Thursday, March 13, 2008


Orthotroll, noun. (In Byzantine folklore), a diminutive cave-dweller with a decibel level out of proportion to its cranial capacity.

Orthotrolling, v.i. The physiological act of voice-raising by an Orthotroll. Comparable to shouting and yelling—only louder. (See definition under Elephant.)

—Oxford English Dictionary


“The very breadth of Metzger's credentials betrays his lack of depth. Yes, his breadth of reading and study is amazing, but his study doesn't go beyond the general consensus of his contemporaries.”

Even if that were true, it wouldn’t falsify his scholarship. Notice that Jimmy hasn’t shown that any of the material I quoted from Metzger (on the history of the Apocrypha) was in error. So this is just a smokescreen on Jimmy’s part.

Metzger documents a diversity of opinion, both in time and space, regarding the Orthodox canon.

BTW, he documents some of the same diversity respecting the Catholic canon. I quoted that as well.

“Even his text criticism shows a kind of mechanicalness. The reading he accepts at John 10:29 is quite absurd and not accepted by anyone else, but he takes it because of a rather mechanical methodology.”

Three problems:

i) Jimmy’s first objection is that Metzger’s scholarship doesn’t buck the consensus of opinion. Now, however, he faults Metzger for adopting a reading which is “not accepted by anyone else.”

So, by Jimmy’s rubber yardstick, we should reject Metzger out of hand because he’s too mainstream—and we should also reject Metzger out of hand because he’s too idiosyncratic.

ii) Jimmy merely asserts that this reading is “absurd.” He offers no supporting argument.

iii) Jimmy doesn’t document the claim that Metzger’s reading is “not accepted by anyone else.”

“It indicates a high probability that it was close to the LXX as we know it, since all sources we have for the LXX, early or late, include many of the extra books.”

i) All our major sources for the LXX are late. It’s just a choice between late, later, and latest.

ii)”Including extra books” doesn’t get Jimmy where he needs to go since some of the extra books which the codices include are books excluded in the Orthodox canon.

iii) Moreover, some of the extra books are Christian literature (Barnabas, Hermas, 1-2 Clement), which were obviously not among the books that pre-Christian Jews translated from the Hebrew OT. So extant copies of the LXX don’t correspond to the original canon of the LXX. Indeed, the inclusion of Christian literature is evidence of a highly anachronistic or eclectic edition.

“But then, I don't have to bother about the exact relationship between the 1C LXX and the later LXX, because I don't have to assume a-priori that the Church inherited an intact canon, instead of a process of recognizing the canon. Just as well too, since the Jews didn't leave us a list of books.”

i) In that event you cannot claim that the LXX represents the authentic OT canon, whereas the “Christ-hating” rabbis suppressed certain OT books which were originally included in the OT canon to obscure the Messianic prophecies contained therein.

ii) You would also have to resign the claim that the LXX represents the OT of Jesus and the Apostles if you now identify the LXX of the Orthodox church with a more expansive, post-apostolic edition.

“But the inconsistency of sources for the alleged Palestinian canon indicate it is ‘fluid’ too. So if I can't point to the LXX, you can't point to any of your sources either. And there ends any scholarly discussion.”

i) This rejoinder would only work, if at all, assuming you now concede that you can’t appeal to the LXX to establish the true canon of the OT. Is that your actual position?

ii) You’re also equivocating. A proper analogy would operate at the same level, viz. different editions of the LXX (or different codices containing the LXX) are comparable to different editions (or codices) of the Vulgate.

iii) The general phenomenon that different sources disagree about something doesn’t put an end to all scholarly discussion. It just means that we need to sift the sources in time, place, motive, &c.

“You do realise that almost all of Philo's quotes are from the Pentatuch, right? If you want to take what Philo quotes as the canon, you're going to have a very much abridged list of books. Philo is hardly a primary source for anything unless you want to do major surgery to your bible.”

i) Philo’s quotes aren’t limited to the Pentateuch. So it’s striking that a Hellenistic Jew doesn’t *ever* quote from the Apocrypha as Scripture if his edition of the LXX contained the Apocrypha.

ii) We single out Philo in this specific case given his identity as a Hellenistic Jew who would be conversant with any distinctive additions to the canon in the LXX—if, indeed, they were part of the LXX canon at that time and place.

iii) I’d add that Philo is a witness to the general contours of the OT canon (in discussing the canon of the Therapeutae). Read Beckwith.

“Of course one person who quotes extensively from the extra books is Josephus.”

You’re equivocating. Does Josephus quote them as *Scripture*?

“To claim that the extra books aren't part of the 22 book canon when there is no contemporary evidence of this, is to assume what you want to prove.”

I’m not assuming anything. Unlike you, I cite my sources of information, where scholars *argue* for their viewpoint.

“You want some examples of 1st C Jews citing the extra books as scripture? Simeon Shetah from the 1st C cites Sirach as scripture.”

i) That’s not responsive to my question. I asked:

“Are you referring to Talmudic sources? That would be a secondary source for what 1C rabbis supposedly believed. By contrast, Philo is a primary source.”

i) Do you have primary source data on particular rabbi? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with citing secondary sources, but if it’s a choice between primary source like Philo on the state of the LXX during the 1C, and a later, secondary source, then Philo takes precedence, barring further considerations.

ii) BTW, I assume the rabbi you’re apparently referring to wasn’t “Simeon Shetah [sic.]," but Simeon ben Shetach, not “Shetah [sic.],” and he wasn’t a 1C rabbi. Rather, he lived a century or so before the time of Christ.

iii) Finally, he was a Pharisee, was he not? But you automatically discount the testimony of a Pharisee as heretical.

“It is also found in the Qumran fragments.”

But the Qumran community distinguishes between Scripture and its in-house literature. Cf. R. Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus, 226.

“As well as at Masada. Later Amoraic rabbis also cite it as scripture.”

You need to be more specific about your sources.

“If you can extrapolate Philo's silence on the extra books, why can't I extrapolate this to the extra books?”

Because of the time differential, among other things.

“Origen wrote to Africanus that there were things in the Greek bible not found in the Hebrew and that the Church could not be expected to give them up. (this is found in Jerome's Commentary on Daniel). In his Epistle to Africanus 13 he said the Churches should use TObit and Judith even though the Jews he knows did not.”

So he was torn between his scholarship, on the one hand, and his deference to ecclesiastical custom, on the other hand. Ambivalent.

“Do you have an uninterpolated copy of the scriptures with no scribal errors? Nope, didn't think so. So ironically you have to ascribe inspiration to an interpolated text.”

Notice how this is unresponsive to what I actually said. I said:

“But, to judge by their reaction, Orthodox believers don’t care what Jesus, the prophets, or the apostles really said. They don’t care if they attribute inspiration to uninspired scribal errors or interpolations.”

You don’t even attempt to distinguish between the Urtext and scribal accretions. What is more, you’re prepared to affirm that a scribal interpolation like, say, the long ending of Mark, is inspired on the mere say-so of your traditions. If Orthodox tradition canonized the Frogs, by Aristophanes, you’d be fine with that.

That impious indifference to the word of God is not the least bit comparable to my own position. I attribute inspiration to the Urtext, and I attribute inspiration to a copy or critical edition insofar as it approximates the Urtext.

“How would you measure this 90%?”

You’re changing the subject, as usual. I don’t have to measure it. I’m posing a hypothetical. Healy, with your approval, dismisses the very idea that our editions of Scripture should approximate the Urtext as far as possible. So the question stands: how much deviation from the actual words of Christ, or Isaiah, or St. John, is acceptable to you?

If, in reporting a dominical speech, a MS got 9 out of 10 words wrong, would you care? If you and Healy don’t think that discrepancies between a copy and the actual words of Christ are relevant, then you apparently have no problem attributing to Christ the words of a scribe. Not merely in practice, but in principle. You just don’t care who really said it. Is that your position?

“SInce there are about 8000 verses in the NT, and between the Tregelles, Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort and Nestle-Aland texts there are more than 4000 differences, then on a verse by verse basis it would be 50% corrupt.”

Of course, that’s a stupid comparison. A 19C critical edition is not the standard by which we measure a 21C critical edition. And most differences are trivial.

But Healy’s stated position isn’t limited to trivial differences. He is repudiating the very attempt to approximate the Urtext.

“Anonymity is no obstruction to something being scripture and therefore inspired.”

Now you’re misquoting me. My clause contained a noun modified by two adjectives: “words of an *anonymous, uninspired scribe*.”

You’ve dropped the noun, as well as one adjective. Did I say that anonymity, per se, was an obstruction to inspiration? No.

Thanks for reminding my readers that an Orthodox believer can only defends his faith through dissimulation.

“If your faith is dependant on textual criticism, then your faith is built on an area of study where the best scholars can't agree.”

i) Like who? Bart Ehrman?

ii) Textual criticism is not an act of faith.

iii) I go by the evidence that God has chosen to preserve. That’s where faith comes in.

“Josephus? Ok I'll bite, where does Josephus say Esther is canonical?”

Consider his use of Esther in the Antiquities.

“Aquila left nothing more than a translation, right? But didn't you say that the content of the LXX can't indicate its canonicity? So how would the content of another translation indicate its canonicity? Hypocrisy!”

Are you dishonest or merely obtuse? Did I ever say we can’t use the LXX as a witness to the OT canon because it’s a translation? No.

Rather, I said we can’t use it to attest the OT canon because we have various lines of evidence indicating that extant copies of the LXX don’t correspond to the original canon of the LXX.

“And since all we have of Aquila is a few scraps of Kings and Psalms, what is your citation that he even included Esther?”

Try Beckwith (p277).

“Now what about all the other lists of 22 books that exclude Esther? Athanasius, Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae, Gregory of Nazianzus, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Rufinus and Rab Judah? Who told you they are wrong? You ARE willing to go with what evidence you have, right?? Or are you just bluffing?”

Jason has already pointed out some of the errors in your litany. To mention a few more problems:

i) Why are you citing Greek Fathers (Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzus) on the exclusion of Esther from the canon? Does the Orthodox canon exclude Esther from the canon? No. You’re shooting yourself in the foot when you cite Greek Fathers who contradict Greek Orthodox tradition.

ii) I don’t simply quote sources. Rather, I sift sources.

Intelligent truth-seekers draw some elementary distinctions in evaluating sources that attest the OT canon.

In general, Jewish sources (e.g. Philo; Josephus) are better than Gentile sources.

Gentile sources in direct contact with Jewish sources (e.g. Origen, Epiphanius, Jerome) are better than Gentile sources which are ignorant of Jewish sources.

Christian churches or church fathers native to Palestine (e.g. Justin, Melito, Cyril of Jerusalem, Syria) are better positioned to speak to the issue than Christian churches or church fathers outside Palestine.

Some historical sources enjoy more prima facie value that others, based on chronological and/or geographical proximity. But it’s possible for this presumption to be overcome by other extenuating factors.

iii) In addition, as I’ve said on multiple occasions, external evidence is not the only form of canonical attestation. There is also the intertextuality of Scripture.

“Since Esther is dated to around 4 centuries BC, what evidence that is historically relevant are we going to find four or five centuries later anyway? What's the difference between half a millennium and a full millennium? Neither one attests to any further inside historical knowledge of the who, when or where of the book.”

i) If you want to respond that way, fine. You originally appealed to “further centuries” of ecclesiastical reflection. If you now admit that an interval of 400-500 years is too long for tradition to preserve a reliable memory of events, then, of course, you torpedo any appeal to ecclesiastical tradition, since that is far more attenuated.

ii) I’d add, however, that the very nature of textual transmission by the scroll is highly resistant to inserting a new book in-between a preexisting literary sequence—unlike the codex or loose-leaf form. That’s totally disruptive to the process of transmission. And the Jews used scrolls.

“If true, your certainty can only be less than that of the Orthodox church, since your basis is on a mere subset of Orthodoxy's 2000 year insight.”

i) 2000 years of “insight” is irrelevant to historical attestation.

ii) And you can’t appeal to Orthodox tradition if you’re going to dismiss Jewish tradition out of hand.

“You assume that 1C Jews are a monolithic block, which they certainly weren't.”

Care to quote me on that?

“The issue is not Jews being untrustworthy, the issue is that those outside the true people of God are untrustworthy in theological issues.”

What evidence do you have that the Jewish translators of the LXX belonged to the “true people of God”? Do you think that all Intertestamental Jews belonged to the “true people of God”?

“No you can't. I could just as much say his canon includes the extra books since he cites them so much.”

Once again, you’re equivocating and prevaricating. How does he cite them? As Scripture?

“Is your argument so convoluted and complex that you can't tell us? You make the statement, you back it up. Don't run scaredy cat back to some scholars.”

This anti-intellectual response to the work of reputable scholars betrays the desperation of your own position.

“Many of the same scholars who debunk the Alexandrian canon based on the silence of history also abandon the Palestinian canon as a settled canon based on the exact same silence.”

Only one thing missing from your assertion: names, titles, and pages.

“Since he almost exclusively quotes the Pentatuch, we wouldn't expect this.”

See above.

“Your care for Philo is selective since you don't care about everyone else who disagrees with you.”

i) It’s “selective” for the obvious reason that sources vary in their area of expertise. Philo would be an authority on the Alexandrian canon—if it existed in his day and age.

I’m also “selective” in going to a dentist rather than an automechanic to have an orthodontic checkup. And I’m just as selective about going to an automechanic rather than a dentist to have a vehicular checkup.

ii) Since “every one else” doesn’t disagree with me, your statement is an exercise in hyperbolic nullity.

“Recent scholarship since 1990 has sought to move scholarly perceptions forward by demonstrating that Josephus was not a Pharisee (Cf. Steve Mason, Todd Beall, and Ernst Gerlach).”

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is correct, then you can’t dismiss the testimony of Josephus on the grounds that he belonged to the “heretical” sect of the Pharisees.


“I don't need to disprove unsubstantiated repetition of protestant mythology about the canon.”

If you’re going to resort to a bigoted, knee-jerk dismissal of Protestant scholarship merely because it’s Protestant, then don’t bother getting into a debate with a Protestant like me (or Gene or Jason).

It’s obviously a waste of my time to respond to someone who is going to disregard everything I say merely because it comes from the lips of a Protestant.

“Mechanical application of consensus methodology IS idiosyncratic.”

That’s rank special pleading on your part.

“You want me to document a negative?”

Since you made a universal claim, then the onus is on you to cough up supporting evidence commensurate with your claim.

“Just look at every bible translation based on NA27, only one follows NA27 and that is Metzger's own NRSV.”

i) Even if that were true, it would contradict your claim that Metzger is a creature of consensus.

ii) Bible versions are produced by translation committees, not individuals.

“Not at all. We know from Church Father quotes what was in it.”

But you’ve said tha we can’t determine the scope of the canon by “quotes.” We need “lists.” So which church fathers “list” the books of the LXX? And what are the dates for the church fathers who do so?

“I never claimed that the LXX was a settled list. What I said was that the LXX always contained an expanded list relative to the protestant canon.”

Which doesn’t get you where you need to go if the “expanded list” is listing “extra books” which the Orthodox canon excludes.

“There is no ‘original canon of the LXX’. The content was fluid, but always larger than protestantism's list.”

i) So you deny the account of Aristeas, according to which there was an original LXX. That’s fine with me, but your denial undermines the claims of the Orthodox church.

ii) You continue to equivocate over “fluid content.” The fact that a codex may have “extra books” doesn’t suggest that its “extra books” were canonical books. So you can’t infer the canon from a codex. Yet a codex is your primary witness to the LXX.

“I never said anyone ‘suppressed’ certain books. That's certainly a possibility but since the list was fluid, it is unnecessary to claim that.”

Fine. Then we both agree with Jay Dyer’s argument for the priority of the LXX is fallacious.

“I don't have to state a position to point out the hypocrisy in your position.”

The fact that you’re so reluctant to state your own position betrays the fact that your own position is indefensible.

“An LXX list IS comparable to a list by an ancient personality.”

You don’t have an LXX list. What you have are different codices with different books. So that would be comparable to conflicting lists (by your own analogy).

[I said] The general phenomenon that different sources disagree about something doesn’t put an end to all scholarly discussion. It just means that we need to sift the sources in time, place, motive, &c.

“Well great, so you have no complaints then about the alleged differences in Orthodox canon lists.”

i) Of course, that doesn’t follow from what I said. It means, as I said before, that we would have to sift the sources…

ii) Moreover, my criteria are not the same as yours. You make authoritarian claims about your church. But if your church can’t even agree on the books of the Bible, then that undercuts your authoritarian ecclesiology. Jason has made this point repeatedly.

“You assume what you wish to prove by drawing a line between your canon and the apocrypha in Philo, when there are many books in your canon he also doesn't quote.”

i) I’ve already explained this to you more than once. As the leading Hellenistic scholar of his generation, Philo would be an expert witness to existence and content of the Alexandrian canon if there were one.

ii) I never said that external attestation was my sole criterion for the canon. Indeed, I’ve frequently said that it’s not.

a) For example, intertextuality is another criterion.

b) Moreover, Wisdom is a pious fraud. That’s sufficient to disqualify it from inclusion in the canon.

You constantly oversimplify my position (and oversimplify Jason’s) because you can’t deal with our actual position.

“Philo DOES quote the apocrypha. Philo quotes from Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon. (Julio C_Trebolle Barrera) The Canon Debate, Lee Martin McDonald).”

Sure about that? Winston, in the standard commentary on Wisdom, thinks that Wisdom is literarily dependent on Philo, not vice versa (p59). Of course, you can take issue with Winston’s dating scheme, but this illustrates one of the complex variables in finding early attestation for the Apocrypha. Depending on when we date various books of the Apocrypha, it may actually post-date the witness to its allegedly prior existence.

“Well if they're scripture then they're quoted as scripture, right?”

“If they’re scripture…” Care to redeem the conditional?

“Do you mean does he say ‘Scripture says XYZ’, my question is how many of your sources for the alleged Jewish canon and who quotes what, limit those quotes to ‘scripture says’?”

That’s not the only way to establish the boundaries. If, say, Josephus cites a cut-off date (the Intertestamental period) for OT Scripture, then that would automatically disqualify the Apocrypha as “scripture.”

“Name dropping scholars is not an argument. What are you here as the marketing department for protestant scholars? Annunciate an argument yourself.”

i) Since I’m not the angel Gabriel, the Annunciation isn’t my department.

ii) You need to acquaint yourself with the other side of the argument. That’s one reason I cite scholars like Beckwith. It’s incumbent on you to actually know an argument before you refute it. You use ignorance as a shield.

“How is name dropping ‘Philo’ more of a primary source than my mentioning Simeon Shetah?”

Because we have Philo in his own words.

“I stand corrected, he was 1C BC.”

This happens quite often with you. Jason has had to correct you on several occasions. You don’t care about the facts because you begin with your fideistic dogma.

“Remembering of course that you claim to go with the most ancient witness, when are you adding Sirach to your canon?”

i) Once again, that’s a deliberate caricature of my position. As I carefully explained, there’s a presumption that an earlier witness is more reliable than a later witness, but that’s a prima facie assumption which can be overcome by countervailing evidence.

ii) You are also glossing over the distinction between primary and secondary sources. If, say, our information about Shetach comes from the Talmud, then that’s a late, secondary witness to an earlier witness allegedly said.

Gene, Jason, and I have to waste a lot of time untangling your combination of ignorance and misrepresentation.

“Remember, I don't have to give a rip what someone in antiquity said when I have a living church.”

Wonderful. In that case we can safely discount every church father and every ecumenical council.

“Oh, so we're back to name dropping scholars because you can't put together your own argument?”

You continue to raise these anti-intellectual objections.

“I can do that too. Lee M McDonald, The Formation of the Christian biblical canon P 72 says that contrary to what some scholars have proposed, Qumran had an expanded canon, and there is no reason to suppose it was the shortened canon of later Judaism.”

Regarding McDonald:

i) Part of good scholarship is to sift scholars. McDonald is not in the same scholarly league as Beckwith or Bruce or Metzger or Bauckham. He doesn’t demonstrate the same command of the primary sources. Instead, he spends a lot of time commenting on other scholars.

ii) His book is a popular introduction to the canon. It doesn’t go into the same detailed analysis as Beckwith on the OT or Metzger on the NT.

iii) He’s a liberal. And his liberal views on pseudonymity inevitably color his outlook on the canon. For, if you draw no distinction between Scripture and pseudepigrapha, then you do, indeed, end up with an open canon. But I reject his liberal presuppositions.

[You said] “As well as at Masada. Later Amoraic rabbis also cite it as scripture.”

[I said] You need to be more specific about your sources.

[You said] “See McDonald, ibid.”

Well, McDonald dates the Amoraim to the 3C AD and later. So they are obviously in a less advantageous position to tell us the scope of the 1C canon used by Jesus and the Apostles than Philo or Josephus.

“Does your bible in front of you have scribal accretions? If so why don't you ‘distinuish’ them out of there?”

A stupid objection, since that’s the whole point of textual criticism—a discipline I affirm.

“As opposed to... what? Yes, the say so of our traditions which beats your own personal theories and flights of fancy. You've given us no reason to believe that the long ending of Mark, if it isn't by Mark (which is disputed), would be no less inspired than other anonymous books like Hebrews.”

A fallacious comparison since Mark is not anonymous.

“Remembering of course that Urtext doesn't mean the autograph, it simply means the earliest text that you can find.”

No, that’s not what the Urtext means. “Urtext is the putative original form of the text of the Bible as defined on p177,” E. Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

“What difference does it make since I don't have Christ's original words, but rather the copies which you describe as interpolated? I'll take what's available thankyou.”

i) It makes a difference if you bother to distinguish between an accurate copy and an inaccurate copy.

ii) And you’re not taking “what’s available,” for more than one textual tradition is available.

“Apparently. Like 2000 years of Christians, and 4000 years of God's people.”

i) The Orthodox church doesn’t have a monopoly on either the Jews or the Christians.

ii) The OT was very concerned to distinguish between the Word of God and, say, the word of a false prophet. So, yes, we should be concerned with making an accurate attribution when we ascribe words to Yahweh or Jesus the prophets and apostles.

The Massoretes also went to great lengths to avoid scribal error. So concern for the Urtext is not a modern novelty.

“1) There's no 21C critical edition.”

You keep making ignorant, easily refutable statements:

“2) If it changes every century, that hardly helps your case.”

Why not? If a later edition is more accurate than an earlier edition.

“3) The Nestle 1-25 text is a 20th century text based on WH and Tischendorf. __4) The span in time between NA-1 and NA26 is closer to 50 years than hundreds of years.”

Now you’re back to special pleading. You were the one who established a time-frame using 19C critics like Tischendorf and WH at one end of the chronological spectrum.

And while we’re at it, let’s back up to your original statement:

“How would you measure this 90%? SInce there are about 8000 verses in the NT, and between the Tregelles, Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort and Nestle-Aland texts there are more than 4000 differences, then on a verse by verse basis it would be 50% corrupt. And the difficulties of the NT are small compared to the OT.”

Let’s compare that with a statement from another source.


The mistake is even greater when the interpretation of the Bible depends upon the translations instead of the original Hebrew, and especially the New Testament Greek text. The fact that there are variations of the translations of the Bible indicates most clearly the need for a common edition of the Greek New Testament on which other translations will depend.

A comparison of the text of this edition with that of the edition of the official New Testament text of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople shows approximately 2,000 variations. But most of them do not change the meaning of the New Testament. All the variations between these two texts are found in the apparatus of the critical edition of 1966, issued by the five Bible Societies. The text of the Patriarchate was prepared by a commission in 1904, which also has approximately 2,000 variations compared to the Common Edition, Textus Receptus, prepared much earlier. Despite these efforts there is still no one common edition of the New Testament Greek accepted by all. It must be recognized, though, that the edition issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople depended mainly upon the passages and verses designated by the Church to be read during the celebrations on Sundays and feast days, For this reason these passages were kept intact with fewer changes. It is evident that greater efforts involving all the Christian churches must be made to arrive at one common edition in the original language recognized by all Christians. This effort will be a step in unifying the Christian Church as Christ meant it to be One Body, Undivided.


So, by your own yardstick, the Greek Orthodox church is using a corrupt edition of the Bible.

“Of course, you can document the source of all these words, who wrote them and their inspired status, right?”

You continue to raise obtuse objections. I didn’t object to anonymous, uninspired scribes. Rather, I object to treating a scribal interpolation as if it’s the inspired word of an apostle or prophet of God.

Your blind hostility towards the discipline of textual criticism is even at odds with modern Orthodoxy:


A critical examination of the text of the original Hebrew and Greek languages of the Bible is indispensable, for through the centuries many words were added or omitted. This was especially so before the printing press, and there was only manual copying on rough lamb skin and papyrus. The scholarly study of the original languages is valuable aid in correcting the mistakes and reestablishing intact the original texts from which the translations should be made. The prime purpose of such a valuable work is not only to make the Bible free from any and all changes and mistakes, but even more to make the original context and meaning available for translations in many languages for reading by all Christians.

The Greek text of the New Testament used for the King James Version was that of Beza in 1589. Beza had two Greek manuscripts of great value of the fifth and sixth centuries, but he did not use them, because they were different from the Greek text made by Erasmus (1516-1535). The manuscripts used by Erasmus were from the tenth century on, and he made little use of them. The discovery of many ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, especially after 1931, provided the committee of scholars with important new sources, including the information which recent discoveries have provided for a better understanding of the vocabulary and idioms of the Greek New Testament language.


“I thought you weren't happy with what is preserved and have to go and manufacture an Urtext? Make up your mind, is the text the scribes preserved ok or not?”

Yet another stupid objection. Jimmy never makes an attempt to offer a rational response. His only reaction is grab onto anything within reach, however illogical or erroneous, to cast at the Protestant canon.

He’s like a scared little dog that turns nippy and yippy when it feels afraid. We see his little white teeth and hear his pipsqueak yelp—like a mouse in a lion suit.

At the risk of stating the obvious, some scribes are more accurate than others. Some MSS are more accurate than others. The purpose of textual criticism is to sift through the MSS by applying various criteria.

[He said] “Josephus? Ok I'll bite, where does Josephus say Esther is canonical?”

[I said] Consider his use of Esther in the Antiquities.

[He said] “LOL, that's not an argument. Why don't YOU consider his use of the deuteros in the Antiquities?”

i) Notice that Jimmy is changing the subject. He asked me a question. I gave him an answer which was responsive to his question. And his reaction is to change the subject from Josephus’ use of Esther to his “use of the deuteros.”

ii) He also tosses this out as another question for me to answer. But if Jimmy thinks that Josephus’ “use of the deuteros” is a counterexample, then he needs to cite the counterexamples.

iii) And we already know from Josephus’ cut-off date for the OT canon what he would think of the “deuteros.”

“The issue is not some phantom ‘original canon’, the issue is the canon(s) of the LXX in use in the 1st C. So you remain hypocritical.”

Yet another one of Jimmy’s inexhaustible supply of inane objections. The Orthodox argument for the Orthodox canon is that Jesus and the Apostles used the LXX canon—which corresponds to the Orthodox canon of the OT.

If, however, we have multiple lines of evidence to the contrary, then that undermines the Orthodox argument on its own grounds. It’s hardly “hypocritical” of me to present an internal critique of the Orthodox argument.

“Bzzt. Beckwith is not a 1st century character.”

Bzzt. Most of the ante-Nicene, Nicene, and post-Nicene fathers aren’t 1C characters either.

No, a 20C scholar is not a 1c character. Rather, he cites primary sources from the past and subjects them to historical analysis.

“ If you can't state an argument for yourself, clearly it is bogus.”

This is Jimmy’s lame excuse for not bothering to bone up on the other side of the argument.

“Because I don't have to conform to some arbitrary cut off date for recognizing the canon like you do.”

So you don’t have a Bible. You’re canon is wide-open.

“Again, you haven't proven that the Church didn't inherit a canon recognizing process rather than an intact canon.”

Actually, I have, but in any event, that’s beside the point. The Orthodox argument for the Alexandrian canon is that this was the canon used by Jesus and the Apostles.

If you’re going to shift gears to “a canon-recognizing process rather than in intact canon,” then that’s a backdoor admission that you lost the original argument.

“Thus there is no reason to suppose a Jewish source is better than a Christian source. “

Of course there is. The OT was written by Jews and to Jews. So, yes, they’re the first folks we’d logical consult regarding the confines of the OT canon.

“And in fact there are plenty of reasons not to, namely their lack of discernment in rejecting Christ.”

There’s no reason to think the Jews who translated the LXX were any more or less devout or discerning than their 1C counterparts.

This is your dilemma. You have to rely on the Jews for the LXX, but they suddenly become unreliable on the OT canon.

“Their unknown status in terms of their representation of their contemporaries”

That’s a contentious claim which you need to justify.

“And the lack of the leading of the Holy Spirit.”

i) To judge by my experience with Orthodox epologists, as well as the modernism on display at places like St. Vladimir’s, I wouldn’t say that the spiritual discernment of Orthodox believers is anything to brag about.

ii) And it’s not as if the Orthodox hold the patent on spiritual discernment. Evangelicals could make the same appeal.

“Again, assuming what you have to prove in that we're given no reason to assume that Jews in Palestine are more likely to have a correct canon than those elsewhere.”

The Bible was written in Hebrew, not Greek. The Second Temple was, among other things, the official library and repository for the OT scrolls. That was the yardstick for Diaspora Jewry.

There’s a reason why a Diaspora Jew like Paul studied in Jerusalem. Even as a Christian, he cited his Jewish credentials as a student of Palestinian Judaism.

“No, I'm saying that what is preserved after 500 years is no more or less than is preserved after 1000 years. If you want to say something was lost after 500, it's up to you to prove it.”

Something can’t be lost unless it existed in the first place. So you’d have to prove that the LXX, in its present form, existed for the first 500 years, give or take.

“No, the scroll system is far less resistant to adding books, because all you do is throw another cylinder in the box. The codex being bound as one resists adding books.”

Only if you assume a one-to-one correspondence—one book per scroll. Out of ignorance, you’re overlooking the practice of combining books on a single scroll, so that a single scroll might contain a *set* of books (e.g. the Pentateuch, Hagiographa, Minor Prophets)—depending on the size of the book, the size of the scroll, and the size of the print. That practice both presupposes and reinforces a literary sequence by grouping particular books together.

While you can add or subtract a book from a loose-leaf codex, you can’t do that with an anthological scroll. You’d have to rewrite the whole scroll to insert a new book into the standardize sequence.

“I don't appeal to all traditions, only those of the true people of God.”

You have made no attempt to identify or verify the “true people of God.”

[I said] What evidence do you have that the Jewish translators of the LXX belonged to the “true people of God”? Do you think that all Intertestamental Jews belonged to the “true people of God”?

“I don't have to know or care. I have a true people of God TODAY.”

Aside from begging the question (why should we believe that you belong to the true people of God?), you’re cutting your own throat. If you’re going to dismiss Jewish testimony to the OT canon—because they don’t belong to the “true people of God”—then you can’t rely on a Jewish translation of the OT (=the LXX) if that work was done by individuals who did not belong to the “true people of God.”

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that you yourself, further down the line, belong to the “true people of God today,” yet if there’s a break in the continuum (of the true people of God), between “now” and then, you can’t rely a translation (the LXX) which falls on the wrong side of the break. The waters aren’t any purer downstream than upstream.

“Why don't you just set this up as an Amazon associates book store, and stop wasting everybody's time?”

You’re a first-class twit. No one invited you to come here. You’re here at our indulgence. This is our blog, not yours.

I’m wasting *your* time? No, you’re wasting *my* time.

“No, I reject him because he belongs to an unknown heretical sect.”

If it’s an “unknown” sect, then how would you be in any position to know it’s heretical?

Once again, you’re not even attempting to be rational—assuming that you ever had that capacity in the first place.

I’ll skip over your tendentious and equivocal summary since I’ve already refuted your latest claims.

You’re like the characters of Lucy and Pigpen in Peanuts. When we answer you on your own grounds, you pull the football away at the last minute. And you kick up a dust cloud wherever you go.

You’ve outstayed your welcome. Time for you to go bye-ku.


  1. I remember Orthodox using the "Bzzt." on my blog several months back. Looks like you correctly identified Jimmy with Orthodox.

  2. From what I can gather, Jimmy, alias JNorm888, is highly unlikely to be the same as "Orthodox".

    Orthodox, to my knowledge, from a Catholic Apologetic site, where he's currently involved in an ongoing debate with a Roman Catholic Apologist (having therefore little time to interact with other people on other themes), was a former Anglican. Jimmy, on the other hand, is from a Baptist then Charismatic-Pentecostal background, likes Math and listens to Afro Gospel Music. His writng stile is very simple and short, being completely unsophisticated. Orthodox's is more of a pedantic sort, writing long and elaborate posts and/or comments -- unlike Jimmy.

    They seem very different to me. That again, I *might* be wrong. :-\

    Following in the footsteps of the Tradition established by Judah and those many Priests and Hierarchs that were collaborators and/or informers of the Communist Secret Security-Service, I hereby betray my brother in faith and common fighter against the Protestant heretical blasphemy, by giving You the address of his little hiding-place and secret Garden of Gethsemane:

  3. Jimmy's also a recent convert, and has this *positive* obsession with Arminianism (I don't know of Orthodox converting recently to anything, and I know that he's been around for quite a while now, nor does it seem likely for him to particularly "like" any branch of Protestantism what-so-ever).

  4. Jimmy's name is James Norman; Orthodox is Chris or "Idou".

  5. I'm also under a very strong conviction that Jimmy is African-American. (So You won't see him burnin' crosses anytime soon, Gene)

  6. I've interacted with JNORM888 in the past. He's nothing like Jimmy.

    JNORM888 puts much space between his lines of thought. Like this:



    Also, JNORM is far calmer than Jimmy.

  7. Perhaps that should be "more calm".

  8. Orthodox, to my knowledge, from a Catholic Apologetic site, where he's currently involved in an ongoing debate with a Roman Catholic Apologist (having therefore little time to interact with other people on other themes), was a former Anglican. Jimmy, on the other hand, is from a Baptist then Charismatic-Pentecostal background, likes Math and listens to Afro Gospel Music. His writng stile is very simple and short, being completely unsophisticated. Orthodox's is more of a pedantic sort, writing long and elaborate posts and/or comments -- unlike Jimmy.

    1. As S&S has noted, JNorm's style is



    It is



    He also



    b. What a remarkably question-begging argument. "Jimmy's" profile is a closed profile. So you can't say anything about Jimmy's background.

    Rather, all you've done is look up JNORM and Orthodox and then assume your conclusion.

    I'll take it elementary logic isn't
    your forte either.

    c. You must be reading different comments from Jimmy than the rest of us. His comments are often long and pedantic and are more sophisticated than those of JNORM.

    Indeed, I've had rational conversations with JNORM. JNORM acts nothing like Jimmy or Orthodox, much to JNORM's credit.

    Jimmy's also a recent convert, and has this *positive* obsession with Arminianism No, JNORM - not Jimmy - , is a recent convert to Orthodoxy.

    I'm also under a very strong conviction that Jimmy is African-American. (So You won't see him burnin' crosses anytime soon, Gene)

    What, African-Americans can't be anti-Semites?

    Indeed, I never said that the anti-Semitism coming from the Orthodox interlocuters on this blog was related to their race; rather it's generated by your tradition. Orthodoxy has a long tattered history in that regard. So,once again, your comments don't begin to touch anything I've stated.

  9. Yes, both JNorm888 and Jimmy were on the same thread, so I've naturally assumed they were the one and same (since I've never seen any of them around before, and then -all of a sudden- there they were). Seems like my little detective work has been of no avail

    (And it's calmer, never more calm).