Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Sabotage of the Christian O.T. in favor of 20th cent. Judaism

The following is a succinct explanation for the RSV O.T. fiasco: 

 "The RSV Old Testament was not well received outside of liberal circles, chiefly because the translators often deliberately rendered Old Testament passages in such a way that they were contrary to the interpretations given in the New Testament. This was done on the principle that the Old Testament ought to be interpreted only in reference to its own historical (Jewish) context. 
Christian interpretations, including those of the NT writers, are therefore deliberately excluded as "anachronistic." But this, as conservative critics perceived, practically amounted to a denial of the truth of the New Testament. As the conservative scholar R. Laird Harris wrote,
  "It is a curious study to check the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, a monument of higher critical scholarship, and note how every important Old Testament passage purporting to predict directly the coming of Christ has been altered so as to remove this possibility ... It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that the admittedly higher critical bias of the translators has operated in all of these places. The translations given are by no means necessary from the Hebrew and in some cases ... are in clear violation of the Hebrew." (4)

The verse most often mentioned by conservatives was Isaiah 7:14, in which the RSV translators rendered the Hebrew word almah as "young woman" instead of "virgin." While this was not a case of a clear violation of the Hebrew (the word must be interpreted according to its context), it was by no means necessary. (5)
And there were many other instances of the same problem, which revealed a pattern of systematic contradiction of the New Testament interpretations of Old Testament passages. For example, in Genesis 22:18 the RSV renders an ambiguous sentence as "by your descendents shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves" contrary to the interpretation given by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:8 and 3:16.

The contradictions foisted into the Bible by the RSV translators included also some renderings which created blatant contradictions within individual books. For example, in Genesis 9:20, where the ASV had read, "And Noah began to be a husbandman" (i.e. a farmer) the RSV reads "Noah was the first tiller of the soil," thus generating a contradiction with the statements in Genesis 3:22 ("the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground") and 4:2 ("Cain was a tiller of the ground"). It was the belief of the RSV translators that the Book of Genesis is composed of traditional stories that frequently contradict each other, cobbled together by editors who neglected to harmonize them in many places.

The objections of conservatives to the RSV were not merely captious criticisms concerning the meaning of a word here and there; the controversy was about whether or not a version of the Old Testament which ignores and contradicts the New Testament, as well as itself, in so many places, has any right to be received as the standard Bible of American churches."

Michael Marlowe, Bible

The 5th Columnists who had infiltrated the RSV OT committee essentially committed sabotage, and violently betrayed the Christian public.

James Moffatt (Union Theological Seminary) had died earlier in 1944, leaving
* Millar Burrows, Yale University. (joined 1938)
* Luther A. Weigle, Yale University, Chairman.
* Fleming James, University of the South, Executive Secretary.
* Julius A. Bewer, Union Theological Seminary.
* William R. Taylor, University of Toronto.
* George Dahl, Yale University.
* Willard L. Sperry, Harvard University.
* Leroy Waterman, University of Michigan.
* Kyle M. Yates, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
* William F. Albright, Johns Hopkins University.
* J. Philip Hyatt, Vanderbilt University.
* Herbert G. May, Oberlin Graduate School of Theology.
* Harry M. Orlinsky, Jewish Institute of Religion.

The RSV was repackaged and sold again by an Ecumenical group deeply involved with the Roman Catholics, in
1973 (with an awful, nearly unreadable translation of the Apocrypha), and again, as
1977 (by Metzger, Oxford U.P. as, "the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: RSV, with 2nd ed. NT")
1990 (NRSV, Oxford U.P., removing all "sexist" language, and creating the 'unisex' version.)
the NRSV was quickly adopted as a replacement of the RSV in the liberal denominations associated with the National Council of Churches. It has also been favored by liberal university professors, for use as a text in "religion" courses.
1991 (re-edited by Metzger/Murphy), and again republished and disguised as a different version[!!!]:
1993 (re-edited by Wayne Meeks et. al, as "The Harper Collins Study Bible" in an attempt to avoid the reputation of the RSV)
This was really part of a larger Ecumenical plan to gut and dismember Reformation Protestantism, in favor of modern liberalism, a program which was apparently largely successful.

- The Dean

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Extremely Narrow Basis of the Papyri

The following is a map showing all the major archaeological sites where papyri have been discovered:

Click to Enlarge
 Of course we must immediately note that virtually all papyrus sites are located in Egypt.   The main trade and commerce route of this country was naturally the Nile River.   The flow of water goes from the mountains in the South, and finally Northward, branching out to Alexandria and other Mediteranean ports.  The flow of the New Testament texts however was in the opposite direction, reaching the main port Alexandria, and from the underground church and scribal centers there, spreading Southward and branching out to various smaller towns and colonies along the Nile.
The significance of this is profound:  pretty much all of the Egyptian papyri come from a single source or fountainhead, Alexandria.  At the same time, most of the actual NT papyri come from one single site or cluster centering around the colony of Oxyrhynchus (see map).  Fully 95% of all these NT fragments come from this one town.
The papyri then have two strikes against them as to purity of text:

1)  The narrow basis of their texts, namely Alexandria.

2)  Their secondary nature, as copies from a small town in Southern Egypt.

This is the severe weakness of the papyri witnesses to the text:  They simply can't adequately represent the state of the text throughout the Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries, and they only survived at all because of the extremely dry climate and isolated nature of the deposits.     Scrap papyrus is regularly burned for fuel, for warmth and cooking by nomad tribesmen who discover them.   Their value is often unknown to their discoverers.


When Redundancy is not Redundant

The minute we turn to any dictionary for a definition of Redundancy, we note a startling contradiction of two opposing notions regarding the meaning of redundancy:
(a)  superfluous and unnecessary; needless repetition of an act or speech.
This first notion is certainly commonly accepted and clear.  The question is, does it really reflect the true purpose and function of redundancy in the practical world?

Consider now these alternate modern definitions:
(b)  repetition of messages to reduce errors in transmission;
      duplication of components/functions to overcome component failure.

Plainly, the description in (b) suggests deliberate actions and choices that are anything but superfluous, needless, or unnecessary.   And it gets right to the heart of the matter of the modern scientific perspective on "redundancy".  Redundancy is simply not 'redundant' at all in the common meaning of the term.  Its absolutely essential for the reliable function of both communications and mechanical machines that lives depend on.

Redundancy in human communications

Its easy to see that most human communication is heavily redundant.  In the sense of efficiency in packing the maximum amount of information in the smallest package, human speech is by nature clumsy, inefficient, time-consuming, and often ambiguous and error-prone.
Information Theorists themselves express this inefficiency as follows:
"Redundancy in information theory is the number of bits used to transmit a message minus the number of bits of actual information in the message. Informally, it is the amount of wasted "space" used to transmit certain data. ..."    (wikipedia)
The idea here is that the same message could have been transmitted with less words.   Notice the old definition creeping back in, even here.  "wasted space"(!).   Its as if the theorists have forgotten what the engineers have been insisting in all along.  Redundancy isn't 'waste' - its critically important for reliability.   We wouldn't want to eliminate redundancy in communication any more than we'd want to remove a safety railing beside Niagara Falls.   Redundancy is built into every engineering structure, in the form of extra supports, extra-strong steel, materials and designs made to withstand disasters and part failures.

But is human communication really redundant in the first sense (a) = needless?  We can all laugh at the stupidity of the guards in the famous Monty Python skit from the Holy Grail movie:

But the skit illustrates perfectly the problem of the ambiguity of human speech, and the need for repetition and explanation to assure that meaning is communicated clearly and effectively.

Biblical Redundancy:

The Bible is a message placed in the form of human communication, and not surprisingly, there are ample instances of redundancy in it.  In the Old Testament, we may note the parallel accounts of the books of Kings and the books of Chronicles, or the passages in the middle of Isaiah, duplicating the same stories as those found in Kings (Isaiah ch. 36-39 etc).   In the NT, we have three gospels with largely duplicated materials, and many of Paul's letters dealing with the same topics in different words.  Even at the verse-level, Hebrew poetry and prose often repeats an idea or sentence in alternate words.

Redundancy serves several functions in the Bible
(a) it can fill in detail, and bring precision to a picture. 

(b) It can provide alternative expressions to protect the meaning, for those with limited vocabularies.

(c) It can protect message of the Holy Scriptures from damage through wear, copying, and even tampering.

Redundancy in the Bible plainly fulfills important purposes, and cannot be viewed as 'redundant' in the common sense, as if repetitions were needless, or alternate expressions were merely 'wordy'.   The Holy Scriptures have been designed in part by their own authors to reach the widest audience, and maintain the purity of the message by thoughtful use of repetition and alternate expression.

Biblical redundancy is one of the deliberate means used by Bible authors to protect the message of the Holy Scriptures for future generations.  In the days of handcopying, parallel passages in Mark, Luke and Matthew could be compared for accuracy in transcription of the message.   Passages in Paul could be compared to ensure Paul's meaning was well understood.  Redundancy is in that sense what Bible study is all about.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Errors in Transmission with Perfect Reception: Real-Life Examples

Joe Layman wasn't kidding when he described the human capacity for pattern recognition and filtering of unwanted noise from a signal.  Take the following real readout from a dual-trace oscilloscope:

The original signal to be transmitted is the top line.   The transmitted signal is the bottom line.  One can see the obvious noise added to the signal in the transmission. But by the same token, the oscilloscope operator has no trouble at all identifying the noise and differentiating the signal with complete success and purity.  He can mentally invert the received signal, straighten out the D.C. drift causing the slowly waving amplitude, and eliminate the small jittering noise component.  With a pencil and paper he can draw the original signal in exactitude with 100% reliability.

Even a sophisticated filter network can't do what the human operator can do without even thinking, just using his eyes and common sense.   The same effect can be seen in any printed book.  We can have a 3rd generation photostat of a poorly printed book on cheap recycled newsprint, even cutting off a few letters, and blanching out the text, and yet an ordinary person can read the message completely accurately without any effort at all.
Click to Enlarge

 (Scroll down to compare your abilities to the average English reader of the above sample)

 Every time you sign up for membership in a forum, or try to post comment on many a blog, you'll be confronted with a simple test, which usually defeats the most sophisticated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, but which any below-average human can pass without undue effort:

Imagine the most critically important message one can think of, transmitted during a heated war and received by key operators in a crucial moment.  Even the simplest strategy can practically guarantee the message gets through without error, even with 10% of the transmission dropping out randomly:

"XXXon't launch the ICBMs: repeat: XXXXX launch the ICBMs. repeat: Don't launch xxxxxxxBMs."

The receiver of this message need not worry.  Just repeating the message three times has made reconstructing the original perfectly clear and certain, even with random dropouts at the most dangerous and significant places. 


- Answer for Poorly Reproduced Text Above:

"...Dr. Temples doctrine, as above stated.  It was a favourite article in the creed of the men who set up the guillotine in Paris, and who kept that instrument of progress in such constant action.  The ultimate perfectability of the race was a prominent doctrine in the new Gospel then preached.  since then, it has fascinated the speculative genius of our German neighbours in an extraordinary degree.  And now the time has come, it seems, in which we Englishmen are to be treated to some grave discoursing on this theme."


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Engineering 101: The Receiver/Reader Impact

Much has been written about the potential for distortion of the signal by the reader/interpreter, in literary criticism circles.

But another very well-known technical phenomenon regarding the impact of the receiver of a transmission has found little awareness or discussion.    Lets look at the following transmission graph:
Transmission Signal vs. Background Noise Floor

The signal transmission begins, and the signal is clear and unambiguous (error-free, for all practical purposes).   But during periods of non-transmission, we can see the background random noise-floor rises up to a typical level.   What happens to the noise-floor during transmission?  How can it just disappear?

In fact, the background noise doesn't just disappear.  However, it is removed from the signal by processes which are only activated when the receiver of the signal is alerted and begins differentiating between noise and signal, effectively removing noise that would otherwise interfere or negatively impact the reception.

This is a very real effect, and is hard-wired into human perception.  It is linked to attention-span and attention-focus, and activates powerful information filters already designed into our input receptors.   If it were not for this advanced and largely uncontrolled, automatic function, we would be overwhelmed with non-essential and distracting information from all our senses.   But human beings are designed to automatically filter out distractions (background noise), detect and selectively concentrate on the signal of interest, in part chosen by the listener.

While mechanical and electronic filters are usually very primitive and crude, simply shutting down or stopping the flow of frequency ranges or patterns known to be "noise-full"  or "noise-like" (i.e., carrying noise), the human brain and itsprocesses are quite sophisticated and can be trained via pattern-matching and reasoning processes to intelligently and very effectively mask out unwanted noise from the signal.

As a result, humans are able to perform nearly 'super-human' feats of concentration, memory, and filtering that ordinary electronic devices are incapable of.  The analogy can be likened to imagining the difference between a person with good eyesight and lighting, versus a blind person, in attempting to do the dishes, or drive a car.  Even in such a simple and usually easy task, the trained eye is a powerful and essential tool, changing what is nearly impossible   (for the blind person) into a virtually error-free operation.

The key component here is not the "background noise level" facing the transmitter of the message, but the amazingly gifted ability of the receiver, who can have quite fantastic powers to filter out noise and errors in the process of transmission.   These powers are based on extremely intelligent and sophisticated processes possessed by the receiver, and enable very crude and primitive transmissions to be very successful with a high accuracy, frequency and duration.

- Joe Layman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Predecessors behind the Westcott-Hort Fiasco (1882)

A recent post at the KJV Only Debate Blog laments the lack of knowledge about the many people prior to the infamous Revised Version of 1881 and the Westcott-Hort Greek Text.   The poster admits he himself had little aquantance with Philip Schaff, the semi-Catholic American ecumenicalist and liberal scholar who translated/edited/published an English translation of virtually all the then known Early Fathers, over several volumes.
Schaff is quoted as follows:
"...the great majority of the changes of text...(probably more than 4/5) which they finally adopted had been anticipated by previous translators and commentators, and had become the common property of biblical scholars before the year 1870. But these improvements were scattered among many books, and lacked public recognition. They had literary worth, but no ecclesiastical authority. They were the work of individuals, not of the Church."
- Schaff,  A Companion (1881)  p 368)

Schaff's understatement demands some remarks.  Putting aside whether the radical, naive and sometimes absurd opinions of German critics etc. were really "improvements", what needs to be faced is the heterodox, fringe group nature of the motley crew that made up 19th century 'scholarship'.   The Reformation had marched on by this time for 200 years, and spawned many 'denominations', sects, cults, and maverick loners. 
The majority of the 19th century 'reformers' interested in revising the NT text were Unitarians, and could only be classed as 'mainstream' in the sense that they were part of rapidly expanding movement generally to abandon orthodox Christian doctrine and embrace rationalist historical-critical attitudes.   Although these men were not consciously dishonest, they were certainly biased and largely motivated by their theological beliefs, one of them being their belief that the NT had been 'corrupted' by Trinitarians and Roman Catholics to an extent unjustifiable by the actual historical evidence.

But the lineage of the modern critical text is fairly easily traced, from the initial paranoid marginal notes of Wetstein who feared Latin/Romanist contamination, to the grim insistence on the "oldest MSS" by Tregelles, the last in the line of attempts predating Hort.

The Westcott/Hort branch of textual criticism goes:

(1707) Toinard (Roman Catholic Priest) - use 2 oldest MSS + Vulgate
(1720) Bentley (Cambridge Master) - no witness newer than 5th century
(1751) Wetstein (Arminian, Amsterdam) - prefer the older manuscripts
(1776) Harwood (Unitarian Presbyter.) - abandoned Textus Receptus
(1796) Griesbach (German Critic) - 'prefer the shorter reading'
(1842) Lachmann (German Critic) - 'recreate the 4th century text'
(1861) Tregelles (Quaker, non-conformist) - oldest MSS only
(1869) Tischendorf (Russian, Orthodox) - prefer Old Uncials

For a more detailed picture of all the previous scholars and editors, complete with articles on each, try our page here:
Early Critical Greek texts

All these critics and editors built on their predecessors and repeated the same naive mistakes in both methodology and MSS/reading preference.  Their opinions and their texts are remarkably alike, and Hort's text is essentially the most extreme editing job of the lot (excluding Lachmann).

For an estimate of Schaff's work on the PA etc., try here:
Schaff on the PA


Daniel Buck on Romans 11:6 - Alexandrian haplography

Daniel has posted the following analysis on TC-Alt List:

Romans 11:6 KJV
"And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."

The second sentence of this verse was already the focus of raging controversy before any of the KJV translators took up their pens. It was not part of the traditional text of the English church, having been left out of Wycliffe's translation:
"And if it be bi the grace of God, it is not now of werkis; ellis grace is not now grace."

The 1582 Rheims NT didn't have it, due to it not being in the officially
approved edition of the Vulgate. It was, however, present in the 1529 Wittenberg edition, but not in the words of Erasmus' Textus Receptus diglot; apparently he had access to a Vulgate ms in which it had been independently translated from the Greek.

Tyndale, translating from the Textus Receptus, rendered the verse:
"Yf it be of grace the is it not of workes. For then were grace no moare grace. Yf it be of workes then is it no moare grace. For then were deservyng no lenger deservynge."

Coverdale eliminated 'works' from the verse altogether, and then Geneva put it back in, eliminating 'deserving.' This was essentially the form in which the Bishops [Bible] and the KJV editors left it.

Naturally, most modern versions leave the sentence out--as recently as the TNIV, it was even deleted from the footnote. But is it wise? The Alexandrian manuscripts to not speak with a united voice on this verse; in fact, not a single one of them lines up exactly with the UBS text, or with each other!

Now, as to the corrections, there is a bit of dispute in the literature. CSNTM's facsimile shows the spelling of B/03's second EPEI corrected with a tiny E above the line, which Muenster's transcript confirms, but only if you click on the right page (Compare; which leaves out 01's plus entirely). Muenster, on the other hand, shows GEINETAI corrected to delete the E, there being no sign thereof in the facsimile; perhaps an E got moved inadvertently on Muenster's template.

 Insert  Here are photos of 220(recto) & 221 (verso) for B:

Codex B: Rom 10:6-11:10Rom:11:10b-12:2

Click to Enlarge: backbutton returnsClick to Enlarge

The page in question has several sections marked with a ">" down the left-margin.  Romans 11:6 is in the middle of the 3rd column on the first page shown:
Click to Enlarge
 One can see the umlaut on right at the end of the section marked with ">" at top, and another umlaut in the middle of our line, and an unusual large colon also on the right lower down.

Of interest also may be the reading of Codex Augiensis (F-Paul, 9th cent.), a bilingual MS which reads similarly to P45 in one place:

F (Paul): ει δε χαριστι ουκ ετει εχεργων  επει Η χαρισ ουκ ετι γεινεται χαρισ.
P45 :        ει δε χαρισ     ουκ          εχ εργων, EPEI H χαρισ ουκ ετι γεινεται χαρισ.

F.H.A. Scrivener, the collator of F (1852) suggests χαριστι should be χαριτι in his exemplar (a mistake made also elsewhere in Fe.g., see the previous line!).
- mr.scrivener

Daniel Buck Continues:
א/01's correction is more straightforward: it's the addition in a 7th century hand to the bottom margin of the the rest of the verse in the Byz version, EPEI and all:

Now, given that neither Sinaiticus (א) nor Vaticanus (B) end the verse at the second CARIS, it's interesting that modern editors have been so quick to do so themselves, with nary a note alerting us that "some ancient authorities add . . ." This especially when considering that other Alexandrian ms like Psi (Ψ), 104, and 1241 all have the full verse (33 has it too, but it's considered Byz in Romans).

An "Alexandrian text" of this verse can be reconstructed: it's the shared text of 01* (א) and 02 (Α), represented also in the Western text:
The problem is that we know that already since the copying of p46, an E had dropped out of EPEI. This was not just a simple misspelling; it changes the meaning. Furthermore, we have to somehow make sense of 03/Β (Vaticanus') reading:

"And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, no more grace: otherwise work is no more grace."

This can be explained by a combination of parablepsis and dittography, starting with an Alexandrian version of   א /01's plus:

Step One (archetype):

Step Two:
EI DE EX ERGWN OUKETI    (move 2 words one line down)

Step Three:
EI DE EX ERGWN OUKETI  CARIS   (move one word back up)

Step Four:

Thus we can see that the second half of the verse must have existed at least a couple of generations back from Vaticanus. And since 03/B has a Western influence in Romans, we could even hypothesize its existence in that text-type, without any other evidence. We don't have the exact reading of our reconstructed archetype in any manuscript, but then neither does UBS. In both cases the spelling has been conformed to a more Ionic style.

There are a number of other MS readings for this second half, and a number of other possible scenarios. The main point of this post was to show that something seems to have happened in the 2nd century to the latter half of this verse, and to just throw it out because we don't know what it was is hardly the most astute thing to do.

Daniel Buck

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Engineering 101: The Nature of a Transmission Signal

At the very basic level, each individual manuscript, and the entire transmission stream as a whole, can be viewed as a transmission-signal. This can be broadly represented by an instructive graph:

Click to Enlarge - use backbutton to return here

Although the information content may be pre-decided, or fixed in advance, like a snap-shot or finished writing, the transmission process in most cases will still be sequential, and involve a process extending over time, like the act of copying or a radio broadcast.   The nature of this transmission process is such that the information must be broken down into packets and transmitted piece by piece, both in ancient times and even in the modern digital age.

This process actually works in favor of inerrancy in the overview.   For instance, a Gospel will normally be broken down into 'pericopes' or paragraphs, each of which is complete and functional in terms of carrying its information content.   If a Gospel breaks down into say 40 paragraphs or Units, 39 of them can still be transmitted successfully, even if one suffers loss or damage.    With parallel or redundant copies or transmissions, the entire 40 units can still be transmitted without error, even if every individual copy (or set of units) suffers some hits.

Making a significant number of good copies of a document, even by hand, ensures the essential integrity of the information and the accuracy of the text as a whole, provided all or a reasonably good sample of the copies is preserved and used to establish the text.

It is perhaps surprising but not totally unexpected, that a message can be fully preserved, even with such a simple mechanism as reasonably careful copying.  The idea is very simple in fact.  With reasonably good copying, it is unlikely that two copies will have the very same errors.  Even if two copyists occasionally make the same mistake, this mistake will remain a very small minority reading.

Some good statistical discussion of this issue can be found in Pickering's Online book, in an appendix here:

Appendix C: The Implications of Statistical Probability

The best technique to ensure error-free transmission is in fact the simplest:
(1) Multiply Good Copies: Make as many good copies as possible of each document,
(2) Minimize Copy Generations: Always start as close to the original as possible.
(3) Preserve Adequate Samples: Keep a good number of MSS available,  or at least recoverable, at the end of the transmission process.
(4) Avoid Emendations: Resist the temptation to 'correct' or edit the text, but duplicate as accurately as possible what is found in your master-copy.

That is, all that is required is to make say 3 or more copies of each copy,  and preserve a good representative sample of the same collection of copies.   The technique is surprisingly robust, even without special methods or techniques to improve accuracy.   Any well-executed application of this basic method will create what may be reasonably labelled a "bullet-proof" transmission.

What is perhaps remarkable, but goes unnoticed, is that what is true for hand-copying manuscripts is also true for printed edited texts!   This is because the same rules govern any transmission process.  Any critical text which breaks these basic rules will inevitably introduce errors into the transmission process.  Examples of such cases are these:
(1) Failing to rely on adequate samples of available manuscripts.
(2) Making conjectural emendations without statistical foundation in the surviving copies.
We will examine the special cases in which a transmission may go awry later, and also simple and reasonable techniques for countering information loss and correcting the transmission process.

Joe Layman