Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 3, 1952
NUMBER 47, PAGE 12-13a

The Truth About The Bible

Robert C. Welch

In an article under the foregoing title in Look magazine, February 26, 1952, Hartzell Spence seeks to reach the common reader with the doctrine of modernism and skepticism. The propaganda of the higher critics was, and is, intended for the more scholarly readers. But when it is published in one of the cheesecake magazines it is intended to educate the popular and the below-average reader in modernism. Copyright of the article does not permit quotation.

On the first page he sets the pace of the article by announcing that some 125 outstanding modern theologians have learned that many things to be found in our Bibles were added or changed during the centuries after the last of it was originally written. Furthermore, he declares on that first page that these theologians are going to settle forever what should go into the Bible. He is a little late for such an announcement as that. Catholics thought that they did that a long time ago when they included the apocryphal books in their Bible, by a decree of the Council of Trent. These 125 theologians will be no more able to settle such a matter than was the Council of Trent, or Voltaire who thought that he could settle on the destruction of the whole book.

Is Mark 16:16 Spurious?

The first passage he questions is the last twelve verses of Mark. He and his 125 theologians are not the first to question that passage. The scholars who gave us the American Standard Version said in the footnotes that these verses were omitted by some manuscripts. Baptist debaters have used this in an attempt to deny the necessity of baptism. He says, himself, that the page is lost from the oldest manuscript, leaving an incomplete sentence; thus admitting the possibility of its correctness. If some individual is tempted to doubt the passage because of such an article, he should read J. W. McGarvey's dissertation on the passage at the close of his commentary on Mark, a part of which is as follows:

"Let it first be observed, that it is not the authenticity of the passage by which is meant the historical correctness of its representations, that is called in question, but only its genuineness as apart of Mark's original manuscript...

The passage is omitted from a few of the manuscripts, and among these are the Vatican and the Sinaitic, the two oldest and best manuscripts extant. These two manuscripts carry with them a very great weight of authority; and, indeed, it is the comparatively recent discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript that has turned the scales against the passage, in the judgment of some scholars. Jerome, and some writers of the fourth century, are also quoted as affirming that the passage was wanting in most of the Greek copies of their day.

"On the other hand, the passage is found in nearly all of the other ancient manuscripts, including the Alexandrian, which stands next to the Vatican in accuracy. It was also cited by Irenaeus and Tatian of the second century, and by Hypolytus and Dyonisius of Alexandria, of the third century, all of whom lived before the earliest existing manuscript was written, and from one hundred to two hundred years earlier than Jerome. The words of Irenaeus show that it was not only a part of the book of Mark in his day, but that Mark was regarded as its author. He says: 'But Mark, in the end of his gospel says: And the Lord Jesus, after that he had spoken to them, was received up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God.' From these writers, then, it appears that the passage was a part of some copies of Mark's gospel at least as early as the second century. The preponderance of evidence from this source is in favor of the passage."

Paul's Doxology

The next attempt at discrediting the Bible in the minds of readers is to cast on Romans 16:25-27. These verses contain what is called Paul's doxology or benediction. Spence says that he got these things from theologians for this article. If so, the theologians are modernists and are aiding and abetting in arousing disbelief in the scriptures. In his article he tells the readers that it is not reasonable to have this benediction and another (Rom. 16:24) right together. He decides that it may be spurious because there is disagreement whether it should belong in the sixteenth or in the fourteenth chapter. These theologians think that it does not conform to Paul's personality and style of writing. They think, however, that the twenty-fourth verse sounds like Paul and possibly should be at the end of the letter. Of course, he admits that this passage was included in the manuscripts rather early if it was interpolated; he tells us that it was included within the first 300 years (there is no manuscript older than this), but because some copy made in the ninth century contains a blank page where these verses should be, he has grounds for doubting their genuineness! He implies that such questioning of this passage is a recent thing because of modern discoveries of authoritative papers. It has been criticized long enough for such men as Lightfoot, Meyer, Farrar, Clark, and Vincent to make comment on it. The genuineness and authenticity is so well established that this is not in question. The only question is about its proper position, whether in the sixteenth or fourteenth chapter. From either place it is still in harmony with truth, and, no doubt, was written with Paul's own hand, "These verses were written with Paul's own hands." (Whiteside, Commentary on Romans, p. 300)

The following quotation is taken from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, p. 182, on these verse! in question:

"This is the only epistle of Paul which closes with a doxology. The doxology (see on ch. xiv 23) stands at the close of this chapter in most of the very oldest MSS., and in the Peshito or Syriac and Vulgate versions. In a very few MSS. including most of the cursives, it is found at the close of ch. xiv, and in a very few, at the close of both xiv and xvi. Weiss ("Introduction to the New Testament") says that the attempt to prove its un-Pauline character has only been the result of extreme ingenuity."

Notice another statement, from Lard's Commentary on Romans, p. 466. This indicates what kind of critics will discredit the passage;

"The genuineness and proper location of this concluding doxology have been much discussed. Upon the former, I believe it is now generally conceded, that a well founded doubt cannot be entertained; and as to the latter, it is not material. Certainly the natural position of the doxology is at the end of the Letter; and here, accordingly, the most reliable critics place it."

Inspired Of God

This article of Spence's contains a list of several more passages which he says are questionable. They are of just such nature as the two mentioned, and could be dealt with in the same fashion in reply. He has not found anything new. It is merely a reiteration of the old propaganda of the higher critics, atheists, and modernists. Their every quibble has been answered by capable and sound scholars. Let no reader of such propaganda think that there is reason for doubting the scriptures and their inspiration. Though occasionally a new version or translation may be produced with a slight variation in the wording, there will not be a change in any reliable version to the extent that any point of faith or practice will have to be changed, removed, or added.

There should be no fear that anything which the Lord said will be removed, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35) The scriptures contain this statement: "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) These critics may convince a few that the Bible is just a patched up affair, made up of statements from various copyists and monks through the last nineteen centuries. But a great mass of people will depend upon something more authoritative than Hartzell Spence and his theologians who have as their head one from Chicago University, a hotbed of modernism and rank infidelity. The truly pious will look for something more solid than that which comes from one who has made himself popular by a ludicrous story of a Methodist minister, as in One Foot In Heaven. Let us have our biblical criticism coming at least from scholars, from those who know what they are talking about.