Lesson Seven: The Authorized Version

Lesson Seven: The Authorized Version

Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? (Ecc. 8:4)

The Authorized King James Version is the word of the King. It not only contains the name of the monarch who ruled England in 1611, but it speaks with royal majesty proclaiming the words of the King of Kings. No translation of the Bible has had a greater impact on the English-speaking people as has the KJV. This is not opinion, but fact. In literature, it stands immortal with the writings of Shakespeare and other great poets, even though its translators were not poets. In history, it has affected English-speaking nations as no other book has, and for many was the basis for learning to read and write. It has shaped our culture and thinking about ourselves and our God. In theology, it has stood as the very words of our God.

Of late, it has fallen under attack. Not by the skeptic who has always doubted God and His word, but by the scholar. Because of this, many have built faulty argumentation in order to discredit the KJV as the preserved words of God. It is, therefore, essential for us to understand the history of the Authorized Version in order to disavow the contentions of those who wish to discredit the work and word of God among the English peoples.

JAMES I OF ENGLAND (1566-1625):
Some have falsely thought that the King James Bible was the translation of King James I of England. Others have tried to discredit the KJV because of the King himself. One has nothing to do with the other. James did not translate the Bible, and his character has little to do with the translation which bears his name. He was the King of England in 1611 when the Authorized Version 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. King Henry IV of France referred to James as “the wisest fool in Christendom” (King James VI of Scotland: I of England by Lady Antonia Fraser, 1974. p. 9). And yet, the Christian should keep in mind the words found in 1 Corinthians 1:25-29.

Dr. Charles Ryrie says of King James, “Now this was. . . an odd king. By eight, it was said, he could translate any chapter of the Bible from Latin to French to English. He knew Italian, Hebrew, Greek, and had learned large portions of the Word. He was apparently an effeminate man; so one writer has called him, ‘Queen James who succeeded King Elizabeth’. He was undoubtedly a vain man, not really popular because he held to the absolute superiority of the king, and not the Parliament.” (“Oddities of the King James Bible,” cited from The Christian Librarian Vol. 18, No. 1 & 2 in Oct-Dec., 1974. p.14)

British author Caroline Bingham provides an interesting assessment of this English monarch. “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.” (The Making of a King, Doubleday and Comp., 1969. p.15).

Lady Antonia Fraser adds to our understanding of King James in the conclusion of her book. She writes, “Let us assess James by his own sonnet at the start of Basilikon Doron, when he laid down the precepts for a King: ‘God gives not Kings the style of Gods in vain, For on his throne his Scepter do they sway: And as their subject ought them to obey, So Kings should fear and serve their God again.’ Perhaps James did not have the style of a God, and erred in thinking that it had been granted to him. Nor did he create it for himself as Elizabeth had created the style of a Goddess. But he did fear God and attempt to serve Him by his own lights. As a result, his subject, even if they did not always obey him, were not so badly served by him after all.” (Fraser, p. 214).

Of his legacy, Sir Frederic Kenyon has written, “The Authorized Version may be put down as the best deed ever done by James I. . .” (The Story of the Bible, p. 40)

THE TRANSLATION:
Shortly after James became King of England, he was approached by Dr. John Rainolds concerning various issues facing the English Church. Rainolds, a Puritan and later one of the translators, made the following proposal within his address to the king. He stated, “May your Majesty be pleased to direct that the Bible be now translated, such versions as are extant not answering to the original.” This delighted James, who responded with, “I profess, I could never yet see a Bible well translated in English, but I think that of Geneva is the worst.” This discourse occurred at Hampton Court on Monday, January 16th, 1604. Within a few short months Bishop Richard Bancroft was notified to appoint certain learned men, numbering about fifty-four for the purpose of translating the word of God. Although the actual number of translators who worked on the KJV remains a mystery (because some died before the work was completed), the following list of names survives as known translators. 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 a team working on the Jewish Apocrypha.

WESTMINSTER

OT (Genesis-Kings)

Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, Dean of Westminster. Mr. William Bedwell, St. John’s College, Cambridge. Dr. Francis Burleigh, Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Dr. Richard Clarke, Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge. Mr. Jeffrey King, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. Dr. John Layfield, Fellow of Trinity College. Dr. John Overall, Dean of St. Paul’s.

Dr. Hadrian Saravia, Canon of Canterbury. Dr. Robert Tigue, Archdeacon of Middlesex. Mr. Richard Thomson, Clare Hall, Cambridge.

NT (Romans-Jude)

Dr. William Barlow, Dean of Chester.

Mr. William Dakins, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr. Roger Fenton, Fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Dr. Ralph Hutchinson, Archbishop of St. Alban’s. Mr. Michael Rabbett, Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr. Thomas Sanderson, Balliol College, Oxford. Dr. John Spenser, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

OXFORD

OT (Isaiah-Malachi)

Dr. Richard Brett, Fellow of Lincoln College. Dr. Daniel Featley (also know as Daniel Fairclough), Fellow of New College. Dr. John Harding, President of Magdalen College. Dr. Thomas Holland (no known relation), Rector of Exeter College. Mr. Richard Kilby, Rector of Lincoln College. Dr. John Rainolds, President of Corpus Christi College. Dr. Miles Smith, Canon of Hereford.

NT (Matt.-Acts and Revelation)

Dr. George Abbot, Dean of Winchester.

Dr. John Aglionby, Rector of Blechindon.

Dr. John Harmer, Fellow of New College.

Dr. Leonard Hutton, Bishop of Gloucester. Dr. John Perin, Fellow of St. John’s College. Dr. Thomas Ravis, Fellow of St. John’s College. Sir Hanry Savile, Provost of Eaton.

Dr. Giles Thomson, Dean of Windsor.

CAMBRIDGE

OT (1 Chron.- Ecc.)

Mr. Roger Andrews, Master of Jesus College. Mr. Andrew Bing, Fellow of St. Peter’s College. Mr. Laurence Chaderton, Master of Emmanuel College. Mr. Francis Dillingham, Fellow of Christ’s College. Mr. Thomas Harrison, Vice-Master of Trinity College. Mr. Edward Lively, Fellow of Trinity College. Mr. John Richardson, Master of Trinity College. Mr. Robert Spalding, Fellow of St. John’s College.

Apocrypha

Dr. John Bois, Fellow of St. John’s College (later he edited Rom-Rev.). Dr. William Branthwaite, Master of Caius College. Mr. Andrew Downes, Fellow of St. John’s College. Dr. John Duport, Master of Jesus College. Dr. Jeremy Radcliffe, Fellow of Trinity College. Dr. Samuel Ward, Master of Sidney College. Mr. Robert Ward, Fellow of King’s College.

These translators were great scholars. Many laid the foundation for linguistical studies which followed. They spent most of their time in pursuit of knowledge and the development of Biblical languages. Some, while waxing eloquent in Latin or Greek, fared rather poorly with their native English. Gustavus S. Paine noted in his book, The Men Behind the King James Version, that these “men were minor writers, though great scholars, doing superb writing. Their task lifted them above themselves, while they learned firmly on their subject.” (p. vii). Alexander Whyte also notes about Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, who was the chairman of the translation committee, “All his days Andrewes never could write the English language with any beauty or purity or good taste,” (Lancelot Andrews and his Private Devotions, p. 3). Yet, they were able to reach beyond themselves. Again 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. (p. 173).

The translation went through a series of committees, all consisting 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 concerning the translation the reader read 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 have erroneously stated that the translators were paid for their efforts or rewarded with political advancements. This is, however, simply not the case. Dr. Jack Lewis has correctly stated that, “Though the king contributed no money to its production, and though no record of an official authorization of the finished product survives (if such were ever given), the Bible came to be known as the King James Bible.” (The English Bible: From KJV to NIV, p.29). This is in direct opposition to those, such as James White, who have claimed that the King paid for the translation and offered political advancement for those who worked on it. “Technically the KJV belongs to the English crown, which authorized and paid for its translation nearly four hundred years ago.” (The King James Only Controversy, p. 244). “Some, in fact, may have harbored less than perfect motivations for their work. Some hoped to gain favor with the king and advancement in their positions through their work on the translation itself. Some were far too enamored with the idea of royalty, a problem not too uncommon in that day.” (Ibid. pp. 70-71). The only evidence offered is a misstating of G. S. Paine’s book, The Men Behind the King James Version. At no time does Paine suggest the translators had any such motives. White tries to prove his claim with the example of William Barlow (White, p. 88) as one who sought the kings favor. However, this is not what Paine wrote. Instead Paine states, “About kings and queens, Barlow was always sound,” and that “King James greatly approved of him.” (Paine, p. 43). There is no hint in Paine’s book that Barlow, or any of the translators, sought to be on the translational committee in order to gain favor with the King.

The historical truth is that payment did not come from the crown, but from the Church. 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 Dore, Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, 1888, p. 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, not as a reward for their effort. These advancement came from within the Church, not from the crown. Their greatest reward was in the fruit of their labor, the KJV itself. The translators wrote, “But among all our joys, there was no one that more filled our heart than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word among us, which is that inestimable treasure which excelleth all the riches of 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.” (From the Dedicatory of the KJV).

THE CUM PRIVILEGIO:
Another common myth concerning the KJV is that it was under the sole printing authority of the crown. There were no copyrights in those days, but some have suggested that the KJV was the Cum Privilegio (i.e. with privilege) of King James and the English crown, and that only the royal printer could publish the KJV. In addressing the KJV Only advocates, James White states, “But we should point out that the KJV carries what is called the Cum Privilegio. Technically the KJV belongs to the English crown, . . .the KJV was first printed by the royal printer, and that for a hundred years no one else could print it. Does this not sound pretty much like a modern copyright? It would seem so. So again we find the KJV Only argument to be inconsistent, involving a double standard.” (White, p. 244).

This statement is totally in error. The Royal Printer was Robert Barker. However, we find that the KJV was printed both in England and outside the country by others, not counting Barker. Consider the following statements:

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. (John R. Dore, Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, p. 345)

In fact, Bibles with the KJV text but with Geneva notes were printed in Holland in 1642, 1672, 1683, 1708, 1715 and in England in 1649. (Jack Lewis, The English Bible: From KJV to NIV, p. 29).

A small octavo Testament was issued at Edinburgh, by the Heirs of Hart, in 1628 (the Anfro Hart whose “Breeches” Bible were so highly esteemed). This is the first Testament printed in Scotland of King James’s Version. (Dore, pp. 338- 339).

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. (Dore, p. 339).

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, p. 346).

In England, the printing of the Authorized or King James Version of the Bible (KJV) and the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of 1662 is the monopoly of the Royal Printer, by virtue of a patent first granted to Christopher Barker in 1577. Only the University Presses of Cambridge and Oxford are permitted by royal charter to override this monopoly; one other publisher, originally Scottish, is an accepted interloper. (M. H. Black, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993, p. 617).

By its royal charter of 1534, the University of Cambridge had acquired the perpetual right to appoint three printers, who could print “all manner of books.” The right preexisted Barker’s patent, and was taken to cover Bibles, so Cambridge printed a Geneva Bible in 1591 and its first KJV in 1629. Oxford acquired a similar charter in 1636, and in the 1670s printed Bibles. (Black, p.618).

Once again, the evidence shows that the attacks against the KJV are unwarranted.

THE APOCRYPHA:
An objection to the KJV which often arises today is that when first printed the KJV contained the Apocrypha. It was placed between the Old and New Testament, which was common for English Bibles in those days. However, they did not consider the Apocrypha inspired scripture. They placed it between the Testaments as historical record and Jewish poetry. This is noted in the Preface to the Geneva Bible:

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 in as much 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, were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of the history, and for the insurrection of godly manners: which books declare that at all times God had an especial care of his Church and left them not utterly destitute to 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 Authorized Version did not give the Apocrypha the respect they had given the Holy Scriptures. In addition to placing the Apocrypha between the testaments, the translators did not entitle it on the cover page as they had the Old and New Testaments. The cover page in the 1611 edition makes no mention of the Apocrypha whatever. The statement reads, “The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New.” When the Apocrypha is introduced between the two testaments, the introduction simply reads, “Books called Apocrypha.” Additionally, both the Old and New Testaments have elaborate engravings placed at the beginning of each testaments; the Apocrypha does not.

Furthermore, the translators of the Authorized Version did not malign the canonical books the way they did the Apocrypha. At 1 Esdras 5:5 the margin states, “This place is corrupt,” a marginal reading nowhere found in either of the testaments. In the addition to the book of Esther they noted, “The rest of the Chapters of the Booke of Esther, which are found neither in the Hebrew, nor in the Calde.”

REVISIONS:
A popular argument used to oppose the KJV is to ask which edition of the KJV is the preserved word of God. The thought is to assume that the text of the Authorized Version has been changed. If changes in the text have occurred, then there would be justification for additional revisions such as we have today. The truth of this is that the text has not really been changed at all. The revisions of the KJV dealt with the correction of early printing errors, or the formation of the text to reflect today’s style of writing and spelling. The verses, however, have remained the same.

There have been four major revisions of the Authorized Version. They took place in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. Our current editions reflect the revision of 1769. The 1762 revision was the work of Dr. Paris of the University at Cambridge. The work of this revision laid the foundation for most modern editions of the text. He made extensive use of the italics 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. Balyney. 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.

This can be illustrated by the following example from Galatians 1:1-5. However, some of the style of printing cannot be illustrated in the class as e-mail will not permit such changes in fonts.

 King James Version
1612 edition

King James Version
current 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,  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, vnto the Churches of Galatia: 3. Grace be to you and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Iesus Christ;  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 gaue himself for our fins, that he might deliuer vs fro this present euil world, according to the will of God,&our Father. 5. To whom be glory for euer and euer, Amen.  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.

The difference between the early editions of the King James Bible and current ones would reflect the differences in both spelling and the way a word was written, and minor adjustments to the text. Thus *fro* becomes *from,* and *God,&our Father* becomes *God and our Father.* *Iesus Christ* becomes *Jesus Christ,* and *deliuer vs* is changed to *deliver us*. There are also changes in certain words as to capitalization. *Apostle* or *apostle,* and *Churches* or *churches.* Likewise, some words are italicized that were not italicized before; such as *be* and *from* in verse 3. The text, however, has not been altered.

Other revisions sought to correct printing errors. Sometimes a word was omitted by the printer, or words were printed twice. These were corrected in order to produce the text as the translators gave it. One edition, for example, left out the word *not* in a few of the Ten Commandments, thus earning it the nickname of *The Wicked Bible.* Even today with computerized checking of the text, printing errors can occur. This does not mean that there is no preserved word of God, nor does this mean that the text of the KJV is corrupt. It does mean that sometimes printers have made mistakes, and the four major revisions of the KJV have sought to correct such errors.

Again, 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, 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 ABS entitled, 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.” (1852, p.7. Also see the 1858 report, pp. 1-20).

This is further attested to by scholar and collector of early English Bibles, John R. Dore. 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, p.iii). Notice that Dore stated that in all the revisions of the KJV, it has remained so long without alteration. It is with confidence that the Bible-believer can say that their Authorized Version is the same as it was in 1611.

For almost four-hundred years now God has blessed the King James Bible. It taught many of our forefathers to read, and most how to live. It was the Bible that united God’s people, regardless of their denomination. And, it has been responsible for sending more souls to heaven than any of its predecessors. Even though the NIV is reported to have outsold the KJV for the past few years, the Authorized Version still remains the Bible of the people. A recent poll conducted by the American Bible Society stated that nearly all Americans own at least one version of the Bible. Even with the variety of modern versions available to the English reader, approximately two-thirds of those surveyed claim the Authorized Version as their Bible. The King James Version still remains the most reproduced translation for the purpose of evangelistic outreach.

I close this section of the lesson with a listing of a few testimonies concerning the richness and value of this, the preserved word of God.

The Right Rev. Henry G. Graham (Catholic Historian): “Hence a large band of translators was appointed and in 1611 there was finished and published what has proved to be the best Protestant version that ever appeared–one which has exercised an enormous influence not only on the minds of its readers, but also on English literature throughout the world.” (Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church ; Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.; Rockford, Ill.;1911; 22ed. 1987, ; p. 140)

Alexander Geddes (Catholic scholar; 1786): “If accuracy and strictest attention to the letter of the text be supposed to constitute an excellent version, this is of all versions the most excellent.” (as quoted from the preface of the New King James Version; 1982; Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Sir Frederic Kenyon (Textual Scholar): “It is the simple truth that, as literature, the English Authorized Version is superior to the original Greek. It was the good fortune of the English nation that its Bible was produced at a time when the genius of the language for noble prose was at its height, and when a natural sense of style was not infected by self-conscious scholarship. The beauty of the language commended the teaching of the sacred books and make them dear to the heart of the people, while it made an indelible and enduring impression alike on literature and on popular speech.” (The Story of the Bible, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1936; 1967 ed. pp. 40,42).

Dr. Andrew Graham (Theologian): In reference to the Revised Version of 1881 “…the Authorized Version has probably sent more souls to heaven than its more accurate successors. The Revised Version is undoubtedly of help in the interpretation of its predecessor, but it has never superseded it.” (“The English Bible” from The Bible Companion, edited by William Neil; McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. New York; 1960; p. 430)

Dr. F. F. Bruce (Biblical Scholar): “In literary quality it surpasses all its successors; for this reason it has maintained its popularity for over 350 years. The translators had an instinctive appreciation of prose rhythm and general euphony, hence it has been excellent for reading aloud.” (“Which Bible Is Best For You?” Eternity, April, 1974 ).

Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Theologian): “Well, there are some odd things about what is still the greatest translation. And isn’t it amazing, after 360 years with all the good new translations, really none has supplanted the King James. Someday, someone will, perhaps, but I wouldn’t want to bet on which one, yet, because no one has really come to the fore. Still the work that these men did, started in the very peculiar way, by this rather peculiar king, has survived and became the cornerstone of our language, really. And it’s a great, great book.” (“Oddities of the King James Bible” in The Christian Librarian, Vol. 18, No. 1 & 2, October, December, 1974, p. 16).

Revised Version (1881): “…its simplicity, its dignity, its power, its happy turns of expression…the music of its cadences, and the felicities of its rhythm.” (Preface)

American Standard Version: “We are not insensible to the justly lauded beauty and vigor of the style of the Authorized Version, nor do we forget that it has been no part of our task to modernize the diction of the Bible.” (Preface)

The Modern Language Bible (New Berkeley Version): “We are in turn with the ‘Authorized Version’ of 1611 in fidelity to the Messianic Promise,..” (Preface)

New King James Version: “For nearly four hundred years, and throughout several revisions of its English form, the King James Bible has been deeply revered among the English-speaking peoples of the world. The precision of translation for which it is historically renowned, and its majesty of style, have enabled that monumental version of the Word of God to become the mainspring of the religion, language, and legal foundations of our civilization.” (Preface)

New Revised Standard Version: “In the course of time, the King James Version came to be regarded as ‘The Authorized Version’. With good reason it has been termed ‘the noblest monument of English prose’, and it has entered, as no other book has, into the making of the personal character and the public institutions of the English-speaking peoples. We owe to it an incalculable debt.”(Preface)

Dr. Bruce M. Metzger (Bible Scholar/Translator): “An outstanding merit of the King James Version is the music of its cadences. The translators were men experienced in the public reading of the Scriptures and in the conduct of public worship. Their choice of the final wording of a passage was often determined by a marvelously sure instinct for what would sound well when read aloud. Take as an example the…translation of Pr. 3:17…The King James Version gives to the verse a perfect melody:..” (“English Versions of the Bible”; The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha; RSV, Oxford University Press, Inc.; 1962; p. 1553)

Bishop Benjamin Westcott (of Westcott and Hort): “From the middle of the seventeenth century, the King’s Bible has been the acknowledged Bible of the English-speaking nations throughout the world simply because it is the best.” (“English Versions of the Bible”; RSV)

Dr. Keith R. Crim (OT Translator for TEV): “Another point of excellence is the natural rhythm of the great prose passages, a feature that made the King James Version especially well-suited for public reading. Sound and sense were blended in a happy combination. And so when the Bible Societies were founded in the early years of the nineteenth century there was a great translation ready for them to distribute, a translation that had proved its value.” (“Translating The Bible Into English: The First Thousand Years”; The Bible Translator; Vol. 25, No. 2; April 1974; p. 220)

The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia: “Early Jacobean prose is seen at its best in the Authorized Version of the Old and New Testaments (1611), the joint work of 47 scholars, which was not only the mainstay of the Protestant faith but a rich resource from which innumerable Englishmen have learned to use their native language.” (Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1993 under English Literature, The 17th Century)

Compton’s Encyclopedia: “One of the supreme achievements of the English Renaissance came at its close, in the King James Bible…It is rightly regarded as the most influential book in the history of English civilization…the King James Version combined homely, dignified phrases into a style of great richness and loveliness. It has been a model of writing for generations of English-speaking people.” (Compton’s Encyclopedia, Online Edition. Downloaded from America Online, May 26, 1995)

Merit Students Encyclopedia: “The greatest English Bible is the Authorized, or King James, Version. Based on Tyndale’s translation and original texts, it was produced in 1611 by six groups of churchmen at the command of King James I. The King James Bible became the traditional Bible of English-speaking Protestants. Its dignified and beautiful style strongly influenced the development of literature in the English language. The influence can be seen in the works of John Bunyan, John Milton, Herman Melville, and many other writers.” (Merit Students Encyclopedia; Vol. 3; Crowell-Collier Educational Corporation; 1967, 1972 ed. p.p. 137, 138 Rev. Holt H. Graham; Rev. Joseph M. Petulla; Mr. Cecil Roth)

Ernest Sutherland Bates (Literary Editor): “As far as literary value is concerned, however, the King James Version, produced when the language was younger and more flexible, is unlikely ever to be superseded. Its position as a world classic seems to be as secure as that of Homer, Dante, or Shakespeare, and it is the only translation in all literature of which that can be said.” (The Bible: Designed To Be Read As Living Literature; Simon and Schuster Publishing, New York, NY.; 1936; 21st ed. 1965; p. 1236)

George Bernard Shaw (Author): “The translation was extraordinarily well done because to the translators what they were translating was not merely a curious collection of ancient books written by different authors in different stages of culture, but the word of God divinely revealed through His chosen and expressly inspired scribes. In this conviction they carried out their work with boundless reverence and care and achieved a beautifully artistic result…they made a translation so magnificent that to this day the common human Britisher or citizen of the United States of North America accepts and worships it as a single book by a single author, the book being the Book of Books and the author being God.” (The Men Behind the King James Version, by G. S. Paine; Baker Book House; Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1959, 1977ed., pp. 182-183).

Amy Clampitt (Poet): “If one lives to a sufficient age, the day is bound to arrive in discovering a kind of bedrock delight in the curmudgeonly I-told-you-so of the Hebrews prophets, when the rhetoric of the King James Version has the aspect not of a stumbling block but rather of a bulwark, and the ring of it becomes almost contemporary.” (Essay “The Poetry of Isaiah” from Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, ed. by Christina Buchmann and Alima Celina Spiegel; New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994)

Lew Sarett (Author): “I have studied the Bible, King James Version, carefully. I was interested in its literary beauty, in the factors that contribute to the nobility, power, and economy of its expression.” (Our Roving Bible: Tracking Its Influence Through English and American Life, by Lawrence E. Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, p. 262)

Maurice Hindus (Newsman of Russian-Jewish descent): “I have traveled far and wide over this earth, and I have never been without a King James Version of the Bible. Like thousands of men in my profession, I have found its lucid and majestic prose an inestimable help in my work.” (Ibid. p. 227).

Dr. James W. Peebles (African-American Theologian): “Many slaves who learned to read and write did so by using the King James Version as a basic textbook. This held true even after the slaves were freed. Most Blacks who were not able to attend school, which was the majority of the black population, especially in the South, learned to read by studying the words from the King James Version. . .Considering these momentous thoughts and occasions that have been for so long in the hearts and minds of black people is the reason why the King James Version was used for this translation. It is the most respected version among black people in the African diaspora. Regardless of its weaknesses and inadequacies, it is far more effective at addressing Africa than most of the newly revised modern editions.” (The Original African Heritage Study Bible)

Eudoro Welty (Southern Author): “How many of us, the South’s writers-to-be of my generation, were blessed in not having gone deprived of the King James Version of the Bible? Its cadence entered into our ears and our memories for good. The ghost of it lingers in all our books.” (cited by Barbara Binswanger and Jim Charlton, “Songs of the South,” from the July 1995 issue of Reader’s Digest; p. 73)

Sir Winston Churchill: “The scholars who produced this masterpiece are mostly unknown and unremembered. But they forged an enduring link, literary and religious, between the English-speaking people of the world.” (The King James Bible Translators; Olga S. Opfell; Jefferson and London: McFarland, 1982)

General Colin Powell (as cited by David Roth): ” ‘I’m a dyed-in-the wool, unreformed Episcopalian of the 1928 Prayer Book,’ Powell told an interviewer recently. For Powell this statement packs a lot of meaning. His point is not that he likes his religion dusty and old, without feeling, and steeped in hollow ritual. Rather it is a nostalgic comment. Powell finds recent reforms in the ancient, deeply rooted church of his childhood troubling. Yes, he loves the cadence of the King James translation. He finds the seemingly timeless and transcendent worship and traditional hymns spiritually stirring.” (Sacred Honor, pp. 132-133)

Charlton Heston (Actor; Moses in the 10 Commandments): “And of course there’s the King James translation itself. It’s been described as ‘the monument of English prose’ as well as ‘the only great work of art ever created by a committee.’ Both statements are true. Fifty-four scholars worked seven years to produce the work from the extant texts in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English. Such an undertaking can be expected to produce great scholarship, but hardly writing as spare and sublime as the King James. . .The authors of several boring translations that have followed over the last fifty years mumble that the K.J.V. is ‘difficult,’ filled with long words. Have a look at the difficult long words that begin the Old Testament, and end the Gospels: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; darkness was upon the face of the deep.’ and ‘Now, of the other things which Jesus did, if they should be written every one, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.’ Shakespeare aside, there’s no comparable writing in the language, as has been observed by wiser men than I. Over the past several centuries, it’s been the single book in most households, an enormous force in shaping the development of the English language. Carried around the world by missionaries, it provided the base by which English is about to become the lingua franca of the world in the next century. Exploring it during this shoot was one of the most rewarding creative experiences of my life.” (In the Arena: An Autobiography, pp. 554-555)

QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS

Dr. Holland, Could you please supply me with some information and verses about the New King James Versions?

During the course of these lessons I have received several questions from students, as the one listed above, concerning the NKJV. It would seem appropriate to make comments about that translation at this time.

In 1979 the NKJV was released in the New Testament by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The whole Bible was published in 1982. Its goal was unique from other modern versions in that the NT was translated from the Textus Receptus, instead of the Critical Text as most modern versions are. Thus, many of the verses which have been omitted from modern versions can be found in the NKJV. Therefore, many who reject modern translations and favor the TR find the NKJV an acceptable modern version of the Bible.

When first published, the translators claimed the NKJV was the fifth revision of the KJV of 1611. Even the name, New King James, shows an association with the Authorized Version. However, as we have seen in this lesson, the revisions of the KJV which predate the NKJV were proper revisions which did not change the text. This cannot be said of the NKJV. In fact, it is not a revision at all. Instead, it is a new translation of the OT Masoretic Hebrew Text and the NT Traditional Greek Text based on the findings of modern linguistical scholarship from a conservative theological basis. A few differences between the NKJV and its predecessor are listed below.

KJV 

NKJV

Son or Servant The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; . . . (Acts 3:13 KJV) The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, . . . (NKJV. Also in Acts 3:26; 4:27; and 4:30)
Deity Changed And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; … (Rev. 1:6 KJV) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, . . . (NKJV)
God or Rock Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. (Habakkuk 1:12 KJV) Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. (NKJV)
Godhead or Divine Nature Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, . . . (Acts 17:29 KJV) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, . . . (NKJV. However in Rom. 1:20 and Col 2:9 the NKJV switches back to Godhead)
Comforter or Helper And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:16 KJV) And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, (NKJV. Also in John 14:26; 15:26; and 16:7)
Corrupt or Peddle For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: . . . (2 Cor. 2:17 KJV) For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; . . . (NKJV)
Satan or Accuser Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. (Psalm 109:6 KJV) Set a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand. (NKJV)
Saved or Being Saved For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18 KJV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NKJV. Also in 2 Cor. 2:15)
Jesus or He  And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, . . . (Mark 2:15 KJV)  Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, . . .<<(NKJV)

The NKJV is suppose to be easier to read than the KJV. Of the following verses, which do you find harder?

Numb. 21:14 Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon, Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD: Waheb in Suphah, The brooks of the Arnon.
Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
Matt. 27:27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him.
Matt. 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
1 Kings 10:28 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price. And Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price.
Psalm 43:1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation: Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
Acts 27:17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.

These are only a few examples of the differences between the KJV and NKJV. It should become clear that the NKJV is not truly the fifth revision of the Authorized Version, but is a retranslation of the texts.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

Lesson Six: German, Spanish, and Early English Versions

Lesson Six: German, Spanish, and Early English Versions

The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. (Psalm 68:11)

It has been argued that if the KJV is the word of God, what about the time before 1611? Were believers who spoke English without the preserved word of God until the KJV was published? Is the word of God limited only to the English-speaking people? Such argumentation is clearly either a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the views of Bible believers who hold to the KJV as the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people. Our view, as has been stated before, is that there has always been the preserved word of God ever since God gave it. This has been demonstrated in lesson five. He inspired it through the original writers, and He keeps it through His promise to do so.

When the translators of the KJV set forth to do their task, they had before them several texts and translations. In addition to the original languages, they also had various foreign translations based on the Traditional Texts of both the Old and New Testaments. In the original preface to the KJV, which was entitled The Translators to the Reader, Dr. Miles Smith wrote: “Neither did we think much to consult the translators or commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, or Latin. No, nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch.”

In the course of our studies of NT textual criticism, we have considered the manuscripts and texts of the Syrian, Greek, and Latin. The four foreign translations mentioned by Dr. Smith were the Spanish (Reina/Valera Version), the French (Louis Segond Version), the Italian (Giovanni Diodati Version), and the Dutch (Luther’s German Version). All of these were based on the Traditional Text used by Bible-believing Christians throughout the history of the New Testament Church. For the purpose of our studies, we shall consider two of them; the German and the Spanish.

THE GERMAN

Perhaps no other translation of the Bible, apart from the KJV, has had a greater impact upon its people and their culture than the German Bible of Martin Luther. As was stated in our last lesson by Dr. Fred Craddock and Dr. Gene Tucker of Emory University, “Translations of the Bible, such as the Authorized Version (or King James Version, 1611) and Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German (first completed in 1534) not only influenced literature, but also shaped the development of languages.” (cited from Encarta by Microsoft, 1995 ed).

Not only has this version affected the history and language of Germany, but many immigrants and early settlers to the United States carried a copy of Die Heilige Schrift (the Holy Scriptures) by Martin Luther.

Students of Church History can not but recognize the great contribution made to the common Faith by Martin Luther (1483-1546). It was Luther who echoed the cry of justification by faith, and brought Reformation to Germany. He was born on November 10th, 1483. He began to study law in 1505, but after a narrow escape from a storm, he decided to become a monk. He was ordained in 1507 and in 1510 visited Rome. It was there he found corruption within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and began to question its authority. After his study in Scripture on justification through faith and salvation by grace, Luther published his 95 theses and nailed it on 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 Luther refused to recant and was banished from the empire. He fled to Wartburg, and for the next eight months worked on his translation of the New Testament into German.

The Greek text used by Luther was that of Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). This text was based on the Traditional Text and later became known as the Textus Receptus. Church Historian Earle Cairns wrote,

Making use of Erasmus’ edition of the Greek New Testament, he (Luther) completed his German translation of the New Testament in less than a year. The whole Bible wastranslated from the original into German by 1534. When it was published, it not only gave the German people the Bible in their own tongue, but it set the standard form of the German language. (Christianity Through the Centuries, Zondervan Pub., p. 318).

Thus, we see that this line of Text was used by God to provide the Bible in the language of the people and provided the basis for believers during the Reformation. It should be noted that the Bible of the Reformers was based on the Traditional Text, and not the Alexandrian or Western line of manuscripts.

THE SPANISH

The standard Spanish Bible is the Reina-Valera Version. The American Bible Society refers to it as “the King James Version of the Spanish-speakingworld.” (“Remembering Casiodoro De Reina” in the Bible Society Record, New York. 1969). Dr. Wilton Nelson writes, “(1969) marked the 400th anniversaryof the Reina-Valera version of the Spanish Bible, which can be thought of as the Hispanic-American counterpart of the King James Version.” (“New Light from the Old Lamp” in the Latin American Evangelist; published by the American Bible Society, Jan/Feb. 1970, p. 9). What the KJV is to the English-speaking world, the Reina-Valera is to the Spanish-speaking world. It is not the KJV translated into Spanish, for it was translated before 1611. It is the labor of two men, Casidoro de Reina and Cipriano de Valera, who used the Traditional Text to provide the Spanish-speaking world the word of God.

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 much personal sacrifice. He was born in Seville and became a Roman 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 to the faith persecution fell on Reina, who had fled 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 found 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 2,600 copies of the entire Bible in Spanish. It was nicknamed the “Bear Bible” because it used as its symbol a bear retrieving honey from a tree.

The Inquisition soon seized as many copies of this version as possible and had them destroyed, calling it the “most dangerous edition of the Bible.” (The Cambridge History of the Bible by Dr. S.L. Greenslade. Cambridge University Press, 1983, p.126). The Roman Church had issued a decree stating “(The) Bible in Castilian (Spanish) romance or in any other vulgar tongue (is prohibited)” (Ibid. p.125). This order came from the Council of the Holy General Inquisition. Consequently, few copies of Reina’s Spanish Version ever made it into Spain. However, 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 which became noted for its zeal and street evangelistic outreach in Frankfurt. He remained the pastor of this church until his death on March 16th, 1594. To Spanish 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 in 1557. Like Reina, Valera had been a monk at the San Isidro Monastery in Seville. And, like Reina, 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 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 service of the mass calling it pagan in origin, and the authority of the Pope. While in England, he married and began a ministry to seamen as well as a ministry to those who were imprisoned.

In 1582, Valera began to revise the work of Reina. His revision was very slight but thorough. At the age of 70, after 20 long years of working on his revision, Valera published what has become known as the Reina-Valera Version. Valera wrote, “The reason that has 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” (translated from Versiones Castellanas De La Biblia. Published in Mexico by Casa De Publicasciones. pp.38-39).

Valera believed his Bible was the perfect word of God for the Spanish-speaking people. This is reflected in the Spanish History of the Bible stating, “The authors(Reina and Valera) claim to have penetrated to the depths of Holy Scriptures andhave translated with perfection the Greek and Hebrew languages.” (Ibid. p.19).

Since 1602, however, this Spanish version has undergone a few major revisions. The two most noteworthy were done in 1909 and 1960.

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, “Valera sufiro grande miseria” (Valera suffered great misery) (Ibid. p.39). This book further states, “El Señor recompense a sussiervos, Cipriano de Valera recibira un muy grande galardon de maños de su Salvador. (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

In order to better understand the KJV, we must understand something about the translations which preceded it into English, and the times in which the translators of these versions lived.

There was no English Bible until 1382. In order to better understand this, we must clarify two points. First of all the study of our language is divided into three periods. They are Old English which dates from about 700 to 1100 AD. Next comes Middle English which dates from 1100 to 1500 AD. Finally, we have Modern English which dates from 1500 to the present (This is attested to by Dr. Marjorie Anderson and Dr. Blanche Williams, both from Hunter College in New York City, in their book Old English Handbook, pp.6-7). This is important because some of these early versions date to Middle English. This leaves the date of the KJV clearly in the Modern English era. Thus, we can understand why there was a need for revision as the language changed in form, and we can also see that the KJV is in fact a modern English translation and not an Old English one as some have claimed.

Secondly, we must understand that during this time the right to translate the Bible into English was prohibited by the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, to have the Bible in any language other than Latin was forbidden. The belief of the Church was that men would misunderstand and mistranslate the scriptures, and they had the power of the state to enforce this belief. Their view was that those who could read, read Latin. Those who could not read would not need a Bible in their language. However, as stated in lesson five, simply because one could not read would not stop others from reading to him. It would do that person little good if all he heard was Latin and not the Bible in his own language. Also, history has proven that once the Bible is in the language of the people, they learn to read. For these and other reasons, there have been those who were willing to risk their lives in order to provide the common man the word of God.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1494-1536)

The name of William Tyndale has bore the slander of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic historian Rev. Henry G. Graham refers to Tyndale as an inept rebellious priest who “was utterly unfitted for such a great work (i.e. translating the NT into English)…a mediocre scholar, and could not boast of anything above the average intellect.” (Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church, Tan Books and Pub., p. 123) And yet despite the defamation of some, God saw fit to use William Tyndale to give us the first English Bible printed on the printing press. And to set the stage for the translations which followed.

John Foxe, in his Book of Martyrs, provides us with a differing picture of this saint of God. Foxe informs us of his early training at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and as the 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. In reference to this, Foxe writes:

And when they (i.e. Catholic priests) at any time did vary from Tyndale in opinions, he would show them in the book, and lay plainly before them the open and manifest places of the Scriptures, to confute their errors, and confirm his sayings. And thus continued they for a certain season, reasoning and contending together divers times, till at length they waxed weary, and bare a secret grudge in their hearts against him. (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, p.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 who wished it.

It was his openness and generosity that led to his demise. While in Antwerp, Tyndale befriended a 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 who to arrest. His crime was the publishing of God’s word in the language of the people. Tyndale 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; “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.” (Foxe, p.15). Thus 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 which followed in the years to come. Although Tyndale translated a few Old Testament books, his work was on the New Testament. The following passages are from Tyndale’s New Testament and compared with the KJV. The spelling has been modified to match the spelling found in the KJV. It is evident the work of William Tyndale lives on, both in copies of his translations and in those who used his New Testament as a basis for their labors.

TYNDALE

KJV

Matthew 6:9-13
O our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Let thy kingdom come. Thy will be fulfilled, as well in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, even as we forgive our trespassers. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and power, and the glory for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13
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 11:28-30
Come unto me all ye that labor and are laden and I will ease you. Take my yoke on you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Romans 12:1-2
I, beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercifulness of God, that ye make your bodies a quick sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God: which is your reasonable serving of God and fashion not yourselves like unto this world: but be ye changed in your shape, by the renewing of your wits that ye may feel what thing that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God is.
Romans 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

MILES COVERDALE (1488-1569)

William Tyndale had prayed that God would open the King of England’s eyes. The King was Henry VIII. The prayer was answered in the work of Miles Coverdale. Coverdale had befriended Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry. In addition, the chief minister to Henry was Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury who encouraged Coverdale in his translational work. Thus, the Lord was providing England and the English-speaking world with it first translation with the approval of the King.

Biblical historian, F.F. Bruce correctly stated, “Next to Tyndale, the man to whom lovers of the English Bible owe the greatest debt is Miles Coverdale.” (The English Bible, p. 53). God used Miles Coverdale in an unique way because Coverdale labored with 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, along with Tyndale’s Bible, were based on the Traditional Text and used by the translators of the KJV in their work. These were the 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. (The Translators to the Reader original Preface in the KJV by Dr. Miles Smith)

Miles Coverdale was born in Yorkshire, the birthplace of John Wycliffe, in 1488. 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, but from German and Latin. His New Testament was a revision of Tyndale’s New Testament. When he published his Bible in 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 then went to Wittenberg where he pastored a church with his wife and eight children. Under the reign of Queen Mary, Rogers was charged with heresy and was burned alive for the sake of the gospel. Once again the trail of the English Bible was covered with blood.

His work is a mixture of Tyndale and Coverdale. The NT is that of William Tyndale’s as are the first five books of the OT and a never before published copy of Tyndale’s translation of Joshua to 2 Chronicles. The rest of the OT is the work of Coverdale.

THE GREAT BIBLE (1539)

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

This version was based on the Traditional Text of the NT, and was compared with the Old Latin Text. It never became great with the public and ceased publication within thirty years. The desire for an English Bible still remained, one the average Englishman could hold in his hands and read in his home. Not one that was the size of the Great Bible, which was chained to the alter of English churches.

This need was met with the Geneva Bible which followed.

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 these found refuge in Geneva. Knowing the need of preserving God’s word in English, many scholars who had either suffered persecution under Mary, or had fled because of the persecution she produced, translated the NT in 1557 and the whole Bible in 1560. This translation became known as the Geneva Bible.

This version was produced in a handy size using Roman type which made it easier to carry and read. It also contained several notations which the Catholic Church found offensive. For example, the notation found in Revelation 9:3, which describes the locust coming out of the pit, reads, “Locust 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.” The Geneva Bible made use of not only the Traditional Text in the NT, but also the Hebrew Masoretic Text in the OT. And, unlike the previous translations, it was the work of a committee and not the work of one man or a revision of one man’s work.

THE BISHOPS’ BIBLE (1568)

Perhaps the loveliest Bible printed was the Bishops’ Bible, being endowed with a plethora of woodcuttings throughout its edition. It was produced after the terror of Queen Mary by the Church of England with the aid of many English Bishops, hence its name. It had fewer notes than the Geneva Bible, and was given for the purpose of standardizing the British subjects with one 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 Bible for the English-speaking world.

A GOOD ONE BETTER

One line from the Preface to the KJV is often cited by supporters of modern versions. It has to do with the goal of the KJV translators in making a good translation better. In his tract entitled, Pick a Bible, Any Bible, Mr. Terry Alverson cites Dr. Miles Smith of the KJV translation committee and states, “Obviously Smith and his co-workers did not undertake the task of translating the KJV with the intent that it was to be the only Bible. Quite the contrary. It appears the 1611 KJV translators would be the first to applaud a modern day effort to ‘make a good translation better.’ “(p.2).

One wonders if the claim that the KJV translators would be the first to applaud a modern day effort is correct in light of their full statement. The context of Dr. Smith’s citation is given below:

Truly, good Christian reader, we never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make a bad one a good one, (for then the imputation of Sixtus had been true in some sort, that our people had been fed with gall of dragons instead of wine, with whey instead of milk:) but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principle good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark.

The history of all the “good ones” which predated the KJV shows that they were all based upon the same Greek line of manuscripts; the Traditional Text. Further, it should be noted that the translators said their goal was NOT to make a bad one good, else the accusation from the Pope that the translators were feeding their people with “gall of dragons” might have some basis. Their goal was to make “one principle one” from the good ones which predated the KJV. Clearly, this is not an affirmation to alter the text based on either the Alexandrian or Western line of manuscripts.

Likewise, the KJV translators spoke of the need for many translations. Some have used this to justify the use of modern versions based on a differing line of manuscripts. Jame R. White writes, “When the very preface to the KJV says, ‘variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures,’ it is obvious that the KJV Only position is proven utterly ahistorical thereby. The position requires the translator to be something its own authors never intended it to be.” (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 76-77).

The context of this statement was the use of marginal notes to explain the meaning of some Hebrew and Greek words which either carry several meanings or for rare animals. Please note the full context of the phrase in question:

There be many words in the Scriptures which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbour, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts, and precious stones, &c., concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgement . . .Now in such a case, doth not a margin do well to admonish the reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident, so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgement of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin where the text is not so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded.

With these thoughts in mind, let us consider for a moment the content of these early English versions as they compare with any one of the modern versions based on the theories of modern textual scholars.

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

And leade us not into temptation: but delyver us from evyll. For thyne is the kyngedome and the power, and the glorye for ever. Amen. (Tyndale)

And leade us not into temptacyon: but delyver us from evyll. For thyne is the kyngdome and the power, and the glorye for ever. Amen. (Great Bible)

And lead us not into tentation, but deliver us from evill: for thyne is the kyngdome, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen. (Geneva)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evill: for thine is the kingdome, and the power and the glory, for ever, Amen. (Bishops’)

And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (ASV)

And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. (RSV)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (NIV)

Did you notice something is missing? But I thought that all they were doing is following in the line of the KJV and making a good one better? Or perhaps, they are doing more than that. Consider some further examples.

John 1:18
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (KJV)

No man hath sene God at eny tyme. The only begotten sonne, which is in the bosome of the father, he hath declared him. (Tyndale)

No man hath sene God at eny tyme. The onely begotten sonne, whych is in the bosome of the father, he hath declared hym. (Great Bible)

No man hathe sene God at any time: the onlely begotten Sonne, which is in the bosome of the Father, he hathe declared him. (Geneva)

No man hath seene God at any time, the onely begotten Sonne, which is in the bosome of the Father, he hath declared him. (Bishop’s)

No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (NASV)

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (NIV)

No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bossom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him. (NWT)

Luke 9:56
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (KJV)

The sonne of man is not come to destroye mennes lives, but to save them. And they went to another toune. (Tyndale: note in this version the verse is found in verses 55 and 56)

For the sonne of man is not come to destroye mennes lyves, but to save them. And they went to another towne. (Great Bible)

For the Sonne of man is not come to destroye mens lives, but to save them. Then they went to another towne. (Geneva)

For the sonne of man is not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.(Bishop’s)

And they went on to another village. (RSV: Note the phrase missing is not found in verse 55, as it was in Tyndales. It is removed altogether.)

and they went on to another village. (NEV)

And they went on to another village. (NASV)

Colossians 1:14
in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (KJV)

in whom we have redempcion thorow his bloud, that is to saye the forgevens of synnes. (Tyndale)

by whom we have redemcion thorowe his bloude even the forgevenes of sinnes. (Great Bible)

In whom we have redemption through his bloode, (that is,) the forgiveness of sinnes. (Geneva)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sinnes: (Bishop’s)

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NIV)

by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. (TEV)

Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. (NAV)

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NRSV)

Romans 11:6
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (KJV)

Yf it be of grace, then is it not of works. For then were grace no moare grace. Yf it be of works, then is it no moare grace. For then were deservinge no lenger deservinge. (Tyndale)

If it be of grace, then is it not now of workes. For then grace is no more grace. But If it be of workes, then is it now no grace. For then were deservynge nomore deservynge. (Great Bible)

And if (it be) of grace, it is no more of workes; or els were grace no more grace: but if it be of workes, it is no more grace: or els were worke no more worke. (Geneva)

If it bee of grace, then is it not nowe of workes: for then grace is no more grace. But if it be of workes, then is it now no grace, for then worke is no more worke. (Bishop’s)

But if it is by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. (RV, 1881)

And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (NIV)

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (NRSV)

Mark 1:1-2
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 they face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (KJV)

The beginnynge of the Gospell of Jesu Christ the sonne of God, as it is written in the Prophets: beholde I sende my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy waye befoe the. (Tyndale)

The begynnynge of the Gospell of Jesu Chryst the sonne of God, as it is written in the Prophets, behold, I sende my messenger before thy face which shall prepare thy waye before the. (Great Bible)

The begynnynge of the Gospell of Jesus Christe, the Sonne of God: As it is written in the Prophetes, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, whiche shal prepare thy way before thee. (Geneva)

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Sonne of God, As it hath bene written in the Prophets, Bhholde, I sende my messenger before they face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (Bishops’)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way; (NASV. The OT citation comes from Malachi 3:1 in verse two of Mark. It is not until verse three that there is a citation from Isaiah)

The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet: I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way (NIV)

[The] beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ: Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: (Look! I am sending forth my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way;)<<(NWT)

These are but a few examples of the many changes made in modern versions. In each case the early English translations agreed with the KJV. To claim that what the KJV did in 1611 to the early English versions which predated it, is what modern versions are doing to the KJV simply is untrue. Dr. Miles Smith stated that their goal as translators in 1611 was NOT to make a BAD one good. Instead, from the many good ones based on the Traditional Text, to make one better. This they accomplished only by the good grace of God upon them. In our next lesson we will look deeper into the history and text of the greatest version the world has ever seen; the Authorized King James Version of 1611.

QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS

One student writes, “If the KJV is the only real Bible for Christians then why does it have errors in it? A book about different translations by Lewis points out more than quite a few. And I’ve found that in Romans 1:1 the word ‘doulos’ is translated as ‘servant’ when it should be ‘slave.’ And in Romans 1:3 the words ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’ appear when they should be at the end of verse 4.”

The question begins with two false assumptions. First that the KJV is the only real Bible for Christians. Second that it has error in it. As we have stated time and again throughout these lessons, my belief is that the KJV is the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people without any proven error. Lessons one, two, five, and this one all state that I have not claimed the KJV to be the Bible for all the world, or the only Bible ever given. There were Bibles before the KJV and in languages other than English which were the preserved word of God without any proven error. I simply believe the KJV is for the English-speaking people. I further believe it stands without any proven error, and have for several years now been looking to see if anyone could prove an error in it. To date, they have not.

In lessons to come we will cover many of the so-called errors as given by James R. White, D. A. Carson, Jack Lewis, and others. In fact, a few lessons will be dedicated to the issues raised by these men. But for now, please allow me to address the issue at hand.

In Romans 1:1 Paul uses the Greek word “doulos.” The claim is made that the KJV is in error because it translates the word as servant instead of slave. However, the claim is without warrant because “doulos” means both. One of the standard texts for learning NT Greek is J. Gresham Machen’s New Testament Greek For Beginners. It was my first year Greek book when I attended Cedarville College. In the building of vocabularies under Greek-English Vocabulary, Machen states, “doulos, o; a slave, a servant.” (p. 258).

Machen is not alone. In Dr. Ray Summers’ book, Essentials of New Testament Greek, he translates “doulos, o, slave, servant” (Broadman Press, p.157). Both Machen and Summers are first year Greek studies. Dr. Harold Moulton expands on this in his Analytical Greek Lexicon: “doulos; enslaved, enthralled, subservient, a male slave, or servant, of various degrees” (Zondervan, p. 106). In An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine, he states “Doulos, an adjective, signifying ‘in bondage,’. . .is used as a noun, and as the most common and general word for ‘servant,’ frequently indicating subjection without the idea of bondage” (Revell Company, p. 347). And finally, Dr. Jack Lewis in his book, The English Bible: KJV to NIV, states that the NASV translates “doulos” four different ways including both slave and servant (p. 343).

It would seem from this information that the objection is without substance.

The second part of the question deals with Romans 1:3-4.

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (KJV)

concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, (NASV)

The student is correct in stating that in the Greek the phrase “Jesus Christ our Lord” appears at the end of verse four and not in verse three in the Greek text. This is not, however, an error. It is the form of translation.

The question is a good one; why does the KJV read “his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” when the Greek has “tou uiou autou” (his Son) several words before “Iesou Cristou tou keriou emon” (Jesus Christ our Lord)? The answer has to do with the understanding of how Greeks worded sentences. In Greek the phrase “his Son” and “Jesus Christ our Lord” both have endings in “ou.” Greeks tied word order together by the endings of Greek words. All of these stand in what is called the (masculine, singular) genative case. They are the same endings, showing they are to be tied together. Again, citing from Machen,

The normal order of the sentence in Greek is like that in English–subject, verb, object. There is no special tendency, as in Latin, to put the verb at the end. But Greek can vary the order for purposes of emphasis or euphony much more freely than English. . .The English translation must be determined by observing the endings, not by observing the order. (New Testament Greek for Beginners, pp.26-27).

It is a matter of choice, not an issue of mistranslation. The NASV is neither less correct nor more correct in translating the phrase at the end of verse four. It is a choice. As long as the reader understands that “Jesus Christ our Lord” has to do with “his Son” the translation is correct. The NASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV (and most all others) simply tie the thought together by having the phrase at the end. The KJV ties the thought together as a Greek reading it would. Both are correct translations.

There is one final thought. At least the whole phrase “Jesus Christ our Lord” appears in both translations in this passage. This is not true of either Acts 8:37 or Romans 16:24. In both of these passages the NASV, along with most modern versions, omit the verse and Jesus Christ our Lord altogether. In fact the NASV omits the name “Jesus” 58 times in the NT (such as in Matt. 4:12,18,23; John 3:2; Acts 9:29; and 1 Peter 5: 10,14). “Christ” is removed from the NASV 38 times (such as in Matt. 23:8; John 6:69; 1 Cor. 16:22-23; 1 Tim. 2:7; and 1 John 4:3). And “Lord” is missing 35 times from the NASV (such as in Mark 11:10; Luke 9:57,59; Rom. 6:11; Gal. 6:17; Col. 1:2; and Rev.16:5). Even in Romans chaper one there is an omission. Notice verse sixteen states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: . . .” (KJV). Modern versions omit “of Christ.” I would think that the omission of “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Lord,” are of a greater impact than the word order as it appears in the Greek NT; especially when that word order is in full agreement with the thinking, writing, and reading of Greek believers. I hope that this answers your question and that this lesson has been a blessing.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

Lesson Five: The Traditional Text Line

Lesson Five: The Traditional Text Line

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1 Thess. 2:13)

INSPIRATION AND PRESERVATION

The Biblical approach to textual criticism stands in direct contrast to the concepts and theories of modern textual scholars and their accepted texts and translations. While textual evidence and studies is by no means to be ignored, neither is the guiding presence of the Author of Holy Writ. The pure naturalist approach only considers the physical evidence and man’s intellectual understanding of that limited evidence. The Biblical approach not only considers the physical evidence, but also looks beyond to see the spiritual evidence as well. Without Divine intervention, there is no preservation (Psalm 12:6-7). And, unless we are unfairly accused, intervention differs from inspiration.

Here, we shall take a brief pause to define the difference. Too often those who believe the KJV to be the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people without proven error are said to believe that the KJV translators were inspired in the same sense that the original writers were inspired. Some have even suggested we must additionally believe that men, such as Erasmus, who produced Greek texts that were the bases for the KJV must likewise be inspired, and that even the copyist who copied the Traditional text in Greek (called the Byzantine text) were also Divinely inspired. This tendency to overstate the view of the Bible-believer has recently been dogmatically expressed by James R. White in his book, The King James Only Controversy. “Most King James Only advocates. . .believe that the KJV itself, as an English language translation, is inspired and therefore inerrant.” (p.3). And that some “truly believes that God supernaturally inspired the King James Version in such a way that the English text itself in inerrant revelation.” (p.4). Additionally, concerning the Greek Textus Receptus, White writes, “Anyone who believes the TR to be infallible must believe that Erasmus, and the other men who later edited the same text in their own editions (Stephanus and Beza), were somehow inspired, or at the very least providentially guided in their work. Yet, none of these men ever claimed such inspiration.” (p.58).

The last statement comes closest to the truth, for there is a difference between being guided by God and being inspired by God. An illustration of this can be seen in any publication of the KJV. A publisher may or may not be guided by God in publishing the text of the KJV; however, this does not indicate that he was Biblically inspired. Simply because one copied the Traditional Text does not mean he was Biblically inspired to do so. This may indicate providential guidance, but is not indicative of scriptural inspiration. It is also of interest that White consistently associates inspiration with inerrancy or infallibility. While it is true that the inspired word of God is inerrant, it does not mean that just because something is inerrant it is therefore inspired. Because a person or position is 100% correct does not mean that either one is Biblically inspired. A child may finish a test without error, but this does not mean the child was inspired supernaturally. Yet because God is truth and does not err, when He inspires as He did the writers of Holy Scripture, He did so without the intervention of human mistakes and errors.

Webster defines inspiration as “Any influence (that) . . .inspires,” and that inspires means to, “stimulate to activity” ( New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, 1981 ed.). In a general sense of the word, therefore, we must say that the translators were inspired only in that they were moved to produce the work. However, that is not how the word is used in the theological and Biblical sense. Biblical inspiration means “that the writers were so empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit in the PRODUCTION (the emphasis is mine) of the Scripture as to give them divine and infallible authority.” (Dr. Emery Bancroft, Elemental Theology, Zondervan Pub. 1960, p.8). Preservation, on the other hand, has to do with the keeping of what has already been divinely produced. It is the assurance that the God who gave the word without error in the first place was able to keep the word without error for us today.

Admittedly the differences between the two may at first seem indistinguishable, especially when we arrive at the same answers to the following questions. Is the Bible inspired by God? The Biblical answer is yes (2 Tim. 3:16). Has the Bible been preserved by God? Again, the Biblical answer is yes (Psalm 12:6-7). According to the verses just given, was the Bible inspired by God with error? Of course not since God is not a God of error. Was the Bible preserved by God with error? Again, the verses would tell us no because the context of Psalm 12 says the preserved word is pure. Both inspiration and preservation start with God and end with inerrancy. The difference is this: inspiration deals with inception, or what was originally given and produced by God. Preservation is a process of God taking what He gave and keeping it for all generations. The Bible-believing Christian believes his Bible was both inspired by God without error and preserved by God without error. It was infallibly given and remains that way today (1 Peter 1:23). It is, therefore, not only the work of man, but the very word of God.

Such was the attitude of the New Testament Christian as stated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. The word which was preached and received among them was considered not just the word of man, but as it is in truth, the word of God. This attitude is essential for at least two reasons. First, it excludes the approach that all texts and or translations are simply a work produced by good men. It demands that we recognize the ongoing providence of God in preserving what He has given and is able to provide us with His word without error. It requires us to ask ourselves if the Bible we received is the word of God? If so, is it truth without any mixture of error, or does it contain copyist and translational errors that have crept in throughout the centuries? Is it the very word of God, or the best translation available from the very best manuscripts? If it has textual, copyist, or translational error, it fails the test as set up by the Holy Scriptures themselves. Second, this passage offers evidence in helping us to see where this preserved word is. The proof is two-fold, in that it is not only RECEIVED by the born-again believer, but it EFFECTUALLY WORKS in the born-again believer.

THE APOSTLES
The Biblical approach by the Apostles differs from that of the modern textual critic. Their attitude in the citation of scripture is one of “thus sayeth the Lord,” and, “it is written.” Not “the older manuscripts read,” or “a better translation would be.” They believed that the scriptures of both testaments were not only divinely inspired but kept and preserved by the guiding hand of the living Lord. They also warn against those who would change and corrupt the word of God. And that the purpose of those who would do so was to make merchandise of the believers faith. The Bible, to the Apostles, is incorruptible (1 Pet. 1:23) in spite of the many who would seek to corrupt it (2 Cor. 2:17).

THE BELIEVERS IN ANTIOCH
The Church at Antioch has a noteworthy position in scriptures. It is the first place where the born- again believer is called a Christian, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts. 11:26). It is also interesting to see that where both Antioch and Alexandria are mentioned in the same passage, Antioch is listed as a place of service, while Alexandria is listed as a place of disruption.

And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of ANTIOCH: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and ALEXANDRIANS, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (Acts 6:5-10)

The Bible-believer finds this rather interesting in that the line of modern translations has its source in Alexandria, while the Traditional Text has its source in Antioch of Syria where the disciples were first called Christians. And, as we examine the Biblical text of these believers in Antioch we find that it reflects the same text as found in our English Authorized Version of 1611.

IGNATIUS (d. 107 AD)
Saint Ignatius (or Theophorus) was the bishop of Antioch, Syria. Historian Will Durant states that with Ignatius, “began the powerful dynasty of the post-apostolic Fathers ” (The Story of Civilization, Vol. III, p. 611). Additionally, Church Historian Earle Cairns informs us that Ignatius “was arrested by the authorities because of his Christian testimony and sent to Rome to be killed by beasts in the imperial games.” (Christianity Through the Centuries, Zondervan Pub., 1967 ed., p. 78). While on route to his martyrdom, this wonderful saint wrote seven letters, six to different churches (Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, and Smyrnaeans), and one epistle to Saint Polycarp.

Ignatius was both sound in doctrine and spirit. He knew several of the Apostles personally and sought to follow their examples as believers in Christ. Dr. Michael Green states, “There was a conscious attempt by Ignatius and Polycarp, for instance, to imitate (St.) Paul. . .” ( Evangelism in the Early Church, Eerdmans Pub. 1970, p.133). Green further states that, “Something indeed of St. John’s theology can be traced through Ignatius. . .” ( Ibid. ). And, in his epistle to the Romans, Ignatius himself makes reference to both Peter and Paul stating, “I do not, as Peter and Paul, command you.” (2:6). Paul wrote, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” (1 Cor. 4:16) Ignatius lived this admonition.

His doctrine is Biblical. The Trinity is proclaimed by Ignatius. He states that Christians should be found, “in the Son, and in the Father and in the Holy Ghost” (Magn. 4:4). He refers to Christ as, “our God” (Roma.1:13 and Smyr. 1:2), thus repeatedly affirming the Deity of Jesus Christ. Concerning Biblical salvation he writes, “Let not man deceive himself; both the things which are in heaven and the glorious angels, and princes, whether visible or invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, it shall be to them to condemnation.” (Smyr. 2:12). His personal profession of faith is found throughout all of his epistles, but eloquently and scriptually stated in his letter to the Trallians: “Stop your ears therefore, as often as any one shall speak contrary to Jesus Christ; who was of the race of David, of the Virgin Mary. Who was truly born and did eat and drink; was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; was truly crucified and dead; both those in heaven and on earth, being spectators of it. Who was also truly raised from the dead by his Father, after the same manner as he will also raise up us who believe in him by Christ Jesus; without whom we have no true life.” (Trall.2:10-12).

Ignatius reflects a Christian attitude in regard to others and rejects the anti-Semitism that was reflected by the heretic Marcion, and even from some of the comments later made by Origen. Instead, Ignatius agrees with scripture and brakes the walls of racism in a day when the Jews were despised by the Gentile nations. He writes, “That he (Christ) might set up a token for all ages through his resurrection, to all his holy and faithful servants, whether they be Jew or Gentiles, in one body of his church.” (Smyr. 1:6).

As he reflects his death, Ignatius writes, “For I am the wheat of God and I shall be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather encourage the beasts that they may become my sepulcher; and may leave nothing of my body; that being dead I may not be troublesome to any.” (Roma.2:3-4). In fact, he seemed concern that the believers in Rome would somehow try to stop his execution and states, “Suffer me to be food to the wild beasts; by whom I shall attain unto God.” (Roma. 2:2). He firmly proclaims, “I would rather die for Jesus Christ, than rule to the utmost ends of the earth.” (Roma.2:14).

Sadly, the scriptural citations made by Ignatius are often ignored or belittled as unimportant in the study of textual criticism. Geisler and Nix simply write, “Although (Ignatius) did not give references to particular citations from the Scriptures, he did make many loose quotations and allusions to them.” (A General Introduction to the Bible, p.100). It is true that Ignatius does not cite chapter and verse (nor did any of the other Church Fathers or Apostles for that matter) and often simply makes allusions. However, it should be remembered that he was not writing a theological dissertation. He was on his way to be martyred and was most likely citing scriptures from memory. What is often overlooked is the content of these Biblical citations and allusions. In reference to his writings, Souter says, “[It] hardly [has] any bearing on the choice between variants in the passages of the New Testament.” (The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.76). With this brief statement, the writings of Ignatius are dismissed as having no impact on the study of textual criticism. Perhaps this is because the Biblical citations used by this early Church Father does not disagree with the text of the Authorized Version. In fact, the text of Ignatius reflects the reading found in the Traditional Text.

An example of this is found in Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians. It will be remembered by the student that there is a textual variant of great importance found in 1 Timothy 3:16. The KJV reads, “God was manifest in the flesh.” Modern versions, using the Alexandrian Text, read, “He was revealed in flesh” (NRSV). There is a difference between saying He and saying God . The KJV makes a clear proclamation of the Deity of Jesus Christ in this verse. What is important here is that Ignatius apparently used a Bible which reflected the reading found in the KJV. He writes, “There is one physician, both fleshly and spiritual; made and not made; God in the flesh” (Ephe. 2:7) and “God himself being made manifest in the form of a man.” (Ephe. 4:13). Ignatius uses the Greek word for God (Theos), and for flesh (sarki) in the first citation and the Greek word for manifest (using the form phanerosas) in the second, as does the Greek text of the KJV in 1 Timothy 3:16. If Ignatius had used the Greek word ieos (he), the supporters of modern versions would no doubt have claimed that Ignatius was using a Greek text which supported the reading found in the Alexandrian and Western line of manuscripts. The fact is that Ignatius’ text reflects the Traditional reading, found in the KJV and the Majority Text, and not the Alexandrian found in Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and modern translations.

It is also interesting to read the phraseology of Ignatius in reference to the person of Jesus Christ. Over and over he refers to the Second Person of the Trinity as the “Lord Jesus Christ.” This full use of the title and person of Christ is found in almost every letter of Ignatius and used several times over in those letters. I state this because the student will remember that James White (and others who would call the Traditional Text a fuller text) raised a theory called the expansion of piety. As stated in lesson three, modern versions often shorten the phrase to Christ, or Jesus Christ, or Lord, while the KJV more often uses the whole phrase, Lord Jesus Christ. It would seem from the writings of Ignatius that he had been influenced by the fuller text as it is found in our KJV.

POLYCARP (70 to 155 AD)
Polycarp was not only the Bishop of Smyrna but also, “had special opportunities to know the mind of the disciples because he had been a disciple of (St.) John.” (Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, p.79). His martyrdom in 155 AD is recorded by both Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History and John Foxe in hisBook of Martyrs. He was first placed at the stake to be burned, and he sang hymns waiting for the fire to consume him. However, the fire burned around him but did not burn Polycarp. He was then ordered to be stabbed until dead and his remains burned.

The witness of Polycarp is important in the study of textual criticism for the following reasons. First of all, he cites about sixty New Testament quotations 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 in the early Church. Second, he was a contemporary of the Apostles and would have had access to either the original writings of the Apostles or copies that were written shortly after the originals. Thirdly, like Ignatius, the Biblical citations do not differ with the Traditional Text in favor of the Alexandrian or Western readings. In fact, even more so than Ignatius, the citations of Polycarp reflect the readings found in the Traditional Text as it differs with the Alexandrian Text.

Most of what Polycarp writes deals with Christian living, yet he does state his profession of faith early in his letter: “knowing that by grace ye are saved; not by works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ” (Phili. 1:5), and, “he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also raise up us in like manner” (Phili. 1:8). He makes a good profession and stands against the dualism of the Gnostics in stating:

“For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, he is Antichrist: and whoever does not confess his suffering upon the cross, is from the devil. And whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts; and say that there shall neither be any resurrection, nor judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Wherefore leaving the vanity of many, and their false doctrines; let us return to the word that was delivered to us from the beginning” (Phili. 3:1-3).

1 John 4:3
The Biblical quotation from Polycarp 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: 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 Alexandrian line omits the phrase “is come in the flesh” in verse three. The verse deals with the lack of confession, not the Believer’s profession that is found in verse two. As quoted above, Polycarp writes, “whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” matches what John wrote, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” In fairness to the verse, some have suggested that Polycarp is really citing 2 John 7 and not 1 John 4:3. This, however, does not seem to be the view of Dr. J. B. Lightfoot. In his book, The Apostolic Father, Lightfoot cites the quotation is from 1 John 4:3 (Macmillan and Comp. Pub., p. 171), as does Archbishop Wake in his translation of Polycarp (The Lost Books of the Bible, World Pub., p. 194). Their observations are well taken as that the Greek of 1 John 4:3 matches the Greek citation of Polycarp. However, the Greek of 2 John 7 does not match Polycarp. The Greek phrase as it stands in the Traditional Text reads, “en sarke eleluthota” (in flesh come). Polycarp writes, “en sarke eleluthenai” (in flesh come). Both use the same tense of the Greek participle. 2 John reads, “epxomenon en sarki” (coming or is come in flesh). The Greek tense differs from that of Polycarp. 1 John and Polycarp use the perfect tense, 2 John uses the present tense. English does not have a perfect tense, but in Greek in means a present state resulting from a past action (i.e. because Christ came in the flesh, He is now in the flesh). It is therefore clear in both the Greek and English that Polycarp was citing 1 John 4:3, and that his citation matches the KJV and opposes the modern versions which omit this phrase.

Romans 14:10
Polycarp writes, “and must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ; and shall every one give an account of himself.” (Phili. 2:18) The allusion comes from Romans 14:10 which reads, “But why doest thou judge thy brother? or why doest thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (KJV) This passage, therefore, confirms the Deity of Christ because verse twelve informs us that, “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (KJV). The Alexandrian line changes “judgment seat of Christ” to “judgment seat of God.” This not only leave out the cross- reference concerning the Deity of Christ, but it is obviously not the Greek text used by Polycarp in the very first few years of the second century. Both the KJV and Polycarp use the Greek word “Kristou” (of Christ). The Alexandrian line of manuscripts, which stand in the minority, use the Greek word “Theou” (of God). Since this passage is the only passage that speaks of the judgment seat of Christ, Polycarp must have received his reading from a text which read like the Traditional Text. This again shows that the older reading, closest to the original autographs, reads like that found in the majority of Greek and other manuscripts as translated in the KJV.

Galatians 4:26
Here we find the phrase, “which is the mother of us all” in the KJV. The Alexandrian line of manuscripts simply reads, “and she is our mother.” (NIV). The Greek word “panton” (of us all) is omitted from the Alexandrian manuscripts, while the majority of all Greek manuscripts has it in them. Polycarp writes, “which is the mother of us all” and uses the Greek word “panton.” Geisler and Nix list Galatians 4:26 as a citation by Polycarp (A General Introduction to the Bible, p.349), as does Lightfoot (The Apostolic Fathers, p. 169). Where did Polycarp get the phrase if not from the Traditional Text? Plainly, the disciple of St. John, and friend of St. Paul, was using a Greek text like the Traditional Text.

The Expansion of Piety
Once again, the expansion of piety theory falls short in the light of Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians. In this short letter consisting of only four chapters, Polycarp uses the triune phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ” seven times (1:1, 2, 3, 6; 4:10, 11, 20). This seems rather amazing since the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians used the phrase only three times (1:2; 3:20; 4:23). 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 use of “Lord Jesus Christ” from a shorter version was added by the Byzantine monks around 1,000 AD seems rather 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. Further, because of the expansion used by Polycarp, it seem more likely that this was the common expression used in reference to our Lord. Not only is the theory invalid, but the common text used by first century Christians reflected that which would be found in the Traditional Text throughout the centuries. Thus the admonition found in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 remains intact.

EARLY TRANSLATIONS

In addition to the Traditional Text, we have many early and old translations of the Bible which are either classified as Byzantine (i.e. Traditional Text) or have readings which differ from the Alexandrian Text in favor of the Traditional Text. After Kurt and Barbara Aland point to around 180 AD as the beginning of when these translations began, they state, “It must be emphasized that the value of the early versions for establishing the original Greek text and for the history of the text has frequently been misconceived, i.e., they have been considerably overrated.” ( The Text of the New Testament, Eerdmans Pub., 1987 p.182). Yet, one could say the same about copies of copies of copies of Greek manuscripts as well. Perhaps the concern stated by the Alands is because so many of the early translations have readings which match the KJV and its Majority Text in Greek. An early translation must have had a source. If the early translation has a certain reading, and later Greek manuscripts have 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 source.

Old Syrian
There are several old translations which are called Syrian because they are in the Aramaic language. The history of the Syrian versions is a rich history, much like the history of the Latin translations. Dr. Bruce Metzger writes, “Until the middle of the nineteenth century the Peshitta held the field as the earliest Syriac version of the New Testament.” ( The Early Version of the New Testament, Clarendon Press, 1977 p. 36). This is important because Antioch in Syria, the birth place of the word Christian, produced an early translation of the Bible which agreed with the Traditional Text.

The Peshitta (which means clear or simple) is the standard Syriac version. Geisler and Nix state, “It is important to note at this point that the Peshitta was ‘the authorized version’ of the two main opposed branches of Syriac Christianity, the Nestorians and the Jacobites, indicating that it must have been firmly established by the time of their final cleavage, well before the fifth century.” ( A General Introduction to the Bible, p.318). In fact, the chart they give on page 265 of their book dates the Peshitta close to the year 200 AD. They also note that the Peshitta was, “brought into conformity with the Byzantine text type.” ( Ibid., p.318). Thus the Peshitta bears testimony to the Traditional Text from which the KJV was translated. Aland justly states, “The Peshitta version as it is presented in the British and Foreign Bible Society edition is the most widely attested and most consistently transmitted of the Syriac New Testament versions. The Syriac church still preserves it and holds it in reverence in this form today.” ( The Text of the New Testament, p. 190). In fact, the tradition of the Syrian church is that the Peshitta was the work of St. Mark while others claim the Apostle Thaddeus (Jude) translated it.

In 1901 textual scholar F. C. Burkitt questioned the early date of the Peshitta and assigned it as the work of the bishop of Edessa, Rabbula, in the fifth century. Metzger notes, “The hypothesis of the Rabbulan authorship of the Peshitta New Testament soon came to be adopted by almost all scholars, being persuaded perhaps more by the confidence with which Burkitt propounded it than by any proof other than circumstantial evidence.” ( The Early Versions of the New Testament, pp. 55-56). The view of Burkitt has been attacked by other scholars such as Arthur Voobus who compared Rabbula’s citations with the Peshitta and found several differences. It has also been argued by Edward Hills that Rabbula could not have been the translator because the division within the Syrian church took place during the time of Rabbula with Rabbula being the leader of one of these sects. Yet both sides claim the Peshitta as holy scripture. Hills writes, “It is impossible to suppose that the Peshitta was his (Rabbula’s) handiwork, for if it had been produced under his auspices, his opponents would never have adopted it as their received New Testament text.” ( The King James Version Defended, p.174). To this Metzger adds:

The question who it was that produced the Peshitta version of the New Testament will perhaps never be answered. That it was not Rubbula has been proved by Voobus’s researches. . .In any case, however, in view of the adoption of the same version of the Scriptures by both the Eastern (Nestorian) and Western (Jacobite) branches of Syrian Christendom, we must conclude that it had attained a considerable degree of status before the division of the Syrian Church in AD 431. (Metzger, pp.59-60).

If the Peshitta does date to around 200 AD, or before, we have an answer to those who wonder about the text of the New Testament early in its transmission. James R. White asks, “If we were to transport ourselves to the year AD 200 and look at the text of the New Testament at that time, ignoring for the moment what was to come later, what would we find?” ( The King James Only Controversy, p.152). According to the Peshitta translation, we would find a text like the Authorized Version produced in 1611. This is confirmed by Souter who writes, “Thus it happens that the Peshitta Syriac rarely witnesses to anything different from what we find in the great bulk of Greek manuscripts.” ( The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.60). And, based upon our lesson so far, we would find early Christians, like Ignatius and Polycarp, using a Bible with 1 Timothy 3:16, Romans 14:10; Galatians 4:26, and 1 John 4:3 reading just like the KJV, the Traditional Text, and the Peshitta.

Old Latin
Bruce Metzger writes, “At the close of the nineteenth century several scholars suggested that Antioch in Syria was the place where the Old Latin version(s) originated. . .scholars today are inclined to look to North Africa as the home of the first Latin version of the New Testament.” ( The Early Versions of the New Testament, p. 288). The Old Latin versions are divided into two camps, African and European. Within the Old Latin there are “variants among the manuscripts (which) make a coherent history of the text all but impossible to determine.” ( A General Introduction to the Bible, p.334). Today, the earliest manuscripts we have in the Old Latin date to the fourth century.

Regardless of the history of the varying Old Latin manuscripts, there are readings within the Old Latin which support the Traditional Text. For example, Mark 1:2 reads, “As it is written in the prophets,” and then quotes two prophets, Malachi and Isaiah. The Alexandrian line reads, “As it is written in the Prophet Isaiah” and then quotes from two prophets. The first reading is found in the KJV and the Traditional Greek Text. It is also found in the Peshitta. Among the Old Latin manuscripts (which are classified with small Roman letters for the most part), we find the same reading as in the Traditional Text in the Old Latin manuscripts a (4th century), aur (7th cen.), b (5th cen.), c (12th cen.), d (5th cen.), f (6th cen.), ff2 (5th cen.), and q (7th cen.). The same is true of the longer ending to Mark. While the Alexandrian line omits verses 9-20 of chapter sixteen, it is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts, the Peshitta, and almost all Old Latin manuscripts. In fact, the Old Latin manuscript k is the only one which has the shorter ending, and it was k which added the Gnostic reading about the resurrection which read like the Gospel of Peter (see lesson four). The same is also true to the passage in John 7:52-8:11 concerning the woman caught in the act of adultery. The majority of Old Latin witnesses contain this passage and read like the KJV and the Traditional Text.

Ethiopic Version
This version dates to the beginning of the fourth century. While it does contain a mixed reading at times, it is classified as being basically Byzantine in origin. Thus the witness to Africa was also of the Traditional Text. Geisler and Nix state, “This translation adheres closely, almost literally, to the Greek text of the Byzantine type” ( Ibid., p. 324). They also classify the Armenian Version, Georgian Version, and the Slavonic Version of the same textual family, that of the Traditional Text ( Ibid., pp.323-328).

Gothic Version
This early Germanic version dates to the first part of the fourth century. It was translated by Wulfilas who “made use of a manuscript of the early Byzantine text differing little from what we find in the Greek manuscripts.” (Aland, The Text of the New Testament, p.206). Alexander Souter says of the Gothic Version, “The translation of the New Testament was made from Greek MSS. such as Chrysostom used, of the official Constantinopolitan (i.e. Traditional Text) type.” ( The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.69). Thus the Gothic version reflects the Traditional Text and the English KJV.

Hence, we can see from the old early translations that they reflect the Traditional Text from which came the King James Version. The early translations which these believers received as the word of God, which effectually worked in them, was like our Authorized Version of today.

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 to gospel of Jesus Christ. He was ordained in 386 AD and preached in Antioch until 398. It was then that he became Bishop of Constantinople. (The student should note that there is in the study of textual criticism a clear connection between Antioch and Constantinople, and that manuscripts coming from these two places bear a remarkable resemblance). The Bible he used was of the Traditional text.

Even though Cairns describes him as courteous, affectionate, and kindly natured (Christianity Through the Centuries, p.152); he was not ashamed to boldly proclaim the truth, no matter who was offended. While at Constantinople, one he offended was the wife of emperor Arcadius, empress Eudoxia. He had preached against her manner of dress and that she placed silver statures of herself throughout the city. And, like the preaching of John the Baptist, his sermon came at a personal cost. He was banished from the city in 404 AD, and while in exile, he died in 407.

Chrysostom left about 640 sermons which are still in existence. Church Historian Ross MacKenzie states that Chrysostom was, “A writer of pure, almost Attic style, John is one of the most attractive of the Greek preachers, and his eloquence gained him the name of Chrysostom (Golden Mouth).” (The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1993 ed.) Cairns adds to this by simply stating, “It is little wonder that he was and still is hailed as the greatest pulpit orator the Eastern Church ever had.” (Christianity Through the Centuries, p.152).

Because of the massive amount of homilies left by Chrysostom, and because of his expository style of preaching, it is very easy to see the text type used by him. Souter states that the type of text Chrysostom used is reflected by Codex K, which is of the Byzantine line. However, it should be noted that K dates to several hundred years after Chrysostom, thus showing its continued use through the centuries. Souter writes that Chrysostom Greek text, “is roughly that of the great bulk of our manuscripts.” (The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.85). Thus, the Greek text of John Chrysostom is the Traditional Text from which came the KJV.

This is clearly seen in his writings, but for purpose of illustration I have chosen to compare his homilies on the Sermon on the Mount with the focus on Matthew chapter 6:1-15. There are, within this passage, two very notable differences between the two major lines of manuscripts. They are found in verses 1 and 13.

Verse 1

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. (KJV). Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. (Douay-Rheims Version). Be careful not to do you ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (NIV).

The Authorized Version uses the word alms (Gk. eleemosunen), while the NIV uses the phrase acts of righteousness (Gk. dikaiosunen), and the DRV justice . As one can see from either the English or the Greek, these are two different words, with two different meanings. They are also reflective of the two textual lines, in that the Alexandrian reading uses righteousness while the Traditional line uses alms . There is no question as to which one Chrysostom uses. He comments on the text by saying, “And mark how Christ began, as though he were speaking of some wild beast, hard to catch, and crafty to deceive him who was not very watchful. Thus, ‘take heed,’ saith he, ‘as to your alms.’ So Paul also speaks to the Philippians, ‘Beware of dogs.’ ” (Jaroslav Pelikan edition, The Preaching of Chrysostom, Fortress Press, p.130). He then quotes the passage “For which same cause he saith, ‘Take heed that ye do not your alms before men,’ for that which was before mentioned, is God’s almsgiving.” (Ibid., p.131).

Verse 13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (KJV). And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. (DRV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (NIV).

For years the omission of the phrase “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” marked the difference between Protestant and Catholic versions of the Lord’s prayer. However, today, even conservative translations such as the NIV and NASV have chosen the Alexandrian reading of Catholicism instead of the Traditional text which is supported by the majority of all Greek uncials and minuscules.

Chrysostom, in the late fourth century, plainly used the reading as it is found in the majority of all Greek and Syrian manuscripts. He writes, “Having then made us anxious as before conflict, by putting us in mind of the enemy, and having cut away from us all our remissness; he again encourages and raises our spirits, by bringing to our remembrance the King under whom we are arrayed, and signifying him to be more powerful than all. ‘For thine,’ saith he, ‘is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.’ ” (Ibid., p.145). He then expounds the phrases “the power” and “the glory,” which would be rather hard to do if his Bible did not contain them. Once again we see the Bible of this great preacher was like the one translated into English in 1611.

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, the brother of Basil) used the same text line. These three Church Fathers are called the Cappadocian Fathers. These three men are noted for their strength in doctrine and opposition to the heresy of Arianism (which denied the Trinity). All three strongly supported the doctrine of the Trinity and were noted as strong theologians. All are also associated with the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. All three had Christian parents, and Gregory of Nazianzus’ father was a bishop.

The Greek and Old Latin manuscripts used by these men reflect the text of the Traditional line. Souter states that their Greek text originated “probably in Constantinople” while the Latin “in North Italy.” (The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p. 9). Souter lists the Gospel manuscripts of N, O, Sigma, and Phi, reflecting “the text used by the great Cappadocian Fathers. . .in the last third of the fourth century.” (Ibid., p. 30). These manuscripts (N, O, Sigma, and Phi) are from the sixth century and reflect the readings found in the Traditional text.

It is little wonder then, that when we find differences between the Traditional text and the Alexandrian text, that the Cappadocian choose the readings as they are found in the KJV and not the ones reflected in the NIV or NRSV. The following are a few examples.

Matt. 17:21 is omitted in the NIV and NASV, but is in the KJV and supported by the Traditional Text and the Cappodocian Fathers.

Mark 1:2 the KJV reads “prophets” as does the citations of the Cappodocian Fathers. Modern versions choose the Alexandrian reading of “Isaiah the prophet” and then quote form Malachi.

Mark 16:9-20. The longer ending, as it is found in the KJV, is also in the Greek Gospels of the Cappodocian Fathers.

Luke 2:14. While the Nestle Text of the Alexandrian line renders the phrase as, “men of goodwill,” the KJV and the Cappodocian Fathers render it as, “good will toward men.”

John 5:4 is omitted in the Alexandrian Text, but found in the Greek text of the Cappodocian Fathers.

This siding with the Traditional Text is not just limited to the Gospels, although there are several examples. It should also be noted that, like Ignatius, the Cappodocian Fathers used God (Gk. Theos) in 1 Timothy 3:16.

THE CHURCH UNDER FIRE

Throughout the centuries there have been those strong in the faith who were willing to suffer and die for the cause of Christ. Their histories have been written with honor by men like John Foxe in his book of Martyrs; their names have been reduced to that of heretic by those who persecuted them. Among such groups of Bible-believers were the Paulicians, the Bogomiles, the Anabaptists, the Waldenses, and the Albigenses to name a few. They are mentioned here only because the scriptures they used were those of the Traditional Text or a translation which reflected the readings found in the Traditional Text. They received the word of God, as it is in truth the word of God, and it worked effectually within them (1 Thess. 2:13).

Most of those mentioned above were and are labeled as heretics in order to justify their mass murders. 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 which practiced dualism. It has been claimed that the Albigenses believed in two gods, one good and one evil, much like the old Gnostic heresy. However, this is simply not the case. Historian for the American Baptist Converntion, Henry C. Vedder, writes, “The (Roman) church was not at all careful to distinguish between them, and they were often included under the name of Albigenses in one sweeping general condemnation. That name, however, does not properly denote the evangelical heretics, who never confounded themselves with these dualistic heretics, and indeed sympathized with them as little as they did with Rome.” (A Short History of the Baptist, Judson Press, 1907, p.103).

The true “heresy” of these Bible-believing French folk was that they would not conform to Rome and its teachings. They believed each Christian had the right to read the Bible in their own language for themselves. Pope Innocent III declared war on them and began what was infamously known as the Inquisition. Edward Peter notes, “The severity and frequent brutality with which the northern French waged the Albigensian Crusade led to the killing of many heretics without formal trial or hearing.” (Inquisition, The Free Press; 1988, p. 50). In this dark period of time, unnamed thousands died at the hand of Rome because they wished to place the Bible into the hands of the common man.

Catholic historians and theologians today argue that this simply is not so. The Right Reverend Henry Graham (Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church ), Rev. Dr. L. Rumble, and Fr. Charles Carty (Bible Quizzes To A Street Preacher ) state that most people in the Middle Ages could not read, so there was no need for the Bible in the language of the common man because he could not read it if he had it. They further state that since those who could read all read Latin, there was no need to have any other translation other than the Latin Vulgate by Jerome. This, however, by no means justifies the mass torture and murder of thousands of people. Additionally, it overlooks several simple truths. First, just because someone could not read for themselves would not stop them from wanting a Bible in their own language so someone else could read it to them. If there were only Latin Bibles, those who could not understand Latin were without hope of even hearing the word of God. Second, history has shown 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 text book for individuals to learn their own language in written form.

Another example are the Waldenses, who are often linked in history with the Albigensians. Some have suggested that the name Waldenses came from Peter Waldo, around 1176 AD. Waldo was a Bible-believing merchant turned preacher. Others believe the name comes from the Italian or Spanish word for valley, thus stating they originated in the valley region of northern Italy. Regardless of where they derived their name, they strongly stood against many of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Catholic and Orthodox historians David Knowles and Dimitri Obolensky list for us the “heresies” of which the Waldenses were guilty: “[The Waldenses] became definitely heterodox, regarding the Bible as the supreme authority and denying the real presence in the Eucharist. . .the Waldenses, the ‘proto-Protestants’, continued to influence religious history throughout the middle ages and despite persecution remain in existence at the present day.” The Christian Centuries, Vol. 2, Paulist Press, 1969, p. 369). What they did believe in was that the Bible was the final authority for the born-again believer. That any one who was called of God could preach the word without authority from Rome. That salvation was not by works, but by the grace of God alone, and that baptism should follow belief and not applied to infants. Thus, the principles of 1 Thessalonians 2:13 were established in their lives.

Knowles and Obolensky further state, “Already in Milan and Lyons the Humiliati and the Waldenses were beginning to show the characteristics of their class: desire for associations of prayer and good works outside the liturgical framework; love of preaching and Bible-reading in the vernacular; dislike of . . .(the) sacramental aspects of religion; disputes about the Eucharist; praise of poverty; impatiences of hierarchical control.” (Ibid., p.224.) In addition they “believed that every man should have the Bible in his own tongue and that it should be the final authority for faith and life.” (Cairns,Christianity Through the Centuries, p.248). Thus, they copied and translated the Bible in the vernacular and freely published these manuscripts. Therefore, their aid in using the Traditional Text and providing vernacular translations of it must not go unnoticed in the Biblical study of textual criticism.

Because of Believers like the Albigenses, the Waldenses and others, the Bible was translated into Provencial or Old French, Old High German, Slavonic, Old and Middle English, and other languages as well as Old Latin and Gothic. Through them, and others, we can see the Traditional Text not only translated into the language of the people, but translated into the lives of those who read it.

One such translation is the West Saxon Gospels which date to this period of time. This is the oldest version of the Gospels in English (that is in Old English which differs from that which we use today). The following example comes from Luke 15:16 and shows that this version of the common man followed the Traditional Text which later produced the Authorized Version.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. (KJV). And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. (RSV). Da gewilnode he his wambe gefyllan of pam beancoddum be oa swyn aeton; and him man ne sealde. (West Saxon)

The subtle difference comes from the variance between the two line of manuscripts. The Greek Textus Receptus reads, “gemisai ten kailian autou apo” (to fill his belly with). The United Bible Societies’ Text reads, “xortasthenai ek” (fed out of). This reading is supported by P75, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus. All the Byzantine manuscripts, most Old Latin manuscripts, the Peshitta, and the Armenian, support the Traditional Text. It is plan from the reading of the West Saxon Gospels which one they follow. The words “wambe gefyllan” mean “stomach filled” which matches the text of the KJV.

THE MAJORITY TEXT

By the Majority Text, we mean the Traditional Text which has been used by Bible-believing Christians throughout the centuries and is reflected in the majority of Greek manuscripts. This Text has also been called the Syrian Text, the Constantinople Text, and is usually referred to as the Byzantine Text. It is this text which produced what has commonly been called the Textus Receptus or Received Text. It was this type of Greek Text which underlined the Authorized King James Version. We have already seen that this text type was used by early Christians and was the basis for early translations. It is the text which has predominated the history of Bible based Christianity and, for that matter, the majority of Christendom throughout the ages.

The main objection to the Majority Text is that it is a late text, of which most of the manuscripts within this textual family date after the ninth century. However, as we have already seen, the readings found within the Traditional Text date to manuscripts of the second century and some even to the first century. Additionally, the earliest citations made shortly after the completion of the New Testament reflect the readings found in the Traditional Text, and not the Alexandrian.

The question may be asked, Why do we have so many copies which have such a late date? There are several reasons of which I shall name three. First, because it is the Traditional Text. It was the one received by the early Church and the body of believers. Naturally, it would be the one to endure throughout the centuries and be massively copied and translated. Second, the reason why we do not have as many old manuscripts of this type is simply because it was the one used. Those manuscripts which were corrupted would not be used by the early born-again believers. They would see the corruptions and reject them. However, the Bibles which they did use would reflect that use. Just as the Bible you use today is quickly worn by use, so would the early manuscripts used by Bible-believing Christians. Third, the climate where the Traditional Text was formed is not as conducive for maintaining manuscripts as the climate in Egypt. Nevertheless, on this point it must also be noted that the origin and keeping of the New Testament did not lay in Egypt but elsewhere. Places such as Asia Minor, Palestine, Greece, and Rome would be where the New Testament originated and was kept. Alexandria originated none of the autographs nor was it the caretaker of any New Testament book or epistle. It therefore lays with the majority of manuscripts which were received and used by born-again believers (1 Thess. 2:13).

We now have over 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament. A manuscript may be the whole New Testament, or it may only be a few books. At times it may even be a portion of a book or even a fragment. But all together we have well over 5,000 of these manuscripts. Dr. Zane Hodges, of Dallas Theological Seminary, has pointed out that “somewhere between 80-90 percent- -contain a Greek text which in most respects closely resembles the kind of text which was the basis of our King James Version.” (“The Greek Text of the King James Version,” found in Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (1968) p.335). Dr. Wilbur Pickering states, “. . . one may reasonably speak of up to 90% of the extant MSS belonging to the Majority text-type.” (The Identity of the New Testament Text, Nelson Pub., 1980 ed., p.118).

The agreement within this vast host of manuscripts is astounding. It becomes even more astounding as one recognizes that the Traditional Text has been with us throughout the history of the New Testament Church, and that this text is represented in various locations throughout the world. Yet this text has few variances within the bulk of its witnesses. This is, of course, in direct opposition to the Alexandrian Text which is the minority text. The Alexandrian Text, with only a few Greek manuscripts “disagree as much (or more) among themselves as they do with the majority (text). For any two of them to agree so closely as do P75 and B is an oddity.” (Ibid. ) In the Biblical definition of things, this is itself evidence that the Alexandrian Text is not the instrument God used in preserving His word. Namely, because there is a higher degree of variance within its own family based upon a much smaller portion of manuscripts. Since God is not the Author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), we can conclude that God is not responsible for this line.

It is from this wealth of manuscripts that men such as Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), Robert Stephanus (1503-1559), Theodore Beza (1519-1605), and Bonaventure and Matthew Elzevirs (1624) produced Greek Texts which were greatly used by God and His Church. The Greek Text produced by Erasmus was the text which Martin Luther used to produce his German Bible. This text, along with those produced by Stephanus, were the basis for the Italian Bible of Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649) and the French Bible of Louis Second. They were also used by Casidoro de Reina (1520-1594) and Cipriano de Valera (1531-1602) and their Reina/Valera Spanish Bible. These texts and translations, along with earlier English translations and the Greek Text of Beza, formed the basis of our KJV.

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 which was formed during this period of Church history, used the Traditional Text or a translation based on it. The underground Church which did not need to leave Rome because it was never a part of it, used the Traditional Text as its Bible. The Traditional Text produced reform and revival. It has proven itself to have worked effectually within the community of believers who have received it as the very word of God. And, consequently, it has affected history and culture itself. Dr. Fred Craddock and Dr. Gene Tucker of Emory University have corrected stated, “Translations of the Bible, such as the Authorized Version (or King James Version, 1611) and Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German (first completed in 1534) not only influenced literature, but also shaped the development of languages.” (cited from Encarta by Microsoft, 1995 ed).

Thus we have briefly seen the history of the Traditional Text and how God has used it throughout the Church. In lessons to come we will explore this period of time which produced the KJV in order to better understand the history of the KJV itself. Also, we will be looking at the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament and its citations in the New. Plus, we will study those missing verses listed in lesson three to find the textual and doctrinal support for them.

QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS

One student writes, “I would really enjoy seeing something about Psalm 12:6,7. I have a copy of James White’s book somewhere, and it would be nice to see a refutation of each supposed ‘problem’ passage of the KJB he lists. (Of course that may be a bit much. :-)”

Not really. In fact, I plan to respond to many of the verses that Brother White raises in his book,The King James Only Controversy, simply because he does such a fine job of stating the point of view reflected by the supporters of modern versions, and because his book is popular and in use with many. However, for now let us focus briefly on Psalm 12:6-7.

The verse reads, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (KJV).

Brother White responds to this passage twice in his book. Once in a footnote on page 6, and then again on page 243. He writes, “Many KJV Only advocates prefer to speak of the “words of God” when they refer to the KJV, drawing from Psalm 12:6.” (p.6). To me, this is a very interesting footnote given by Brother White. Time and again, White says he believes the KJV is the word of God, as is the NIV, RSV, NASV and NRSV. If this is so, why would he footnote what he himself claims to believe? The difference here is that I do not believe the NIV, RSV, NASV, or the NRSV are the words of the LORD. I believe they are translations made by men which reflect a certain line of manuscripts. I believe that they contain God’s word only when they agree with it.

But containing God’s word and being the word of God are two different things. I do not believe that God’s word has error in it, and I believe that these translations have error. What I do believe is that God promised to keep and preserve His words. That is what the verse says. If I am to believe God, I must believe this verse. If I do not believe this verse, why should I believe anything else that God says? However, I do believe it and I have the assurance that God has not lied to me concerning the keeping of His words. Further, I believe that for those of us who speak English these preserved words are in the KJV. So I have a book I believe fulfills Psalm 12:6-7 and it can be held and tested. Brother White does not.

The question is asked by White, “Doesn’t Psalm 12:6-7 promise that God will preserve His WORDS?” To this White responds with, “My first question is, Where does Psalm 12 say that the ‘words of the LORD’ refer to the King James Version of the Bible? Of course, it doesn’t. Secondly, nowhere does this passage tell us how God will preserve His words. Does this mean He will do so by ensuring that no one can ever change the substance of those words, or does it mean that He will always make sure that there is one infallible version in one or more languages or translations? The passage does not even begin to address such things. And finally, noting the NIV translation, it is quite possible that verse 7 does not refer back to ‘the words of the LORD’ in verse 6, but instead to those in verse 5 of whom the Lord says, ‘I will set him in the safety for which he yearns’ (NKJV).” (pp. 243-244).

The passage in Psalm 12:6-7 in the NIV reads, “And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.”

So, in his chapter on ‘Questions and Answers’ (chapter 10) his very first question, which is the one listed above, gives no answers at all. Instead, he raises more questions himself.

White’s first question is, “Where does Psalm 12 say that the words of the LORD refer to the KJV of the Bible?” This is not an answer, it is a question. However, the answer is that it does not. If it had, then there would be no word of God until 1611. If there was no word of God until 1611, then Psalm 12 could not possibly be true because the claim is to keep the words of the LORD from THIS generation for ever. This generation predates 1611, however it also includes 1611. This is the difference between the Bible-believer and modern scholarship. Where is this preserved word today? Where was it at any time? Have we lost it or misplaced it? The modern scholar does not have an answer, at least not one that agrees with the verses found in Psalm 12. The “KJV Only advocates” (to cite Brother White) do not advocate the KJV only for everyone throughout Church history. I think the above lesson is proof of this. We advocate the KJV as the preserved word of God, for the English-speaking people, without any proven error.

His second question is what did God mean by “preservation”? Well, the best answer is He meant what He said. He said He would keep and preserve His words from this generation for ever. Either He did this or He did not. If He did, the modern scholar is at a loss to find where these preserved words are. If He did not, then He lied, which is impossible for God to do. Please notice that the text does not say that God would preserve the substance of His words, as White suggests. He says He will preserve His W-O-R-D-S. Now, did He or didn’t He? Once again, the Bible-believer says He did and not only see the evidence that He did, but has a copy he can hold and read for himself.

The third question Brother White raises is one he plants in your mind. Is Psalm 12:7 translated correctly? Does it refer back to verse 5 and not verse 6? This is the same argument Dr. John Durham of Southeastern Baptist Seminary raised. Durham writes, “Verse 6 interrupts the development of the Psalm with an aside on the purity of the utterances of Yahweh. . .It is. . . an interruption and could very well have been added at a period subsequent to the composition of the Psalm.” (Boardman Bible Commentary, pp. 192-193) So now it becomes either a mistranslation, an interruption, or an addition. Anything except for what it is, the promise of God to keep and preserve His Words. The mark of the Holy Ghost is to assure the Believer concerning the word of God (1 John 5:13). The mark of Satan is to question the word of God (Gen. 3:1).

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan agreed with the rendering. He writes, “The psalmist breaks out into praise of the purity of His words, and declares that Jehovah will ‘keep them’ and ‘preserve them.’ The ‘them’ here refers to the words. There is no promise made of widespread revival or renewal. It is the salvation of a remnant and the preservation of His own words which Jehovah promises.” (Notes on the Psalms, Revell Comp., p.32).

Brother White quoted the NKJV to support his view that verse 7 refers back to verse 5 and not to verse 6. However, this is not how the NKJV is versed. In the Psalms, the NKJV lends itself to poetic form and groups verses together. It is very plain to see that the editors of this translation have grouped verses 6 and 7 together and not verses 5-7. Brother White would have done better to have stayed with the NIV instead of switching to the NKJV.

It should also be noted that the KJV is not alone in its translation of verse 7 as “them” instead of “us.” The ASV of 1901 reads, “Thou wilt keep them, O Jehovah, Thou wilt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Well, I guess that this only proves the old saying that even a blind squirrel can find a nut. 🙂

I do hope that this answers your question and that this lesson has been an encouragement to you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write me and let me know.

Until later, God bless as you labor for Him.

Yours in Christ Jesus,
Thomas Holland
Psalm 118:8

Lesson Four: Early Heresies and the Western and Alexandrian Line

Lesson Four: Early heresies and the Western and Alexandrian line

(NOTE: The student should be forewarned that the material in these next two lessons is lengthy but essential in the understanding of textual criticism and our approach to that study.)

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt. 7:17-20)

EARLY HERESIES

The Bible warns that there would be those who would “corrupt the word of God” (2 Cor. 2:17) and handle it “deceitfully” (2 Cor. 4:2). There would arise false gospels with false epistles (2 Thess. 2:2), along with false prophets and teachers who would not only bring in “damnable heresies” but would seek to “make merchandise” of the true believer through their own “feigned words” (2 Pet. 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. Docetism, Marcionism, Gnosticism and Allegoricalism were four of these heresies. Their early beginnings are referred to in the New Testament in such places as Galatians 1:6-8; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7; and Jude 1:3-4. These heresies not only plagued the early Church, but are still with us today, in modern form, in many contemporary Christian cults. These false doctrines had an influence on the transmission of scripture and account for some of the differences in the line of manuscripts.

DOCETISM

This was a form of Gnosticism which taught that Christ’s body was a phantom and not physical. Only the spiritual was good, while the physical was evil. The nature of Christ was two-fold, spiritual and physical. Jesus was the physical, Christ was the spiritual. The Christ departed Jesus at the crucifixion, and left him on the cross to suffer and die. The Docetics (and Gnostics) wrote their own Gospels including The Acts of John and The Gospel of Peter. The Gospel of Peter was cited by Justin Martyr, Origen, and Eusebius, but was not discovered by scholars until 1886. While excavating the grave of a monk, a French archaeological team discovered this manuscript in Egypt. Only a small portion of it remains, but what does gives a differing account of the crucifixion than the four Gospels. This separation of the Christ from Jesus is seen in the following quotation.

And many went about with lamps, supposing that is was night, and fell down. And the Lord cried out, saying, My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he had said it he was taken up. And in that hour the veil of the temple of Jerusalem was rent in twain. (Gospel of Peter, verse 5).

Thus, according to the Docetics, the power of Jesus, the Christ, left him while he was on the cross.

The account of the resurrection is also Docetic.

And in the night in which the Lord’s day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb. And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in. When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him who was lead by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice form the heavens saying, Thou has preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yea. (Gospel of Peter, verses 9-10).

The Docetics used and corrected the Gospel of Mark as demonstrated by Irenaeus,

Those who separate Jesus from Christ and say that Christ remained impassible while Jesus suffered, and try to bring forward the Gospel According to Mark, can be corrected out of that, if they will read it with a love of the truth. (Ireaneus’ Against Heresies, cited from Early Christian Fathers Vol 1; translated by Cyril C. Richardson and published by The Westminster Press, page 382).

The Latin manuscript k may reflect such tampering and has been suggested so by Dr. Edward F. Hills. Mark 16:4 reads as follows in k,

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 about the resurrection. It also contains the short ending to Mark and omits verses 9-20, as many modern translations and their Greek texts do. We can conclude from this that the Docetics used a copy of Mark which would read like many contemporary translations.

MARCIONISM

Marcion was influenced by the Gnostic, but not to the degree of fully embracing Gnosticism. 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 a very anti-Semitic way. 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. The soul was created by a greater god over Jehovah. This other god 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. Christ appeared, in the form of a thirty-year-old man, in an unreal-spiritual body, 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 would account for some of the variations in these books among the manuscripts, seeing that the followers of Marcion would want these books to reflect their doctrines. The same is true today when contemporary cults slightly alter scripture to reflect their own private interpretation.

Again, Irenaeus points out that “Marcion cut up that According to Luke” (Ireaneus’ Against Heresies, p. 382). This would account for the large number of changes found in varying manuscripts of Luke and the large number of verses omitted (as shown in lesson three). It is, for example, understandable why the phrase “And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.” (Luke 24:40) would be omitted by Marcion, since he did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus but only in a spiritual resurrection. In fact, the apparatus of the United Bible Society’s Greek text points out that this verse is omitted by both Marcion and Codex D (UBS, 2nd ed., p. 317). This verse is omitted from the text of the NEB and RSV. Thus we see that Codex D, which is a Western line of manuscripts in the Gospels, and the RSV reflect some of the tampering done by Marcion and his followers.

GNOSTICISM

Gnosticism was by far the most influential heresy faced by the early Church. Not only did the Gnostic corrupt many readings found in the New Testament, but 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 had a variety of forms and sects which broadened its base and growth. Historian Will Durant calls Gnosticism “the quest of godlike knowledge (gnosis) through mystic means” (The Story Of Civilization Vol. III, p. 604).

As in Docetism and Marcionism, the Gnostics taught that the physical was evil and the spiritual was good. Thus, a good god (spiritual) could not have created a physical world, because good can not create evil (that is the spiritual would not create the physical). So the Gnostic god created a being (or a line of beings called aeons) removing himself from direct creation. 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 Gnostic taught that Jesus did not have a physical body. When he walked on the earth, he left not footprints because he never really touched the earth (he being spiritual and the world physical). Others taught that only our spiritual bodies were important, so the physical body could engage in whatever acts they desired because only the spiritual body would be saved. Still other Gnostics taught that the physical body was so evil that it must be denied in order for the spiritual body to gain salvation, thus shunning marriage and certain foods (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

The influence of Gnosticism can be seen in some of the heresies of today. For example, many of the teachings stated above are found, in revised form, in the teachings of the Watchtower of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. To the Jehovah’s Witness, Jesus is a created god, not God manifest in the flesh. It is no wonder that the Watchtower’s New World Translation omits “God manifest in the flesh” in 1 Timothy 3:16 and replaces it with “He was made manifest in flesh.” The Greek text which underlines the NWT has made the change, so it is natural for the Watchtower to prefer the reading which reflects its doctrine. The same is true of John 1:18 where the NWT reads, “the only-begotten god” (Gk. monogenes theos). Again, this is because the Greek text of the NWT reads differently from the Greek text of the KJV, “only begotten Son” (Gk. monogenes heios). What is amazing is that in both of these examples, the NASV agrees with the NWT because they are both based on the same Greek text. Thus, false doctrine has influenced the various manuscripts, just as it influences translations today. The phrase “only begotten god” is supported by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Jerome, papyrus 66 and the Alexandrian line of manuscripts. The phrase “only begotten Son” is quoted by Chrysostom, Tertullian, Basil, the Old Latin and Old Syrian translations and the majority of all Greek manuscripts.

Another example of some Gnostics teachings concerns the dual sexual nature of God. In her book, The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels points out that the some Gnostic taught that God was both Father and Mother. Pagels writes,

One group of gnostic (sic) sources claims to have received a secret tradition from Jesus through James and through Mary Magdalene. Members of this group prayed to both the divine Father and Mother. . .Since the Genesis account goes on to say that humanity was created male and female (1:27), some concluded that the God in whose image we are made must also be both masculine and feminine–both Father and Mother. (pp. 58-59).

Pagels also points out that Clement of Alexandria was influenced by this false doctrine of a masculo-feminine God. “Clement,” writes Pagels, “characterized God in feminine as well as masculine terms” (p.81). She then cites Clement as writing,

The Word is everything to the child, both father and mother, teacher and nurse. . . .The nutriment is the milk of the Father. . .and the Word alone supplies us children with the milk of love, and only those who suck at this breast are truly happy. For this reason, seeking is called sucking; to those infants who seek the Word, the Father’s loving breasts supply milk. (p. 81).

It would seem that both Clement and the Gnostics would be pleased with the modern politically correct Inclusive Version (published by Oxford Press). The Lord’s prayer reads, “Our Father-Mother in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your dominion come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” All references to God in this translation reflect the masculo-feminine doctrine of the Gnostics and Clement of Alexandria.

ALLEGORICALISM

The majority of early Church Fathers, especially from the Alexandrian and Western line, relied heavily upon Allegoricalism. This is not an organized heresy, as the other three are; instead it is a general interpretation of the scriptures. To allegorize scripture means to interpret the word spiritually and not literally. To the Allegoricalist, the words of scripture are not as important as the meaning or teaching of scripture. The word is not to be taken literally, but carries a deeper, spiritual message. This is why many of the early Church Fathers did not use precise quotations from the New Testament, as much as they did allusions and loose citations. What the Bible means, to them, was more important than what it said.

This form of spirtualizing the scriptures is not only reflected in many of the writings of the early Church Fathers, but is a prominent view of Biblical interpretation today. It is the primary view of both moderate and liberal theologians, and the developed interpretation of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also reflective of how one translates the scriptures as well as interprets. If the message is more important than the words, than all we need to do is translate the message and not the words. This is the difference between two methods of translation, the formal equivalent (that is, word for word translation), and dynamic equivalent (that is, thought for thought translation). Examples of formal equivalent translations would be the KJV (of the Traditional text) and the NASV (of the Alexandrian text). Dynamic equivalent translations would be illustrated by versions like the NIV, TEV, and NRSV.

THE LINE OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

Jesus taught us that if a tree is corrupt, the fruit will be corrupt. Likewise, if a tree is good, the fruit will be good (Matt. 7:17). He was speaking of false prophets. False prophets and false teachers corrupt the scriptures (2 Pet. 2:1-3). We are told we can recognize these false prophets and teachers by their fruits. An apple tree produces apples, a fig tree brings forth figs. So 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 in suspect of being corrupt, we must conclude that he will do the same to the scriptures (2 Cor. 2:17). So, if a man’s teachings are good and sound, we can expect that those sound teachings came from sound scriptures. The two go hand in hand.

In the transmission of scripture, we must understand that there will always be a line of perversion as there will be of preservation. According to our Lord, we must become fruit inspectors. The remainder of this lesson and the next will demonstrate both lines in operation.

The following are a few of the Western (Rome) and Alexandrian (Egypt) Church Fathers stating some of their doctrines and influences upon the study of textual criticism. Additionally, the same is shown concerning a few contemporary scholars who have likewise influenced the study of textual criticism and laid the foundation for modern translations of the Bible.

TATIAN (110-180 AD)

Tatian, a disciple of Justin Martyr, was a doctrinal apologist and textual scholar. In 170 AD he produced a harmony of the Gospels known as the Diatessaron (Greek meaning, 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 200 known copies destroyed. Today, we only have a fragment of Tatian’s Diatessaron along with two Arabic translations and a commentary on it.

Geisler and Nix point out that Tatian “came under the influence of Gnosticism after the death of Justin.” (A General Introduction To The Bible, p. 351). Eusebius records several of Tatian’s heretical views in his Ecclesiastical History. Eusebius writes,

He (Tatian) established his own type of doctrine, telling stories of invisible Aeons (the line of gods the Gnostics believed in), like the followers of Valentinus, and rejecting marriage as corruption and fornication similarly to Marcion and Saturninus. And as his own contribution, denied the salvation of Adam. . . .Tatian composed in some way a combination and collection of the gospels, and gave this the name of The Diatessaron, and this is still extant in some places. . . (from the Loeb edition, Vol. I p. 397. The still extant would show that the Diatessaron was still in use in the fourth century when Eusebius wrote).

Tatian’s harmony omits 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, but only two Arabic translations and one commentary, it is hard to say how much influence the Diatessaron had on any line of manuscript. Nevertheless, in the Diatessaron, we see that Gnosticism had an influence on 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 the Greek poets were likewise inspired by God but in a diminutive sense. He went to Alexandria, Egypt, and became head of the Catechetical School located there in about 200 AD. A few years later he was forced to leave Egypt under the persecution of Septimius Severus. He died in Cappadocia around 215 AD.

There are approximately 2,400 New Testament quotations by Clement in his writings. Alexander Souter states that Clement “is not a very careful quoter of Scripture, but . . . it is known that in the Gospels he used a text closely related to Codex Bezae (D).” (The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p. 81). Dr. Kurt Aland states that Clement’s citations disagree with the Traditional text (from which the KJV came from) 56% of the time. Twenty-four percent of the time his citations agree with the Alexandrian line of manuscripts, with 29% being in common with both. Only 15% of the time does Clement choose the reading of the Traditional text. (“The Text of the Church” from the Trinity Journal; Fall 1987, p. 139).

The point here is that Clement is quoted with authority for his citations of scriptures by modern textual scholars, and that Clement uses a text which is not in alignment with the Traditional text. The question we must ask ourselves is, what were the teachings of Clement and do they agree with Biblical doctrines found in the New Testament?

We have already learned that Clement was influenced by the Gnostics in his view of God as both Father and Mother. Below are a few additional teachings of Clement as cited from his The Instructor Of Children (about 202 AD). All quotations are cited in The Faith of the Early Fathers, edited by W. A. Jurgens and published by the Liturgical Press of Collegeville, Minnesota. Many of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic church can be found in the teachings of Clement of Alexandra.

Baptism: “When we are baptized, we are enlightened. Being enlightened, we are adopted as sons. Adopted as sons, we are made perfect. Made perfect, we are become immortal. . .It is a washing by which we are cleansed of sins; a gift of grace by which the punishment due our sins are remitted; an illumination by which we behold that holy light of salvation–that is, by which we see God clearly.” (p.178). Thus, salvation follows baptism.

Eucharist: “(The Church is) calling her children about her, she nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word. . .The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. ‘Eat My Flesh,’ He says, ‘and drink My Blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!” (p.179)

That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit, just as the blood is the strength of the body. Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in flesh, while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however, –of the drink and of the Word,–is called the Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.” (p. 179). Therefore, the Eucharist is necessary for salvation, it is the receiving of Christ, as taught by Clement.

Scripture: “Divine Scripture, addressing itself to those who love themselves and to the boastful, somewhere says most excellently: ‘Where are the princes of the nations, and those who rule over the beasts which are upon the earth; they that take their diversion among the birds of the air; they that hoard up silver, and the gold in which men trust–and there is no end to their acquiring it; they that work in silver and in gold and are solicitous? There is no searching of their works; they have vanished and have gone down into Hades.’ ” (p.179). What Clement calls “Divine Scripture” is the Old Testament Apocrypha book of Baruch 3:16-19. Thus he believed it to be inspired.

Deity of Man: “That which is true is beautiful; for it, too, is God. Such a man becomes God because God wills it. Rightly, indeed, did Heraclitus say: ‘Men are gods, and gods are men; for the same reason is in both.’ “(p.179). Like Mormonism, Clement taught man becomes a god.

Nature of God: “Nothing exists except that which God causes to be. There is nothing, therefore, which is hated by God; nor is there anything hated by the Word. Both are one.” (p.179) How does this align with Luke 14:26; John 12:25; Rom. 9:13; Heb. 1:9 and Rev.2:6? Clement sounds like he is quoting the doctrine of Marcion in rejecting the fact that God can hate.

ORIGEN (185-254 AD)

When Clement left Alexandria because of the persecution, Origen succeeded him as head master at the Catechetical School. Origen developed the allegorical interpretation of scripture. He took the Bible symbolically, yet what is clearly symbolic he took literally. For example, upon reading Matthew 19:12, he castrated himself. As a textual scholar, he produced the Hexapla which was a Bible containing six translations of the Old Testament, including the famous Septuagint (also known as the LXX). He considered the Old Testament Apocrypha as inspired scripture and included them in his Hexapla. Additionally, Origen considered some New Testament Apocrypha books as inspired, such as The Shepherd of Herman and The Epistle of Barnabas (see The Lost Books of the Bible, World Bible Publishers; pp.145 & 197).

Historian Will Durant notes that:

The literal meaning of Scripture, argued Origen, overlay two deeper layers of meaning–the moral and the spiritual–to which only the esoteric and educated few could penetrate. He questioned the truth of Genesis as literally understood: he explained away as symbols the unpleasant aspects of Yahveh’s (Jehovah) dealings with Israel; and he dismissed as legends such stories as that of Satan taking Jesus up to a high mountain and offering him the kingdoms of the world. (The Story Of Civilization, Vol. III; p.614)

Thus Origen held to this same doctrine as proclaimed by the heresy of Marcion.

Further, Durant quotes Origen as saying, “Who is so foolish as to believe that God, like a husbandman, planted a garden in Eden, and placed in it a tree of life. . .so that one who tasted of the fruit obtained life?” (Ibid., p. 614).

Additional doctrines of Origen can be seen in the following quotations from his work, The Fundamental Doctrines. As with Clement, the citations come form Jurgens’ The Faith of the Early Fathers.

Jesus Christ: “Secondly, that Jesus Christ Himself, who came, was born of the Father before all creatures; and after He had ministered to the Father in the creation of all things,–for through Him were all things made.”(p. 191). Thus Christ is a created being. This follows the teachings of the Gnostics, the Docetics, and is seen today in the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“For it is just as unsuitable to say that the Son is able to see the Father, as it is unbecoming to suppose that the Holy Spirit is able to see the Son. It is one thing to see, another to know. To see and to be seen belongs to bodies. To know and to be known belongs to an intellectual being. That, therefore, which is proper to bodies, is not to be attributed to either the Father or to the Son; but that which pertains to deity is common to the Father and the Son.” (p. 193). Again, the influence of Gnosticism can be seen in this citation. This is the same heresy which John warns against in both 1st and 2nd John.

The Holy Ghost: “Third, they handed it down that the Holy Spirit is associated in honor and dignity with the Father and the Son. In His case, however, it is not clearly distinguished whether or not He was born or even whether He is or is not to be regarded as a Son of God.” (p. 191). Thus, the Holy Ghost becomes one of the aeons of Gnosticism.

Salvation: “After these points, it is taught also that the soul, having a substance and life proper to itself, shall, after its departure from this world, be rewarded according to its merits. It is distend to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its deeds shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishment, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this.” (p. 191). This is teaching another gospel (Gal. 1:8) which claims salvation by works.

Restoration from Eternal Fire: “Now let us see what is meant by the threatening with eternal fire. . .It seems to be indicated by these words that every sinner kindles for himself the flame of his own fire and is not plunged into some fire which was kindled beforehand by someone else or which already existed before him. . .And when this dissolution and tearing asunder of the soul shall have been accomplished by means of the application of fire, no doubt it will afterwards be solidified into a firmer structure and into a restoration of itself.” (p.196). Much like the teachings of Mormonism, Origen believed in restoration for those in eternal fire (hell).

The Sun and Stars: “In regard to the sun, however, and the moon and the stars, as to whether they are living beings or are without life, there is not clear tradition.” (p. 192). Again, early Mormonism taught that the planets, moons, and stars were alive.

Here is a man of questionable doctrine. This is not a matter if differing interpretations of scriptures; this is a matter of false teaching. Like the current teaching of the Watchtower, Origen believed in the dualistic nature of Jesus Christ. Like the teachings of the Mormons, Origen believed in a restoration for those in hell, and wonders if the sun, stars, and moon have life. If someone had the beliefs of Origen, we surely would not be content to have him revising or editing our Bibles. Yet this is what has happened. And, if one does not believe that personal doctrine will interfere with translation, make a close examination of the NWT produced by the Watchtower. Or, for that matter, why do we classify translations of the Bible as *liberal* and *conserverative?* Does this not show that theological bias still enters into the process of current translations of the Bible? If it does so today, then it did so in the days of Origen as well.

Origen’s position as a textual critic is unquestionable. Not only because of the Hexapla, but because of his many scriptural quotations. Origen was one of the most prolific writers of his day, writing over 6,000 items and books. In these he makes almost 18,000 quotations and allusions from the New Testament. His citations are both Alexandrian and Western in nature. Dr. Aland shows that Origen’s scriptural citations are mostly Alexandrian just like modern translations of the Bible are (The Text of the Church, p. 139).

Further, we can see the influence Origen had on other manuscripts. One of the subscriptions in Codex Sinaiticus (which we discussed in lesson two, and will expand on later in this lesson) states, “Taken and corrected according to the Hexapla of Origen. Antonius collated: I, Pamhilus, corrected.” (Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.23). Pamhilus, along with Eusebius, was a disciple of Origen. Therefore, we can see the influence Origen had on Codex Sinaiticus as stated in a footnote of that codex.

EUSEBIUS (263-340 AD)

Eusebius Pamphili, Bishop of Caesarea, was a church historian and textual critic who was responsible for writing the Ecclesiastical History of the church in 325 AD. His work provides us with many accounts of what was occurring in the early church, and especially during the canonization of Scripture. However, as noted by Historian Will Durant, Eusebius sometimes glossed over some facts, as he did in his work on the Life of Constantine. Durant calls it, “honest dishonesty” (The Story of Cilvilzation, Vol. III; p.663) and says, “One would never guess from this book that Constantine had killed his son, his nephew, and his wife.” (Ibid.) Additionally, Durant states that, “Some exaggeration may have crept into the report” (Ibid., p. 649) concerning Eusebius’ account of early Christian martyrs. For example, in recording the martyrdom of Polycarp, Eusebius states that when Polycarp was stabbed that, “there came out a dove” from the wound.

He also produced a form of the Gospels dividing them into paragraphs and numbering them for cross-reference (they were not divided as we have verse and chapter divisions today in our Bibles, but did provide a basis of division). Concerning the canon of Scripture, Eusebius questioned the authencity of James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and the book of Jude. In regard to 2 Peter, he noted, “But the so-called second Epistle we have not received as canonical, but nevertheless it has appeared useful to many” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I; p. 193). To Eusebius, these scriptures were good books, but not inspired.

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” (Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, p. 181). Some have suggested that the famous manuscripts Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were two of these fifty copies, and these two manuscripts provide the basis of many of the changes in modern translations today. This was the view of Tischendorf, Hort, and Souter as they comment on the subject. If this is true, than Eusebius not only produced the famous Alexandrian manuscripts, but also advocated a text type that supports this same line of manuscripts. And from the many citations of Eusebius, it is certain that he did favor the Alexandrian family.

Eusebius was influenced by Origen of Alexandria. He and Pamphilus “founded at Caesarea a library of biblical and patristic writings on papyrus rolls, the nucleus of which consisted of Origen’s voluminous writings, especially his editions and interpretations of biblical books.” (Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p. 23). Pamphilus was educated at Alexandria and was a disciple of Origen; Eusebius was Pamphilus’ “pupil and protege” (Ibid. p.84). No doubt, the views and textual changes of Origen found their way into the textual work of Eusebius.

JEROME (340-420 AD)

Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus, known to us 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 Testament in 383 AD. Reluctantly, Jerome agreed knowing that his version would not be welcomed considering that Christendom had already begun to divided itself in regard 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. (Jerome was one of the first scholars to be fluent in both Biblical languages). However, we do not possess many Latin versions which predate the Vulgate of Jerome and what we do have are fragmentary. As illustrated in the citations of Tertullian, Alexander Souter wrote, “It is perfectly clear from references in Tertullian, who wrote at Carthage (mainly in Latin, but also in Greek) between AD 195 and 218, that Latin translations of at least some parts of Scripture existed in his time.” (The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.35). The vast majority of Old Latin manuscripts which we now possess were written after the Vulgate and are divided into two groups, African and European.

Jerome was influenced by the work of Eusebius. Again, Souter notes, “It would seem, therefore, that we must look to Egypt for the origin of (Codex Sinaiticus) also. St. Jerome at Bethlehem had a MS.(i.e. manuscript) closely related to (Sinaiticus), in St. Matthew’s Gospel, as we learn from his references in his commentary on that Gospel.” (Ibid., p. 23). Sir Frederic Kenyon agrees and adds, “[Jerome] did so with reference to the oldest and best Greek manuscripts he could find, most of which seem to have belonged to what we have called the Alexandrian family. Indeed, the Codex Sinaiticus is the Greek manuscript which most conspicuously agrees with the Vulgate.” (The Story of the Bible, p. 110).

It should be noted, however, that Jerome was more willing to reach a compromise and not make as many changes to the text as one finds in the Alexandrian line. Kenyon continues and notes, “Jerome, however, more cautious than our own Revisers (i.e. the RV of 1881) was sparing in his alterations; he tells us himself that he often left passages untouched which he might have corrected, in order to preserve the familiar form, and only made changes where he thought them material.” (Ibid.) This would account for several verses in the Vulgate which follow the Traditional text instead of the Alexandrian. This is also noted by Dr. Edward F. Hills in his book, The King James Version Defended, regarding the Vulgate as a possible “movement toward the Traditional (Byzantine) Text” (p.187).

One thing is certain; the Latin Vulgate of Jerome became the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church and remained so for centuries. It is a clear connection between the Alexandrian line of manuscripts and the Westcott and Hort theory of textual criticism which will be discussed shortly. Despite that it sometimes reads in favor of the Traditional text, it is an early official translation which supported the Alexandrian line, and only agrees with the Traditional text as a compromise. In 1546 at the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church made the Vulgate the official Bible of Catholicism. As far as the Catholic Church was concerned, there was therefore no need for additional textual studies or translations in the language of the people. This was a Latin Church and it had its Latin Bible with the mass in Latin. For the centuries that followed, all that was necessary was the Vulgate. And this remained the position of the Roman Catholic Church until the 1960’s with the Second Vatican Council.

TISCHENDORF (1815-1874 AD)

Constantin von Tischendorf is responsible for providing the Protestant world with two of the oldest known uncials, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. These two manuscripts date somewhere between 325-350 AD. In lesson two we briefly discussed the contents of these two manuscripts. It is important to understand that both Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are two of the best examples of the Alexandrian line of manuscripts, and are responsible for a number of changes found in modern versions of the Bible. “These two manuscripts formed the basis of the text prepared by the 19th century scholars Westcott and Hort, and the parallel text used by the editors of the Revised Version.” (Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, p.73). Tischendorf, along John Anthony Hort and later Alexander Souter, believed these two codices to be part of the 50 scriptures ordered by Constantine and produced by Eusebius.

Tischendorf “edited more New Testament documents and more editions of the New Testament than any other scholar (of his day)” (Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, p.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 for additional manuscripts.

In 1844 he visited the monastery of St. Catherine located at Mt. Sinai. While there he “saw in a basket a number of leaves of vellum with fine and obviously very early uncial writing on them, which he was informed were about to be destroyed, as many similar leaves had already been.” (Kenyon, The Story of the Bible, pp. 57-58). He was allowed to keep forty-three leaves which he noted were from the Greek Septuagint. He recognized that these were of the same line as Codex Alexandrinus, but about a hundred years older then that manuscript. A second visit to the monastery occurred in 1853 with nothing found. However on his third visit, in 1859, on the last night of his stay, Tischendorf was shown the codex which has come to be 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. A camel-rider was sent to the monastery and retrieved the manuscript, but it was not until nine months later, after Tischendorf paid a good sum, that he was given the codex. As the student recalls, Sinaiticus contains over half of the Old Testament and all of the New except for large passages such as Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11, along with several other verses as demonstrated in lesson three. It has the Old Testament Apocrypha laced within it as scripture and the New Testament Apocrypha books of the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas, also listed as inspired scripture.

Codex Vaticanus, which was known to have been in the Vatican Library since 1475, receives its name because it is the property of the Vatican. No Protestant minister or scholar was permitted to view this codex for four hundred years until a facsimile was produced by Rome in 1890. There were two exceptions to this rule. They are S.P. Tregelles, who viewed it in 1845 and reproduced a memorized copy of it. And Constantin 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 Hebrews 9:14 to the end of Revelation. Both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are of the Alexandrian line of manuscripts.

WESTCOTT AND 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 NT was the basis for the Revised Version of that same year. They also developed a theory of textual criticism which underlined their Greek NT and several other Greek NT since (such as the Nestle’s text and the United Bible Society’s text). Greek New Testaments such as these produced the modern English translations of the Bible we have today. So 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 would be. Sir Frederic Kenyon sets forth the idea as follows:

Where alternative reading exist he (i.e. the textual scholar) will therefore tend to choose the harder rather than the easier, the shorter rather than the longer, the reading that differs from that in another Gospel rather than one which coincides; because, if alteration has taken place, it is likely to have been in the direction of the easier, longer, and harmonized readings. Such seems in particular to be the character of the Alexandrian text. (The Story of the Bible, p.111).

The Bible is therefore looked upon as a naturalistic book without Divine intervention preserving the text from corruption. In fact, according to Kenyon, where the text does not harmonize with the rest of the Bible is probably the correct reading. In such logic we can see the seeds of humanism replacing the spirituality of the Bible.

Westcott and Hort believed the Greek text which underlined the KJV was perverse and corrupt. Hort called the Textus Receptus vile and villainous (Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, Vol. I, p.211). They believed the Traditional text did not exist until the fourth century and was created by Lucian of Antioch as an act of the Church council to unify the Western and Alexandrian line of manuscripts. This mixing of the two lines and filling them with additional texts is called conflation. The manuscripts of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are considered neutral by Westcott and Hort as stated in their book, The New Testament in the Original Greek. So, according to this theory, the text of the KJV is conflated by using both the Western and Alexandrian line, and adds to the Bible with its own additions. The manuscripts of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, which is suppose to be a neutral text, would reflect what the original autographs said.

There are several problems with the theory. First, as will be seen [in Lesson Five], many of the early Church Fathers’ citations reflect the Traditional text with the fuller readings long before the forth 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. Even Kenyon, who supports modern versions, wrote, “We know the names of several revisers of the Septuagint and Vulgate, and it would be strange if historians and Church writers had all omitted to record or mention such an event” (Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p.302). Thirdly, since God has told us that we are not to add to His word, it would be a strange thing indeed for Him to support a Greek line of manuscripts and bless an English translations of the Bible that added to His word. Yet the line of manuscripts which Bible-believing Christians have read, used, and believed for almost two thousand years is of the Traditional text. And no English translation has been so greatly used and blessed by God as the KJV has. If the KJV has so grossly added to the word of God as claimed by Westcott and Hort, why has God blessed it so richly for the past 400 years? Additionally, if Westcott and Hort are the fathers of modern textual criticism and the restorers of the true text, should we not know something of their beliefs to see if they are consistent with scripture? This would be harmonious with the teaching found in Matthew 7:17.

Scriptures:

“I reject the word infallibility of Holy Scriptures overwhelmingly.” (Westcott, The Life and Letters of Brook Foss Westcott, Vol. I, p.207).

“Our Bible as well as our Faith is a mere compromise.” (Westcott, On the Canon of the New Testament, p.vii).

“Evangelicals seem to me perverted. . .There are, I fear, still more serious differences between us on the subject of authority, especially the authority of the Bible.” (Hort, The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, Vol. I, p.400)

Dr. Wilbur Pickering writes that, “Hort did not hold to a high view of inspiration.” (The Identity of the New Testament Text, p.212)

Perhaps this is why both the RV (which Westcott and Hort helped to translate) and the American edition of it, the ASV, translated 2 Tim. 3:16 as, “Every scripture inspired of God” instead of “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” (KJV).

Deity of Christ:

“He never speaks of Himself directly as God, but the aim of His revelation was to lead men to see God in Him.” (Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, p. 297).

“(John) does not expressly affirm the identification of the Word with Jesus Christ.” (Westcott, Ibid., p. 16).

“(Rev. 3:15) might no doubt bear the Arian meaning, the first thing created.<<(Hort, Revelation, p.36).

Perhaps this is why their Greek text makes Jesus a created god (John 1:18) and their American translation had a footnote concerning John 9:38 “And he said, Lord I believe and he worshipped him.” which said, “The Greek word denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to a creature, as here, or to the Creator.” Thus calling Christ “a creature.”

Salvation:

“The thought (of John 10:29) is here traced back to its most absolute form as resting on the essential power of God in His relation of Universal Fatherhood.” (Westcott, St. John, p. 159).

“I confess I have no repugnance to the primitive doctrine of a ransom paid to Satan. I can see no other possible form in which the doctrine of a ransom is at all tenable; anything is better than the doctrine of a ransom to the father.” (Hort, The First Epistle of St. Peter 1:1-2:17, p. 77).

Perhaps this is why their Greek text adds “to salvation” in 1 Peter 2:2. And why their English version teaches universal salvation in Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men,” (ASV).

 

Hell:

“(Hell is) not the place of punishment of the guilty, (it is) the common abode of departed spirits.” (Westcott, Historic Faith, pp.77-78).

“We have no sure knowledge of future punishment, and the word eternal has a far higher meaning.” (Hort, Life and Letters, Vol. I, p.149).

Perhaps this is why their Greek text does not have Mark 9:44, and their English translation replaces “everlasting fire” [Matt. 18:8] with “eternal fire” and change the meaning of eternal as cited by Hort in the above quote.

Creation:

“No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a literal history–I could never understand how anyone reading them with open eyes could think they did.” (Westcott, cited from Which Bible?, p. 191).

“But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with. . .My feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable.” (Hort, cited from Which Bible?, p. 189)

Romanism:

“I wish I could see to what forgotten truth Mariolatry (the worship of the Virgin Mary) bears witness.” (Westcott, Ibid.)

“The pure Romanish view seems to be nearer, and more likely to lead to the truth than the Evangelical.” (Hort, Life and Letters, Vol. I, p. 77)

In defending Westcott and Hort, James R. White writes:

Anglican piety, especially in the context of the times in which Westcott and Hort lived, provided all sorts of ammunition for demonstration that neither of these men was a fundamentalist Baptist, a point that Westcott and Hort would certainly have admitted. The fact that the KJV was translated by ‘baby-sprinkling’ Anglicans does not seem to bother those who bring up Westcott and Hort, however.” (The King James Only Controversy, pp. 122-123 fn).

It is one thing to have doctrinal differences on baby-sprinkling and perhaps a few other interpretations. It is another to be a Darwin-believing theologian who rejects the authority of scriptures, Biblical salvation, the reality of hell, and makes Christ a created being to be worship with Mary his mother. Yet, these were the views of both Westcott and Hort.

SINCE 1881:

James R. White is correct in stating, “modern textual criticism has gone far beyond Westcott and Hort” (Ibid., p.122). While Westcott and Hort may be considered the parents of modern textual criticism, we must also recognize the efforts produced by their children. We have had several Greek New Testaments appear, such as the Nestle text, Aland text, and the United Bible Society’s text all with various editions.

There have been several findings since the discovery of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Perhaps the most famous deals with textual criticism of the Old Testament with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Concerning the New Testament there is the John Rylands fragments known as papyrus 52 (P52), a Greek manuscript which some date between 117 and 138 AD. They were discovered in Egypt and contain five verses from the gospel of John. They now reside at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England.

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty provided several papyrus manuscripts known as P45, P46, and P47. They date to around 250 AD or later and are a mixture of Western and Alexandrian readings. Also we have the findings of M. Martin Bodmer with P66, P72, and P75. These also date to around the same time as the Beatty manuscripts and have a mixture of Western and Alexandrian readings. Although with both, there are times when these papyrus “shows frequent independence” (A General Introduction to the Bible, p.270) and have Traditional text readings in them. Dr. Wilbur N. Pickering has provided us with statistical evidence by quoting Dr. G. D. Fee findings, which show that these manuscripts do support the Traditional line at times and stand in opposition to the Western and Alexandrian, information which the modern textual scholar somehow forgets to provide us with.

Pickering notes a comparison of John 1-14 and states, “P66 agrees with the TR (i.e. the Textus Receptus Greek text) 315 times out of 663 (47.5%), with P75 280 out of 547 (51.2%)” (The Identity of the New Testament Text, p. 56). He also noted that out of 43 places where all these manuscripts have the same passages of scripture, P45 agreed with the Traditional text 32 times, P66 agreed 33 times, and P75 agreed 29 times (Ibid. p. 55). This being the case, these manuscripts are a mixture of textual families.

Modern scholars are quick to point to these manuscripts as proof that the Alexandrian line is the oldest and closest to the original autographs. However, this is no surprise to the Bible-believing student as we are aware that corruption of scripture date much earlier then 200 AD. As stated at the beginning of this lesson, even at the time of the Apostles, there were those who sought to corrupt the word of God. All these Greek manuscripts mentioned were discovered in Egypt and have more to do with Clement of Alexandria and Origen than the original autographs, and they show how textual critics of the second and third century were willing to alter the word of God.

We have now discussed the line which has produced the modern versions of the Bible. In our next lesson we will do the same with the line that produced the Authorized King James Version of 1611. It will then be left to the student to decide which tree he or she will partake when digesting God’s infallible Word.

QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS:

One student writes concerning the difference in readings between the KJV and the NIV in Romans 9:5.

“Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (KJV).

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

The question had to do with which one is the better translation. Some, such as D. A. Carson (The King James Version Debate, p.64) and James R. White (The King James Only Controversy, p.196) use this verse to show that modern versions such as the NIV have a stronger reference to the Deity of Christ than the KJV, because the NIV claims Christ is “God over all” while the KJV says Christ is “over all.” Yet, the NASV reads much like the KJV in this passage. This is, therefore, a very weak argument expounded by these two scholars.

First of all, the Deity of Christ is firmly attested to in the KJV and lacking in the NIV in 1 Timothy 3:16 and Revelation 1:6. The passage in 1 Timothy calls Christ “God manifest in the flesh” in the KJV, while the NIV simply says, “He appeared in a body,” leaving the reader to guess who the He is. The same is true with the passage in Revelation. The KJV says “unto God and his Father” thus clearly calling Christ God, for who is the Father of God the Son except for God the Father? The NIV, like all other modern versions, reads, “to serve his God and Father,” thus removing the Deity of Christ in this passage altogether. And, of course, there is the proof text for the doctrine of the Trinity as found in 1 John 5:7, which is omitted in the NIV. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” All the NIV has in this verse is, “For there are three that testify:” and then footnotes the reference to the Trinity questioning its validly by stating, “Late manuscripts of the Vulgate (read)” and then quotes the verse followed with, “not found in any Greek manuscripts before the sixteenth century.” (The student should note that 1 John 5:7 will be discussed in more detail in the following lesson).

Secondly, this is not a matter of textual difference, nor of translation since the text reads the same in either the Alexandrian or the Traditional texts. The Greek simply says, “o on epi panton Theos eulogetos eis tous aionas amen” (the one who is over all God blessed for ever amen). It is a matter of where one places the comma, and the Greek manuscripts, as the student will remember, do not have punctuation marks. It would be difficult to debate the cultist who denies the Deity of Christ using an NIV reading of Romans 9:5 based solely upon the placement of the comma, considering the Greek manuscripts did not have commas.

There is no question that Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1). The Bible reveals God as one God in three persons (Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7). All three persons are one God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity. Within the Trinity, there is not only unity, but order. Paul illustrates the headship of the husband over the wife by stating that, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Thus the Father is the head of the Son, not the Son over the Father. Jesus even refers to the Father as “my God” in John 20:17. The Father does call the Son “God” in Hebrews 1:8, but the Father does not call Christ his God. In fact, the next verse says, “therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows,” again calling the Father the God of the Son. They are separate persons in one Godhead and in Christ, “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col 2:9) Thus, there is an order within the Trinity.

If the NIV is correct in its translation of Romans 9:5, than Christ is God over all, including the Father. He becomes the God of the Father, and the order within the Trinity is broken. However, if Christ is “over all,” then He is still God, still equal to the Father (Phil 2:6) but not God over the Father.

I hope that this answers the question concerning Romans 9:5, and that this whole lesson has aided the student in their understanding of textual criticism and the preservation of scripture by God as He promised He would do. Until next time, God bless as you labor and serve Him.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

(finis)

Lesson Three: Listing some differences

Lesson Three: Listing some differences

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Cor. 5:6)

In the past two lessons we have laid a Biblical foundation for the study of manuscript evidence and discussed some basic terms and principles in the study of textual criticism. The focus of this lesson will deal with some of the differences found in translations of the Bible. It would be rather fallacious of us to discuss the topics and discoveries of textual criticism if we provided no evidence of any textual changes. Therefore, in this lesson we will list several of the textual changes between the Authorized Version and modern translations.

Those who claim that modern versions of the Bible and the King James Version differ only in that the modern versions update the archaic language found in the Authorized Version are either ill-informed or dishonest. Yet, this seems to be the major conception of many who use or support modern translations. All one need do to verify this point is ask the layperson who uses a modern version why they use it. A common response will be that the King James is to hard to understand and the modern version uses today’s language.

There are those who are more informed on the subject and recognize that there are in fact translational and textual differences as well. However, these differences are either disregarded as unimportant or downplayed as extremely limited in nature. This can be illustrated in the following quotation by John R. Kohlenberger III.

First of all, and perhaps most important, is the reassurance that the number of possible variations in the text of the Bible is very small and does not affect any major teaching of Christianity. Many variations, in fact, are trivial. In 1 Cor. 7:15, for instance, some manuscripts read, “For God has called us to peace,” and others read, “For God has called you to peace.” This change of person (in Greek only one letter’s difference) does not affect Paul’s point at all. (All About Bible, Oxford University Press, 1985. p.14).

The point he makes is two-fold. First, no major doctrine is affected in any major translation of the Bible. Second, textual variations are small and trivial. Neither of these two points are correct.

First of all, one can prove major fundamental doctrine from any translation of the Bible. That does not mean that the doctrine is unaffected. For example, one can prove the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity using the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (the official translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses), yet both of these Biblical truths are affected and changed in the NWT. The doctrines can be established, but are weakened in the NWT. Again, the virgin birth can be proven using the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Yet it is rejected by many conservatives because the doctrine of the virgin birth is compromised in Isaiah 7:14 in the RSV (and NRSV). The doctrine of the blood atonement is impaired in the Today’s English Version by changing blood to death in many references. Yet, the doctrine can be established using the TEV. The question is not, can we prove the doctrine? The question is, has the word of God been compromised? (Matt. 16:12; 1 Cor. 5:6).

Secondly, the textual variations are not simply small or trivial. True, many of the variations in the differing Greek texts and manuscripts are not of major importance, but many others are. And the variance is by no means small but reflect a large portion of the New Testament. All one needs to do to verify this point is secure a copy of the United Bible Society’s Greek New Testament (any edition) and notice the textual variances on almost every page of this critical text. As stated in lesson two, the Greek text which underlined the King James Bible and the Greek text of Westcott and Hort (used for the Revised Version of 1881) differ over 5,000 times. Additionally, the number of changes which have occurred in the English translation of the Westcott and Hort text number well over 30,000.

Both of these points are established by Dr. Jack Lewis in his book, The English Bible From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation published by Baker Book House, 1981. It should be noted that Dr. Lewis helped with the translation of the New International Version and is not a King James only advocate. Concerning the Greek text of the Revised Version of 1881, Dr. Lewis writes,

but the project ended with 5,788 changes in the underlying Greek text of the New Testament which was followed. About one-fourth of these are said to alter the subject matter. (Lewis, pp. 69-70. The are said comes from a book by Sir Frederick G. Kenyon entitled, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts. )

Dr. Lewis goes on to state about the American Standard Version of 1901 that,

The instruction stated that the style and language of the KJV were to be maintained; nevertheless, in the end more than 36,191 corrections of various sorts were made in the New Testament. These included changes resulting from alterations in the Greek text itself, changes where the KJV appears to have chosen the poorer of two readings, changes where the KJV is ambiguous or obscure, changes where the KJV is not consistent with itself in rendering phrases or passages that are alike or paralleled, and changes that are required because of the other changes made. (Lewis, p. 70).

While I differ with Dr. Lewis’ conclusions, his citation provides proof that the changes made in modern versions reflect more than the updating of language. Further, Dr. Lewis not only gives us a total of changes made in the two differing Greek texts (5,788) but establishes that additional changes have been made in the English translations (36,191 in the ASV). And these changes do not account for the thee’s and thou’s found in the KJV because the ASV also uses thee and thou in its text. Thus, we see the changes are by no means small.

One notable difference deals with the number of verses omitted from modern versions of the Bible. While there are many places where phrases or words have been either changed or omitted, here we see whole verses omitted or bracketed in modern versions as compared with the KJV. For example, both the New American Standard Version (NASV) and the New International Version (NIV) omit the following verses.

Matthew 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Mark 7:16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Also true of verse 46 which reads the same).

Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Mark 15:28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And hewas numbered with the transgressors.

Luke 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Luke 23:17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

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

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

Acts 15:34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.

Acts 24:7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,

Acts 28:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

Rom. 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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

These same conservative translations (NASV and NIV) also bracket Mark 16:9-20 (the ending to the Gospel of Mark) and John 7:53-8:11 (about the woman caught in adultery). They footnote these two passages stating “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20/John 7:53-8:11” (NIV), thus calling into question the scriptural authority of these two passages.

The Revised Standard Version (RSV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and New English Version (NEV) go further by not only omitting the above references from their text, but also omit the following verses.

Matthew 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

Matthew18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Matthew 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer:

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 24:12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Luke 24: 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

By confining these verses to footnotes, these translations demonstrate that the Greek text from which they are translated from do not contain these verses as part of their text. As Bible-believing Christians, this leaves us with a dilemma. Three times the Bible warns against adding to or taking from the word of God (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; and Rev. 22:18). Therefore, we must conclude that the Greek texts which underline modern translations are corrupt in removing these verses from the text, or else the Greek text which underlined the KJV is corrupt for adding these verses to the text. Either way, one cannot be Biblical and believe that the KJV and modern versions are both the word of God. It is obvious that one of these lines has either added to or taken from the word of God, which is a violation of scripture. Which ever one is shown in error, is corrupt and must be rejected by the Bible-believing Christian.

Differences may be noted by comparing the KJV with the NIV. These are the two best selling versions of the English Bible, and are both considered conservative translations.

KJV RENDERING

NIV RENDERING

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Matthew 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. Matthew 20:23 Jesus said to them, You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places, belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.
Mark 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Mark 1:2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way.
Mark 6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Mark 6:11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.
Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. Luke 2:33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Luke 4:4 Jesus answered, It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.(The NASV reads, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”)
Acts 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; Acts 2:30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.
Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9:6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:6 And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Revelation 1:11 Which said: Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

If these few examples do not suffice, the student is free to compare any of the following references with any major modern translation of the Bible. Again, these are only a few of the many changes found within the two line of Greek texts as reflected in English translations.

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; 6:33,36; 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 2:47; 3:11; 7:37; 9:5; 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 9:28,32; 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 translations differ among themselves which do not acount for the differences in the Greek texts.

KJV RENDERING

MODERN RENDERING(S)

1 Corinthians 7:36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 1 Corinthians 7:36 If anyone thinks his is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. (NIV)But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she should be of full age, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. (NASB)
There are three differing translations of the same Greek phrase, ten parthenon autou (the virgin of him).
2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. (NIV)
The same Greek word kapeleuontes is translated as corrupt and peddle, which are two different meanings.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, (RSV)
The same Greek phrase can be translated either way, and thus convey two different meanings.

While I have limited the discussion to the differences in translationof the New Testament, the same can be seen in how modern versions differ in the Old Testament.

KJV RENDERING

MODERN RENDERING(S)

1 Samuel 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, 1 Samuel 13:1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty two years. (NIV)Saul was forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thrity-two years over Israel. (NASB)

Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel. (NRSV)

2 Samuel 21:19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 2 Samuel 21:19 Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. (NRSV)
Daniel 3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in The midst of the fire and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Daniel 3:25 He answered and said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods. (NASB)

There are also many places where names referring to Deity are either removed or not fully used. To counter this, James R. White has developed what he calls an expansion of piety theory. He states, “It led people to naturally expand the titles used of the Lord, possibly even without their conscious effort to change the text.” (The King James Only Controversy, p. 46). Thus, according to White, phrases such as Lord Jesus Christ were really Lord Jesus. White offers 23 examples.

The truth is that there are far more than 23 times in the New Testament where the names of Deity are omitted by modern versions and their Greek texts. The Nestle Greek text has 230 such omissions while the United Bible Society’s Greek text has 212. This is reflected in the modern translation as well. The NASV has 210 such omissions, the NIV has 173, and the RSV has 213. The shear number of such omissions demonstrate the White’s expansion of piety theory is erroneous. It is possible to conceive that somewhere in the process of transmission a scribe unconsciously added Christ to Lord Jesus or Lord to Jesus Christ. But to have this occur over 200 times would be a deliberate act, not an unconscious expansion as White suggests.

Further, some of these omissions consists of more than a partial removal of a phrase. Divine names and titles are omitted such as Spirit, Father, God, Son of Man, Master, the Son, The Beginning, The Ending, as well as, Lord, Christ, and Jesus. Since the Bible says of Christ, “that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18), it might do us well to have a Bible that maintains the names and titles of Deity over 200 times more than modern versions do.

So that the student may “search the scriptures” to see if these things are so, the following are the references where the names and titles of Deity are omitted.

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 verse 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 verses 3,9.

Jude verse 4.

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

As the student studies all of these examples, which are only a few of the 5,788 differences in the two Greek texts, the conclusion must be that the two texts do differ and do so substantially. The claims, therefore, that all a modern version does is update the outdated language of the Authorized Version, or that the changes made are small in number and trivial in content, are obviously erroneous.

In our next two lessons we will cover the history of these two lines of manuscripts and account for the cause of perversion as well as preservation.

QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS:

How do manuscripts support Paul’s discussion of the “Baptism for the Dead”. It is only mentioned once in the KJB and I can find no doctrine to support it.

The passage comes from 1 Corinthians 15:29 and reads as follows, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

It is mentioned only once in the KJB, but than it is also mentioned only once in the NASV and the NIV (and other modern versions). This is not a limited translation of the King James, nor is it a variance in the wording of the Greek. Both the Greek text of the King James and the Greek text of modern versions have the same Greek words. The only variation deals with punctuation. The King James places the question after the second clause, “if the dead rise not at all?”. Modern versions and their Greek texts place the question after the first clause, “Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?” (NASV). The student will recall that old Greek manuscripts (uncials on either papyrus or vellum) did not have word separation or punctuation. And, the minuscules did not always use punctuation either. Since we no longer have any of the autographs, it is hard to say how they were written or where the punctuation was placed.

This verse has been used to support the Mormon doctrine of baptizing for the dead (which was not limited to the modern Mormon). The question here is theological and not one dealing with textual criticism. I do not believe the answer to this problem passage will be found in where the proper placement of the question mark belongs. I believe the context sheds light on the text.

As one reads the context, it is obvious that Paul is building a case about the resurrection (both of Christ and of the saints). It is important to notice how the persons are used in this passage. The verse states, “Else what shall they do” and “why are they then baptized for the dead?”. The next verse reads, “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”. Notice how the text changes persons from third person plural to first person plural. The text changes from they to we. If baptism for the dead were a part of Christian doctrine and needful in the church, Paul would have included himself and other believers in the act of baptizing for the dead (i.e. “Else what shall we do” and “why are we then baptized for the dead?”). Also, he and others would have mentioned this doctrine elsewhere in scripture if it were to be a Christian practice. Instead it is limited to one passage, which is offered to discuss the resurrection.

Personally, I believe Paul was using an example. Cults and heretics in Paul’s day were practicing the doctrine of baptizing for the dead in hope of saving the souls of the departed. Paul’s point is, if there is no resurrection, then why do we see non-Christians practicing a doctrine in hope of saving those who have already died? Even the heathen, in their false worship, recognize there is a resurrection, which is why they baptize for the dead. The resurrection is, therefore, a universal belief among all religions. This would not be the first time Paul compared the false practices of the heathen with Biblical truths to illustrate scriptual teachings (Acts 17:22-34; Romans 1:18-23).

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Thomas Holland

Psalm 118:8

Additionally, Dr. Thomas Cassady and Brother Thomas Hubeart sent me e-mail on the topic of Baptism for the Dead. Although this [class] deals with theology and not manuscript evidence, I thought it might be of interest to those wishing to read other views concerning this subject. I thank these two brothers for sending me the attached points of view. … I hope this information is a blessing to all.


Subj: Re: Lesson Three

Date: 96-02-07 13:14:52 EST

From: tcassidy@sisna.com

From: tcassidy@sisna.com (Dr. Thomas Cassidy)

To: User192905@aol.com

At 03:23 AM 2/7/96 -0500, User192905@aol.com wrote:

May I offer a different view of the passage in question?

Paul begins talking about the resurrection in verse 20, and spends the next 8 verses making it very plain that not only Chirst rose from the dead, but that the Apostles and Prophets will also rise physically on that coming ressurrection day.

In verses 29 through 34 Paul asks some questions concerning Christian practice (not doctrine). If Christ, the Apostles, the Prophets, are all dead, why be baptized on the basis of their teaching, for their teaching was obviously wrong. Baptism pictures the death, burial, and RESURRECTION. If there is no resurrection, baptism does not make any sense, and to be baptized because a bunch of dead guys said so is just plain silly. Paul then says the same thing about preaching and missions work. If all the guys that said to do that are dead forever, why take orders from a bunch of dead guys?

Why put my life in danger for nothing? Why fight with beasts (and men!) if the Gospel of the Resurrection (see verse 4) is not true. He then says in verse 34, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Because some of these Corinthian believers did not believe in the ressurrection, they were not keeping the great commission, and many of their friends and neighbors had not heard the Gospel from them. Paul says “Shame on you and your unbelief.”

Seems to fit the context of the truth of the ressurrection.

Thomas Cassidy

tcassidy@sisna.com


Subj: Re: Lesson Three (Baptism for the Dead)

Date: 96-02-07 19:50:29 EST

From: BasFawlty

To: User192905

Doc:

Your “questions from students” section this time reminded me of something I had posted in one of the download libraries of the religion forum, giving the exposition of Thomas Scott on the passage. Perhaps you will find it of interest. 🙂 (I would circulate it among the class, but I find that with all the changes that have been made and the “BCC” we are doing to keep everyone from getting a bunch of names on each transmission, I don’t have an updated class list! :O Well, perhaps if you find it adds anything to what you’ve already said so well, you can cite it in your next installment.)

Best in Christ,

(The other) TH.

******

“1Cor 15:29 (KJV) Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

This passage has given rise to many novel and bizarre interpretations by groups attempting to claim scriptural justification for “baptism for the dead”–a justification, let it be noted, that cannot be built on any clear doctrinal passage in the Bible. As many Christians consider it a problematic passage, and because many groups such as the Mormons exploit the misunderstanding of this passage by Christians (see, for example, Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians?, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, p. 19), I thought it would be useful to circulate the comments of Rev. Thomas Scott on it.

I do not have any other information on Rev. Scott other than that found in an old (1832) copy of Vol. 3 of his commentary on the Bible, but it appears from this that he was “Rector of Aston Sanford, Bucks.” (according to the title page), indicating that he was British. Also, he was active toward the close of the 18th century, since he quotes from his own answer to Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. However, Scott’s work is of such quality that it recommends itself, and his treatment of this verse may be found especially helpful by Christians.

Here are Scott’s comments on the verse:

The expression “baptized for the dead,” has given occasion to a variety of ingenious conjectures and learned discussions. Some argue that [it] only means, ‘baptized in the name of one who certainly died, and who, “if the dead rise not,” ‘still remains among the dead.’ But the word rendered “dead” is plural, and all the labour bestowed to remove that difficulty is to no purpose. Others suppose, that the apostle refers to a practice, which, it seems, at one time prevailed in the church, of baptizing a living person in the stead, and for the supposed benefit, of one who had died unbaptized. But who can imagine, that so absurd and gross a superstition was customary, when the apostle wrote? Or that, if it were, he should sanction it?

Beza, rather triumphantly, concludes that he has discovered and fixed the true interpretation; and that the apostle meant the washing of the dead bodies, among the Jews and Christians, before burial; (Acts 9:37.) which he thinks was a profession that they expected a resurrection. But the use of the word baptize, in such a connexion, could hardly be expected; and the words will not bear that sense, by any fair interpretation.

Hammond contends, that it means the profession of faith, concerning the resurrection of the dead, which was required of persons at their baptism, which represented, as he thinks, the burial and resurrection of Christ. ‘Why did they profess this, if they did not believe it?’ But this is far from satisfactory: for the peculiar circumstances of some persons, when they were baptized, seem evidently intended. ‘What this baptizing for the dead was, I confess I know not; but it seems by the following verses, to be something, wherein they exposed themselves to the danger of death.’ [says John] Locke.

The following interpretation, however, suggested by Dr. Doddridge, who received it from Sir Richard Ellis, appears the true one. The apostle refers to the case of those, who presented themselves for baptism, immediately after the martyrdom of their brethren, or at their funerals; as if fresh soldiers should enlist and press forward to the assault, to supply the places of those who had fallen in battle. Thus they professed their faith in Christ, and ventured the rage of their enemies, at the very time when others had been put to death for the gospel. But what advantage could they propose to themselves from such a conduct, if there were no resurrection? Or what wisdom could there be in so doing? For in this case, Christianity itself would lose the great evidence of its truth; even the immortality of the soul might be called in question; believers were yet “in their sins;” and they who died as martyrs had lost their souls, as well as their lives. This might show the Corinthian speculators how greatly their notions tended to discourage men from professing the gospel in times of persecution, and to make them afraid and ashamed to own the cause of Christ. If this were the case, why did Christians in general, or the apostles and evangelists in particular, live in continual and imminent danger of suffering and death, by their open profession of the gospel, and their zeal in promoting it? They could have no sufficient encouragement for so doing, if the dead should never arise.

(SOURCE: Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible . . . with Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References, Vol. 3 [New Testament], New York: Collins & Hannay, 1832, pp. 601-2. Paragraph divisions added.)