Full Text for Have We the Original Text of the Holy Scriptures? (Text)

(!tnnrnrbiu m4tnlngital :!In11tlJly Continuing LEHRE UND WEHRE MA~ZIN FUER Ev.-LuTH. HOMILETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. X February, 1939 No.2 CONTENTS Page The Means of Grace. F. E. Mayer __________________________________ 81 Wie die rechte Stellung zur Heiligen Schrift die Amtstaetigkeit des Pastors bestimmt. F. Plotenhauer 90 Sermon Study on 2 Tim. 4:5-8. Th. Laetsch _ 96 The Institutional Missionary and the Divine Service E. A. DuemHng ___________ 111 Predigtentwuerfe fuer die Evangelien der Thomasius- Perikopenreihe _____________ _ _ ____________ HO Miscellanea __ . ______________ _ ---------------~ Theological Observer. - Kirchlich-Zeitgeschichtliches ______ 142 Book Review. - Literatur _________ 153 JIlIn Predller muss n1cht allein toei- den. also dass er die Schafe unter- weise. wte ale rechte Chrtsten Bollen rein. sondern 8Uch daneben den Woel- fen toeht'm. dass ale die Schafe n1cht angreifen und mit falscher Lehre ver- fuehren und Irrtum einfuehren. Luthet'. Es 1st kein Ding. lias die Leute mehr bel der Klrche behaelt denn die gute Predigt. - Apologte. An.. 24. If the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare hlm.self to the battle? -1 COf'. 14. I. Published for the BY. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States CONCORDIA PUBLISHING BOUSE, St. Louis, Mo. ABcmv Have We the Original Text of the Holy Scriptures? 105 few words of Christian triumph, Christian assurance, looking up to the Lord, the righteous Judge, with all those who are loving His epiphany and awaiting their crowning. Lord, give me a death like this!" (Lenski, Commentary, p. 868 f.) Our text is in line with the standard Epistle, which speaks of the Gospel ministry, and with the Gospel, which points out John the Baptist as an example of faithfulness. One may speak on Paul's Exhortation to Faithfulness in the Ministry. The apostle points out what faithfulness implies, his own example, the glorious crown. - Fulfil the Ministry. In spite of afflictions, in emulation of Paul's example, in view of the epiphany. - Endure Afjiictions. That is part of your calling (sober-mindedness will tell you that, in doing your work of preaching Christ and fulfilling your ministry, you must look for afflictions); you have fellow-sufferers; there is for you a glorious crown. - What May a Congregation Expect of Its Pastor? That he fulfil his ministry, suffer afflictions, be ready to depart in view of the glory which he preaches to others.- Pastor ancZ Congregation Looking for the Epiphany. Willingly doing their full duty, 5-7; ready to endure affliction, 5,6; con- fidently looking for the crown of glory. - While here a pastor writes to a pastor, he himself includes all Christians in v. 8. Hence we may generalize the exhortation and show Paul as an Example of True Christianity. In his sober-mindedness, his perseverance to the end, his confident expectation of everlasting glory. - In the introduction briefly picture the past, present, and future of the unbeliever. Theme: The Past, Present, and Future of a Child of God in the Light of the Gospel. The past is a record of victories won. The present is a time of sober-minded fulfilment of duty. The future holds for him a glorious consummation of their hope. TH. LAETSCH --------~~-~-------- Have .. _ the _.:dginal Text of the F ___ y SCl~r _J.res? This question, as our readers will remember, was adverted to in the December, 1938, issue of this journal in an article which discussed the position of the U. L. C. A. with respect to the inspira- tion of the Scriptures. Prominent theologians of the U. L. C. A., in speaking of the question whether the original text of the Bible must be held to be without error in every detail, have made the statement that the original text of our holy writings is non-existent and that hence insistence on the belief that this text was inerrant 10G Have We the Original Text of the Holy Scriptures? is not justified)) The force of the argument advanced here against the teaching that the original text of our Bible is inerrant can be easily felt. If the original text has not been preserved, what is the use of debating whether it was truly and fully in- spired or not? It might seem that in such a case the whole subject is merely of academic interest and without practical importance. Accordingly, the alleged non-existence of the original text of the Scriptures has often been pointed to by foes of the doctrine of verbal inspiration, although of late it has not been dwelt on as much as a number of years ago. A recent writer, not without a touch of frivolity, puts the argument into these words: "No one can attack a non-existent fortification. The autographs [of the Bible] are nowhere; no man living can prove what was in them, and no man dead has left us any record of what they were like when he read them. The people who condemn philosophy for its assumptions assume that the original autographs were absolutely in accord with eternal truth, to the last jot and tittle. The foes of evolution, because they call it a guess, guess that infinite perfec- tion dwelt in the lost autographs from Alpha to Omega. To ques- tion what they say, to deny anything so self-evident as the propo- sition that our Bible originally existed in complete and flawless accord with all truth, is to proclaim oneself hopelessly lost in hardness of heart and contumacy of mind. What could be more fair? - To admit the need of perfect autographs is to sunender the whole claim of infallibility. All we have is our existing Bible. If it needed to be inenant, why did God allow it to become errant after having gone to the trouble of getting it all miraculously written out without error? If our salvation depends upon implicit obedience to an infallible revelation, what does God mean by letting the record get conupt?"2) To begin with, let us inquire whether the position is really tenable that, if the original text has been lost, it cannot make much difference to us whether this text was inerrant or not. A little 1) The U. L. C. A. Commission on Lutheran Relationships, in its re- port to the recent convention of its Church, said: "The disagreement relates furthermore to a matter of theological interpretation, which, in addition, applies only to a non-existent original text of the Scriptures." Dr. Knubel, President of the U. L. C. A., in his opening sermon at this convention, said: "The crucial difference developed in recent discussions rests in the matter of the verbal inspiration of an original text of the Scriptures (which, of course, does not exist)," etc. Cf. C. T. M., Decem- ber, 1938, pp. 918, 921. 2) Do Fundamentalists Play Fair? By William Mentzel Forrest, 1926, p. 55 f. We are quoting from the first edition. Somewhere we read that the book was revised and that important changes were introduced. Let us hope that the passage cited is among those that were altered for the better. II, I :'!lI;i .;1,1I Have We the Original Text of the Holy Scriptures? 107 reflection must show that such a view is untenable. The celebrated Epistle to Diognetus, written by an unknown author in the second century of our era and listed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, came down to modern times in one manuscript only. This manuscript was kept in the library of Strassburg, and in 1870, when this library burned down, it was destroyed. Fortunately the manuscript had been copied several times before its destruction.3) Everybody can see how important the nature of this now non- existent manuscript was and how much depended on whether or not it actually contained the precise words of the author. If it was a faithful reproduction of the original, the copies which we now have give us the words of that early Christian writer; if not, then the faithfulness of our modern copyists has at best merely reproduced a faulty transcription and has perpetuated scribal errors. Similarly, if the original manuscripts of the holy writers were inerrant, then it was at least possible for scribes to transmit an inerrant message to posterity. If the original was not inerrant, no amount of faithfulness on the part of the copyists could give it this quality. If the original writings were (and not merely con- tained) the Word of God, then the copies transmit to us the Word of God in the degree in which they are faithful to the original. If the original manuscripts were not, but merely contained, the Word of God, accuracy of transcription did not avail to render that divine which was not divine. Yes, a great deal depends on the nature of the original. It is usual in discussions of this nature to begin with saying that the autographs of the holy writers no longer are known to exist. This, of course, all who have made a study of the subject have to admit. The original manuscripts of the New Testament, to speak of them in particular, probably consisted of papyrus sheets,4) which were fragile and, when handled much, would quickly become defective. The hope has been expressed that per- haps, since the last hundred years have brought us many interest- ing, valuable finds, some archeologist, digging in the sands of Egypt, will happen upon an autograph of one of our New Testament books.5) But since the days of that arch-deceiver Constantine 3) Cf. The Apostolic Fathers. With an English translation by Kir- sopp Lake. Vol. II, p.349. In the Loeb Classical Library, 1917. 4) We know this positively concerning 2 John. Cr. 2 John 12: <}to. XUQ'tou %