The Triablogue’ers have been engaging, of late, in some critical Ortho-bashing. One of their recent examples is their: Show me your Bible. In it they apparently attempt to demonstrate that the Orthodox biblical canon is a mass of chaos and as a result seem to be attempting to show that Orthodox really have no Bible, since they do not have a standardized critical set of texts of canonical Scriptures.
I say apparently, because the post is just simply three large cites without any commentary from the Triablogue’ers–and the ensuing comments to the post are about something else altogether. But if what appears to be the Triablogue’ers “argument” is indeed their “argument,” then it is sophomoric in the extreme. Indeed it is nothing more than a non sequitor.
It's funny how some men react when I simply quote someone without any editorial commentary on my part.
When they take exception to the quotes, they first have to draw certain negative conclusions for their own position from the cited material, then try to refute the conclusions they themselves had to draw for purposes of criticizing the post. So I can just sit back and watch them do my job for me.
Notice that our fallen seraph doesn’t challenge the substance of the quotes. Indeed, he admits as much. All he can do is to challenge their relevance, and he does so in a very concessive manner.
“First of all it begs the question of a need for a standard critical edition of the set of books that are the Orthodox canon of Scripture.”
I’m not begging any question. Rather, I’m simply pointing out (albeit implicitly) that certain consequences flow from certain facts.
Whether or not these consequences are acceptable to our fallen seraph is beside the point.
If he admits that the Orthodox have no official canon of Scripture, or official edition of the text, then, indeed, the Orthodox cannot be sure of what constitutes their Bible.
“Critical editions of texts are a uniquely modernist development based on Enlightenment epistemological presuppositions not shared by either Jesus or the Apostles.”
i) He’s a little shaky on his grasp of relative chronology. For example, does he think the Massoretes represent “a uniquely modernist development based on Enlightenment epistemological presuppositions”?
ii) In addition, such concerns also go back to the Renaissance, not the Enlightenment. Remember Lorenzo Valla (15C) on the False Decretals?
“To be sure, Origen’s Hexapla and Jerome’s Vulgate are something of precursors to modern text criticism, but the two efforts (Origen/Jerome over against modern text critics) are not the same, and Origen’s and Jerome’s texts (assuming Origen’s could be recovered) would fail most text critical standards today.”
The fact that Origen’s textual criticism “would fail most text critical standards today” is irrelevant to the fact that both are concerned with recovering the Urtext.
“It also presupposes and imposes on the biblical canon an understanding of accuracy that is predicated upon the original texts and the individual words and particles of that text.”
How does what is predicated on the original text thereby *impose* on the biblical canon?
“The non sequitor, of course, is that absent a standardized text critical edition of the Scripture that utilizes modernist presuppositions about accuracy of the text, no group can claim a canon of Scriptural texts.”
i) Even if this were so, our fallen seraph is missing the point. For in that event, Orthodoxy has no epistemic advantage over Evangelicals.
Indeed, it’s at a disadvantage because it also rejects (according to him) modern textual criticism.
ii) At the same time, his comments are also out of step with the examples of Orthodox textual criticism that I’ve quoted in the past from standard reference works on Orthodox and Eastern Christianity.
“That is to say it the other way around, simply because one cannot bring forth a standardized (according to modernist mores) text of, say, Jeremiah (which is a mess in the LXX), or of Mark (shorter, longer or middle?), that one does not have a canonical text of Jeremiah or Mark.”
If the long ending of Mark is a scribal postscript, then that is not, or ought not be, the canonical text of Mark.
“It presupposes that a canon necessitates strict verbal identity between manuscripts, or at least a recoverable approximation of the autograph.”
Once again, he misses the point. The question at issue is whether the Orthodox Church enjoys an epistemic advantage over the Protestant rule of faith. Can the Orthodox be certain of their canon? Can they be certain of their text?
“The Old Testament canon is, seemingly, a bit more so [i.e. problematic]. Are 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151 in or not? What about the ‘additions’ to Esther? And so on?”
Good question! And what’s the answer?
“Unlike Protestants, Orthodox do not believe that Scripture alone establishes doctrine and Tradition.”
Yes, we understand that. But saying that there is more to the Orthodox rule of faith in Scripture doesn’t allow you to escape the issue of where to find the Orthodox Bible. To take his own example, did Jesus say the things attributed to him in the long ending of Mark? Or is that an apocryphal interpolation?
“Of course, looking at Orthodoxy from the lense of Protestantism further assumes that Protestantism is the standard by which the historical Church is to be judged. “
The T-bloggers make no such *assumption*. Rather, we *argue* for our standard of comparison.
“And when you add the lense of modernism that the Triablogue’ers to a man also ubiquitously use, well, the resultant view is distorted in the extreme.”
To the contrary, our disputant’s anachronistic grasp of textual criticism creates a myopic view of sola Scriptura. He needs to schedule an eye examine with a good ophthalmologist like John Calvin or Benjamin Warfield to correct for his astigmatism, lest he mistake his wife for a hat.