A Brief Review of Textual History Part 1By Pastor Boffey on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
I. God designed to preserve His word through His churches, or disciples. ISA 8:16 c/w ACT 11:26. A. Of special mention is the fact that the Gentiles were evangelized through the ministry of the Apostle Paul, who was commissioned from Antioch of Syria. ACT 11:25-26; 13:1-2; 14:26-28. B. Syria becomes the springboard of N.T. evangelism. A translation of the Bible into Syrian appears at about 150 A.D. This is known as the Peshitto. C. The gospel soon went into Italy and further. HEB 13:24; ROM 15:28. 1. At about the same time, 157 A.D., a Latin translation of the Bible appeared, known as the ‘Itala.’ Its superiority over even the acclaimed Latin Vulgate of Jerome (circa 384 A.D.) was admitted to by Augustine (354-430 A.D.), the Catholic bishop and philosopher, in 400 A.D., “Now among translations themselves the Italian (Itala) is to be preferred to the others, for it keeps closer to the words without prejudice to clearness of expression.” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Christian Lit. Ed., Vol. II, p. 542) 2. This version derived its name from the Italic district, the regions of the Vaudois, later known as the Waldenses. D. Italy, France and Great Britain were evangelized by Christians from Asia Minor. Their Old Latin script Bibles were the Bibles of the Montanists, Donatists, and later the Albigenses and Waldenses who withstood Rome. When the Pope sent Augustine (a different Augustine than noted above) to convert England in 596 A.D., he found Christians there with Latin Bibles that they had had since the days of the imperial Roman empire. E. For almost 1000 years, Europe went into a period of time known as the Dark Ages. Roman Catholicism was the dominant political power during this time, but she still had to contend with masses of dissenters who were scattered in small churches throughout Europe. F. In 1453, Constantinople, the capital of the eastern part of the Holy Roman Empire fell to the Turks. 1. In the ensuing flight, its citizens, many of whom were Christians and Greek scholars, dispersed widely into western Europe, carrying with them scores of Greek copies of the Scriptures. Over 90% of the extant Greek copies of the N.T. are Byzantine or Syriac texts. 2. As a result of this sudden release of suppressed information the next 100 years saw a great awakening from the sleep of the Dark Ages. Thus were produced the Greek N.T.'s of Erasmus (1516, 1522), Stunica (1522), Stephens (1546, 1550, 1551, 1559), Beza (five editions from 1559-1598), and Elzevir (1624). G. The Waldensians had a tremendous influence on the reformers. 1. Olivetan, a Waldensian, translated his Bible into French, which became known as the Olivetan Bible. This in turn, became the basis for the Geneva Bible, the dominant English version up until the AV 1611. 2. Luther used the Tepl Bible, a pre-reformation German translation of a Waldensian Bible. This spurred him to use the Greek text of Erasmus to translate the Luther Bible. 3. An Italian version of a Waldensian Bible was translated, called the Diodati. 4. The AV 1611 translators had four Waldensian influenced Bibles and six Waldensian Bibles to access. H. The line of English Bibles are the translations of Tyndale (1534), Coverdale (1536), Rogers (1537), Taverner (1539), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1557-1560) and culminating in the AV 1611.
II. As is the case with most languages, English underwent a gradual development. English is generally divided into: 1) Old English (earliest records to about 1100 A.D.); 2) Middle English (from 1100 A.D. to about 1435 A.D.); and 3) Modern English (from the mid-1400's and onwards). A. Early inhabitants of England were the Celts, of whom there is relatively scant record. B. Romans occupied England from 43-400 A.D. C. Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians occupied England. Latin words were incorporated into the language. D. Scandinavians invaded England in 800 A.D., injecting their influence to the language. E. The Normans seized England in 1066 A.D. French became the language of the ruling class until the mid-1300's when English again became the language of the ruling class and the literary language. French words continued to be borrowed until about 1400 A.D. F. The Elizabethan period lasts from 1558-1642. The English language reached its apex of development during this period. It is during this time that the A.V. 1611 appeared.
III. One of the arguments used by modern Bible revisers is that the older the manuscript, the closer it should be to the truth. With recent manuscript finds in the last 200 years pre-dating some manuscripts used by the AV 1611 translators (going back to the fourth century), we supposedly now have a better Bible. A. NOTE: The (apparent) age of the manuscript is not what is most important: it is the age of a particular reading. Some later manuscripts contain readings that were confirmed as Scripture in other ecclesial writings like church lectionaries at dates far before the so-called “oldest manuscripts.” B. Older does not equate with better or purer. People lied and made mistakes before the fourth century. C. Corruption of the text of God's word started well before 300 A.D. GEN 3:1-7; ACT 20:29-30; 2TH 2:2; 2CO 4:2; 2:17. D. God has given strong warnings against corrupting Scripture. PRO 30:5-6; DEU 4:2-3. E. DEU 4:2-3 shows a connection with Baal worship. “The Baal, as the head of each worshipping group, is the source of all the gifts of nature; as the god of fertility all the produce of the soil is his, and his adherents bring to him their tributes of firstfruits. He is the presiding genius, patron or cause of all growth and fertility, and baalism, originating, probably, in the observation of the fertilizing effect of rains and streams upon the receptive and reproductive soil, became gross nature worship. Joined with the baals there are naturally found corresponding female figures known as Ashtoroth, embodiments of Ashtoreth. In accordance with primitive ideas which assume that it is possible to control or aid the powers of nature by the practice of ‘sympathetic magic,’ the cult of the baals and Ashtaroth was characterized by gross sensuality and licentiousness.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th edition, Vol. 2, p. 834) F. Around 306 B.C., Ptolemy Soter, ruler of Egypt, established a school in Alexandria, Egypt. For the next 300 years, until Alexandria was subjugated by the Romans in 30 B.C., the intellectual activity centered around scientific and literary pursuits. 1. The second period of intellectual activity was from 30 B.C. to 642 A.D. when the Arabs destroyed Alexandria. The predominant movement of this period was of a “...character largely determined by Oriental gnosticism and containing Jewish and later, Christian elements. The second Alexandrian school resulted in the speculative philosophy of the Neoplatonists and the religious philosophy of the Gnostics and early church fathers.” (Ibid, 14th Ed., Vol.1, p. 581) 2. Gnosticism is a system of philosophy that incorporates the basic tenets of pagan, mystery religions which boast a mystic revelation and secret knowledge. Gnostics believed that one must be equipped with sacred formulas and symbols in order to secure heaven. They profess the doctrine of emanations, which asserts that the supreme being emanated a lesser being which in turn emanated a lesser being and so on. This supreme divinity correlates with Baal, the god of fertility, the life source of the universe. G. The Alexandrian school would prove to play a vital role in the corruption of Scripture and the pollution of the N.T. churches. Astute individuals should be wary of looking to Egypt for something blessed by God! EZE 30:6 c/w ISA 30:1-3. 1. Philo. He was a Jew educated at Alexandria. He attempted to synthesize the O.T. with Greek philosophy. He allegorized the O.T. and believed God to be without quality. He thought God could not have contact with finite things without violating his purity and loftiness. God therefore generated the logos or supreme idea through whom the world was created and who is the mediator between God and man. This is gnosticism. 2. Clement of Alexandria. This man played a founding role in a catechetichal school at Alexandria, around 200 A.D. a. He embraced the heresies of Tatian, who had already imbibed the gnostic position in his “Christianity.” (The Diatessoron of Tatian by J. Hamlyn Hill, p. 9) b. Clement expressly intended to mix Christian teachings with pagan philosophies, which he did. (The Revision Revised, by Dean Burgon, p. 336) 3. Origen (184-253 A.D.). A student of Clement, educated at Alexandria. He, like Philo, taught that the logos is eternally generated and is a creature. He maintained a three-fold sense of Scripture: grammatico-historical, moral, and the pneumatic or allegorical sense, which he believed was the highest. He stated that: “The Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they were written.” (Origen, McClintock and Strong Ency.) a. Origen compiled the Hexapla, which was the O.T. in six columns, and made a Greek translation of the O.T. in the fifth column. He added the Apocrypha, which was never recognized in the Jewish canon of Scripture, nor by the Lord Jesus Christ (LUK 24:44; MAT 23:35). He also added a translation of the N.T. with deletions and alterations. b. He admitted to wilful alterations of texts which did not conform with his reasonings. (Berlin, Origenes Werke, Vol.10, pp. 385-388)
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