Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Archer Demonstrates That the Old Testament Is Reliable

Taken from Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994 ed), p. 32.

"Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text, but in 1QIsb, (ca. 75 B.C.) the preserved text is almost letter for letter identical with the Leningrad Manuscript. The five percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. Even those Dead Sea fragments of Deuteronomy and Samuel which point to a different manuscript family from that which underlies our received Hebrew text do not indicate any differences in doctrine or teaching. They do not affect the message of revelation in the slightest."

You can find much more evidence in this work.


Duncan said...

The problem has never been a question of authenticity but rather the filter through which we interpret them. An over reliance on LXX vs basic Hebrew grammar & how the earliest LXX Torah examples translate terms such as "ad" (again/until) or even ignore this term in some places compared with how the later LXX translation of Isaiah can use this term ON ITS OWN as a reason to use words like eon (forever or eternal).

Edgar Foster said...


In this post, I was more concerned about reliability over against than authenticity. So, even if one were to argue that the extant MSS we have today in Hebrew are not authentically inspired, that would not mean that our surviving Hebrew texts were not reliable. Minor differences here or there in the DSS or LXX do not impugn the overall reliability of the Hebrew texts, it seems.

Duncan said...


Have you actually done any comparison's your self of DSS Great Isaiah vs MT Isaiah?

These percentage ratios are far to simplistic and general a yard stick.

Especially since the English translations that the majority have access too use LXX as a guide, which is highly unreliable in its translation of Hebrew grammar.

My comments relate to the sham of a translation of Isaiah 9:6 that really needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Do you read Hebrew?

Can you explain how "avi ad" can possibly mean "eternal father" without the term "olam" or some other indicator of time?

"wonderful counsellor" ?!?!
even the old translations like the KJV insert a comma "wonderful, counsellor" because the grammar allows for nothing less. It more probably reads as "wonder of the counsellor".

This is my concern since the vast majority cannot read Hebrew & rely on translations. The filter through which the text passes.

Duncan said...

A further point regarding the tiqqune sopherim. Only about 50% is extant in DSS great isaiah compared with MT marginals. As an example take Genesis 18:22 not in great isaiah, it also creates a contradiction with 19:27 which has never been in dispute. May be marginals should remain marginals?

Edgar Foster said...


I do read Hebrew, but my specialty is Greek and Latin. Furthermore, I'm not denying that there is a difference between Isaiah 9:6 (MT) and DSS. However, Archer is contending that 95%+ of Isaiah (MT) agrees with the DSS Isaiah Scroll, and I've read similar figures elsewhere. To be fair, one should also read Archer's entire discussion to get the full sense of his view. I was only focusing on Isaiah since you had mentioned 9:6 (DSS).

Isaiah 9:6 poses a number of translational and interpretive challenges. Yet why do you think olam or some other indicator must be present for ad to denote "eternity" or "father"? For the most part, I sympathize with your point about the title (name) "Wonderful, Counselor" but rendering it without the comma is likewise a translational possibility.

Duncan said...


"ad" in of itself can only mean again or until.

NEB has as an alternate rendering "father of a wide land".

But in reality BOTH of the normal renderings are not possible.

As you know by definition LXX Isaiah is NOT LXX since the legend and the DSS evidence demonstrate a lack an early Greek translation & its usage of the term is somewhat different to the earlier (true LXX) Torah translation as Numbers 24:20 & 24:24 (receptus vs LXX) demonstrate the lack of translation (my theory is that it was used as a predecessor to "truly truly" used in John - as an emphasis).

My understanding of Hebrew grammar is somewhat different to yours. "Aviy" certainly does mean father but it is the construction of the grammar we seem to understand differently. I am confident that it can only be translated as "my father" or "father of" & best fit seems to be "father of Ad" where Ad is a name.

With regards to "wonderful counselor" adjectives have to come after the noun which would be yoets pele.

We can also go further with el gibor. El in of itself meaning mighty & gibor meaning warrior. Two nouns in the construct state gives us "mighty one of the warrior" or "mighty one of gibor" where gibor is a name or as per the Isaiah scroll rendered as one word/name elgibor.

Can you now see my concern's ?

Duncan said...

Noticed a typo in one of my previous comments.

"As an example take Genesis 18:22 not in great isaiah, it also creates a contradiction with 19:27"

Should have said:-

As an example take Genesis 18:22 not in LXX and receptus, it also creates a contradiction with 19:27

What I mean is that Great Isaiah does not appear to be a blanked endorsement for using the marginals from the MT especially when it appears to create a textural mismatch with a verse that to my knowledge has never had a textual variant of significance.

Duncan said...

ἔτι in LXX Exo 15:18 is similar in usage to Ad in the Hebrew. Even though the emphasis in this case is one level over extended.

"into the eon and more" would have been sufficient.

In Hebrew the term olam can be temporal or spatial. The context tells us which. It means "to or beyond the horizon" in distance or time. The term Ad then amplifies the statement to the horizon of the horizon - "to the horizon again". We can interpret this as forever or as a very long time as opposed to just a long time.

This is why the NEB gave the alternate renderings of distance and of time since nothing in the context indicates which is valid but the understanding of Ad being a short form of "olam ad" comes from the LXX Isaiah 9:6 where it exchanges eon for Ad but what is the textual basis for this?