Answering Alan Kurschner of aomin

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Jerusalem Blade, Sep 10, 2007.

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  1. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Alan Kurschner of James White’s Alpha Omega Ministries (aomin) posted an article at their site titled,

    “8 Reasons Why It Is Fallacious for KJVO Advocates to Invoke the Majority Rule”

    It begins thus:

    Very often you will hear a King James Version Only advocate claim that since the majority of Greek manuscripts that are extant today (which is a Byzantine text-form that is substantially behind the KJV translation) therefore the KJV is a superior translation. The following are eight reasons to debunk this fallacious KJV argument.

    It is true that King James Version advocates make this claim in part, but it is not entirely true. Perhaps other KJV defenders do this; I do not. Text critic Maurice Robinson wrote, “…all printed Receptus texts do approximate the Byzantine Textform closely enough (around 98% agreement) to allow a near-identity of reading between any Receptus edition and the majority of all manuscripts…” (full context of statement below). However – and Robinson is quick to point this out – he does not subscribe to the KJV / Textus Receptus position. KJV / AV defenders take a position based not solely on the majority of mss – although we do see God preserving the text to a great extent in the Byzantine/Majority group of manuscripts – but as well in His providential care of the text beyond that, going so far as to correct the Byzantine text with a number of readings (according to Robinson, 2%) from elsewhere. An objection to this is that this is not scientifically neutral text criticism, and we agree, not believing the true Bible text can be discerned by a supposed scientific method when supernatural forces are involved, one opposing its preservation and another promoting it. We believe God promised to preserve His word, and actually did. This position we shall endeavor to explain and defend.

    The first of Kurschner’s eight reasons is this:

    (1) The Greek text that is behind the KJV is not the “Majority Text”; rather it is called the Textus Receptus (TR). There are 1,838 differences between the Majority text and the TR! In other words there are numerous readings in the KJV that follow a small minority of Greek texts.

    The 1,838 figure is from Daniel Wallace. Robinson differs by some 383 instances (1,500). Michael Marlowe says the number of translatable differences is 1,005 (this means that many “differences” are so minor that they do not affect the translation into English). Whatever the exact count, let us consider the issues. First I quote from the Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont.

    For over four-fifths of the New Testament, the Greek text is considered 100% certain, regardless of which texttype might be favored by any critic.[6] This undisputed bulk of the text reflects a common pre-existing archetype (the autograph), which has universal critical acceptance. In the remaining one-fifth of the Greek New Testament, the Byzantine/Majority Textform represents the pattern of readings found in the Greek manuscripts predominating during the 1000-year Byzantine era. Early printed editions of the Greek New Testament reflect a general agreement with the Byzantine-era manuscripts upon which they were based. Such manuscripts and early printed editions are commonly termed "Textus Receptus" or "Received Text" documents, based upon the term applied to the Elzevir 1624 printed Greek edition. Other editions commonly termed "Textus Receptus" include the editions of Erasmus 1516, Stephens 1550, and Beza 1598. George Ricker Berry has correctly noted that "in the main they are one and the same; and [any] of them may be referred to as the Textus Receptus."

    All these early printed Greek New Testaments closely paralleled (but were not identical with) the text which underlies the English-language King James or Authorized Version of 1611. That version was based closely upon the Greek text of Beza 1598, which differed but little from its Textus Receptus predecessors or from the derived text of the few Byzantine manuscripts upon which those editions were based. Nevertheless, neither the early English translations nor the early printed Greek New Testaments reflected a perfect agreement with the predominant Byzantine/Majority Textform, since no single manuscript or small group of manuscripts is 100% identical with the aggregate form of that text.

    Most of the significant translatable differences between the early Textus Receptus editions and the Byzantine/Majority Textform are clearly presented in the English-language "M-text" footnotes appended to most editions of the New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson Co. Those M-notes, however, are tied to the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text and do not always coincide with the present Byzantine/Majority Textform edition.

    There are approximately 1500 differences between any Receptus edition and either the present text or that of Hodges-Farstad. Nevertheless, all printed Receptus texts do approximate the Byzantine Textform closely enough (around 98% agreement) to allow a near-identity of reading between any Receptus edition and the majority of all manuscripts.… (pp. xvi-xviii)

    Footnote: [6] A texttype is a specific pattern of variant readings shared among a fairly distinct group of manuscripts. The manuscripts which "belong" to a certain texttype are not themselves equal to that generalized text, since each manuscript has its own peculiar readings, as well as some mixture from readings of other texttypes. The texttype exists apart from and beyond the manuscripts which comprise it.​

    It is the 2% or so of differences between the TR and the MT that concerns us, what Kurschner calls “readings in the KJV that follow a small minority of Greek texts”. Occasionally the KJV/AV will follow “a small minority,” but often this “small minority” is an illusion. To explain:

    Jack Moorman, in his book, Hodges/Farstad 'Majority' Text Refuted By Evidence (also titled When the King James Departs from the “Majority Text”), says,

    The Majority Text Edition [of Hodges and Farstad] concludes that the Greek text of our Authorized Version is represented by minority MS support in over 1800 readings and therefore defective in these places. Thus our opponents (Critical Text, modern versions) say our AV New Testament is wrong in 5,300 places, and now our friends say it’s off in 1800.

    Zane Hodges has been a good ally. Several of the consulting editors, Harry Sturz, Jakob Van Bruggen, Alfred Martin, and Wilbur Pickering have contributed strongly to the defence of the Traditional Text. But with this production [The Greek New Testament According To The Majority Text (Nelson, 1982)] they have left us with a “tentative” Bible.

    This is plainly stated on the jacket (second edition):

    Scholarly discipline permeates the editor’s logic and conclusions; yet Hodges and Farstad make no claims that this text in all its particulars is the exact form of the originals.​

    On page x we are told:

    The editors do not imagine that the text of this edition represents in all particulars the exact form of the originals…it should therefore be kept in mind that the present work…is both preliminary and provisional.​

    So we are bound to ask, if this isn’t, if the AV-Received Text isn’t, if the Critical Text isn’t; where must we go to get a Bible today? If after all these centuries we still have only a provisional, preliminary, tentative Bible; what are we to do?

    Three major errors of judgment have led to this “provisional” edition:

    1. The editors do not want to be seen relying upon God’s preservation of the text.

    2. They have resorted to a source which cites only a minority of the evidence.

    3. They have followed the wrong stream of MSS in the Book of Revelation.

    These points along with a number of wider issues will be dealt with in the following chapters. (pp. v, vi)​

    I would like to focus for a moment – due to limited space here – only on Moorman’s point #2. Kurschner, in his point #1, stated, “there are numerous readings in the KJV that follow a small minority of Greek texts.” Let’s look at this issue a moment.

    Hodges & Farstad, as well as Robinson and Pierpont, in their respective editions of the Majority Text, relied on Hermann Von Soden’s 1913 edition of a massive gathering and collation of the “majority” cursive manuscripts, Die Schriften des neuen Testaments (Berlin, 1902-1910). Although remarkable for the enormity of information gathered, as can be seen in its apparatus, later scholars examining it have declared it “honeycombed with errors” (H.C. Hoskier; JTS, 15-1914, p. 307)

    Frederik Wisse, in his, The Profile Method for the Classification and Evaluation of Manuscript Evidence (Eerdmans, 1982), says,

    Once the extent of error is seen, the word “inaccuracy” becomes a euphemism…

    …von Soden’s inaccuracies cannot be tolerated for any purpose. His apparatus is useless for a reconstruction of the text of the MSS he used. (pp. 16, 17)​

    Yet, as Moorman remarks, “…Hodges and Farstad went ahead and used von Soden to reconstruct the Received Text!” (When the KJV Departs…, p. 11)

    What Moorman brings out, Von Soden's collating of the MSS was very incomplete, and relatively few of the thousands of MSS were represented. It was not in the least a depiction of how the majority of cursives read.

    So when Kurschner says, “there are numerous readings in the KJV that follow a small minority of Greek texts”, this supposed small minority is really an unknown quantity, for Von Soden did not use but a fraction of the MSS that existed. On this topic, I quote from Kevin James’, The Corruption of the Word: The Failure of Modern New Testament Scholarship (distributed by Micro-Load Press, 1990, ISBN: 0962442003):

    Some examples of places where a King James wording seemingly has little support are given in the following chapters. Seemingly, because, while most existing New Testament copies have been roughly categorized into “majority” or “non-majority” groupings, the exact text of thousands of existing manuscripts is unknown except in a handful of places. [Emphasis mine –SMR]

    It should be understood that it is impossible to prove which of two or more competing wording variations is the original since the originals have long since disappeared. But it is the height of folly to throw the settled received text of three and one-half centuries into the dustbin to make a revision when the exact contents of thousands of existing copies of mainstream tradition manuscripts is unknown [this last emphasis mine –SMR]. A clear picture of New Testament manuscript transmission history is also lacking. Finally, unless the vigilance of a living God is recognized, attempts at revision of the King James can easily stray from a stated target of supplying God’s people with a “better” New Testament.

    Paul said: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21.) This should be the guiding principle for the Christian church when dealing with the intricacies of the wording of the original text. (pp. viii, ix)​

    For those interested in reading this now out-of-print work (perhaps you can get it through Inter-library Loan), he collates and studies a number of Greek manuscripts in the following chapters.

    To continue examining this phenomenon of thousands of majority text manuscripts deliberately unexamined and their testimony thus consigned to silence by the prejudice of the establishment CT critics, we turn to Frederik Wisse, in his, The Profile Method.

    The late Kurt Aland, director of the manuscript centre at Muster, Germany – where about 80% of all Greek manuscripts are available on microfilm – admitted,

    …the main problem in N.T. textual criticism lies in the fact that little more than their actual existence is known of most of the manuscripts…(The Significance of the Papyrii pp. 330,1, quoted in Pickering’s The Identity of the New Testament Text)​

    Jack Moorman points out (quoting from his book referred to above), “However, Aland’s interest in the vast repository of MS evidence which he oversees is not what we would expect…Wisse explains:”

    Yet Aland’s interest in the miniscules is not for their own sake. He is no longer satisfied with Hort’s judgment that the discovery of important cursives is most improbable. He wants to find the few hypothetical nuggets which Hort did not think were worth the effort. Aland wants to be able to say that he has searched the miniscules exhaustively for anything of value. This search of course, presupposed that the miniscules as such are of little value…Miniscules have to pass a test before they are worthy of inclusion in a textual apparatus. All MSS which are generally Byzantine will fail (Profile Method, p. 4)​

    Moorman continues, “Therefore, when we read about many more cursives being cited in the latest Nestle-Aland Greek NT; we are not to believe that a significant shift away from the Alexandrian text has taken place…Wisse singles out the central reason why textual criticism cannot afford to pass over the great mass of manuscripts:”

    In a situation where MS evidence runs into more than 5000 separate items and a time span of more than fourteen centuries, it should be questioned whether all this evidence is relevant for the establishment of the original text. It may well be that the oldest copies in existence are adequate representatives of the MS tradition so that the rest can be ignored. After all, why start more than thirteen centuries after the autographs were written and wade back through literally thousands of MSS in an immensely complicated process…To find the foundation of a building one does not first climb the roof; one starts somewhere below the ground floor.

    This argument…forms the background for all those who consider it justified to ignore all, or almost all, miniscules…

    There is basically only one argument which can circumvent the task of studying all the late miniscules…This argument is that among the early uncials there are the MSS which stand in a relatively uncorrupted tradition, and which show all other text-types of the period to be secondary and corrupted. Only if this argument can be proved, and if it is clear from some sampling that late miniscules fall predominantly in the tradition of one of the corrupted texts, can we safely omit a full study of these MSS (Profile Method, pp. 1, 2)​

    Moorman continues, “When Aleph and B, the two main pillars of the critical text, display 3,000 clear differences in the Gospels (they must be weary of hearing this!); then what candidate do they propose for ‘relatively uncorrupted tradition.’?

    “They have none! Yet they continue to work at the miserable business of keeping the TR-KJV out of public sight, without giving all the witnesses a chance to speak. Hodges and Farstad reacted against this and turned to the work of Hermann von Soden for help.

    “Wisse sums it up:

    Except in von Soden’s inaccurate and unused pages, the miniscules have never been allowed to speak (Profile Method, p. 5).”​

    Interesting information, no? (The above quotes from Jack Moorman's, Hodges/Farstad 'Majority' Text Refuted By Evidence, pp. 4-7.

    So to say that the AV uses “a small minority of Greek texts” in its readings is really following the line of those who have suppressed the majority of extant Greek manuscripts on the basis of blatant bias.

    Do we err saying that God, foreseeing such doings by men imposing their own biased methods on His people, preempted their schemes and preserved His New Testament Scriptures centuries earlier, by giving Erasmus and the Reformation-era textual editors both the Byzantine text and those readings outside the Byz necessary to correct its few errors, so that in the Textus Receptus editions we could have His word unsullied, and fit to be translated into the standard text for the English-speaking world, and into the foreign languages of the world in the great missionary outreaches that followed?

    God did not leave His people at the mercy of either Rome or German rationalistic (unbelieving) critics and those who bought their spiels.


    Proceeding to Kurschner’s reason #2,

    (2) To dovetail the last point, I adduce a few examples of numerous minority readings in verses found in the KJV, and the majority readings found in modern translations: Revelation 5:10; Acts 8:37; Acts 9:5; Revelation 22:19; Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 3:9 (the latter verse contains a variant attested by 99.5% of all Greek manuscripts, yet the KJV takes the .05% reading!). If the KJVO wanted to be consistent with the majority principle they should change these and many other readings.

    Looking at his very first one, Revelation 5:10, I see we are going to re-visit some verses we discussed in the thread devoted to that and 5:9. Let’s look at a section of it from post 5:

    This is where I shall answer Alan’s rebuke to me for using the old 1975 edition of Metzger’s Commentary. I do have to admit that the rating in the 1994 edition for [size=+1]tw qew[/size] – the CT reading in verse 9: “to God” (as opposed to the TR’s reading of [size=+1]tw qew hmaj[/size] “us to God” – was upgraded to an {A} rating “signifying that the text is certain” in the Committee’s opinion, rather than the {C} rating I gave it as per the former edition. (His allegation that I did this on purpose to hoodwink my readers is unworthy a brother in Christ dialoguing with a church elder, and is a breaking of the 9th commandment. I have since sprung for the new edition, and the UBS4 Greek NT as well.) As I look over the contents of the new edition on this verse, I see nothing at all has changed in terms of evidence, merely the opinions of the committee. They do have an entry now for [size=+1]ettoihsaj autouj[/size], “made them” in verse 10 of the CT reading. Metzger writes,

    The third person pronoun, which is overwhelmingly supported, was replaced by [size=+1]hmaj[/size] in several versional and patristic witnesses, followed by the Textus Receptus.​

    He gives this an {A} rating also, as he does now for verse 10’s [size=+1]basileusousin[/size] “they reign” – this was upgraded from {C} to an {A} as well. Nothing changed except their opinions. You may see on this post why I am wary of Metzger and his views.

    The CT’s / NASB’s, as well as the MT’s “made them” – [size=+1]ettoihsaj autouj[/size] – of the 046 group of mss, and the TR’s /AV’s “made us” – [size=+1]ettoihsaj hmaj[/size] of the Andreas group of mss is what is in contention here. The Majority Text sides with the CT because it uses the 046 mss, where the TR uses the Andreas group. Metzger says the CT’s reading is “overwhelmingly supported,” but that is only with the stacked deck of suppressed Andreas readings in particular and Byzantine mss in general as has been noted above.

    In Moorman’s apparatus he notes that it is in

    Tyndale Great Geneva Bishops / Steph. Beza Elz. / 296 2049 2066 2432 / About 6 (apparently) of Hoskier’s cursives / Old Latin: dem; …Vulgate: Clementine …demid …lipss; …Armenian: 3 early mss. …Maternus (?) 384 …Tyconius, Latin 380 …Prismasius, Adrumentum, Latin, 552 …Bede, England, Latin, 735 …Haymo, Halberstadt, Latin, 841 …Arethas, Cappadocia, 914.​

    And then he notes, as he did with regard to the CT’s/MT’s “them” earlier in the verse, that “there is no previous indication of who ‘they’ [in the CT] would be.”

    All this to say, that the TR’s Andreas group readings have sufficient support to warrant their place as the true reading over the more poorly attested 046 readings. I refer you to the links provided above to see a bit more of the previous argumentation provided in this case. See also the remarks on Ephesians 3:9 below.


    Before we proceed to the second example Kurschner brings up, the reader will understand that our defense of the TR’s readings over against the Majority Text’s and the Critical Text’s is based upon a) the inadequate representation of the full body of Byzantine / Majority Text mss in the discussion, and the erroneous tabulation of the Andreas vis-à-vis the 046 mss when seeking to determine the readings in Revelation.

    The next example AK brings up is Acts 8:37, the testimony of the Ethiopian eunuch. At this point, as there are some excellent defenses already available, I will just post the links to them (or this post would be far longer than it already is!):

    Will Kinney gives a good examination of this verse on his site: Untitled

    Dr. Thomas Holland on Acts 8:37 (from his edifying book Crowned With Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version): Acts 8:37 - "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God"

    Holland on Acts 9:5, 6: Acts 9:5-6 - "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks"

    Will Kinney on Acts 9:5, 6: Untitled

    Will Kinney on Rev 22:19: Untitled

    Dr. Thomas Holland on Rev 22:19 Revelation 22:19 -"book of life" and the last six verses of Revelation 22

    For more Holland articles on KJV “minority readings” from Crowned With Glory (scroll down a bit): Bible Versions F. A. Q., and Answers to Criticisms of the KJV

    For more Kinney articles: articlespage

    (I apologize for Mr. Kinney's sometimes disrespectful attitude to Dr. White; still he is a very able defender of the AV.)

    Continuing to examine Rev 22:19 (and the last six verses of Revelation in general) I want to quote from a paper titled, “That Rascal Erasmus—Defense Of His Greek Text”, pages 5-8, by Dr. Daryl R. Coats (available for $2.00 at BFT – Bible For Today Webstore – item # OP2456). Most of us have heard stories of Erasmus’ poor copies of texts available to him, and especially the one about his offering to insert 1 John 5:7 into his Greek editions if but one Greek MS was shown him which contained it. Dr. Coats writes,

    The supposed “Erasmian Inventions”

    Modern critics such as Metzger almost gleefully repeat the story that when Erasmus put together his Greek New Testament, he had access to only one copy of Revelation, a “very mutilated” copy missing the last six verses of the book and damaged in verse 17:4. As a result Erasmus supposedly retranslated the missing verses from the Latin vulgate back into Greek, producing several readings supposedly known in no Greek manuscripts and one word ([size=+1]akaqavrthtoV[/size] in 17:4) which doesn’t even exist in Greek. These readings (to Metzger’s apparent distress!) “are still perpetuated today in printings of the so-called Textus Receptus” [The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3rd Edition, by Bruce Metzger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 100.

    Even if this story were completely true,* these “Erasmian inventions” are of no consequence unless a person believes that the New Testament exists in no language other than the “original Greek.” Pressed to prove the seriousness of his claim of supposed inventions, Metzger lists only 33 words. Of these 33 words, 18 match the text of the UBS Greek New Testament which Metzger helped edit! Of the 15 words that don’t Metzger’s own text, 11 make no difference in English translation. Of the four words that do affect translation, three are found in Codex Sinaiticus ([size=+1]a[/size]), the oldest existing “complete Greek manuscript of Revelation!**

    There are, however, at least three good reasons to doubt the validity of the story of Erasmus and his mutilated copy of Revelation: 1) the only evidence for it is that the manuscript apparently used by Erasmus for Revelation is missing its last page;*** 2) Erasmus’s Latin New Testament doesn’t agree with the Latin Vulgate in the last six verses of Revelation (a problem if his Greek text for those verses was derived from the Vulgate); and 3) there exists Codex 141.†

    H.C. Hoskier spent a lifetime collating every edition of Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, several other printed Greek New Testaments, and almost all of the known Greek manuscripts of Revelation….His study and collation of Revelation in Codex 141 surprised him, because it contained substantially the same text that appears in Erasmus’s Greek New Testament. In Hoskier’s own words:

    Upon reaching the end [of Revelation] and the famous final six verses, supposed to have been re-translated from the Vulgate into Greek by Erasmus when Codex I was discovered and found to lack the last leaf: the problem takes on a most important aspect. For if our MS. 141 is not copied from the printed text, then Erasmus would be absolved from the charge for which his memory has suffered for 400 years! [Emphasis in the original]​

    In an effort to nullify the testimony of Codex 141, most “scholars” assign the manuscript a “young” age and simply claim that it is a copy of Erasmus’s (or Aldus’s or Colinaeus’s) printed Greek New Testament. But based on his study of the penmanship of the scribe who composed it, Hoskier determined that Codex 141 was executed in the 15th century—well before Erasmus’s Greek New Testament was printed; and based on his study of its contents (and the collation of same), Hoskier determined that MS 141 “has no appearance of being a copy of any [printed edition of the Greek New Testament], although containing their text (Coats’s emphasis).†† There is, then, manuscript evidence to support the supposed “Erasmian readings”—as much as there is to support the reading of Revelation 5:9 that appears in all the modern “bibles”—and critics who claim otherwise are either ignorant or purposely deceitful.


    * By their own admissions, not all the stories which these “scholars” tell about Erasmus are true. Since 1964, on p. 101 of all three editions of Text of the New Testament, Metzger has claimed that Erasmus inserted 1 John 5:7 in his Greek New Testament only because “in an unguarded moment [he] promised that he would….if a single manuscript could be found that contained the passage. At length such a manuscript was found—or made to order!” He has claimed further (pp. 62, 101) that Erasmus wrote notes stating his suspicions that the manuscript was a forgery and the passage was spurious. Yet in the third edition, in small print in footnote 2 on p. 292, he makes this admission: “What was said about Erasmus’ promise….and his subsequent suspicion that MS. 61 was written expressly to force him to [add 1 John 5:7 to the text], needs to be corrected in light of the research of H.J. de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion [bold emphasis mine –SMR; italic Coats’]. Why isn’t this admission in larger type in the text of the book? Why is the “assertion” (that is, lie!) still included? Because the enemies of the Bible are liars and crooks at heart.

    ** In Text of the New Testament (p. 100, n. 1), Metzger lists these “Erasmian inventions” in Revelation: one word in 17:14; one in 22:16; three in 22:17; seventeen in 22:18; ten in 22:19; and one in 22:21. But the “coined word” of 17:4 and the “invented words” of 22:16 & 17 are synonymous with the “original” words and make no difference in English translation.

    Of the 17 words in question in 22:18, twelve match the text of the UBS Greek New Testament; two more are synonymous with the “original words” and make no difference in English translation. One word (a personal pronoun) “missing” from Erasmus’ Greek New Testament is also “missing” from many manuscripts of the Received Text, including von Soden’s subgroups c, d, and e—and including it makes no difference in English translation, because the King James translators already added a personal pronoun to the English text for clarity. The other two “invented words” appear in the scribal corrections in Codex [size=+1]a[/size]. (Other words in Erasmus’ text of this verse also appear in Codex A and the corrections in Codex [size=+1]a[/size].

    Six of the ten “invented words” in 22:19 match the USB Greek text. Three more represent only differences in spelling or inflection (case; conjugation/voice) andmake no difference in English translation. Only [size=+1]biblou[/size] (“book”) would affect English translation (“book of life” vs. “tree of life”). The invention cited for 22:21 is almost laughable: [size=+1]amhvn[/size] (“amen”! The word is rejected by the UBS Greek New Testament, but it’s found in most of the manuscripts of the Received Text as well as in Codices [size=+1]a[/size], 046, 051, 94, 1611, 1854, 1859, 2020, 2042, 2053, 2065 (commentary section), 2073, and 2138. It is also translated in most of the counterfeit “bibles” on the market…

    *** The audacity of “scholars” in speculating (and then basing theories and “facts”) on the contents of a missing leaf of a manuscript—or even in assuming that the leaf was missing when Erasmus used the manuscript (provided that this is the manuscript he used)—aptly demonstrates the reliability of such men in matters of scholarship.

    † The manuscript is listed under several call numbers. Under Hoskier’s, Scrivener’s and the Old Gregory classification systems, it is MS 141; under the New Gregory system it is 2049; and under von Soden’s system, it is [size=+1]w[/size] 1684. It is located in the Parliamentary Library in Athens.

    †† For full details, see H.C. Hoskier, Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse: Collations of All Existing Available Greek Documents with the Standard Text of Stephen’s Third Edition, Together with the Testimony of the Versions, and Fathers; a Complete Conspectus of All Authorities, Vol. 1 (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd, 1929), pp. 474-477. It was also Hoskier who noted that Erasmus’s Latin New Testament differs from the Vulgate in the last six verses of Revelation.​


    There are many more interesting details to Dr. Coats’ paper, mostly regarding the integrity of Erasmus’ text vis-à-vis modern text editors and editions.

    The last of Kurschner’s “examples of minority readings” is in the phrase “the fellowship of the mystery” in Ephesians 3:9, where the TR Greek reads [size=+1]koinwnia[/size] – “fellowship” in the AV – and the CT and MT read [size=+1]oikonomia[/size] – “Administration/dispensation” in the modern versions. He says of this verse that it “contains a variant attested by 99.5% of all Greek manuscripts, yet the KJV takes the .05% reading!...If the KJVO wanted to be consistent with the majority principle they should change these and many other readings.”

    In response I would say that the KJV advocates do not want to be consistent with the majority principle all the time! For is not this our primary distinctive contra the Majority Text position, that in certain particulars we hold God brought in other readings not in the (provisional) majority of mss to correct some faulty readings in that textform? And on what basis do we justify this? At no other point in the history of the New Testament text has such an auspicious confluence of events marked the emergence of this textform: 1) the care of Erasmus in gathering mss – under the providence of God in bringing certain ones to him – for his NT editions; 2) the labors of Stephens, Beza, and the Elzevirs in continuing and refining Erasmus’ work; 3) the stand of the post-Reformation theologians on this very textform – the Textus Receptus – opposing the assaults of Rome with the two-edged blade of the doctrines Sola Scriptura and the Providential Preservation of that Scripture; 4) the blessing of God on that textform, its primary English translation – the AV – and the foreign-language translations which impacted the world through subsequent missionary movements. A question I would ask in the passing: Was the stand of the Reformation – and the Reformers – in error as regards the validity of their doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Providential Preservation? In other words, was Rome correct in asserting the invalidity of the Reformation’s text in the face of the variants they produced to counter it, the very same variants which distinguish the Critical Text based on Codex Vaticanus and other Alexandrian-type mss today?

    Just as we stand on God’s word as regards the creation account in Genesis, despite all the supposed evidences of the evolutionists and evolutionary theorists – believing His word to be true notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary – even so do we believe His promises that His word is not only directly inspired by Him but that it will also be preserved by Him through time and eternity. We do not stand on science or scientific method – although we are glad to see true science as it aligns with the realities of God’s universal sovereignty – but on the realities of God’s word, and in this case, His promises. We may be ridiculed and scorned by scoffers of all stripes, but we will trust in Him and hold our heads high in His truth.

    A pertinent quote from an essay by Dr. Theodore Letis:

    Both schools interpret the data of NT textual criticism and modern translations differently, and both groups fill in the gaps in the data with assumptions which favor their given position. I hope some are beginning to see that this is not an argument between scholarship (the established school represented by Carson) and non-scholarship (the challenging school which has traditionally been treated as non-scholarly and completely uncritical). To the contrary, the best representatives of both schools display genuine scholarship. Why is it, then, that these two schools co-exist on this all-important issue of the very wording of the NT text?​

    He closes the essay with these words,

    Some will fault me for not answering every objection of Carson’s, but it was only our intention to raise the old issue of presuppositions and to underscore the fact that this debate is not one between experts with data and non-experts with dogma, but rather one between experts with the same data, but different dogma—the dogma of neutrality versus the dogma of providence…(pp. 201-204). [From, The Majority Text: Essays And Reviews In The Continuing Debate, the essay, “In Reply to D.A. Carson’s ‘The King James Version Debate’”.]​

    Those interested in obtaining Dr. Letis' works see this post:

    But to the text: In Erasmus’ 3rd edition of 1522, in both Greek and Latin, Ephesians 3:9 reads in the Greek, [size=+1]koinwnia[/size] – “Fellowship” in the AV – and in the Latin: Communio, which likewise translates “fellowship”. He did not get this reading from the Latin Vulgate, for their reading at this point is dispensatio, translated dispensation or administration in accord with the CT and MT.

    At the time of this writing Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament is in the mail to me, and I will see what he says about his sources when I receive it. In the meanwhile I will note what Jack Moorman says about it in his book on the Majority Text and when the KJV departs from it. These are his notes:

    The TR reading is found in,

    Tyndale Great Geneva Bishops / Steph. Beza Elz. /
    31-mg. 69-mg. others. /
    “fellowship” fits the context better than “administration”. See verse 6.
    Keep in mind that
    the non-citing of evidence on these passages by von Soden and others does not mean that it is lacking but rather that there is a lack of interest on their part. Their chief concern is the gathering of material which shows some affinity with codices Aleph and B for the reconstruction of the N.T. text. The last thing on their minds is the defence of the King James Bible. Thus, until someone is able to gather evidence for these passages from all of the extant items, we will have to be content with these few bits of information. This wait will not affect our confidence in God’s preservation of the Scriptures at every point. (p. 71)​

    I’m sorry to have gone on so long, but I wanted to give some substantial answer to the legitimate issues Alan Kurschner brings up. For this really is a very important topic – the disparity between the MT and the TR – and it needs to be addressed.

    I will continue to answer Alan Kurschner’s remaining 6 points. Let these first two suffice for now while I work on the others. He actually takes a different tack in points 3 to 8, attacking the Byzantine / Majority text directly. The defense here is different than in the first two points, and will prove an interesting exercise.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  2. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior


    Since I'm going to take my time on this post, I thought I would post something that I just read and comment on it(I'll be doing this as a Iread through it).

    You posted:
    I would like to point out that when keeping in context with the verse, "them" refers to "men" who have been redeemed.
    Since the elders are "holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" they are representing the men(those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, men and women). It follows that the "men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" are "them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth" since this is how the context would flow. Isn't saying that we have no idea who "them" are, being a bit, irrational?

    (This isn't an attack, just something I saw. You're a brother in Christ. :D)
  3. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    In verse 9 there is no "men" in the text; it was supplied by the editors to make sense of the CT's reading "didst purchase for God with Thy blood [men] from every tribe and tongue..." (NASB)

    As noted, Metzger said although the evidence for that reading (the CT's) is slight, they chose it as it "best accounts for the origin of the other" CT readings. Building upon conjecture.

    You said,

    This doesn't necessarily follow. It is the prayers of the saints in the golden bowls, not the men. Is this not also conjecture?

    "redeemed us to God" and "made us unto our God kings and priests" are harmonious with the context. Of course the 24 elders do represent the people of God, but they are singing, out of their own gratitude, joy and worship, and they refer to themselves in the first person plural -- us.
  4. JOwen

    JOwen Puritan Board Junior

    Very helpful post indeed! Keep it up.
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    You may wish to consider running your writings on your PB Blog; I think that would be an ideal storehouse and give easy access to everything rather than spread across various threads.:2cents:
  6. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This is Kurschner’s 3rd reason:

    (3) How did the Byzantine text-form end up having more attested Greek manuscripts than the other text-forms such as the Alexandrian and the Western? Here is a very important fact of history that KJVO advocates ignore. Given the supplanting of the Greek language for Latin in the West early on, and given the expansion of Islam into Egypt and other regions, it explains why Byzantine Greek manuscripts continued to be copied in the Byzantine corner of the empire and eventually became the majority Greek text around the ninth century onwards; and explains why the early Greek text-types such as the Alexandrian were not copied during later times in other areas of the Christian world.

    If there were no Islam expansion and coupled with the West speaking Greek not Latin, certainly the Byzantine text would not have been the “majority.” The Alexandrian and Western Greek text-forms would have continued to be copied with frequent pace.

    This is a peculiar argument. I do not think it does justice to the complexity of the linguistic situation during this period. Did the Latin language “supplant” the Greek in the West – which Latin had been spoken in Italy and parts of Europe, including Britannia, for centuries – or was it simply the language of all, both common and educated – in this region? After the Roman conquest of Greece (B.C. 146), an unofficial diglossy (see “diglossia”) of Greek and Latin was established in the city of Rome and Koine Greek became the lingua franca of the vast Roman Empire. Educated Romans read the Greek classics. It can be shown that Latin remained the primary written language of the Western empire, and was the language of the administration of its government. (In the East, eventually written Latin was replaced by the native Greek, where the Greek language remained the only spoken tongue. Yet as late as Emperor Theodosius II [408-50], Latin was used within his administration, but Greek was used in communication with his subjects.) Earlier in the West, the Roman legions carried a vernacular Latin throughout the provinces where they were stationed, and in Europe this Latin eventually mixed with the native tongues to become the Romance languages, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. Latin survived the fall of the Roman Empire (the Western Empire, as distinguished from the Eastern, the Greek or Byzantine Empire), later to be transformed into the aforementioned Romance tongues, except in the Western / Roman Church, where Latin remained its language.

    In Roman Egypt, after the conquest by Alexander the Great, the native language, Demotic (which later evolved into Coptic, and even later was replaced as the national language by Arabic), slowly decreased in official spheres in lieu of the Greek, probably as a result of Roman policy. Demotic and Greek were used in Roman Egypt in the 1st century A.D. and beyond.

    In Western Europe Latin did not “supplant” the Greek, but was its native tongue.

    The “Byzantine corner of the empire” was no corner, but a vast territory.

    The persecutions of Diocletian, 302-312 A.D., greatly diminished the copies of Greek New Testament manuscripts, as one of his laws was that all copies of them be destroyed. To conceal and keep a copy was a capital crime, which some risked nonetheless. There was a special class of informers, called traditores, apostates who came from the ranks of the church, who sought out copies of the Scripture (and those who owned them), and turned them over to the authorities for reward.*

    To compensate for this scarcity of Bibles, it is historically documented that Constantine, upon his becoming emperor, ordered – and paid – Eusebius to make 50 copies of the Bible, an edition that is Alexandrian in nature (Tischendorf thought his Sinaiticus likely one of those 50, and others have thought that of Vaticanus). Copies of Scripture were few. How then, did the preponderance of the “Greek Vulgate” – that is, the Byzantine textform – come to be? It came to be the dominant text in the Greek church from the 4th century on, while the Alexandrian form of Eusebius’ official edition disappeared for the most part. Considering just this Byzantine development, how did it come to pass?

    A difference needs to be made between the Old Latin Bibles of Europe – copied after the form of text that came from Palestine and Syrian Antioch (the missionary church) – and the Latin Vulgate of Jerome that came into existence centuries later. The form of text that came to be standardized in the Latin West (where the Greek was discontinued) in the increasingly power-hungry church of Rome was a corrupted text, a debased form of the Scripture that was shunned by the dissenting Christians in Milan and the mountains of Europe (the Waldenses and Albigenses).

    The “if-then” fallacy that if there had been no Islamic invasion of Egypt and no alleged “supplanting of Greek for [I think AK means “by” here] Latin in the West” thenThe Alexandrian and Western Greek text-forms would have continued to be copied with frequent pace”, is without merit. It is sheer conjecture, and based at that upon false premises.

    Around 641 A.D. Islam began to spread into Egypt, and before that the local text of that region (which had never had any autographs of the NT Scriptures sent to them) was not accepted by the Byzantine church, which had ample time and occasion to become familiar with them through Eusebius’ bringing them in from Origen’s Alexandrian/Caesarian library. By the time Islam took Egypt the dust had settled on the issue of the quality of their NT MSS, in the eyes of the Greek church.

    And in all of these historical/geographical/linguistic events, what was the hand of God doing as regards His Scripture He had promised to preserve for His people (and this matter of His preserving them is pivotal in this whole discussion!)? Did the Muslims slip by Him and thwart the dominance of the supposed “superior” Alexandrian texttype? Did the changes of languages in the Roman Empire catch Him by surprise and ruin His plan to elevate the textform Mr. Kurschner thinks ought to have been elevated?

    This is not the Sovereign we know, “who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will,” for He has said, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Eph 1:11; Isa 46:10).


    * History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, by Philip Schaff (MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1910), page 69.

    For the record, I would prefer to be typed a King James Version advocate, with the “Only” left off, for I do acknowledge that God does use the other versions, and that no doubt many believers who use them are as godly – or more so – than many KJV users.
  7. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

  8. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    What I find interesting is that the alexadrian text-types are dated back to the 4th century:
    Yet, Islam came around 300 years later. The text, if were to be descended from the originals(as you state):
    The whole "Islam stopped the texts" argument is horrible...
  9. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Kurschner’s 4th reason

    (4) Let’s take a step back from history and ask a logical question: Why should we simply assume that the fact of the majority of manuscripts somehow follows a logical necessity of being more accurate or faithful to the originals? Indeed, this assumed principle may be compelling for democratic nations—the majority rules. But why should this principle be carried over to the Holy Writ? Is a basket of 100 rotten apples more valuable than a basket of 10 good apples? Again, why does the fact of a majority (in this case Greek manuscripts) in itself warrant accuracy?

    Say you begin with two manuscripts with two different readings: A=uncorrupted and B=corrupted. And manuscript B is copied 10 times. Since we now have 10 corrupted manuscripts versus 1 uncorrupted manuscript, it follows that the purest text of the two is found in A. Indeed, manuscripts need to be weighed not blindly counted.

    Let me quote Dr. Fenton John Anthony Hort, in his volume II of The New Testament in the Original Greek, the “Introduction” to his theory:

    A theoretical presumption indeed remains that a majority of extant documents is more likely to represent a majority of ancestral documents at each stage of transmission than vise versa. p. 45.​

    What he is saying is that the majority of existing manuscripts would presumably represent a majority of ancient manuscripts, thus validating the contention of MT advocates that the Byzantine text was of ancient widespread origin reflecting the original autographs. It is interesting to note that regarding the Byzantine/Majority Text he said,

    The fundamental Text of late extant Greek MSS. generally is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian or Græco-Syrian Text of the second half of the fourth century. Ibid. p. 92. [cited in Burgon’s The Revision Revised, p. 257. Emphases Burgon’s, I believe. –SMR]​

    Of course Hort – concerning the first quote – sought to annul any connection of the Byzantine (what he calls the “Syrian”) Text with the ancient autographs by immediately positing a theory accounting for the vast numerical superiority of the Byzantine / Traditional Text, saying it came to be as a result of an official edition (“recension”) of the church in Syrian Antioch. I have dealt with this issue in an earlier post from the “Why do KJ Only types believe the Westcott and Hort manuscripts are bad” thread. This consists primarily of John Burgon’s response to Westcott and Hort’s “Syrian recension” theory, and is quite edifying.

    There is also an excellent – and brief! – examination and rebuttal of the Hortian theory in the Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont. See the two sections, “Hort's Basic Contentions” and “A Rebuttal of Hortian Logic”.

    I realize I am giving you patient folks a lot of reading material, but this is an intricate matter, and to do justice to the complexities of it one must look closely at them. Serious inquirers will appreciate this, much as gold-miners will diligently dig to find their treasure.

    The point of these examinations is to assess whether Mr. Kurschner’s “10 apples” are really good apples, and whether the other “100 apples” are really bad, as he implies! It comes down to a few Alexandrian exemplars to thousands of Traditional Text mss. I think it a simple exercise in ascertaining the quality of a text to see if there are identifiable and indisputable errors purporting to be genuine. That codices Aleph ([size=+1]a[/size] or Sinaiticus) and B (Vaticanus), the exemplars and primary foundations of the Critical Text, both have as the ancestors of the Lord Jesus Asaph and Amos instead of the correct Asa and Amon in Matthew 7 and 10 respectively, I take as a warning flag of danger the Lord providentially had appear right at the beginning of these mutilated manuscripts. As though Matthew would have written the wrong names! This would assert that the inspiration of God failed at this initial point in the writing of Matthew’s gospel. The ESV boldly publishes this in its text, most versions are more subdued than to so trumpet what is false in their Greek bases.

    In his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd Ed., Metzger says,

    It is clear that the name “Asaph” is the earliest form of text preserved in the manuscripts…([size=+1]a[/size] B)….the tendency of scribes, observing that the name of the psalmist Asaph (cf. the titles of Pss 50 and 73 to 83) was confused with that of Asa the King of Judah (1 Kgs 15:9 ff.), would have been to correct the error, thus accounting for the prevalence of [size=+1]Asa[/size] [Asa] in the later Ecclesiastical text and its inclusion in the Textus Receptus.

    ….Since, however, the evangelist may have derived material for the genealogy, not from the Old Testament directly, but from subsequent genealogical lists, in which the erroneous spelling occurred, the Committee saw no reason to adopt what appears to be a scribal emendation in the text of Matthew. (p. 1)​

    Do you see the implications of Metzger (and Committee) having this view of the Scripture? Matthew got it wrong. To err is human, right? Metzger’s assertion that [size=+1]Asaf[/size] [Asaph] is “the earliest form of text preserved in the manuscripts” is false. It is rather a form of text preserved in the earliest surviving manuscripts ([size=+1]a[/size] B), for the “earliest form of text” must needs be identical with the apostle’s original, the autograph.

    Yes, this is a theological view impinging on the supposedly scientific field of textual criticism: yet it is a doctrine of the Scripture itself: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture attests to itself; and it corrects the errors of men pertaining to itself.

    Hoskier, collating Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (minutely comparing their texts), ascertained that there were 3,036 differences between the two manuscripts in the Gospels alone! What kind of witnesses are these that so greatly disagree? They would not be permitted to testify in a court of law, as they would be termed contradictory and unreliable. They may be among the oldest, but to say they are the “best” and “most reliable” (the publishers’ marginal blurbs pushing their lucrative products) is downright deceptive, a spiel to catch the gullible.

    These two “golden apples” have not worms inside of them, but something more sinister. Did the Sovereign who works all things after the counsel of His own will, even in the most minute details, plant a red flag – for those with eyes to see – on the very first page of this depraved form of text?

    John Burgon wrote,

    I am utterly disinclined to believe – so grossly improbable does it seem – that at the end of 1800 years 995 copies out of every thousand, suppose, will prove untrustworthy; and that the one, two, three, four or five which remain, whose contents were till yesterday as good as unknown, will be found to have retained the secret of what the Holy Spirit originally inspired?

    I am utterly unable to believe, in short, that God’s promise has so entirely failed, that at the end of 1800 years, much of the text of the Gospel had in point of fact to be picked by a German critic out of a wastepaper basket in the convent of St. Catherine; and that the entire text had to be remodeled after a pattern set by a couple of copies which had remained in neglect during fifteen centuries, and had probably owed their survival to that neglect; whilst hundreds of others had been thumbed to pieces, and had bequeathed their witness to copies made from them…. (Cited in D. O. Fuller’s, Which Bible?, p. 92 [I am looking for the original source in Burgon’s works, and will post it here when I find it.])​

    I think I’ll steer clear of Alan Kurschner’s apples!
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2007
  10. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    A note on some of the above. In the event Mr. Kurschner will take me to task for referring to what some will term the outdated methodology of FJA Hort, let me preemptively deal with such a rejoinder.

    I have seen it said by Dr. White, and Alan no doubt shares the view, that “While modern Greek texts are not identical to that created by Westcott and Hort, one will still find defenders of the AV drawing in black and white, saying that all modern versions are based upon their work.” (The King James Only Controversy, by James White [Bethany, 1995], p. 99). Is not this equivalent to saying, “Modern versions are not based upon the W&H Greek text”?

    For those interested in looking at this issue, I suggest David Cloud’s book, Examining “The King James Only Controversy” – the link is to the online version’s part 3 – and enter into your browser’s Find feature WHITE DENIES A DIRECT CONNECTION to be taken to the section on this. A excerpt from that section:

    White and many others attempting to discredit King James Bible defense also claim that Westcott and Hort are not important because (as they say) "the modern versions (NASV and NIV) are not based on the Alexandrian text or on the Westcott and Hort text. They are based on an eclectic text which sometimes favors the TR over Aleph or B."

    This is true as far as it goes, but it ignores the heart of the issue. The fact is that the United Bible Societies (UBS) text is almost identical to the W-H text of 1881 in significant departures from the Received Text. For example, both the W-H and the UBS delete or question almost the same number of verses (WH--48, UBS--45). Both delete almost the same number of significant portions of verses (WH--193, UBS 185). Both delete almost the same number of names and titles of the Lord (WH--221, UBS--212). An extensive comparison of the TR against the WH text, the Nestle’s Text, the UBS text, and key English versions was done by the late Everett Fowler and can be seen in his book Evaluating Versions of the New Testament, available from Bible for Today.

    The W-H text of 1881 and the latest edition of the United Bible Societies’ text differ only in relatively minor points. Both represent the same TYPE of text with the same TYPE of departures from the Received Text.

    The fact is that the Westcott-Hort text represents the first widely-accepted departure from the TR in the post-Reformation era, and the modern English versions descend directly from it. It is a very significant text and its editors are highly significant to the history of textual criticism. Any man who discounts the continuing significance of Westcott-Hort in the field of Bible texts and versions is probably trying to throw up a smoke screen to hide something. (In the book, this section is found on pp. 88-91)​


    [The following, in the same vein, is from a paper of my own.] The two MSS, [size=+1]a[/size] and B, are the basis of both Westcott and Hort’s Greek Revision supplanting the TR, and subsequently most all modern Bible versions.

    This is to show the vital connection between the W&H text and the modern versions, a connection denied by both Alan Kurschner and Dr. White. In 1928 textual critic and scholar, Professor Kirsopp Lake of Harvard, wrote:

    …more important than anything else was the publication of the critical text and introduction of Drs. Westcott and Hort…This work is the foundation of nearly all modern criticism, and demands close attention.[1]​

    In 1964 Greek scholar J. Harold Greenlee was still able to affirm,

    The textual theories of W-H underlie virtually all subsequent work in NT criticism.[2]​

    In 1990 Philip Wesley Comfort, textual critic and scholar, although lauding new manuscript discoveries (from Egypt), still builds upon the Hortian theory, maintains the foundational validity of his and Westcott’s text, and supports his “minority” readings.[3] In The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament,[4] Alfred Marshall (editor) states (p. xix) that although the Greek text used in the interlinear is Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece (based essentially on W&H’s Greek Revision), the NIV uses “an eclectic” Greek text (i.e., the translators choose from various readings). But in practice the NIV – and modern versions generally – retain the distinctive readings which are found in the W&H text.

    This connection between the WH critical text and the modern CT seen in UBS 4th Ed. and the N/A 27th – and the modern versions deriving from them – is a matter we shall return to, if not here, then in another thread (being prepared) on the Lord’s Prayer as found in the AV/TR and the CT/modern versions at Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:2-4. As some of you may know, the CT omits the ending of the Lord’s Prayer in Matt 6:13, and hopelessly butchers the whole thing in Luke.

    1 The Text of the New Testament, by Kirsopp Lake (London: Rivingtons, 1928), page 67.
    2 Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, by J.H. Greenlee (MI: Wm. B. Erdmanns Publishers Co., 1964), page 78.
    3 Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament, by Philip Wesley Comfort (MI: Baker Books, 1996 ed,), pages 12, 13, and 14.
    4 (MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976).
  11. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Thank you Steve for your posts. At some point I will have to start collecting them into a file and convert them into pdf.

  12. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior


    You must eat a lot of fish there in Cyprus. There's a whole load of heavy brain labour going on here. Good stuff, I need to take my time over it. Hopefully it can be enshrined somewhere better than a thread here.

  13. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    And yet a little more on this matter of modern textual critics asserting that the apostles’ autographs (their original writings) contained error.

    In the book Dr. Theodore Letis’ edited (and contributed to), The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate, James A. Borland has an essay, “Re-Examining New Testament Textual-Critical Principles and Practices Used to Negate Inerrancy” [reprinted from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; Vol. 25, No. 4 (December 1982), by permission]. In this essay Borland shows how that one thrust of TC practice is indeed used to negate the inerrancy of the apostles’ original writings; in other words, the apostles were in error in the things they wrote. I quote the opening paragraph of the essay:

    Perhaps it is not shocking to assert that Satan uses every means at his disposal to attack the credibility, reliability and authority of God’s Word. He began the assault in the garden with Eve and has not stopped yet. But often his ways are more subtle than the blatant lie succumbed to by Eve. We live in a modern era of sophistication. Even in Biblical and textual studies we hear more and more about the use of computers and other highly technical tools. And Satan is more than willing to accommodate our sophistication in the area of textual criticism. Especially is this so when it occasionally allows men to assert fallibility in the New Testament autographs based on widely accepted principles and practice of textual criticism.​

    He briefly surveys the established tenets of NT text critical theory, and then in particular Dr. Hort’s, which postulates the “primacy of the two earliest uncial MSS, Aleph (Sinaiticus) and B (Vaticanus), which date from the middle of the fourth century A.D. These two MSS were given the question-begging designation of being the ‘neutral text.’” He continues,

    In short, the resultant practice of these new sophisticated principles was to overturn completely the textual critical practices of the past. Since the majority Byzantine text was judged to be a later text, the supposedly more ancient, more pure “neutral text” was substituted at the junctures of innumerable variants…

    In referring to the Westcott and Hort theory, George Ladd approvingly writes, “The basic solution to the textual problem has been almost universally accepted.” He goes on to assert that “it is a seldom disputed fact that critical science has to all intents and purposes recovered the original text of the New Testament.” Ladd believes that “in the search for a good text, piety and devotion can never take the place of knowledge and scholarly judgment.” [the quotes are from Ladd’s book, The New Testament and Criticism (Eerdmans 1967) In a footnote Borland quotes Gordon Fee in the same vein saying, “Fee is equally bold in asserting that ‘the task of NT textual criticism is virtually completed’” (in “Modern Textual Criticism and the revival of the Textus Receptus,” JETS 21, 1978, 19-33).] Yet it is precisely this “almost universally accepted” “knowledge and scholarly judgment” that if followed too often leads to the conclusion that the very autographs of Scripture recorded errors and blunders.​

    He then considers more deeply Westcott and Hort’s rules of external evidence regarding the manuscripts (by which they were able to dispose of the testimony of the majority of manuscripts), and then their rules of internal evidence, which came to the forefront after their external rules had gotten rid of the MT. Borland goes on,

    Naturally each of these canons [of internal evidence] to a large degree must be subjectively applied. When a decision is difficult in the area of the internal evidence of readings, scholars often resort to the old circular reasoning that “certain MSS tend to support the ‘original’ text more than others and that those MSS are the early Alexandrian. Therefore, when internal evidence cannot decide,” Gordon Fee advises, “the safest guide is to go with the ‘best’ MSS.” [Fee, “Textual Criticism of the New Testament,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 431] Thus all too often external evidence is the last resort, and when it is appealed to, the results have already been determined by a preconception of which MSS are the “best.”….[L]et us examine several examples of this prevalent textual-critical method—which ultimately asserts that the autographs did indeed contain incontrovertible mistakes.

    In other words, the prevalent textual methodology can be and is being used to deny the inerrancy of the original autographs.

    Nearly a century ago George Salmon astutely observed that Westcott and Hort had attributed to the gospel writers “erroneous statements which their predecessors had regarded as copyists’ blunders.” Salmon noted that “there was indeed but little rhetorical exaggeration in the statement that the canon of these editors was that Codex B was infallible and that the Evangelists were not. Nay, it seemed as if Hort regarded it as a note of genuineness if a reading implies error on the part of the sacred writer.” [G. Salmon, Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: John Murray, 1897), p. 26]​

    The above was excerpted from another PB thread (about halfway down the post). Borland, in this essay, discusses the Asaph-Amon issue mentioned above, and another example. Those interested in obtaining Letis’ works (without paying the exorbitant sums being asked for in some places!) see this post for info.

    Is it not evident that one tenet of some major modern text critics – and a tenet intrinsic to the use of certain manuscripts – that these manuscripts demonstrate against the doctrine that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim 3:16)? If this view is inextricably interwoven with the use of said manuscripts (most notably [size=+1]a[/size] and B) does it not follow that, as with the Trojan Horse of yore, many have let a destructive – albeit covert – force within their minds, and, in many cases, their families and churches?

    Letis’ writings are cutting-edge in demonstrating some of these things (yes, I know he did not conduct himself well in the “Theonomy-L debate” with Dr. White – and in this debate I first became aware that James White not only showed himself to be a Christian gentleman, but had a good sense of humor as well), yet notwithstanding this momentary lapse Letis’ works are highly recommended.

    I also want to recommend a book I just finished, Dr. Thomas Holland’s, Crowned With Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version (Writers Club Press, 2000; ISBN: 0595 14617 1). He is irenic, scholarly, generous and gracious to opponents and opposing views, discerning of the issues and history of the transmission of the text, and full of other good information, including the examination and defense of a good number of contested verses in the AV. Not at all a “more heat than light” type of book, but rather a real gem.
  14. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore


    I'd like to throw my hat in with some of the others...your work would be much more effective in different medium (perhaps a blog). When I come to a forum, I often skip over lengthy posts because I simply don't have time to read them (not when I am out and about on forums anyway).

    If you committed such things to a blog, then they would not get lost within a forum. If you wanted interaction on your writings, you could simply make a post referencing a new post you have made to your blog and invite discussion (you would also have the comments section of your blog).

    As a general rule, a post to a forum should be rather succinct and to the point, references to lengthy support may be made but should be made as an external link.

    My two cents.
  15. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Before I look at Mr. Kurschner’s next reason, let me state why this is such an important topic. If we are to have utmost confidence – I am talking about certainty – in God’s word, and especially His promises to us, it is necessary we have a Scripture that is trustworthy, not only in the main, but in the minutiae. Below we will talk about degrees of preservation – in “main” and “minutiae” – but for the moment I want to make clear that this is a vital issue for those who have an epistemological need for certainty of knowledge. Can I trust that the words of God I have are authentic, without loss or addition?

    I thank those who have noted I should put this in blog form, and perhaps I will when I have time (this more precious than money!). Though my first priority, as regards to organizing all that I have written here at PB, and the booklet I wrote prior to coming here, would be to put it in book form, and make it available – I am thinking at this point for free, as an e-book in pdf. It is that I have a wife who needs my care, a church which needs it likewise, and a home and property which needs looking after (we are repairing and renovating so as to be able to sell it when it is time to return to the states, Lord willing). And I have another book (in the genre “visionary adventure, non-fiction”) I am working on.

    I have saved (and will be regularly backing up!) all the posts I’ve written here, and those who find this material valuable ought to do the same. I think it appropriate to enter it as posts on threads here at this time because these writings are read by many (and many PB non-members) and are interacting in real-time with capable opposition on these issues which are so crucial to many of us. I know they are rather long, some of them, but those who find them useful will bear with it for the gain.

    This is Alan’s Reason #5

    (5) Related to this last point is an interesting observation that myself and others have noticed about the most fundamental criticism that KJVO advocates make against modern textual criticism. They incessantly denounce that modern critics use “rational principles” in the utilization of determining better readings from inferior readings. And yet this is clearly a double standard given that the most fundamental principle that govern their thinking is a rational principle! In the mind of the KJVO advocates is the deep-seated rational conviction: "This is the way that God must have preserved his Word.” Notice that this is not a Biblical, historical, or textual argument—it is a rational argument. Somehow they believe that they are privy to God’s mind and can see this rational reason. And stemming from this fundamental rational reason is another rational reason: the majority principle. So what KJVO advocates criticize the most, is what they are essentially guilty of themselves! And to be sure, there is nothing wrong with rational thinking—I would hope that we do not approach God’s Word with irrational thinking. The question should be: is this or that rational principle applicable and warranted in this or that context?

    It is not that this KJV advocate (notice I dropped the “Only” from this label) does not use reason. It is what my epistemological foundation is that matters. By that I mean, what presuppositions are operating in my worldview, and which inform my view of the Bible? First of all is, God has spoken, and revealed His heart, mind, and knowledge in written form so as to communicate these things to me. I have received true knowledge from Him. Because of what He has said, I believe that He created the world as He had revealed in the Book of Genesis. I believe His account of creation – including the creation of man and his fall – despite all supposed evidences and theories to the contrary.

    Among the promises He has given to those who love Him and keep His covenant is that He would preserve His written word for them throughout the ages. In Matthew 4:4 the Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Does it not follow that what He said we must live by He would see to it we have? Has not “His divine power…given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)? When Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt 24:35) was He referring to His words only being kept in Heaven, and not here on the earth where we need them desperately? Is not Isaiah 59:21 something that pertains to this issue:

    As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.​

    So whatever “rational principles” I have developed in my seeking to discern the preserved Biblical text stand upon principles of faith – specifically Biblical promises – which they are informed by and guided by. Yes, I use reason, but it stands upon faith. It does not stand upon so-called science, nor upon the “rational principle” that believes non-faith-based methods can be used to discern the true texts of Scripture. This method was developed by unbelieving German textual scholars (although some Roman Catholic scholars used this same method before them), who treated the Biblical manuscripts like any other secular manuscripts, disallowing any supernatural (not believing in the supernatural) influence upon them, either for good or for ill.

    But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee. (Ps 50:16, 17)​

    How did God actually preserve His word? We will look at that when answering Mr. Kurschner’s remaining reasons. At this point, I want to make clear that I indeed will use my reason – rational principles, if you will – but they shall be guided by faith. In His word.
  16. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    :ditto:. This would be perfect to run serially on your own PB Blog Steve. You can simply cut and paste the entries above serially to start.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2007
  17. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Very good point by Letis.

    Thanks for your hard work, Mr. Rafalsky!
  18. nicnap

    nicnap Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  19. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Alan’s Reasons #6 and #7

    (6) When the Majority Text was not the majority before 900 AD, I ask the KJVO advocate: how was God's Word preserved for the first 900 years or so of church history? I'd like an answer for this. When the Alexandrian or the Western text-form was the majority in the early church, was God’s Word preserved in that text-form until the Byzantine became the majority?

    (7) When that last Byzantine manuscript was copied circa AD 900 to make the Byzantine text-form the Majority, did God's Word all of a sudden become preserved in the Majority text that year? For KJVO to make preservation support the Majority text, it must imply accessibility for it to work. When did believers have accessibility to the Majority for the first 900 years?

    First of all, I do not know where Mr. Kurschner gets the idea that “the Majority Text was not the majority before 900 AD”. Even Dr. Hort admits in The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol II (as noted above in the 4th reason post),

    The fundamental Text of late extant Greek MSS. generally is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian or Græco-Syrian Text of the second half of the fourth century. (Vol II, p. 92). [Cited in Burgon’s The Revision Revised, p. 257.]​

    Hort also says,

    A theoretical presumption indeed remains that a majority of extant documents is more likely to represent a majority of ancestral documents at each stage of transmission than vise versa. Ibid., p. 45.​

    There was a revolution in manuscript writing that reached its height in the 900s, where minuscule writing (using lowercase Greek letters) replaced the older Uncial/majuscule (uppercase) letters, and all the old uncials in use were copied in the new format and then, as text critic Kirsopp Lake suggested, were destroyed as outdated. One can only imagine what old uncials existed before that time. And in what quantity.

    I will enter here a few short paragraphs by Dr. James A. Borland who is responding to Dr. Daniel Wallace’s online essay, “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism”. It is important to engage Dr. Wallace at this point because Kurschner uses arguments from Wallace’s essay.

    This is from Borland’s essay [in pdf], “The Preservation of the New Testament Text: A Common Sense Approach”:


    Only Certain Places Held the Inerrant Text

    There is one factor that must have dominated the earliest copying process for New Testament manuscripts. Each autograph was in the possession of a particular church or individual. Practically all of these originals of the New Testament text were located in Asia Minor and Greece. Italy and Palestine held the rest.[27] It was only in these churches that year after year, copy after copy could be made from the original manuscripts. These documents were the fountain source—they were, after all, the original inerrant text. They stood in the midst of the area that gives the greatest evidence of needing and using the Word of God during the early centuries of the Christian era and even later. No doubt these originals must have been copied time and again so as to proliferate that text decade after decade, although each new manuscript would add a certain share of common scribal mistakes. Outside areas did not have the luxury of obtaining a copy from a church which could certify that the exemplar was from the hand of the apostolic author.

    A Text Closest to the Inerrant Autographs Would Be More Abundant in These Areas

    That being the case, the first century must have produced a wealth of copies from Rome, through Greece, Asia Minor and into Palestine. These copies must have been as relatively close to the autographic text as was possible. Of course, each manuscript would carry with it some unique blunders of the scribe’s eyes, hand, and mind. Is this not, seemingly, the most natural historical scenario for the abundance of similar kinds of manuscripts that exist today? It is common sense that more early copies were made in those areas than elsewhere because that is where Christianity was most entrenched. If those copies held a numerical superiority during the first centuries, it is common sense to suppose that they would remain dominant in even later stages of the copying process, especially since Christianity continued to flourish for centuries in these areas. In addition, those were the only places where the autographs were available for copying. It makes sense that the text from those regions would be closest to the autographs—though all texts, as noted earlier, have differences and no copies have escaped corruption.

    [27] For Asia Minor and Greece, we are speaking of, at the very minimum, John, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Revelation, and probably Luke and Acts; Mark and Romans in Italy; Matthew probably in Palestine; and one cannot be sure of Hebrews, James, and Jude.​

    Toward the end of his essay, Dr. Borland states,

    In general, textual critics do their work apart from theological considerations. They examine manuscripts, note variant readings, then test and apply some basic canons of evidence, both internal and external, both intrinsic and transcriptional. But should a Bible believer see things differently than unbelieving critics do? This has been the assertion of Edward F. Hills, a learned textual critic who studied under Machen, Van Til, and R. B. Kuiper.[37] Extremely perceptive, I thought, were these words of John Skilton, who taught New Testament Greek at Westminster Theological Seminary for longer than most younger scholars have been living (58 years), until his death in 1998. “For men who accept the Bible as the Word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts, it should be out of the question to engage in the textual criticism of the Scriptures in a ‘neutral’ fashion—as if the Bible were not what it claims to be.”[38] He goes on to say, “This is a point which Cornelius Van Til has been stressing in his apologetics and which Edward F. Hills has been appropriately making in his writings on textual criticism. All along the line it is necessary to insist, as Hills does, that ‘Christian believing Bible study should and does differ from neutral, unbelieving Bible study’.”[39] Skilton concludes that Hills “is quite correct when he reminds us that” ignoring God’s “divine inspiration and providential preservation of the New Testament … is bound to lead to erroneous conclusions.”[40]

    [37] Edward F. Hills, Believing Bible Study, 2d ed., (Des Moines, IA: Christian Research Press, 1977) 226-27. Hills is sometimes disparaged by minority text critics for his preference of the King James Version. Hills holds degrees from Yale, Westminster, Columbia Seminary, a Th.D. from Harvard University, and is well published in The Journal of Biblical Literature.
    [38] John H. Skilton, “The New Testament Text Today,” in The New Testament Student and His Field (Phillipsburg, NJ; Presbyterian and Reformed, 1982) 5:5.
    [39] Ibid., 5:6.
    [40] Ibid.​

    Even the great opponent of the Textus Receptus, Dr. Hort, conceded that the Byzantine (“Antiochian”) text was “dominant…[in] the second half of the fourth century” (cited above), and that this text “is beyond all question identical… [with the] late extant Greek MSS. generally”, that is, the majority of mss, a.k.a., the MT. We have noted that Hort found a way to annul this numerical superiority with his theory, which we have examined earlier, and found wanting.

    Kurschner alleges that at a certain point “the Alexandrian or the Western text-form was the majority in the early church”. Not in a locale, or here and there wherever certain of these mss turned up, but in the whole church. This assumes a great number of these “families” of manuscripts. Let’s look at that.

    In Jack Moorman’s, Forever Settled, in Part Two, “The Issues We Face Regarding The New Testament Text,” Section XVI, ARE THERE REALLY THREE (OR MORE) FAMILIES OF MANUSCRIPTS?, he writes,

    Though there is truth in the above commonly presented position [of different manuscript “families”], and we have quoted Dr. Hills at length, yet the basic idea of textual types or families has its source in the naturalistic viewpoint and we do not believe that it represents the facts concerning the distribution of MSS in the early centuries. With some 85% or more of the 5000 extant MSS falling into the category of the Received Text, there is in fact only one textual family, the Received. All that remains is so contradictory, so confused, so mixed, that not by the furthest stretch of imagination can they be considered several families of MSS.

    Rather than face squarely this preponderance of support for the TR, naturalistic scholars with their ingrained bias against that text have found it convenient to talk of three or four families, as if all were basically equals. This was one of the main pillars in the Westcott and Hort theory which enabled them to Construct a new Greek Testament on the fewest possible MSS.

    Yet as the following quotations from The Identity of the New Testament Text by Wilbur Pickering show [see chap 4], most present day textual scholars (mainly naturalistic) are prepared to abandon the entire idea.

    "We have reconstructed text types and families and subfamilies and in so doing have created things that never before existed on earth or in heaven." (Parvis).

    "The major mistake is made in thinking of the old text-types as frozen blocks." (Colwell).

    "It is still customary to divide MSS into four well-known families ...this classical division can no longer be maintained." (Klijn).

    "Was there a fundamental flaw in the previous investigation which tolerated so erroneous a grouping ... Those few men who have done extensive collating of MSS, or paid attention to those done by others, as a rule have not accepted such erroneous groupings." (Metzger).

    "I defy anyone, after having carefully perused the foregoing lists ... to go back to the teaching of Dr. Hort (regarding text-types) with any degree of confidence." (Hoskier).​


    Codex "D" Bezae is claimed to be the primary representative of this textual family, but - "What we have called the D-text type, indeed, is not so much a text as a congeries of various readings, not descending from any one archetype ... No one MS can be taken as even approximately representing the D-text." (Kenyon) .

    Colwell observes that the Nestle text (25th edition) denies the existence of the Western text as an identifiable group, saying it is "a denial with which I agree." Speaking of von Soden's classification of the Western text, Metzger says, "so diverse are the textual phenomena that von Soden was compelled to posit seventeen subgroups." And Klijn, speaking of a pure or original western text affirms that "such a text did not exist."


    Codex "B" Vaticanus and Codex "Aleph" Sinaiticus are the two famous representatives of the Alexandrian "family" of manuscripts. But the evidence shows that those family members don’t get along very well.

    Colwell offers the result of an interesting experiment.

    After a careful study of all alleged B text-type witnesses in the first chapter of Mark, six Greek MSS emerged as primary witnesses - Aleph, B, L, 33, 892 and 2427. Therefore the weaker B type MSS C, Sangallenses, 157, 517, 579, 1241 and 1342 were set aside. Then on the basis of the six primary witnesses (Note how few, why not more?), an average or mean text was reconstructed including all the readings supported by the majority of the primary witnesses. Even on this restricted basis the amount of variation was dismaying. In this first chapter of Mark, each of the six witnesses differed from the average B text as follows:

    L..........19 times,
    Aleph....26 times,
    2427....32 times,
    33........33 times,
    B..........39 times,
    892......41 times.

    These results show convincingly that any attempt to reconstruct the text on the basis of B-type MSS is doomed to failure. The text ... is an artificial entity that never existed….


    If the 15% minority of extant MSS is hopeless confusion what about the 85% majority? What about the text referred to as Majority, Traditional, Byzantine, Syrian, Antiochan or Received?

    In sharp contrast to the above two textual "families", the MSS which fall under the category of "Received", though differing in minor details, show a very definite unity. They are family members that get along quite well.

    The textual critics have attempted to offset this fact through two arguments (1) genealogy and close copying (2) conflation and standardization.


    The textual critic has sought to show that the large number of TR MSS are merely copies one of the other. This brings us to another basic "pillar" in the Westcott and Hort theory known as "Genealogy".

    Colwell says of Hort's use of this method:

    As the justification of their rejection of the majority, Westcott and Hort found the possibilities of genealogical method invaluable. Suppose that there are only ten copies of a document and that nine are all copies from one: then the majority can be safely rejected. Or suppose that the nine are copied from a lost manuscript and this lost manuscript and the other one were both copied from the original then the vote of the majority would not outweigh that of the minority. These are the arguments with which W. and H. opened their discussion of genealogical method ... They show clearly that a minority of manuscripts is not necessarily to be preferred correct. It is this prior possibility which Westcott and Hort used to demolish the argument based on the numerical superiority of the adherents of the Textus Receptus.

    It is clear that the notion of genealogy is crucial to Hort's theory and purpose. He felt that the genealogical method enabled him to reduce the mass of manuscript testimony to four voices - "Neutral", "Alexandrian", "Western", and "Syrian". (INTT)​

    Textual research, however, has shown that the great mass of TR MSS are not merely copies one of another, but most are independent offspring of different lines of transmission which go deeply into the past.”​


    I have labored to show that the idea there was once a majority of the Alexandrian or Western manuscripts church-wide is unsupportable, nor even accepted by many text critics. Some of this material was taken from the “What is the authentic New Testament text?” thread, post 10. More will be taken from this thread in the portions interacting with Dr. Wallace.

    Alan asks, “how was God's Word preserved for the first 900 years or so of church history? I'd like an answer for this.” Above I have discussed, and brought in corroborating viewpoints, to elucidate this matter somewhat. In the next post, continuing to answer Alan's reasons #6 & #7, I will deal with it more thoroughly through interacting with Daniel Wallace’s essay referred to above (and from which Mr. Kurschner gets some of his critiques).
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2007
  20. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Below I will present a chart of Text types, so as to give an idea of how the various MSS lend support to them, as well as their approximate respective dates. I got this from E.F. Hills’, Believing Bible Study, 1977 edition (available at Bible For Today, I believe), and I saw it also in Jack Moorman’s, Forever Settled: A Survey of the Documents And History of the Bible (NJ, Dean Burgon Society 1999). This online version is excellent, missing only the illustrations and diagrams. For those interested in an overview of the textual materials, it is worth downloading the entire contents and keeping them in a file!

    When looking at this chart, please keep in mind the caveat Jack Moorman posited regarding "families/text-types" in Post #19; while it may be useful to think in such terms, they are quite limited in the realities they refer to.

  21. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This “Stream of transmission” chart is from Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nelson, 1980 revised hardcopy edition). It vividly portrays the quantitative aspect of the various manuscripts, dramatically illuminating the unseen realities you may be unaware by just looking at the “family tree Text types” diagram posted above. The dots outside the cone represent the “Alexandrian” and “Western” etc manuscripts. You see how few there are of them. We will discuss this further below.

  22. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Seeing the above graph Figure C you have gotten an idea of the sheer quantity of the Majority Text manuscripts. In the modified Figure C below, taken from the latest edition (online) of The Identity of the New Testament Text II, he shows not the quantity but the types, and you can see the cut in the "cone" where the ravages of Diocletian's attempt to systematically destroy all copies of the Bible impacted the number of MSS extant then.

    [These were taken from the What is the authentic New Testament? thread, where more information on this is given than I will present here, my aim being slightly different here.]

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007
  23. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Alan’s Reasons #6 and #7 continued

    As Alan uses Dr. Wallace’s arguments, I would like to interact with Dr. Daniel Wallace’s online essay, “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism”. I have taken some of this material from an earlier post of mine.

    In his essay dealing with KJV/TR and MT views, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace writes,

    I wish to address an argument that has been used by TR/MT advocates—an argument which is especially persuasive among laymen. The argument is unashamedly theological in nature: inspiration and preservation are intrinsically linked to one another and both are intrinsically linked to the TR/MT. That is to say, the doctrine of verbal-plenary inspiration necessitates the doctrine of providential preservation of the text, and the doctrine of providential preservation necessarily implies that the majority text (or the TR) is the faithful replica of the autographs. Inspiration (and inerrancy) is also used for the Byzantine text’s correctness in two other ways: (1) only in the Byzantine text do we have an inerrant New Testament; (2) if any portion of the New Testament is lost (no matter how small, even if only one word), then verbal-plenary inspiration is thereby falsified.

    If inspiration and preservation can legitimately be linked to the text of the New Testament in this way, then the (new) KJV NT is the most accurate translation and those who engage in an expository ministry should use this text alone and encourage their audiences to do the same. But if this theological argument is not legitimate, then New Testament textual criticism needs to be approached on other than a theological a priori basis. And if so, then perhaps most modern translations do indeed have a more accurate textual basis after all…

    The Critique

    There are a number of serious problems with the theological premise of Byzantine text advocates. Generally speaking, however, they all fall into one of three groups: (1) a question-begging approach, (2) faulty assumptions, and (3) a non-biblical doctrinal basis. As will be readily seen, there is a great deal of overlap between these three areas.”

    1. Question-Begging Approach

    Majority text proponents beg the question for their view on at least three fronts.
    a. What do you count? First, they only count Greek manuscripts. Yet, there are almost twice as many Latin NT manuscripts as there are Greek (over 10,000 to approximately 5,500). If the Latin manuscripts were to be counted, then modern translations would be vindicated rather than the King James, because the early Greek manuscripts which stand behind the vast bulk of Latin manuscripts and behind modern translations are quite similar. At one point, E. F. Hills argued that “God must preserve this text, not secretly, not hidden away in a box for hundreds of years or smoldering unnoticed on some library shelf, but openly before the eyes of all men through the continuous usage of His Church.”29 Preservation is therefore linked to public accessibility. It is precisely at this point that the argument for counting only Greek manuscripts begs the question. As Ehrman points out:

    [According to Hills,] the subsequent preservation of the New Testament text did not extend to guaranteeing the accuracy of its translation into other languages, but only to protecting the relative purity of the Greek text itself. Here, of course, his prior argument that God preserved the text for the sake of His church becomes irrelevant—since only a select minority in the church has ever known Greek.​


    My own approach and answer to this is: We do not have an edition based on the 10,000 or so Latin MSS. The modern translations whose Greek base is somewhat similar to them are a recent phenomenon, as is that Greek text. For the English-speaking world the edition that emerged supreme as the Old and New Testaments were brought into in the English language was the King James Bible. It did not arise out of the Latin (save a few readings from the Vulgate or Old Latin) but out of the majority of the Greek MSS.

    There is a preserving of the text, and then there is a preserving of the text—where its integrity is held even to minute readings not granted the former. That the former was nonetheless efficacious is analogous to the Bibles based upon the CT being efficacious to save and edify God’s people today, as witnessed by the multitudes regenerated through those who use the NIV, NASB, ESV etc. The minute preservation occurred in the primary edition (KJV/TR) which was to serve the English-speaking people and the translations created for the vast missionary work they undertook, which impacted the entire world. (It is accepted by many today that the English language is nearly the universal language—the second language of most other nations.) There was a progression in the purifying of the text, so as to almost (some would say completely) perfectly reconstitute the original manuscripts of the apostles, even as there has been, in the area of theology, a restoration of apostolic doctrine, which also went through phases of deterioration and eventual renewal.

    Thus, even those areas of the church which were non-Greek-speaking also had a “preserved text”—as do multitudes in this present day—though their texts were not “minutely preserved.” The texts they had were efficacious unto the salvation of souls and the sustaining of the churches.

    As regards the “minutely preserved” text, I observe the fait accompli of His work – Him who said, “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9, 10) – I observe this Book produced in 1611, and I seek to understand in retrospect what He did and how He did it. I am aware you may scoff at what you may term my “unscientific and ignorant” approach, but what is that to me? I do not have faith in your “science” or in your “learning,” so your judgment of my approach is not relevant to me. You may term this (as I have heard it said) “invincible ignorance,” but if my approach to knowledge is approved by my Lord, I care not for your disapproval.

    Many times the people of God have not understood how a prophecy was to be fulfilled until it was a done thing, and then they looked backward to see how He had worked. It is thus in observing how He fulfilled His promise to preserve His word.

    I look at the completed act of His providential preservation, the manuscripts He brought into the possession of (despised-by-many) Erasmus, and those editors who came after him; I follow the transmission backwards, the nature of those texts – behold, in the main they are those of the Byzantine text-type, with some few readings from the Latin Vulgate – and I seek to discern and construct what Maurice Robinson and Wm. Pierpont posited in their Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Byzantine/Majority Textform,

    A sound rational approach which accounts for all the phenomena and offers a reconstruction of the history of textual transmission is all that is demanded for any text-critical hypothesis. (p. xxxii)​

    I am aware that Messrs. Robinson and Pierpont will disown me as one of their illegitimate progeny, as they make clear on their page xli, but I want to make clear I refuse to be under bondage to “the tyranny of experts,” to use Machen’s memorable phrase. I do not need the knowledge of “experts” who proceed according to methodologies I do not subscribe to. I will consider their work (as much as I am able) and use it if I please.

    (Dr. Wallace, I am not in your league at all, but God has granted me faith, and a mind, and I can use my illumined judgment in these matters. I mean no disrespect on my opposition to your views.)

    The MT scholars are the heavy linebackers who run interference against those CT opponents who clutter the field as the TR runner seeks the touchdown. In the realm of the mind it is not all so simple, because on an actual field when a man is knocked down or points are scored which win the game it is obvious for all to see who trust their senses; in these realms one can score points but others will yet seek to gainsay. The onlookers may think for themselves, and we have a Referee who knows what is what, and after the contest is over He will vindicate those who were true.

    I do believe the arguments of the MT scholars are far more cogent than those of the CT and ET (eclectic text). The distrust of certain methodologies in scholarship works to the great disadvantage of those scholars. When you are not trusted, nothing you say has the import of those who are. People with faith in a Scripture whose character is as supernatural as the One who wrote it disdain the ways of the unbelieving world, even when (or especially when) they deal with the Holy Bible.

    “In logic, begging the question is the term for a type of fallacy occurring in deductive reasoning in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises… Essentially, the argument assumes that its central point is already proven, and uses this in support of itself. Begging the question is also known by its Latin name petitio principii” (Wikipedia)​

    I have spoken earlier of presuppositionalism, also termed Reformed apologetics; this approach to epistemology “emphasizes the presentation of Christianity as revealed—as based on the authoritative revelation of God in Scripture and in Jesus Christ.” (Faith Has Its Reasons: An Integrative Approach To Defending Christianity, by Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman Jr.; NavPress 2001, p. 249).

    Dr Wallace has said about our approach, “The argument is unashamedly theological in nature.” Yes, it surely is, as opposed to evidential, that based on natural evidences. Evidences have a place, but they are not absolutes. They are not the foundations of worldviews, not those which can stand, at any rate. Dr. Wallace’s argument (concerning the preservation of Scripture) is unashamedly naturalistic, that is, antisupernatural in this one area.

    The basic presupposition of my worldview is that God has spoken. I repeat what I said earlier:

    I know because God knows, and has revealed His knowledge in the word He has spoken to us humans. Apart from God’s word we can know nothing certainly. That which appears to us, even the maxims of science, are often not as they seem, for our perceptions may be faulty, and in science new discoveries supercede previous ones on a regular basis. But when God speaks I know this is truth. Insofar as my mind is in accord with His, I know the truth.​

    I proceed upon the basis that God has said He would preserve His word. Psalm 12:7, 8 is one Scripture I use for that (see here for a discussion of the controversy in translating this passage), and another is Matthew 4:4. That you may not accept the translation of Psalm 12 the AV uses does not deter my using it (an entire established exegetical tradition suppressed—censored—by editorial fiat!). Perhaps I will not convince you, but I will stand in the truth of God’s word, and give heart to those who desire to do likewise.

    The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This is not a textual issue as the words in Matthew 4:4 are not contested anywhere. His words do give rise to a theological issue: implicit in the saying is that by every word of His we live, and such being so He will see to it that we have what we need in order to live. He has also said,

    …His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us unto glory and virtue:

    Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…(2 Peter 1:3, 4)​

    Can He not fulfill these promises, He of whom it is written, that He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”? (Ephesians 1:11)

    If any say, “These presuppositions are being imposed upon the facts of the manuscripts,” I will reply, “The facts are interpreted or understood in light of what is presupposed, that being God’s stated promises to preserve His words. One unsympathetic to such a Reformed apologetic might view it as “imposition”, but I maintain that I proceed upon the foundations of knowledge—of truth—in my standing on His word. You may also dispute my exegesis, but I will hold to it.

    Are there those who will say (I know there are) the presuppositional approach per se is question-begging? We do assume the words of God are true, and specifically so as regards promises of preservation (among other things); the corollary to this truth is that it must needs already have been accomplished as regards the English-speaking world, and only the KJV/TR meets the criteria of a minutely preserved text.

    The second alleged question-beggar:

    b. When do you count? Majority text advocates tacitly assume that since most Greek manuscripts extant today belong to the Byzantine text, most Greek manuscripts throughout church history have belonged to the Byzantine text. But this assumption begs the question in the extreme, since there is not one solid shred of evidence that the Byzantine text even existed in the first three centuries of the Christian era. Not only this, but as far as our extant witnesses reveal, the Byzantine text did not become the majority text until the ninth century. Furthermore, for the letters of Paul, there is no majority text manuscript before the ninth century. To embrace the MT/TR text for the corpus Paulinum, then, requires an 800-year leap of faith. Not only is this a severe instance of petitio principii, but it also is a cavalier treatment of historical evidence unbecoming of those who boast a faith which cannot be divorced from history. No majority text advocate would tolerate such a fideistic leap regarding the person and work of Christ; how then can they employ it when it comes to the text?”​

    That is the spin of educated unbelief. Scathing in its scorn of faith, it represents the world (though Dr. W. may be a true Christian) vis-à-vis those who trust in God’s promises. When Dr. Wallace says, “not one solid shred of evidence,” I assume that the many Byzantine readings found in the papyri for some reason do not qualify in his eyes. (We will look at what the MT folks amply provide in this matter in a moment.)

    He will probably relegate what text critic Kirsopp Lake said to the circular file: “It is hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books.” For Dr. Wallace says,

    Many hypotheses can be put forth as to why there are no early Byzantine manuscripts. But once again an ounce of evidence is worth a pound of presumption. In historical investigation one must start with the evidence and then make the hypothesis. (from his essay, “The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?”)​

    All of a sudden, out of the blue, in the ninth century, the majority text-type appeared, origins unknown. As for his “fideistic leaps,” we have the Scriptures to direct us concerning “the person and work of Christ,” whereas for post-NT history we have, on the one hand, nothing but often dark and incomplete knowledge, and on the other, the promises and prophecies of the New Testament. My “historical investigation” is illumined by that which is true, namely, the promises of Christ, and we can see the fulfillments thereof after-the-fact of their manifestation. Wallace may say I am going about things backwards—having a hypothesis before examining evidences—yet I say he is going about it backwards: seeking to discern the hand of God in providence by following shifting and uncertain evidences, the outcome the result of conjectures and faulty methodologies, which outcome seems to say on the face of it, the autographs had mistakes. And we need, he says, adjust our theologies accordingly.

    As a young believer, it was told me (as regards moral issues), “When in doubt, do without.” I doubt the validity of Dr. Wallace’s entire text-critical enterprise. And I will do without it. The status of my Bible is a supreme moral issue.

    Wilbur Pickering weighs in on this matter:

    Why Are There No Early "Byzantine" MSS?

    Why would or should there be? To demand that a MS survive for 1,500 years is in effect to require both that it have remained unused and that it have been stored in Egypt (or Qumran). Even an unused MS would require an arid climate to last so long.

    But is either requirement reasonable? Unless there were persons so rich as to be able to proliferate copies of the Scriptures for their health or amusement, copies would be made on demand, in order to be used. As the use of Greek died out in Egypt the demand for Greek Scriptures would die out too, so we should not expect to find many Greek MSS in Egypt.

    It should not be assumed, however, that the "Byzantine" text was not used in Egypt. Although none of the early Papyri can reasonably be called "Byzantine", they each contain "Byzantine" readings. The case of P66 is dramatic. The first hand was extensively corrected, and both hands are dated around A.D. 200. The 1st hand is almost half "Byzantine" (a. 47%), but the 2nd hand regularly changed "Byzantine" readings to "Alexandrian" and vice versa, i.e. he changed "Alexandrian" to "Byzantine", repeatedly. This means that they must have had two exemplars, one "Alexandrian" and one "Byzantine"—between the two hands the "Byzantine" text receives considerable attestation.

    Consider the case of Codex B and P75; they are said to agree 82% of the time (unprecedented for "Alexandrian" MSS, but rather poor for "Byzantine"). But what about the 18% discrepancy? Most of the time, when P75 and B disagree one or the other agrees with the "Byzantine" reading. If they come from a common source, that source would have been more "Byzantine" than either descendant. Even the Coptic versions agree with the "Byzantine" text as often as not.

    "Orphan children"

    The study and conclusions of Lake, Blake, and New, already discussed in a prior section, are of special interest here. They looked for evidence of direct genealogy and found virtually none. I repeat their conclusion.

    . . . the manuscripts which we have are almost all orphan children without brothers or sisters.

    Taking this fact into consideration along with the negative result of our collation of MSS at Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books.[31]​

    Is it unreasonable to suppose that once an old MS became tattered and almost illegible in spots the faithful would make an exact copy of it and then destroy it, rather than allowing it to suffer the indignity of literally rotting away? What would such a practice do to our chances of finding an early "Byzantine" MS? Anyone who objects to this conclusion must still account for the fact that in three ancient monastic libraries equipped with scriptoria (rooms designed to facilitate the faithful copying of MSS), there are only "orphan children." Why are there no parents?!

    Van Bruggen addresses the problem from a slightly different direction. He says of the "Byzantine" text:

    The fact that this text-form is known to us via later manuscripts is as such no proof for a late text-type, but it does seem to become a proof when at the same time a different text is found in all older manuscripts. The combination of these two things seems to offer decisive proof for the late origin of the traditional text.[32]​

    He answers the "seeming proof" in the following way:

    Let us make ourselves aware of what we have presupposed with this seemingly convincing argumentation. What conditions must be satisfied if we wish to award the prize to the older majuscules? While asking this question we assumed wittingly or unwittingly that we were capable of making a fair comparison between manuscripts in an earlier period and those in a later period. After all, we can only arrive at positive statements if that is the case. Imagine that someone said: in the Middle Ages mainly cathedrals were built, but in modern times many small and plainer churches are being built. This statement seems completely true when we today look around in the cities and villages. Yet we are mistaken. An understandable mistake: many small churches of the Middle Ages have disappeared, and usually only the cathedrals were restored. Thus, a great historical falsification of perspective with regard to the history of church-building arises. We are not able to make a general assertion about church-building in the Middle Ages on the basis of the surviving materials. If we would still dare to make such an assertion, then we wrongly assumed that the surviving materials enabled us to make a fair comparison. But how is the situation in the field of New Testament manuscripts? Do we have a representative number of manuscripts from the first centuries? Only if that is the case, do we have the right to make conclusions and positive statements. Yet it is just at this point that difficulties arise. The situation is even such that we know with certainty that we do not possess a representative number of manuscripts from the first centuries.[33][emphases in original –SMR]​

    The conclusion of Lake, Blake, and New reflects another consideration. The age of a manuscript must not be confused with the age of the text it exhibits. Any copy, by definition, contains a text that is older than it is. In Burgon's words, it "represents a MS, or a pedigree of MSS, older than itself; and it is but fair to suppose that it exercises such representation with tolerable accuracy."[34]

    The ninth century transliteration process

    Van Bruggen discusses yet another relevant consideration.

    In the codicology the great value of the transliteration process in the 9th century and thereafter is recognized. At that time the most important New Testament manuscripts written in majuscule script were carefully transcribed into minuscule script. It is assumed that after this transliteration-process the majuscule was taken out of circulation. . . . The import of this datum has not been taken into account enough in the present New Testament textual criticism. For it implies, that just the oldest, best and most customary manuscripts come to us in the new uniform of the minuscule script, does it not? This is even more cogent since it appears that various archetypes can be detected in this transliteration-process for the New Testament. Therefore we do not receive one mother-manuscript through the flood-gates of the transliteration, but several. The originals have, however, disappeared! This throws a totally different light on the situation that we are confronted with regarding the manuscripts. Why do the surviving ancient manuscripts show another text-type? Because they are the only survivors of their generation, and because their survival is due to the fact that they were of a different kind. Even though one continues to maintain that the copyists at the time of the transliteration handed down the wrong text-type to the Middle Ages, one can still never prove this codicologically with the remark that older majuscules have a different text. This would be circular reasoning. There certainly were majuscules just as venerable and ancient as the surviving Vaticanus or Sinaiticus, which, like a section of the Alexandrinus, presented a Byzantine text. But they have been renewed into minuscule script and their majuscule appearance has vanished. Historically it seems as though the most ancient majuscule manuscripts exclusively contain a non-Byzantine text, but the prespective [sic] is falsified here just like it is regarding church-building in the Middle Ages and at present.[35]​

    The significance of the transliteration process was explained by A. Dain as follows: "The transliterated copy, carefully written and securely bound, became the reference point for the subsequent tradition. The old papyrus and parchment exemplars that had been copied, doubtless quite worn out, were of no further interest and were usually discarded or destroyed."[36] Apparently there was an organized movement to "transliterate" uncial MSS into minuscule form or script. Note that Dain agrees with Lake that the "worn out" exemplars were then destroyed (some may have been "recycled", becoming palimpsests). What if those exemplars were ancient "Byzantine" uncials? Come to think of it, they must have been since the cursives are "Byzantine".

    C.H. Roberts comments upon a practice of early Christians that would have had a similar effect.

    It was a Jewish habit both to preserve manuscripts by placing them in jars . . . and also to dispose of defective, worn-out, or heretical scriptures by burying them near a cemetery, not to preserve them but because anything that might contain the name of God might not be destroyed. . . . It certainly looks as if this institution of a morgue for sacred but unwanted manuscripts was taken over from Judaism by the early Church.[37]​

    Note that the effect of this practice in any but an arid climate would be the decomposition of the MSS. If "Byzantine" exemplars, worn out through use, were disposed of in this way (as seems likely), they would certainly perish. All of this reduces our chances of finding really ancient "Byzantine" MSS. Nor is that all.

    Imperial repression of the N.T.

    There is a further consideration. "It is historically certain that the text of the New Testament endured a very hard time in the first centuries. Many good and official editions of the text were confiscated and destroyed by the authorities during the time of the persecutions."[38]

    Roberts refers to "the regular requisition and destruction of books by the authorities at times of persecution, so often recorded in the martyr acts."[39] Such official activity seems to have come to a climax in Diocletian's campaign to destroy the New Testament manuscripts around A.D. 300.

    If there was any trauma in the history of the normal transmission of the text, this was it; the more so since the campaign evidently centered upon the Aegean area. Many MSS were found, or betrayed, and burned, but others must have escaped. That many Christians would have spared no effort to hide and preserve their copies of the Scriptures is demonstrated by their attitude towards those who gave up their MSS—the Donatist schism that immediately followed Diocletian's campaign partly hinged on the question of punishment for those who had given up MSS. The Christians whose entire devotion to the Scriptures was thus demonstrated would also be just the ones that would be the most careful about the pedigree of their own MSS; just as they took pains to protect their MSS they presumably would have taken pains to ensure that their MSS preserved the true wording.

    In fact, the campaign of Diocletian may even have had a purifying effect upon the transmission of the text. If the laxity of attitude toward the text reflected in the willingness of some to give up their MSS also extended to the quality of text they were prepared to use, then it may have been the more contaminated MSS that were destroyed, in the main, leaving the purer MSS to replenish the earth.[40] But these surviving pure MSS would have been in unusually heavy demand for copying (to replace those that had been destroyed) and been worn out faster than normal.

    In short, if the history of transmission presented herein is valid we should not necessarily expect to find any early "Byzantine" MSS. They would have been used and worn out. (But the text they contained would be preserved by their descendants.)


    [31]Lake, Blake and New, p. 349. D.A. Carson offers the following response to this suggestion: "The answers to this ingenious theory are obvious: (1) If only one copy were made before the exemplar was destroyed, there would never be more than one extant copy of the Greek New Testament! (2) If several copies were made from one exemplar, then either (a) they were not all made at the same time, and therefore the destruction of the exemplar was not a common practice after all; or (b) they were all made at the same time. (3) If the latter obtains, then it should be possible to identify their sibling relationship; yet in fact such identification is as difficult and as precarious as the identification of direct exemplar/copy manuscripts. This probably means we have lost a lot of manuscripts; and/or it means that the divergences between copy and exemplar, as between copy and sibling copy, are frequently difficult to detect. (4) Why are there no copies of the Byzantine text before about A.D. 350, and so many [emphasis Carson's] from there on? This anomaly, it might be argued, demonstrates that the practice of destroying the exemplar died out during the fourth century" (The King James Version Debate, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979, pp. 47-48).

    Perhaps it is fortunate that Lake is no longer available for comment upon this extraordinary statement. If I may presume to answer for him, it seems to me apparent that what Lake found was the end of the line, the last generation of copies. Neither Lake nor anyone else has suggested that only one copy would be made of any exemplar, but after a life of use and being copied a worn and tattered MS would be destroyed. Carson's point (4) is hard to believe. Lake, Blake, and New were looking at minuscule MSS, probably none earlier than the tenth century—they had to be copied from something, and it is a fact that Lake and company found no "parents." Carson offers no explanation for this fact. And what are we to understand from his strange remark about "Byzantine" MSS before and after A.D. 350? There are none from the fourth century, unless W (Matthew) be placed there, two partially so from the fifth, and a slowly expanding stream as one moves up through the succeeding centuries. It is only when we come to the minuscule era that we find "so many." Please see the next section, "the ninth century transliteration process," to find out why.
    [32]Van Bruggen, p. 24.
    [33]Ibid., p. 25.
    [34]Burgon, The Traditional Text, p. 47.
    [35]Van Bruggen, pp. 26-27.
    [36]A. Dain, Les Manuscrits (Paris, 1949), p. 115.
    [37]C.H. Roberts, p. 7.
    [38]Van Bruggen, p. 29. Cf. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica VIII, II, 1.4 and F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction, pp. 265-66.
    [39]Roberts, p. 8.
    [40]Here was an excellent opportunity for the "Alexandrian" and "Western" texts to forge ahead and take "space" away from the "Byzantine", but it did not happen. The Church rejected those types of text. How can modern critics possibly be in a better position to identify the true text than was the Church universal in the early 4th century?​


    In the online version of Pickering’s work, a paragraph or so past where I have left off, is the subsection “But There Is No Evidence of the Byzantine Text in the Early Centuries”, where he discusses evidences refuting this objection. I do not include it here for space reasons, but it is worth looking at.

    Moorman likewise comments on this issue in Part Two of his book, in the last section, “The Triumph of the Received Text”:

    “Coming back to the early centuries, Hills says:

    The true text continued to circulate among the more lowly and humble classes of Christian folk virtually undisturbed by the influence of other texts. Moreover, because it was difficult for these less prosperous Christians to obtain new manuscripts, they put the ones they had to maximum use. Thus all these early manuscripts of the true text were eventually worn out. The papyri which do survive seem for the most part to be prestige-texts which were preserved in the libraries of ancient schools. According to Aland (1963), both the Chester Beatty and the Bodmer Papyri may have been kept at such an institution. But the papyri with the true text were read to pieces by the believing Bible students of antiquity. In the providence of God they were used by the Church. They survived long enough, however, to preserve the true (Traditional) New Testament text during this early period of obscurity and to bring it out into the period of triumph which followed.

    The victorious march of the New Testament text toward triumph was realized in the 4th century. The great 4th century conflict with the Arian heresy brought orthodox Christians to a theological maturity which enabled them, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, to perceive the superior doctrinal soundness and richness of the true text. In ever increasing numbers Christians in the higher social brackets abandoned the corrupt prestige-texts which they had been using and turned to the well-worn manuscripts of their poorer brethren, manuscripts which, though meaner in appearance, were found in reality to be far more precious, since they contained the true New Testament text. No doubt they paid handsome sums to have copies made of these ancient books, and this was done so often that these venerable documents were worn out through much handling by the scribes. But before these old manuscripts finally perished, they left behind them a host of fresh copies made from them and bearing witness to the true text. Thus it was that the true (Traditional) text became the standard text now found in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts.

    During the march of the Traditional (Byzantine) text toward supremacy many manuscripts of the Traditional type must have perished. The investigations of Lake (1928) and his associates indicate that this was so. "Why", he asked, "are there only a few fragments [even in the two oldest of the monastic collections, Sinai and St. Saba] which come from a date earlier than the 10th century?" There must have been in existence many thousands of manuscripts of the gospels in the great days of Byzantine prosperity, between the 4th and the 10th centuries.

    As a result of these investigations, Lake found it "hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars when they copied the sacred books." If Lake’s hypothesis is correct, then the manuscripts most likely to be destroyed would be those containing the Traditional text. For these were the ones which were copied most during the period between the 4th and the 10th centuries, as is proved by the fact that the vast majority of the later Greek New Testament manuscripts are of the Traditional type.

    By the same token, the survival of old uncial manuscripts of the Alexandrian and Western type, such as B. Aleph and D, was due to the fact that they were rejected by the Church and not read or copied but allowed to rest relatively undisturbed on the library shelves of ancient monasteries. Burgon (1883) pointed this out long ago, and it is most significant that his observation was confirmed more than forty years later by the researches of Lake.

    When we say that the Holy Spirit guided the Church to preserve the true New Testament text, we are not speaking of the Church as an Organization but of the Church as an organism. We do not mean that in the latter part of the 4th century the Holy Spirit guided the bishops to the true text and that then the bishops issued decrees for the guidance of the common people. Investigations indicate that the Holy Spirit's guidance worked in precisely the opposite direction. The trend toward the true (Traditional) text began with the common people, the rank and file, and then rapidly built up to such strength that the bishops and other official leaders were carried along with it. Chrysostom, for example, does not seem to have initiated this trend, for, as stated above, studies by Geerlings and New and by Dicks indicate that Chrysostom did not always use the Traditional text.

    There is evidence that the triumphal march of the Traditional (Byzantine) text met with resistance in certain quarters. There were some scribes and scholars who were reluctant to renounce entirely their faulty Western, Alexandrian and Caesarean texts. And so they compromised by following sometimes their false texts and sometimes the true (Traditional) text. Thus arose those classes of mixed manuscripts described by von Soden and other scholars. This would explain also the non-Traditional readings which Colwell and his associates have found in certain portions of the lectionary manuscripts. And if Birdsall is right in his contention that Photius (815-897), patriarch of Constantinople, customarily used the Caesarean text, this too must be regarded as a belated effort on the part of this learned churchman to keep up the struggle against the Traditional text. But his endeavor was in vain. Even before his time the God-guided preference of the common people for the true (Traditional) New Testament text had prevailed, causing it to be adopted generally throughout the Greek-speaking Church. (Hills).

    We conclude this section with several penetrating statements by Zane Hodges:

    "Herein lies the greatest weakness of contemporary textual criticism. Denying to the TR any claim to represent the actual form of the original text, it is nevertheless unable to explain its rise, its comparative uniformity, and its dominance in any satisfactory manner."

    He states further, "All minority text forms are, on this view, merely divergent offshoots of the broad stream of transmission whose source is the autographs themselves."

    He says again, "Under normal circumstances, the older a text is than its rivals, the greater are its chances to survive in a plurality or a majority of the texts extant at any subsequent period. But the oldest text of all is the autograph. Thus it ought to be taken for granted that, barring some radical dislocation in the history of transmission, a majority of texts will be far more likely to represent correctly the character of the original than a small minority of texts. This is especially true when the ratio is an overwhelming 8:1. Under any reasonably normal transmission conditions, it would be quite impossible for a later text-form (which critics declare the TR to be) to secure so one-sided a preponderance!! (quoted in INTT and "Which Bible.")

    And finally, "The existence in early times of this text (the Alexandrian) outside of Egypt is unproved...on the other hand, witnesses to the Majority Text came from all over the ancient world." (The Greek N.T. According to the Majority Text).​

    Pickering’s Chapter 5, “The History of the Text”, is excellent reading to get a view differing from Dr. Wallace’s. I do not include it here for space reasons.

    In sum, Dr. Wallace’s views are evidential, and he evinces intellectual scorn at those who trust God’s word instead of evidences. Still, the Majority Text proponents I have quoted do present evidences – they proceeding on a middle ground between evidences and faith – that present a reasoned hypothesis for both the origin and the preponderance of the Majority/Traditional Text. I assert this particular sort of evidentialism (of DW’s) amounts to unbelief in a Biblical doctrine, that of God’s providential preservation of the text of Scripture. Wallace’s seeming protégé, Mr. Kurschner, follows in his footsteps when he exclaims, “If You Understand One Thing About The ‘King James Only’ Phenomenon it is Imperative to Know This....The textual end justifies the textual means. They are motivated only in defending a modern printed text and any questions of methodology are irrelevant because they are governed by their a priori that the Textus Receptus (the Greek printed edition that lies behind the KJV) is without error.”

    I respond: It is not at all “irrelevant” to understand “questions of methodology” – for how else will we know what our opponents are talking about? – but understanding the erroneous methods of unbelieving “scientific” text criticism does not mean we have to believe them! We will talk more about this when addressing Dr. Wallace’s “3rd question-beggar”.

    The wise men of the earth thought Noah a complete jerk while he was building his ship. His views went against all the wisdom and all the respected methodologies of ascertaining truth and reality in his time. But he had taken the voice of God to heart, and he was given to understand precisely what God meant.

    “What some folks rely on, I can’t get by on.” –From a Johnny Cash prison ballad.
  24. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    :up: :up: Principia interpret phenomena.
  25. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Now for Dr. Wallace’s 3rd alleged question-beggar:

    c. Where do you count? Suppose we were to assume that only Greek manuscripts should be counted. And suppose further that public accessibility is a legitimate divine motive for preservation. Given these two assumptions, one would expect the Byzantine text-type to be readily accessible in all pockets of the ancient Greek-speaking world. But that is demonstrably not true. For example, it was not readily available to Christians in Egypt in the first four centuries. After carefully investigating the Gospel quotations of Didymus, a fourth-century Egyptian writer, Ehrman concludes, “These findings indicate that no ‘proto-Byzantine’ text existed in Alexandria in Didymus’ day or, at least if it did, it made no impact on the mainstream of the textual tradition there.” What confirms this further is that in several placed Origen, the great Christian textual scholar, speaks of textual variants that were in a majority of manuscripts in his day, yet today are in a minority, and vice verse. Granting every gratuitous concession to majority text advocates, in the least this shows that no majority text was readily available to Christians in Egypt. And if that is the case, then how can they argue for a majority on the basis of public accessibility?​

    I don’t believe this is a case of universal “public accessibility,” but a thing done in the open, among the people of God, as opposed to manuscripts hidden away deep in the guarded archives of antichrist, or forgotten in a monastery.

    I also addressed this above in the matter of adequate preservation as distinguished from preservation in the minutiae.

    Many people may buy the scenario of the Critical Text advocates, who appreciate their view of the evidences, yet there are great numbers who do not, who see them as violating tenets of the faith in their secular approach to supernatural phenomena. The paradigm of their text-critical approach is inimical to a believing worldview. Of course they will say, Nonsense! But there it is.

    Dr. Hills did not “abandon textual criticism,” as Dr. Wallace asserts, he only abandoned a methodology born of unbelief. He denied this approach was a sine qua non of the discipline, and returned to an earlier Reformed approach, founded upon different principles.

    The “majority of manuscripts” which may have prevailed in Egypt in Origen’s day reflected a text peculiar to that region. It was preserved in the main, that is, sufficiently so that souls may be saved and churches sustained, but not in the minutiae. Above we have noted Dr. Borland’s review of where the various N.T. original gospels and letters were written and sent; we will review this again from Dr. Pickering’s book, in his chapter 5, “The History of the Text”:


    What factors would be important for guaranteeing, or at least facilitating, a faithful transmission of the text of the N.T. writings? I submit that there are four controlling factors: access to the Autographs, proficiency in the source language, the strength of the Church and an appropriate attitude toward the Text.

    Access to the Autographs

    This criterion probably applied for less than a hundred years (the Autographs were presumably worn to a frazzle in that space of time) but it is highly significant to a proper understanding of the history of the transmission of the Text. Already by the year 100 there must have been many copies of the various books (some more than others) while it was certainly still possible to check a copy against the original, should a question arise. The point is that there was a swelling stream of faithfully executed copies emanating from the holders of the Autographs to the rest of the Christian world. In those early years the producers of copies would know that the true wording could be verified, which would discourage them from taking liberties with the text.

    However, distance would presumably be a factor—for someone in north Africa to consult the Autograph of Ephesians would be an expensive proposition, in both time and money. I believe we may reasonably conclude that in general the quality of copies would be highest in the area surrounding the Autograph and would gradually deteriorate as the distance increased. Important geographical barriers would accentuate the tendency.

    So who held the Autographs? Speaking in terms of regions, Asia Minor may be safely said to have had twelve (John, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Philemon, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 and 3 John, and Revelation), Greece may be safely said to have had six (1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Titus in Crete), Rome may be safely said to have had two (Mark and Romans)—as to the rest, Luke, Acts, and 2 Peter were probably held by either Asia Minor or Rome; Matthew and James by either Asia Minor or Palestine; Hebrews by Rome or Palestine; while it is hard to state even a probability for Jude it was quite possibly held by Asia Minor. Taking Asia Minor and Greece together, the Aegean area held the Autographs of at least eighteen (two-thirds of the total) and possibly as many as twenty-four of the twenty-seven New Testament books; Rome held at least two and possibly up to seven; Palestine may have held up to three (but in A.D. 70 they would have been sent away for safe keeping, quite possibly to Antioch); Alexandria (Egypt) held none. The Aegean region clearly had the best start, and Alexandria the worst—the text in Egypt could only be second hand, at best. On the face of it, we may reasonably assume that in the earliest period of the transmission of the N.T. Text the most reliable copies would be circulating in the region that held the Autographs. Recalling the discussion of Tertullian above, I believe we may reasonably extend this conclusion to A.D. 200 and beyond. So, in the year 200 someone looking for the best text of the N.T. would presumably go to the Aegean area; certainly not to Egypt.

    Proficiency in the source language

    As a linguist (PhD) and one who has dabbled in the Bible translation process for some years, I affirm that a 'perfect' translation is impossible. (Indeed, a tolerably reasonable approximation is often difficult enough to achieve.) It follows that any divine solicitude for the precise form of the NT Text would have to be mediated through the language of the Autographs—Greek. Evidently ancient Versions (Syriac, Latin, Coptic) may cast a clear vote with reference to major variants, but precision is possible only in Greek (in the case of the N.T.). That by way of background, but our main concern here is with the copyists.

    To copy a text by hand in a language you do not understand is a tedious exercise—it is almost impossible to produce a perfect copy (try it and see!). You virtually have to copy letter by letter and constantly check your place. (It is even more difficult if there is no space between words and no punctuation, as was the case with the N.T. Text in the early centuries.) But if you cannot understand the text it is very difficult to remain alert. Consider the case of P66. This papyrus manuscript is perhaps the oldest (c. 200) extant N.T. manuscript of any size (it contains most of John). It is one of the worst copies we have. It has an average of roughly two mistakes per verse—many being obvious mistakes, stupid mistakes, nonsensical mistakes. From the pattern of mistakes it is clear that the scribe copied syllable by syllable. I have no qualms in affirming that the person who produced P66 did not know Greek. Had he understood the text he would not have made the number and sort of mistakes that he did.

    Now consider the problem from God's point of view. To whom should He entrust the primary responsibility for the faithful transmission of the N.T. Text? If the Holy Spirit is going to take an active part in the process, where should He concentrate His efforts? Presumably fluent speakers of Greek would have the inside track, and areas where Greek would continue in active use would be preferred. For a faithful transmission to occur the copyists had to be proficient in Greek, and over the long haul. So where was Greek predominant? Evidently in Greece and Asia Minor; Greek is the mother tongue of Greece to this day (having changed considerably during the intervening centuries, as any living language must). The dominance of Greek in the Aegean area was guaranteed by the Byzantine Empire for many centuries; in fact, until the invention of printing. Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453; the Gutenberg Bible (Latin) was printed just three years later, while the first printed Greek New Testament appeared in 1516. (For those who believe in Providence, I would suggest that here we have a powerful case in point.)

    How about Egypt? The use of Greek in Egypt was already declining by the beginning of the Christian era. Bruce Metzger observes that the Hellenized section of the population in Egypt "was only a fraction in comparison with the number of native inhabitants who used only the Egyptian languages."[21] By the third century the decline was evidently well advanced. I have already argued that the copyist who did P66 (c. 200) did not know Greek. Now consider the case of P75 (c. 220). E.C. Colwell analyzed P75 and found about 145 itacisms plus 257 other singular readings, 25% of which are nonsensical. From the pattern of mistakes it is clear that the copyist who did P75 copied letter by letter![22] This means that he did not know Greek—when transcribing in a language you know you copy phrase by phrase, or at least word by word. K. Aland argues that before 200 the tide had begun to turn against the use of Greek in the areas that spoke Latin, Syriac or Coptic, and fifty years later the changeover to the local languages was well advanced.[23]

    Again the Aegean Area is far and away the best qualified to transmit the Text with confidence and integrity. Note that even if Egypt had started out with a good text, already by the end of the 2nd century its competence to transmit the text was steadily deteriorating. In fact the early papyri (they come from Egypt) are demonstrably inferior in quality, taken individually, as well as exhibiting rather different types of text (they disagree among themselves).

    The strength of the Church

    This question is relevant to our discussion for two reasons. First, the law of supply and demand operates in the Church as well as elsewhere. Where there are many congregations and believers there will be an increased demand for copies of the Scriptures. Second, a strong, well established church will normally have a confident, experienced leadership—just the sort that would take an interest in the quality of their Scriptures and also be able to do something about it. So in what areas was the early Church strongest?

    Although the Church evidently began in Jerusalem, the early persecutions and apostolic activity caused it to spread. The main line of advance seems to have been north into Asia Minor and west into Europe. If the selection of churches to receive the glorified Christ's "letters" (Rev. 2 and 3) is any guide, the center of gravity of the Church seems to have shifted from Palestine to Asia Minor by the end of the first century. (The destruction of Jerusalem by Rome's armies in A.D. 70 would presumably be a contributing factor.) Kurt Aland agrees with Adolf Harnack that "about 180 the greatest concentration of churches was in Asia Minor and along the Aegean coast of Greece." He continues: "The overall impression is that the concentration of Christianity was in the East. . . . Even around A.D. 325 the scene was still largely unchanged. Asia Minor continued to be the heartland of the Church."[24] "The heartland of the Church"—so who else would be in a better position to certify the correct text of the New Testament?

    What about Egypt? C.H. Roberts, in a scholarly treatment of the Christian literary papyri of the first three centuries, seems to favor the conclusion that the Alexandrian church was weak and insignificant to the Greek Christian world in the second century.[25] Aland states: "Egypt was distinguished from other provinces of the Church, so far as we can judge, by the early dominance of gnosticism."[26] He further informs us that "at the close of the 2nd century" the Egyptian church was "dominantly gnostic" and then goes on to say: "The copies existing in the gnostic communities could not be used, because they were under suspicion of being corrupt."[27] Now this is all very instructive—what Aland is telling us, in other words, is that up to A.D. 200 the textual tradition in Egypt could not be trusted. Aland's assessment here is most probably correct. Notice what Bruce Metzger says about the early church in Egypt:

    Among the Christian documents which during the second century either originated in Egypt or circulated there among both the orthodox and the Gnostics are numerous apocryphal gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses. . . . There are also fragments of exegetical and dogmatic works composed by Alexandrian Christians, chiefly Gnostics, during the second century. . . . In fact, to judge by the comments made by Clement of Alexandria, almost every deviant Christian sect was represented in Egypt during the second century; Clement mentions the Valentinians, the Basilidians, the Marcionites, the Peratae, the Encratites, the Docetists, the Haimetites, the Cainites, the Ophites, the Simonians, and the Eutychites. What proportion of Christians in Egypt during the second century were orthodox is not known.[28]​

    It is almost enough to make one wonder whether Isaiah 30:1-3 might not be a prophecy about N.T. textual criticism!

    But we need to pause to reflect on the implications of Aland's statements. He is a champion of the Egyptian ("Alexandrian") text-type, and yet he himself informs us that up to A.D. 200 the textual tradition in Egypt could not be trusted and that by 200 the use of Greek had virtually died out there. So on what basis can he argue that the Egyptian text subsequently became the best? Aland also states that in the 2nd century, 3rd century, and into the 4th century Asia Minor continued to be "the heartland of the Church." This means that the superior qualifications of the Aegean area to protect, transmit and attest the N.T. Text carry over into the 4th century! It happens that Hort, Metzger and Aland (along with many others) have linked the "Byzantine" text-type to Lucian of Antioch, who died in 311. Now really, wouldn't a text produced by a leader in "the heartland of the Church" be better than whatever evolved in Egypt?


    [21]Metzger, Early Versions, p. 104.
    [22]Colwell, "Scribal Habits," pp. 374-76, 380.
    [23]K. and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), pp. 52-53.
    [24]Ibid., p. 53.
    [25]Roberts, pp. 42-43, 54-58.
    [26]K. and B. Aland, p. 59.
    [27]K. Aland, "The Text of the Church?", Trinity Journal, 1987, 8NS:138.
    [28]Metzger, Early Versions, p. 101.​


    I believe Pickering’s remark about Lucian was tongue-in-cheek, for one so intimately associated with the Arian heresy would not be credible to the orthodox of his time. The Antiochian school of Lucian, “as A. Harnack said, is the nursery of the Arian doctrine, and Lucian, its head, is the Arius before Arius.” [citation]

    I shall continue with Pickering’s thoughts:

    The normal transmission

    We have seen that the faithful recognized the authority of the New Testament writings from the start—had they not they would have been rejecting the authority of the Apostles, and hence not been among the faithful. To a basic honesty would be added reverence in their handling of the text, from the start. And to these would be added vigilance, since the Apostles had repeatedly and emphatically warned them against false teachers.

    With an ever-increasing demand and consequent proliferation of copies throughout the Graeco-Roman world and with the potential for verifying copies by having recourse to the centers still possessing the Autographs, the early textual situation was presumably highly favorable to the wide dissemination of MSS in close agreement with the original text. By the early years of the second century the dissemination of such copies can reasonably be expected to have been very widespread, with the logical consequence that the form of text they embodied would early become entrenched throughout the area of their influence.

    The considerations just cited [I skipped passages between this and the previous excerpt. –SMR] are crucial to an adequate understanding of the history of the transmission of the text because they indicate that a basic trend was established at the very beginning—a trend that would continue inexorably until the advent of a printed N.T. text. I say "inexorably" because, given a normal process of transmission, the science of statistical probability demonstrates that a text form in such circumstances could scarcely be dislodged from its dominant position—the probabilities against a competing text form ever achieving a majority attestation would be prohibitive no matter how many generations of MSS there might be. (The demonstration vindicating my assertion is in Appendix C.) It would take an extraordinary upheaval in the transmissional history to give currency to an aberrant text form. We know of no place in history that will accommodate such an upheaval.

    The argument from probability would apply to secular writings as well as the New Testament and does not take into account any unusual concern for purity of text. I have argued, however, that the early Christians did have a special concern for their Scriptures and that this concern accompanied the spread of Christianity. Thus Irenaeus clearly took his concern for textual purity (which extended to a single letter) to Gaul and undoubtedly influenced the Christians in that area. The point is that the text form of the N.T. Autographs had a big advantage over that of any secular literature, so that its commanding position would become even greater than the argument from probability would suggest. The rapid multiplication and spread of good copies would raise to absolutely prohibitive levels the chances against an opportunity for aberrant text forms to gain any kind of widespread acceptance or use.[30]

    It follows that within a relatively few years after the writing of the N.T. books there came rapidly into existence a "Majority" text whose form was essentially that of the Autographs themselves. This text form would, in the natural course of things, continue to multiply itself and in each succeeding generation of copying would continue to be exhibited in the mass of extant manuscripts. In short, it would have a "normal" transmission.

    The use of such designations as "Syrian," "Antiochian," and "Byzantine" for the Majority Text reflects its general association with that region. I know of no reason to doubt that the "Byzantine" text is in fact the form of the text that was known and transmitted in the Aegean area from the beginning.

    In sum, I believe that the evidence clearly favors that interpretation of the history of the text which sees the normal transmission of the text as centered in the Aegean region, the area that was best qualified, from every point of view, to transmit the text, from the very first. The result of that normal transmission is the "Byzantine" text-type. In every age, including the second and third centuries, it has been the traditional text.

    So then, I claim that the N.T. text had a normal transmission, namely the fully predictable spread and reproduction of reliable copies of the Autographs from the earliest period down through the history of transmission until the availability of printed texts brought copying by hand to an end.


    [30]I have avoided introducing any argument based on the providence of God because not all accept such argumentation and because the superiority of the Traditional Text can be demonstrated without recourse to it. Thus, I believe the argument from statistical probability given above is valid as it stands. However, while I have not argued on the basis of Providence, I wish the reader to understand that I personally do not think that the preservation of the true text was so mechanistic as the discussion above might suggest. From the evidence previously adduced, it seems clear that a great many variant readings (perhaps most of the malicious ones) that existed in the second century simply have not survived—we have no extant witness to them. We may reasonably conclude that the early Christians were concerned and able watchdogs of the true text. I would like to believe that they were aided and abetted by the Holy Spirit. In that event, the security of the text is considerably greater than that suggested by probability alone, including the proposition that none of the original wording has been lost.
    [31]I have been accused of inconsistency in that I criticize W-H for treating the NT like any other book and yet myself claim a "normal transmission" for the Majority Text. The crucial point is that I also recognize an "abnormal transmission," whereas W-H did not. Fee seriously distorts my position by ignoring my discussion of the abnormal transmission ("A Critique," pp. 404-08) and mis-stating my view of the normal transmission (Ibid., p. 399). I hold that 95% of the variants, the obvious transcriptional errors, belong (for the most part) to the normal transmission, whereas most of the remaining 5%, the "significant" variants, belong to the abnormal transmission.​


    I have added footnote #31 to indicate Pickering begins a discussion at this point regarding “The Abnormal Transmission” of the text. Those interested may access it from the link.

    One can see that Pickering uses the method of “statistical probability” to support his views, and while this may be valid, and we may appreciate it, it is not the approach of faith in the providential preserving of the text by the Lord. Pickering plainly disavows using the doctrine of preservation so as to get a better hearing from those in the discipline who reject it. We do not stand on that methodology.

    Remember, what I am seeking to do – often using the research of others – is what Maurice Robinson and Wm. Pierpont posited (from their “Introduction” in THE NEW TESTAMENT IN THE ORIGINAL GREEK ACCORDING TO THE BYZANTINE / MAJORITY TEXTFORM):

    A sound rational approach which accounts for all the phenomena and offers a reconstruction of the history of textual transmission is all that is demanded for any text-critical hypothesis.​

    Below we shall consider more of Dr. Wallace’s views, as they are what Alan Kurschner uses against Majority Text and Textus Recptus advocates.
  26. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Continuing to respond to Dr. Daniel B. Wallace’s essay dealing with KJV/TR and MT views, “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism” – Dr. Wallace writes,

    2. Faulty Assumptions

    More serious than a question-begging approach are several decidedly faulty assumptions made by MT/TR advocates. These assumptions are shown to be faulty either by the force of logic or empirical evidence.

    a. Preservation is a necessary corollary of inspiration…

    [Wallace quoting text critic Ehrman] “…Any claim that God preserved the New Testament text intact, giving His church actual, not theoretical, possession of it, must mean one of three things—either 1) God preserved it in all the extant manuscripts so that none of them contain any textual corruptions, or 2) He preserved it in a group of manuscripts, none of which contain any corruptions, or 3) He preserved it in a solitary manuscript which alone contains no corruptions…”

    The problem with these first and second possibilities is that neither one of them is true: no two NT manuscripts agree completely—in fact, there are between six and ten variations per chapter for the closest two manuscripts.

    Is it possible that the NT text was preserved intact in a single manuscript? No one argues this particular point, because it is easily demonstrable that every manuscript has scribal errors in it. However, one group does argue that a particular printed edition of the NT has been providentially preserved. Proponents of the Textus Receptus (as opposed to those who argue for the majority text) believe that the TR satisfies this third requirement. There are numerous problems with such a view, but it should be noted that TR advocates are at least consistent in putting preservation on the same level with inspiration.

    Nevertheless, there seems to be one major flaw in their approach, from a biblical standpoint: If the TR equals the original text, then the editor must have been just as inspired as the original writers, for he not only selected what readings were to go in this first published edition, but he also created some of the readings. To be specific, the last leaf of Erasmus’ copy of Revelation was missing, so he “back-translated” from Latin into Greek and thereby created numerous readings which have never been found in any Greek manuscript.​

    We talked about Erasmus and this portion of Revelation above , so we needn’t belabor it.

    Interested parties may review what has been said previously, and also check Dr. Wallace’s full remarks in this present section of his critique (I don’t re-print it so as not to make this overly long).

    The MT folks have answered this in various of their writings, noted above (with links to their works), particularly Robinson & Pierpont’s Intro to their NT According to the Byzantine Text-type, Pickering’s Identity of the NT Text, and Dr. Borman’s online essay, “The Preservation of the New Testament Text: A Common Sense Approach” (responding specifically to Wallace).

    Wallace quotes Ehrman as saying, “Any claim that God preserved the New Testament text intact, giving His church actual, not theoretical, possession of it,” and Ehrman then says that this “must mean one of three things,” and makes his list—but what if it was not done according to one of those three, which it in fact was not.

    Providential preservation was a process—a means not reckoned with in Ehrman’s “three”—utilizing a core group of MSS, the Byzantine, which was kept pure to a great extent, and certain MSS from this text-type came purposefully into the hands of Erasmus and the other Reformation editors, and the overriding hand of God had some readings lost to these Greek MSS chosen from the Latin (and/or ancient versions) to comprise the final editorial production which, in translation, emerged as the King James Bible, and the textual choices determining this translation were reproduced in Scrivener’s 1894 edition of the Textus Receptus. What, the Sovereign who can determine the fate of every sparrow that ever lived, and can decree the existence of each and every hair of our heads, He cannot decree the minute letters of the Greek and Hebrew texts which shall underlie the Bible we have in the Great English Version, thus keeping His promise to retain intact every word He has stated He would have us live by?

    And if this line of argument were not enough, there is a corroborating line based on the MSS that came up through the mountain peoples of Italy who eventually became known as the Waldenses (in France the Vadois) and Albigenses, these dissenters from Rome who were forerunners of the Reformation, having Bibles of the type used by the missionaries from Antioch and Asia Minor.


    Back to Dr. Wallace:

    Non-Biblical Doctrinal Basis

    We are often told that the consistently Christian view, or the only orthodox view of the text is one which embraces the Byzantine text-type, and that to embrace a different form of the text is to imbibe in heresy. Although this charge is vigorously denied by non-MT/TR evangelicals, the tables are rarely turned. It is our contention, however, that to use the doctrine of preservation in support of the MT/TR is to have a non-biblical view which cannot consistently be applied to both testaments. The majority text-preservation connection is biblically unfounded in four ways, two of which have already been touched on.

    a. Biblical silence. As we have argued concerning the faulty assumption that preservation must be through “majority rule,” the scriptures nowhere tell us how God would preserve the NT text. What is ironic is that as much ink as MT/TR advocates spill on pressing the point that theirs is the only biblical view, when it comes to the preserved text being found in the majority of witnesses, they never quote one verse. Although they accuse other textual critics of rationalism, their argument for preservation via the majority has only a rational basis, not a biblical one. “God must have done this”63—not because the Bible says so, but because logic dictates that this must be the case.​

    We say, this is what God has done (looking at the evidences of what exists, of what He has brought to pass), and, as I’ve said, we see that He has used the majority of Greek MSS to preserve His word. We proceed according to the dogma of Providential Preservation (PP) rather than the dogma of a supposed neutrality toward the data.

    b. Old Testament examples of preservation. Again, as we have already pointed out, the few OT examples of preservation of scripture do not herald the majority, but only the mere existence of a written witness. This fact leads to our third point—that the argument from preservation actually involves bibliological contradictions.​

    I am not aware that any of the holders to PP aver the same principles of preservation apply for the OT as for the New. God used the Aaronic priesthood to superintend the Hebrew text, a small number of people with this assignment. In the NT period he used the priesthood of believers, and the MSS they produced and used.

    c. A Marcionite view of the text. Marcion was a second century heretic whose literary remains are found only in essays written against him. Metzger points out that

    The main points of Marcion’s teaching were the rejection of the Old Testament and a distinction between the Supreme God of goodness and an inferior God of justice, who was the Creator and the God of the Jews. He regarded Christ as the messenger of the Supreme God. The Old and New Testaments, Marcion argued, cannot be reconciled to each other.64​

    It is our contention that majority text advocates follow in Marcion’s train when it comes to their doctrine of preservation because their theological argument does not work for the Old Testament. If our contention is true, then the dogmatic basis for the majority text is bibliologically schizophrenic. The evidence is of two kinds.​

    I wonder if Dr. Wallace could make this proposition even more convoluted and abstruse! Why may not two different principles apply for each of the two Testaments? I see no reason whatever to insist that they both have the same process of preservation.


    First, the argument that the divine motive for preservation is public availability—as poor an argument as it is for the Greek text—is even worse for the Hebrew. Not only is it alleged that “God must do more than merely preserve the inspired original New Testament text. He must preserve it in a public way … through the continuous usage of His Church,”65 but that “down through the ages God’s providential preservation of the New Testament has operated only through believers …”66 But the Hebrew scriptures were neither preserved publicly—on display through the church as it were—nor only through Christians. In light of this, how can majority text advocates escape the charge of Marcionism? In what way can they argue that a bibliological doctrine is true for the NT but is not true for the OT?​

    I would say entirely different principles were in operation in OT times to preserve the Masoretic manuscripts. As I have written above, there were degrees of preservation – steps in the process – as regards the NT MSS, as well as “adequate preservation” in the various sectors of the church. In the OT period, the Scriptures were in the hands of the priests, and in a time of widespread apostasy they almost disappeared (yet God preserved at least one copy which was discovered in the temple by the men working under the priest, Hilkiah, who then gave it to King Josiah). I ask again, why must the principles be identical? I see no reason for it. Is this not a “straw man” Dr. Wallace is knocking down?


    Second, it is demonstrable that the OT text does not meet the criteria of preservation by majority rule. Although the Masoretic textual tradition (which represents almost the entirety of the extant Hebrew manuscripts) is highly regarded among most OT textual critics, none (to my knowledge) claim that it is errorless.67 Most OT scholars today would agree with Klein that “Samuel MT is a poor text, marked by extensive haplography and corruption—only the MT of Hosea and Ezekiel is in worse condition.”68 In fact, a number of readings which only occur in versions (i.e., not in the extant Hebrew manuscripts at all), or are found only in one or two early Qumran manuscripts, have indisputable claim to authenticity in the face of the errant majority.69 Furthermore, in many places, all the extant Hebrew manuscripts (as well as versions) are so corrupt that scholars have been forced to emend the text on the basis of mere conjecture.70 Significantly, many such conjectures (but not all) have been vindicated by the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.71 Majority text advocates simply do not grapple with these OT textual phenomena. And if they were to do so and were even to prove many minority text readings or conjectures false, our point would still stand. Only if they could demonstrate that all minority text readings and all conjectures were inferior (or at least probably so), could their argument hold water. The indisputable fact is that OT textual criticism simply cannot be conducted on the basis of counting noses. Since this is the case, either majority text advocates must abandon their theological premise altogether, or else be subject to the charge of a bibliological double standard.​

    To give some perspective on Wallace’s radical position I quote from the online essay,
    “The Preservation of Scripture”, by W.W. Combs:

    ‘In an article entitled “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism,”(20) by Daniel B. Wallace, we find what is apparently the first definitive, systematic denial of a doctrine of preservation of Scripture.(21) He has been joined in his view by W. Edward Glenny.(22) Though it is impossible to prove that most evangelical Christians have always affirmed a doctrine of preservation, the position of Wallace and Glenny appears to be a rather novel one.’

    (20) Grace Theological Journal 12 (Spring 1991): 21–50. This article originally appeared in New Testament Essays in Honor of Homer A. Kent, Jr., ed. Gary T. Meadors (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1991), pp. 69–102.
    (21) Wallace’s former teacher, Harry Sturz, did in fact precede him in the denial of any corollary between inspiration and preservation, but Sturz argued, contrary to Wallace, that preservation is promised in Scripture. See Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), p. 38.
    (22) “The Preservation of Scripture,” in chapter 5 of The Bible Version Debate: The Perspective of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, ed. Michael A. Grisanti (Minneapolis: Central Baptist Theological Seminary, 1997). But, as I will demonstrate later, Glenny retreats from his denial in a footnote to his essay.​

    Note also the response (a link to which is given below) of Dr. Strouse to Comb’s point of view. I go with Strouse over Combs, although Strouse acknowledges worth in Combs’ essay.


    By way of responding to Wallace, I would like to introduce more from E.F. Hills shortly, and give a couple of links to articles by Dr. Thomas Strouse on the OT Scriptures. I find Strouse a competent scholar (most of what I have seen of his pertains to the OT), and his aggressive baptistic stance does not put me off.

    There is a school, yes, one might well call it an industry, and the livelihood of many, which thrives on the proposition that the OT and NT Scriptures are in bad shape and we need text-critical experts to set us straight on the Bible God did not see fit to preserve for us. I neither trust nor believe this school. I know I will garner to myself various epithets indicating ignorance and obscurantism for dismissing their piles of purported evidences, but those guided by the dogma of so-called neutral text-critical studies are in fact far from neutral, they are contra the attestations of Scripture to itself, contra faith, and the reasoning which proceeds from that.

    The defense of the OT Scripture, the Masoretic text, is similar in some respects to the defense of the Greek TR, in that it primarily involves one manuscript, called the Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text, also known as Daniel Bomberg’s second edition (1524-25), or the Second Great Rabbinic Bible, which became the standard Masoretic text for the following 400 years. For some info on it see this article in Cloud’s archives from D.A. Waite’s Defending the King James Bible.

    As you will see from the article there is (and was) controversy as to whether the vowel points were added by the Masoretes or were there from before—and in—the time the Lord Jesus was among us, and were but preserved by the Masoretes. Owen and Turretin both were deeply involved in defending this latter view, as was the greatest Hebraist of that time, Johannes Buxtorf (1564-1629), the main defender of the view that the points were part of the text, at least from the time of Ezra.

    In Strouse’s essay below, “Scholarly Myths…”, he defends this view. I became aware while reading the essay that John Gill had written a book, A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-Points, and Accents: DISSERTATION CONCERNING THE ANTIQUITY OF THE HEBREW-LANGUAGE,, although this online version is not easy on the eyes, and the footnotes/citations which are a rich source with Gill, are hopelessly jumbled, so I was able to get a fine copy of the book in PDF for only $5. As the book is in the public domain, I will be glad to email it free to anyone who asks (it is about 1.2 MB).

    It was this Ben Chayyim Masoretic edition that the authors of the framers of the Westminster Confession and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (in 1675) referred to in their statements on Scripture.

    How do we stand against unbelief? By trusting in the words of God. This attack will grow as the days pass, and whether we have evidences to counter the assertions of those with no faith in the Bible’s preservation or not, we stand on the word of promise.

    Dr. Thomas Holland, in his excellent Crowned With Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version, has a chapter (#7), "Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls", which presents the exceedingly strong case the scrolls make for the Masoretic (i.e., Traditional) text of the Old Testament. It is remarkably well done, and I highly recommend it.

    Strouse review of Combs’ essay: Combs, William W. The Preservation of Scripture


    I give Hills’ comments at this point:

    The Infallible Inspiration of the Scriptures

    The Holy Spirit persuades us to adopt the same view of the Scriptures that Jesus believed and taught during the days of His earthly ministry. Jesus denied explicitly the theories of the higher critics. He recognized Moses (Mark 12:26), David (Luke 20:42), and Daniel (Matt. 24:15) by name as the authors of the writings assigned to them by the Old Testament believers. Moreover, according to Jesus, all these individual Old Testament writings combined together to form one divine and infallible Book which He called "the Scriptures." Jesus believed that these Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36), that not one word of them could be denied (John 10:35), that not one particle of them could perish (Matt. 5: 18), and that everything written in them was divinely authoritative (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).

    This same high view of the Old Testament Scriptures was held and taught by Christ's Apostles. All Scripture, Paul tells us, is given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16). And Peter adds, No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20-21). The Scriptures were the living oracles through which God spoke (Acts. 7:38), which had been committed to the Jews for safekeeping (Rom. 3:2) which contained the principles of divine knowledge (Heb. 5:12), and according to which Christians were to pattern their own speech (1 Peter 4:11). To the Apostles, "It is written," was equivalent to, "God says"….

    The Providential Presentation of the Scriptures

    Because the Scriptures are forever relevant, they have been preserved down through the ages by God's special providence. The reality of this providential preservation of the Scriptures was proclaimed by the Lord Himself during His life on earth. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail (Luke 16:17). Here our Lord assures us that the Old Testament text in common use among the Jews during His earthly ministry was an absolutely trustworthy reproduction of the original text written by Moses and the other inspired authors. Nothing had been lost from that text, and nothing ever would be lost. It would be easier for heaven and earth to pass than for such a loss to take place.

    Jesus also taught that the same divine providence which had preserved the Old Testament would preserve the New Testament too. In the concluding verses of the Gospel of Matthew we find His "Great Commission" not only to the twelve Apostles but also to His Church throughout all ages, go ye therefore and teach all nations. Implied in this solemn charge is the promise that through the working of God's providence the Church will always be kept in possession of an infallible record of Jesus' words and works. And, similarly, in His discourse on the last things He assures His disciples that His promises not only shall certainly be fulfilled but also shall remain available for the comfort of His people during that troubled period which shall precede His second coming. In other words, that they shall be preserved until that time. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away (Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). (Hills, The King James Version Defended, chapter 4 CHAPTER FOUR)​

    To summarize for the moment: There is an industry invested in the so-called “neutral criticism of the Biblical texts,” which has men and women who say, “I am an expert, and am here to tell you your Bible is untrustworthy in its present state and you need me to sort it out for you. I have a family and expenses and this will be my vocation as I undertake this work which is so vital for you.” Which is not to say that many of these secular-paradigm scholars, some of whom are believers, deliberately set about to hurt the faith of their brethren; quite the contrary, they see themselves as doing good for them. Nonetheless, they do hurt the faith of the children of God, and lower their trust in the reliability and authority of His word.

    On the other hand, there is a school of (generally) simpler and less-educated believers who proceed to evaluate the Biblical texts on the basis of their self-attestation, which attestation is in reality the Author of the Bible speaking of what He has done in writing it, and will do in preserving it. These mostly “unlearned” saints take Him at His word, even though they are reviled by those with other agendas and views of the sacred Book. Still, in the kindness of His providence toward us He has raised up scholars, such as Burgon, the many Majority Text advocates, Nolan, Scrivener, Hoskier, Dabney, Wilson, Hills, Letis, Holland, Waite, Moorman, Cloud, Grady, DiVietro, Jones, Johnson, et al, to encourage, support, and give us understanding.


    Here is the final portion of Wallace which I shall address:

    d. The biblical doctrine of preservation In light of the occasional necessity of conjectural emendation for the OT text, it is our contention that not only is the majority text argument for preservation entirely wrong-headed, but so is any doctrine of preservation which requires that the exact wording of the text be preserved at all. In spite of the fact that even opponents of the MT/TR view embrace such a doctrine,72 it simply does not square with the evidence. Only three brief points will be made here, in hopes of stimulating a dialogue on this issue.

    First, the doctrine of preservation was not a doctrine of the ancient church. In fact, it was not stated in any creed until the seventeenth century (in the Westminster Confession of 1646). The recent arrival of such a doctrine, of course, does not necessarily argue against it—but neither does its youthfulness argue for it. Perhaps what needs to be explored more fully is precisely what the framers of the Westminster Confession and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (in 1675) really meant by providential preservation.​

    Dr. Theodore Letis discusses just this point in his 45-page essay, “John Owen Versus Brian Walton” (in The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate, T. Letis, ed.):

    …As we mentioned at the outset, the sixteenth century was the era of Protestant attack and no real confessional statement appears on the doctrine of providential preservation until the Roman Catholic counterattack, which precipitated both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Helveticus Consensus Formula…​

    Letis’ essay is about the milieu these confessional statements were formulated in. Elsewhere I have discussed in more detail precisely what Owen’s view was concerning the extent of minute preservation in the MSS of his Bible.

    Wallace again:

    Second, the major scriptural texts alleged to support the doctrine of preservation need to be reexamined in a new light. I am aware of only one substantial articulation of the biblical basis for this doctrine by a majority text advocate. In Donald Brake’s essay, “The Preservation of the Scriptures,” five major passages are adduced as proof that preservation refers to the written Word of God: Ps. 119:89, Isa. 40:8, Matt. 5:17–18, John 10:35, and 1 Pet. 1:23–25.73 One of the fundamental problems with the use of these passages is that merely because “God’s Word” is mentioned in them it is assumed that the written, canonical, revelation of God is meant.74 But 1 Pet. 1:23–25, for example, in quoting Isa. 40:8, uses rJh'ma (not lovgo")—a term which typically refers to the spoken word.75 Brake’s interpretation of Ps. 119:89 (“For ever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven”) is, to put it mildly, improbable: “The Word which is settled in heaven was placed there by a deliberate and purposeful act of God Himself.”76 It seems that a better interpretation of all these texts is that they are statements concerning either divine ethical principles (i.e., moral laws which cannot be violated without some kind of consequences) or the promise of fulfilled prophecy.77 The assumptions that most evangelicals make about the doctrine of preservation need to be scrutinized in light of this exegetical construct.​

    I think there is adequate exegesis available to counter Wallace’s. As Letis has said, and I wrote of above, we bring our presuppositions and dogmas to our examination of the Bible. This is an example of how Wallace views what to others is perceived quite differently.

    Third, if the doctrine of the preservation of scripture has neither ancient historical roots, nor any direct biblical basis, what can we legitimately say about the text of the New Testament? My own preference is to speak of God’s providential care of the text as can be seen throughout church history, without elevating such to the level of doctrine. If this makes us theologically uncomfortable, it should at the same time make us at ease historically, for the NT is the most remarkably preserved text of the ancient world—both in terms of the quantity of manuscripts and in their temporal proximity to the originals. Not only this, but the fact that no major doctrine is affected by any viable textual variant surely speaks of God’s providential care of the text. Just because there is no verse to prove this does not make it any less true.78​

    The fact (discerned by many, if not all) that the Bible itself does indeed posit the teaching that God shall preserve His word, gives the doctrine both “ancient historical roots” and “direct biblical basis”. We have mentioned some of these Scriptural attestations above. It can be shown that “major doctrine” is affected by some significant textual variants, variants which are adopted by some modern versions.

    Wallace states,

    C. Conclusion on the Arguments concerning Preservation

    In conclusion, MT/TR advocates argue from a theological vantage point which begs the question historically and logically. More serious than petitio principii, they make several faulty assumptions which not only run aground on rational and empirical rocks, but ultimately backfire. The most telling assumption is that certainty equals truth. This is an evangelical disease: for most of us, at some point, the quest for certainty has replaced the quest for truth. But even for majority text advocates, this quest must, in the last analysis, remain unfulfilled. The worst feature of their agenda, however, is not the faulty assumptions. It is that their view of preservation not only is non-biblical, it is also bibliologically schizophrenic in that it cannot work for both testaments. And that, to a majority text or Textus Receptus advocate—as it would be to any conservative Christian—is the most damaging aspect of their theological agenda.​

    Each of these points, question-begging, faulty assumptions, and non-biblical doctrinal bases, have been answered above. For one, I do not mistake certainty for truth. As Jesus said to the Father, “…Thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) Or concerning Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6) It is my trust in Him and His word, a trust given by God to His children, that gives birth to my certainty—certainty in the veracity of His promises and the revelation of His Person, and His will and ability to preserve the verbal record of these. Truth is the facts, certainty my apprehension of and confidence in them. All given by His grace. Praise to His wonderful name.


    This wraps up the brief (compared to what it could have been) response to Dr. Wallace, who was the source of much of Alan Kurschner’s objections to the MT/AV points-of-view.

    I think all of Mr. Kurschner’s “8 Reasons” have been answered. This is how he ends his article:

    In conclusion: What basis is majority rule correct? Reason? No, since there is no rational principle to accept the majority principle. Is more better? Is eating 1000 jelly beans better than eating 10? No. Is having 1000 dollars better than 10 dollars? Yes. Only the nature of a category can tell us if quantity is a variable in the worth of something. Is having more Byzantine manuscripts than Alexandrian manuscripts better? No, since the Byzantine MSS contain many corrupted readings. And if someone objects, then that brings us back to a discussion of the quality of a manuscript and not its mere existence.”

    Above, we have shown these assertions of his to be false. And if he wants to discuss the quality of a manuscript, or anything else, I am game.

    The TR 1894 text of the Byzantine textual tradition does not have “many corrupted readings”.

    I would like to post something Jack Moorman said in his, A Reply to Dr. Daniel Wallace, in point 12:

    Wallace claims that "very few of the distinctive King James readings are demonstrably ancient". In our book Early Manuscripts, Church Fathers, and the Authorized Version, there is a thorough manuscript-by-manuscript evaluation of this question. The entire range of Greek manuscripts, early versions, and fathers before 400 AD are asked to vote on 356 distinctive and doctrinal AV passages. Overall they vote strongly in favor of the AV. Regarding the Egyptian papyri, all but six are fragments, and many of the doctrinal passages are indeed missing. However, Harry Sturz in his The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism has shown that there is considerable support for the other distinctive AV readings in the papyri. The "Five Old Uncials", Aleph, A, B, C, D, have long been claimed as the sole domain of the Critical Text. There is in fact among them considerable support for the distinctive AV doctrinal passages. In Early Manuscripts, Church Fathers, and the Authorized Version, an investigation of five categories of Greek manuscripts, eighteen categories of early versions, Tatian’s Diatessaron, and the fathers before 400 AD, show a decisive preponderance of evidence for the AV/TR.​
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2007
  27. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I apologize if this has been too long, or if it has not been argued tightly enough, or clearly enough. I have used some material (as I noted) from the thread, "What is the authentic New Testament text?", and there is more there than I have written here.

    It is my purpose to demonstrate that simple, "unlearned" believers -- for such I am compared to the highly educated text critics and various "experts" -- can stand up to those who operate in scornful and mocking intellectual unbelief, seeking to oppress those who are less schooled but strong in faith.

    It has ever been the way of the world to ridicule the children of God's kingdom, we who are not of the world (though in it), because we hold to His word despite all evidences to the contrary.

    As noted above, the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ has been merciful to us by raising up believing scholars to edify and strengthen His precious flock in this matter of the Biblical text. The days are coming -- and are even here now -- when we shall need to have certainty that the words of the Scripture we hold to are genuine, without loss or addition. I will post a list shortly of some of the better books in this vein.

    I repeat, we need not be held under "the tyranny of experts" who seek to diminish our faith in the precious words Christ came into the world to give us -- and before He came which he sent by the mouths of His prophets -- nor let them entangle us in their destructive unbelief. Many men and women have spilled their blood that we might have these words kept intact.

    Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away....and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 24:35; 28:20)

    Surely I come quickly....Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20)
  28. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    One of the goals of a true apologetic is to shut the mouths of the railers. Apparently, Steve here has done a fantastic job of doing so.


  29. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Keeping my word to list some good books on this topic, I would say the following are the eight best to start with (and probably in this order):

    Dr. Thomas Holland, Crowned With Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version). To see some of his work (scroll down a little when you get to the page): I read this only recently, and found it excellent, both on the NT Greek text and the OT Hebrew.

    Myths about the Modern Versions, by David Cloud (ISBN: 1583180591). Just Google the ISBN number and pick the lowest-priced vendor:

    The King James Version Defended, by Edward F. Hills (ISBN: 0915923009)

    Forever Settled: A Survey of the Documents And History of the Bible, by Jack Moorman (ISBN: 18883280610)

    The Revision Revised, by John Burgon (Google: revision revised burgon hobbs – [I like this edition])

    Ted Letis (Dr. Theodore P. Letis) has some cutting-edge, can’t-do-without research on textual matters, especially the history of the Textus Receptus from the Reformation on, and also what part B.B. Warfield played in turning the P&R churches to the German/modernist criticism. The Letis books get here, as otherwise they generally cost a fortune:

    5151 52nd Street, S. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49512 - Telephone (616) 942-8498 – [email protected]

    The Majority Text: Essays & Reviews in the Continuing Debate, Theodore P. Letis IRRBS 2000 $20.00
    Paper back, 210 pages

    The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority and the Popular Mind, Theodore P. Letis IRRBS 2000 $28.00
    Paper back, 232 pages.

    Edward Freer Hills's Contribution to the Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text, Theodore P. Letis, Paperback, 177 pages


    Burgon is not easy reading, but once gotten into, and gotten used to, he is a textual detective par excellence! Letis has vital material none others have. Hills is a classic. Moorman's a great resource. Cloud's book I would say is good foundation material. Holland also a great intro to the KJV / TR issues from a scholarly, irenic, gracious viewpoint.


    Rob (CH), don’t jump the gun. There may be folks preparing a response!

    I should also say that while there may be a few “railers” in the CT camp (and for sure we have our share!), most folks who hold to the various CT editions are serious and devout followers of the Lord Jesus, who simply differ in their take on the data. My own wife is such a one, and she is a godly woman who loves the word of her God; the pastor I had in NYC before moving to the Middle East is another.

    Though he is a formidable opponent in this fray, James White is a top-notch scholar and apologist for the Faith, whom I love and respect. I refuse to villainize him for his views, although I hold him to seriously err in this one area. Can brothers not disagree on a matter and yet remain in gracious unity in their hearts in the presence of the Savior? I seek to exemplify this approach. There is swordplay among brothers and friends, and there is the drawing of the sword against the evil one – it is part of spiritual maturity not to confuse the two.

    It is almost always wise to discuss the issues and data rather than the personalities of those who differ. We are on much safer ground that way, for the gospel is, We are more wicked than we ever dared to think [the “remaining corruption” and self-love within us], and more loved than we ever dared to hope [seeing our Savior poured out His heart’s blood for love of us even while we were ungodly and enemies]. One who is aware of his or her own profound wretchedness is slow to look askance at his brother, whom the Lord loves as He loves us! Is not this a truly Reformed state of heart and mind?

    Those who would wield the Sword of the Spirit well walk in this light.

    Samurai of the Almighty

    The modern warrior in reality is not the martial arts and weapons master of popular story, but the one who walks so as to give no inward place to the Devil, who walks humbly and meekly before God and man, yet has the authority and the power to lay waste demonic strongholds. The modern warrior's rule is purity of heart, simplicity of life, and the presence of God. Such a one can call on the Almighty, and is His samurai in the nether realms, wielding a lightning sword, the sword of the Spirit.​

  30. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    Hi Steve:

    You wrote:

    Hi Steve

    The holding to a catholic spirit depends upon the line in which you draw. I admit that my line may be a little more tightly drawn than yours, and my experience with James White was probably a lot diffferent than your own. {Moderator: Your explanation of your dislike for Dr. White was a bit harsh. I deleted it.}

    However, I agree with you that Baptists can be true Christians, and are erring brothers. That those who hold to CT are also the same. Yet, different from you I think, I believe that these "erring brothers" need to be lovingly challenged on their errors and called to repentance. I do not think it enough to show a person their error(s) but to also call them to repentance on the matter as well. This has been disputed by one moderator on this site, and he has censured me for it.

    If you hold to the position that you hold, then is not Dr. White and Mr. Kurschner railing against the preserved mss of the New Testament? You would think that if Dr. White and Mr. Kurschner had more humility that they would be less cocksure of themselves.

    Grace and Peace, brother

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2007
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