Chapter 5: The English Jewel

Chapter 5: The English Jewel

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“The English Bible – a book which, if everything else in our language should perish,

would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power.”

-Thomas Babington Macaulay, Edinburgh Review (1828)

John Rainolds had been addressing the newly crowned king of England, James I. Various concerns among the Puritans had arisen, and now was an opportunity to present them before the king. It was cold and damp that wintry day, much like the coldness that faced this English Church of the Reformation. Elizabeth, the beloved queen, had died and the thick-tongued Scotsman now ruled in her stead.Dr. Rainolds was well aware of the concerns that had risen within the Church and the nation.What would this new king do?

Within the contents of his address, Rainolds raised a proposal: “May your Majesty be pleased to direct that the Bible be now translated, such versions as are extant not answering to the original.”With lisping tongue the king answered, stirring the desires of all those who wished to see a new translation that would standardize the word of God among the English-speaking world. “I profess, I could never yet see a Bible well translated in English, but I think that of Geneva is the worst.” [Gustavus S. Paine, The Men Behind the King James Version (1959; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 1.]

With these few fateful words, the greatest English translation the world has ever known was born. The place was Hampton Court. The day was Monday, January 16, 1604. By July 22 of the same year, Bishop Richard Bancroft had been notified by the king to appoint certain learned men, numbering fifty-four, for the purpose of newly translating the Scriptures. What they producedJohn Livingston Lowes called “the noblest monument of English prose.” For us, it simply became the Bible.

Sadly, of late it has fallen under attack. Not only from skeptics who doubt God’s word, but from various theologians and biblical scholars. Many have used faulty forensic reasoning in order to discredit this lovely version. It is, therefore, essential for us to understand the history of the Authorized Version in order to refute the contentions of such individuals, for in disparaging this Bible, they (wittingly or not) imperil the work and word of God among the English-speaking peoples.

James I of England (1566-1625)

Some erroneously believe that the King James Version was the translation of King James I of England (VI of Scotland). Others attempt to discredit the KJV because of the king himself. However, neither of these is a substantive objection to the KJV. James did not translate the Bible, and his character has little to do with the translation that bears his name. He was the King of England in 1611 when the KJV was completed, and it was under his authority that the translators began their endeavor.

James was born in Scotland and was the only son of Mary Queen of Scots. His famous mother was a strict Roman Catholic; however, James was raised a staunch Protestant. He had a love for sports as well as for scholarship. British author Caroline Bingham writes of James that at “seventeen he was a remarkable youth who had already achieved an intellectual and political maturity; already he was recognizable as the canny and learned King who never achieved wisdom, who committed follies but was not a fool.” [Caroline Bingham, The Making of a King (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969), 40.] Nevertheless, King Henry IV of France referred to James as the “wisest fool in Christendom.” [Lady Antonia Fraser, King James VI of Scotland: I of England (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, Inc., 1974), 9.] The New Testament reminds us that God is capable of using the foolish to astound the wise of this world (1 Corinthians 1:25-29).

The Translation

On that cold January day when Dr. Rainolds suggested to the king that the English Bible be revised, James reacted with delight and instructed Bishop Bancroft to appoint fifty-four scholars for the purpose of translating the word of God. The actual number of translators who worked on the KJV remains a mystery since some died before the work was completed. Nevertheless, the majority of the translator’s names have survived (see Appendix A). These men were divided into three groups located at Westminster, Oxford, and Cambridge. Each group was divided into two sections; one worked on the Old Testament, the other on the New Testament. Only the group at Cambridge had an additional team working on the Apocrypha.

The translators were great scholars. Many laid the foundation for linguistic studies that followed. They spent most of their time in the pursuit of learning and development of their knowledge of biblical languages. Some, while waxing eloquent in Latin or Greek, fared poorly with their native English.Gustavus S. Paine noted that the king’s translators were not superb writers doing scholarly work, but were superb scholars doing superb writing. [Ibid., vii.] Judged by their other extant works, which are commonplace in style, the writing of what would become the Authorized Version should have been far beyond their abilities.Yet, they were able to reach beyond themselves. Paine makes the following assessment:

“Though we may challenge the idea of word-by-word inspiration, we surely must conclude that these were men able, in their profound moods, to transcend their human limits. In their own words, they spake as no other men spake because they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Or, in the clumsier language of our time, they so adjusted themselves to each other and to the work as to achieve a unique coordination and balance, functioning thereafter as an organic entity – no mere mechanism equal to the sum of its parts, but a whole greater than all of them.” [Ibid., 173.]

The translation went through a series of committees, all consisting of various groupings of the translators themselves. Upon finishing the assigned portion given to him, a translator would meet with the first committee and read the work he translated. Those within the committee followed the reading from various sources, such as the original languages, early English translations, and foreign translations including German, French, Italian, and Spanish. If there were no differences of opinion concerning the translation, the reader pressed on. If there were differences, the committee would reach a consensus before proceeding. The findings were then presented to the other two companies for their committees to review in like fashion. If these committees differed at any given point, the differences were compounded and presented to a third committee consisting of twelve members. This committee (known as the General Meeting) reviewed what the previous committees had produced and agreed upon the finished translation before presenting the work to two final editors, Bishop Thomas Bilson and Dr. Miles Smith.

True Rewards

Some writers have asserted that the translators “may have harbored less than perfect motivations” for their efforts, such as seeking royal favor and advancement, or being “far too enamored with the idea of royalty.” It has also been charged that the English Crown paid for the translation. [James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1995) 70-71, 88 (note 61).] None of these accusations are worth serious consideration. There is no hint that any of the translators sought to be on the translational committee to gain favor with the king or promotion. There is some evidence that William Barlow, one of the translators, was a man who was soundly supportive of the British Crown and a man whom King James greatly approved. [Paine, 43.] But many Englishmen of that day held similarly exalted notions of royalty, including James I himself who objected to the Geneva Bible precisely because its marginal notes did not accord with his notions of the obedience due to kings. [Marvin W. Anderson, “The Geneva (Tonson/Junius) New Testament Among Other English Bibles of the Period,” in Gerald T. Sheppard, ed., The Geneva Bible: The Annotated New Testament, 1602 Edition. (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989), 6.]

As for the matter of who paid for the KJV, the historical truth is that payment did not come from the Crown but from the Church, and Church funds were very limited. Funds were raised and received for the purpose of sustaining the translators during their work on the translation, but they were not given financial reward. [John R. Dore, Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, 2nd ed. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1888), 325.] It is true that several of the translators did advance within the Church after the translation was complete, but this was due to their ability. Their greatest reward was in the fruit of their labor, the KJV itself. The translators wrote:

“But amongst all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word amongst us; which is that inestimable treasure which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven.”

The Cum Privilegio

Another common myth concerning the KJV is that it was under the sole printing authority of the Crown. This is known as the Cum Privilegio (i.e., with privilege). Some have thought this made it impossible for anyone else to publish the KJV for the first hundred years of its existence. [White, 244.] Such a claim is erroneous.

It is true the KJV was under the Cum Privilegio, and that the royal printer was Robert Barker; it is also true that others printed the KJV long before 1711. Royal historian John Dore noted:

“In the year 1642, a folio edition of King James’s Version was printed at Amsterdam by “Joost Broersz, dwelling in the Pijlsteegh, in the Druckerije” . . . The notes of the King James’s Bible are omitted, and the arguments and annotations of the “Breeches” Bible are inserted in their place.” [Dore, 345.]

Dr. Jack Lewis also notes that the KJV was printed in Geneva, without the Crown’s approval, during its first one hundred years. Various editions of the KJV were published outside of England in 1642, 1672, 1683, 1708, and in England itself in 1649. [Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 29.]

Dore points to Scotland as printing the KJV in 1628. [Dore, 338-339.] He also notes that theKJVwas printed in England without the Cum Privilegio. A special dispensation was granted to the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford so that they could print Bibles without the Cum Privilegio.

“Although the Universities always claimed the right to print the Bible, Cambridge had not exercised that right since the year 1589; but in 1628 a duodecimo Testament was published at Cambridge, by the printers to the University, and the following year Thomas and John Buck issued the first Cambridge Bible . . . 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.” [Ibid., 339, 346.]

Once again, the evidence shows this assault is unwarranted.

The Apocrypha

Another objection to the KJV concerns the Apocrypha. The KJV translators did not consider the Apocrypha inspired Scripture. They placed it between the Testaments, indicating that they regarded it valuable only as historical record and for edification, not for doctrine. The same is true of other early English versions. For example, on the opening page of the Apocrypha in the Geneva Bible we read:

“These books that follow in order after the prophets unto the New Testament are called Apocrypha – that is, books which were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church, neither yet served to prove any point of Christian religion, save inasmuch as they had the consent of the other Scriptures called canonical to confirm the same, or rather whereon they were grounded; but as books preceding from godly men, [which] were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of the history, and for the instruction of godly manners: which books declare that at all times God had an especial care of his Church, and left them not utterly destitute of teachers and means to confirm them in the hope of the promised Messiah; and also witness that those calamities that God sent to his Church were according to his providence, who had both so threatened by his Prophets, and so brought it to pass for the destruction of their enemies, and for the trial of his children.”

Likewise, the translators of the KJV did not give the Apocrypha the respect they had given the Holy Scriptures. Their relative disregard for these books is not expressed in an explicit disclaimer, as in the Geneva Bible, but can be seen in the way they are presented in the first edition of 1611. In addition to placing the Apocrypha between the Testaments (rather than interspersing them with the canon as was Roman Catholic practice), the translators did not mention the Apocrypha at all on the title page, which simply reads, “The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New.” The listing on the table of contents page refers to them only as “The Bookes called Apocrypha” and segregates them, as in the text, from the Old and New Testaments. Additionally, both the Old and New Testaments have elaborate engravings placed before each Testament; the Apocrypha does not. The running heads that adorn the tops of the pages in the canon with summaries of the contents (e.g., in Genesis, “The creation of man;” “The first Sabbath;” “Marriage instituted”) are replaced in the Apocrypha by generic running heads that read only “Apocrypha” throughout and do not summarize. Further, the translators of the KJV did not malign the canonical books of the Bible the way they did the Apocrypha. At 1 Esdras 5:5 the margin states, “This place is corrupt,” an allusion found nowhere in either of the Testaments. The additional chapters to the Book of Esther are entitled “The rest of the Chapters of the Booke of Esther, which are found neither in the Hebrew, nor in the Calde.”

Revisions And Printing Errors

Another popular argument used to oppose theKJV is to ask which edition of the KJV is being used, implying that the KJV has been substantially changed. If extreme changes in the text have occurred, there would be justification for additional revisions. The truth, however, is that the text has not really been changed. The revisions of the KJV dealt with the correction of early printing errors or the modernization of the text as it regards spelling and punctuation. The verses have remained the same.

There have been four major revisions of the KJV. They took place in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. The 1762 revision was the work of Dr. F. S. Paris of the University at Cambridge. The work of this revision laid the foundation for most modern editions of the text. He greatly enhanced the use of italics (which in the KJV denote supplied words not in the original languages) and modernized most of the spelling. His edition also added several marginal references. The 1769 edition came from Oxford, and was the work of Dr. Benjamin Blayney. In this edition, several additional revisions were made in correcting earlier printing errors, spelling, and expanding marginal and introductory notes. This edition has become the standard by which modern texts are printed.

An example of differences in spelling may be seen in this comparison of Galatians 1:1-5 from a 1612 edition of the KJV and a current one. Note, however, that the text remains the same.

1612 Edition:

1. Paul an Apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Iesus Christ, and God the Father, who reised him from the dead, 2. And all the brethren which are with me, vnto the Churches of Galatia: 3. Grace be to you and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Iesus Christ; 4. Who gaue himself for our sins, that he might deliuer vs from this present euil world, according to the will of God, & our Father. 5. To whom be glory for euer and euer, Amen.

Current Editions:

1. Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2. And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4. 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: 5. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Other revisions sought to correct printing errors. Sometimes the printer omitted a word or words were printed twice. These were corrected in order to produce the text as the translators gave it. The 1632 edition, for example, left out the word “not” in the Commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” thus earning it the nickname The Wicked Bible. Even today with computerized checking of the text, printing errors can occur. This does not invalidate the preserved word of God or prove the KJV is corrupt. After all, one finds these same errors of transmission within the host of existing Greek manuscripts. Yet, it does not nullify the doctrine of preservation for the original reading still can be found despite copyists’ mistakes. It does mean that sometimes printers have made mistakes and the four major revisions of the KJV have sought to correct such errors.

“Printers have persecuted me without cause” (Psalm 119:161). Or so it reads in a 1702 edition of the KJV. One of the great misconceptions about the Authorized Version concerns the diverse errors printers have made throughout its history. Some have concluded that to correct its printing mistakes is to change the text. This, however, is not the case. Others have thought so highly of the King’s Bible as to think that the printers were free from error. This, also, is not so. Printers have made quite a few errors in editions of the Authorized Version.

The first edition of the KJV is often called the “He Bible” because of the printing error that occurred at Ruth 3:15. Here, the first edition read “he went into the city” instead of “she went into the city.” The corrected edition is sometimes referred to as the “She Bible.” The number of printing errors in the first few decades of editions caused William Kilburne to write a treatise in 1659 entitled, Dangerous Errors in Several Late Printed Bibles to the Great Scandal and Corruption of Sound and True Religion.

Other misprints in the 1611 edition included Exodus 38:11 where “hoopes” was used for “hooks” and Leviticus 13:56, “the plaine be” for “the plague be.” In Ezra 3:5 the printer repeated the word “offered” twice. The running head over the fourth chapter of Micah reads “Joel” instead of its proper name of Micah. “He” is used instead of “ye” in Ezekel 6:8. In Ezekiel 24:7, the text was to read, “She poured it not upon the ground”; however, the Royal Printer left out the word “not.” In 1 Esdras 4 the running head reads “Anocrynha” instead of “Apocrypha,” and several of these headings misnumber chapters immediately afterwards in 2 Esdras.

Between the printing conditions and the style of print, it can be easily understood why such errors occurred. Below are listed five passages where printing errors occurred in the 1611 edition. Even when we make adjustment for the differences in orthography and calligraphy it takes careful reading to locate these printing mistakes.

Genesis 10:15-18

And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Emorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

Exodus 14:10

And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.

Leviticus 17:14

For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

Jeremiah 22:3

Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiler out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

Matthew 16:25

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his his life for my sake shall find it.

Other editions contained similar errata. In 1653 one edition read, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 6:9. An 1801 edition misreads Jude 16 as, “There are murderers, complainers, walking after their own lusts.” The word “murmurers” should have been used. “Discharge” is used instead of “charge” in an 1806 KJV printing at 1 Timothy 5:21, and “wife” was changed to “life” at Luke 14:26 in an 1810 edition.

Even though errors occur occasionally in print, they are detected and corrected in later editions. For example, notice how this 1638 edition changes the text of Acts 6:3, yet it is now corrected to read as the 1611 edition read.

1611 edition:

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

1638 edition:

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom ye may appoint over this business.

Current edition:

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

An example of a printing error found in some current editions is located in Jeremiah 34:16. Here there is a difference in two editions, the one from Cambridge and the one from Oxford.

Cambridge edition:

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.

Oxford edition:

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

Is the correct reading “whom ye” or “whom he”? After all, both appear in various editions of the King James Version, depending on if they follow the Cambridge edition or the Oxford edition. This problem has nothing to do with preservation or the effectiveness of the KJV as a translation. It has to do with the correction of a printing error still in existence. The original edition of 1611 reads “whome yee had set at libertie at their pleasure.” According to John R. Dore, “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.” [Dore, 346.] Cambridge, agreeing with the edition of 1611, first began printing KJV Bibles in 1629 by Thomas and John Buck. Although one cannot prove that this error is the fault of Dr. John Fell in his 1675 Oxford edition, we can state that considerable time had passed before the error was introduced, and that the error was limited to the editions published by Oxford or those based on the Oxford edition. This has nothing to do with the issue of biblical preservation, for the correct reading is found in the original edition, the Cambridge edition, and current editions based on either the original 1611 or Cambridge editions.

It must be asserted that the text of the KJV has come to us unaltered. What has changed is the correction of printing errors, changes in punctuation and italics, and changes in orthography and calligraphy. This was verified by the American Bible Society in a report published in 1852 (after the fourth major revision of the KJV took place) entitled Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers. An additional report was issued in 1858 by the American Bible Society titled, Report of the Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society. Apart from the changes just listed, the reports stated that the “English Bible as left by the translators has come down to us unaltered in respect to its text.” [Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers, 1852 ed., 7.] John R. Dore, also attests to this. In a study published by the Royal Printers in 1888, Dore stated, “That pearl of great price, the English Bible of 1611, remained so long without alteration, that many of us had forgotten that it was only one of a series of versions.” [Dore, iii.]

The Influence And Durability Of The Authorized Version

King James may not have been a great king; he may not have even been a good king. He did something, though, that no other monarch has ever done. He gave us the word of God in such a fashion that it has lasted for four hundred years. In fact, it has affected our very language, culture and history. Many of the common expressions we use have their roots in the Authorized Version. Here are a few examples:

Phrase Reference
The fat of the land Genesis 45:18
The skin of my teeth Job 19:20
At their wit’s end Psalm 107:27
A soft answer Proverbs 15:1
A thorn in the flesh 2 Corinthians 12:7
Labour of love 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:10
The root of all evil 1 Timothy 6:10
Clear as crystal Revelation 21:11; 22:1

Apart from Shakespeare’s collected writings, no other body of work has had such influence on English literature. Unlike Shakespeare, who utilized the vast richness of English phraseology, the Authorized Version limited its vocabulary to a mere eight thousand words. Even with such economy of word choice, it has become a valued part of our language and culture. In his book The Bible: Designed to be Read as Living Literature, Ernest Sutherland Bates has correctly noted that the King James Version has secured a place for itself in literature along with Shakespeare, Homer, and Dante. [Ernest Sutherland Bates, The Bible: Designed to be Read as Living Literature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1936), 1236.] However, unlike these great works, it is the only one produced by a committee, and the only translation of Scripture that can make such a claim. Literary scholars have seen its influence on Milton, Pope, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, Shaw, Whitman, Dickinson, and Twain, to name only a few. The classic Christian masterpiece Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan made use of this translation above all other early English versions that could have been used. Its rhythm and cadence speaks as no other English version ever has. Without question, the Authorized Version has influenced countless multitudes with its glorious presentation of the truth.

The KJV is not only a literary masterpiece; its representation of the original languages is phenomenal. It is not enough for a proper translation to correctly transmit the words from one language into another; it also must carry the sense of the original. Without question the Authorized Version has successfully accomplished this extremely difficult task. Professor Gerald Hammond of the University of Manchester, England, has correctly noted that the KJV translators “have taken care to reproduce the syntactic details of the originals.” [Gerald Hammond, “English Translations Of The Bible,” The Literary Guide To The Bible, eds. Robert Alter and Frank Kermode, (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987), 656.] He further notes that “At its best, which means often, the Authorized Version has the kind of transparency which makes it possible for the reader to see the original clearly. It lacks the narrow interpretative bias of modern versions, and is the stronger for it.” [Ibid., 664.] Textual and literary scholar Roland Mushat Frye agrees and writes that the KJV “makes possible translations of Hebrew poetry which are characterized at once by beauty of English form and essential faithfulness to the original.” [Roland Mushat Frye, “The Bible in English,” The Bible in its Literary Milieu, eds. John Maier and Vincent Tollers, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 255.] Therefore, the KJV is not only outstanding English, it is outstanding as a representative of biblical languages.

The King James Version has also affected our culture. With the expansion of the British Empire, the English language and culture spread throughout the world, taking with it the English Bible of 1611. In the New World the Authorized Version soon replaced the beloved Geneva Bible, and as early as 1637 it was the preferred translation throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony. [Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll, eds., The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 27-33.] Often the only book carried by pioneers during the western expansion was the King James Version. Likewise, it sometimes served as the sole source in teaching both settler and slave how to read. Historians Will and Ariel Durant credited it for diminishing the anti-Semitism that had run rampant throughout England prior to its translation. They write, “The spread of the Bible, accelerated by the King James Version, modified anti-Semitism by giving England a closer acquaintance with the Old Testament.” [Will and Ariel Durant, The Age Of Louis XIV (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963), 461.] They may be correct, for the message of the gospel reminds us that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Certainly, the Authorized Version serves as a polished jewel in the crown of English language and culture.

For the past four centuries the Authorized Version has served as the standard English Bible, reaching across denominational lines to reign in the hearts of the English-speaking people. Even with the plethora of modern versions, the King James remains as the defining emblem of the English Bible. Although the New International Version has replaced the King James Version as the best selling translation among Christian booksellers for the past several years, the King James has remained in a strong second place among these booksellers while seemingly taking a much stronger lead as the version of choice. A 1995 poll concerning Bible translations showed that nearly all Americans own at least one version of the Bible, and that approximately two-thirds of those surveyed claim the Authorized Version as their main translation. [As cited by Jennifer Lowe, “Buy the Book,” Dayton Daily News (Dayton Ohio, Sept. 16, 1995), 7C.] Additionally, in 1997 the Barna Research Group established that the King James Version is more likely to be read than the New International Version by a ratio of five to one. [Barna Research Group, Ltd. ( 1997.] Other polling through the Internet has established the King James as the most likely favored English translation. [Goshen Net ( has provided an online Bible poll that establishes the KJV as the preferred translation. As of July 18, 2000 over ten thousand Internet users were asked to vote for their favorite English version. Their polling data showed the KJV at 49%, the NIV at 24%, the NKJV at 14%, the NASV at 5%, the ASV at 2% and the RSV and NRSV both at 1%. The category marked “Other” received 4%.] The King James Version has maintained its place as a top selling version, it remains the most reproduced translation for the purpose of evangelism, and is the translation of choice in American households.

For years some have thought that the popularity of the King James Version would soon come to an end. Perhaps a day will come when a new translation of God’s word will win the hearts of all English-speaking people as the Authorized Version has done. There may come a day, perhaps, when we will look back at a modern version and see that it has played a major role in the development of our language and literature with the same impact that the version of 1611 has provided for us. Perhaps a day will arise when this new translation will affect our history and our very culture even as the King James Bible has done in the past four hundred years. There very well may come such a day . . . perhaps . . . but not today.

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

Order your copy of Crowned With Glory today.

Chapter 4 – Forging The Metal

Chapter 4: Forging The Metal

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age,

some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.”

-John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624)

From the fire of the Reformation the word of God was forged for the laity. No longer did it solely rest in the hands of ecclesiastical orders. Yet the privilege did not come without a price. Many saints sacrificed wealth, reputation, and ultimately their lives, in order to secure a copy of sacred Scripture. It is because of their suffering that we have been granted the franchise to read the Bible for ourselves. For this, we owe them eternal gratitude and the responsibility to recognize their efforts.

The German Bible

Perhaps no other translation of the Bible, apart from the King James Version, has had a greater impact upon its people and their culture than the German Bible of Martin Luther(1483-1546). Not only has this delightful version affected the history and language of Germany, but also the many immigrants and early settlers who carried their copy of Die Heilige Schrift to the United States.

Students of history recognize the great contribution Martin Luther made to the common faith. It was Luther who echoed the cry of justification by faith and brought Reformation to Germany. At first he began a career in law. However, following a narrow escape from a storm, Luther decided to become a Catholic monk. After a study of Scripture on the doctrine of justification through faith, Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses and nailed it to the door of the church at Wittenberg in 1517. He spent the next few years defending his charges, only to be excommunicated in 1521. In April of that same year, Luther was summoned before the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms. There he refused to recant and was banished from the empire.

Luther fled to Wartburg, and for the next eight months worked on his translation of the New Testament. The Greek text used by Luther was the one produced by Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). This text was based on the Traditional Text and later became known as the Textus Receptus. Luther’s translation not only provided the German people with the Bible in their own language; it set the standard for the German language for centuries to follow. [Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through The Centuries (1954; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967), 318.]

The Spanish Bible

The standard Spanish Bible is the Reina-Valera Version. It has been called theKing James Version of the Spanish-speaking world. [“Remembering Casiodoro De Reina,” Bible Society Record (1969). Wilton Nelson, “New Light from an Old Lamp,” Latin American Evangelist Jan/Feb (1970), 9.] It is the labor of two men, Casidoro de Reina and Cipriano de Valera, who suffered for the cause of Christ in order to provide their people God’s word in their native tongue. As with the German Bible of Luther, this Spanish Bible is based on the Traditional Text.

Casidoro de Reina (1520-1594) was the first to translate the Bible into Spanish. His work took twelve years to complete at the cost of great personal sacrifice. He was born in Seville and became a Catholic monk. While at the San Isidro Monastery of Seville, he heard the lectures of the Superior of the monastery, Dr. Blanco Garcia Arias, who had been influenced by the preaching of the Albigenses. Being exposed to the writings of the Reformers and reading the Old Latin Bible of the Waldenses, Reina was converted to Protestantism.

Upon his conversion, persecution fell upon him. Reina had to flee Spain, never to return, in order to escape the claws of the Inquisition. Along with ten of his friends, Reina arrived in Frankfurt, Germany in 1557. Two years later he moved to London and became the pastor of a group of Spanish Protestants who also had escaped Spain and the Inquisition. Later, because of persecution in England, Reina and his wife fled to Antwerp in the Netherlands. During this time, he worked on his Spanish Bible. In 1569, he published twenty-six hundred copies of the entire Bible in Spanish. It was nicknamed the “Bear Bible” because it featured on its title page an engraving of a bear retrieving honey from a tree.

The Inquisition seized as many copies of this version as possible and had them destroyed, calling it the most dangerous edition of the Bible. [S. L. Greenslade, The Cambridge History of the Bible (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 126.] The Roman Church had issued a decree stating that the Bible in Spanish or in any other common tongue was prohibited. [Ibid., 125.] Consequently, few copies of Reina’s Spanish Version ever made it into Spain. Notwithstanding, it was greatly used by Spanish-speaking refugees who fled Spain because of the persecution.

After the publication of his Bible, Reina organized a church that became noted for its zeal and evangelistic outreach in Frankfurt. He remained the pastor of this church until his death on March 16, 1594. To Spanish and Latin-American Christians, Casiodoro de Reina was more than a Bible translator; he was a hero in the faith.

Cipriano de Valera (1531-1602) was one of Reina’s friends who fled Spain with him in 1557. Like Reina, Valera had been a monk at the San Isidro Monastery in Seville. It was there he first heard the gospel of redemption and was converted. Soon after he arrived in Frankfurt, Valera moved to Geneva where he became a follower of reformer John Calvin. He became a street preacher and later moved to England to study at the University of Cambridge. Afterwards, he taught at the University of Oxford. While in England, he translated Calvin’s Institutes into Spanish and wrote a book entitled El Papa y la Misa (The Pope and the Mass). In it, he condemned the authority of the Pope and the service of the mass, calling it pagan. While in England, he married and began a ministry to seamen as well as a ministry to those imprisoned.

In 1582, Valera began to revise the work of Reina. His revision was thorough but conservative in that he made as few changes to Reina’s text as possible. At the age of seventy, after twenty long years of working on his revision, Valera published what has become known as the Reina-Valera Version. Valera wrote:

“The reason that motivated me to make this edition was the same that motivated Casidoro de Reina, who was motivated by the pious Person, the Lord himself, and wanted to spread the glory of God and make a clear service to his nation.” [Versiones Castellanas De La Biblia (Mexico: Casa De Publicasciones), 38-39. Translation here and afterwards is the present author’s.]

Valera believed his Bible was the perfect word of God for the Spanish-speaking people. One authoritative Spanish-language work on Bible translations in that language, Versiones Castellanas De La Biblia, states: “The authors [Reina and Valera] claim to have penetrated to the depths of Holy Scriptures and have translated with perfection the Greek and Hebrew languages.” [Ibid., 19.] Like Reina, Valera is a hero in the faith.Because of his belief in personal salvation by grace alone through faith, and his desire to see the word of God published in Spanish, this same work records that “Valera suffered great misery.” [Ibid., 39.] It is also noted, “When the Lord rewards his servants, Cipriano de Valera will receive a great prize from the hand of the Saviour.” [Ibid.]

The Early English Bibles

The history of the English Bible is a rich history. Like the Scriptures themselves, it records the best and worst in man. It shows the beauty of man’s expressions, the pureness of his devotion, and the depth of his sacrifice. History also records man’s vile thoughts, misguided piety, and the extent of his depravity. The freedom we have to read the word of God in our own language was paid for with the price of sweat and blood.

Before we can understand the labors of English translators, we must understand the times they lived in. Until 1382 there was no English Bible. In fact, to have the Bible in the language of the people was forbidden. The church in power was the Roman Catholic Church, whose Bible was the Latin Vulgate and whose influence spread to the monarchy in England. The Church believed men would misunderstand and mistranslate the Scriptures, and they had the power of the state to enforce this ban. If we are to know the history of the English Bible, we must acquaint ourselves with the history of English monarchs. This is especially true of the years from William Tyndale to the translation of the Authorized Version, for during this time England faced it own Reformation.

The House Of Tudor

To help children remember the kings and queens of England, an unknown poet chronicled their reigns in verse. A great deal of truth concerning the House of Tudor is revealed in this rhyme:

Henry the Seventh was frugal of means;

Henry the Eighth had a great many queens.

Edward the Sixth reformation began;

Cruel Queen Mary prevented the plan.

Wise and profound were Elizabeth’s aims.

Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547):

“Lord! open the King of England’s eyes,”was the fiery death cry of translator William Tyndale. [John Foxe, Foxe’s Book Of Christian Martyrs (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 136.] The king he was praying for was Henry VIII, the second king of the House of Tudor (1485-1603).Tyndale’s prayer was answered, for during the time of Henry several major English translations appeared with the king’s approval and the Church of England was born.

Henry’s elder brother Arthur had been Prince of Wales and heir apparent to their father, Henry VII, but died in 1502 before taking the throne. Arthur was married to Catherine of Aragon in a political alliance between England and Spain. Henry became king upon his father’s death and married Catherine to continue the alliance with Spain. All was well for a period of time, but when Catherine did not give Henry any male children he sought to divorce her. As scriptural proof for his divorcethe king cited Leviticus 20:21, “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.”

Pope Clement VII, however, was unwilling to grant the divorce. This did not stop the king. In 1529 Henry held a trial in London to divorce Catherine. The trial reached no decision, so the king dismissed his chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey, and made Thomas Cromwell his new chief minister. Cromwell proposed to Parliament that England break with Rome and appoint the Archbishop of Canterbury as the highest officer in the English church. Parliament passed legislation to this effect in 1533, and the Archbishop granted the divorce. Immediately afterwards, Henry married Anne Boleyn; however, as is well known to students of history, this was not the end of Henry’s marriages. During his reign he married six times: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. Three of Henry’s children ruled England: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.

Edward VI (reigned 1547-1553):

Edward was the son of Henry and Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife. He was only nine years old when he became king of England. Educated by Protestant tutors, he favored major reforms in the Church of England. During his reign the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, compiled the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer book offered an English version of prayers, devotions, and Scripture readings instead of the Latin liturgy used in the Roman Catholic Church. However, the young king became ill in 1552 and died on July 6, 1553.

Mary I (reigned 1553-1558):

“Light came and went and came again.” So wrote Thomas Wolfe in his semi-autobiographical story, The Lost Boy. The same imagery comes to mind during the reign of Mary Tudor. She brought with her rule days of darkness. Born of Henry and Catherine of Aragon on February 18, 1516, Mary became queen of England upon the death of her half-brother Edward. She was a strong Catholic who sought to bring England back under the Papacy.

Misguided by her zeal, she soon earned for herself the infamous name “Bloody Mary.” During the last three years of her reign she executed over three hundred Protestants by burning them at the stake. One of these was the Archbishop himself, Thomas Cranmer. While imprisoned, Cranmer had signed a statement of recantation. Before being burned at the stake it is reported that Cranmer placed the hand he used to sign the statement in the fire first as a sign of his remorse. Many of the great scholars who were not executed fled to Geneva during this period. It was there that they produced the beloved Geneva Bible. [Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion To The Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 759.]

Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603):

Light came again with the rule of Elizabeth I. As Mary’s reign was noted for its bloodshed, Elizabeth’s was noted for its glory. Born on September 7, 1533, Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn. It is during her reign we have what is now referred to as the “Elizabethan Age,” considered to be one of England’s grandest periods of history.

England’s advancements were massive. In literature, great works by Shakespeare, Spenser, and Marlowe were composed and a fine tuning of the English language developed that influenced novelists and playwrights for years to come. In exploration, achievements included the rewards of seamen such as Drake, Hawkins, and Raleigh, the establishment of the East India Company, the first colonies in the New World, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Advancements in religion range from the “Elizabethan Settlement” that helped soothe the strong conflict between Catholicism and Calvinism to the reestablishment of the Church of England and the reissuing of the Book of Common Prayer. It was also during this time the Bishops’ Bible was translated, which helped to guide the translators of the Authorized Version.

Elizabeth’s reign was not without conflict. Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England in 1568 to escape a rebellion in Scotland. Mary was a strong Roman Catholic and thus became the axis of several English Catholic conspiracies that arose, seeking to reestablish the primacy of the Roman Church. This finally led Elizabeth to have Mary arrested and sentenced to death in 1587. Mary’s son, James, was King James VI of Scotland. Upon the death of Elizabeth, he became King James I of England in 1603. As staunch a Protestant as his mother had been a Catholic, James was the monarch who permitted the translators to produce the Bible that now commonly bears his name.

John Wycliffe (1324-1384)

“I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.” So wrote John Wycliffe (or Wyclif) to the Duke of Lancaster in 1381. Although Wycliffe’s translation was taken from the Latin Vulgate, and was not one of the translations underlying the Authorized Version, his accomplishments demand discussion in any survey of early English versions of the Bible.It was Wycliffe who gave us the first English translation of the whole Bible, and it was his labor that inspired others to follow in his footsteps by translating the word of God in the language of the people.

Wycliffe translated the New Testament by himself, but was most likely aided by Nicholas of Hereford with the Old Testament. His Bible was introduced in 1382 and later was revised by John Pervy. This was a noble task because the printing press had yet to be invented and all copies of the translation were written by hand. Today we have almost two hundred of these handwritten Wycliffe Bibles.

Though still in the Roman Church, Wycliffe and his followers (a group of poor monks known as Lollards) taught doctrines that differed significantly with the teachings of the Catholic Church of that day. They believed in the authority of the word of God and that it should be translated into English. They believed in a personal salvation based upon divine election. And they rejected the doctrines of transubstantiation and indulgences. Further, they taught that the Church’s hierarchy was unscriptural and that the Pope had no more authority then any other priest. Obviously, their doctrines were unpopular with Rome.

Several of the Lollards suffered for their faith. John Purvey and Nicholas of Hereford, who helped with the Wycliffe translation, were arrested and forced to recant their beliefs. In London in 1382, after many of Wycliffe’s teachings were condemned as heretical, a great number of his followers in Oxford were also forced to recant. Wycliffe himself, however, was never tried nor martyred. Still his memory and work received the wrath of Rome. Wycliffe was forced into retirement and remained at his rectory at Lutterworth, England until his death in 1384. In 1401 Parliament ordered the penalty of death for those caught teaching and proclaiming the doctrines of John Wycliffe. On May 4, 1415 the Council of Constance ordered Wycliffe’s body to be exhumed and burned for heresy.

The following compares the translation of Wycliffe with that of the King James Version in one of the most popular Psalms of Scripture, the Shepherd’s Psalm.

Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:1-6 (Wycliffe Version)

The lord gouerneth me, and no thing schal fail to me; In the place of pasture there he hath set me. He nourished me on the water of refreshing; He conurtide my soul. He lead me forth on the paths of rightfulness; for his name. For whi though Y shall go in the midest of shadow of death; Y shall not dread evil, for thou art with me. thy yard and thy staff; tho han comforted me. Thou hast made ready a boord in my sight; agens hem that troblen me. Thou hast made fat myn heed with oyle; and my cuppe, fillinge greetli, is ful cleer. And thi merci schal sue me; in alle the daies of my lijf. And that Y dwelle in the hows of the Lord; in to the lengthe of daies.

William Tyndale (1494-1536)

The name of William Tyndale has borne the slander of the Roman Catholic Church. In his own day, Sir Thomas More accused him of “abominable heresies,” and twentieth-century Catholic historian Henry G. Graham refers to Tyndale as an inept rebellious priest. [Henry G. Graham, Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church, 22nd edition (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1987), 123.] Despite the defamation, God used William Tyndale to provide for us the first English Bible printed on the printing press. Tyndale also set the stage for the English translations that followed.

John Foxe provides us with a contrasting view of this saint of God. Foxe tells us of his early training at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and as a schoolmaster who taught the children of the Knight of Gloucestershire. Foxe also points out it was in this capacity that Tyndale earned himself a reputation for being contentious with local priests who would visit the Knight and his family. [Foxe, 136.] Despite his leanings towards biblical debate, Foxe describes Tyndale as a gracious man who opened his heart and home to strangers and offered fellowship to all that wished it.

It was his openness and generosity that led to his demise. While in Antwerp, Tyndale befriended fellow Englishman Henry Philips. Tyndale showed Philips all his works, translations, plans, and personal theology. He trusted Philips as a good man and fellow believer. Philips was neither. Like Judas of old, Philips arranged with officers for the arrest of William Tyndale and then, while in the public street, pointed to Tyndale so the officials knew whom to arrest.

Tyndale’s “crime” was the publishing of God’s word in the language of the people. He was charged with heresy and sentenced to death by burning. While tied to the stake and awaiting his fiery death, William Tyndale offered his final prayer before being ushered into eternity, beseeching the Lord to “open the King of England’s eyes.” Once again the English Bible was purchased with the blood of the saints.

Tyndale used the Traditional Text and laid the foundation for the KJV that followed years later. Although Tyndale translated a few Old Testament books, his emphasis was on the New Testament, of whichhis translation was first published in 1525. However, Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London, seized and burnt most of these editions in London in October of 1526. Only two first editions survive today. Tyndale published revised and corrected editions in 1534 and 1535.

One interesting historical fact concerning Tunstall and his collection and consequent burning of Tyndale’s New Testament should be noted. In order to assure that all copies were retrieved, Tunstall arranged to purchase a large quantity of Tyndale’s earlier editions. The monies paid by Tunstall for these earlier defective copies were used by Tyndale to finance the revision of his New Testament. Thus, Tunstall unknowingly furthered the translation and publication of the English version he so greatly hated.

The following comparison illustrates the impact Tyndale’s New Testament had on the Authorized Version.

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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.

Matthew 6:9-13 (Tyndale)

After thys maner therfore praye ye. O oure father which arte in heven, halowed be thy name. Let thy kyngdome come. Thy will be fulfilled, as well in erth, as it is in heven. Geve us this daye oure dayly breede. And forgeve us oure treaspases, even as we forgeve oure trespacers. And leade us not into temptacion: but delyver us from evyll. For thyne is the kyngedome and the power, and the glorye for ever. Amen.

Miles Coverdale (1488-1569)

Tyndale’s final prayer was answered in the work of Miles Coverdale. Coverdale had befriended Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. In addition, the chief minister to Henry was Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who encouraged Coverdale in his translational work. Consequently, the Lord was setting the stage to provide England and the English-speaking world with its first translation approved by a king.

God used Miles Coverdale in a unique way because Coverdale labored on three early English translations: his own Coverdale’s Bible (1535), the Great Bible (1539), and the Geneva Bible (1560). Indirectly he helped with the Matthew’s Bible (1537) and the Bishops’ Bible (1568), as these were revisions of his works. All of these early translations, as well as Tyndale’s translations, were based on the Traditional Text and used by the translators of the KJV of 1611. These were the English translations referred to by the KJV translators when they wrote:

“Truly, good Christian Reader, we never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one; . . . but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark.”

Miles Coverdale was born in Yorkshire, the birthplace of John Wycliffe. He was educated at Cambridge and became an Augustinian friar. In 1528, after embracing the teachings of Martin Luther, Coverdale left the priesthood and was forced to leave England. Coverdale soon became a disciple of William Tyndale and took up his work of translating the Bible in the English language. His first translation of the Old Testament as it is found in the Coverdale’s Bible was not translated from Hebrew, a language he did not know, but from German and Latin. His New Testament was a revision of Tyndale’s New Testament. When he published his Bible in October 1535, it became the first complete Bible printed in English.

Matthew’s Bible (1537)

Thomas Matthew was the pseudonym of John Rogers (1500-1555). Rogers received his degree from Cambridge in 1525 and became a priest in London. In 1534 he went to Antwerp as chaplain to the Merchant Adventurers. There, he became associated with William Tyndale and was converted to Protestantism. Rogers, with his wife and eight children, went to Wittenberg where he pastored a church. Under the reign of Queen Mary, Rogers was charged with heresy and was burned at the sake for the gospel.

His work is a mixture of Tyndale and Coverdale. The New Testament is William Tyndale’s, as are the first five books of the Old Testament. Some also attest that Joshua to 2 Chronicles were likewise the work of Tyndale, which he finished shortly before his death and were first published here by Rogers. The rest of the Old Testament is the work of Coverdale.

The Great Bible (1539)

This was the second major work done by Miles Coverdale, called the Great Bible because of its size. It is a very thick Bible with pages measuring nine inches wide and fifteen inches long. It was produced for English churches with the full approval of the king, Henry VIII. Some consider this the first “authorized” Bible because the king approved it and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, oversaw it.

This version, based on the Traditional Text of the New Testament, was revised and altered in accordance with the Latin Vulgate. It never became “great” with the public and ceased publication within thirty years. The desire for an English Bible still remained. The public longed for a Bible that the average Englishman could hold in his hands and read at home. This need was met with the Geneva Bible that followed.

The following compares the Great Bible with the King James Version. The spelling in the KJV reflects our current editions, while the spelling in the Great Bible remains as it was in 1539.

Mark 1:1-3 (KJV)

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 before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Mark 1:1-3 (Great Bible)

The begynnynge of the Gospell of Jesu Chryst the sonne of God, As it is written in the Prophetes, behold, I sende my messenger before thy face which shall prepare thy waye before the. The voyce of a cryer in the wildernes: prepare ye the waye of the Lorde, and make his pathes strayte.

The Geneva Bible (1560)

In 1553, Mary became Queen of England and began a fiery persecution against Protestants. The Great Bible was removed from churches, and many Christians fled the country in order to escape her religious wrath. Many of those who fled persecution found refuge in Geneva. Knowing the need to preserve God’s word in English, some who had either suffered persecution under Mary, or had fled because of the persecution she produced, began work on a new translation of the Bible. In 1557 the New Testament was published. It was mostly the work of William Whittingham, brother-in-law of the great reformer John Calvin. With the aid of Anthony Gilby and Thomas Sampson, Whittingham immediately revised his New Testament. For the Old Testament, the 1550 edition of the Great Bible was used and revised. By 1560 the entire Geneva Biblewas complete and published.

It was produced in a handy size using Roman type that made it easier to read than the “black letter” used in earlier English Bibles. It also contained several notations that the Catholic Church found offensive. For example, the notation found in Revelation 9:3, which describes the locust coming out of the pit, reads, “Locusts are false teachers, heretics, and worldly, subtle prelates, with monks, friars, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, doctors, bachelors, and masters, which forsake Christ to maintain false doctrine.” Unlike previous translations, it was the work of a committee and not the work of one man or a revision of one man’s work. Readers of William Shakespeare will undoubtedly recognize many of the citations from the Geneva Bible, for it was the translation from which he quoted in his plays.

Colossians 1:12-17 (KJV)

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Colossians 1:12-17 (Geneva Bible)

Gyving thankes unto the Father, whiche hathe made us mete to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saintes in light. Who hathe delivered us from the power of darkenes, and hathe translated us into the kingdome of His deare Sonne. In whom we have redemption through His bloode, (that is, ) the forgivenes of sinnes. Who is the image of the invisible God, the first borne of everie creature. For by him were all things created, which are in heaven, and which are in earth, things visible and invisible: whether (they be) Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers, all thynges were created by hym and for hym. And he is before all thynges, and in hym all things consist.

The Bishops’ Bible (1568)

Perhaps the loveliest Bible printed at this time was the Bishops’ Bible, a large folio with many beautiful engravings throughout. Following the persecutions and the banning of the Scriptures during Queen Mary’s reign, Queen Elizabeth, who succeeded Mary to the English throne, ordered the Bible to be restored to the British churches. Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker, desiring a new translation, assigned sections of the Great Bible to a team of bishops for revision. This occurred in 1566, and the new revision was accomplished and published in 1568. It had fewer notes than the Geneva Bible and was designed to give the clergy and congregates of the Church of England one official, standard Bible. However, it was not successful in this task. Because this version was issued under the authority of Queen Elizabeth, it is considered the second “authorized” English Bible.

Revelation 1:1-3 (KJV)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Revelation 1:1-3 (Bishops’ Bible)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, for to shewe unto his servauntes thinges which must shortly come to passe: and when he had sent, he shewed by his Angel unto his servant John, Which bare record of the word of God, and of the testimonie of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Happie is he that readeth, and they that heare the wordes of this prophecie, and keepe those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

“A Good One Better”

The goal of the translators of the Authorized Version was to make their new translation even better than its predecessors. As we have seen, these translators stated that they did not consider previous translations bad, but wanted to make “out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against.” Their desire was to take God’s word in English and provide one principal translation based on these earlier English Protestant versions. Their work was successful. The KJV was not only based on earlier English versions, but also became the standard English Bible for the next four hundred years.

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

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Chapter 3: Testimony Through Time

Chapter 3: Testimony Through Time

[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“A word is dead When it is said, Some say. I say it just Begins to live That day.”

-Emily Dickinson, (1872)

The Church at Antioch has a noteworthy position in Scripture as the first place believers were called Christians (Acts 11:26). It is also interesting that where both Antioch and Alexandria are mentioned in the same passage, Antioch is listed as a place of service and Alexandria as a place of disruption (Acts 6:5-10). Could it be that God, who foreknows all things, provides for us our starting point in searching for the original text? If so, the direction would not be in Alexandria, Egypt. Instead, it would be in the cradle of New Testament Christianity at Antioch of Syria, where the Traditional Text originated.

Ignatius (d. 107 AD)

Ignatius (or Theophorus) was the bishop of Antioch, Syria. Because of his Christian testimony, he was arrested and sent to Rome to be martyred by wild beasts in the imperial games. En route to his martyrdom this saint wrote letters to six different churches (Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, and Smyrnaeans), as well as one letter to Polycarp.

Ignatius was sound both in doctrine and spirit. Traditionally it is claimed that he knew several of the apostles personally and sought to follow their examples. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1 Corinthians 4:16). Ignatius lived this admonition. He patterned his life after Paul’s, and his theology and attitude reflect his closeness with the Apostle John. Like John, Ignatius proclaimed the Trinity and deity of Jesus Christ. He states that Christians should be found “in the Son, and in the Father and in the Holy Ghost”(Magnesians 13:1) [Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers.] and refers to Christ as “our God” (Trallians 7:1). Concerning biblical atonement, he writes:

“Let no man deceive himself. Both the things which are in heaven, and the glorious angels, and rulers, both visible and invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation.” (Smyrnaeans 6:1).

Ignatius reflects a Christian attitude in regard to others and rejects the anti-Semitism of Marcion and Origen. Ignatius agrees with Scripture and crumbles the walls of racism in a day when the Jews were despised by the Gentile nations.

Sadly, the scriptural citations made by Ignatius are often ignored or regarded as unimportant in the study of textual criticism. Dr. Alexander Souter wrote that Ignatius’ citations hardly have any bearing in respect to textual variants. [Alexander Souter, The Text And Canon Of The New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917), 76.]With such statements the writings of Ignatius are dismissed. Perhaps this is because the biblical citations used by this early church father support the Traditional Text. When we look at his writings, we find that he made several quotations from and allusions to Scripture. [Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 100.] It is true that he does not cite word for word; however, it should be remembered that he was not writing a theological dissertation. He was on his way to be martyred, most likely citing Scriptures from memory. Yet, it is clear from these citations that the text of Ignatius agrees with the Traditional Text.

A textual variant of great importance is found in 1 Timothy 3:16. The King James Version reads, “God was manifest in the flesh.” Most contemporary versions, using the Alexandrian Text, read, “He was manifest in the flesh.” There is an obvious difference between He and God. The KJV makes a clear proclamation concerning the deity of Jesus Christ. Ignatius apparently used a text that reflected the reading found in the KJV. He writes, “There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh” (Ephesians 7:1) and “God Himself being manifested in human form” (Ephesians 19:1). Ignatius uses the Greek words for God (theos) and for flesh (sarki) in the first citation, and a form of the Greek word for manifest (peanerosas) in the second. This would agree with the Greek found in the Traditional Text.

It is also interesting to read the phraseology of Ignatius in reference to the person of Jesus Christ. Consistently he refers to the Second Person of the Trinity as the “Lord Jesus Christ,” or “our God Jesus Christ,” or the more often used phrase, “Jesus Christ.” Very rarely do we find “Jesus” or “Christ” by themselves in his writings. This would demonstrate a fuller text concerning divine titles that we also find consistently used in the Traditional Text of the New Testament.

Polycarp (70 to 155 AD)

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna and traditionally is considered a disciple of the Apostle John. [Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries (1954; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 79.] In 155 AD Polycarp was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. It is said that he was first placed at the stake to be burned, singing hymns while waiting for the fire to devour him. However, the fire burned around him but did not consume him. The order was then given to stab him to death and burn his remains.

The witness of Polycarp is important in the study of textual criticism for the following reasons. First, he makes about sixty New Testament citations in his one letter, Polycarp to the Philippians. Over half of these are citations from Paul’s epistles, showing his acquaintance with the apostle and the acceptance of Paul’s letters as Scripture. Second, he was a contemporary of the apostles and would have had access to either their original writings or copies that were written shortly after the originals. Third, his biblical citations do not differ with the Traditional Text; instead they support it.

Most of what Polycarp writes deals with Christian living. He states his profession of faith early in his letter: “forasmuch as ye know that it is by grace ye are saved, not by works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3). And, “He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also” (Philippians 2:2). Further, he makes a good profession and stands against the dualism of the Gnostics in stating:

“For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist: and whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the first-born of Satan.” (Philippians 7:1).

The biblical quotation Polycarp uses to confront Gnosticism is a citation from the Traditional Text. 1 John 4:3 reads, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.” The Alexandrian line does not contain the phrase “is come in the flesh” in verse three. The verse deals with the lack of confession, not the believer’s profession found in verse two. As quoted above, Polycarp writes that “every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” agreeing with the Traditional Text.

Some have suggested that Polycarp is really citing 2 John 1:7 and not 1 John 4:3. This does not seem to have been the view of the renowned New Testament and patristic scholar J. B. Lightfoot. In his book, The Apostolic Fathers, [J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, (London: Macmillan, 1891) 171.] Lightfoot identifies the quotation as being from 1 John 4:3, as does Archbishop Wake in his translation of Polycarp. [Wake, The Lost Books of The Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden (1927; reprint, Word Bible Publishers), 194.] Their observations are well taken as the Greek of 1 John 4:3 more closely matches the Greek citation of Polycarp.

1 John and Polycarp use the perfect tense, 2 John uses the present tense. The perfect tense means a present state resulting from a past action (i.e., because Christ came in the flesh, he is now in the flesh). Clearly Polycarp was citing 1 John 4:3, which matches the Traditional Text.

Another example is found in Romans 14:10, “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Polycarp writes “And we must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ;” (Philippians 6:2), agreeing with the Traditional Text. The Alexandrian Text changes “judgment seat of Christ” to “judgment seat of God.” Since this passage in Romans is the only passage in the New Testament that speaks of the “judgment seat of Christ,” Polycarp must have received his reading from the Traditional Text.

The same may be said of the reading in Galatians 4:26, “which is the mother of us all.” The Alexandrian Text reads: “and she is our mother.” The Greek word panton (of us all) is not contained in the Alexandrian manuscripts, while it is in the majority of all Greek manuscripts. Polycarp writes “which is the mother of us all” and uses the Greek word panton (Philippians 3:3). Where did Polycarp get the phrase if not from the Traditional Text? Plainly the disciple of St. John and friend of the Apostle Paul was using a Greek text very much like the Textus Receptus.

Finally, as with Ignatius, Polycarp uses the fuller text when making reference to the Person of Jesus Christ. In his brief epistle, consisting of only four chapters, Polycarp uses the triune phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” seven times. This seems amazing since the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians used the phrase only three times. However, in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul uses “Lord Jesus Christ” the same number of times as Polycarp. In this light, the thought that the multiple uses of “Lord Jesus Christ” found in the KJV were added to the New Testament text by Byzantine monks long after the apostolic age seems far-fetched. It is obvious from Polycarp that the expanded phrase was in common use at the time of the New Testament and shortly thereafter, again demonstrating a link with the Traditional Text.

Early Translations

In addition to the Greek, we have many early and old translations of the Bible that are classified as Byzantine or have readings that differ from the Alexandrian Text in favor of the Traditional Text. An early translation must have had a source. If an early translation has a certain reading, and a later Greek manuscript has the same reading, we can conclude that the source for the early translation had the reading as well even if we no longer have that original Greek source. The following translations have readings that support the Traditional Text.

The Peshitta

The Peshitta (meaning clear or simple) is the standard Syrian version and was authorized by two opposing branches of the Syrian Church, the Nestorians and the Jacobites. Today the Syrian Church still holds this version in a place of special reverence. [Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 194.] Their tradition states that the Peshitta was the work of St. Mark or the Apostle Thaddeus (Jude). The Peshitta New Testament resembles the Byzantine text-type and therefore supports the Traditional Text. Alexander Souter noted that “the Peshitta Syriac rarely witnesses to anything different from what we find in the great bulk of Greek manuscripts.” [Souter, 60.] It should be remembered that the “great bulk of Greek manuscripts” are Byzantine.

The Peshitta was considered the oldest of the Syrian versions dating to the second century or perhaps before, although some scholars disagreed and assigned it to the first part of the fifth century. [Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament (New York: Claredon, 1977), 36.] In 1901, textual scholar F. C. Burkitt questioned the early date of the Peshitta and attributed the work to Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa. This soon became the standard position adopted by most textual scholars. Dr. Arthur Voobus attacked Burkitt’s view and compared Rabbula’s citations with the Peshitta, finding several differences. Likewise, Dr. Edward Hills argued that Rabbula could not have been the translator because the division within the Syrian Church took place during the time of Rabbula, who led one of the divisions. Yet both sides claim the Peshitta as Holy Scripture. Such unanimous acceptance would not have been likely if the leader of one side had translated it. [Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), 172-174.] Metzger justly points out that the question as to who really produced the Peshitta will most likely never be answered. [Metzger, 59-60.]

The Old Latin

The Old Latin versions are divided into two types, African and European. The earliest Old Latin manuscripts in existence today date from the fourth century and onward. However, it is also thought that these later manuscripts strongly reflect the Old Latin New Testament that was in existence in the second and third centuries.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the majority of textual scholars believed that Antioch of Syria was the birthplace of the Old Latin versions. [Metzger, 288.] Today, they are more inclined to look to North Africa. Regardless of where the Old Latin originated, it is clear that it is strongly associated with the Syrian text-type, what we have called the Traditional Text.

An example of this may be found in Mark 1:2. The Traditional Text read, “As it is written in the prophets.” The text of Mark then quotes from two prophets, Malachi (3:1) and Isaiah (40:3). The Alexandrian Text reads, “As it is written in the Prophet Isaiah” and then quotes the two prophets. The first reading is found in the King James Verson, the New King James Version and the Traditional Greek Text. It is also found in the Peshitta. Among the Old Latin manuscripts (which are usually classified with small Roman letters in italics), we find the same reading as in the Traditional Text.

The same is true of the longer ending of Mark and the story of the woman caught in adultery (known as the pericope de adultera). The Alexandrian Text does not contain Mark 16:9-20, though it is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts, the Peshitta, and almost all Old Latin manuscripts. The pericope de adultera, found in John 7:52-8:11, is also the reading of the Traditional Greek Text and found in the majority of Old Latin witnesses.

Other Early Versions

The Ethiopic Version is thought to have originated at the beginning of the fourth century; however, the existing manuscripts now extant date to the eleventh century. While it does contain a mixed reading, it is classified as basically Byzantine in origin. [Ibid., 324.] Likewise, the Armenian Version, Georgian Version, and the Slavonic Version are of the same textual family as the Traditional Text. [Ibid., 324-327.] The Gothic Version dates to the first part of the fourth century, and was translated by Wulfilas who used the Traditional Text. [Aland, 210-212.] Thus, these early versions are more closely related to the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus than to the Critical Text.

Chrysostom (345-407 AD)

John Chrysostom was both a great biblical expositor and preacher. His parents were Christians and came from Antioch. Chrysostom began his career as a lawyer until his conversion in 368 AD. He then began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was ordained in 386 AD and preached in Antioch until 398 AD when he became the Bishop of Constantinople. The Greek New Testament he used was of the Traditional Text.

Even though Christian historian Earle Cairns describes Chrysostom as courteous, affectionate, and kindly natured, [Cairns, 152.] Chrysostom was not ashamed to boldly proclaim the truth no matter who was offended. While at Constantinople he affronted Empress Eudoxia, the wife of Emperor Arcadius, preaching against her manner of dress and the silver statues of her placed throughout the city. Like the preaching of John the Baptist, his sermon came at a personal cost. He was banished from the city in 404 AD, and died while in exile.

Chrysostom left about six hundred forty sermons that are still in existence. He was so eloquent in his presentation of the gospel that he earned for himself the name Chrysostom meaning golden mouth, and is hailed as one of the greatest preachers of the church. Because of the massive amount of homilies left by Chrysostom, and because of his expository style of preaching, it is very easy to determine the text-type he used. Dr. Souter notes that the type of text Chrysostom used is reflected by Codex K, which is of the Byzantine line. [Souter, 85.] However, it should be noted that Codex K dates to the ninth century, several hundred years after Chrysostom. This demonstrates the continued use of the Traditional Text throughout the centuries.

The fact that Chrysostom used the Traditional Text is without question. An example of this may be found in his homilies on the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew chapter 6:1-15 there are two very notable differences between the major lines of manuscripts. They are found in verses 1 and 13 and can be illustrated by comparing the King James Version with the New International Version:

Matthew 6:1 (KJV)

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:1 (NIV)

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

The KJV uses the word “alms” (eleemosunen), while the NIV uses the phrase “acts of righteousness” (dikaiosunen). One can see from the English and the Greek that these are two different words with two different meanings. Chrysostom makes mention of this text and uses the word alms (eleemosunen). He writes, “Thus, ‘take heed’ saith he, ‘as to your alms’” [Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew, XIX:5.]

Another example may be found in what has been dubbed the Lord’s Prayer. Protestants conclude the prayer with the phrase, “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” Most Roman Catholics end the prayer with the phrase, “but deliver us from evil.” The Latin Vulgate of Jerome does not contain the final benediction; however, it is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts and the Traditional Text. Again, the two may be compared in our English versions this way:

Matthew 6:13 (KJV)

“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.”

Matthew 6:13 (NIV)

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

In this same sermon, Homily XIX, Chrysostom cites the passage as found in the Traditional Text and then expounds on the words kingdom, power, and glory. This would be rather difficult to do if his Bible did not contain them.

The Three Cappadocian Fathers

John Chrysostom was not alone in his use of the Traditional Text. Basil of Caesarea (329-379 AD), Gregory of Nazianzus (330-389 AD), and Gregory of Nyssa (330-395 AD) used the same text. These three saints are known as the Cappadocian Fathers. They are noted for their strength in doctrine and opposition to the heresy of Arianism, which denied the Trinity. All three are associated with the Orthodox Church of Constantinople.

The Greek and Old Latin manuscripts used by these men reflect the text of the traditional line. Dr. Souter states that their Greek text most likely originated in Constantinople. [Souter, 9.] Souter also lists the Gospel manuscripts of N, O, S, and F as reflecting the textual line of these three church fathers. [Souter, 30.] These manuscripts (N, O, S, and F) are from the sixth century and represent the Traditional Text.

The following examples help to demonstrate the text-type used by the Cappadocian Fathers. In Matthew 17:21 the Alexandrian Text does not contain the verse. But the verse is found in the Traditional Text and is quoted by the Cappadocian Fathers. In Mark 1:2 we find the reading “Isaiah the prophet” in the Alexandrian Text. The Traditional Text and the Cappadocian Fathers render the passage as “prophets.” In Mark 16:9-20, the longer ending is not contained in the Alexandrian Text but found in the Traditional Text and in the Greek of the Cappadocian Fathers. In Luke 2:14 the Alexandrian Text has the phrase “men of goodwill.” The Traditional Text and the Cappadocian Fathers render it as “good will toward men.” In John 5:4 the Alexandrian Text does not contain the verse. Nevertheless, it is found in the Traditional Text and the Greek text of the Cappadocian Fathers.

The Church Under Fire

Throughout the centuries there have been those strong in the faith that were willing to suffer and die for the cause of Christ. John Foxe, in his Acts and Monuments (later called Foxe’s Book of Martyrs), recorded the bravery and honor with which many of them met death. Those who persecuted them also left written records, often accepted by later historians, which stigmatized the persecuted as “heretics.” Among those groups of Christians who suffered were the Paulicians, the Bogomiles, the Anabaptists, the Waldenses, and the Albigenses. They are mentioned here because they used the Traditional Text or a translation that reflected the readings found in the Traditional Text.

Most were labeled as heretics in order to justify their mass murder. A case in point would be the Albigenses, so named because they originated in southern France near the old city of Albiga. To this date, they are listed in most histories of the church as a heretical sect that practiced dualism. It has been claimed that the Albigenses believed in two gods, one good and the other evil. This is not the case. American Baptist historian Dr. Henry C. Vedder demonstrated that the Albigenses were never dualistic but were Bible-believing Christians. Those who persecuted them did not theologically distinguish between the Albigenses and heretics who were dualists. Actually, the Albigenses opposed the dualistsas much as they did the Roman church. [Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists (1907; reprint, Valley Forge: The Judson Press, 1969), 103.]

The true “heresy” of these French believers was that they would not conform to Rome. They believed each Christian had the right to read the Bible for himself in his own language.Pope Innocent III declared war on them and began the infamous Inquisition. This cruel war on “heretics” claimed the lives of countless thousands without formal trials or hearings. [Edward Peter, Inquistion (The Free Press; 1988), 50.] In this dark period of church history, unnamed thousands died because they wished to place the Bible into the hands of the common man.

Some Catholic historians and theologians today, while opposing the deeds of the Inquisition, argue that there was no need for the Bible to be translated into the language of the common man during this time because most could not read. They further state that since those who could read did so in Latin, there was no need to have any other translation other than Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. This by no means justifies the mass torture and murder of thousands of people. Besides, it overlooks several simple truths. First, because someone could not read would not prevent a person from wanting a Bible in his or her own language. It is possible that someone else could have read it to him or her. Second, if there had been only Latin Bibles, those who could not understand Latin would have been without hope of ever hearing the word of God in their own language. Third, history shows that once the Bible is translated into the language of the people, the people learn to read. Time and again the Bible has been the basic textbook for individuals to learn their own language in written form.

Another example of persecution concerns the Waldenses, who are often linked in history with the Albigenses. Some have suggested that the name Waldenses came from Peter Waldo, a Bible-believing merchant turned preacher. Others believe the name comes from the Italian or Spanish word for valley, implying they originated in the valley region of northern Italy. Regardless of where they derived their name, they strongly stood against many teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of that day.

Catholic and Orthodox historians David Knowles and Dimitri Obolensky call the Waldenses proto-Protestants. This group regarded the Bible as their supreme authority in all matters of practice and faith. They did not believe the Eucharist contained the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. Instead, they viewed it as a symbolic memorial of Christ’s suffering for redemption. [David Knowles and Dimitri Obolensky, The Christian Centuries, vol. 2 (Paulist Press, 1969), 224, 369.] They proclaimed salvation was not by works, but was the free gift of God. Baptism for the Waldenses followed conversion and was not administered to infants. The Waldenses copied and translated the Bible in the vernacular and freely published their translation, believing that everyone should have the Bible in their own language. [Cairns, 248.] Therefore, their work in using the Traditional Text and providing indigenous translations must not go unnoticed in the biblical study of textual criticism.

Because of the Albigenses, the Waldenses, and others, the Bible was translated into Old French, Old High German, Slavonic, Old and Middle English, and other languages. One such translation that dates from this period is the West Saxon Gospels. This is the oldest version of the Gospels in English. The following example from Luke shows that this version followed the Traditional Text (or a Latin manuscript of the Traditional Text).

Luke 15:16 (KJV)

“And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”

Luke 15:16 (RSV)

“And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”

Luke 15:16 (West Saxon Version)

“Da gewilnode he his wambe gelyllan of pam beancoddum be oa swyn aeton: and him man ne sealde.”

The subtle difference comes from the variance between the two lines of manuscripts. The Greek Textus Receptus reads, gemisai ten koilian autou apo (to fill his belly with). The Critical Text reads chortasthenai ek (fed out of). P75, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus support the reading of the Critical Text. All the Byzantine manuscripts, most Old Latin manuscripts, the Peshitta, and the Armenian support the Textus Receptus. It is plain from the reading of the West Saxon Gospels which one they follow. The words “wambe gefyllan” mean “stomach filled” and agrees with the Traditional Text.

To date we have over five thousand Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Eighty to ninety percent of these Greek manuscripts support the Traditional Text. [Zane Hodges, “The Greek Text of the King James Version,” Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (1968), 335.] The agreement within this vast host of manuscripts is astounding (especially when compared to the tremendous amount of disagreement found within the few Alexandrian manuscripts). To these textual witnesses we can add the testimony of history, as we have seen in this chapter. This wealth of textual evidence is reflected the work of such men as Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), Robert Stephanus (1503-1559), Theodore Beza (1519-1605), and Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir (1624). All of them produced Greek New Testaments supporting the Traditional Text. In turn, their work provided the word of God to the world. The Greek text of Erasmus was the one used by Martin Luther for his eminent and exquisite German Bible. These Greek texts served as the basis for the brilliant and beloved Italian, French, and Spanish Bibles as well. Ultimately the jewel in this textual crown was set in 1611 with the translation of the English Authorized (King James) Version.

These texts and their translations did not go unrewarded by God. The Greek text of the Reformers was that of the Traditional Text. Every Protestant Church formed during this period of church history used the Traditional Text or a translation based on it. The Traditional Text produced reform and revival. It has proven itself to work effectually within the community of believers who have received it as the very word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Consequently, it has affected history itself.

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

Order your copy of Crowned With Glory today.

Chapter 2: Tampering With Texts

Chapter 2: Tampering With Texts

[All footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

“I fancy that the poor fellow murmured some incoherent delirious words, and that she twisted them into this meaningless message.”

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez (1904)

The Bible warns of those who would “corrupt the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17) and handle it “deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). It refers to false gospels and epistles (2 Thessalonians 2:2), combined with false prophets and teachers who would seek to “make merchandise” of the true believer through “feigned words” (2 Peter 2:1-3). It did not take long for this to occur. In the days of the apostles and shortly afterwards, several doctrinal heresies arose. [A standard text on this subject is Heresies by Dr. Harold O. J. Brown (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1984 edition).] Their beginnings are referred to in the New Testament (Galatians 1:6-8; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7; and Jude 1:3-4). Such heresies plagued the early church and attempted to influence the transmission of Scripture, changing the text to fit their various doctrines whenever possible.


Gnosticism was by far the most influential heresy confronting the early church. Historian Will Durant defines Gnosticism as “the quest of godlike knowledge (gnosis) through mystic means.” [Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 3 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944), 604.] Not only did the Gnostics corrupt many readings found in the New Testament; they offered their own writings as inspired Scriptures such as the The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of the Ebionites, The Acts of Andrew, and The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene).Gnosticism assumed a variety of forms and sects that broadened its base and growth.

In general, the Gnostics taught that the physical was evil and the spiritual was good. A good god could not have created a physical world because good cannot create evil. So the Gnostic god created a being (or a line of beings called aeons) and one of these aeons, or gods, created the world. The so-called Christian Gnostics believed that Jesus was one of these aeons who created the world. Some Gnostics taught that Jesus Christ did not have a physical body, and when he walked on the earth he left no footprints because he never really touched the earth (Jesus being spiritual and the world physical). Other Gnostics taught that only our spiritual bodies were important; the physical body could engage in whatever it desired because only the spiritual body would be saved. Still other Gnostics taught that the physical body was so evil, it must be denied in order for the spiritual body to gain salvation, thereby shunning marriage and the eating of meat (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

The influence of Gnosticism may be felt today. For example, the Christian Gnostics taught that Jesus Christ was an aeon, a created god who in turn created the world. To them, Christ was a begotten god from the “Unbegotten Father.” The Authorized Version refers to Christ as, “the only begotten Son” (John 1:18). This is a literal translation of the Greek monogenes huios. However, some of the Egyptian manuscripts read monogenes theos (the only begotten god). The change in the Greek manuscripts reflects a textual variant that also happens to agree with Gnostic thought. It is possible that huios (Son) was changed to theos (god) to reflect Gnostic teaching.

Another example of Gnostic teaching concerns the dual sexual nature of God. In her book, The Gnostic Gospels, Dr. Elaine Pagels notes that some Gnostics taught that God was both Father and Mother. [Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 58-59.] Pagels states that Clement of Alexandria was influenced by this doctrine of a “masculo-feminine” God and characterized God in both masculine and feminine terms. [Ibid., 81.] In today’s society the same thought can be found. For example, the politically correct Inclusive Version renders the Lord’s Prayer as, “Our Father-Mother in heaven, hallowed be your name.” [New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version (New York: Oxford University Press,] This is not to say that the translators of the Inclusive Version are modern-day Gnostics, nor that they were influenced by Gnostic doctrine. It is to say that the teaching of a masculo-feminine deity propagated by some Gnostics has a contemporary advocate.

Docetism, a form of Gnosticism, taught Christ was a phantom without a physical body in accordance with the sect’s teaching that only the spiritual was good and the physical evil. This was the heresy of Simon Magus from the book of Acts. He taught that Jesus Christ was only an appearance of God, rejecting the orthodox teaching that Christ was God incarnate. [Chas S. Clifton, Encyclopedia Of Heresies And Heretics (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), 118-120.] Others believed that the nature of Jesus Christ was two-fold, spiritual and physical, with Jesus being physical and “the Christ” spiritual. They believed “the Christ” departed Jesus at the crucifixion and left him on the cross to suffer and die. The Gospel of Peter reflects such beliefs. Although cited by Justin Martyr, Origen, and Eusebius, scholars did not discover a manuscript of this Gnostic writing until 1886. While excavating the grave of a monk in Egypt, a French archaeological team discovered a copy of this Gnostic gospel. Only a small portion of it remained, providing a conflicting account of the crucifixion than the four Gospels of the Bible. This separation of Christ from Jesus is seen in the following quotation:

“And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night: and some fell. And the Lord cried out aloud saying: My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he had so said, he was taken up. And in the same hour was the veil of the temple of Jerusalem rent in two.” [M.R. James (trans.), “Gospel of Peter,” The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 5:18-20.]

These Gnostics believed the power of Jesus, “the Christ,” left him while he was on the cross. This may account for variants in Greek manuscripts in places such as 1 John 1:7. Some texts read “the blood of Jesus Christ” while others read “the blood of Jesus.” The difference may on the surface seem minor, but when examined in light of such heresy it could reflect a major tampering. These Gnostics would not reject the reading “the blood of Jesus” because they believed Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross when “the Christ” left him. However, the phrase “Jesus Christ,” which is the most common phrase used by John in his epistle, would be a direct attack on their dualistic heresy.

The following account of the resurrection in the Gospel of Peter is Docetic in nature. The Gospel of Peter reads:

“Now in the night whereon the Lord’s day dawned, as the soldiers were keeping guard two by two in every watch, there came a great sound in the heaven, and they saw the heavens opened and two men descend thence, shining with a great light, and drawing near unto the sepulchre. And that stone which had been set on the door rolled away of itself and went back to the side, and the sepulchre was opened and both of the young men entered in. When therefore those soldiers saw that, they waked up the centurion and the elders (for they also were there keeping watch); and while they were yet telling them the things which they had seen, they saw again three men come out of the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other, and a cross following, after them. And of the two they saw that their heads reached unto heaven, but of him that was led by them that it overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice out of the heavens saying: Hast thou (or Thou hast) preached unto them that sleep? And an answer was heard from the cross, saying: Yea.” [Ibid., 9:34-10:42.]

Irenaeus, an early church father who confronted various false doctrines, notes that such Gnostics used and corrected the Gospel of Mark. He wrote, “Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified.” [St. Ireaneus, Against Heresies III:11:7.] The Latin manuscript k may reflect such tampering. [Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), 166-167.] In Mark 16:4, k reads:

“Suddenly, moreover, at the third hour of the day, darkness fell upon the whole world, and angels descended from heaven, and as the Son of God was rising in brightness, they ascended at the same time with him, and straightway it was light.”

This citation from k matches the citation from the Gospel of Peter concerning the resurrection.

Gnosticism influenced a second century heretic named Marcion, though he did not fully embrace its teachings. Instead, he developed his own religious following, vowing to complete the work of St. Paul and separate Judaism from Christian teachings. However, he did so in an anti-Semitic fashion. In 140 AD he went to Rome and established his doctrines, teaching that the God of the Old Testament could not have been the Father of Jesus Christ because Christ speaks of his Father as a God of love and the God of the Jews was a God of wrath. Marcion taught that Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, created the world but that all created flesh was evil. A greater god, claimed Marcion, created the soul. This other god also created the spiritual realm and was the true Father of Jesus Christ. To release man’s soul from his flesh, this greater god sent Christ, who appeared as a thirty-year-old male in an unreal-spiritual body and not a physical one. Salvation was gained by renouncing Jehovah and all things physical.

Marcion rejected the Hebrew Scriptures and their quotations in the New Testament. The followers of Marcion issued their own New Testament composed of Luke and Paul’s letters. This may account for some of the variations in these books among the manuscripts; followers of Marcion would want these books to reflect their doctrines. [Brown, 60-68.] Irenaeus wrote “Marcion cut up that according to [the Gospel of] Luke.” [Ireaneus, III:11:7. Some translate the phrase as, “But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke . . .”] This would account for the numerous changes found in varying manuscripts of Luke and the large number of verses omitted. It is, for example, understandable why the sentence “And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:40) would be omitted by Marcion. After all, he did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus but only in a spiritual resurrection.

Jesus taught that a corrupt tree will produce corrupt fruit (Matthew 7:17). He was speaking of false prophets and teachers who corrupt the Scriptures (2 Peter 2:1-3). We are told we can recognize them by their fruits. An apple tree produces apples and a fig tree brings forth figs. The fruit of the false prophet is false prophecies and the fruit of the false teacher is false doctrine. If a man’s doctrine is suspected of being corrupt, we must conclude that he will corrupt the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 2:17). In the transmission of Scripture, we must understand that there will always be a line of perversion just as there will be of preservation. According to our Lord, we must become “fruit inspectors.” The remainder of this chapter and the next will demonstrate both lines in operation.

Tatian (110-180 AD)

Tatian, a disciple of Justin Martyr, was a doctrinal apologist and second century textual scholar. In 170 AD, he produced a harmony of the Gospels called the Diatessaron (Gk. through the four). It is thought that this harmony was written in Greek and translated into Syriac, but it is possible that it was originally written in Syriac. The Bishop of Syria, Theodoret, thought it so corrupt that he had all two hundred known copies destroyed. Today, we only have a fragment of Tatian’s Diatessaron along with two Arabic translations and a commentary.

After the death of Justin Martyr, Tatian fell under the influence of Gnosticism. [Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 425.] Several details about Tatian’s heresy are recorded by the church fathers Irenaeus and Eusebius. Irenaeus testifies that Tatian:

“. . . composed his own peculiar type of doctrine. He invented a system of certain invisible Aeons, like the followers of Valentinus; while, like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication. [Irenaeus, I:28.]

Eusebius quotes Irenaeus’ testimony and adds that Tatian:

. . . formed a certain combination and collection of the Gospels, I know not how, to which he gave the title Diatessaron, and which is still in the hands of some. But they say that he ventured to paraphrase certain words of the apostle, in order to improve their style.” [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, IV:29.]

Tatian’s harmony does not contain verses such as Matthew 21:44; Luke 23:17; 24:12; and John 7:53-8:11. However, since we do not have the original Diatessaron, it is hard to say how much influence the Diatessaron had on any line of manuscript. Nevertheless, with Tatian and his Diatessaron we see the influence of Gnosticism, which may have tainted the transmission of Scripture within the first hundred years of the completion of the New Testament.

Clement Of Alexandria (150-215 AD)

Titus Flavius Clement was born of pagan parents in Athens, Greece. He was influenced by Christian doctrine, yet held that God inspired the Greek poets in a diminutive sense. He went to Alexandria, Egypt where he became head of the Catechetical School in about 200 AD. A few years later he was forced to leave Egypt under the persecution of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. He died in Cappadocia around 215 AD.

There are approximately twenty-four hundred New Testament quotations by Clement in his writings. Dr. Alexander Souter, a textual scholar of the early twentieth century, noted that Clement did not quote Scripture very carefully, and that his Greek text was closely related to Codex D. [Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917), 81.] Dr. Kurt Aland, a prominent textual critic, stated that Clement’s citations disagree with the Traditional Text fifty-six percent of the time. Twenty-four percent of the time his citations agree with the Alexandrian line of manuscripts and twenty-nine percent they agree with both. Only fifteen percent of the time does Clement choose the reading of the Traditional Text. [Kurt Aland, “The Text of the Church,” Trinity Journal (Fall, 1987), 139.]

We have already learned that Clement was influenced by the Gnostics in his view of God as both Father and Mother. In The Instructor (Paedagogus), written about 202 AD, Clement reveals several other questionable beliefs. He accepted some books from the Old Testament Apocrypha, such as Baruch, as divinely inspired Scripture. [St. Clement, The Instructor, II:3:2.] He also believed in the divinity of man, agreeing with Heraclitus that men are gods. [Ibid., III:1:4.] Protestants would certainly reject the notion of divine inspiration attributed to apocryphal books, and both Catholic and Protestant believers would reject the doctrine of the dual sexual nature of God and the mistaken belief that man has the ability to become a god himself.

Origen (185-254 AD)

When Clement left Alexandria because of persecution, Origen succeeded him as headmaster at the Catechetical School. Origen developed the allegorical interpretation of Scripture. He interpreted most of the Bible symbolically. Yet, passages that are clearly symbolic he interpreted literally. As a textual scholar he produced the Hexapla, a Bible containing six translations of the Old Testament including the famous Septuagint. He considered the Old Testament Apocrypha inspired Scripture and included it in his Hexapla. Additionally, Origen accepted some books from the New Testament Apocrypha as canonical, such as The Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistle of Barnabas.

Historian Will Durant notes that Origen held to some heresies of his own. Origen rejected the literal interpretation of Scripture, questioned the truthfulness of the book of Genesis, and was skeptical of the fall of man. When the Old Testament depicts certain attributes of God, such as his divine wrath and judgment, Origen explained these away as merely symbolic. Likewise, he did not consider the temptations of Christ as literal temptations, but as symbolic truths. [Durant, 614.] In his work, De Principiis, Origen said that he could not determine if the Holy Ghost was born or innate, or if the Holy Spirit is to be considered a Son of God. [St. Origen, De Principiis, Preface, 4.] He believed Christ was unable to see the Father. [Ibid., 1:1:8.] He claimed that those who were in hell could be restored. [Ibid., 2:10:3.] Origen also suggests that the sun, moon, and stars were living beings. [Ibid., Preface, 10.] It is clear that he was a man of questionable doctrine, and on three different occasions his orthodoxy was challenged (300 AD, 400 AD, and 550 AD). [W. A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970), 189.] Ultimately he was considered a heretic, which may explain why so many of his writings have perished.

Someone with the same belief system as Origen would not be our first choice in revising or editing our Bibles for fear that such views may taint the translation. Nevertheless, Origen’s position as a textual critic is unquestionable. He was one of the most prolific writers of his day, writing over six thousand letters and books. In his writings he makes almost eighteen thousand quotations and allusions from the New Testament. Dr. Aland showed that Origen’s scriptural citations are mostly Alexandrian. [Aland, 139.]

Eusebius (263-340 AD)

Eusebius Pamphili, Bishop of Caesarea, was a church historian and textual critic responsible for writing The Ecclesiastical History in 325 AD. His work details what was occurring in the early church, especially during the canonization of Scripture. However, as noted by historian Will Durant, Eusebius sometimes glossed over some facts, a tendency shown in his Life of Constantine. Durant calls Eusebius’ technique “honest dishonesty” and points out that from reading the biography, one would never suspect that Constantine had killed his son, his nephew, and his wife. [Durant, 663.] The same sort of exaggerations crept into Eusebius’ account of early Christian martyrs. [Ibid., 649.]

Eusebius produced a form of the Gospels, dividing them into paragraphs and numbering them for cross-reference (they were not divided as we have chapter and verse divisions today in our Bibles). [Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 24.]Concerning the canon of Scripture, Eusebius questioned the authenticity of James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and the book of Jude. [Geisler and Nix, 294.]

Emperor Constantine ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Bible. Constantine stated these copies were to “be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner.” [Ibid., 181.] Some have suggested that the famous manuscripts Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were two of these fifty copies. These two manuscripts provide the basis of many of the changes in modern translations today. This was the view of Constantin Tischendorf, F. John A. Hort, and Alexander Souter as they commented on the subject. [Souter, 22-23.] If this is true, Eusebius not only produced the famous Alexandrian manuscripts; he also advocated a text-type that supports this same line of manuscripts. From the many citations of Eusebius, it is certain that he did favor the Alexandrian family.

There should be little doubt that the views and textual changes of Origen found their way into the textual work of Eusebius. Eusebius was the student of Pamphilus (hence the name “Eusebius Pamphili” by which the former was known in ancient times).Together they founded a library at Caesarea consisting of biblical and patristic writings plus Origen’s works. Pamphilus was the student of Origen while he was in Alexandria. We can see a direct line from Origen to Eusebius and his work in early textual criticism.

Jerome (340-420 AD)

Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus, known as St. Jerome, was responsible for producing the Latin Vulgate. Pope Damasus requested Jerome to produce a new Latin Version of the Old and New Testaments in 383 AD. Jerome reluctantly agreed, knowing his version would not be welcomed since Christendom had already begun to divide itself as to which line of manuscript and which translation best reflected the original autographs. In 405 AD, Jerome finished the Latin Vulgate and gave the Roman Catholic Church its official Latin Bible.

Most textual scholars believe that Jerome revised the Old Latin manuscripts according to his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. However, we do not possess many Latin versions which predate the Vulgate of Jerome and what we do have are fragmentary. The vast majority of Old Latin manuscripts we now have were written after the Vulgate and are divided into two groups, African and European.

Jerome was influenced by the work of Eusebius. Dr. Souter believed that we must look to Egypt for the origin of Codex Sinaiticus, which he claimed was produced by Eusebius. While in Bethlehem, Jerome had a Greek manuscript that was closely related to Sinaiticus. [Ibid., 23.] In like manner, Sir Frederic Kenyon noted that the Greek manuscript conspicuously agreeing with Jerome’s Latin Vulgate is Sinaiticus, [Frederic Kenyon, The Story of the Bible (1936; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 110.] again demonstrating the influence the Alexandrian textual line had on Jerome. However, it should be noted that Jerome was willing to reach a compromise and not make as many changes to the text as one finds in the Alexandrian line. Kenyon also notes that Jerome left the Old Latin readings standing whenever possible. [Ibid.] The Latin Vulgate produced by Jerome contains several readings that support the Traditional Text because they were originally in the Old Latin manuscripts. [Hills, 187.]

Tischendorf (1815-1874 AD)

Constantin von Tischendorf is responsible for providing the Protestant world with two of the oldest known uncials, Codex Vaticanus (also listed as Codex B) and Codex Sinaiticus (also listed as Codex Aleph). These two manuscripts date between 325 and 350 AD. Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are two of the best examples of the Alexandrian line of manuscripts, and are responsible for numerous changes found in modern Bible versions. These two manuscripts formed the basis for the Greek text later produced by Westcott and Hort, a work that was the foundation for the Critical Greek Text. [Donald Guthrie, “Text and Versions,” David Alexander and Pat Alexander, eds., Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 73.]

Tischendorf edited more New Testament editions and documents than any other scholar of his day. [Souter, 102.] By the age of twenty-nine he had already produced three editions of the Greek New Testament. Believing the Alexandrian line of manuscripts reflected the better readings, Tischendorf set off in search of additional manuscripts.

In 1844, he visited the monastery of St. Catherine located at Mt. Sinai. While there he saw several leaves of a manuscript written on vellum lying in a basket ready to be destroyed. The monks would burn such leaves to warm themselves. Tischendorf, desiring to save the manuscript, was allowed to keep forty-three leaves. The manuscript, which contained the Greek Septuagint, was recognized by Tischendorf to be of the same textual line as Codex Alexandrinus. However, this manuscript was about a hundred years older. A second visit to the monastery occurred in 1853 with nothing found. On his third visit in 1859, Tischendorf was shown the codex that is now known as Sinaiticus. He was denied custody of the manuscript at that time. He went to Cairo to speak to the Superior who granted him the codex. It was not until nine months later, after Tischendorf paid a good sum, that he was given the codex. [Kenyon, 57-58.] Codex Sinaiticus contains over half of the Old Testament and almost all of the New Testament except for large passages such as Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11, along with several other verses. It has the Old Testament Apocrypha laced within it as Scripture and the New Testament apocryphal books of the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas.

Codex Vaticanus, known to have been in the Vatican Library since 1475, receives its name because it is the property of the Vatican. No Protestant scholars were permitted to view this codex for four hundred years until Rome produced a facsimile in 1890. There were two exceptions to this rule: S. P. Tregelles, who viewed it in 1845 and reproduced a memorized copy of it, and Tischendorf who viewed it between 1843 and 1866. Vaticanus is missing Genesis 1:1-46:28; 2 Kings 2:5-7, 10-13; Psalm 106:27-138:6; Mark 16:9-20; John 7:53-8:11; and everything after Hebrews 9:14.

Westcott & Hort

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) produced a Greek New Testament in 1881 based on the findings of Tischendorf. This Greek New Testament was the basis for the Revised Version (RV) of that same year, and later for the American Standard Version of 1901. They also developed a theory of textual criticism used as a basis for their Greek New Testament and several other Greek New Testaments since (such as the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies’ texts). Greek New Testaments such as these are the basis for most contemporary English translations of the Bible. Therefore, it is important for us to know the theory of Westcott and Hort as well as something about the two men who have so greatly influenced modern textual criticism.

In short, the Westcott and Hort theory states that the Bible is to be treated as any other book. When textual variants occur, the harder reading is usually considered the correct reading instead of the easier. They also believed the shorter reading among textual variants is most likely the original reading. The Alexandrian textual line tends to contain shorter readings, as well as the more difficult ones. Therefore, they considered this textual line to most likely reflect the original. Using these theories, the Bible is approached as a naturalistic book without divine intervention preserving the text from corruption. [B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek (2 vols.; London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1881), II, 280-281.]

Westcott and Hort believed the Greek text underlining the King James Version was perverse and corrupt. Hort called the Textus Receptus “vile” and “villainous.” [The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, vol. 1 (London: Macmillan), 211.] They believed the Traditional Text did not exist until the fourth century and was created by Lucian of Antioch, under the authority of a church council, to unify the Western and Alexandrian textual lines. This mixing of the two lines, and filling them with additional texts, is called conflation.

There are several problems with this theory of a Lucian recension (that Lucian conflated the Western and Alexandrian texts to produce the Traditional Text). First, many citations of the early church fathers reflect the Traditional Text with the “fuller readings” long before the fourth century. Second, there is no evidence that there ever was a council or even a conference of scholars in Antioch to produce this conflated text. [Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977), 37-38.] Even Kenyon, who supported the Critical Text, noted that we know the names of several of the revisers of the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. It seemed unbelievable to him that such a council could have taken place without any historical record whatsoever. [Frederic Kenyon, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1912) 302.] Third, God told us not to add to his word. If the Traditional Text has added to God’s word, why has it been so greatly used in the history of the church?

As the fathers of modern textual criticism, should we not know something of the beliefs of Westcott and Hort? Westcott denied biblical infallibility. [Arthur Westcott, The Life and Letters of Brook Foss Westcott, vol. 1 (London: Macmillan, 1903), 207.] Hort stated that those who believed in biblical authority were perverted. [Hort, 400.] Hort taught that Revelation 3:15 proclaimed Christ was the first thing created, agreeing with the Gnostic teaching that Christ was a begotten god. [F. J. A. Hort, The Apocalypse of St. John 1-3: The Greek Text with Introduction, Commentary, and Additional Notes (1908; reprint, Minneapolis: James and Klock Publishing, 1976), 36.] Westcott denied that Saint John ever claimed Christ to be God. [B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes (1881; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 297.] Hort stated that the ransom for our sin was paid to Satan. [F. J. A. Hort, The First Epistle of St. Peter 1:1-2:17: The Greek Text with Introductory Lecture, Commentary, and Additional Notes (1898; reprint, Minneapolis: James and Klock Publishing, 1976), 77.] Both men denied the doctrine of eternal damnation, stating hell is not a place of punishment. [B. F. Westcott, The Historic Faith (London: Macmillan, 1885), 77-78. Hort, Life and Letters, 149.] These beliefs stand in direct opposition to the teachings of the New Testament and should be carefully considered when those who hold to such beliefs suggest changes in the New Testament. No matter how careful or unbiased a scholar may be, it is the nature of man to slant Scripture towards his understanding.

Since 1881

There have been several findings since the discovery of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Perhaps the most famous deals with textual criticism of the Old Testament: the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Concerning the New Testament, there is the John Rylands fragment known as P52, a Greek manuscript which some date between 117 and 138 AD. It was discovered in Egypt and contains five verses from the gospel of John. It now resides at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England. There is also some controversy concerning P64 and its redating to before 66 AD. There is even the possibility that New Testament fragments have been discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls (7Q4 and 7Q5). [Jose O’Callaghan, a noted textual scholar and Qumran authority, maintains that 7Q5 is that of Mark 6:52-53. More information regarding this can be found in Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972), 1-14.]

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty discovered several papyrus manuscripts known as P45, P46, and P47. They date to the second and third centuries, and demonstrate a mixed text revealing both Alexandrian and Byzantine readings. P46, however, has recently been argued by some to date to the last half of the first century, around 85 AD. [Young Kyu Kim, “Palaeographical Dating of P46 to the Later First Century,” Biblica, lxix (1988), 248-257.] The same may be said of the findings of M. Martin Bodmer concerning P66, P72, and P75. These manuscripts traditionally date around the third century. P66, however, has been redated by some to the first half of the second century. [Herbert Hunger, “Zur Datierung des Papyrus Bodmer II (P66),” Anzeiger der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Kl., 1960, Nr. 4, 12-33.] If the redating of all these texts holds true it lends support to the thought that most textual changes occurred before 200 AD. It also could suggest that the Alexandrian text-type was in an evolutionary stage only to be fully developed by the fourth century. In either case, we see that the earliest manuscripts reveal a mixed text containing both Alexandrian and Byzantine readings.

No one would demand that each and every scholar, theologian, textual critic, and church historian agree on everything as it relates to Bible doctrine. But, when we find early heresies mixed with present day false teachings, it should cause us some concern. The concern should intensify when we discover that many who have influenced biblical transmission held such heresies. At the very least, their influence should be called into question. After all, do we really want to trust the safe keeping of Holy Scripture with those who have proven themselves to be corrupt in regard to biblical doctrine?

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

Order your copy ofCrowned With Glory today.

Chapter 1: The Monarch Of Books

[All footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]

Chapter 1: The Monarch Of Books

“Both read the Bible day and night,

But thou read’st black where I read white.”

-William Blake, The Everlasting Gospel (1818)

For the past two thousand years the world has been blessed with the monarch of books, the Holy Bible. It has been loved, read, and written about more than any other book in history. Today, the Bible has been printed, published, recorded, placed on CD-ROM, and videotaped. It has been translated in whole or part into every major language throughout the world. Many languages have several translations available. In English, for example, there have been over one hundred versions of the New Testament in the past century.

Of all the books of antiquitythe Bible stands as the most attested. There are over five thousand ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament alone. Although the contents of these manuscripts mostly agree, there are some differences. Such variants are the subject of this book. Were these variants accidental or deliberate? Is it possible to know the original wording of the Scriptures? Or, despite the passage of timeand inclusion of textual variants, have the very words of Scripture been preserved for all generations?

For a number of years there has been a controversy brewing among the Bible reading public. Some believe that the Bible, especially the New Testament, needs to be reconstructed in light of recent textual discoveries. The reconstruction of the New Testament is known as the science of textual criticism. Others believe the original text of the Bible has been preserved over time. This is known as the doctrine of biblical preservation. Neither side is without bias, nor is this book offered in an unbiased fashion. What it does seek to do is to inform those who are interested in this debate from both a scholastic and scriptural perspective.

Reconstruction And Biblical Preservation

The starting point of contemporary scholarship is the evidence of textual criticism. Through the ages several corrections in transmission (the copying of manuscripts over the generations) have crept into the various manuscripts. The place where one manuscript differs from another is called a textual variant. The vast majority of these textual variants came into existence before the beginning of the third century; [George D. Kilpatrick, The Principles And Practice Of New Testament Textual Criticism (Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1990), 34.] this is significant because the majority of existing manuscripts date after this period. Therefore, the age of a textual variant is not limited to the age of its parent manuscript. Whether these variants were deliberate or simply casesof copying the text incorrectly is open for debate. Most likely examples of both can be found in the numerous manuscripts.

The textual scholar’s job is one of sifting through these various manuscripts, comparing textual variants, and determining what is the most likely reading. This is a difficult process so naturally researchers differ as to the final consideration. Textual scholars often are certain they are right but uncertain as to the final product. From an evangelical and conservative perspective, it seems amazing that God gave his words without error (inspiration) and provided the knowledge as to which books are Scripture (canonicity), only to produce uncertainly in the final analysis or lose a portion of them in the process of transmission.

To offset this, conservative and evangelical scholars will incorporate the doctrine of preservation into the process of transmission. They will state that somewhere in the host of textual evidence the original reading remains. It is left to the scholar and student to discover the original reading. Unfortunately, biblical scholarship and biblical preservation are not easily compatible.

To begin with, many of the manuscripts currently known were unknown until the middle of the nineteenth century. Since these manuscripts are usually favored by modern scholarship (liberal or conservative) and considered the original reading, we must logically conclude that what is determined to be original was hidden from the church throughout the majority of its existence. Also, it is reasonable to assume that more manuscripts will be discovered with more variants, making it increasingly difficult to proclaim biblical preservation using this definition.

Additionally, modern scholarship suggests that some of the original readings have forever disappeared. In 1 Samuel 13:1, scholars believe the original reading of the verse has been lost in the process of transmission. [The Revised Standard Version reads: “Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel.” The footnotes for these omissions informs us that, “The number is lacking in Heb[rew]” and “Two is not the entire number. Something has dropped out.”] In the New Testament, we have the example of Mark 16:9-20. Most scholars believe the original ending to Mark’s gospel was lost and that the current longer and shorter endings were added in the second century. [Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, 2nd ed.(New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 102-106.] Obviously, redefining preservation leaves us on shaky ground. If the Scriptures teach the preservation of God’s words, we must either accept the truth of preservation or reject the testimony of Scripture. The following passages are often used to support the doctrine of biblical preservation (1 Samuel 3:19; Psalm 12:6-7; 105:8; 119:89, 160; 138:2; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 4:4; 24:35; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

Rudiments Of Textual Criticism

Biblical preservation does not demand the rejection of textual criticism. It is just as essential for the student of biblical preservation to be aware of the textual evidence as it is for any student of textual criticism. The biblical preservationist, however, first approaches the subject theologically and then considers the existing textual evidence, usually in light of the promise of preservation.

Because there are variants within all the existing manuscripts, the science of textual criticism is conjectural. Different scholars examining the same manuscripts will produce differing Greek texts. This is why there are now three basic Greek texts of the New Testament in circulation: the Critical Text, the Majority Text, and the Textus Receptus.

The Critical Text is the basis for the majority of modern Bible translations today. It is currently reflected in the Greek New Testaments of the UBS-4 (United Bible Societies fourth edition) and the NA-27 (Nestle-Aland twenty-seventh edition). These two texts are now identical in regard to their Greek text, but differ in regard to their critical apparatus (the footnotes discussing the different textual variants). Generally, the Critical Text reflects a textual line called Alexandrian, a name that is explained later in this chapter.

The Majority Text is a work in progress. As the name suggests, it catalogs the majority of the existing Greek manuscripts and reflects a consensus of these manuscripts. However, it does not use all of the existing manuscripts; instead, it uses only a portion of those manuscripts that would reflect what is considered the majority. [There are currently two editions of the Majority Text: The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text (Nelson, 1985) by Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad, and The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine/Majority Textform (Original Word Publishers, 1991) by Maurice A. Robinson, William G. Pierpont, and William David McBrayer.]

The Textus Receptus was the standard Greek text for centuries. It was used by Protestant translators during the Reformation, and is responsible for the Authorized Version and its English forerunners. [The Textus Receptus used by the translators of the King James Version was that of Theodore de Beza (1589 and 1598). The basic text of this edition has been reproduced by The Trinitarian Bible Society (1976) and is entitled, The New Testament: The Greek Text Underlying the English Authorized Version of 1611. This was based on the work by F. H. A. Scrivener, The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the text followed in the Authorized Version (Cambridge University Press, 1894 and 1902).] The Majority Text and the Textus Receptus are very similar (except in the book of Revelation) because both reflect the majority of existing Greek manuscripts.

The history of New Testament manuscripts is divided, roughly, into three periods: papyrus, vellum, and paper. The manuscripts we have were usually written on one of these three and often reflect the date of the manuscript. Papyrus [There are about 100 Greek papyri manuscripts.] is made from papyrus plants that grew abundantly in Egypt. The inner bark of the plant was cut into thin strips, whichwere laid side by side and crossed with other strips. They were then pressed together and sun-dried. The papyrus was, for the most part, written only on one side and bound together in rolls. The custom was to write in very narrow columns that had no separation of words, accents marks, or punctuation. Paragraphs were marked with a line in the margin of the text. [The Greek word para means beside. The Greek word grafo means writing. Thus, paragraph.] The papyrus manuscripts are very fragile, and most of what we have are fragments. This period of manuscript production lasted until the seventh century. Philippians 1:1-2, in Greek, would read something like this:


Even when translated into English, the reading is difficult.


Manuscripts written on vellum (or in some cases, parchment) replaced papyrus manuscripts during the period from about the end of the third century to the fifteenth century. The narrow columns used in the papyrus manuscripts were maintained in the vellum manuscripts. Vellum is made of dried animal skins that were cut into leaves and formed into a book called a codex. [Some scholars believe that a codex (book) may have been used during the time of the New Testament. The redating of P64 to before 66 AD, if correct, would provide historical support for this. In passages such as Revelation 5:1, the Greek word biblion (book) is used of something with writing on both sides. Although most understand this to mean a scroll, the discovery of an early codex would certainly give weight to a literal interpretation of this and other passages.] Some vellum manuscripts maintain the same style of writing used in papyrus manuscripts. Manuscripts that use this style are referred to as uncials, [There are currently over 300 known Greek uncial manuscripts.] which consist of all capital letters written without accent marks, with no separation of words or sentences, and typically no punctuation. Later, around the ninth century, small letters were also used in manuscripts, with spacing between the words. These manuscripts are referred to as minuscules or cursives. [There are about 2,800 Greek minuscules manuscripts.]

Manuscripts written on paper date from about the fourteenth century to the present. Until this period, it was rare to have a complete Bible in one book. Most of the papyrus and vellum manuscripts are fragments, passages, or maybe a book of the New Testament. But, in the thirteenth century whole books containing all or most of the New Testament became common.

Sources For New Testament Texts

There are three classes of evidence used by textual critics in the reconstruction of the New Testament. First, the main sources for reconstructing the New Testament are the extant Greek manuscripts, which exist in papyrus, vellum, or paper and contain variants. These manuscripts are classified under one of four textual types.

The Byzantine Text. The name is derived from the Byzantine Empire, as it is the type of text copied by Byzantine monks. There are more manuscripts of this text-type than of the other three combined. This line of manuscripts would reflect the Greek Textus Receptus that was used to produce the King James Version. It is also known as the Traditional Text or the Syrian Text.

The Alexandrian Text. The name refers to Alexandria, Egypt where scribes prepared most of these texts. Most contemporary versions are derived from this textual line. The three most important manuscripts that reflect this text-type are Alexandrinus [Codex Alexandrinus is of the Alexandrian textual line except in the four Gospels. There it reflects the Byzantine textual line.] (also known as Codex A, fifth century), Sinaiticus (also known as Codex Alpha, fourth century), and Vaticanus (also known as Codex B, fourth century). [Most scholars today only recognize two text-types: The Alexandrian and the Byzantine.]

The Western Text. Some scholars debate whether this is a real text-type or not. Most believe it is, while others deny its existence as a text-type because of the vast diversity within its representative manuscripts. [Frederic Kenyon, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1912), 356. E. C. Colwell, “The Greek New Testament with a Limited Critical Apparatus: its Nature and Uses,” in Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature, ed. D. E. Aune (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972), 33.] This line has several sub-groups of manuscripts or families within it. The text is longer than the Alexandrian, sometimes given to paraphrases, and is closer to the Byzantine Text. Some have considered this the oldest textual line. [Bruce Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 213-214.] Codex Bezae (also known as Codex D05) in the Gospels and Acts and Codex Claromontanus (also known as Codex D06) in the Epistles reflect the Western Text. The majority of the Old Latin manuscripts are usually classified as Western.

The Caesarean Text. This text-type seems to be a mixture of the Western and Alexandrian line of manuscripts. It is represented in a few manuscripts (Q, 22, 28, 565, 700, family 1, and family 13). [A “family” is a cluster of manuscripts that reflect the same characteristics and therefore are grouped together.] Some believe it was derived in Egypt by Origen and brought to Caesarea. Because it is a mixture, some question if this should be classified as a separate text-type. [At the beginning of the twentieth century, Kirsopp Lake expounded the possible existence of the Caesarean textual line. Others, such as B. H. Streeter, suggested that this was a new text-type. However, the textual line lacks pure representatives, most demonstrating a significant mixture with the Byzantine text. Larry W. Hurtado has argued against the Caesarean text, Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark (Studies and Documents 43, Eerdmans, 1981).]

The second source for making a Greek text is the testimony of ancient versions. These versions, usually translated from Greek, are used as a source for establishing a Greek text. Like the Greek manuscripts, there are a variety of ancient versions that do not agree. Among these are the Latin versions (including both the Old Latin and Jerome’s Latin Vulgate), Syrian (including the Old Syriac and the Peshitta), Coptic (Egyptian), Gothic (early German), Armenian, Ethiopic, and others. These are useful in demonstrating what the non-Greek reading world used.

The third source is the quotations of the early church fathers, called patristic citations. Again, we have differences in several of the quotations that demonstrate differences in New Testament texts. More will be given about some of the early church fathers in later chapters.

Other sources used in reconstruction include lectionaries [There are about 2,200 Greek lectionary manuscripts.] and extra biblical writings such as apocryphal works. Lectionaries were books used by the early church that contained lessons, hymns, and citations from passages of Scripture. These would show that certain Scriptures were in use at a given time and substantiate a questioned text. Apocryphaland extra biblical writings would be citations from books contemporary with the New Testament or works written within the first few hundred years of Christianity. Although not inspired, they often quote Scripture. The following are a few examples.

In Romans 14:10, the King James Version reads, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Modern versions tend to read, “judgment seat of God” instead of “judgment seat of Christ.” The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians quotes the verse as saying:

  • ·  If then we entreat the Lord that He would forgive us, we also ought to forgive: for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and we must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and each man must give an account of himself. (Philippians 6:2).

This reading, which dates to 150 AD, would offer support in favor of the Traditional Text and the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611.

The same is true of 1 John 4:3; “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” The phrase “is come in the flesh” is not found in many of the ancient Greek texts and therefore is not contained in the Critical Text and many contemporary English versions. Once more, in Polycarp’s Philippians we read:

  • ·  For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist: and whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the first-born of Satan. (Philippians 7:1). [Some have suggested that Polycarp was not citing 1 John 4:3 but instead was citing 2 John 1:7. J. B. Lightfoot and others have listed this citation of Polycarp as coming from 1 John 4:3, and the Greek of Polycarp matches better with the Greek in 1 John 4:3 than it does with the Greek in 2 John 1:7.]

This apocryphal passage offers some evidence supporting the Traditional Text.

The Textus Receptus And Preservation

Until the early 1800’s, the Textus Receptus was the only Greek text used, at least where Protestant scholarship was concerned. Dr. Kurt Aland, who helped with the Critical Text, wrote: “Finally it is undisputed that from the 16th to the 18th century orthodoxy’s doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed this Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the ‘original text’.” [Kurt Aland, “The Text of the Church,” Trinity Journal, Fall (1987): 131.]

Critics of the Textus Receptus believe that its readings are recent and not reflective of early manuscripts. However, there is early support favoring the Byzantine line and thus the Textus Receptus. The Chester Beatty Papyri (P45, P46, and P66) all have readings that reflect the Byzantine line, although they are mixed and have Alexandrian readings as well. These papyri date to the second century or before. The now famous P64 (also known as the Magdalen Papyrus) has been listed by some as the earliest known manuscript, dating to before 66 AD. [Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D’Ancona, Eyewitness to Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 125.] The textual variants within this manuscript support the Byzantine line with no textual support for the Alexandrian line.

Codex W dates from the fourth to early fifth century. It contains the Gospels, yet uses several of the various lines of manuscripts. While most of Mark and part of John reflect the Alexandrian and Western lines, all of Matthew and Luke 8:13-24:25 support the Textus Receptus. [Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 400.] Even Codex Alexandrinus, dating around 450 AD, reflects the Byzantine line and the Textus Receptus in the Gospels while the epistles reflect the Alexandrian line.

Likewise, early translations such as the Peshitta (second century) and the Gothic (approximately 350 AD) support the Traditional Text. Sir Fredric Kenyon, a noted textual scholar, has stated that the Gothic version represents the type of text found in the majority of Greek manuscripts, supporting the Byzantine textual line. [Kenyon, 240.]

Variances In Versions

Since there are differences in various Greek manuscripts, it is of no surprise that there are differences in various Greek texts and therefore differences in English translations based on those texts. When we compare the Greek Textus Receptus with the Critical Greek Text there are almost six thousand differences. Considering that there are 7,959 verses in the New Testament, we begin to see that the differences have a greater effect than what we might think. In the New Testament of the King James Version we have 181,253 words. [Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion To The Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 80.] When the American Standard Version was translated in 1901, it made 36,191 changes to the King James Version’s New Testament. [Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981) , 70.] This accounts for about one-fourth of the New Testament being changed in one form or another.

The vast majority of these differences, however, are minor. Most deal with spelling or points of grammar. Some are of a more serious nature and cause words, verses, or whole passages to be called into question. Below are a few of the differences that have caused a stir over the past few years. They are divided into several categories so the reader might have a grasp of the situation concerning textual and translational differences.

One notable distinction deals with the number of verses contained in the Textus Receptus that are not contained in the Critical Text, and therefore do not appear in most modern versions based on that text. This, of course, does not prove a certain translation correct and another incorrect. These verses are Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; Luke 17:36; 23:17; John 5:4; Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29; Romans 16:24; and 1 John 5:7. Additionally, Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 are contained in the majority of Byzantine manuscripts and the Traditional Text. However, most Alexandrian manuscripts do not contain these verses, and therefore are so noted in the Critical Text. This leaves the Christian who believes the commands of Scripture in a dilemma. Three times the Bible warns against adding to or taking from the word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; and Revelation 22:18). Either the Greek texts that remove these passages are corrupt or the Greek texts that add them are corrupt; one cannot be biblical and believe that both textual lines are pure.

Here are a few examples of phrases that are contained in the Textus Receptus that are not contained in the Critical Text. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13). “To repentance” (Matthew 9:13). “And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with” (Matthew 20:23). “And Joseph” (Luke 2:33). “But by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). “The only begotten Son” (John 1:18). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Through his blood” (Colossians 1:14). “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest” (Revelation 1:11).

In addition to the examples above, the following passages demonstrate textual differences. By comparing these passages with translations based on the Traditional Text and those based on the Critical Text, one should be able to note where the textual variant occurs.

Matthew 5:27, 44; 13:51; 15:6, 8; 19:9, 20; 20:7, 16, 22; 22:13; 23:4, 5; 25:13; 26:3, 60; 27:35; 28:2, 9

Mark 1:1, 14, 42; 3:5, 15; 6:11, 33, 36; 7:2, 8; 8:9, 26; 9:38, 45, 49; 10:7, 21, 24; 11:8, 10, 23; 12:23, 29, 30, 33; 13:11, 14; 14:19, 27, 68, 70; 15:3

Luke 1:28, 29; 2:42; 4:5, 8, 18; 5:38; 6:45; 7:31; 8:43, 45, 48, 54; 9:10, 54, 55, 56; 10:38; 11:2, 4, 11, 44, 54; 12:39; 17:9, 24; 18:24; 19:45; 20:13, 23, 30; 22:31, 64, 68; 23:23, 38; 24:1, 36, 42, 46, 51, 52

John 1:27; 3:13, 15; 5:3, 16; 6:11, 22, 47, 51; 7:46; 8:9, 10, 59; 9:6; 10:13, 26; 11:41; 12:1; 13:32; 16:16; 17:12; 19:16

Acts 2:30, 47; 3:11; 7:37; 9:5, 6; 10:6, 12, 21, 32; 13:42; 15:18, 24; 18:21; 20:15; 21:8, 22, 25; 22:9, 20; 23:9; 24:6, 8, 26; 26:30; 28:16

Romans 9:28; 10:15; 11:6; 13:9; 14:6, 21; 15:24, 29

1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:28; 11:24; 15:54

2 Corinthians 5:17; 12:9; 13:2

Galatians 3:1; 4:15; 5:19, 21

Ephesians 1:15; 3:14; 5:30

Philippians 3:16, 21; 4:23

Colossians 1:2; 2:18; 3:6

1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:15; 3:2

1 Timothy 1:17; 3:3; 5:4, 16; 6:5, 7

Hebrews 2:7; 3:6; 7:21; 8:12; 10:30, 34; 11:11, 13; 12:20

1 Peter 1:22; 4:3, 14; 5:2, 5, 11

2 Peter 1:21; 3:10

1 John 4:3; 5:13

Revelation 1:8; 5:14; 11:1, 17; 14:5; 15:2; 21:24; 22:14, 19

There are also places where names involving deity are either lengthened or shortened, or added or removed. Most on the surface seem minor, though some have enormous significance and may affect biblical doctrine or their historical setting.

Matthew 4:12, 18, 23; 6:33; 8:3, 5, 7, 29; 9:12; 12:25; 13:36, 51; 14:14, 22, 25; 15:16, 30; 16:20; 17:11, 20; 18:2, 11; 19:17; 21:12; 22:30, 32, 37; 23:8; 24:2; 25:13; 28:6

Mark 1:1, 41; 5:13, 19, 6:34; 7:27; 8:1, 17; 9:24; 10:6, 52; 11:10, 11, 14, 15, 26; 12:27, 32, 41; 14:22, 45

Luke 2:40; 4:4, 41; 7:22, 31; 8:38; 9:43, 56, 57, 59, 60; 10:21; 12:31; 13:2, 25; 21:4; 22:31, 63; 23:42, 43; 24:36

John 3:2, 34; 4:16, 42, 46; 5:17, 30; 6:14, 39, 69; 8:1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 16, 20, 21, 29; 9:35; 11:45; 13:3, 32; 16:16; 18:5; 19:38, 39

Acts 2:30; 3:26; 4:24; 7:30, 32, 37, 46; 8:37; 9:5, 6, 29; 15:11, 18; 16:31; 19:4, 10; 20:21, 25; 22:16; 23:9

Romans 1:16; 6:11; 8:1; 14:6; 15:8, 19; 16:18, 20, 24

1 Corinthians 1:14; 5:4, 5; 6:20; 9:1, 18; 10:28; 11:29; 15:47; 16:22, 23

2 Corinthians 4:6, 10; 5:18; 10:7; 11:31

Galatians 1:15; 3:17; 4:7; 6:15, 17

Ephesians 3:9, 14; 5:9

Philippians 4:13

Colossians 1:2, 28; 2:2

1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:19; 3:11, 13

2 Thessalonians 1:8, 12; 2:4

1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 3:16; 5:21

2 Timothy 4:1, 22

Titus 1:4

Philemon 1:6

Hebrews 3:1; 10:9, 30

James 1:12

1 Peter 1:22; 5:10, 14

1 John 1:7; 3:16; 4:3; 5:7, 13

2 John 1:3, 9

Jude 1:4

Revelation 1:8, 9, 11; 12:17; 14:5; 16:5; 19:1; 20:9, 12; 21:3, 4; 22:21

Clearly textual evidence supports the scriptural teaching of biblical preservation. Such evidence plays a vital role in the biblical transmission process, and ultimately, in the culmination of God’s preserved word today.