Chapter 10 – Deliberating The Arguments

Chapter 10: Deliberating The Arguments

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“Except the Word of God beareth witness in this matter,

other testimony is of no value.”

-John Bunyan: Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)

When there are differences in the Greek manuscripts, textual scholars usually depend on two basic principles to determine the perceived original reading. First, they consider the external evidence. This means they regard the age of a manuscript, its geographical distribution, and its relationship with other textual families. Second, they will observe the internal evidence. This means they consider the textual variant in light of what the original writer would most likely have written. It takes into account style and vocabulary, the context, and how the variant harmonizes with other passages written by the same writer. These evidences are logical and certainly are of great value. Nevertheless, we should also embrace the biblical promises from God concerning preservation, thereby approaching the issue both scripturally and scholastically.

There are basically two arguments against the Traditional Text, with an additional one as it concerns the Authorized Version. First, there are those who reject the Traditional Text at a certain reading based on manuscripts that are considered older. Second, the Critical Text is embraced because the manuscripts it is based on are characterized as better. One does not have to look long to find this older/better argument employed. Both arguments sound authoritative and certainly deserve our consideration. To this a third argument is added to support modern versions of the Bible. It concerns the need for simplicity.

Older Manuscripts

Textual scholars will point to the age of a manuscript, as in the case of very old papyri, as supporting their argument for a given reading. On the surface such patronage seems sound. After all, the older manuscript would be closer in age to the original autographs. It is therefore assumed, quite logically, that this manuscript would most likely contain the original reading. The earliest Greek manuscripts are the papyri discovered in Egypt, south of the Delta region. They were unearthed in the “rubbish heaps” of such places as Oxyrhynchos, Atfih (Aphroditopolis), and Heracleopolis. [Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 279.]

Although most of these papyri are fragmentary, others contain large sections of Scripture and have been given very early dates by paleographers. P75 (containing part of Luke and John) dates from 175 to 225 AD. P66 (containing part of John) and P46 (containing part of Romans and the Pauline epistles) dates to about 200 AD or before. P52, a small fragment containing only John 18:31-33 and 37-38, had been considered the oldest manuscript, dating to 125 AD. However, papyrologist and textual scholar Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede has redated P64 (the Magdalen papyrus) from the early third century to 66 AD. [Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D’Ancona, Eyewitness To Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 124-125.] P64 consists of three small fragments containing Matthew 26:7-8, 10, 14-15, 22-23 and 31. Thiede has likewise redated P67 from the third century to around 70 AD. This manuscript contains Matthew 3:9, 15; 5:20-22, 25-28. If his position is correct, these would be the oldest existing manuscripts.

The papyri manuscripts mentioned above are very old indeed. The fact that these manuscripts seem to have originated in Egypt, or at least survived there, and were not used by the majority of believers throughout the existence of the church does not carry much weight with textual scholars. But it is something we should consider. After all, why should we think that the majority of believers in church history were deprived of God’s pure word? And, if we make such limitations, what does this say about preservation at any given time in history?

It does not seem to bother most textual critics that these manuscripts do not generally agree with later Alexandrian texts. The early papyri, although considered Alexandrian in nature, reflect a mixed text with many Byzantine readings in them. Consequently, Kurt Aland has labeled P46 and P66 as “free” [Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 99-100.] while Bruce Metzger simply calls P66 “mixed.” [Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 40.] In his introduction to the Chester Beatty Papryi, Sir Frederic Kenyon likewise observes the mixed nature of these early manuscripts. [Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: Fasciculus I (London: Emory Walker, 1933), 16.]

There are many places where the oldest manuscripts support the readings of the Traditional Text. Yet, these readings are mostly rejected in light of the later Alexandrian readings. For example, in John 4:1 Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century), Codex D05 (sixth century) and Codex Q (ninth century) have the reading Iesous (Jesus). The Traditional Text reads kurios (Lord). This is also the reading in Codex Vaticanus (fourth century), Alexandrinus (fifth century), Codex C (fifth century), and the majority of uncial manuscripts and cursive manuscripts. Both P66 and P75 have the reading kurios, agreeing with the Traditional Text. Nevertheless, this reading is rejected by the Critical Text in favor of the reading found in Sinaiticus. Consequently, modern translations such as the NIV and NRSV forsake the early manuscripts in favor of Sinaiticus. There are many other examples of this sort. There are also many places where P66 and P75 differ with each other. In such cases, P66 is sometimes chosen, while at other times P75 is cited.

Dr. Gordon D. Fee, a noted and respected textual scholar, produced a comparison study of early manuscripts with various text types. [Epp and Fee, 221-243.] It yielded some very interesting results. In his study, Dr. Fee notes several passages in the Gospel of John where Codex Sinaiticus agrees or disagrees with P66, P75, the Texus Receptus, and some other witnesses. In John chapter four, Fee notes that out of sixty-one possible textual variations P66 produced the following statistics:

Texus Receptus = thirty-seven times or 60.6% in agreement with P66.

Sinaiticus = twenty-one times or 34.4% in agreement with P66.

Likewise, P75 showed a stronger relationship with the Traditional Text than it did with Codex Sinaiticus; however, its strongest relationship is clearly with Codex Vaticanus. The agreement with P75 among these texts is as follows:

Texus Receptus = thirty-two times or 52.5% in agreement with P75.

Sinaiticus = nineteen times or 31.5% in agreement with P75.

Vaticanus = fifty-two times or 85.2% in agreement with P75. [Ibid., 228.]

Dr. Fee then broadened the study to cover John 1-8, with a total of three hundred twenty possible textual variations. The statistics show a strong relation between the Traditional Text and P66, agreeing 50.9% of the time when there are textual variations. P66 and Sinaiticus agreed only 43.7% of the time. [Ibid., 233.] Although Dr. Fee maintains that the pro-Traditional Text readings are “of little consequence,” he does concede that the early papyrus have produced evidence away from the Alexandrian textual line. [Ibid., 201.] Further, the point is not that the earliest existing manuscripts are Byzantine in nature, just that they are mixed and are not pure Alexandrian. Therefore, the modern Critical Text does not always follow the oldest existing manuscripts.

We should also consider the recent evidence produced by Dr. Carsten Thiede regarding P64. If he is correct in redating this manuscript to 66 AD, we not only have the earliest known manuscript of the New Testament, we have one that supports the textual reading found in the Traditional Text. In Matthew 26:22 the Critical Text reads, legein auto eis ekastos while the Traditional Text reads, legein auto ekastos auton. The difference is reflected in the Revised Standard Version when compared with the King James Version. “And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, ‘Is it I, Lord?’” (RSV). “And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?” (KJV). While the difference is minor and does not affect doctrine, this is still a reflection of the type of textual variants common between the Alexandrian and Byzantine textual lines. If the oldest manuscript is to be considered more original, a change must occur in the Critical Text because P64 has the same reading found in the Traditional Text and the King James Version. Although the papyrus fragment is worn, Dr. Thiede was able to determine the original reading using an extremely powerful device known as an epifluorescent confocal laser scanning microscope. [Thiede and D’Ancona, 60.] Here is another example where the oldest reading that agrees with the Traditional Text is rejected in favor of the later Alexandrian reading.

However, the argument over the oldest manuscripts and their textual variants with later manuscripts may be moot. According to textual scholars such as George D. Kilpatrick and H. Vogels, the great majority of textual variants in the New Testament text occurred before the start of the third century. [G. D. Kilpatrick, The Principles And Practice Of New Testament Textual Criticism (Leuven: University Press, 1990), 34.] If this is true the debate over the age of a manuscript is not as important as the age of the textual variant. Additionally, Dr. Kurt Aland has noted the tenacity of a textual variant in that once injected into the text it can reappear centuries later in later manuscripts without any subsequent existing manuscripts between. [Aland, 56.] If this is true of textual variants, it is likewise true of the original reading. Therefore, the original reading may just as likely be found in later manuscripts as it is in the older ones. This being the case, more is needed than the age of a manuscript when making a textual decision.

Better Manuscripts

Dr. Frederik Wisse has correctly noted that the majority of all existing manuscripts have a striking bias against them as far as modern textual scholarship is concerned. In an attempt to provide a working profile of the majority of Greek manuscripts, Wisse has observed that scholars such as Kurt Aland are not interested in the Byzantine text, but only in texts that “significantly diverge from the Byzantine text.” [Frederik Wisse, The Profile Method For Classifying And Evaluating Manuscript Evidence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 21.] The majority of textual scholars today consider the Alexandrian family of manuscripts closer to the original and therefore better. The Byzantine or Traditional Text has been considered a conflation (a mixing or joining) of the Alexandrian and Western texts in the fourth century by Lucian at Antioch in Syria. Therefore, the latter text is considered inferior.

Some nineteenth century scholars strongly promoted the Lucian Recension theory. This particular theory stated that Lucian of Antioch, Syria, who died in 311 AD, was the leader of a group of scholars who edited and conflated the various existing texts to produce what became the Traditional Text. Since Lucian was from Syria, and the work was said to have occurred there, this text is sometimes called the Syrian Text. The basic problem with this theory, established by Fenton John Anthony Hort, is that there is no evidence of any such event ever having occurred. Sir Frederic Kenyon correctly noted that we have the names of several of the revisers of both the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate and it would be notably unusual for history and church authorities to have omitted any record of such a major revision of the New Testament. [Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, Handbook To The Textual Criticism Of The New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1926), 302.] Further, as has been noted, the majority of all textual variants had already come into existence before the third century. Therefore, the Byzantine Text is more than likely to have been established long before the existing manuscripts that reflect it.

Apart from the promise of Scripture, we simply do not know which text is original and which one is corrupt. It is valid to argue that despite the absence of early Byzantine manuscripts, the traditional textual line reflects the original autographs better than the Alexandrian line. Since the Scriptures are to be used and read we would expect these texts to wear sooner than texts that were considered corrupt and therefore not used by the majority of Christians during the first three hundred years of the church. This would explain the absence of Byzantine manuscripts until later in the church’s history. However, the Byzantine textual line has early witnesses. We have Byzantine readings in the oldest existing manuscripts; we also have Byzantine readings in ancient versions and the citations of the church fathers. What scholars classify as better manuscripts may therefore rest more on subjectivity than is usually admitted.

The Need For Simplicity

The argument against the King James Version now turns from one of textual criticism to one of translation. Apart from the textual issues, the most common plea for contemporary revisions of Scripture is that of simplicity. Time and again we are informed that the King James Version is too difficult to read and should be simplified. This objection is so well established that it is hardly even questioned.

To illustrate the need for simplicity, several examples of difficult readings are sometimes offered. [Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 53-54.] The following are a few instances. “And Mt. Sinai was altogether on a smoke” (Exodus 19:18). “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing” (Psalm 5:6). “Nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin” (Nehemiah 13:26). “Solomon loved many strange women” (1 Kings 11:1). “The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market” (Ezekiel 27:25). “We do you to wit of the grace of God” (2 Corinthians 8:1).

These are good examples and do illustrate changes and difficulties in our English language. Each case could easily be resolved with footnotes or an English dictionary. Regardless, one can make similar arguments against many modern versions. Consider the following from the New International Version. “Waheb in Suphah and the ravines” (Numbers 21:14). “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days” (Genesis 6:4). “Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis” (Acts 27:17). “The meeting of the Areopagus” (Acts 17:22). “Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium” (Matthew 27:27). “He agreed to pay them a denarius” (Matthew 20:2).

It is also popular to compile lists of difficult words contained in the KJV as reason for simplicity. However, just because something is difficult does not mean it should be abolished. The following examples are words that may be considered difficult for the average reader:

“Soliloquized, onslaught, ferule, cruelly, gesticulation, filial, geniality, titter, garret, haunches, forlorn, fetched, dismalest, well-nigh, reckon, unkempt, serape, palpable, gunwale, auspicious, procured, oaken, labyrinth, tallow, and stalwart.”

The above list did not come from the Elizabethan English of the Authorized Version, but from four chapters of the narrative of Mark Twain’s children’s classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. One can point to difficulties in anything, but our growth as humans is to seek to understand what we do not know. Some words that are difficult in the KJV include the following:

“Amiable, anon, begat, centurion, chode, churlish, corban, espied, fain, forthwith, fray, gat, hardness, knob, ligure, leasing, mammon, pate, perdition, pityful, sod, suffer, trode, verily, wanton, waxed, wench, wot, wont.”

These words, standing on their own, may be difficult or misunderstood. Yet, each of these words have found their way into contemporary literature. The word wont is a wonderful example of this. It means customary and is used nine times in the King James Version. A recent Star Trek novel reads: “The next morning, Commander Riker arrived at the ready room fifteen minutes early, as was his wont; he was surprised to see Wesley Crusher already waiting.” [Dafydd Ab Huge, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Balance Of Power (New York: Simon and Schuster, Peter David, 1995), 261.] The need for a comprehensive vocabulary may be an argument favoring the Authorized Version.

In his booklet, All About Bibles, Dr. John R. Kohlenberger III has listed the reading level of several English translations as provided by Dr. Linda H. Parrish and Dr. Donna Norton of Texas A & M University. They list Today’s English Version (TEV) with a 7.29 reading grade level. The NIV received a 7.80 reading grade level, while the New American Standard Version (NASV) received an 11.55 reading grade level. The highest reading grade level was 12.00 and given to the KJV. [John R. Kohlenberger III, All About Bibles (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 12.] This would mean that anyone who graduated from high school should be able to read this “outdated” version. Additionally, its reading level is not that much higher than the NASV.

Once we begin an argument against any translation that is based on simplicity, where do we stop? Do we reject the readability of the KJV and embrace the NASV as easier to read because it is a half-grade lower? Should we reject the NASV and accept the NIV because it is even easier to read? Do we then stop with the NIV? What if someone cannot read at the seventh grade level? Do we lower the standard even more? Do we take the approach that some modern educators have and “dumb-down” our language? Or do we seek to raise the standard higher and educate our people? These are important questions when it comes to readability. After all, historically the church has always sought to raise the educational level of the masses, not lower it.

There is also a scriptural principle here. We must consider that it is not so much the words as the concepts of Scripture that are difficult to understand. As Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts; the same passage admonishes us that our ways are different than those of the Lord. When Christ came and preached He spoke in parables, not to make the message easier to understand but to make it harder (Matthew 13:10-16). We are under the command to search the Scriptures daily and to study to show ourselves approved (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15). This is not to say that simplicity does not have its place; that is an individual choice. We should not disparage something because it is more difficult. We may end up finding that the more difficult is the more profitable. Since we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Mark 12:30), it may be that God wishes to enrich more than just our spirits.

These three arguments, therefore, are not as weighty as some would have us believe. Older manuscripts are not always better, nor are they always used. When older manuscripts support the Byzantine reading, that reading is usually rejected. What scholars may consider the better manuscript is really a matter of opinion that usually omits the providential hand of God. There are usually at least two sides to most textual arguments and we would do well to view things from alternate perspectives. Ultimately, our final conclusions must be biblical. Finally, what is considered difficult may be for our own good and edification. After all, the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, reminds us, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

A Plea For Preservation

There are several verses that furnish the basis for biblical preservation (1 Samuel 3:19; Psalm 12:6-7; 105:8; 119:89, 160; 138:2; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 4:4; 5:17-18; 24:35; John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 1:23-25). Of these, perhaps the most cited and questioned is Psalm 12:6-7: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” This is also the reading of the American Standard Version and the New King James Version. The passage provides a scriptural basis for the belief that God keeps and preserves his words.

The passage has also been understood as a reference to persons and not Scripture. The New International Version reads, “And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.” The Revised Standard Version agrees with this reading. The New American Standard Version changes “us” to “him,” yet the focus is still on a person and not the preservation of God’s words. The question then arises as to which translation is correct. That is a debate that has been persisting for centuries.

The great reformer, John Calvin, noted that this passage could be understood to refer to either the words of God or God’s people. Calvin himself thought the context had reference to the preservation of God’s people. [John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentary on Psalms (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 178-179.] Other great theologians of the past believed the passage referred to God’s words. John Wesley, scholar and founder of the Methodist Church, writes that Psalm 12:6-7 concern the “words or promises (of God): these thou wilt observe and keep, both now, and from this generation for ever.” [John Wesley, “Wesley’s Notes On The Bible” The Master Christian Library, version 7 (Rio, WI: Ages Software, 1999 ed.), disc 1.] Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, while using the American Standard Version, claimed this passage was a promise for biblical preservation:

“The psalmist breaks out into praise of the purity of His words, and declares that Jehovah will “keep them,” and “preserve them.” The “them” here refers to the words. There is no promise made of widespread revival or renewal. It is the salvation of a remnant and the preservation of His own words which Jehovah promises.” [G. Campbell Morgan, Notes On The Psalms (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1958), 32.]

The Hebrew can be understood to refer to either “them” or “him.” The Greek LXX uses the word hemas (us), yet the Greek versions of Aquila and Theodotian use the word autous (them). The argument as to the meaning of this passage, therefore, is open for discussion. Nevertheless, the first half of this passage is without question as to its meaning. The words of the Lord are pure, and the whole of Scripture testifies to this truth. It somewhat lacks consistency to think that God’s words would be pure in their inception and yet lost in their transmission. If the Almighty takes time to purify his words, it would seem he would take just as much care to preserve them. Otherwise, why purify them at all? Of course, the truth of biblical preservation is not confined to this one biblical passage, as has already been noted.

The Fullness Of Time

In addition to the promise of preservation, it should also be noted that God does things in accordance with his own schedule. Concerning Jesus Christ, we are told when “the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). We are also told that all things will be accomplished by Christ “in the dispensation of the fullness of times” (Ephesians 1:10). There are no coincidences in regard to Christ. He fulfills things according to his purpose and in his timing. What is true of the Living Word is reflected in the written word. The Authorized Version came into being at just the right time. If we accept the Sovereignty of God, we must also believe his hand was in producing the world’s most loved translation of the Bible.

Before the late sixteenth century and the early seventeenth century, the church in power was the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism at that time prohibited the reading of the Bible in any language but Latin. However, by the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century the Protestant Church became the major religious force in the English-speaking world. At this time, when the KJV was translated, the printing press was being refined. England was on the threshold of becoming a world empire, and the Protestant Reformation was in full swing.

Approximately one hundred fifty years before the KJV was printed, Bibles were all handwritten. One can begin to imagine the impossible task of reaching the world when all Scripture had to be copied in this fashion. By the seventeenth century printed books were common, and the desire of Christians to have their own copy of Scripture was rapidly growing. This is one of the reasons the Geneva Bible was so popular. Although the Puritans loved the Geneva Bible and brought it with them to the New World, by 1637 the King James Bible had replaced it throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony. [Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll, eds., The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press: 1982) 27-33.] In fact, the KJV was universally accepted in the New World “as the word of God and no question was raised as to its infallibility.” [Oliver Perry Chitwood, A History of Colonial America (New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1961 ed.) 441.]

The English language is divided into three periods. Old English, (700 to 1100 AD); Middle English, (1100 to 1500 AD); and Modern English (1500 to the present). [Marjorie Anderson and Blanche C. Williams, Old English Handbook (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1935), 6-7.] As a pioneer work of the Modern English era, the KJV has helped in the shaping and developing of the English language, and is the only modern translation of which this can be said. Dr. William Rosenau has correctly observed that the KJV has “molded new forms and phrases, which, while foreign to the English, became with it flesh and bone.” [William Rosenau, Hebraisms In The Authorized Version (Baltimore: The Friedenwald Company, 1903), 31.] Many great literary works that followed have been greatly influenced by the Authorized Version. This speaks of the importance of this great version in regard to the English language.

Although its beauty has been compared to the writings of Shakespeare, it is vastly easier read than Shakespeare, with equal influence upon our native tongue. Contemporary scholars of the English language have observed that:

“The King James Bible was published in the year Shakespeare began work on his last play, The Tempest. Both the play and the Bible are masterpieces of English, but there is one crucial difference between them. Whereas Shakespeare ransacked the lexicon, the King James Bible employs a bare 8000 words–God’s teaching in homely English for everyman. From that day to this, the Shakespearian cornucopia and the biblical iron rations represent, as it were, the North and South Poles of the language, reference points for writers and speakers throughout the world, from the Shakespearian splendor of a Joyce or a Dickens to the biblical rigor of a Bunyan, or a Hemingway.” [Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil, The Story Of English (New York: Viking Penguin Inc, 1986), 113. This book is a companion to the PBS television series on the history of the English language.]

The history and effect the KJV has had on our language not only speaks of its great literary value, but of the divine hand upon it that shaped our language, our culture, our history, and our thought.

The Testimony Of The Translators

Although the testimony of the King’s translators is often ignored, it stands as a unique tribute to their enterprise. In their second and third paragraphs of the original preface, titled The Translators To The Reader, the KJV translators make some very interesting comparisons. They liken their work to David delivering the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, to Solomon building the temple of God, and even to Moses receiving the Law.

The preface makes a case for providing individuals with Holy Scriptures in their native tongues. The translators listed the objections raised by the Catholic Church of that day: “Was their [i.e., Protestant] translation good before? Why do they now mend it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people?” Responding to such questions, the translators wrote:

“Yet for all that, as nothing is begun and perfected at the same time, and the later thoughts are thought to be the wiser: so, if we building upon their foundation that went before us, and being holpen by their labours, do endeavour to make that better which they left so good, no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike us; they, we persuade ourselves, if they were alive, would thank us . . . And this is the word of God, which we translate . . . For by this means it cometh to pass, that whatsoever is sound already, (and all is sound for substance in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours far better than their authentick Vulgar) the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished; . . .”

The translators saw their work as a completion of the earlier English translations. To them, the Authorized Version was the perfecting of these earlier works, hence the phrase “nothing is begun and perfected at the same time.” Additionally, they believed that what they translated was the very “word of God.” Finally, they state that even the worst of their early English versions (King James I considered the Geneva Bible a poor translation because of its marginal notes, which he saw as subversive) was far better than the Latin Catholic Bible. To the translators, theirs was the work of polishing what their forerunners produced, and thus the perfecting of the word of God. The translators also state:

“Now to the latter 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.”

Why did the KJV translators alter these early works if they considered them the word of God? The translators write:

“Yet before we end, we must answer a third cavil and objection of theirs against us, for altering and amending our Translations so oft; wherein truly they deal hardly and strangely with us. For to whom ever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause? . . . If we will be sons of the truth, we must consider what it speaketh, and trample upon our own credit, yea, and upon other men’s too, if either be any way an hinderance to it.”

As sons of Truth, they were more concerned with presenting the pure word of God than establishing their own theological beliefs.

“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; (for then the imputation of Sixtus had been true in some sort, that our people had been fed with gall of dragons instead of wine, with whey instead of milk;) 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 endeavour, that our mark.”

The translators’ goal was to produce from the early English versions based on the Traditional Text one principal English translation. The paragraph ends with praise because “the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the work to that pass that you see.”

Their final paragraph expresses their concern for the reader, and thankfulness to God for his help in producing this beloved version.

“Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle Reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of a preface already. It remaineth that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think. He removeth the scales from our eyes, the vail from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea, correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea, that we may love it to the end . . . It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to read it; when he stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I, here we are to do thy will, O God. The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, to whom with the Holy Ghost, be all praise and thanksgiving. Amen.”

A Jewish Book

The Bible is a Jewish book. The Apostle Paul states of the Jews that, “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Every writer in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, with the possible exception of Luke, was Jewish. The central person of the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ, was born a Jew.

The Bible, therefore, uses Jewish terms and expressions called Hebraisms. Any correct translation of the Bible must reflect its Jewish heritage. English translations that weaken or remove these Jewish Hebraisms weaken our understanding of the people of God and the meaning of Scripture.

The KJVretains these Hebraisms. In fact, because of the popularity of the KJV, many of these Jewish expressions have become our expressions. As mentioned before, Dr. William Rosenau, a biblical scholar who made a study of the Hebraisms, writes:

“[The King James Biblehas] molded new forms and phrases, which, while foreign to the English, became with it flesh and bone. The origin of most of these forms and phrases is not difficult to trace. They are like the equivalents of which they were translations – Hebrew in character.” [Rosenau, 31.]

Thus we have many common expressions taken from the Authorized Version that have their basis in Hebraisms. The following are a few examples:

Hebraism Reference
In the sweat of thy face Genesis 3:19
Am I my brother’s keeper Genesis 4:9
Unstable as water Genesis 49:4
A stranger in a strange land Exodus 2:22
A land flowing with milk and honey Exodus 3:8
Sheep which have no shepherd Numbers 27:17
Man doth not live by bread alone Deuteronomy 8:3
Whatsoever is right in his own eyes Deuteronomy 12:8
The apple of his eye Deuteronomy 32:10
The people arose as one man Judges 20:8
A man after his own heart 1 Samuel 13:14
How are the mighty fallen 2 Samuel 1:25
Thou art the man 2 Samuel 12:7
From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head 2 Samuel 14:25
Steal the heart 2 Samuel 15:6
Horn of my salvation 2 Samuel 22:3
The sweet psalmist of Israel 2 Samuel 23:1
How long halt ye between two opinions? 1 Kings 18:21
A still small voice 1 Kings 19:2
The shadow of death Job 10:21
With the skin of my teeth Job 19:20
The land of the living Job 28:13
My cup runneth over Psalm 23:5
The pen of a ready writer Psalm 45:1
Wings like a dove Psalm 55:6
From strength to strength Psalm 84:7
As a tale that is told Psalm 90:9
At their wit’s end Psalm 107:27
To dwell together in unity Psalm 133:1
The way of the transgressor is hard Proverbs 13:15
Heap coals of fire upon his head Proverbs 25:22
Answer a fool according to his folly Proverbs 26:5
Boast not thyself of to-morrow Proverbs 27:1
Iron sharpeneth iron Proverbs 27:17
There is no new thing under the sun Ecclesiastes 1:9
To every thing there is a season Ecclesiastes 3:1
The race is not to the swift Ecclesiastes 9:11
A weariness of the flesh Ecclesiastes 12:12
Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die Isaiah 22:13
As a drop of a bucket Isaiah 40:15

Many of these have found their way into modern versions simply because they have become common English expressions. We owe this to the Jewish flavor of the KJV. There are also certain expressions that are certainly Jewish but fail to be reproduced in modern versions. The following are a few examples among the thousands of Jewish Hebraisms noted by Dr. Rosenau; [Ibid., 169-283.] for purposes of comparison I have added the equivalent translations from one of the most widely used modern versions, the NIV.

Reference Jewish Hebraisms English Expression
1 Kings 5:10 According to all his desire He wanted
Exodus 8:10 According to thy word It will be as you say
Leviticus 11:16 After his kind Any kind
Genesis 45:23 After this manner This is what
Exodus 14:13 Again no more forever Will never see again
Exodus 2:23 And it came to pass During that long period
2 Samuel 1:9 Anguish is come upon me I am in the throes of death
Proverbs 14:14 Backslider in heart The faithless
Psalm 90:17 Beauty of the LORD Favor of the Lord
2 Samuel 12:12 Before the sun In broad daylight
Exodus 32:18 Being overcome Defeat
Genesis 43:33 Birthright Ages
2 Kings 25:26 Both small and great Least to the greatest
Proverbs 2:7 Buckler to them A shield to those
Numbers 9:23 By the hand of Moses Through Moses
Jeremiah 7:10 Called by my name Bears my Name
Genesis 6:4 Came in unto Went to
1 Samuel 2:26 Child Samuel Boy Samuel
Ezra 6:16 Children of the captivity The rest of the exiles
2 Samuel 7:10 Children of wickedness Wicked people
Haggai 1:7 Consider your ways Give careful thought
Psalm 2:2 Counsel together Gather together
Psalm 30:2 Cried Called
Jonah 1:2 Cry against Preached against
Exodus 23:23 Cut them off Wipe them out

Even Jewish expressions from Psalm 23, such as “I shall not want,” “the valley of the shadow of death,” and “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” are changed in many modern versions. Today’s English Version alters these beloved Hebrew expressions; they become “I have everything I need,” “if I go through the deepest darkness,” and “your house will be my home as long as I live.” English expressions such as those found in the NIV and TEV may be easier for some to understand. However, they have lost the influence of their Jewish heritage.

The Preeminence Of Christ

Some have proclaimed that modern versions or their Greek texts deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Certainly there are some, such as the New World Translation, that seek to diminish Christ’s deity. It is also true that some versions are stronger regarding Christ’s deity than others. While most translations clearly and strongly proclaim this basic biblical truth, the Traditional Text does present a stronger Christology regarding His deity (Matthew 19:16-17; Romans 14:10, 12; Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 5:7; and Revelation 1:8, 11).

Additionally, other aspects of Christology are more strongly presented in the Traditional Text. For example, in Luke 2:33, 43 the Traditional Text calls the stepfather of Christ by his name and separates him from the person of Mary. We read, “Joseph and his mother marvelled” and “Joseph and his mother knew not of it.” However, the Critical Text changes “Joseph” to “father,” making the texts read “his father and mother marveled” and “his father and mother knew not of it.” Such readings do not in themselves deny the virgin birth of Christ; still the reading found in the Traditional Text upholds this doctrine and removes any possible confusion in this regard.

The same may be said of Christ’s redemption. Again, the truth of salvation is found in all Greek texts and English translations. Yet, certain aspects are presented more forcefully in the Traditional Text and the KJV in certain places. We are told that we have redemption “through his blood” in Colossians 1:14. The Critical Text does not contain this phrase at this place, though it does appear in all texts in Ephesians 1:7. This raises two questions. First, why would the phrase be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and not in his letter to the Colossians? Second, how is it possible to have redemption without divine payment for that redemption? Clearly the phrase should remain in regard to this doctrine. The Greek manuscripts are evenly divided as to its inclusion or omission. This can be demonstrated with the two editions of the Majority Text. The internal evidence, based on Ephesians 1:7, would argue for its inclusion in that the phrase is used by Paul elsewhere and is consistent with what he would have written. Overall, when we consider other textual sources, the reading must remain because it is biblical and in character with Paul’s other writings.

An additional example concerns 1 Peter 2:2. We are told in the Traditional Text that as newborn babies in Christ we should “desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” The Greek phrase found in the Traditional Text reads ina en auto auxethete (that ye may grow). The Critical Text adds eis soterian (to salvation) at the end of the phrase, suggesting that salvation is something we grow to. This is why the NRSV renders the phrase as “that by it you may grow into salvation.” Certainly the reading of the Traditional Text omits the confusion and provides a stronger Christology here regarding redemption.

In regard to Christ, Paul reminds us that”in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). If Christ is to have the preeminence in all things, this would include Bible translations. Just as one can use a modern version to prove the deity of Christ, so modern versions proclaim the person of Jesus Christ. Though this may not be in question, divine names are not always as strongly proclaimed in the Critical Text. Instead of phrases such as “Lord Jesus Christ” we might find “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus.” In fact, there are about two hundred such examples found in the New Testament where the expanded title is found in the Traditional Text.

Sometimes a simple omission has profound impact. 1 John 1:7 is a good illustration of this. The Traditional Text reads, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Modern versions based on the Alexandrian textual line read “Jesus” instead of “Jesus Christ.” The difference seems small on the surface, but we must remember that John wrote this epistle to confront the heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that Jesus and Christ were two separate entities. Jesus, they said, was born of Joseph and Mary and was physical. At his baptism the Christ, who was spiritual, was said to have entered into him. At this point, according to the Gnostics, Jesus became Jesus Christ. At his crucifixion, the Gnostics claimed that the Christ left, leaving only Jesus to die. At the resurrection, the disciples saw the spirit Christ, but the mortal Jesus remained dead. Once we understand the heresy John was confronting, the differences between the two readings becomes abundantly clear. If John had written “the blood of Jesus” he would have been making a statement that the Gnostics would have been in agreement with. After all, they believed that it was Jesus who shed his blood. But by writing “the blood of Jesus Christ,” John was making a direct assault on this Gnostic heresy.

The Nature Of God

The Bible proclaims that God is truth (John 4:24). Without this fact, the whole Bible is a lie as well as all of Christianity. So, we must look for a Bible that reflects what God is since the Bible is his word. There are several places where the KJV and its underlining texts are more truthful in their proclamation of the word of truth. For example, in 2 Samuel 21:19 we read: “And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.” This is a truthful statement supported by 1 Chronicles 20:5. Unfortunately, modern versions omit the phrase “the brother of,” suggesting that Elhanan killed Goliath. Such a suggestion is biblically untrue, for the Scriptures are clear that David killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17).

The only place where the name Lucifer is given is Isaiah 14:12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” The verse is changed by some to read, “O morning star” instead of “O Lucifer.” Is the one who fell from heaven Lucifer or morning star? The problem is compounded when we read in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is the morning star (Revelation 22:16). One may wish to argue the Latin derivative of the name Lucifer; however, the one who fell was not Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 5:22 the Traditional Text states, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” The Critical Text does not contain the phrase “without a cause.” Therefore, if one is angry he is sinning. Since Christ was angry and chased the moneychangers out of the temple, he would be guilty of sinning. But we know that Christ did not sin, so the more truthful statement is found in the Traditional Text.

These arguments are not presented to defame, discredit, or disparage anyone’s translation. As the King’s translators reminded us, even the meanest translation of the Bible contains the word of God. When anyone sits down with his or her translation and reads what God has given, all Christians rejoice. Nevertheless, one’s personal choice in translation does not negate the promise of preservation. Nor should it cause any to speak ill of what has so wonderfully and beautifully been given. When we consider these things with respect to the traditional Hebrew and Greek texts and the English Authorized Version, we may find that God has truly crowned them with glory.

Scriptura est vitae magistra

There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.

Order your copy of Crowned With Glory today.

Chapter 9 – Translational Considerations

Chapter 9: Translational Considerations

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“‘Tis written: ‘In the beginning was the Word!’

Here now I’m balked! Who’ll put me in accord?

It is impossible, the Word so high to prize,

I must translate it otherwise”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust (1808)

Shortly after the Authorized Version was first published in 1611 it came under fire. In 1612 Hebrew scholar Hugh Broughton wrote a thesis entitled, A Censure of the Late Translation for Our Churches, in which he expostulated the new translation. Broughton had been considered for a position as one of the translators but was overlooked. Therefore, his reproach for the King James Version may have been a result of not being placed on the committee. Nevertheless, it does establish that very early this beloved version was condemned by some. Time has not changed such condemnation. In fact, there has been a revival of criticism as contemporary versions have found their way into the mainstream of the Bible reading public.

Such criticism is usually unwarranted and frequently demonstrates the lack of perspective offered by the one who is disparaging the translation. An anecdote involving one of the KJV translators, Dr. Richard Kilby, provides for us a wonderful example of this very thing. Kilby, who had headed the Old Testament group at Oxford, was in the congregation of a young minister who found fault with a certain way a phrase was translated in the KJV. The minister, who did not realize that Kilby was in his congregation, offered his own translation as the correct one and questioned why it had not been considered. After the service, Kilby took the parson aside and addressed the issue noting that the translators had indeed considered the parson’s reading as well as thirteen other readings. However, because of the Hebrew syntax, they had settled on the reading found in the KJV. [Gustavus S. Paine, The Men Behind the King James Version (1959; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 137-138. David Otis Fuller, Which Bible? (Grand Rapids: International Publications, 1975), 17.]

Hebrew and Greek words can be translated in more than one way. Those familiar with Biblical languages know that many phrases have several meanings. Therefore, it is a risky thing to suggest the translators have erred. In most cases such objections reflect the shortsightedness of the critics, or else his or her lack of understanding either the original or host languages. It is one thing to offer another possible translation and another to state that a translation is in error. More times than not, the one who is mistaken is the critic.

Mark 6:20

“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”

It is suggested that the phrase observed him is incorrect and should be translated kept him safe. [James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995), 224-225.] The problem is not with the translation, but with the lack of comprehending the English language. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the word observe comes from the Latin word observare, which means to watch, guard, and observe. [Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, ed. Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1981), 1558.] This agrees with Dr. John C. Traupman’s Latin Dictionary which defines observare as “to watch, watch out for, take careful note of; to guard; to observe, keep, obey, comply with; to pay attention to, pay respect to.” [John C. Traupman, Latin Dictionary (New York: Amsco School Publications, 1966), 200.] Further, the Oxford English Dictionary offers the definition of observe as, “To regard with attention; to watch; to watch over, look after.” [The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, eds. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 1196 (compact edition).]

For the most part, we think of the word observe as meaning to watch, study, or take notice of. However, it also means to keep, protect, or preserve. For example, we speak of observing the speed limit. We do not mean that we are watching how fast we travel down the road; we mean we are obeying or keeping the law of the land. Some observe the Sabbath or a religious holiday. Again, this means they keep or respect the day. When the Coast Guard speaks of observing our shores, they are protecting them. So it is with forest rangers who set up observation posts for the purpose of watching and protecting the wilderness. Both observe and preserve mean to keep something. This is why the same Greek word is used in Luke 2:19 and is translated as kept: “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

The Greek word is suntereo. In The Analytical Greek Lexicon this word is defined as “to observe strictly, or to secure from harm, protect.” [Harold K. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 392.] James H. Moulton and George Milligan note that one of the uses of this word in ancient non-literary writings was when “a veteran claims that in view of his long military service, exemption from public burdens ought to be ‘strictly observed’ in his case.” [James H. Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary Of The Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 614.] Clearly either observe or kept safe are proper translations.

Luke 20:26

“And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.”

This passage, along with some others, is considered an error by some because the Greek word rhematos (word) is translated in the plural instead of the singular. On the surface, and to those who only have a general understanding of the Greek language, the complaint seems legitimate. The Greek word does stand in the singular and most certainly can be translated as a word. Most modern versions translate it as saying, thus using the singular instead of the plural. The KJV and NKJV translate it as words.

Both renderings are correct. The Greek word rhematos (or rhema) can refer to a word. It also can refer to a group of words gathered together in a single discourse, speech, or clause. That is how it is used in this verse. The saying (rhematos) that proceeds this verse is the famous phrase from Christ regarding our duty to both God and government. Christ states, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25). This was the saying at which they marveled. As with all sayings, it does not consist of a single word but exists as several words. A saying, speech, or discourse contains words. Therefore, it is proper to translate the singular (which is in reference to the clause) in the plural (which is likewise in reference to the clause). As with idioms, they can be translated literally but are better translated colloquially. Consider the following example: “I would like to have a word with you.” While the singular is used in this idiom it is not to be understood literally. Instead, it is understood in the plural. Likewise is the use of rhematos in Luke 2:26. While the singular is used, referring to a clause, the plural is understood.

Still, this verse serves to illustrate a point regarding translations. A literal translation need not be strictly word-for-word in every instance. To do so would render a translation that would be wooden and extremely difficult to read. When we have idioms and expressions used in the original languages that would allow the reader to take the words in a less than literal fashion, it is proper to render them in like manner in the translation. The Greek reader of Luke 2:26 would never understand this to mean that Christ only spoke one singular word. The reader would understand that several words were spoken and that the reference concerns the discourse itself. This is something we find throughout the New Testament with other Greek words and phrases. To think of these as translational errors reveals the quality of comprehension lacking in the denouncement.

John 1:18

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

There are really two problems here, although only one appears on the surface. Should the proper translation be “only begotten Son” or should it be as the New American Standard Version renders it, “only begotten God”? This particular problem is not translational but textual because there is a difference in the Greek texts underlining these two translations. However, there is another problem that has to do with the Greek word monogenes. Both the King James and the New American Standard correctly translate it as only begotten. There is a growing movement to understand this word as unique, one of a kind, or simply only. We will deal with this difference first.

Many of the current handbooks on Greek syntax state that monogenes should not be translated as only begotten. [See Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John (New York: United Bible Societies, 1980), 24. Also, Moulton and Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1930), 416-417. However, others recognize that monogenesmeans only begotten. See Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1977 ed.), 417-418. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978 ed.), 272. And, Prestige, God in Patristic Thought (London: SPCK, 1952) 37-51, 135-141, 151-156.] Instead, they take the word to mean only or unique. If this were true, the translation of the KJV would not be alone in its “error” for this is the translation of the New American Standard Version, the New King James Version, and several other translations of the twentieth century.

The problem here is a misunderstanding of the Greek language (both Koine and Modern). The word monogenesdoes means one or unique in the sense that an only child is the only one of his parents. It does not mean unique, as in special, such as in the phrase, “his work is very unique.” Here the Greek would be monadikos, not monogenes. As we examine the New Testament we find the word monogenes used eight times (not counting its usage here in John 1:18). In every case it is used to describe a relationship between a parent and child (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; John 1:14; 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9). Since this is how the Holy Spirit uses the word in the New Testament, we must accept this definition when reading John 1:18. It has further been established that the word monogeneshas as its root word genos. Again, some have suggested that this root word means kind or type. This is true, but in the sense that those who are born of a given parentage are a certain type or kind. The Greek word genos appears twenty-one times in the New Testament. It is translated as kind, nation, stock (of Abraham), nation, offspring, kindred, generation, and country in the KJV, demonstrating the word has to do with descendents. The New International Version translates it as born in Mark 7:26, and the New American Standard Versiontranslates it as birth in Acts 4:36.

The evidence establishes that Jesus Christ, although God (John 1:1), is also the only begotten Son of God. No other can claim hold to this title. Those who accept Christ as their personal Savior are spiritually born of God and are called his sons (John 1:12). But no human can lay claim to the title of only begotten Son. This phrase has not only to do with Christ’s virgin birth, but also his eternal place within the Trinity.

Having established this point, we are now faced with the question of the word following monogenes. Should it be heios (Son) or theos (God)? The oldest known Greek manuscripts that contain John 1:18, P66 and P75, read only begotten God. However, these manuscripts all come from the Alexandrian line and smack of ancient Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that Christ was a begotten god, created by God the Father, whom they called the unbegotten God.

When those who had been tainted with Gnosticism cite John 1:18, they cite it as only begotten God. Such is true of Tatian (second century), Valentinus (second century), Clement of Alexandria (215 AD), and Arius (336 AD). On the other hand, we find many of the orthodox fathers who opposed Gnosticism quoting John 1:18 as only begotten Son (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, and Chrysostom).

Even some that served on the textual committee for the UBS-4recognized that the proper reading of John 1:18 is only begotten Son. Dr. Allen Wilkgren, who served on the committee, writes, “It is doubtful that the author [i.e., John] would have written monogenes theos, which may be a primitive, transcriptional error in the Alexandrian tradition.” [Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 2nd ed.), 170.] Additionally, Professor Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has noted that he believes the original reading is monogenes heiosand not monogenes theos. [Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 78-82.] Although Professor Ehrman did not serve on the UBS-4 committee, he is a recognized scholar in the field of Biblical textual criticism. Thus, not all scholars agree as to the original reading in this regard.

The majority of orthodox church fathers support the reading monogenes heios, as do the majority of existing Greek cursive manuscripts. The reading contained in the majority of uncials (such as A, C3, K, W, Q, Y, D, P, X, and 063), Old Latin, Latin Vulgate, and the Old Syrian also support the reading monogenes heios.

Since we know the Greek word monogenes concerns the parent/child relationship, and that God is never called monogenes (except for Christ in his relationship to the Father), it is clear that monogenes heios is the correct reading.

Acts 5:30

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”

Some scholars object to the phrase, “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” They argue that the correct rendering is “whom you killed by hanging on a tree” and that the conjunctive and in the KJV misleadingly suggests that the Jews first killed Christ and then hanged his body on the cross. [White, 225-226.] This suggestion is faulty in that it misconstrues the text of the Authorized Version, making the text say “whom ye slew and THEN hanged on a tree.”

In English, the word and does not usually mean a period of time, as is suggested with the addition of the word then. The text is not saying that the Jews murdered Christ and then placed him on the cross. The word and is a conjunction which simply links two thoughts together. As such, it is used as the word further. We understand the text to mean that the Jews were responsible for killing their Messiah. Further, they were responsible for having him placed on the cross. This is a proper use of English. When one assumes that the text is stating that the Jews murdered the Lord and then crucified him, they are reading their own thoughts into the text. The translation “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” is just as correct as the translation “whom you killed by hanging on the tree.”

Acts 12:4

“And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”

The Greek word pascha is translated as Passover in the KJV with this one exception where it is translated as Easter. Therefore, some point to this passage as a translation error on the KJV’s part. However, earlier English translations such as Tyndale’s NT, the Great Bible, and the Bishops’ Bible also translated pascha as Easter in this verse, showing that the understanding here dealt with something other than the Jewish Passover. Also, the translation of pascha as Passover in Acts 12:4 was known to the king’s translators since this is the reading of the Geneva Bible.

The use of the word pascha in early Christian writings dealt with the celebration of Easter, and not just the Jewish Passover. [Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), 633.] Dr. G. W. H. Lampe has correctly stated that pascha came to mean Easter in the early Church. The ancient Christians did not keep the Jewish Passover. Instead they kept as holy a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ near the time of both Passover and the pagan festival celebrating the goddess Ostara. Dr. Lampe lists several rules and observances by Christians in celebration of their pascha or Easter. Lampe also points to various Greek words such as paschazo and paschaluathat came to mean celebrate Easter and Eastertide. [G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), 1048-1049.] Likewise, Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes that pascha came to be called Easter in the celebration of the resurrection within the primitive Church. [Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 901-904.]

It should be noted that the English word Easter originally carried a meaning that would encompass the Jewish Passover. The Oxford English Dictionary states that Easter also means “the Jewish passover” and cites examples dating to 971 A.D. Likewise, the Coverdale Bible often used the word Easter instead of Passover in its translation because the two had the same meaning to the English mind. Further, the Homilies of the Church of England (1563) refers to Easter, a great, and solemn feast among the Jewes.” [Oxford English Dictionary, 492.] Therefore, we see by definition, that the word Easter is correct in the understanding of the English language.

There is also a connection between the Christian Easter as we have it and the pagan celebration of Ostara. Early Christians in Rome could not openly celebrate the resurrection of Christ, so they held their celebration at the same time as the pagans. Dr. William C. Martin writes:

“Modern observance of Easter represents a convergence of three traditions: (1) The Hebrew Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar calendar; (2) The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which took place at the feast of the Passover; and (3) the Norse Ostara or Eostra (from which the name “Easter” is derived), a pagan festival of spring which fell at the vernal equinox, March 21. Prominent symbols in this celebration of the resurrection of nature after the winter were rabbits, signifying fecundity, and eggs, colored like the ray of the returning sun and the northern lights, or aurora borealis.” [William C. Martin, The Layman’s Bible Encyclopedia (Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1964), 209.]

It seems that pascha can mean more than the Jewish holy day of Passover. In fact, Greeks today who wish to send the greeting Happy Easter say, kalee pascha. Literally it means good Passover. However it has come to mean good or happy Easter.

Additionally, there is a possible problem if we understand this verse to mean the Jewish Passover. Verse three of this chapter states that Peter was taken during, “the days of unleavened bread.” The next verse then speaks of Easter in the KJV. If the word is translated as Passover we have the Days of Unleavened Bread coming before the Passover. In the Biblical use of the term, Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:1-8, 15, 19; 13:7; Leviticus 2:11; and Deuteronomy 16:4). Contextually, it would seem that this pascha that followed the Days of Unleavened Bread was not the pascha that preceded the capture of Peter. Instead, it is likely to refer to the Roman celebration of Ostara, hence called Easter.

Acts 19:2

“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.”

Some have claimed the KJV is in error in its use of the word since and suggest the passage should be rendered “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed.” The Greek phrase Ei pneuma agion elabete pisteusantes is literally translated as, “[The] Spirit/Ghost Holy did ye receive having believed?”

This phrase stands in the Greek aorist and refers to past time; thus, we have the past tense with the words received and believed. This would establish the translation when you believed as correct as it relates to the Greek itself. However, the English word since also reflects past tense and is correct as it relates to the Greek text. H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, noted Greek grammarians, address the use of the aorist. They write, “The fundamental significance of the aorist is to denote action simply as occurring, without reference to its progress.” [H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto: Macmillan, 1927), 193.] Therefore, the words since or when both reflect the proper use of the aorist. In reference to what is called the Culminative Aorist, Dana and Mantey add:

“The aorist is employed in this meaning when it is wished to view an event in its entirety, but to regard it from the viewpoint of its existing results. Here we usually find verbs which signify effort or process, the aorist denoting the attainment of the end of such effort or process.” [Ibid., 196-197.]

In this regard, the word since is proper as it relates to the aorist tense. It can indicate a past action, but one that was attained through a process. Dr. George Ladd recognized this and stated of this passage, “The Greek participle is having believed, and it is capable of being translated either since ye believed (Authorized Version) or when you believed (Revised Standard Version).” [George Ladd, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Nashville: The Southwest Company, 1962), 1160.] Therefore, both translations are correct and neither are in error.

2 Corinthians 2:17

“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

The majority of modern versions render this as “peddle” or “sell the word of God for profit” instead of “corrupt the word of God.” The Greek word kapeleuontes does carry the meaning of a peddler or retailer. However, it connotes one who sells with deceit, a corrupter. Dr. Walter Bauer states that the word came to mean “to adulterate.” [Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, 403.] Dr. Joseph Thayer agrees, noting, “But as peddlers were in the habit of adulterating their commodities for the sake of gain . . . [the word] was also used as synonymous with to corrupt, to adulterate.” [Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 1977 edition), 324-325.] Likewise, Dr. Gerhard Kittel states that kapeleuontes, “also means 2. to falsify the word (as the kapelos purchases pure wine and then adulterates it with water) by making additions . . . This refers to the false Gospel of the Judaizers.”

The early church fathers understood the verse to refer to those who corrupt God’s word. Athanasius (373 AD) wrote, “Let them therefore be anathema to you, because they have ‘corrupted the word of truth’.” [Kittel, vol. 3., 605.]Gregory of Nazianzus (390 AD) alludes to 2 Corinthians 2:17, Isaiah 1:22 and Psalm 54:15, using the word “corrupt”:

“And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, able to corrupt the word of truth, and mix the wine, which maketh glad the heart of man, with water, mix, that is, our doctrine with what is common and cheap, and debased, and stale, and tasteless, in order to turn the adulteration to our profit . . .” [Gregory Nazianzus, Oratition 2 (“In Defence Of His Flight To Pontus”), 46.]

Both translations are possible. But in light of its historical and contextual usage, the word corrupt is much more likely. Regardless, it is clearly not a translational error. Dr. James R. White, noted Christian apologist and author, makes an interesting claim concerning this verse. He writes, “Surely if the KJV translators were alive today they would gladly admit that ‘peddle’ is a better translation than ‘corrupt, ‘ and would adopt it themselves.” [White, 114.] If this is true, how would one explain the notes of Dr. John Bois, one of the translators of the KJV? In his notes on 2 Corinthians 2:17, Dr. Bois writes, “Ibid. v. 17. kapeleuontes ] [being a retail dealer, playing tricks, corrupting] i.e., notheuonetes [adultering]. kapelos is derived apo tou kallunein ton pelon [from glossing over lees] by corrupting and adultering wine.” [John Bois, Translating For King James, trans. Ward Allen (Vanderbilt University Press, 1969), 51.] Apparently, the translators of the KJV were aware of the meaning of this word.

Titus 2:13

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”

Modern versions such as the NIV render this as, “While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” It is argued that the KJV incorrectly translated this passage and violated the Granville Sharpe Rule of Greek grammar. [White, 267-270.] Basically this rule states that the two nouns (God and Savior) refer to the same Person, Jesus Christ. They are correct in their understanding of this grammatical rule. They are incorrect in stating the Authorized Version has violated it.

The problem is not with the KJV, but rather a lack of understanding English grammar. In English, when two nouns are separated by the phrase and our, the context determines if the nouns refer to two persons or to two aspects of the same person. Consider the following sentence, “He was a great hero and our first president, General George Washington.” This statement is not referring to two persons but two aspects of the same person. Washington was a great hero by anyone’s standards, but he was not everyone’s president. He was our president.

The same is true of the phrase in Titus 2:13. When Christ returns he is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He is returning as the great God (Titus 2:13; Revelation 19:17). Therefore, he will return as everyone’s King, everyone’s Lord, as the great God over all. But he is not everyone’s Savior. He is only the Savior of those who have placed faith in Him. When he returns he is coming as the great God but he is also returning as our Savior, two aspects of the same Person.

This is illustrated elsewhere in Scripture. Consider the following two passages in the New Testament. In both cases two nouns are separated by the phrase and our. However, it is also clear that the two nouns refer to the same Person: God, who is our Father. In Galatians 1:4 we read, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Likewise, in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 we read, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” In both passages we know that God and Father are the same Person. They are separated by and our to convey the truth that the Eternal God over all is also our Father, thereby personalizing our relationship with Him.

The King James translation of Titus 2:13 is also consistent. In the Book of Titus we find the Greek phrase soteros emon (Savior of us) used six times (1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). Each time the Authorized Version consistently translates it as our Saviour. In the final analysis, we see that the KJV is harmonious in its use of Greek as well as in its proclamation of the deity of Christ.

Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”

The common word for faith is the Greek word pistis. However, the word used here is elpidos (a form of the word elpis),usually translated as hope. This does not mean the translation of elpidos or elpis as faith is a mistranslation. In fact, the King James translators stated that they were not bound by strict word counts, and that sometimes the context demands that the same Greek word be translated differently.

The English words faith and hope carry the idea of trust, assurance that what has been told will occur. The word hope means confidence, faith, reliance, trust, belief, and assurance. There is within Scripture a clear connection between faith and hope. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). The Scriptures state, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). And in reference to Abraham, the word of God says, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb” (Romans 4:18-19). We are saved by hope (Romans 8:24) and yet we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). We are told to place our faith and hope in God (1 Peter 1:21).

The context of Hebrews chapter ten informs us that we are to have full assurance of faith (verse twenty-two) and the One we are trusting is “faithful” (verse twenty-three). The context of the Greek word elpis in this verse can be expressed by the English words faith, hope, or trust. Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes the comparison of faith and hope when defining the Greek word elpis (hope). He even notes that in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) there is an “interrelating” of the two Greek words for faith and hope. [Kittel, vol. 2, 531.]

Faith, trust, and hope are used interchangeably. A related word to elpis (hope) is elpizo. It is translated as hope in places such as Luke 6:34 and Romans 8:25. However, it is mostly translated as trust in places such as Matthew 12:21 and Romans 15:24. A related word to pistis (faith) is pistio. It is translated as believe in places such as Matthew 8:13 and John 3:16. However, it is also translated as trust in 1 Timothy 1:11 (as is another form of it in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 which is translated as trust). The context of Hebrews chapter ten and eleven permits this type of trust be translated as faith instead of its normal translation hope.

1 Peter 3:1

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;”

This verse, along with a handful of others, is questioned because of the word conversation. The objection is that today conversation means talk, but the verses in question refer to lifestyle or behavior. The Authorized Version translates the Greek word anastrephw (or anastrophe) as conversation fifteen times in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 2:3; 4:22; 1 Timothy 4:12; Hebrews 13:7; James 3:13; 1 Peter 1:15, 18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16; 2 Peter 2:7; 3:11).

The majority of good quality English dictionaries will note that the word conversation means the life style or character of an individual in addition to its common context of conversing. The English word conversation comes from the Latin conversatio which concerns social conduct in public life, which is exactly how the word is used in the context of the Authorized Version. The Greek word anastrephw is also translated as “behave” (1 Timothy 3:15) and “live” (Hebrews 10:33; 2 Peter 2:18) within the text of the KJV, revealing that the word has to do with how one behaves or lives their life before others. Even today we speak of those who have been changed in both word and deed (Romans 15:17-19) as converts. One may accuse the word of being somewhat antiquated, but to call it a mistranslation only reveals the limited awareness of the accuser.

2 Peter 1:1

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

The Authorized Version has been accused of inconsistency in its translation of 2 Peter 1:1 when compared with its translation of 2 Peter 1:11. In the later passage we read, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.“In making such an accusation, some have provided the following comparison between 2 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 1:11.

1:1: tou theou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou

1:11: tou kuriou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou

It is then noted that the only difference between the two verses is the substitution of kuriou (Lord) in verse eleven instead of theou (God) as found in verse one. Therefore, according to the Greek, verse one must be translated as “our God and Savior” in order to be consistent. [White, 268.] Since the KJV does not do this, it is looked upon as mistranslating this passage.

The point is well taken, and would be correct if the Greek text that underlies theKJV read as presented. However, it does not. The Greek text used by the King Jamestranslators was Beza’s text of 1589 and 1598. There we find an additional emon (our) at 2 Peter 1:1 that is not provided by those who call this a mistranslation. The two are compared below with Beza’s text presented first.

Tou theou emon kai soteros emon Iesou Christou

Tou theou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou

The translation of Beza’s text is correct in the Authorized Version, and is consistent since the additional emon appears in 2 Peter 1:1 and not 2 Peter 1:11.

The question exists why Beza provided the additional emon at 2 Peter 1:1 that is not found in other Greek texts. Dr. Bruce Metzger may supply the answer. Although not discussing this passage, Dr. Metzger does note the following concerning Beza:

“Accompanied by annotations and his own Latin version, as well as Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, these editions [of Beza’s text from 1565, 1582, 1589, and 1598] contained a certain amount of textual information drawn from several Greek manuscripts which Beza had collated himself, as well as the Greek manuscripts collated by Henry Stephanus, son of Robert Stephanus.” [Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 105.]

Since the Greek text of Robert Stephanus did not contain the addition, and the Greek text of Beza does, it is logical to assume that Beza added the emon at 2 Peter 1:1 based on the various manuscripts that he possessed (or the ones possessed by Henry Stephanus). We would be mistaken to presume that all existing manuscripts used in the sixteenth century are still in existence today. Some have undoubtedly passed away over time. Regardless, the inclusion of the extra emon in this passage provides evidence of its preservation. It is certainly not a mistranslation on the part of the KJV.

We have seen in these few examples how some express a certain amount of disdain for the Authorized Version with meaningless objections. They do not like this or that reading and therefore seek to find a flaw in this literary masterpiece. It is easy to find fault, especially if one does not like a certain rendering. However, upon closer examination it usually can be shown that the difference has more to do with the manner of how words or phrases are understood and not the correctness of the translation itself. To disparage the word translated is to disparage the word. We would do well to take note and exercise caution when seeking to correct what we perceive is a mistranslation. It just may be that the one in error is the one passing judgment.

There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.

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Chapter 8 – Textual Considerations

Chapter 8: Textual Considerations

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more!

Men were deceivers ever,

One foot in sea, and one on shore;

To one thing constant never.”

-William Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing (1598)

There are a number of passages found in the Traditional Text that have fallen upon hard times. With the discovery of various manuscripts and advancements in textual criticism, we now have about six thousand places where the Traditional Text differs from the more popular Critical Text. Most of these are minor variants not affecting the gist of the text. Some, however, are of greater significance.

The purpose of this chapter is not to examine all the passages that have textual variations in them. Nor is this chapter designed to condemn the Critical Text simply because it differs from the Traditional Text. It is the focus of this chapter to take a closer look at the textual support of certain passages that are currently considered erroneous. Consequently, the other side of the textual evidence that espouses the Traditional Text and biblical preservation is presented, establishing that what has been handed down to us through the ages has been correct after all.

Despite one’s position concerning textual criticism, an additional point needs to be addressed: those who profess to believe its contents should not treat the word of God as they would any other book. Along with sound searching and solid study, we must not forsake our faith in biblical principles and promises. William Shakespeare is not the only one to warn us of the folly of man and the ever-changing nature of his comprehension. Scripture itself repeats the charge and informs us that the arm of flesh will fail. Therefore, our confidence must be placed in the Lord and his word (2 Chronicles 32:8; Psalm 118:8).

Matthew 6:13

The passage in question is the conclusion of what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer ends with the doxology, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This phrase is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts, the Greek Textus Receptus and Majority Text, and is the reading of early English versions, the KJV, and the NKJV. It is not found in the main body of the Critical Text or most modern versions.

Some have argued that the prayer is the same as the one found in Luke 11:2-4. In that passage the doxology does not appear. It is then suggested that scribes who had a habit of harmonizing various passages in the four Gospels did so with this prayer. [Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 3rd ed. (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1992), 197.]While the two passages are similar in content it is doubtful they are the same prayer. The passage in Matthew is given for the multitude when Jesus preached his celebrated Sermon on the Mount. The passage in Luke is given specifically for the disciples of the Lord when asked how they should pray. Similarity, it should be remembered, does not mean sameness. It is not a surprise to find this prayer, or at least a form of it, appearing on more than one occasion.

The question then arises: “Did the prayer in Matthew originally contain the concluding phrase as found in the Traditional Text?” Among the Greek uncials it is found in W (fifth century), L (eighth century), 0233 (eighth century), K (ninth century), D (ninth century), Q (ninth century), and P (tenth century). It is found in the majority of all Greek minuscules such as: 28, 33, 565, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2174 (dating from the ninth century to the twelfth century). It is also found in the majority of all existing Greek lectionaries. Therefore, the weight of the Greek witnesses argues for its inclusion and validity.

It is likewise found in several ancient translations such as some Old Latin manuscripts, the Old Syrian, and some Coptic versions. The Syriac Peshitta (second/third century) reads, “And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever: Amen.”Therefore, the reading embraces antiquity as well as geographical support.

The passage also has patristic support. The distinguished orthodox father of the fourth century, John Chrysostom, cites this passage. He writes, “by bringing to our remembrance the King under whom we are arrayed, and signifying him to be more powerful than all. ‘For thine, ’ saith he, ‘is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory’.” [John Chrysostom, “Homily XIX,” The Preaching of Chrysostom, ed. Joroslav Pelikan, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press), 145.] The oldest witness, which outdates all Greek manuscripts containing Matthew chapter six, is the Didache (otherwise known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles). This ancient catechism dates to the early second century, shortly after 100 AD, and contains a form of the Lord’s Prayer:

“But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week; but do ye fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Thrice in the day thus pray.”[Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 8:1]

Finally, in his studies on old papyri, Dr. George Milligan includes a sixth century prayer that incorporates the prayer of Matthew 6:13. Despite the fact that this papyrus is badly worn, it clearly contains the phrase in question. [George Milligan, Sections From The Greek Papyri (Cambridge: University Press, 1912), 132-134.] The textual evidence for the traditional reading is both ancient and massive, and should be retained in our English translations.

Mark 1:2

The Traditional Text reads, “As it is written in the prophets,” and then cites from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Other texts read, “As it is written in the Prophet Isaiah,” before quoting Malachi and Isaiah. The reading of the Traditional Text has considerable support. It is found in many of the Greek uncials (A, K, P, W, P), the majority of Greek minuscules (28, 1009, 1010, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1242, 1252, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148) and the majority of Greek lectionaries. Thus the Greek support dates from the fourth century onward. Additionally we also find the same reading in the Syriac Harclean version (616 AD), the Armenian version (fourth/fifth century) and the Ethiopic versions of the sixth century. It also receives patristic citations from many of the church fathers such as the Latin version of Irenaeus (202 AD), Photius (895 AD), and Theophylact (1077 AD).

Contextually there arises a problem with the reading as found in the Critical Text. The passage cites both the Prophet Malachi (3:1) and the Prophet Isaiah (40:3). The reading, “As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet,” seems inconsistent. Nevertheless, it has been noted that Isaiah was the major prophet and therefore he takes preeminence over Malachi. To illustrate this point, scholars often refer to Matthew 27:9. They claim this passage is not really a citation of Jeremiah but instead a quotation of Zechariah 11:12. Jeremiah receives the preeminence as the major prophet.

However, this point can be argued. The text in Matthew does not say it was written as the passage in Mark does. Instead, the text in Matthew states, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy.” God, the Author of Scripture, is aware of who writes what and who speaks what. Simply because Zechariah writes the passage does not mean Jeremiah did not speak it. Also, Zechariah warned Israel to pay attention to what the former prophets had spoken (Zechariah 7:7). The ancient Jews had a saying that, “the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah.” Much of what Zechariah received, he did so from both the Lord and the former prophet, Jeremiah.

The position presented by many that some copyist made the change from “Isaiah the Prophet” to “the prophets” in Mark 1:2 in order to correct what was perceived as a possible error is conjecture. [Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 2nd ed., 1994), 62.] One can just as easily speculate that an Egyptian copyist not overly familiar with Jewish Old Testament prophets recognized the Isaiah quote and made the change for what he considered to be better clarity. The point still remains that both sides have textual support for their respective positions. It also is understood, as Dr. George Kilpatrick has noted, that most of these types of textual variants were introduced into the manuscripts by the second century. [George D. Kilpatrick, The Principles And Practice Of New Testament Textual Criticism (Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1990), 34.] Therefore, one reading is as likely (textually speaking) as the other. The difference is contextually. It is more truthful to say “the prophets” when citing two prophets. Accordingly, the reading in the Traditional Text is both textually substantial and contextually correct.

Mark 16:9-20

This passage is referred to as the longer ending of Mark. Many textual critics doubt its authenticity, believing it was an addition made in the second century. It often appears in modern versions in brackets with footnotes questioning its authenticity. [Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 232.] Most textual scholars believe that the text abruptly ends after verse eight. Even the so-called shorter ending that is added after verse eight is considered to have originated in the second century. The shorter ending reads:

“But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been bold. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” [Revised Standard Version, footnote]

Most scholars believe the original ending to Mark’s Gospel has been lost. [Metzger, 105. Dr. Metzger footnotes the following regarding the ending of Mark. “Three possibilities are open: (a) the evangelist intended to close his Gospel at this place; or (b) the Gospel was never finished; or, as seems most probable, (c) the Gospel accidentally lost its last leaf before it was multiplied by transcription.”] If this is true, the concept of preserving the words of Scripture is forever annihilated. The words cannot be preserved and lost at the same time. However, textual scholars usually call for its inclusion even if they question its originality. Dr. Bruce Metzger departs from the maxim of modern textual critics, Brevior lectio potior (the shorter reading is preferable), and supports the longer ending even though admittedly he does not regard the passage as genuine. He considers it to be a legitimate part of the New Testament because of its traditional significance to the body of Christendom. [Bruce Metzger, Christian History (interview with Dr. Metzger downloaded from Christian History Magazine, America Online, 9/17/96).] The passage is not contained in the Alexandrian texts, minuscule 2386, the Syrian Sinaitic Version, and a few other translations.

However, it is in most of the Greek uncials (A, C, D05, K, X, D, Q, and P) dating between the fifth and ninth centuries. It is also contained in the later dated Greek minuscules (such as 137, 138, 1110, 1210, 1215, 1216, 1217, 1221, and 1582). It is the reading found in the majority of Old Latin texts as well as the Coptic versions and other early translations. Finally, it is cited (at least in part) by many of the early church fathers such as Justin (165 AD), Tertullian (220 AD), Hippolytus (235 AD), Ambrose (397 AD) and Augustine (430 AD). [John William Burgon, The Revision Revised (Paradise, PA: Conservative Classics, 1883), 422-423. Burgon also supplies additional names of church fathers who support the reading.]

In 177 AD Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies. In it he cites from Mark 16:19, establishing that the longer reading was in existence at this time and was considered canonical, at least by Irenaeus:

“Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;” confirming what had been spoken by the prophet: “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” Thus God and the Father are truly one and the same; He who was announced by the prophets, and handed down by the true Gospel; whom we Christians worship and love with the whole heart, as the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things therein.” (3:10:5).

The difference here is extremely important. If we conclude that this passage is not authentic, then we must question what happened to the original ending of Mark. It is not logical that the Gospel would end at this place so abruptly. Nor is it likely, as some scholars have suggested, that the Gospel was never finished, calling biblical inspiration into question. The conclusion held by most textual scholars, whether liberal or conservative, that the original ending has been lost over the passage of time certainly denies the doctrine of biblical preservation. If we allow that a passage of inspired Scripture has been lost from this section of the Bible, what stops us from making the same application to other passages? It is certainly within the realm of scholastic studies to note any and all textual differences. But once we open the possibility that this or that passage has been lost, we are now trusting in the understanding of men over the biblical promises of God. Certainly it is better to embrace the textual evidence and hold to the promise of preservation.

Luke 2:22

Here the variant is small but the difference is profound. The Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (Beza’s edition and Elzevir’s edition) use the phrase, “of her purification” (katharismou autes). Modern versions and the Critical Text read, “of their purification” (katharismou auton). Contextually, the reading must stand as reflected in the KJV. Under the Levitical Law a woman was considered unclean after giving birth and needed purification. The passage in Leviticus 12: 2-4 reads,

“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.”

The citation is quite clear: this was “her purifying” and not the purifying of both mother and child. Therefore, the Authorized Version and the Greek Textus Receptus agree with the Levitical Law.

To offset this point, some have suggested that the word them is a reference to Mary and Joseph. The argument is that since Joseph and Mary are mentioned in verse 16 and referred to in the second half of verse 22, the word them referred to the married couple. The obvious doctrinal problem with this is that under the Law of Moses, as set forth in Leviticus 12, the woman and not the husband needed purification after giving birth. The best contextual reading agrees with the Authorized Version, as it would support both the Old Testament Law and the actions presented in Luke’s Gospel.

Admittedly, the Greek support now known for the reading as found in the Textus Receptus is extremely poor. It is found in a few Greek minuscules such as 76 and a few others. [Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), 221]. There is an additional textual variant within the Greek manuscripts. Codex D05 (sixth century), which is highly acclaimed among textual scholars, has the reading autou (of it). While the reading autns (of her) is preferred, both readings stand in the genitive singular and not the plural as auton (of them). Additionally, we find the Sinaitic Syriac and the Sahidic Coptic versions supporting 2174 and D05.

The reading her purification has a great deal of textual support among the Latin witnesses. The majority of all Latin manuscripts read, et postquam postquam impleti sunt dies purgationis eius secundum legem mosi (And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses). The Latin word eius (or ejus) means her and stands in the feminine genitive singular, thus of her. In order to have the translation of them, the Latin texts would have to use the word eorum. When we consider the age and the number of extant Latin manuscripts, we find the reading is both ancient and well substantiated. It is also interesting to note that the reading has some support in the forged Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (possible third century). Written in Latin, it allows us to see that the purification spoken of in Luke 2:22 was a reference to Mary. Pseudo-Matthew reads: “Now, after the days of the purification of Mary were fulfilled according to the law of Moses, then Joseph took the infant to the temple of the Lord” (15:1).

The translators of the Authorized Version were well aware of the textual difference concerning this verse. The Geneva Bible and Bishops’ Bible read, “the days of her purification.” However, Tyndale’s New Testament and the Great Bible read, “the time of their purification.” It should be remembered that the KJV was mainly based on the 1589 and 1598 editions of the Greek New Testament by Theodore Beza. In his annotations Beza writes:

“Most of the [Greek] Codices read “of them” and likewise so does Origen, and unfortunately so does Erasmus. However, they have not considered what the actural Law says about the purification of the mother. And so consequently the old editions [of the Greek] are unfavorable . . . because they have distorted the truth of Scripture and in some degree have lessened the image of Mary’s purity.” [Theodore Beza, Nouum Sive Mouum Foedus Iesu Christi, 1589. Personal translation from the Latin text.]

A careful reading of Beza’s note reveals that he had some textual evidence, based on his study of the then-existing Greek manuscripts, for the reading her. Additionally, he recognized that this was the reading that agrees with the Mosaic Law. In his Latin translation, which was placed between the Greek and the Vulgate, Beza renders the phrase as “dies purationis Mariae” (days of Mary’s purification). This would agree with Pseudo-Matthew in substituting the word her with the name of Mary.

John 5:4

This verse is usually consigned to footnotes in most modern English versions, and is generally considered an addition by some scribe in order to convey a traditional story regarding the healing pool at Bethesda. Yet, to consider this text as a figment of tradition is conjecture. The passage should be considered genuine. It appears in the Greek Textus Receptus, the majority of all existing Greek manuscripts, all of the early English versions, the Authorized Version, and the New King James Version.

If we are to accept a reading based on its wide geographical distribution, we should accept this reading because it has old textual support with the greatest amount of geographical distribution. It is found in codices A, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, D, Q, P and the third corrector of C. The Greek minuscules overwhelming support the verse and is contained in 28, 565, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1253, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, and 2148. It is also included in the majority of Old Latin manuscripts and early translations.

The verse is found in the Old Coptic Version as edited from the Coptic manuscript Huntington 17 and is translated into English as follows:

“There was an angel (who) came down every hour in the pool, and moved the water. And any one (who) shall come down first after the moving of the water shall be healed of every sickness which (may) be his.” [The Coptic Version Of The New Testament: In The Northern Dialect, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898), 377-379.]

The same is true of the Old Syriac. James Murdock’s translation of this passage from the Peshitta reads:

“For an angel, from time to time, descended into the baptistery, and moved the waters; and he who first went in, after the moving of the waters, was cured of whatever disease he had.” [Murdock, 172.]

The passage also has patristic citations. It is found in the Diatessaron of the second century. Tertullian (200 AD) notes that an “angel, by his intervention, was wont to stir the pool at Bethsaida.” [The Writings Of Tertullian 3:2:5.] The passage is also cited by Ambrose (397 AD), Didymus (398 AD), Chrysostom (407 AD) and Cyril (444 AD), demonstrating that both Greek and Latin fathers accepted the reading as genuine.

John 7:53-8:11

This passage is designated as the Pericope De Adultera, referring to the woman caught in the act of adultery. The passage is included in numerous uncials such as D05, G, H, K, M, U, and G. Among the minuscule or cursive manuscripts it is in 28, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148, and 2174. Most Greek manuscripts contain this passage. It also is in early translations such as the Bohairic Coptic Version, the Syriac Palestinian Version and the Ethiopic Version, all of which date from the second to the sixth centuries. It is clearly the reading of the majority of the Old Latin manuscripts and Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. The passage has patristic support: Didascalia (third century), Ambrosiaster (forth century), Ambrose (forth century), the Apostolic Constitutions (which are the largest liturgical collections of writings from Antioch Syria in about 380 AD), Jerome (420 AD), and Augustine (430 AD).

Most textual scholars consider the evidence against it to be overwhelming and reject the reading as original. [Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, 187.] Yet, the passage still finds its way into the text of the majority of contemporary translations. Unlike John 5:4, which is confined to a footnote, this passage is retained in the text but usually separated with brackets (as with Mark 16:9-20). If the evidence against it is so convincing and the text is not considered genuine, should not this entire passage be removed from the text itself as other shorter passages are? If one is to remove smaller sections, would not consistency demand the same be done with larger sections if the amount of textual evidence is either the same or greater? Perhaps it is a matter of acceptance. Since this passage is beloved by the majority of the Bible reading public, to remove it from the text would be unthinkable.

Supporters of the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text, on the other hand, have soundly defended the authenticity of this passage. The vast majority of all known Greek manuscripts contain this section. It is clearly part of the Traditional Text. Additionally, the internal evidence demonstrates that this passage is original. If we remove it we have a very erratic jump in textual thought.

The question arises as to why this passage was ever omitted. We find the answer in church history. Augustine makes an astounding statement concerning the authenticity of the passage. After citing the forgiving phrase of Christ, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” Augustine writes:

“This proceeding, however, shocks the minds of some weak believers, or rather unbelievers and enemies of the Christian faith: inasmuch that, after (I suppose) of its giving their wives impunity of sinning, they struck out from their copies of the Gospel this that our Lord did in pardoning the woman taken in adultery: as if He granted leave of sinning, Who said, Go and sin no more!” [Augustine, De Conjug. Adult., II:6.]

Augustine implies some fearful scribes who thought the inclusion might lead to adultery omitted this passage. This argument not only seems logical, but also consistent with human nature. It is, at least, as good as modern scholarship’s view that the passage was added as a piece of oral tradition apart from inspiration. [Metzger, 188.]

Acts 8:37

Here the testimony of this faithful and beloved African, the Ethiopian eunuch, does not appear in the Critical Text. Some have argued that the verse is not genuine because it is found in only a few late manuscripts and was inserted into the Greek text by Erasmus from the Latin Vulgate. It is true that the passage appears in the Latin Vulgate of Jerome. However, the passage also appears in a vast number of other Old Latin manuscripts (such as l, m, e, r, ar, ph, and gig). It also is found in the Greek Codex E (eighth century) and several Greek manuscripts (36, 88, 97, 103, 104, 242, 257, 307, 322, 323, 385, 429, 453, 464, 467, 610, 629, 630, 913, 945, 1522, 1678, 1739, 1765, 1877, 1891, and others). While there are differences even among these texts as to precise wording, the essence of the testimony still remains where it has been removed from other manuscripts. Additionally, Irenaeus (202 AD), Cyprian (258 AD), Ambrosiaster (fourth century), Pacian (392 AD), Ambrose (397 AD), Augustine (430 AD), and Theophylact (1077 AD) all cite Acts 8:37.

The natural question posed by textual scholars is this: if the text were genuine, why would any scribe wish to delete it? [Metzger, 315-316.]In his commentary on the book of Acts, Dr. J. A. Alexander provides a possible answer. By the end of the third century it had become common practice to delay the baptism of Christian converts to assure that they had truly understood their commitment to Christ and were not holding to one of the various heretical beliefs prevalent at that time. [ J. A. Alexander, The Acts Of The Apostle (New York: Scribner, 1967), vol. 1, 349-350.] It is possible that a scribe, believing that baptism should not immediately follow conversion, omitted this passage from the text, which would explain its absence in many of the Greek manuscripts that followed. Certainly this conjecture is as possible as the various explanations offered by those who reject the reading.

Nevertheless, because of biblical preservation, the reading remains in some Greek manuscripts as well as in the Old Latin manuscripts. Clearly the reading is far more ancient than the sixth century, as some scholars have suggested. Irenaeus noted that “the believing eunuch himself: . . . immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, ‘I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God’.” [Against Heresies: I 1:433.] Likewise, Cyprian quotes the first half of the verse in writing, “In the Acts of the Apostles: ‘Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest’.” [Treatise 12:3:43.] These statements, clearly quotations of Acts 8:37, appear by the end of the second century and at the first half of the third. We see that the passage was in common use long before the existing Greek manuscripts were ever copied. This in itself testifies to its authenticity and to the assurance of biblical preservation.

Acts 9:5-6

The phrase from verse five, “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” is in the Old Latin and some Vulgate manuscripts. It is also in the Peshitta and the Greek of Codex E and 431, but in verse four instead of verse five. The passage from verse six that reads, “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him” is in the Old Latin, the Latin Vulgate, and some of the Old Syrian and Coptic versions. These phrases, however, are not found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts and therefore do not appear in either the Critical Text or the Majority Text. Yet, they are included in the Textus Receptus. On the surface the textual evidence looks weak. Why, then, should the Textus Receptus be accepted over the majority of Greek witnesses at this point? Because the phrases are preserved in other languages, and the internal evidence establishes that Christ in fact spoke these words at the time of Paul’s conversion and are therefore authentic.

Acts chapter nine is not the only place in Scripture where the conversion of Paul is established. In Acts 22:10 and 26:14 we have the testimony of the Apostle himself. There, in all Greek texts, the phrases in question appear.

Acts 22:10

And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.

Acts 26:14

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

When the apostle Paul recounts his conversion he cites the words in question. It is certain that the Holy Spirit inspired these words which should be included at Acts 9:5-6. We must conclude that these words were spoken when the event originally occurred. Although they have not been preserved in the Greek manuscripts at Acts 9:6, they have been preserved in the Latin manuscripts (ar, c, h, l, p, ph, t) as well as other translations (Georgian, Slavonic, Ethiopic). The greatest textual critic of all, the Holy Spirit, bears witness to their authenticity by including them in Acts 22:10 and 26:14.

A similar example may be noted in Matthew 19:17, although the textual evidence is much stronger there. The King James Version reads, “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Modern texts render “why callest thou me good” to “why do you ask me about what is good.” Also, the reply of Christ, “there is none good but one, that is, God” is rendered “there is only one who is good.”

This verse, as it stands in the King James, wonderfully establishes the deity of Jesus Christ. If only God is good and Christ is called good, he must be God. The Greek support for the reading of the KJV, as presented in the Traditional Text, is substantial. Among the uncials it is found in C and W (fifth century), K and D (ninth century) and a few others. It is the reading of the majority of Greek cursives and lectionaries. It is also the reading of the Old Latin, the Old Syriac, the Coptic, and other early translations. The textual evidence is much stronger than that of Acts 9:5-6. Similarly, this passage has additional references to determine what the original reading must be. Again the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of this textual problem by providing for us two other places where this event is cited. In both cases there is no textual variant in the places supporting the disputed passage.

Mark 10:18

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Luke 18:19

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

In neither passage does the Lord say anything like, “Why do you ask me about what is good?” And, in both passages we find the noun “God.” Therefore, we do not have to ask ourselves which reading in Matthew 19:17 is correct because the Holy Spirit has made it clear in additional passages which one is the correct reading. The same principle may be applied to Acts 9:5-6. Once again God bears testimony to his word.

Romans 8:1

The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” appears in verses one and four. Most scholars consider this a special type of scribal error called dittography, which is the repetition of a letter, syllable, word, or phrase. The thought is that a scribe accidentally copied the phrase from verse four in verse one, and that the textual error repeated itself in later manuscripts. Scribal errors do occur as is testified in the large amount of variants within the textual witnesses. However, just because a word or phrase is repeated does not mean that a scribal error has occurred.

The Greek phrase me kata sarka peripatousin alla kata penuma (who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit) is supported by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. Among them are 33, 88, 104, 181, 326, 330, 451, 614, 630, 1241, 1877, 1962, 1984, 1985, 2492, and 2495. These date from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. The phrase is also included in Codex K (ninth century), Codex P (ninth century), and stands in the margin of Codex Sinaiticus. This is also the reading of the majority of Greek lectionaries. Early versions that contain the phrase include some Old Latin manuscripts (such as ar and o), the Harclean version, and the Georgian version. Another textual variant that contains part of the phrase reads me kata sarka peripatousin (who walk not after the flesh). This is the reading found in A, D06, Y, and several minuscules (such as 81, 256, 263, 365, 629, 1319, 1573, 1852, and 2127). It is also the reading of the Latin Vulgate (fourth century), and the Peshitta. The reading in part or in whole has massive and ancient textual support.

The whole verse is cited, with the phrase in question, by Theodoret (466 AD), Ps-Oecumenius (tenth century), and Theophylact (1077 AD). We also have partial citation of the verse by Basil (379 AD). He writes:

“And after he has developed more fully the idea that it is impossible for one who is in the power of sin to serve the Lord, he plainly states who it is that redeems us from such a tyrannical dominion in the words: “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I give thanks to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Further on, he adds: “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh.” [Basil, “Concerning Baptism,” The Fathers Of The Church: Saint Basil Ascetical Works, trans. M. Monica Wagner, vol. 9 (New York: Fathers Of The Church, Inc., 1950), 343.]

When the phrase is not included it creates a possible doctrinal problem. To say there is no condemnation of any kind to all who are in Christ Jesus is to overlook the whole of Scripture. We are told that it is very possible for those who are in Christ to suffer some condemnation, albeit not eternal condemnation. The Christian who walks after the flesh instead of the leading of the Spirit produces works of wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12). Everyone’s works will be tried so as by fire. Fleshly works will be burned and spiritual works will endure. We are told, “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). Therefore, worldly Christians face a certain amount of condemnation.

We must remember that the word condemnation not only carries the meaning of judgment, but also of disapproval. John informs his “little children” that the heart of the believer is able to pass such condemnation or disapproval on our Christian living (1 John 3:20-21). Not only is there a judgment for believers who stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10), but there can also be a judgment on believers that may cost them their lives if they continue in sin (Acts 5:1-10; 1 John 5:16). Biblically speaking, there is condemnation for believers who walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit. Consequently, the phrase at the end of Romans 8:1 is theologically sound.

1 John 5:7

The passage is called the Johannine Comma and is not found in the majority of Greek manuscripts.However, the verse is a wonderful testimony to the Heavenly Trinity and should be maintained in our English versions, not only because of its doctrinal significance but because of the external and internal evidence that testify to its authenticity.

The External Evidence: Although not found in most Greek manuscripts, the Johannine Comma is found in several. It is contained in 629 (fourteenth century), 61 (sixteenth century), 918 (sixteenth century), 2473 (seventeenth century), and 2318 (eighteenth century). It is also in the margins of 221 (tenth century), 635 (eleventh century), 88 (twelveth century), 429 (fourteenth century), and 636 (fifteenth century). There are about five hundred existing manuscripts of 1 John chapter five that do not contain the Comma. [Kurt Aland, in connection with Annette Benduhn-Mertz and Gerd Mink, Text und Textwert der Griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments: I. Die Katholischen Briefe Band 1: Das Material (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 1987), 163-166.] It is clear that the reading found in the Textus Receptus is the minority reading with later textual support from the Greek witnesses. Nevertheless, being a minority reading does not eliminate it as genuine. The Critical Text considers the reading Iesou (of Jesus) to be the genuine reading instead of Iesou Christou (of Jesus Christ) in 1 John 1:7. Yet Iesou is the minority reading with only twenty-four manuscripts supporting it, while four hundred seventy-seven manuscripts support the reading Iesou Christou found in the Textus Receptus. Likewise, in 1 John 2:20 the minority reading pantes (all) has only twelve manuscripts supporting it, while the majority reading panta (all things) has four hundred ninety-one manuscripts. Still, the Critical Text favors the minority reading over the majority in that passage. This is common place throughout the First Epistle of John, and the New Testament as a whole. Therefore, simply because a reading is in the minority does not eliminate it as being considered original.

While the Greek textual evidence is weak, the Latin textual evidence for the Comma is extremely strong. It is in the vast majority of the Latin manuscripts, which outnumber the Greek manuscripts. Although some doubt if the Comma was a part of Jerome’s original Vulgate, the evidence suggests that it was. Jerome states:

“In that place particularly where we read about the unity of the Trinity which is placed in the First Epistle of John, in which also the names of three, i.e., of water, of blood, and of spirit, do they place in their edition and omitting the testimony of the Father; and the Word, and the Spirit in which the catholic faith is especially confirmed and the single substance of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is confirmed. [Prologue To The Canonical Epistles.]

Other church fathers are also known to have quoted the Comma. Although some have questioned if Cyprian (258 AD) knew of the Comma, his citation certainly suggests that he did. He writes: “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one’ and likewise it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one’.” [Treatises 1 5:423.] Also, there is no doubt that Priscillian(385 AD) cites the Comma:

“As John says “and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh, the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.” [Liber Apologeticus.]

Likewise, the anti-Arian work compiled by an unknown writer, the Varimadum (380 AD) states:”And John the Evangelist says, . . . ‘And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one’.” [Varimadum 90:20-21.] Additionally, Cassian (435 AD), Cassiodorus (580 AD), and a host of other African and Western bishops in subsequent centuries have cited the Comma. Therefore, we see that the reading has massive and ancient textual support apart from the Greek witnesses.

Internal Evidence: The structure of the Comma is certainly Johannine in style. John is noted for referring to Christ as “the Word.” If 1 John 5:7 were an interpretation of verse eight, as some have suggested, than we would expect the verse to use “Son” instead of “Word.” However, the verse uses the Greek word logos, which is uniquely in the style of John and provides evidence of its genuineness.Also, we find John drawing parallels between the Trinity and what they testify (1 John 4:13-14). Therefore, it comes as no surprise to find a parallel of witnesses containing groups of three, one heavenly and one earthly.

The strongest evidence, however, is found in the Greek text itself. Looking at 1 John 5:8, there are three nouns which, in Greek, stand in the neuter (Spirit, water, and blood). However, they are followed by a participle that is masculine. The Greek phrase here is oi marturountes (who bare witness). Those who know the Greek language understand this to be poor grammar if left to stand on its own. Even more noticeably, verse six has the same participle but stands in the neuter (Gk.: to marturoun). Why are three neuter nouns supported with a masculine participle? The answer is found if we include verse seven. There we have two masculine nouns (Father and Son) followed by a neuter noun (Spirit). The verse also has the Greek masculine participle oi marturountes. With this clause introducing verse eight, it is very proper for the participle in verse eight to be masculine because of the masculine nouns in verse seven. But if verse seven were not there it would become improper Greek grammar.

Even though Gregory of Nazianzus (390 AD) does not testify to the authenticity of the Comma, he makes mention of the flawed grammar resulting from its absence. In his Theological Orientations he writes referring to John:

“. . . (he has not been consistent)in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourselves disclaim in the case of deity?” [Fifth Orientation: The Holy Spirit.]

It is clear that Gregory recognized the inconsistency with Greek grammar if all we have are verses six and eight without verse seven. Other scholars have recognized the same thing. This was the argument of Robert Dabney of Union Theological Seminary in his book, The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek (1891). Bishop Middleton in his book, Doctrine of the Greek Article, argues that verse seven must be a part of the text according to the Greek structure of the passage. Even in the famous commentary by Matthew Henry, there is a note stating that we must have verse seven if we are to have proper Greek in verse eight.

While the external evidence makes the originality of the Comma possible, the internal evidence makes it very probable. When we consider the providential hand of God and his use of the Traditional Text in the Reformation it is clear that the Comma is authentic.

Revelation 22:19

While the focus of this verse deals with the phrase “book of life,” as opposed to “tree of life,” the issue is deeper. The manuscript Codex 1r used by Desiderius Erasmus in the production of his Greek New Testament is missing the last six verses of Revelation chapter twenty-two. It is thought that Erasmus took the Latin Vulgate and retranslated these verses back into Greek. [Erika Rummel, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 93. It is claimed that Erasmus openly declares in the Annotations of his 1516 edition (page 675) that he “ex nostris Latinis supplevimus Graeca” (supplied the Greek from the Latin). Thus the claim that the last six verses of Revelation chapter twenty-two were retranslated from the Vulgate into Greek. However, the reprint of the 1516 edition of Erasmus does not contain this phrase on page 675 of his Annotations, which is the conclusion of his notes on the book of Revelation, nor is such a phrase found elsewhere in that edition.] Assuming this hypothesis is true we must ask ourselves the following questions. First, if Erasmus did make use of the Latin Vulgate to supply these last six verses, has the usage of the Latin corrupted the text? Second, was Codex 1r really the only Greek manuscript used by Erasmus for this passage?

Certainly the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Textus Receptus are similar in these last six verses. This, of course, would be natural if the Latin was based on early Greek manuscripts that correspond with the Textus Receptus. We must remember that most of the Greek manuscripts of the second, third, and fourth centuries have not survived the passage of time. However, the Vulgate and the Textus Receptus are not identical either. For example, the conclusion of Revelation 22:20 reads in the Receptus, Amen. Nai, erchou, kurie Iesou (Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus). The Latin reads, amen veni Domine Iesu (Amen come Lord Jesus). The Textus Receptus includes an additional affirmation nai (even so), an addition not found in either the Greek Critical Text or the Latin Vulgate.

If Erasmus did translate back into Greek from the Latin text, he did an astounding job. These six verses consist of one hundred thirty-six Greek words in the Textus Receptus, and one hundred thirty-two Greek words in the Critical Text. There are only eighteen textual variants found within these verses when the two texts are compared. Such textual variants, both in number and nature, are common throughout the New Testament between these two Greek texts. For example, the preceding six verses, Revelation 22:10-15, have fourteen textual variants which are of the same nature, and in Revelation 21:3-8 we find no fewer than twenty textual variants. One would expect, therefore, a greater number of textual variants if Erasmus was translating from the Latin back into Greek, and yet the two texts are extremely close. Even if he did translate from the Latin into Greek it would have no bearing on the doctrine of biblical preservation. Preservation simply demands that God has kept and preserved the words throughout the generations from the time of their inception until this present day and even beyond. It does not demand that these words be preserved in the original languages only.

However, this brings us to our second question. Did Erasmus really translate the Latin back into Greek? Textual scholar Herman C. Hoskier argued that Erasmus did not do this. Instead, he suggests that Erasmus used other Greek manuscripts such as 2049 (which Hoskier calls 141), and the evidence seems to support this position. [H. C. Hoskier, Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, vol. 2 (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1929), 644.] Manuscript 2049 contains the reading found in the Textus Receptus including the textual variant of Revelation 22:19. To this we can also add the Greek manuscript evidence of 296, and the margin of 2067.

Additionally, the Greek text copied by Erasmus in Revelation 22:16-21 reflects a consistency that is found elsewhere in the Textus Receptus, suggesting that it was copied from other Greek manuscripts and not translated from the Latin back into Greek. In Revelation 22:16 we find the phrase tou dabid (the David) in the Textus Receptus as opposed to the Critical Text’s dauid (David). While the English would translate the two identically, it is interesting to note that in Revelation 3:7 we find the same thing. In that passage the Textus Receptus places the definite article before the name of David just as it does in Revelation 22:16, while the Critical Text does not use the definite article before David’s name in either passage.

To counter this, it has been noted that within the text of Erasmus at Revelation 22:16-21 there are a few unusual spellings; for example, elthe (come) instead of the normal erchou (come). This suggests that Erasmus was copying from a Greek manuscript and not translating from the Latin. Erasmus, it should be remembered, was one of the greatest scholars and thinkers of his day. He was fluent in Greek and several other languages. He would have known that the normal New Testament word for come is not elthe but is instead erchou. In fact, Erasmus used erchou in Revelation 22:7; 22:12; and even in 22:20. There must have been a reason for Erasmus to depart from the normal form of the word and write elthe in 22:17. Moreover, the Latin for come in 22:17 is the same Latin word in 22:20, veni. This further suggests that Erasmus was not really translating from the Latin, but was using an additional Greek manuscript other than Codex 1r.

Likewise, there is textual evidence for the reading book of life instead of tree of life. As noted above, the reading is found in a few Greek manuscripts. It is the main reading among the Latin witnesses. The phrase book of life is also the reading of the Old Bohairic version. Finally, it is the reading found in the writings of Ambrose (397 AD), Bachiarius (late fourth century), Primasius (552 AD) and Haymo (ninth century).

One must also consider the internal evidence. The phrase tree of life appears seven times in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament. In these verses we are told we will be able to eat of this tree, and that this tree of Eden will reappear in Eternity. The idea that one can have their share taken away from the tree of life seems abnormal to Scripture. However, the phrase book of life appears seven other times in the New Testament (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; and 21:27). In each case we find the book of life either contains or does not contain names, or names are blotted out of it. Therefore, the phrase, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,” is extremely consistent with the biblical texts.

As can be seen from this text, the warning is ominous. While one may understand this passage to apply only to the book of Revelation, it is clear from other passages that the same is true of the whole of Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6). When applied to the verses discussed in this chapter we must conclude that somewhere in the process of transmission someone either added to the text or omitted from it. There’s the rub, and itshould be taken seriously. Scholarship is a noble and honorable profession. However, it ceases to be both if it seeks to usurp the authority of the Lord God. After all, our commitment does not so much rest with our scholarship as it does with the ultimate Scholar.

There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.

Order your copy of Crowned With Glory today.

Chapter 7 – Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls

Chapter 7: Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“It is concealed and hidden, but God does not forget it.

Delayed is not forgotten!”

-Hans Christian Andersen, Delaying Is Not Forgetting (1872)

West of the northern half of the Dead Sea lies the ruins of Qumran. A fantastic discovery was made in 1947 in the various caves throughout that region. Scrolls and fragments of scrolls were found. These ancient writings became the center of attention for the media, as well as for students of the Bible and archaeology. Like sheep desiring water, a Bedouin shepherd had led a thirsty world to the most acclaimed find of the twentieth century, the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Many claims have been made regarding the Scrolls. Some, while drinking at this newly found fountain of knowledge, have seen the Scrolls as a pool of Bethesda offering spiritual or academic healing of some sort. Others have seen them as the waters of Marah, bitter and full of corruption. Perhaps the best way to view them is to see them for what they are, scrolls written by scribes. Like the many writings of men, they offer things that are both sweet and bitter.

At least five hundred different scribes were responsible for writing the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Norman Golb, Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls? (New York: Scribner, 1995), 154.] Most of the Scrolls are dated before the time of Christ, while some are dated during and after Christ. One wonders if any of the writers of the Scrolls heard the message of Jesus Christ and his condemnation for not practicing what they had copied (Matthew 23:13). What is certain, however, is that those scribes who heard the Savior’s message had access to what became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Historical Background

The story tells of a shepherd boy, Muhammad adh-Dhib (which means Muhammad the wolf), out seeking his lost goat (or sheep according to some accounts). Thinking that the animal had wandered into one of the many nearby caves, Muhammad threw a stone into one of them hoping to hear the sound of his lost goat scurrying off. Instead, he heard the sound of a jar breaking. Calling one of his friends, he entered the cave and found ancient manuscripts lying in the cave, hidden in primitive jars.

There are other versions concerning Muhammad adh-Dhib and his amazing discovery. One account says the fifteen-year-old shepherd was simply herding some goats when he found the cave. Still other accounts say that Muhammad adh-Dhib was seeking shelter from a storm in the cave when he came across the manuscripts. There is also the story of shepherds who were smuggling goods from Jordan to Bethlehem who inadvertentlyfound the Scrolls.

Regardless which account of the story is true, the seven scrolls discovered in this cave are very significant findings. The scrolls found in what was later designated as Cave 1 were the two Isaiah Scrolls (1QIsa.a and 1QIsa.b), The Habakkuk Commentary, The Manual of Discipline, The Thanksgiving Scroll, The War Scroll, and the Genesis Apocryphon. Later, additional manuscripts were discovered revealing the vast majority of the Old Testament books along with additional religious and secular writings. Scholars consider these scrolls and fragments to be the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.

Cave 1 is located in the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, about a mile and a half from the shore line in what was then the Wilderness of Jordan. It also stands about a mile from the Khirbet Qumran, the old ruins believed to be the dwelling place of the Essene sect. However, at the time of the discovery, Qumran was thought of as an old fortress.

Dr. Eliezer Sukenik, who purchased some of the shepherd’s findings, took three of the scrolls to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The other scrolls were sold to St. Mark’s, a Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, where the church’s head, Metropolitan Mar Samuel, retained them. Samuel took the scrolls to the American School of Oriental Research, also in Jerusalem, for their examination. It was then that an announcement was made to the world. In the Times of London an article dated April 12, 1948, read as follows:

“Yale University announced yesterday the discovery in Palestine of the earliest known manuscript of the Book of Isaiah. It was found in the Syrian monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem, where it had been preserved in a scroll of parchment dating to about the first century BC. Recently it was identified by scholars of the American School of Oriental Research at Jerusalem.

There were also examined at the school three other ancient Hebrew scrolls. One was part of a commentary on the Book of Habakkuk; another seemed to be a manual of discipline of some comparatively little-known sect or monastic order, possibly the Essenes. The third scroll has not been identified.” [As cited by James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 6.]

Dr. Sukenik’s son, Yigael Yadin (also noted as a Qumran expert), was in the United States in 1954. Mar Samuel was visiting the United States at that same time seeking to sell his scrolls. Yadin purchased the four scrolls from Mar Samuel for $250,000 dollars and gave them to the newly formed state of Israel. The seven scrolls were united and placed in a special museum, shaped like the lid of one of the jars in which the scrolls were kept. The museum is known as the Shrine of the Book.

It was difficult to excavate the caves in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, an unsettled period in Middle Eastern history. By the time the importance of the scrolls was known, the state of Israel was being formed. War raged in the Middle East. Despite this turbulent interval, the Bedouins continued to search the region and discovered additional scrolls. Eventually, eleven caves were excavated and thousands of fragments were discovered. Through the years these scrolls and scroll fragments have gradually been translated and published. Many of the manuscripts remained unpublished until the early 1990’s. [Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), 1-16.]

Dating the Scrolls has always been a problem as not all scholars agree in this area. For the most part, the Scrolls are dated from about the third century BC to around 68 AD. The method of dating rests on several factors. Findings among the Scrolls or at Qumran, such as pots and coins, have helped set certain dates. Paleography, the science of dating manuscripts by the shape of letters used in writing, also helps determine the dates of the Scrolls. Carbon-14 dating was used on the cloth that held one of the Isaiah scrolls, but until recently Carbon-14 dating could not be used on the Scrolls themselves because it required a large section of a scroll to be destroyed. Now Carbon-14 dating methods have improved and only a small fragment is needed for this process. George Bonani in the Biblical Archaeology Review reports thatthe dates fixed by paleography have been confirmed by Carbon-14 dating. [George Bonani, “Carbon-14 Tests Substantiate Scroll Dates,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1991, 72.] It is interesting, however, that the Masada manuscript of Joshua, which is of the Masoretic Text, had been dated by scholars as written somewhere around 30 AD according to paleographic studies. Carbon-14 dating on the same manuscript gave it a range of 150 to 75 BC.

Textual Variance Among The Scrolls

Some have mistakenly assumed that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain only biblical writings. Actually the Scrolls reflect a library scattered throughout eleven caves, containing biblical and non-biblical books. Some are still in scroll form, but most are fragmentary after over two thousand years of aging. With the exceptions of Esther and Nehemiah, every book of the Old Testament is represented in the findings at Qumran. It should be noted, however, that representation and full representation are not the same thing. Some books are represented with only fragmentary evidence in very limited number, while other books are better and more fully represented among the findings.

In the most current published lists of manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls there are thirty-six manuscripts which represent the Book of Psalms, making it the most represented biblical book among the Scrolls. Deuteronomy follows with twenty-nine manuscripts and Isaiah with twenty-one. First and Second Chronicles are represented by only one manuscript, as is Ezra. Most of the others are represented by fewer than ten manuscripts. The exceptions are those previously listed, as well as Genesis (with fifteen manuscripts), Exodus (with seventeen), and Leviticus (with thirteen). There are about eight hundred manuscripts among the Scrolls. Of these, slightly over two hundred represent biblical books, which means only about one-fourth of the Qumran library contained copies of the Scriptures.

It should also be pointed out that not all of these biblical books represent the same textual history. The biblical books found at Qumran are divided into three textual categories:

  1. Manuscripts that represent the Masoretic Traditional Text.
  2. Manuscripts that represent the text of the Septuagint.
  3. Manuscripts that represent the Samaritan text.
  4. However, according to Dr. Emanuel Tov, who became co-editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1991, there are two additional groups.
  5. Texts that demonstrate a unique style of writing, spelling, and grammar found only at Qumran.
  6. Nonaligned texts that do not show any allegiance to the four other groups. About twenty-five percent of the biblical manuscripts found at Qumran fall into the nonaligned category. [VanderKam, 133-134.]

The Proto-Masoretic Text

These manuscripts are called Proto-Masoretic because they agree with the Masoretic Text, yet date before the Masoretic Text became the official Hebrew Bible. It should be noted that the Dead Sea Scrolls have greatly enhanced the evidence supporting the authority of the Masoretic Text. Until the findings at Qumran (as well as findings at Wadi Murabbaat), the oldest Masoretic Texts dated to the Middle Ages. With Qumran, we now have manuscripts almost a thousand years older that are Masoretic. Most of the scrolls from Cave 4 are of this text-type and represent biblical books such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets, and some fragments of the Law and Historical books.

The most noted group is perhaps the Isaiah Scrolls. Two scrolls containing the book of Isaiah were found in Cave 1. The first is sometimes called the St. Mark’s Manuscript (1QIsa.a) because it was initially owned by St. Mark’s Monastery. The second is sometimes called the Hebrew University manuscript of Isaiah (1QIsa.b) because it is owned by that university. Both represent the Masoretic Hebrew Text and are major victories for the Masoretic Text and the Authorized Version.

Textual scholar Dr. James C. VanderKam has pointed out that 1QIsa.a is almost identical to the copies of Isaiah dating to the Middle Ages. Any differences are minor and hardly ever affect the meaning of the text. [Ibid., 126.] Dr. Menahem Mansoor, another textual scholar, has likewise stated that most of the differences are spelling or grammatical changes. Those that do not fall into this type are minor, such as an omission or addition of a word or two, or the mixing of Hebrew letters. [Menahem Mansoor, The Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 74-75.] One such minor variant is found in Isaiah 6:3. The Masoretic Text and the King James Bible read, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts.” The St. Mark’s Isaiah text reads, “Holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.” Therefore, while 1QIsa.a may be in error in its omission of the third holy, the contents of this scroll overwhelmingly support the Masoretic Text.

As close as this scroll is to the Masoretic tradition, the Hebrew University’s Isaiah scroll is closer. [Ibid., 79.] Textual scholar Dr. Ernst Wurthwein concurred, calling the agreement between 1QIsa.b and the Masoretic Text “striking.” [Ernst Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 144.] Considering that a thousand years separate the Isaiah Scrolls from their Masoretic counterparts, the term striking may be an understatement. In either case, the evidence from Qumran demonstrates the Traditional Hebrew Text existed long before the Middle Ages, once again establishing the biblical principle of preservation.

About forty percent of the biblical texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are Masoretic. Further, the group of manuscripts listed by Dr. Tov as unique to Qumran also resembles the later Masoretic Text. [VanderKam, 143.] These texts account for twenty-five percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Therefore, among the biblical books of Dead Sea Scrolls, sixty-five percent reflect the Traditional Text of the Old Testament.

Providing additional support to the Masoretic readings among the Dead Sea Scrolls are findings at Wadi Murabbaat and Masada. In 1951, caves at Wadi Murabbaat, which is south of Qumran near the Dead Sea, were discovered which contained biblical manuscripts. The major difference here is that these biblical texts exclusively reflect the Masoretic Text. [Mansoor, 28.] These manuscripts, however, are slightly younger and are believed to have been written between 132 and 135 AD. Still, their relationship to the Masoretic Text of the Middle Ages is virtually identical to that of the Proto-Masoretic Qumran group. [Ibid., 31.] The findings at Murabbaat include the Pentateuch, Isaiah, the Minor Prophets, and the book of Psalms.

Between 1963 and 1965 manuscripts were discovered while excavating Masada, the famous rock fortress where Jewish nationalists withheld the advances of the Roman army in 73 or 74 AD. Masada is farther south of Qumran than Wadi Murabbaat, along the western coast of the Dead Sea. These manuscripts must date before the fall of the fortress, which place them before 74 AD. Fourteen scrolls containing biblical texts were found that agree extensively with the Masoretic Text. The only possible exception to this amazing agreement is the book of Ezekiel, and even there the textual variants are extremely minor. [Wurthwein, 31.]

The Proto-Septuagint Text

Only five percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls are Proto-Septuagint. These are texts written in Hebrew that reflect a reading closer to the Greek Septuagint than the Traditional Text. For example, the Greek Septuagint and the text of Jeremiah found at Qumran (4QJer.b) agree in omitting a healthy portion of the text. The Septuagint and Qumran text (4QExod.a) agree in stating the number of descendants from Jacob are seventy-five, instead of the seventy listed in the Masoretic Text. Some have assumed that Stephen was citing either the Septuagint or the Proto-Septuagint text of Qumran in giving the number as seventy-five (Acts 7:14 and Exodus 1:5). Yet, this can also be explained by the way the family was numbered and not the text Stephen was citing.

The Proto-Samaritan Text

As with the Proto-Septuagint textual type of the Dead Sea Scrolls, only five percent of the manuscripts found comprise the Proto-Samaritan textual type. The Samaritan Pentateuch, as indicated by the name, consisted solely of the five books of Moses. The Hebrew text is often the same as the Masoretic Text with differences in spelling rather than textual variants. However, there are nineteen hundred variants that agree with the text of the Septuagint over that of the Masoretic. This text also has some additions to it.

The information concerning the various textual types found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with other findings in that region, should reveal something to the reader. First, as in any library, the one at Qumran demonstrates a diversity of material. Is this not to be expected? If a student were to visit my personal library they would discover a wide variety of texts and general information. Second, considering the extensive use of the Masoretic Text in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and its exclusive use in other manuscript findings near the Dead Sea, the Traditional Hebrew Text must be unquestionably authoritative.

Who Wrote The Scrolls?

The vast majority of scholars answer this question by stating that the Essenes, a strict Jewish sect that lived in piety and isolation, wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. Like other Jewish groups such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Essenes were both a religious groupand a political one. Some have suggested the Essenes were a splinter group of the Pharisees.

The Jewish philosopher Philo wrote that a group of Essenes lived west of the Dead Sea in the wilderness. Some assume that the ruins found at Qumran must have been the dwelling place of the Essenes because it fits the general location. Likewise, since John the Baptist dwelt in this same wilderness, some have concluded John was part of the Essenes sect, or else was influenced by the strict teachings of the Essenes. However, such conclusions overstep biblical and historical facts. Josephus provides additional information about the Essenes. In his Antiquities of the Jews, he states that the Essenes lived in groups, having all things in common. They “neither marry wives, nor are desirous to keep servants; as thinking the latter tempts men to be unjust, and the former gives the handle to domestic quarrels; but as they live by themselves, they minister one to another” (XVIII. 1:5). They believed in the immortality of the soul and that an eternal reward awaited those who lived a righteous life.

Certainly many of the writings among the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect the views and teachings of the Essenes. The ruins found a mile away from Cave 1 at Qumran most certainly could have been from an Essenes community. Nevertheless, there are those who have come to different conclusions as to who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and about the community at Qumran. One such scholar is Dr. Norman Golb, author of Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls? Dr. Golb is a recognized authority on Qumran who believes that the Scrolls are the remains of the Jewish library located in Jerusalem. He contends that various scrolls were hidden in the wilderness to protect the Jerusalem Library from the Romans when they destroyed the Second Temple and the city in 70 AD. He also maintains that the city of Qumran was not the dwelling place of the Essenes, but was a fortress against the Romans. Dr. Golb makes a comparison between the structures at Qumran and the military rock fortress at Masada. He notes that according to Josephus, the Essenes were not limited to a single settlement, but were found in every city of Palestine. [Golb, 5.]

Dr. Golb also points to evidence within the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves. One of the scrolls found was not written on leather, like all the other scrolls, but on flattened copper plates that were riveted together to form a scroll (hence it has been dubbed by scholars The Copper Scroll). It tells of treasure from the Temple that was hidden so that the Romans would not pillage it. Part of the Temple treasure includes a library. In accordance with this, Dr. Golb points to the Apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees as evidence that the Jews historically hid their books when enemies approached.

“The same things also were reported in the writings and commentaries of Neemias; and how he founding a library gathered together the acts of the kings, and the prophets, and of David, and the epistles of the kings concerning the holy gifts. In like manner also Judas gathered together all those things that were lost by reason of the war we had, and they remain with us. Wherefore if ye have need thereof, send some to fetch them unto you.” (2 Maccabees 2:13-15).

Dr. Golb notes that handwriting experts have detected the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by over five hundred various scribes. He states:

“I began to see that the growing number of scripts was starting to pose still another problem for the sectarian hypothesis [i.e., that the Essenes had lived together and were responsible for writing the scrolls]: How many scribes, after all, could have lived together at Khirbet Qumran at any one time, or even over three or four generations? . . . Had the scrolls been written by fewer than two hundred scribes – a number that one might perhaps live with in defending the notion of a sectarian scriptorium at Qumran – or by a much greater number of copyists as I had begun to suspect? The matter was obviously of crucial importance . . . I did not know that two more decades would elapse before facsimiles of all the Cave 4 manuscripts would be published in the wake of an acute controversy, and that they would confirm that at least five hundred scribes had copied the scrolls.” [Ibid., 151, 153-154.]

Dr. Golb recognizes that his view is strongly rejected by the majority of modern scholars. Yet, he is not alone in his view. In the 1950’s, Professor K. H. Rengstorf of the University of Munster in Germany suggested that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the remains of the Jerusalem library. Although Professor Rengstorf had arrived at his conclusion years before Golb, and did so for different reasons, their view still has a common centrality: The Scrolls must have come from Jerusalem and not the sectarian writings of the Essenes. According to Rengstorf and Golb, the Essenes would not have had such a variety of views within their writings since they were sectarian. However, the library at Jerusalem would contain such diverse writings.

Regardless of who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, we can safely state that there is little in them that can be used against the Traditional Hebrew Text. In fact, because the evidence from Qumran overwhelming supports the Masoretic Hebrew Text, we must say the findings at Qumran strongly favor the Traditional Text and the Authorized Version. Additionally, as we have seen, findings at Murabbaat and Masada exclusively support the Masoretic Text, proving that the established text accepted as the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2) was the Traditional Hebrew Text. The Scrolls may have been concealed and hidden for thousands of years, but God did not forget them. Today, they bear testimony to the Providential Hand in the keeping of Scripture.

There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.

Order your copy of Crowned With Glory today.

Chapter 6 – Oracle Of The Jews

Chapter 6: Oracle Of The Jews

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“They give us Scriptures, but Thou makest known the sense thereof.

They bring us mysteries, but Thou revealest the things which are signified.

They utter commandments, but Thou helpest to the fulfilling of them.

They show the way, but Thou givest strength for the journey.”

-Thomas `a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (1415)

According to Scripture the Hebrews were God’s oracles (Romans 3:1-2). It was unto the Jews that the Old Testament revelation and canon were committed. This is why twice in the Old Testament they were instructed not to add to or take from the word of God.

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2).

“Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6).

Faithful Hebrew scribes took this task very seriously. Precise steps were taken in preparing the parchment upon which they wrote, and in preparing themselves in order to write on it. According to the Hebrew Talmud, a body of civil and religious laws that also provided commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures, the rules for the scribes consisted of the following:

  1. The skins of the parchments had to be prepared in a special way and dedicated to God so that they would be clean in order to have God’s words written on them.
  2. The ink that was used was black and made in accordance to a special recipe used only for writing Scripture.
  3. The words written could not be duplicated by memory but must be reproduced from an authentic copy that the scribe had before him. And, the scribe had to say each word aloud as he wrote it.
  4. Each time the scribe came across the Hebrew word for God, he had to wipe his pen clean. And when he came across the name of God, Jehovah (YHWH), he had to wash his whole body before he could write it.
  5. If a sheet of parchment had one mistake on it, the sheet was condemned. If there were three mistakes found on any page, the whole manuscript was condemned. Each scroll had to be checked within thirty days of its writing, or it was considered unholy.
  6. Every word and every letter was counted. If a letter or word was omitted, the manuscript was condemned.
  7. There were explicit rules for how many letters and words were allowed on any given parchment. A column must have at least forty-eight lines and no more than sixty. Letters and words had to be spaced at a certain distance and no word could touch another.

In his book, The Text of the Old Testament, noted Old Testament textual scholar Dr. Ernst Wurthwein mentions that the scribes counted the verses, words, and letters of each part of the Scriptures they were copying. [Ernst Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 19.] The Jewish historian Josephus (37-95 AD) comments on the preciseness of the Jewish scribes and their faithfulness in copying the Old Testament Scriptures:

“. . . for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them.” [Flavius Josephus, “Flavius Josephus Against Apion,” Book 1, The Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), 776.]

Some have taken Josephus’ statement to mean the contents of the Old Testament. Other have understood it to mean the canon of the Old Testament. Either way, his statement affirms the sacredness the Hebrews ascribe to Holy Scripture.

For years it had been thought that the Bible Christ used was the Greek Septuagint (also known as the LXX). The common thought was that the Jews at the time of Christ had all but lost their use of Hebrew since the international language of that day was Greek. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapter), it has been established that the Jews did not lose their use of Hebrew. In fact, most of their writings (both sacred and otherwise) were written in Hebrew.

Alan Millard, Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages at the University of Liverpool, England, observed that for years scholars believed that Hebrew was limited to religious usage during the time of Christ. But from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and books written in common Hebrew among them, it can now be established that a form of Hebrew, like the Hebrew used in the Old Testament yet distinct in form, was in use during the time of Christ and the apostles. [Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus (Oxford: Lion, 1990), 35.] This confirms what we find in the Gospels concerning the Hebrew Old Testament used by Christ. Jesus proclaimed; “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). It is interesting that Christ used the words jot and tittle which are Hebrew letters, not Greek. [Homer A. Kent, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, eds. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison (Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1968), 937.] Additionally, Jesus states in Luke 11:51; “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zecharias,” attesting to the Hebrew order of Scripture. The placement of Old Testament books are different in the Jewish order, ending with 2 Chronicles and not Malachi. In 2 Chronicles 24:21 we are told of the stoning of faithful Zechariah, and Christ’s statement not only spoke of the martyrdom of Old Testament saints, but marks the limits of the Hebrew order: from the beginning (Genesis) to the end (2 Chronicles).

The Masoretic Text

The Masoretic Text is the traditional Hebrew Old Testament text of both Judaism and Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church historically has used the Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome, though this position has been revised and now the Catholic Church uses the Hebrew text. The Orthodox Church has historically used the Greek Septuagint. Masoretic comes from the Hebrew word masora, referring to the marginal notes added by Jewish scribes and scholars of the Middle Ages (known as the Masoretes).

Until recently, the most ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament dated to the ninth century. This has changed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date from 168 BC to about 68 AD. The Scrolls provide us with Hebrew manuscripts more ancient than the previous manuscripts by one thousand years. What is interesting to the student of textual criticism and the believer in biblical preservation is that the majority of biblical manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls agree with the Masoretic Text. [Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 160.] This further provides evidence of the text’s credibility and testifies to the accuracy of the Hebrew scribes in their reproduction of biblical manuscripts throughout the ages. Consequently, it establishes the preservation of the Old Testament text in Hebrew by God.

The earliest biblical fragments among the Scrolls come from the book of Leviticus (1QLev.a) and add support to the antiquity of the Masoretic Text. [Wurthwein, 148.] These fragments encompass Leviticus 19:31-34 and 20:20-23. There is but one minor variant from the Masoretic Text found in 20:21. The Masoretic Text uses the Hebrew word hoo while the Dead Sea Scrolls uses the Hebrew word he. It is the same Hebrew word and is a personal pronoun meaning he, she, or it. The two are used interchangeably throughout the Hebrew Old Testament.

Additional manuscripts have also been found that supports the Masoretic Text. In the early 1960’s biblical texts were discovered during the excavation of Masada, the renowned rock fortress where Jewish zealots made a successful last stand against the Roman army after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. These texts were approximately nineteen hundred years old, dating slightly before 73 AD when Masada finally fell. The manuscripts were exclusively Masoretic. [Ibid., 31.] To these we can also add the Geniza Fragments which were discovered in 1890 at Cairo, Egypt. These fragments date to the fifth century AD. They were located in a geniza, a type of storage room for worn or faulty manuscripts. The fragments number around two hundred thousand and reflect biblical texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. The biblical texts discovered support the Masoretic Text. [Ibid., 12-13.]

In one sense, the Masoretic Text may be thought of as the Textus Receptus (Latin for received text) of the Old Testament. In fact, some scholars have referred to it as such.Like the Textus Receptus of the New Testament, the Masoretic Text is based on the majority of manuscripts and reflects the Traditional Text used. Although there are differences found in some Masoretic Texts, these differences are minor and usually deal with orthography, vowel points, accents, and divisions of the text. In 1524-25, Daniel Bomberg published an edition of the Masoretic Text based on the tradition of Jacob ben Chayyim, a Jewish refugee who later became a Christian. It was his text that was used by the translators of the King James Version for their work in the Old Testament. Wurthwein notes that the text of ben Chayyim was looked upon as almost canonical, and was considered the authoritative Hebrew text. [Wurthwein, 37.]

For about six generations the ben Asher family reproduced the Masoretic Text. Moses ben Asher produced a text in 895 AD known as Codex Cairensis containing the writings of the Prophets. Codex Leningradensis (cataloged as “Firkovich B 19 A”) dates to 1008 AD and was based on the work of Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, the son of Moses ben Asher. This codex is the oldest Masoretic manuscript containing the complete Bible. In 1935 the manuscript was loaned to the University of Leipzig for two years while Rudolf Kittel used it for his Biblia Hebraica, third edition. Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica has since then become the standard Hebrew text used by scholars in producing modern translations of the Old Testament.

Generally scholarship agrees that the Masoretic Text became the standard authorized Hebrew text around 100 AD in connection with the completion of the New Testament. It is obvious the Masoretic Text existed prior to the writings of the New Testament, and it was used as the official Hebrew Old Testament at the time of the establishment of the biblical canon. It has been used since as the official representation of the Hebrew originals.

The Greek Septuagint

The most notable Greek Old Testament, and arguably the most influential early translation of the Hebrew canon, is the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX is believed to have been translated from the Hebrew text by Hellenistic Jews during a period from 275 to 100 BC at Alexandria, Egypt. Scholars such as Ralph W. Klein have noted that the LXX used a different Hebrew text than the one found in the Masoretic Text. [Ralph W. Klein, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: The Septuagint After Qumran (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974).] Jerome used the LXX extensively as a help in translating his Latin Vulgate, and it remains the official Old Testament of the Greek Orthodox Church.

The association of the Latin numeral LXX (70) with the Septuagint comes from a legend concerning the origin of this Greek translation. According to the Letter of Aristeas, Jewish scholars were chosen to translate the Law of Moses into Greek so that it could be added to the great library of Ptolemy Philadelphus in Alexandria, Egypt. The letter states that the High Priest in Jerusalem sent seventy-two scholars to the Egyptian king. According to this document, the High Priest writes to the king as follows:

“In the presence of all the people I selected six elders from each tribe, good men and true, and I have sent them to you with a copy of our law. It will be a kindness, O righteous king, if you will give instruction that as soon as the translation of the law is completed, the men shall be restored again to us in safety.”

Six scholars from the twelve tribes of Israel equal a total of seventy-two. It is assumed that the seventy is merely a rounding off of the seventy-two. It is further stated that they accomplished their task in seventy-two days. Even if the story given in the Letter of Aristeas could be taken as literally true, it deals only with the translation of the first five books of the Old Testament. Furthermore, most scholars note that there are differences in style and quality of translation within the LXX and assign a much greater time frame than the 72 days allotted in the Letter of Aristeas.

The most noted copy of the LXX, produced by Origen, is an Old Testament consisting of six parallel versions of the Scriptures called the Hexapla, meaning six-fold. The columns of the Hexapla consisted of: 1. The Hebrew text. 2. The Hebrew transliterated into Greek. 3. The Greek translation of Aquila. 4. The Greek translation of Symmachus. 5. The Septuagint. 6. The Greek translation of Theodotion. With the exception of a few limited fragments, we do not have Origen’s Hexapla today. We cannot fully reconstruct Origen’s fifth column, let alone a pre-Origenian Septuagint.

Origen’s Hexapla was revised and edited by two of his disciples, Pamphilus and Eusebius. As mentioned above, there were other Greek translations of the Old Testament during this time, in addition to the LXX, which were contained in the Hexapla such as the versions of Aquila and Theodotion. Some scholars believe that the translation produced by Theodotion replaced the LXX in the book of Daniel, so that the readings there are really those of Theodotion and not of the LXX. Others have claimed that this is not the case. Concerning Origen’s Hexapla and the LXX, the best scholars can say is that what has survived representsOrigen’s text. [Wurthwein, 57.] Two such manuscripts that represent the text of Origen are Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus of the Alexandrian line of manuscripts.

The LXX And The New Testament

There are a number of Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament that are said to be from the LXX. Several of these passages agree because of the limitations of translating Hebrew into Greek. Such would be the case in Genesis 5:24 as compared with Hebrews 11:5. The writer of the book of Hebrews and the LXX both use the phrase “God translated him” in reference to Enoch. The Greek, metetheken auton o theos, is the same in both the New Testament and the LXX.

Genesis 5:24 (KJV)

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24 (LXX)

And Enoch was well-pleasing to God, and was not found, because God translated him.

Hebrews 11:5 (KJV)

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he please God.

At first glance it would seem that the passage in Hebrews is closer to the LXX. However, the Hebrew word for “took” in this passage is lawkakh, which means to take or move from one place to another. The Greek way of saying the Hebrew lawkakh is metetheken, which means “translated.” This is not a citation of the LXX, but a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for took.

There are times when the Greek of the LXX and the Greek of the New Testament match perfectly. There are also places where the two do not match. To explain this most scholars assume the New Testament writers were paraphrasing from the LXX. But once we explore the possibility that the citations are not quotations but paraphrases of the LXX, we can no longer be certain it was the LXX that was originally used.

Romans 9:17 illustrates this. While part of the passage seems to match the LXX, part does not at all match. This causes us to wonder why Paul did not fully quote the LXX if it was his source.

Exodus 9:16 (KJV)

And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

Exodus 9:16 (LXX)

And for this purpose hast thou been preserved, that I might display in thee my strength, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Romans 9:17 (KJV)

For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

The last phrase, “and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” is a perfect match between the New Testament and the LXX, as is the phrase “that I might shew my power in thee.” However, this also matches the Hebrew text as seen in the King James rendering of Exodus 9:16. It is important to note that there are differences between the LXX and the Greek New Testament at the very beginning and in the middle of the verse. The Greek New Testament begins with Oti eis auto touto exegeira se opos (For this purpose have I raised out thee, so that). The LXX begins with Kai eneken toutou dieterethes, ina (And for this purpose hast thou been preserved, that). These are two differing readings in both Greek and English. Moreover, the New Testament uses the Greek word dunamin (power), while the LXX uses the Greek word ischun (strength).

Since there are differences between the New Testament citations in both the LXX and the Masoretic Text, the question arises as to what translation the writers of the New Testament used. At times it seems they are using the Traditional Hebrew Text; at other times it seems as if they are taking great liberties with the Hebrew text. Sometimes their quote matches the LXX; other times their citation differs from the LXX. How do we resolve this dilemma?

First, not every passage cited as an Old Testament quotation is actually a quotation. Many times a given passage is simply an allusion or a general reference. Second, just because one quotes from a source does not mean he is fully endorsing that source. We find, for example, Paul citing from the philosophies of the Greeks in order to reach the Greeks (Acts 17:23; Titus 1:12). This did not mean that he accepted their philosophies. Third, we must remember that the writers of the New Testament had a unique position. They wrote under inspiration. Both the Old and New Testaments are Holy Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is God’s word and he certainly has the right to make changes as he sees fit, a liberty any author can take when self-quoting.

On the whole, it seems unlikely that the writers of the New Testament favored the Greek LXX over the Hebrew Masoretic Text. Sir Frederic Kenyon brilliantly observed that the biblical guardians of the Old Testament, the Jews, throughout history have not accepted the LXX. Josephus, for example, rejected the LXX because of its addition to the Hebrew canon of Scripture, as did other strict Jewish scribes. [Frederic G. Kenyon, The Text of the Greek Bible (London: Gerald Duckworth and Company), 29.] Likewise, scholarship recognizes that the enhancement of the LXX in history came not from the Jewish scribes but from sources within Christendom around the third century. Therefore, it does not seem likely that the New Testament writers would have embraced such a translation, at least not to the exclusion of the Hebrew text. Dr. Ernst Wurthwein correctly stated that the LXX does not shed light on the text of the original Hebrew, but only on how some interpreted the Hebrew text. [Wurthwein, 63-64.] Yet, many scholars of the past one hundred years or so have seemed to prefer it over the Masoretic Text, something Wurthwein found to be astounding. [Ibid.] When we consider all of this, we understand the wisdom of the KJV translators in preferring the Hebrew Masoretic Text for their translation of the Old Testament.

The LXX And The KJV Translators

It is interesting to note how the translators of the KJV viewed the LXX. They recognized that it was produced by interpreters and not by inspired prophets. They admitted that although the LXX translates many things well, it also failed many times and departed from the Hebrew causing the New Testament writers to depart from the LXX.

“. . . the Seventy were interpreters, they were not prophets. They did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance; yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the original, and sometimes to take from it: which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek translations of the Old Testament.”

It is also clear that the KJV translators promoted the use of such translations since they recognized the importance of having God’s word translated into the language of those who cannot read Hebrew or Greek, despite the lack of quality and accuracy contained in those translations. Their argument with the Catholic Church, which at that time made a practice of burning Bibles that were in any language other than Latin, was that God’s word translated poorly was still God’s word and must be treated with respect and dignity. They illustrate their point with the Greek translations of Aquila, Theodotion, and the LXX.

“The Romanists therefore in refusing to hear, and daring to burn the word translated, did no less than despite the Spirit of grace, from whom originally it proceeded, and whose sense and meaning, as well as man’s weakness would enable, it did express . . . The like we are to think of translations. The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it . . . To be short, Origen, and the whole Church of God for certain hundred years, were of another mind: for they were so far from treading under foot, (much more from burning) the translation of Aquila a proselyte, that is, one that had turned Jew; of Symmachus, and Theodotion, both Ebionites, that is, one vile hereticks, that they joined them together with the Hebrew original, and the translation of the Seventy, (as hath been before signified out of Epiphanius) and set them forth openly to be considered of and perused by all.” [Ibid., xix-xx.]

The demeanor of the New Testament writers, early Christians, and the KJV translators regarding the LXX provide for us a two-fold argument. First, the importance of accuracy and nobility in regard to the translation of God’s word. Truth must not be replaced with either ease or simplicity. That which God has given is of utmost importance and should be proclaimed in its unique majesty. After all, one is dealing with the words of the most Sovereign King. Second, the vilest translation of men poorly done should be corrected, not destroyed or defamed. An inferior translation, when that is all one has, is better than no translation. Fortunately for English-speaking people worldwide, the second point has fallen prey to the first. Nevertheless, it is better to promote God’s word translated than to disparage it.

There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.

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