By Francis Turretin
"FIRST QUESTION: THE WORD OF GOD -- Was a verbal revelation necessary? We affirm."
"As the word of God is the sole principle of theology, so the question concerning its necessity deservedly comes before all things." Rejecting false appeals to reason and nature, Turretin says: "But the orthodox church has always believed far otherwise, maintaining the revelation of the word of God to man to be absolutely and simply necessary for salvation. It is the 'seed' of which we are born again (1 Pet. 1:23), the 'light' by which we are directed (Ps. 119:105), the 'food' upon which we feed (Heb. 5:13,14) and the 'foundation' upon which we are built (Eph 2:20)"
"Although natural revelation may hand over different things concerning God and his attributes, will and works, yet it cannot teach us things sufficient for the saving knowledge of God without a supernatural verbal revelation."
"SECOND QUESTION: THE NECESSITY OF SCRIPTURE -- Was it necessary for the word of God to be committed to writing? We affirm."
"...We hold it to be necessary simply and absolutely, so that the church can never spare it....Since God has seen fit for weighty reasons to commit his word to writing. Hence the divine ordination being established, it is made necessary to the church, so that it pertains not only to the well-being (bene esse) of the church, but also to its very existence (esse). Without it the church could not now stand. So God indeed was not bound to the Scriptures, but he has bound us to them." 1 Tim 3:15: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
"Three things particularly prove the necessity of the Scripture: (1) the preservation of the word; (2) its vindication; (3) its propagation. It was necessary for a written word to be given to the church that the canon of true religious faith might be constant and unmoved; that it might easily be preserved pure and entire against the weakness of memory, the depravity of men and the shortness of life; that it might be more certainly defended from the frauds and corruptions of Satan; that it might more conveniently not only be sent to the absent and widely separated, but also be transmitted to posterity."
"The Holy Spirit (the supplier (epichoregia), Jer. 31:34; Jn. 6:45 and 1 Jn. 2:27) does not render the Scripture less necessary. He is not given to us in order to introduce new revelations, but to impress the written word on our hearts; so that here the word must never be separated from the Spirit (Is. 59:21). The former works objectively, the latter efficiently; the former strikes the ears from without, the latter opens the heart within. The Spirit is the teacher; Scripture is the doctrine which he teaches us. Christ is our only teacher (Mat. 23:8) in such a sense as that the ministry of the word is not thereby excluded, but necessarily included because now in it only he addresses us and by it instructs us."
"THIRD QUESTION: Were the sacred Scriptures written only occasionally and without the divine command? We deny against the papist."
"This question is agitated between us and the papists. In order to lessen the authority and perfection of the Scripture, they teach not only that it is not so very necessary and that the church could do without it, but also that it was not delivered to the church by the express command of God, but only in peculiar circumstances; that Christ neither commanded the apostles to write nor did the apostles think of writing the gospel with a primary intention, but only with a secondary and occasional intention (Bellarmine, VD 4.3,4, pp.116-122)."
"Hence Paul calls the Scriptures God-inspired (theopneuston, 2 Tim. 3:16) and Peter says that 'prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost' (hypopheumatos hagiou pheromenous, 2 Pet. 1:21). Now it would be absurd (asystaton) to say that the apostles wrote as God inspired and moved them and yet that he did not command them. A command is not more efficacious than the inspiration of the things to be written; nor does a faithful ambassador ever depart from his instructions."
"FOURTH QUESTION: THE AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES -- Are the holy Scriptures truly authentic and divine? We affirm."
"The first question may seem hardly necessary among Christians who should consider as an incontrovertible truth the fact that the Scriptures are inspired of God (theopneuston) as the primary foundation of faith.Rather the question is whether in writing they were so acted upon and inspired by the Holy Spirit (both as to the things themselves and as to the words) as to be kept free from all error and that their writings are truly authentic and divine. Our adversaries deny this; we affirm it....The word "Scripture" is used in two senses: either materially, with regard to the doctrine delivered; or formally with regard to the writing and mode of delivery. In the former sense (as we said before), we hold it to be necessary simply and absolutely, so that the church can never spar it. The Bible proves itself divine, not only authoritatively and in the manner of an artless argument or testimony, when it proclaims itself God-inspired (theopheuston). "
"FIFTH QUESTION: Do real contradictions occur in Scripture? Or are there any inexplicable (alyta) passages which cannot be explained and made to harmonize? We deny."
"Papists insist upon the corruption of the original so as to bring authority to their Vulgate version."..."Finally others defend the integrity of the Scriptures and say that these various contradictions are only apparent, not real and true; that certain passages are hard to be understood (dysnoeta), but not altogether inexplicable (alyta). This is the more common opinion of the orthodox, which we follow as safer and truer."
Proving the scriptures are not corrupted, Turretin said: "The reasons are: (1) The Scriptures are inspired of God (theopneutos, 2 Tim. 3:16). The word of God cannot lie (Ps. 19:8,9); Heb. 6:18); cannot pass away and be destroyed (Mt. 5:18); shall endure forever (1 Pet. 1:25); and is truth itself (Jn. 17:17). (2) Unless unimpaired integrity characterize the Scriptures, they could not be regarded as the sole rule of faith and practice, and the door would be thrown wide open to atheists, libertines, enthusiasts and other profane persons like them for destroying its authenticity (authentian) and overthrowing the foundation of salvation. For since nothing false can be an object of faith, how could the Scriptures be held as authentic and reckoned divine if liable to contradictions....For if once the authenticity (authentia) of the Scriptures is taken away (which would result even from the incurable corruption of one passage), how could our faith rest on what remains? And if corruption is admitted in those of lesser importance, why not in others of greater?" "Nor can we readily believe that God, who dictated and inspired each and every word to these inspired (theopneustois) men, would not take care of their entire preservation." Comparing man's diligence to preserve their own words, Turretin says of God, "...how much more, must we suppose, would God take care of his word which he intended as a testament and seal of his covenant with us, so that it might not be corrupted; especially when he could easily foresee and prevent such corruptions in order to establish the faith of his church?"
"Although we give to the Scriptures absolute integrity, we do not therefore think that the copyists and printers were inspired (theopneustous), but only that the providence of God watched over the copying of the sacred books, so that although many errors might have crept in, it has not so happened (or they have not so crept into the manuscripts) but that they can be easily corrected by a collation of others (or with the Scriptures themselves). Therefore the foundation of the purity and integrity of the sources is not to be placed in the freedom from fault (anamartesia) of men, but in the providence of God which (however men employed in transcribing the sacred books might possibly mingle various errors) always diligently took care to correct them, or that they might be corrected easily either from a comparison with Scripture itself or from more approve manuscripts....it will be wiser to acknowledge our own ignorance than to suppose any contradiction."
"SIXTH QUESTION: From what source does the divine authority of the Scriptures become known to us?" Does it depend upon the testimony of the church either as to itself or as to us? We deny against the papists."
"The object of the papists in this and other controversies set forth by them concerning the Scriptures, is obvious, viz., to avoid the tribunal of Scripture (in which they do not find sufficient help for the defense of their errors) and to appeal to the church (i.e., to the pope himself) and thus become judges in their own cause....we must now inquire concerning the Scriptures themselves whether it is proper that religious controversies should be decided by their authority and testimony." (Turretin quoted Irenaeus, Against Heresies: "When they are convicted from Scripture, they turn round and accuse the Scripture as being corrupt, and having no authority.")
"....We maintain that primarily and principally the Bible is believed by us to be divine on account of itself (or the marks impressed upon it), not on account of the church.....Hence if the question is why, or on account of what, do I believe the Bible to be divine, I will answer that I do so on account of the Scripture itself which by its marks proves itself to be such. If it is asked whence or from what I believe, I answer from the Holy Spirit who produces that belief in me. Finally, if I am asked by what means or instrument I believe it, I will answer through the church which God uses in delivering the Scriptures to me." "We think that revelation to be contained in the Bible itself which is the first and infallible truth and rule of faith. But papists maintain that it must be sought in the voice and testimony of the church."
"The authority of the Scriptures either as to itself or as to us does not depend upon the testimony of the church is proved: (1) because the church is built upon the Scripture (Eph. 2:20) and borrows all authority from it. Our opponents cannot deny this since, when we ask them about the church, they quickly fly to the Scriptures to prove it." "Thus Scripture, which is the first principle in the supernatural order, is known by itself and has no need of arguments derived from without to prove and make itself known to us."
The church is: (1) the keeper of the oracles of God to whom they are committed and who preserves the authentic tables of the covenant of grace with the greatest fidelity, like a notary (Rom 3:2); (2) the guide, to point out the Scriptures and lead us to them (Is. 30:21); (3) the defender, to vindicate and defend them by separating the genuine books from the spurious, in which sense she may be called the ground (hedraioma) of the truth (1 Tim 3:15); (4) the herald who sets forth and promulgates them (2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 10:16); (5) the interpreter inquiring into the unfolding of the true sense. But all these imply a ministerial only and not a magisterial power."
"We know that the books of Scripture are canonical, not so much from the common consent of the church, as from the internal testimony and persuasion of the Holy Spirit....For the same Spirit who acts objectively in the word by presenting the truth, operates efficiently in the heart also by impressing that truth upon our minds."
"...the Spirit that testifies in us concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures is not peculiar to individuals with regard to the principle and origin. Rather he is common to the whole church and so to all believers in whom he works the same faith, although he is such subjectively with regard to each individual because he is given separately to each believer." Thus we are reminded that the common faith which directed the approval of the reformation Bible as taught by the late Dr. Edward F. Hills is not some new doctrine of the 20th century.
"Therefore since the Bible is the first principle and the primary and infallible truth, is it strange to say that it can be proved by itself? The canon or authenticity of the Bible comes from God the author and not determined by the church." As Turretin says, "...it can be known and believed as an assembly of believers and the communion of saints by a divine faith, only after the marks of the church which Scripture supplies have become known. We prove the Scriptures by the Spirit as the efficient cause by which we believe. But we prove the Spirit from the Scriptures as the object and argument on account of which we believe."
The church is called the pillar and ground of the truth (Eph. 2:20) ...not because she supports and gives authority to the truth." "So the church is the pillar of the truth both by reason of promulgating and making it known....and by reason of guarding it. For she ought not only to set it forth, but also to vindicate and defend it. Whatever is called the pillar and stay of the truth is not therefore infallible....Whatever is here ascribed to the church belongs to the particular church at Ephesus to which, however, the papists are not willing to give the prerogative of infallibility."
"SEVENTH QUESTION: THE CANON -- Has any canonical book perished? We deny."
"Most papists contend that many canonical books have been lost in order that thus they may prove the imperfection of Scripture and the necessity of tradition to supply its defects. But as the word of God can be considered in a two-fold aspect )either for the doctrine divinely revealed or for the sacred books in which it is contained), so there can be a twofold canon: one of the doctrines, embracing all the fundamental doctrines; and the other of the books, containing all the inspired (theopneustous) books." "The Scriptures are called canonical for a double reason, both with regard to the doctrines (because they are the canon and standard of faith and practice, derived from the Hebrew QNH, which signifies a "reed" or surveyor's pen and is so used in Gal. 6:16 and Phil. 3:16) and with respect to the books (because it contains all the canonical books)."
Since the papists claim the same 27 book canon or the New Testament we do, and add their apocryphal books to the Old Testament, Turretin dealt at length in defense of the 39 book canon of the Old Testament. Arguing that no book has perished from the canon, he quoted the testimony of Christ: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail" (Lk. 16:17; cf. Mat. 5:18). He quoted Paul, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning" (Rom 15:4), which supposed all the writings of the Old Testament existed." He reminded us that neither Christ or the apostles every accused the Jews of altering scriptures, only their interpretation. Finally, the practice of the Jews preserved the same 39 book canon we still accept. (Rom 3:2).
"EIGHTH QUESTION: Are the books of the Old Testament still a part of the canon of faith and rule of practice in the church of the New Testament? We affirm against the Anabaptists."
"If the Old Testament is not important for Christians, it could not be unexceptionably proved against the Jews that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the true Messiah."
NINTH QUESTION: THE APOCRYPHAL BOOKS: Ought Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the first two books of the Maccabees, Baruch, the additions to Esther and Daniel to be numbered among the canonical books? We deny against the papists.
I. The Apocryphal books are so called not because the authors are unknown (for there are some canonical books Apocryphal. whose authors are unknown and some whose authors are known); not because they could be read only in private and not in public (for some of them may be read even in public), but either because they were removed from the crypt (apo tes kryptes) (that sacred place in which the holy writings were laid up) as Epiphanius and Augustine think; or because their authority was hidden and suspected, and con sequently their use also was secret since the church did not apply to them to confirm the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines (as Jerome says, 'Praefatio in libros Salomonis' from "Hieronymi Prologus Galeatus" in Biblia Sacra VuLgata Editionis Sixti V...et Celementis VIII , p. lii); or, what is more probable, because they are of an uncertain and obscure origin (as Augustine says, CG 15.23* [FC 14:474]).
II. The question is not about the books of the Old and the New Testament which we hold as canonical, for the papists agree with us as to these; nor about all the apocryphal books, for there are some rejected by the papists as well as by us (as the 3rd and 4th of Esdras, 3rd and 4th of Maccabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, etc.). The question is only about Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees, the additions to Esther and Daniel, which the papists consider canonical and we exclude from the canon-not because they do not contain many true and good things, but because they do not bear the marks of canonical books.
III. The reasons are various. ( 1 ) The Jewish church, to which the oracles of God were committed (Rom. 3:2), never considered them as canonical, but held the same canon with us (as is admitted by Josephus, Against Apion 1.39-41 [Loeb, 1:178-79], Becanus, Manuale controver siarum 1.1 , pp. 11-12) and Stapelton, "De Principiis
fidei doctrinalibus controversia," Cont. 5.7* in Opera , 1:322-23). This they could not have done without the most grievous sin (and it was never charged upon them either by Christ or his apostles) if these books no less than the others had been committed to them. Nor should the canon of the Jews be distinguished here from that of Christians because Christians neither can nor ought to receive other books of the Old Testament as canonical than those which they received from the Jews, their book-seravants "who carry the books of us students" (as Augustine calls them, "On Psalm 40 " [NPNFI, 8:132; PL 36.463]). (2) They are never quoted as canonical by Christ and the apostles like the others. And Christ, by dividing all the books of the Old Testa ment into three classes (the law, the Psalms and the prophets, Lk. 24:44), clearly approves of the canon of the Jews and excludes from it those books which are not embraced in these classes. (3) The Christian church for four hundred years rec ognized with us the same and no other canonical books. This appears from the Canons of the Synod of Iaodicea 59 (NPNF2, 14:158); Melito, bishop of Sardis, who lived 116 years A.D. (according to Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.26* [FC 19:262-63]); from Epiphanius ("De Epicureis," Panarion [PG 41.206-23]); Jerome ("Hieronymi Prologus Galeatus," in Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti V . . . et Clementis VIII , pp. xliii-lv); Athanasius (Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae [PG 28.283-94]). (4) The authors were neither prophets and inspired men, since they wrote after Malachi (the last of the prophets); nor were their books written in the Hebrew language (as those of the Old Testament), but in Greek. Hence Josephus (in the passage referred to above) acknowledges that those things which were written by his people after the time of Artaxerxes were not equally credible and authoritative with those which preceded "on account of there not being an indisputable succession of prophets" (dia to me genesthai ten ton propheton akribe diadochen, Against Apion 1.41 (Loeb, 1:178-79]).
IV The style and matter of the books proclaim them to be human, not divine. It requires little acuteness to discover that they are the product of human labor, although some are more excellent than others. For besides the fact that the style does not savor of the majesty and simplicity of the divine style and is redolent with the faults and weaknesses of human genius (in the vanity, flattery, curiosity, mistaken zeal and ill-timed affectation of learning and eloquence, which are often met with), there are so many things in them not only foolish and absurd, but even false, superstitious and contradictory, as to show clearly that they are not divine but human writings. We will give a few specimens of the many errors. Tobias makes the angel tell a falsehood. He says that he is Azariah, the son of Ananias (Tob. 5:12*) and that he is Raphael, the angel of the Lord (12:15). The angel gives a magical direction for driving away the devil by the smoke of a fish's liver (Tob. 6:6), against that of Christ (Mt. 17:21). He arrogates to himself the oblation of prayers (Tob. 12:12), which belongs to the work of Christ alone. The book of Judith celebrates the deed of Simeon (Jud. 9:2), which Jacob cursed (Gen. 49:5-7); praises the deceits and lies of Judith (Jud. 11), which are not very consistent with piety. Worse still, she even seeks the blessing of God upon them (Jud. 9:13). No mention is made of the city Bethulia in the Scriptures; nor does any trace of the deliverance mentioned there occur in Josephus or Philo, who wrote on Jewish subjects. The author of Wisdom falsely asserts that he was king in Israel (Wis. Sol. 9:7, 8) that he might be taken for Solomon. Yet he alludes to the athletic contests which in the time of Solomon had not been established among the Greeks (Wis. Sol. 4:2). Further, he introduces the Pythagorean metempsychosis (metempsychosin, Wis. Sol. 8:19, 20) and gives a false account of the origin of idolatry (14:15, 16). The Son of Sirach (Sir 46:20) attributes to Samuel what was done by the evil spirit raised by wicked devices (1 S. 28:11), falsely speaks of Elijah's bodily return (Sir. 48:10), and excuses his oversights in the prologue.
V There are so many contradictions and absurdities in the additions to Esther and Daniel that Sixtus Senensis unhesitatingly rejects them. Baruch says that in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, he read his book to Jeconiah and to all the people of Babylon; but Jeconiah was in prison and Baruch had been taken away to Egypt after the death of Gedaliah (Jer. 43:7*). He mentions an altar of the Lord (Bar. 1:10) when there was none, the temple being destroyed. The books of the Maccabees often contradict each other (compare 1 Mac. 1:16 with 9:5, 28 and chapter 10). The suicide (autocheiria) of Razis is praised (2 Mac. 14:42). Will-worship (ethelothreskeia) is commended (2 Mac. 12:42) in Judas's offering a sacrifice for the dead contrary to the law. The author apologizes for his youth and infirmity and complains of the painful labor of abridging the five books of Jason, the Cyrenian (2 Mac. 2:23*, 24; 15:39). If you wish any more specimens from these books, consult Rainold, Chamier, Molinaeus, Spanheim and others who have pursued this line of argument with fullness and strength.
VI. The canon of faith differs from the canon of ecclesi astical reading. We do not speak here of the canon in the latter sense, for it is true that these apocryphal books were sometimes read even publicly in the church. But they were read "for the edification of the people" only, not "for establishing the authority of the doctrines" as Jerome says, Praefatio . . . in Libros Salomonis (NPNF2, 6:492; PL 28.1308). Likewise the legends containing the sufferings of the martyrs (which were so called from being read) were publicly read in the church, although they were not considered canonical. But we speak here of the canon of faith.
VII. The word "canon" is used by the fathers in two senses; either widely or strictly. In the first sense, it embraces not only the canon of faith, but also the canon of ecclesiastical reading. In this way, we must understand the Third Council of Carthage, Canon 47 (Lauchert, p. 173) when it calls these canonical books (if indeed this canon has not been foisted in [pareisaktos] because it men tions Pope Boniface who was not at that time pope; hence Surius, the Ivlonk [Concilia omnia (1567), 1:508*] attributes this canon to the Seventh Council of Carthage, not the Third) not strictly and properly of the canon of faith, but widely, of the canon of reading. The synod expressly says that the sufferings of the martyrs should also be read and so we must understand Augustine when he terms them "canonical:' For he makes two orders of canonicals: the first of those which are received by all the churches and were never called in ques tion; the second of those which are admitted only by some and were usually read from the pulpit. He holds that the latter are not to be valued as rightly as the former and have far less authority (Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean 11.5* [NPNFI, 4:180]). But the Apocrypha are spurious, false and worthless writings-the fables of the Scriptures (Augustine, CG 15.23 [FC 14:474]). However the word "canon" is taken strictly for that which has a divine and infallible authority in proving the doctrines of faith. Jerome takes the word in this sense when he excludes those books from the canon. Thus Augustine attached a wider signification to the word "canon" than Jerome, who again takes the word "apocryphal" in a wider sense than Augustine, not only for books evi dently false and fabulous, but also for those which (although they might be read in the church) should not be used to prove the doctrines of faith. Thus the seem ingly contradictory expressions of these fathers may easily be reconciled. Thus Cajetan near the end explains them: "The words of councils as well as of teach ers being brought to the test of Jerome, it will appear that these books are not canonical (i.e., regulars to establish matters of faith), although they may be called canonical (i.e., regulars for the edification of believers), since they were received into the Biblical canon for this purpose" ("In librum Hester commentarii, in quotquot in Sacra Scripturae (1639], 2:400). Dionysius Carthusianus agrees with him (Prooemium in "Tobiam," in Opera Omnia , 5:83-84).
VIII. The papists make a useless distinction between the canon of the Jews and that of Christians. For although our canon taken generally for all the books of the Old and New Testament (in which it adequately consists) is not equally admitted by the Jews, who reject the New Testament; yet if it is taken partially with reference to the Old Testament (in which sense we speak of it here), it is true that our canon does not differ from that of the Jews because they receive into the canon no other books than we do.
IX. When the fathers sometimes mention Deuterocanonical books, they do not mean such as are truly and in the same sense canonical as to faith, but only those which may be placed in the canon of reading on account of their useful ness for piety and edification.
X. The citation of any passage does not of itself prove a book to be canonical, for then Aratus, Menander and Epimenides (quoted by Paul in Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Tit. 1:12) would be canonical. (2) The same passages which our adversaries bring forward as quotations from the Apocrypha are found in the canonical books, and the apostles would rather quote from these than from the former.
XI. If they are connected with canonical books, it does not follow that they are of equal authority, but only that they are useful in the formation of manners and a knowledge of history, not for establishing faith.
XII. Although some of the Apocryphal books are better and more correct than the others and contain various useful moral directions (as the book of Wisdom and the Son of Sirach), yet because they contain many other false and absurd things, they are deservedly excluded from the canon of faith.
XIII. Although some have questioned the authenticity of a few books of the New Testament (i.e., the epistle of James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John and Revelation, which afterwards were received by the church as canonical), it does not follow that the same can be done with the Apocryphal books because the relation of the books of the Old and New Testaments to this subject are not the same. For the books of the Old Testament were given to the Christian church, not at inter vals of time and by parts, but she received at one and the same time from the Jews all the books belonging to her written in one codex after they had been stamped with an indubitable authority, confirmed by Christ and his apostles. But the books of the New Testament were published separately, in different times and places and gradually collected into one corpus. Hence it happened that some of the later books (which came to some of the churches more slowly, especially in remote places) were held in doubt by some until gradually their authenticity was made known to them. (2) Although in certain churches some of the epistles and Revelation were rejected, yet those who received them were always far more numerous than those who rejected them. Yet there was no dispute about the Apocryphal books because they were always rejected by the Jewish church.
"TENTH QUESTION: THE PURITY OF THE SOURCES -- Have the original texts of the Old and New Testaments come down to us pure and uncorrupted? We affirm against the papists."
"By the original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
"Rather the question is have the original texts (or the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts) been so corrupted either by copyists through carelessness (or by the Jews and heretics through malice) that they can no longer be regarded as the judge of controversies and the rule to which all the versions must be applied? The papists affirm, we deny it."
"The providence of God proves that the sources have not been corrupted. The following arguments prove that the sources have not been corrupted. (1) The providence of God which could not permit books which it willed to be written by inspiration (theopneustois) for the salvation of men (and to continue unto the end of the world that they might draw from them waters of salvation) to become so corrupted as to render them unfit for this purpose.... (2) The fidelity of the Christian church and unceasing labor in preserving the manuscripts. (3) The religion of the Jews who have bestowed upon the sacred manuscripts great care and labor amounting even to superstition.... (4) The carefulness of the Masoretes not only about verses and words, but also about single letters (which, together with all the variations of punctuation and writing, they not only counted, but also wrote down, so that no ground or even suspicion of corruption could arise). (5) The multitude of copies; for as the manuscripts were scattered far and wide, how could they all be corrupted either by the carelessness of librarians or the wickedness of enemies?... (6) If the sources had been corrupted, it must have been done before Christ or after, neither of which is true. Not before because Christ would not have passed it over in silence (for he does censure the various departures in doctrine), nor could he bear to use corrupted books....Not afterward, both because the copies circulated among Christians would have rendered such attempts futile, and because no trace of any such corruption appears..... (7) The Jews neither would nor could corrupt the sources...." Turretin argues that if the Jews had corrupted any scripture it would have been concerning the Messiah and prophecy used by Christians. On the other hand, Christians would immediately have noticed any changes made by the Jews since the time of Christ. A corruption differs from a variant reading. We acknowledge that many variant readings occur both in the old and New Testament arising from a comparison of different manuscripts, but we deny corruption (at least corruption that is universal)."
"ELEVENTH QUESTION: THE AUTHENTIC VERSION -- Are the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New the only authentic versions? We affirm against the papists."
"Of the versions of the Scriptures; some are prototypoi or archetypoi ("original" and "primary") which the authors themselves used. Others are ektypoi (or "secondary"), namely versions flowing from them into other languages." After explaining how the papist differed concerning the degree of certainty in the Hebrew or Greek texts, He quoted the Council of Trent Session 4, which says that "the Latin Vulgate should be held as authentic in the public reading, disputations, preaching, and expositions, so that no one should dare to reject it under any pretext" "Hence Mariana complains that after this promulgation of the Council of Trent, "the Greek and Hebrew fell at one blow. Our opinion is that the Hebrew of the Old and the Greek of the New Testament have always been and still are the only authentic versions by which all controversies of faith and religion (and all versions) ought to be approved and tested. What is an authentic writing? An authentic writing is one in which all things are abundantly sufficient to inspire confidence; one to which the fullest credit is due in its own kind; one of which we can be entirely sure that it has proceeded from the author whose name it bears; one in which everything is written just as he himself wished. However, a writing can be authentic in two ways: either primarily and originally or secondarily and derivatively. That writing is primarily authentic which is autopiston ('of self-inspiring confidence") and to which credit is and ought to be given on its own account....The secondarily authentic writings are all the copies accurately and faithfully taken from the originals by suitable men...."
"Again, the authority of an authentic writing is twofold: the one is founded upon the things themselves of which it treats and has relation to the men to whom the writing is directed; the other is occupied with the treatise itself and the writing and refers to the copies and translations made from it. Over all these this law obtains - that they ought to be referred to the authentic writing and if they vary from it, to be corrected and emended."
"Finally, authenticity may be regarded in two ways: either materially as to the things announced or formally as to the words and mode of annunciation. We do not speak here of authenticity in the former sense for we do not deny this to versions when they agree with the sources, but only in the latter which belongs to the sources alone. The reasons are: (1) because the sources alone are inspired of God both as to the things and words (2 Tim 3:16); hence they alone can be authentic. For whatever the men of God wrote, they wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21), who, to keep them from error, dictated not only the matter but also the words, which cannot be said of any version..... (2) They are the standard and rule to which all the versions should be applied, just as the copy (ektypon) should answer to the pattern (archetypon) and the stream be distinguished from its source.... (3) These editions were authentic from the very first and were always considered to be so..... (4) If the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament and the Greek edition of the New Testament are not authentic (authentias), there would be no authentic version, since none besides this has a divine testimony of its own authenticity.... (5) Our opponents acknowledge that in certain cases it is right to have recourse to the sources."
Concerning the papist argument of Hebrew points being added late by the Masoretes as an argument for tradition, Turretin rejects, arguing that the points were of divine origin.
"TWELFTH QUESTION: Is the present Hebrew text in things as well as words so authentic and inspired (theopneustos) in such a sense that all the extant versions are to be referred to it as a rule and, wherever they vary, to be corrected by it? Or may we desert the reading it supplies, if judged less appropriate, and correct it either by comparison of ancient translators, or by suitable (stochastike) judgment and conjecture, and follow another more suitable reading? We affirm the former and deny the latter."
"As the authority (authentia) of the sacred text is the primary foundation of faith, nothing ought to be held as more important than to preserve it unimpaired against the attacks of those who endeavor either to take it entirely away or in any manner to weaken it." "Far different however is the opinion held in common by our churches; viz., that no other codex should be held as authentic then the present Hebrew one, to which as to a touchstone, all the ancient and modern versions should be referred and if they differ from it to be corrected by it, and not to be amended by them." "That this has ever been the opinion of all Protestants is perfectly clear. The controversy carried on previously with the papists about the authentic edition sufficiently confirms it. The illustrious author in question cannot deny it, for in the beginning of his Critica Sacra, he says, 'The first and most ancient Protestants have said that all things should be examined and corrected by the Hebrew text, which they call the purest source..."
"If it is lawful to make conjectures on the sacred text, even when the Hebrew codices agree with the versions (as the learned man (Cappel) says, Critica sacra 6.8.17 (1650), p. 424), there could no longer be any certainty of the authenticity (authentias) of it, but all would be rendered doubtful and unsettled and the sacred text would be subjected to the will of each conjecturer. Whether this is not to divest it of all authority anyone can readily tell....Now who could be the judge whether these conjectures are made rightly and truly?...But what will become of this sacred book, if everyone is allowed to wield a censorious pen and play the critic over it, just as over any profane book? And all the theologians who thus far have in any way argued concerning the Hebrew text and its authenticity have meant no other than the common and now received text."
"THIRTEENTH QUESTION: VERSIONS -- Are versions necessary, and what ought to be their use and authority in the church?"
"This question has two parts. The first relates to the necessity of versions; the second to their authority..." The arguments for the necessity of versions: (1) The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures is enjoined upon men of all languages, therefore the translation of it into the native tongues is necessary...(2)The gospel is preached in all languages; therefore it can and ought to be translated into them. The consequence holds good from the preached to the written word because there is the same reason for both and the same arguments (which induced the apostles to preach in the native tongue) prove the necessity of versions....(3) Vernacular versions are necessary on account of the constant practice of the church, according to which it is certain that both the oriental and western churches had their versions and performed their worship in the vernacular tongue, as their liturgies evince...(4) The numerous Greek versions of the Old Testament follow these....Hence it is evident that it has been the perpetual practice of the church to use versions."
The arguments for the authority of the versions:
"Although the versions are not authentic formally and as to the mode of enunciation, yet they ought nevertheless to be used in the church because if they are accurate and agree with the sources, they are always authentic materially and as to the things expressed."
"Hence we gather what the authority of the versions is. Although their utility is great for the instruction of believers, yet no version either can or ought to be put on an equality with the original, much less be preferred to it. (1) For no version has anything important which the Hebrew or Greek source does not have more fully, since in the sources not only the matter and sentences, but even the very words were directly dictated by the Holy Spirit. (2) It is one thing to be an interpreter, quite another to be a prophet....The prophet as God-inspired (theopneustos) cannot err, but the interpreter as a man lacks no human quality since he is always liable to err. (3) All versions are the streams; the original text is the fountain whence they flow. The latter is the rule, the former the thing ruled, having only human authority."
"Nevertheless all authority must not be denied to versions. Here we must carefully distinguish a twofold divine authority: one of things, the other of words. The former relates to the substance of doctrine which constitutes the internal form of the Scriptures. The latter relates to the accident of writing, the external and accidental form. The source has both, being God-inspired (theopneustos) both as to the words and the things; but versions have only the first, being expressed in human and not in divine words."
"Hence it follows that the versions as such are not authentic and canonical in themselves (because made by human labor and talent). Therefore, under this relation (schesei), they may be exposed to errors and admit of corrections, but nevertheless are authentic as to the doctrine they contain (which is divine and infallible). Thus they do not, as such, formally support divine faith as to the words, but materially as to the substance of doctrine expressed in them."
"There is one perfection of thing and truth to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken away; another perfect ion of the version itself. The former is strictly divine work and is absolutely and in every way self-credible (autopiston). Such perfection is in the word carried over into the versions.. The latter is a human work and there liable to error and correction - to which indeed authority can belong, but only human (according to the fidelity and conformity with the original text), not divine."
"The certainty of the conformity of the versions with the original is twofold: the one merely grammatical and of human knowledge apprehending the conformity of the words in the versions with the original this belongs to the learned, who know the languages); the other spiritual and of divine faith, relating to the agreement of things and doctrines (belonging to each believer according to the measure of the gift of Christ, as he himself says, "My sheep hear my voice, Jn. 10:27; and Paul, "he that is spiritual discerneth all things," 1 Cor 2:15). Although a private person may be ignorant of the languages, he does not cease to gather the fidelity of a version as to the things themselves from the analogy of faith and the connection of the doctrines: 'If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself'" (Jo. 7:17)
"Conformity to the original is different from equality. Any version (provided it is faithful) is indeed conformable to the original because the same doctrine as to substance is set forth there. But it is not on that account equal to it because it is only a human and not a divine method of setting it forth."
"Although any version made by fallible men cannot be considered divine and infallible with respect to the terms, yet it can well be considered such with respect to the things, since it faithfully expresses the divine truth of the sources even as the word which the minister of the gospel preaches does not cease to be divine and infallible and to establish our faith, although it may be expressed by him in human words. Thus faith depends not on the authority of the interpreter or minister, but is built upon the truth and authenticity (authentia) of the things contained in the versions."
"If a version could contain the pure word of God in divine words, no correction could take place. For the sources neither can nor ought to be corrected because they are God-inspired (theopneustoi) in things as well as in words. But because it sets forth to us in human words the word of God, it follows that it can admit of correction, not with regard to the doctrine itself (which still remains the same), but with regard to the terms which especially in difficult and obscure passages can be differently rendered by different persons according to the measure of the gift of Christ."
"FOURTEENTH QUESTION: THE SEPTUAGINT -- Is the Septuagint version of the Old Testament authentic? We deny."
"FIFTEENTH QUESTION: THE VULGATE -- Is the Vulgate authentic? We deny against the papist."
"SIXTEENTH QUESTION: THE PERFECTION OF THE SCRIPTURES: Do the Scriptures so perfectly contain all things necessary to salvation that there is no need of unwritten (apraphois) traditions after it? We affirm against the papists."
"In order to shun more easily the tribunal of the Scriptures which they know to be opposed to them, the papists endeavor not only to overthrow their authentical (authentian) and integrity, but also to impeach their perfection and perspicuity. Hence arises this question concerning the perfection of the Scriptures between us."
"The question relates only to things necessary to salvation - whether they belong to faith or to practice; whether all these things are so contained in the Scriptures that they can be a total and adequate rule of faith and practice (which we maintain and our opponents deny)."
"The question then amounts to this - whether the Scripture perfectly contains all (not absolutely), but necessary to salvation; not expressly and in so many words, but equivalently and by legitimate inference, as to leave no place for any unwritten (agraphon) word containing doctrinal or moral traditions. Is the Scripture a complete and adequate rule of faith and practice or only a partial and inadequate rule? We maintain the former; the papists the latter, holding that "unwritten traditions pertaining to faith and practice are to be received with the same regard and reverence as the Scriptures."
"....We give to the Scriptures such a sufficiency and perfection as is immediate and explicit. There is no need to have recourse to any tradition independent of them."
"Finally, they were intended to be the contract of the covenant between God and us."