New Testament Criticism: Helps And Hurts -- By: Brian H. Wagner

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 15:46 (Dec 2011)
Article: New Testament Criticism: Helps And Hurts
Author: Brian H. Wagner


New Testament Criticism: Helps And Hurts

Brian H. Wagner

Brian H. Wagner, M.Div., Th.M., instructor of church history and theology, Virginia Baptist College, Fredericksburg, Virginia; and, Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Truly the best modern bible translation is “the one that is read.” Nevertheless, that still leaves the reality that there are relative strengths and weaknesses in each translation based upon the underlying rules of translation and textual criticism used for each translation. The only concern for this article is the rules of textual criticism for the New Testament portion of the Bible, as those rules relate to the strengths and weaknesses in modern translations of the New Testament text.

The article will follow a particular view of epistemology, scholarship, and philosophy of history. First, concerning epistemology, Jesus said, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority” (John 7:17, NKJV). The assumption of this article is that the reader desires to do God’s will and that the recognition of its truth statements, or errors, will be adequately affirmed if that assumption is correct. Second, concerning scholarship, or “scholarship” so called, the prophet Jeremiah said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD’” (Jer 17:5). Scholarship is only a servant to the reader, not an authority upon which to depend; it is only as helpful as it confirms divine revelation. In other words, human propositions based on results from the scientific method must not undermine the truthfulness or consistency of Scripture’s propositions. Third, concerning the philosophy of history, Solomon said,

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after (Eccl 1:9-11).

There is a repetition of things in some aspect throughout the course of human history, and yet not remembered. It appears that Solomon taught that history is not evolutionary, but that similar lessons learned in the past are being learned again in the present. It thus seems to...

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