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Textual Criticism and Canon of Scripture

By RevMead Mar 13, 2013 5761 Words
Liberty University

Textual Criticism and the Canon of Scripture:
Dealing with Inspiration and Preservation in the light of human error

A Paper submitted to Dr. Tomlin
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For
History of Christianity I – CHHI 520

By: James Mead

December 14, 2007

Table of Contents
Table of Contents 2
Introduction 3
Developing the Need for a Canon 5
Gnostics 5
Cerinthians Gnostics 6
Doketist Gnostics 6
Marcion 7
The Presentation and Elimination of Spurious Writings 8
The Tests of Canonicity 9
The Test of Apostolic Authority11
The Tests of Antiquity and Orthodoxy12
The Tests of Catholicity and Traditional Use13
The Test of Inspiration14
Identifying Human Error in the Texts15
Unintentional Errors16
Intentional Errors17

Whenever the student of the Word of God purposes to begin a thorough study of any doctrinal lesson, ecclesiastical movement or practical teaching for life, he is often encouraged to search the originals, for in them is the fullness of the Scriptures revealed. Often, however, the student finds it difficult to ascertain how accurately to assess the original autographs. With the varying texts available and the variant readings present in them, how does the student know how to proceed? For some, this question demands no answer, for they surmise that God’s Holy Word, inspired and preserved through God’s omnipotence, needs no affirmation. As Dr. Bruce Cummons states, “I [sic] knew that I [sic] was studying GOD’S WORD [sic]. I [sic] knew this BY FAITH [sic]! I [sic] did not need ‘proofs’ and ‘evidences’ to convince me [sic] that I [sic] was handling God’s infallible Word, nor do I [sic] need such ‘proofs’ and ‘evidences’ today.”[1] Is this approach sufficient to reveal fully the context of Scripture? Is it plausible to accept the doctrines of inspiration and preservation without adequately addressing the issue of human error in the transmission and translations of the Scriptures? The art and science of textual criticism developed throughout the centuries as a means of discovering the most accurate transmissions of the sacred Scriptures. This work ensures, with greater certainty, the accuracy and authenticity of ancient autographs. The discipline relies upon various evidences, both internal and external, in ascertaining the validity and historicity of a text. Dr. Bruce Metzger defines textual criticism thus, “The science of textual criticism deals with (a) the making and transmission of ancient manuscripts, (b) the description of the most important witness to the New Testament text, and (c) the history of the textual criticism of the New Testament as reflected in the succession of printed editions of the Greek Testament. The art of textual criticism refers to the application of reasoned considerations in choosing among variant readings.”[2] Gleason Archer provides this definition, “[Textual criticism is] the task of restoring the original text on the basis of the various copies which have been preserved to us [sic].”[3] Skilled textual critics have endeavored for many centuries, some dedicating their entire lives and wealth, to compile a superior copy of the Word of God. Theirs was a daunting task: to validate and to authenticate the text of the Scriptures through the elimination of spurious books, the justification of partial texts to the whole, in light of the identification of human error. Through years of research, diligence and perseverance, these textual critics proved that one must not necessarily overlook the possibilities of human error in transmission and translation of the Scriptures in order to claim a belief in the inspiration and preservation of the Word of God. Certainly this is a broad topic which must be limited by the placement of parameters upon the study. This study will be limited to three primary topics: the development of the need for a canon, the recognition and elimination of spurious writings originally presented as scripture, and the identification of human error which must be considered by any serious textual critic.[4] Through the study of the process and the results of textual criticism and canonization, the student will find it possible to identify errors within the texts of the Scripture and to adhere to the doctrines of inspiration and preservation. In fact, the presence and identification of errors within the texts of Scripture do not serve to weaken the doctrine of preservation; rather it serves to strengthen preservation by the recognition and elimination of textual error. DEVELOPING THE NEED FOR A CANON From the beginning of the Christian church to the present age, followers of Christ have sought after truth as propagated by Christ and His disciples. The written words of the Apostles and of Christ became of immeasurable value as false doctrines emerged from the bowels of nefarious teachers. Those who would infiltrate the church of God and detract it from its purposes for their selfish ambitions, such as the Gnostics and Marcionites, began introducing and manipulating writings, hoping to gain credibility among orthodox Christians.[5]

One fact that must remain in consideration by any student of textual criticism is that there were many other religious and philosophical writings produced simultaneously with the Scriptures of the New Testament era. Robert J. Sargent states, “As the Bible was being written down, numerous other religious writings were also being produced. In many cases these writings consisted of heresy, sometimes published in the name of an apostle…other authors were good trustworthy men, such as Jewish patriots, Rabbinical scribes, historians and Church Fathers, and their writings were historically accurate and even edifying.”[6] As Christian teaching, introduced into a culture of syncretism, was mixed with philosophical ideology, some followers of Christ found themselves at an impasse: justifying an evil flesh with a Holy God. As a result of this impasse, some began to adhere to a teaching known as Gnosticism, a belief that “all matter is evil, or at best unreal. A human being is in reality an eternal spirit (or part of the eternal spirit) that somehow has been imprisoned in a body. Since the body is a prison to the spirit, and since it misguides us [sic] as to our [sic] true nature, it is evil.”[7] The danger of this doctrine intensified when relating to the deity of Jesus Christ, for Gnostics maintained that the holiness of God could not inhabit flesh, for flesh is evil. Therefore, two theories about the body of Jesus Christ emerged from two sects of Gnosticism: the Cerinthian Gnostics and the Doketist Gnostics.

Cerinthian Gnostics
Cerinthian Gnostics taught that “Jesus was simply a man, the natural-born son of Joseph and Mary, and that the Christ was the Divine Spirit who came and took possession of Jesus at His baptism in Jordan and was with Him through life, but left Him when He hung on the cross.”[8] Followers of this heresy believed that the Divine Spirit of Christ could not be born into a human body; therefore, the essence of Christ possessed the body of a man, thereby allowing him to live in perfection while the Christ Spirit held possession. This teaching appeased some, although others proposed disturbing questions regarding the evil nature of flesh. Cerinthian Gnosticism did not satisfactorily address the issue of God dwelling in the body of fallen man.

Doketist Gnostics
Doketist Gnostics sought to answer the disturbing questions left in the minds of some believers regarding the nature of flesh. For Doketists, or Docetists, the answer rested in the issue of Christ’s body. Since they could not believe that the holiness of God could indwell a sinful body, they presumed to teach that Christ’s body was no body at all; rather, it was a “ghost that miraculously seemed to be a real body.”[9] This heresy continued to the end that they believed that “if, for instance, while you [sic] gazed upon Him you [sic] had attempted to take hold of Him, you [sic] would have laid hold of thin air, He was simply a phantom.”[10]

Ignatius provides this admonition concerning Gnosticism, “Turn a deaf ear therefore when any one speaks to you [sic] apart from Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, the child of Mary, who was truly born, who ate and drank, who was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and truly died.”[11] Ignatius (ca. AD 35-107), provides a foundation for the need of a canon of Scripture, for he urges his fellow Christians to turn a deaf ear to the Gnostics, however, with no written, authoritative Scriptures available, how was one to know what is truth and what is error?


Many Christian scholars credit Marcion with accelerating the process of canonization, for he himself produced a canon of Scripture which met his specifications. Marcion was, indeed, “the first person known to us [sic] who published a fixed collection of what we [sic] should call New Testament books. Others may have done so before him; if so, we [sic] have no knowledge of them.”[12] Marcion prepared a collection of sacred writings to serve his doctrinal purposes, and editing or ignoring any that taught contrary to his doctrine. Similar to Gnosticism, he rejected the notion that Christ was a man, born of Mary, rather he purported that Christ was a messenger sent to reveal the true God, separate from and superior to the Jehovah God of the Old Testament. He rejected all Old Testament Scriptures and produced a copy of the New Testament including only the Gospel of Luke (which he named, simply, the Gospel) and the writings of Paul. However, he was not content simply to copy the Gospel of Luke and the writings of Paul, but edited these writings to omit any references to the Old Testament, to Christ’s birth or to the law. He furthermore rejected all letters written by any other Apostle, regarding Paul to be the only Apostle truly to understand the teachings of Jesus.[13]

This effort by Marcion to limit, and indeed to edit, the writings of the Apostles provided the catalyst for the early church to begin examining those writings held sacred by some within the church. Through the examination of these writings, the early church meant to eliminate those writings deemed spurious and to affirm those deemed authentic.

In order to affirm the writings of Scripture deemed to be authentic, the early church fathers first needed to establish that not all writings were authentic. That is, it is not necessary to begin the process of affirmation if the possibility of the negative does not exist. Therefore, they had to recognize and eliminate those writings which did not bear the hallmarks of genuine, Apostolic authority and inspiration. Canonization, therefore, was as much rejection of the spurious autographs as it was recognition of the authentic autographs.

It is important to note, however, that canonization by no means represented the assigning of authority to a text, but was, rather, recognition of authority inherently present within the text. “It is essential to remember that the Bible is self-authenticating since its books were breathed out by God.”[14] Canonization refers to the man-made standards established in order to determine the authority of certain writings of the New Testament era; canonicity, however, “is determined by God and discovered by man.”[15] Gleason Archer affirms this when he writes that “the only true test of canonicity is the testimony of God the Holy Spirit to the authority of His own Word.”[16] While it is true that there were man-made tests which guided the early church in their determinations, it is not accurate to surmise that it was the action of the councils that made certain books Scripture, while relegating other books to the apocryphal or pseudepigraphal categories.[17]

The Tests of Canonicity
Fundamental to the understanding of canonicity is an understanding that the word “Canon” itself means “a rule, and conveys the idea of a measure – a test, a straight-edge, a critical standard – and, that which has been measured – a fixed amount, a defined limit.”[18] Various other Bible scholars provide other definitions which serve to clarify what is meant by canonization. “As applied to literature, canon has come to mean those writings which conform to the rule or standard of divine inspiration and authority.”[19] William Grady, providing the addendum of the Spirit, renders it thus, “(Canonicity is) the spirit-led process by which God’s people were able to differentiate non-inspired writings (pseudepigraphal) from those of Divine authority.”[20] Charles Ryrie gives the word a dual meaning. “Actually the word ‘canon’ has a twofold meaning. It refers to the list of books that met certain tests or rules and thus were considered authoritative and canonical. But it also means that the collection of canonical books becomes our rule of life.”[21]

The tests of canonicity were established as a means to discover which writings were intended to be authoritative for faith and life, and which writings, though valuable historically, are not considered to carry authority. The student may come to agree with the assessment of Robert Sargent, as he asserts, that the canonization was the “process of determining which writings ‘measured up’ as real scripture.”[22] He credits Athanasius with beginning the process. The word “canon,” as applied to the Scriptures, was first used by Athanasius (296-373 A.D [sic]) and means: 1. The rules or standards by which each book in the Bible was measured to determine its admission to the sacred collection. (Thus we [sic] speak of the canons of Scripture.) 2. The name given to the collection of Books which measured up to the applied rules or standards. (Thus we [sic] speak of The Sacred Canon as those 66 [sic] genuine, authentic, and inspired Books which form the Holy Bible.)[23]

It is important to understand that the rules of canonization did not equate to the assigning of authority to a text, but merely the act of recognizing that the text is ordained of God and therefore is to be followed. Canonization, in truth, involved “the interplay of subjective and objective factors, overruled by divine providence.”[24]

The individual tests of canonicity are varied, depending upon which source the student chooses to study. Gleason Archer cites three tests of canonicity which were used for some time, but have since been eliminated. “1. J. G. Eichhorn (1750) considered age to be the test for canonicity. 2. F. Hitzig (ca. 1850) made the Hebrew language the Jewish test of canonicity. 3. G. Wildeboer makes conformity to the Torah the test of canonicity for the later books.”[25] These tests were dismissed and have not been used by more recent students of the discipline. Earlier tests of canonicity, considered to be more reliable when studying ancient autographs, usually include at least 4, and as many as 6 tests.[26]

The Test of Apostolic Authority
Apostolic authority refers specifically to the writer of the text. “Was the writer God’s appointed man? Was the writer a Prophet of God? Was the writer an Apostle? The Apostles were ‘eye-witnesses’ and had received the promise of inspiration through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Did the writer live in the apostolic age? (The apocryphal ‘Shepherd of Hermas’ was rejected…on the grounds that it was written after the death of the Apostle John.)”[27]

Because of the heresies propagated by many in the second and third centuries, establishing apostolic authority was of utmost importance in order to verify the legitimacy of any teaching. “Since Jesus himself left nothing in writing, the most authoritative writings available to the church were those which came from his apostles. Among his apostles none was more active in writing (as well as otherwise) than Paul.”[28] Because many heretics were producing their own writings and claiming authority, ensuring the nature of apostolic authority was the first primary test of canonicity.[29] The test of Apostolic authority served as a means of eliminating spurious works, based not upon its contents, thus making it a subjective test, rather based upon the author, making the test more objective. “A book is considered to be forged or spurious if it is not written at the time to which it has been assigned or by the author professed by it.”[30]

The Tests of Antiquity and Orthodoxy
The two tests of Antiquity and Orthodoxy often appear as one test, and appear as a subsidiary test to Apostolic Authority. The term, “Antiquity” references the date of writing and requires the writing be associated with the Apostolic Age. The aforementioned Shepherd of Hermas, excluded from the canon of Scripture, was included in the Muratorian list, a second century document chronicling the texts recognized by the churches of the second century. However, though recognized by the churches of the second century, the Shepherd had one characteristic which resulted in its elimination from the canon. “The Shepherd, says the compiler, was written ‘quite recently, in our own times’, when Pius, the brother of Hermas, was bishop of Rome. Pius was bishop of Rome some time during the period when Antoninus Pius was Roman emperor (AD 138-161)…”[31]

Just as the test of antiquity relates to the test of Apostolic Authority as applied to the time of writing, similarly the test of orthodoxy relates to the test of Apostolic Authority as applied to teaching. If the first century stands as the standard for antiquity, then Jesus Christ, his incarnation, his passion, and his resurrection stand jointly as the test of orthodoxy. “When previously unknown Gospels or Acts began to circulate under the authority of apostolic names, the most important question to ask about any of them was: What does it teach about the person and work of Christ? Does it maintain the apostolic witness to him as the historical Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and raised from the dead, divinely exalted as Lord over all?”[32]

The Tests of Catholicity and Traditional Use
The test of catholicity asks the question, “Is there a universal acceptance of the Book [sic] by God’s people?”[33] Perhaps no writings felt the effects of this test as did the epistles of the Apostle Paul to individuals or churches, for, in truth, they were not intended for universal distribution. Each letter, whether addressed to a church or an individual, served a purpose expressed within the text, as applicable to a particular circumstance. The question that arose about these epistles focused upon the universality of those writings to all peoples. Did God intend for all people to read the letter written to Corinth to address the issues expressed within those documents? If so, did God intend for all people to read the letters of Clement or Ignatius or Irenaeus? Ultimately, the issue of catholicity was answered by a secondary, yet important test of Traditional Use.

When speaking to the Traditional use of a passage, the textual critic most assuredly must address the practices of the churches of the first and second centuries. The primary issue expressed and addressed by this test is the historicity of the text as a standard of use by the earliest churches. It was not uncommon for churches of the fourth century to present writings for addition into the readings of the worship services. The test of tradition indicates that only those writings used in the earliest churches were honored with inclusion into the sacred canon of Scripture, thus eliminating later, spurious, non-apostolic writings, from the canon.

The Test of Inspiration
The final test of canonicity, inspiration, considers the contents of the writings. To many who read the Scriptures, this test is most mysterious, for the terms seem interchangeable. That is, inspired writings are obviously canonical, and canonical writings must, then, be inspired. However, the process of canonization did not give authority to the passage, rather the authority inherent to the passage based upon the hallmarks of inspiration necessitated its canonicity.

The test of inspiration asks the question, “Does the Book [sic] bear the hallmarks of inspiration? Is there a ‘thus saith the Lord?’ Are its contents authentic? Does it have the stamp of divine authority? Is it without fable or factual error?”[34] Varying tests of inspiration attested to differing passages within the New Testament. For the Gospels, for instance, quotes from the Lord Jesus, examples of miracles performed and proofs of his deity served as evidence of inspiration. The Gospels of Mark and Luke were first recognized to be authoritative, and then canonical because they bore this hallmark of inspiration.

The tests applied to the epistles rely much more upon the information conveyed by the writer about his own writing. Did the writer of the epistle claim an authority and inspiration from God? For example, the epistles of the Apostle Paul are replete with references to his belief that he was writing under the authority of God. Multiple times he expresses his authority as the Apostle of God; he received his teachings from the Lord Jesus and reflected the mind of Christ. There were times when Paul, apparently, recognized that he no longer spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and indicated such by the inclusion of a phrase of personal reflection, only to begin again speaking from the Lord.[35]

The issue of identifying human error within the texts of Scripture is one that plagues many living in society today, for some wonder, “Is the Bible intended for every man – or just for the scholars? Should we [sic] who are not scholars have to rely upon the scholars for a full interpretation of God’s Word?”[36] For many Christians, the question that plagues them is this, if men living in this present world will never have copies of the original Scriptures, how is the student of the Word of God to be certain that the Word of God is represented accurately and explicitly within the pages of the Bible? To some within Christendom today, recognizing the presence of human error in the transmission of the texts of Scripture is tantamount to a destruction of the doctrine of Inspiration, for, certainly the Scriptures cannot be inspired if errors are present.

For the student of textual criticism, however, the issue of human error must be addressed in order to provide a thorough handling of the texts. The skilled textual critic, though, must also be able to identify such errors and to justify the error to the whole of the text, to produce the closest rendering of the original wording, based upon his knowledge of the remainder of the text. In certain cases where varying manuscripts disagree with one another, then the errors “can usually be detected from the context itself, and the intelligent reader can easily tell what the copyist really meant to write.”[37]

Unintentional Errors
There is no serious dispute over the existence of unintentional errors within the copies of Scriptures produced over the span of centuries by copyists without the benefit of adequate lighting, adequate writing utensils and adequate storage facilities for their writings. The following 12 unintentional errors are noted as being the most common: Haplography – Singular entry of a letter which should have been written twice. Dittography – Writing twice what should have been written once. Metathesis – Transposing of letters or words. Fusion – Combining all or part of two words into a single word. Fission – Division of a single word into two words. Homophony – Substitution of one homonym for another. Misreading similar letters – Confusion of one letter for another of similar shape. Homoeoteleuton – Omission of an intervening passage due to having a similar ending (such as between two sentences). Homoeoarkton – Omission of an intervening passage from the beginning of two similar sentences. Accidental omission – Loss of a single word or letter. Vowel misreading – Misreading vowel letters as consonants. Vowel point variations – Misreading a weak vowel as an actual consonant or, a discrepancy in added vowel points giving a change in word meaning.[38]

Textual criticism seeks neither to overlook nor to ignore the possibility of these errors within the texts of Scripture, but rather to identify these errors and correct them to provide man with the most accurate Scriptures possible. The workers diligently compared, contrasted and scrutinized the extant texts until the textual critics could definitively say that the texts which had been compiled agreed with one another.

Intentional Errors
Within the texts of Scripture are certain intentional errors present due not to unscrupulous copyists, rather due to the genuine efforts of skilled textual critics attempting to justify partial texts to the whole body of Scripture. There were changes due to faulty spelling or grammar. Often the scribes altered the spelling of words based upon their understanding of the text or because of a misspelling present in the previous text. Other corrections arose due to flawed grammar, such as the use of a nominative case following a preposition which requires the accusative. There were changes arising to guarantee a harmony of the Scriptures, such as adding phrases to one account of an event causing it to agree with a parallel reading in another passage. Other alterations occurred as copyists chose to add complementary words or phrases to make the passage sound more complete, such as adding the word “Pharisees” whenever the word “scribes” was present to give the more complete, though mistaken, reading “scribes and Pharisees”.[39] Some scribes sought to correct historical mistakes by replacing the name of a prophet with the phrase “as it is written in the prophets”. “Since the quotation which Matthew (xxvii.9) attributes to the prophet Jeremiah actually comes from Zechariah (xi.12 f.), it is not surprising that some scribes sought to mend the error either by substituting the correct name or by omitting the name altogether.”[40] Many times the scribes or copyists were presented with two readings which agreed nearly entirely, but differed in only minor areas and in minor details. Since the scribe had no way of discerning which reading was indeed correct, the scribe would combine the two readings together to create a conflated reading. Finally, there were corrections made for doctrinal clarification. In passages of the Scriptures which may lead the student to assume something faulty about Christ or about a doctrine held by the church, those passages were altered to guarantee a doctrinally sound reading. In some texts, the passage of Luke 23:32 has been altered to correct faulty teachings regarding the deity of Christ, specifically changing the order of certain words. Some texts render the passage as such, “And also other criminals, two, were led away with him to be crucified…” Some scribes chose to change the word order to ensure that Christ was not viewed as a criminal, rendering the passage thus, “And also two others, criminals, were led away with him to be crucified…”[41] The student must keep in mind that, with the exception of heretics such as Marcion, any intentional errors or corrections were made without malicious intent, but were made to safeguard the meaning of the text. Many copyists felt that earlier scribes misheard, misread or misprinted a word or phrase and were attempting only to correct the reading, not to alter the meaning of the texts.[42]

The purpose of textual criticism serves neither to change the content of the Scriptures nor to alter the message of Christ, rather it serves to preserve adequately the original intent of the authors of the Word of God. The student must consider that the scribes and copyists never worked as agents of inspiration, but as agents of preservation. The original autographs were written by holy men inspired of God; textual criticism seeks not to alter their words, but to preserve their words from this generation and forever (Psalm 12:7). The serious textual critic need not ignore the motivation for canonization of the Scriptures, he need not ignore the presence of spurious works presented as Scripture and he need not overlook errors in copying the scriptures in order to maintain faith in the inspiration and preservation of the sacred tome. Indeed textual criticism does not eliminate the possibility of human error, but seeks to correct human errors in order to produce and preserve a superior copy of the Scriptures.

Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

Bettenson, Henry and Maunder, Chris, ed. Documents of the Christian Church 3rd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999.

The Bible. King James Version.

Bruce, F.F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Cummons, Bruce D. The Foundation and Authority of the Word of God. Massillon, OH: Massillon Baptist Temple, n.d.

Gonzales, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. Vol. I. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1984.

Grady, William P. Final Authority. Schererville, IN: Grady Publications, 1994.

________. What Hath God Wrought! Schererville, IN: Grady Publications, 1996.

Hills, Edward F. The King James Version Defended. Des Moines, IA: The Christian Research Press, 1984.

Ironside, H.A. The Epistles of John and Jude. New York, NY: Loizeaux Brothers, 1949.

Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986.

Sargent, Robert J. English Bible: Manuscript Evidence. Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n.d.

________. Landmarks of Baptist Doctrine. Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n.d.

Shedd, William G.T. Dogmatic Theology. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980.

Strauss, Lehman. The Prophecies of Daniel. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1969.

Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1949.

[1] Bruce D. Cummons, The Foundation and Authority of the Word of God (Massillon, OH: Massillon Baptist Temple, n.d.), p. 3

[2] Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. v.

[3] Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), p. 59.

[4] Though the student could dedicate much time and discussion to the issue of varying text families and the divergent translations resulting from these texts, this will not be the focus of the work. The scope of this work will be limited to the process by which the canon of Scripture was produced and preserved. Certainly many great works have been produced which give ample consideration to the value of both the Alexandrian and Syrian text families (so designated by Metzger), however, these will not be considered here. [5] Justo L. Gonzales, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1 (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1984), pp. 58-66

[6] Robert J. Sargent, English Bible: Manuscript Evidence (Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n.d.), p. 59. [7] Gonzales, 58.

[8] H.A. Ironside, Addresses on The Epistles of John and an Exposition of the Epistle of Jude (New York, NY: Loizeaux Brothers, 1949), p.11. [9] Gonzales, 60.

[10] Ironside, 12.

[11] Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder, ed Documents of the Christian Church 3rd ed, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 38.

[12] F.F. Bruce, the Canon of Scripture, (Downers Gove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), p. 134. [13] For a more thorough handling of the Marcionite doctrine, see Gonzales, pp. 61-62; also Bruce, pp. 134-144. The question that arises at this point in the discussion is whether the canonization process of the Scriptures would have moved forward, had it not been for Marcion and his Gospel and Apostle. Though some surmise that Marcion was merely a catalyst that pushed the church toward the inevitability of canonization, others believe that the early church would have been content to rely upon whatever Scriptures were available to them, trusting the words of the church fathers, with the writings of the Apostles to guide their thoughts, as some have, thus, leading to the doctrine of the Catholic church regarding the writings of the Pope as Sacred. [14] Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), p. 105.

[15] Sargent, 59, citing N.L. Geisler and W.E. Nix, From God to Us (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), p.66.

[16] Archer, 85.

[17] Charles Ryrie, in his basic theology, expound upon this thought as he states, concerning the accepted books of the Bible, “Their canonicity was inherent within them, since they came from God. People and councils only recognized and acknowledged what is true because of the intrinsic inspiration of the books as they were written…no Bible book became canonical by action of some church council.” (Ryrie, p. 105).

[18] Robert J. Sargent, Landmarks of Baptist Doctrine (Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n.d.), p. 35.

[19] Archer, 75.
[20] William P. Grady, Final Authority (Schererville, IN: Grady Publications, 1994), p. 323.

[21] Ryrie, 105.

[22] Sargent, English Bible: Manuscript Evidence, p. 59.

[23] Ibid. 59.

[24] Ibid. 105, citing D. Ewert, From Ancient Tablets to Modern Translations, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983), p. 134.

[25] Archer, 84.

[26] Robert Sargent includes only 4 tests of canonicity in his works, while Bruce suggests at least 6. Sargent states, “There were generally four tests (canons) applied to determine the canonicity of a Book [sic]: writer, acceptance, inspiration, contents.” (Sargent, Landmarks of Baptist Doctrine, p. 36.) Though these tests have been cited by other authors, for the purposes of this work, the tests of canonicity as described in Bruce’s The Canon of Scripture will be the standard and will be examined.

[27] Sargent, English Bible: Manuscript Evidence, 60.
[28] Bruce, 256.

[29] It is important, here, to note that not all New Testament writers were, indeed, Apostles. Luke and Mark, for instance, were not apostles. Tradition holds, however, that each writer received his information directly from an Apostle, Luke citing Paul and Mark citing Peter. The letters of James and Jude, also, were not written by apostles, but were accepted because they were of the apostolic age and both writers were half brothers of the Lord Jesus and therefore deemed authoritative. (Bruce, pp. 256-259.)

[30] Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1949), p. 59.

[31] Bruce, 166.
[32] Ibid. 260.

[33] Sargent, English Bible: Manuscript Evidence, 60.
[34] Sargent, English Bible: Manuscript Evidence, 60.
[35] Bruce, pp. 264-268.

[36] Sargent, English Bible: Manuscript Evidence, p. 79.
[37] Archer, 59.

[38] Ibid. 60.
[39] Metzger, 198

[40] Ibid, 199.
[41] Ibid, 202

[42] Bruce Metzger gives a thorough treatment of these errors in his work cited in this paper. Further study may be done to understand fully the extent of the corrections and any implications to the texts.

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