Textual And Literary Judgments On The Biblical Text—What Happens To The Lutheran Commitment To Scriptural Inerrancy? -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 14:1 (May 2017)
Article: Textual And Literary Judgments On The Biblical Text—What Happens To The Lutheran Commitment To Scriptural Inerrancy?
Author: John Warwick Montgomery


Textual And Literary Judgments On The Biblical Text—What Happens To The Lutheran Commitment To Scriptural Inerrancy?

John Warwick Montgomery1

Part I: Initial Presentation

Our subject is textual (or lower) criticism and its impact on the formal principle (Holy Scripture) of Lutheran—and all biblical—theology. We are especially concerned with the views of Dr Jeffrey Kloha of the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Some preliminaries. First, I have never met Dr Kloha and therefore what I have written and published elsewhere on this topic—and what I shall be presenting today—must not be considered any kind of personal vendetta. I am much impressed by Dr Kloha’s linguistic knowledge and the laborious analyses of textual minutiae in his doctoral thesis. Our problem is with the philosophy of textual criticism he espouses and its implications for the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy.

Secondly, Dr Kloha has repeatedly said that I “do not understand him”2 and that, because my scholarly specialties are not in the area of textual criticism, I have no business critiquing him. I have pointed out that, with a classics major at Cornell University, a master’s degree in New Testament, years of teaching Greek at graduate level, three earned doctorates, and two published translations of previously untranslated Latin works of the 17th century, I am entirely capable of raising issues as to his position; and, far more important, that these issues do not relate to the technicalities of textual criticism but to the underlying philosophy of textual criticism espoused. It has been common for atheists such as Richard Dawkins to argue that only someone with his/the unbeliever’s scientific specialty (in Dawkins’ case, evolutionary biology) has a right to criticize the secular position. This is, of course, errant nonsense, since the problems arise, not from the science per se but from the philosophy of science being presented. A generation ago, Dr Gordon Clark, a distinguished philosophy professor, wrote a little book on textual criticism. In it, he defended his authorship against the charge that he himself was not a textual critic:

Although the present writer is not a textual critic, he will be bold enough to make some small claim to acquaintance with logic. . . . If someone argues, “All insects are quadrupeds, and all quadrupeds are edible, therefore all edibles are insects,” the writer can with some degree of assurance declare the syllogism invalid, even though he may not know whether or not a bumble bee is an insect. . . . Similarly, if a textual critic asserts that manuscript B has the correct reading for Lu...

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