Three Reformed Orthodox Writers on Translating Scripture

Todd has another excellent and helpful post putting us in touch with our tradition.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. I understand one of the differences between now and then is
    one, the critical texts were hardly the players they are today. WCF 1:8 was operative: ‘Faithful copies of the originals had been preserved in the texts commonly used in the church’ and not those texts found as one was, of all places, in the Pope’s library. Largely these texts were the basis for the Reformation translations.

    But when the RPCNA for example is still promoting the NIV and also trying to maintain the WCF, things seem to be working at cross purposes. WCF 1:8 on providential preservation has been superseded for all practical purposes, never mind the conflict between verbal inspiration and dynamic equivalency as Martin demonstrated in his Accuracy of Translation on BoT, and one is left with what? being labeled a KJVOnlyite?

    Yes, I know the Extremely Similar Version to the RSV is the ticket, but haven’t we been here before? I can at least remember when the NIV was the latest and the greatest. Then the NKJV. Now the ESV. What next? Somehow I don’t think it is all about faithfulness to the text and progress.

    Rather the publishing companies, marketing and profits are driving the new copyrighted translations (and study bibles and . . ) as opposed to translating being the task of the church in the first place.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    At the time of the WAssembly, were the modern critical texts (incl. Vaticanus) considered to be part of the providentially preserved text in common use by the Greek speaking church? Are they now after being ‘providentially’ restored by modern textual criticism and is the paradigm of WCF 1:8 superseded?

    After all, plenty of folks think the WStandards were wrong on psalmody and WCF 21:5 needs to be changed – which the London Baptist of 1689 did – so why not 1:8? Seriously.

    (I trust the “mostly nonsense” doesn’t include Martin’s Accuracy of Translation and the NIV on Banner.)

  3. Dr. Clark,

    My apologies for the delay.

    Answer: No. But just as we wouldn’t expect an addition to the canon of another gospel when and if more manuscripts come to light, are we to expect new manuscripts and readings to replace those found in the common Greek text historically received in the church?

    IOW does the original position of WCF 1:8 allow for the providential restoration of the scriptural text by the modern recourse to what those somebody like Hills or Burgon would argue are the providentially discarded critical texts?

    If not, consistency and honesty would indicate further ecclesiastical comment, decision and revision of WCF 1:8 would it not?

    FWIW that is the real issue behind the KJVOnly distraction.

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