Lesson Twelve: Deliberating the Arguments

Lesson Twelve: Deliberating the Arguments

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

The foundations of mankind are philosophies, traditions (Col. 2:8), and science (1 Tim. 6:20). The reality, however, is that our very bedrock lies with the blessed Hope and His bountiful word (Heb. 11:1-3). What and how we think is not as important as what God says. How we view our world is not how God views it (Isa. 55:8). Therefore, if we are to know the truth of a matter, we must consider the words of God. Our duty, as pronounced by Christ, is to “search the scriptures.” The believers of Berea searched “the scriptures daily” to see if what was told them was so (Acts 17:11). It is with this duty in mind that we conclude our study regarding Biblical preservation and the Authorized Version. These are the closing arguments placed before us. However, in the final conclusion it will not be us who judge the word of God; but the word of God which judges us (Heb. 4:12-13).

The arguments for the Authorized Version as the preserved word of God for the English- speaking people will be considered later in this lesson. First, however, let us consider the arguments favoring modern textual criticism and weigh the attestations in light of the evidence and sacred Scripture itself. The majority of the arguments fall under the heading of textual evidences, or rationalizations concerning the manuscripts. Secondly, we find the arguments concerning translational simplicity and accuracy and the need, so it is avowed, for an easier or clearer translation.

The criteria for choosing which reading is original can be found in Burce Metzger’s book The Text of the New Testament. Metzger categorizes them as 1) External Evidence, and 2) Internal Evidence (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968, pp. 209-210). External evidences relate to the date of the manuscript, its geographical distribution, and its relationship with other textual families. Internal evidences consider what the original writer was most likely to have written while taking into account his style and vocabulary, the context, and the passage’s harmony with other passages by the same writer. Additionally, textual critics will also consider, as internal evidences, the Aramaic background of the time of Christ, the emphasis placed on Mark’s gospel believing it to be the first, and the influence of the Church regarding the transmission of a certain passage. To consider every argument would be exhaustive. Nevertheless, we shall consider those which are more commonly used in the promotion of modern translations.

Sadly, none of what is proclaimed by textual critics considers the Sovereign hand of the Almighty God preserving His inerrant word or the sinister influence of a literal Devil seeking to pervert sacred Scripture. Without these considerations, we are doomed to view the word of God naturalistically and thus remove Divine influence upon the Holy Bible. We must also realize that the roots of higher criticism have their foundations in lower criticism.


These two arguments often run together in the footnotes of many modern versions. They are not the same thing. Older is not always better, and the better are not the older. This must be the case for the modern textual critic or else once a text is determined to be the oldest his task of reconstructing the New Testament would cease. Further, as will be seen by example later, some of the older manuscripts reflect a mixed reading of textual families, consequently diminishing the overall emphasis placed on the Alexandrian textual line. For these and other reasons, scholarship must not claim that older is always better. Still, we find that the two do go hand-in-hand in justifying the rejection of the Traditional Text and the English Authorized Version.

Older Manuscripts

Often the supporters of modern translations will point to the very old papyrus manuscripts. Defiantly as one reads Kurt Aland or Bruce Metzger the patronage for the readings found in the papyrus is apparent. Aland notes that since the 1930’s with the number of papyrus manuscripts found they have, “held an almost magical charm, not only for the general public but for New Testament scholars as well, though with no real justification.” (Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text Of The New Testament, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987, p. 84.) The early papyrus were discovered in Egypt, south of the Delta region, from such places as Oxyrhynchos, Atfih (Aphroditopolis), and Heracleopolis, off the Nile River. It is also rather ironic that these great papyrus were located in rubbish heaps. (Eldon Jay Epp, “A Dynamic View of Textual Transmission,” in Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, eds. Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993, p. 279.) This causes us to wonder if they were discarded because they were worn by use, or because they were considered corrupted. In either case, these are the oldest known manuscripts we have to date.

Although most of these papyri are fragmentary, others contain large sections of Scripture and have been given very early dates by paleographers. For example, p75 (containing part of Luke and John) dates from 175 to 225 AD, p66 (containing part of John) dates to about 200 AD, p46 (containing part of Romans and the Pauline epistles) likewise dates to about 200 AD, and p52 (a small fragment containing only John 18:31-33 and 37-38) is considered the oldest manuscript dating to 125 AD. Added to this are Alexandrian uncials of the late third and early fourth centuries (such as Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus). Further, modern textual critics will point out that Byzantine manuscripts (or the Traditional Greek Text) are not found until about the fourth century with the vast majority of their manuscripts not dating until the ninth century and onward. (Ibid., 82. Also, this chart of Aland’s has been reproduced in James White’s book, The King James Only Controversy, Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995, p. 188.) The argument seems to be a very good one. After all, if we have manuscripts which date closer to the original writings it would seem logical that they are closer in content as well. There is, however, more to be considered.

The four papyri mentioned above are very old indeed. The fact that these manuscripts seem to have originated in Egypt, or at least survived there, and as with other Alexandrian manuscripts were not used by the majority of believers throughout the existence of the Church does not carry much weight with textual scholars. Nor does the fact that these manuscripts are not in agreement. In fact, the early papyrus although considered Alexandrian in nature, really reflect a mixed text with many Byzantine and Western readings within them. Consequently, Aland has labeled p46 and p66 as “free,” (Aland, p. 99-100.) and Metzger simply calls p66 “mixed.” (Metzger, p. 254.) In his introduction to the Chester Beatty Papryi (which contains p46), Sir Frederic Kenyon likewise observes the mixed nature of the early papryi. Speaking of them, Kenyon notes, “On the one hand, it is not an out-and- out supporter of the ‘Neutral’ or Vatican type of text; but neither is it, on the other hand, an out-and-out supporter of the ‘Western’ type.” (Sir. Frederic G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri:Fasciculus I, London: Emory Walker, 1933, p. 16.)

In fact, Dr. Eldon Epp has said the study of the papyri, “is largely an exercise in historical-critical imagination.” (Epp, p. 274.) Notwithstanding, while debating the originality of this or that text, modern scholars will often cite these papyri manuscripts and their age as proof of their arguments when these papyri support their point of view.

This is illustrated by Professor James White in his support of the Alexandrian reading found in John 1:18. As the reader recalls from lesson eleven, this verse concerns the differences in the phrases, “only begotten Son” (Gk: monogenes huios), and “only begotten God” (Gk: monogenes theos). White argues:

Suffice it to say that the most ancient texts, including the oldest existing copies of the book of John, p66 and p75, as well as a number of the early fathers of the church, refer to Christ as the “only-begotten God,” or more accurately, the “unique God.” (White, pp. 199-200.)

In truth, the majority of the early Church Fathers used the phrase “only begotten Son” in regard to John 1:18. Our point here, however, is that White supports his preference for the reading “monogenes theos” because “the oldest existing copies of the book of John” have this reading. Yet, their age gives way when these papyri manuscripts agree with the Traditional Text against those found in the Alexandrian Text.

For example, in John 4:1 the Alexandrian manuscripts of Sinaiticus (4th century), Bezae (Codex D, 6th century) and Q (9th century) have the reading “Iesous” (Jesus) while the Traditional Text reads, “kurios” (Lord). The vast majority of all Greek manuscripts agree with the reading found in the Authorized Version. Further, we find the reading “kurios” in Vaticanus (4th century), Alexandrinus (5th century), Codex C (5th century), and the majority of uncial manuscripts. Thus it is no surprise to find both p66 and p75 with the reading “kurios.” Nevertheless, this reading is rejected in the United Bible Societies Greek 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, of course, 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. The point being that there are several places where these papyri manuscripts agree with the Traditional Text as presented in our English King James Bible over the readings found in the Alexandrian Text and its reflective modern English versions.

Dr. Wilbur Pickering cites the studies of textual scholars Ernest Colwell, Eldon Epp, and Albertus Klijn noting where the papyri agree with the Textus Receptus (TR) against the Alexandrian Text. By using portions in John 10 and 11 where p45, p66 and p75 agree and where Vaticanus and Sinaiticus differ (a total of 43 places), Klijn found the following: 32 times p45 agrees with the TR, 24 times it agrees with Vaticanus, and only 19 does it agree with Sinaiticus. 33 times p66 agrees with the TR, 29 times with Vaticanus, and only 14 times does it agree with Sinaiticus. While p75 agrees with the TR 29 times, Vaticanus 33 times, and Sinaiticus 9 times. (Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1977, pp. 54-56.) It should therefore become painfully clear that those who resort to the age of a manuscript to correct the King James Bible are not consistent in using the older manuscripts.

To the above, we may add the study completed by Dr. Gordon D. Fee concerning Codex Sinaiticus and how it relates to other manuscripts and Greek texts. (Gordon D. Fee, “Codex Sinaiticus in the Gospel of John: A contribution to methodology in establishing textual relationships,” in Studies In The Theory And Method Of New Testament Textual Criticism, pp. 221- 243.) In his study, Dr. Fee notes several passages in the Gospel of John where Codex Sinaiticus agrees or disagrees with p66, p75, the TR, and some other witnesses. In John chapter four, for example, Fee notes that out of 61 possible textual variations, the TR agrees with p66 a total of 37 times, or 60.6% of the time. Interestingly, p66 agrees with Codex Sinaiticus only 21 times or 34.4% of the time, illustrating that the TR is closer to p66 in this chapter than is Sinaiticus. It is also interesting to note that 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: TR=32 times or 52.5%. Sinaiticus=19 times or 31.05. Vaticanus=52 times or 85.2%. (Ibid., p. 228.)

Dr. Fee then broadens the study to cover John chapters 1 through 8, with a total of 320 possible textual variations. The statistics show a strong relation between the Traditional Text and the very old manuscripts of p66. In fact, the TR and p66 agree 50.9% of the time when there are textual variations. Comparing p66 with Sinaiticus we find they agree only 43.7% of the time. (Ibid., p. 233.)

All of this information shows that within the very old manuscripts we find variants which occur in the Traditional Text long before the establishing of the Byzantine Text in the fourth century. Dr. Fee, who supports modern textual criticism, has in fact stated that in the oldest manuscripts we have Byzantine readings. He admits to this in a different article refuting Dr. Wilbur Pickering:

Pickering regularly talks about Byzantine readings as being earlier than Chrysostom–and he is right. That is, readings that eventually become the text of the majority can often be shown to have existed as early as the second century. . . p66, for example, is said to have Byzantine readings. In a sense this is correct in that p66 –and even p75 on rare occasions–is now the earliest evidence for a variant away from the Egyptian text-type that is later to be found in the Majority text. But in comparison with places where p66 reads with the Egyptians against the Byzantines, these “Byzantine” readings are of little consequence; and above all else they do not render p66 a Majority text MS.” (Ibid., “The Majority Text and the Original Text of the NT”, p. 201.)

Our point here is not that the papyri manuscripts are Majority texts manuscripts, but only that one can find textual support for variant readings within these very old manuscripts which support the readings found in the Traditional Text. Further, this allows the student to cite these manuscripts with just as much fervor when these manuscripts support the readings found in the King James Bible. Finally, we can also see that these old papyri manuscripts are not hard-line support for the Alexandrian text, because we find them varying from that family in a number of places. Therefore, when one argues from the perspective of “older manuscripts” the consistency is often lacking.

Before moving on, one additional note should be made at this juncture. Dr. Pickering has made a marvelous observation concerning the prejudice of modern textual scholars regarding their views of textual criticism. He writes:

Whenever an early witness surfaces it is declared to be “Alexandrian” or “Western” or “Caesarean” and thereupon those “Syrian” (i.e. Byzantine) readings which it contains cease to be “pure Syrian” and are no longer allowed as evidence. Such a procedure is evidently useful to defenders of Hort’s theory, but is it right?” (Pickering, p. 71.)

The “logic” of modern textual scholars is this: There are no Byzantine manuscripts before the fourth century when Lucian of Syria conflated the various readings and produced what became the Byzantine or Traditional Text. We know this is true because we have no Byzantine readings before the middle of the fourth century, but we do have Alexandrian and Western readings. Therefore, any second century reading which supports the third or fourth century readings of the Alexandrian line are considered important and are offered as proof that these textual lines are more original than the Byzantine line. However, if a reading is found in these very same manuscripts which agrees with the fourth century Byzantine reading, it is considered unimportant and unconsequential. The bigotry against the Traditional Text is clearly seen.

Better Manuscripts

The student of textual criticism will notice that there is a unanimous disregard for the Byzantine text. This is noted by supporters of modern translations and their related Greek texts. Dr. Frederik Wisse writes: “(Kurt) Aland also is not interested in the Byzantine text as such, but only in MSS which significantly diverge from the Byzantine text.” (Frederik Wisse, The Profile Method For Classifying And Evaluating Manuscript Evidence, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982, p. 21.) The point is that among such textual scholars the Alexandrian family of manuscripts is considered closer to the original and therefore better. The Byzantine or Traditional Text is considered a conflation (i.e. a mixing or joining) of the Alexandrian and Western texts in the fourth century by Lucian at Antioch in Syria.

This Lucian Recension is considered as much of a fact as evolution is among humanists. However, both are nothing more than theories. The truth is, apart from the promise of Scripture, we simply do not know which text is original and which one is corrupt. Theoretically, it is just as scholastically valid to argue that despite the absence of early Byzantine manuscripts it still reflects the original autographs much better than the Alexandrian line does. Since the Scriptures were meant to be used and read, we would expect these texts to ware out sooner than texts which were considered corrupt and therefore not used by the majority of Christians during the first three hundred years of the existence of the Church. Further, considering the arid conditions of Egypt we would expect these not as often used manuscripts to last longer. Arguing against this, Dr. Donald A. Carson states:

This ingenious theory is quite untenable for at least the following reasons: (1) Although it may explain why the autographs disappeared, it cannot explain why there are no extant copies of manuscripts with Byzantine text- type from before the fourth century. If such manuscripts were handled and copied so much that they wore out, then many copies must have been made. Why have none of them survived? (2) The ante-Nicene father unambiguously cited every text-type except the Byzantine. Therefore defenders of the “worn-out manuscripts” hypothesis must not only base this hypothesis on an argument from silence (there are no early manuscripts with Byzantine text-type), but also pit it against the hard data that the early fathers never unambiguously cited from it. Is it not eminently more reasonable to conclude that manuscripts with Byzantine text simply did not exist for the first 250-300 years of the church’s life? (3) If they did exist, who was wearing them out? If the fathers did not cite the Byzantine text-type, who then was handling these alleged manuscripts so frequently and thoughtlessly that they wore out? (D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism , Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979, p. 47.)

Dr. Carson’s arguments reflect the thoughts of modern textual scholars. His arguments, however, are mistaken.

Carson’s first point is that the Traditional Text could not have existed before the fourth century because we have none, and that if there were a great many produced by the Church why have none survived instead of being worn out? To begin with, we have citations from the Church Fathers and from other early translations which contain Byzantine readings. Further, we have already seen where the early papyri reflect a mixed line themselves with Byzantine readings in them. There is also something else to consider. Carson asks, “If such manuscripts were handled and copied so much that they wore out, then many copies must have been made. Why have none of them survived?” Of course, the opposite would also be true, would it not? If the Alexandrian text is original, or closer to the original, and it were multiplied greatly among the early Church, why is it that only a few copies have survived? Where are the abundance of second century manuscripts supporting the Alexandrian line found outside of Egypt? Or, as we have already noted, why is it that the second century papyri of Egypt are not pure Alexandrian?

Carson’s second point that the ante-Nicene fathers did not cite the Byzantine text but did every other text is ambiguous and somewhat absurd. Early in our studies we showed that Ignatius (d. 107 AD) cited 1 Timothy 3:16 as it stands in the Traditional Text. Polycarp (d. 155 AD) cites 1 John 4:3 as we have it in the Byzantine line and the Authorized Version. Also, his citations of Romans 14:10 and Galatians 4:26 do not reflect the Alexandrian readings, but the readings found in the Byzantine manuscripts of the ninth century and onward. Additionally, the early Church Father’s preferred the reading “only begotten Son” instead of “only begotten God” in John 1:18, again agreeing with the Traditional Text.

Consider the following examples from the four gospels. In each case the reading is Byzantine and is not found in the early Greek texts before the fourth century nor in the reading used in the critical Greek texts. Yet, each reading has its support in either Apostolic or ante-Nicene times with more than one early church source.

Matthew 27:34
“They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.” (KJV)

“They gave him wine to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted it, he would not drink.” (ASV)

“Pierces all round; and to the tree Himself Is fixed; wine drugged with myrrh, is drunk, and gall Is mixt with vinegar; parted His robe, And in it lots are cast; what for himself Each one hath seized he keeps; in murky gloom,” (Tertullian–220 AD, General Reply To Sundry of Marcion’s Heresies, p. 230. Likewise, this is so cited by Irenaeus, Celsus, Origen, Eusebius, the Gospel of Peter and the Epistle of Barnabas.)

Mark 1:2
“As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” (KJV)

“Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way.” (ASV)

“Wherefore also Mark, the interpreter and follower of Peter, does thus commence his Gospel narrative: ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, . . .’ Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him at once, whom they confessed as God and Lord; ” (Irenaeus –202 AD, Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book III: Chapt. 10:5. This is likewise cited by Origen, Porphyry, Eusebius, and Titus of Bostra.)

Luke 1:28
“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (KJV)

“And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.” (ASV)

“I recognize, too, the angel Gabriel as having been sent to ‘a virgin.’ But when he is blessing her, it is ‘among women,’ not among virgins, that he ranks her: ‘Blessed (be) thou among women.’ The angel withal knew that even a virgin is called a woman.” (Tertullian–220 AD, On The Veiling of Virgins, Chapter 6. Also cited by Africanus, Eusebius, Ephraem, and in the Diatessaron).

John 5:4
“For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” (KJV)

This verse is omitted in modern versions.

“And there were laid in them much people of the sick, and blind, and lame, and paralysed, waiting for the moving of the water. And the angel from time to time went down into the place of bathing, and moved the water; and the first that went down after the moving of the water, every pain that he had was healed. And a man was there who had a disease for thirty-eight years.” (Tatian’s Diatessaron, Section 22: 12-14. 2nd century. Additionally, this is also cited by Tertullian, Ambrose, Didymus, and Chrysostom).

When confronted with such evidence, there are usually two responses. First, it will be noted that the readings which agree with the Traditional Text are not purely Byzantine. However, it is hard to find a Church Father who was purely Western or Alexandrian. Origen, for example, has been shown to use Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine texts throughout his writings. Dr. Edward Hills has noted this in reference to the first fourteen chapters of St. John:

Hence, contrary to the assertions of the naturalistic critics, the distinctive readings of the Traditional (Byzantine) Text were known to Origen, who sometimes adopted them, though perhaps not usually. Anyone can verify this by scanning the apparatus of Tischendorf . . . out of 52 instances in which the Traditional Text stands alone Origen agrees with the Traditional Text 20 times and disagrees with it 32 times. These results make the position of the critics that Origen knew nothing of the Traditional Text difficult indeed to maintain. (Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended, 1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984, pp. 171-172.)

Secondly, the response by textual critics will often state that the editions of the Church Fathers has been altered throughout time in order to correspond with the Traditional Text. In regard to Patristic quotations, Sir Frederic Kenyon wrote:

. . . even when the earliest manuscripts of an author have been consulted, we cannot always be sure that we have his Scriptural quotations in their original form. In no part of his text is corruption so likely to creep in as here. A scribe who recognized a quotation from its first words would be only too likely to write it down from memory, without looking too closely at the MS. before him, and so would give it in the form in which it was current in his own day, instead of in that which his author actually used. Or, supposing he noticed that the form of the quotation was unfamiliar, he might very probably alter it into what he believed to be the true form. (Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, Handbook To The Textual Criticism Of The New Testament, London: Macmillan and Co., 1926, p. 244.)

Thus, with such argumentation built on supposition, citations of the early Church Fathers which match the Traditional Text are dismissed. However, the argument does not stand in the light of evidence. Again, referring to Origen’s use of the Traditional Text, Hills notes:

In these chapters (John 1-14) 7 out of 20 “distinctively” Traditional readings which occur in Origen occur also in Papyrus 66 and/or in Papyrus 75. These 7 readings at least must have been Origen’s own readings, not those of the scribes who copied Origen’s works, and what is true of these 7 readings is probably true of the other 13, or at least of most of them. Thus it can hardly be denied that the Traditional Text was known to Origen and that it influenced the wording of his New Testament quotations. (Hills, p. 172.)

Nor does Kenyon’s prejudice against the Traditional Text explain the following example. Saint Hippolytus (235 AD) quotes all of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. His citation shows a mixture of both Alexandrian and Byzantine readings. We find Hippolytus using Alexandrian phrases such as, “the day of the Lord is at hand” instead of the Traditional Text, “the day of Christ is at hand.” We also find the reading, “so that he sitteth in the temple of God” instead of “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God” (KJV). These readings would cause one to claim that Hippolytus was citing the Alexandrian Text. However, we also have Byzantine readings. For example, he speaks of, “the son of perdition” (Gk: amartias) instead of the Alexandrian, “man of lawlessness” (Gk: anomias). He also uses the future tense in stating, “God shall send” (Gk: pemyei) instead of the present, “God sends” (Gk: pempei). What is even more interesting is a mixture of both lines in one phrase. The Alexandrian Text reads, “whom the Lord Jesus will slay.” The Traditional Text reads, “whom the Lord shall consume.” Hippolytus writes, “whom the Lord Jesus shall consume.” If a scribe were changing the text, why did he use such a mixed reading?

Finally, Dr. Carson’s third point loses much of his argument. He asks, “If they (i.e. Byzantine Texts before the fourth century) did exist, who was wearing them out?” The answer is apparent; the believers who used them wore them out. Carson further asks, “If the fathers did not cite the Byzantine text-type, who then was handling these alleged manuscripts so frequently and thoughtlessly that they wore out?” The fathers were using them as were the early believers. However, simply because they wore out does not reflect thoughtlessness. I personally have worn out leather bound Bibles printed on high quality paper. When you use something, it tends to wear faster than things not used.

Immediately before stating his three objections to the idea that used manuscripts tend to wear out faster than unused manuscripts, Carson argues against the use of a Byzantine exemplar before the fourth century. An exemplar was the master copy used by scribes to reproduce the text they are working on. However, our study of Old Testament textual criticism shows that it is not at all hard to believe. In fact, it is not only possible but is very likely. The Jewish scribes who copied the Masoretic Text used an exemplar and then destroyed the exemplar once it had served its purpose. He did this out of respect for the text, much as a dedicated serviceman would bury an old and worn flag.

Further, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we see that it is possible for a textual line to have no evidence of existence for almost one-thousand years and yet remain faithful to its textual family. After all, until we discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 and the manuscripts found at Wadi Murabbaat in 1951, all we had of the Masoretic family came from the middle ages. Even if we did not have citations from the early Church Fathers or early translations of Scripture reflecting the Traditional Text, it is not impossible to believe in a two-hundred-fifty year gap in light of a thousand-year one.

The Need For Simplicity

The objection which is often proclaimed is that the King James Bible is difficult to read. Therefore, we must have a translation written for today’s reader in order to expound the Word of God to our generation. In fact, this objection is so well established that it is hardly questioned; and those who do question it are ridiculed for even suggesting that the Authorized Version is not as difficult as some would have us believe. This is illustrated by James White and his comments concerning the changes in the English language. He writes:

The fact that languages change over time is one of the strongest arguments for either the revision of older translations of the Bible, or for completely new translations. It is difficult to understand how KJV Only advocates can resist the logic of the reality that the KJV is written in a form of English that is not readily understandable to people today. It is amazing to listen to people honestly asserting that they think the KJV is “easier to read” than the modern versions. Surely they must realize that this is so for them only because of their familiarity with the AV, not because it is, in fact, easier to read! But no, it is actually asserted that the KJV is the simplest, easiest to read version of the Bible. (White, p. 234.)

Brother White is correct in stating that languages change. However, this does not give us the right to change the text of Scripture or ignore the foundation of our own language in the name of revision. The same goal could be easily reached, and has been, in the number of King James Study Bibles which have footnotes or marginal notes to explain antiquated words or theological terms. Nor is the claim that the KJV is not “readily understandable to people today” entirely truthful. Just as one could point to examples of where an individual has difficulty with the English of the KJV, one could also point to examples where individuals with little or no formal education took to reading the KJV and understood it. After all, although language does change, our English language has not so drastically changed since the 1860’s that we could not understand the literature and communication of that day. Yet it was during this time that the newly freed slaves who had no formal education taught themselves how to read from the pages of the King James Bible. Finally, the point raised by those of us who believe the Authorized Version to be the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people is not that it is easier to read than modern versions, but that it is a spiritual book and cannot be fully understood without the help of the Author.

To illustrate his point, White borrows from Dr. Jack Lewis and provides several examples of difficult readings in the King James Bible. (Ibid., p. 237. Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981, pp. 53-54.) Although Lewis has several other examples, the following are the ones Professor White provides for us as evidence of the difficult readings in the Authorized Version.

“And Mt. Sinai was altogether on a smoke”–Exod. 19:18

“Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing”–Ps. 5:6

“Nevertheless even him [Solomon] did outlandish women cause to sin”–Neh.13:26

“Solomon loved many strange women”–1 Kings 11:1

“The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market”–Ezek. 27:25

“We do you to wit of the grace of God”–2 Cor. 8:1

These are good examples and do show the change in our English language. However, each case could be explained with footnotes or a good English dictionary. Further, there is something else which should be considered – namely the difficult readings in modern versions. Consider the following from the NIV:

“Waheb in Suphah and the ravines,”–Numb. 21:14

“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days”–Gen. 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”–Matt. 27:27

“He agreed to pay them a denarius”–Matt. 20:2

Although these examples display names, places, and Greek currency, they are more difficult to understand than their English counterpart found in the Authorized Version. However, in either list there needs to be a greater overview of the translations as a whole and not isolated examples. Once we do this, we find the King James is more difficult than modern translations in its usage of the English language, but it is not so difficult as that it has lost all meaning or comprehension.

This is proven, not by supporters of the KJV but by advocates of modern translations themselves. Dr. John R. Kohlenberger III has provided for us a chart posting the reading level of several English translations. The chart reflects the work of Dr. Linda H. Parrish and Dr. Donna Norton of Texas A & M University. The chart grants the TEV with a 7.29 reading grade level. The NIV received a 7.80 reading grade level, while the 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, p. 12.) This would mean that anyone who graduated from high school should be able to read this “outdated” version.

We must also pause and ask ourselves where we are to draw the line. Do we reject the readability of the KJV and embrace the NASV as easier to read because it is half-grade lower? Do we stop with the NIV’s 7.80 grade readability level? What if someone cannot read at the seventh grade level? Do we lower the standard even more? Do we take the approach which modern educators have been faced with and “dumb-down” our language or do we seek to raise the standard higher? Are we, for example, ready to produce an Ebonics Version of the Bible? If so, do we then produce a version of the Bible for other groups which misuse the English language? 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.

To further this we have a problem with modern means for establishing grade reading levels such as the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula. Such a method provides the KJV with a lower readability score than that of 12.00. Using this method, let us put the six chapters provided by White to the test. Although White supplies a portion of a verse from these chapters, we will use the whole chapter in order to provide an overall reading. My computer is fitted with “Grammatik” by WordPerfect. All one need do is insert any passage of literature or writing and Grammatik using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula will provide a grade level of readability. When this is done, we find the following:

Exodus 19:1-25 produced a 3.89 readability level with a complexity level of 52%.

Psalm 5:1-12 produced a 5.92 readability level with a complexity level of 55%.

Nehemiah 13:1-31 produced a 6.89 readability level with a complexity level of 58%.

1 Kings 11:1-43 produced a 6.59 readability level with a complexity level of 57%.

Ezekiel 27:1-36 produced a 5.90 readability level with a complexity level of 55%.

2 Corinthians 8:1-24 produced a 6.29 readability level with a complexity level of 56%.

While modern versions still have a lower readability level on these passages, it is clear that the KJV is very readable, at least according to this method. At any rate, it should be noted that rather the grade reading level is based on vocabulary (Drs. Perrish and Norton) or word count (Flesch- Kincaid) the Authorized Version is not as difficult for the reading public as supporters of modern versions would have us believe.


We must now take up the question as to why we believe the King James Bible is the promised and preserved word of God for the English-speaking world. Although this question has been addressed many times throughout the discourse of our study of the issue, some specifics should be noted as we face the conclusion of our study.

Biblical Preservation

The fundamental reason deals with the pledge of Biblical preservation. Scripture, as we have seen, promises us that God will keep and preserve His words from generation to generation (Psalm 12:6-7). Although the Psalm does not state that the King James Bible is this preserved word, it does provide us the scriptural basis for which we make our claim for Biblical preservation.

Sadly, those of us who believe in the literal fulfillment regarding Biblical preservation are often misstated or misrepresented. Hence allowing the opponents of Biblical preservation to ridicule our stated position. Questions such as, “what about those who do not speak English?”, or “what about Bibles before 1611?”, or “did our knowledge of Biblical languages freeze in the 17th century?” all show either a gross misunderstanding or a deliberate perversion of Biblical preservation. The very definition of this term demands the existence of the perfect word of God long before 1611. Further, it permits any language at any time to have the preserved words without error, for Biblical preservation does not demand the Scriptures remain in the original languages. In fact, it would permit the preserved words of God to be translated into many languages throughout the history of the Church as God raised up those who proclaimed His word. It calls for a belief in the Biblical declaration found in Psalm 12, and sees this promise fulfilled though the ages. Thus it gives to the Church of God the Holy Scriptures as our final authority.

By this doctrine, we proclaim God has kept His words from generation to generation. This statement can be made with full Scriptural authority because this is the proclamation of the Scriptures themselves (Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:23; Psalm 12:6-7). For those who speak English, the only candidate which presents itself as the fulfillment of these Scriptural promises is the Authorized Version. Further, as we shall see, this was the position of the KJV translators which has been vindicated by history. Nevertheless, anyone is free to believe another translation or text is the fulfillment of this Biblical promise concerning preservation. But their candidate would also need to have the witness of time showing the blessings of the Lord in order to substantiate the claim.

We cannot compromise the doctrine of Biblical preservation by generalizing its truth in stating that this was accomplished by the Bible itself, in that it has existed throughout the history of the Church despite those who would seek to destroy it. Such a statement does not fulfill the promise of Psalm 12, for it is not the “word” which is to be preserved, but the “words”, thereby keeping the Bible as a whole.

Neither can we accept the theory espoused by modern conservatives that the words have been preserved, but are in a variety of manuscripts for scholarship to reconstruct as best as possible. Although this makes the reader of such a proclamation feel secure that they have the best available translation in one or more editions, when tested its fallacy is seen. How can we honestly proclaim that the words have been preserved, even when the manuscripts differ, because the true reading is in one of them and at the same time note examples of where there is no reading at all because the manuscripts have decayed? We have, for example, already noted that in 1 Samuel 13:1 conservative scholars write, “the original numbers in this verse have apparently been lost in transmission.” (Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, Chicago: Moody Press, 1976, p. 432.) Does this not contradict the conservative point of view concerning Biblical preservation? How can the reading be truly preserved in one or more manuscripts, when no known manuscript has the reading?

Nor is the example found in 1 Samuel 13 an isolated incident (however, we would only need one example to disprove this misconception of Biblical preservation). In 1 Samuel 6:19 we are told “fifty thousand and threescore and ten men” which were slain. Dr. Charles Ryrie notes, “The number 50,070 is doubted by conservative scholars and is probably a copyist’s error. The number in the LXX and writings of Josephus is 70.” (Ibid., p. 423.) So do we support the reading by the LXX? If so, we have a problem because Dr. Ryrie is mistaken here. The LXX reads, “and the Lord smote among them seventy men, and fifty thousand men:” which equals 50,070 as we find in the KJV. It is extremely common in Old Testament passages where there is a problem with locations, names, or numbers to find conservative scholars blaming the faulty Hebrew manuscript on copyist error. If in any given place, all Hebrew texts have the same copyist error, does this not remove the false presentation of Biblical preservation promoted by conservative scholarship?

No, the promise of Biblical preservation must stand firm. If we are to be Biblical, we must avow that God has kept His words free from error throughout the generations even as He has promised. Since, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6) and we are, “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23), we must believe that God’s words remain error free. Is it too much to believe that God is able to keep and preserve His words without error from the time He gave them until now? If we are to believe this, then we must also be willing to produce a Bible which fulfills the Biblical promise. The supporters of the Authorized Version can do so, but the supporters of modern translations are sadly lacking.

The Fullness Of Time And The Witness Of History

The Scriptures teach that God does things at just the right time. Concerning Jesus Christ, we are told that when, “the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,” (Gal. 4:4). Also, the Scriptures teach all things will be accomplished by Christ, “in the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10). God does things right on time. There are no coincidences in regard to Christ. He fulfills things according to His purpose and in regard to 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 are to believe in the Sovereignty of God, we must also believe His hand was in it by providing the world’s most loved translation of the Bible.

Before the late 16th century and the early 17th century, the church in power was the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism forbid the reading of the Bible in any other language but Latin. However, by the late 16th and early 17th century the Protestant Church was a force and the major religious basis in the English-speaking world. At this time, when the King James Bible was translated, the printing press was being refined, England was on the threshold of becoming an Empire to reach to whole world, and the Protestant Reformation was in full force. Additionally, the English language was being developed of which the KJV was to play a major part.

About a hundred and fifty years before the King James Bible was printed, Bibles were all written by hand. The only copies of God’s word available were handwritten. One can begin to imagine the impossible task of reaching out to the world when all Scripture had to be copied in such a fashion. By the 17th century printed books were common and the desire of individual Christians to have their own copy of Scripture was rapidly growing. This is one of the reasons why the Geneva Bible was so popular. It allowed the common Englishman to have a copy of God’s word in his language. However, modern English was just being established and England had yet to gain world power.

At the time of the King James Bible, the English language was moving from Middle English to Modern English. This is something most people do not consider but should. Our English language is divided into three periods. Old English, which dates from about 700 to 1100 AD; Middle English, dating from 1100 to 1500 AD; and Modern English which dates from 1500 to the present. (Marjorie Anderson and Blanche C. Williams, Old English Handbook, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1935, pp. 6-7.) Dr. James H. Murray of the Encyclopedia Britannica dates the English language in this fashion: Old English 1100-1200; Early Middle English 1200- 1300; Late Middle English 1300-1400; Transition Middle English 1400-1485; Early Modern English or “Tudor English” 1485-1611; and Modern English 1611 onward.(cited from William Rosenau,Hebraisms In The Authorized Version, Baltimore: The Friedenwald Company, 1903, p. 28.) This would bring the beginning of our modern language at the very time of the King James Bible.

Not only is the KJV by definition a modern English Bible, but it is the only one which helped develop the language we currently speak! It should be noted that all other versions are shaped by our language; however, our language was shaped by the King James Bible. Drs. Fred Craddock and Gene Tucker have noted, “. . . the Authorized Version. . . not only influenced literature, but also shaped the development of (our) language.” (Encrate, Microsoft 1995 ed.) The Compton’s Encyclopedia states, “it is rightly regarded as the most influential book in the history of English civilization. . .” (Compton’s Encyclopedia, Online Edition. Downloaded form America Online, May 26, 1996.) Dr. William Rosenau has written of the KJV that:

It was the most remarkable undertaking in the history of English language. Produced by royal decree, and soon after accepted by the English church, it was bound to make itself felt. It molded new forms and phrases, which, while foreign to the English, became with it flesh and bone.” (Rosenau, p. 31.)

Although its beauty has been compared to the writings of Shakespeare, it is vastly more easily read than Shakespeare and has had equal influence upon our native tongue.

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 Sakespearian 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, p. 113. This book is a companion to the PBS television series on the history of the English language.)

For the Believer, this truth of 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 which shaped not just our language, but our culture and thought.

Nor should it be overlooked that King James himself was used by God not only to permit the work of translation to proceed, but in his own arrogance helped in sending the Pilgrims to the New World. The Mayflower Compact is addressed to King James I of England as these Protestant came to what became the United States of America because of their desire for religious freedom. Although the Puritans loved the Geneva Bible and brought it with them, by 1637 the King James Bible had replaced it throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll (editiors), The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History, New York: Oxford University Press: 1982, pp. 27-33.) In fact, the KJV was “universally accepted” in the New Word “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., p. 441.)

The world was ruled by England, and with them the English took the King James Bible. The Greek text of the Protestant Reformation was now placed in the English tongue. Once this was established, history reveals one of the greatest evangelical periods known to the Church. Momentous revivals such as the ones in Wells, Ireland, Scotland, England, and the Great Awakening in the United States were preached by English-speaking pulpiteers proclaiming Biblical truths from the Authorized Version. Various denominations were formed and united in the preaching which derived from this one English translation, something no other translation has ever done. In order to reject the King James Bible as the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people, one would have to divorce the Sovereignty of God and the blessings of the Authorized Version. Truly, all this occurred in the fullness of time.

The Testimony Of The Translators

Next, we should consider the testimony of the translators themselves. Although their testimony is often ignored and even twisted at times, it stands as a unique tribute to their enterprise. Contrary to the thoughts of others, consider for yourself the affirmation of the KJV translators.

In the second paragraph in the original preface, which was entitled The Translators To The Reader, the King James translators make an interesting comparison. In addressing the criticism raised by the Roman Catholic Church for translating the Bible into the native tongue of the people, the translators compare their work to David bringing the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem, and Solomon building the temple of God, both of whom received criticism for their efforts. The preface reads:

David was a worthy prince, and no man to be compared to him for his first deeds, and yet for as worthy an act as ever he did (even for bringing back the ark of God in solemnity) he was scorned and scoffed at by his own wife. Solomon was greater than David, though not in virtue, yet in power: and by his power and wisdom he built a temple to the Lord, such a one as was the glory of the land of Israel, and the wonder of the whole world. But was that his magnificence liked of by all? We doubt of it. Otherwise, why do thy lay it in his son’s dish, and call unto him for easing of the burden? . . . So hard a thing it is to please all, even when we please God best, and do seek to approve ourselves to everyone’s conscience. (Miles Smith, The Translators To The Reader, 1611; reprint, London: The Trinitarian Bible Society, 1911, p. 7.)

This is followed in the third paragraph by comparing the criticism for their work on the Authorized Version with the criticism raised against Moses of the Old Testament and Stephen of the New Testament. They state:

. . . that whosoever attempteth anything for the public (specially if it pertain to religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same setteth himself upon a stage to be glouted upon by every evil eye, yea, he casteth himself headlong upon pikes, to be gored by every sharp tongue. (Ibid., p. 9.)

Although they realized that their efforts would suffer ridicule as they provided the world with the word of God in English, they also made some very interesting and very strong correlation between their labors and the labors of those individuals found in the Holy Scriptures. This monumental comparison should not be overlooked, nor should the lack of any such comparisons by the translators of modern versions. For this reveals to us the mind of the translators and just how spiritual and important they considered their labor to be.

The preface then moves on to make a case for the need of providing individuals with the Holy Scriptures in their native tongues and not for the Scriptures to remain only in Latin as the Catholic Church of that day desired. The objections raised by the Catholic Church included questions such as “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?” (Ibid., p. 20.) Therefore, in speaking of the earlier English versions, which preceded the Authorized Version, the KJV translators state:

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 sure 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 authentic vulgar) the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished; . . . (Ibid., pp. 21-22.)

From this we see that the translators saw their work on the King James Bible as a completion of the works provided by earlier English translations, such as the Tyndale Bible, Great Bible, Geneva Bible and Bishops’ Bible. To them, the King James Authorized Version was the perfecting of these earlier works. Thus the phrase, “nothing is begun and perfected at the same time.” Further, they believed that what they translated was the very “Word of God.” Finally, they state here that even the worst of their early English versions (King James I considered the Geneva Bible a poor translation because of the many notes against the English crown) was far better than the Latin Roman Catholic Bible. To these translators, theirs was the work of polishing the work of their forerunner and thus perfecting the Word of God.

This last statement is amplified in the following paragraph: 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. (Ibid., p. 23.)

The question then rises, if all the early English versions based on the Traditional Text were considered the Word of God by the KJV translators, why did they alter these early works? This was the question raised by the Catholic Church, one which had already been addressed for they saw their efforts as the perfecting of the earlier English translations. Nonetheless, 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. (Ibid., p. 25.)

Again, we see in their response what they considered their task. As sons of Truth, they were more concerned with presenting the pure word of God then establishing their own theological beliefs.

The next paragraph establishes for all to see what their goal was in producing the Authorized Version, a goal which history bears testimony to as being accomplished.

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. (Ibid., p. 29.)

Thus, their goal was to produce from the Early English versions, all based on the Traditional Text, one principal English translation. The paragraph ends with their statement of belief as to how such an effort was able to be established. It was done so, “through the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the work to that pass that you see.” (Ibid., p. 31.)

Their final consideration is expressed in their concern for the reader. To them, the Bible was a spiritual book which took God the Holy Spirit as the empowering force in producing the work and His grace in revealing it to the reader.

Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of the 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. (Ibid., pp. 35-36.)

The Jewish Book

The Bible is a Jewish book; we must never forget this. 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 was Jewish. The Old Testament was written for Jews. If a Gentile wanted to know the truth and live for God he had to come to Israel and become a Jew. Likewise, every writer 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. And, much concerning the New Testament is based upon that which is Jewish. The Bible most certainly is a Jewish book.

As a Jewish book the Bible uses Jewish terms and expressions. These are called Hebraisms. For a translation to be truly a proper and correct translation, it must reflect its Jewish heritage. This must be accomplished not only in recording the history of the people of Israel, but also by reflecting their thoughts and words as inspired by the Holy Spirit and given to the original writers. English translations which weaken or remove these Jewish Hebraisms weaken our understanding of the people of God and the meaning of Scripture.

More than any other English translation, the King James Bible retains these Hebraisms. In fact, because of the popularity of the King James Bible, many of these Jewish expressions have become our expressions. Dr. William Rosenau has correctly noted,

It (i.e. the King James Bible) 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, p, 31.)

Thus we have many common expressions, taken from the Authorized Version, which have their basic understanding in Hebrew expressions. The following are a few examples of what Rosenau calls “Proverbial Biblical” Jewish expressions:

“In the sweat of thy face,”–Gen. 3:19

“Am I my brother’s keeper”–Gen. 4:9

“Unstable as water”–Gen. 49:4

“A stranger in a strange land”–Ex. 2:22

“A land flowing with milk and honey,”–Ex. 3:8

“Sheep which have no shepherd,”–Numb. 27:17

“Man doth not live by bread alone,”–Deut. 8:3

“Whatsoever is right in his own eyes,”–Deut. 12:8

“The apple of his eye,”–Deut. 32:10

“The people arose as one man,”–Judg. 20:8

“A man after his own heart,”–1 Sam. 13:14

“How are the mighty fallen,”–2 Sam. 1:25

“Thou art the man,”–2 Sam. 12:7

“From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head,”–2 Sam. 14:25

“Steal the heart”–2 Sam. 15:6

“Horn of my salvation,”–2 Sam. 22:3

“The sweet psalmist of Israel,”–2 Sam. 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,”–Ps. 23:5

“The pen of a ready writer,”–Ps. 45:1

“Wings like a dove,”–Ps. 55:6

“From strength to strength,”–Ps. 84:7

“As a tale that is told,”–Ps. 90:9

“At their wit’s end,”–Ps. 107:27

“To dwell together in unity,”–Ps. 133:1

“The way of the transgressor is hard,”–Prov. 13:15

“Heap coals of fire upon his head,”–Prov. 25:22

“Answer a fool according to his folly,”–Prov. 26:5

“Boast not thyself of to-morrow,”–Prov. 27:1

“Iron sharpeneth iron,”–Prov. 27:17

“There is no new thing under the sun,”–Eccl. 1:9

“To every thing there is a season,”–Eccl.3:1

“The race is not to the swift,”–Eccl. 9:11

“A weariness of the flesh,”–Eccl. 12:12

“Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die,”–Isa. 22:13

“As a drop of a bucket,”–Isa. 40:15

Many of these have found their way into modern versions simply because they have become so common in our English expressions. We owe this to the Jewish flavor of the King James Bible. However, there is more. There are certain expressions which are most certainly Jewish and in the KJV, but fail to be reproduced in modern versions such as the NIV. The following are just a few examples from the “a,b,c’s” of the thousands of Jewish Hebraisms noted by Dr. Rosenau. (see Rosenau, pp. 169-283.)

Verse KJV Hebraisms NIV 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”
Lev. 11:16 “after his kind” “any kind”
Gen. 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 Sam. 1:9 “anguish is come upon me” “I am in the throes of death”
Prov. 14:14 “backslider in heart” “‘The faithless”
Psalm 90:17 “beauty of the Lord” “favor of the Lord”
2 Sam. 12:12 “before the sun” “in broad daylight”
Exodus 32:18 “being overcome” “defeat”
Gen. 43:33 “birthright” “ages”
2 Kings 25:26 “both small and great” “least to the greatest”
Prov. 2:7 “buckler to them” “a shield to those”
Numb. 9:23 “by the hand of Moses” “through Moses”
Jer. 7:10 “called by my name” “bears my Name”
Gen. 6:4 “came in unto” “went to”
1 Sam. 2:26 “child Samuel” “boy Samuel”
Ezra 6:16 “children of the captivity” “the rest of the exiles”
2 Sam. 7:10 “children of wickedness” “Wicked people”
Hag. 1:7 “consider your ways” “Give careful thought”
Psalm 2:2 “counsel together” “gather together”
Psalm 30:2 “cried” “called”
Jon 1:2. “cry against” “preach against”
Exodus 23:23 “cut them off” “wipe them out”

Again, these are but a very few of the thousands of Hebrew expressions found in the King James Authorized Version which have been modernized by contemporary versions, consequently losing some of the Jewish flavor found in the word of God. Even expressions from the twenty-third Psalm 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 contemporary “easy-to-read” versions such as the Today’s English Version these beloved Hebrew expressions 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 these and the ones listed above may be easier for some to understand. However, they have lost their Hebraisms and hence, have produced a non-Jewish Bible.

The Deity Of Jesus Christ

Strangely, one of the arguments conservative scholars use is to assert thatmodern versions, such as the NASV or the NIV, are stronger concerning the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ in places where they differ with the King James Bible. In reality, the opposite is true. This, however, does not prohibit such a pronouncement from being proclaimed. In order to counter the truth that the KJV provides more verses on the deity of Christ than do modern versions, conservative scholars have developed an interesting approach. Both D. A. Carson and James White have produced charts listing several verses on the deity of Christ comparing various versions of the Bible. In these charts, the KJV does not do as well as the NIV. The problem is that these charts have manipulated the evidence in a variety of ways, for the simple truth is that the King James Bible does make a much stronger case for the Deity of Jesus Christ.

First, there is a manipulation of the evidence in the verses which are used. For example, the chart used by White lists twelve verses and looks something like this. (White, p. 197.)

Reference NIV NASB KJV
John 1:1 Clear Clear Clear
John 1:18 Clear Clear Absent
John 20:28 Clear Clear Clear
Acts 20:28 Clear Clear Clear
Rom. 9:5 Clear Ambiguous Ambiguous
Phil. 2:5-6 Most clear Clear Least clear
Col. 1:15-17 Clear Clear Clear
Col. 2:9 Clear Clear Ambiguous
1 Tim. 3:16 Absent Absent Clear
Titus 2:13 Clear Clear Ambiguous
Heb. 1:8 Clear Clear Clear
2 Pet. 1:1 Clear Clear Ambiguous

Of the twelve verses used, five are in agreement (John 1:1; 20:28; Acts. 20:28; Col. 1:15-17; and Heb. 1:8). Of the remaining seven verses, only one verses is stronger in the KJV (1 Tim. 3:16) according to this chart. This leaves the impression that the NIV takes a stronger stance on the deity of Christ, with the NASV following a close second, and the KJV in last place. This is a wonderful example of “stacking the deck.”

White introduces this chart by claiming that these verses are “key passages” on the deity of Christ. (Ibid., p. 196.) Thus, being allowed to set the definitions of what are key passages and what are not key passages, he can set the evidence in such a fashion as to prove his point. But what happens when we examine the evidence further and provide additional “key passages” on the deity of Christ? Since there are five verses where these three translations agree on the deity of Christ, let us remove them from the chart and replace them with five other passages which prove that Jesus is God (Matt. 19:16-17; Rom. 14:10-12; 1 John 5:7; Rev. 1:6; and Rev. 1:8-11). Once this is done, the chart begins to take on a different look.

Secondly, the premise has been changed. White begins this section asking the question, “Is One Translation ‘Stronger’?” than another. (Ibid.) Although he admits that some versions are stronger and others weaker on the deity of Christ, his chart on the very next page makes it appear as if the version which is weak is the KJV. In order to do this, he has had to change the topic from “strong vs. weak,” to “clear vs. ambiguous.” This, however, is not the topic at hand. Clarity is relative. What is clear to one person, may not be so clear to another. The question at hand is which translation provides the strongest proclamation of the deity of Christ when these translations differ. When we change terms which are subjective and look at the list objectively by using a zero (0) for passages which do not refer to the deity of Christ and a plus (+) for passages which do, we find the list strongly favoring the Authorized Version in places where it and modern versions differ on the deity of Christ.

Reference NIV NASB KJV
Matt. 19:16-17 0 0 +
John 1:18 + + 0
Rom. 9:5 + 0 0
Rom. 14:10-12 0 0 +
Col. 2:9 + + +
Phil. 2:5-6 + + +
1 Tim. 3:16 0 0 +
Titus 2:13 + + +
2 Pet. 1:1 + + +
1John 5:7 0 0 +
Rev. 1:6 0 0 +
Rev. 1:8-11 0 0 +

Before moving on to our next argument, let us take a few moments and examine each of these verses regarding the deity of Jesus Christ. First we need to consider the verses which do not support the deity of Christ in the KJV. According to the chart provided by White, there are two; John 1:18 and Romans 9:5. Both of these verses have been discussed in greater detail in our last lesson. As the reader will remember, if we change “only begotten Son” (Jn. 1:18) to “only begotten God” (NASV) we have a verse which reads like the NWT of the Jehovah’s Witnesses supporting the teaching that Christ is a begotten/created god by Jehovah. This is, of course, the doctrine of Gnosticism. Nor can we replace “begotten” with “one and only” (NIV) because this does not agree with the Greek, Latin, other early English Versions, or the majority of the Church Fathers. Additionally, the usage of “one and only God” could lead some to except the false teaching of the “Jesus Only” movement. As for Romans 9:5, it is sufficient to say here that the reading in the NIV removes the subordination of Christ to the Father.

Passages such as Philippians 2:5-6 and Colossians 2:9 strongly and clearly proclaim the deity of Christ in the KJV. Perhaps the very best argument to prove this point is to simply allow the reader to view these passages for themselves.

Philippians 2:5-6
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

Colossians 2:9
“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

However, we find a different argument when it comes to the following two passages. Notice the sight difference between the reading found in the King James Bible and that which is found in the New International Version.

Titus 2:13
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” –KJV

“while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” –NIV

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:”–KJV

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:”–NIV

According to James White both of these passages have been mistranslated in the KJV because of the translators lack of knowing the Grandville Sharpe Rule. (Ibid., pp. 267-270.) The rule as cited by White reads as follows:

When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case if the article o, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the later always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther description of the first named person.” (Ibid., p. 269.)

It should be noticed that the Grandville Sharpe Rule does not state where the personal pronoun “our” is to be placed. Nor does it allow for the removal of the definite article “the” as we find the NIV doing in Titus 2:13. The grammatical argument is further weakened because of the Greek phrase “our Saviour” (Gk: soteros emon). This phrase is used six times in the epistle of Titus (1:3,4; 2:10,13; 3:4,6). The KJV correctly translates this phrase all six times as “our Saviour.” The NIV translates the phrase as “our Savior” five of the six times, leaving only Titus 2:13 to stand out as an inconsistent usage of the Greek phrase.

The phrase, “great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” does not denote two personages. Instead, the phrase indicates two aspects of the same person and is a proper point in English grammar. When Christ returns, which is the context of the verse, He will come as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16), the Mighty God (Isa. 9:6). Rather the world is ready or not, He is coming as everyone’s God; but He is our Saviour. The phrase provides a general statement about Christ and His deity as well as His personal relationship with the saints.

This is seen elsewhere in Scripture as well. Notice how the personal pronoun “our” is used in the following verse, “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:” (Gal. 1:4, also see 1 Thess 1:3; 3:11). Notice that the phrase “the will of God and our Father” refers to the same person, God the Father. The same construction can be seen in other verses as well. In 1 Thess. 1:3 we read, “in the sight of God and our Father.” Also, in 1 Thess. 3:11 the passage states, “Now God himself and our Father,” both verses show the “and our” refer to the very same person. In these cases, to God the Father.

This is a point of English grammar. For example, we could say, He was a great war hero and our nation’s first President, George Washington.” Both the phrase “great war hero” and “our nation’s first President” refer to the same person. So it is with the passages in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1.

The King James Bible is further attacked by James White concerning Titus 2:13 as he makes the following claim in his book.

And yet, KJV Only advocates continue to defend a rendering that is shared by such Arian translations as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, and that solely because of their presupposition that “if it is in the KJV, it must be right.” (Ibid., p. 267.) This statement simply is untrue. The reading of the KJV and the NWT are not alike at all. One can see by examining the two translations together that the NWT does violate the Grandville Sharpe Rule by making the verse refer to two personages. Further, the NWT adds the genitive of and the article the before the Saviour.

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”–KJV

“While we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus.”–NWT

The six remaining verses all support the deity of Christ and are absent in their proclamation of this blessed truth in both the NASV and the NIV.

Matthew 19:16-17
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 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.”

1 Timothy 3:16
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

1 John 5:7
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

Revelation 1:6
“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Revelation 1:8-11
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

Of these verses, most are self explanatory. The last verse may need a little explanation. The first time we have the phrase, “I am Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:8) it is the Lord God who is speaking. The second time the phrase is used (Rev. 1:11) it is Christ who is speaking according to the context of the passage (Rev. 1:12-18), thus proving that Christ is the Lord God Almighty. This second phrase found in verse eleven is absent from most modern versions.

The Preeminence Of Christ

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col. 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, although it is not as strong in them as it is in the KJV, so modern versions proclaim the person of Jesus Christ. However, names referring to Christ are not as strongly proclaimed in these modern versions as they are in the Authorized Version. For example, in the NIV we find that the name “Jesus” has been removed 38 times as compared to the KJV. The title “Lord” is removed 35 times, the name “Christ” is removed 43 times, the person of “God” is removed 31 times, and other sacred names are omitted 26 times. Thus we find that divine names are used 173 less times in the NIV. The same is true of the NASV in which we find the total number raising to 210 times, while the RSV has a total of 213 times. True, most of these do not change any point of doctrine. But this is not our point. Since in all things Christ is to have “preeminence” we find that in the KJV Christ’s names are more predominate.

Additionally, we find other doctrines regarding the person of Christ in better standing in the KJV then in many modern versions. Again, all these doctrines can be proved in modern versions. But they are stronger in the KJV and thus again provide Christ with the preeminence. For example, the doctrine of the virgin birth can be proved in almost any translation. However it is weakened in the RSV and the NRSV in Isaiah 7:14. Here these modern versions read, “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” This has a different meaning than the KJV rendering of “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

In like manner the same is true of Luke 2:33 and 43. In both of these verses the KJV reads, “Joseph and his mother” regarding the step-father of Christ and the virgin Mary. However, modern versions read, “his father and mother” or “his parents,” consequently weakening to some degree the doctrine of the virgin birth.

Nor has the doctrine of the blood atonement remained untouched by modern versions. In Colossians 1:14 the KJV reads, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” However, the NIV reads, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” thereby omitting the phrase, “through his blood.” Some point to other passages such as Ephesians 1:7 where the phrase “through his blood” is found in modern versions as a defense, but this is not the point at all. Since in all things Christ is to be preeminent, the doctrine of his atoning death must not be diminished. In comparison, we find the KJV providing a stronger statement on the blood atonement, at least in Colossians 1:14.

Another example is 1 Peter 2:2. Here the KJV reads, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” However, the NRSV reads, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.” This gives the impression that there is something we can do to gain or grow into salvation, which is contrary to the Biblical teaching of salvation and the blood atonement. The Today’s English Version is even bolder in stating, “Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved.” This plainly teaches salvation by works.

Also, we find in Titus 2:11 the KJV stating, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” But the NRSV reads, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.” This is teaching universal salvation, and therefore eliminates the need for personal salvation. Again, when the doctrine of Biblical salvation is weakened, the person of Christ is not preeminent.

In The Bible Companion, Dr. Andrew Graham, who supported modern versions, thoughtfully stated, “. . . the Authorized Version has probably sent more souls to heaven than its more accurate successors.” (Andrew Graham, “The English Bible,” in The Bible Companion, ed. William Neil, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1960, p. 430.) While we might take exception to the phrase, “its more accurate successors” we must note the truth of his statement that the KJV has been and still is a soul-winning Bible. One reason, as illustrated with the above examples, is that Christ is preeminent in his deity, his person, his birth, and his atonement. If for no other reason than these, the question begs to be asked, why would I want to use any translation where Christ is not as preeminent? At the very least, what better tribute to the word of God in English than to see it as the Bible which wins souls.

The Nature Of God

Akin to the above points, we find the KJV to be the preserved word of God for the English- speaking people because of the nature of God. The Bibleproclaims that God is truth (John 4:24). This is something accepted by those of us who believe in Biblical preservation, and those who prefer modern versions. Without this fact, the whole Bible is a lie as well as all of Christianity. We know and affirm that God is truth. So, we must look for the Bible which reflects what God is, since the Bible is His word. Therefore, a translation which is untrue, is not trustworthy.

There are several places where the KJV makes declarations of truth, where the modern versions make statements which are untrue. 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 which is supported in both 1 Samuel 17 which records the story of David killing the giant Goliath, and 1 Chronicles 20:5 where we are told the name of Goliath’s brother (which is Lahmi). Unfortunately, modern versions distort the truth in 2 Samuel 21:19 and omit the phrase “the brother of”. Therefore they inform us that Elhanan killed Goliath, which is untrue.

In Isaiah 14:12 the KJV reads, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” Here we have the only place where the name of the Satan is given as Lucifer. The verse is changed in modern versions to read, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!” (NIV). Our point here is not one of Satanic cover-up as some have regarded this verse. Rather, it is a simple question of truth. 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 (Rev. 22:16). One may wish to argue the Latin meaning of the name Lucifer; however, the point still remains. The one who fell was not Jesus Christ. Yet this is the conclusion one can draw from modern renderings of this verse. The one who fell was most certainly the Devil. Therefore, the version which is more truthful is the King James Bible.

Again, we find the truthfulness of the statement found in Daniel 3:25 standing in the KJV. “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” The fourth man in the fire was most certainly the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have a truthful statement. However, modern versions change this to read, “a son of the gods,” providing us with an untruthful statement.

We have seen the verses in Mark 1:2-3. The passage quotes two prophets and begins with the statement, “as it is written in the prophets” in the KJV. This is a truthful statement. Modern versions read, “as it is written in the prophet Isaiah” and then cites two prophets, Malachi and Isaiah. The truthful statement is found in the KJV, not in modern versions here. In Matthew 5:22 the KJV reads, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.” Modern versions omit the phrase, “without a cause.” Therefore, according to modern versions if one is angry they are sinning. Since Christ was angry and chased the money changers out of the temple, he would be guilty of sinning if the modern versions are correct. But we know that Christ did not sin, so the more truthful statement is found in the KJV.

There are other examples, but these are given to serve our point. If God is truth, then we would expect nothing less from His pure word. The English Bible which is most truthful, as seen in these examples, is the Authorized Version.

But perhaps one of the strongest evidences for the King James Bible is subjective. If it is truly a spiritual book as we believe it is, than a great deal must rest upon faith. For without faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith and the Holy Scriptures are interwoven (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1-3). One cannot prove the King James Bible conclusively anymore than one can prove the doctrine of Bibliology as a whole. Some things must be taken on faith. However, our faith in Biblical preservation does have evidence (Hebrews 11:1). We have an infallible Bible which can be put to the test, not one which was lost two thousand years ago. But before we can test it, we must believe it. Faith is always the starting point, derived from the Scriptures themselves. Perhaps the best evidence is to ask the Author of our Salvation if these things are so, and then test them according to the word of God. Perhaps the best starting point is to open the Holy Scriptures to Psalm 12:6-7 and by faith accept that God has done even as He has proclaimed He would do. By faith accept that we have today, from generation to generation, the preserved word of God without error. In so doing, we may find ourselves proclaiming with the Psalmist of Israel:

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (Psalm 138:2)

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Dr. Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

“Commendo vos dilectioni Dei, et odio papatus et superstitionis.”

Lesson Eleven: Translational Considerations

Lesson Eleven: Translational Considerations

“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”–2 Peter 3:16

The majority of objections to the King James Bible can be placed in one of two categories. The first deals with the text. In regard to this, we have not only considered the underlining Greek text of the Authorized Version, but also the Greek text which underlines the vast majority of modern versions. Additionally, we have also considered several places where opponents of the KJV have claimed corruption in the text. Each time, we have found support for God’s word and the doctrine of preservation.

The second category deals not with the underlining Greek text of the King James Bible, but the translation of it. The claim is often made that since 1611 our language has so drastically changed that we can no longer make sense of the archaic Elizabethan English found in the pages of this antiquated version. Although we will deal with this issue in greater detail in our next lesson, we must pause to say that according to Holy Scripture, the Bible was never intended to be easily read or understood. In fact, the Holy Spirit claims that much of God’s word is “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). For this, and other reasons, men have sought to challenge it by simply changing it.

The following are a few examples of where claims are made against the King James in regard to its English translation. In each case, as with all the others which are not mentioned, the answer provided by man is scholarship. However, we find that in each case this man-centered scholarship falls short and never at any time provides the Believer with the preserved word of God. Therefore, the final authority becomes scholarship and not Scripture. Nonetheless, the Bible-believing Christian places their faith in the promises of God and is rewarded with the assurance that God has in fact kept and preserved His words as He has promised.

Jeremiah 34:16–But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.

The problem found in this verse deals with the little word “ye.” Some editions of the KJV read, “whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure,” instead of as it appears in the above text. James R. White asks, “The question for the KJV Only advocate is, ‘How do you determine which one is right?’ ” (The King James Only Controversy, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995, p. 80). He then mistakenly states that this dilemma cannot be determined by going back to the original edition of the KJV printed in 1611 since it, “has undergone changes of similar nature over the years.” (Ibid., p. 81).

These type of arguments have nothing to do with either the Hebrew text, the translation found in the KJV, or the doctrine of preservation. It has to do with what has already been addressed in lesson seven. This is simply a printing error which some printers still maintain. Mr. White’s objection is absurd, as correcting a printing mistake is not changing the text.

Another example of such a printing error can be found in Acts 6:3. The original edition of 1611 had the correct reading:

Wherefore brethren, looke ye out among you seuen men of honest report, full of the holy Ghost, and wifedome, whom we may appoint ouer this businesse.

However, a printed edition in 1638 read, “whom he may appoint over this businesse.” Yet, current editions have again corrected this printing error so that it again reads, “whom we may appoint over this business.”

As to Jeremiah 34:16, the original edition of 1611 read, “whome yee had set at libertie at their pleasure.” James White notes that it is the edition printed by Oxford which reads “he” while the edition printed by Cambridge reads “ye.” (Ibid., p.80). John R. Dore has correctly stated that, “The University of Oxford did not begin to print Bibles until the year 1675, when the first was issued in quarto size; the spelling was revised by Dr. John Fell, Dean of Oxford.” (John R. Dore, Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1888, p. 346). Cambridge, agreeing with the edition of 1611, first began printing KJV Bibles in 1629 by Thomas and John Buck.

Although I cannot prove that the error falls to Dr. John Fell in his 1675 Oxford edition, I can state that considerable time passed before the error was introduced, with the error limited to the editions published by Oxford or based on the Oxford edition. This has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of Biblical preservation, for the reading is found in the original edition, the Cambridge edition, and current editions based on either the original 1611 or Cambridge editions. This has everything to do with what Bible-believers have claimed about the so-called four revisions of the KJV. These revisions deal with orthography (spelling), calligraphy (style of writing), or printing errors (as we find here).

Daniel 3:25–He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Newer versions read, “and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (NIV), or “and the fourth has the appearance of a god” (NRSV). Dr. Jack Lewis addresses this and explains, ” ‘The Son of God’ (Dan. 3:25) can only be taken by the reader as implying that Jesus was in the furnace, but Nebuchadnezzar says he saw an ‘angel’ (Dan. 3:28); hence ‘a son of god’ or ‘of the gods’ –that is, an angelic being–must be understood.” (The English Bible: From KJV to NIV, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981, pp. 45-46).

This is ridiculous. First, we need not interpret the Bible in light of what Nebuchadnezzar proclaims. Second, the explanation of the fourth man being “an angel” would not exclude a pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ since He is, in the Old Testament, referred to as the “Angel of the Lord.” Dr. Emery Bancroft writes, ” ‘The Angel of the Lord’ is clearly a manifestation of Deity in the Old Testament, and is identified with the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘The Angel of the Lord’ was God the Son before His permanent incarnation.” (Elemental Theology, Zondervan Publishing House, 1960, p. 26). He offers Judges 13:18; Isaiah 9:6; Malachi 3:1 and John 8:56 as proof of his statement. Nor would King Nebuchadnezzar be ignorant of the prophecy concerning the Son of God (Psalm 2:7,12 and Proverbs 30:4), since he read the Hebrew Scriptures and had the insights of not only these three Hebrew children, but of the Prophet Daniel as well. Most of all, modern versions and interpreters such as Jack Lewis, ignore the truth of the passage. It was not “a god,” or “a son of the gods,” which was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This was also the understanding of the early Church Fathers, again something that modern translators forget in their endeavor to correct the Word of God. Athanasius (373 AD) wrote:

Who is this “Well-beloved” but the Only-begotten Son? As also in the hundred and ninth, “From the womb I begat Thee before the morning star,” concerning which I shall speak afterwards; and in the Proverbs, “Before the hills He begat me;” and in Daniel, “And the form of the Fourth is like the Son of God;” and many others. If then from the Old be ancientness, ancient must be the Son, who is clearly described in the Old Testament in many places. (Four Discourses Against The Arians, IV:24)

Further, the Hebrew word used in the passage, “elahh,” is the very same word used in verses 15, 17, 26, 28, and 29 of the same chapter (as well as many other places). In these verses “elahh” is translated as “God.”

George Lamsa’s translation, based on the Syrian texts, indicates that the Old Syrian manuscripts agree with the translation of the KJV. Lamsa’s version reads, “The king answered and said, Behold I see men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt: and the appearance of the fourth is like that of the Son of God.” It is also interesting that the Greek Septuagint agrees with the KJV, something modern scholarship seems to overlook here. The LXX uses the Greek word “Theou” (of God) which stands in the singular and not the plural. It is the reading of the Old Latin translations and the reading found in the Douay-Rheims Version (although in this version it is found in verse 92). Therefore, the verse is hardly limited to the KJV only. The Authorized Version of 1611 gives the correct reading in accordance with the historic interpretation of the passage, the uses of the Hebrew word, and the context of the passage.

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.

James White writes,

Did Herod ‘observe’ John, as the KJV says, or ‘keep him safe,’ as the NASB says? The Greek term simply does not mean ‘observe,’ but instead means ‘to protect.’ One might possibly suggest that ‘observe’ once meant ‘to protect,’ but such seems a long stretch, especially since the KJV renders the same word ‘preserve’ at Matthew 9:17 and Luke 5:38. (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 224-225).

The problem is not with the translation, but with modern scholarship’s lack of comprehension concerning the English language. According to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the word “observe” comes from the Latin word “observare” which means to watch, guard, and observe. (Philip Babcock Gove, editor. Springfield Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1981, p. 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. (New York: Amsco School Publications, 1966, p.200). Further, the Oxford English Dictionary offers this definition of “observe” as well: “6. To regard with attention; to watch; to watch over, look after.” (The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, J.A.Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner, editors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, p. 1196).

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 mean they are protecting them. So it is with Forest Rangers who set up “observation posts” for the purpose of protecting the wilderness. Both “observe” and “preserve” mean to keep something. This is why this very 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 basic Greek word is “suntereo.” According to the 1978 revision of The Analytical Greek Lexicon it is defined as, “to observe strictly, or to secure from harm, protect.” (Harold K. Moulton, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 392.) James H. Moulton and George Milligan note that one of the uses of this word in ancient non-literary writings is when, “a veteran claims that in view of his long military service, exemption from public burdens ought to be ‘strictly observed’ in his case.” (The Vocabulary Of The Greek Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949, p.614). These definitions stand in direct contrast with White’s statement that, “the Greek term simply does not mean ‘observe,’ but instead means ‘to protect.’ ” Clearly, it means both. The problem is not with the King James Bible, but with those who do not fully understand either Greek or their own language.

In one sense, this is a good argument for the KJV. When we limit our understanding, we limit ourselves and our growth as Christians and humans. Modern versions, in trying to simplify our language, have limited our understanding of English and many of our great historical and literary writings outside the Scriptures. In this way, they have done us a great disservice.

Notice how the word “observed” is used in the following writings. In each case, the word is taken to mean “kept” and not “watch.”

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the Unite States of America, have caused the said Convention to be made public, to the end that the same and every article and clause thereof, may be observed and fulfilled with good faith by the United States and the citizens thereof. (Convention Between The United States And The Republic Of Panama, 1904, Article XXVI: 130.

Whoever can there bring sufficient proof that he has strictly observed the laws of his country for seventy-three moons, has a claim to certain privileges, according to his quality and condition of life, with a proportionable sum of money out of a fund appropriated for that use: (Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part 1: Chapter 6, paragraph 5)

FIRST SAILOR. Sir, your queen must overboard: the sea works high, the wind is loud, and will not lie till the ship be clear’d of the dead.

PERICLES. That’s your superstition.

FIRST SAILOR. Pardon us, sir; with us at sea it hath been still observed, and we are strong in custom. Therefore briefly yield ‘er; for she must overboard straight. (William Shakespeare, Pericles, Act 3, Scene 1, line 60)

White also makes an additional statement concerning this text and the translation produced by the Authorized Version in a footnote to his book.

We note in passing how inferior even this rendering by the KJV is. ‘He was a just man and an holy’ makes little sense; what is ‘an holy’? Instead, the Greek phrase is quite easily translated as the NASB, ‘he was a righteous and holy man,’ both terms ‘righteous’ and ‘holy’ plainly describing John. (The King James Only Controversy, p. 238).

This is a very strange statement, coming from a professor of New Testament Greek. The student of Greek knows that often a Greek adjective can be used for a Greek noun. For example, the Greek word for good is “agathos.” The Greek phrase “o agathos” can mean “the good” or it can mean “the good man.” The noun is understood in the adjective. This being the case, it is hard to understand how Mr. White cannot apply the same to his understanding of English. The phrase, “an holy” obviously means “a holy man” as the context reveals.

Thomas Hubeart, one of the students in our class, has justly made the following observation as it relates to the above interpretation by James White. He writes,

One cannot help but call Mr. White’s attention to the fact that the New American Standard’s rendering of the phrase means the same things as the KJV’s rendering! ‘A just man and an holy’ plainly means a just and holy man, since ‘man’ is obviously implied by the construction of the English phrase.

Brother Hubeart then does a wonderful job of illustrating this by citing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

But you have told us nothing!” cried the doctor. “Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of events,” said Holmes. “There were three of them in it: the young man, the old man, and a third, to whose identity I have no clue. . . .<< –*The Resident Patient.* (see Thomas Hubeart’s Web Site; http://members.aol.com/basfawlty)

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.

The phrase in question is “the only begotten Son.” There are two variants here: one with the Greek text and the other with the translation. The Greek of the Traditional Text reads, “o monogenes eos” (the only begotten Son). The Greek of the Alexandrian Text reads, “o monogenes theos” (the only begotten God). Additionally, the Greek word “monogenes” is no longer looked upon as being translated as “only begotten” but is now considered better translated as “unique” or “one and only.”

Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, who served as the executive secretary of the Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version, had this to say concerning this passage.

A striking case of where the KJV, following bad Greek copies of the original text, changed the original is (sic) John 1:18. The KJV says, ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ John 1:18, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, is one of those few clear and decisive texts that declare that Jesus is God. But, scripts, altered what the Holy Spirit said through John, calling Jesus ‘Son.’ Using the archaic language of the KJV, the verse should read: ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten God, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ Or to say it in a modern and elegant way: ‘No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only [Son], who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ [NIV]. (The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, Kenneth L. Barker editor, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986, p. 143).

The statement by Dr. Palmer is interesting on several levels. First there is the question on the textual level. The phrase “monogenes theos” is found in P66 and P75, as well as Codex Vaticanius and Codex Sinaiticus (and a few other manuscripts). The reading, “monogenes eos” is found in the vast majority of Greek witnesses and ancient translations. This is a classic example illustrating the two lines of manuscripts. What is interesting is that Dr. Palmer refers to the line of manuscripts which support the reading found in the NIV and NASV as being “inspired.” If those of us who support the Greek text of the Authorized Version referred to it as being the correct text because this was, “A striking case of where the NIV, following bad Greek copies of the original text, changed the original in John 1:18,” or, “John 1:18, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, is one of those clear and decisive texts that declare that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God,” we would be ridiculed by men such as Palmer and White for calling the Greek text of the KJV inspired and original. However, when they do the very things they accuse us of doing, it is considered “scholarship.”

Secondly, it is interesting that Dr. Palmer attacks the KJV for using “archaic language” and yet does not cite any archaisms for this verse. Is there anything in the passage which one cannot understand because of the antiquated language of 1611?

Finally, in relation to Dr. Palmer’s quote, while he accuses the KJV of using “archaic language” he then offers a reading from the NIV which the NIV no longer contains. Within the first five years of the translation, the NIV changed the passage “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only [Son], who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” It now reads, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” Thus, the NIV has revised itself and omitted [Son].

Placing Dr. Palmer’s comments aside, we are still left with the change of “only begotten” to “One and Only.” Dr. Jack Finegan, in Encounting New Testament Manuscripts: A Working Introduction to Textual Criticism, cites Dr. Dale Moody as evidence for the change of English words.

This English translation (i.e. “Only begotten God”) corresponds literally to the Greek, but may not bring out the full meaning of the sentence. Note that “monogenes” (“only begotten”) may also be translated “only” or “unique” (cf. Dale Moody in JBL 72 [1953], pp. 213-219), and that the following word “Theos” (“God”) is without the article. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974, p. 125).

Dr. Moody argues that the word is better translated as “unique” and thus the passage in John 1 is simply claiming Christ as a unique God and not a created god. Moody explains,

The word translated ‘only’ . . . is monogenes, from monos (single) and genos (kind). Since Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1886) students have known that monogenes meant ‘single of its kind, only’ and that the term denotes ‘the only son of God’ in the Johannine writings. (Dale Moody, “God’s Only Son: The Translation of John 3:16 In the Revised Standard Version” Journal Of Biblical Literature, Vol 72, 1953, p213.)

To begin with, there have been many translations since 1886 which translated monogenes in John 1:18 as “only begotten.” All one need do is consult the American Standard Version (1901), The Revised Berkely Version (1959), The New American Standard Version (1960), and The New King James Version (1979) to see that “only begotten” is still in vogue. Secondly, all one need do is consult the Greek text of the King James Version to see that the translators were not unaware that monogenes can be translated as “only” for they did so in Luke 7:12; 8:42; and 9:38. However, none of these verses deals with the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we see that the Greek word can mean “only” when dealing with humans, but when dealing with Christ it means “only begotten.”

Further, this is not only Biblical, but it is also clearly the historical understanding of both the passage and the translation of the Greek word “monogenes.” The Old Latin manuscripts read, “deum nemo uidit umquam. unigenitus filius. qui est in sinu patris. ipse narrauit.” The Latin word “unigenitus” means more than unique or only. My Latin dictionary from back in public school renders it as, “only begotten, only; of the same parentage.” (Dr. John C. Traupman, Latin Dictionary, p. 323). And Martin Luther translated the phrase in German as “der eingeborene Sohn.” Even without a knowledge of German, one can see that “eingeborene” means “only begotten.” As does the Spanish Reina-Valera in using, “el unigenito Hijo” (only begotten Son).

The reading is older than either the German or the Spanish. In 202 AD, Irenaeus wrote,

For “no man,” he says, “hath seen God at any time,” unless “the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him].” For He, the Son who is in His bosom, declares to all the Father who is invisible.<<(Against Heresies, 3:11:6 —Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p. 427. “Irenaeus Against Heresies”, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1926 vol. 1. also in 4:20:6, p.489)

In 324 AD, Alexander of Alexandria wrote in his letter to the Bishop of Alexandria the following:

Moreover, that the Son of God was not produced out of what did not exist, and that there never was a time when He did not exist, is taught expressly by John the Evangelist, who writes this of Him: ‘The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.’ The divine teacher, because he intended to show that the Father and the Son are two and inseparable from each other, does in fact specify that He is in the bosom of the Father. (W.A. Jurgens, The Faith Of The Early Fathers, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, p. 300)

The context of the 5th Confession of the Nicene Creed (344 AD) shows that monogenes meant more than only, it means only begotten.

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, . . . And in His Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who before all ages was begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, by whom all things were made, in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible . . . (as cited from Athanasius: De Synodis, II:26).

Athanasius (373 AD) states,

If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, “First-born” needs some explanation; but if He be really First-born, then He is not Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations; that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and His making the many His brethren. (Discourse II, XXI:62)

Athanasius also cites John 1:18 with Gen. 1:1; Psalm 110:3; Psalm 2:7; Proverbs 8:25; and John 1:3.

Plainly, divine Scripture, which knows better than any the nature of everything, says through Moses, of the creatures, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” but of the Son it introduces not another, but the Father Himself saying, “I have begotten Thee from the womb from the womb before the morning star;” and again, “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” And the Lord says of Himself in the Proverbs, “Before all the hills He begets me;” and concerning things originated and created John speaks, “All things were made by Him;” but preaching of the Lord, he says, “The Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He declared Him.” If then son, therefore not creature; if creature, not son; for great is the difference between them, and son and creature cannot be the same, unless His essence be considered to be at once from God, and external to God.<< (De Decretis [Defence of the Nicene Definition], III:13).

Ambrose (397 AD) writes,

For this reason also the evangelist says, “No one has at any time seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.” “The bosom of the Father,” then, is to be understood in a spiritual sense, as a kind of innermost dwelling of the Father’s love and of His nature, in which the Son always dwells. Even so, the Father’s womb is the spiritual womb of an inner sanctuary, from which the Son has proceeded just as from a generative womb. (St. Ambrose: The Patrarches, 11:51).

Finally, Augustine (430 AD) wrote:

For Himself hath said: No man hath seen God at any time, but the Only-Begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. Therefore we know the Father by Him, being they to whom He hath declared Him. (Homilies On The Gospel According To St. John, XLVII:3)

The list could go on. The point is that most of the early Theologians in the Church not only recognized that monogenes means “only begotten,” and defined it as such, but that the popular reading was “only begotten Son.”

Acts 5:30–The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

The objection to this verse deals with the phrase, “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” Modern translations, such as the New King James Version, reads:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

James White comments on this by stating,

Peter did not say that the Jews had slain Jesus and then hung him on a tree. Instead, they put the Lord to death by hanging Him upon the tree. It is difficult to see exactly where the KJV derived its translation, as there is no ‘and’ in the text to separate ‘slew’ and ‘hanged on a tree.’ (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 225-226)

White’s suggestion is faulty in two aspects. First, because he misreads the text of the Authorized Version, making it read “whom ye slew and THEN hanged on a tree.” Second, because he condemns the Authorized Version for inserting the word “and,” yet White himself agrees with the insertion of the word “by.”

In English, the word “and” does not usually mean a time frame, as White has interpreted it (however the phrase “and then” does refer to time). Therefore, 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, he is reading his own thoughts into the text making it say something it does not say. In so doing, one simply shows their lack of understanding the English language.

This can be seen in Miguel de Cervantes’, Don Quixote. The barber tells Sancho Panza that “we suspect already, that you have murdered and robbed him, for here you are mounted on his horse.” However, Sancho defends himself by stating, “for I am not a man to rob or murder anybody; let his own fate, or God who made him, kill each one.” (Translated by John Ormsby, Pt. 1, Chapter 26:40.) Sancho places the word order as “rob or murder,” while the barber places the order “murdered and robbed.” Both statements are grammatically correct because “and” means “further” and not in regard to time. The barber is saying of Sancho that he was a murderer and further, that he was a robber.

The same construction is seen in 1 Samuel 17:50-51. David had already killed Goliath with the stone from his sling-shot. He then takes the Giant’s sword and cuts off his head. The Revised Standard Version translates this as follows:

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; and cut off his head with it.

The word “and” is used in this translation as it is in the Authorized Version. The Giant died from a strike to his head with a stone coming from David’s sling. The text then says David ran over to the body of the dead Giant, “and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him.” David kills a dead man. How? By removing his sword, “and cut off his head with it.” Again, the word “and” in this text does not mean “and then” but it means “further.” That is to say David killed Goliath with a stone from his sling. Further, David cut off the Giant’s head with his own sword.

In a footnote to support his claim against the KJV, James White quotes Dana and Mantey, two Greek grammarians.

The participle ‘hanging’ is a circumstantial instrumental (or modal), expressing the means by which death was inflicted. Dana and Mantey list a syntactical category that would give us the KJV rendering; however, they indicate that this category should be utilized only when the participle does not ‘present in a distinct way any of the above functions’ (H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Macmillan: 1955), p. 228). Since the participle clearly fits into one of those preceding categories, there is no reason to choose the category that would give us the KJV rendering. (The King James Only Controversy, p. 239).

The full quote from Dana and Mantey reads as follows:

A participle may not present in a distinct way any of the above functions, but may merely express an attendant circumstance–an additional fact or thought which is best rendered in English by the conjunction ‘and’ with a finite construction. Here the English participle fails to extend its use sufficiently to take care of the entire force of the Greek participle, and at the same time it is doubtful if a separate clause is an exact translation. It is one of those idioms which have no exact parallel in English…’They went forth and preached everywhere. (Mk.16:20; See also Lk. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:11)<< (Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Toronto: Macmillan, 1927, pp. 228-229).

It should be noted that the entire subject of the classification of the participle is introduced with, “This matter has occasioned great diversity of opinion among Greek grammarians.” (Ibid., p. 223). All this means is this; the verses which are called “error” are really a matter of opinion. The verses can be translated exactly as the KJV translators did. It is not an error, but simply a matter of diversity of opinion among Greek grammarians.

When faced with the above statement, White responded with what can only be considered classic White-washing. In our Christianity Today debate, James White retorted with:

Of course, that is untrue. 1) Dana and Mantey do not list Acts 5:30 or 10:29 (sic.) as fitting this category. 2) They say the final category should only be used when the previous categories do not fit; a previous category *did* fit, and that without question. 3) You have failed to deal with the real issue: did the Jews kill Jesus and THEN hang Him upon a tree, Dr. Holland? Yes or no? ( Subj: Acts 5:30 Date: 95-08-21 22:10:20 EDT From: Orthopodeo)

It is true that Dana and Mantey did not use Acts 5:30 or 10:39 “as fitting this category.” But for that matter, why should they? All that is needed is to state the rule and give an example or two, not list every example. And, if Mr. White does not approve of citing Dana and Mantey for this passage, then why does he do so in his own footnote? After all, Dana and Mantey were not citing Acts 5:30 or 10:39 on page 228 of their book either. And yet, White cites them as authorities for his point of view. As to the final question, the answer is, of course, no. The Jews did not kill Jesus and THEN hanged Him upon a tree. The word “then” is found only in the mind of James White and not in the text of Scripture.

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 objection deals with the word “Easter.” The Greek word “pascha” is translated as “Passover” in the KJV with this one exception. Earlier English translations also translated “pascha” as Easter in this verse, showing that the understanding here dealt with something other than Passover. Notice the following translations from several early English versions, thus removing the idea that this is a “King James Onlyism.”

Tyndale (1525):
And when he had caught him, he put him in preson, and delivered him to. iiii. quaternions of soudiers to be kepte, entendinge after ester to bringe him forth to the people.

Great Bible (1539):
And when he had caught hym, he put him in preson also, and delyvered him to. iiii. quaternions of soudiers to be kepte, entendynge after Ester to bringe him forth to the people.

Bishop’s Bible (1568):
And when he had caught him, he put him in prison also, and delivered him to foure quaternions of souldiers to be kept, intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

The Geneva Bible of 1560 does not use “Easter.” Instead it reads:

And when he had caught hym, he put hym in prison, and delivered hym to foure quaternions of souldiers to be kept, intendying after the Passover to brying hym forthe to the people.

Therefore we see that by 1611 the Bible reading public had both translations of the word “pascha” in English.

The use of the word “pascha” in early Christian writings dealt with the celebration of Easter, and not just simply the Jewish Passover (see Dr. Walter Bauer’s, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 633). Dr. G.W.H. Lampe notes that “pascha” came to mean “Easter” in the early Church. The early 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 out that Greek words such as “paschazw” and “paschalua” meant “celebrate Easter” and “Eastertide” in the early Christian writings. (see A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961. pp. 1048-1049). And, Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes that “pascha” came to be called “Easter” in the celebration of the resurrection within the primitive Church (see Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. II. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965, pp. 901-904).

As stated, there was 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 time the pagans did in worship of Ostara. 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. (The Layman’s Bible Encyclopedia, Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1964, p. 204).

In view of all of this, it seems that “pascha” can mean more than the Jewish holy day of Passover. Additionally, the context would confirm such a conclusion. 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 King James Version. If the word is translated as “Passover,” we have a problem because the Days of Unleavened Bread come 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). We have a problem with these verses if Passover follows the Days of Unleavened Bread. However, the problem is solved when we see that “pascha” means more than “Passover” as has been shown above. Peter was held under Roman guard by a king who was appointed by Roman law and influenced by Roman customs. Contextually, it would seem that this “pascha” which followed the Days of Unleavened Bread was not the “pascha” (Passover) which preceded the capture of Peter. Instead, it is likely to refer to the Roman celebration of Ostara, hence called “Easter.”

In response to this, James White writes the following:

The problem, of course, is that (1) the term Easter would still be a misleading translation, since the celebration the English reader thinks of is far removed from the pagan worship of Astarte; (2) Herod Agrippa, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, was a conspicuous observer of the Jewish customs and rituals, and since he was attempting to please the Jews (Acts 12:3), it is obvious that Luke is referring to the Jewish Passover, not a pagan celebration; (3) the argument depends upon making the “days of unleavened bread” a completely separate period of time from “the Passover.” Unfortunately for the KJV Only position, the term “the Passover” is used of the entire celebration, including the days of unleavened bread after the actual sacrifice of the Passover, in other places in Scripture (note the wrapping up of the entire celebration under the term the “feast of the Jews” in John 2:13; 2:23; 6:4 and 11:55). Therefore, this ingenious attempt at saving the KJV from a simple mistake fails under examination.<< (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 233-234).

None of this deals with the fact that in Scripture Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread. In Mark 14:1 we read, “After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread.” Passover precedes the Days of Unleavened Bread even in the New Testament. None of the verses cited by White change this. In fact, three of them simply state that Passover was near (John 2:13; 6:4 and 11:55). John 2:23 speaks of many making a surface pretense of believing in Christ at the feast of the Passover. None of these verses show the two events as being called “Passover” as White states. As for Herod observing the Jewish feasts, this means little because as a politician he obeyed whatever was convent for him while in political power, including both Jewish and Roman holidays. And, it should be remembered, that this “conspicuous observer of the Jewish customs and rituals” had just put James to death and was himself about to die by the hand of God for setting himself up as a god (Acts 12:21-23; Exodus 20:2-6).

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.

As with so many other examples in this lesson, this verse is objected to by James R. White in his book, The King James Only Controversy. Brother White states,

One of the well-known problems in the AV is found in Acts 19:2 . . . The King James Version has Paul asking the disciples in Ephesus if they received the Holy Ghost “since” they believed, that is, subsequent to the act of believing. All modern translations, however, translate the passage, ‘when you believed.’ The difference is not a slight one. Entire theologies of a second reception of the Holy Spirit have been based upon this one rendering by the KJV. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is materially impacted by how one translates this passage. . . This author has been extremely frustrated in attempting to get KJV Only advocates to seriously interact with passages such as this one. (p. 230).

Those of us who have personally had ongoing exchanges of information and correspondence with Brother White, find the last phrase of utmost interest. In a series of online debates with James White and in writing a published critique of his book, I can say with all confidence that THIS author has been extremely frustrated in attempting to get James R. White to seriously interact with passages, textual data, and historical information where he has clearly provided information which lacks veracity. However, let us address the issue he claims KJV advocates ignore.

None of the Greek words used for “since” or “when” are in this verse. Instead, we must look at the construction of the Greek. The phrase, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed,” reads in Greek as, “Ei pneuma agion elabete pisteusantes.” A literal translation would be, “[The] Spirit/Ghost Holy did ye receive, having believed?” The phrase in question stands in the Greek aorist. This refers to past time; thus, we have the past tense with the words “received” and “believed.” Therefore, the translation put forth by White and others is quite 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. Dana and Mantey 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.” (A Manual Grammar Of The Greek New Testament, Toronto: Macmillan, 1927, p.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., pp. 196-197).

In this regard, the translation of “since” is proper as it relates to the aorist tense. For it can indicate a past action, but one which was attained through a process. Dr. George Ladd (Fuller Theological Seminary) recognizes this and states, “The Greek participle is ‘having believed,’ and it is capable of being translated either ‘since ye believed’ (AV) or ‘when you believed’ (RSV).” (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Nashville: The Southwest Company, 1962, p. 1160). Although Dr. Ladd prefers the word “when,” he does not claim that “since” is a translational error which will lead to doctrinal error, as claimed by White. In fact, Dr. Ladd plainly states that both translations are possible. Since Mr. White received his M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary (where Dr. Ladd taught), it is a shame that he did not make himself aware of Dr. Ladd’s comments concerning Acts 19:2.

In White’s noted objection, he indicates that the doctrine which teaches the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon the believer after salvation and not at the time of salvation, is the result of the King James Version. Among many Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, the doctrine is taught that a person who is saved must later receive the Holy Ghost (usually with “evidences” such as speaking in tongues). And, it is true that some have used this passage as a proof text for that doctrine. However, to credit the translators of the KJV for providing this doctrine is somewhat ridiculous. First of all, the translators of the KJV were Anglican and Puritan, neither of which are proponents of such a doctrine. Secondly, we would have to ask ourselves why many Charismatics and Pentecostals have embraced modern versions which have removed the word “since” and replaced it with “when.” In fact, the NIV had translators who support the very doctrine to which Brother White is objecting.

Regardless of our personal interpretation of the doctrine concerning the receiving of the Holy Ghost, we cannot allow such doctrine to affect the translation of the word of God. James White, in allowing his doctrine to translate for him, is faced with a paradox. If we reject the translation “since” in verse two and replace it with “when” because we believe that the Holy Ghost is received instantly at the very time of salvation, what do we do with the context of the passage? After all, context does count. As we consider the text, we find that Paul confronts a group of “believers” who never heard of the Holy Ghost, nor of personal salvation in Jesus Christ. These were believers in the teaching of John the Baptist and were still looking for the coming Messiah. Paul, in turn, then preaches to these Jews the person of Christ. After which, we read,

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the LORD Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (vs. 5-6).

The context teaches that these former followers of John first believe, then are baptized, and THEN receive the Holy Ghost with the laying on of hands by the Apostle Paul. The text shows that they received the Holy Ghost “since” they believed. Those who have historically and contextually recognized this, have not all taught that the Holy Ghost is received following salvation as a second blessing. Instead, they teach that the Holy Ghost comes to believers at the time of salvation. This passage is looked upon as transitional, and that these followers of John needed the laying on of hands by Paul in order to show Apostolic authority, not a need for a second blessing. Therefore, this act became their Pentecost.

Romans 9:5–Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

It has become common to use this verse as a “proof” text that the NIV better represents the Biblical doctrine of the Deity of Christ because it translates the verse as,

Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

In this regard we find Dr. D.A. Carson listing this verse as proof that modern versions are better translations (The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism, p. 64). The response to this is quite simple. First of all, as far as we know, there were no commas in the original manuscripts. It is certain that there are no commas in the majority of old Greek manuscripts which we do have. So one cannot dogmatically say the KJV is a poorer reading simply because translations like the NASV and NIV place the commas differently.

Secondly, the proof text for the Deity of Jesus Christ does not lay with a text which can so easily be questioned because of the placement of commas. The real proof texts for the Deity of Christ may be found in verses such as John 1:1 and 20:28. Further, passages which prove the Deity of Christ in the KJV are omitted or changed in modern versions in such places as 1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 John 5:7.

Thirdly, the passage should not be translated as we have it in modern versions because it would remove the teaching of the submission of Jesus Christ to the Father. If we have Christ as “God over all,” than we have Christ as God over the Father. The Biblical truth is that within the Trinity there is not only equality (John 5:18 and Philippians 2:6) but there is also submission by Christ to the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3 and Philippians 2:7-8). Thus the phrase, “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever” is not only a correct translation, but is more consistent with the Biblical teaching of divine submission.

Finally, we find within the writings of early Christians that the understanding of this passage is not that which is reflected by modern versions, but is consistent with that of the King James Bible.

Hippolytus (235 AD):

Let us look next at the apostle’s word: “Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” This word declares that mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God for ever. (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus, I:6)

Novatian (Third Century):

And, “My Lord and my God.” And, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom according to the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for evermore.” What, then, shall we say? Does Scripture set before us two Gods? How, then, does it say that “God is one?” Or is not Christ God also? . . . let them understand that, from the fact that God is one, no obstruction arises to the truth that Christ also is declared to be God. (Treatise Concerning The Trinity, XXX.)

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 Executive Secretary of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation, the late Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, lists 2 Corinthians 2:17 as an obscurity in the King James Version (The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, Kenneth Barker, editor. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986, p.149). The “obscurity” is the English word “corrupt.” Most modern versions use the word “peddle.” Thus we have the reading as found in the NIV:

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

This becomes a strange translation because it not only removes the idea of Biblical corruption, but it is printed in a version published by Zondervan Publishing House which owns the copyright to the New International Version. And, as far as I know, Zondervan does peddle (via retail sales) the NIV for a profit. I am not suggesting that it is wrong to sell the Bible for a profit, but if the translation of this verse claims it is wrong to do so it seems disingenuous unless Zondervan does not consider the NIV “the word of God.”

The Greek word in question is “kapeleuontes,” and does mean a peddler or retailer. However, it connotates one who sells with deceit, a corrupter. Dr. Walter Bauer points out that the word came to mean “to adulterate” (A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, p.403). Dr. Joseph Thayer agrees and states, “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, pp. 324-325). And Dr. Gerhard Kittle states concerning “kapeleuontes;” “It 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.” (Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. III., p. 605).

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.’ It is an Apostolic injunction, ‘If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’ ” (Apologia Contra Arianos [Defence Against The Arians], III:49.) Gregory-Nazianzus (390) 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 . . . (In Defence Of His Flight To Pontus, II:46)

James R. White makes an interesting claim concerning this verse. “Surely,” writes White, “if the KJV translators were alive today they would gladly admit that ‘peddle’ is a better translation than ‘corrupt,’ and would adopt it themselves.” (The King James Only Controversy, p.114). In my critique of White’s book, I refer to such argumentation as “speaking for the dead.” It is one thing to cite those who have died and present what they themselves believed about a certain subject. It is quite another to draw conclusions for those who have died and insist that this would be their view if they were alive today. For the most part one cannot justly refute such invalid argumentation because those who have died cannot speak for themselves. However, this is not the case in this instance. One of the treasures left behind from the translators of the KJV are a few notes by Dr. John Bois, who helped in the translation of the KJV Old Testament Apocrypha and assisted in the final revision of the KJV New Testament (Romans through Revelation). In his note for 2 Corinthians 2:17 he wrote:

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. (the full note was written in Latin and Greek. Translating For King James, trans. and ed. by Ward Allen. Vanderbilt University Press, 1969, p. 51)

Apparently, the translators of the KJV were more aware of the meaning of the word than what James White and others give them credit. If we are indeed going to speak for the dead, we best learn to do so correctly.

2 Tim. 2:15–Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The word “study” is challenged in this passage by supporters of modern versions. First, they claim the word is archaic and difficult to understand. Second, they claim that the Greek word, “spoudason” should be translated as “diligence.” In reference to the New King James Version, Dr. Jack Lewis writes: “In II Timothy 2:15 ‘study’ correctly becomes ‘Be diligent’ . . .” (The English Bible, p. 349). James White likewise considers “Be diligent” to be a better translation than either the KJV’s “study” or the NIV’s “do your best.”

The NIV’s ‘do your best’ seems to miss some of the force of the term, and the KJV’s ‘study’ limits the meaning of the word far too much for the modern reader who might not understand ‘study’ to refer to a concerted effort at diligence and effort. Paul is exhorting Timothy to have an attitude that is marked by zeal, enthusiasm, and determination in his ministry. This attitude may well include the aspect of study, but in no way is Paul’s admonishment to be limited solely to that activity. (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 140-141).

Later, White seems to refer to 2 Timothy as meaning to be diligent in one’s studies. He writes, “Allow the readers of Scripture to ‘be diligent’ (2 Timothy 2:15) in their own studies and come to their own conclusions.” (Ibid., p. 257).

The English word “study” not only refers to one’s endeavor to become educated, but also refers to being diligent. The 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary of the English Language lists one of the definitions of “study” as, “3. To endeavor diligently.” A more current edition defines the word “studious” as, “1. diligent in study.” (The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, New York: Signet Books, 1981, p. 517). We can see from this, and even from the first citation from James White, that the English word “study” means diligence. As to the Greek word “spoudason” the KJV translators knew the word meant more than book studies. The same Greek word is elsewhere translated as “diligence” in such places as 2 Timothy 4:9 and 4:21: as “endeavor” in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 and 2 Peter 1:15, as “forward” in Galatians 2:10 and 2 Corinthians 8:17, and as “labour” in Hebrews 4:11. Of course, this is no new information for students who must labor diligently in their endeavor to go forward as they study. And, again we are faced with the context itself. Our “diligence” in “rightly dividing the word of truth” comes from our “study” of Scripture, not our spiritual endeavors. Thus, only in the King James Bible is the Christian instructed to study in knowing how to rightly divide God’s word.

As for the readability of this passage in the KJV, there is an interesting finding as established by the Flesch-Kincaid grading level. Although more about readability will be discussed in our next lesson, the following information may be helpful. According to my WordPerfect Grammatilk (6.0 version from Main Street) 2 Timothy 2:15 in the King James Version has a 9.5 Grade Reading Level. Its Sentence Complexity (from 1 to 100) is listed as a 37; and its Vocabulary Complexity (also 1 to 100) is listed as a 26. The New International Version reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Grammatilk gave this an 11.54 Grade Reading Level, with a Sentence Complexity rating of 47. Only in Vocabulary Complexity did the NIV receive a lower rating than the KJV in this verse with a level of 10. The New American Standard Version reads, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” It received an 11.71 Grade Reading Level, with a Sentence Complexity Level of 43 and a Vocabulary Complexity Level of 35.

One final note in regard to this verse. Reformer John Calvin, reading among other things French, Latin, and Greek, understood the word to mean “study” in regard to teachings from the Bible. Long before the KJV was translated into English Calvin wrote:

Now when S. Paul hath thus spoken he addeth, ‘Studie to present thyself to God an approved workeman, that needeth not be ashamed, dividing the word of truth aright.’ . . . So then, how shall they (those charged to preach the word of God) have the office of teaching the people of God, keepe themselves from vaine and unprofitable questions? And how may they resist them, which as busie bodies trouble the Church? Surely if they present themselves to God, and studie to do so. (John Calvin, Seromons on the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, The Banner of Truth Trust, University Press, Oxford, 1983 reprint 1579 edition, p. 799).

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” which is translated as “hope.”

“The KJV translation of Hebrews 10:23 leaves most people wondering as well. The KJV has the phrase ‘the profession of our faith.’ Literally the first term should be translated ‘confession,’ but it is the KJV’s very unusual translation of the Greek term ‘hope’ as ‘faith’ that is difficult to understand. The Greek term appears thirteen times in the TR, and each time it is translated ‘hope’ with this one exception.” (The King James Only Controversy, p. 226).

This does not mean that it is a mistranslation. In fact, the KJV 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 Thesaurus for my Microsoft Works has for the word “hope,” “confidence: faith, reliance, trust, belief, assurance.” Further, there is within Scripture a clear connection between faith and hope. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1) Notice the clear Biblical connection of faith with hope. The Scripture states, “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 (vs.22) and the One we are trusting is “faithful” (vs. 23). The context of the Greek word “elpis” in this verse can be expressed by the English words faith, hope, or trust. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, even though it cites the American Standard Version, says of this verse:

“Confession of our hope” (ASV). And unwavering confession of faith in the living Christ. God undergirds our hope by his own promises, for he is faithful who promised. This then speaks of further affirmation based upon faith in the faithfulness of God. (Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1962, p. 1420).

Kittle notes the comparison of faith and hope when defining the Greek word “elpis” (hope). He even notes that in the Greek LXX there is an “interrelating” of the two Greek words for faith and hope.

If hope is fixed on God, it embraces at once the three elements of expectation of the future, trust, and the patience of waiting. Any one of these aspects may be emphasized. ,The definition of “pistis” as “elpizomenon upostasis” in H[e]b[rews] 11:1 is quite in keeping with the OT interrelating of “pisteuein” and “elpizein” and the usage of the LXX, which has “upostasis” as well as “elpis.” (Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. II. p.531).

Faith, trust, and hope are used interchangeably. A related word of “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 of “pistis” (faith) is “pistuo.” 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 chapters ten and eleven, demands that this type of trust be translated as “faith” instead of its normal translation of “hope.” Also, since we are told to “hold fast the profession” we must compare the Scriptures to know that our profession deals with “faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

2 Peter 2:7–And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

This verse, along with a handful of others verses where the same objection is raised, is questioned because of the word “conversation.” The objection is that today “conversation” means talk, but the verses in question refer to lifestyle. I recall one pastor objecting to the KJV in 1 Peter 3:1 where we are told that an unsaved husband may be won to Christ by a godly wife’s “conversation.” He stated, “You mean to tell me that the unsaved husband can be won by the Christian wife’s talking and not by her godly living?” I am always amazed by such argumentation which reflects both a lack of Biblical understanding as well as knowledge of the English language. Of course, the unsaved are in fact won by our words and our lifestyle. We must witness to them in both word and deed. As has been said, our walk must match our talk. However, the English word “conversation” does refer to lifestyle. I asked this pastor, “When someone is born-again and lives the Christian life, what are they called?” He looked at me and said, “they are called a new convert . . .” Strange how our own speech will sometimes betray us.

Consequently, we have seen in a few examples how modern scholars will distort God’s word with meaningless objections in order to replace it with themselves as the final authority. Accordingly, while objecting to misprints in some KJV Bible (“he” instead of “ye” in Jeremiah 34:16), they will remove Jesus Christ from the fiery furnace and replace Him with “a god” (Daniel 3:25). While they reject the reading in the King James Bible because of “Easter ” (Acts 12:4), they will accept versions which weaken the virgin birth in calling Joseph the “father” of Jesus (Luke 2:33, NIV and NASV) or by removing the word “virgin” in prophecy (Isaiah 7:14, RSV and NRSV). They condemn the KJV because of its placement of a comma (Romans 9:5) and then accept a translation which calls Christ a “begotten God” (John 1:18, NASV and NWT). In trying to show the error of using “faith” instead of “hope” (Hebrews 10:23), they instead show their own lack of understanding the English language (Mark 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 2:7). The claim of doctrinal error in the Authorized Version (Acts 19:2) simply shows their lack of reading the context; while, at the same time, they accept translations which contain doctrinal error concerning salvation (2 Peter 2:2, NRSV), redemption (Colossians 1:14, NASV), the deity of Christ (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV and Revelation 1:6, NKJV), the Trinity (1 John 5:7), and the doctrine of Biblical preservation (Psalm 12:6-7, NIV). They have distorted the meaning of the text by adding to the Scriptures (Acts 5:30) and endorsed translations which subtract from the Scriptures (Matthew 18:11; Mark 16:9-20; Luke 24:12, 40; John 5:4; 8:1-11; Acts 8:37; Romans 16:24). Finally, in their zeal to correct what was given to correct us, they change “corrupt the Word of God” to “peddle the Word of God” and end up doing both (2 Corinthians 2:17, NKJV). Thus, these “unlearned” scholars “wrest” not with “King James Only advocates,” but with the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16).

Our next lesson will probe into the philosophies of these scholars and several reasons why the King James Bible stands as the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people without any proven error.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

Lesson Ten: Textual Consideration

Lesson Ten: Textual Considerations

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

Contextually the above citation concerns the strengthening of Zerubbabel with regard to building the Temple. The Almighty God informed his servant that the accomplishment of this deed would not be fulfilled by the potency and purpose of human authorities, but by His Spirit. For us, there is a deeper and continuous meaning. Successful endeavors for God can auspiciously be completed without the might and power of human ingenuity. It is the Spirit of God which brings such things to fruition. The Believer lives his or her life with the undeniable assurance that the unseen hand of the Lord gently intervenes in their daily affairs. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in writing, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, assurance in the promises and abilities of God outweigh the evidences and efforts of man.

In regard to the study of textual criticism, Dr. Edward F. Hills referred to the intervention of God and the preservation of His words as the common faith. Hills writes:

It was out of this common faith, therefore, that the printed Textus Receptus was born through the editorial labors of Erasmus and his successors under the guiding hand of God. Hence during the Reformation Period the approach to the New Testament text was theological and governed by the common faith in holy Scripture, and for this reason even in those early days the textual criticism of the New Testament was different from the textual criticism of other ancient books. (Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended [1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984], 62-63.)

In expounding the guiding hand of God in the efforts of Erasmus and his posterity, Hills presents the three-fold foundation to this common faith.

When we believe in Christ, the logic of faith leads us first, to a belief in the infallible inspiration of the original Scriptures, second, to a belief in the providential preservation of this original text down through the ages, and third, to a belief in the Bible text current among believers as the providentially preserved original text. This is the common faith which has always been present among Christians. For Christ and His Words are inseparable, and faith in Him and in the holy Scriptures has been the common characteristic of all true believers from the beginning. (Ibid., 193.)

In today’s age of human enlightenment, this position is rejected and even belittled. In reference to John Burgon and F. H. Scrivener, both defenders of the Textus Receptus, Dr. Alexander Souter states that, “These writers appear to have left few, if any, successors.” (Alexander Souter, The Text And Canon Of The New Testament [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917], 102.) And yet, over seventy years after Souter’s remark Kurt Aland had to address Burgon and the supporters of the Traditional Text.

Despite their clamorous rhetoric, the champions of the Textus Receptus (led primarily by Dean John William Burgon) were defending deserted ramparts. But their battle was not conclusively lost until the Novum Testamentum Graece of Eberhard Nestle (1815-1913) was published in 1893 . . .This signaled the retreat of the Textus Receptus from both church and school. (Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text Of The New Testament, “trans.” Erroll F. Rhodes [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989], 19.)

Apparently the followers of the Traditional Text have in fact survived theonslaught of textual critics. Otherwise James R. White would have had no need to have written his book, The King James Only Controversy. In referencingthose who generally hold to the preservation of the words of God through the Traditional Text, and Edward Hills specifically, White states:

Anyone who believes the TR to be infallible must believe that Erasmus, and the other men who later edited the same text in their own editions (Stephanus and Beza), were somehow “inspired,” or at the very least “providentially guided” in their work. Yet, none of these men ever claimed such inspiration. (James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995], 58.)

White is correct in stating that men such as Erasmus and his successors never claimed to be inspired. However, one would be at a loss to find any who claim that they were. Inspiration and providential guidance are not the same things; confusing the two simply ignores the real arguments raised.

Support for the Traditional Text has not, as Souter and Aland had hoped, disappeared. Nor, contrary to White and others, is it limited to independent groups such as many Baptists and the King James Only movement. Recently the Greek Orthodox Church released a Study Bible based on the text of the New King James Version. In their preface they state:

Since the 1880s most contemporary translations of the New Testament have relied upon a relatively few manuscripts discovered chiefly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such translations depend primarily on two manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, because of their greater age. The Greek text obtained by using these sources and the related papyri (our most ancient manuscripts) is known as the Alexandrian Text. However, some scholars have grounds for doubting the faithfulness of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, since they often disagree with one another, and Sinaiticus exhibits excessive omission.

Another viewpoint of New Testament scholarship holds that the best text is based on the consensus of the majority of existing Greek manuscripts. This text is called the Majority Text. Most of these manuscripts are in substantial agreement. Even though many are late, and none is earlier than the fifth century, usually their readings are verified by papyri, ancient versions, quotations from the early Church Fathers, or a combination of these. The Majority Text is similar to the Textus Receptus, but it corrects those readings which have little or no support in the Greek manuscript tradition.

Today, scholars agree that the science of New Testament textual criticism is in a state of flux. Very few scholars still favor the Textus Receptus as such, and then often for its historical prestige. For about a century most have followed a Critical Text which depends heavily upon the Alexandrian type of text, and more recently many have abandoned this Critical Text for one that is more eclectic. A small but growing number of scholars prefer the Majority Text, which is closer to the traditional text except in the Revelation. . . (The Orthodox Study Bible, 1993 ed., s.v. “How to Use The Orthodox Study Bible,” xi.)

We must further acknowledge that arguments raised by naturalistic textual scholars do not lead to, nor are they based on, a solid Bibliology. They have failed to lay a Biblical basis for their approach to the subject, and one is not likely to be forth coming. In our first lesson we compared the foundational approach of modern scholarship with that of the holy scriptures. The naturalistic approach tends to lead to Biblical uncertainty even in regard to the original autographs. Note, for example, the following comment:

Not only are there many manuscripts, and fragments thereof, of the NT, but the various manuscripts have many differences among themselves. Presumably if we could ever recover the original manuscript of a NT book it would be very close to what its author intended. Even here, however, the text might not be completely correct. If the author wrote it himself, he could have made mistakes; if he dictated it to a scribe, the latter could have made mistakes. Even prior to the actual writing on papyrus or parchment, error can enter. A scribe can hear incorrectly. Particularly in Greek, the difference between a long vowel and a short vowel can make a difference in the meaning of a word, and the difference between the two when spoken can be difficult to catch. (Jack Finegan, Encounting New Testament Manuscripts [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974], 54.)

Therefore, the trustworthiness, preservation, and even inspiration of scripture can become ambiguous when solely approached in such fashion. This has not been the focus of these studies. Instead we have sought to fortify the Biblical foundation of scriptural preservation and therefore have complete confidence in its accuracy not based on the power and might of modern scholarship, but by the Spirit of the Living God.

There are, of course, several places in the Traditional Text that modern scholarship considers non-authoritative and not part of the original. Additionally, there are places which are considered mistranslated in the King James Version. Since variance within textual considerations is enormous and personal interpretation and translation is even more vastly defined, we cannot look at every passage which has been questioned by textual scholars or inspect every passage which someone claims to have been translated incorrectly. However, we shall consider several passages which opponents of the Traditional Text have denied as to their authenticity. Later, in our next lesson, we will consider what some have deemed mistranslations. But for now, we will limit ourselves to the textual considerations of the following passages. Matthew 6:13; Mark 1:2; Mark 16:9-20; Luke 2:22; John 5:4; John 7:53-8:11; Acts 8:37; Romans 8:1; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 3:14; 1 John 5:7; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 16:5; and Revelation 22:19.

Additionally, we will also consider various texts and translations which agree with the Authorized Version. The KJV translators wrote, “Neither did we think much to consult the translators or commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, or Latin, no, nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Douch;” (Miles Smith, The Translators To The Readers [1611; reprint, London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1970], 31.) The first grouping refer to manuscripts and texts based on manuscripts. The second group refers to foreign language translations which pre-date the Authorized Version, namely the Spanish Reina-Valera Version, the French Louis Segond Version, the Italian Giovanni Diodati Version, and the German translation of Martin Luther. All four of these translations, based on the Traditional Greek Text, became the authoritative/standard version for their people. Also, it is known that the translators of the Authorized Version considered early English translations such as Tyndale’s New Testament (1525), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560) and the Bishops’ Bible (1568). In any case, such texts and translations will demonstrate that the passages we are to consider are not unique to the King James Bible only.

Matthew 6:13–And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The argument raised concerning this text centers around the last half of the verse, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” It has been omitted from the Greek texts of the United Bible Societies and Eberhard Nestle. And, since most modern translations of the New Testament are based on these Greek texts, it is not part of the English text in most contemporary versions. Modern scholarship argues the passage is not genuine because it exists in various forms and is not harmonized in all of its citations. White states, “This kind of ‘variant cluster’ is a sure sign of a later addition.” (White, 252.) Bruce Metzger, as does White, argues the passage is a harmonistic corruption by scribes to unify the text with Luke 11:2-4 (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed. [Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1973], 197.).

Neither argument is substantive. To argue “variant clusters” is a lack of authenticity is to argue against the critical texts supported by modern scholarship. A review of either the United Bible Societies text or the Nestle-Aland text reveal a vast host of variant readings which modern scholarship supports. As was cited by the Greek Orthodox Study Bible, critical texts depend greatly on Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus which, “often disagree with one another.” (The Orthodox Study Bible, xi.) The argument for harmonization of Matthew 6 with Luke 11 is conjectural. This is revealed by Kurt Aland in his comment on the passage by asking, “. . . if the doxology originally stood in the gospel of Matthew, who would have deleted it?” (Aland, 306.) Questions and speculations do not alter the textual facts on this passage. While it is omitted in Alexandrian manuscripts such as Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Cantabrigiensis, it is found in a host of other sources.

Among the Greek uncials it is found in K (ninth century), L (eighth century), W (fifth century), DELTA (ninth century), THETA (ninth century), and PI (ninth century). It is found in the following Greek minuscules: 28, 33, 565, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2174 (dating from the ninth to the twelfth century). However, it is not without early witness. It is found in the Old Latin, the Old Syrian, and some Coptic versions (such as Coptic Bohairic). Old Latin texts, such as Codices Monacensis (q-seventh century) and Brixianus (f-sixth century), read, “et ne nos inducas in temptationem. sed libera nos a malo. quoniam tuum est regnum. et uirtus. et gloria in saecula. amen.”

The Syriac Peshitto (second to 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.” (James Murdock, The Syriac New Testament from the Peshitto Version [Boston: H.L. Hastings, 1896], 9.)

John Chrysostom cites the verse in the fourth century. In his Homilies this blessed Saint 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.’ ” (St. Chrysostom, “Homily XIX,” in The Preaching of Chrysostom, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan [Philadelphia: Fortress Press], 145.)

The oldest witness, which outdates all Greek manuscripts on this passage, is the Didache. Otherwise known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, this ancient catechism dates to the early second century, some dating it shortly after 100 AD. In it we have a form of the Lord’s Payer which supports the reading found in the Traditional Text.

Do not let your fasts be with the hypocrites. They fast on Monday and Thursday; but you shall fast on Wednesday and Friday. Do not pray as the hypocrites do, but as the Lord commanded in His gospel, you shall pray thus: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the power and the glory forever.’ Pray thus three times a day. (W. A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers [Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970], 3.)

It is also interesting to note that in his studies on old papyri, Dr. George Milligan includes a sixth century prayer which incorporates the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6. Despite the fact that this papyri is badly worn, it clearly contains the phrase in question. Milligan notes, “a passage which some may be tempted to quote in support of the A.V. rendering of Mt. vi 13.” (George Milligan, Selections From The Greek Papyri [Cambridge: University Press, 1912], 132-134.) He is correct, for the papyri shows that the verse as it stands in the Traditional Text was commonly used by Christians.

The passage stands in the authoritative/standard foreign versions (Spanish, French, Italian, and German) which pre-date the King James. For example, we read in the Reina-Valera Version, “Y no nos metas en tentacion, mas libranos del mal: porque tuyo es el reino, y el poder, y la gloria, por todos los siglos. Amen.” While one who does not read Spanish may not recognize “reino” for kingdom, or “poder” for power, the word “gloria” is easily recognized as glory. Additionally, the verse stands in all the early English versions which the KJV translators used such as the New Testament of William Tyndale (1525). “And leade us not into temptacion: but delyver us from evyll. For thyne is the kingdome and the power, and the glorye for ever. Amen.”

Mark 1:2-3–As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Modern scholarship declares that the passage should read, “en to Isaia to profete” (in the Isaiah the Prophet). This is supported by uncials Vaticanus (fourth century), Sinaiticus (fourth century), along with L and DELTA. The same reading is found in the minuscules 33, 565, 892, and 1241. There is a slight variant to this reading found in uncials D and THETA, and minuscules 700, 1071, 2174. In these the text reads, “en Isaia to profete.” (in Isaiah the Prophet). If we were to impose White’s variant cluster rule to this passage, we would have to excuse the reading which is supported by modern scholarship. Not only is there a variant in the readings of the Alexandrian texts (Isaiah the Prophet or the Isaiah the Prophet), but there is also a variant reading in verse one. Sinaiticus simply reads, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” and omits the phrase, “the Son of God” which is found in Codex Vaticanus.

In support of the Traditional Text, “Os gegraptai en tois profetais” (as it is written in the prophets) we have uncials A, K, P, W, PI and minuscules 28, 1009, 1010, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1242, 1252, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148. 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 to fifth century) and the Ethiopic versions of the sixth century.

It also receives Patristic citations from Church Fathers such as Irenaeus (202 AD), Photius (895 AD), and Theophylact (1077 AD). In Against Heresies, Irenaeus writes:

Wherefore also Mark, the interpreter and follower of Peter, does thus commence his Gospel narrative: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way”. . . Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him at once, whom they confessed as God and Lord; (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson [trans.], The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1926 ed., s.v. “Irenaeus Against Heresies 3:10:5,” 425-426.)


All the early English versions agree with the King James as do the authoritative/standard foreign versions. Luther’s German version reads, “Als geschrieben stehet in den Propheten:” (as it is written in the Prophets). However, this has been revised in modern German editions to match the views of modern textual criticism. Thus we have the new German reading, “Wie geschrieben steht im Propheten Jesaja:”. The same thing is true of the Spanish Reina-Valera Version. The 1960 revision reads, “Como esta escrito en Isaias el profeta:”. Yet, the original 1602 edition read, “Como esta escripto en los prophetas.”

Contextually there arises a problem with the reading as found in the Alexandrian Text and modern versions. 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. Yet, it is justified by modern scholarship in claiming that even though both prophets are quoted, Isaiah was the major prophet and therefore he takes prominence.

To illustrate their point, modern scholars will reference the student to Matthew 27:9, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value.” The passage, they claim, is not really a citation of Jeremiah, but comes from Zachariah 11:12. Thus, Jeremiah being the major prophet receives prominence as well.

However, this point can be argued. First, the text in Matthew 27 does not read, “As it is written in Jeremy the Prophet” but merely states, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy.” God, being the Author of Scripture, is quite aware of who writes what and who speaks what. Simply because Zachariah writes the passage does not mean Jeremiah did not speak it. Secondly, this fact was not overlooked by Zachariah who warned Israel to pay attention to what the former prophets had spoken. “Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, . . .?” (Zachariah 7:7). Matthew Henry points out that the Jews had a saying, “The spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah.” Therefore, much of what Zechariah received, he did so from both the Lord and the former prophet, Jeremiah. Thirdly, while the passage in Zachariah does speak of thirty pieces of silver and the potter (verse 13), it is somewhat different from the Matthew passage. “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if no, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” (Zachariah 11:12-13). Lastly, the passage in Matthew 27 connects of the children of Isarel with the potter’s field (verses 9-10). In Jeremiah 18:1-8, the house of Israel is connected with the potter’s house.

However, none of this addresses the real issue here in Mark 1:2. The passage does not claim, “what was spoken by . . .” as we have it in Matthew 27. Instead, it is much more emphatic in stating, “As it is written in . . .” It is more truthful to say, “As it is written in the prophets” when citing two prophets, then to say, “As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet,” when citing two prophets. Further, the weight of the textual support favors the reading as it stands in the Authorized Version as does the weight of the endurance of the reading throughout the centuries. Therefore the reading as we have it in the Traditional Text not only is textually but also contextually correct.

Although the translators of the King James Version did not have access to many of the Greek texts which seek to usurp the authority of the Traditional Text, they were very much aware of the reading. The phrase, “Isaiah the Prophet” is found in the Latin Vulgate and thus was translated into English in 1582 by the Catholic Rheims Version. “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the sonne of God. As it is written in Esay the Prophet.” However, early Protestant versions all upheld the reading of the Traditional Text as reflected in the 1539 translation of the Great Bible, “The begynnynge of the Gospell of Jesu Chryst the sonne of God, as it is written in the Prophetes.” Such variants between the Catholic and Protestant versions caused the KJV translators to declare, “. . . and all is sound for substance in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours far better than their authentic vulgar.” (Smith, 22.)

Mark 16:9-20–Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

This passage is referred to as the longer ending to Mark. Textual critics delight in proclaiming this passage as questionable and therefore either remove it from the text or separate the passage with brackets. Objecting to the passage, Kurt and Barbara Aland proclaim, “At least the shorter ending of Mark (as well as the longer ending of Mark 16:9-20) was not a part of the gospel in its original form, although both may well be from the beginning of the second century.” (Aland and Aland, 232.) Although admitting that he did not consider the passage original, Dr. Bruce Metzger leaves the maxim of modern textual critics, “Brevior lectio potior” (the shorter reading is preferable), and supported the reading. In a 1994 interview with Christian History, Metzger stated:

The earliest Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Latin manuscripts end the Gospel of Mark at 16:8: “The women said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” That does not sound like an appropriate ending for a book of good news, so some early scribes, undertaking their own research, added what they thought would be appropriate endings. . . Many translators, including myself, consider verses 9 through 20 to be a legitimate part of the New Testament. (Christian History, Interview with Dr. Bruce Metzger downloaded from Christian History Magazine on 9/17/96.)

The passage is missing from the Alexandrian texts of both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Also, the passage is omitted in minuscule 2386 (an obscure manuscript), the Syrian Sinaitic Version, and a few other translations such as some of the Georgian Versions of the fifth century. However, it is in the following uncials: A, C, D, K, X, DELTA, THETA, and PI, all of which date from between the fifth and ninth centuries. It is also contained in the later dated minuscules such as 137, 138, 1110, 1210, 1215, 1216, 1217, 1221, and 1582. Further it is the reading found in the majority of Old Latin texts as well as the Coptic Versions and other early translations.

The passage, additionally, receives enthusiastic support from many of the early Church Fathers. Irenaeus (202 AD) cites Mark 16:19 in his book, Against Heresies. He writes:

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. (Staint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:10:5.)

Ambrose (397 AD) cites Mark 16:17-18:

Therefore, it was with good reason that the Lord became a stage, so that the word of the Lord might prepare such stages for Himself; of these He says, “In my name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak in new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” Indeed they took up serpents, when His holy Apostle cast out the spiritual forces of wickedness from their hiding places in the body by breathing on them and did not feel deadly poisons. When the viper came forth from the bundle of sticks and bit Paul, the natives, seeing the viper hanging from his hand, thought he would suddenly die. But he stood unafraid; he was unaffected by the wound, and the poison was not infused into him. (Saint Ambrose, The Prayer of Job and David, 4:1:4.)

Augustine (430 AD) cites Mark 16:15 and then refers to verses 17-18. “Ye heard while the Gospel was read, Go preach the Gospel to the whole creation which is under heaven. Consequently the disciples were sent everywhere with signs and wonders to attest that what they spake, they had seen.” (Saint Augustine, Homilies On The Epistle of John To The Parthians, IV:2).

If the early Fathers did not believe in the authenticity of this passage, they wouldnot have cited it. However, we see that it is cited in the end of the second century, the end of the fourth century, and the beginning of the fifth century by orthodox Church Fathers. This, coupled with the massive support of both Greek and other manuscripts which include the passage and the limited support for removing the passage, demonstrate the dedication modern scholarship has for the Alexandrian Codices of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

Luke 2:22–And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Here the variant is small, but the difference is profuse. The Authorized Version uses the phrase, “of her purification” (Greek: kathapismou autes ). Modern versions, for the most part, read, “of their purification” (Greek: kathapismou auton). Contextually, the reading must stand as we have it in the King James Version. 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 agrees with the Levitical Law.

To offset this point, some have suggested that the “them” in the passage referred not to Mary and Jesus, but 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 “them” referred to the married couple. Agreeing with this we have the reading of the Catholic New American Bible, “When the day came to purify them according to the law of Moses, the couple brought him up to Jerusalem so that he could be presented to the Lord.” The obvious doctrinal problem with this is that under the Law of Moses, as set forth in Leviticus 12, the woman, not the husband, needed purification after giving birth. Therefore, the best contextual reading would agree with the Authorized Version, as it would support both the Old Testament Law and the actions presented in Luke’s Gospel.

In an Online debate between James White and myself, Brother White claimed Luke 2:22 was an error in the text of the King James Version. His reasoning is as follows:

First, the VAST MAJORITY of Byzantine manuscripts read “their” (auton). The Majority Text reads “their.” 99.5% of all manuscripts of this passage read “their.” There are a very small number that read “autou” (not noted by Dr. Holland, though having more support than the KJV reading), and there may be a grand total of 3 very late manuscripts that have the KJV reading, the only one we know of being 76, a minuscule text from the 14th century! That means the KJV’s reading cannot be traced anywhere earlier than the 14th century, and most feel that this is actually a conjectural emendation made by Beza as he wouldn’t have known of minuscule 76. (Downloaded from America OnLine/ Christianity Today/ King James Bible Only/ Subj: Luke 2:22/ Date: 95-08-21 22:09:17 EDT/From: Orthopodeo.)

In addition, White repeats this on his Web Site in a open letter concerning Dr. Peter S. Ruckman.

The first passage Ruckman chose to address was my citation of Luke 2:22. This passage is mentioned only twice in my book, once in a table, once in an endnote. Yet it is an excellent example of the textual problems in the Textus Receptus (TR). It also allows us to see just how much KJV Only advocates are really dedicated to the “truth” or to their own traditions. . .99.9% of all Greek manuscripts of Luke read “their”! This includes the entire Byzantine manuscript tradition, which is always called upon by KJV Only advocates as the “pure” form of the text. As Hills admits, he knows of only a few Greek minuscules and manuscript 76 that support the TR reading. Indeed, Beza was probably unaware of those sources, and simply made a “conjectural emendation,” which is a nice was of saying, “He didn’t like the way it read in all the manuscripts, so he changed it without evidence.” Let’s think about what this means. The earliest we can trace the specific reading “her” in the Greek manuscripts is to the 14th century-almost a millennium and a half after Luke wrote the passage. (James R. White, James White Responds To Dr. Ruckman, downloaded on 9/10/96 from http://net387.texas.net/ao.html.)

The statements are factually and textually incorrect. While White is accurate in stating that most of the Greek manuscripts read “of their purification,” he is incorrect in assuming that the passage was a conjectural emendation made by Beza in the late 1500s. He is incorrect in the dating of his manuscript evidence. He is incorrect in omitting evidence which supports the reading “of her.” One also cannot help but notice that his statistical data has changed from 99.5% to 99.9%m which causes us to wonder if he is simply making up the statistics or if he has any data to support the number given and if he can explain the 0.4% increase. He claims that Beza was making a conjectural emendation in his Greek text in Luke 2:22. A conjectural emendation is when a text is adjusted for one reason or another, thereby emending it. The new reading produced, which is a conjecture to replace the old reading, will therefore lack textual evidence. White is claiming the reading, “of her purification,” was simply an educated guess made by Beza without textual support. However, White has made a fundamental error. To state, “the KJV’s reading cannot be traced anywhere earlier than the 14th century,” shows a lack of understanding in the field of textual criticism and causes one to wonder how such absurd accusations can be made by one who is considered an expert in upholding the views of modern translations and their Greek texts.

The only textual support cited by White is minuscule 76 which he claims is from the fourteenth century. According to Kurt and Barbara Aland, and the United Bible Societies Greek Text, 76 comes from the twelfth century. (Aland and Aland, 141. United Bible Societies Greek Text, 2nd edition, 1968, xviii.) He also omits the textual support of 2174 which does date to the fourteenth century.

While the text is lacking Greek support, it is not lacking other textual support. The Latin Vulgate (fourth century) and later the Latin Codex Brixianus read, “et 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 more commonly “ejus,” stands in the feminine genitive singular, thus “of her.” If the Latin texts had used “eorum” (of them) the reading would have supported modern versions and White’s contention. In fact, almost all of the Old Latin Codices support the reading, with the exception of Codex Monacensis (seventh century). It is found in the Old Latin Codex Vercellensis of the fourth century, and Latin texts of the fifth century such as Codex Curiensis, Codex Veronensis, and Codex Corbeiensis II. Plus, it is found in later Latin manuscripts such as Codex Usserianus I (seventh century) and Codex Rhedigeranus (eighth century). Therefore, we see that this reading stands throughout time in the Old Latin manuscripts.

This reading is not without Greek manuscript endorsement either. Beza’s Codex D (sixth century), which is highly acclaimed among textual scholars, has the reading “autou” (of it). While the reading “autns” (of her) is preferred and is written thus in minuscules 76 and 2174, both readings stand in the genitive singular and not the plural as *”auton” (of them) does. Additionally, we find the reading, “of her purification,” in the Old Syriac version (Sinaitic, second century) and the Sahidic Coptic version (third century).

White states that Beza interjected a conjectural emendation. Metzger defines a conjectural emendation as when, “the only reading, or each of several variant readings, which the documents of a text supply is impossible or incomprehensible, the editor’s only remaining resource is to conjecture what the original reading must have been.” (Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 182.) Beza was not making a conjectural emendation in his Greek text. He was making a textual decision for he had Latin, Greek, and other translations which read “of her.”

There was, however, a conjectural emendation by Beza in his Latin text. Beza’s New Testament had three running columns side by side. The first was his Greek text, the second his Latin translation, and the third the Latin Vulgate. Additionally, at the bottom of each page he made textual and doctrinal notes. His Latin translation reads, “Et quum impleti fuissent dies purgationis Mariae” (And when the days of Mary’s pruification were fulfilled). Beza states that his conjectural emendation of “Mary” instead of “her” is proper based on the Levitical Law. He further states in a footnote that the reading “of them” is improper and distorts the sense of scripture. Beza notes,

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 actual 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 Nouum Foedus Iesu Christi, 1589. Translated into English from the Latin footnote.)

Both Tyndale and the Great Bible have the reading as we find it in the majority of Greek manuscripts. Tyndale reads, “And when the tyme of their purificacion (after the lawe of Moyses) was come.” However, the Geneva and Bishops’ Bibles read “her purification.” Of course, the Catholic Rheims Version would also read the same, being based on the Latin Vulgate which we have already shown to support the reading of the Traditional Text here. Thus it reads, “And after the daies were fully ended of her purification according to the law of Moyses, they caried him into Hierusalem, to present him to our Lord.”

James White wrote, “Let’s think about what this means.” It means that some textual critics are willing to present partial evidence, distort information, redefine terminology, and simply make up statistical data in order to hold “to their own traditions.”

John 5:4–For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

The whole verse is retained in all the early English versions as well as the Spanish, French, Italian, and German Bibles. However, it has been omitted in modern versions by either bracketing the verse or confining it to a footnote. The passage is explanatory and sets forth the reason as to why there were those waiting near the healing waters of Bethesda.

Dr. Donald A. Carson addresses this text and offers his reason for rejecting the authenticity of the passage. “. . . when I turn to John 5:3b-4 and discover it is missing from the earliest witnesses, which constitute a wide geographical distribution indeed, I conclude it was not in the original.” (D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979], 70). Kurt and Barbara Aland resort to the “Brevior lectio potior” adage and claim that the passage was inserted later by way of a legendary account.

But in John 5:3b-4 we meet another category: expansions of the original text by various later legendary supplements developed from the account itself. From the attestation for the “shorter text” it should be clear that the expansion of the ending of verse 3 and the whole of verse 4 represents a later insertion. (Aland and Aland, 303.)

The verse is omitted in P66 (second or early third century) and P75 (third century). These Egyptian papyrus manuscripts are extremely old and therefore carry considerable weight among textual critics. However, as we have seen in past lessons and will again consider later, such papyrus are not strictly Alexandrian and often reflect independent readings, sometimes even supporting the Traditional Text. Age is not the final consideration for we must not only consider where the manuscripts have been discovered, but why they were preserved. After all, manuscripts which were greatly used would not be expected to last as long as those which were seldomly used. Further, we can expect those which were greatly used to be represented in greater number as they were copied and recopied thoughout the centuries.

Additional textual support against the verse is in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Codex C, D (which does contain 3b), and W (although added in the text later by a different scribe). There are also about three other Greek manuscripts which do not contain the verse as well as a few Latin manuscripts, including the Vulgate, and some other translations.

If we were to take Dr. Carson’s statement at face value and consider the authenticity of a verse or passage because of the amount of witnesses and the various locations of these witnesses, as well as the age of these witnesses, we would be forced to attest to the authenticity of the passage because all of these factors support the reading as found in the Traditional Text and the Authorized Version of 1611.

The passage is found in Codices A, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, DELTA, THETA, PSI and the third corrector of C. Thus the uncial evidence throughout the old world dating from the fourth to the ninth century support the verse. The Greek minuscules overwhelming support the verse as it is found in 28, 565, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1253, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, and 2148. It is also contained in the majority of Old Latin manuscripts and early translations throughout the old world.

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. II [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898], 377-379.)

The same is true of the Old Syriac. James Murdock translated the passage from the Peshitto as follows: “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).

Nor is the passage without Patristic citations. The Orthodox Study Bible informs us that

This passage, explaining the presence of the sick around the pool, is often omitted from modern English translations because it appears in none of the oldest extant Greek manuscripts. Tertullian (c. A.D. 200) is the first Latin writer, and St. John Chrysostom (c. A.D. 400) the first Greek writer, to refer to it. (The Orthodox Study Bible, 224).

Therefore we have witnesses which date to the time of P66 and P75, such as Tertullian and the Peshitto Syriac Version, as well as wide geographical and translational support, which favor the passage. Further, we see that this is the reading which is used by Bible believing Christians throughout the history of the Church.

Porque un angel descendia a cierto tiempo al estanque, y revolvia el agua; y el que primero descendia en el setanque despues del movimiento del aqua, era sano de cualquier enfermedad que tuviese.

car un ange descendait de temps en temps dans la piscine, et agitait l’eau; et celui qui y descendait le premier apres que l’eau avait ete agitee etait gueri, quelle que fut sa maladie.

Perciocche di temo in tempo un angelo scendeva nella pescina, ed intorbidava l’acqua; e il primo che vi entrava, dopo l’intorbidamento dell’ acqua, era santo, di qualunque malattia egli fosse tenuto.

Denn ein Engel suhr herab zu seiner Zeit in den Ziech, und bewegte das Wasser. Welcher nun der erste, nachdem das Wasser beweget war, hineinstieg, der ward gesund, mit welcherlei Leuche er behastet war.

English (Geneva Bible):
For an Angel went downe at a certeine season into the poole, and troubled the water, whosoever then first, after the stirring of the water, stepped in, was made whole of what soever disease he had.

John 7:53-8:11–And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Among textual critics, this passage is designated “Pericope De Adultera” and refers to the woman caught in the act of adultery. The passage has long been questioned as genuine and is omitted in a great number of manuscripts. It is, of course, removed from Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, as well as L, N, T, W, X, Y DELTA, THETA, PSI, 053, and 0141 among the uncial manuscripts. It is also missing from several of the minuscules manuscripts; 22, 33, 157, 209, 565, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1253, and 2193.

However, the passage is in numerous uncials, including Codex D (Bazae Cantabrigiensis), G, H, K, M, U, and GAMMA. Among the minuscule/cursive manuscripts it is in 28, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148, and 2174. 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, as well as in the majority of the Old Latin manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate by Jerome.

Further, the passage is cited by a number of Church Fathers. Among them are Didascalia (third century), Ambrosiaster (fourth century), Ambrose (fourth century), and is in the Apostolic Constitutions, which are the largest liturgical collections of writings from Antioch Syria in about 380 AD. Saint Augustine (430 AD) makes an astounding statement concerning the authenticity of this passage. After citing the forgiving phrase from 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! (Saint Augustine, De Conjug. Adult., II:6.).

This passage is found in all the early English versions and the major translations of the Reformation.

Acts 8:37–And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Here the testimony of this Ethiopian eunuch has been removed in modern versions and their Greek texts. The verse is omitted by the standard Alexandrian codices, as well as P45 (third century), and P74 (seventh century). It is also omitted from several of the cursive manuscripts and early versions.

However, the passage is found in Codex E (eighth century) and in several other manuscripts. Also, it is in the Old Latin manuscripts (second to fourth century) and the Vulgate of Jerome (fourth century). Still further, the passage is cited by Irenaeus (202 AD) and Cyprian (258 AD). Thus, while not in the majority of the Greek witness, it does have both early and wide range support.

James White objects to the passage by claiming that it was introduced by Erasmus taking the reading from Jerome’s Vulgate.

Acts chapters 8 and 9 are also rather expanded in the TR due to material brought over from the Vulgate. If one looks up Acts 8:37 . . . in the NIV, one will not find such a verse (outside of the textual footnote, that is). The reason is the verse is found in only a very few Greek manuscripts, none earlier than the sixth century, and Erasmus inserted it due to its presence in the Vulgate and in the margin of one Greek manuscript in his possession. (White, The King James Only Controversy, 66.)

True, the passage in question appears in the Latin Vulgate of Jerome. However, it also appears in all the Old Latin manuscripts which pre-date the Vulgate. And, as already stated, Irenaeus cites it in his thesis Against Heresies (3:12:8). Dr. Bruce Metzger sees the citation by Erasmus in a different light and cites Erasmus himself on this issue.

Although the passage does not appear in the late medieval manuscript on which Erasmus chiefly depended for his edition (ms. 2), it stands in the margin of another (ms. 4), from which he inserted it into his text because he, “judged that it had been omitted by the carelessness of scribes (arbitror omissum librariorum incuria).” (Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, 360.)

It appears in all the early English Versions and all the authoritative/standard versions of the Reformation.

Romans 8:1–There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This verse is called into question because of the phrase,”who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The same phrase appears in verse 4. Scholarship has labeled this a scribal error. Scribal errors fall into a variety of categories, such as omissions, false recollection, confusion of letters, and insertions. Some others are a little more technical, such as the following. Haplography: The omission of one of a pair of letters or group of letters. Homoeoteleuton: Sometimes a text has the some phrase or words. Homoeoteleuton is when a scribe skips over a portion of the text and omits what is between the two like phrases. Dittography: The repetition of a letter, syllable, word, or phrase. The passage in Romans 8:1 is listed as a dittography scribal error by naturalistic Biblical scholars.

Scribal errors do occur as seen in the large amount of variances within the textual witnesses. There is, however, another perspective which modern scholarship fails to reconcile. While we live in the natural world, there is also a spiritual world which rages an ongoing battle around us (Ephesians 6:10-12). There is a spiritual force which seeks perversion and brings corruption to the texts. Advantageously, there is also a Spiritual Force which seeks purity and brings preservation to His Holy words. While we can expect natural corruption of the text because of human error, we can also expect corruption of the text because of the powers of darkness. And yet, we have the promise of God to keep and preserve His words and therefore we are assured of His success.

The passage in Romans 8:1 is by no means a scribal error (unless one inadvertly omitted the Biblical phrase). Instead, we must conclude upon both the textual promise of God concerning preservation and the contextual passage itself that the passage is genuine and has only been omitted by those forces which seek to pervert and not preserve. Having said this, let us look at both the textual evidence for the passage and the contextual importance of the phrase.

The Greek phrase, “ue kata sarka peripatousin alla kata pneuma” (who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.) is supported by a number of minuscules. 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. In fact, according to the United Bible Societies Greek Text, among the minuscule witness, only minuscules 1739 (tenth century) and 1881 (fourteenth century) support the reading which omits the phrase. The standard Alexandrian uncials also omit the phrase from verse one. But it is included in Codex K (ninth century), Codex P (ninth century), and stands in the corrected margin of both Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century) and Codex Claromontanus (sixth century). Also, it is included in the Latin Vulgate (fourth century), “nihil ergo nunc damnationis est his qui sunt in christo iesu qui non secundum carnem ambulant”, and the Old Syriac Peshitto (second century). 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: “Unhapply 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.” (Staint Basil, “Concerning Baptism,” in The Fathers Of The Church: Saint Basil Ascetical Works, “trans.” Sister M. Monica Wagner, vol. 9 [New York: Fathers Of The Church, Inc., 1950], 343.)

It therefore comes as no surprise that the whole verse is found in the authoritative/standard foreign versions which underlined the Authorized Version in 1611. Nor is it a surprise to find it in all early English versions. The Bishops’ Bible reads, “There is then no damnation to them which are in Christ Jesu, which walke not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Likewise, Tyndale’s New Testament, and the Great Bible use the word “damnation.” However, the Geneva Bible agrees with the King James and uses the English word “condemnation.”

Theologically, the omission of the last half of the verse carries a doctrinal error. To say that there is no condemnation whatsoever of any who are in Christ Jesus is to overlook the whole of scripture. In fact, we are told that it is very possible for those who are in Christ to suffer condemnation. If the Believer is walking, not after the Spirit but after the flesh, his or her works are nothing but wood, hay, and stubble. If the Believer is walking after the Spirit, and not after the flesh, his or her works are gold, silver, and precious stones. (1 Corinthians 3:12). Everyone’s works will be tried 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).

The context of Romans chapter 8, verses 4-10, also teaches us that faithful Christians are to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. This has to do with our Christian living. The Christian is in a constant battle between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:16-18). There is no condemnation for the Believer who is following the Holy Spirit. However, there is condemnation for those who do not follow the leading of the Spirit, but seek to follow their own flesh.

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. “For if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1 John 3:20-21). Not only is there a judgment for Believers who stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-10) where their works will either be approved or disapproved (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). But there also can be a judgment on the Believer here which may cost them their very life if they continue in sin (Acts 5:1-10; 1 John 5:16). So, Biblically speaking, there is condemnation to those who walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit.

The use of this verse among the Reformers, as it stands in the Traditional Text, may be illustrated by citing John Calvin. In his commentary on Romans, Calvin writes of verse one:

“There is then, &c.” After having described the contest which the godly have perpetually with their won flesh, he returns to the consolation, which was very needful for them, and which he had before mentioned; and it was this,–That though they were still beset by sin, they were yet exempt from the power of death, and from every curse, provided they lived not in the flesh but in the Spirit . . . “After the Spirit.” Those who walk after the Spirit are not such as have wholly put off all the emotions of the flesh, so that their whole life is redolent with nothing but celestial perfection; but they are those who sedulously labour to subdue and mortify the flesh, so that the love of true religion seems to reign in them. (John Calvin, Commentaries On The Epistle Of Paul The Apostle To The Romans, “trans.” John Owen [1536; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947], 275-276.)

Ephesians 3:9–And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

The Textus Receptus uses the Greek word, “koinonia” (fellowship). However, almost all Greek manuscripts of this passage use the Greek word, “oikonomia” (dispensation or stewardship). To this, James White states,

We have already noted the fact that the TR has a very unusual reading of “fellowship,” found only in the margin of minuscule manuscript 31 and a few other very late manuscripts, rather than the reading of all uncials, 99% of the minuscules, and all the early Fathers, which have “administration.” (White, King James Only Controversy, 179.)

Although we may have cause to question the statistical information provided, White is correct in stating that almost all of the Greek manuscripts and Church Fathers used the word “oikonomia” (administration). However, in addition to the minuscule manuscript 31, we may also add minuscule 57 (twelfth century) as using the word “koinonia” (fellowship). Additionally, Metzger notes that, “a few other minuscules,” contain the Greek word “koinonia.” (Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1968], 603.). Thus there are at least three or four Greek manuscripts which have the Greek word “koinonia.” In favor of the Greek word “oikonomia,” we have P46, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and the correctors of Codices D, G, K, L, and P. Among the minuscules 17, 37, and 47 support the use of “oikonomia” instead of “koinonia.”

Early English versions, being based on the Textus Receptus of the Reformation, used the Greek word “koinonia” and thus the English word “fellowship.” The much beloved Geneva Bible reads, “And to make cleare unto all men what the felowship of the mysterie is, which from the beginning of the worlde hathe bene hid in God, who hathe created all things by Jesus Christ.”

“Oikonomia” is translated as “stewardship,” “administration,” and “dispensation” in various modern versions in Ephesians 3:9. On the other hand the word, “koinonia” is translated as “fellowship” (Acts 2:42), “communion” (2 Corinthians 6:14), *contribution* (Romans 15:26), and *distribution* (2 Corinthians 9:13) in the Authorized Version. There is a commonity here among these English words, and even among the two Greek words, for all of them reflect one who gives what he is a part of.

Dr. A. W. Thorold (Lord Bishop of Rochester) noted this in 1882. Commenting on Ephesians 3:9 he writes, ” ‘Fellowship.’ or, dispensation, in making Gentiles fellow-heirs with the Jews.” (A. W. Thorold, “The Epistle to the Ephesians,” in Commentary On The New Testament, vol. 2 [London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1882].) John Locke tied “fellowship,” “communication,” and “dispensation” together in 1707. Locke cites the Authorized Version’s reading of “fellowship” and then uses the meaning of “communicated” in his own paraphrase.

Tis h koinonia, What is the Communication, i.e. that they may have light from me, to see and look into the Reason and Ground of the Discovery or Communication of this Mystery to them now by Jesus Christ, who is now exhibited to the World, into whose hands God has put the Management of this whole Dispensation. (John Locke, A Paraphrase And Notes On The Epistles Of St. Paul To The Galatians, 1 And 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians, Arthur W. Wainwright ed., vol. 2 [1707; reprint, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1987], 640-641.)

Further, Dr. G. W. H. Lampe demonstrates that among the writings of the early Church Fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Clement, “koinonia” carried the meaning of distribution and imparting. (G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon [Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1961], 764.) Still further, the English word “fellowship” carries this same meaning which demonstrates a mutual sharing. Thus, the Greek words and all the English words reflect the meaning of giving what we are partakers of, which is the meaning of the passage in Ephesians 3:9.

In light of the definition, the use of the words, and the textual support, it seems rather ridiculous to cite this passage as an example of errata in the King James Bible. This passage can hardly be compared to places in modern editions where the Traditional Text is rejected and whole verses are missing or the context is completely changed.

Ephesians 3:14–For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The Authorized Version is criticized on this verse by textual critics because the phrase, “of our Lord Jesus Christ” lacks Greek support among the early manuscripts. It is true that the phrase is missing from P46 (200 AD), Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Codices A, B, C and P. It is also missing from the cursives 33, 81, 1739, 1962, 2127, and 2492. Oddly, it does appear in the corrector (c) of Codex Sinaiticus, which contains many additions and corrections in its margins. It is also in D, G, K, and PSI. Among the cursives it is found in 88, 104, 181, 326, 330, 436, 451, 614, 629, 630, 1241, 1877, 1881, 1984, 1985, and 2495.

It is also found in the Old Latin and other early translations. The Syriac Peshitto Version (which has been dated as early as the second century and as late as the fifth century) reads, “And I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.” The reading is also found in the Old Gothic Version of the fourth century and the Old Armenian Version of about the same time.

It is cited by Ambrosiaster (fourth century), Victorinus of Rome (362 AD), Ephraem (373 AD), Chrysostom (407 AD), Theodore (428 AD), Theodoret (466 AD), John of Damascus (749 AD), and Photius (895 AD), showing that the reading has survived the onslaught of time.

Saint Basil (379 AD) founded the monastic system, put his faith into practice by beginning what was an early form of hospice care for terminally ill patients, and firmly believed that water baptism should follow only after conversion. In his thesis on the subject of baptism, he cites Ephesians 3:14:

In these and other passages of the kind, then, the Lord says that they who are born of the Spirit become spirit. The Apostle again testifies to the same truth when he says: “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man.” And if, living in the Spirit, we also walk in the Spirit, thus becoming receptive of the Holy Spirit, we shall be enabled to confess Christ; because, “no man can say the Lord Jesus but by the Holy Ghost.” (Saint Basil, 377-378.)

1 John 5:7–For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

The passage is called the Johannine Comma. It is not found in the majority of Greek manuscripts and is limited to few late manuscripts in Greek. For this reason, modern versions do not contain the verse. However, it should be remembered that there are not a large number of Greek manuscripts containing 1 John. Our final authority for this verse, or any other verse, does not rest in the hands of textual critics or the number of manuscripts, but in the promise of God to keep and preserve His words.

The Comma did not appear in the first two editions of Erasmus’ Receptus but was added to his third. Some have stated that Erasmus added the Comma reluctantly. Erasmus had been criticized for his earlier editions which did not contain the passage. Metzger writes, “In an unguarded moment Erasmus promised that he would insert the Comman Johanneum, as it is called, in future editions if a single Greek manuscript could be found that contained the passage. At length such a copy was found–or was made to order!” (Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 101.) This statement, however, is in question. Others have shown that Erasmus did not add the verse aversly, but was in fact searching for a Greek text which supported what was already in the Old Latin texts.(Donald L. Brake indicates this in his thesis presented to Dallas Theological Seminary and reprinted in the book Counterfeit Or Genuine, edited by Dr. David Otis Fuller [Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publication, 1978], 205. This is futher verified by both Dr. Fuller and by Dr. Edward F. Hills in his book The King James Version Defended, 209.)

The first Greek manuscript found which contained the verse was minuscule 61 which dates to the late fifteenth century. However, three other Greek minuscules contain the verse, 88 (twelfth century), 629 (fourteenth century), and 635 (eleventh century). It is, nonetheless, supported by the Old Latin manuscripts which read, “Quoniam tres sunt, gui testimonium dant in coelo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra: Spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis: et hi tres unum sunt.” (verses 7-8). This Latin wording (which matches the English of the KJV) is important because of the like wording made by Cyprian (250 AD). Cyprian writes >>Dicit Dominus: ‘Ego et Pater unum sumus,’ et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu sancto scriptum est: ‘Et tres unim sunt.'<< (The Lord says, “I and the Father are One,” and again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost it is written: “And the three are One.”). Thus we see that the reading is found not only in the Old Latin manuscripts, but was also cited by Cyprian sometime before 250 AD. All of which disproves the popular myth that the reading is without textual support until sometime in the fifthteenth or sixteenth century.

Porque tres son los que dan testimonio en el cielo, el Padre, el Verbo, y el Espiritu Santo; y estos tres son uno. (1 Juan 5:7)

(For ther are thre which beare recorde in heaven, the father, the worde, and the wholy goost. And these thre are one). (1 John 5:7)

Bishops’ Bible:
For there are three which beare record in heaven, The Father, the Word, and the Holy ghost, and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

Revelation 5:14–And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Dr. Jack Lewis states, “The phrase, ‘Him that liveth for ever and ever’ has no known Greek manuscript support.” (Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982], 43.) However, James R. White notes, “This addition is found in only three suspect Greek manuscripts, . . .” (White, The King James Only Controversy, 66.) Although White does not speak favorably of these Greek manuscripts, he is correct in citing them as supportive of the passage.

Further, it should also be noted that the Revelation does not have as many Greek witnesses as other New Testament books do. For example, among the uncial manuscripts there are only three which contain the entire text and three others which contain the majority of the Revelation. Other uncial manuscripts contain only a chapter or two, and these are not complete chapters. Among the papyri, only five contain some part of Revelation. Most of these are fragmentary. But in the economy of textual thought among modern versions, it is a nil point. To the modern critic, it would not matter if all the Greek manuscripts had the phrase as long the Sinaiticus did not contain it, or if it was missing from one of the African papyri. These manuscripts take precedence over the promise of Biblical preservation according to the views of modern scholarship.

As shown by Dr. H. C. Hoskier, the reading is supported by 57, 137 and 141. (H. C. Hoskier, Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse [London: Quaritch, 1929] vol. 1, 474-477 and vol. 2, 454 and 634.) In addition to the Latin text, the longer ending is cited by Primasius, Bishop of Hadrumetum (552 AD ) in his commentary on the Revelation. (Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament [Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1874], vol. 4, 611.) This work is important because it draws from the lost work of Tyconius (as does the work of Beatus, see comments on Rev. 16:5), and that the text used is that of the Old Latin which pre-dates Jerome’s Vulgate. (Berthold Altaner, Patrology [New York: Herder and Herder, 1960] trans. by Hilda Graef. 590.)

Douay-Rheims Version:
And the four living creatures said: Amen. And the four and twenty ancients fell down on their faces, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever.

And the, iiii, bestes sayd: Amen And the xxiiii. elders fell upon their faces, and worshipped him that liveth for ever more.

Revelation 16:5–And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

The question arises concerning the Trinitarian phrase, “which art, and wast, and shalt be.” Modern versions read, “which is, and was, the Holy One.” Dr. Edward Hills has correctly cited passage as a conjectural emendation (Hills, 208). Bruce Metzger defines this term as,

The classical method of textual criticism . . . If the only reading, or each of several variant readings, which the documents of a text supply is impossible or incomprehensible, the editor’s only remaining resource is to conjecture what the original reading must have been.

A typical emendation involves the removal of an anomaly. It must not be overlooked, however, that though some anomalies are the result of corruption in the transmission of the text, other anomalies may have been either intended or tolerated by the author himself. Before resorting to conjectural emendation, therefore, the critic must be so thoroughly acquainted with the style and thought of his author that he cannot but judge a certain anomaly to be foreign to the author’s intention. (Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 182.)

From this, we learn the following. 1). Conjectural emendation is a classical method of textual criticism often used in every translation or Greek text when there is question about the authenticity of a particular passage of scripture. 2). There should be more than one variant in the passage in question. 3). The variant in question contextually should fit and should be in agreement with the style of the writer.

Such is the case here. First of all, to change the Trinitarian phraseology (which is used in Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:3; and 11:17) does break the sense of the passage and is inconsistent with the phrase used elsewhere by John. Furthermore, the addition of “Holy One” is awkward and is repetitive of the use of the phrase “Thou art righteous, O Lord.”

Secondly, there are some textual variances among the changes made. The Greek text of Beza reads, “o on, kai o en, kai o esomenos” (who is, and was, and shall be). It should be pointed out that among the Greek manuscripts the reading is different. Most of them read, “o on, kai o en, o osios” (who is, and was, the Holy one). The oldest Greek text of Revelation containing this passage, which is P47, has a textual variant. This Greek text reads, “o on kai, o en, kai osios” (who is, and was, and Holy one). It is interesting to note that while the actual manuscript itself uses both “kai” and “osios,” and that only the word “osios” will fit, the text is rather worn here leaving the other words in the passage mostly unscathed.

Thirdly, P47 is not the only Greek text which is worn here. In fact, while P47 is slightly worn, the Greek text which Beza used was greatly worn. This is so noted by Beza himself in his footnote on Revelation 16:5 as he gives reason for his conjectural emendation:

“And shall be”: The usual publication is “holy one,” which shows a division, contrary to the whole phrase which is foolish, distorting what is put forth in scripture. The Vulgate, however, whether it is articulately correct or not, is not proper in making the change to “holy,” since a section (of the text) has worn away the part after “and,” which would be absolutely necessary in connecting “righteous” and “holy one.” But with John there remains a completeness where the name of Jehovah (the Lord) is used, just as we have said before, 1:4; he always uses the three closely together, therefore it is certainly “and shall be,” for why would he pass over it in this place? And so without doubting the genuine writing in this ancient manuscript, I faithfully restored in the good book what was certainly there, “shall be.” So why not truthfully, with good reason, write “which is to come” as before in four other places, namely 1:4 and 8; likewise in 4:3 and 11:17, because the point is the just Christ shall come away from there and bring them into being: in this way he will in fact appear setting in judgment and exercising his just and eternal decrees. (Theodore Beza, Nouum Sive Nouum Foedus Iesu Christi, 1589. Translated into English from the Latin footnote.)

In addition to the Greek manuscript witnesses (which in this passage are few, as we have already noted), early translations should be considered. Again, the weight of the evidence falls on the side of “holy” and not “and shall be.” Most translations, such as the Latin, omit the “and” using only “holy” (the Latin word is “sanctus”). Primasius, Bishop of Hadrumetum, wrote a commentary on Revelation around 552 AD and used the Latin word “pius” instead of “sanctus.” They mean the same, but it does reveal yet another variance in the text. This, of course, brings us to yet another group of witnesses: Patristic citations.

Two things should be stated before continuing. One, as confirmed by Jerome, there were a number of various Latin editions of the New Testament which differed in both translation and content before and around 405 AD (when Jerome finished his Vulgate). Most of these we do not have. Two, as pointed out by Dr. John Wordsworth (who edited and footnoted a three volume critical edition of the New Testament in Latin) the like phrase in Revelation 1:4 “which is, and which was, and which is to come;” sometimes is rendered in Latin as “qui est et qui fuisti et futurus es” instead of the Vulgate “qui est et qui erat et qui uenturus est.” (John Wordsworth, Nouum Testamentum Latine, vol.3, 422 and 424.)

Wordsworth also points out that in Revelation 16:5, Beatus of Liebana (who compiled a commentary on the book of Revelation) uses the Latin phrase “qui fuisti et futures es.” This gives some additional evidence for the Greek reading by Beza (although he apparently drew his conclusion for other reasons). Beatus compiled his commentary in 786 AD. Furthermore, Beatus was not writing his own commentary. Instead he was making a compilation and thus preserving the work of Tyconius, who wrote his commentary on Revelation around 380 AD (Aland and Aland, 211 and 216. Altaner, 437. Wordsword, 533.). So, it would seem that as early as 786, and possibly even as early as 380, their was an Old Latin text which read as Beza’s Greek text does.

It should be noted that none of the early English versions, nor the foreign translations, read as does the Authorized Version. However, they do not read as most modern versions do either. Instead they read somewhere in between using both the “and” with “holy.” The New King James Version follows the reading of the Authorized Version.

New American Standard Version:
And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things.

The Great Bible:
And I herde an Angell saye: Lorde, whych arte and wast, thou arte ryghteous and holy, because thou hast geven soche judgementes.

Bishops’ Bible:
And I heard the Angel of the waters say, Lorde, which art, and was, thou art righteous and that holy one, because thou hast given such judgements:

Luther’s German Bible:
Und ich horte den Angel der Wasser sagen: herr, du bist gerecht, der da ist und der da war, und heilig, dab du solches geurteilt hast

Italian Bible:
Ed io udii L’angelo delle acque, che diceva: Tu sei giusto, O Signore, che sei, e che eri, che sei il Santo, d’aver fatti questi giudicii.

New King James Version:
And I heard the angel of the waters saying: ‘You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things.

Rev. 22:19–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, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The objection here is cited by Dr. Jack Lewis, “No known Greek manuscript reads ‘book of life’ in Revelation 22:19; the manuscripts have ‘tree of life.’ ” (Lewis, 43.). Lewis is correct in asserting that the majority of Greek manuscripts read “tree of life” instead of “book of life.” However, he is incorrect in stating that there are no known Greek manuscripts which read “book of life.” It is found in the Greek manuscripts noted by H. C. Hoskier as 57 and 141. Nor is Lewis correct in assuming that there is no other textual evidence for the reading.

The Latin reads, “et si quis diminuerit de uerbis libri prophetiae huius auferet deus partem eius de ligno uitae et de ciuitate sancta et de his quae scripta sunt in libro isto.” The word “libri” means “book” and is where we derive our English word “library.” This is true of not only the Vulgate, but also of Codex Fuldensis (sixth century); Codex Karolinus (ninth century); Codex Oxoniensis (tweth to thirteenth century); Codex Ulmensis (ninth century); Codex Uallicellanus (ninth century); Codex Sarisburiensis (thirteenth century); and the corrector of Codex Parisinus (ninth century). It is also the reading of the Old Bohairic Coptic Version. Further, it is supported by Saint Ambrose (340-397 AD), by Bachiarius (late fourth century), and by Primasius in his commentary on Revelation (552 AD).

Geneva Bible:
And if any man shal diminish of the wordes of the boke of this prophecie, God shal take away his parte out of the Boke of life, and out of the holie citie, and from those things which are writen in his boke.

Y si alguno quitare de las palabras del libro de esta profecia, Dios quitara su parte del libro de la vida, y de la santa ciudad, y de las cosas que estan escritas en este libro.

Perhaps we should consider these words and their meaning. Scholarship is a noble and honorable carrier. However, it ceases to be both when it seeks to userp the authority of the Lord God in the keeping of His words by carelessly correcting what He has preserved. The final Scholar and Critic is God Himself. Certainly one should take note of His textual choices. Or else, by correcting His word, one could find himself the omission from the Text.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

Lesson Nine: The Dead Sea Scrolls

Lesson Nine: The Dead Sea Scrolls

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men:
for ye neither go in yourselves,
neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

(Matthew 23:13)

Jesus spoke many fiery words to the scribes and scholars of His day for not believing and practicing the things they wrote. They “shut up the kingdom of heaven” and thus shut themselves out of it. They wrote of the Messiah and yet they did not recognize Him when He was among them. They rejected their King, His Kingdom, and crucified the Lord of Glory. They copied the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament with all of its books. They also copied other ancient writings which they considered either important or holy such as: Jewish history and philosophy, instructions in how to live a godly and righteous life, concerns of the day, and hopes for the future. They were ever writing, ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.

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 both the media and students of the Bible and archaeology. Like sheep desiring water, a Bedouin shepherd had lead a thirsty world to the most acclaimed finding in the twentieth-century, the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Many claims have been made about 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 kind. 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 which are both sweet and bitter. At least five hundred different scribes were responsible for writing the Dead Sea Scrolls (see Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls? by Norman Golb. Scribner Publishers, 1995. p.154.). Most are dated before the time of Christ, while some are dated during and after Christ. One cannot but wonder if any of the writers of the scrolls heard the message of Jesus Christ and His condemnation for not practicing what they had copied. 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.


The scrolls have found their way into the literature of those who support the Traditional Text and the Authorized Version. Dr. Edward F. Hills devotes three pages of his book, The King James Version Defended, to the Dead Sea Scrolls. After correctly stating that the scrolls do not always agree with themselves, he writes:

Thus we see that, despite the new discoveries, our confidence in the trustworthiness of the Old Testament text must rest on some more solid foundation than the opinions of naturalistic scholars. For as the Qumran studies demonstrate, these scholars disagree with one another. What one scholar grants another takes away. Instead of depending on such inconstant allies, Bible-believing Christians should develop their own type of Old Testament textual criticism, a textual criticism which takes its stand on the teachings of the Old Testament itself and views the evidence in the light of these teachings. Such a believing textual criticism leads us to full confidence in the Masoretic (Traditional) Hebrew text which was preserved by the divinely appointed Old Testament priesthood and the scribes and scholars grouped around it. (p. 102).

Giving claim that the scrolls were produced by the Essenes, a strict Jewish sect, Dr. Donald A. Waite writes,

[The Essenes] left the Jewish beliefs their fathers had. They were an offshoot and a false, heretical cult. There are two reasons for questioning these Dead Sea Scrolls where they might differ with the Masoretic Hebrew text: (1) They might have had corrupt Hebrew texts that they began with, at least in some places; (2) They might have been careless in the transmission of these texts. These are both unknown, hence, they should never be used to replace the Masoretic Hebrew text. (Defending the King James Bible, p.30)

When asked, “Do the Dead Sea Scrolls render the King James Bible obsolete?” Dr. Samuel C. Gipp responds with,”No, they support it.” He then expands his response:

Their text actually agrees with the King James Bible. This fact makes them unattractive to scholars desiring to overthrow the perfect Bible. So, other than commenting on the irony of the way in which they were found, they are largely ignored. The translators of the King James Bible did not need the Dead Sea Scrolls since they already had the Textus Receptus which they match. (The Answer Book: A Helpful Handbook for Christians. Shelbyville, TN: Bible and Literature Missionary Foundation. 1989. p.102)

The fact that information about the scrolls is somewhat concise and limited is to be expected when examining the issue of the King James Bible. The same may be said of most studies provided by supporters of modern versions against the Traditional Text. The primary reason for this is that, for the most part, the Dead Sea Scrolls do not deal with the issue of New Testament textual criticism. The Bible believing scholars mentioned above are dealing with the issues of reconstructing the text of the New Testament as it affects the Biblical promise of preservation. However, supporters of the Traditional Text do mention the affects of the scrolls, as do the supporters of the Alexandrian Text. Since there is a general interest concerning the scrolls, and because a study of the scrolls can reveal both the method and motives of modern scholarship, it becomes appropriate to discuss these ancient manuscripts.


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 wondered off 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 braking. Calling one of his friends, he entered the cave and found ancient manuscripts laying in the cave, hidden in primitive jars. Thus was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

However, this story is not written in stone. There are other versions concerning Muhammad adh-Dhib and his amazing discovery. Another 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 and his friend were seeking shelter from a storm in the cave when they came across the manuscripts. There is also the story which says that the shepherd, along with a few of his friends, were smuggling goods from Jordan to Bethlehem when they happened to come upon the scrolls.

Regardless of 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 I 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. These scrolls and fragments are considered by scholars as the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.

Cave I 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 by the majority of scholars. However, at the time Qumran was thought of as an old fortress.

Three of the scrolls were taken to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem by Dr. Eliezer Sukenik. The other scrolls were sold to St. Mark’s, a Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, where the church’s head, called the Metropolitan, retained them. The Metropolitan, Mar 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 London’s, The Times, 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. (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, p.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 a 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, a difficult chapter in Middle Eastern history. By the time the knowledge of the scrolls was known, the state of Israel was being formed, and war raged in the Middle East. Despite this unsettling interval, the Bedouins continued to search the region and discovered additional scrolls. Eventually, eleven caves were excavated and thousands of fragments were discovered. Throughout the years these scrolls and scroll fragments have been published and translated. Many of the manuscripts remained unpublished until the early 1990’s.

Dating the scrolls has always been a problem. Not all scholars agree on the exact date. 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 fix the date of the scrolls. Paleography, the science of dating manuscripts by the shape of letters used in writing, also accounts for the dates of the scrolls. Carbon-14 dating was used on the cloth which 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 the scrolls to be destroyed. However, Carbon-14 dating methods have improved and now only a small fragment is needed in this process. An article in the Biblical Archaeology Review has shown that the dates fixed by paleography have been confirmed by Carbon-14 dating (see BAR, November/December, 1991. p.72). For the most part, Carbon-14 dating was exactly the same as the paleography dates given to the manuscripts. It is interesting to note, however, that the Masada manuscript of Joshua, which is of the Masoretic Text, had been dated by scholars as being written somewhere around 30 AD, according to paleographic studies. However, Carbon-14 dating on the same manuscript gave it a range of 150 to 75 BC.


Some have mistakenly assumed that the Dead Sea Scrolls only contain Biblical writings. The truth is that the scrolls reflect a library scattered throughout eleven caves. Some are still in scroll form, but most are fragmentary after about 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. For example, in the most current published lists of manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls there are thirty-six manuscripts which represent the book of Psalm, making it the most represented Biblical book among the scrolls. It is followed by Deuteronomy 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 have under ten manuscripts which represent their writings. 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-forth 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 which represent the Masoretic-Traditional Text. 2) Manuscripts which represent the text of the Septuagint. 3) Manuscripts which represent the Samaritan text. However, according to Dr. Emanuel Tov (who became co-editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1991) there are two additional groups. 4) Texts which demonstrate a unique style of writing, spelling, and grammar found only at Qumran. 5) Nonaligned texts which do not show any allegiance to the four other groups. About 25% of the Biblical manuscripts found at Qumran fall into the nonaligned category. (See, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, by James C. VanderKam. Eerdmans, 1994. pp.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, as recognized by scholarship. It should be noted that the Dead Sea Scrolls were a great find in establishing the importance of the Masoretic Text as the authoritative text. Up until the finds 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 which are Masoretic. Most of the scrolls which came from Cave IV are of this textual type and represent Biblical books such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets, as well as some fragments of the Law and Historical books. Geisler and Nix state that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls have

. . .dismiss(ed) any remaining doubts about the fidelity of the Masoretic text by providing scholars with hundreds of manuscripts including almost every book of the Old Testament, which antedate the extant Masoretic manuscripts by a thousand years. The results of scholarly comparison reveal that the Masoretic text and the various text types of the Dead Sea manuscripts are substantially indentical. (A General Introduction to the Bible, p.266).

The most noted is perhaps the Isaiah Scrolls. Two scrolls containing the book of Isaiah were found in Cave I. 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 considered a major victory for both the Masoretic Text and the King James Bible. Dr. James C. VanderKam has recently pointed out that,

Once scholars had had opportunity to study the great Isaiah scroll from Cave 1 (1QIs a, copied in approximately 100 BC) and to compare it with the Masoretic Text, they were impressed with the results. Despite the fact that the Isaiah scroll was about a thousand years older than the Masoretic version of Isaiah, the two were nearly identical except for small details that rarely affected the meaning of the text (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, p. 126)

One of these minor variants referred to by VanderKam, and noted in his book, is found in Isaiah 6:3. The Masoretic Text and the King James Bible read, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” However, the St. Mark’s Isaiah text reads, “Holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory,” thus omitting the word “holy.” Nevertheless, with the exception of some places such as the one given, the Isaiah scroll is a major victory for the Masoretic Text, as stated by Dr. Mansoor,

The text is by and large the same as that of the traditional Book of Isaiah. Most of the deviations from the Masoretic text are in details of spelling and grammar, but in some instances there are very definite variant readings. . . Some of the differences between the St. Mark’s Isaiah scroll and the Masoretic text are merely mistakes in writing–omission or addition of one or more words, the confusion of words and letters, the substitution of one word for another, the transposition of words or of letters within a word, and various errors of other kinds. (The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 74-75)

And, as close as this scroll is to the Masoretic tradition, the Hebrew University’s Isaiah scroll is still closer. Again, Mansoor writes, “Unlike the St. Mark’s scroll, the Hebrew University scroll agrees closely with the Masoretic text.” (Ibid., p. 79). Dr. Ernst Wurthwein adds to this by writing,

. . . the agreement of the second Isaiah scroll (i.e. 1QIsa b.) with (the Masoretic text) is striking . . . it has been taken by some as evidence for the existence of the type of text we identify as Masoretic long before the Masoretic period. Although the text of this scroll presents very few problems in itself, it poses for us the basic and still unsolved problem of the age of the Masoretic text. (The Text of the Old Testament, p.144).

About 40% 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, “resemble the later Masoretic Text.” (VanderKam, p.143) These texts account for 25% of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thus, as one can see, among the Biblical books of Dead Sea Scrolls, 65% reflect the Traditional Text of the Old Testament.

Adding additional support to the Masoretic readings among the Dead Sea Scrolls we must also consider the 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 difference here is that these Biblical texts reflect the Masoretic Text and exclude other textual types. Dr. Menahem Mansoor wrote, “The biblical manuscripts found at Wadi Murabbaat are important in that, unlike the Qumran manuscripts, they uniformly exhibit a text coinciding with the Masoretic text.” (The Dead Sea Scrolls, Eerdmans, 1964. p.28). These manuscripts, however, are slightly younger and are believed to have been written between 132-135 AD. Concerning their content, Mansoor informs us that

Biblical fragments dating from the first and second centuries AD were found. The fragments from the Murabbaat caves provide a text identical with that of the Masoretes in the texts of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, Minor Prophets, and Psalm, whereas this is not true of the biblical texts found at Qumran. (Ibid., p. 31).

Between 1963 and 1965 additional 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. Fourteen scrolls containing Biblical texts were found which, “agree extensively with the traditional (i.e. Masoretic) Biblical texts–only in the text of Ezekiel are there a few insignificant variants.” (Ernst Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, Eerdmans; 1979. p.31). Masada is even further 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 places them before 74 AD. Yet, they reflect the Masoretic Traditional Text of the Hebrew Old Testament.

The Proto-Septuagint Text:

Only 5% of the Dead Sea Scrolls are Proto-Septuagint. These are texts written in Hebrew which reflect a reading more like the Greek Septuagint than they do the Traditional Text. For example, both the Greek Septuagint and the text of Jeremiah found at Qumran (4QJer b.) agree in omitting a healthy portion of the text. For example, in the passage from Jeremiah 10:3-11, verses 6, 7, 8, and 10 are omitted in both the Septuagint and 4QJer b. Also, as we discussed in our last lesson, the Septuagint and Qumran text (4QExod a.) agree in stating the number of the descendants of Jacob as seventy-five instead of the seventy listed in the Masoretic Text. Thus, 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). However, as we have already discussed, this can be explained by the way the family was numbered and not the text Stephen was citing.

The same is true of the passages in Deuteronomy 32:43 and Hebrews 1:6 with the phrase, “let all the angels of God worship him.” Again, both the Septuagint and the Qumran text (4QDeut q.) have the phrase, while the Traditional Text does not. Like the previous example, this has been discussed in our last lesson. It is interesting to note the comment made by Ralph Klein in his book, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: The Septuagint after Qumran. In discussing the differences found in the Qumran manuscripts, and their relation to both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text of Exodus 1:1-6, he asks, “Which reading is original, the MT or the Hebrew used by the LXX translators and at Qumran? No final answer is possible.” (p. 15). The statement is true only if we concede that the original text can only be ascertained through the process of textual criticism and not maintained by the Author of Holy Writ through Biblical preservation. It is because of this truth, Biblical preservation, that we can see additional resolutions to textual problems which seem to allude the majority of modern scholarship.

The Proto-Samaritan Text:

As with the Proto-Septuagint Textual Type of the Dead Sea Scrolls, only 5% of the manuscripts found make up what is called the Proto-Samaritan Textual Type. The Samaritan Pentateuch, as indicated by the name, consisted only 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 which agree with the text of the Septuagint over that of the Masoretic. This text also has some additions to it. Like the Masoretic Text, the copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch we have date to the Middle Ages. The findings at Qumran show that this textual type existed before 68 AD. The Proto-Samaritan text found at Qumran did not have the special additions found in the Samaritian Pentateuch.

The information concerning the various textual types found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with other findings in that area, should reveal something to the Bible-believing Christian. First, as in any library, the library at Qumran shows a diverse variation of material. Is this not to be expected? If a student were to visit my personal library, they would discover a wide variety of textual types and general information. Second, considering the wide 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 considered as authoritative. In it, we see both the handiwork and blessing of God. Third, as in the study of New Testament textual criticism, it should not surprise the Believer to see the subtle hand of the Enemy corrupting and questioning the very words of God (Genesis 3:1). Thus we are to expect additional textual types, as we have seen in the study of New Testament textual criticism, with the endorsement of scholarship over Biblical preservation.


As has been stated, only about one-fourth of the scrolls are Biblical books. In addition to various books of the Old Testament, there are also manuscripts which contain Jewish Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal texts as well as other texts. These manuscripts make up the greater bulk of the writings among the Dead Sea Scrolls, accounting for about three-fourth of all the manuscripts found at Qumran.

Apocryphal Books:

As with the Septuagint, there are within the scrolls historical and non-historical books which make up the Jewish Apocrypha. These are books which are not recognized as canonical by Jews and Protestants. Instead they are considered historical or inspirational, but not inspired. However, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church consider the Apocrypha canonical.

Only four Apocryphal books are represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The book of Tabit is represented in both Aramaic and Hebrew manuscripts. Five copies of the book have been found in Cave IV (4Q196-200) and all but one of these is written in Aramaic. The book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira) is also represented at Qumran. Fragments of this book were found in Cave II and Cave XI. Cave VII yielded a chapter from the book of Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah. All the manuscripts found in Cave VII which can be read are written in Greek. Psalm 151, which is found in the Septuagint, was included in the Psalm Scroll from Cave XI.

Pseudepigraphal Books:

Pseudepigraphal books are religious books which are not considered canonical by Protestants, Catholics, or Jews. Of these, only three which were previously known were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are the books of Enoch, Jubilees, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. In addition, new Pseudepigrapha books were discovered in the caves at Qumran. Dr. Robert Eisenman and Dr. Michael Wise have made several of these available in their book, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered.

One example would be the Joshua Apocryphon (4Q522). Although the first half of the book consists of names and places, the second half does tell of the Rock of Zion and the Davidic Kingdom in prophecy. The fragment consists of two columns and is translated as follows:

column 1

column 2

. . . and en Qeber and . . .Valley, and Bet Zippor, with . . .all the Valley of Mozza . . .and HeikhalYezed and Yapur and . . . and Mini and En Kober . . .Garim and Hedita and Oshel . . . which . . .and Ashkalon . . .[G]alil, and the two . . .and the Sharon . . .Judah, and Beer Sheba, and Baalot . . .and Qeilah and Adullam and . . .Gezer and Thamni and Gamzon and . . . Hiqqar and Qittar and Ephronim and Shakkoth . . .Bet Horon, the lower and the upper, and . . .and the Upper and the Lower Gilat.

. . .to establish there the . . .the times, for a son is about to be born to Jesse, son of Perez, son of Ju[dah] . . .the rock of Zion, and he will disposes from there all the Amorites . . .to build the House of the Lord, the God of Israel. Gold and silver . . . cedars and cypress will he bring from Lebanon to build it, and the sons of Satan . . .he will do priestly service there and a man . . .your . . . from the . . . And the Lord will establish David securely . . . [He]aven will dwell with him forever. But now, the Amorites are there, and the Canaanites . . .dwell where the Hittites, none of whom have I sought . . .from you. And the Shilonite, and the . . .I have given him as a servant . . .And now, let us establish . . .far from . . .Eleazar . . .forever, from the House . . .army . . . (Ibid., pp.91-92)

Perhaps the most noted among the new Pseudepigrapha books is the Genesis Apocryphon. This was one of the seven original scrolls discovered in 1947 in Cave I. It consists of several stories, written in Aramaic, which are based on characters found in the book of Genesis. Included are expansions on the lives of Lamech, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. Each story is told in the first person giving their personal account of events in their lives. For example, it says of Noah that he was such a wondrous child that Lamech, Noah’s father, thought his wife, Noah’s mother, had an affair with one of the fallen angels of Genesis chapter six. Lamech seeks the advice of his father, Methuselah, who seeks the counsel of his father, Enoch. The following is this story as translated from the scrolls by Dr. Geza Vermes.

. . . Behold, I thought then within my heart that conception was (due) to the Watchers and the Holy Ones . . .and to the Giants . . .and my heart was troubled within me because of this child. Then I, Lamech, approached Bathenosh [my] wife in haste and said to her, ‘ . . . by the Most High, the Great Lord, the King of all the worlds and Ruler of the Sons of Heaven, until you tell me all things truthfully, if . . . Tell me [this truthfully] and not falsely . . . by the King of all the worlds until you tell me truthfully and not falsely.’

Then Bathenosh my wife spoke to me with much heat [and] . . . and said, ‘O my brother, O my lord, remember my pleasure . . . they lying together and my soul within its body. [And I tell you] all things truthfully.’

. . . Then she mastered her anger and spoke to me saying ‘O my lord, O my [brother, remember] my pleasure! I swear to you by the Holy Great One, the King of [the heavens] . . . that this seed is yours and that [this] conception is from you. This fruit was planted by you . . . and by no stranger or Watcher or Son of Heaven . . . [Why] is your countenance thus changed and dismayed, and why is your spirit thus distressed . . .I speak to you truthfully.’

Then I, Lamech, ran to Methuselah my father, and [I told] him all these things. [And I asked him to go to Enoch] his father for he would surely learn all things from him. For he was beloved, and he shared the lot [of the angels], who taught him all things. And when Methuselah heard [my words . . . he went to] Enoch his father to learn all things truthfully from him . . .his will.

He went at once to Parwain and he found him there . . .[and] he said to Enoch his father, ‘O my father, O my lord, to whom I . . .And I say to you, lest you be angry with me because I come here . . . (The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 1962. pp.216-216)

Other Texts:

There are other texts which should be considered. One of the original seven scrolls is the Habakkuk Commentary. Other Old Testament commentaries were discovered as well. These are called peshers, a Hebrew word meaning “interpretations.” The verse is given, followed by the interpretation or commentary. The line is introduced, for the most part, with the phrase, “This refers to . . .” or “The meaning of this is . . .” The following is an example of such, as translated by Dr. Theodor H. Gaster. The pesher is based on Habakkuk 1:12-13:

‘Him hast thou appointed, O Lord, to wreak the judgment: and him has thou established, O Rock, to proffer the charge–him who has kept his vision pure, that it could not look upon perverseness.’ This refers to the fact that God will not exterminate His people by the hand of the heathen, but will place the execution of judgment on all the heathen in the hands of His elect. Moreover, it is through charges proffered by the latter that the wicked among His own people will stand condemned–that is, the people who kept His commandments only when they were in trouble. This is what the Scriptures means by the words, ‘him who has kept his vision pure that it could not look upon evil.’ The reference is to the fact that [God’s elect] did not go a-whoring after (the lusts of) their eyes during the Era of Wickedness. (The Dead Sea Scriptures in English Translation, p.251)

The Manual of Discipline was so named by Dr. Millar Burrows, who has written what has become the standard work on the Scrolls. His book is simply titled, The Dead Sea Scrolls. Dr. Burrows was one of the first to translate The Manual of Discipline. He named it such because it reminded him of a Methodist Discipline Manual. This manuscript is sometimes called The Community Rule. Dr. Geza Vermes comments on this manuscript in saying,

There are, to my knowledge, no writings in ancient Jewish sources parallel to the Community Rule, but a similar type of literature flourished among Christians between the second and fourth centuries, the so-called ‘Church Orders’ represented by the Didache, the Didascalia, the Apostolic Constitution, etc. (The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, p. 71)

The following comes from the Manual of Discipline as translated by Dr. Burrows. The passage is but a small section discussing the two spirits within man.

He created man to have dominion over the world and made for him two spirits, that he might walk by them until the appointed time of his visitation; they are the spirits of truth and of error. In the abode of light are the origins of truth, and from the source of darkness are the origins of error. In the hand of the prince of lights is dominion over all sons of righteousness; in the ways of light they walk. And in the hand of the angel of darkness is all dominion over the sons of error; and in the ways of darkness they walk. And by the angel of darkness is the straying of all the sons of righteousness, and all their sins and their iniquities and their guilt, and the transgressions of their works in his dominion, according to the mysteries of God, until his time, and all their afflictions and the appointed times of their distress in the dominion of his enmity. And all the spirits of his lot try to make the sons of light stumble; but the God of Israel and his angel of truth have helped all the sons of light. For he created the spirits of light and of darkness, and upon them he founded every work and upon their ways every service. One of the spirits God loves for all the ages of eternity, and with all its deeds he is pleased forever; as for the other, he abhors its company, and all its ways he hates forever. (The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 374)

It should be noted that the Manual of Discipline disregards the Old Testament teaching of one Messiah with two comings. Instead, its teaches there will be two Messiahs. The Dead Sea Scriptures In English Translation, p.58)

Among the scrolls are praises and hymns to God, such as the Thanksgiving Scroll. This also was one of the original seven scrolls found in 1947. The following is an example of the reading found in this scroll.

Thou art long-suffering in Thy judgements and righteous in all Thy deeds. By Thy wisdom [all things exist from] eternity, and before creating them Thou knewest their works for ever and ever. [Nothing] is done [without Thee] and nothing is known unless Thou desire it. (The Dead Sea Scrolls, p.150)

The War Scroll was originally entitled, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. The scroll contains both military and religious information. Dr. Mansoor writes,

The scroll is important for several reasons. It provides the first comprehensive data on military regulations for the Jewish armies during the late period of the Second Temple. The material also includes military and technical terms hitherto unknown. Yigael Yadin of the Hebrew University, one of the foremost authorities on the War Scroll, says that it contains, “the oldest record of Hebrew military craft that we have extant, clearer and more precise than anything on the subject by the best classical historians.”(The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 57).

The writers of the scroll saw the physical world as an example of the spiritual. They believed that all humanity was divided into one of two groups, the Sons of Light or the Sons of Darkness. They saw themselves as the Sons of Light. They believed that if they, the Sons of Light, kept the commandments and laws of God as God gave them, they would be victorious over their enemies. They believed in a future battle, which some have mistakenly assumed was Armageddon, in which men and angels would fight. The war would last for a total of forty years, with the Sabbatical years as years of rest from war. Thus, every seven years there would be a year of peace. The following is the opening to the War Scroll.

At the beginning of the undertaking of the sons of light, they shall start against the lot of the sons of darkness, the army of Belial, against the troop of Edom and Moab and the sons of Ammon, against the people of Philistia, and against the troops of the Kittem of Assyria, and with them as helpers the violators of the covenant. The sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, the exiles of the desert, shall fight against them and their forces with all their troops, when the exiles of the sons of light return from the desert of the peoples to encamp in the desert of Jerusalem. And after the battle they shall go up from there against the king of the Kittim in Egypt; and in his time he shall go forth with great wrath to fight against the kings of the north; and his wrath shall destroy and cut off the horn of their strength. That will be a time of salvation for the people of God, and a period of dominion for all the men of his lot, but eternal destruction for all the lot of Belial. And there shall be a great tumult against the sons of Japheth; and Assyria shall fall with none to help him. And the dominion of the Kittim shall come to an end, so that wickedness shall be laid low without any remnant; and there shall be no survivor of the sons of darkness. (The Dead Sea Scrolls, by Millar Burrows, p.390)

There are, of course, many other scrolls among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some will be discussed later. However, this will provide the student with information about the original seven scrolls found in Cave I.


The vast majority of scholars answer this question by stating that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. Like the Biblical groups of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Essenes were both religious and political. Some have seen the Essenes as a strict splinter group of the Pharisees.

Historian Will Durant tells us that,

The most extreme of the Jewish sects was that of the Essenes. They derived their piety from the Chasidim, their name probably from the Chaldaic *aschai* (bather), their doctrine and practice from the stream of ascetic theory and regimen circulating through the world of the last century before Christ; possibly they were influenced by Brahmanic, Buddhist, Paress, Pythagorean, and Cynic ideas that came to the crossroads of trade at Jerusalem. Numbering some 4000 in Palestine, they organized themselves into a distinct order, observed both the written and the oral Law with passionate exactitude, and lived together as almost monastic celibates tilling the soil in the oasis of Engadi amid the desert west of the Dead Sea. (The Story of Civilization: Part III, p. 537)

The Jewish philosopher Philo wrote that a group of Essenes lived west of the Dead Sea in the wilderness. Some have used this information to 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 the John was part of the Essenes sect or influenced by the strict teachings of the Essenes. However, such conclusions about John the Baptist overstep the Biblical and historical facts.

Josephus provides us some additional information about the Essenes. In his Antiquities Of The Jews, he informs us 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.” (Book XVIII: 1:5) They believed in the immortality of the soul and that rewards awaited those who lived the righteous life.

Certainly many of the writings among the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect the views and teachings of the Essenes. And the ruins found a mile away from Cave I at Qumran most certainly could have been 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 differing view is that of Dr. Norman Golb as shown in his book, Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls? Dr. Golb is a recognized Qumran scholar who believes that the scrolls are the remains of the Jewish library located in Jerusalem. He believes that these 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 claims that the city of Qumran was not the dwelling place of the Essenes, but was a fortress against the Romans. He makes a comparison between the structures at Qumran and the military rock fortress at Masada. He points out that Josephus states that the Essenes were not limited to, “a single settlement, but rather that they were found in every city of the Jews of Palestine, the settlements within the cities formed cohesive, closed communities.” (Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls? p.5)

Dr. Golb also points to evidence within the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves. One of the scrolls found, which is unique from all other scrolls, is The Copper Scroll. As the name implies, it was not written on leather, but on flatten copper plates which were riveted together to form a scroll. The scroll speaks of treasure from the Temple which was hidden so that the Romans would not pillage it. Part of the Temple treasure includes its library. In accordance with this, Golb points to the Apocrypha 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)

Golb also points out that handwriting experts have detected that 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., pp.151,153, 154).

Dr. Golb points out that his view is strongly rejected by the majority of modern scholars, and that his hypothesis has caused him to be rejected by his Colleagues as well. He is, nontheless, not alone in his view. Back in the 1950’s, Professor K. H. Rengstorf of the University of Munster in Germany had suggested that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the remains of the Jerusalem library. Although Professor Rengstrof had arrived at his conclusion years before Golb and did so with different reasons, their views still have a common centrality; the scrolls must have come from Jerusalem and not the sectarian writings of the Essenes. According to Rengstrof and Golb, the Essenes would not have had such a variety of views within their writings, being as sectarian as they were. However the library at Jerusalem would. Golb cites Rengstrof in this manner,

This would account for the mixture of leather and papyrus manuscripts; the presence of Greek and Aramaic biblical texts; . . .For if the Temple of Jerusalem had a large and important library–and this cannot be doubted–it will have contained the whole Jewish literature that existed, so far as it was obtainable, including, of course, heterodox writings. (Ibid., pp. 160-161).

I admit that I find Dr. Golb’s Jerusalem Library Theory very compelling. Dr. Golb does a wonderful job in presenting his position. His views are logical and well documented. And like Dr. Golb who has been disparaged for his view, those of us who believe in the preservation of the word of God as found in the Authorized Version have often been on the outside and found ourselves the objects of ridicule from the scholastic world. In this, I can most certainly sympathize with Dr. Golb. Despite his argumentation, I find Dr. Golb’s position intriguing because it is a point of view which stands in the face of self-assuring scholarship. However, the real truth is that we do not know who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and we may never know who did.


The Dead Sea Scrolls have been plagued with a variety of theological, textual, and personal, controversies. Such controversies have kept the Scrolls in the forefront among archaeological discoveries and tabloid news.

Extreme Interpretations:

One example of an extreme interpretation concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls can be found in the teachings of Dr. Barbara Thiering of Sidney, Australia. In her book, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness, Dr. Thiering has developed a view regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls and their meaning which not only has attracted some limited support among liberal scholars, but is an excellent example of Biblical heresy. In short, Thiering’s view is that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essenes and speak of both Jesus and John the Baptist. Further, she claims that there are hidden teachings found in the scrolls which, when applied to the New Testament, provide a completely differing interpretation than what they plainly state. The Manual of Discipline speaks of the Teacher of Righteousness and the Wicked Priest. Thiering believes that this scroll was written during the time of Christ and refers to John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. In her view, John was an Essene and is the Teacher of Righteousness. This teacher proclaimed the coming doom for the wicked generation if they did not repent and turn again to the God of Israel and a strict interpretation of the Law. His preaching was harsh and judgmental. The one called the Wicked Priest proclaimed a much easier view which differed with the staunch legalistic views of the Teacher of Righteousness. For Thiering, this Wicked Priest was Jesus Christ.

Thiering also believes that the Scrolls provide a means by which we can reinterpret the writings of the New Testament. Among the Scrolls we find Biblical commentaries, such as the one on Habakkuk. These commentaries are called peshers, or interpretations on Biblical writings. Dr. Thiering carries this to an extreme by using what she calls the pesher interpretation of the New Testament. She rereads events in the New Testament in light of the teachings of the Essenes at Qumran. Thus, the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Pesher-Method, “. . . help to demystify the colorful stories and ancient rituals which still form on integral part of Christian worship (with us) still today.” (The Riddle Of The Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries Of The Bible Unravelled, VHS, The Discovery Channel, Discovery Program Enterprises, 1990.) With this now in place, Thiering (and other scholars) dismiss the miracles of Jesus, his virgin birth, his death on the cross, and his resurrection.

Using her Pesher-Method the raising of Lazarus is reinterpreted this way. In the Essene community, when one was ostracized they were considered as dead. Some, according to Thiering, even went as far as wrapping themselves in burial cloths and laying in their own tombs, symbolically accepting their expulsion from the Qumran community. With this now in place, Thiering interprets the raising of Lazarus as an Essene who was so rejected. However, Jesus comes along and liberates his friend Lazarus by letting him know that he is not dead in the sight of God. Thus, with such scholastic heresy in place, Biblical miracles can be denied. Moreover, like most heresy, it fails to explain the facts of the passage in question. For one, there is no Biblical evidence that Lazarus was in any way part of the community of Qumran. Jesus was first informed that Lazarus was sick, and that his sickness was unto death (John 11:3,14-15). The disciples plainly understood the sickness of Lazarus to mean physical sickness because when Jesus informed them that Lazarus was sleeping (meaning dead) they said, “Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well” (vs. 12). They knew that sleep is good for those who are sick. However, Jesus referred to Lazarus being dead and so stated. Also, we must note that the sisters of Lazarus believed this death to be real and not symbolic of Qumranic rejection. When Jesus saw Mary, she said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (vs.32). And when Christ gave the command to remove the stone, Martha said, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” (vs. 39). Dr. Thiering’s theory does not display the rejection of fallen souls from the Qumran community, but only her rejection of Biblical truths.

Other examples of her method of interpreting the scrolls to redefine the New Testament, are her attacks on the virgin birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ. Claiming the scrolls teach that a holy man was considered divine, and that a woman was considered a virgin during her time of engagement, Thiering teaches that Joseph had intercourse with Mary during their engagement. Thus, her Pesher- Method teaches that Joseph is the Holy Spirit who had sex with Mary who would still be considered a virgin. At the crucifixion, she claims, that Christ was given poison and simply passed out. Later, while in the tomb, he was revived by the spices in the burial cloth and left the tomb. Thiering is not alone in her heresy here. This has long been called the “Swoon-Theory” and has been expressed by others such as Hugh Schonfield in his book, The Passover Plot, Donovan Joyce in The Jesus Scrolls, and Elaine Pagels in The Gnostic Gospels. In fact, Thiering makes use of one of the Gnostic gospels, The Gospel of Philip, which teaches that Christ did not die on the cross.

In an interview for the Discovery Channel, Dr. Thiering reveals her prejudice concerning the Gospels and her views on the Dead Sea Scrolls:

I hadn’t been at it long when I realized that there was something really very big here. Other people were realizing it at that time. It really did promise to throw new light on the origin of Christianity and that was something that always fascinated me. (The Riddle Of The Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries Of The Bible Unravelled.)

Therefore, Thiering reveals that she had approached her studies of the scrolls with an interpretation which she formed early in her studies based on a point of liberal theology which had always fascinated her–namely the disproving of revealed scripture and fundamental doctrines contained therein. Moreover, Thiering is a prime example of the Biblical heretics who are, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7). And yet, she is considered by some Qumran scholars as a leading contemporary scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Ibid.).

Other scholars associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls, or who are recognized for their scholastic abilities in regard to the study of textual criticism, have equally liberalistic views towards scripture. Speaking in support of Thiering, Dr. George Brooke of the Manchester University in England and recognized scholar in regard to the Dead Sea Scrolls, said of the virgin birth:

I think I myself side with those scholars and other Christians who would wish to assert that Jesus had a natural father. And that what is significant in the birth stories in Matthew and Luke is that the early Church believed very strongly that there was more to this birth than it just being a natural birth. And I would hold to the position that the more to this birth is very significant. Not that the human paternity of Jesus is denied, but that the divinity in all of us is encouraged. (Ibid.)

Commenting on the virgin birth and miracles in general, Dr. Matthew Black (St. Andrews University in Scotland) stated,

We are now in the realm, not of history as we understand history, we are in the realm of belief. Of pious legend, pious myths. That I think is universally recognized by scholars in this connection. And pious myths which have formed a very important part of our Christian tradition for centuries. Of which we must have every respect.(Ibid.)

The statement made by Dr. Black is extremely insightful. Not only because of our study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but because of our study of modern scholarship and textual criticism as a whole. Dr. Black refers to basic doctrines such as the virgin birth as “pious legend, pious myths.” It is this same Dr. Matthew Black (along with Kurt Aland, Bruce Metzger, Allen Wikgren, and Carlo Martini) who produced the Greek New Testament text published by the United Bible Societies. The UBS Greek text is considered the standard critical Greek text and underlines a good percentage of modern translational work, as well as carries a great deal of influence in the study of modern textual criticism.

Differing Translations:

Another controversy, which may be found in almost all works of this nature, deals with differences in translation. Not everyone translates the findings at Qumran the same way. Perhaps the most noted example comes from 4Q285. Dr. Robert Eisenman (California State University) and Dr. Michael Wise (University of Chicago) translate this fragment showing the coming Messiah as one who is wounded. The passage reads as follows in their translation:

(1). . .Isaiah the Prophet, [‘The thickets of the forest] will be fell[ed with an ace] (2) [and Lebanon shall f]all [by a mighty one.] A staff shall rise from the root of Jesse, [and a Planting from his roots will bear fruit.’] (3) . . .the Branch of David. They will enter into Judgement with. . .(4) and they will put to death the Leader of the Community, the Bran[ch of David]. . .(5) and with woundings, and the (high) priest will command. . .(6) [the sl]ai[n of the] Kitti[m]. . . (The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, Barnes & Noble Books, New York; 1992. p.29)

Both Eisenman and Wise note an alternate reading, one which shows not a wounded Messiah, but a Messiah who does the wounding. This translation is preferred by Dr. Geza Vermes (Oxford University) in his translation of the same passage:

(1) ] Isaiah the prophet: [The thickets of the forest] will be cut [down (2) with an axe and Bebanon by a majestic one will f]all. And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse [ ] (3) the Branch of David and they will enter into judgement with [ ] (4) and the Prince of the Congregation, the Bran[ch of David] will kill him [by stroke]s and by wounds. And a Priest [of renown (?)] will command [ (6) the s] lai[n] of the Kitti[m]. (Downloaded from The War Rule of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit, on 4/27/96. [http:/sunsite.unc.edu/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibit/Library/warrule.htm])

Another example of differing translations of the scrolls can be found in the study of the Teacher of Righteousness. We have already seen the extreme view, as set forth by Dr. Barbara Thiering. However the standard view among Qumran scholars is that this Teacher of Righteousness was Jonathan Maccabees, the second Maccabean brother (a theory invented by Dr. Geza Vermes). Or, perhaps, he was some other Jewish priest who was in line to become the High Priest. However, failing to become the High Priest the one who became High Priest became the Wicked Priest. Thus it is a point of politics and not theology. Dr. Theodor H. Gaster offers a different translation. In referring to the community living among the Essenes, Dr. Gaster states,

The community’s main purpose was to exemplify and promulgate the true interpretation. It based that interpretation on a kind of ‘apostolic succession,’ begun by the prophets and continued by a series of inspired leaders each of whom was known as ‘the correct expositor’ or ‘right- teacher’ (not ‘Teacher of Righteousness,’ as many scholars have rendered it)–that is, the orthodox expounder of the Word. (The Dead Sea Scriptures In English Translation. New York: Doubleday, 1956. p. 5)

He further explains that, “It may be observed that the Hebrew word for ‘teacher’ derives from the same verbal root as the word ‘Torah.’ The ‘right-teacher’ is therefore, in this context, ‘the man who expounds the Torah aright.'” (Ibid., p. 29.)

Hence, these two translations of the same Hebrew word can be reflected in deferring translations of the Scrolls. This can been seen in Dr. Gaster’s translation of the Commentary on Habakkuk and Dr. Vermes’ translation of the same passage in the Scrolls. The passage from Habakkuk 1:5 reads, “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.” The two translations are as follows:

This refers to the traitors who have aligned themselves with the man of lies. For they did not believe what he who expounded the Law aright told them on the authority of God. It refers also to those who betrayed the new covenant, for they have not kept faith with the Covenant of God, but have profaned His holy name. (Gaster, p. 249)

[Interpreted, this concerns] those who were unfaithful together with the Liar, in that they [did] not [listen to the word received by] the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God. And it concerns the unfaithful of the New [Covenant] in that they have not believed in the Covenant of God [and have profaned] His holy Name. (The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, p.236)

Releasing Unpublished Scrolls:

By the late 1980’s it was widely known that there were still a healthy portion of manuscripts among the scrolls which had not been published and hence remained untranslated. The concern was that those who were in charge of the publication of the scrolls (John Strugnell, Frank M. Cross, J. T. Milik, and Amir Drori) had been slow about releasing the unpublished manuscripts. In 1992, Dr. Emanual Tov published a list of scroll fragments which had not before been published (see Biblical Archaeologist, June, 1992. pp. 94-104). This followed the continued beseeching to release the unpublished scrolls by Hershel Shanks (editor of the Biblical Archaelolgy Review). The September 21 issue of Time magazine (pp. 56-57) also covered the concern among scholars in regard to the unpublished scrolls, thus setting into motion a vocal concern for the publication of unpublished manuscripts so that the remaining scrolls would be forthcoming. In 1992 Dr. Robert Eisenman and Dr. Michael Wise translated and published several of the fragments from Cave IV (The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered).

Believing there had been a major conspiracy by the Vatican, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh published a book entitled, The Dead Sea Scroll Deception (New York: Summit Books, 1991). The book asserts that the Vatican, or at the very least some Catholic scholars, suppressed the unpublished manuscripts because their teachings undermine the teachings of major Christian doctrine. For the authors, the evidence for this rests in the delay of publishing the remaining scrolls, and that the small group of editors who controlled the unpublished manuscripts keep careful guard over their prized posession. At the time of Baigent’s and Leigh’s book, these editors were for the most part Roman Catholic. The book claims that Roland de Vaux, a Catholic priest who assembled the editorial team which reviewed the findings in Cave IV, masterminded the conspiracy. De Vaux is said to have joined forces with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who also headed the Doctrine of the Faith for the Catholic Church. At one time in history, the Doctrine of the Faith was known as the office of the Holy Inquisition.

To add to this conspiracy theory came the charges of John Allegro, who was one of the original team members assigned to examine the texts of Cave IV in 1953. The majority of Allegro’s team either were Roman Catholic (J. T. Milik, Jean Starcky, and Patrick Skehan), or became Roman Catholic (John Strugnell) with the exception of Frank Cross (Presbyterian), Claus-Hunno Hunzinger (Lutheran), and Allegro himself (agnostic). This left Allegro the only member who was not part of organized Christendom. Allegro claimed there was evidence within the fragments of Cave IV which was damaging to Christianity and thus covered-up by the Catholic Church.

However, charges that the scrolls contain damning evidence against historic Christianity stand without merit, totally lacking any supporting documentation. So far no verification from the fragments, which have now been published, indicate such an outlandish claim. Hershel Shanks justly labeled this conspiracy theory as, “hogwash” (Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December issue, 1991. p.68). Dr. James C. VanderKam refers to the claims of Baigent and Leigh as, “a disgraceful display of yellow journalism.” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, p.198). As for the delay in publishing the remaining scrolls, when one considers the turmoil in the Middle East, the lack of funds to have the fragments published, the lack of manpower to undertake the project, and the delicate conditions of the fragments themselves, we can begin to understand why it has taken so long. Regardless of the reasons which delayed the publication of the remaining scrolls, VanderKam has corrected stated, “Now that all the scrolls are available for consultation, no one has been able to find anything damaging to Christianity or anything that the Vatican would be interested in suppressing.” (Ibid.)

With the release of the unpublished texts new charges were raised. Not from those seeking to find a conspiracy theory, but from the editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their charge was that of simple thievery. Dr. John Strugnell, who was the chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls publication team, claimed that Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, and president of the Biblical Archaeology Society, pilfered the unpublished texts and published them. Thus Strugnell asks, “What else would you call it but stealing?” (Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December, 1991. p.62).

However, Shanks defends himself by stating,

The men who were entrusted with these documents were not given title to them, although they act as if they own them. In fact, several of them have died and bequeathed their ‘publication rights’ to faithful colleagues. . . It is they who are the lawbreakers. It is they who are stealing from all of us, not we from them. (Ibid.)

These unpublished texts were “liberated” due to modern technology. In 1988 a concordance was published of all the texts of the scrolls found in Cave IV by the editors of the scrolls. Using a computer, Professors Ben-Zion Wacholder and Martin Abegg, of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati Ohio, recreated the text of the unpublished scrolls. This happened on September 4, 1991. Later that same month in California the director of the San Marino Huntington Library, William Moffett, provided a complete set of photographs of all the scrolls from Cave IV. These photographs had been furnished by Elizabeth Bechtel years before and had simply been laying around the Huntington Library for anyone to review.

John Strugnell:

Among the ups and downs which seem to have besieged the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one low point concerns Dr. John Strugnell (Harvard University). Dr. Strugnell was editor-in-chief for the Dead Sea Scrolls, and one of the original editing team members appointed in 1953. In an interview with Avi Katzman, of the Hebrew newspaper Ha-Aretz, Strugnell revealed his anti-Semitic views along with several other points of character which may be questioned by someone in such a high position. The article appeared in the Ha-Aretz on November 9, 1990 and was reprinted in the Biblical Archaeology Review, in the January/February, 1991 issue.

In the course of the interview, Dr. Strugnell stated,

Judaism is originally racist . . .it’s a folk religion; it’s not a higher religion. An anti-Judaist, that’s what I am. . .Unless someone talks to me about the subject I don’t, when I’m working on a Qumran text, think how stupid and wrong the Jews were. . .It’s (i.e. Judaism) a horrible religion. It’s a Christian heresy, and we deal with our heretics in different ways. . .I dislike Israel as an occupier of part of Jordan. And it’s quite obvious that this was part of Jordan. . .But the occupation of Jerusalem–and maybe of the whole State–is founded on a lie, or at least on a premise that cannot be sustained. (Biblical Archaeology Review, pp. 64-65)

Strugnell additionally referred to Professor Geza Vermes, who helped translate the scrolls, as “incompetent” (Ibid., p. 66). Dr. Strugnell’s personal life was also reviewed in the article, not by Avi Katzman, but by Strugnell himself.

I read [Hebrew], but speaking it requires people to speak to. In my work, people speak much better English. One way to learn a language is to have a lover who speaks it. I never had an Israeli girlfriend, though I had an Israeli mistress once, a long time ago. But we weren’t really interested in language. (Ibid., 70, 72).

In a later edition of the Review it stated that Strugnell was not only “Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant,” but was also, “An alcoholic. A manic-depressive. An anti- Semite. Rapidly anti-Israel.” (March/April issue, 1991. p. 53)

Shortly after his interview, Dr. Strugnell was removed as editor-in chief and was replaced by a trio of editors (Emanuel Tov, Eugene Ulrich, and Emile Puech). However, Dr. Strugnell was not removed from the editorial team and remained with it despite his comments and personal revelations.

As a Bible-believer, it is rather interesting to see some of these trouble spots among scholars and scholarship. Many of the views and beliefs of modern scholars are hailed and tolerated. All too often those of us who believe the Biblical teaching of preservation are ridiculed and scoffed. It is not heresy to believe in Biblical preservation, and to have a Bible which you believe is that preserved word from God. However, it is heresy to deny the miracles of scripture, the virgin birth, the death and resurrection of Christ. Still we have Qumran scholars whose heresies are endured because they are scholars. If any who believe the King James Bible lived life as some of the Qumran scholars did or do, the entire KJV movement would be condemned because of the few. It seems rather strange to me that tactics and methods used by modern scholars are tolerated, while the tactic and methods of KJV supporters are vilified. We should have more toleration for our brethren in Christ than we do for those outside who falsely malign the name of our Savior. And yet, the Church continues to support the endeavors of such scholars.


Unlike our other studies, there is very little in the Dead Sea Scrolls which can be used against the Authorized Version. In fact, because the evidence from Qumran overwhelming supports the Masoretic Hebrew Text, which underlined the Old Testament of the King James Bible, one could say that the findings at Qumran strongly favor the King James Version.

However, there are those who seek to correct the Authorized Text based on some of the findings at Qumran. As the Greek Septuagint has been used to correct the Hebrew Old Testament, so some of the findings at Qumran are likewise used to correct or question the Masoretic Text. The following are a few places where the Masoretic Text (represented by the King James Bible), and some of the Dead Sea Scrolls (represented by the New Revised Standard Version) differ. For purposes of illustration, only the books of Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel are considered. Many of the scrolls which have differences come from Cave IV, such as Q4Deut q, and Q4Sam. b. These two manuscripts are significant. Q4Deut q contains the passage from Deuteronomy 32:43 with the phrase “worship him all ye gods,” which is thought to have been used in Hebrews 1:6. Q4 Samuel b is considered one of the two oldest manuscripts from Cave IV dating somewhere around the third century BC.

(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying (Deuteronomy 5:5, KJV)

(At that time I was standing between the LORD and you to declare to you the words of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: (Deuteronomy 5:5, NRSV)

To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deuteronomy 10:13 KJV)

and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. (Deuteronomy 10:13 NRSV)

And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:1 KJV)

When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:1 NRSV)

When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8 KJV)

When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; (Deuteronomy 32:8 NRSV)

But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. (Deuteronomy 32:15 KJV)

Jacob ate his fill Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked. You grew fat, bloated, and gorged! He abandoned God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. (Deuteronomy 32:15 NRSV)

And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. (Deuteronomy 32:19 KJV)

The LORD saw it, and was jealous he spurned his sons and daughters. (Deuteronomy 32:19 NRSV)

Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 KJV)

Praise, O heavens, his people, worship him, all you god! For he will avenge the blood of his children, and take vengeance on his adversaries; he will repay those who hate him, and cleanse the land for his people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NRSV)

And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; (Deuteronomy 33:8 KJV)

And of Levi he said: Give to Levi you Thummim and your Urim to your loyal on, whom you tested at Massah, with whom you contended at the waters of Meribah; (Deuteronomy 33:8 NRSV)

And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. (1 Samuel 1:24 KJV)

When she had weaned hem, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. (1 Samuel 1:24 NRSV)

Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. (1 Samuel 1:28 KJV)

Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD. She left him there for the LORD. (1 Samuel 1:28 NRSV)

And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. (1 Samuel 2:20 KJV)

Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the LORD repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the LORD”; and then they would return to their home. (1 Samuel 2:20 NRSV)

And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? (1 Samuel 2:27 KJV)

A man of God came to Eli and said to him, ‘Thus the LORD has said, I revealed myself to the family of your ancestor in Egypt when they were slaves to the house of Pharaoh. (1 Samuel 2:27 NRSV)

And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. (1 Samuel 2:33 KJV)

The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep out his eyes and grieve his heart; all the members of your household shall die by the sword. (1 Samuel 2:33 NRSV)

They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither. And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people. (1 Samuel 5:8-10 KJV)

So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, ‘What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?’ The inhabitants of Gath replied, ‘Let the art of God be moved on to us.’ So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath. But after they had brought it to Gath, the hand of the LORD was against the city, causing a very great panic; he struck the inhabitants of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. So they sent the ark of the God of Israel to Ekron. But when the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, ‘Why have they brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people?’ (1 Samuel 5:8-10 NRSV)

And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you. (1 Samuel 6:3 KJV)

They said, ‘If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and will be ransomed; will not his hand then turn from you? (1 Samuel 6:3 NRSV)

But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace. (1 Samuel 10:27 KJV)

But some worthless fellows said, ‘How can this man save us?’ They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace. Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, hand not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh- gilead. (1 Samuel 10:27 NRSV)

Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh- gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee. (1 Samuel 11:1 KJV)

About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, ‘Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.’ (1 Samuel 11:1 NRSV)

Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. (1 Samuel 15:32 KJV)

Then Samuel said, ‘Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.’ And Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, ‘Surely this is the bitterness of death.’ (1 Samuel 15:32 NRSV)

Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. (1 Samuel 23:11 KJV)

And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant. (1 Samuel 23:11 NRSV)

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. (1 Samuel 23:14 KJV)

David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the LORD did not give him into his hand. (1 Samuel 23:14 NRSV)

And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. (1 Samuel 23:16 KJV)

Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the LORD. (1 Samuel 23:16 NRSV)

There are, of course, places where the New Revised Standard Version agrees with the King James Version in selecting the Masoretic Text over both the Qumran text and the Septuagint. For example, in 1 Samuel 17:4 both the NRSV and KJV follow the Masorectic Text in rendering Goliath’s height as six cubits. The Qumran text and the Septuagint state that Goliath’s height was four cubits. A cubit is equal to about a foot and a half (some measure it at 1 foot, 7 inches). Taking 1.6 times 6 we have 9.6, or nine and a half feet, truly a giant. The NIV recognizes this and reads, “He was over nine feet tall.” However, if we take 1.6 and multiply it by 4 we have 6.4, or a little over six feet tall. This would undoubtedly take away Goliath’s giant status and place him just slightly over the height of the average man today.

It is also interesting to note that of our twenty-one examples, the New International Version agrees with the King James and the Masoretic Text all but one time. In 1 Samuel 1:24 the NIV takes the reading of the Qumran text and footnotes it as support for its rendering here. Why the Masoretic Text is rejected in this place in favor of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint, while these documents are not incorporated into the text of the NIV in the other examples, is a mystery. It is also interesting that the NIV did not make use of Q4Sam b., while the NRSV did. This manuscript (Q4Sam b.) is considered one of the oldest manuscripts extant. Yet the translators of the NIV did not use it. This seems to be in conflict with their approach to New Testament textual criticism, where older is looked upon as better.

Despite this, the NIV (as with most other modern translations) is correct in remaining faithful to the Masoretic Text. For one, we have already seen that the findings at Qumran overwhelming support the Masoretic Text to an astounding degree. Additionally, findings at Wadi Murabbaat and Masada exclusively support the Masoretic Text. Thus proving that the established text accepted by those placed in charge of the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2) was the Traditional Hebrew Text. The fact that we have such exact copies one thousand years older than the ones used to produce the Authorized Version reveal to us the providential hand of the Almighty God in preserving His words. Secondly, it seems rather foolish to accept the findings in Cave IV as final and authoritative without knowing for certain who placed them there and why, no matter how old they are dated. There must have been a reason why the Masoretic Text not only won out so faithfully over the centuries, but also why the findings among the scrolls which differ are so few in number. Perhaps, as with all who believe in the purity of God’s word, variant manuscripts were not considered as important as the Traditional Text was.

Regardless of these reasons, we again have a case study of scholarship usurping authority over the preservation of scripture by God. Those of us who believe the King James Bible are often fallaciously asked if we had to wait until 1611 AD to have the preserved words of God. Those who have studied these lessons so far know the fallacy in such argumentation. We have shown time and again that God has kept what He promised to keep and has done so ever since He gave it. The words of the Lord were preserved before 1611 and after 1611 (Psalm 12:6-7). However, modern scholarship would not have us believe in such Biblical preservation, but instead would have us look to them as the finders and presenters of God’s holy word. Such is the case with the Dead Sea Scrolls when left to the hands of modern scholarship. Dr. James C. VanderKam writes,

The books of Samuel are represented on four copies from Qumran, . . . These copies have received extensive study because they clarify some of the complicated history that the text of 1-2 Samuel has experienced in the different traditions. (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, pp. 129-130)

In reference to the extended passage in 1 Samuel 10:27, VanderKam states,

It appears that a scribe skipped from the end of the first to the end of the second, and in this way he omitted the paragraph that came between them. One can account for the situation in other ways, but the explanation presented here seems most likely. The extra material furnishes a suitable context for understanding what Nahash proposed to do to the residents of Jabesh in Gilead. (Ibid., p. 132).

By so stating, VanderKam has provided for us the belief of modern scholars in the final authority of modern scholarship. Not only are some of the difficult places in 1 Samuel now made clear by the findings at Qumran, but what has been missing from the text for at least two-thousand years has now been restored, at least according to the thinking of modern textual critics. To which the question begs to be asked, “Did we have to wait unil 1947 to have the preserved words of God?” Or, since the NRSV is the first to included the so-called missing passage, we must have had to wait until it was published in 1989. In either case, the Qumran scholar would have us believe that for two thousand years a section of God’s word was missing. Therefore, for at least two thousand years, God’s people were without it. This, obviously, stands in direct conflict with Biblical preservation.

The problems found within the text of the Old Testament are not to be answered by textual criticism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, or modern scholarship. The problems are resolved by careful study of the scriptures themselves, as they have been presented and preserved by God. It is by comparing scripture with scripture that we find the answers to textual problems. And it is by trusting in the conservation of the scriptures by their Author that we have our final authority.

Yours in Christ Jesus,
Thomas Holland
Psalm 118:8

Lesson Eight: The Hebrew Masoretic Text and Greek Septuagint

Lesson Eight: The Hebrew Masoretic Text
and Greek Septuagint

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. (Rom. 3:1-2)

According to the Bible, the Hebrews were given charge of keeping and copying God’s word. The word oracle means revelation, prophecy, canon, or edict. It was unto the Jew, 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.” (Deut. 4:2). “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6).

The faithful Hebrew scribe took this task very seriously. Precise steps were taken by the scribes in preparing both the parchment upon which they wrote, and in preparing themselves in order to copy God’s Holy word. According to the Hebrew Talmud, the rules of the scribe 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 which 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 which the scribe had before him. And, the scribe had to say each word aloud when he wrote them.

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 were omitted, the manuscript was condemned.

7) There were explicit rules for how many letters and words allowed on any given parchment. A column must have at least 48 lines and no more than 60. Letters and words had to be spaced at a certain distance and no word could touch another.

Commenting on these rules, Dr. H.S. Miller writes, “Some of these rules may appear extreme and absurd, yet they show how sacred the Holy Word of the Old Testament was to its custodians, the Jews (Rom. 3:2), and they gave us strong encouragement to believe that we have the real Old Testament, the same on which our Lord had and which was originally given by inspiration of God.” (General Biblical Introduction, p. 185).

In his book, The Text of the Old Testament, Dr. Ernst Wurthwein writes, “This was the purpose of the scribes’ meticulous work. They counted the verses, words, and letters of the Law and other parts of the Scriptures as a procedural aid in preparing manuscripts and in checking their accuracy.” (Eerdmans Publishing, 1979, p. 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; 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 Against Apion 1:8). 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 have for Holy Scripture.

For years it had been thought that the Bible which 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, the hypothesis was that Christ did not use the Hebrew scriptures, but read from the Greek LXX. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which will be discussed in greater detail in lesson nine) it has been established that the Jews did not lose there use of Hebrew. In fact, most of their writings (both sacred and otherwise) were written in Hebrew.

Alan Millard has written the following about the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and their relation to ancient languages.

“Aramaic, Greek, Latin… was Hebrew spoken too? For years scholars believed not, or that it was restricted to religious circles, synagogue readings and prayers, and the Temple. Counting in favor of a wider knowledge is the presence of Hebrew inscriptions on the other side of Hasmonean coins. That might mean no more than Latin legends on coins of recent times–a grand style which the educated could understand. However, recent discoveries have thrown new light on the question. Books in a style of Hebrew imitating the Old Testament yet distinct from it, and some in Hebrew more like that of the Mishnah make up a larger section of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” (Discoveries From the Time of Jesus, Lion Pub., Oxford; p. 35. Professor Millard has served with the British Museum in the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities and is Rankin Reader in Hebrew and Ancient Semitic languages at the University of Liverpool).

This discovery confirms what we find in the Gospels concerning the Hebrew Old Testament used by Christ. In Matthew, Jesus proclaims; “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.” (Matt. 5:18). It is interesting that He used the words jot and tittle. In the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Dr. Homer Kent of Grace Theological Seminary writes, “Jot. Smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (yodh). Tittle. Tiny projection on certain Hebrew letters.” (p.937). The smallest part of the letters Jesus used to describe the fact that the law would not pass until all was fulfilled, were Hebrew. This would be odd if Christ were reading from a Greek Old Testament.

Further, Jesus says in Luke 11:51; “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” . This statement attests that Christ used the Hebrew canon of scripture. The order of books found in our Old Testament run from Genesis to Malachi. The Greek LXX has the same order but adds additional books (the Apocrypha). The Hebrew canon, while containing the same books as our Old Testament, places the order of the books differently. The Hebrew Bible runs from Genesis to 2 Chronicles with the minor prophets in the middle and not the end as in our Old Testament. We know that Abel was killed by his brother according to Genesis 4:8. Zacharias was killed in 2 Chronicles 24:20- 22. Thus showing the first and last to die according to the Jewish Bible. Dr. Merrill Tenney agrees by simply stating, “Able was the first martyr of the OT history. Zacharias was the last, according to the order of books in the Hebrew Bible, which, unlike the English Bible, ends with Chronicles.” (Ibid. p. 1049). With these things in mind, we can safely say the Bible of our Lord was a Hebrew Bible.

The Masoretic Text is the traditional Hebrew Old Testament text of both Judaism and Protestantism (The Catholic Church, historically, used the Latin translation of Jerome based on the Greek LXX). Masoretic comes from the word Masora which usually refers to the notes printed beside the Hebrew text by Jewish scribes and scholars.

Until recently, the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament dated from the ninth century and onward. These Hebrew manuscripts of the middle ages are in general agreement. The Biblia Hebraica by Kittel is the basic Hebrew Old Testament used by scholars and translators and is based on the Masoretic Text from this time period. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which will be discussed in our next lesson) manuscripts which date from around 168 BC to about 68 AD. Thus providing us with Hebrew manuscripts which outdate the previous manuscripts by about 1,000 years. What is interesting to the student of textual criticism and the believer in Biblical preservation, is the fact that a large number of the DSS agree with the Masoretic Text. Although there are manuscripts within the findings of the DSS which agree with the LXX and also reflect a differing Hebrew Text with a number of variants, the fact remains that we now have manuscripts dating from the time of Christ or before which agree with the Masoretic Text. This give additional credence to the preciseness and integrity of the Hebrew scribes in their accuracy of reproducing the manuscripts throughout the ages. And, most importantly, it shows the preservation of the Old Testament Text in Hebrew by God.

Dr. Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the editors of the DSS writes:

” Of similar importance are the new data about the context of the biblical scrolls, since different texts are recognizable. Some texts reflect precisely the consonantal framework of the medieval MT (Masoretic Text). Others reflect the basic framework of the MT, although their spelling is different. Still others differ in many details from the MT, while agreeing with the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch. Some texts do not agree with any previously known text at all, and should be considered independent textual traditions. Thus, the textual picture presented by the Qumran scrolls represents a textual variety that was probably typical for the period.” (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, 1993; p.160)

Norman Geisler and William Nix attest to most of the DSS reflecting the Masoretic Text. In their book, A General Introduction to the Bible, they write, ” The (Dead Sea) scrolls give an overwhelming confirmation of the fidelity of the Masoretic text.” (p. 261). They go on to cite Millar Burrows’ work, The Dead Sea Scrolls, ” It is a matter of wonder, ” states Burrows, ” that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition.'” (Ibid.). Ernst Wurthwein cites R. de Vaux as saying, ” The script is more developed, the Biblical text is definitely that of the Masora, and it must be concluded from this that the documents from Qumran (i.e. DSS) are older, earlier than the second century.” (Wurthwein, p. 31). Concerning the scrolls of Isaiah found in Cave 1 at Qumran, Wurthwein writes, ” The scrolls (1QIsa. a.) has a popular type text which supports (the Masoretic Text) essentially, but which also offers a great number of variants. . .A second Isaiah manuscripts (1QIsa. b.) is fragmentary, but stands much closer to the Masoretic text.” (Ibid. p. 32).

Fragments of Leviticus in Old Hebrew script (1QLev. a) add support to the antiquity of the Masoretic Text. These fragments cover Leviticus 19:31-34; 20:20- 23. Concerning these Wurthwein states, ” These fragments are the earliest of the Old Hebrew script written on leather. . .(only) one variant from (MT) is found in 20:21″ (Ibid. p.148). The one variant referred to by Wurthwein deals with one letter in a word, which does not change the meaning of the word. If the student has a Stong’s Exhaustive Concordance they can see for themselves the minor difference in this word. Strong list the word as #1931 in his Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary. Both forms are listed together. The Masoretic Text uses the Hebrew word hoo while the DSS uses the Hebrew word he. It is the same Hebrew word and is a personal pronoun meaning he, she, or it. The two seem to be used interchangeably throughout the Hebrew Old Testament.

Additional manuscripts have also been found which support the Masoretic Text. Again Wurthwein informs us of the following: ” Also important are the remains of fourteen scrolls with Biblical texts from the period before AD 73, discovered while excavating the rock fortress of Masada in the Judean desert in 1963-1965. These agree extensively with the traditional Biblical texts–only in the text of Ezekiel are there a few insignificant variants.” (Ibid. p. 31). To these we can also add the Geniza Fragments which date from the fifth century AD. These manuscripts were discovered in 1890 at Cairo, Egypt. They were located in a type of storage room for worn or faulty manuscripts, which was called the Geniza. The fragments number around 200,000 and reflect Biblical texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. The Biblical texts discovered support the Masoretic Text.

In one sense, the Masoretic Text may be thought of as the Textus Receptus 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. Jacob ben Chayyim was a Jewish refugee who later became a Christian. It was his text which was used by the translators of the King James Bible for their work in the Old Testament, and it was the basis of Kittel’s first two editions of his Hebrew text. Wurthwein notes that the text of ben Chayyim, ” enjoyed an almost canonical authority up to our own time.” (Ibid. p. 37).

For about six generations the Masoretic Text was reproduced by the ben Asher family. Moses ben Asher produced a text in 895 AD known as Codex Cairensis containing the writing of the Prophets. Codex Leningradensis 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 manuscript containing the complete Bible. Some of the differences found within this family of manuscripts are the basis of Kittel’s third edition of his Biblia Hebraica and has been used by scholars in producing modern translations of the Bible, such as the New International Version (1978), the New King James Version (1982), and the New Revised Standard Version (1989).

One example which shows the difference between the text of ben Chayyim and that of ben Asher, is found in Jeremiah 3:7. The KJV reads, ” And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.” The phrase, ” And I said” is also used by the ASV of 1901 and the LXX. However, modern versions such as the NIV use the textual variant and render the verse as, ” I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it.”. This is also the reading of the RSV and NRSV, changing the opening phrase to ” I thought”. Even though the NKJV is based on the text of ben Asher, they elected to keep the reading as it is found in the KJV and the Masoretic Text of ben Chayyim. Contextually, the reading of the KJV is unquestionably superior. It is one thing for God to claim that Israel should return to Him, as stated in the text. It is quite another for God to have thought something would happen which did not. The reading as it is found in most modern versions seems to question the omniscience of God.

For the most part, scholarship agrees that the Masoretic Text became the standard authorized Hebrew text around 100 AD in connection with the completion of the New Testament. Thus we see that the Masoretic Text existed prior to the writings of the New Testament, was used as the official Hebrew Old Testament at the time of the establishing of the Biblical canon, and has been used since as the official representation of the Hebrew originals. Hence we can see in the Masoretic Text the preservation of Scripture in the Hebrew Old Testament, as we can in the Textus Receptus the preservation of Scripture in the Greek New Testament.

The most noted Old Testament translated into Greek is the Septuagint (also known as the LXX). The conventional thought is that the LXX was translated from the Hebrew text by Hellenistic Jews during the period from 275 to 100 BC at Alexandria, Egypt. And, as pointed out by scholars such as Ralph W. Klein, the LXX used a differing Hebrew text and not that of the Masorictic Text type, as reflected in some of the finding among the DSS. The LXX was used by Jerome in producing his Old Testament of the Latin Vulgate used by the Roman Catholic Church, and the LXX remains the official Old Testament of the Greek Orthodox Church. This accounts for the additional books found in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches known as the Apocrypha, because they are contained in the text of the LXX.

The association of the Latin numbers LXX (meaning 70) with the Septuagint comes from the legend concerning the origin of this Greek translation. According to the Letter of Aristeas seventy 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 72 scholars to the Egyptian king. The High Priest writes, ” 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.” (Letter of Aristeas 2:34-35). Thus six scholars from the twelve tribes number seventy-two (it is to be assumed that the 70 is merely a rounding off of the 72).

One wide-spread myth concerning the LXX is an old story which states that the translators worked on their translation alone and compared their work each morning, only to find that each had translated the passage exactly the same. This, of course, has no historical foundation and some have falsely applied this story to the translators of the King James Bible. However, stories such as this one caused some to claim inspiration for the LXX. Dr. Karlfried Froehlich notes this and writes, ” Inspiration was also claimed for the Greek translation of the ‘Seventy’, which was endorsed by Alexandrian Jewish authorities. In Christian eyes, the legend of the Septuagint’s miraculous origin, first told in the Letter of Aristeas, then elaborated by Philo, and further embellished by Christian authors such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian, and Augustine, even rendered the Septuagint superior to the Hebrew original.” (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, p. 310).

Even if the story given in the Letter of Aristeas were true, the Greek translation deals only with the first five books of the Old Testament. 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 seventy-two days allotted in the Letter of Aristeas. In his book, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: The Septuagint after Qumran, Ralph Klein notes, ” the Letter of Aristeas is riddled with many historical improbabilities and errors. . .And yet, however legendary and improbable the details, many still believe that some accurate historical facts about the LXX can be distilled from Aristeas: (1) the translation began in the third century BC; (2) Egypt was the place of origin; and (3) the Pentateuch was done first.” (p. 2).

Dr. F. F. Bruce correctly points out that, strictly speaking, the LXX deals only with the Law and not the whole Old Testament. Bruce writes, ” The Jews might have gone on at a later time to authorize a standard text of the rest of the Septuagint, but . . . lost interest in the Septuagint altogether. With but few exceptions, every manuscript of the Septuagint which has come down to our day was copied and preserved in Christian, not Jewish, circles.” (The Books and the Parchments, p.150). This is important to note because the manuscripts which consist of our LXX today date to the third century AD. Although there are fragments which pre-date Christianity and some of the Hebrew DSS agree with the LXX, the majority of manuscripts we have of the LXX date well into the Christian era. And, not all of these agree.

The most noted copy of the LXX is that found in the Hexapla by Origen. Origen produced an Old Testament with six translations paralleled together, called the Hexapla which means sixfold. The fifth column was the LXX. (The columns of the Hexapla were as follows: 1. The Hebrew text. 2. The Hebrew transliterated into Greek. 3. The Greek translation of Aquila. 4. The Greek translation of Symmachus. 5. The LXX. 6. The Greek translation of Theodotion.) However, we do not have Origen’s Hexapla (with the exception of a few limited fragments). Sir Frederic Kenyon wrote, ” A considerable number of MSS. exist which give information as to Origen’s Hexaplaric text and particular passages in the other columns, but these do not go far towards enabling us to recover the LXX text as it existed before Origen; and this remains the greatest problem which confronts the textual student of the Septuagint. Until we can do that, we are not in a position fully to utilize the evidence of the Greek for the recovery of the pre-Masoretic Hebrew.” (The Text of the Greek Bible, p.35). In other words, we cannot fully reconstruct Origen’s fifth column, let alone a pre-Origenian Septuagint.

Origen’s LXX was revised and edited by two of his disciples, Pamphilus and Eusebius. There were additional Greek translations of the Old Testament during this time which were also contained in the Hexapla, such as the work by 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 that of Theodotion and not of the LXX. However, others have claimed that this is not the case. Therefore, concerning Origen’s Hexapla and the LXX the best scholars can say is that cited by Ernst Wurthwein, ” Although no authentic manuscript of the Hexaplaric Septuagint has survived, there are manuscripts which represent the text of Origen more or less closely.” (The Text of the Old Testament, p.57). Two such manuscripts which represent the text of Origen are Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, which the student will recall from our study of New Testament textual criticism.

It is interesting to note in our study of manuscript evidence and the King James Bible, how the translators of the KJV viewed the LXX. This Greek work did not go unnoticed by these men as can be seen in the original preface to the KJV written by Dr. Miles Smith. The following are a few paragraphs from the KJV preface for the student to consider. Afterwards, comments will be made.

1) ” Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known. (Epiphan. de mensur. et ponderibus.) These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen.”

2) ” Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit (Isa 31:3); so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) (S. Jerome. de optimo genere interpret.) that 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.”

3) ” Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the 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. As the King’s speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like graadventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere. . 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 able, 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, most vile heretics, that they joined 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. But we weary the unlearned, who need not know so much, and trouble the learned, who know it already.”

In the first paragraph we find that the KJV translators attest to Origen’s Hexapla and early Greek translations of the Old Testament which post-date the birth of Christianity. These translations, along with the LXX, paralleled in the Hexapla.

The second paragraph shows that the KJV translators saw some of the limitations of the LXX. They recognized that the LXX was produced by Interpreters and not by inspired Prophets. Although the LXX translates many things well, it also failed many times and departed from the original Hebrew (i.e. Masoretic Text). Sometimes the LXX adds to the Hebrew, and at other times it omits. Which, according the KJV translators, made the New Testament writers 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 simply means that when a New Testament writer cites the LXX, they freely corrected the LXX when it differed from the Hebrew, or as they were moved by inspiration.

The third paragraph is lengthy to show the context. The KJV translators promoted the use of translations. Not as we have come to understand it with a variety of versions differing from one another, but the importance of having the word of God translated into the language of those who cannot read Hebrew or Greek. Their argument was against the Catholic Church which at that time made it a practice of burning Bibles which were in any language other than Latin. The Catholic Church considered such translations as corrupt and worthy of burning. The KJV translators are arguing that the history of the Church demonstrates that even when a translation is poorly done, God can still use it and it should not be burned, as the Catholic Church had a practice of doing. They illustrate their point with the Greek translations of Aquila and Theodotion, which were translated by non-believers and yet their work was not burned by believers. They claim the same with the LXX.

There are several places where the New Testament quotations of the Old Testament are said to be citations of the LXX. Several of these passages will agree simply because there is a limited way of translating Hebrew into Greek.

Such would be the case in Genesis 5:24 as compared with Hebrews 11:5. The writer of Hebrews and the LXX both use the phrase God translated him in reference to Enoch. The phrase in Greek is metetheken auton o Theos in both the NT and the LXX. The English translations are as follows:

” And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24 KJV)

” And Enoch was well-pleasing to God, and was not found, because God translated him.” (Gen. 5:24 LXX)

” 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.” (Heb. 11:5)

At first glance it would seem that the NT passage in Hebrews chapter eleven is closer to the LXX than the OT Hebrew of Genesis chapter five. As we know, the NT was written in Greek, the OT in Hebrew. 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 methetheken which means translated. Dr. Charles Ryrie seems to agree with this. He writes, ” He (Enoch) walked (lit., walked about, i.e. lived) with God, and instead of letting him die, God took him (the same Hebrew word is used for the translation of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:3,5; cf. Heb. 11:5).” (Ryrie Study Bible, p.15). This is not a citation of the LXX, but a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for took. Further, the student should notice that this verse is a statement of EVENTS found in Genesis five, not a QUOTATION of Genesis 5:24.

Another example is that of Hebrews 1:6, ” And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” The problem here is that there is no passage in the Old Testament which reads as it is cited in Hebrews chapter one. However, the LXX does have the phrase, Let all the angels of God worship him, in Deut. 32:43 as does one of the Hebrew fragments found among the DSS. Therefore some claim that the writer of Hebrews is citing either the LXX, or the Hebrew variant found in the DSS.

There is, however, another explanation. Psalm 97:7 reads, ” Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.” The Hebrew word translated as gods is Elohim which is also translated as angels (the DSS fragment of Deut. 32:43 also uses the Hebrew word Elohim). One way to translate Elohim into English is to use the word gods. One way to translate Elohim into Greek is to use the word angelos. This being the case, the Greek way of saying Psalm 97:7 would be, proskuneton auto pantes angeloi Theou.

Additionally, Thomas Hewitt, writes, ” There is no Hebrew equivalent for Let all the angles of God worship him in our existing text. It may be derived from Psalm xcvii. 7 ‘worship him, all ye gods’ (Heb. elohim). The LXX has ‘angels’ instead of ‘gods’. The quotation, however, is exactly found in Deuteronomy xxxii. 43 (LXX), though this may be an addition by a later hand.” (Tyndale NT Commentaries in Hebrews, p. 55). It is interesting that Hewitt states that the passage found in Deut. 32:43 of the LXX may have been added by a later hand. If this is true, there very well may be additional places where the LXX simply adds to the OT by citing the NT.

The following is a list provided by the American Bible Society (ABS) of LXX readings in the NT. The OT passage is given first, followed by the NT citation of it in parentheses.

Genesis 5:24 (Heb. 11:5)
Genesis 46:27 (Acts. 7:14)
Genesis 47:31 (Heb. 11:21)
Exodus 9:16 (Rom. 9:17)
Deuteronomy 17:7 (1 Cor. 5:13)
Deuteronomy 18:15 (Acts 3:22)
Deuteronomy 27:26 (Gal. 3:10)
Deuteronomy 29:18 (Heb. 12:15)
Deuteronomy 32:17 (1 Cor. 10:20)
Deuteronomy 32:43 (Heb. 1:6)
Psalm 2:1-2 (Acts 4:25-26)
Psalm 2:9 (Rev. 2:27)
Psalm 4:4 (Eph. 4:26)
Psalm 5:9 (Rom. 3:13)
Psalm 8:2 (Matt. 21:16)
Psalm 8:5 (Heb. 2:7)
Psalm 10:7 (Rom. 3:14)
Psalm 14:3 or 53:3 (Rom. 3:12)
Psalm 16:8-11 (Acts 2:25-28)
Psalm 19:4 (Rom. 10:18)
Psalm 34:12 (1 Pet. 3:10)
Psalm 40:6 (Heb. 10:5)
Psalm 51:4 (Rom. 3:4)
Psalm 69:22-23 (Rom. 11:9-10)
Psalm 95:7-8 (Heb. 3:15; 4:7)
Psalm 102:25-27 (Heb. 1:10-12)
Psalm 104:4 (Heb. 1:7)
Psalm 116:10 (2 Cor. 4:13)
Psalm 118:6 (Heb. 13:6)
Proverbs 3:4 (2 Cor. 8:21)
Proverbs 3:34 (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5)
Proverbs 3:11-12 (Heb. 12:5-6)
Proverbs 4:26 (Heb. 12:13)
Proverbs 11:31 (1 Pet. 4:18)
Proverbs 25: 21-22 (Rom. 12:20)
Isaiah 1:9 (Rom. 9:29)
Isaiah 6:9-10 (Matt. 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26-27)
Isaiah 7:14 (Matt. 1:23)
Isaiah 10:22-23 (Rom. 9:27-28)
Isaiah 11:10 (Rom. 15:12)
Isaiah 26:11 (Heb. 10:27)
Isaiah 28:16 (Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6)
Isaiah 29:13 (Matt. 15:8-9;Mark 7:6-7)
Isaiah 29:14 (1 Cor. 1:19)
Isaiah 40:3-5 (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6)
Isaiah 40:6-7 (James 1:10-11; 1 Pet. 1:24)
Isaiah 40:13 (Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16)
Isaiah 42:4 (Matt. 12:21)
Isaiah 43:20 (1 Pet. 2:9)
Isaiah 45:23 (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:11)
Isaiah 52:5 (Rom. 2:24)
Isaiah 52:15 (Rom. 15:21)
Isaiah 53:1 (John 12:38, 40; Rom. 10:16)
Isaiah 59:20-21 (Rom. 11:26-27)
Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
Isaiah 65:1-2 (Rom. 10:20-21)
Jeremiah 31:32 (Heb. 8:9)
Ezekiel 28:13 (Rev. 2:7)
Hosea 13:14 (1 Cor. 15:55)
Joel 2:30-31 (Acts 2:19-20)
Amos 5:25-27 (Acts 13:34)
Amos 9:11-12 (Acts 15:16-18)
Habakkuk 1:5 (Acts 13:41)
Habakkuk 2:4 (Heb. 10:38)
Haggai 2:5 (Heb. 12:26)

As one can see, the list is rather lengthy (and I might add incomplete). It would be rather tedious to compare all the verses in this list. I have, however, provided the student with a few examples which follow. There are many times when the Greek of the LXX and the NT match word perfectly. Such would be the case of Deut. 17:7 with 1 Cor. 5:13, for a short citation; and Psalm 2:1-2 with Acts 4:25-26 for a much longer citation. Despite the verses which match, there are many places which do not. Sometimes these are translated the same, but they are not the same Greek words or word order. To explain this the ABS states, ” The writers of the New Testament generally quoted or paraphrased the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, commonly known as the Septuagint Version,” (New Testament Passages Quoted or Paraphrased from the Septuagint, found in the TEV, Thomas Nelson Pub. 1976 ed. p. 367). The problem here is that once we open the possibility that many of the citations are not quotations but paraphrases of the LXX, we cannot be certain that it was in fact the LXX that was paraphrased. In addition, many of these citations reflect only a few words differing. This would not constitute a paraphrase. Consider the following examples.


Exodus 9:16

” 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.”

” 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.” (LXX)

” 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.” (Rom. 9:17)

The last phrase, and that my name might be declared throughtout all the earth is a perfect match in between the NT and the LXX, as is the phrase that I might shew. . .in thee. However, there are differences at the very beginning and in the middle. The Greek NT begins with Oti eis auto touto exegeipa se opos (For this purpose have I raised out thee, so that). The LXX begins with Kai eneken toutou dietepethes, ina (And for this purpose hast thou been preserved, that). These are two differing readings in both Greek and English. Moreover, the NT uses the Greek word dunamin (power), while the LXX uses the Greek word isxun (strength).


Deuteronomy 18:15, 19

” 15: The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; . . .19: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”

” 15: The Lord thy God shall raise up to thee a prophet of thy brethren, like me; him shall ye hear: . . .19: And whatever man shall not hearken to whatsoever words that prophet shall speak in my name, I will take vengeance on him.” (LXX)

” For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22-23)

Acts 3:22-23 quotes Deuteronomy 18:15 and 19. This is a lengthy portion of Scripture, but demonstrates that Luke was not citing the LXX word for word in Acts chapter 3. While the literal translations may be close, we are here examining the usage of the LXX in the Greek NT. The Greek of both is given below. If Luke were using the LXX we would expect the passage in Acts 3:22-23 to match the passage in Deuteronomy 18:15,19. One does not have to read Greek to see that the two passages are not a perfect match.

LXX (Deut. 18:)” 15: Propheten ek ton adelphon sou, os eme, anastnsei soi Kupios o Theos sou: autou akousesthe: . . .19:Kai o anthropos os ean me akouse osa an lalese o prophetes ekeivos epi to onomati mon, ego ekdiknso ek autou.”

Greek NT (Acts 3:)” 22: Oti propheten umin anastesei kupios o Theos umon ek ton adelphon umon, os eme: autou akousesthe kata panta osa an lalese pros umas. 23: estai de pasa psuxe etes an me akouse tou prophetou ekeinou exolothpeuthesetai ek tou laou.”

For those who wish a literal translation of each Greek word, the following is provided:

LXX (Deut. 18:)” 15: Propheten(Prophet) ek(out) ton adelphon sou(the brothern of you), os eme(like me), anastnsei soi(shall raise up) Kupios o Theos(the Lord God) sou(of you): autou(him) akousesthe(shall ye hear): . . .19:Kai(And) o anthropos(the man) os ean me akouse(if he shall not hear) osa an(whatsoever) lalese(he may say) o prophetes(the prophet) ekeivos(that person) epi to onomati mon(in the name of me), ego(I) ekdiknso(vengeance) ek autou(out of him).”

Greek NT (Acts 3:)” 22: Oti propheten(A prophet) umin(to you) anastesei(will raise up) kupios o Theos(the Lord God) umon(your) ek(out of) ton adelphon(the brethren) umon(of you), os eme(like me): autou(him) akousesthe(shall ye hear) kata(in) panta(all things) osa an(whatsoever) lalese(he may say) pros(to) umas(you). 23: estai de(and it shall be) pasa(every) psuxe(soul) etes(which) an me akouse(may not hear) tou prophetou ekeinou (of that prophet) exolothpeuthesetai(shall be destoryed) ek(out) tou laou(of the people).”


Psalm 69:22-23

” Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake”

” Let their table before them be for a snare, and for a recompence, and for a stumbling-block. Let their eyes be darkened that they should not see; and bow down their back continually.” (LXX)

” And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.” (Rom. 11:9-10)

The NT passage is close to the reading found in the LXX. Yet there are differences. The LXX adds the Greek phrase enopion auton (before them) in the first part of the phrase. Also, at the end of verse nine, the NT has the phrase kai eis antapodoma autois (and a recompence unto them). However, the LXX places the same phrase in the middle of the verse and not at the end.


Isaiah 6:9-10

” And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”

” Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and undersatnd with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (LXX)

” And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt. 13:14-15)

In the citation given by Matthew the passage is almost a perfect match. The only difference is that the LXX has the word auton (their) after ears while the NT has it after eyes. Again, one wonders why the switch. However, the same passage cited by Mark is quite different.

” That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:12)

The citation is very free. Once we interject the usage of freely citing OT passages (as we find many times in the NT), we can no longer be dogmatic that the translation which was used as the base translation was in fact the LXX. It becomes an assumption.


Isaiah 7:14

” Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (KJV).

” Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.” (LXX).

” Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matt. 1:23)

The verse as it reads in the Greek NT is almost a match of the Greek LXX. The difference is that the LXX uses the word lepsetai (shall be) while Matthew uses the Greek word ekzie (shall be).


Isaiah 29:13

” Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

Matt. 15:7-9

” Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

The LXX does have some alterations of the Greek NT in this passage. What is even more astounding here is that the Alexandrian Text of the NT has some omitions which are found in the LXX and TR. Both the TR and LXX begin with Eggizie moi (Draw near to me), but it is omitted in the UBS Text. Also verse eight in the LXX and TR reads to stomati auton, kai (with their mouth, and), which is not in the UBS Text.

There are likewise some differences between the LXX and the Greek NT. The LXX adds en (in) before with their mouth. The NT uses the pharse me tima (honours me). The LXX reads, auton timosi me (they honour me). The NT has didaskalias (doctrines) after didaskontes (teaching). The LXX reads kai didaskalias (and doctrines) and places it after anthrpon (of men).

Mark 7:6-7

” He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

This has been covered in Matt.15:7-9. The literal translation of the LXX reads, ” And the Lord has said, This people draw nigh to me whith their mouth, and they honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men” (Isa. 29:13 LXX). The citation is rather loose if coming from the LXX as we have it.


Isaiah 42:1-4

” Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”

Matt. 12:18-21

” Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”

The LXX reads, ” Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Isarel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up (his voice), nor shall his voice be heard without. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; but he shall bring forth judgment to truth. He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged, until he have set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”

With the exception of a word here or there, the only part which matches is the last phrase And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. One must conclude that Matthew is either taking liberities with the LXX, or taking liberities with his translation of the Hebrew into Greek.


Since there are differences between the NT citations and both the LXX and the Masoretic Text, the question arises as to what translation the writers of the NT used. At times it seems as if 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, and at other times their citation differs from the LXX. As Bible believing Christians, how do we resolve this dilemma?

1). It should also be noted that not every passage cited as an Old Testament quotation is in fact a quotation. Many times they are allusions or simply a general reference, but not an excerpt from an OT passage. For example, in Acts 7:14 Stephen states, ” Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.” The number which Stephen gives is 75. However, the passage in Genesis 46:27 totals 70. There we read, ” And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.” The Greek LXX agrees with Stephen in Genesis 46:27 and lists the number as 75 souls. This passage is often used as an example of a NT saint citing the LXX. The truth is that Stephen is not quoting anything, he is referring to something.

Dr. George Ladd writes, ” These two texts reflect two ways of numbering Jacob’s family.” (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p.1136). Although Dr. Ladd was commenting on how the LXX and the Hebrew text derived their totals, the same may be said at how the passage in Gen. 46 and Stephen derived theirs. In his book, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, Dr. John W. Haley lays out the differences without referencing the LXX. Haley writes, ” Jacob’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren amounted to sixty-six (Gen. 46:8-26). Adding Jacob himself, and Joseph with his two sons, we have seventy. If to the sixty-six we add the nine wives of Jacob’s sons (Judah’s and simeon’s wives were dead; Joseph could not be said to call himself, his own wife, or his two sons into Egypt; and Jacob is specified separately by Stephen), we have seventy-five persons, as in Acts.” (Baker Book House, 1983 ed., p.389). Therefore the difference in number can be clarified by an examination of the Biblical texts and not referencing the citation to that of the LXX. Further, scrutiny of the passage in Acts clearly shows that Stephen was referring to events in Genesis 46 and not quoting the passage.

2). Because one quotes from a source does not mean they are 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. The same is true today. In order to reach someone with the gospel we will use whatever translation the person has. Those who have ministered to Roman Catholics will cite the gospel from either the Douay-Rheims Version or the New American Version. Those laboring on various fields through out the world will use whatever translation is in use by the people they are ministering to in order to reach them. Therefore, it would not be unthinkable to realize that when reaching the Greek speaking world, the NT writer was moved to use a Greek version. However, this does not mean that they thought that source was inspired or infallible.

3). Finally, we must remember that the writers of the NT had a unique position which we are not allotted today. They wrote under inspiration. They had the right to change the text, for it was in reality God who was doing the changing in that it is His word. This was recognized by the translators of the KJV. They understood that the Biblical writers would sometimes use a certain text and alter it, ” as the spirit gave them utterance”. Thus the writers of the NT had a unique liberty, and an awesome responsibly.

In his Epistle to the Corinthians, Clement of Rome (30-100 AD) uses a multitude of citations from the Old Testament. From the following few examples, the student can see some of the differences between the Greek of Clement and the LXX. In each of the following examples the student will find the following: 1) The OT reference allude to by Clement. 2) The English translation of Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians (by Archbishop Wake). 3) The quote Greek in which Clement wrote. 4) The Greek of the LXX. Thus the student can compare for himself the Greek of both Clement and the LXX. 5) Last of all, the English translation of the LXX as provided by Sir Lancelot Brenton.


Deut. 32:8-9

” When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.”

Clement writes:
“For so it is written, When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations, according to the number of his angels; his people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of his inheritance.” (1 Clem. 13:7)

The Greek Clement used:
“Ote diemerizen o upsistos ethne, os diespeiren uious Adam, estesen oria ethnwn kata arithmon angelon Theou. Egenethe meris kuriou laos autou Iakwb, sxoinisma kleronomias autou Isranl.”

The Greek of the LXX:
“Ote diemerizen o upsistos ethne, os diespeiren uious Adam, estesen oria ethnwn kata arithmon angelon Theou. Kai egenethe meris kuriou laos autou Iakwb, sxoinisma kleronomias autou Isranl.”

The English of the LXX:
“When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. And his people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, Israel was the line of his inheritance.”

With the exception of the Greek word kai (and), the two are a perfect match. Yet notice that in verse 15 the match is not so perfect, as is so with the following examples.


Deut. 32:15

“But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”

Clement writes:
“All honour and enlargement was given unto you; and so was fulfilled that which is written, my beloved did eat and drink, he was enlarged and waxed fat, and he kicked.” (1 Clem. 2:1).

The Greek that Clement used:
“Ethagen kai epien, kai eplatunte kai epaxunte, kai apelaxtisen o egapemenos.”

The Greek of the LXX:
“Ethagen Iakob kai eneplesthe, kai apelaktisen o egapemenos, elipanthe, epaxaunthe, eplatunthe ”

The English of the LXX:
“So Jacob ate and was filled, and the beloved one kicked; he grew fat, he became thick and broad.”


Gen. 15:5-6

” And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Clement writes:
“And again he saith: and God brought forth Abraham, and said unto him; Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: so shall thy seed be. And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” (1 Clem. 5:10-11).

The Greek that Clement used:
“Eksegagen o Thos ton Abraam kai eipen, Anablepson eis ton ouranon kai arithmeson tous asteras, ei dunese eksarithmesai autous, outos estai to sperma sou. Episteusen de Abraam to Theo, kai elogisthe auto eis dikaiosunen.”

The Greek of the LXX:
“Eksegage de auton ekso, kai eipen auto anablepson de eis ton ouranon, kai arithmeson tous asteras, ei dunese eksarithmesai autous; kai eipen, outos estai to sperma sou. Kai episteusen Abram to Theo, kai elogisthe auto eis dikaiosunen.”

The English of the LXX:
“And he brought him out and said to him, Look up now to heaven, and count the stars, if thou shalt be able to number them fully, and he said, Thus shall thy seed be. And Abram believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”


Psalm. 37:9

” For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.”

Clement writes:
“For it is written, The merciful shall inherit the earth; and they that are without evil shall be left upon it:” (1 Clem. 7:10).

The Greek Clement used:
“Xrestoi esontai oiketopes ges, akakoi de upoleiphthesontai ep autes:”

The Greek of the LXX:
“Oti oi ponereuomenoi eksolothreuthesontai, oi de upomenontes ton Kurion, autoi kleronomesousi ten gen.”

The English of the LXX:
“For evil-doers shall be destroyed: but they that wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the land.”


Dan. 7:10 with Isa. 6:3

“A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan. 7:10)

“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa. 6:3)

Clement writes:
“As saith the scripture, thousands of thousands stood before him and ten thousand times ten thousand ministered unto him. And they cried, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Sabaoth: The whole earth is full of his glory.” (1 Clem. 16:6)

The Greek Clement used:
“Muriai muriades pareitekeisan auto, kai xilia xiliades eleitourgoun auto, kai ekekragon; Agios, agios, agios kurios sabaoth, pleres pasa e ktisis tes doxes autou.”

The Greek of the LXX:
“xiliai xiliades eleitourgoun auto, kai muriai muriades pareistekeistekeisan auto;” (Dan. 7:10)

“Kai ekekragen eteros pros ton eteron, kai elegon, agios agios agios Kurios sabaoth, pleres pasa e ge tes doxes autou.”

The English of the LXX:
>”thousands thousands ministered to him, and ten thousands of myriads attended upon him:” (Dan. 7:10)

“And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”


Isa. 60:17

” For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.”

Clement writes:
” For thus saith the Scripture, in a certain place: I will appoint their overseers in righteousness, and their ministers in faith.” (1 Clem. 19:6)

The Greek Clement used:
“Katasteso tous episkopous auton en dikaiosune kai tous diakonous auton en pistei.”

The Greek of the LXX:
“Kai doso tous arxontas sou en eirene, kai tous episkopous sou en dikaiosune.”

The English of the LXX:
“and I will make thy princes peacable, and thine overseers righteous.”


One can point to Clement and say that his citations do not match the King James Version, nor do they always match the Masoretic Hebrew Text. This is to be expected since Clement was not using the KJV. Further, whatever text he did use, if it was not already translated into Greek he had to do so himself. And yet, if we claim that Clement was not using the Masoretic Text because his citations do not match, how can we claim that he was using the LXX since they likewise do not match? The dogma that Clement and other early Church Father strictly used the LXX seems rather remote.

In accordance with this same historical time frame, Sir Frederic Kenyon has pointed out that, ” (The LXX) was not . . . accepted by the stricter Jews, who in controversy repudiated arguments based on Septuagint texts.” (The Text of the Greek Bible p.29). This is also true of Josephus who rejected the LXX because of its additions to the Hebrew canon of scripture. Likewise, scholarship reconignize that the enhancement of the LXX in history came not from the Jewish scribs, but from sources within Christiandom from around the third century.

As to its value in the study of textual criticism, Dr. Ernst Wurthwein writes, “No other version has received as much attention for textual criticism as [the LXX]. Not only was it valued highly in antiquity, but in the nineteenth century many scholars practically preferred it over the Masoretic text. They believed that because of its pre-Christian origins it could assist in the recovery of an earlier, pre- Masoretic text that would be closer to the original than [the Masoretic Text]. But today we recognize that [the LXX] neither was nor was intended to be a precise scholarly translation.” (The Text of the Old Testament, pp 63-64). Later, Wurthwein quotes Dr. G. Bertram as writing, “The Septuagint belongs to the history of Old Testament interpretation rather than to the history of the Old Testament text. It can be used as a textual witness only after its own understanding of the Old Testament text has been made clear.” (Ibid. pp. 67-68).

Therefore we can see that the LXX does not shed light on the text of the original Hebrew, but only on how some interpreted the Hebrew text. Further, we also can see that the Biblical guardians of the Old Testament, the Jews, were not in favor of the readings found in the LXX, nor in the additions it made to the Hebrew canon of scripture. Therefore, we can see the wisdom and spiritual guidance provided for the translators of the KJV in using the Hebrew Masoretic Text for their work on the Old Testament, as well as their use of the Traditional Greek Text for the New Testament. Thus in both they were using the Text Received (Textus Receptus).


“What is King James Onlyism?”

It often depends on who is asking the question and what they mean when they refer to those who believe the KJV to be the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people. I am called, for example, a KJV only advocate. I am told that KJV only advocates such as myself believe the KJV is inspired. I have been told that other KJV only advocates, such as Dr. Ruckman, believe the KJV is inspired. However, I have never read where Dr. Ruckman has stated such, and I know for a fact that I do not believe it. However, this does depend on what someone means by the term. To me, Biblical inspiration as given in scripture, is something given first hand. It was limited to Biblical writers and not copyist and translators. Inspiration has to do with what ” is given” (2 Tim. 3:16), as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:21).

The problem in understanding what was said is because those who misconstrue it do not differ between inspiration and preservation. As has been stated in prior lessons, inspiration has to do with the producing of scripture. Preservation has to do with the keeping of scripture. It is God who inspired His words, and it is God who keeps them.

James White lists five different groups of these he refers to as KJV only advocates (The King James Only Controversy pp.1-4). I do not find myself in any of these groups listed. Since I cannot speak for others, I am left to speak only for myself in defining what I am. I believe that God gave His words without error by inspiration. I believe that God preserved these words and watched over them to keep them without error throughout all generations since their written inception. The KJV, I believe, is the preserved word of God for the English-speaking world since 1611 and stands without error. When I read the KJV I believe that I am reading the very words of God which He has provided for me through His care in keeping His words, so that they are in fact the very words of God. So if by King James Only one means that only the King James Version is the preserved words of God without error for those who speak English since 1611, I would have to say that I am of that group.

However, some have concluded that KJV Onlyism means that this is the only translation KJV advocates use or that there was no word of God before 1611. From this comes such false arguments as stating that Psalm 12:6-7 does not refer to the KJV. Brother White is quick to point this out in stating, ” My first question is, ‘Where does Psalm 12 say that the words of the LORD refer to the King James Version of the Bible?'” (Ibid. p. 243). Of course, it does not. It refers to the fact that God said He would preserve His words, of which the KJV is evidence that He has done so even to this day.

Anyone reading the lessons so far must admit that evidence has been provided of the preservation of God’s words long before 1611. If not, I would suggest that the student reread lesson five. And, if one insists that being a KJV only advocate limits the Bible only to English-speaking people, I would again suggest that the student reread the same lesson. The simple fact is that the preserved word of God was here before 1611 and in other languages besides English. Any statement otherwise is a perversion of the facts given and a misrepresentation of those who support and believe the KJV.

Nor does my belief in the KJV as the preserved word of God prohibit me from reading additional translations, both in English and other languages. I have freely used modern versions to support a reading in a text and I have often read from modern versions for one reason or another. If someone wishes to use a modern version, they are free to do so. I believe what the translators of the NIV said about their version, that it was made by imperfect men and would undoubtedly fall short of its goal. I think that the NIV, as all Bible translations, contain the word of God and can be used by God. This, however, does not free God from His obligation to keep and preserve his words, to keep them incorruptible, as He promised. I believe that the KJV is a fulfillment of that promise.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8