Monday, May 11, 2015

Westcott-Hort Axiom on Textual Criticism Does Not Pass Statistics

I was with the King James Version of the Bible when I first believed. Sometime in the late 1980 I started toying with other versions of the Bible. One of the most disgusting versions I have come across is the NIV, so I am sorry if you are a fan of this Bible translation, as I am not.

However through the years I let NASB, NRSV and now ESV hang around my library and when I was pastoring  I even preached from these.

Now that I have more time, I have recently in the last couple of weeks studied a bit this matter of Textual Criticism.

I process of copying Biblical text by the ancients was an extremely and complex human activity and the axioms of Westcott and Hort people are very simplistic and do not account the physics of this writing process.

Let me give a few examples of why for a trained mathematician the following axioms must be rejected. Now we know that these textual criticism axioms are not like mathematical axioms that are self evidently true. TC axioms are not like this of course but these TC axioms are not even scientific.
Here are the axioms I reject.

1. Manuscripts are to be weighted not counted.
Now what is the rational of this? Well we can say that simply because it is many does not mean it came from the original. Now this may be true, but that depends on what is being copied and the nature of that document being copied. If you forgive me, I feel this is quite stupid when applied to the New Testament. Right now, all them modern versions come from Alexandrian type manuscript. Yet there are more than 5000 copies of Byzantine manuscripts.  Here statistics wins. Why do we have many copies of Byzantine and no inundation of copies of Alexandrian? It is because the ancients believed the Byzantine source is most reliable, it is the one worth copying and the Alexandrian is not.

2.  The shorter reading is to be preferred.
Now to be frank, before this axiom, there is another axiom that prevails - the more difficult reading is to be preferred. In the modern translations besides KJV and NKJV, since they base their text from Alexandrian type manuscripts, all the readings that are short have been preferred. This presupposes the scribal writer has the tendency to add text. Again, this does not work. Humans are the ones copying these text, not like computers, so they struggle with lighting and tiredness; so they are likely omit words or phrases when they are tired. Sure there may be a double checkers but the process we know is not air tight, therefore the longer reading is to be preferred.

More later.