Got myself into a "discussion" of Sinaiticus and Simonides at EvC forum, without really intending to, and was pounced on by a couple of the regulars there who seem to be more interested in shooting down anything I say, or that Chris Pinto has to say, than in the actual facts of the matter. But I thought I'd mention it here in case anyone happens by who would like to check it out. Perhaps they've come up with something of interest, or maybe it's just a lot of hot air. The discussion starts roughly about HERE
I did originally have in mind collecting many of the various mistreatments of scripture that were the result of the Revision of 1881 but haven't been up to it lately. I suppose I may yet get to it, but meanwhile I'm more or less waiting and wondering if there will be more to the Simonides story to post about.
Whether Simonides' claims to be the author of Codex Sinaiticus turn out to be true or not, however, John Burgon has already made the case very well that Sinaiticus is corrupt and should not be taken seriously, leaving the KJV as the only trustworthy Bible. Nevertheless, despite what seems to me and others to be such an excellent case against it, Sinaiticus continues to be held up by Academia as "the oldest and best" of the Greek manuscripts and therefore its destructive effect on the Bible unfortunately has a clear path.
Chris Pinto's most recent radio program Cardinal Dolan and the Bible Hunters discusses a BBC production, The Bible Hunters, which makes it quite explicit that Codex Sinaiticus all by itself has destroyed the grounds of faith in the Bible for many Christians.
The other part of his show addresses Cardinal Dolan's affirmation that despite all the usual Plausible Deniability the Pope is promoting civil unions for homosexuals. These two subjects are related of course because once the Bible has been discredited nothing it says about homosexuality has to be taken seriously. And as Pinto points out, once the Pope is understood to be supporting gay unions the path is clear for the persecution of Christians who continue to hold to the Biblical view of homosexuality as sin. Already what was once understood to be an unnatural act even by nonChristians, that couldn't even be imagined to gain the support as a normal activity it has today, is now used as a weapon against Christians, branding us as bigots and "haters" who lack Christian "love" of all things. Christendom, once so-called, is already battered and bleeding from the destruction of the Bible, now it's just a matter of lining up the remaining Christians in front of the execution squad. The devil must be very proud of his work.
We've known it's coming for some time, but now it seems it could all come down very rapidly in the near future. This Pope could very well be the last Pope and the final Antichrist must therefore be just around the corner.
I'd like to think we might still be able to turn many in the churches to the truth about these things. There are far too many Christians who accept the authenticity of the Bible-killing Codex Sinaiticus. And what grounds do we then REALLY have for winning others to Christ? Some hold to the illusion that the Bible remains inerrant even as they embrace as authentic the bogus texts that prove it's not. I don't have much hope that they can be turned of course, all this is happening so fast and it's so depressing it's even hard to pray about it.
I want to hope, however. But our real hope is in Christ anyway, whatever happens on this earth.
This was by "mt" who appears to have read one of my blog posts, which of course makes me happy, and does a very nice job of saying what the debate was all about.
I think Dr. White's comments are a testament to just how successful the watering down of seminary / church history education in America is. As a former Catholic I can certainly testify of how startling it is to wake up to the facts of Rome's historical influences and how much further reaching they are than what we have been taught. But it seems strange that reformed believers want to argue the other side of the debate... perhaps b/c they haven't experienced what it feels like to come out of the stupor of false doctrine, and don't understand how deep it goes or how underhandedly it has been perpetrated on the world. This is perhaps also owed to the success of the propaganda put forth in modern day academia. (I say this as someone with a master's level education myself. The elitism in academia can be overbearing.)
From listening to the debate, it "appeared" that Dr. White wanted to divert attention to the Jesuits, as a tactic to discredit Chris, b/c White does not see credibility in any of CJP's historical research on their reported conspiratorial behaviors. Probably also b/c he had such a weak argument against the actual topic. After all, these S.J.'s are so nice and smooth talking, they couldn't possibly be bad. Right? I would guess he knows that if he says something dogmatically and authoritatively enough, and often enough, his followers will still believe what he says without bothering to check it out for themselves. Quoting James White seems to bear as much authority as quoting scripture for some folks. Some of the blog posts of those who think he "won" would bear this out, IMO. The statements they make have no substance to suggest otherwise. But it seems clear Dr. White has a lot invested in his viewpoint and doesn't want to budge. No surprises there. I don't think it's any coincidence either that he was given the last word.
I think Chris was very gracious, Christ-like, and polite. But, in spite of Chris' composed demeanor, White, while more polite than usual, not only tried to detract from the agreed upon topic, but also hit below the belt at least a couple times with condescending remarks. I still find that disconcerting, because it seems the "debate" forum for him was more an attempt to squelch Chris' research and prove his own right-ness than it was to seek truth. He attempted to dominate the debate, restate the "rules", cut Chris off, hold Chris to standards he can't hold himself to, and justify himself as graciously deigning to take time to debate Chris because of his supposed noble mission to disprove Chris' theory.
I believe Chris' forthright manner and clearly stated historical citations showed his character to be above that of his "opponent". Time will tell how God will use it to expose the truth of the authenticity of these manuscripts vs those that uphold those time-tested scriptures, integral to our faith and the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. God may have opened a door through this debate to do just that. It seems Chris' film-making and podcasting experience prepared him well to deal with the time constraints of his first formal debate.
Meanwhile, we can only hope and pray that some of Chris' accusers will be convicted in their hearts and repent and apologize for calling him "a liar". These are the very people who demanded Chris' apologies and have not yet humbled themselves to do likewise. We will continue to pray that Chris will continue to be a shining light in spite of them, and will continue to rise above his critics. We all have the challenge of not becoming embittered when attacked in this manner and, from what I can see, Chris' priorities are right in this regard.
Chris Pinto posted this at his site, and HERE is the original source. There is also a link to the debate itself there. I don't know who Hiram Diaz is but he absolutely nailed it about the debate:
====================================== DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE WHITE VS. PINTO DEBATE by Hiram Diaz
Although I enjoy listening to debates, I’m not a big fan of them. This may sound contradictory, so let me explain. On the one hand, debates are a great way to become familiar with different points of view, be they non-Christian or Christian. In this respect, I appreciate the knowledge that can be gained from assessing each point and counterpoint making up the debate.
However, on the other hand, personality can often take the place of sound reasoning. The more aggressively one pursues his debate opponent, for instance, the stronger he appears to the audience, as one who is in the right. Why? Because his personality trumps the weakness of his argumentation. Thus, debates can swing in the favor of men who present well, as opposed to presenting their case well.
The debate over whether or not Codex Sinaiticus is a modern forgery, a debate between James White and Chris Pinto was, unfortunately, one that made me dislike debates even more.
Before I listened to the background information that Pinto presented in his documentary and on his podcast/radio show, I was pretty sure James White’s statements about Pinto’s ideas being far-fetched and based on loose threads woven together by conspiracy were right.
But when the debate took place a couple nights ago, I saw that Dr. White was wrong. Pinto presented documented history that challenged the official story regarding Simonides (i.e. the man who claimed to have penned Codex Sinaiticus); Dr. White, however, did not refute Pinto’s challenge. Dr. White appealed to authority, asking Pinto if he had ever collated manuscripts of the Bible or if he was competent in Greek, in an attempt to show that Pinto’s ignorance was the only justification he had for believing that the case of Simonides was not a closed case. But this kind of reasoning is fallacious.
Pinto was not arguing from the standpoint of one who knew either the collation process or was competent in, if not a scholar of, koine Greek. His credentials in these two fields (i.e. manuscript collation and ancient Greek) is completely irrelevant.
Pinto’s argument was drawn from historical records regarding the events and persons surrounding Codex Sinaiticus. Dr. White, therefore, had no reason to ask for such credentials. If the historical data Pinto presented are to be jettisoned, then Dr. White should have presented an argument in favor of ditching the historical sources to which Pinto made reference. But Dr. White did no such thing.
Also, Dr. White reduced Pinto’s cogent reasoning to a “conspiracy theory,” a term which is often used in American media to dismiss viewpoints that contradict the official story. And Dr. White used it in just that way. In other words, Dr. White uncritically dismissed Pinto’s argument to a “conspiracy theory.”
In short, here are the problems I had with the debate:
1. Dr. White argued fallaciously, appealing to authority when no such appeal was relevant to the matter at hand.
2. Dr. White made assertions, central to his argument, that cannot be empirically verified. For instance, he claimed that the task of manuscript collation could not be done by a nineteen year old. This is not an argument, nor is it an empirically verifiable fact, as it is a universal proposition. There are many people in history who have accomplished great things at even younger ages. Are these people historical fictions? If they are real people, then are the historical accounts of their great abilities to be dismissed as “conspiracy theories” or overblown accounts of otherwise “normal” individuals?
This is not a point that can be taken very seriously, moreover, considering the renown that Simonides had for his unusual intellectual gifts as a young man. Whether or not he was a prodigy, I don’t know. However, when there is evidence of men speaking highly of Simonides’ superior intellectual endowments, and there is no evidence to prove that a nineteen year old cannot collate biblical manuscripts and form a unique copy of the Bible from those collated texts, the testimony of writers contemporaneous with Simonides actually holds weight, where Dr. White’s assertion has none. Chris Pinto presented a logically cogent case for his position. Dr. James White neither presented a logically cogent case, nor did he succeed in refuting Pinto’s position. Again, Pinto presented actual historical documentation that drills numerous holes into the “official” story regarding Simonides, whereas Dr. White simply dismissed Pinto’s sources, failing to provide counter evidence to Pinto’s argument. Consequently, it is Pinto, in my opinion, who won the debate. And what is troubling to me is that many will not (i.)be able to identify Dr. White’s fallacious reasoning and (ii.)will depend on personalities in their assessment of the debate.
Chris Pinto's assessment of the debate is here and he did his usual great job of mustering his material and making his points. He has command of his information and he has the right Christian attitude as well.
Was the Simonides question resolved in the debate? Clearly not.
I know I've been falling down on the job on this blog in recent months, being preoccupied with other things. When I see a whole page of articles critical of Chris Pinto as a "conspiracy thinker" by another Christian ministry I'm not going to name, I feel the weight of my failure to keep up with these issues. But Chris always answers that accusation very effectively.
At the end he criticizes those of us who have made remarks in terms of who won the debate and makes it clear he doesn't think in those terms, that all the participants are on the same side, all seeking the truth that best serves the Lord. Wonderful, I want to believe that, and in the most general sense I do believe it. The problem is that the debate format itself demands a win/lose orientation, and those who are exercised in debating skills usually "win" it as far as making a more effective-sounding case for their side irrespective of the actual facts or truth they've brought out.
After hearing Chris' assessment of the debate I'm happily reminded of just how fully he commands his material, which didn't get to come out in the debate as I'd have hoped, as at the end of the debate I had felt that the wrong side of the issues had come out on top. Again, the problem with the debate format is that it favors the wrong goals if what you are really concerned about is a collegial effort at resolving differences in the service of the Lord. Rather than casting this sort of disagreement in a debate format it needs something more along the lines of a round-table discussion, and MUCH more time should be given to it.
Barbara Ogg wrote a great comment and I wish she'd posted it here instead of on a different post. She rightly appreciates Chris Pinto's contribution which I'm afraid I slighted (although I agree with her) because I got overwhelmed with the externals of the debate itself, and her assessment of the whole debate and its significance is excellent. Go check it out at the post titled Chris Pinto to Debate James White
UPDATE: Comment from reader
Steven Avery who wrote a comment on this blog post -- it's at bottom, please check it out -- follows the scholarly questions about all this far more than I do or probably ever want to do, though I'm glad to hear what he has to say and may make an effort to upgrade my information from him. If you go to his links to discussion threads you'll see how convoluted the issues can get.
I'm certainly OK with not having to think of the papyri in conspiratorial terms, those fragments found since Sinaiticus that are used to corroborate Sinaiticus. In fact it's a relief not to think in conspiratorial terms. And Sinaiticus remains a corrupted manuscript whether there was any conspiracy involved or not. Avery doesn't agree with me that the Bible is called into question even if these are all authentic ancient manuscripts, because they are corrupted.
Maybe a different definition of "authentic" there. My point was that if you try to defend the faith from them as White does, that you are FEEDING the Bible critics like Bart Ehrman and the Muslims, rather than answering them. In spite of yourself you are supporting the argument against Bible inerrancy. I don't know why this isn't obvious.
I suppose I end up agreeing with my own assessment at the bottom of this post, that concerning the Alexandrian manuscripts I'm with Burgon still, and ultimately it's a matter of spiritual discernment.
UPDATE: Questions about Simonides
Find myself pondering questions I've had in the back of my mind about Simonides that never quite came to the surface, that I more or less thought would get answered down the road somewhere, since as Pinto characterizes the situation it has remained rather mysterious overall so you don't expect all questions to be answered right away.
1) White brought up one of them: Why in an orthodox Greek monastery would they have had an Alexandrian manuscript from which Simonides worked? I think White said they normally used the Textus Receptus. (But maybe I misunderstood that in some way. If they wouldn't normally have that sort of text, how was it they had Codex Sinaiticus which Tischendorf supposedly found?)
2) Why would Simonides have produced a manuscript so riddled with errors and corrections if it was intended to be a gift to a Tsar? This one has bothered me all along and I kept assuming there must be some kind of reasonable explanation but nothing has come up.
Those two lead me now to raise this one:
3) If it wasn't his own production, what would he hope to gain by arguing about it in the newspaper for such a long time? (= Since I can't see any personal advantage for him in it, I have to admit it leads me into conspiracy type questions: who benefited from his claim and his ultimately being discredited?
Original Post. First response to the debate:
James White "won" it, at least as far as the Simonides episode goes, but that was the main focus of the debate after all, if not its real significance. It colors all the other issues, however, unfortunately, the role of Tischendorf and the basic question about authenticity of Sinaiticus, and to my mind that means the Bible and Christianity lost. I look forward to what Chris Pinto has to say about this in the days to come, but for myself I can always put the Simonides episode on hold and go back to Burgon.
White thinks the papyri make Burgon obsolete. I think Burgon was right to suspect that there was a lot more to the Westcott and Hort fraud than meets the eye, and yes, as White asked Chris at the end, would I suspect the fraud to continue even to the papyri, and my answer is yes I would.
To my mind Chris Pinto has thoroughly proved through his films and talks and articles, entirely from the evidence, mostly the quotations of others, that there is such a thing as a true conspiracy, in this case by the Antichrist himself. I guess White isn't going to be persuaded, I shouldn't have considered that as a possibility for a moment, he's completely persuaded by the corrupted manuscripts, and for now at least, that is that.
I do think White raised enough questions about the processes Simonides would have had to go through to create the Codex to bring his story into doubt, but that just leaves it still a huge mystery why Simonides would ever have come forward to claim to have created the manuscript himself, what on earth would he have had to gain by that claim? And I'm afraid White makes a good case about how Tares portrays Tischendorf too, which bothered me the first time I saw it, as overacting at least. The actual statements made in the film may not convict Tischendorf but the images that portray him do. I think there's plenty to question about Tischendorf, but the case isn't made in the film well enough for the image of him they created.
Those are flaws in the film and that's too bad because they then can be used against the real point at issue, the authenticity of the Greek manuscript Tischendorf claimed to have found. The idea that you can defend the faith with manuscripts that contradict the traditional Bible is absolutely ridiculous. White keeps saying these newly discovered "most ancient" manuscripts are a great blessing to the Church, but there's no way that is the case. They call the Bible into question, period. If they ARE authentic then we essentially have no more Bible. Forget it, people CAN grasp the implications of such discrepancies. Bart Ehrman and the Muslims are right about that.
I don't believe they are authentic, of course. That doesn't depend on how the Simonides story turns out though I'd still love to see some smoking gun evidence in favor of that theory. But even if it never turns up I think Burgon had the right instincts about a conspiracy to enshrine what he said the Church had formerly known to be corrupt manuscripts. And besides the fraudulent use of those manuscripts against the instructions given to the revising committee, there was also the fact of the thousands of unnecessary changes, in Burgon's opinion and in Bishop Wordsworth's opinion at least, the whole ugly result being a mutilation of the Bible and no revision. Burgon saw the implications of the mutilation in the destruction of the Biblical witness.
We start with that simple discernment: the revision destroyed the Biblical witness, destroyed it. If there isn't any identifiable conspiracy to bring about that effect, that is nevertheless the effect.
What Pinto has done is collect a ton of circumstantial evidence that there is a LOT more going on than meets the eye involving the Bible versions controversies. But if you think the Alexandrian texts and the proliferation of Bibles is a "blessing" none of that is going to mean anything to you anyway.
So I've come to believe that it's very possible for a highly complex covert conspiracy to be ongoing down the centuries. We may never be able to pin it down in this life, of course, which means we won't be able to do anything about it in this life. Except pray. And that's no small thing but when you don't have anything you can actually DO to turn people away from the false Bibles you can feel pretty helpless. My strength is made perfect in weakness just went through my head. Well, if we prayed as we should we might see the Lord work.
But again, even forgetting the possibility of such a conspiracy, the 1881 Revision was an absolute disaster for the Bible and for the Church. White is simply wrong about that.
In the end it's a matter of spiritual discernment.
Found some tweets about the debate off James White's website. They are expecting White to be able to destroy Chris Pinto's claims about Constantine Simonides. They have the standard view of Simonides of course, apparently haven't been listening to Chris' radio show on these subjects recently where he musters the evidence that raises serious questions about that view.
According to a tweet by White, the debate is to be live at 6PM EST (3PM here in the west) on Pirate Christian radio
Wonderful Flash Mob Christmas performance by the US Air Force.
I saw it right after I heard Chris Pinto's latest response to James White, in which he makes it painfully clear how Codex Sinaiticus has destroyed the credibility of the Bible, although White and others continue to defend it as authentic, unwittingly contributing to this destruction.
Pinto shows what apparently White is blind to, that Muslims love to point to Sinaiticus as proof that the Bible is not trustworthy.
And not only Muslims but every anti-Christian atheistic Bible hater out there, which is a growing number, are getting their Bible debunkery from Sinaiticus too, though they may not know it.
If the Bible is not trustworthy, that means the music in this video is utterly without foundation.
A pox on Codex Sinaiticus!
The debate between Pinto and White is tomorrow, I don't know where or when but I'm sure I'll find out eventually.