An introduction to the Mormon misunderstanding of the Canon of Scripture

We continue our comments on the manuscript sent to us by a Mormon called Stephen.(*) Click here to see the other articles in this series. You can also go to the Mormonism page to find all the articles that are in this refutation of Stephen’s document.

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We have now reached Stephen’s chapter three which is about Scripture. We already have a complete study about the Canon of Scripture and about how new revelation is contrary to what God has said in the Bible. Please, read that study before you begin to read this refutation of Stephen’s chapter three, because the content of that study will be the topic of our refutation of this third chapter. The study is here:

The Canon of Scripture

Stephen begins his chapter about the Scripture, saying:

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” (Eighth Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) That is an awfully presumptuous statement for any religion to make. Who do they think they are, those Mormons, saying they accept the Bible, as long as it is translated correctly?

Indeed, who they think they are, because we have seen it is not any human that decides whether the Bible is the Word of God or not, but God has declared it so clearly. And how ignorant are those Mormons, as they think the Bible is about the translations rather than the original text. The Mormons need to understand that when we talk about the Bible, we’re not talking about any particular copy of the Bible or any particular translation of the Bible, but about the original text which is available to us today through all the manuscripts that we have. God has never promised to keep the copies or the translations of the Bible without corruption and perfect, but He HAS promised to keep the original text (the Bible) without any corruption and perfect, as we have seen in the article The Canon of Scripture.

But let me call your attention to something that we will all notice later in Stephen’s document: Stephen is telling us here about correct translations of the Bible as being the Word of God so that he may later be able to convince us that the Mormon interpretative translation of the Bible is the true one… But we are not ignorant of his schemes… You will see the truth of what I just said…

Stephen continues:

Sir Frederic Kenyon, a former British Museum director, said, “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries.” Though I admire his devotion to God, there are problems.

See?…

Well, dear Stephen, what are the problems that you see in this quotation?…

Stephen continues:

Before I pose some thought-provoking questions, I list the following facts:

Thought-provoking questions? Or rather questions that tend to make people doubt the Word of God and the ability of the Sovereign God to keep His Word from any corruption?

By the way: it is a pattern in false religions to attack the trustworthiness of the Bible. Just like Mormons, Islam also attacks the trustworthiness of the Bible in order to build its doctrine, because otherwise their doctrine will be in contradiction with the Bible… They realize this very well, so they attack the Bible and try to add to it by this method…

Let’s see what “facts” Stephen is talking about…

Stephen continues:

The Bible is not complete, as there are missing books of the Bible mentioned therein. (See the list on upcoming pages.)

The Bible is complete, and the Canon is closed, as we have seen. The Bible never mentions any book that should belong in the Bible and is not there. And I challenge Stephen to show me anywhere in the Bible that God has ever mentioned any inspired Book (note well the word “inspired”) which is not in our copies of the Bible today. And I know what I am saying. We will see the list that Stephen has written, and we will discuss it in its place, and we will see how he is hallucinating as usual.

Stephen continues:

There are differences in doctrine between the Gospels of the NT. (Compare the doctrine of divorce between Matt. 19:3-9 and Mark 10:2-12.)

As Mormons do not understand the Bible, so they see differences in doctrines between the Gospel Accounts of the New Testament. But the fact is that there is no difference in doctrine, because the same God wrote them all. And the doctrine of divorce is one and the same in both Matthew 19 and Mark 10. So I challenge Stephen to show me where the difference is.

Stephen continues:

There are differences in doctrine between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint Greek text of the OT. (See who was pierced in Zech. 12:10.)

Stephen, my dear ignorant friend, the Septuagint is NOT an original text, but a translation of the Hebrew text. We never said that translations are the Word of God, but the original text is the Word of God. Readers, do you see how I was right at the beginning when I said why Stephen concentrates on translations?…

But what does this have to do with Zechariah 12:10?? What do you mean “who was pierced in Zechariah 12:10”? Both the Hebrew text and its Greek translation (the LXX) say the same thing! So what’s the point here?…

Stephen continues:

There are differences in doctrine between the S-TR Greek and the revised W&H modern Greek of the NT. (See Philip. 2:6.)

No variant in any manuscript changes any essential doctrine of the Christian Faith. S-TR and W&H are names of versions of the Bible, and versions are usually made to present the different variants available in the text found in the different manuscripts. When a scholar studies the different manuscripts, he will have to choose one of the variants or readings that he considers to be the original reading. This will be repeated with each variant in different places of the text. The final result is a version of the Bible. Some versions are good versions, while others are not well studied versions, according to the work that was done to make the version. When we compare the different good versions of the Bible, we don’t find any essential difference in doctrine, because the variant readings are not in essential matters. Why do we have those different readings or variants? Because the copyists have made some mistakes while copying. But we can know what mistakes they have done by comparing the different manuscripts, because the same error will not be done by different copyists. Here comes the role of textual criticism.

So I challenge Stephen to show us what are those “differences in doctrine” between the different versions. He’s just hallucinating as usual.

Stephen tells us to see Philippians 2:6, but that verse does not contain any doctrinal error related to any variant reading!!

Stephen continues:

These last two statements are an issue as most ECs now use the NIV instead of the KJV.

Why that should be an issue as long as neither the NIV nor the KJV are the Bible, but versions of the Bible?? I would like to see how Stephen sees a problem here.

Stephen continues:

The NIV bases its OT mainly on the Septuagint and its NT mainly on the W&H, thereby rendering differences between the KJV and the NIV that significantly alter doctrine.

Show us ONE example of such differences, please…

By the way, even Stephen admits that the NIV didn’t use the Septuagint ALONE for the Old Testament, or the Westcott and Hort version (W & H) for the New Testament. Note how he said “mainly”… The fact is that the NIV English version of the Bible is made by a study of all the available texts and it’s simply another version of the Bible; it’s not the Bible, but a version of the Bible. When compared with other versions of the Bible, the NIV has no significant difference.

Stephen continues:

Most ECs have enough trouble agreeing with each other on doctrine out of the same translation, let alone introducing differences brought on by another translation.

Wait a minute… The NIV is not just another translation, but another version of the Bible… Anyway, it’s clear that Stephen has no idea what he is talking about…

Differences in doctrines between different Christian groups are not caused by the versions or the translations themselves, but by the different interpretations that each group has of the biblical text. That’s why we have made it clear that ONLY the Bible can really and correctly interpret the Bible.

Stephen continues:

Now my questions: If the Bible were so complete and uncorrupted, why are there over 2,000 proclaimed Christian religions in the United States of America alone, which base their faith on this Catholic compilation of many books?

First, is it a Catholic compilation? Of course, by “Catholic” Stephen means “Roman Catholic”… Well, we have seen that this is just a deception that is believed by all those who hate the truth, Mormons included. We have seen the details here: The Canon of Scripture. In that article we have seen also that those were not just many books, but ALL the Books of the Canon. The Canon is complete and is closed.

Now, why are there many Christian denominations and sects? Because of different human interpretations of the uncorrupted and complete Bible, and because many people add their own traditions to the uncorrupted and complete Bible. So the reason is not that the Bible is not complete or is corrupted; the reason is human disobedience to this complete and uncorrupted Word of God.

Please, notice how Stephen is using any argument (even silly ones) in order to prove that God’s Word is corrupted and incomplete, although we have seen that God is Sovereign and has promised to keep His Word uncorrupted, and we have seen that God’s Word was completed with the final revelation that came in Jesus Christ, so we don’t need any additional truth now. All is explained in details in the article The Canon of Scripture. Stephen wants to destroy God’s Word in order to introduce the human words of his sect as the legitimate Word of God… But by this method he is contradicting himself, because if God was not able to keep His Bible, then He will not be able to keep the Mormon’s “Word of God” if it were His Word…

Stephen continues:

Since everything was copied by hand in Biblical times—no Xerox machines, how do we know what is an original manuscript from the hand of a prophet or apostle or what is a copy by some scribe?

There are methods to study the date of a document and to know when its author lived. It seems Stephen is totally ignorant about those methods. We know for sure today that we don’t have the original manuscripts written by the original authors, but we have the WHOLE content of their original manuscripts in the different manuscripts (or copies) that we have today. By comparing the copies that we have, we can make sure about the original content of any Book of the Bible.

Stephen continues:

How do we know the oldest known copies—such as the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran—are not copies of copies themselves?

This is irrelevant. The essential for us is to have the original content. We don’t need the original manuscript in order to have the original content. The copies are enough. There is a science called textual criticism… Ever heard of it, Stephen? That science helps us know what the original content was by studying the available copies. And the available copies are so big in number that we cannot be in confusion. We have 100% of the original content available in the copies, and we are sure about almost 99.5% of the original reading. It’s not that we don’t have the remaining 0.5%, but we are not sure which variant reading is the right one in that 0.5%. And we have seen that these variants do not affect any essential doctrine.

Stephen continues:

How do we know they did not copy errors placed in the previous copies either by accident or by agenda?

By textual criticism, we know that the errors were not by agenda, but by accident. Any copyist, however professional, can make errors while copying; he is not a machine. But all copyists will not all make the same errors. So by studying the different copies, we can know where the error occurred. The issue is not whether a copy is a copy of a copy or a copy of the original. After all, the copy of a copy also is a copy. That’s irrelevant. For us, what matters is to have different copies to compare and study in order to know what the original text was. And we have all those copies available. After all, there was for sure an original text, and these copies are the copies of that text. This is all what we need to make sure about.

Stephen continues:

Since the prophet Isaiah lived over 500 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls were reportedly copied, how do we know these scrolls were not copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of . . . You get the point.

Yes, I get your point, but this is irrelevant to our issue. All those copies are in a huge agreement with each other as to the variant readings, and through them we have the whole of the original text of Isaiah. The copies of the Bible are not the Bible itself. They help us know what the Bible is. The versions that we have today are each made after a certain line of manuscripts and follow a certain line of reading of the variants. But even these versions often, if not always, tell us what the other readings are. You have surely seen in the footer or in the margin of your Bible version notes about the different readings of a certain word.

So what you say here is irrelevant to the issue. We have the whole Bible text today.

Stephen continues:

Given the differences between the aforementioned manuscripts themselves, how do we know which is the most accurate and honest version or translation?

What are those differences? Show us which differences you are talking about. There are no essential differences, but only variant readings, as we have seen.

And it is irrelevant here to talk about the most accurate version or translation, because we are talking about the original text. The original text is accurate and honest, no matter how many errors our versions or translations contain. But we have seen that our versions are very close to each other; we just need to compare the versions to know the original text. We don’t need to rely only on one version or translation of the Bible.

Stephen continues:

And then, would God allow men to tamper with His Holy Word?

Of course not! So we’re sure men could not temper with the original text and that this text got to us uncorrupted and complete.

Thus the whole silly argument of Stephen has fallen… Now, he says next:

I will now address these issues.

Given your poor background in knowledge of the manuscripts and biblical criticism, so I guess we will now assist to a funny clownish performance…

Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ

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Posted in: Religious Movements / Mormonism
This is part 36 of the series: Answer to a Mormon’s manuscript

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