Friday, February 26, 2021

Doug Kutilek, wrong again?

Last Friday, I noticed Doug Kutilek’s selectively questionable attack on Benjamin Wilkinson’s and J. J. Ray’s view of Psalm 12:6-7. His modus operandi seems as much or more about distinguishing a particular history of the “King James Only Movement” that leads back to a Seventh Day Adventist beginning – as opposed to actually trying to understand the various streams of thought that bring us to our current situation. Kutilek further writes of Wilkinson.
“Wilkinson, for example, was the first person to assert that the Old Latin version, instead of the Vulgate, was the Bible of the medieval Waldensians and that the Old Latin corresponds textually with the Greek Textus Receptus, both of which assertions are demonstrably false.” (p. 44)
The chapter endnote for Waldenses and the Old Latin Bible – rather than referencing any pages in Wilkinson’s writings – leads to Kutilek’s supposed documentation of Wilkinson’s errors in “The Truth About the Waldensian Bible and the Old Latin Version,” Baptist Biblical Heritage 2, No. 2, Summer 1991). This (p. 54), rather than any reference to a page in Wilkinson’s book. Does he not wish us to inspect what Wilkinson wrote?

Whether or not the Old Latin corresponds textually with the Textus Receptus is a question beyond the scope of this short piece. However, Kutilek is wrong to claim that Wilkinson is the first person to assert that the Old Latin version was the Bible of the medieval Waldenses. It appears that Frederick Nolan did so in his An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of The New Testament: in Which the Greek Manuscripts are Newly Classed, the Integrity of the Authorised Text Vindicated, and the Various Readings Traced to their Origin (pp. xvii-xviii) in 1815.
Another point to which the authour has directed his attention, has been the consideration of the old Italick translation...The circumstance is at present mentioned, as the authour thence formed a hope, that some remains of the primitive Italick version might be found in the early translations made by the Waldenses, who were the lineal descendants of the Italick Church; and who have asserted their independence against the usurpations of the Church of Rome, and have ever enjoyed the free use of the Scriptures. In the search to which these considerations have led the authour, his fondest expectations have been fully realized. It has furnished him with abundant proof on that point to which his Inquiry was chiefly directed; as it has supplied him with the unequivocal testimony of a truly apostolical branch of the primitive Church, that the celebrated text of the heavenly witnesses was adopted in the version which prevailed in the Latin Church, previously to the introduction of the modern Vulgate.
Next Kutilek writes,
“He was the first person to demonize Westcott and Hort, making them the ‘bogey men’ in the text and translation debate often by distorting their words.” (p. 44)
The chapter endnote for Westcott and Hort (p. 54 ) leads to articles in The Biblical Evangelist by Kutilek about Erasmus and his Greek Text, again rather than any actual reference to a page in Wilkinson’s book. Seems like some kind of pattern here! It is possible that Kutilek is correct, or at least partially so, in this assertion. Dean of Chichester, John William Burgon, forcefully attacked the work of Westcott and Hort, using words such as mischievous, untrustworthy, conspiracy, arbitrary, baseless, calamitous, secrecy, infatuation, servility, nonsense, and “blind leading the blind.” However, I have not thus far found that he attacked their theology. KJVOs and Anti-KJOs may cherry pick quotes from Westcott and Hort to either demonize or sanitize them. Nevertheless, quotes from them, taken in context – whatever one thinks of them – surely indicate plenty of theology that is unacceptable in fundamental circles, who would write, for example, “We assume from the start the historicity of Genesis and its Mosaic authorship.” [From The Fundamentals - A Testimony to the Truth, Volume 1] In contrast, compare the letter of B. F. Westcott “To the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Cambridge, 4th March 1890. 
The picture which you draw is sad, but I too, in my way, know that it is true. We want and I know that I want, which is something a living faith. When we are quite sure that God is speaking now and He is speaking we shall not grow wild in discussing how He once spoke.

I have purposely refrained from reading Lux Mundi,1 but I am quite sure that our Christian faith ought not to be perilled on any predetermined view of what the history and character of the documents contained in the O.T. must be. What we are bound to hold is that the O.T., substantially as we receive it, is the Divine record of the discipline of Israel. This it remains, whatever criticism may determine or leave undetermined as to constituent parts. No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a literal history. I could never understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think they did yet they disclose to us a Gospel. So it is probably elsewhere. Are we not going through a trial in regard to the use of popular language on literary subjects like that through which we went, not without sad losses, in regard to the use of popular language on physical subjects? If you feel now that it was, to speak humanly, necessary that the Lord should speak of the ‘sun rising,’ it was no less necessary that He should use the names ‘Moses’ and ‘David’ as His contemporaries used them. There was no critical question at issue. (Poetry is, I think, a thousand times more true than History: this is a private parenthesis for myself alone.) As far as I can judge, the young High Church party need patient discipline, and they are quite out of sympathy with the generation above. It will be most disastrous if for want of loving sympathy they are driven to revolt . . . (From Life and Letters of Brooks Foss Westcott, Volume 2. fn1 Apparently this is Lux Mundi: a Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, a book edited by Charles Gore and published in 1889.)
The Westcott & Hort Resource Centre, by their own testimony, was created to help refute KJV-Only. In one case the site defends Westcott from an “assault” on his view of miracles – pointing out he was a 22-year-old student when the particular quote was written. The editor further points out that Westcott wrote Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles in 1859. Curiously, however, he leaves us to take his word that Westcott believed the “truth of the miracles as recorded in Scripture” rather than posting any quotes from the book. Nevertheless, they have performed a great service in making available books that were very hard to find.

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