Revelation And Inspiration -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 026:102 (Apr 1869)
Article: Revelation And Inspiration
Author: E. P. Barrows

Revelation And Inspiration

Rev. E. P. Barrows

Integrity Of The Gospel Narratives

The genuineness of the Gospel narratives being admitted, the further question of their integrity, that is, of their un-corrupt preservation, at once arises. If it be granted that the histories of our Lord’s life current under the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are rightly ascribed to those men as their authors, how do we know that they have come down to us without corruption or mutilation?

What is meant by the Integrity of the Gospel Narratives?

It is necessary to define, first of all, what is meant in the present inquiry by the uncorrupt preservation of the Gospel narratives. We have to do, not with the so-called “various readings,” but with the question of essential alterations and mutilations. When the textual critic, whose business it is to examine and compare manuscripts or editions of a work, and to judge respecting the variations of text found in them, speaks of a given text as “corrupt,” he means one thing; but in a question concerning the truthfulness of the Christian system as exhibited in a given text, corruption of the record means something very different. The textual critic understands by a corrupt text one that has been marred by the carelessness or bad judgment of transcribers, whence have arisen so many various readings, though these do not change or essentially obscure the facts and doctrines of Christianity. But in an inquiry whether we have in our four canonical Gospels the account of our Lord’s life and teachings as it was originally written by the evangelists, we have to do, not with the question of various readings, such as are incident to all copies, but of essential variations; of alterations and mutilations, for example, like those which Marcion and Tatian attempted, by which the facts and doctrines themselves are changed or obscured.

Now the existence of various readings in the manuscripts of the Gospels (as of the other books of the New Testament), and of the printed editions executed from these manuscripts, is a fact patent to all, which cannot be denied, and which there is no necessity for denying. This phenomenon is in harmony with the general analogy of divine providence. God does not rain down from heaven food and raiment, as he could do with infinite ease, but he gives men in the arrangements of nature, the means of procuring food and raiment, and they must work to obtain them. Nor has it pleased God to preserve, in either a miraculous or a providential way, the original languages of scripture as vernacular

to even a single nation. The ancient Hebrew an...

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