Morton/Steele Debate B

A Written Debate Concerning The Preservation Of Scripture

Compiled by
Timothy S. Morton

The first column is the text of Steele's outline. He also included a bibliography which can be found in HTML format here, and his introductory remarks can be found here. Steele's use of a Greek font could not be reproduced on this page so the Greek characters have been replaced with an asterisk "*".

The second column is my comments on Steele's outline.

The third column is Steele's rebuttal to my comments.

The following three columns of correspondence is optimized for a horizontal screen

resolution of 1024 pixels. This page uses the very readable "Georgia" font available free from Microsoft

Steele's Outline

Morton's Comments

Steele's Rebuttal

II Timothy 3:16-7a was written in the first century C.E., in Greek. The Greek words written at that time can be translated

No contention here, except with the use of the generic "C.E." [Common Era]. I believe every year is "The year of our Lord" [A.D.]. A.D. is a good witnessing tool, but even people who use C.E. cannot escape the fact that the years are numbered from Christ.

I use “B.C.E./C.E.” because
1)  that is the notation used in many liberal religious works and I try to reach everyone,
2) using “B.C./A.D” terminology can offend non-Christian readers because of the precise meaning of the word abbreviated, and
3) as a public school teacher I feel it would be a dangerous habit for me to use Christian pro-Christian terminology when secular alternatives are available.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for |doctrine|, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete” (ESV|KJV, NKJV|ASV).

You slander all these versions with this hybrid quote. No Bible reads like this, especially the King James. Out of the scores of English translations you can't find one that suits you?

Furthermore, Scripture is not "breathed out." Strong defines the Greek term, "theopneustos" as "divinely breathed in: - given by inspiration of God." Thayer, Vine, Robertson, etc. all define it as "inspiration." As any dictionary will attest "inspiration" means to breath IN! Show me a credible lexicon that defines the term as "EXpiration" as you use it here. The King James is correct, the Scriptures were "given by inspiration." God breathed His words into men. You claim the Greek is the ultimate authority but refuse to follow it here.

Those are the lexicons that you prefer, and I noticed that you immediately went to an English dictionary to qualify the Greek term, suggesting that you wish to get as far as possible from the Greek and stay as close as possible to English by putting an English dictionary between you and the Greek word. This lexicon defines the Greek term in question as "God-breathed":

Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon Of The Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

This interlinear defines the Greek word at II Timothy 3:16 as "God-breathed":

Marshall, Alfred. Interlinear NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament In Greek And English -- Interlinear Translation By Alfred Marshall. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993.

This Spanish study Bible's annotation describes the Greek word in question as meaning "soplado por Dios" = "Blown by God":

LBLA Biblia De Estudio. Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, Inc., 2000.

The Greek word translated “complete” is ****** and means “perfectly fit” (Friberg et al, 76) and “entirely suited; complete” (in Perschbacher, 54). This means that the Greek New Testament Scriptures of that time, the first century C.E. and period of the New Testament church, was among those Scriptures which were entirely sufficient to build proper doctrine upon. This means that the Greek New Testament is a proper foundation and standard for all things doctrinal.

Strange. You refuse to use the accurate King James term "perfect" in your quote and then define your word "complete" using that very term! True, the Greek [and Hebrew] Scriptures they had then were pure Scripture with full power and authority, but those copies are long gone. The Greek NT is the proper foundation for one who knows Greek, but most of the world doesn't.

Actually, "perfectly fit" is not the same as "perfect."

What does the word “Scripture mean? The Greek word translated “Scriptures" is **** (Strong, Concordance 1176, Greek Dictionary 20; Young, Analytical 844), means “what has been written” (Richards, 544), and refers to the text of written documents (Strong, Greek Dictionary 20; Vine et al, 552). The text on manuscripts and copies of Scripture, and not the manuscripts and copies themselves, are scripture

You are trying to split hairs with this for some reason. The fact is it is impossible to have Scripture without God's words being written on something making a document. Both elements are required—words and paper [or something tangible to write on]. You say the text on the document is Scripture, but not the document itself. This is confusing and contradictory. If a piece of paper doesn't have any words on it it is NOT a document. If you remove the text from a document it is no longer a document. It appears you are trying to separate the text from the document to justify why you cannot produce a pure, tangible Bible in any form in any language. However, all the saints in the Bible COULD produce their Scriptures!

The very term "Scripture" demands a tangible document. When a "scribe" "scripts" something, he writes it down. When your doctor writes you a "script" to take to the drug store you have a tangible piece of paper. Also, you were not complete in defining "Scripture." Thayer [and others] defines it,

1) a writing, thing written
2) the Scripture, used to denote either the book itself, or its contents

"A writing," "thing written," or "the book itself" is a tangible document. That is the primary definition. It can only refer to the contents when someone is reading or quoting a document. In short, for one to have the Scriptures, he must have a tangible document.

The Greek does not seem to mean what you seem to want it to.  The Greek word in question refers to the text.

II Timothy 3:15, immediately before the previous passage, made a statement about the Scriptures, that they are

“the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (ASV)

Hence, the Scriptures are directly related to salvation; the Scriptures can empower us with the knowledge of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Palestinian Jews’ Old Testament was among those Scriptures that were being described at II Timothy 3:15-7. At Psalm 138:2b God wrote to Himself what can be translated

"You have exalted Your name, Your word, above all" (JPS 1985)

This passage indicates that God’s Word stands with God’s own name as the highest authority in all matters.

Other than your choice of translations, there is nothing here I disagree with.

[Steele did not submit a rebuttal for this point.]

Related to the doctrine of God giving us the Scriptures is God’s promise to preserve them in such passages as in Psalm 12, which can be translated as:

“The words of the LORD are pure words, silver purged in an earthen crucible, refined sevenfold. You O LORD, will keep them, guarding each from this age evermore" (12:7-8 JPS 1985).

This passage teaches that the Word of God will always exist in some form. This means that the text that He provided will always exist in some form. The passage does not tell us how.

No Problem here either, but notice it is "words" here that are preserved.

[Steele did not submit a rebuttal for this point.]

At Psalm 89:34 God informs us that He will not change His Word.

“no olvidaré mi pacto ni | cambiaré | mi palabra" (RVR 1995| LBLA| VP) = "not will-I-forget my pact neither will-I-change my word."

In all aspects, including the process of preserving His Word, God is not going to change it. Note also that He refers to His Word in the singular; there is only one Word of God.

Looks like you can't find a Spanish Bible that suits you either since you made a hybrid quote here as well. God's "word" is made up of God's "words." The Bible uses both terms to describe it.

[Steele did not submit a rebuttal for this point.]

As the church spread, so did the languages within it. Translations were made of the Bible into other languages, such as Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and eventually German, Spanish, and English. Many teach that a translation can have just as much authority or even more than the text given by God up to the first century C.E.. Scripture, however, never authorizes a teaching that anything can have more authority than the original text given by God. Furthermore, the original text of the Greek New Testament, as given by God, declared at II Timothy 3:16-7 that this text is an entirely sufficient foundation upon which to base doctrine upon; any religious dogmatic teaching which is not drawn from this text contradicts that passage.

Now you are talking about authority. You seem to say a translation cannot be superior to the original languages in any way, but this is not true. All things being equal a translation is not superior to the original relative to the people reading it. That is, those who can read the original language have no need of a translation and thus a translation into a language they don't know well or at all would be inferior to them. However, to those who don't know the original language a translation into their language would be superior to the original. Except for a handful of people now on earth, the original languages of the Bible are of no practical value.

I have read a wealth of material written by Bible believers and I have not read any I can recall who claims any translation, even the King James Bible, is fundamentally and textually superior to the original autographs. All believe a translation can be equal to the autographs as to what the Scriptures say, but none of them that is knowledgeable of these matters claims a translation is textually superior in essence to it source. This is not to say a translation can not be superior to a Greek text that is NOT its source. The English text of the King James Bible IS fundamentally superior to the "Alexandrian" Greek text.

Of course, as stated above a translation can be superior in a practical way. My position is the King James Bible is the word of God to the English speaking world as the Hebrew and Greek were to their respective worlds.

Yes, and if anyone dares disagree with you on this you deny that they are "Bible believers." Very convenient.

That a translation can have more authority than the original text is also refuted by Acts 10:34, which states regarding matters of salvation

Dios no hace diferencia entre una persona y otra” (VP) = “God does not make difference between one person and another.”

Of course, this is translated directly from the original Greek New Testament text as given by God in the New Testament church period. Since God does not distinguish among His people after Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry regarding matters of salvation, and the Scriptures are a matter of salvation according to II Timothy 3:15, when God blesses multiple cultural groups of Christians with a Bible translation in their languages, He is not going to bless one more than another.

Translated from the original Greek text? Come on now. It was translated from a copy.

Quoting Acts 10:34 as a "proof" that God must provide all cultures and nations the word of God equally if He gives it to one is going to backfire on you.

  1. The context of the passage is not dealing with God preserving His word at all. It is dealing with the opportunity and accessibility of salvation being extended to Gentiles. Peter just had an epiphany of sorts with the vision God showed him [Acts 10-10-16]. He just realized that salvation was not exclusive to the Jews, but now included all mankind. This is why he said God was no respecter of persons; salvation is now available to all races, nations, and cultures; all races and cultures have an opportunity to be saved.

  2. Your argument falls flat when it is common knowledge that God initially provided His word in only two languages, Hebrew and Greek [and a little Aramaic], at the exclusion of all others. By your reasoning this would violate Acts 10:34 since God favored these languages over all the other languages of the world. On the contrary, God is not obligated to give any specific nation or culture a Bible in their language. When He does it is purely by His Grace. There are many obscure languages and dialects today which still do not have the complete word of God, if any of it. Where do they fall in your "logic"?

  3. The undeniable fact is God does bless some people more than others in many different ways. Some are blessed with good health, some are consumed by disease; some are blessed with material needs, some barely exist; some are blessed with a complete Bible, some are not, etc.  Concerning salvation anyone in America can believe in and worship God according to truth. In most other countries the people don't have this blessing. In America a lost person has much more opportunity to hear the gospel than millions living in oppressed societies. I could go on and on.

  4. Since you insist God is "not going to bless one [translation/culture] more than another," then a crude translation made by an incompetent translator in an obscure dialect must be as accurate as the best translation modern scholarship can provide! Nonsense! 

  5. Even if your argument was valid, all God would be obligated to provide would be the gospel ONLY. It is the part of God's word that makes one "wise unto salvation." Although the gospel is Scripture, it is only a very small part of it. In fact, it can easily fit on one small page of a tract. 

Your reasoning, here, is very weak, forced, and flawed. It is a desperate attempt to justify a position that is not true. Neither the Scriptures, history, or general observation supports you.

To any objective thinking person my position is not desperate but obviously Scriptural and logical.  You see, my point is that if God is going to give one group of Christians a PERFECT translation He would give them all a perfect translation; He would not give one ethnic group a perfect translation and others imperfect translations.  My point is that they all must be imperfect.  God gave the New Testament in Greek by His direct activity and while doing so, at II Timothy 3:16-7, indicated that it was among the Scriptures which were given by Him just as He wanted them, and that it was among those Scriptures completely sufficient to build proper doctrine.  Nowhere do these Scriptures authorize placing one single translation in any one language equal to or above these while indicating that different translations into other languages must be imperfect if they differ.  Second, it must be noted that in writing the Greek New Testament God indicated that He would be no respecter of persons among Christians, but gave the New Testament Scriptures only in Greek.  However, that is a prerogative that belongs to God alone; He nowhere authorizes us mortals to declare that God favored any ethnic group of Christians more than another in any way, including provided Bible translation.   

We now examine multiple language traditional Bible translations. Specifically, we will look at the English King James Bible, the Spanish Reina-Valera Bible tradition, and the German Luther Bible as revised by the initial Protestant Reformer Martin Luther himself in 1545. ?

At James 2:18 the 1545 Luther Bible has "mit deinen werken" = "with your works" from ** *** ***** (Berry, 588) where the 1611 KJV has "||without thy workes" from ***** *** ***** ***(Green, 698) with margin note "||Some copies reade, by thy workes." ?

So what? Luther didn't get it right, here. You should be happy, the King James agrees with the "Alexandrian" text in this rare instance. I already proved above your premise is faulty, that renders these statements based upon it faulty as well.

Prove it from Scripture and Scripture only that the King James Bible at James 2:18 had to be right and the German Luther Bible had to be wrong. Even if we grant, without Scriptural authorization, that a translation can be perfect, it would not immediately follow from Scripture which one that has to be.     
 The point I mentioned with the Luther Bible was in response to your statement “Since the Holy Spirit guided the early Christians to gather the individual New Testament books into one New Testament canon and to reject all non-canonical books, in the same manner also the Holy Spirit guided the early Christians to preserve the New Testament text by receiving the true readings and rejecting the false”; the German Luther Bible has differences in Greek text with the KJV.  The German Protestant population accepted the Luther Bible's readings and English Protestants accepted the KJV's readings.  The Holy Spirit did not guide all of Christendom as to the same exact text.

At II Timothy 1:18 the KJV and Latin Vulgate agree with a few Greek manuscripts' ********* *** (Farstad, Hodges, et al, 735) for "ministered vnto mee" (KJV 1611) = "ministered unto me" (DRV); most Greek manuscripts go ********* without *** = "me" (Farstad, Hodges, et al, 735 --variant NKJVmg), and the 1569 Reina Bible, 1602 Valera Bible, RVR 1862, 1865, 1909, 1960, and 1995 all follow this with "nos ayudó" = "us he-helped." ?

Again, the Lord led the King James translators in which reading to use. "Me" belongs in the passage. Even the NIV got that right.

The Greek word translated “me” in the KJV at II Timothy 1:18 is only in a few manuscripts as noted in the NKJV margin notes.  The Greek word translated “ministered” in the KJV may refer to Paul AND the Christians at Ephesus or just Paul.  The Spanish Reina Bible of 1569 rejected the Latin Vulgate rendering with “nos ayudó” = “us he-helped,” which given the context seems to be the correct rendering; the subsequent 1602 Valera Bible revision and the Reina-Valera Revisión tradition retains this, although simply “helped” would be the most literal translation of the correct text.

At Matthew 27:41:

Traditional Reina-Valera 1909
"De esta manera también los príncipes de los sacerdotes, escarneciendo con los escribas y los Fariseos y los ancianos, decían"

1602 Valera Bible
"Dešte manera tambien los principes de los Sacerdotes ešcarneciendo, con los Ešcribas, y los Pharišeos, y los Ancianos, dezian"

Translated Into English
Of-this manner also the principals of the Priests mocking, with the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Elders, they-were-saying

"Fariseos" appear also in the Revisiónes of 1862, 1865, 1960, 1977, and 1995. According to the margin notes of the NKJV, the Greek word translated “Pharisees” appears in the majority of Greek manuscripts.

Same here. Of the Bibles I have only the Geneva has "Pharises" in the verse. All the modern versions agree with the King James and leave it out.

[Steele did not submit a rebuttal for this point.]

These Bible translations are different. They do not even follow the same Greek New Testament texts. However, God stated at Psalm 89:34 that His Word as a whole will not be changed. If one of these translations is perfect, then the others are not. However, II Timothy 3:15 + Acts 10:34 indicate that God is not going to bless one cultural group of His people more than another, so if one is perfect then the others must be. They are all different, but Psalm 89:34 indicates that God will not change His Word, so the differences plus II Timothy 3:15 + Acts 10:34 indicate that none of the translations can be perfect.

Yes, these translations are different, all translations are different or else they would be the same.

I will have to say your using 2 Tim 3:15 and Acts 10:34 to claim that no translation can ever be pure or perfect is a unique approach. It is very desperate, but quite novel. Again, the facts destroy your reasoning. Your claim, "God is not going to bless one cultural group of His people more than another," is a fantasy. He blessed the Greek speaking culture with the NT but did not bless the Latin speaking Romans until many years later. He blessed the Hebrew speaking Jews with His word for centuries andessentially ignored all other cultures. Since God didn't see fit to give all the other cultures His word when He gave it to the Greeks and Hebrews, does that mean the Scripture He gave them was not perfect? Of course not. The flaw is not with God's methods or His word, it is with your reasoning and gross misapplication of Scripture.

Again, God is not a respecter of persons, per se, but for His own purposes he blesses some more that others. Who can deny that God blesses His born again children more than He does the lost? Nevertheless, as Acts 10:34 says, the salvation which is in Jesus Christ is available to all people. To claim that the verse is a proof that God must give every conceivable language a perfect Bible or He can't give one to any language is preposterous. It says nothing of the kind. The same reasoning could be used to claim that if God sends an apostle to preach the gospel to one person [as He did Peter], He must send an apostle to preach it to every other person on earth or He is a respecter of persons. Again, preposterous.

The process of inspiration must be distinguished between the process of human translation.  God gave the New Testament in Greek by His direct activity and while doing so, at II Timothy 3:16-7, indicated that the Greek New Testament was among the Scriptures which were given by Him just as He wanted them, and that it was among those Scriptures which are completely sufficient to build proper doctrine.  That is one matter.  However, nowhere do these Scriptures authorize placing one single translation in any one language equal to or above these while indicating that different translations into other languages must be imperfect if they differ.  Second, it must be noted that in writing the Greek New Testament God indicated that He would be no respecter of persons among Christians, but gave the New Testament Scriptures only in Greek.  However, that is a prerogative that belongs to God alone; He nowhere authorizes us mortals to declare that God favored any ethnic group of Christians more than another in any way, including provided Bible translation.

Furthermore, we take note of a difference conceded by the translators of the English translation between the original Greek New Testament text and the English translation. At I Corinthians 14:33a the KJV 1611 has "For God is not the author of †confusion" with margin note "†Gr. tumult, or vnquietnesse" = “Greek tumult, or unquietness” ¹confusion. Again, we will recall II Timothy 3:16-7 which indicates that the Greek New Testament is among those Scriptures completely sufficient to be a standard to measure all things doctrinal. This disagreement between the source Greek text and the KJV means that we must make a choice between which to ultimately believe: are we going to believe the original Greek text as given by God, or this particular translation thereof? First, the Scriptures never authorize a teaching that anything can have more authority than the original text given by God. Second, the original text of the Greek New Testament, as given by God, declared at II Timothy 3:16-7 that this text is an entirely sufficient foundation upon which to base doctrine upon; any religious dogmatic teaching which is not drawn from this text contradicts that passage, so any statement that the translation can have more authority than the Greek New Testament text given by God contradicts this passage. Third, Psalm 89:34 indicates that God is not going to change His Word, and II Timothy 3:16-7 in the Greek written during the first century C.E. shows that the Greek of I Corinthians 14:33 was given by God, Word, so the differing translation cannot be an act of God; therefore, the original Greek of I Corinthians 14:33 must have more authority than the KJV.

You talk like "tumult" and "unquietness" are the opposite of "confusion" when in fact the terms define each other.

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines confusion as,

1. In a general sense, a mixture of several things promiscuously; hence, disorder; irregularity; as the confusion of tongues at Babel.
2. Tumult; want of order in society.

And Webster defines "Tumult" as "confusion of voices."

Furthermore, the Greek word "akatastasia" is defined by Strong and Thayer as:

1. instability, a state of disorder, disturbance, confusion

Your claim there is a disagreement between the Greek text and the King James Bible here is another fantasy. The Greek term "akatastasia" can correctly and properly be translated as "confusion."

The King James translators often placed notes in the margin to clarify terms or show in which meaning a word in the text should be understood. In this text they were simply saying the term confusion is to be understood in the sense "tumult or unquietness."

Based on a false premise you come to the conclusion the King James Bible must be inferior to the Greek text, but there is no difference. "Akatastasia" means confusion. The weakness and desperation of your argument in turn supports my argument!

They are not opposites, but they are not the same either, and that is my point.  God gave the New Testament in Greek by His direct activity and while doing so, at II Timothy 3:16-7, indicated that it was among the Scriptures which were given by Him just as He wanted them, and that it was among those Scriptures completely sufficient to build proper doctrine.  These Scriptures nowhere authorize placing a translation above them anywhere, and since the KJV differs from these Scriptures, we cannot have the KJV as an equal to the Scriptures of the New Testament church.

Having established that the Bible as given by God in its original languages must be the highest authority, and turning to the Greek New Testament, we look around at differing manuscripts. They fall into three forms of text: the so-called “Alexandrian,” the Byzantine, and the Western. We will skip the issues of manuscript evidence and go straight to the Scriptures. At Luke 24:51 the Western text omits “and was carried up to heaven” (Comfort, Early, 103); this is an omission of the Western text alone. However, Acts 1:1-2 says “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up” (RSV I, ESV). The “first book” refers to the Gospel of Luke, so Acts 1:1-2 plainly indicates that the Gospel of Luke originally contained the ascension of Jesus; even Western text Codex Bezae has ********* (Nestle, Aland, et al, 320) meaning “He was taken up” (in Douglas, 409) like the other text-types at Acts 1:2. Hence, Scripture shows that the Western text does not match the original New Testament text.

The "three families" of manuscripts claim is a mere human invention. It was essentially unheard of until Westcott and Hort developed it in an attempt to justify their radical new version. Many "esteemed scholars" of today believe dividing the manuscripts into three [or four] subjective families is misleading and self-serving. Notice these quotes as found in Jack Moorman's work, Forever Settled,

"We have reconstructed text types and families and subfamilies and in so doing have created things that never before existed on earth or in heaven." (Parvis).

"It is still customary to divide MSS into four well-known families ...this classical division can no longer be maintained." (Klijn).

"Was there a fundamental flaw in the previous investigation which tolerated so erroneous a grouping ... Those few men who have done extensive collating of MSS, or paid attention to those done by others, as a rule have not accepted such erroneous groupings." (Metzger).

"I defy anyone, after having carefully perused the foregoing lists ... to go back to the teaching of Dr. Hort (regarding text-types) with any degree of confidence." (Hoskier) .

Concerning the "Western Text," notice this quote from Moorman,

"Colwell observes that the Nestle text (25th edition) denies the existence of the Western text as an identifiable group, saying it is "a denial with which I agree." Speaking of von Soden's classification of the Western text, Metzger says, "so diverse are the textual phenomena that von Soden was compelled to posit seventeen subgroups." And Klijn, speaking of a pure or original western text affirms that "such a text did not exist."

In short, the content of the subjective "families" of manuscripts can be shifted at will by any scholar who wishes to, thus it is a meaningless designation.

Wrong: the "three families" were recognized by J. J. Griesbach in the late eighteenth century (Hills, King, 65, 126: Hills, Edward F.. The King James Version Defended. Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984)

At what is now I Timothy 5:18 God wrote through Paul "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire" (ASV). The first quote of "the scripture" in I Timothy 5:18 is from Deuteronomy 25:4, and the second is from Luke 10:7 (in Criswell, 1843). What is of note is that the Byzantine text has one Greek reading for Luke 10:7 and the Alexandrian and Western texts have another Greek reading. Alexandrian-type Codex Vaticanus has ***** *** * ******* *** ****** ***** (Maius, 133) and Western-type Codex Bezae has the same text (Scrivener, Bezae, 204). The source text for the KJV adds ?st? at the end of the sentence (in Green, 218) as do the majority of manuscripts (Hodges, Farstad, 275) and the Greek text traditionally approved and used by the Eastern and Greek Orthodox churches (Zodhiates, 235); these represent Luke 10:7 in the Byzantine text. Literal English renderings of each Greek reading are as follows:

Alexandrian/Western: “for worthy the workman of the pay of him” (Marshall, 202)

Byzantine: “for worthy the workman of his hire is” (in Berry, 186); *** = “is” (Farstad, Hodges, et al, 250).

The Byzantine text clarifies the sentence with an additional word: **** = “is.”

I Timothy 5:18 has ****** * ******* *** ****** ***** (in Douglas, 246, 733), and this matches the source text for the KJV (in Green, 645), the text used by the Eastern and Greek Orthodox churches (in Zodhiates, 695), and the majority of manuscripts (Hodges, Farstad, 631) and the 1881 Westcott-Hort text (Westcott, Hort, 488). This is an exact match for Luke 10:7 minus *** = "for" (in Douglas, 246, 733), which is understandable because “for” connects the clause into another sentence at Luke 10:7, while at I Timothy 5:18 the clause was intended to stand by itself. What is to be noticed is that the quotation of Luke 10:7 at I Timothy 5:18 does not have the Byzantine text’s ?st?, leaving the “is” implied, as in the Alexandrian and Western texts for Luke 10:7. If the Byzantine text was both original and available to Paul, it is not likely that he would have chosen the opposing less-clear version of the clause; the less-clear 4 version must have been what Paul had to quote from. Therefore, when Paul quoted the Gospel of Luke in the 060’s C.E., the text that he used was not Byzantine in nature.

The significance of this should not be overlooked. God ultimately wrote I Timothy through Paul. God did not use a Byzantine-type text to write this passage of Scripture, and because writing the New Testament was part of establishing the church, this means that God did not use a Byzantine-type text to establish the church. The Byzantine text was not the text of the New Testament church.

Now lets look at the claim there is an "Alexandrian" family of texts. The two primary manuscripts of this family are Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, but as has been said, these two family members don't get along very well. There are thousands of disagreements between them.

Here is what Hoskier concluded about these two "brothers,"

"Hoskier, after filling 450 pages with a detailed and careful discussion of the errors in Codex B and another 400 on the idiosyncrasies of Codex Aleph, affirms that in the Gospels alone these two MSS differ well over 3,000 times, which number does not include minor errors such as spelling, nor variants between certain synonyms which might be due to "provincial exchange."

Colwell said after a careful study of all alleged B text-type witnesses in the first chapter of Mark,

"The [Alexandrian] text ... is an artificial entity that never existed."

In an attempt to make the Alexandrian "family" look better or more complete, some "scholars" have arbitrarily placed P66 and P75 into it. But Klijn concluded they don't fit when he examined passages where they are both extant, comparing them with "Aleph" and "B." They agree more with the Textus Receptus than they do with the Alexandrian Text, nearly two to one! for the details see "Forever Settled" or for a fuller account Pickering's, "The Identity of the New Testament Text."

Now concerning the Textus Receptus, unlike the 15% minority of manuscripts which are in hopeless confusion, the 85% majority of texts which make up the TR enjoy amazing agreement and unity. The Received Text can truly be called a family. Unlike the other "families," all the manuscripts of the Textus Receptus get along very well. In fact, it is the ONLY true family, the 15% of texts that disagree with it are merely abandoned deviants.

The unity and agreement of the Textus Receptus has tormented the critical scholars ever since Westcott and Hort. They must somehow destroy confidence in the Received Text so their invented text can have a chance. One argument they use is "genealogy." They claim the large number of TR manuscripts are merely copies one of the other. But textual research has shown,

"that the great mass of TR MSS are not merely copies one of another, but most are independent offspring of different lines of transmission which go deeply into the past."

Burgon came to this same conclusion years ago,

"There has therefore demonstrably been no collusion - no assimilation to an arbitrary standard - no wholesale fraud. It is certain that every one of them represents a MS, or a pedigree of MSS, older than itself...."

Thus the genealogy theory is a smokescreen and a hoax. As Zane Hodges said,

"Herein lies the greatest weakness of contemporary textual criticism. Denying to the TR any claim to represent the actual form of the original text, it is nevertheless unable to explain its rise, its comparative uniformity, and its dominance in any satisfactory manner."

I note that you refer to a nineteenth century author.  This is the twenty-first century and now we have a whole century of manuscript evidence of which to take advantage of.  P75 from c.200 C.E. was found in that century after Dean Burgon and it was found to match Codex Vaticanus over 90% (in Fuller, 33; Fuller, Otis David (ed.). Which Bible?. Grand Rapids, MI: Institute For Biblical Textual Studies, 1990).  The Alexandrian text did exist as a text class and the manuscripts attributed to that family may deviate from Vaticanus/P75 but they are still based upon a text very similar to the P75/Vaticanus text.  Also, the fact that B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort's genealogy theory has not been well-supported does not deny that the majority of Greek manuscripts found from the first eight centuries C.E. are of “Alexandrian”-type text, suggesting that this was the case at that time, which further suggests that this type of text was that of the first century as well.

We recall that the quotation of Luke 10:7 at I Timothy 5:18 was of a non-Byzantine reading of Luke 10:7, and we recall that Acts 1:1-2 indicates that Luke originally contained the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ: the non-Western texts of Luke 24:51 record the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, so therefore Acts 1:1-2 testifies against the Western text. It seems as if God anticipated the formation of three text classes, and so in His Word He gave us clues to identify the original text form -- those clues tell us that this text form is the so-called “Alexandrian” text.

Give me a break! You are claiming the omission of one word in 1 Tim. 5:18 ["is"] by itself determines that the Alexandrian Text should be treated as pure and original? This is lunacy. You ignore all the other evidences that indicate God used, blessed, and promoted the TR above the 15% minority texts on the basis of this supposed "clue"?

Your "clue" ignores many facts. First, many quotations in the NT are not word for word. Take a look at 1 Cor. 9:9 where Paul quotes the same passage he quotes in 1 Tim. 5:8. In 1 Cor. he says in reference to Deut. 25:4,

"Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn."

Now look at the verse in Deut. 25 he was quoting,

"Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."

And now the verse in 1 Tim 5:8,

"Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn..."

Neither of Paul's two quotes exactly match the original in Deut., and furthermore, Paul's two quotes don't match each other! He adds "the mouth of" in 1 Cor. and leaves "he" out in 1 Tim! What is the lesson? Any author can freely quote His own work and the Holy Spirit did just that.

Your so-called "clue" is based on assumption, ignorance, and a false premise. Since quotes are freely made throughout the NT that are not verbatim, your contention that Paul's non verbatim quote of Luke ["The labourer is worthy of his reward"] proves that he was using an Alexandrian based text is laughable if not pathetic. It is pure, biased supposition. That you would have to go to such a desperate extent to defend your position shows just how tenuous your position is.

Did I say that the Alexandrian text should be treated as "pure and original"? No; I hold that is should be held CLOSEST to original.

It is ironic here that it is you who is leaving the evidence of Scripture itself to go base your arguments on extrabiblical speculation. God did use the Textus Recepti, but that absolutely does not prove that the Byzantine text was the text of the first century New Testament church. The quotation of Luke 10:7 at I Timothy 5:18 does two things:

1) exclusion of a word meaning "for" which linked the clause in Luke 10:7 to a previous sentence in Luke,

2) otherwise entirely matched the quote of Luke 10:7 with the Alexandrian and Western text.

This is evidence from Scripture itself; it cannot be ignored like you would apparently wish to.

Referring to the question of copies and translations of the Word of God, we note that before the New Testament was written, the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded at John 10:35 saying "a Escritura não pode falhar" (DA ERA) = "the Scripture no/not <=> it-can fail"; it cannot fail to be accurate, and is also translated more directly “as Escrituras Sagradas sempre dizem a verdade” (NTLH) = “the Scriptures Sacreds always they-say the truth.” Jesus was referring to what is now the Jewish Old Testament, which was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. As the first five books of the Old Testament were written over 1000 years before Christ, Jesus could only have been referring to the text of the copies.

I'm glad to see that you admit when Christ was speaking of the Scriptures He was speaking of copies and not the autographs. But you are still on the "text on the Scriptures" hangup you revealed above. When Christ told the Jews to "search the scriptures," He was telling them to search the tangible documents of Scripture they had, not some mystical text separated from the documents.

Again, the literal document is required for one to have Scripture, but not for one to have the words of God. One can memorize Scripture and have the words in his heart, but to be "scripture," the words must be written and tangible.

[Steele did not submit a rebuttal for this point.]

God wrote, in Greek, at II Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (ESV). The word translated "Scripture" is ***** (Strong, Concordance, 1176, Greek Dictionary, 20; Young, Analytical, 844), and it means the very text of written documents (Strong, Greek Dictionary, 20; Vine et al, 552). This passage states that the text written by God is Scripture, so the text of the original manuscripts is Scripture. Any copy of this text is still Scripture.

The ESV is corrupt. As mentioned above the Scripture is not "breathed out,""inspiration"means to breath IN! The Scriptures were "given by inspiration."

Here you are on this text "kick" again. No matter how much you say it, it doesn't change the facts. By very definition the text of Scripture is derived from a literal, tangible document, thus the document is the actual Scripture. Nevertheless, you are correct in saying copies of Scripture are also Scripture.

[Steele did not submit a rebuttal for this point.]

What about translations of copies of this text? The Septuagint was a Jewish translation of the Hebrew Old Testament plus some other books written between the Old and New Testaments that had some religious value to at least some Jews. The Septuagint must have been a pre-Christian translation of the Old Testament, because fragments of the Septuagint from the last two centuries B.C.E. have survived among the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schiffman, 212-3). The Septuagint had to have been finished before the New Testament, as the apostles used the Septuagint (KJV 1611 preface The Translators To The Reader, 7th-8th pages) in composition of the New Testament. On the other hand, the translation of the Law (first five books) was done during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphius (Brenton, i), during the period of the Greek Empire, which began in the fourth century B.C.E.. Since the original manuscripts of the Law were written in the second millenium B.C.E., the Septuagint could only have been translated from copies of the Hebrew text.

Ah, the Septuagint. I figured it would turn up.

First, there is no pre-Christian copy of this supposed translation in existence, thus no proof there ever was a complete translation of the OT into Greek. The copies in existence were written in the 3rd or 4th century. Notice this quote from "Forever Settled,"

"Paul Kahle (a famous OT scholar) who has done extensive work in the Septuagint does not believe that there was one original old Greek version and that consequently the manuscripts of the Septuagint (so-called) cannot be traced back to one archetype."

Although many scholars believe there was a pre-Christian "Septuagint," Kenyon says, "It must be admitted that Kahle makes out a very strong case."

Second, all the fragments of translations that are pre-Christian only prove that some of the OT was translated.

Third, the Septuagint for the most part is a very sloppy and inaccurate translation. It also contains the apocrypha intermixed with Scripture. D.A. Waite says about it,

"It can be clearly seen ... that the Septuagint is inaccurate and inadequate and deficient as a translation. To try to reconstruct the Hebrew Text (as many connected with the modern versions are attempting to do) from such a loose and unacceptable translation would be like trying to reconstruct the Greek New Testament Text from the Living Bible of Ken Taylor!!"

Actually, there is; we have fragments of it from the last two centuries B.C.E. (Schiffman, 212-3: Schiffman, Lawrence H.. Reclaiming The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Doubleday, 1995).

Now we come to whether or not a translation can biblically be considered the Word of God. The KJV translators report that the Septuagint differed in many places from the Hebrew Old Testament, yet the apostles used it (KJV 1611 preface The Translators To The Reader, 7th-8th pages) in composing the New Testament. At Romans 10:11 God wrote "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever puts his trust in Him will not be put to shame'" (NBV). This is a verbal quote of Isaiah 28:16 from the Septuagint (in Douglas, 559), as the common Hebrew text has "He who trusts need not fear" (JPS 1985). God quoted a translation and called it "Scripture." From Scripture we see very clearly that a translation of copies can still be regarded as Scripture.

This takes us back to copies in the original languages. The Septuagint translated a Hebrew text attested to by 5% of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the first century C.E. and before, while proto-Masoretic type manuscripts composed 60% of the Bible manuscripts in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schiffman, 172). Masoretic texts are the bases for the King James Version and subsequent translations. The predominant Hebrew text form at the time of Jesus Christ was the proto-Masoretic text form, outnumbering the Septuagint text form 12 to 1. When God incarnated as Jesus Christ, He read and discussed Scripture among a Semitic population who predominantly made, had, and used copies of a proto-Masoretic text form. Furthermore, God, writing through Paul, quoted the Septuagint for Isaiah 28:16 at Romans 10:11 (in Douglas, 559), but at Romans 9:25-6a God quoted the proto-Masoretic Hebrew Old Testament for Hosea 2:23 "As He also says in Hosea: I will call 'Not-My-People,' 'My-People,' and she who is 'Unloved,' 'Beloved'" (HCSB); the Septuagint order is "will love her that was not loved, and will say to that which was not my people, Thou art my people" (Brenton, 1072). God used both Old Testament text forms as Scripture when writing the New Testament.

We just showed above that there is reasonable doubt as to the origin of the Septuagint. One can very easily make the case that instead of the NT authors quoting the Septuagint, the later written Septuagint actually quotes them!

It is quite clear when the Lord spoke of the Scriptures He was speaking of the Hebrew. For example,

"The reference to the "Law or the Prophets" is a reference to the two major portions of the three-division Hebrew Canon, including the Writings! And of course our Lord's reference to 'jot' and 'tittle' could only refer to the Hebrew and not the Greek Old Testament" [Waite].

Concerning the apostles quoting the "Septuagint" note these sensible thoughts found in, Forever Settled,

  1. Does the NT actually quote from the LXX? How do we know that the present text of the Septuagint was not that found in those Greek OT translations of the second century AD by Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotian, or even that of Origen and his Hexapla. If this were the case, this text would follow that of the NT and you might have these translators quoting the OT quotes found in tile NT rather than vice versa!

  2. Suppose you reject this hypothesis. Does a mere similarity in wording of the NT to that of the Greek OT necessarily mean that those were direct quotations? Is not God the Holy Spirit, who inspired the very words of the OT and the NT, able to pick and choose what set of words He wishes to employ to reveal His truth in the NT? Is He bound to His own words exactly on every occasion in the OT Hebrew text, or does He not have liberty to alter, reinterpret, add to, or subtract from that text as He presents truth in the Now Testament?

  3. But suppose you reject this thought. Does it necessarily mean, just because there appears to be a similarity in wording, and in some instances perhaps following the Greek OT more closely than the Hebrew that this is some sort of proof that the Greek OT is somehow superior to the Masoretic Text? Most assuredly not! This does not hold true for the particular passage quoted, nor does it hold true for the entire Greek OT. God did not inspire the Greek words of the OT only the Hebrew words! This is a very important distinction and caution which must be borne in mind in this matter of OT translation.

Having stated my objections to the Septuagint, I agree with your premise that an accurate translation can be true Scripture. However, the Septuagint is not an accurate translation.

I have just established above that the Septuagint is pre-Christian, because we have Septuagint fragments from the last two centuries B.C.E. (Schiffman, 212-3: Schiffman, Lawrence H.. Reclaiming The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Doubleday, 1995).  Many New Testament quotes of the Old Testament are indeed from this Septuagint

Applying this to the New Testament, we see that any copy of the text of Scripture can be regarded as the Word of God, even if its text differs in places from that of the original. We also realize that any faithful translation of any copy of the Word of God in the original languages, even if the copy differs from the original text in places, can still be regarded as the Word of God. This means that the Portuguese De Almeida Edição Revista e Atualizada (Edition Revised and Updated), based upon a predominantly Alexandrian-type Greek text, is the Word of God. This also means that the English King James Version and New King James Version, based upon a Byzantine-type Greek text, are both the Word of God, even though the Byzantine text class differs from the original text more than the so-called "Alexandrian" text class does. Finally, this also means that the Latin Vulgate, derived primarily from a Western-type Greek text, is also the Word of God. The Bible is the Book that God wrote in Greek and Hebrew the moment He wrote it. The Scriptures show God writing in Hebrew, Aramaic (very short portions), and Greek. The King James Version is the Word of God in the sense of representing the Word of God.

I say it this way, most any translation contains the word of God to some extent, but only those translated from the Textus Receptus can make a claim to being the complete, pure word of God in their respective language. And even not all of these make the grade. To find the right Bible one must by faith look for the Bible God is using and blessing. For the English speaking people this has been the King James Bible of 1611 for nearly four centuries. All the versions designed to replace it have failed miserably and many are even out of print. It is up to the true believers of each language and age to determine their Bible if they have an option.

All translations from the Alexandrian Text do contain the word of God, but they are not the complete and pure word of God. They contain a wealth of truth, but not all truth, and thus contain some error. Where they agree with the King James Bible I accept them. Where they differ they are rejected. Thus the King James Bible is my final authority.

Your position has no mechanism to check for error. For instance the NWT of the Jehovah's Witnesses is based on the Alexandrian Text yet it is laced with errors. It does have truth in it, but it also has lies. You claim the Alexandrian text is essentially the preserved original text and the NWT has more AT readings than many other versions. However, it is a very poor and biased translation from a poor text.

The statement that the Alexandrian-text based Bible translations are not complete is completely natural for someone who really believes that the English-based “Textus Receptus” is entirely the Word of God.  The fact that the Jehovah's Witnesses' “New World Translation” is heavily dependent on the so-called “Alexandrian text” does not prove that the so-called “Alexandrian text” is not closest to the first century text.  Third, we can check the NWT's accuracy with the Greek text that it follows; in many places it does not match the most accurate way that the Greek text it follows should be translated

Any properly done translation attempts to accurately represent the source. If it does so, it becomes the equivalent of the source to the recipients of the translation. For example, when we read the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels and at Acts 20:35 in English, we consider these to be what Jesus said, although Jesus did not speak in English as it did not exist yet; the translations in English are still considered His oracles. When we read Don Quixote, a Spanish novel, in English, we consider the translation to be Don Quixote, although it is not exactly Don Quixote. The King James Version is a translation of the Hebrew and Greek Bible that God wrote. It is the Word of God in the sense that it represents the Word of God written by God Himself in Greek and Hebrew. However, we have established earlier that the highest Scriptural authority is the Bible as given by God in its original languages.

I'm glad you understand that a translation CAN be the equal of its source, and therefore does not have to be inferior. However, I do take issue with your saying a translation only represents the word of God. No, an accurate translation IS the very word of God having God's words. It is not "the likeness or image of" the words. Even the King James translators, whom you quoted, said even the "meanest translation of the the word of God." Neither they or the NT writers [who were all likely bilingual or trilingual] ever said a translation was merely a representation.

The King James Bible is not a novel and is not limited by being produced only by finite men. The basis for its words were given by inspiration of God and God preserved these words so He could providentially guide a group [among others] of translators during the 17th century to produce a Bible in the English language He wanted to use and bless. Because of this, the fruits of their labors are still enduring today.

You should know better. I wrote "If it does so, it becomes the equivalent of the source to the recipients of the translation" -- the "equivalent" and not a strict equal. It is only known for certain from Scripture that the Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament and Greek New Testament were given directly by God, and Scripture nowhere authorizes us to believe that a human translation thereof can have more authority than those texts.

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