Ecclesiastical Text — Response to James White

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Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
For those looking into the claims for the Traditional Text versus the Critical Text, it is vitally important that you don't misunderstand the issues. Men like James White use a cunning approach to call the entire Traditional Text into question by citing a handful (and it is a relative handful) of very difficult readings found in the Textus Receptus. Then, men with a more narrow commitment to the Textus Receptus than the Traditional Text positions actually demands step forward to defend those readings...and the man trying to decide between the two views think the matter is to be decided upon the matter of the most diffiuclt of cases. This is erroneous.

For instance, one can acknowledge skepticism for passages such as 1 John 5:7 while still being firmly in support of the Traditional Text over against the Critical Text. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that Traditional Text advocates need to stop falling for this tactic employed by men like James White. Until someone has come around to see the doctrinal merits of the Traditional Text position, discussions about the most difficult readings in the Textus Recptus are superfluous (and even unhelpful). All the discussion of difficult variants in the TR does is distract from the main point.'s pretty clear that Steve Rafalsky and myself may differ on how we would handle some of the difficult readings BUT we are both committed to the same doctrinal presuppositions. THAT is the main issue here. Don't let the arguments pertaining to individual readings side track you from the matter at hand.

I hope this is helpful.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
I agree with Pastor Truelove that opponents of the ecclesiastical text will use some readings to leverage their criticisms. That this is inequitable is proven by showing that other text critical theories have their problems also. The question is whether a particular text-critical position is able to effectively deal with the problems on its own terms. So far as the "ecclesiastical text" position is concerned, these so-called problem-readings are fully accounted for on the basis that "the church" has borne witness to them and thereby provided a transmissional history which justifies their inclusion in the received text. Unless one is going to commit exclusively to the eastern church and deny the claims of the western church or its reformation, one is bound to acknowledge the testimony of the western church as a part of the "ecclesiastical" text position.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Ken Avery,

I noted your mention of the Logos 6 Ancient Literature Tool earlier in this thread, and checked it out. It certainly seems an excellent program, though way beyond my means, being retired on a fixed income.

I have a request: would you please look up any ancient references to 2 Timothy 2:19, as I am searching for ancient attestations of the reading (as it is in the AV), "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity". The Critical Text has the word "Lord" instead of Christ, and Dr. White taunts AV folks with its poor attestation and supposed "indefensibility". I care not what language it may be in, whether Greek, Latin, Syriac, or whatever—nor where it may appear, whether a ms, lectionary, version, father, etc.

Thanks much for your help!

In Christ,


Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
The notes in the NKJV indicate that both the critical text and the majority text read "Lord", and Dr. Robinson's Greek Text also reads "Lord." Hendriksen indicates that this verse could be a compilation of Numbers 16:5 (The Lord knows who are his) and Numbers 16:26 (Depart from the tents of these wicked men). Regardless, surely by "Lord" Paul means "Christ".

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
On Ephesians 1:18, The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Authorized Version / KJB)

“The eyes of your understanding” is the reading of the Reformation Bibles and the Traditional Textus Receptus and is found in Psi, 056, 075, 0142, 0150, 0151 (these from what are called the “Alphabet and O Uncial mss”)* and in the Greek texts of Stephanus 1550, Beza, Elzevir, Scrivener, and is so quoted by Cyril of Jerusalem in 386 A.D, Theodoret of Cyrus in 466, and Oecumenius of Thrace in the 6th century. It also appears in Lamsa’s Syriac Peshitta, and many other post-Reformation Bibles, both in English and other languages.

* [Dr. – and pastor – Jack Moorman, says of these, “The Alphabet and O uncials give important insights into the kind of manuscript that was being copied between the fifth and ninth centuries. They leave no question about the matter!” (Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version: A Closer Look! (With Manuscript Digest and Summaries), p 21)

The major variant is that in the CT and many Greek mss it reads “the eyes of your heart ”, though many of their mss omit “your”. Nowhere else in the Bible does this expression—“the eyes of your heart”—occur. Though it has similar constructions among the heathen philosophers: “Plato spoke about ‘eyes of the soul’; and Ovid, speaking of Pythagoras said: ‘with his mind he approached the gods, though far removed in heaven, and what nature denied to human sight, he drew forth with the eyes of his heart’ (Vincent’s Word Studies, p. 848)”, cited in Jack Moorman’s, When the KJV Departs from the Majority Text, 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Ed., p 71.

The Critical Text reading appears in Aleph A B D Dabs F G K L P, majority of cursives, most Old Latin, Vulgate, Syrian: pesh harc, Cop: sa bo


Some comments on this: first, we do not really have the majority of cursive Greek manuscripts—here is a sentence from a thread dealing (in part) with the “majority text” manuscript situation:

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.​

If anyone want to look further into this, click on the thread linked to above, and go down about 10 paragraphs (a paragraph consisting of at least two lines) and start with the sentence reading, “Jack Moorman, in his book, Hodges/Farstad 'Majority' Text Refuted By Evidence”.

The so-called “majority text” (MT) is in actuality an illusion, as but a fraction of the cursive mss evidence has been collated and made available. The brief section referred to above examines that.

In numerous places the Critical Text relies on minority readings, and that many, many times more than the Textus Receptus underlying the King James does (another place to go into that). As both the CT and MT editions admit, their texts are but provisional—tentative—for they do not claim to have a settled Bible. Is this what the Lord has promised to give us, a patchwork Bible constantly in need of being updated and revised? Is this what the LORD told Isaiah He would leave us:

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. (Isa 59:21)​

Having studied this matter of the texts for decades (I wasn’t always a KJV / TR man, but was considering other Bibles as far back as the 1980s), I have come to believe that the LORD fulfilled His promises for a preserved text—in Hebrew and Greek—and available in reliable translations in both English and other languages in the time of the Reformation. This understanding is a matter of both much study, and faith! So when I come across a reading in the KJV that has little apparent attestation (for not all the cursives, or old mss that have been worn to death, are represented) I prefer to take it on faith that this Reformation Bible has been put together by the providence of God, overriding—or even using—the frailty of men and accidents of transmission, so that we would have His word, concerning which He assured us,

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matt 24:35).​

What, only in Heaven His word is settled (Psalm 119:89), but not on Earth for men to whom it was written? We know that He said we shall liveby every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4); we also know that

his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Pet 1:3).​

One of those things being His every word we must live by! These Scripture statements are equivalent to divine promises. If He has given to us words that are uncertain, in a text that is unsettled, and we confused about whether this statement or that statement is reliable and true, then it cannot be He has kept His word, His promises.

But I believe He has kept His word, and the only Bible that can possibly be is the Greek and Hebrew underlying the King James Bible. The editors—Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, the Elzevirs—and the translators, with their various manuscripts, versions, and other sources of Scripture knowledge, all operated under the providential (not miraculous, in this case) hand of the all-wise and all powerful God, to deliver to us what He promised, by what unusual means He devised to that end. As I indicated in an earlier post in this thread, it just does not have His “signature” on it that the alleged “prize” of all manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus, was to be unveiled from the treasure house of antichrists, the blood of precious saints dripping from their wicked and violent hands.

No, I trust He did it right, in plain sight, apart from villainy. Even if there arise a verse, or phrase, or word, that has no apparent attestation anywhere, but is in the Authorized Version, and the mss underlying it (this includes the “back-engineered” 1894 Greek TR of Scrivener, as we don’t have the notes of the translators, destroyed in the great London fires, to point to their textual sources), I will take it on faith this is God’s word. Can I answer every single question put to me about this Bible—I probably can’t. But I will hold to this Book by faith in His promises. My other option is to hold to the MT editions, but they are admittedly provisional and uncertain, and I do not have the faith for that.

Can it be, that (according to my view) the age is rapidly winding down in crescendos of evil, our brothers’ and sisters’ blood in many countries soaking the ground, and our own affluent and high-tech lands in the West welling with a rising tide of depravity and hatred to Christ and His kingdom, and (note the tone of incredulity rising) we do not yet have God’s promised word to us in a sure form?
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
On Ephesians 3:9, And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ, (AV)

There are two major variants (and one minor, all men, which we shall skip) in this verse, the word fellowship in the AV/TR vs. administration or plan or secret plan or dispensation in the CT and the MT. The second major variant pertains to the last three words, by Jesus Christ, omitted in the CT but present in most all of the MT mss. First I’ll review Dr. Thomas Holland’s work (I do not believe this can be found in hardcopy), Manuscript Evidence, Lesson 10, “Textual Considerations”. He states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source <> see Lesson 10​

[End Holland]

What Dr. Holland is saying is that fellowship / koinonia and administration / oikonomia are, in this particular usage and at that time, synonymous—the sharing or giving to others what one is oneself partaker of. And that this is not a conflict in meanings.

Looking through Spiros Zodhiates’ The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, I see this confirmed; oikonomia (Strong’s #3622) has the usage of steward / servant (Luke 16:2), administration [of God’s grace] (Eph 3:2). Oikonomos, a house-manager, steward, overseer, figurative for minister (Strong’s #3623); and means to deal out, distribute, apportion; an administrator of goods or money—or as in Eph 3:2, the grace of God.

Koinonia (Strong’s #2842) has the meanings of sharing, contribution (Rom 15:26), communication / sharing (Philem 6), fellowship (Eph 3:9), distribution / ministry / service / ministration (2 Cor 9:13). Our fellowship / koinonia in the mystery of the gospel is our mutual participation in—Jews and Gentiles—and ministering to one another the riches of Christ.

Okay, there’s little doubt that oikonomia is by far the prevalent reading, and again I wonder why Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevirs—astute men all—went with the koinonia reading. We don’t know what mss or versions they had which guided them so, but I trust that God guided them by His providence, and as well the translators who were aware of the variant reading but chose “fellowship” nonetheless, and that the KJV reading is sound. Many of the Reformation-era Bibles have the koinonia / fellowship reading. I’ll hold to the King James / TR in this.

This is a matter of using a minority synonym; I won’t go into the various Critical Text extreme minority readings that outright omit or contradict the vast majority of mss many more times than the KJV / TR going with the minority, as I don’t want to divert attention from this defense.

As for the second variant, by Jesus Christ, this is a CT vs. MT and King James / TR reading. In so many places the CT omits the names Jesus and Christ—someone just doesn’t like either of those names.

Will Kinney in his KJV defense articles page says,

The words “by Jesus Christ” are found in the Majority of all remaining Greek manuscripts in existence. In his book, Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version, A Closer Look!, Jack Moorman notes that this is the reading found in the Majority of all remaining Greek manuscripts plus [uncials] D correction, Dabs, K, L, 049, 056, 078, 0142, 0150 and 0151.​

[End Kinney]

When the Critical Text versions, and even the far better Majority Text versions declare of themselves that they’re but provisional, tentative, continually subject to revision—I can’t place my trust in them. Okay, I know some do, and that with even the CT in “over four-fifths of the New Testament, the Greek text is considered 100% certain, regardless of which texttype might be favored by any critic.”* So whatever version one uses it has been preserved in the main, even if not in the minutiae, and is adequate to save and nurture both individual souls and entire congregations.

Still, I am comfortable in my mind and my heart using the Reformation Bible that held sway among the believing churches till the treachery that took place in the Jerusalem Chamber of the Church of England, back when Westcott and Hort did their evil deed. The sowing of the seeds of doubt and despair (for an uncertain Bible leads many to despair)—an enemy hath done this. I will hold to the Bible God gave the Reformation saints. It is sound.

* From the brilliant Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont.

Next: On 2 Timothy 2:19
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Puritan Board Junior
As someone who has vacillated between whether I should use the KJV or the ESV over the last few years, and having now landed firmly on the ESV, I can attest to having neither doubt nor despair due to my Bible. I too trust God's providential hand in its creation, and I too take it on faith that it is God's word. I don't appreciate the rhetoric this issue creates.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Since this thread is getting a pretty wide readership (James White's name is always a draw), I'd like to say that, while I differ with Dr. White on textual matters (and on baptism), I do appreciate the brother as a stand-up witness in a powerfully hostile world. Not only that, but he's a very good scholar (again, apart from textual issues) and theologian. I have a number of his books, and became aware of him back in the 1980s I think, in an article defending the deity of Christ—I do believe he had a flattop haircut back then.

We all of us need to have hearts of love to those brothers and sisters we differ with, if we are to abide in Christ and His commandments:

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:9-12).​

I know this will upset many KJV defenders—my standing up for James—as they perceive him an enemy attacking their precious Bibles. He attacks my Bible too, but I'm not threatened by him and his views. This is simply a disagreement between brothers and friends. I'm secure in my stand. Now I don't believe I could stand up to James White in an actual (verbal) debate 'cause I'm sort of slow on my feet repartee-wise. I could handle hecklers if I were street preaching (the Lord giving me grace), but to deal with intricate textual matters in a scholarly debate, no. I'm better at studying and writing.

I bring this up because my view is that we are entering into a period where the true church is going to enter into real difficulty, both from the culture and from judgments meted against said culture by our Saviour and King—and the Lord wants His people to be real disciples, keeping His commandments. I think we all know that to Him the basic commandments are to love God and our neighbor, especially our brother. James White is a brother. When/if the beast tells him he has to shut his mouth or suffer pain or prison, you know the man will look to his God and continue to bear witness. May I do as well in like circumstances. Our brethren (including sisters) around the world are doing this now, their blood soaking the earth. We shall not be exempt from the trials to come, nor are they afar off.

Just a word to the wise.
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Not all are like you, Elijah. God has given you grace in the matter. As a pastor and teacher I have seen much of the "doubt and despair"—and that on three continents; nor is it but "rhetoric", the things I say—I speak from my heart, and with knowledge. In fact, I cannot see how anyone could be unaware of the impact an uncertain Scripture has on multitudes.


Puritan Board Freshman
I don't appreciate the rhetoric this issue creates.
Elijah I would agree the rhetoric is a shame but it is an issue that must be addressed by any serious bible student. Which obviously you have tackled this matter yourself and now have confidence in your conclusion. I am a KJV advocate myself but I don't think it's perfect and i personally as Pastor Truelove stated in his video wouldn't tell anyone to stop reading their bible. I think pastor Truelove showed quite a bit of grace in this video and a reasonable argument. I hold a similar view at the moment on the text as him. But there are those on the fringe for both sides though. And much of their rhetoric is not edifying. But that said I don't think these Ruckmanite types nullify the ET position to which I and many reformed brethren firmly hold to.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The CT and MT have the Lord instead of Christ.

The reading found in the King James Bible is in the Greek texts of Erasmus 1516, Stephanus 1550, Beza 1598, Elzevir 1624, and the “back-engineered” Scrivener 1894. In the early “Alphabet and O” uncials it may be found in Psi, 048, 056, 075, 0142 and 0150. I repeat what I quoted from Dr. – and pastor – Jack Moorman, concerning these, “The Alphabet and O uncials give important insights into the kind of manuscript that was being copied between the fifth and ninth centuries. They leave no question about the matter!” (Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version: A Closer Look! (With Manuscript Digest and Summaries), p 21.) Four of these six uncials were witnesses also for the AV reading in Ephesians 1:18 discussed above.

The Reformation Bibles that read like the KJB with “the name of Christ” are Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Geneva Bible 1587, and Beza’s New Testament 1599.

The CT and MT reading is found in Aleph A C D dabs F G K L P, and majority of cursives, d e f g of the Old Latin, in the Vulgate, the Syriac pesh harc, the Coptic sa bo, and Gothic Arminian and Ethiopian.

An interesting aspect of this is that Augustine used the 2 Tim 2:19 reading of “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” numerous times in his writings. Looking in my hardcopy of the Post-Nicene Fathers (by Schaff) I found four uses of it (and I didn’t even get through half of his writings). Some friends using the Logos 6 Ancient Literature Tool found nine uses of it in Augustine, but I won’t list all of them here (unless requested).

In Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol 3, in Doctrinal Treatises, On the Catechizing of the Uninstructed, Augustine uses the Scripture, “For the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His; and, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” p 295.

In Vol 4 of the First Series, in On Baptism, Against the Donatists, again he uses the phrase, “let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity”, p 455. In the same treatise he uses the phrase again on pages 455 and 456. I could go on, but for space’s sake I cease.

Evidently Augustine believed that this was the true reading, and it was prevalent in the (probably Old Latin) Scriptures he had at hand.

I repeat what I said above concerning Eph 3:9: “I wonder why Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevirs—astute men all—went with [this minority reading]. We don’t know what mss or versions or Fathers they had which guided them so”. But they, and the 1611 translators, exercising their well-informed judgment, settled on the reading, “let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” as being the authentic one. I said above, I can’t answer every question put to me about how God’s providence operated, but I believe it did so as to give us what He commanded of His servant Jeremiah:

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word [emphasis added] (Jer 26:2).​

If He could command Jeremiah not to diminish a word of what He spoke, would He not abide by that perfect standard Himself, He who “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11)? The Almighty and all-wise, could He not preserve a Book of His precious words to His beloved elect people, perfect in its entirety? A friend asked this of me recently, “can you explain exactly why you hold so dearly to the AV and how accurate you deem it to be?”

There are two schools of thought on this matter of preservation in the minutiae, one exemplified by Dr. E.F. Hills, the Harvard-educated textual critic (author of The King James Version Defended, and Believing Bible Study), who said he thought there were only three (3) errors in the Greek text of the KJV. And then there are men like Dr. Thomas Holland and Will Kinney who assert there are no errors, and labor to demonstrate that. I ponder them both, and lean toward Holland and Kinney, believing that the Almighty can (if He wanted) preserve His word perfectly by His wondrous providence and wisdom. Did He want to?

The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O LORD,
thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever (Psalm 12:6, 7).​

Of course this passage is contested in its reading, but the truth is that even as far back as ancient rabbinic literature there have been two divergent views of what the Psalm is speaking of, the people of God, or the words of the LORD. A fair take on the matter:

However, there has always been ambiguity in this passage. I believe the ambiguity is placed here because God will preserve both the people, and His words. In fact that is the theme of Peter Van Kleeck, in The Genius of Ambiguity . He summarizes,​

“…the only sure conclusion is that there is no consensus within the English Bible tradition for the interpretation of “them” in Psalm 12:7 and it was precisely this lack of agreement within the tradition which was the genius of the ambiguity of the King James Version’s rendering. … by choosing a Greek-Latin basis the modern versions elect to overlook the Reformation’s Hebrew basis for translation in Psalm 12:6-7; and the churchly tradition in the new versions is censored by not including a translation that is broad enough to include both interpretations–oppressed people and God’s words.”​

In sum: I think I have shown that the passages James White has asserted are “indefensible” are indeed defensible, no doubt not to the satisfaction of those demanding “scientific” and “neutral” evidences which trump faith, but certainly reasonable to those whose faith extends to God’s ability to do what seems impossible to men: preserve His precious word even to the minutiae, so that we may hold it in hand rather than hold an abstract theory of a preserved word in a vast pile of mss like a needle in a haystack, but which our experts (some of whom are unbelievers) will provisionally $ort out for us through their advanced $cholar$hip.

E.F. Hills speaks of the matter thus,

Has the text of the New Testament, like those of other ancient books, been damaged during its voyage over the seas of time? Ought the same methods of textual criticism to be applied to it that are applied to the texts of other ancient books? These are questions which the following pages will endeavor to answer. An earnest effort will be made to convince the Christian reader that this is a matter to which he must attend. For in the realm of New Testament textual criticism as well as in other fields the presuppositions of modern thought are hostile to the historic Christian faith and will destroy it if their fatal operation is not checked. If faithful Christians, therefore, would defend their sacred religion against this danger, they must forsake the foundations of unbelieving thought and build upon their faith, a faith that rests entirely on the solid rock of holy Scripture. And when they do this in the sphere of New Testament textual criticism, they will find themselves led back step by step (perhaps, at first, against their wills) to the text of the Protestant Reformation, namely, that form of New Testament text which underlies the King James Version and the other early Protestant translations. (King James Version Defended, p 1)

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Although I have spoken of five texts James referred to as “indefensible” and have given them fair defenses, I have one more to speak of. Part of James’ strategy was to choose texts that had little Byzantine support, and then deny the relevance of the Old Latin witnesses (which latter view of his has been demonstrated as invalid by even CT textual critics, as shown above). From his point of view regarding how God’s providence worked I can understand his believing this, though I strongly disagree—and will give a reason or two shortly. But James made one further remark I wanted to briefly address (insofar as I am capable of being brief!); he said,

“This is where I draw the line. If you defend the Comma, you have no basis whatsoever . . . for assuring anybody with a straight face you have the original readings.

“If an entire vitally important theologically relevant text can completely disappear from the Greek manuscript tradition, then there’s no reason to believe we continue to have the original reading. . . And when I encounter someone who is willing to go to the mat in defense of the Comma I know I am dealing with a zealot who’s going to be holding to views that will be detrimental to anyone who’s trying to defend the faith in the context that we’re called to minister today, and that is in an extremely anti-Christian culture that is soaked with the false information and the anti-Biblical presuppositions of the Bart Ehrmans of the world.”​

First, argumentum ad hominem is counter-productive, though I am sure James’ exasperation quota is overfull given the limits he places on what he considers relevant textual data, and some of the abuse he has to deal with; second, I must say he is not the Final Word on apologetic methods despite his being one of the foremost Christian apologists—that is, this standing does not per se baptize his views and methods as paragons of orthodoxy. He may be one of the best, but this does not mean that all his views are right.

Dictionary definition of Zealot: “a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.” “Fanatical” may include excessive, obsessive, extremist, intolerant, close-minded, doctrinaire / authoritarian and holding to ideas to the extent of valuing them more than people.

I certainly wouldn’t characterize myself “a zealot”—though I might well say I’m zealous, that is, dedicated and passionate regarding the textual issue facing the church of Christ. Zeal and zealous are good Biblical words!

I also note, in other discussions, folks such as myself—in the company of EF Hills, Thomas Holland, and others who, in scholarly and irenic fashion, believe the Reformation-era King James Bible is the best we’ve been given—are pejoratively termed proponents of “KJVOism” and part of the “KJVO crowd” as though we were a cult or fringe group. This dismissive labeling of scholarly AV pastors and teachers is really unworthy of Reformed scholarly discourse. But then even the church is touched by the meanness permeating the general culture’s “conversational style”. Odd that to hold to the confessional views in this brave new world of 2015 (imagine what 2020 might bring!) gives one to be called a “zealot” and utterly inadequate to give a credible apology to the Faith and its Bible. Yet the Johannine Comma was cited a proof text for the Trinity in the following confessions:

Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 2.3
The London Baptist Confession of 1689 2:3
The Belgic Confession of 1561, Article 9 quotes the passage: “There are three who bear witness in heaven– the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit– and these three are one.”
The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, Lord’s Day 8, Q&A 25, footnote 5

The framers of—and early adherents to—these confessions were zealots, and James White “draws the line” against them? What sort of days are we in for such things to be said!?

Back to the Comma. I may not lead with those verses in discussions about the original readings with new Christians, or in speaking of the true Bible texts, but I have no qualms whatever affirming my belief they are original, and am capable of looking at the history of the textual transmission in the early centuries and seeking to discern what happened to remove this passage from most of the Greek manuscripts.

Harvard text critic and AV / TR defender, E.F. Hills, says this of the early centuries’ situation re the Comma,

In the second place, it must be remembered that during the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] and 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] centuries (between 220 and 270, according to Harnack)[SUP]37[/SUP] the heresy which orthodox Christians were called upon to combat was not Arianism (since this error had not yet arisen) but Sabellianism (so named after Sabellius, one of its principal promoters), according to which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were one in the sense that they were identical. Those that advocated this heretical view were called Patripassians (Father-sufferers), because they believed that God the Father, being identical with Christ, suffered and died upon the cross, and Monarchians, because they claimed to uphold the Monarchy (sole-government) of God.

It is possible, therefore, that the Sabellian heresy brought the Johannine comma into disfavor with orthodox Christians. The statement, these three are one, no doubt seemed to them to teach the Sabellian view that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were identical. And if during the course of the controversy manuscripts were discovered which had lost this reading in the accidental manner described above, it is easy to see how the orthodox party would consider these mutilated manuscripts to represent the true text and regard the Johannine comma as a heretical addition. In the Greek-speaking East especially the comma would be unanimously rejected, for here the struggle against Sabellianism was particularly severe.

Thus it was not impossible that during the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] century amid the stress and strain of the Sabellian controversy, the Johannine comma lost its place in the Greek text, but was preserved in the Latin texts of Africa and Spain, where the influence of Sabellianism was probably not so great. In other words, it is not impossible that the Johannine comma was one of those few true readings of the Latin Vulgate not occurring in the Traditional Greek Text but incorporated into the Textus Receptus under the guiding providence of God. In these rare instances God called upon the usage of the Latin-speaking Church to correct the usage of the Greek speaking Church. (EF Hills, The KJV Defended, Chapter 8, pp 212, 213)

[SUP]37[/SUP] New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Article, “Monarchianism.”​

[end Hills]

I saw on a textual discussion board once a person lightly dismiss me because I used Frederick Nolan’s monumental work, An Inquiry into The Integrity of the Greek Vulgate Or Received Text of the New Testament [multiple formats]. Perhaps Nolan (1784–1864) is not that well known or appreciated these days, but he was one of the foremost text critics to oppose Johann Griesbach (1745-1812) and his Greek text which had readings differing from the Received Text, one of the readings being the Johannine Comma (and others affirming the deity of Christ). Which led to Nolan’s investigation of the “Greek Vulgate or Received Text”. Two of Griesbach’s textual rules were, “The most suspicious reading of all is the one that yields a sense favorable to the nourishment of piety (especially monastic piety)”; and, “When there are variant readings in one place, that reading which more than the others manifestly favors the dogmas of the orthodox is deservedly regarded as suspicious.” (Novum Testamentum, Graece, 2nd edition, 1809, vol. 1, pp. 75-82; Cited in Hills, KJVD, p 65)

I will excerpt from a longer post on Nolan’s search for ancient mss containing, as he termed them, “the heavenly witnesses” :

On 1 John v.7 we may cite [its use in] Tertullian in the age next the apostolical, and St. Cyprian in the subsequent era. In the following age, we may quote Phoebadius, Marcus Celedensis, and Idatius Clarus; and in the succeeding age, Eucherius, Victor Vitensis, and Vigilius Tapsensis. Fulgentius and Cassiodorus occur in the next age; and Maximus in the subsequent: to whom we might add many others, or indeed the whole of the Western Church, who, after this period, generally adopted this verse in their authorized version…

With respect to 1 John v.7 the case is materially different [than the cases of 1 Tim 3:16 and Acts 20:28]. If this verse be received, it must be admitted on the single testimony of the Western Church; as far at least as respects the external evidence. And though it may seem unwarrantable to set aside the authority of the Greek Church, and pay exclusive respect to the Latin, where a question arises on the authenticity of a passage which properly belongs to the text of the former; yet when the doctrine inculcated in that passage is taken into account, there may be good reason for giving even a preference to the Western Church over that of the Eastern. The former was uncorrupted by the heresy of the Arians, who rejected the doctrine of the passage in question; the latter was wholly resigned to that heresy for at least forty years, while the Western Church retained its purity. And while the testimony borne by the latter on the subject before us, is consistent and full; that borne by the former is internally defective. It is delivered in language, which has not even the merit of being grammatically correct; while the testimony of the latter is not only unexceptional in itself, but possesses the singular merit of removing the forementioned imperfection, on being merely turned into Greek, and inserted in the context of the original. But numberless circumstances conspire to strengthen the authority of the Latin Church in supporting the authenticity of this passage. The particular Church on whose testimony principally we receive the disputed verse, is that of Africa. And even at the first sight, it must be evident, that the most implicit respect is due to its testimony.

In those great convulsions which agitated the Eastern and Western Churches, for eight years, with scarcely any intermission; and which subjected the sacred text to the greatest changes, through the vast tract of country which extends round the Levant, from Libya to Illyricum, the African provinces were exposed to the horrours of persecution but for an inconsiderable period. The Church, of course, which was established in this region, neither required a new supply of sacred books, nor received those which had been revised by Eusebius and St. Jerome; as removed out of the range of the influence of those ancient fathers.

As the African Church possessed this competency to deliver a pure unsophisticated testimony on the subject before us; that which it has borne is as explicit as it is plenary: since it is delivered in a Confession prepared by the whole church assembled in council. After the African provinces had been over-run by the Vandals, Hunnerick, their king, summoned the bishops of this church, and of the adjacent isles, to deliberate on the doctrine inculcated in the disputed passage. Between three and four hundred prelates attended the Council, which met at Carthage; and Eugenius, as bishop of that see, drew up the Confession of the orthodox, in which the contested verse is expressly quoted. That a whole church should thus concur in quoting a verse which was not contained in the received text, is wholly inconceivable: and admitting that 1 John v.7 was generally thus received, its universal presence in that text is only to be accounted for by supposing it to have existed in it from the beginning.

The testimony which the African church has borne on the subject before us, is not more strongly recommended by the universal consent, than the immemorial tradition of the evidence, which attests the authenticity of the contested passage. Victor Vitensis and Fulgentius, Marcus Celedensis, St. Cyprian, and Tertullian, were Africans, and have referred to the verse before us. Of these witnesses, which follow each other at almost equal intervals, the first is referred to the age of Eugenius, the last to that nearly of the Apostles. Thus they form a traditionary chain, carrying up the testimony of the African Church, until it loses itself in time immemorial.

The testimony of the African Church, which possesses these strong recommendations, receives confirmation from the corroborating evidence of other churches, which were similarly circumstanced. Phoebadius and Eucherius, the latter of whom had been translated from the Spanish to the Gallican Church, were members of the latter; and both these churches had been exempt, not less than the African, from the effects of Dioclesian’s persecution. Both these early fathers, Phoebadius and Eucherius, attest the authenticity of the contested passage: the testimony of the former is entitled to greater respect, as he boldly withstood the authority of Hosius, whose influence tended to extend the Arian opinions in the Western world, at the very period in which he cited the contested passage. In addition to these witnesses we have, in the testimony of Maximus, the evidence of a person, who visited the African Church; and who there becoming acquainted with the disputed passage, wrote a tract for the purpose of employing it against the Arians. The testimony of these witnesses forms a valuable accession to that of the African Church.

We may appeal to the testimony of the Greek Church in confirmation of the African Churches. Not to insist on positive testimonies, the disputed verse, though not supported by the text of the original Greek, is clearly supported by its context. The latter does not agree so well with itself, as it does with the testimony of the African Church. The grammatical structure, which is imperfect in itself, directly recovers its original integrity, on being filled up with the passage which is offered on the testimony of this witness. Thus far the testimony of the Greek Church is plainly corroborative of that of the Western…

…I shall now venture to conclude, that the doctrinal integrity of the Greek Vulgate is established, in the vindication of these passages. It has been my endeavor to rest it upon its natural basis; the testimony of the two Churches, in the eastern and western world, in whose keeping the sacred trust was reposed…[4] [Bold emphasis added.]​

In this unusual demonstration Frederick Nolan has shown how major portions of the Christian Church did not lose the use – the presence – of this verse in their Bibles. It is clear this is not a “well-meant” but unlawful addition to God’s Word, but a part of it that stood in John’s 1st Epistle from the beginning.

To conclude Nolan’s contribution to our investigation on what is authentic and what is false regarding the texts, some of his own conclusions are drawn from his preface:

Another point to which the author has directed his attention, has been the old Italick translation…on this subject, the author perceived, without any labour of inquiry, that it derived its name from that diocese, which has been termed the Italick, as contradistinguished from the Roman. This is a supposition, which receives a sufficient confirmation from the fact,—that the principal copies of that version have been preserved in that diocese, the metropolitan church of which was situated in Milan. The circumstance is at present mentioned, as the authour thence formed a hope, that some remains of the primitive Italick version might be found in the early translations made by the Waldenses, who were the lineal descendants of the Italick Church; and who have asserted their independence against the usurpations of the Church of Rome, and have ever enjoyed the free use of the Scriptures. In the search to which these considerations have led the authour, his fondest expectations have been fully realized. It has furnished him with abundant proof on that point to which his Inquiry was chiefly directed; as it has supplied him with the unequivocal testimony of a truly apostolical branch of the primitive church, that the celebrated text of the heavenly witnesses was adopted in the version which prevailed in the Latin Church, previously to the introduction of the Modern Vulgate. [5] [Emphasis added]​

In a lengthy footnote at this point, he documents the progress of the text of this primitive Italick version up into the mountain communities of the Waldenses and into the French language in a number of texts, and he states, “It thus easily made its way into Wicklef’s translation, through the Lollards, who were disciples of the Waldenses.” [Emphasis added] [6]

4 Inquiry Into the Integrity Of the Greek Vulgate, Or Received Text Of the New Testament; in which the Greek Manuscripts are newly classed; the Integrity of the Authorised Text vindicated; and the Various Readings traced to their Origin, by Fredrick Nolan (London: F.C. and J. Rivington, 1815), pages 291, 292, 293-305, 306.
5 Ibid., pages xvii, xviii.
6 Ibid., Footnote #1, pages xviii, xix.

[End Nolan]

I could go on, but I said I would be brief (after my own fashion). I really do consider the Johannine Comma to have far greater attestation than many other contested verses in the preserved TR / AV, and have not even a shade of doubt concerning it. It is a wonderful thing to defend this precious word of God with full confidence.


A pertinent quote attributed to Tim Keller: “Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” Would we all took this to heart! Remember the Lord's warning:

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matt 24:10, 12).

Let not such be said of us who are His.
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I desire this to be my last post in this thread, for although I have enjoyed it, I have my own book to work on—and send out into the world.
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