William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

The Holy Scriptures

by Francis Turretin

"FIRST QUESTION: THE WORD OF GOD -- Was a verbal revelation
necessary? We affirm."
"As the word of God is the sole principle of theology, so the
question concerning its necessity deservedly comes before all
things." Rejecting false appeals to reason and nature, Turretin
says: "But the orthodox church has always believed far otherwise,
maintaining the revelation of the word of God to man to be
absolutely and simply necessary for salvation. It is the 'seed' of
which we are born again (1 Pet. 1:23), the 'light' by which we are
directed (Ps. 119:105), the 'food' upon which we feed (Heb. 5:13,14)
and the 'foundation' upon which we are built (Eph 2:20)"
"Although natural revelation may hand over different things
concerning God and his attributes, will and works, yet it cannot
teach us things sufficient for the saving knowledge of God without a
supernatural verbal revelation."

Was it necessary for
the word of God to be committed to writing? We affirm."
"...We hold it to be necessary simply and absolutely, so that the
church can never spare it....Since God has seen fit for weighty
reasons to commit his word to writing. Hence the divine ordination
being established, it is made necessary to the church, so that it
pertains not only to the well-being (bene esse) of the church, but
also to its very existence (esse). Without it the church could not
now stand. So God indeed was not bound to the Scriptures, but he has
bound us to them." 1 Tim 3:15: "But if I tarry long, that thou
mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God,
which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the

"Three things particularly prove the necessity of the Scripture: (1)
the preservation of the word; (2) its vindication; (3) its
propagation. It was necessary for a written word to be given to the
church that the canon of true religious faith might be constant and
unmoved; that it might easily be preserved pure and entire against
the weakness of memory, the depravity of men and the shortness of
life; that it might be more certainly defended from the frauds and
corruptions of Satan; that it might more conveniently not only be
sent to the absent and widely separated, but also be transmitted to

"The Holy Spirit (the supplier (epichoregia), Jer. 31:34; Jn. 6:45
and 1 Jn. 2:27) does not render the Scripture less necessary. He is
not given to us in order to introduce new revelations, but to
impress the written word on our hearts; so that here the word must
never be separated from the Spirit (Is. 59:21). The former works
objectively, the latter efficiently; the former strikes the ears
from without, the latter opens the heart within. The Spirit is the
teacher; Scripture is the doctrine which he teaches us. Christ is
our only teacher (Mat. 23:8) in such a sense as that the ministry of
the word is not thereby excluded, but necessarily included because
now in it only he addresses us and by it instructs us."

"THIRD QUESTION: Were the sacred Scriptures written only
occasionally and without the divine command? We deny against the

"This question is agitated between us and the papists. In order to
lessen the authority and perfection of the Scripture, they teach not
only that it is not so very necessary and that the church could do
without it, but also that it was not delivered to the church by the
express command of God, but only in peculiar circumstances; that
Christ neither commanded the apostles to write nor did the apostles
think of writing the gospel with a primary intention, but only with
a secondary and occasional intention (Bellarmine, VD 4.3,4,
"Hence Paul calls the Scriptures God-inspired (theopneuston, 2 Tim.
3:16) and Peter says that 'prophecy came not in old time by the will
of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost' (hypopheumatos hagiou pheromenous, 2 Pet. 1:21). Now it would
be absurd (asystaton) to say that the apostles wrote as God inspired
and moved them and yet that he did not command them. A command is
not more efficacious than the inspiration of the things to be
written; nor does a faithful ambassador ever depart from his

-- Are the
holy Scriptures truly authentic and divine? We affirm."
"The first question may seem hardly necessary among Christians who
should consider as an incontrovertible truth the fact that the
Scriptures are inspired of God (theopneuston) as the primary
foundation of faith.Rather the question is whether in writing they
were so acted upon and inspired by the Holy Spirit (both as to the
things themselves and as to the words) as to be kept free from all
error and that their writings are truly authentic and divine. Our
adversaries deny this; we affirm it....The word "Scripture" is used
in two senses: either materially, with regard to the doctrine
delivered; or formally with regard to the writing and mode of
delivery. In the former sense (as we said before), we hold it to be
necessary simply and absolutely, so that the church can never spar
it. The Bible proves itself divine, not only authoritatively and in
the manner of an artless argument or testimony, when it proclaims
itself God-inspired (theopheuston). "

"FIFTH QUESTION: Do real contradictions occur in Scripture? Or are
there any inexplicable (alyta) passages which cannot be explained
and made to harmonize? We deny."

"Papists insist upon the corruption of the original so as to bring
authority to their Vulgate version."..."Finally others defend the
integrity of the Scriptures and say that these various
contradictions are only apparent, not real and true; that certain
passages are hard to be understood (dysnoeta), but not altogether
inexplicable (alyta). This is the more common opinion of the
orthodox, which we follow as safer and truer."

Proving the scriptures are not corrupted, Turretin said: "The
reasons are: (1) The Scriptures are inspired of God (theopneutos, 2
Tim. 3:16). The word of God cannot lie (Ps. 19:8,9); Heb. 6:18);
cannot pass away and be destroyed (Mt. 5:18); shall endure forever
(1 Pet. 1:25); and is truth itself (Jn. 17:17). (2) Unless
unimpaired integrity characterize the Scriptures, they could not be
regarded as the sole rule of faith and practice, and the door would
be thrown wide open to atheists, libertines, enthusiasts and other
profane persons like them for destroying its authenticity
(authentian) and overthrowing the foundation of salvation. For since
nothing false can be an object of faith, how could the Scriptures be
held as authentic and reckoned divine if liable to
contradictions....For if once the authenticity (authentia) of the
Scriptures is taken away (which would result even from the incurable
corruption of one passage), how could our faith rest on what
remains? And if corruption is admitted in those of lesser
importance, why not in others of greater?" "Nor can we readily
believe that God, who dictated and inspired each and every word to
these inspired (theopneustois) men, would not take care of their
entire preservation." Comparing man's diligence to preserve their
own words, Turretin says of God, "...how much more, must we suppose,
would God take care of his word which he intended as a testament and
seal of his covenant with us, so that it might not be corrupted;
especially when he could easily foresee and prevent such corruptions
in order to establish the faith of his church?"

"Although we give to the Scriptures absolute integrity, we do not
therefore think that the copyists and printers were inspired
(theopneustous), but only that the providence of God watched over
the copying of the sacred books, so that although many errors might
have crept in, it has not so happened (or they have not so crept
into the manuscripts) but that they can be easily corrected by a
collation of others (or with the Scriptures themselves). Therefore
the foundation of the purity and integrity of the sources is not to
be placed in the freedom from fault (anamartesia) of men, but in the
providence of God which (however men employed in transcribing the
sacred books might possibly mingle various errors) always diligently
took care to correct them, or that they might be corrected easily
either from a comparison with Scripture itself or from more approve
manuscripts....it will be wiser to acknowledge our own ignorance
than to suppose any contradiction."

"SIXTH QUESTION: From what source does the divine authority of the
Scriptures become known to us?" Does it depend upon the testimony of
the church either as to itself or as to us? We deny against the

"The object of the papists in this and other controversies set forth
by them concerning the Scriptures, is obvious, viz., to avoid the
tribunal of Scripture (in which they do not find sufficient help for
the defense of their errors) and to appeal to the church (i.e., to
the pope himself) and thus become judges in their own cause....we
must now inquire concerning the Scriptures themselves whether it is
proper that religious controversies should be decided by their
authority and testimony." (Turretin quoted Irenaeus, Against
Heresies: "When they are convicted from Scripture, they turn round
and accuse the Scripture as being corrupt, and having no authority.")

"....We maintain that primarily and principally the Bible is
believed by us to be divine on account of itself (or the marks
impressed upon it), not on account of the church.....Hence if the
question is why, or on account of what, do I believe the Bible to be
divine, I will answer that I do so on account of the Scripture
itself which by its marks proves itself to be such. If it is asked
whence or from what I believe, I answer from the Holy Spirit who
produces that belief in me. Finally, if I am asked by what means or
instrument I believe it, I will answer through the church which God
uses in delivering the Scriptures to me." "We think that revelation
to be contained in the Bible itself which is the first and
infallible truth and rule of faith. But papists maintain that it
must be sought in the voice and testimony of the church."

"The authority of the Scriptures either as to itself or as to us
does not depend upon the testimony of the church is proved: (1)
because the church is built upon the Scripture (Eph. 2:20) and
borrows all authority from it. Our opponents cannot deny this since,
when we ask them about the church, they quickly fly to the
Scriptures to prove it." "Thus Scripture, which is the first
principle in the supernatural order, is known by itself and has no
need of arguments derived from without to prove and make itself
known to us."

The church is: (1) the keeper of the oracles of God to whom they are
committed and who preserves the authentic tables of the covenant of
grace with the greatest fidelity, like a notary (Rom 3:2); (2) the
guide, to point out the Scriptures and lead us to them (Is. 30:21);
(3) the defender, to vindicate and defend them by separating the
genuine books from the spurious, in which sense she may be called
the ground (hedraioma) of the truth (1 Tim 3:15); (4) the herald who
sets forth and promulgates them (2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 10:16); (5) the
interpreter inquiring into the unfolding of the true sense. But all
these imply a ministerial only and not a magisterial power."
"We know that the books of Scripture are canonical, not so much from
the common consent of the church, as from the internal testimony and
persuasion of the Holy Spirit....For the same Spirit who acts
objectively in the word by presenting the truth, operates
efficiently in the heart also by impressing that truth upon our

"...the Spirit that testifies in us concerning the inspiration of
the Scriptures is not peculiar to individuals with regard to the
principle and origin. Rather he is common to the whole church and so
to all believers in whom he works the same faith, although he is
such subjectively with regard to each individual because he is given
separately to each believer." Thus we are reminded that the common
faith which directed the approval of the reformation Bible as taught
by the late Dr. Edward F. Hills is not some new doctrine of the 20th

"Therefore since the Bible is the first principle and the primary
and infallible truth, is it strange to say that it can be proved by
itself? The canon or authenticity of the Bible comes from God the
author and not determined by the church." As Turretin says, "...it
can be known and believed as an assembly of believers and the
communion of saints by a divine faith, only after the marks of the
church which Scripture supplies have become known. We prove the
Scriptures by the Spirit as the efficient cause by which we believe.
But we prove the Spirit from the Scriptures as the object and
argument on account of which we believe."

The church is called the pillar and ground of the truth (Eph. 2:20)
...not because she supports and gives authority to the truth." "So
the church is the pillar of the truth both by reason of promulgating
and making it known....and by reason of guarding it. For she ought
not only to set it forth, but also to vindicate and defend it.
Whatever is called the pillar and stay of the truth is not therefore
infallible....Whatever is here ascribed to the church belongs to the
particular church at Ephesus to which, however, the papists are not
willing to give the prerogative of infallibility."

-- Has any canonical book perished? We deny."
"Most papists contend that many canonical books have been lost in
order that thus they may prove the imperfection of Scripture and the
necessity of tradition to supply its defects. But as the word of God
can be considered in a two-fold aspect )either for the doctrine
divinely revealed or for the sacred books in which it is contained),
so there can be a twofold canon: one of the doctrines, embracing all
the fundamental doctrines; and the other of the books, containing
all the inspired (theopneustous) books." "The Scriptures are called
canonical for a double reason, both with regard to the doctrines
(because they are the canon and standard of faith and practice,
derived from the Hebrew QNH, which signifies a "reed" or surveyor's
pen and is so used in Gal. 6:16 and Phil. 3:16) and with respect to
the books (because it contains all the canonical books)."

Since the papists claim the same 27 book canon or the New Testament
we do, and add their apocryphal books to the Old Testament, Turretin
dealt at length in defense of the 39 book canon of the Old
Testament. Arguing that no book has perished from the canon, he
quoted the testimony of Christ: "It is easier for heaven and earth
to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail" (Lk. 16:17; cf. Mat.
5:18). He quoted Paul, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime
were written for our learning" (Rom 15:4), which supposed all the
writings of the Old Testament existed." He reminded us that neither
Christ or the apostles every accused the Jews of altering
scriptures, only their interpretation. Finally, the practice of the
Jews preserved the same 39 book canon we still accept. (Rom 3:2).
"EIGHTH QUESTION: Are the books of the Old Testament still a part of
the canon of faith and rule of practice in the church of the New
Testament? We affirm against the Anabaptists."

"If the Old Testament is not important for Christians, it could not
be unexceptionably proved against the Jews that Jesus Christ of
Nazareth is the true Messiah."

Ecclesiasticus, the first two books of the Maccabees, Baruch, the
additions to Esther and Daniel to be numbered among the canonical
books? We deny against the papists.

I. The Apocryphal books are so called not because the authors are
unknown (for there are some canonical books Apocryphal. whose
authors are unknown and some whose authors are known); not because
they could be read only in private and not in public (for some of
them may be read even in public), but either because they were
removed from the crypt (apo tes kryptes) (that sacred place in which
the holy writings were laid up) as Epiphanius and Augustine think;
or because their authority was hidden and suspected, and
consequently their use also was secret since the church did not
apply to them to confirm the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines
(as Jerome says, `Praefatio in libros Salomonis' from "Hieronymi
Prologus Galeatus" in Biblia Sacra VuLgata Editionis Sixti Vet
Celementis VIII [1865], p. lii); or, what is more probable, because
they are of an uncertain and obscure origin (as Augustine says, CG
15.23* [FC 14:474]).

II. The question is not about the books of the Old and the New
Testament which we hold as canonical, for the papists agree with us
as to these; nor about all the apocryphal books, for there are some
rejected by the papists as well as by us (as the 3rd and 4th of
Esdras, 3rd and 4th of Maccabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, etc.). The
question is only about Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom,
Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees, the additions to Esther and
Daniel, which the papists consider canonical and we exclude from the
canon-not because they do not contain many true and good things, but
because they do not bear the marks of canonical books.
III. The reasons are various. ( 1 ) The Jewish church, to which the
oracles of God were committed (Rom. 3:2), never considered them as
canonical, but held the same canon with us (as is admitted by
Josephus, Against Apion 1.39-41 [Loeb, 1:178-79], Becanus, Manuale
controver siarum 1.1 [1750], pp. 11-12) and Stapelton, "De

fidei doctrinalibus controversia," Cont. 5.7* in Opera [1620],
1:322-23). This they could not have done without the most grievous
sin (and it was never charged upon them either by Christ or his
apostles) if these books no less than the others had been committed
to them. Nor should the canon of the Jews be distinguished here from
that of Christians because Christians neither can nor ought to
receive other books of the Old Testament as canonical than those
which they received from the Jews, their book-seravants "who carry
the books of us students" (as Augustine calls them, "On Psalm 40
[41]" [NPNFI, 8:132; PL 36.463]). (2) They are never quoted as
canonical by Christ and the apostles like the others. And Christ, by
dividing all the books of the Old Testament into three classes (the
law, the Psalms and the prophets, Lk. 24:44), clearly approves of
the canon of the Jews and excludes from it those books which are not
embraced in these classes. (3) The Christian church for four hundred
years recognized with us the same and no other canonical books.
This appears from the Canons of the Synod of Iaodicea 59 (NPNF2,
14:158); Melito, bishop of Sardis, who lived 116 years A.D.
(according to Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.26* [FC
19:262-63]); from Epiphanius ("De Epicureis," Panarion [PG
41.206-23]); Jerome ("Hieronymi Prologus Galeatus," in Biblia Sacra
Vulgatae Editionis Sixti V . . . et Clementis VIII [1865], pp.
xliii-lv); Athanasius (Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae [PG 28.283-94]).
(4) The authors were neither prophets and inspired men, since they
wrote after Malachi (the last of the prophets); nor were their books
written in the Hebrew language (as those of the Old Testament), but
in Greek. Hence Josephus (in the passage referred to above)
acknowledges that those things which were written by his people
after the time of Artaxerxes were not equally credible and
authoritative with those which preceded "on account of there not
being an indisputable succession of prophets" (dia to me genesthai
ten ton propheton akribe diadochen, Against Apion 1.41 (Loeb,

IV The style and matter of the books proclaim them to be human, not
divine. It requires little acuteness to discover that they are the
product of human labor, although some are more excellent than
others. For besides the fact that the style does not savor of the
majesty and simplicity of the divine style and is redolent with the
faults and weaknesses of human genius (in the vanity, flattery,
curiosity, mistaken zeal and ill-timed affectation of learning and
eloquence, which are often met with), there are so many things in
them not only foolish and absurd, but even false, superstitious and
contradictory, as to show clearly that they are not divine but human
writings. We will give a few specimens of the many errors. Tobias
makes the angel tell a falsehood. He says that he is Azariah, the
son of Ananias (Tob. 5:12*) and that he is Raphael, the angel of the
Lord (12:15). The angel gives a magical direction for driving away
the devil by the smoke of a fish's liver (Tob. 6:6), against that of
Christ (Mt. 17:21). He arrogates to himself the oblation of prayers
(Tob. 12:12), which belongs to the work of Christ alone. The book of
Judith celebrates the deed of Simeon (Jud. 9:2), which Jacob cursed
(Gen. 49:5-7); praises the deceits and lies of Judith (Jud. 11),
which are not very consistent with piety. Worse still, she even
seeks the blessing of God upon them (Jud. 9:13). No mention is made
of the city Bethulia in the Scriptures; nor does any trace of the
deliverance mentioned there occur in Josephus or Philo, who wrote on
Jewish subjects. The author of Wisdom falsely asserts that he was
king in Israel (Wis. Sol. 9:7, 8) that he might be taken for
Solomon. Yet he alludes to the athletic contests which in the time
of Solomon had not been established among the Greeks (Wis. Sol.
4:2). Further, he introduces the Pythagorean metempsychosis
(metempsychosin, Wis. Sol. 8:19, 20) and gives a false account of
the origin of idolatry (14:15, 16). The Son of Sirach (Sir 46:20)
attributes to Samuel what was done by the evil spirit raised by
wicked devices (1 S. 28:11), falsely speaks of Elijah's bodily
return (Sir. 48:10), and excuses his oversights in the prologue.
V There are so many contradictions and absurdities in the additions
to Esther and Daniel that Sixtus Senensis unhesitatingly rejects
them. Baruch says that in the fifth year after the destruction of
Jerusalem, he read his book to Jeconiah and to all the people of
Babylon; but Jeconiah was in prison and Baruch had been taken away
to Egypt after the death of Gedaliah (Jer. 43:7*). He mentions an
altar of the Lord (Bar. 1:10) when there was none, the temple being
destroyed. The books of the Maccabees often contradict each other
(compare 1 Mac. 1:16 with 9:5, 28 and chapter 10). The suicide
(autocheiria) of Razis is praised (2 Mac. 14:42). Will-worship
(ethelothreskeia) is commended (2 Mac. 12:42) in Judas's offering a
sacrifice for the dead contrary to the law. The author apologizes
for his youth and infirmity and complains of the painful labor of
abridging the five books of Jason, the Cyrenian (2 Mac. 2:23*, 24;
15:39). If you wish any more specimens from these books, consult
Rainold, Chamier, Molinaeus, Spanheim and others who have pursued
this line of argument with fullness and strength.

VI. The canon of faith differs from the canon of ecclesiastical
reading. We do not speak here of the canon in the latter sense, for
it is true that these apocryphal books were sometimes read even
publicly in the church. But they were read "for the edification of
the people" only, not "for establishing the authority of the
doctrines" as Jerome says, Praefatio . . . in Libros Salomonis
(NPNF2, 6:492; PL 28.1308). Likewise the legends containing the
sufferings of the martyrs (which were so called from being read)
were publicly read in the church, although they were not considered
canonical. But we speak here of the canon of faith.

VII. The word "canon" is used by the fathers in two senses; either
widely or strictly. In the first sense, it embraces not only the
canon of faith, but also the canon of ecclesiastical reading. In
this way, we must understand the Third Council of Carthage, Canon 47
(Lauchert, p. 173) when it calls these canonical books (if indeed
this canon has not been foisted in [pareisaktos] because it
mentions Pope Boniface who was not at that time pope; hence Surius,
the Ivlonk [Concilia omnia (1567), 1:508*] attributes this canon to
the Seventh Council of Carthage, not the Third) not strictly and
properly of the canon of faith, but widely, of the canon of reading.
The synod expressly says that the sufferings of the martyrs should
also be read and so we must understand Augustine when he terms them
"canonical:' For he makes two orders of canonicals: the first of
those which are received by all the churches and were never called
in question; the second of those which are admitted only by some
and were usually read from the pulpit. He holds that the latter are
not to be valued as rightly as the former and have far less
authority (Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean 11.5* [NPNFI,
4:180]). But the Apocrypha are spurious, false and worthless
writings-the fables of the Scriptures (Augustine, CG 15.23 [FC
14:474]). However the word "canon" is taken strictly for that which
has a divine and infallible authority in proving the doctrines of
faith. Jerome takes the word in this sense when he excludes those
books from the canon. Thus Augustine attached a wider signification
to the word "canon" than Jerome, who again takes the word
"apocryphal" in a wider sense than Augustine, not only for books
evidently false and fabulous, but also for those which (although
they might be read in the church) should not be used to prove the
doctrines of faith. Thus the seemingly contradictory expressions of
these fathers may easily be reconciled. Thus Cajetan near the end
explains them: "The words of councils as well as of teachers being
brought to the test of Jerome, it will appear that these books are
not canonical (i.e., regulars to establish matters of faith),
although they may be called canonical (i.e., regulars for the
edification of believers), since they were received into the
Biblical canon for this purpose" ("In librum Hester commentarii, in
quotquot in Sacra Scripturae (1639], 2:400). Dionysius Carthusianus
agrees with him (Prooemium in "Tobiam," in Opera Omnia [1898],

VIII. The papists make a useless distinction between the canon of
the Jews and that of Christians. For although our canon taken
generally for all the books of the Old and New Testament (in which
it adequately consists) is not equally admitted by the Jews, who
reject the New Testament; yet if it is taken partially with
reference to the Old Testament (in which sense we speak of it here),
it is true that our canon does not differ from that of the Jews
because they receive into the canon no other books than we do.
IX. When the fathers sometimes mention Deuterocanonical books, they
do not mean such as are truly and in the same sense canonical as to
faith, but only those which may be placed in the canon of reading on
account of their usefulness for piety and edification.
X. The citation of any passage does not of itself prove a book to be
canonical, for then Aratus, Menander and Epimenides (quoted by Paul
in Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Tit. 1:12) would be canonical. (2) The
same passages which our adversaries bring forward as quotations from
the Apocrypha are found in the canonical books, and the apostles
would rather quote from these than from the former.
XI. If they are connected with canonical books, it does not follow
that they are of equal authority, but only that they are useful in
the formation of manners and a knowledge of history, not for
establishing faith.

XII. Although some of the Apocryphal books are better and more
correct than the others and contain various useful moral directions
(as the book of Wisdom and the Son of Sirach), yet because they
contain many other false and absurd things, they are deservedly
excluded from the canon of faith.

XIII. Although some have questioned the authenticity of a few books
of the New Testament (i.e., the epistle of James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3
John and Revelation, which afterwards were received by the church as
canonical), it does not follow that the same can be done with the
Apocryphal books because the relation of the books of the Old and
New Testaments to this subject are not the same. For the books of
the Old Testament were given to the Christian church, not at
intervals of time and by parts, but she received at one and the
same time from the Jews all the books belonging to her written in
one codex after they had been stamped with an indubitable authority,
confirmed by Christ and his apostles. But the books of the New
Testament were published separately, in different times and places
and gradually collected into one corpus. Hence it happened that some
of the later books (which came to some of the churches more slowly,
especially in remote places) were held in doubt by some until
gradually their authenticity was made known to them. (2) Although in
certain churches some of the epistles and Revelation were rejected,
yet those who received them were always far more numerous than those
who rejected them. Yet there was no dispute about the Apocryphal
books because they were always rejected by the Jewish church.
texts of the Old and New Testaments come down to us pure and
uncorrupted? We affirm against the papists."

"By the original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the
hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly
do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called
because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of
those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
"Rather the question is have the original texts (or the Hebrew and
Greek manuscripts) been so corrupted either by copyists through
carelessness (or by the Jews and heretics through malice) that they
can no longer be regarded as the judge of controversies and the rule
to which all the versions must be applied? The papists affirm, we
deny it."

"The providence of God proves that the sources have not been
corrupted. The following arguments prove that the sources have not
been corrupted. (1) The providence of God which could not permit
books which it willed to be written by inspiration (theopneustois)
for the salvation of men (and to continue unto the end of the world
that they might draw from them waters of salvation) to become so
corrupted as to render them unfit for this purpose.... (2) The
fidelity of the Christian church and unceasing labor in preserving
the manuscripts. (3) The religion of the Jews who have bestowed upon
the sacred manuscripts great care and labor amounting even to
superstition.... (4) The carefulness of the Masoretes not only about
verses and words, but also about single letters (which, together
with all the variations of punctuation and writing, they not only
counted, but also wrote down, so that no ground or even suspicion of
corruption could arise). (5) The multitude of copies; for as the
manuscripts were scattered far and wide, how could they all be
corrupted either by the carelessness of librarians or the wickedness
of enemies?... (6) If the sources had been corrupted, it must have
been done before Christ or after, neither of which is true. Not
before because Christ would not have passed it over in silence (for
he does censure the various departures in doctrine), nor could he
bear to use corrupted books....Not afterward, both because the
copies circulated among Christians would have rendered such attempts
futile, and because no trace of any such corruption appears..... (7)
The Jews neither would nor could corrupt the sources...." Turretin
argues that if the Jews had corrupted any scripture it would have
been concerning the Messiah and prophecy used by Christians. On the
other hand, Christians would immediately have noticed any changes
made by the Jews since the time of Christ. A corruption differs from
a variant reading. We acknowledge that many variant readings occur
both in the old and New Testament arising from a comparison of
different manuscripts, but we deny corruption (at least corruption
that is universal)."

-- Are the Hebrew version
of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New the only authentic
versions? We affirm against the papists."

"Of the versions of the Scriptures; some are prototypoi or
archetypoi ("original" and "primary") which the authors themselves
used. Others are ektypoi (or "secondary"), namely versions flowing
from them into other languages." After explaining how the papist
differed concerning the degree of certainty in the Hebrew or Greek
texts, He quoted the Council of Trent Session 4, which says that
"the Latin Vulgate should be held as authentic in the public
reading, disputations, preaching, and expositions, so that no one
should dare to reject it under any pretext" "Hence Mariana complains
that after this promulgation of the Council of Trent, "the Greek and
Hebrew fell at one blow. Our opinion is that the Hebrew of the Old
and the Greek of the New Testament have always been and still are
the only authentic versions by which all controversies of faith and
religion (and all versions) ought to be approved and tested. What
is an authentic writing? An authentic writing is one in which all
things are abundantly sufficient to inspire confidence; one to which
the fullest credit is due in its own kind; one of which we can be
entirely sure that it has proceeded from the author whose name it
bears; one in which everything is written just as he himself wished.
However, a writing can be authentic in two ways: either primarily
and originally or secondarily and derivatively. That writing is
primarily authentic which is autopiston ('of self-inspiring
confidence") and to which credit is and ought to be given on its own
account....The secondarily authentic writings are all the copies
accurately and faithfully taken from the originals by suitable

"Again, the authority of an authentic writing is twofold: the one is
founded upon the things themselves of which it treats and has
relation to the men to whom the writing is directed; the other is
occupied with the treatise itself and the writing and refers to the
copies and translations made from it. Over all these this law
obtains - that they ought to be referred to the authentic writing
and if they vary from it, to be corrected and emended."
"Finally, authenticity may be regarded in two ways: either
materially as to the things announced or formally as to the words
and mode of annunciation. We do not speak here of authenticity in
the former sense for we do not deny this to versions when they agree
with the sources, but only in the latter which belongs to the
sources alone. The reasons are: (1) because the sources alone are
inspired of God both as to the things and words (2 Tim 3:16); hence
they alone can be authentic. For whatever the men of God wrote, they
wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21), who, to
keep them from error, dictated not only the matter but also the
words, which cannot be said of any version..... (2) They are the
standard and rule to which all the versions should be applied, just
as the copy (ektypon) should answer to the pattern (archetypon) and
the stream be distinguished from its source.... (3) These editions
were authentic from the very first and were always considered to be
so..... (4) If the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament and the Greek
edition of the New Testament are not authentic (authentias), there
would be no authentic version, since none besides this has a divine
testimony of its own authenticity.... (5) Our opponents acknowledge
that in certain cases it is right to have recourse to the sources."
Concerning the papist argument of Hebrew points being added late by
the Masoretes as an argument for tradition, Turretin rejects,
arguing that the points were of divine origin.

"TWELFTH QUESTION: Is the present Hebrew text in things as well as
words so authentic and inspired (theopneustos) in such a sense that
all the extant versions are to be referred to it as a rule and,
wherever they vary, to be corrected by it? Or may we desert the
reading it supplies, if judged less appropriate, and correct it
either by comparison of ancient translators, or by suitable
(stochastike) judgment and conjecture, and follow another more
suitable reading? We affirm the former and deny the latter."

"As the authority (authentia) of the sacred text is the primary
foundation of faith, nothing ought to be held as more important than
to preserve it unimpaired against the attacks of those who endeavor
either to take it entirely away or in any manner to weaken it." "Far
different however is the opinion held in common by our churches;
viz., that no other codex should be held as authentic then the
present Hebrew one, to which as to a touchstone, all the ancient and
modern versions should be referred and if they differ from it to be
corrected by it, and not to be amended by them." "That this has ever
been the opinion of all Protestants is perfectly clear. The
controversy carried on previously with the papists about the
authentic edition sufficiently confirms it. The illustrious author
in question cannot deny it, for in the beginning of his Critica
Sacra, he says, 'The first and most ancient Protestants have said
that all things should be examined and corrected by the Hebrew text,
which they call the purest source..."

"If it is lawful to make conjectures on the sacred text, even when
the Hebrew codices agree with the versions (as the learned man
(Cappel) says, Critica sacra 6.8.17 (1650), p. 424), there could no
longer be any certainty of the authenticity (authentias) of it, but
all would be rendered doubtful and unsettled and the sacred text
would be subjected to the will of each conjecturer. Whether this is
not to divest it of all authority anyone can readily tell....Now who
could be the judge whether these conjectures are made rightly and
truly?...But what will become of this sacred book, if everyone is
allowed to wield a censorious pen and play the critic over it, just
as over any profane book? And all the theologians who thus far have
in any way argued concerning the Hebrew text and its authenticity
have meant no other than the common and now received text."

"THIRTEENTH QUESTION: VERSIONS -- Are versions necessary, and what
ought to be their use and authority in the church?"

"This question has two parts. The first relates to the necessity of
versions; the second to their authority..." The arguments for the
necessity of versions: (1) The reading and contemplation of the
Scriptures is enjoined upon men of all languages, therefore the
translation of it into the native tongues is necessary...(2)The
gospel is preached in all languages; therefore it can and ought to
be translated into them. The consequence holds good from the
preached to the written word because there is the same reason for
both and the same arguments (which induced the apostles to preach in
the native tongue) prove the necessity of versions....(3) Vernacular
versions are necessary on account of the constant practice of the
church, according to which it is certain that both the oriental and
western churches had their versions and performed their worship in
the vernacular tongue, as their liturgies evince...(4) The numerous
Greek versions of the Old Testament follow these....Hence it is
evident that it has been the perpetual practice of the church to use

The arguments for the authority of the versions:

"Although the versions are not authentic formally and as to the mode
of enunciation, yet they ought nevertheless to be used in the church
because if they are accurate and agree with the sources, they are
always authentic materially and as to the things expressed."
"Hence we gather what the authority of the versions is. Although
their utility is great for the instruction of believers, yet no
version either can or ought to be put on an equality with the
original, much less be preferred to it. (1) For no version has
anything important which the Hebrew or Greek source does not have
more fully, since in the sources not only the matter and sentences,
but even the very words were directly dictated by the Holy Spirit.
(2) It is one thing to be an interpreter, quite another to be a
prophet....The prophet as God-inspired (theopneustos) cannot err,
but the interpreter as a man lacks no human quality since he is
always liable to err. (3) All versions are the streams; the original
text is the fountain whence they flow. The latter is the rule, the
former the thing ruled, having only human authority."
"Nevertheless all authority must not be denied to versions. Here we
must carefully distinguish a twofold divine authority: one of
things, the other of words. The former relates to the substance of
doctrine which constitutes the internal form of the Scriptures. The
latter relates to the accident of writing, the external and
accidental form. The source has both, being God-inspired
(theopneustos) both as to the words and the things; but versions
have only the first, being expressed in human and not in divine

"Hence it follows that the versions as such are not authentic and
canonical in themselves (because made by human labor and talent).
Therefore, under this relation (schesei), they may be exposed to
errors and admit of corrections, but nevertheless are authentic as
to the doctrine they contain (which is divine and infallible). Thus
they do not, as such, formally support divine faith as to the words,
but materially as to the substance of doctrine expressed in them."
"There is one perfection of thing and truth to which nothing can be
added and from which nothing can be taken away; another perfect ion
of the version itself. The former is strictly divine work and is
absolutely and in every way self-credible (autopiston). Such
perfection is in the word carried over into the versions.. The
latter is a human work and there liable to error and correction - to
which indeed authority can belong, but only human (according to the
fidelity and conformity with the original text), not divine."
"The certainty of the conformity of the versions with the original
is twofold: the one merely grammatical and of human knowledge
apprehending the conformity of the words in the versions with the
original this belongs to the learned, who know the languages); the
other spiritual and of divine faith, relating to the agreement of
things and doctrines (belonging to each believer according to the
measure of the gift of Christ, as he himself says, "My sheep hear my
voice, Jn. 10:27; and Paul, "he that is spiritual discerneth all
things," 1 Cor 2:15). Although a private person may be ignorant of
the languages, he does not cease to gather the fidelity of a version
as to the things themselves from the analogy of faith and the
connection of the doctrines: 'If any man will do his will, he shall
know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of
myself'" (Jo. 7:17)

"Conformity to the original is different from equality. Any version
(provided it is faithful) is indeed conformable to the original
because the same doctrine as to substance is set forth there. But it
is not on that account equal to it because it is only a human and
not a divine method of setting it forth."

"Although any version made by fallible men cannot be considered
divine and infallible with respect to the terms, yet it can well be
considered such with respect to the things, since it faithfully
expresses the divine truth of the sources even as the word which the
minister of the gospel preaches does not cease to be divine and
infallible and to establish our faith, although it may be expressed
by him in human words. Thus faith depends not on the authority of
the interpreter or minister, but is built upon the truth and
authenticity (authentia) of the things contained in the versions."

"If a version could contain the pure word of God in divine words, no
correction could take place. For the sources neither can nor ought
to be corrected because they are God-inspired (theopneustoi) in
things as well as in words. But because it sets forth to us in human
words the word of God, it follows that it can admit of correction,
not with regard to the doctrine itself (which still remains the
same), but with regard to the terms which especially in difficult
and obscure passages can be differently rendered by different
persons according to the measure of the gift of Christ."

"FOURTEENTH QUESTION: THE SEPTUAGINT -- Is the Septuagint version of
the Old Testament authentic? We deny."

"FIFTEENTH QUESTION: THE VULGATE -- Is the Vulgate authentic? We
deny against the papist."

Scriptures so perfectly contain all things necessary to salvation
that there is no need of unwritten (apraphois) traditions after it?
We affirm against the papists."

"In order to shun more easily the tribunal of the Scriptures which
they know to be opposed to them, the papists endeavor not only to
overthrow their authentical (authentian) and integrity, but also to
impeach their perfection and perspicuity. Hence arises this question
concerning the perfection of the Scriptures between us."
"The question relates only to things necessary to salvation -
whether they belong to faith or to practice; whether all these
things are so contained in the Scriptures that they can be a total
and adequate rule of faith and practice (which we maintain and our
opponents deny)."

"The question then amounts to this - whether the Scripture perfectly
contains all (not absolutely), but necessary to salvation; not
expressly and in so many words, but equivalently and by legitimate
inference, as to leave no place for any unwritten (agraphon) word
containing doctrinal or moral traditions. Is the Scripture a
complete and adequate rule of faith and practice or only a partial
and inadequate rule? We maintain the former; the papists the latter,
holding that "unwritten traditions pertaining to faith and practice
are to be received with the same regard and reverence as the

"....We give to the Scriptures such a sufficiency and perfection as
is immediate and explicit. There is no need to have recourse to any
tradition independent of them."

"Finally, they were intended to be the contract of the covenant
between God and us."


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