Dr. Montgomery’s post-debate statement

Montgomery/Kloha DebateEditor’s Note: I have asked the debate participants to provide some final thoughts about their debate experience. Below is what Dr. Montgomery provided. I want to thank both Dr. Kloha and Dr. Montgomery  for participating. I think it has advanced the discussion of what we believe concerning Scripture. It clarified a few things and left a few things for others to clarify. Thank you again to all of the sponsors of the event (LCA, Balance-Concord, ACELC, MNCL, TXCL, and Steadfast Lutherans) especially Mr. Walter Dissen for his leadership. Thank you to Concordia-Chicago for hosting the event. Thank you Attny. Mark Stern for moderating the discussion. Thank you Mr. Scott Diekmann for representing Steadfast Lutherans at the event.

Here is Dr. Montgomery’s statement:

In my numerous public debates with non-Christians, my opponents at least admitted that they were responsible for what they wrote–and that made possible a meaningful exchange of views and the opportunity of showing factually where the truth lay. This was impossible with Dr Kloha.

In my view, Dr Kloha presents views (such as those in his dissertation and in his argument that Elizabeth and not Mary was author of the Magnificat) in theological circles where those views will be appreciated, and Lutheran positions (Chemnitz, the Preuses, et al.) in LCMS circles. He is disingenuous and his desire to please both LCMS conservatives and SBL (Society for Biblical Literature) folk who are miles away from biblical inerrancy I find schizophrenic and unethical–to say the least.

His equivocations on the Mary/Elizabeth issue were typical of his entire approach: tell the liberal scholarly community one thing, and at the same time refuse to teach or preach it in the LCMS. Double advantage: Kloha will be regarded as a pious Lutheran scholar and simultaneouslyas a modern theologian on the wavelength of all the hideous critics of Holy Scripture who present their papers annually at SBL and populate the English and European faculties of theology.

On the net, several people have aped Kloha by claiming that I have misunderstood him and am ignorant of the field of textual criticism. Every quotation from Dr Kloha that I presented is specifically documented in my paper, and anyone working through the sources cited in my notes who knows anything about the field will have to admit that I have occupied myself in depth with the current, authoritative, scholarly literature in the field. I knew well the late, paramount textual scholar Bruce Metzger of Princeton, and he much appreciated my published work. My critics have obviously not themselves ploughed through all the Kloha material–and have not even studied with any degree of care the extensive documentation in the notes to my presentation. One critic actually suggested that I know no Greek! (In fact, I majored in the classical languages and philosophy at Cornell University, have an S.T.M in New Testament, and taught New Testament Greek for years at graduate-level theological seminaries.) This kind of irresponsible criticism is sad, especially if those Facebook critics represent the next generation of LCMS pastors and teachers.

For those who think that I don’t know anything about textual criticism and have misrepresented Kloha, here is the evaluation of Dr Paul D. Wegner, director of the PhD/ThM Program at Gateway Seminary, Ontario, CA, and author of the standard text, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006): “You are very correct in your critique of Kloha’s thorough-going eclecticism view. At the end of the day you have no objective criteria to evaluate the text. At least with manuscripts you have something that actually exists and not just your assumptions about which reading is favored by internal evidence. . . .Because there is so little evidence on how an author can say things and if they can ever say something new or unique causes a serious problem for the thorough-going eclecticism view. You have hit the nail on the head for the problem; is the text a revelatory construction or merely a literary one? If it is revelatory, then we must start with original or as close to original sources as possible” (personal communication, 20 August 2016).

Here again is Dr. Montgomery’s paper.


Comments

Dr. Montgomery’s post-debate statement — 22 Comments

  1. Thank you for the followup, Dr. Montgomery. As an observer at the debate I wasn’t real sure of what to expect, but what I observed wasn’t on my list of possibilities either. Nonetheless it was a useful exercise and one I hope will be repeated for theology matters in the future.

    Here is my take away regarding your opponent, a transliteration of 2 Tim 4:3; Itching ego in search of itching ears.

  2. Does Dr Kloha not get any credit for presenting a paper that confirms the authenticity of 1 Cor 14:34-35 to the “liberal scholarly community?” One must first be respected by that community before he is able to speak the truth there. Does that have no value?

  3. A Physics professor has preformed an experiment and the conclusions of the study lead him in a direction of research that differs form the accepted view in the physics word. He then has to teach an introduction to physics class. Because he preformed one study, is he required to teach those students his new findings, or is he allowed to teach the accepted view up until the time that his view is either accepted or rejected by the scientific community?

    Is he being duplicitous in neglecting to bring his students up to speed on the fringe work of experimental physics, or is he protecting them in the event that he might be wrong?

    When Dr Kloha said this at the debate,

    I see my role as contributing to the larger project of textual criticism and that my judgments by themselves are not decisive. (3:29:31)

    is he not saying as much? He cannot in good conscience preach or teach that Elizabeth sang the Magnificat until the “larger project of textual criticism” accepts his conclusions.

  4. Good to hear Dr. Montgomery put the fine points on the disputed topics. We’re lucky to have a scholar of his heft, and foolish to disregard his observations. I do find it disturbing how disingenuous he has found an LCMS professor to be… but then, that’s not particularly new in St. Louis, either.

  5. Erik Herrmann
    Dr Montgomery doesn’t seem to grant that one does in fact write differently for a broader academic audience than when one writes to a group that shares your assumptions. Kloha is not disingenuous or contradictory. He simply does not need to detail every step of his work to those in his field in the same way that he does for the person who does not work in that field. And Dr Montgomery is clearly outside the field of text criticism and out of his depth, in spite of his opinion that he is the smartest person we know.

  6. @Erik Herrmann #5

    Hermann: “Dr Montgomery doesn’t seem to grant that one does in fact write differently for a broader academic audience than when one writes to a group that shares your assumptions.”

    It all depends what “differently” means, doesn’t it, Erik?

    Curiously, Wikileaks has revealed that Hillary Clinton utilizes a similar technique by having public/private opinions, which some have labeled duplicitous.

    It’s clear that Kloha’s faith in the written text is weak. Further, his position on the written text undermines others’ faith in it. And because of those things, he ought to spend some time reflecting on his vocation.

    Perhaps God is in the process of calling him to another, secular academic institution.

  7. @Robert #6

    Those who pressume to be teachers in the church bear greater responsibility before God for the influence they have on the souls who hear them, and greater condemnation awaits those who undermine the faith of Christ’s people in His Word. I do not think that it is God who calls anyone to such a dread destiny.

  8. I think Andrew’s argument from physics succeeds in providing some insight into the divide that separates Professors Kloha and Montgomery. First, it must be said that the gulf separating physicists is largely a philosophical one. One group leans toward modes of thought that somewhat reflect Kantian idealism: sensorial and intellectual abilities play a major function in building up our representation of the World. This is an ongoing progress of discovery into what is sometimes described by physicists as a “veiled reality.” From it comes the inference that there are no objects-per-se, or if there are, they are unknowable. The objects we know are “objects-for-us;” the laws that describe them are describing the systemization of our collective experiences. I think that this is the mode of thinking resembling Prof. Kloha’s philosophy of theology most closely. The other group replies by appealing to obviousness and commonsense. They find obsolete the reasoning of Kant that denied that human understanding of knowledge constitutes a reliable account of what truly is. However, they do it on condition that the interpretations they make are not taken to mean more than what is asserted by the observable “texts of the world.” This philosophy lines up most closely with Prof. Montgomery’s. I also believe it can be demonstrated that this is a very close approximation to Luther’s. For but one example, when he defended his rendition of Romans 3:28 in which he added the world “sola,” he showed that speaking German in his translation required it to preserve the meaning.

  9. @George Wayne #8

    That certainly is not the point I was trying to make, but I am intrigued by the line of thought. Can you elaborate more on Kantian idealism and how it relates to Dr Kloha’s theology?

    Also how does the “other Group” way of thinking when applied to theology account for the mysteries of God that defy “obviousness and commonsense”? If they hold that human understanding of knowledge constitutes a reliable account of what truly is, how could they accept that sprinkling water on a child could be of any benefit? How could they accept that the bread and wine they drink is in fact Christ himself? To me placing such a high view on human understand a magisterial use of reason.

    When thinking theologically could there be a relation between a “veiled reality” and what Luther spoke of as the invisible things of God in the Heidelberg Disputation?

    19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened« (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25).

    This is apparent in the example of those who were »theologians« and still were called »fools« by the Apostle in Rom. 1:22. Furthermore, the invisible things of God are virtue, godliness, wisdom, justice, goodness, and so forth. The recognition of all these things does not make one worthy or wise.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php

  10. Placing some excerpts of the Heidelberg Disputation next to Dr Kloh’s writings shows that he is a theologian of the cross.

    20. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

    The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn »wisdom concerning invisible things« by means of »wisdom concerning visible things«, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering (absconditum in passionibus). As the Apostle says in 1 Cor. 1:21, »For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.« Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross. Thus God destroys the wisdom of the wise, as Isa. 45:15 says, »Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself.«

    So, also, in John 14:8, where Philip spoke according to the theology of glory: »Show us the Father.« Christ forthwith set aside his flighty thought about seeing God elsewhere and led him to himself, saying, »Philip, he who has seen me has seen the Father« (John 14:9). For this reason true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ, as it is also stated in John 10 (John 14:6) »No one comes to the Father, but by me.« »I am the door« (John 10:9), and so forth.

    21. A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

    This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers ,works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls »enemies of the cross of Christ« (Phil. 3:18), for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the »old Adam«, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his »good works« unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.

    23. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

    This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks, as the poet says: »The more water they drink, the more they thirst for it.« The same thought is expressed in Eccles. 1:8: »The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.« This holds true of all desires.

    Thus also the desire for knowledge is not satisfied by the acquisition of wisdom but is stimulated that much more. Likewise the desire for glory is not satisfied by the acquisition of glory, nor is the desire to rule satisfied by power and authority, nor is the desire for praise satisfied by praise, and so on, as Christ shows in John 4:13, where he says, »Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again.«

    The remedy for curing desire does not lie in satisfying it, but in extinguishing it. In other words, he who wishes to become wise does not seek wisdom by progressing toward it but becomes a fool by retrogressing into seeking »folly«. Likewise he who wishes to have much power, honor, pleasure, satisfaction in all things must flee rather than seek power, honor, pleasure, and satisfaction in all things. This is the wisdom which is folly to the world.

    “Textual and Literary Judgments on the Biblical Text –
    What Happens to the Lutheran Commitment to Scriptural Inerrancy?” Kloha, 2016

    Finally, “In many and various ways, God spoke to his people of by the prophets; but now in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son” (Heb 1:1). Liturgically we recite this at the end of the hearing of the Scriptures, and before we hear the Word about Christ in Law and Gospel through the sermon. God’s speaking took on new form, as flesh and blood, in the incarnation. That Word “came to his own [creation] and his own [people] did not receive him” (John 1:11). He came not to overwhelm and overpower and coerce belief, but to be rejected by man, crucified, and killed—for us. Jesus Christ looked like any other human being, he sounded in many ways like many other teachers. We have a God who comes to us, not as we would have a divine figure to be, but as the incarnate Son of God he humbled himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil 2:7). He participates in our space and time in order to restore us to himself, in love. So it is with his Word, which comes to us perhaps not as we would like but as writings, copied and corrupted and edited and restored over centuries, continuously pointing us to and indeed pressing upon on us Christ:

    “…it is only by receiving the Bible from God’s hand as his Word, as it is, and not by trying to make it what our reason expects of a divine book that we will be in a position to believe and understand it as the book of eternal truth.”83 (H. Sasse)

    In the end, we either trust the promises of Christ, or we do not. “Surely I will be with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20); “But when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me” (John 15:26). The presence of Christ, until he comes again, is in his Word spoken, preached, and working through water
    and with the eating and drinking. We cannot make the Scriptures authoritative, we cannot prove them to be authoritative; any foundation or method which depends on our interpretation or reconstruction is, by definition, self-referential, self-serving, and ultimately uncertain. Only one based on Christ and his promises, which we know through his Word, is certain. As our Lord himself says: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” And so, with the promise of his authority, we baptize and teach all nations “to obey all that I have commanded you,” for he is with us, in his Word, written, preached, poured, and eaten, “to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

  11. @Robert #6
    Robert– I am very concerned about such unsubstantiated remarks about Kloha such as “his faith in the written text is weak.” I know Kloha personally and how much his faith and devotion toward the Scriptures as the written word of God animates his work as a scholar of textual criticism. It is precisely because he believes that the Scriptures are inspired and give life that he strives to identify what the original reading actually is! When you speak of “faith in the written text” you seem to imply that there is a single text somewhere. That is simply not the case. There is not a single written text but thousands of texts all witnessing to an original that has been preserved in a variety of ways. For the most part the texts agree–there are many variants but most are inconsequential. But there are some that are more significant and there is no objective way to determine the original –only probabilities. Thus the need to be well versed in the manuscripts as well as the theology of the NT for this work. Kloha is both of these in spades.

  12. @Andrew #9
    Andrew,

    Q: Can you elaborate more on Kantian idealism and how it relates to Dr Kloha’s theology?
    A: I explained it in a kind of epistemological way. Physicists of the Kantian brand don’t end up with intrinsic objectivity wrt to any of the features of the World–that is because that objective knowledge is unknowable. They in essence are limited to “objects-for-us” instead–IOW what we can access today. This is what Prof. Kloha does–he uses his textual criticism to progress to the best meaning of Scripture available with the tools in the toolbox today. He does it in the expectation that just as we presumably have more knowledge about Elizabeth and Mary in regard to the Magnificat than was known in the second century, in the future we’ll progress to know more than we do at this moment as knowledge expands and evolves. The issue with this is the resultant skepticism that we never come to a full understanding of the texts placed on the microscope slide.

    Recommendation: if the science angle interests you, an extensive discussion of various worldviews held by physicists (Kantian or otherwise) can be found in Bernard d’Espagnat’s On Physics and Philosophy,” (Princeton 2006).

    Q:When thinking theologically could there be a relation between a “veiled reality” and what Luther spoke of as the invisible things of God in the Heidelberg Disputation?
    A: Nope. This may be where you take the analogy of the physicist beyond its elastic limit. For the physicist bespoken above, the “veil” is something that is progressively attacked, always yielding progress, but never more than “objects-for-us.” The invisible things of God are invisible due to our finiteness and falleness.

    Q: Also how does the “other Group” way of thinking when applied to theology account for the mysteries of God that defy “obviousness and commonsense”? If they hold that human understanding of knowledge constitutes a reliable account of what truly is, how could they accept that sprinkling water on a child could be of any benefit? How could they accept that the bread and wine they drink is in fact Christ himself?
    A: The theologian of the Montgomery and Luther type would answer you very simply, “because God’s Word says it does.” But that doesn’t alter or conflict in any way with the fact that we are creatures of ratiocination by design. We are not magisterial in that reasoning capability; still the Word of God speaks to us in terms of the reason inherent and intact within us we can sufficiently understand. Otherwise, institutions like seminaries or endeavors like these kinds of discussions wouldn’t be too useful:). You have described a situation in which the reasoner places her reason as overlord to Scripture. My previous example showed what was meant by the kind of epistemological and metaphysical realism that is Montgomery’s and was most certainly Luther’s.

    Andrew, sorry to cut this off but I’ve got some science and engineering to do this afternoon!

    Best, -g

  13. @George Wayne #12

    Thank you for the elaboration and book suggestions.

    I don’t think that I am taking the analogy too far. There has been a lot of talk about how Dr Kloha’s views will eventually lead to liberalism. That may very well be true. But the way I see it Dr Montgomery’s views will eventual lead to rationalism and a rejection of the sacraments.

    Dr Montgomery rails against Dr Kloha by his association with “liberal bible scholars” who are “miles away from biblical inerrancy”. Is it telling that to support his position he quotes the approval of a professor at a Southern Baptist Seminary that is miles away from sacramental faithfulness?

    Perhaps the church needs men like these to keep her from falling off the horse one side or the other in a drunken stupor. A Montgomery to attack the liberals and a Kloha to attack the fundamentalist. The two will never get along and always talk past each other. But they do serve a purpose.

    As a historical example in the fourth century Eusebius wrote heavly against Sabellianism and Athanasius wrote against Arianism . Both of them were called heretics at times. I’m sure by people who argued that the logical concision of Eusebius’s arguments is Arianism and vice versa. But orthodoxy found a middle way between the two heresies.

    History calls both men orthodox. If they can keep each other in check, history will call both Doctors Montgomery and Kloha orthodox also.

  14. As an alum of Concordia Wisconsin, I am not sure even the theology staff could stand behind Dr. Montgomery and his treatment of Dr. Kloha. He was not hired to teach theology at my alma mater, but rather philosophy. It all just seems really out of wack to me what is happening to Dr. Kloha in these discussions.

  15. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    There is no good reason in this debate to call anyone involved a “heretic” or “guilty of false doctrine.” I addressed that in my Lutheran Clarion article, endnote 3, in the September 2016 issue available here: http://www.lutheranclarion.org

    What we have here, in my opinion, are unresolved problems stemming from the encounter of Missouri Synod/WELS/ELS with the Erlangen theology of the 19th century. Francis Pieper did an excellent job defending the LC-MS position in his Christian Dogmatics, but left some things hanging, i.e., unresolved. These issues came back to haunt us in the 1960s and 1970s.

    There are two areas of problems: EPISTEMOLOGY and METHODOLOGY. Both are fields for which Dr. Montgomery is especially qualified. Dr. Kloha is, of course, especially qualified in the field of New Testament textual criticism.

    In the area of EPISTEMOLOGY, Dr. Montgomery is one of the few scholars to see the problems with the traditional LC-MS position that is, or comes close to, “fideism.” That is the position which refuses to justify beliefs, but instead argues that faith itself justifies itself through the “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.”

    Orthodox Lutheranism has always been correct to observe that the justification of beliefs is NOT necessary in order to have those beliefs. “Belief” or “faith” simply means “I believe what you said.” Children have the advantage here, as they usually simply believe what their parents or other authorities tell them, until they reach the age of skepticism.

    Most of pre-Enlightenment orthodox Lutheranism was also correct to justify Christian beliefs through recourse to historical proofs of the canon, apostolic authority, etc. See e.g. I Peter 3:15. Or did Peter state “Never be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”? Pieper and J.T. Mueller denigrate this justification of beliefs, in several ways, and so weaken the mission and apologetic vigor of our Lutheran doctrine. Exposing of this problem in our theology has been one of Dr. Montgomery’s most important contributions in his career to our church.

    In the area of METHODOLOGY, the 1973 Statement on Scriptural and Confessional Principles of the LC-MS did not venture to apply its methodological prescriptions to the field of textual criticism. It did not do so primarily because it was not at issue at the time, in the synod or in the general world of Biblical scholarship. But now, thanks to changes in the field and Bart Ehrmann, methodology is an issue.

    Methodology has to be based on a sound theory. I think that a sound theory in this field would state something like this: “Every copyist and scriptorium strived for accuracy. Each act of copying is a node in the chain of transmission. The more nodes from the original to the manuscript in front of us, the more likely there will be transcriptional errors. The act of translation introduces qualitatively more errors, due to the difficulty of translation. Therefore, as a general rule, the oldest manuscripts in the original languages should be accepted as the most reliable, UNLESS provenance data indicates that there are more or fewer transmission nodes than typical for the period of time elapsed, or that one of these nodes was unusually reliable or unreliable.”

    This is a method for evaluating manuscripts and texts that follows from their history, and it is not based on speculations on an author’s style, vocabulary, theology, or ideology.

    I think that both men have helped us work these matters out, though I do not claim to have the final word here.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  16. Dr Noland, Thank you for the detailed reply. I have a few questions.

    Is this “sound theory” a wholesale rejection of modern Textual Criticism?

    Has Textual Criticism gotten us as close to the text as it can without the discovery of older/better manuscripts?

    Is there a Critical Text in print that follows this method? If not should the church make one?

    Should the church reject the NA28? The changes in Jude 5 and 2 Peter 3:10 certainly do not follow this method. The later has no Greek support at all. What will we do when the new editions of the Gospels and Pauline Epistles are replaced with these types of changes?

    Did Dr Montgomery endorse the NA28 in the debate? (I may have misunderstood him but that is what it sounded like.)

    What do you make of Dr Montgomery’s claim that Dr Kloha’s actions are disingenuous and unethical?

    What do you make of Dr Kloha’s claim (quoting Hort) that a documentary approach such as this at best can only give you a “relatively original” reading? Is relatively original good enough?

    Dr Kloha claims that looking at intrinsic probability, “what the author was more likely to have written”, is the only method that is concerned with absolute originality. What is your reaction to this?

    For an argument to be sound all of its premises have to be true. Does the quote form Origen support the premise that “Every copyist and scriptorium strived for accuracy?”

    The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please

    If it can be demonstrated that any copyists intentionally changed the text would that make your “sound theory” unsound?

    there are quite a few teachers in the Lutheran Blog-o-sphere that accept an ecclesiastical text as preserved in the eastern church? should this view be rejected also because it relies on a majority of younger Greek manuscripts?

    Ok, that turned out to be more than a few. Thank you for you detailed and fair analysis of this issue it has been most helpful.

  17. @Erik Herrmann #5
    Editor’s Note – Dr. Montgomery asked me to post this. Since it was a reaction to a comment made here by Dr. Herrmann, I post it likewise as a comment:

    “Erik Herrmann, one of Dr Kloha’s colleagues at the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, published a Steadfast Lutheran blog post on 29 October. Herrmann defends Dr Kloha’s doublespeak at the 15 October debate in the following terms: “Kloha is not disingenuous or contradictory. He simply does not need to detail every step of his work to those in his field in the same way that he does for the person who does not work in that field.” However, pace Herrmann, this is not a matter of Kloha’s simplifying for Lutherans the views he has espoused in a more technical manner in European scholarly Festschriften. There, before audiences of non-confessional academics, Kloha presents views incompatible with biblical stability and reliability–and then avoids saying the same thing to the Christian laity in his own church body. Egregious example: he argues, on the basis of poor MS sources and thoroughgoing eclecticism’s principle of choosing variant readings according to subjective. literary fit, that Elizabeth and not Mary spoke the Magnificat. Then, teaching in church on the very same Lucan passage, he never even refers to the question–giving his audience the obvious message that he goes along with the Marian reading as do all the standard translations based on solid Greek texts, This is simply dishonest. If that is the kind of scholarship and churchmanship practiced at the Concordia Seminary St Louis, I tremble for the future of the LCMS.

    Dr John Warwick Montgomery”

  18. The logical conclusion of Dr Montgomery’s accusation of dishonesty is absurd.

    For the sake of honesty is a textual critic that also happens to be a pastor/teacher required to bring up every textual problem that he disagrees with, every time he teaches or preaches? How would he ever be able to teach the text if every time he hits a variant he has to stop and explain the arguments for and against every reading?

    Is a pastor required to point out every variant and every flaw in a translation at all times, or can he simply teach the text that that congregation has agreed that it will use?

    No translation is perfect and as it seems no Greek text is perfect either. Scholars are continuing to make them better but at some point you have to put all that aside and preach the text.

    Is it possible that the vocation of Textual Critic is different than that of Pastor? Because of this could it be necessary and proper to speak one way in one setting and then put all that aside and preach the text in a simple way to the audience that you are with.

  19. Dear Andrew (comment #16),

    First, let me explain some of my perspectives on this debate:

    One, I look at the issue of “original text” from the perspective of a practicing archivist. I was the Director of Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) for a little over six years. CHI is the LC-MS “Department of Archives and History.” Most of its resources are devoted to the archives aspect of that title, so as director I had to become very familiar with all aspects of documentary archives. There are two reasons to have archives: 1) to preserve records and documents that would otherwise be lost; 2) to preserve the original manuscript, printing, or other form of the text, so that if there are any questions with later texts, they can be resolved by reference to the original text or record.

    Second, before this issue ever arose in the LC-MS, I read with great interest: Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001). It explains how already in the later 4th century B.C. the Greeks were creating archives in order to preserve the original texts of Homer, dramatists, etc. Lycurgus (Athenian leader 338-325 BC) issued a law requiring that the written versions of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides tragedies were to be preserved in the city records office (i.e., the city archives). These were the official versions of those plays. Directors and actors were to use no other text, under penalty of law. The book also explains how the libraries at Alexandria and Pergamum were founded and developed in the 3rd centurty BC. Part of the purpose of those libraries was to preserve original texts for copying and research purposes. Therefore no one should think that Christians and Jews, with their sacred scriptures, had any lesser reason, or any fewer tools, to ensure the accurate transmission of their texts. Those who say otherwise don’t know their ancient or classical history.

    Third, much of my doctoral work at Union Theological Seminary-New York (M.Phil., 1990; Ph.D., 1996) was devoted to historical method and the philosophies undergirding historical enquiry. I had several courses dealing specifically with historical method as it relates to church history. My dissertation was on German historicism and its influence on theological scholarship in the case of Adolf von Harnack. My doctoral advisor was David W. Lotz, whose expertise was in Reformation and 19th century Protestantism, especially in Albrecht Ritschl. Lotz was the student, protégé and replacement for Wilhelm Pauck at UTS-NY. Pauck, a well-known church historian in the USA, was a student of several of the leading church historians and theologians in his homeland Germany: Adolf von Harnack, Karl Holl, Karl Barth, Ernst Troeltsch, and Wilhelm Hermann. Frederic Beiser (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_C._Beiser ) recently wrote in his magisterial work on German historicism (Oxford University Press, 2011) that “we are all historicists.” That is not entirely true, but only those who have studied historicism are aware of its problems. The problems of historicism are in fact the focus of Ernst Troeltsch’s seminal work Historismus und seine Probleme (never translated into English in its entirety).

    Now to your questions:

    Is this “sound theory” a wholesale rejection of modern Textual Criticism? No, I don’t think so. It is compatible with what was current in “modern textual criticism” as late as Nestle-Aland 25th edition, and Bruce Metzger’s 2nd edition of The Text of the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968). It may not be compatible with more recent ideas, but that is okay with me. I am never impressed with “trends.”

    I am just making a suggestion for a “sound theory” here. I don’t pretend to have this in anything like a final form. My colleagues in the Lutheran parish ministry (LC-MS /WELS/ ELS/ SELK/ LCC, etc.) and in our theological faculties (seminary and colleges in same synods) would have to give their opinions as some sort of consensus before I was comfortable with it and could consider it settled.

    Has Textual Criticism gotten us as close to the text as it can without the discovery of older/better manuscripts? Yes, I think so, if you include the apparatus in the New Testament critical editions. You might notice that Dr. Kloha has said numerous times that we should suspect that the “original reading” is in the apparatus, and I agree with that caveat.

    Is there a Critical Text in print that follows this method? If not should the church make one? Regarding “making one,” see my answer to your next question. As to whether “a Critical Text in print” (i.e., currently in print) follows my method, you would have to ask an expert like Dr. Kloha.

    What the editors claim as their method in their introductions do not always cohere with their actual practice. I only know what they have stated in their introductions. Here is what I know from the introductions of the recent Greek New Testament editions in my own library:

    1) Nestle-Aland 28th edition (p. 54) follows an eclectic method combining external and internal criteria, with “full weight” given to exegetical insights and studies. This “full weight” term tells me that the “exegetical scholars in academia” will be determining the “official” text, based on their own theological presuppositions. That makes me very skeptical of its results. The introduction also describes the Coherence-Based-Genealogical Method (CBGM) on page 52. As I read it, it indicates that CBGM won’t have the final say that “full weight” has, so CBGM is perhaps just a “bone” thrown to the historical “dogs” like me who require more objective methods.

    2) Nestle-Aland 26th edition (p. 39-44) follows a local-genealogical method based on regional text-types (p. 43). Dr. Kloha says this method is now discredited among scholars in academia. But I see that it is still active on Wikipedia, so maybe it is not totally discredited.

    3) UBS 3rd edition (p. viii), same as Nestle-Aland 26th edition.

    4) Nestle-Aland 25th edition (1968; pp. 59-62), determined the “official” text based on a majority vote between a) Tischendorf; b) Westcott-Hort; c) B. Weiss. Westcott-Hort and Weiss generally preferred Vaticanus (i.e., B). Tischendorf generally preferred Sinaiticus (i.e., א), which he personally “transferred” from Mount Sinai to Russia (Tischendorf was the REAL “Indiana Jones” of the 19th century!!). The apparatus is based on Nestle’s original edition, which added Western texts and Cantabrigiensis (i.e., D).

    THEREFORE: I think that Nestle-Aland 25th edition more or less follows my suggestion for a sound theory, since Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and the oldest Greek Western texts are given preference.

    Should the church reject Nestle-Aland 28th edition? The changes in Jude 5 and 2 Peter 3:10 certainly do not follow this method. The latter has no Greek support at all. What will we do when the new editions of the Gospels and Pauline Epistles are replaced with these types of changes? In my opinion, there is too much cost and bother involved in orthodox Lutherans trying to come up with their own edition of the New Testament text. Besides, we need to know what everyone else is working with in the Christian churches and academia. A practical answer is for our own exegetical theologians to develop and publish a supplement to the latest edition of Nestle-Aland, which indicates where we as orthodox Lutherans disagree with the decision of the editors of the critical texts. We can be “critics of the critics,” which is a good place to be in academia! I also advise our Lutheran pastors to check the “textual study” sections in the Concordia Commentary Series. Many of the authors do textual criticism in those commentaries, and it is very helpful, in my opinion.

    Did Dr Montgomery endorse Nestle-Aland 28th edition in the debate? (I may have misunderstood him but that is what it sounded like.) You will have to ask him that question. I don’t remember him saying that or writing that. I do know he recommended the CBGM in his rebuttal (p. 29), but the CBGM is only part of the 28th edition. In the 28th edition, the “full weight of academic insights and studies” seems to trump other concerns, according to the 28th edition introduction.

    What do you make of Dr Montgomery’s claim that Dr Kloha’s actions are disingenuous and unethical? This is a personnel matter that is not appropriate or advisable for me to discuss in public forums. If you have the same concerns as Dr. Montgomery, you should bring them to the attention of Dr. Kloha’s supervisors.

    Dr. Montgomery’s general warnings about the temptations of academic scholarship should be seriously heeded by our academic administrators and Boards of Regents. It is far too easy to please your doctoral advisor by kowtowing to his/her ideas in order to get your degree and to get favors from him/her, that result in publications and positions. Speaking about our LC-MS students, when they attend non-LC-MS schools for their doctoral work, this is a great threat to our church’s orthodoxy.

    It is the reason that Ron Feuerhahn and Norman Nagel, and some of their students at Concordia Saint Louis, cooked up the Colloquium Viatorum in the early nineties. It was an annual gathering of doctoral students working on their degrees outside the LC-MS. The purpose was to give papers, mutual criticism of those papers, and mutual support. It also let Feuerhahn and Nagel keep an eye on the students and warn them if necessary in private. Among students in the group that I knew were: John Nordling (U of Wisconsin-Madison), Scott Bruzek (Princeton), Larry Rast (Vanderbilt), Paul Grime (Marquette), Rich Carter (Yale Divinity/Luther Seminary), Matt Becker (U of Chicago), and myself; plus a number of others I don’t remember off-hand. I don’t know if there is any equivalent group today.

    We should have the same concerns about our theological professors who join theological societies whose purposes are not the same as our church. It doesn’t mean we should prevent those professors from joining these societies, but that advancement in rank at our seminary or university should not depend on membership in those societies or success in them. Otherwise, we are encouraging our professors to compromise their theology in order to “succeed.”

    When our theological professors give papers for such societies, or publish in their journals, they don’t need to be “attack dogs” in order to prove their allegiance to us. In fact, our scholars don’t have to criticize anything in other scholars, they can simply be “descriptive” in their approach. On the other hand, scholarly societies are set up partially for the purpose of mutual criticism, so our own professors should be free to criticize the scholarship of others. But we want them also to do so in a reasonable way based on evidence, not merely on the basis of “my church says” or personal opinion.

    Papers given by our professors to such societies, or journals, are not designed for our own Lutheran audience. You often have to alter what you say in order to be understood by people of other faith traditions. When I talk to a Christian about theology, the first thing I ask is their denominational membership. That allows me to “translate” what I am saying to their use of theological terms and their presuppositions. Different faith traditions (e.g., Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, liberal, Barthians, etc.) use the same theological terms in different ways. When we talk to an ecumenical audience (i.e., one with many faith traditions) you don’t have to compromise your position, but you have to explain it in a way different than when you talk to just orthodox Lutherans. This is not being “disingenuous” but trying to avoid or reduce confusion.

    What do you make of Dr Kloha’s claim (quoting Hort) that a documentary approach such as this at best can only give you a “relatively original” reading? Is “relatively original” good enough? When it comes to manuscripts, I am looking at historical evidence, so I think like a historian. Any method that you use with the manuscript variants can only give you a “relatively original” reading. To have an “absolutely original” reading, you would have to have the original itself, and no text critic of the New Testament claims to have that. So I think you may have misunderstood something here.

    As to whether “relatively original” is good enough, it is for Lutherans who follow the hermeneutical methods of the orthodox Lutheran theologians of the 16th and 17th century (see for example the recently translated treatise of Johann Gerhard “On Interpretation,” published by Repristination Press; also Gerhard’s On the Nature of Theology and Scripture in the recent CPH edition translated by Dinda, et.al.). It is good enough, because the variants of doctrinal passages do not affect any orthodox Lutheran doctrine. It is good enough, because though a few variants affect historical details, such historical details do not affect any orthodox Lutheran doctrine. It is good enough, because hermeneutical principles, such as the “analogy of faith” and “Scripture interprets Scripture,” prevent the variants from disturbing any orthodox Lutheran doctrine. Faith traditions with less sophisticated hermeneutical tools (or none at all), such as the “freewill Baptists,” will usually be disturbed by any suggestion that their “HOLY BIBLE” has some variations, which is why they elevate the King James Version to canonical status.

    Dr Kloha claims that looking at intrinsic probability, “what the author was more likely to have written”, is the only method that is concerned with absolute originality. What is your reaction to this? Again, I think you may have misunderstood something here. The question always is “How do we know what the author was more likely to have written?” There has to be some objective criteria or standard by which this phrase “what the author was more likely to have written” can be judged. Orthodox Lutherans rejected speculative inquiries when we rejected the “historical-critical methods,” which were all based on speculation, not on solid evidence. Dr. Montgomery is absolutely correct to observe that all authors change their style and mode of writing depending on the audience and the purpose of the writing. We can expect the same out of the biblical writers, even though the Holy Spirit gave them a common doctrine.

    For an argument to be sound all of its premises have to be true. Does the quote from Origen support [your] premise that “Every copyist and scriptorium strived for accuracy?”: “The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please.” (Origen)

    First, how do we know that the manuscripts Origen are describing have come down to us today. To assume that is an anachronism, i.e., that the referents of his discussion are the same as ours. Is he talking about public or personal copies? Is he talking about problems in Egypt or throughout the Roman Empire? Did the church clamp down on copyists after his complaint, which I expect they would do, or completely ignore him? Did the church destroy the corrupted manuscripts after he revealed this problem, which I expect they would do, or did the church use the corrupted manuscripts he identified as basis for the next generation of texts? I don’t have answer to these questions, but you need to work out and demonstrate those specifics before you can destroy my premise.

    My “sound theory”, by the way, was stated “AS A GENERAL RULE.” That preface was intentional. There are, no doubt, exceptions to the rule. The preface “AS A GENERAL RULE” allows for exceptions when and where such exceptions are demonstrated and proven, but it does not allow for speculations.

    My premise “every copyist and scriptorium strived for accuracy” was derived from: 1) my reading of Casson’s book cited above; 2) my personal interest in and study of Cassiodorus and his library and scriptorium at Vivarium near Squillace in Lower Italy (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiodorus ) ; and 3) by my acquaintance with the early church fathers and other writers in the orthodox church, whose piety regarding the Scriptures far exceeds most scholars today.

    If it can be demonstrated that any copyists intentionally changed the text would that make your “sound theory” unsound? No. See my comments about “AS A GENERAL RULE” above. If it can be demonstrated with evidence in specific cases, then those cases are exceptions to the rule.

    There are quite a few teachers in the Lutheran Blog-o-sphere that accept an ecclesiastical text as preserved in the eastern church? Should this view be rejected also because it relies on a majority of younger Greek manuscripts? This is news to me. Do you mean self-appointed teachers whose “students” follow their blogs? Or do you mean institutionally-situated professors who happen to blog or make comments on blogs?

    To your questions, since I don’t know which texts or text traditions they are relying on, I can’t really say. I would say that any method that prefers the Greek over the Latin Vulgate is a better method, simply because of the problems involved in translation–as is noted in my “sound theory.” I would also say that any method that prefers older Greek texts (i.e., nearer in time to the original texts) is better than newer Greek texts (i.e., nearer in time to us), for the reasons stated in my “sound theory.”

    This does not mean that there is no value in studying the other language versions (e.g., Syriac, old Latin, Ethiopic, Armenian, etc.) or the patristic quotations. You can always ask the question “Why did the translator do this?” or “Why did this father quote this passage in this way?” It may tell you more about the linguistic sphere of the versions (e.g., the Ethiopian church) or the predelictions of the father in question (e.g., Origen) than about the “original text,” but this is still useful information for the church historian, if not of overwhelming evidence against the Greek manuscripts. In those cases where the oldest Greek manuscripts disagree, these versional and patristic factors can help decide the case, as Dr. Kloha has also said. And they are always better than speculating about the author’s style, language, theology, etc., as Dr. Montgomery has emphasized quite clearly.

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  20. @Erik Herrmann #5
    And Dr Montgomery is clearly outside the field of text criticism and out of his depth…

    Nothing new under the sun. That’s pretty much the same thing the Seminex “elites” said about the faithful Lutherans back in the day…again about text criticism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.