Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been spending my focus lately looking at the doctrine of Inerrancy, a doctrine I do agree with, and examining the ICBI statement on Inerrancy. Our look tonight will be at Article 10 which reads as follows:
We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
So anyone ready to discuss textual criticism?
My wife and I have lately had Mormons over and this kind of topic has come up. Is it true that all we have is copies of copies of copies of copies? Are we simply playing a game of telephone? Could it be that all of the early copies we have have been altered from what the originals said?
To begin with, in order to know that all of the copies had been altered from what the originals said, one would have to know what the originals said to demonstrate that there has been a change of that magnitude. As all freely admit however, we do not have the originals so that kind of charge is problematic.
Second, with all the writing going on at the time in many languages and dialects and cultures and quotations being made by the church fathers, one would literally have to have the super speed of Clark Kent and a vast knowledge of language and specific knowledge on where each manuscript and copy was in order to go and change all of them. It just couldn’t be done.
So do we have telephone going on? No. Instead, copies are made from the oldest manuscripts. We can cross-reference all the copies that we have and see what the originals said. Most mistakes that we catch are usually simple things like spelling mistakes. They are easily caught.
Inerrancy also does not extend to the copies. There is no rule that a copyist has to copy everything down perfectly in order to save Inerrancy. For instance, take a translation like the Wicked Bible. In this Bible, the “not” was left out of “You shall not commit adultery.” Yeah. They got into a little bit of trouble for that. Does that mean that Inerrancy went out the window? Not a bit. Mistakes had happened before that, but that was in the copying and not the original writing.
When you have a new translation made today, generally, it is made from looking at the oldest and best manuscripts that we have. A translation is not made from a translation and that translation from a translation. They’re also not normally done by one person but by a committee of persons as a way to avoid bias.
Thus, I conclude that there is no problem with Article X. Mistakes in copies do not violate Inerrancy.