words.

Now, with all of that said, I would like to point out that there is a fundamental flaw in what Brandenburg has said. I have spoken throughout this article about the Masoretic Text [MT]. However, I have done so tongue and cheek. The reason is that there is no one text that one can call *the* Masoretic text. The fact of the matter is, what we call the Masoretic Text is much more of a series of manuscripts than a single text. While these manuscripts do agree in the vast majority of cases, there are several disagreements between these manuscripts that are real problems for Brandenburg’s position, since he wants to argue that we must have every single word exactly the same. Emanuel Tov in his excellent book Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible has a chart of some of these differences on page 36:

Genesis 1:14 All but one manuscript: ~ymXh [yqrb tram yhy ~yhla rmayw
Genesis 1:14 Kennicott MS 776 adds: #rah l[ ryahl

Leviticus 10:1 All but one manuscript: awhybaw bdn !rha ynb wxqyw
Leviticus 10:1 Kennicott MS 5,181 ‘wgw ynb ynX wxqyw

1 Kings 11:20 All but five manuscripts: h[rp tyb $wtb snpxt whlmgtw
1 Kings 11:20 in Kennicott MSS 23, 154, 182, 271A, 283A:
h[rp ynb $wtb snpxt whlmgtw

1 Kings 12:12 All but one manuscript: ~[bxr
1 Kings 12:12 Kennicott MS 202: ~[bxr $lmh

Joshua 3:3 Leningrad Codex: ~ktwark
Joshua 3:3 Aleppo Codex, Cairo Genizah, Sasson Ms 1053 Rabbinic Bible: ~ktark

Joshua 3:4 in the Ketib reading. Leningrad Codex, Rabbinic Bible: wnybw
Joshua 3:4 in the Ketib reading. The Aleppo Codex, Cairo Genizah, Sasson Ms 1053: wynbw

Joshua 6:6. Sasson Ms 1053: ‘h tyrb !wra
Joshua 6:6. Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex, Cairo Genizah, Rabbinic Bible: ‘h !wra

Joshua 6:9. Cairo Genizah: trpwXh
Joshua 6:9. Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex, Sasson Ms 1053, Rabbinic Bible: twrpwXh

Tov, Immanuel. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Fortress Press. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 2001. p.36

Now, we have just shown that there are a handful of cases in which an entirely different word or letter is used. In fact, Tov’s list is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that we have pointed out that there are differences in the Masoretic manuscripts should make one ask a very important question. If you are going to say that the Masoretic text is the preserved word of God, then given that there is no one “Masoretic text,” *which* Masoretic text is the preserved word of God? That is a question that is difficult for Brandenburg’s system to handle. Why? because he demands that every single individual word be preserved in the Masoretic text. However, the Masoretic text itself has variations! Hence, he is going to have to pick one Masoretic text [which is arbitrary], or admit that the word of God can be preserved even with textual variations in the manuscript.

However, the situation gets even worse for Brandenburg when we look at how the New Testament quotes the Old Testament. We have dealt with instances in which the NT authors quote the LXX, and we have found that they are not targuming because of the Hebrew manuscripts that come from Qumran which contain differences typical of the LXX vorlage. However, what about instances where the NT is, indeed, quoting the MT, and yet, it departs from all the readings of MT in one word? Such a passage does exist, and I must give credit to Dr. Magary for showing the text and all the following information to our text criticism class. It is in Acts 13:41. Acts 13:41 is a quotation of Habakkuk 1:5. Here is a comparison:

MT Habakkuk 1:5a: WjyBiêh;w.) ‘~yIAGb WaÜr.
NT Acts 13:41a: i;dete( oi` katafronhtai, kai. qauma,sate

Here, again, we have the NT following the MT, and yet, the words here are different. The literal translation of the Hebrew ~yIAGB; here is “among the nations” while the NT uses oi` katafronhtai which translates to “scoffers.” Hence, the MT reads, “Look among the nations and be amazed,” while the NT reads “Look, O scoffers, and be amazed.” Now, “among” is gone, “nations” are gone, and thus, we have a difference between the MT and the NT at this point, when the NT is following the MT exactly on every other word. If you hold to Brandenburg’s position, you have no answer for this.

However, if you simply allow all the evidence to speak, the LXX, the Syriac, and one of the Masoretic manuscripts, you will understand what is going on here. The LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and one Masoretic manuscript contain a different reading. Here is the comparison:

MT: ~yIAGB;
LXX, Syriac, 1 Masoretic Manuscript: ~ydIg.Bo

It would probably help to remove the vowels, and highlight the difference so that you can see what the consonantal text says without the vowel pointings, which is how it was originally written:

MT: ~ywgb = among the nations
LXX, Syriac, 1 Masoretic Manuscript: ~ydgb=O scoffers

The confusion is between a w and a d, the two letters waw and dalet respectively. It is very easy to see how someone not making the upper part of their dalet long enough would cause such confusion. Also, at one point in time in Epigraphic [Paleo-] Hebrew, these letters are even more easily confused, since the dalet simply looks like a small flag, and the waw looks like a verticle line with a semicircle up top. If the upper line of the flag somehow got erased or effaced, it would be very easy to confuse a waw and a dalet.

I think anyone can see how someone could make this simple error. In fact, another confirmation that we are correct is the fact that the term which we have settled on the basis of the NT is used again in Habakkuk in Habakkuk 1:13, and the Septuagint has a verbal form of the exact same term that the NT has at Acts 13:41. Also, in the Qumran commentary on Habakkuk, the text 4QpHab, the very first surviving word used in commenting on this verse is ~ydgwb. However, the point is that this is just a simple error of confusing letters where something was either written to big, or the top of something was effaced. *Any one* of us could make this error.

The point however is that Brandenburg’s position cannot deal with this, because he wants the Textus Receptus to be the preserved word of God in the New Testament, and he wants the Masoretic Text to be the preserved word of God in the Old Testament. Yet here, the Textus Receptus is quoting the Masoretic Text, and yet does not give the exact same words, because of, in my view, a simple error that has come about as a result of the transmission of the Masoretic text.

Hence, we have seen that there are several fatal flaws in the Ecclesiastical text position. The first is that the position is nowhere taught in scripture. It must be read into scripture through crassly literal exegesis, which is on the same level of positing that Jesus’ body is made of wood with hinges on the side because he said, “I am the door.” The second problem is that it cannot account for the New Testament writers quoting the LXX instead of the MT. The third problem is that there is no one “Masoretic text,” as there are differences between the Masoretic manuscripts. The fourth problem is that it cannot account for NT quotations of the OT where it follows MT only except for one word.

Now, after tearing this position apart, you may be surprised to learn that I do have some admiration for this position. These folks do desire to defend the word of God, and they are really earnest to do so. However, they are doing so in gross ignorance, and my concern is that you would never be able to withstand this line of argumentation if you ran into a liberal who has actually studied this area. A Michael Fox or a Kyle McCarter would absolutely feast on this kind of stuff. If we are going to be defending scripture, we have to do better than this.

More than that, our faith needs to be grounded in truth. This position is totally untrue because it is covering the eyes to a multitude of evidence. Dr. Maurice Robinson, a New Testament Textual Critic, and, incedentally, a Majority Text advocate said something very interesting. He said that it is amazing how these folks continue to present their position when just about everything they keep bring up has been completely refuted. Sure, it will give us certainty to just simply rely upon what the reformers said, or what this edition or that edition of the Masoretic text says. However, here is where scripture vindicates my own position, and the position of many evangelical textual critics. We are not to be people who seek certainty; if we are going to serve him who is the truth, we need to be people of the truth as well, and not believe in falsehoods because it gives us certainty. For the Christian, certainty can only come through truth, and that is the greatest error of the Ecclesiastical Text Theory.

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15 Responses to “Ecclesiastical Text Theory, Textual Criticism, and Elitism?”

  1. Larry Bray Says:

    It’s a shame that the “Ecclesiastical Text” theory has gone to such extremes. I find the work of Letis in this area quite compelling, yet he never goes to the extreme of saying that the Ecclesiastical Text is equivalent to the original text.

    As a matter of fact, one of his main points is that the original text doesn’t exist so we should not be as concerned with it as with the preserved text that we actually have.

    One of the foundational understandings that underpins the Ecclesiastical Text theory is that the Church has charge over the Scriptures rather than academia. In this sense, since the Church is the pillar and buttress of truth and the School is not, we must consider the Scriptures before they were pried out of the hands of the Church.

    Of course, the problem with this is that the Church has accepted, by and large, the work of the academics on the Scripture…therefore the modern Church is supporting the “new” text.

    From the standpoint of “the Church’s Text” the argument can only be made anachronistically.

  2. otrmin Says:

    Larry,

    I agree, and it is interesting to note what you have said about Letis. I think what has happened is that Letis’ theories have been mixed with the views of the Puritans, and that is what has created what you are seeing.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  3. fundyreformed Says:

    Adam,

    Thanks for a great article here. I run a group blog called KJV Only? where several former KJV Onlyists, myself included, blog about our journeys out of that extreme movement.

    Our articles are part of the backstory of Brandenburg’s article here. I will say he has a more developed exposition of these passages, and you just saw one portion of his relevant argumentation. He has a unique argument based on the gender disagreement in Ps. 12 and also a few examples in Ps. 119. He basically states the gender disagreement between pronoun and antecedent is typical in some passages when the referent is the words of Scripture. I think he gets into that on his blog, somewhere. But for sure he gets into that in the book he edited on this subject.

    That being said, I found your exegesis refreshing and convincing. And particularly enjoyed your treatment of the “scoffers” variant. You probably guessed that Thomas D Ross is connected with this Brandenburg fellow, too. I went to school with Ross. I’m glad you’re taking that paper to task as well.

    As far as where this KJV only / Ecclsiastical Text position has come from, I think it is a mix of several factors. Dean Burgon’s work in disputing Westcott & Hort on several passages, influenced the likes of E.F. Hills whose works have been read by Letis of course but also the less scholarly wing of the movement. Then you have a Seventh Day Adventist professor, Benjamin Wilkinson who wrote a The King James Bible Vindicated in 1930. That book was taken up by J.J. Ray and plagiarized in his 1950 work God Only Wrote One Bible. His was a popular level work, and Ray’s work influenced both Peter Ruckman and David Otis Fuller who then in turn influenced an extreme KJV only side on the one hand, and a moderate, KJV only group on the other.

    There were waves of KJV Onlyist influence which cycled throughout primarily fundamentalist groups, as the proliferation of accepted and widely used modern Bible versions grew. In the 70s, mid-80s, mid-90s, etc. Many fundamentalist Bible schools started out with no clear position on the issue, and then came to “see the light” and declare their commitment to the new rallying call of KJV Onlyism. John Rice an influential leader resisted KJV Onlyism even until his death as an elderly statesman-leader of the movement in 1980.

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

    In Christ,

    Bob

    • Andrew Suttles Says:

      Good summary, Bob. Don’t forget that the RSV had a major impact on the KJVO movement as well. Fundamentalist preachers who railed against the liberal leanings of the RSV (and the liberalism of the UCC) had only 1 valid alternative – the old KJV. I think that many who took that stand in the 50s laid the foundation for the movement we have today. The “I’m sticking with the good ‘ol KJV” morphed into, there is no and can be no improvement or revision.

  4. JasonS Says:

    Excellent post. Thanks

  5. Kent Brandenburg Says:

    Hi Adam,

    I’m glad I found this. Very interesting. I enjoyed some of the rhetoric too, like the snake biting me in the nose—that gave me a big laugh. Anyway, I don’t know that I’m going to take the time to deal with you on the whole thing, but this hardly represents a thorough work on the subject and your dealing is full of errors as well. Right away you get it wrong right away when I say, “academics and elitists,” and you take that as all academics are elitists. I would have said “academics or elitists” if I wanted to communicate that. I thought that you’ve got to try harder than that, Adam. So I’m thinking that the rest of it might not go so well, and I was right.

    I can’t do anything in depth, but let me point out one, as I read through this very quickly. You used the gender agreement as a basis for your criticism of Psalm 12:6-7. That might jump up and bite you on the nose. I’ll just give you a little head start on this. Look for the same kind of disagreement in these passages—Psalm 119:111, 129, 152, and 167. The Hebrew uses purposeful gender disagreement when applying to God’s Words. There are many more examples than those, but those will be easy to look at.

    That’s just a start, Adam. I’ll see how you do there and that will say a lot about what kind of conversation we could have.

    Thanks.

    Kent Brandenburg

    • Andrew Suttles Says:

      Doesn’t the marginal note in the 1611 KJV indicates that the word them refers back to people. I don’t have my faxsimile copy in front of me, but I’ll look that up tonight.

  6. Ecclesiastical Text Theory — Refuted? « King James Only? Says:

    […] TR Only fundyreformed 8:14 pm The Evangelical Textual Criticism blog pointed my attention to a lengthy article by Adam at the Old Testament Studies blog which refutes  the “Ecclesiastical Text […]

  7. otrmin Says:

    fundyreformed and Jason,

    Thank you for your comments. Yes, I am well aware of the argumentation of Thomas Strauss on that passage. It is comparing apples and oranges. However, Since Kent has challenged me on that, I will show how this is totally irrelevant.

    Kent,

    I can’t do anything in depth, but let me point out one, as I read through this very quickly. You used the gender agreement as a basis for your criticism of Psalm 12:6-7. That might jump up and bite you on the nose. I’ll just give you a little head start on this. Look for the same kind of disagreement in these passages—Psalm 119:111, 129, 152, and 167. The Hebrew uses purposeful gender disagreement when applying to God’s Words. There are many more examples than those, but those will be easy to look at.

    Of course, let us take a look at the pattern of all of these:

    Psalm 119:111
    A. I have inherited Your testimonies [Fem.] forever,
    B. For they [Masc.] are the joy of my heart.

    Psalm 119:129
    A. Your testimonies [Fem.] are wonderful;
    B. Therefore my soul observes them [Masc.].

    Psalm 119:152
    A. Of old I have known from Your testimonies [Fem.]
    B. That You have founded them [Masc.] forever.

    Psalm 119:167
    A. My soul keeps Your testimonies [Fem.],
    B. And I love them [Masc] exceedingly.

    Now, the problem is that the syntax of these passages is not parallel to the syntax of Psalm 12. Notice how, in all of these texts, you have colon A with one gender, and colon B with another gender, all in one strophe. This is an example of what is called “gender parallelism,” where masculine and feminine are put in parallel with each other in two adjacent colons. Now, compare these with what you have in Psalm 12:

    Psalm 12:5-7
    5A. “Because of the devastation of the afflicted [Masc], because of the groaning of the needy [Masc],
    5B. Now I will arise,” says the LORD;
    5C. “I will set him [Masc] in the safety for which he longs.”
    6A. The words [Fem.] of the LORD are pure words [Fem.];
    6B. As silver tried in a furnace
    6C. on the earth, refined seven times.
    7A. You, O LORD, will keep them [Masc.];
    7b. You will preserve him [Masc] from this generation forever.

    That is not exactly parallel to the texts to which you pointed in Psalm 119. Structurally we have two colons between the “words” and the masculine suffixes [6B and 6C], and we have consistent uses of two feminine or two masculine nouns in the colons that are adjacent. We also have masculine plural nouns in 5A and a masculine singular noun in 5C, which is exactly parallel to what we have in 7A [masculine plural] and 7B [Masculine singular].

    Also, I never used the gender disharmony as the “basis” for anything. I do realize that there is such a thing as gender disharmony in Hebrew. However, none of the passages to which you pointed are syntactically relevant, as all the passages you have cited are examples of a common usage of gender disharmony [gender parallelism], which is totally irrelevant to Psalm 12. Part of my my argument is that the gender disharmony in Psalm 12 makes “words” as the antecedent to the masculine suffixes far less likely.

    Even worse is that the context of Psalm 12 [verse 5] is about the protection of people. Hence, one would have to find a good reason why verse 5 has to do with the protection of people from the wicked, verses 6-7 have to do with the protection of the words of scripture, and then verse 8 goes back to talking about the wicked again! That would make verses 6-7 totally out of place.

    Also, as I mentioned, because of verse 5, when “words” are introduced in verse 6, we are in the context of the promise of verse 5. Hence, the “words” here cannot be understood as individual words, as that would totally violate the context, and make it have nothing to do with the promises of verse 5.

    To sum up, the allegedly parallel passages you cite are common, well recognized forms of gender disharmony in Hebrew poetry, and are in no way syntactically parallel to Psalm 12. Secondly, the interpretation you are taking of “them” in “keep them” and “preserve them” ignores the context of verse 5, namely, that we are referring to the keeping and preserving of people, and even worse than that, any interpretation of this passage that sees the term “words” as referring to individual words ignores the context of the promise of verse 5.

    So, Kent, no, I am well aware of your arguments, as I have had many people use them against me. The key is this. Are we going to do exegesis on the basis of understanding passages in their context, or are we going to just quote passages that use terms like “words” or passages that talk about words with gender disharmony? Or are we going to interpret the gender disharmony and the meaning of the term “words” in the grammatical, syntactical, lexical, semantic, and pragmatic context in which they occur, or are we going to ignore the context altogether?

    God Bless,
    Adam

  8. Kent Brandenburg Says:

    Hello Adam, I’ve got to go pick up my daughter from soccer practice, but I’ll get back to you. First, you didn’t clear up your situation with “and” versus “or” and that was something you did comment on and left me saying something I didn’t say. If you were willing to make a note of it, then you are responsible to clear it up. You said people talked to you nasty. Well, I haven’t. And yet you dealt with me poorly above. That seems to be setting a double standard, one that I haven’t held you to, but that you have held yourself to.

    Second, it is Strouse, not Strauss. The latter is the composer.

    Third, all you mentioned above for your reading audience Adam is that the genders don’t match up. They don’t match up in the verses I gave you as well. So this is something new you are writing here in the comment. You behave as though that were not the case.

    You’ve got other problems above, but I am not sure I should take the time. I’ve got a lot on my platter as a pastor, father, etc. And I am getting the sense that you might not be civil with me.

  9. otrmin Says:

    Kent,

    I didn’t discuss the first section, because I wanted the discussion to focus on the exegesis of the text. There were a whole lot of things offensive that I listed there [comparing the teaching of these things to the laity to evolutionary indoctrination?????], and the fact that I misinterpreted one thing is not grounds for saying that the rhetoric of your article is not, indeed, ascerbic. However, I will give you the benifit of the doubt on that, just so that we can deal with the issue. I don’t want the discussion to become personal, but to focus on the issues.

    Secondly, when you start picking on spelling issues, you are not dealing with the argumentation. The issue is not the spelling of Dr. Strouse’s name, but the validity of his argumentation.

    Finally, you skirted everything I wrote. Again, I will quote what I said:

    Also, I never used the gender disharmony as the “basis” for anything. I do realize that there is such a thing as gender disharmony in Hebrew. However, none of the passages to which you pointed are syntactically relevant, as all the passages you have cited are examples of a common usage of gender disharmony [gender parallelism], which is totally irrelevant to Psalm 12. Part of my my argument is that the gender disharmony in Psalm 12 makes “words” as the antecedent to the masculine suffixes far less likely.

    Also, let me quote my conclusion, and see if I am relying solely on the gender of the suffixes:

    To sum up, the allegedly parallel passages you cite are common, well recognized forms of gender disharmony in Hebrew poetry, and are in no way syntactically parallel to Psalm 12. Secondly, the interpretation you are taking of “them” in “keep them” and “preserve them” ignores the context of verse 5, namely, that we are referring to the keeping and preserving of people, and even worse than that, any interpretation of this passage that sees the term “words” as referring to individual words ignores the context of the promise of verse 5.

    In other words, you have not touched a thing I have said. My argument is based on a whole lot more than just gender disharmony. I even went through, and showed why the texts you quoted were irrelevant. You have skirted everything else, and just simply repeated the same thing you said initially. That is not exegesis. One side is examining the context, grammar, structure, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, etc. of both Psalm 12 *and* the passages you cite, and the other side is blindly citing passages just because they have gender disharmony. The former is exegesis, the latter is simple eisegesis.

    I would love to see what you would say if I went through all of your writings, and make arguments about the meaning of your writings just on the basis of similarities between different sections, and then, when you challenge me on it, just say, “Well, they have the same grammatical forms.” It would be wrong if I did that to you, and it is wrong when you do it to scripture.

    You have admitted yourself that your view stands or falls on your exegesis of these passages. That is why I would prefer that, if we are going to have a discussion, that the discussion stick with the issue of the exegesis of these passages.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  10. Kent Brandenburg Says:

    Adam,

    If it is going to be possible for us to talk, you’ve got to deal with what I’m saying at the level that you are dealing with everyone else—at least. You make a huge deal about how people disrespect you, a very big deal out of that, and how unchristian they act, but I’ve never treated you that way, so I’m seeing if that is something you believe in for yourself. When I point it out, you want it to mean nothing. I’m saying you can’t have it both ways. I point out something you are saying is legitimate about a misrepresentation of what I said from the get-go, and you, I’m guessing a much younger man than me, and not in the pastoral office, and you act like it doesn’t exist. Why? Because you don’t want to, because you want to get to the exegesis. Well, Adam, you didn’t get to the exegesis. I’m glad to get to exegesis, but I’m not letting this one pass, because it determines how this conversation will go. If you can’t admit error, then when I show you error, you won’t be able to admit it. I think you should understand that.

    I point out the misspelling of Strouse’s name, and you answer with petulance. It says something about you. And I’ve shown you no disrespect, just respect, but I’m pointing out the way you answer and whether you are willing to admit error. Strike two on that.

    Related to the one point in exegesis I brought out, you gave me an answer, but the point you made in your post was this:

    “In the first place, the genders don’t match up. The “words” of verse 6 are feminine [hr’m.ai], while the suffix “them” on “keep” in verse 6 is masculine [~rEm.v.Ti].”

    That’s all you said about gender. I bring in the purposeful gender discordance, and you act like you had said something about that all along. You didn’t say anything about that, Adam. You attacked the usage of Psalm 12:6-7 by saying something about the genders not matching. You didn’t tell your readers that often the genders don’t match up, especially with the use of God’s Words. That’s misleading, Adam. Now you say, “Oh yes, I already knew that. Of course.” Well, you didn’t mention it. You tried to make a point where none existed. And now you are backtracking with the contrasts that are there. Let’s just say that we now start looking at all the gender discordance in the OT. Can I trust that you will believe something if you are shown it? You are going to have to show me you’re willing to learn something when you are shown, or we’re just going to be spinning our wheels and wasting our time.

    I’m a little afraid too that you now will turn this around and become the victim and say that you were treated badly and make that issue, like you did at the start of the post, despite the fact that you actually misrepresented what I said. I’ve got to hear some admissions if we are going to continue. And if not, it will be your fault. I might write on your blog elsewhere, but we won’t have a discussion here.

  11. John Says:

    “Hence, the words here are the *promises* of God to his people, not individual words of the text itself. ”

    That’s right, the “word of God” as described by scripture is more often than not, actually not the scripture itself.

    And this is one of the places where sola scriptura arguments also fall apart.

  12. Steve Carlone Says:

    Wow, it’s amazing or maybe not so much, that Mr. Brandenburg has yet to intelligently address the issue at hand. Is he really going to try to use the “I’m older than you and a Pastor so don’t question my lack of wisdom?” I hear echoes of Paul’s advice to Timothy not to let anyone “despise” his youth.

    There are a lot of Brandenburgs in the world: more concerned with some illusion of their own glory than with the glorious truth of God. Have no fear and keep studying “to show yourself approved”. Thanks for the blog.

  13. Kent Brandenburg’s Strawman « Old Testament Studies Blog Says:

    […] I want to take apart these statements, and show that Brandenburg is erecting a strawman. It would be good to give you the link to my actual post. […]

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