JREnsey blog for August 2018

Here’s the JREnsey blog for August, 2018. Welcome to all the new readers who have signed up to receive announcements of the postings. Thanks for visiting.

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The Word for Today

John 3:36 (NLT): “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”

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Quotables

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thusly handicapped. – Elbert Hubbard

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance. – Laurence J. Peter

I’ll be more enthusiastic about thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it. – Terry Pratchett

I don’t make jokes. I watch the government and report the facts. – Will Rogers

Sometime we look so longingly at the door that just closed that we miss what is behind the door that just opened. – Unknown

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Our weird and wacky world

The manager of the Academy store in Tallahasee, FL was fired because he stopped a thief who had stolen a handgun. Dean Crouch, the store manager, saw the thief running for the door. He tackled him, and with help from another man, held him until police came. The thief was searched and his backpack showed he had a lot of ammunition in it. He had stolen two weapons from a pawn shop earlier in the day and they were in his backpack. Evidently he anticipated a shootout with someone.

Crouch was rewarded for his heroism, right? He might have saved a lot of lives by detaining the thief. So what did Academy do?

They fired him—“for putting his hands on the man.” Let’s see now. Should managers wag their finger at dangerous thieves running through the store and say: “Tsk, tsk. Now, now…one shouldn’t be stealing guns from us”? Should store employees stash nets near the doors so they can toss them over a running thief? That’s safe, huh…and a surefire way of handling armed robbers who might be looking to put a lot of folks away for good.

Could our country get any wackier? Maybe. See the next item.

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Is our country founded by geniuses but run by idiots?

Someone (understandably anonymous) posted the following:

  • If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy alcohol, or check out a library book, but not to vote for who runs the government—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If your government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to some crazy new leaders in the Middle East—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If an 80-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair or a three-year-old girl can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
  • If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion while not working is rewarded with food stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones—you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

More “geniuses” ahead…read on.

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Better pay attention when crossing borders!

(Probably by the same anonymous author of the item above.)

Think before you vote in all upcoming elections. Most of the idiots running this country say one thing and do the opposite knowing that the people who voted them in do not pay attention.

Let’s see if I got this right…

If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years hard labor.

If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.

If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you will likely get shot.

If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.

If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.

If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.

If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.

If you cross the U.S. border illegally you can get…
…a job, a drivers license, social security card, welfare, food stamps, subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house, free education, free health care, a lobbyist in Washington, billions of dollars worth of public documents printed in your language, the right to carry your country’s flag while you burn the U.S. flag, protest that you don’t get enough respect, and, in some instances, you can vote.

I just wanted to make sure I had a firm grasp on the situation!

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What Is Meant By “Older and More Reliable Manuscripts”?

Quite often we hear statements by biblical scholars and textual analysts that include a reference to “older and more reliable manuscripts.” They are referencing those manuscripts that are dated closer to the autographs—the original apostolic writings—as being more likely to reflect the Scriptures as they were written in the first century.

Sometimes those who insist on a single, early 17th century English version as being the only legitimate Bible, suggest that those who use other versions are using “fake Bibles” that are corrupt and worthless. Many of the accusers are not aware that the version of which they speak was based on a few very late (none earlier than the 12th century), expanded Greek manuscripts (MSS) hurriedly brought together by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516 in Basel, Switzerland to create a new Greek text. Neither Erasmus nor the later translators in 1611 had hands-on access to the “oldest and most reliable manuscripts“ of the New Testament. This fact is verified by the vast majority of conservative textual scholars and paleographers. However, publishers of anti-contemporary translations give the impression that the Erasmus’ manuscripts were “pure” and “perfect,” as though just passed from an apostle’s hand. They insist that earlier manuscripts are corrupt and worthless if they don’t read exactly like Erasmus’ seven at every word. That is patently false.

In our search for the truth, let’s define the terms. What do the terms “older and more reliable” mean when referring to biblical manuscripts? And what does the word “corrupt” mean when applied to manuscripts?

Let’s begin with the last one first—“corruption of manuscripts.” A dictionary supplies the definition of corruption: “the process by which a document or manuscript is altered, changed, or corrected.” Any manuscript that contains variants in word order, corrections, additions or deletions, or any changes that alter the meaning of a term(s), would by that definition be considered corrupt. In other words, all Greek manuscripts before the printing press came along are corrupt since no two hand-copied MSS are exactly alike. That is why textual analysis—critical comparison—is essential.

My readers are given credit for knowing what “older” means—copies dated closer to the autographs (original writings) of the NT. Extremists include “older” in their denunciations of early manuscripts (MSS) because those on which the KJV was based are dated much later—suggesting more generations of copies—than those on which contemporary versions are based. “Older” would potentially mean that fewer generations of copies would have been made from those nearest the originals, therefore having fewer additions and corruptions.1

What is meant when textual analysts refer to “more reliable” manuscripts? Those who study ancient writings and manuscripts recognize that some scribes were more apt to amend the text. Some were very diligent; others were not. Some copied whole sentences after looking at the exemplar once; others would copy only one word or one letter at a time, enhancing accuracy. Some were neat; others not so much. For example, P75 is an early manuscript said to be written by a very careful scribe who preferred accuracy above neatness.

Some worked from a faithful exemplar, one that had fewer obvious errors or glosses;2 others copied an exemplar that had been poorly done with orthographic errors and emendations. For example, Codex Bezae (D, the oldest codex available to the 1611 translators but used very little) had readings from unknown sources that are found nowhere else. To use it to copy from would be inserting grave corruptions. Some scribes worked from one exemplar; others may have had access to two or three copies with different readings at places and therefore had to choose between them. Sometimes they just combined the readings, as in Luke 24:53 where some earlier MSS had “praising God” and others had “blessing God.” A later scribe included both to be sure.

A few scribes were sloppy orthographically, meaning they were not always careful with grammar and spelling. At times those elements play into the meaning of a word or verse. Textual critics and paleographers study the habits of certain scribes. They can usually tell if one person worked on a manuscript or if several hands were involved. The shape of the letters and the word order can often distinguish when another scribe takes over the copying.

Some copyists tended to pull material from the margins of exemplars while others were more skeptical of certain readings that might be sourced from liturgical use. Such additions have caused critics to label a certain manuscript as “unreliable.” That does not necessarily mean that it is totally unreliable in all places, but tends to have glitches here and there or yields to tradition more than faithfully following the exemplar.

For example, the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 has been a part of the Textus Receptus—Erasmus’ Greek text on which the KJV was based—since Erasmus’ first edition in 1516, although it is considered to be an “expansion” rather than part of the original Scriptures.3 The doxology appears in neither Matthew nor Luke in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Only one Greek manuscript before AD 700 has it—Codex Washingtonianus (dated to c. 350-500). The verse ends “from the evil [one]” in a B D Z 0170 f1 205 547, in Latin translations, and numerous Early Church Fathers.4 The later manuscripts that do contain the Lord’s Prayer doxology offer seven different variations of the prayer, usually a sure sign of a scribal emendation or gloss.5

Tracing an insertion, such as the doxology, through the manuscripts is not difficult for those trained in that work. As textual critic Bruce Metzger explains: “The ascription at the close of the Lord’s prayer occurs in several forms. In K L W D Q P f13 al it is the familiar triple strophic form [whereas others lack one part of it]…the old Latin manuscript k reads simply ‘for thine is the power for ever and ever.’ Some Greek manuscripts expand ‘for ever’ into for ever and ever,’ and most of them add ‘Amen.’ [Three] late minuscules (157 225 418—MSS from 12th to 14th centuries) append it further with a Trinitarian ascription, ‘for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost forever. Amen.’ The same expansion occurs also at the close of the Lord’s prayer in the liturgy that is traditionally ascribed to John Chrysostom (347-407).”6 It seemed right and pious to the scribe who first added the ascription to the doxology for it to end like Matthew 28:19.

Metzger further elucidates: “The absence of any ascription in early and important representatives of the Alexandrian (a B), the Western (D and most of the Old Latin), and the pre-Caesarean (f1) types of text, as well as early patristic commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer ascription, usually in a threefold form, was composed (perhaps on the basis of I Chronicles 29:11-13) in order to adapt the Prayer for liturgical use in the early church.”7 Fortunately, later scribes and textual analysts could see that the Trinitarian tag was a conjectural emendation. They should have also noted that the addition of the entire doxology was a conflation, assimilated likely from early versions. The currently most widespread English-language version of the Lord’s Prayer became popular in the reign of Elizabeth I of England (who fervently embraced it) around AD 1580. Some suggest that she wanted it in the Bible because it would set the Protestant Bibles apart from the Catholic versions, none of which ever included the doxology.8

The slightly different readings in the KJV compared to modern versions arise mostly from additions to the Greek text in the process of copying. The scribes (mostly from the Greek Orthodox branch of Catholicism after AD 850-900) tended to add to the text rather than delete from it. They became accustomed to public readings of Scripture from lectionaries and prayer books, resulting in glosses coming into the text. Learning from earlier manuscripts that some words and even verses have been added to the text, major Bibles usually footnote those places to express the fact that “the earliest and more reliable manuscripts do not have these words.” Those places do not deny or change any apostolic doctrine.9 It is interesting that Erasmus himself referred to one of the MSS he used for his second edition of the TR as “unreliable.”10 Even Jerome (AD 347-420), the creator of the Latin Vulgate, also mentioned that a particular phrase was “not found in the old and reliable manuscripts” he worked with.11 This should remind us that “the older and more reliable manuscripts” is not a cliché that was coined by modern scholars.

We want our Bibles to be as free from conjectural emendations and scribal blunders as possible. As I’ve stated before, if words, phrases or verses were added to the Scriptures, they should be removed so as to maintain the purity of the Word of God. Textual analysis and the “older and more reliable manuscripts” have enabled us to trace much of the text of Scripture back to within 125-325 years from the dates of the autographs. Their work encourages us to have confidence that the Bible we hold in our hands is indeed the Word of God.

Notes:

1 Textual critics acknowledge that older MSS, produced closer to the originals, are usually better and more reliable, although not in every case. Here is the testimony of one of the leading textual critics of the twentieth century:  “It may therefore be stated as a general rule that the earlier a manuscript is, the better is its text likely to be. The rule is only a general one, and is liable to exceptions; for instance, a manuscript written in the year 1200, if copied direct from a manuscript of the year A.D. 350, will probably be more correct than a manuscript written in the year 1000, which was copied from one written in A.D. 850 or 900. Each manuscript must therefore be searched, to see if it shows signs of containing an early form of the test; but the general rule that the earliest manuscripts are the best will still usually hold good.” – Frederic G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1903), p. 8.
2 An “exemplar” is a previously written manuscript that is being copied by a scribe. A “gloss” is material pulled into the text usually from the marginal notes/commentary, or from liturgical use that the scribe feels should be a part of the text itself.
3 Erasmus noted in his Annotations in the first edition of the TR that none of the Latin manuscripts had the doxology, adding that they might have initially been inserted into the Greek MSS in accordance with liturgical custom. (Erika Rummel, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1986), p. 135) He included them because he leaned toward placing more authority on the Greek MSS than the Latin. He just did not have a sufficient number of ancient Greek MSS to work from. Generations of traditional use of the doxology, plus kingly/queenly authority added pressure to include it.
4 James White, The King James Only Controversy (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995), p. 252.
5 For example, the inclination to say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” follows the KJV, which borrowed the wording from Miles Coverdale’s 1535 translation. But if you instinctively say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who [or ‘them that’] trespass against us,” you are following William Tyndale’s English translation from the 1520s. When Tyndale’s rendering was modified by Thomas Cranmer for the 1549 Anglican Book of Common Prayer, “trespasses” came into common use as well. We hear both versions recited or sung today.
6 Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, (London: United Bible Societies, 1971), pp. 16,17. If they were inserting the Trinitarian formula in liturgical readings here in the fourth century, it is not difficult to accept that they could have added the Trinitarian ascription to Matthew 28:19, for which there is no known Greek witness before the fourth century. Many scholars and reference works come down on the side of the three-fold titles of Matthew 28:19 as having been added in the post-Nicene era. I am not saying it is an absolute fact that the long ending of Matthew was not in the earliest MSS of Matthew; we just don’t have a manuscript of Matthew containing that section of his Gospel. Were it now to be removed by contemporary scholars because of its non-existence in the earliest MSS, there would be an outcry: “But we have become accustomed to it. We like it. We are comfortable with it.” It would likely be the same response given to Jerome after he made the Latin Vulgate. Folks were uncomfortable with the changes in wording from the earlier Latin MSS. Truth, not tradition, should establish the parameters of our comfort zone.
7 Ibid., p. 17. It is also interesting to note this in Wikipedia.org/Lord’s Prayer: “In Orthodox Christianity and Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches, a similar doxology is sung within the context of the Divine Liturgy. Following the last line of the prayer, the priest sings “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.” It is not difficult to see how liturgical practices could influence textual copyists. The first mention of the “three person” Godhead addition to the Lord’s Prayer doxology was in Manuscript 157 dated to c. 1122.
8 http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/DOXOLOG.HTM, et al.
9 The corrections actually strengthen Apostolic doctrine. (Examples: I John 5:7b,8a, Titus 2:13, II Peter 1:1, et al.). The largest changes involve the Pericope Adulterae (the woman taken in adultery), and the long ending of Mark. These passages usually appear in the text but are footnoted. Beyond that it is mostly words or phrases that are copied from other verses to harmonize the Scriptures. Acts 8:37 is not found in the earliest manuscripts, probably inserted from liturgical usage. Acts 9:5,6 have words no Greek MS has here (evidently copied from Chapters 22 and 26). The issue is not sufficiently serious to demand the kind of dissension that is currently in progress. Again, I have to supply the disclaimer that I am NOT trying to denigrate the KJV or trying to diminish anyone’s confidence in it. I am just trying to provide truth and understanding. If misrepresentation and deception were not utilized by the KJVO movement, and UPCI people were not condemned for using any other version than the KJV, it would not be an issue. All essential doctrines and lifestyle mandates can be harvested from the KJV and from the major translations of today. I urge all those who are interested in the truth about this topic to do their own objective research. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the Greek manuscripts have been digitized. They can be viewed in that format on the Internet, and in many cases can be viewed in libraries and museums around the world. Take advantage of the opportunity to do so.
10 Erika Rummel, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1986), p. 39.
11 Ibid., p. 120.

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Books and Bible studies

Check out these Apostolic commentaries to assist you in sermon and lesson-building.

Better Than The AngelsBetterThanAngels

by E. L. Holley

Here are the late E. L. Holley’s own teaching notes on the Book of Hebrews. His unique insight will provide a perspective that will shed new light on difficult passages. The material is clear, candid, and convincing. It has been winnowed so that the reader receives only the whole kernel, the heart of the matter and the real meaning that the author wanted to convey. The power of brevity is at work in these lines.
E. L. Holley was respected for his communication skills, his grasp of the Scriptures, and his insight into human nature that few have possessed. You will enjoy sitting at his feet and learning as he opens up the mysteries of Hebrews.  AM price $6.95

Presence-of-His-Glory-copyIn The Presence of His Glorydocument

by E. L. Holley

The inimitable E. L. Holley presents a verse-by-verse commentary on the General Epistles as he taught them in the classrooms at Texas Bible College.  AM Price $9.95

Letters From A Roman Jail

by J. R. EnseyLetters-From-A-Roman-Jail

Some of the most beautiful and truly meaningful words that flowed from the pen of Paul are found in his letters written while incarcerated in Rome. They graphically display the triumph of the pen over the sword. Nero’s sword took Paul’s head, but Paul’s pen took Nero’s empire! Topical format permits not just word study and exposition, but teaching ideas and application. This is a good book for new converts who enjoy studying the Word. Also good for Bible classes in Christian schools. AM price $12.95

Pastoral Epistles

Pastoral-Epistlesby J. R. Ensey

The apostle Paul wrote three letters to two younger ministers whom he affectionately called his “sons.” The epistles became part of the canon of Scripture and have served since then as the best instruction available for those in ministry and church leadership. Doctrine, practical church discipline, lifestyle and much more is all here. The verse-by-verse commentary is accompanied by a complete outline for ease of study and teaching. AM price $13.95

IHML makes it easy to win souls


Into His Marvelous Light
IHMLCoverAvailable in English, Spanish, German & Italian
No other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never fully duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. Those who are seeking for Availabletruth will see that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. Over 2 million copies sold.

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Guide For Living 
IHML_GFL_RevisedA follow-up Study for the new convert. This little booklet can be given to the new convert to go through alone and then come back to you with any questions they may have. It covers the new birth —what has happened to them and goes through what their responsibilities are now.

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Promotional Tracts 
pampletsAvailable in English & Spanish
Hand out these tracts to help you promote the Bible study in your community. Available in English and Spanish. It’s easy to get Bible study opportunities with these tracts.  $9.95 per 100

Order all materials shown above from Advanceministries.org/store or call 936-537-0250.

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Do you want to write a book?

Many do, but it may be wise to think of it as a creative joy, not a money tree. However, it could hit the big time and you could make a few coins. Keep in mind that there are more than twice as many self-published books printed each year than traditionally published books (700,000 to 300,000). The chances of your book being stocked by a bookstore is about 1% (as of 2013). Forget profit; do it for reasons other than money. Do it to get your message out, to inspire other people, to meet a need you see that others may not be meeting.

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O what fun it is to choose a Supreme Court justice

Pray for our President and his nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court. Whether you are for or opposed to either of them, they need the prayers of God’s people that our nation is not further divided by this decision, which will impact America for generations.

 

 

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The Last Word

A wise man never knows all; only fools know everything. – African proverb

Enjoy the remaining dog days of summer!

JREnsey

Published in: on August 1, 2018 at 12:25 AM  Leave a Comment  

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