Reformed Confessions of Faith & the Traditional Text [Robert Truelove]


Pastor Robert Truelove of Christ Reformed Church in Lawrenceville, GA has some interesting things to say about how our Confessionally Reformed forebears viewed the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture:

Pastor Robert Truelove
Pastor Robert Truelove

When the confession speaks of the original Greek and Hebrew as “being immediately inspired by God” it is often thought today to only be referring to the original autographs. However, the confession proceeds to make clear that “immediate inspiration” is not referring merely to the autographs, but the text that came down to us through history for it is “by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic”. That is, it is “authentic” because it has been “kept pure in all ages” and therefore the texts on hand were considered to be the locus of authority, not non-existent originals. The text on hand was the Traditional Text being the Greek Textus Receptus and the Hebrew Masoretic Text.

TBS-Koine-Greek-New-Testament-001-300x2881Rome was pointing to their Latin Vulgate declaring it to be the “authentic” text or locus of authority and the Protestants were pointing to the Traditional Text of the Greek and Hebrew as “authentic”.

What we have therefore in our Protestant confessions is a direct rebuttal to Rome. It is not the Latin Vulgate that is “authentic” but the original language texts of the Greek and Hebrew Scripture as preserved in the Traditional Text. When the historical context is properly understood, it is a leap to think the Protestants were declaring non-existent autographs to be the locus of authority. When we actually look at what the 17th century Reformed Scholastics taught on this matter, there can be no doubt as to the meaning of the confessions of this same era.

It is clear from Owen’s words that he saw the questioning of the wording of the Traditional Text to be an assault upon the authority of the Scripture itself.

When we place the writings of the Reformed Scholastics alongside the wording found in the confessions, it is difficult (if not impossible) to escape the conclusion that these confessions place the locus of authority in the Traditional Greek and Hebrew texts. Furthermore, we see a different mindset in their approach to the difficulties inherent in manuscript variants than that of the popular contemporary approach to textual criticism.

To say they didn’t possess the evidence we now have and make claims of anachronism fails to grasp the concerns of our forbears. While it is true they came before the discoveries of the ancient papyri, they were yet aware of the problem of variants (as their writings reveal). However, it is also clear that they approached the issue with a completely different set of presuppositions. The matter of preservation and inspiration was tied directly to the Traditional Text without the contemporary appeal to “evidence”. To the 17th century Reformed Scholastics, the proper text of the Bible was not a matter of science, but faith.

You can read Pastor Truelove’s entire article here: Reformed Confessions of Faith and the Traditional Text

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