Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Response To Dr. Thomas Strouse, Part One

Dr. Thomas Strouse, a member of the Dean Burgon Society and the dean at the Emmanuel-Newington Theological Seminary in Connecticut recently posted a reply to Dallas Theological Seminary Professor Daniel B. Wallace regarding an article Wallace wrote about why he does not believe the King James Bible is the best translation today. The purpose of today’s blog is to respond to a number of erroneous assertions on the part of Dr. Strouse.

There was a time when Dr. Thomas Strouse was my favorite KJV Only advocate. He seemed sober and relatively kind in disagreement. That all changed, however, when I came across an article posted online last fall with the typical snide rhetoric that is seen in virtually every advocacy of the KJV. It is a response to Dallas Seminary Professor Daniel Wallace’s article, “Why I Do Not Believe The King James Bible Is The Best Translation Today.” Strouse’s reply contains a number of rhetorical arguments that really do not answer what Wallace set forth in his tome. This, however, seems to be the way it is with KJV Only responses: they preach to the choir but the man in the pew weighing the argument remains unconverted.

The readers of this blog may think that I consider Dr. Strouse to be ‘intellectually challenged’ (for lack of a better word). Nothing could be further from the truth. Strouse has a B.S in Industrial Engineering, an M.Div. in Theology and Biblical Languages, and a Ph.D. in Theology from Bob Jones University. Indeed, these credentials make his arguments all the more reprehensible and irresponsible. A short critique of Dr. Strouse’s article found at http://www.emmanuel-newington.org/seminary/resources/Refutation_of_Wallace.pdf follows.

Strouse begins by using hyperbole more fitting for the cover of the National Enquirer than as a response written by a man of his education. He accuses Wallace of leveling his ‘best volley of shots’ at the KJV. His very next sentence accuses Wallace of attempting to destroy the credibility of the KJV and further alleges that Wallace’s challenges are ‘unbiblical, illogical, and outright deceptive.’ It is interesting that in the grand tradition of King James Onlyism, this is always the starting point: accusation. Nevertheless, fairness mandates that Dr. Strouse be given a hearing. Strouse responds to each of nine arguments that will be numbered and dealt with in this critique.

Under argument one, the following inflammatory terms are used: “ignorant” and “quickly dispatched of the Bible.”

Strouse argues that God has preserved His Word by giving the Jews the oracles of the Old Testament (Romans 3:2). Strouse claims this is a biblical argument. But it is his attempt to claim that the New Testament teaches the means of preservation that is truly amazing to behold. This is the fundamental flaw in KJV Only thinking: even if it is conceded that the passages they allege teach preservation really do so, they always follow with a non sequitor when they claim that preservation is in the KJV. Interestingly enough, Strouse realizes the futility of arguing that the Bible teaches preservation in the KJV. He instead embarks upon a more adventuresome task: he claims Jesus told the disciples to ‘observe or preserve’ the Scriptures. Strouse notes that the Greek word translated ‘observe’ (tereiv) can also be translated preserve. Strouse knows, of course, that the determining factor as to whether it means observe, preserve, or both is the context. And the context is clear that Jesus is telling the disciples to teach them to OBSERVE all He has commanded them. Is Strouse proposing a cultic methodology? “It says this but it really means this AND that.” Such is the methodology of cults. Furthermore, is there even one translation that renders Matthew 28:20 as ‘preserve?’ I checked twenty-one different English translations including Strouse’s alleged preserved Word of God (the KJV) and the translation on which Wallace worked (the NET) and not a single one of them renders it ‘preserve’ nor does a single one of them cite ‘preserve’ in the margin as a possible rendering. Nor did Jesus tell them to ‘observe or preserve the Scriptures’ as Strouse alleges. Jesus told them to teach the new disciples they would make ‘all that I have commanded you.’ Only by reading his presupposition into the text can Strouse argue this point. Strouse then further attempts to claim that the Bible teaches that God would preserve His Word through the institution of the church by – and there is no other charitable way to put it – making up the facts as he goes along. He alleges that six perfect copies were made of the book of Revelation shortly after the original was written. Strouse further alleges: 1) those who copied the Apocalypse did not add or detract any words because of the mandate against it; 2) the church was the chosen vehicle through whom preservation occurred; and 3) Jesus Himself started the ‘Received Bible’ movement in the first century.

What is quite interesting, however, is this: for all of the claims that Strouse wishes to make regarding the KJV and TR Bibles, he is left hung on the horns of a dilemma that his own argumentation has created. If, as Strouse alleges, six perfect copies were made, why are there no two copies that completely agree anywhere on the face of this earth including within Strouse’s own TR tradition? If, on the other hand, Strouse’s claim was never true to begin with, it would not only explain the existing evidence, but it would also lead the skeptical inquirer to question why Strouse ever attempted this argument in the first place. Strouse can claim anything by faith that he wishes. But his argumentation is sorely lacking objectivity on point one. He imports a different meaning for a Greek word solely to support his theological a priori, and he alleges that six perfect copies were made. If God is in the preservation business as Strouse alleges, was God suddenly unable to keep scribes from making slips of the pen after those six alleged copies (that Strouse has never seen by the way) were finished?

Strouse’s special pleading reaches a new level when he alleges that Paul is talking about ‘received Bibles’ in I Thessalonians 2:13. This is not only a historical anachronism; it is also a very poor reflection of reality since Paul is talking about them receiving the Word of God, and Paul cannot possibly mean the completed canon since he wrote a number of letters after I Thessalonians.

The fact is that despite his protestations otherwise, the Bible nowhere tells us how or where God preserved His Word. The fact that Strouse must find support for his theology by changing a Greek word and rendering it as no translation renders it as well as his claim that Paul is talking about the Received Text demonstrate the lack of straightforward support for the view he espouses. One final point: if the KJV is really the Word of God, why does it not render Matthew 28:20 as ‘preserve?’

14 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Hello,


Dr. Strouse:

... Dr. Wallace ... neglects to reveal that a gross grammatical error occurs if the Johannine Comma is excised. The antecedent to the neuter nouns "the spirit, and the water, and the blood" is the masculine participle "bear witness." This grammatical difficulty is resolved if the Johannine Comma is left to stand, because the masculine nouns "the Father, and the Word" are postcedents to the aforementioned masculine participle

Refutation of Dr. Daniel Wallace's Rejection of the KJV as the Best Translation
Dr. Thomas M. Strouse, ThD., Ph.D., D.D.
Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary

http://www.emmanuel-newington.org/seminary/resources/Refutation_of_Wallace.pdf


Jim:

This grammatical argument favoring the inclusion of the Johannine Comma is a hoax. The assertions of its rationale regarding the grammar bear no resemblance whatsoever to what is consistently observed to actually occur in the Greek language throughout the New Testament. Whereas there is such a thing as grammatical gender agreement, there is no such thing as grammatical gender agreement with multiple nouns. It never happens. And whereas there is such a thing as gender attraction, there is no such thing as gender attraction either between substantival (functioning as a noun) participles or between nouns. It never happens. Grammatical gender agreement can occur only with a single referent noun, and gender attraction occurs only with a relative pronoun in a specific grammatical construction. Frederick Nolan and Robert Dabney simply made up in their imagination their assertions regarding the grammar, and people such as Edward Hills and Thomas Strouse have simply parroted their nonsense.

There are only 8 instances in the New Testament in which the referent (the idea to which a word or phrase refers) of a pronoun or substantival participle is represented in the text by multiple nouns (Matthew 15:19-20 and 23:23, John 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21 and 5:22-23 and Colossians 3:5-7 and 3:12-14), and grammatical gender agreement does not occur in any of them, even when all of the multiple referent nouns have the same grammatical gender (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:22-23), the reason being that grammatical gender agreement between a pronoun or substantival participle and a noun can occur only when the referent of the pronoun or participle is represented in the text by a single noun. Even then, grammatical gender agreement is not a requirement, but merely a frequently used option. Otherwise, whether the author simply chooses not to use grammatical gender agreement with a single referent noun, or whether the referent of the pronoun or substantival participle is represented in the text either by no noun or by multiple nouns, the gender of the pronoun or substantival participle conforms to the natural gender (the nature) of the referent (the idea to which a word or phrase refers) of the pronoun or substantival participle, either neuter for a thing or things or masculine for a person or persons or feminine for a female person or person (constructio ad sensum [construction according to sense]). What has just been explained is both dictated by common sense and corroborated by what is consistently observed to actually occur in the Greek language throughout the New Testament.

Therefore, based on what is observed to actually occur in the Greek language, is there any reason to expect grammatical gender agreement between the substantival participle “the ones bearing witness” and the multiple nouns “Spirit” and “water” and “Blood” in 1 John 5:8 (Majority Text [MT])? The answer is no. There is nothing wrong with the grammar in this verse. First of all, there is no such thing as grammatical gender agreement with multiple nouns. Secondly, the three nouns in this verse are not even referent nouns, because John’s equation of “the Spirit and the water and the Blood” to “the ones bearing witness” in this verse is not direct (this is that), but comparative (this is like that).

In 1 John 5:8-9 (MT), John comparatively (this is like that) equates “the Spirit and the water and the Blood,” which comprise “the witness of the God / the witness of the God which He has born witness regarding the Son of Him,” to “the ones bearing witness,” who comprise “the witness of the men,” hence the masculine gender of “the ones bearing witness.” The gender of “the ones bearing witness” is masculine either (1) because it refers to persons (the “men” in “the witness of the men”), or (2) because of grammatical gender agreement with the single referent noun “men” in the phrase “the witness of the men,” or (3) both.

In Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15, Moses prescribes two or three witnesses (men) to establish the truth of a matter. This two-or-three-witness tradition is cited in Matthew 18:16, John 8:17-18, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19, Hebrews 10:28-29 and 1 John 5:8-9 (MT).

In 2 Corinthians 13:1, Paul comparatively (this is like that) equates three things (his three visits to Corinth) to the two or three witnesses (men) prescribed by Moses to establish the truth of a matter.

In Hebrews 10:28-29, the author comparatively (this is like that) equates three things ([1] trampling the Son of God and [2] considering His Blood to be ordinary blood and [3] insulting the Spirit) to the two or three witnesses (men) prescribed by Moses to establish the truth of a matter.

In 1 John 5:8-9 (MT), John comparatively (this is like that) equates three things (“[1] the Spirit and [2] the water and [3] the Blood”) to the two or three witness (men) prescribed by Moses to establish the truth of a matter (“the ones bearing witness”).

Moses requires two or three witnesses (men) to establish the truth of a given matter. According to John, in conformity to this two-or-three-witness (men) tradition, God provided two or three witnesses (“the Spirit and the water and the Blood”) to establish the truth that Jesus is His Son. John comparatively (this is like that) equates these two or three witnesses provided by God to the two or thee witnesses (men) prescribed by Moses (“the ones bearing witness / the witness of the men”), hence the masculine gender of “the ones bearing witness.”

There is nothing wrong with the grammar in 1 John 5:6-9 (MT). Everything is written exactly as it should be written.

Further, the correct number of witnesses provided by God (the Spirit and the water and the Blood [two or three witnesses]) in conformity to the two-or-three-witness (men) Mosaic tradition in the absence of the Johannine Comma proves that John did not write the Comma, but that it was added to the text by Trinitarians.


Jim

Maestroh said...

Dear Jim,

Thank you for a very enlightening and constructive submission to the blog. I plan to use this when I visit the subject of Strouse again.

Out of curiosity - did you know Wallace is my academic advisor at DTS?

Anonymous said...

Hi Maestroh,

No, I did not know that. I imagine that access to someone of his knowledge and experience is very helpful. My only familiarity with Dr. Wallace is through the reading of his book (GGBB) and through a few E-mail correspondences that I’ve had with him. He seems to try to keep himself as approachable as possible.

Jim

Maestroh said...

Jim,

Out of curiosity, where did you get your information? Who provided it to you?

Anonymous said...

Hi Maestroh,


Just as I never bought the idea of gender attraction between participles or between nouns, likewise I was always suspicious of the idea of grammatical gender agreement with multiple nouns—it never did make any sense to me—and every time that I would find a new example in the New Testament, it would further confirm my suspicion.

At first, I thought that the natural gender of a group consisting of a person and two things would be masculine in deference to the person in the group, and that this would explain the masculine gender of the participle “the ones bearing witness” in 1 John 5:8 (MT).

But in studying paragraphs 18-19 in Oration 32 of Gregory of Nazianzus, The 5th Theological Oration, On the Holy Spirit ...

http://www.piney.com/HsNanzianzen.html

... in response to the assertion that Gregory found fault with the grammar in 1 John 5:8 (MT), which of course is the exact opposite of the truth, I noticed that in the first of the five presented examples (Proverbs 30:29-31 [LXX]), a group consisting of a person and three things did not result in a masculine reference. Rather, the lion “cub” (M) and the “rooster” (M) and the “goat” (M) and the “king” (M) were referenced as “three-things” (N) and a “fourth-thing” (N). In fact, this is how we would say it in English today. Therefore, even if John did consider the Spirit to be a person, a group consisting of a person and two things would not necessarily result in a masculine reference.

Then in an E-mail correspondence, Dr. Wallace expressed to me the view that he explains on page 332 in GGBB (I had not yet bought his book at that point), that is, that there was no precedent for a masculine reference to the Spirit, and that the participle more likely referred to the two or three witnesses (men) prescribed by Moses.

Then I noticed the correlation between the phrase “the witness of the men” and the phrase “the ones bearing witness,” which had been staring me in the face all along, and I realized what John was saying in 1 John 5:8-9 (MT) as well as how similar it was to 2 Corinthians 13:1 and Hebrews 10:28-29.

In fact, what John was saying was so obvious (once I realized it, with Dr. Wallace’s help) that I wondered why I didn’t see it at the beginning. I’m sure that John himself would have been mystified by the widespread confusion regarding this passage.


Jim

chrestianus said...

dear jim
i'm really confeused from those two openion on grammatical analyzes
first one which talk about power of attraction rule and the second one is what you are talking about
so please
do you have Greek Grammer books as a referance to what you are saying here

Anonymous said...

Jim,

A few problems:

(1) None of the passages you quote are properly structurally comparable to the passage in question, i.e. 1Jn 5:7,8:

Matthew 15:19-20 and 23:23, John 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21 and 5:22-23 and Colossians 3:5-7 and 3:12-14.

(2) I cannot believe that anyone could seriously make the argument about there being 5 witnesses if the comma is inserted. There can only be 5 witnesses on some arbitrary reckoning. In reality, there are simply two groups of 3, with one common element. You may decide that makes 5, but that is not necessarily how it has to be viewed or how the inspired author viewed it.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Hi Maestroh,

Your information regarding Dabney. Nolan, and the grammatical error in the Comma-deleted I John 5:7-8 is grossly erroneous and out of date.

Cheers,
TQC

Anonymous said...

(Received Text) 1 John 2:16 oti PAN TO en tw kosmw h EPIQUMIA thV sarkoV kai h EPIQUMIA twn ofqalmwn kai h ALAZONEIA tou biou ouk estin ek tou patroV ...

2:16 Because EVERY THING [neuter] in the world, the LUST [feminine] of the flesh and the LUST [feminine] of the eyes and the PRIDE [feminine] of the life, not it is out of the Father ...

(Corrected Text) 1 John 5:8 oti treiV eisin OI MARTUROUNTEV to PNEUMA kai to UDWR kai to AIMA ...

5:8 Because three they are, THE ONES BEARING WITNESS [masculine], the SPIRIT [neuter] and the WATER [neuter] and the BLOOD [neuter] ...

What is written in 1 John 5:8 is no more wrong than what is written in 1 John 2:16. Both are grammatically normal.

Jim said...

Test

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Do you mind if I ask what your source is for this information?

Anonymous said...

hi, new to the site, thanks.

Jim said...

Hi Chrestianus,

Chrestianus:

Do you have Greek Grammer books as a referance to what you are saying.

Jim:

Yes. The web page at the following link provides what you are seeking.

www.thegrammar.blogspot.com

Jim