Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where the 'Historical-Critical Method' led the world

Where the 'Historical-Critical Method' led the world, according to those who bought into it.

It should be remembered that at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, science as we know it now was in its infancy, and there was no universal scientific standard or method, or even any real grasp of what a truly scientific method might entail.

Even the longstanding "assured results" of the physical sciences were in confused mess, as the early discoveries of quantum effects and the paradoxes of light-speed and the atom shook the very foundations of the Newtonian worldview.

While the less talented 'academics' of the soft sciences (historical, social) were busy embracing the materialistic, non-supernatural, deterministic universe, the real physicists were frantically abandoning it as completely unworkable in light of new discoveries.

Yet while the fields of Textual Criticism, Linguistics, History etc., had hardly even begun to address what a 'scientific method' might entail, and the vast amount of work ahead, along with the rigorous logic required, they had already run off to the press with the "assured results of modern criticism" regarding the New Testament.

Textual Critics had convinced themselves and others that they had essentially solved all the important questions regarding the NT text. All that lay ahead was to weigh the consequences of their brilliant analysis:
"...while we never can predict what may not be brought out from the timeless sands of Egypt, there is little hope of every securing that original text. ...
"Moreover, if we actually had an autograph manuscript, we could not be sure that no slips of the hasty pen of the writer had taken place...A perfect text must remain... the delusion of the ignorant.
"...What then is the conclusion? Evidently this - that in the 2nd century there was no general uniformity among the manuscripts. Most of them ...did not agree with one another. ...
"When we thus abandon the hope of securing a perfect text, and especially when we learn that the number of variations in existing manuscripts is roughly reckoned to be 200,000, we are tempted to despair of knowing what the original contents of the New Testament were.
...we must bear in mind that only "a very small proportion of the variations materially affects the sense, ...and no variation affects an article of faith or a moral precept.." (Vincent).
This was finely illustrated by the Revised Version (1882). When it first appeared, some persons who were not inclined to accept the teachings of the King James version hastened to examine it, hoping to find matters more to their taste. But though there was scarcely a verse that did not show some slight change, and though a few passages had been wholly omitted, it was the same New Testament after all.
...we had to give up 1st John 5:7 as a proof-text for the Trinity ...but there remained texts in abundance that could the doctrine.
There was only one thing that had to be hopelessly abandoned, namely, any interpretation of Scripture which hinges upon the precise form of a particular word, finding deepest significance in the use of an aorist instead of an imperfect tense, and in the presence or absence of the Greek article. This kind of exegesis, at least in its extreme form, is no longer possible; and I think that we all feel that its passing is not to be deplored."
- W. B. Hill, The Present Problems of NT Study, (NY, 1903) p. 19 fwd.
Must a 'perfect' text remain the "delusion of the ignorant"?
Did the majority of manuscripts in the 2nd century really "not agree with one another" to the extent we can't determine the actual text?
Must we "abandon all hope" of securing an accurate and true text?

Must any and all precision regarding the word of God, the Holy Scripture, be "hopelessly abandoned"?

Should we really dismiss "any exegesis or interpretation of Scripture which hinges upon the precise form of a particular word" as a fraudulent illusion?

What then do we do with St. Paul, who bases an entire argument on a single letter of the Hebrew O.T.? (Gal 3:16)?
What shall we say when Jesus does the same with a single phrase? (Mark 12:26-27)
What happens to John 1:12?

The answer is that the "one thing" that the proponent of the "historical-critical method" wants us to "hopelessly abandon" turns out to be confidence and certainty regarding a whole lot of things, namely just about every precise and specific statement in Holy Scripture!

Because these all must now become 'doubtful forms' suggesting 'illusory precision'. The real 'word of God' is a nebulous paraphrase, represented by the wide and bland fuzzy renderings of everything from the 'Living Bible' and the 'Message' to the Jehovah's Witless translation.

The door swings wide, and bangs in the wind.  Every liberal heresy, every mediocre notion, every confused understanding is free to walk in and preach from the pulpit.   Every foundation of Biblical truth, every fundamental Christian doctrine, every sure word of prophecy, in complimentary fashion, must now be released, sent into the forest as food for the wolves.

But it turns out however, that all this panic, all this frantic editing of the Holy word of God, all this chucking of hundreds of 'doubtful verses' on the basis of a handful of crappy Egyptian copies, was based on a fraudulent claim in the first place:
(1) That these 'experts' actually had a scientific method available;

(2) That they had actually done the massive preliminary work required;

(3) That they were honest and trustworthy men, worthy to shoulder the sacred task of editing Holy Scripture for the whole world.

But it can be proven that these men had no 'scientific method' that the rest of the world could openly inspect, or that any even among themselves could universally embrace:

It can be proven that in 1882 they had not done the massive amount of preparatory work needed.

And as a consequence it is apparent that they were not worthy to alter the Holy Scripture for all Christians, all future generations, and the whole world standing in need of salvation.

Three strikes and you're out.


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