Tag Archives: Bible Translations

Something Many English Bible Translations Have In Common

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

You might recall that some weeks ago Presidential aspirant, Donald Trump, spoke at Liberty University. During his speech, he referred to a certain book of the New Testament as “2 Corinthians.” He took some heat over his having called the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians “2 Corinthians.” It seems some folks thought it revealed his ignorance of the Bible. Well, though I am not a Trump supporter, I want to point out that the objection to his reference to “2 Corinthians” actually revealed the ignorance of those who found fault with it. Here is why: I have been an avid Bible-reader for over 40 years, and I have noticed the very thing for which Trump was faulted. So, I looked at 9 of my English Bible translations, and each one refers to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as “2 Corinthians.” Here is a list of the 9 translations I looked at: the King James Version, New King James Version, Modern English Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible (updated edition), New International Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, New Revised Standard Version, and the 1602 edition of the Geneva Bible New Testament. I don’t know what Bible translation Trump referred to at Liberty University, but it must have been one that said “2 Corinthians” at the top of the page he read from that day.

Now, here is another important fact related to this subject: there are several books in the Old Testament and epistles (letters) in the New Testament in which numbers are used by translators to identify them. In the Old Testament we find the books called 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles. And in the New Testament we find the epistles (letters) called 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1, 2 and 3 John. But we commonly refer to them as first and second, or as first, second and third. Here’s another interesting fact: in the Old Testament, at first there was one book of Samuel, one of Kings, and one of Chronicles. But each one was divided in half, so to speak, for the sake of convenience. They then were renamed 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 an 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. But the letters of the New Testament were written separately.

Six Reasons To Not Follow “King James Version-onlyism”


By Pastor K. Bruce Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

   

First, don’t follow KJV-onlyism because it seems to imply that the Bible was not in English prior to the KJV.
   KJV–only literature emphasizes the idea that only the KJV is God’s Word in English. If that is true, what were English Bible translations before the KJV was published? Are we to assume that they were not really Bibles? Or, are we to assume that they ceased to be Bibles when the KJV was printed in 1611?
   What are the pre-KJV English Bibles? The Wycliffe Bible (1382); Tyndale’s Bible (1525-1534); Coverdale’s Bible (1535); Thomas Matthew’s Bible (1537); the Great Bible (1539); the Geneva Bible (1557-1560); the Bishop’s Bible (1568).
   If these translations were the Word of God when they were first published, they still are the Word of God. And if that is true, we cannot say that the King James Version alone is the Word of God in English.
Second, don’t follow KJV-onlyism for the simple reason that the KJV generally used today is different in substance from the 1611 KJV.
   Followers of KJV-onlyism make much of using the “1611 KJV.” But most of them seem unaware of the fact that most of them do not use it. The commonly-used KJV is different from the 1611 edition in substance, not just in spelling, and type-style, and punctuation.
   On page 217 of his book, THE KING JAMES VERSION DEFENDED, E. F. Hills wrote: “Two editions of the King James Version were published in 1611. The first is distinguished from the second by a unique misprint, namely, Judas instead of Jesus in Matthew 26:36. The second edition corrected this mistake, and also in other respects was  more carefully done. Other editions followed in 1612, 1613, 1616, 1617 and frequently thereafter. In 1629 and 1638 the text was subjected to two minor revisions. In the 18th century the spelling and punctuation of the King James version were modernized, and many obsolete words were changed to their modern equivalents. The two scholars responsible for these alterations were Dr. Thomas Paris (1762) of Cambridge, and Dr. Benjamin Blayney (1769) of Oxford, and it is to their efforts that the generally current form of the King James Version is due.”
   Note that the text was subjected to revisions!
  Evangelist Gary Hudson wrote a valuable article called, The Myth of No Revision  in which he listed over seventy examples of how the text of the 1611 KJV differs from what is used by most KJV readers today. Four examples of textual changes are given here:
2 Kings 11:10, 1611 KJV: in the temple
2 Kings 11:10, current KJV: in the temple of the Lord
1 Chronicles 7:5, 1611 KJV: were men of might
1 Chronicles 7:5, current KJV: were valiant men of might
Matthew 12:23, 1611 KJV: Is this the son of David?
Matthew 12:23, current KJV: Is not this the son of David?
I John 5:12, 1611 KJV: he that hath not the Son, hath not life
I John 5:12, current KJV: “he that hath not the Son of God hath not life
  Have you ever seen stickers on envelopes that say, “Use the Bible God Uses: 1611 KJV”? Or, have you seen advertisements for churches which say something like “Standing for the 1611 KJV” ? Well, it is very likely that they think they are using the original KJV, but are not doing so. A simple comparison of their King James Bibles with the 1611 edition might reveal something they will be surprised by.
  While there is nothing wrong with having a preference for the King James Version, we should not make claims that probably are not accurate. Facts are stubborn things, and one can easily verify the accuracy of those who claim to be using the original King James Version.
   Since it is easily proven that the KJV usually used today is substantially different from the 1611 edition, KJV-only advocates are faced with a dilemma: they must decide which edition is God’s Word in English.
Third, don’t follow KJV-onlyism because it attributes infallibility to the KJV, something not done by its Translators.
   The original edition of the KJV has some very interesting and informative introductory material which enables us to see what the Translators thought of their own work. I am referring to The Epistle Dedicatory, and to a lengthy piece called The Translators to the Readers.
   In The Epsitle Dedicatory, the Translators dedicated their translation to King James. In their dedication we discover that they did not consider their work to be infallible, as the following quotation proves: “There are infinite arguments of this right Christian and religious affection in your Majesty: but none is more forcible to declare it to others than the vehement and perpetuated desire of the accomplishing and publishing of this work, which now with all humility we present unto your Majesty. For when your Highness had once out of deep judgement apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the original sacred tongues, together with comparing of the labors, both in our own and other foreign languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact translation of the holy Scriptures into the English tongue; Your Majesty did never desist, to urge and to excite those to whom it was commended, that the work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited in so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require.”
   Since the translators who made the King James Version considered their work to be “one more exact translation of the holy Scriptures into the English tongue,” should we make more of it than they did?
   In The Translators To The Reader, we find that they did not look upon their translation the way many do now. For instance, page seven says: “Now to the latter (the Puritans) we answer that we do not deny, nay we affirm, and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, not withstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For whatever was perfect under the Sun, where Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?”
   Therefore, we should not consider the King James Version to be infallible when the translators themselves denied it.
A fourth reason we should not follow KJV-onlyism is that the marginal notes in the 1611 edition reveal that the translators themselves were often uncertain of how words and verses should be translated into English.
   Most KJV Bibles have few or none of these marginal notes. One should purchase a 1611 edition from Thomas Nelson Publishers so that the notes can be read. They are very interesting, informative, and perhaps unnerving to advocates of KJV-­onlyism.
  On page 216 of his book, THE KING JAMES VERSION DEFENDED, E. F. Hills said some important things about those notes. Consider his statements carefully: “The marginal notes which the translators attached to the King James Version indicated how God guided their labors providentially. According to Scrivener (1884), there are 8,422 marginal notes in the 1611 edition of the King James Version, including the Apocrypha. In the Old Testament, Scrivener goes on to say, 4,111 of the marginal notes give the more literal meaning of the Hebrew or Aramaic, 2,156 give alternative translations, and 67 give variant readings. In the New Testament 112 of the marginal notes give literal rendering of the Greek, 582 give alternative translations, and 37 give variant readings. These marginal notes show us that the translators were guided providentially through their thought processes, through weighing every possibility and choosing that which seemed to them best.”
    Two paragraphs later, Hills wrote, “As the marginal notes indicate, the King James translators did not regard their work as perfect or inspired, but they did consider it to be a trustworthy reproduction of God’s holy Word, and as such they commended it to their Christian reader.”
   The conclusion to be drawn from their many notes is obvious: If they were often unsure of themselves, should we attribute infallibility to their translation? No, we should make neither more nor less of their work than they did.
A fifth reason not to follow KJV-onlyism is that it condemns modern translators for doing what the KJV translators themselves did by putting marginal notes in the Bible.
   In reading KJV-only literature, one soon learns that it is unacceptable to put any notes in Bible margins that can make the reader “uncertain” of how a verse should be translated, or that can make one question whether or not a verse should be in the Bible at all. For instance, one pamphlet concerning the NIV says: “Even though NIV includes a weaker translation of this (Matt. 21:44) in the text, the footnote says, ‘Some manuscripts omit vs. 44.’ This is a rather strong suggestion that it may not belong in the Bible at all. Matt. 12:47; 16:3; and Luke 22:43, 44 are treated by the NIV in the same shoddy and shameful way. To the uninformed reader, such footnotes will tend to destroy confidence in the Bible as the Word of God.”
  While I understand this concern, the facts prove that the original KJV was “guilty” of the same thing. For example, the KJV marginal note for Luke 10:22 says, ‘Many ancient copies add these words, “and turning to his disciples he said.’” And the notation of Luke 17:36 says, “This 36 verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies.” We should remember the fact that the 1611 KJV Old Testament has 2,156 alternate translations in its margins, and the New Testament has 582 in its margins. Aren’t such extensive marginal notes in the original KJV just as likely to “destroy confidence in the Bible as the Word of God” as those in other translations are said to do?
A sixth reason not to follow KJV-onlyism is because the KJV is the product of the Church of England.
   As a Baptist, I believe in the Biblical distinctives of Baptists, two of which are (1) the separation of church and state, and (2) the immersion of believers. I would not have speakers in our church if they deny these doctrines. Therefore, I could not have any of the translators of the King James Version preach in my pulpit. They believed in, and were members of the Church of England, a state church. Furthermore, they believed in baptismal regeneration, whereas Baptists believe in regeneration by the Word of God and by the work of Holy Spirit.
    In their epistle of dedication of the King James Version, its translators expressed their “great hope that the Church of England shall reap good fruit thereby.” The fact that the KJV was produced by the Church of England does not mean that it should not be used. But it does mean that if Baptists are going to be consistent with their theology, they must admit that the translators of the KJV would not qualify to join their churches.
   Consequently, it does not make sense that so many Baptists are crusading for the exclusive use of the King James Version. How can Baptists crusade for the exclusive use of a translation produced by a denomination that promotes beliefs that oppose Baptist beliefs?
In Conclusion:
   We would do well to adopt the view of the KJV’s translators about their work. In their epistle of dedication to King James they stated that their work was “one more exact translation of the holy Scriptures into the English tongue.”
   Furthermore, we would do well to remember that in The Translators To The Reader, they said: “Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavor, that hath been our mark.
  We also should remember what E.F. Hills wrote on page 216 of his book, THE KING JAMES VERSION DEFENDED: “As the marginal notes indicate, the King James translators did not regard their work as perfect or inspired, but they did consider it to be a trustworthy reproduction of God’s holy Word, and as such they commended it to their Christian readers…”
   It is with such an opinion of the King James Version that we, too, can commend it to readers, both Christian and non-Christian. But we have good reasons to not follow KJV-onlyism.
(This article is a re-write of my original article, called, “Why I cannot follow KJV-onlyism.”)

Questions And Answers About The Bible

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

1. IS THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes, and there are many good reasons to believe it is the Word of God. Instead of listing some of the reasons, here is a suggestion: read it with an open mind and discover its contents for yourself. I suggest you start by reading the New Testament, and then read the Old Testament. Note the many statements affirming it to be the Word of God. One of the most well-known is 2 Timothy 3:15 – 17. If you want to read a good article on this subject, read R. A. Torrey’s article called “Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible Is The Word Of God.” It was written in 1898. It is still in print, and can be read on the internet from a variety of sources.
2. WAS THE BIBLE (the Word of God) IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION IN 1611?
Yes. Two examples are the Wycliffe Bible and the Geneva Bible. These and some other pre-King James Version translations are still in print, and some, and maybe all, are also available on the internet. One of many interesting books on the history of old English Bible translations is by David O. Beale. It is called “A Pictorial History Of Our English Bible.” I have profitably read it two times.
3. SINCE THE BIBLE (the Word of God) WAS IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, ARE THOSE TRANSLATIONS STILL THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes, of course. The Bible never ceases to be the Word of God.
4. WHAT, THEN, OF THE CLAIM MADE BY MANY SINCERE CHRISTIANS THAT ONLY THE KING JAMES VERSION IS THE WORD OF GOD IN ENGLISH?
Such a claim is plainly false, and should not be accepted. The King James Version is the Word of God in English, but so are the English Bible translations that preceded it. The publication of the King James Version did not in any way cause those translations to become less than the Word of God. The Bible is always the Word of God.
5. SINCE THE BIBLE (the Word of God) WAS IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT ENGLISH BIBLE TRANSLATIONS PUBLISHED SINCE THE KING JAMES VERSION ARE ALSO THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes. Absolutely. There is no logical, defensible, justifiable reason to say this cannot be possible. But it is more than possible. It is a provable reality. There is no evidence whatever that the translators of the King James Version believed their translation was the final translation of the Word of God into English. They did not believe, as many wrongly believe in our day, that their translation alone was the Word of God for the English speaking people of the world. Nor should we. Good translations of the Bible into English have been made since the publication of the King James Version. Some examples are the New American Standard (updated in maybe 1995), the English Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the Modern English Version.
6. WHAT IF ONE HAS A STRONG PREFERENCE FOR THE KING JAMES VERSION, BUT WOULD LIKE TO READ A MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATION THAT IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE KING JAMES VERSION AND THAT IS BASED ON THE SAME ORIGINAL-LANGUAGE TEXTS AS THE KING JAMES VERSION?
In that case, I recommend at least two translations: 1) The New King James Version (NKJV). 2) The Modern English Version (MEV). The NKJV has been in print for many years, and the MEV was published in 2014. I have been reading the NKJV for several years, and I have been reading the MEV for several months. I have read the old KJV at least 40 times, and as I read the NKJV and the MEV, it is easy to see the similarities they have to the KJV, and their differences from it. But their differences are not so great as to keep one from reading the NKJV and the MEV. If you don’t want to buy these translations, both of them can be read on the Bible Gateway website, and perhaps on other websites. I have a preference for the KJV, NKJV, and the MEV. But I refuse to make this preference a test of fellowship with other Christians.

WHY IS BIBLE READING IMPORTANT?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Bible reading is important for many reasons, all of which are found in the Bible itself. Below is the entire third chapter of the apostle Paul’s second letter to his preacher-friend, Timothy. It is quoted from The Modern English Version, which is based on the same original language texts as the King James Version. The MEV is also a literal translation of the original languages, in contrast to some modern English translations. As you read the following chapter, look for the reasons Bible reading is so important.

2 Timothy 3 Modern English Version (MEV)
The Last Days
3 Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. 2 Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people.
6 Those of this nature creep into houses and captivate silly women who are burdened with sins and led away with various desires, 7 always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth, men of corrupt minds and worthless concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further, for their folly will be revealed to everyone, as theirs also was.
Last Charge to Timothy
10 But you have observed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, tolerance, love, patience, 11 persecutions, and afflictions, which came to me at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—what persecutions I endured! But the Lord delivered me out of them all. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing those from whom you have learned them, 15 and that since childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Modern English Version (MEV) The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

Here are some reasons Bible reading is so important: 1) The Bible tells us what to expect in the last days, and we are seeing these things now. 2) It tells us to continue in its truths. 3) It tells us the importance of learning the Bible when we are young, for by it we learn how to be saved. (But it’s better to learn it late than never.) 4) It tells us it is inspired, which, simply defined, means it is from God, it is the Word of God.. 5) It tells us it is a profitable book in several practical ways. Therefore, be an avid Bible reader.

The MEV quote was taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com.

To Live Right, We Must Think Right

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

If we want to live right, we must think right. That’s a “no-brainer,” as the saying goes. But the fact is, it is easy to become careless about what we allow into our minds. Many of us would not start smoking tobacco, knowing what it does to a smoker’s lungs. We don’t even want to spend much time in smoke-filled places for the same reason. So, we avoid such places to protect our lungs. We need to be even more cautious about what we allow into our minds, for what we allow into our minds either helps us or harms us.
Therefore, we must be on our guard when it comes to what we look at on TV, on the internet, in movies, and in literature. We must also be careful about the music we listen to. All of the above have the potential to put harmful thoughts into our minds, and if we allow such thoughts into our minds, the outcome will not be good.
Let me give just one example of a TV program that is not good for us. I have never watched more than a few minutes this program because of its blatant sensuality and sexuality. The ads for it on TV certainly emphasize this program’s sensuality and sexuality. What is the program? “Dancing With The Stars.” I am convinced that DWTS is so popular, not just because of the skill of the dancers, but also because of its sensuality and sexuality. This program is contributing to the acceptance of low sexual standards among it viewers because it diminishes the Biblical concept of the sacredness of intimacy and sex between a man and woman who are married to one another. Such intimacy is to be kept private, not hinted at on TV.
Now that these frank statements have been made, let me follow them up with the fourth chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippian Christians. The key verse is verse 8. I put it in bold print to easily pick it out.

Philippians 4 Modern English Version (MEV)

4 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brothers, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved.

Exhortations

2 I exhort Euodia and Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 I ask you also, true companion, help those women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with my other fellow laborers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let everyone come to know your gentleness. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. 9 Do those things which you have both learned and received, and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Acknowledgment of the Philippians’ Gift

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me. Regarding this, you did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 I do not speak because I have need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. 12 I know both how to face humble circumstances and how to have abundance. Everywhere and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me.

14 Nevertheless you did well having shared in my affliction. 15 Now you Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. 16 Even in Thessalonica, you sent aid once and again for my necessity, 17 not because I desired a gift, but I desire fruit that accumulates to your account. 18 But I have everything and abound. I have been filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, like a sweet fragrance, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply your every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

20 Now to God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those who are of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Modern English Version (MEV)
The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

When My Friend, “Oh Shoot!” Larry, Became A Christian

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
I told in a Facebook post about two of my friends from years ago. One was Clifford, the humorous man with Down syndrome. The other was Larry, with whom Clifford and I would have lunch in my car while we listened to Paul Harvey’s radio program. Larry is the one who said “Oh shoot!” when I interrupted an interesting Paul Harvey story by asking Larry to thank God for our food.
Well, let me tell you about when and how “Oh shoot!” Larry became a Christian. We lived in Miles City, MT and his sister lived in Glendive, MT. One day she called me and said she was concerned about Larry’s need to become a Christian. She then asked if I would go and speak to him about accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior. I said I would, and got Larry’s address from her. Then a deacon of church and I went to visit Larry at his apartment. He let us in, and we spoke to him about the importance of accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior. I told him that without the Lord as his Savior he would never be allowed into heaven. Larry said he was ready to ask Jesus Christ to forgive his sins and to save his soul. So, we bowed our heads and I led Larry in a simple prayer, during which he told the Lord he needed him as his Savior. After Larry’s prayer, I showed him some Bible verses that reassured him that if he had, indeed, believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, he was now a forgiven and saved man, and would be allowed into heaven. Then, the deacon and I left his apartment and went back to my car to go home.
When we got in the car, I told the deacon that Larry’s prayer was so dry, figuratively speaking, that it made me wonder if he was sincere when he prayed to the Lord for salvation. But Larry soon showed the sincerity of his prayer to become a Christian. He did so by attending our church regularly, by reading his Bible, by letting me take him through some Bible studies for new Christians, by giving Gospel literature to those who might not be Christians, by being baptized as a profession of his faith in the Lord, and by joining the church. His life demonstrated by these and other ways that he had become a sincere Christian.
I have said all these things abut Larry to make one primary point: He proved that a person can be very sincere about accepting Jesus Christ as his or her Savior without showing a lot of emotion at the time. It’s not the emotion of a prayer to be forgiven and saved that proves its sincerity, but it is the changes that come into one’s life as a result of sincerely accepting the Lord as one’s Savior. The fact is, someone can cry a river of tears when they say what might be called “the sinner’s prayer to be saved,” but show little or no long-term proof that their heart was in that prayer. As someone else put it so well, we can call these persons “Alka-seltzer Christians” because they fizz for awhile and then disappear.

The Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke about this subject in one of his parables. The parable is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and is quoted here from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 8, verses 1 – 15. The quote is taken from the Modern English Version, which was published in 2014. For those not familiar with the Bible, the numbers seen in the Bible verses are the verse numbers. ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, all the way through number 15.)

Luke 8 Modern English Version (MEV)
Women Who Accompany Jesus

8 Afterward, He went throughout every city and village, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. With Him were the twelve 2 and some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who supported Him with their possessions.

The Parable of the Sower

4 When a large crowd had gathered together and people were coming to Him from every city, He told this parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on a rock. And as soon as it sprang up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 Yet some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 And other seed fell on good ground and sprang up and yielded a hundred times the amount sown.”

When He had said these things, He cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

9 His disciples asked Him, “What might this parable mean?” 10 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but to others they are in parables, so that

‘seeing they may not see,
and hearing they may not understand.’

The Parable of the Sower Explained

11 “Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are those who hear. Then comes the devil, who takes away the word from their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root, for they believe for a while, then in the time of temptation fall away. 14 That which fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.

Modern English Version (MEV)

The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

This quote from the MEV was taken from this website: www.biblegateway.com.

Westcott & Hort Versus The Textus Receptus: Which Is Superior?

If you want good information on some Biblical textual matters, the following article is very important to read. It is posted with the author’s permission.

Westcott & Hort versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior?

by Doug Kutilek

Note: This study was first composed in 1996 and published that year by Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute as research report no. 45, a thirteen-page booklet (ISBN 0-944788-45-9). It was an attempt to clarify issues in the “Bible texts and translations controversy” by carefully defining and explaining terms which are often bandied about by those who seem to have limited understanding as to their actual meaning. It has not previously appeared in As I See It and is presented here with minor alterations. It is supplied with extensive endnotes, which should be read.–Editor

The New Testament was inspired by God, and came from the pens of its writers or their amanuenses in infallible form, free from any defect of any sort, including scribal mistakes. However, it is evident from the facts of history that God in His providence did not choose to protect that infallible original text from alterations and corruptions in the copying and printing process. Scribes, and later printers, made both accidental (usually) and deliberate (occasionally) changes in the Greek text as they copied and propagated it. As a result, the surviving manuscript copies (as well as printed editions) of the New Testament differ among themselves in numerous though usually trivial details.

Many attempts have been made (even as early as the second century A.D.) to sort through the manuscripts of the New Testament and weed out the errors and mistakes of copyists, in order to restore the text to its original apostolic form. Those who have made such attempts through the centuries have differed one from another in the resources at their disposal, their own personal abilities as text editors, and the principles followed in seeking to restore the original text of the New Testament.

The two most famous such efforts at restoring the original text of the New Testament are the Textus Receptus, dating from the Reformation and post-Reformation era, and the Greek text of B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, first published in 1881. These two texts were based on differing collections of manuscripts, following differing textual principles, at different stages in the on-going process of the discovery and evaluation of surviving New Testament manuscripts, and, not surprisingly, with often differing results. [1] There is much dispute today about which of these texts is a more faithful representation of the original form of the Greek New Testament, and it is this question which will be addressed in this study: Which is the superior Greek New Testament, the Textus Receptus / “Received Text” or the “Critical Text” of Westcott and Hort?

Any proper and adequate answer given to this question must begin with the matter of definition of terms. First, what is meant by the term “superior”? This may seem an unnecessary question since it might be supposed that all would agree on the answer, namely, the superior Greek New Testament is that one which most closely preserves and presents the precise original wording of the original Greek writings of the New Testament. However, in the rather voluminous popular literature on this issue, some writers have argued that one text or another is superior because it is perceived to contain more proof-texts of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, or some other doctrine. In fact, to make a selection on such a basis is much beside the point. Additional supporting proof-texts of numerous doctrines can be found in various individual Greek manuscripts or ancient versions, though the readings in question are beyond dispute not the original reading of the New Testament. [2] “Which Greek text most closely corresponds to the original New Testament?”–this and no other consideration is proper in deciding which Greek text is superior.

Next, what is meant by the term, “Received Text”? This name was first applied to a printed Greek text only as late as 1633, or some 117 years after the first published Greek New Testament appeared in 1516. In 1633, the Elzevirs of Leyden published the second edition of their Greek text, and that text contained the publisher’s “blurb” in Latin: textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum, or, “therefore you have the text now received by all,” from which the term textus receptus, or received text was taken, and applied collectively and retroactively to the series of published Greek New Testaments extending from 1516 to 1633 and beyond. Most notable among the many editors of Greek New Testaments in this period were Erasmus (5 editions: 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535), Robert Etienne a.k.a. Robertus Stephanus (4 editions, 1546, 1549, 1550, 1551), Theodore de Beza (9 editions, between 1565 and 1604), and the Elzevirs (3 editions, 1624,1633, 1641). [3] These many Greek texts display a rather close general uniformity, a uniformity based on the fact that all these texts are more or less reprints of the text(s) edited by Erasmus, with only minor variations. These texts were not independently compiled by the many different editors on the basis of close personal examination of numerous Greek manuscripts, but are genealogically-related. [4] Proof of this is to be found in a number of “unique” readings in Erasmus’ texts, that is, readings which are found in no known Greek manuscript but which are nevertheless found in the editions of Erasmus. One of these is the reading “book of life” in Revelation 22:19. All known Greek manuscripts here read “tree of life” instead of “book of life” as in the textus receptus. Where did the reading “book of life” come from? When Erasmus was compiling his text, he had access to only one manuscript of Revelation, and it lacked the last six verses, so he took the Latin Vulgate and back-translated from Latin to Greek. Unfortunately, the copy of the Vulgate he used read “book of life,” unlike any Greek manuscript of the passage, and so Erasmus introduced a “unique” Greek reading into his text. [5] Since the first and only “source” for this reading in Greek is the printed text of Erasmus, any Greek New Testament that agrees with Erasmus here must have been simply copied from his text. The fact that all textus receptus editions of Stephanus, Beza, et al. read with Erasmus shows that their texts were more or less slavish reprints of Erasmus’ text and not independently compiled editions, for had they been edited independently of Erasmus, they would surely have followed the Greek manuscripts here and read “tree of life.” Numerous other unique or extremely rare readings in the textus receptus editions could be referenced.

In this connection, it is worth noting that the translators of the King James Version did not follow exclusively any single printed edition of the New Testament in Greek. The edition most closely followed by them was Beza’s edition of 1598, but they departed from this edition for the reading in some other published Greek text at least 170 times, and in at least 60 places, the KJV translators abandoned all then-existing printed editions of the Greek New Testament, choosing instead to follow precisely the reading in the Latin Vulgate version. [6] No edition of the Greek New Testament agreeing in detail with the text followed by the KJV translators was in existence until 1881 when F. H. A. Scrivener produced such an edition (though even it differs from the King James Version in a very few places, e.g. Acts 19:20). It is Scrivener’s 1881 text which was reprinted by the Trinitarian Bible Society in 1976. This text does not conform exactly to any of the historic texts dating from the Reformation period and known collectively as the textus receptus, and so consequently any one passing off the 1881 Scrivener text as a or the “textus receptus” is engaging in disinformation.

Furthermore, a careful distinction must be made between the textus receptus (even in its broadest collective sense) on the one hand, and the majority text (also known as the Byzantine or Syrian text) on the other. Though the terms textus receptus and majority text are frequently used as though they were synonymous, they by no means mean the same thing. [7] When the majority text was being compiled by Hodges and Farstad, their collaborator Pickering estimated that their resultant text would differ from the textus receptus in over 1,000 places [8]; in fact, the differences amounted to 1,838. [9] In other words, the reading of the majority of existing Greek manuscripts differs from the textus receptus in 1,838 places (Hodges and Farstad used an 1825 Oxford reprint of Stephanus’ 1550 text for comparison purposes), and in many of these places, the text of Westcott and Hort agrees with the majority of manuscripts against the textus receptus. The majority of manuscripts and Westcott and Hort agree against the textus receptus in excluding Luke 17:36 (here the original 1611 edition of the KJV has a marginal note: “this 36. verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies“); Acts 8:37; and I John 5:7 from the New Testament, as well as concurring in numerous other readings (such as “tree of life” in Revelation 22:19). Except in a few rare cases, writers well-versed in textual criticism have abandoned the textus receptus as a standard text. [10]

The question remains to be resolved: how shall we define textus receptus? It has been customary in England to employ the 1550 text of Stephanus as the exemplar of the textus receptus (just as an Elzevir text was so adopted on the continent of Europe), and so we will follow this custom. For our purposes here, the term textus receptus means the 1550 edition of the Greek New Testament published by Robertus Stephanus.

The Westcott and Hort text is much simpler to define. This is the Greek New Testament edited by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort and first published in 1881, with numerous reprints in the century since. It is probably the single most famous of the so-called critical texts, perhaps because of the scholarly eminence of its editors, perhaps because it was issued the same year as the English Revised Version which followed a text rather like the Westcott-Hort text.

It needs to be stated clearly that the text of Westcott and Hort was not the first printed Greek Testament that deliberately and substantially departed from the textus receptus on the basis of manuscript evidence. Westcott and Hort were preceded in the late 1700s by Griesbach, and in the 1800s by Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles, and Tischendorf (and others), all of whose texts made numerous revisions in the textus receptus on the basis of manuscript evidence; these texts, especially the last three named, are very frequently in agreement with Westcott and Hort, against the textus receptus. [11]

Likewise, it is important to recognize that the English Revised New Testament which came out in 1881 was not directly based on the text of Westcott and Hort, although in many particulars they are the same. The Greek text followed by the Revisers was compiled and published in 1882 in an edition with the KJV and ERV in parallel columns. [12] It is true that the Westcott-Hort text and the English Revised New Testament of 1881 are rather similar to each other, but they are not identical.

Though the Westcott-Hort text was the “standard” critical text for a generation or two, it is no longer considered such by any one, and has not been for many years. The “standard” text or texts today are the Nestle or Nestle-Aland text (1st edition, 1898; 27th edition, 1993) and/or the various editions of The Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies (1st edition, 1966; 4th edition, 1993). The last two editions of each of these sport an identical text, a new “received text,” so to speak. It is true that the Westcott-Hort text is part of the heritage of both the Nestle texts and the UBS texts. Eberhard Nestle originally used as his text the consensus reading of three editions of the Greek New Testament in his day, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and Weymouth, later substituting Weiss for Weymouth. [13] The UBS editors used the Westcott-Hort text as their starting point and departed from it as their evaluation of manuscript evidence required. [14]

None of the major modern English Bible translations made since World War II used the Westcott-Hort text as its base. This includes translations done by theological conservatives–the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the New King James, for examples–and translations done by theological liberals–the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, the Good News Bible, etc. The only English Bible translation currently in print that the writer is aware of which is based on the Westcott-Hort text is the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. [15]

In a very real sense, the question of which is superior, Westcott and Hort, or the textus receptus, is passé, since neither is recognized by experts in the field as the standard text. However, since modern printed Greek texts are in the same respective families of text, namely the Alexandrian (Nestle, et al.) and the Byzantine (majority text), it is suitable to ask, “which one is superior, i.e., which comes closest to presenting the Greek text in its original form?”

What is perhaps the strongest argument in favor of the Westcott-Hort text vis-à-vis the textus receptus, is the fact that it has firm support from the oldest extant Greek manuscripts, plus the earliest of the versions or translations, as well as the early Christian writers of the 2nd through 4th centuries. Age of manuscripts is probably the most objective factor in the process of textual criticism. When Westcott and Hort compiled their text, they employed the two oldest then-known manuscripts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, as their text base. Since their day, a good number of manuscripts as old and in some cases a century and more older than these two manuscripts have been discovered. With a general uniformity, these early manuscripts have supported the Alexandrian text-type which the Westcott-Hort text presents. [16] It is true that these papyrus manuscripts occasionally contain Byzantine-type readings, but none of them could in any way be legitimately described as being regularly Byzantine in text. [17] The agreement of some of the papyri with Vaticanus, especially p75 of the early third century, has been quite remarkable.

From the early versions, the critical texts have strong support in the various Coptic versions of the third and later centuries, plus frequent support in the Old Latin versions and the oldest forms of the Syriac, in particular the Sinaitic and Curetonian manuscripts whose text form dates to the second or third century (though there are also strong Western elements in the Old Latin and the early Syriac). [18] Jerome’s revision of the Old Latin, the Vulgate made before 400 A.D., also gives frequent support to the Alexandrian text. Of early Christian writers before the fourth century, the Alexandrian text has substantial support, especially in the writings of Origen, whose Scripture quotations are exceedingly numerous.

On the other hand, the Byzantine text-type, of which the textus receptus is a rough approximation, can boast of being presented in the vast majority of surviving manuscripts, as well as several important versions of the New Testament from the fourth century or later, and as being the text usually found in the quotations of Greek writers in the fifth century and after. The most notable version support for the Byzantine text is in the Peshitta Syriac and the fourth century Gothic version (though each of these versions has significant departures from the Byzantine text). A second-century date for the Peshitta used to be advocated, but study of the Biblical quotations in the writings of Syrian Fathers Aphraates and Ephraem has demonstrated that neither of these leaders used the Peshitta, and so it must date from after their time, i.e., to the late fourth century or after. Therefore, this chief support for a claimed second-century date for the Byzantine text-type has been shown to be invalid.

On the down side, the distinctively Alexandrian text almost disappears from the manuscripts after the 9th century, following, not insignificantly, the violent and destructive Moslem conquest of Mesopotamia, the Holy Land and Levant, and all of North Africa, destroying or enslaving the Christian community in all these locations, destroying churches and Bible manuscripts. On the other hand, the Byzantine manuscripts, though very numerous, did not become the “majority” text until the ninth century, and though outnumbering Alexandrian manuscripts by more than 10:1, are also for the far greater part considerably younger than them, most being 1,000 years and more removed from the originals.

Returning to the specific texts, Westcott-Hort vs. the textus receptus: in truth, both texts necessarily fall short of presenting the true original. Obviously, those readings in the textus receptus which are without any Greek manuscript support cannot possibly be original. Additionally, in a number of places, the textus receptus reading is found in a limited number of late manuscripts, with little or no support from ancient translations. One of these readings is the famous I John 5:7. Such readings as these are also presumptively not original. And if one holds to the “majority rules” theory of textual criticism, i.e., whatever the reading found in a numerical majority of surviving Greek manuscripts is to be accepted as original, then the textus receptus falls short in the 1,838 readings where it does not follow the majority text.

Besides these shortcomings, others also apparently occur in a number of places where a perceived difficulty in the original reading was altered by scribes in the manuscript copying process. Probable examples of this include Mark 1:2 (changing “Isaiah the prophet” to “the prophets,” a change motivated by the fact that the quote which follows in 1:3 is from both Malachi and Isaiah), I Corinthians 6:20 (where the phrase “and in your Spirit which are God’s” seems to have been added after the original “in your body,” which is the subject under consideration in the preceding verses), Luke 2:33 (changing “his father and his mother” into “Joseph and his mother” to ‘safeguard’ the doctrine of the virgin birth), Romans 8:1, end (borrowing from verse 4, in two stages, the phrase “who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit”), Romans 13:9 (the insertion of one of the Ten Commandments to complete the listing), Colossians 1:14 (the borrowing of the phrase “through his blood” from Ephesians 1:7), etc. [19]

On the other hand, the defects of the Westcott-Hort text are also generally recognized, particularly its excessive reliance on manuscript B (Vaticanus), and to a lesser extent, Aleph (Sinaiticus). Hort declared the combined testimony of these two manuscripts to be all but a guarantee that a reading was original. [20] All scholars today recognize this as being an extreme and unwarranted point of view. Manuscript B shows the same kinds of scribal errors found in all manuscripts, a fact to be recognized and such singular readings to be rejected, as in fact they sometimes were rejected by Westcott and Hort (e.g., at Matthew 6:33).

What shall we say then? Which text shall we choose as superior? We shall choose neither the Westcott-Hort text (or its modern kinsmen) nor the textus receptus (or the majority text) as our standard text, our text of last appeal. All these printed texts are compiled or edited texts, formed on the basis of the informed (or not-so-well-informed) opinions of fallible editors. Neither Erasmus nor Westcott and Hort (nor, need we say, any other text editor or group of editors) is omniscient or perfect in reasoning and judgment. Therefore, we refuse to be enslaved to the textual criticism opinions of either Erasmus or Westcott and Hort or for that matter any other scholars, whether Nestle, Aland, Metzger, Burgon, Hodges and Farstad, or anyone else. Rather, it is better to evaluate all variants in the text of the Greek New Testament on a reading by reading basis, that is, in those places where there are divergences in the manuscripts and between printed texts, the evidence for and against each reading should be thoroughly and carefully examined and weighed, and the arguments of the various schools of thought considered, and only then a judgment made. (Years of doing this very thing have led me to conclude that the critical texts are very much closer to the precise original wording of the Greek New Testament than either the textus receptus, or the “majority text,” though with exceptions in readings here and there).

We do, or should do, this very thing in reading commentaries and theology books. We hear the evidence, consider the arguments, weigh the options, and then arrive at what we believe to be the honest truth. Can one be faulted for doing the same regarding the variants in the Greek New Testament? Our aim is to know precisely what the Apostles originally did write, this and nothing more, this and nothing else. And, frankly, just as there are times when we must honestly say, “I simply do not know for certain what this Bible verse or passage means,” there will be (and are) places in the Greek New Testament where the evidence is not clear cut, [21] and the arguments of the various schools of thought do not distinctly favor one reading over another.

This means there will at times be a measure of uncertainty in defining precisely the exact wording of the Greek New Testament (just as there is in the interpretation of specific verses and passages), but this does not mean that there is uncertainty in the theology of the New Testament. Baptist theologian J. L. Dagg has well-stated the theological limits of the manuscript variations in the New Testament,

Although the Scriptures were originally penned under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow, that a continued miracle has been wrought to preserve them from all error in transcribing. On the contrary, we know that manuscripts differ from each other; and where readings are various, but one of them can be correct. A miracle was needed in the original production of the Scriptures; and, accordingly, a miracle was wrought; but the preservation of the inspired word, in as much perfection as was necessary to answer the purpose for which it was given, did not require a miracle, and accordingly it was committed to the providence of God. Yet the providence which has preserved the divine oracles, has been special and remarkable. . . . The consequence is, that, although the various readings found in the existing manuscripts, are numerous, we are able, in every case, to determine the correct reading, so far as is necessary for the establishment of our faith, or the direction of our practice in every important particular. So little, after all, do the copies differ from each other, that these minute differences, when viewed in contrast with their general agreement, render the fact of that agreement the more impressive, and may be said to serve, practically, rather to increase, than impair our confidence in their general correctness. Their utmost deviations do not change the direction of the line of truth; and if it seems in some points to widen the line a very little, the path that lies between their widest boundaries, is too narrow to permit us to stray. [22]

To this may be added the testimony of Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, the pre-eminent British authority on New Testament manuscripts at the beginning of the twentieth century. In discussing the differences between the traditional and the Alexandrian text-types, in the light of God’s providential preservation of His word, he writes,

We may indeed believe that He would not allow His Word to be seriously corrupted, or any part of it essential to man’s salvation to be lost or obscured; but the differences between the rival types of text is not one of doctrine. No fundamental point of doctrine rests upon a disputed reading: and the truths of Christianity are as certainly expressed in the text of Westcott and Hort as in that of Stephanus [23]

Even advocates and defenders of the supremacy of the textus receptus over the Alexandrian text agree in this assessment. One such writer was 19th century American Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert L. Dabney. He wrote,

This received text contains undoubtedly all the essential facts and doctrines intended to be set down by the inspired writers; for if it were corrected with the severest hand, by the light of the most divergent various readings found in any ancient MS. or version, not a single doctrine of Christianity, nor a single cardinal fact would be thereby expunged. . . . If all the debated readings were surrendered by us, no fact or doctrine of Christianity would thereby be invalidated, and least of all would the doctrine of Christ’s proper divinity be deprived of adequate scriptural support. Hence the interests of orthodoxy are entirely secure from and above the reach of all movements of modern criticism of the text whether made in a correct or incorrect method, and all such discussions in future are to the church of subordinate importance. [24]

These sober and sensible judgments stand in marked contrast to the almost manic hysteria found in the writings of some detractors of critical texts who write as though those texts were a Pandora’s Box of heresy. In truth, all text families are doctrinally orthodox. A dispassionate evaluation of evidence is very much to be preferred to the emotionally charged tirades that characterize much of the current discussion.

End Notes (to be read)

  1. Some writers calculate the differences between the two texts at something over 5,000 specific details, though in truth a large number of these are so insignificant as to make no difference in any English translation made from them. Without making an actual count, I would estimate the really substantial variations to be only a few hundred at most.
  2. E.g., at John 1:13 in one Old Latin manuscript and some Syriac manuscripts, the phrase “who was born,” etc., is singular, and can be interpreted as a reference to Christ, and the virgin birth. This reading is not supported by any known Greek manuscript of John’s Gospel. Greek manuscript p72 in I Peter 1:2 alone of all witnesses deletes the word “and” between “God” and “Jesus,” leaving the two nouns standing in apposition, and providing in this manuscript alone another proof-text of the Deity of Christ. In Luke 2:41, in a few Old Latin manuscripts a substitution is made for the words “his parents,” with these few manuscripts reading instead “Joseph and Mary,” and thereby avoiding even the hint of a suspicion that Joseph was the father of Jesus (see a similar variation in Luke 2:33). Though these three examples give added proof-texts for orthodox doctrines, these readings are all but universally rejected as not being the original reading of the Greek in these verses. This information is to be found in the textual apparatus of Novum Testamentum Graece, edited by Barbara and Kurt Aland, et al., 27th edition [the so-called Nestle or Nestle-Aland text].
  3. See He Kaine Diatheke: The New Testament. The Greek text underlying the English Authorized Version of 1611 (London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1980), “preface.”
  4. Ibid.
  5. Doug Kutilek, Erasmus, His Greek Text, and His Theology (Hatfield, Penn.: Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, 1986), p. 3.
  6. F. H. A. Scrivener, The New Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1949), pp. vii-viii; 648-656.
  7. Another term increasingly used to refer to either the textus receptus or the majority text is the term “traditional text.”
  8. Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980. Revised edition), p.232.
  9. Daniel Wallace, “Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text,” Bibliotheca Sacra, July-September, 1989, p. 276.
  10. This includes the much-acclaimed J. W. Burgon, who wrote in The Revision Revised (Paradise, Penn.: Conservative Classics, n. d.), p. 21, n. 2: “Once for all, we request it may be clearly understood that we do not, by any means, claim perfection for the Received Text. We entertain no extravagant notions on this subject. Again and again we shall have occasion to point out (e.g. at page 107) that the Textus Receptus needs correction.” Edward F. Hills, of those who could be called “competent” scholars, was virtually alone among mid-20th century writers who defended the supremacy of the textus receptus.
  11. See the page notes in The Englishman’s Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970. Reprint of 1877 edition). Caspar Rene Gregory states that in the Epistle to the Hebrews, when the texts of Tregelles, Tischendorf and Westcott-Hort are compared, Tregelles stands alone in only ten very minor matters, Westcott-Hort in seven, and Tischendorf only four. Canon and Text of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1907), p. 527.
  12. The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Oxford: University Press, 1882).
  13. Barbara and Kurt Aland, et al., editors, Novum Testamentum Graece (Stuttgart: Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, 1993. 27th edition), “Introduction,” p. 44.
  14. Kurt Aland, et al., editors, The Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1966), preface, p. 5.
  15. New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1969. Revised edition). The title page states: “a modern-language translation of the Westcott-Hort Greek Text.”
  16. See the listing of papyrus manuscripts in Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. Second edition), pp.247-256. Metzger characterizes about three-fourths of these manuscripts as Alexandrian, with the rest being called Western or mixed in text; none carries a Byzantine-type text.
  17. See Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type & New Testament Textual Crticism (Nashville: Nelson, 1984) for an extended treatment of these Byzantine readings in the papyri and other early manuscripts.
  18. For extended treatment of all the translations of the New Testament in the first millennium A.D., see Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977).
  19. Analysis of these and many other variant readings are thoroughly treated in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971).
  20. The New Testament in the Original Greek (Cambridge: Macmillan and Co., 1881), vol. I, p. 557.
  21. Even following rigidly the textual theory that “the majority rules” leaves a fair measure of doubt in a number of passages (especially in Revelation) where there is no numerical majority reading, the manuscripts exhibiting three or more variants, with none represented by 50% plus one (or more) of surviving witnesses. See the apparatus of Hodges & Farstad. And fleeing to the position, “I’ll just stick to the textus receptus,” doesn’t settle the matter, since the various t.r. editions differ widely among themselves–the Complutensian text–the first printed Greek New Testament–differing from the first Elzevir edition in 2,777 places, by Scrivener’s count (A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, first edition, p. 293), and in more than 2,300 from Stephanus’ 1550 edition (p. 300); Stephanus’ 1550 edition in turn differs from the Elzevir 1633 edition (these two have long been considered the standard textus receptus editions) in 286 places (p.304).
  22. J. L. Dagg, A Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, Va.: Gano, 1982 reprint of 1857 edition), pp. 24, 25.
  23. Frederic G. Kenyon, Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: MacMillan and Co., 1901), p.271.
  24. Robert L. Dabney, “The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek,” in Discussions by Robert L. Dabney: Theological and Evangelical, vol. I, edited by G. R. Vaughn (Harrisonburg, Va.: Sprinkle, 1982 reprint of 1890 edition), pp. 351, 389. I quote Dabney, not because he is a recognized authority on this subject–indeed, this article, and the other in the same volume, “The Revised Version of the New Testament,” (pp. 391-9) are marred by astonishingly (even for that day) incomplete knowledge of the subject matter, as well as very defective logic and argumentation–but because he is sometimes quoted in the literature as a defender of the traditional text, as indeed he was.

Note on additional resources

I have written and published research studies addressing specific questions regarding the effect of variations between printed Greek New Testaments and the issue of the doctrinal content of the New Testament. I affirm in each of these that in no respect is the doctrinal content of the New Testament altered, whether one follows the textus receptus, Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland or Hodges-Farstad. These include:

“Do ‘Critical’ New Testament Greek Texts Subvert the Doctrine of Blood Atonement?” As I See It, 5:8, August 2002

“Variant Readings and the Virgin Birth,” As I See It, 7:3, March 2004

“Variant Readings and the Virgin Birth Once Again,” As I See It, 7:9, September 2004

“I John 5:7: An Outline Study of the Evidence,” As I See It, 13:1, January 2010

—-Doug Kutilek

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