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21 Questions on Doctrine of Scripture

21 Questions on Doctrine of Scripture

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Published by Nick_Ma
Reading Reformed works on Scripture (here I would group Calvin's Institutes, William Whitaker's Disputations on the Holy Scriptures, as well as Turretin) can be very illuminating, and presents a rather different perspective on Scripture than many modern writers (1). While this article is providing a brief introduction to Turretin, what I'm saying below could just as well be said of the others mentioned above.
Reading Reformed works on Scripture (here I would group Calvin's Institutes, William Whitaker's Disputations on the Holy Scriptures, as well as Turretin) can be very illuminating, and presents a rather different perspective on Scripture than many modern writers (1). While this article is providing a brief introduction to Turretin, what I'm saying below could just as well be said of the others mentioned above.

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Published by: Nick_Ma on Apr 22, 2011
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09/11/2013

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21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture by Francis Turretin (1623-1687)
21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture
by Francis Turretin (1623-1687)The following article has been extracted from Turrettin's
InstitutioTheologiae Elencticae
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/turr_scripture.html [23/11/2006 09:39:17 p.m.]
 
Introduction to Francis Turretin's 21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture
Introduction to Francis Turretin's 21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture
by Paul RittmanReading Reformed works on Scripture (here I would group Calvin's Institutes, William Whitaker'sDisputations on the Holy Scriptures, as well as Turretin) can be very illuminating, and presents a ratherdifferent perspective on Scripture than many modern writers (1). While this article is providing a brief introduction to Turretin, what I'm saying below could just as well be said of the others mentioned above.One theme is the presuppositional approach to the Bible, which was used in addition to the moreevidentialist approaches more popular now. Presuppositionalism, as a methodology, is not merelysomething that the Reformers utilized. It was foundational to Reformation theology (2). Look at Turretin'sthoughts on the Bible's inspiration, for example. In question He doesn't attempt to prove its inspiration, oreven, simply to demonstrate that such a view is reasonable (in contrast to modern evangelicals, who willargue that it is reasonable to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and that prophetic writings wereindeed written before the events predicted, and so, based on these premises, that the inspiration of theBible is a valid conclusion). Instead, Turretin (in Question 6, Section 8) places the Bible's inspiration in theAristotelian category of First Principles (which have to be assumed, and cannot be proven or disproven).He also writes of the witness of the Holy Spirit, in the minds and hearts of the regenerate, to Scripture'sinspiration(3). Both of these approaches are presuppositional, as opposed to evidential. In short, they arepart of a paradigm or world-view, as opposed to propositions that can be proved or disproved to skeptics.A second approach taken by Turretin might be surprising to those who have not studied Reformationbibliology-its "tiered" understanding of authoritative Scripture. In contrast to the Roman theologians of their day (and the KJV advocates of today), Turretin held that the original Hebrew and Greek readingshad not been lost, but were located in the majority of the manuscripts that were available. He did notargue that any or every copy was perfect, but only that such errors could be easily straightened out by adiligent sifting through the various manuscripts. Turretin was very clear that if the original readings had infact been lost in the course of history, there would be no way of knowing which readings were in factoriginal, and no way of knowing whether in fact the Latin Vulgate was or was not, a pure copy of theoriginal texts. He didn't simply uphold the value of Bibles translated into the common tongue, overagainst the Vulgate. He also argued that the Vulgate itself was a corruption of the original text, whichcould be known and determined by comparing the Hebrew and Greek readings with the Vulgate. Thisprimacy of the original languages was necessary for any certainty about the accuracy of translated Bibles.And so Reformed bibliology recognized a tiered system of authority. On the upper level are themanuscript copies of Hebrew and Greek, which could be used to create or correct vernacular translations.Secondary to this were the vernacular translations themselves, which were to be read and studied by thefaithful as God's inspired word, but which could not be used to correct the original tongues, and mighteven have errors in them (the translations).A third approach is the role that inspiration plays in their view of the transmission of the biblical textthroughout history. Because the Bible is inspired, one would expect that such God-breathed Words wouldnot die out or be lost in history. No attempt is made to prove this evidentially; this concept of thepreservation of Scripture is deduced from the Bible's inspiration. Of course it is true that the Reformersbelieved that the true, original Greek and Hebrew readings had been preserved in the majority of themanuscripts; yet this was a belief that did not arise from a comparison among the majority of themanuscripts, or a consultation of very early manuscripts. Their approach stands in sharp contrast tomodern textual criticism, which holds that while most of the true original readings have survived in themajority of the Greek manuscripts, that a large percentage died out and were overtaken by (mainly)additions from scribes over the centuries. Now I am not about to suggest that in order to be truly"Reformed," or even "orthodox," one cannot subscribe to modern-day textual criticism. Nor do I suggestthat the Reformers were infallible (in their textual theories or otherwise). As a credo-baptist I couldn'thold that position for long. But their arguments here do deserve a hearing. It is unfortunate that moderntheories of textual criticism are the only ones heard by so many people.
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/turretin/intro.html (1 of 2) [23/11/2006 09:39:50 p.m.]
 
Introduction to Francis Turretin's 21 Questions on The Doctrine of Scripture
As a matter of fact, Turretin in Question 12, identified two methodologies in textual criticism. One, usedfor the critical text, was to use human reason in comparing different manuscripts or versions, even to thepoint of making conjectural emendations. The second was to accept as divinely inspired, the words of theGreek and Hebrew texts, which does not place human reason on a level of authority with God. As hecontinued to argue, if indeed we are able to correct the Hebrew MSS, then there is no way that it can beauthoritative, because any word we don't like can be eliminated.None of the above is to suggest that the only thoughts we need to think about the Bible, were writtendown by the Reformers. For example, the works done from a more evidentialist perspective (justifyingChristian claims of the Bible's inspiration and reliability) in recent years has provided solid answers topeople (Christians and non-Christians alike) asking legitimate and fair questions about the Bible. Butwithout paying attention to the answers to these questions that Turretin and his ilk gave, we run the riskof re-inventing the wheel (at best), by refusing to learn from the warriors of the faith who stood beforeus.---------------------------1. These same ideas can be seen also in Chapter 1, Section 8 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.2. This is not the place to discuss the advantages of either presuppositional or evidential approachesto defending and articulating the faith (and each side does have its advantages). I only wish tohighlight here differences between the more presuppositional approach of the Reformers, and themore modern evidentialist approach.3. His arguments here are rather similar to Calvin's, in his Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 7.
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/turretin/intro.html (2 of 2) [23/11/2006 09:39:50 p.m.]

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