The Ecclesiastical Text

A few weeks ago I picked up a volume entitled The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority and the Popular Mind. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it is available at either Eisenbrauns or Amazon. I had no idea if it would be good, but after reading the first two chapters I must say that it is a gem.

The first chapter is on B. B. Warfield and he was the driving force that switched American protestant academic thinking at Princeton (and presumably everywhere else since conservative protestant thinking has followed him) from holding to the Textus Receptus as the inspired Word of God to holding to the theoretical autographa as such.

The second chapter was on how the reformed scholastics (including the Westminster Confession) and their predecessors believed that the apographa, or copies of the Greek New Testament available in their day, were inspired and providentially preserved and that they were not concerned with the autographa.

The discussion was very interesting and gave quite a bit of background information on how this fit into German higher criticism (the first chapter) as well as how the scholastics formulated their doctrines of scripture in response to the Catholic counter-reformation. Very interesting material. I think many would find it quite surprising that modern day conservative Christian rhetoric focusing on the inerrancy of the autographa of Scripture is an invention more recent than the Reformation (assuming Letis et al. are right).

Ten years ago I bought Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2: Holy Scripture : The Cognitive Foundation of Theology for $3.95 from CBD but never read it. Letis references Muller a number of times, so I took a look at the book again and I am now very tempted to read it. Perhaps I shall. During college I read a great deal more from writings about and from the time of the Reformation and shortly thereafter. Since that is my heritage (which is good and bad), maybe I should go back and read more before I forget everything I learned!