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Preface: The Reformation Confessions such as the Westminster (1647), the Savoy (1658), and the London Baptist (1689), state regarding Scripture that, â€˜The Old Testament in Hebrew, (which was the native language of the people of God of old,) and the New Testament in Greek, (which at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations,) being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authenticalâ€¦ (WCF 1:8). With this the Society is in full agreement, believing that it accurately summarises the following doctrine:
1. Only the self-interpreting Holy Scripture is competent to define Scripture. The Scripture's witness to itself can be briefly summarised in the following propositions:
(1) The Bible is Godâ€™s written revelation to mankind (Exodus 24:3-4; Psalm 119:140; Matthew 4:4).
(2) Through the process of inspiration (which has the meaning â€˜breathed out by Godâ€™), a supernatural power was exerted by the Holy Spirit upon certain chosen men, governing and directing them to write the very words of God, without admixture of error (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:21). This is not to deny that each of the biblical writers had a distinctive style and vocabulary, but it is to affirm that the divine superintendence was such that the end product (being of plenary and verbal inspiration) was the very Word of God, and as such, absolute and pure truth (Romans 3:2; 1 Corinthians 14:37).
(3) The supernatural power involved in the process of inspiration, and in the result of inspiration, was exerted only in the original production of the sixty-six Canonical books of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16).
(4) In conformity to God's purpose, promise, and command, faithful and accurate copies were made (Deuteronomy 17:18; Proverbs 25:1) and, through God's special providential care, His Word has been preserved in all generations (Psalm 119:152; Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Luke 16:17; 1 Peter 1:25). The professing people of God under the Old and New Testaments have been the appointed custodians of His Word (Psalm 147:19,20; Romans 3:2; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27).
(5) The Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles received the preserved and standard Hebrew text of the Old Testament as Scripture (Luke 4:16-19, 21; 2 Timothy 3:16). This serves as our pattern for accepting the historically received text of the New Testament also as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18 cf. Luke 10:7; 2 Peter 3:15-16).
(6) These texts of Scripture (*see note 1) reflect the qualities of God-breathed Scripture, including being authentic, holy, pure, true, infallible, trustworthy, excellent, self-authenticating, necessary, sufficient, perspicuous, self-interpreting, authoritative and inerrant (Psalm 19:7-9, Psalm 119). They are consequently to be received as the Word of God (Ezra 7:14; Nehemiah 8:8; Daniel 9:2; 2 Peter 1:19) and the correct reading at any point is to be sought within these texts. (* see note 2)
(7) Translations from the original languages are likewise to be considered the written Word of God in so far as these translations are accurate as to the form and content of the Original. Acts 8:32f, 15:14-18, Romans 15:8-12 include Old Testament quotations rendered in Greek, and yet they are still accorded the status of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit, as indicated by the usage of the expressions 'scripture' and 'it is written'. The variants found in these and other quotations in the New Testament have a divine warrant.(*see note 3) In order to achieve the necessary accuracy in translation, the method to be followed should be that of formal equivalence, not dynamic equivalence. The translation should best reflect both the form and the content of the Original, by being as literal as is possible and as free as is necessary; that is, by translating the words, and following the arrangement and propositional content of the original text as much as is possible, and by being free of human invention, addition, and subtraction, except as is necessary.
NOTE 1. The Trinitarian Bible Society maintains that the providentially preserved true and authentic text is to be found in the Masoretic Hebrew and the Greek Received Texts. In so doing, it follows the historic, orthodox Protestant position of acknowledging as Holy Scripture the Hebrew and Greek texts consistently accessible to and preserved among the people of God in all ages. These texts had remained in common use in different parts of the world for more than fifteen centuries and they faithfully represent the texts used in New Testament times.
NOTE 2. Errors, omissions, and additions in particular manuscripts do not impinge upon the qualities of Scripture, including inerrancy, because the errors are, in fact, no part of inerrant Scripture.
NOTE 3. Translations made since New Testament times must use words chosen by uninspired men to translate God's words. For this reason no translation of the Word of God can have an absolute or definitive status. The final appeal must always be to the original languages, in the Traditional Hebrew and Greek texts (as defined in Note 1).
2. As affirmed above, the Lord Jesus endorsed the preserved and standard Old Testament of His day as â€˜scriptureâ€™ (Luke 4:17-21), regarding it as reliable to each particular word and incapable of being â€˜brokenâ€™ (â€˜loosedâ€™ or â€˜untiedâ€™) because pure, uncorrupted, and therefore absolutely trustworthy (John 10:34-36). Historically, and for many centuries, the Church rightly and necessarily regarded the recognised manuscripts of the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek as the verbally inspired Word of God written, complete in the sixty-six Canonical books.
3. The Constitution of the Trinitarian Bible Society specifies the textual families to be employed in the translations it circulates. The Masoretic Hebrew (*see note 1 below) and the Greek Received (*see note 2 below) Texts are the texts that the Constitution of the Trinitarian Bible Society acknowledges to have been preserved by the special providence of God within Judaism and Christianity. Therefore these texts are definitive and the final point of reference in all the Societyâ€™s work.
NOTE 1. The Society accepts as the best edition of the Hebrew Masoretic text the one prepared in 1524-25 by Jacob ben Chayyim and known, after David Bomberg the publisher, as the Bomberg text. This text underlies the Old Testament in the Authorised Version.
NOTE 2. The Greek Received Text is the name given to a group of printed texts, the first of which was published by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. The Society uses for the purposes of translation the text reconstructed by F.H.A. Scrivener in 1894.
4. As the scope of the Societyâ€™s Constitution does not extend to considering the minor variations between the printed editions of the Textus Receptus, this necessarily excludes the Society from engaging in alteration or emendation of the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Text on the basis of other Hebrew or Greek texts. Editorial policy and practice will observe these parameters.
5. In relation to â€˜promoting and editing new translations, and selecting versions in Foreign languagesâ€™ the Constitution of the Society states: â€˜The aim shall be to produce or select versions whose textual basis is as close as possible to the Hebrew Masoretic and the Greek Received texts underlying both the English Authorised Version and translations of comparable standing made from these texts into other European languages at the time of the Protestant Reformation.â€™ Editorial policy and practice will conform to this aim.
Approved by the General Committee at its meeting held on 17th. January, 2005, revised 25th. February, 2005 and including amendments approved by the General Committee at its meeting held on 21st. November, 2005.