Monday, December 9, 2013

A Response to Dr. Kloha's Response.

On the last post, I noted that Dr. Kloha responded to me and put up a larger response linked in the last post.  I have a couple of points to make about Kloha's defense in general.

1. Claiming that these are merely "lecture notes" is not really accurate in the least.  This is a very fully developed essay with footnotes.  That he wanted to tinker with this piece, I accept.  Nevertheless, I think that if he distributed the piece at the conference or elsewhere, he is responsible for what he wrote in it.  Claiming that they are merely "notes" and therefore he cannot be held responsible for what they say, does not make sense.  The main problem seems to be that he only intended them for a certain audience and people he did not wish to read it got a hold of it.

2. The women's ordination discussion, according to Dr. Kloha, was not something he actually decided to speak on in the conference itself.  For that reason, I cannot fault him in regard to speaking on these things in public.  Nevertheless, that being said, he, again, did distribute the piece and can be held accountable for it.  Again, I think it is very odd that the issue has become the procedure and people getting a hold of his ideas, when the real issue should be his ideas.

3. As noted above, Kloha keeps on describing them as mere "notes."  Nevertheless, he goes back-in-forth on the issue of whether or not they are notes.  Sometimes he claims that they are mere "notes" and so, he cannot be responsible for their content.  Then at other times, he claims that they were in fact a full- blown copyrighted essay and that Pr. Wilken did not have the right to distribute it. So, my question would be: Which is it? 

4.  Dr. Kloha claims that I do not understand the text-critical issue present in the new edition of Nestle-Aland that he is dealing with.  I think I do.  What Dr. Kloha's central concern is is that in light of the Nestle-Aland new edition, it has become clear (at least to Dr. Kloha) that we cannot even pretend that we have an approximate original version of the NT.  I made several points about this 1. We have no reason to think that we cannot approximate the original NT based on our current manuscript evidence, or, at minimum, the same doctrinal content.  2. We have textual evidence for all necessary doctrines.  3. We have the testimony and continuity of the historic Church within which the Word and the Spirit have been active testifying to said doctrines.  4. I developed a logical criterion by which we could identify what Lutheran scholasticism called a Autographa, in light of our current knowledge the historical context of Scripture and textual-criticism.  5.  The main issue is that we have the correct doctrines, not that every single word is the same, something which is more than defensible.  Hence, the text of the NT is not a magical book, with a magical configuration of certain words, which have never changed one iota.  Rather, it is infallible, inerrant, and reliable prophetic and apostolic tradition that has been handed down to us by both the Holy Spirit and fallible human agents.

This nevertheless bring us to the central issue though, which Kloha has not really responded to and ultimately which places him in opposition the historic Lutheran tradition.  Namely, if we reject entirely the notion that we can at the very minimum approximate the original kerygma of the NT, then we fall into a sort of Enthusiasm.  My deep concerns about Dr. Kloha remain because he A. Rejects the idea of there being ultimate criterion in an Autographa.  In fact, he rejects the very notion of the Autographa, it would seem.  B. Constantly appeals to the Spirit and its work in the consensus of the baptized.    

5. In all this, it has not really been my goal to ignore the issues present in modern textual criticism.  My position as outlined in the previous post is a  critically-realistic one.  I recognize the limitations of our knowledge.  Ultimately, though it may not be his intention, I feel that Dr. Kloha's position drifts towards an unfortunate theological anti-realism.

11 comments:

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  2. Isn't what Kloha reporting exactly what proponents of the so-called Byzantine priority theory have been critiquing for a long time? E.g. "Some researchers even have jettisoned the concept of autograph recoverability, while others have abandoned entirely the concept of an original autograph. The current trend seems merely to favor a critical inquiry into the various forms (or "states) of the text presented in the existing manuscripts, and to investigate their individual theological significance according to their position within church history, with little or no regard given to the concept of autograph originality" (Robinson and Pierpont, The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform, 2005, v)? (I'm not necessarily saying Byzantine priority is the way to go, just an interesting quote to ponder.)

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    1. It's an interesting quote. I think my response part of what I should have made clear is that I would not accept is premise that the text of the NT is totally impossible to reconstruct. I think we can do do better than just talk about text-types and how they have had a certain existence in the life of the Church. My position is critically-realistic, not anti-realist. Even if we do have families of texts (as dubious as an assumption as perhaps that is) the main body of the texts we have are pretty much in tact. All the correct doctrines are there and Luke and Mark still have the same plot, and Romans is still about justification by faith. Overall, unless you assumed that the Bible could not be revelation without specific configurations of words, I fail to understand why Kloha made such a big deal of this particular issue. He says he wants to save us from Bart Ehrman, but Bart Ehrmann's arguments are pretty lame in my opinion and I've frankly never met a layperson who took them all that seriously, unless they had some other ax to grind. They pressupose a very mechanical concept of revelation, that as I note in the section on inspiration and tradition, is not the one the Lutheran tradition accepts. Ultimately, I find a position where we make the institutional Church into an organ the Spirit to much more problematic.

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  3. Dr. Kloha is drawing his views from a late LCMS member named Dr. Theodore P. Letis (a church historian, not a Biblical scholar):

    http://www.holywordcafe.com/bible/Letis.html

    http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2006/01/theodore-letis.html

    Letis denied the inerrancy of the original autographs and believed that the Biblical text was improved over time via transmission. Letis claimed to be a defender of orthodoxy, but if his views were to catch on in the LCMS, confessional/orthodox teaching would collapse in our Synod.

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  4. Nichalas, I wasn't aware of this Theodore Letis fellow. Thanks for the information. Since Kloha never makes reference to him, how do you know that he's drawing on his views?

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  5. I shouldn't have said that he's drawing on his views, only that it's similar.

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    1. Oh, ok. Well I can see that. That Letis guy is kinda weird. Also, when I went over to the page on the link you gave me and there was the picture of him there, I thought it was an advertisement for "American Hustle" at first. He looks like Bradley Cooper's character in that movie!

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  6. Letis denied the inerrancy of the original (sic) AUTOGRAPHS?!?

    Have you read Charles Wiese's comments under the previous post?

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  7. Providential preservation is not about assertion of inerrancy or "reconstruction" of the autographa - it's about linguistic continuity between the apographa and the autographa rather than verbal inerrancy.

    Thank you for your comments, Charles. It's worth reproducing part of his comments here ...

    "There's a certain anabaptist-like view of the church and its history that leads people to conclude that the church is the corrupter of the text and there is no logical stopping point between Nestle-Aland and the Jesus Seminar. It seems much better to me to recover a more historic Protestant understanding of inspiration and adopt readings based on which are the most the catholic. The Eastern Orthodox have already done this to some extent with the Antoniades edition of the Greek NT based on the lectionary readings that have lived and breathed in the church rather than an artificially reconstructed text. If the church is understood to be the corrupter of the text, the historic Protestant doctrine of inspiration is destroyed although I'm happy that many have not taken this truth to its logical conclusion."

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    1. "there is no logical stopping point between Nestle-Aland and the Jesus Seminar."

      I answered this claim at the other post. This is a complete confusion of textual criticism and historical criticism.

      As to Letis' rejection of the inerrancy of the autographs, his online works make that clear enough, and the post at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog further explains his position (both of which I have cited).

      God's Word has been providentially preserved in the full body of Biblical manuscripts that we have. I would recommend that readers search Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts on iTunes and watch the videos that Dr. Dan Wallace has uploaded.

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  8. Maybe I can recommend the also late Dr Arthur Carl Piepkorn's article on inerrancy - contained in The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions (Vol. 2)(publ. by the Centre for Evangelical Catholicity Press). Contact Rev Dr Philip Secker for a copy and also Vol. 1. Visit the Arthur Carl Piepkorn Center for Evangelical Catholicity. Am not a Piepkornian but have come to strongly appreciate Piepkorn's conviction and his writings without going in the direction of some of the erstwhile followers in today's LCMS.

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