Back to Bible Version Reports

Back to the Way of Life Home Page

Way of Life Literature Online Catalog

You Can Own a High-tech Research Database Larger than the Way of Life Literature Web Site

PRESERVATION IS MISSING IN STANDARD WORKS ON TEXTUAL CRITICISM

[Distributed by Way of Life Literature’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service. Copyright 2000. These articles cannot be stored on BBS or Internet sites and cannot be sold or placed by themselves or with other material in any electronic format for sale, but may be distributed for free by e-mail or by print. They must be left intact and nothing removed or changed, including these informational headers. This is a listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Our goal is not devotional but is TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR. If you desire to receive this type of material on a regular basis, e-mail us, give us your name, address, and the name of the church you are a member of, and request to be placed on the list. Please note that this is not a free service. We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and each subscriber is expected to participate. To unsubscribe or to submit a change of address, send your name and the request to fbns@wayoflife.org. This is not an automated list. Changes in the database often require two to four days to activate. Some of these articles are from O Timothy magazine. David W. Cloud, Editor. O Timothy is a monthly magazine in its 17th year of publication. Subscription is $20/yr. Way of Life Literature, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277. Way of Life publishes many helpful books. The catalog is located at the web site -- http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud. The End Times Apostasy Online Database is also located at this site. 360-675-8311 (voice), 240-8347 (fax). fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail)]

Republished April 9, 2000 (first published March 30, 1999) (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277) – The doctrinal of biblical preservation lies at the very heart of the Bible text debate. The Bible cannot be treated as any other book. It is God’s supernaturally given Word. God gave it and God has promised to preserve it. The underlying thesis, though, of modern textual criticism is that the Bible became corrupted through the centuries and it is the task of textual criticism to restore it in its original purity. Prominent textual critic Constantine Tischendorf looked upon his task as "the struggle to regain the original form of the New Testament" (Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 126). His error, like that of other 19th-century textual critics, was in failing to recognize God’s promise of preservation. Had he believed the Bible’s own testimony, he would have known by faith that the New Testament did not need to be recovered because it was not lost!

I have studied many books describing modern textual criticism. MOST OF THEM DO NOT EVEN MENTION DIVINE PRESERVATION! The following are some of the books on textual criticism in my library. These are some of the most influential works on textual criticism from the past 100 years:

The New Testament in the Original Greek (Introduction) by Westcott and Hort (1881)
A History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament by Marvin Vincent (1899)
The Text of the New Testament by Kirsopp Lake (1900, 1949)
Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament by Eberhard Nestle (1901)
The Canon and Text of the New Testament by Casper Rene Gregory (1907)
History of the New Testament Criticism by F.C. Conybeare (1910)
The Text and Canon of the New Testament by Alexander Souter (1912)
An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament by A.T. Robertson (1925)
The Text of the Greek Bible by F.G. Kenyon (1936, 1975)
New Testament Manuscript Studies by Merrill Parvis and Allen Wikgren (1950)
The Text of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger (1968)
The Text of the New Testament by Kurt and Barbara Aland (1981)

These are all standard works on textual criticism and they focus strictly upon man and his puny efforts concerning the Bible. I do not recall these textual critics even mentioning God's promise to preserve His Word, and they do not proceed upon the principle that the Bible is supernaturally given and preserved.

In great contrast to these works on modern textual criticism are the writings of defenders of the Received or Traditional Text. These men treat the Bible as God’s infallible Word and believe God has guarded the transmission of the Bible, and they make this faith a central part of their approach to textual criticism. These include Frederick Nolan, Solomon Malan, George Samson, John William Burgon, Edward Miller, Herman Hoskier, Robert Lewis Dabney, Edward Hills, Terrance Brown, Jay Green, and Donald Waite. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with these men in every detail, one encounters in their writings an entirely different attitude toward the Bible. It is an attitude of reverence and faith that is missing from the books defending modern textual criticism and the modern Bible versions. As I began researching this subject in the early 1980s, the lack of trembling reverence toward the Bible and the lack of faith in divine preservation on the part of textual critics was one of the first warning signals that led me to reject modern textual criticism.

"Hear the word of the LORD, YE THAT TREMBLE AT HIS WORD; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed" (Isaiah 66:5).

THE EXTENT OF PRESERVATION

The bottom line is that the same Bible that claims to be infallibly inspired also claims to be infallibly preserved. My faith in this is not based on common sense (though it is sensible to believe that if God gave an infallible Scripture He would preserve it). My faith in this matter is based on the promises of a God that cannot lie.

Jack Moorman, in his excellent manual Forever Settled, states the matter plainly: "A far better principle is given in Rom. 14:23—‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ If I cannot by faith take the Bible in my hand and say this is the preserved Word of God, then it is sin. If we do not approach the study of how we got our Bible from the standpoint of faith, then it is sin. If I cannot believe what God says about the preservation of His Word, then I cannot believe what He says about its inspiration either--all is sin."

Faith stands on the Word of God. Let us see exactly what the Bible says about this matter:

PSALM 12:6-7 -- "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."

This passage summarizes the doctrine of Bible preservation. It promises that the pure words (not just thoughts or general teachings) of God will be kept for ever.

Some do not agree that Psalm 12 should be included in a list of verses on Bible preservation. While the King James Version plainly allows verse 7 to refer to the preservation of God’s words, the modern versions translate verse 7 in such a way that it cannot possibly apply to Bible preservation. The NIV is representative: "And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. O Lord, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever." The NIV translation of Psalm 12:7 can only refer to the preservation of people.

In a report on the history of the translation and interpretation of Psalm 12:6,7, Peter Van Kleeck, Senior Pastor of the Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, shows that the testimony is divided. Some interpreters have viewed Psalm 12:7 as applying to Bible preservation; others have viewed it as applying to the preservation of God’s people; others have viewed it as having a double application. Thus, Van Kleeck speaks of "the genius of ambiguity." His report was completed in the process of pursuing an M.A.R. at Calvin Theological Seminary. I have published lengthy excerpts from this in the article "Psalm 12:7 and Bible Preservation" at the Way of Life web site under the Bible Version section of the End Times Apostasy Database. This is also in the O Timothy Computer Library.

Doug Kutilek exemplifies those among fundamental Baptists who deny that Psalm 12:7 is a promise of Bible preservation. In the early 1980s, Evangelist Robert L. Sumner printed Kutilek’s article on this in The Biblical Evangelist (at the time, Kutilek was a teacher at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri). After reading Kutilek’s article I wrote to Dr. Bruce Lackey and received the following excellent comments in February 1984:

I submit the following reasons for my not being moved away from my conviction that Psalm 12:6-7 does teach the preservation of Scripture.

1. His [Kutilek’s] admission that ‘there are occasional exceptions to the principle of agreement in the Hebrew Bible (see Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar 135 o)’ immediately shows that the preservation-interpretation is not automatically incorrect, grammatically, but is definitely possible. A somewhat similar situation exists in John 15:6, where ‘them’ is neuter plural in Greek, and ‘they are burned’ is a singular verb. Dana and Mantey, in A Manual Grammar of The Greek New Testament, on page 165, give the following statement: ‘A seeming exception to the above principle of syntax is the fact that a neuter plural subject regularly takes a singular verb (John 9:3).’ Therefore, it is unwise to prove or disprove a position using the argument of gender and number. Anyone who studies languages knows that there are exceptions.

2. The argument listing various verses in Psalms where ‘keep’ and ‘preserve’ speak of people is not very weighty. Psalm 12:6-7 might be the only place in the whole book which uses these words to refer to things [other than people], but that would not disqualify the situation. Psalm 110:4 is the only verse in the Old Testament that teaches the Melchisedical priesthood of the Lord Jesus, but Hebrews 4:7 does not hesitate to make much of it!

3. The argument from context does not hold water, either. He says, ‘The basic thrust of the message of Psalm 12 is clear: the psalmist bemoans the decimation of the upright and the growing strength of the wicked.’ Thus, he tries to show that verse 7, teaching preservation, would not fit. If this be true, neither would verse 6. Rather, the context is favorable to the preservation interpretation. God’s promise to save the poor and needy is given in verse 5; verses 6 and 7 are injected to show that His promise of verse 5 will never be broken.

4. In the last paragraph, he [Kutilek] says that those who apply these verses ‘to any doctrine of Bible preservation’ are guilty of handling ‘the Word of God deceitfully and dishonestly, something unworthy of any child of God.’ But earlier, he admitted that such illustrious interpreters as John Wesley, Henry Martyn, G. Campbell Morgan, and Kidner, agreed with the preservation interpretation. Sounds like a mouse attacking elephants! They might have been wrong on some points, but they were certainly not deceitful and dishonest.

Some other verses which teach that God would preserve His Words for all generations are Psalm 33:11; 119:152,160; Isa. 59:21; Mat. 24:35; and I Pet. 1:25. Also, a comparison of Mat. 28:20 and John 14:23 shows that Christ’s promise of His continual presence with us is fulfilled as we keep His words; thus His words must be available to believers ‘alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen’ (Letter from Bruce Lackey, Feb. 1984).

Bruce Lackey, who died in 1988, was the Dean of the Bible School at Tennessee Temple when I attended there in the 1970s. He was a man of God and a true scholar. He studied his Greek New Testament every day. He was a diligent and careful researcher. But he was also a Bible believer. His doctrine was always based on the Scriptures, not on human logic. He was not afraid of rejecting popular scholarly positions if they were contrary to the Word of God.

PSALM 33:11 -- "The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."

Psalm 33:11 says God’s thoughts would not be lost but rather would stand to all generations, and we know from passages such as 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 that these divine thoughts have been expressed through divinely-chosen words. "Which things also we speak, NOT IN THE WORDS which man’s wisdom teacheth, BUT WHICH the Holy Ghost teacheth..." The promise in Psalm 33, therefore, is also a promise of the verbal preservation of Scripture.

PSALM 100:5 -- "For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

PSALM 111:7-8 -- "The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness."

PSALM 117:2 -- "... the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord."

Psalm 100:5, 111:7-8, and 117:2 promise that the truth of God will stand forever and endure to all generations. This could mean that sound doctrine in general will be preserved, as those who take a naturalistic view of preservation contend, but this cannot be true. We know that God’s truth is not expressed to man merely in general doctrinal terms, but in divinely selected words. God has not merely given man a pattern of truth; He has given the very form of truth in the Scriptures. It is this verbally inspired truth that the Old Testament is promising will be preserved. Psalm 100:5 connects Bible preservation with God’s goodness and mercy. It is because God loves man that He has given His Book. Psalm 100:5 reminds us that the same love that motivated God to inspire the Scriptures motivates Him to keep them.

PSALM 119:89 -- "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."

PSALM 119:152 -- "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever."

Psalm 119:89 and 119:152 promise that God’s Word is eternally settled. No matter what the Devil and wicked men to in their attempt to destroy or corrupt the Word of God, they will not succeed. Ultimately the Bible will not be corrupted or lost.

PSALM 119:160 -- "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."

According to Psalm 119:160, even the very earliest portions of God’s Word, Genesis and the other writings of Moses, are infallibly inspired and will be preserved.

ISAIAH 40:8 -- "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."

ISAIAH 59:21 -- "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever."

Isaiah adds his "amen" to the doctrine of preservation. According to Isaiah 59:21, it is the very words of God which will be preserved. Note that the preservation of God’s Word is connected with its usage among believing people. The Scriptures will be preserved by use, not by disuse.

MATTHEW 4:4 -- "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

MATTHEW 5:18 -- "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

MATTHEW 24:35 – "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

As we see from the above Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ is very specific in His teaching about the preservation of Scripture. He teaches that man must have the very words of God, and He promises that His WORDS will not pass away. In Matthew 5:18, He says the very JOTS AND TITTLES of God’s Word will not pass away! That is certainly verbal preservation.

MATTHEW 28:18-20 – "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

MARK 8:38 – "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

1 TIMOTHY 6:13 – "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Verses such as Matthew 28:20, Mark 8:38, and 1 Timothy 6:13 take for granted the preservation of Scripture. Each generation of Christians is required to keep and to teach all things that Christ commanded, not only the commands He gave in the Gospels but those He gave through the Apostles. This would not be possible unless the Lord’s commands are preserved in detail in the Scriptures.

1 PETER 1:23 -- "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever."

1 PETER 1:25 -- "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

The Apostle Peter tells us that the Word of God is preserved perpetually, and this includes the Word that has been preached to us in the gospel writings. And by gospel writings we must understand Peter to mean the whole of the New Testament, not just the first four books, for Hebrews 2:3 instructs us that the gospel "at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him."

REVELATION 22:18-19 -- "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Capping off our brief survey of Scripture on the doctrine of biblical preservation is the testimony of Revelation 22:18-19. In the last chapter of this book, man is given a dire warning not to tamper with its contents. Obviously, this applies directly to Revelation, but it must apply equally to the entire Book of which Revelation forms the last chapter. Think about this. If mankind is forbidden to take away from or add to the contents of a Book, it must be obvious that God intends to preserve that Book in every detail. Note that it is the WORDS which man is forbidden to tamper with, not merely the general doctrine or teaching. "For I testify unto every man that heareth the WORDS of the prophecy of this book ... if any man shall take away from the WORDS of the book of this prophecy..." The WORDS! If God forbids man to tamper with any of the WORDS of the Bible, it is obvious that He intends to preserve those words so they will be available to man. Otherwise, the warning of Revelation 22:18-19 is meaningless.

In summary, the Bible promises that God will preserve His Word in pure form, including the most minute details (the jots and titles, the words), and that this would include the whole Scriptures, Old and New Testaments. The biblical doctrine of preservation is verbal, plenary preservation, which is the only reasonable view in light of the biblical doctrine of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Writings. Of what benefit are infallible writings that no longer exist?

I praise God that we are not left to drift upon the unsteady seas of modern critical scholarship. Because of faith in God’s promises to preserve His Word, I can reject the new texts and Bibles and can cleave confidently to the faithful Received Text-based King James Version in English and to Received Text versions in other languages. "Can the matter be so simple?" you say. Why not? My friends, God has not allowed His Book to be lost or corrupted.

See also "The Problems with Bible Preservation" (March 30, 1999, Fundamental Baptist Information Service). (For a copy of the article, see the Way of Life site under the "Bible Version" section of the End Times Apostasy Database. http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud)