NZ Beacon

A Protestant Bible Believing Publication Since 1982 standing upon and for the Authorised English text of the 1611 Holy Scriptures

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What exactly are the "autographs"?

What exactly are the "autographs"?
Part One . . ."Autographs" are the author’s writings in his own hand (‘auto’ – self, and ‘graph’ – write), so the autograph of the epistle to the Romans, for example, would be the actual original words of the Apostle, written, in whatever language he used, on the actual original piece(s) of paper (or leather or whatever) by Paul himself (or by his ‘secretary’ at Paul’s dictation).That is, the autographs are the only time and place when the original words and the original sheet(s) were together.That, and that alone, is what is meant by referring to the autograph of any writing.The words on the paper are often referred to as the "text", or in the case of the autographs they are called the "original text" or the "autographic text".After the autographs are written on the original pieces of paper, the words of those autographs may then be reproduced in different ways.They may be copied in the same language, or they may be translated into a different language.CopiesNow copies may be good and accurate copies of those originals, reproducing, word by word, exactly what the original text said, or they may be copies containing mistakes, and those mistakes may be intentional or by accident.So when we are looking at a copy of a text we need to know whether it is an accurate copy or an inaccurate one.An accurate copy is of course just as reliable as the autographs, while an inaccurate copy may have only a few words different from the original text or have many different words.TranslationsThe original text may also be translated into a completely different language altogether from the language of the autographic text, e.g. an Aramaic original may be translated into a Greek language translation, or an English language original may be translated into a Maori language translation, and here the original language is often referred to as the "donor" language and the translation language is referred to as the "receptor" language.This is a quite different scenario to the copying of the original text.Opinion as to correctness of the translation, or its simplicity or difficulty, its awkwardness or suitableness for young or old readers, whether it is a literal translation or whether it has a "dynamic equivalence" etc etc, is a huge issue and widely debated. Some argue that a translation could never be authoritative, because it is, after all, only a translation. However if God wished to translate then it surely would be perfect and authoritative. And indeed, God HAS translated, many times, and the translation is of equal authority as the original. For example in Mark 15:34 we read "Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani", which being interpreted (i.e. translated) is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"So not only God can, but has, produced perfect translation.NOT the originalsA copy then, is either without error or is flawed, while a translation is not as easy to decide its condition.But while copies of autographs may be good copies, exact and correct in every word, and while translations may also be either good, bad or indifferent, neither copies nor translations are the "autographs" , even though an accurate copy and a God-given translation are of equal value and authority as the original.Autographs then are different in kind to copies and translations, but may not be different in authority, availability, and usefulness.What about the Autographs of the BIBLE?The autographs of any of the Bible books do not appear to be in existence today, Old Testament or New Testament.And even if one of those ancient scrolls or books or pieces of paper were discovered now in the 21st century it is unlikely that they would have written on them - "This is the autograph of the Epistle to the Romans", or "This is the original of Genesis", and if they did, would we believe it or would we think it a hoax or pseudo writing? And how could we know?No one anywhere on the earth claims to have the original writing of any of the 66 books of the Holy Scriptures. That is a fact.And this FACT is of supreme importance when discussing or studying the "Bible Issue".We simply do not have the originals of any of the Bible books, the closest we have is copies or translations.And this raises many important questions as to the autographic texts and their present form and availability for the Bible-believer today, and that will be the subject of the next article on this vital issue."Thy word is very pure"


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