I don't think this is a strong case against the inerrantist position for 2 reasons.
- It is possible that recensions are also inerrant; and
- The inerrantist appeal to the autographs is a minor feature of their position.
The larger issue here is that the appeal to autographs is not the focus of inerrancy. Kelly seems to recognise this as he states,
This appeal to the autographs helps to escape the obvious error that occurred during transmission as well as the complexity behind identifying which textual tradition is the inerrant one.The focus of inerrancy is that the Bible is without error of fact, not just doctrine. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (which I am comfortable with) affirms this. There are several articles to explain what is meant by this affirmation but some of these qualifiers mean that inerrantists are not compelled to defend pseudo-errors. One of the qualifiers is that the claim of inerrancy only applies to original wording of the manuscripts. Article 10 states,
We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.While Kelly is addressing text-types (or rather, the possibility of non-unique sources, which is within the larger concept of text-type veracity), the bigger issue for inerrancy is usually one of translation. In practice, appeal is made to the Bible in one's own language. I speak neither Hebrew nor Greek so my appeals must be to the English Bible. And I am confident that Bibles in other languages are accurate enough for inerrancy apologists of foreign speech. It is not that inerrantists continually appeal to the non-extant texts, rather it is to dismiss the claims of error that only exist as result of errant transcription and, more often, errant translation. It seems to me that the usual appeal is to the original language or the original words (as opposed to the original manuscript) to resolve a difficulty of translation. I am not certain that a large number of difficulties, that is issues of errancy, arise from the different text-types.
We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.