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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Eligite Hodie 1


Before you hand-grenade the phrase “choose you this day” into an argument, you might want to read the whole verse.



οἵτινες μετήλλαξαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν τῷ ψεύδει καὶ ἐσεβάσθησαν καὶ ἐλάτρευσαν τῇ κτίσει παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα, ὅς ἐστιν εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.
Romans 1:25 2





Last post, I featured a YouTube video by Christian author, expositor, marathon debater and prolific vlogger, Dr James White. I’d been watching a lot of White’s videos since my recent conversion to the Critical Text Cult, gravitating to him the minute I’d exhausted all the videos of Daniel Wallace, because he is one of the best and more ubiquitous—well, on Youtube, anyway—apologists of the Critical Text of the New Testament and of Biblical Textual Criticism itself.

Along with discovering him to be a staunch defender of Textual Criticism, I was also extremely pleased to find out that Dr White is an impassioned proponent of Reform theology. Although I don’t consider myself a Reformer, per se, I do subscribe to the so-called Five Points of Calvinism and to the doctrines of Sovereignty and Election, albeit not in the classical sense, lacking as I do a classic theological education, but I’m definitely under the same, large tent and have been for some time.

Anyway, I only mention this because earlier today I was watching a video discussing the topic of being a servant of God (in it Dr White rebuts some nonsensical statements made by the late Christopher Hitchens) and it reminded me that, for some time, I've wanted to debunk an extremely common and persistent exegetical error made by believers in human free will on that very subject—an error which I'd made myself many, many times in the past: Namely, this bedrock conviction that when Joshua says to the Israelites “choose you this day whom ye will serve”, one of the choices before them is Yehovah. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The most amazing aspect of this erroneous idea is that it is so easily debunked. All one has to do is read the entire sentence where that phrase is found. You don’t even need to read it in Hebrew; the wrongness of the idea is clearly seen in any translation. Here’s Joshua 24:15 in English: 2
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River , or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
There are two points here that even the most ardent Arminian can't ignore (or miss, thanks to the yellow font):
1. That before choosing whom they would serve, they first had to find serving Yehovah “evil in their eyes”.

2. That the choice of whom they would serve is between two sets of false gods, not Yehovah.
Now, I don’t expect this little revelation to change anyone’s mind regarding the Free Will versus Predestination controversy, but I do expect it to stop those on the wrong side of the argument from misusing the phrase "choose you this day" to uncritically perpetuate their traditional—and erroneous—doctrine.







Footnotes:


1. Translation: Chose ye this day. I am currently learning Latin, using the 7th edition of Wheelock’s Latin along with multiple online resources. Putting my blog titles in Latin is pure self-indulgence—ignosce me!

2. Unless otherwise indicated, all English Scripture text is taken from the ESV2011 (the English Standard Version, 2011). Greek text is from NA28 (28th Edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece).




Sunday, November 3, 2013

De Texto Critico Novi Testamenti Graeci 1


The Nestle-Aland notes all the important variant readings; including the TR's.



ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος• τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ.
2 Cor 3:62






For most of last month, I was in Canada visiting my 81-year old father for the very last time3. While I was there, I purchased a copy of the 28th Edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, the standard critical text of the Greek New Testament (NA28). Since my conversion from the TR Supremacy position that I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve wanted a copy of this remarkable book.

The eclectic text of the Nestle Aland NT is its most important feature, certainly, but the critical apparatus accompanying the text has to be its defining feature. The listing of all the important variants, using an ingenious system of symbols and sigla, is the reason these editions of the critical text have become the standard Greek New Testaments for students and exegetes around the world.

The following video was made by Dr. James R. White, the director of Alpha & Omega Ministries, which Wikipedia describes as “an evangelical Reformed Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona”. Dr White is the foremost Christian Apologist in the United States today. What he has to say about the release of NA28 in particular, and textual criticism in general, is well worth hearing.



One of the main take home facts for me from this video is that, when a new edition of the NA comes out, nothing is lost. Even though the text is updated, no important readings from the previous versions have been left out of the NA28’s critical apparatus. In this sense then, the NA28 is technically not new, but better.

It is also important to realise that these important readings in the older versions have always including those of the Textus Receptus—a Majority Text type and the basis for the KJV. Every disputed word, verse or pericope that ties the critics of the modern Bible versions into knots is listed there. That’s because the editors of the NA have always considered the Majority Text to be a “consistently cited witness of the first order”; they could never ignore it.







Footnotes:


1. Translation: On the Critical Text of the Greek New Testament. I am currently learning Latin, using the 7th edition of Wheelock’s Latin along with multiple online resources. Putting my blog titles in Latin is pure self-indulgence—īgnōsce mē!

2. Unless otherwise indicated, all English Scripture text is taken from the ESV2011 (the English Standard Version, 2011). Greek text is from NA28 (28th Edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece).

3. He had just been diagnosed with terminal and aggressive small-cell cancer—with tumours in his lungs, liver, bones, et al, which were expected to spread quickly to his brain—and so I’d returned to see him whilst he was still “himself”. I was there for three weeks and in that short time he went from being fit and active, to being confused, bed-ridden and barely conscious. As I was touching down at Auckland airport, he passed away peacefully in his sleep. In all, from the day of diagnosis until the end, he lasted exactly five weeks. And, alas, he died unsaved.