DOES JESUS MISQUOTE THE OLD TESTAMENT? Creation Ministries International (CMI) Undermines Inerrancy Again

DOES JESUS MISQUOTE THE OLD TESTAMENT? Creation Ministries International (CMI) Undermines Inerrancy Again

© 2019, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

[N.B. READ THE FOOTNOTES, FOLKS.  THEY ARE IMPORTANT!]

It is late in the year for a new, winning entrant into the “Most Ironic Statement of the Year” contest, but Creation Ministries International (CMI) duo of Lita Cosner and Robert Carter seem to have done it; it is difficult to imagine that anything in the last few days of 2019 will top this one:

No one should be ridiculed for not being able to do good textual analysis—unless they claim to be doing good textual analysis.[1]

We have critiqued CMI’s text critical analysis and conclusions a number of times in the past; the reader is invited to check these critiques.[2]  Yet again we feel compelled to critique them, this time for the ill-advised attempt by Miss Cosner and Carter to demonstrate the superiority of the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament over the Septuagint (LXX) text;[3] indeed, it seems to us that their statement, “It is clear that Hoffman does not know the first thing about analyzing textual variants or how to tell which one is more original” is surely a case of the pot calling the kettle black.[4]

Miss Cosner and Carter assert that

We have also analyzed multiple claims from LXX proponents and have found their best arguments to be quite weak. This does not mean that LXX advocates wouldn’t be able to do a proper analysis and put forward a better argument, but we have not seen any LXX advocate even try to do so.”[5]

In response to the first part of that, I would say that I have analyzed the multiple claims from CMI in this matter and have found their best arguments to be quite weak.  In response to the second, I would say that a proper analysis has been done[6]; Miss Cosner and Carter seem to have overlooked it, though it has been available since 2010.

The Linchpin

It is not necessary to deal with all of Miss Cosner and Carter’s arguments here; we will focus on the linchpin of the matter, which is CMI’s undermining of inerrancy by their slavish adherence to the Masoretic Text.  As we have pointed out elsewhere,[7] if the Masoretic Text is inerrant, then the LXX is always wrong when it disagrees with the MT.  But if the LXX is wrong, then so is the New Testament and Jesus Himself!  This should be obvious and beyond dispute. 

Consider Matthew 21:16b, for example, where Jesus quotes from Psalm 8:2a:

Matthew 21:16b: “And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise”?‘”

Psalm 8:2a (LXX): “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise.”

Psalm 8:2a (Masoretic Text): “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength.”

Here the Masoretic Text and the LXX disagree (see the underlined text).  Jesus’ quotation matches the LXX, not the Masoretic Text.  So if the Masoretic Text is correct and the LXX is wrong, then Jesus Himself is wrong.  So who is correct, Jesus or the MT?

The same applies to the rest of the New Testament; consider Romans 3:4, for example, wherein Paul quotes Psalm 51:4b:

Romans 3:4: “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: ‘That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged.'”

Psalm 51:4b (LXX): “That you may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when you are judged.”

Psalm 51:4b (Masoretic Text): “That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.”

How do Miss Cosner and Carter try to deal with this problem?  This is their approach:

… the New Testament authors spoke and wrote in Greek and were writing to Greek-speaking audiences. It should not surprise us that they used the LXX, which is the Greek translation of the OT, which would match what the majority of their readers would be using. It’s the same reason why, when we are writing in English, we use an English translation, even though we know of many shortcomings inherent in every translation.[8]

This is not the first time that Miss Cosner embraced this gambit.  Earlier she wrote,

Is the NT’s use of the LXX a strong endorsement of the general reliability of the LXX? I don’t think you can say that. Paul used the LXX for much the same reason that I quote an English translation–it’s the language I and my audience understand best. If I quote, say, the ESV, that doesn’t mean I necessarily think it’s more reliable than even another English translation–much less that I think it’s superior to Luther’s German translation or the original Greek.[9]

It would be exceedingly difficult – if not impossible – to imagine a more toxic and wrongheaded claim than these.  It should be abundantly obvious to a thinking Christian that the essays we write and the sermons we preach are not “God-breathed Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16), so the idea of comparing how we write our essays and sermons to how the authors of Scripture wrote God-breathed Scripture is sheer lunacy.

Certainly, when I write my sermons and essays I use an English translation because the people to whom I speak cannot understand Koine Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic.[10]  But my essays and sermons are not God-breathed Scripture!  They are not inerrant!  The idea that we can draw a valid analogy between what we do and what Paul and Peter and John and the others did is – well, there is no other word for it – lunacy.

Let us look at the examples again.  In Matthew 21:16b, Jesus said, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”  Inasmuch as “have you read” is a reference to Scripture, if the Masoretic Text is correct and the LXX is wrong, then it is not possible to read “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise” in the Old Testament, so Jesus was mistaken.  Is CMI certain that the Masoretic Text is the correct text?

Similarly, if we look at Romans 3:4b, we see that what Paul says “is written” is indeed found in the LXX, but at three points in this one short quote, what the Masoretic Text has is different from both the LXX and Paul’s quote.  If the Masoretic Text is the correct text and the LXX is not, then Paul has misquoted the Old Testament, claiming that words are there that are not – so there is an error in Romans 3:4b.  The New Testament, then, cannot be inerrant.

Conclusion

In light of the fact that many such examples can be found, it is clear that if one assumes that the Masoretic Text is the inerrant Old Testament text, the Bible cannot be inerrant.  It is tragic that these CMI functionaries cannot see this.  Yet they do not, and so their slavish adherence to the Masoretic Text undermines inerrancy.

Thus, the irony of Miss Cosner and Carter’s statement, “No one should be ridiculed for not being able to do good textual analysis—unless they claim to be doing good textual analysis” should be obvious; they are most certainly not doing good textual analysis themselves and so are in no position to judge the textual analysis of others.

It is ironic, inasmuch as CMI claims to hold to Biblical inerrancy, saying,

The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs.[11]

Yet, to paraphrase Titus 1:16, we can say “They profess to believe in inerrancy, but in works they deny it.”  I do not think it is deliberate hypocrisy; I think textual criticism is a complex field with many a trap set by liberal presuppositions that shaped the field, and these CMI functionaries are simply out of their depth.  Once again, we suggest they stick to their core focus and competency, which is scientific creationism, and leave historical and textual criticism to those who are better able to deal with them in the paradigm of inerrancy.


Footnotes

[1] Cosner, Lita and Robert Carter. “Were the Egyptian pyramids built before the Flood?” Posted on December 5, 2019. At https://creation.com/pyramids-before-flood. Accessed December 7, 2019.

[2] See, inter alia, Tors, John. “Creation Ministries International and the Three-Headed Monster: Why the Monster Wins” at https://truthinmydays.com/creation-ministries-international-and-the-three-headed-monster-why-the-monster-wins/; Tors, John. “Ignorant of His Devices: Creation Ministries International (CMI) Errs Again on Textual Criticism” at https://truthinmydays.com/ignorant-of-his-devices-creation-ministries-international-cmi-errs-again-on-textual-criticism/; and Tors, John. “Fragments of Error: Creation Ministries International (CMI) Errs Yet Again on Textual Criticism” at https://truthinmydays.com/fragments-of-error-creation-ministries-international-cmi-errs-yet-again-on-textual-criticism/.

[3] They have tried to do this a number of times previously; See, inter alia, Sarfati, Jonathan. “Biblical chronogenealogies.” Journal of Creation 17:3 (2003), pp. 14-18, available at https://creation.com/biblical-chronogenealogies; Cosner, Lita, and Robert Carter, “Textual traditions and biblical chronology.” Journal of Creation 29:2 (2015), pp. 99-105; and Cosner, Lita and Robert Carter. “Is the Septuagint a superior text for the Genesis genealogies?” Posted on September 25, 2018. At https://creation.com/lxx-mt-response.

[4] Cosner and Carter, op.cit.

[5] Cosner and Carter, op.cit.

[6] Tors, John. “On the Merits of the Septuagint: A Response to Floyd Nolen Jones’ ‘The Chronology of the Old Testament’” at https://truthinmydays.com/on-the-merits-of-the-septuagint-a-response-to-floyd-nolen-jones-the-chronology-of-the-old-testament/#The_Case_for_the_Septuagint.  This article is not a defence of the LXX in toto; what it shows is that a simple dichotomy between the two and the claim that the Masoretic Text is superior is unsustainable.

[7] ibid.

[8] Cosner and Carter, op.cit.

[9] Lita Cosner in an answer to a comment for Cosner, Lita and Carter, “Is the Septuagint a superior text for the Genesis genealogies?”, op.cit.

[10] If I perceive an error in the translation, I do change the text to correspond to what the original language reads.

[11] “What We Believe.” Posted at https://creation.com/what-we-believe.  See also Sarfati, Jonathan. “The authority of Scripture.” Posted at http://creation.com/the-authority-of-scripture; and Kulikovsky, Andrew S. “The Bible and hermeneutics.” Journal of Creation 19:3 (December 2005), pp. 14-20. Posted at https://creation.com/the-bible-and-hermeneutics.

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