Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Inerrancy on the autograph a valid argument?

Another portion of my essay on 'What do we mean when we say the Bible is the Word of God?' , edited for this blog:

Almost all defenders of inerrancy argue that inerrancy only applies to the autographs, and that subsequent copies tend to be tinted with transcription and transmission processes. That means the first Hebrew and Greek copies in the Bible are true and errorless in all they affirm.[33]

Many have recognized that this is an argument from silent; an evasive deception. The fact is that we do not have the autographs in possession. Therefore to say that the autographs are inerrant is a non-substantiated and non-falsifiable statement.

Norman Geisler and Millard Erickson have argued that the non-existent of autographs is not relevant or has any affect on the inerrant status of the Bible because we have well transmitted copies of the original.[34] But I think they are missing the point of their defeaters’ argument.

If there is a factual error in the original (say Jesus’ mother’s name is Lisa in the real world rather than Mary), then the subsequent copies even though being copied with 100 percent accuracy (copying ‘Mary’ from the original) will still bear that factual error. Hence arguing from perfect transmission of the scripture is not relevant to the issue on autographs’ inerrancy. It has no case to make on whether the Bible is inerrant or not.

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[33] B. B. Warfield, “The Inerrancy of the Original Autographs”, in Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, volume 2 (USA: P & R, 1975), 582-583. Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (USA: Zondervan, 1976), 36-37. A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield, “Inspiration”, in The Presbyterian Review 2 (April 1881), 237-238. Paul Feinberg, “The Meaning of Inerrancy”, in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler (USA: Zondervan, 1980), 294. “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Article X”, in Stephen Nichols and Eric Brandt, Ancient Word, Changing Worlds (USA: Crossway, 2009), 163.

[34] Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, volume 1 (USA: Bethany House 2002), 503. Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd Edition (USA: Baker Books, 2004), 265.

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