Responding to James White of AOMIN

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
I’ve decided to – as briefly as possible – come out of retirement from being highly active on Puritanboard so as to respond to James White’s “invitation” on the AOMIN blog, and also to things he said on the DL while talking with Rob Wieland. Due to my need to give adequate time preparing a series of sermons on Revelation, and whatever is left after tending to the church, and being a good husband to my wife (not in order of importance!), devoting the remainder to the book I’m working on, A Great and Terrible Love, I have to carefully set my time-management priorities (an update on the book will be on the blog here shortly). This response will be in one single post – I’m afraid to say – as separate continuous posts are no longer supported here at PB. Sections that would have been separate posts will be divided by red dots.

Dear Doctor White,

(Allow me, please, to call you James, Dr. White)

I know your invitation pertained to callers on the DL, but as your 4 PM in Phoenix is my 1 AM in Cyprus (and talking at that hour wakes my wife who needs her sleep due to grueling days [taking care of a mom with end-stage Alzheimer’s]), I hope you will accept my writing instead. I will try to keep this brief as possible for the sake of both our schedules, although to do justice to your questions thorough answers must be provided, which will make it more lengthy than a conversation on the DL. All I simply aim to do in responding to you is present an intellectually respectable “methodology that will actually allow us to determine what the text is” (approx. 15:40 on your DL talk with Robert). Maurice Robinson said somewhat the same thing in the Intro to his Byzantine Greek Text:

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)​

Now I don’t hope to convince you that my methodology will allow you to determine the text (for you have your own methodology), but rather that my “hypothesis” is internally consistent and can effectively be defended against detractors, whether fellow Christians or unbelievers.

You will excuse me, I hope, if in explaining my position I go to some length, bringing in the work of others, both to make clear to you where I stand, and for the sake of those who no doubt will be observing our interaction. I will, however, seek to keep my citations to a minimum, and to give links to sources rather than post them so as not to bloat the discussion.

An important point: I am all-too-aware that our exchanges have the potential to be grievously damaging to the faith our brothers and sisters have in their Bibles. You tear down the TR and Byz mss and I the Alexandrian / CT / Eclectic Text (ET), and we wreak havoc everywhere, in all quarters! So I would like to say some things I hope may offset this possibility, at least as far as my causing such damage is concerned. There are folks who use the AV / TR who imply or openly state that CT / ET Bibles are not legitimate Bibles, disparagingly calling them “per-versions”. I neither think nor will speak like this, for it is not true. I realize I will anger and alienate a multitude in my camp with this saying, but I do not care to please men as long as I please the Lord who is overseeing this exchange between you and me.

The woman through whose witness I was converted in 1968 used the Lamsa Pesh-itta Bible, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit was powerful through her, illumining and saving a wretch caught in the strong delusion of New Age and various occult influences. The men God used to minister to me up through the years used a variety of Bible versions; Jerry Bridges in The Pursuit of Holiness was used by the Lord to direct my life in a time of crisis, the NIV he used was quickened by the Holy Spirit to edify and give me divine life and guidance. Al Martin, in one of his sermons, using a Bible I do not believe was the AV, caused – through the Holy Spirit – the heavens to be opened and a new walk of faith made available to me. R.C. Sproul likewise on numerous occasions. Tim Keller used the NIV and sometimes the ESV (as well as his own Greek translations) during the five plus years he was my pastor, to my eternal benefit as the depths and wonder of the Gospel of Christ was opened for my wife and myself. Not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power these men (and that woman) were vessels of the anointing of the Lord Himself, and they could not have been such if the Bibles they used were not legitimate Bibles, and they not godly souls who walked intimately with Him. I repudiate the slurs put upon their Bibles and their souls, as I have personally seen the Lord in their ministries. The issue is, not the Bibles, but the variants and occasionally the translations. The variants may indeed not be legitimate, and there is no harm done in pointing this out, while generally affirming their Bibles. You AVers having fits over this view, consider, are you willing to tear down the faith of those for whom the Lord shed His blood so that your view may – in your own eyes – prevail? For many precious souls hold to the NIV / ESV / NASB etc, and would you take away that which they cling to, if they do not have faith that your view of the Scripture is right? The same applies to those disagreeing with the TR / KJV camp. There is a meanness and inconsiderateness over the welfare of other believers who differ in these debates, that the Lord will deal with, for you “correct ones” seek to take away that which they need to live – that being His Word, because it is not in the version you hold to be the best, and disagreeing with the variants or some translations in their versions you trash their Bibles in their entirety. Where does that leave them? Have you no mercy or love for erring brothers and sisters?

It would be better to graciously, if possible, meet people where they are, insulting neither them nor their Bibles, and demonstrate the soundness of your positions.

James, on the blog you stated these questions for the KJV / TR advocate:

1) When did "the church" "received" [sic] this text?
2) What council engaged in a study of the respective texts and determined that this is the "one" text that most closely represents the original?
3) Which text IS the "TR"? Can you identify a single text as THE TR? If not, why not?
4) Please explain why I should use the TR's readings of Luke 2:22, Revelation 16:5, and the final six verses of Revelation.​

Re #1, I think informally during the post-Reformation period, when the Protestant scholars – such as John Owen (1616-1683) and Francis Turretin (1623-1687) – were formulating their responses to Rome, and more formally at the Westminster Assembly – in the mid to late 1640s – when they hammered out the Confession, and its section 1:8.

The Waldensian churches of ancient Italy and France also pay an important part in this, as an apostolic witness to doctrine and intact Scriptures were maintained by them against the corruptions in both by Rome. I realize this is a controverted historical matter, but there is much good research available. For example: The Waldenses and the Bible: True, one of the articles is from Wilkinson’s book (an SDA), but if his research is sound and documented, why is it not as good as Metzger’s, an unbelieving liberal? If anyone throws Kutilek’s piece at me, he’s been well answered many times, and by Dr. Ken Johnson in particular in his, A Refutation Of Kutilek’s “The Truth About The Waldenses Bible And the Old Latin Version”, available at Bible For Today, item #2263 (link to online store given below). Will Kinney also addresses it:

#2 Would the Westminster Assembly count as a council? Would a general consensus among the post-Reformation scholars count? What about the assembly that produced the 1689 London Baptist Confession? Have the early Reformed churches ever had major (international) councils, apart from Westminster and Dort?

Did a council ever engage in a study of the respective texts and determine that one is the “one” text that most closely represents the original? (Hort imagined one in around 350 A.D., but that theory has been debunked.) Or did the believing church simply recognize early on which texts were in accord with the autographs still extant in apostolic churches, and which were mutilated? More on this below.

3# I do not believe we have or even know all the texts the Reformation editors had, though some of those Stephanus and Beza used are known to us, and the texts that the King James translators used – besides primarily using Beza’s 1598 edition – have been lost to us due, I believe, to one of the London fires destroying much of the translators’ notes and minutes.

In the above link to the Bible of the Waldenses we have insight into texts that came to Beza and the Reformers. These cast a new light on why they occasionally accepted variants not in the Greek of the Byzantine.

A rhetorical question you asked just prior to talking with Robert on the DL was, “Did they [the TR editors] have access to the information we have today?” It is likewise fair to ask, Do we have access to the information they had four centuries ago? It is documented they had manuscripts that no longer exist.

David Cloud also addresses this matter in "MYTH # 2: REFORMATION EDITORS LACKED SUFFICIENT MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE": [Taken from his book, Myths About The King James Bible]

An interesting view into the matter of the TR mss comes from Theodore Letis’ The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate:

Owen saw only the minor variants between the various editions of TR as valid areas for discrimination, staying within the broad parameters of providential preservation, as exemplified by “Erasmus, Stephen, Beza, Arias Montanus, and some others.” Within the confines of these editions was “the first and most honest course fixed on” for “consulting various copies and comparing them among themselves.”

This is both the concrete domain of the providentially preserved text, as well as the only area for legitimate comparisons to choose readings among the minutiae of differences. In fact, “God by His Providence preserving the whole entire; suffered this lesser variety [within the providentially preserved editions of the TR –TPL] to fall out, in or among the copies we have, for the quickening and exercising of our diligence in our search into His Word [for ascertaining the finality of preservation among the minutiae of differences among the TR editions –TPL] (The Divine Original, p. 301)* It is the activity, editions, and variants after this period of stabilization that represent illegitimate activity, or, as Owen says, “another way.”

Thus Owen maintained an absolute providential preservation while granting variants. (“John Owen Versus Brian Walton” fn 30, p. 160)​

* Owen’s Divine Original online: This is from volume 16 of Owen’s works.

Incidentally, this would be in line with the thinking of Dr. E.F. Hills, who allowed there were three errors in the KJV.

There were mss extant in those days which no longer are. We often hear of John Gill asserting Stephanus had 16 manuscripts with 1 John 5 in them and 9 of them had verse 7, but they are no longer with us in 2009. We have some editions of the Majority / Byzantine Text (which differ), we have Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, Elzevir, but what definitive TR edition do we have? Even Scrivener’s 1894 “backward engineered” TR but seeks to reproduce the particular Greek readings from these (first three) editions which conform to the KJV, though we don’t know if other versions influenced their choices, such as a Waldensian Bible might have. (Kinney has an interesting article on this: The KJV begat the 1894 TR and not vice versa. So where is our TR? Beza 1598 and Scrivener 1894 may be very close, but neither is the definitive and perfect original text. Nor did the translators use but one text. What we do have is their King James Bible. The TR 1894 would still reproduce the Greek readings underlying the AV perfectly.

Which leads me to another point. How do I proceed from here? What evidences are available to lead me to a knowledge of the truth of this textual matter that so perplexes multitudes? How do I truly know anything? I mean with absolute certainty? Only by God’s word. So I shall look to that.

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 Matt 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 in order to live? 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.​

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.

I realize we all have the same data regarding the Bible, both historical and textual, but we interpret the data differently. I appreciate and use evidences but they are not my epistemological foundation. God has said He would preserve His word for us. I know you believe that also, James. Clearly we have different views on how He did / or will fulfill that promise. This is where it gets sticky!

For what you believe – and teach – on this matter you get a lot of invective, hatred, contempt, and rejection, and I get the same as well. Before I proceed, let me say – as the folks here at PB know all too well – I do not tolerate that railing style of “discourse” (which James says “is earthly, sensual, devilish” [3:15], and Paul says should not be allowed in the church [1 Cor 5:11-13]) regardless of which camp they are from, yours or mine. We are brothers to one another – and will walk in the streets of glory together – though we differ on this particular. I refuse to demonize you or those in your camp, and I resist such characterizations of myself and those in my camp.

With all my integrity, and the intelligence the Lord has given me, I believe my understanding of the matter to be correct, and no doubt you believe the same for yourself. Now this is where the acrimony often comes in: If you are able to tear down my beliefs in this matter (I trust the Lord will keep that from happening), I would have lost faith in the reliability of the Bible, for, having carefully studied the matter, I have already lost confidence in the view you uphold, the Critical Text position (and the eclectic as well). I no doubt speak for multitudes in this. Yes, you are right in that we have sufficient agreement in the various text-types so that the Lord may easily save whom He will through these. But I am expecting a preservation in the minutiae, and not simply in the main. But more on this below.

Unfortunately, many of our textual critics (the experts and scholars) have already succumbed to this loss of faith in the Bible:

“In spite of the claims of Westcott and Hort and of van Soden, we do not know the original form of the gospels, and it is quite likely that we never shall” (Kirsopp Lake, Family 13, The Ferrar Group, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1941, p. vii).

“…it is generally recognized that the original text of the Bible cannot be recovered” (R.M. Grant. “The Bible of Theophilus of Antioch,” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 66, 1947, p. 173).

“…the optimism of the earlier editors has given way to that skepticisim which inclines towards regarding ‘the original text’ as an unattainable mirage” (G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 1953, p. 9).

“…every textual critic knows that this similarity of text indicates, rather, that we have made little progress in textual theory since Westcott-Hort; that we simply do not know how to make a definitive determination as to what the best text is; that we do not have a clear picture of the transmission and alternation of the text in the first few centuries; and accordingly, that the Westcott-Hort kind of text has maintained its dominant position largely by default” (Eldon J. Epp, “The Twentieth Century Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 43, 1974, pp. 390-391).

“…we no longer think of Westcott-Hort’s ‘Neutral’ text as neutral; we no longer think of their ‘Western’ text as Western or as uniting the textual elements they selected; and, of course, we no longer think so simplistically or so confidently about recovering ‘the New Testament in the Original Greek.’…We remain largely in the dark as to how we might reconstruct the textual history that has left in its wake—in the form of MSS and fragments—numerous pieces of a puzzle that we seem incapable of fitting together. Westcott-Hort, von Soden, and others had sweeping theories (which we have largely rejected) to undergird their critical texts, but we seem now to have no such theories and no plausible sketches of the early history of the text that are widely accepted. What progress, then, have we made? Are we more advanced than our predecessors when, after showing their theories to be unacceptable, we offer no such theories at all to vindicate our accepted text?” (Eldon J. Epp, “A Continuing Interlude in NT Textual Criticism,” Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, (Eerdman’s, 1993), pp. 114, 115).​

This pessimism is not what the Lord has provided for His people! Granted, James, this is not your view, but the trickle-down effect of these views has already impacted the believers in the pews, and many of those in the pulpits as well. There is a steady erosion of confidence in the intactness of the Word God has left His church. When we – you and I, and others like us – go at it as we do, it furthers this process. I hope to proceed in such a way as to greatly limit this erosion. I have not only a scholar’s and warrior’s interest in this matter, but a pastor’s!

In your conversation with Robert one thing I noticed very prominent in your remarks to him was your insistence on the need for consistency in our arguments for and defenses of the Faith and its foundational Scriptures, and in particular the present issue here, Do we have a reliable Scripture, and which is it?

Note here, please, the thread of cohesion in my arguments – the point of consistency throughout: God promised to preserve His word, and this is how He did it, according to how I believe (upon which I shall be elaborating). Of course you are right, James, to say this is not the only view of preservation there is, and people may well believe He has done it in another manner.

Before I wax too theoretical, let me try to briefly address the three TR (1894) readings of Luke 2:22, Revelation 16:5, and the final six verses of Revelation. Whether I discuss the TR 1894 or the KJV it amounts to the same thing.

Permit me, please, to use the work of scholars I think sufficient to satisfy the desire for “a sound rational approach” while maintaining our faith that God’s providence arranged for these readings to be in the TR editions the 1611 translators used and – over those of other differing readings – chose. A brief discussion will follow this quote from Dr. Thomas Holland’s, Crowned With Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version, pages 150-153.

Luke 2:22 – “of her purification”

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

Here the variant is small but the difference is profound. The Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (Beza's edition and Elzevir's edition) use the phrase, "of her purification" (katharismou autes). Modern versions and the Critical Text read, "of their purification" (katharismou auton). Contextually, the reading must stand as reflected in the KJV. Under the Levitical Law a woman was considered unclean after giving birth and needed purification. The passage in Leviticus 12: 2-4 reads,

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.​

The citation is quite clear: this was "her purifying" and not the purifying of both mother and child. Therefore, the Authorized Version and the Greek Textus Receptus agree with the Levitical Law.

To offset this point, some have suggested that the word them is a reference to Mary and Joseph. The argument is that since Joseph and Mary are mentioned in verse 16 and referred to in the second half of verse 22, the word them referred to the married couple. The obvious doctrinal problem with this is that under the Law of Moses, as set forth in Leviticus 12, the woman and not the husband needed purification after giving birth. The best contextual reading agrees with the Authorized Version, as it would support both the Old Testament Law and the actions presented in Luke's Gospel. [1]

Admittedly, the Greek support now known for the reading as found in the Textus Receptus is extremely poor. It is found in a few Greek minuscules such as 76 and a few others. [2] There is an additional textual variant within the Greek manuscripts. Codex D05 (sixth century), which is highly acclaimed among textual scholars, has the reading autou (of it). While the reading autns (of her) is preferred, both readings stand in the genitive singular and not the plural as auton (of them). Additionally, we find the Sinaitic Syriac and the Sahidic Coptic versions supporting 2174, and D.

The reading her purification has a great deal of textual support among the Latin witnesses. The majority of all Latin manuscripts read, et postquam postquam impleti sunt dies purgationis eius secundum legem mosi (And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses). The Latin word eius (or ejus) means her and stands in the feminine genitive singular, thus of her. In order to have the translation of them, the Latin texts would have to use the word eorum. When we consider the age and the number of extant Latin manuscripts, we find the reading is both ancient and well substantiated. It is also interesting to note that the reading has some support in the forged Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (possible third century). Written in Latin, it allows us to see that the purification spoken of in Luke 2:22 was a reference to Mary. Pseudo-Matthew reads: "Now, after the days of the purification of Mary were fulfilled according to the law of Moses, then Joseph took the infant to the temple of the Lord" (15:1).


[1] There is a debate among textual critics regarding eclecticism. Most support what is commonly called "reasoned eclecticism" which tends to focus on the age and number of existing Greek manuscripts. However, scholars such as G. D. Kilpatrick and J. K. Elliot promote "rigorous eclecticism" which focuses on the internal evidence above the external textual evidence. Therefore, according to this type of eclecticism, any textual variant regardless of age or number could conceivably be the correct reading if the internal evidence is sufficient. See Kilpatrick, The Principles and Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism, 1990, pp. 33-52.

[2] Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), 221.​

End Holland.

Before I comment I’ll also include a paragraph from Kevin James’, The Corruption of the Word: The Failure of Modern New Testament Scholarship:

An original Aramaic copy of Luke can also give a possible answer. In Aramaic, the letters for “his” or “her” are the same: THRH. The difference in meaning is determined by the vowels assigned to these four letters; “her” purification is theRaH while “his” purification is theRayH (Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon,1979, p. 372; Alger F. Johns, A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic, Andrews Univ. Press, 1982, pp. 6, 13). It is easy to see how an early copyist engaged in the translation of an Aramaic Luke into Greek, could mistakenly write “his” for “her” purification. Later copyists, finding both, wrote “their.” (p. 70)​

This reminds me of another reading where the text seems to have wide circulation and acceptance today, yet is wrong, that being the Critical Text’s Matthew 1:7 and 10, where the correct Asa and Amon – in Christ’s lineage – are replaced by Asaph and Amos. It is in the Greek of Vaticanus (and a very few others), and rendered into the English by the ESV. Metzger opines that the error was in the original Matthew wrote (the autograph!) and should remain in the Greek text. In the verse considered above, Luke 2:22, “their” is likewise wrong, though with far less textual attestation than the correct Asa and Amon have.

Now here is my point: Corruptions / mutilations did enter into the text, even the Byzantine; why should not the God, in whose hand is the heart of kings, to turn them “whithersoever He will” (Prov 21:1), why should He not turn the hearts of those editors of His word to pick the words He wants restored to the text? This is consistent with my method (though I realize not yours, James): in the main God preserved the accurate reading of the autographs in the Byzantine tradition; in some minute particulars, where the Byz lost the true reading, but by Him “kept pure in all ages” in some other manuscripts or traditions, and restored when He deigned to bring His word into the English language and those other language versions the great missionary movements sent forth throughout the world. As He is Lord of the Book, superintending it with His invincible care (“…for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” Ps 138:2 [Cf. ESV margin]), this is no big thing for the One who moved an empire to have His Son born in Bethlehem, who knows the names of all the stars in the billions of galaxies (in the known universe), who knows no limits to the care He will bestow on the Bride He has chosen for His Son, providing for her “all things that pertain unto life and godliness”, foremost of which is “every word that proceedeth out of [His] mouth” and by which we must live! (2 Pet 1:3; Matt 4:4)

Mine is a supernatural faith from beginning to end; my salvation is such, and the word by which I have been begotten is such. Why is it thought odd I should see the Book of God in this same light? My faith is not in the scientific scrutiny of men, in their theories of transmission and texts, but in the power and promises of the God of my life, His Book being one of those supernatural wonders. As the repentant emperor confessed, “...he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan 4:35) And the apostle says the same, He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11).

Surely you will say to me, James, “But it is not written how He will work all things, especially with regard to His Book.” Agreed. I say those things to show how easily He could have brought readings back to His Book lost through error, accident, or design. In the realm of faith it is as sound a view – at the least – as marshalling evidences. But this does not mean we are bereft of such! Evidences are just not the foundation of our understanding.


Not that we are bereft of evidences! For instance, Dr. Wilbur Pickering posits a compelling view of the transmission and preservation of the NT autographs in the early years of the church (please bear with my entering this segment of his work, as it substantiates the argument I posit regarding the warranted preference of the Byzantine textform over that of the Alexandrian/CT, upon which I build):

This is from chapter 5 in Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text II, where he talks about the history and factors involved concerning the copies made from the autographs. Please note that this later version of the book (the online version) is slightly different from the earlier hardcopy book:

We have objective historical evidence in support of the following propositions:

  • The true text was never "lost".

  • In A.D. 200 the exact original wording of the several books could still be verified and attested.

  • There was therefore no need to practice textual criticism and any such effort would be spurious.

However, presumably some areas would be in a better position to protect and transmit the true text than others.

[size=+1]Who Was Best Qualified?[/size]

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?

Attitude toward the Text

Where careful work is required, the attitude of those to whom the task is entrusted is of the essence. Are they aware? Do they agree? If they do not understand the nature of the task, the quality will probably do down. If they understand but do not agree, they might even resort to sabotage—a damaging eventuality. In the case of the N.T. books we may begin with the question: "Why would copies be made?"

We have seen that the faithful recognized the authority of the N.T. writings from the start, so the making of copies would have begun at once. The authors clearly intended their writings to be circulated, and the quality of the writings was so obvious that the word would get around and each assembly would want a copy. That Clement and Barnabas quote and allude to a variety of N.T. books by the turn of the 1st century makes clear that copies were in circulation. A Pauline corpus was known to Peter before A.D. 70. Polycarp (XIII) c. 115, in answer to a request from the Philippian church, sent a collection of Ignatius' letters to them, possibly within five years after Ignatius wrote them. Evidently it was normal procedure to make copies and collections (of worthy writings) so each assembly could have a set. Ignatius referred to the free travel and exchange between the churches and Justin to the weekly practice of reading the Scriptures in the assemblies (they had to have copies).

A second question would be: "What was the attitude of the copyists toward their work?" We already have the essence of the answer. Being followers of Christ, and believing that they were dealing with Scripture, 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. As the years went by, assuming that the faithful were persons of at least average integrity and intelligence, they would produce careful copies of the manuscripts they had received from the previous generation, persons whom they trusted, being assured that they were transmitting the true text. There would be accidental copying mistakes in their work, but no deliberate changes. It is important to note that the earliest Christians did not need to be textual critics. Starting out with what they knew to be the pure text, they had only to be reasonably honest and careful. I submit that we have good reason for understanding that they were especially watchful and careful—this especially in the early decades.

As time went on regional attitudes developed, not to mention regional politics. The rise of the so-called "school of Antioch" is a relevant consideration. Beginning with Theophilus, a bishop of Antioch who died around 185, the Antiochians began insisting upon the literal interpretation of Scripture. The point is that a literalist is obliged to be concerned about the precise wording of the text since his interpretation or exegesis hinges upon it.

It is reasonable to assume that this "literalist" mentality would have influenced the churches of Asia Minor and Greece and encouraged them in the careful and faithful transmission of the pure text that they had received. For example, the 1,000 MSS of the Syriac Peshitta are unparalleled for their consistency. (By way of contrast, the 8,000 MSS of the Latin Vulgate are remarkable for their extensive discrepancies, and in this they follow the example of the Old Latin MSS.) It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Antiochian antipathy toward the Alexandrian allegorical interpretation of Scripture would rather indispose them to view with favor any competing forms of the text coming out of Egypt. Similarly the Quarto-deciman controversy with Rome would scarcely enhance the appeal of any innovations coming from the West.

To the extent that the roots of the allegorical approach that flourished in Alexandria during the third century were already present, they would also be a negative factor. Since Philo of Alexandria was at the height of his influence when the first Christians arrived there, it may be that his allegorical interpretation of the O.T. began to rub off on the young church already in the first century. Since an allegorist is going to impose his own ideas on the text anyway, he would presumably have fewer inhibitions about altering it—precise wording would not be a high priority.

The school of literary criticism that existed at Alexandria would also be a negative factor, if it influenced the Church at all, and W.R. Farmer argues that it did. "But there is ample evidence that by the time of Eusebius the Alexandrian text-critical practices were being followed in at least some of the scriptoria where New Testament manuscripts were being produced. Exactly when Alexandrian text-critical principles were first used . . . is not known."[29] He goes on to suggest that the Christian school founded in Alexandria by Pantaenus, around 180, was bound to be influenced by the scholars of the great library of that city. The point is, the principles used in attempting to "restore" the works of Homer would not be appropriate for the NT writings when appeal to the Autographs, or exact copies made from them, was still possible.


What answer do the "four controlling factors" give to our question? The four speak with united voice: "The Aegean area was the best qualified to protect, transmit and attest the true text of the N.T. writings." This was true in the 2nd century; it was true in the 3rd century; it continued to be true in the 4th century. And now we are ready to answer the question, "Was the transmission normal?", and to attempt to trace the history of the text.



[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.
[29]W.R. Farmer, The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (Cambridge: University Press, 1974), pp. 14-15. He cites B.H. Streeter, The Four Gospels, 1924, pp. 111, 122-23.​


I post this fairly lengthy section of Pickering’s to give an idea of the text-critical hypothesis he gives to account for the existence of the Byzantine text, and also to put in perspective the phenomenon of the Alexandrian textform. Remember what Dr. Maurice Robinson said,

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

Please, forgive this lengthy apparent digression from the discussion of Revelation 16:5! We have not interacted before, James, and I need to establish my arguments with some substance, so both you can see my frame of reference, as well as those who are observing our discussion and unfamiliar with me – as you are quite well known from your books and AOMIN, but I am, to quote Dylan, “a complete unknown”! Henceforth I will for the most part try to give the URLs to material rather than posting them.

You must be getting impatient to see what I have to say. To Revelation 16:5:

Among us there are two schools of thought concerning this text. One of them is that of E.F. Hills, who opined that it is a “conjectural emendation” and ought not be recognized as original; this would agree with the methodology of John Owen (noted above), although I do not know Owen’s view of this particular verse. According to Hills, and in principle by Owen, this is the proper domain of discerning the true text – within the parameters of the TR editions and mss, and not elsewhere. So there is no inconsistency when this camp of the AV / TR advocates select other TR readings and deny this one.

The other school, represented by Will Kinney, Dr. Thomas Holland, and others, have a presuppositional view that holds the providential preservation of God is to be seen in the fait accompli of the King James Bible deriving from the Hebrew and Greek Texts underlying it – and that this divine accomplishment by its very existence overrides evidentiary considerations to the contrary. Let me explain that.

The Lord promised to preserve His word. Psalm 12:6, 7. I am full aware that the modern versions reflect an exegetical tradition which makes verse 7 refer to the men rather than the words, and I have read what you say of these verses in your book, The King James Only Controversy (KJOC).

It remains that an entire exegetical tradition – a tradition upheld by both Jewish and Christian exegetes – has been suppressed by mere editorial fiat with bias, and manifests in the modern version renderings of this verse. This is not the only place where suppression of textual evidence occurs, as we shall see in further discussion of the Book of Revelation below.

To substantiate this allegation I give links to some sources (as I said I would, rather than encumber the discussion with too much material):

Peter Van Kleeck on Psalm 12:6, 7:
Will Kinney citing multiple authors on Psalm 12:6, 7:

Above I cited Isaiah 59:21, and then Matthew 4:4 together with 2 Peter 1:3 as Scripture affirming that God would preserve his words; you say they are spread throughout the manuscripts, and by diligent effort the scholars may ascertain which are authentic and which are not; I (speaking for the latter mentioned school on preservation) say God in His providence preserved them in the main in the Byzantine texts, and in certain particulars – which had been lost in the Byz – through other versions, or through what appears as the mere “conjectural emendation” of the all-too-human Theodore Beza (or, in other cases, Erasmus). What you see as chance I see as design. What you see as merely human (and human failing, at that) I see as divine. This is the consistency I spoke of; some things I can’t explain in evidential terms, but can according to promises of Scripture. Again, you will say, “But it nowhere says how God will keep those (prophetic) promises of preservation.” We often discern the fulfillment of prophecy with hindsight. I believe my discernment (the KJV/TR view) of His fulfilling His promises has far greater merit and credence than yours.

The Lord preserved His word in the main, I reiterate, in the Byz, even though some passages were lost from it. Were I to go into this aspect of the transmission here (the losing or changing of passages) I would have to add a lot of material, so I will pass it by for now. At the time of Erasmus and the later editors of the Byz-cum-TR the Lord brought the true reading back.

You have said, James, that for Rev 16:5 the KJV phrase “and shalt be” has no Greek manuscript support, neither is it found in any English translation before the King James. You didn’t mention the Latin, as it is found in Beatus of Liebana’s compiled commentary on the book of Revelation (786 A.D.) where he uses the Latin phrase “qui fuisti et futures es”. In this compilation he was preserving the commentary of Tyconius (approx 380 A.D.). So there is manuscript support. Whether Beza knew of it or not, the 1611 translators may well have, and we do not know what manuscripts they had at their disposal, likely many more than we know of four centuries later.

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

The King James reading is in harmony with the four other places in Revelation where this phrase is found.
1:4 “him which is, and which was, and which is to come”
1:8 “the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”
4:8 “Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”
11:17 “Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come”

Indeed Christ is the Holy One, but in the Scriptures of the Apostle John the title is found only once (1 John 2:20), and there, a totally different Greek word is used. The Preface to the Authorized Version reads, “With the former translations diligently compared and revised”.

The translators must have felt there was good reason to insert these words though it ran counter to much external evidence. (p. 102)​

Moorman’s book available at search for item #1617.

I should add that in their respective commentaries on Revelation, G.K. Beale and Dennis E. Johnson both are of the view that “...the future-oriented member (‘who is to come’) of this threefold confession is deleted. When the bowls are poured out, the coming One will have come in holy justice.” (Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 227)

However, I see this as simply interpreting the text – the reading – they believed was the right one.

Sources used for 16:5:

Thomas Holland
Will Kinney

Let me take an example from the NASB which is similar.

Deuteronomy 26:3 KJV “...I profess this day unto the LORD THY God, that I am come unto the country, which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us.” Here all Hebrew texts as well as the RV, ASV, NKJV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV and Holman read either THY God, or YOUR God (which mean the same thing), but only the NASB follows the Greek Septuagint version and says: “unto the Lord MY God...” The footnotes in versions like Holman, ESV tell us this. Even the online NASB footnotes that the reading of “MY God” comes from the LXX, but that the Hebrew reads “your God”.

From Kinney:

The NASB uses a source other than the Hebrew (i.e., without any Hebrew support), other than most of the other modern versions, and you give us grief that the King James uses a version without Greek support? You say your methodology is at least consistent, whereas mine is not. If I were to say we always go by the majority of manuscripts, or even the majority within the Byz majority, then your charge would have weight; but that is not my method. I say we go by the Byz in the main, but infrequently, in certain cases, the Lord sovereignly breaks method in lieu of a wisdom above man’s wisdom and methods. You may not appreciate this, but it is consistent.

To sum on Rev 16:5: Whether one takes the Hills / Owen position that there may be minute variations within the narrow precincts of the TR manuscripts, or the Kinney / Holland view that God was able to and actually did restore the readings He had preserved elsewhere than the Byz to the text editions available to the 1611 translators, these two AV / TR options are, to my view (and many others) certainly at least as plausible as the hypotheses you formulate.


Before I go on to the last six verses of Revelation, I’d like to make a few points. Robert said on the DL, “What we have today in the Byzantine mss are the inspired word-for-word copies of the autographs....The TR is a collation of these manuscripts and consequently contains the sacred apographa of the autographs.”

“Collation” is obviously not the right word; the TR is an edition of these manuscripts would be better. Nor is the “in the Byzantine mss are the inspired, word-for-word copies of the autographs” correct. For there are TR passages that are not in the Byz, as is clear.

It has been asked, “If only the Greek Byzantine was the providentially preserved text, what about the other locations in the world that had a different texttype – did they not have a preserved and adequate Bible?” And I would answer:

There is a preserving of the text, and there is a preserving of the text — the latter 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 and brought to maturity through those who use the NIV, NASB, ESV etc. The minute preservation occurred in the primary edition (the Masoretic Hebrew and the Greek TR and their King James translation) which was to serve the English-speaking people and the translations created for the vast missionary work they undertook, which impacted the entire world. There was a progression in the purifying of the text, so as to almost (and some 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. The distinction is between an adequate preservation as distinguished from preservation in the minutiae.

As regarding the Lord’s promise to preserve His Scripture (Matt 24:35; Isaiah 59:21; etc), 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. When the Lord prophesies, does it have to come about instantly? Is there not sometimes progression, as in the development seen in the Olivet discourse of events from the time Jerusalem fell till the time of the end?

Concerning the statement in the Westminster Confession, 1:8

The Old Testament in Hebrew... and the New Testament in Greek... being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical...​

I am not sure if you will agree that Warfield introduced a new understanding of this section differing from that of the framers, but such is the case (I can elaborate on this if necessary*). What I want to say concerns what this “kept pure in all ages” entailed. Does it mean that there was a pure text – intact in the sense of the autographic documents – in all generations and all locales? Does it mean every generation and geographical area had an equivalent of an autographic copy? I do not believe so. I believe this means that the Lord kept the true readings of the autographic Hebrew and Greek extant in all ages; when in certain textual traditions (I am thinking of the Greek here) some readings were removed they were retained elsewhere – and later restored to the Greek by His providence. The Hebrew and Greek copies – the apographs – the WCF divines had in hand exemplified this.

Another view that I have given my attention to recently (or it has been newly presented in such a way as to arrest my attention), is the verbal plenary preservation view (VPP). Upon initially hearing of it I thought that as regards the NT it could only have been accomplished through the Waldenses, and coming upon the link given above on the topic that does seem to be a promising approach, which I will investigate further. I have written before (here on PB) of Frederick Nolan and his investigation into the old Italik version. I have studied the Waldensian history before, and this renews my interest.

* Extended quote of Letis on Warfield and WCF 1:8:


About your saying that 94% of Majority Text mss came into existence after 900 A.D.

That statement doesn’t give the true picture. I shall give a quote from Maurice Robinson:

We do know that, after the 9th century, almost all manuscripts ceased to be copied in the uncial style (capital-letters), and were systematically replaced by the "modern" minuscule style (cursive-letters) which then predominated until the invention of printing. This "copying revolution" resulted in the destruction of hundreds of previously-existing uncial manuscripts once their faithful counterpart had been produced in minuscule script. Many truly ancient uncials may have vanished within a century due to this change in the handwriting style. Those palimpsest[34] manuscripts which survive provide mute testimony to the fate of many of those ancient uncials, the remnants of which, having been erased and re-used to copy sermons or liturgical texts, might simply have perished or been discarded once those texts were no longer considered valuable.

Since Kirsopp Lake found only genealogically-unrelated manuscripts at Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, he concluded that it was "hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars."[35] If strictly applied to all copying generations, this view would lead to a number of logical fallacies. Some of these have been discussed by Donald A. Carson and Wilbur Pickering.[36]

However, the real explanation of Lake's comment revolves around the "copying revolution": scribes apparently destroyed uncial exemplars as they converted the Greek text into the then-standard minuscule format. Thus, the apparently unrelated mass of later minuscules may in fact stem from long-lost uncial sources far older than the date of the minuscules containing them. This in itself adds a significant weight to the testimony of the minuscule mass, especially those copied in the ninth and tenth centuries, at the height of the copying revolution.

For modern researchers summarily to neglect the text of the minuscules because they mostly reflect a Byzantine type of text is to suggest that their text is all one and all late, in accord with Hort's thesis concerning the ultimate origin of the Byzantine Textform. Yet Von Soden and subsequent researchers have clearly shown the internal diversity found among the manuscripts of the Byzantine Textform – a diversity which cannot be accounted for genealogically. An unprejudiced consideration of the present hypothesis will impart a value to (at least) the earlier minuscule testimony which ranges far beyond that allowed by modern critics. This factor now makes the complete collation of all known minuscule manuscripts an important task which should be completed as rapidly as possible.[37]

34 From the Greek, "to rub again." The term denotes a manuscript from which the original text was erased and a second, differing text placed on top of the original writing. Through the use of various methods (e.g., ultraviolet light), the original text can often be recovered with extreme accuracy.

35 Lake, Blake, and New, "Caesarean Text of Mark," p.349.

36 Donald A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), pp. 47-48, note 5. Pickering offered a clarification and rebuttal of Carson's critique which differs at points from the present hypothesis; see Pickering, Identity, pp. 230-231, note 30

37 See further W. J. Elliott, "The Need for an Accurate and Complete Collation of all known Greek NT Manuscripts with their Individual Variants noted in pleno," in J. K Elliott, ed., Studies in New Testament Language and Text [G. D. Kilpatrick Festschrift] (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976), pp. 137-143.​

Sorry to enter such a lengthy quote, but it is crucial to begin breaking the oft-stated error that these thousands of 9th and 10th century Majority Text minuscules were “late” and thus of no consequence! Of the minuscules, Kirsopp Lake says in his book, The Text of The New Testament,

Then, in the ninth century, Theodore the Studite, or some of his associates in the monastery of the Studium in Constantinople, invented an new and extremely beautiful form of cursive writing for literary purposes. This appears to have been adopted almost at once throughout the Greek world, and, although in succeeding centuries some local differences can be noticed, it remained dominant throughout the Byzantine Empire....It must not be assumed that an uncial is necessarily a more valuable witness to the text than a minuscule. Many uncials have a late text, while not a few minuscules have rare readings which bear witness to types of text otherwise lost to us. In short, it is neither the date nor the script of a MS. which determines its value for the critic, but the textual history of its ancestors. (p. 12)​

To assume an uncial is a “more valuable witness” than a minuscule has led to a mudslide of opinion obscuring a proper apprehension of the history of the text! Not to belabor the old Westcott and Hort fallacies (held by few and far between nowadays), but Hort’s testimony is illuminating:

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. (The New Testament in the Original Greek, 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.

Even that great opponent of the Textus Receptus, Dr. Hort, conceded that the Byzantine (“Antiochian”) text was “dominant…[in] the second half of the fourth century”, 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 Majority Text. We have noted that Hort found a way to annul this numerical superiority with his theory, which has been thoroughly examined, and found wanting.*

*See for critiques of the Westcott-Hort theory:

Maurice Robinson and Wm. Pierpont posited in their Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine / Majority Textform,

Jakob Van Bruggen, The Ancient Text of the New Testament,

Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text,

Hort on early Byz majority:

Perhaps you will say to me, James (as is written in your KJOC) “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.” (p. 99) I would think this equivalent to saying, “Modern versions are not based upon the W&H Greek text.”

An extended discussion can be found here:

A brief quote of David Cloud’s from that discussion will be sufficient to make the matter clear:

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. [Emphases his; the link to the online source is defunct, the book remains in print –SMR]​


Perhaps it’s time to look at the last six verses of Revelation! You said, James, “Please explain why I should use the TR's readings of...the final six verses of Revelation.”

As I know you ask that rhetorically, what follows is why I should use the TR’s verses 16–21 of Revelation 22. I will have to post rather lengthily to do justice to your question –sorry for the amount of material.

I want to quote first 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 (akaqavrthtoVin 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 (a), 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?....

** 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 a. (Other words in Erasmus’ text of this verse also appear in Codex A and the corrections in Codex a.

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 biblou (“book”) would affect English translation (“book of life” vs. “tree of life”). The invention cited for 22:21 is almost laughable: amhvn (“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 a, 046, 051, 94, 1611, 1854, 1859, 2020, 2042, 2053, 2065 (commentary section), 2073, and 2138....

*** 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 w 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.

In a moment we will look more closely at Hoskier’s remarks in Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, and in particular, at Revelation 22’s verse 19:

In the AV it reads,

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.​

In the ESV (reflecting the CT) it reads,

and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.​

The difference in the Greek is, the CT reads

[size=+1]xuvlou[/size], “tree of life” instead of the TR’s [size=+1]biblou[/size], “book of life”; and the 6th word from the end of the verse in the Greek, [size=+1]kai;[/size], or and is absent in the CT, so that in translation the phrase “and from the things” is also omitted.

As for the sense, it makes far more to have one’s part (or share) taken out of the book of life, which phrase runs parallel with the foregoing taking away “from the words of the book of this prophecy,” than having one’s part taken away from the tree of life.

To add to the difficulty for AV adherents, the Greek of the Majority Text (Hodges and Farstad) is identical to the CT. And this aligning of the MT with the CT in the Book of Revelation is a factor to be addressed. It is to this phenomenon Jack Moorman speaks in the book mentioned above.

Above Dr. Coats talked of the misinformation concerning Erasmus and the supposed missing last leaf of the copy of Revelation he used, on which were the last six verses of the book. In bringing Codex 141 to light, Coats shows this MS has the text Erasmus used. Regarding 141 Coats refers to Hoskier, and I have the latter’s book here in front of me, Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse Vol. 1, and I find he has devoted four pages to an examination of Codex 141. In these pages he scrutinizes the MS and determines it was not executed in the 16th century from the printed text of Erasmus, but likely in the 15th (p. 474), and shows “presumptive evidence” the last six verses (of both Erasmus and MS 141) were not copied from the Latin Vulgate (p. 477).


Further information may be seen in an article by Will Kinney on the passage we are considering; it is from his website: (

An additional article:

“Another side point that may be of interest is that it is not quite that simple to say, ‘Erasmus took the reading from the Vulgate.’ The Clementine Vulgate does in fact read, ‘Et si quis diminuerit de verbis libri prophetiae huius, auferet Deus partem eius de libro vitae, et de civitate sancta, et de his quae scripta sunt in libro isto:’, but in a modern critical text of the Vulgate like the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft edition, one will find ‘ligno’ (tree) rather than ‘libro’ (book). Erasmus certainly could not have used the Clementine Vulgate—which became the standard Vulgate for over three centuries after it was first published in 1592—because he had been dead for over a half century when it appeared. This is not to say that the Vulgate that Erasmus knew did not (like the mss. Dr. Holland cites) read ‘libro’ rather than ‘ligno’; but it does suggest that the easy dismissal of the reading as the fault of the Vulgate--when in fact the ‘standard’ Vulgate bearing ‘libro’ for ‘ligno’ dates from several decades later, with Jerome himself apparently not responsible for the reading--is open to serious question.” - T.L. Hubeart [in online article: Revelation 22:19 and “The Book of Life”]​

I could not find how many of the 230 manuscripts Hoskier collated contained Rev 22:19, though it is clear that some of these manuscripts were but fragments, and only had a portion of the whole. I will continue to search for the number that had that passage, and what the breakdown of the readings – tree or book – amounted to. But I did find some other interesting material in my searching.

There are two basic text groupings comprising the varying readings in Revelation – within the Majority Text camp! – as well as some CT readings. The MT groups are the 046 and the Andreas.

Hodges and Farstad in their (The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text, p. xxxvi) do admit, “There is no reason why the parental exemplar of the Andreas texttype could not go back well into the second century.” And Hodges says, “…the Textus Receptus much more closely approximates Andreas than 046 – in fact, hardly resembles the latter group at all” (from “The Ecclesiatical Text of Revelation,” Bibliotheca Sacra, April 1961, p. 121). [In their edition of the MT, they favored the 046 group, so this is a significant admission.]

From Hoskier’s Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse,

We trace the origin of the B (046) group not further back than 8th or possibly 7th century. Now many cursives are identified with this family group, whereas in the main our Textus Receptus is not, and has at any rate avoided the bulk of this revision (Apocalypse p. xxxvii)

This may be the proper place to emphasize why the Textus Receptus of the Apocalypse is intrinsically good. Apoc. 1, on which it is founded, is an old text. See how it comes out in Hippolytus…

It is actually possible to reconstruct a first-class text from Hipp.—47—and Textus Receptus, and a far better one than that of any of our five uncials. Why? Well, apart from a few idiosyncrasies, which the whole body of subsequent evidence rejects, Hippolytus represents as old a text as we can get. Then 47, also apart from a few distinguishing idiosyncrasies easily identified and rejected owing to lack of other support, is throughout a straightforward, careful witness. And lastly, the Textus Receptus, apart from any instinctive and intrinsic excellence, happens to prove back to the very order of words used by Hippolytus’ codex; in places where t.r. disagrees we let 47+Hipp. guide us and they nearly always lead us in the right path, namely with the consensus of general evidence. (Ibid., p. xlvii)​

Hoskier’s basic conclusion toward the 200 plus MSS he collated for Revelation was:

I may state that if Erasmus had striven to found a text on the largest number of existing MSS in the world of one type, he could not have succeeded better, since his family-MSS occupy the front rank in point of actual numbers, the family numbering over 20 MSS besides its allies. (The John Rylands Bulletin 19-1922/23, p 118.)​

Continuing to examine Revelation, particularly where the AV differs from the Majority Text. The book I noted in a previous post, Hodges/Farstad 'Majority' Text Refuted By Evidence (also titled When the King James Departs from the “Majority Text”), by Jack Moorman, is, as I have stated before, the book I would recommend as having the latest and most comprehensive information – to my knowledge, as of this writing.

This book also is the best on this particular topic (the disputed text of Revelation in the AV), and I see it available under two different titles: The one I have before me, When the King James Departs from the “Majority Text”: A New Twist in the Continuing Attack on the Authorized Version (With Manuscript Digest) is exactly the same as the one advertised at The Bible For Today online bookstore (, under the title, Hodges/Farstad 'Majority' Text Refuted By Evidence, and it has the same item #: 1617, and can be purchased from them ($16). I have repeated this information for those who pick up the discussion here.

This bears upon some general principles of the AV – MT disparities. 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. Although remarkable for it 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, his collating of the MSS was very incomplete, and relatively few of the thousands of MSS were represented. It was not a depiction of how the majority of cursives read.

The “Majority Text” of the Book of Revelation, however, is different, as it does not rely on Von Soden’s work. It relies on the more comprehensive and complete work of Herman C. Hoskier, in his two-volume, 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 Versions, Commentaries and Fathers. Hoskier was also the author of the two-volume devastating-to-the-Westcott/Hort-(CT)-production, Codex B and its Allies: A Study and an Indictment. So why does the MT of Hodges & Farstad differ from the TR (1894) if they used the superior work of Hoskier?

Please note that I am using Jack Moorman’s aforementioned work for my writing here.

What Hoskier showed, basically, is that there are two groups of manuscripts exhibited in those that have the Apocalypse, the Andreas group and the 046 group. Moorman says, “Hoskier did not elevate 046 but merely cited the data.” (p. 17) Hodges and Farstad did not allot to the Andreas group all the MSS due it, and thus “the 046 group in the Majority Text edition is made to look much larger and appear dominant.” (Moorman, Ibid.)

How this happened is through their use of the scholar Josef Schmid’s work and their misconstruing his count of the respective MSS in Andreas and 046. The places where the MT and the TR 1894 differ in Revelation – save at the very end of the book, which we have discussed above – is due to this.

Moorman proceeds with an extended discussion of various factors and issues in this matter. He remarks,

At the outset the Bible believer will be very happy to know that [or is it “what” –SMR] Hoskier’s basic conclusion was toward the 200 plus MSS he collated for Revelation:

I may state that if Erasmus had striven to found a text on the largest number of existing MSS in the world of one type, he could not have succeeded better, since his family-MSS occupy the front rank in point of actual numbers, the family numbering over 20 MSS besides its allies. (The John Rylands Bulletin 19-1922/23, p 118)​

It should be noted that this exemplary MS used by Erasmus was of the Andreas group, the readings of which we find in the AV. Perhaps needless to say, we do not think it coincidence this primary manuscript fell into the hands of Erasmus. For we believe that the Lord providentially preserved His word, and the only place it makes sense to have been preserved in was the Greek Textus Receptus as discerned by Erasmus, Stephens, Beza, and the AV translators, and given to us in the AV.

I’d like to close this part of my response with a pertinent quote from an essay by Dr. Theodore Letis:

Both schools [the Critical Text and the Ecclesiastical Text –SMR] 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’ ”.]​


I would like to give some links to help those explore alternatives to the Critical / Eclectic Text positions; these are mainly Majority Text proponents, and are important text critical works. I will post some responsible and scholarly TR / AV links shortly.

Maurice Robinson and Wm. Pierpont’s Introduction to The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine / Majority Textform,

Jakob Van Bruggen, The Ancient Text of the New Testament,

Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text II,
Chapter 5:


I notice that VPP advocates generally assert the preserved texts were / are maintained / kept in “immersing communities” up through the ages – that is, with the Baptists. This brings us to the bone of contention as to what were the views of the Vaudois or Waldenses on the matter of baptism. The mountain people of Italy and later, Gaul, are really key in discerning the faithful transmission of Scripture and doctrine. If it turns out they were in the main baptistic then that would be at least one error they fell to (in reaction against Rome’s perversions of baptism?), for the Covenant rule of bringing Abraham’s infant seed into the Covenant people continues. I know, IFBs and RBs, this is one – among a few – of the items we’ll have to duke it out on! It remains, however, that in these days – last century and this – it has been mostly the Independent Fundamentalist Baptists who have indeed held and defended the doctrine of God’s providential preservation of His Word, and specified the text it was done in. Yes, there have been others, Burgon, Miller, Dabney, Nolan, Hills, Letis, Kinney, etc, who were / are not Baptists, but the Baptists have been in the forefront of the fight. They are reviled, stereotyped, disdained, shunned, and discriminated against for their stand, but these are godly, courageous, scholarly men who have done the cause of the sound doctrines of Scripture great good.

I do see that the Baptists among the VPP assert that the churches formed upon Presbyterian principles are not true churches (it would follow that their ministers are not truly ordained ministers) although they cede there are genuine born-again folks among them. How very like some Presbyterian views this is! For I see Presbyterians asserting the same against the Baptist forms of church government, and their pastors as well!

For my part I do not believe a form of church government is mandated in Scripture, but is purposely left open. I may change my view, but that’s it now.

I will be posting a substantial section from Frederik Wisse’s The Profile Method..., with unusual insights on the neglect / suppression of the minuscules, shortly.


Quoting Frederick Nolan [1] as he discusses 1 John 5:7, he says this about the Waldenses and the Latin NT:

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. [2] [Emphasis added –SMR]​

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 –SMR] [3] Nolan is a rich source of evidences concerning the transmission of the Greek text.
1 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 38, 39, 40, 41. Reprint available at Bible for Today ministry (see bibliography above). Nolan’s complete book online (minus the valuable Preface):
2 Ibid., pages xvii, xviii.
3 Ibid., Footnote #1, pages xviii, xix.

Post on Nolan: thread
Downloadable versions (with Preface):


Sorry to have gone on at such length, James, but, as said before, I wanted to do justice to your remarks and questions.

Sincerely in Christ,


P.S. There may be some typos and redundancies in the text above, and I'll be correcting them as I see them, and have time.
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That is one of the most gracious defenses of the TR position that I have read. Thanks. That doesn't mean I agree, but I appreciate the fact that you didn't throw non-TR folks under bus and borderline heretics.
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in the main God preserved the accurate reading of the autographs in the Byzantine tradition; in some minute particulars, where the Byz lost the true reading,

Now consider the problem from God's point of view.

If I were to say we always go by the majority of manuscripts, or even the majority within the Bzy majority, then your charge would have weight; but that is not my method. I say we go by the Byz in the main, but infrequently, in certain cases, the Lord sovereignly breaks method in lieu of a wisdom above man’s wisdom and methods. You may not appreciate this, but it is consistent.

At least with Rob I can understand where he's coming from, although I disagree. He says that God preserved His Word in various manuscripts of the Byzantine tradition, and in those few places where the TR differs from any existing Byzantine text it would be acceptable to change the TR in those few places. This leaves honest debate open. He's willing to change the TR if necessary.

But with you, Steve, you seem to be saying that there was a act of inspiration where the Holy Spirit worked through the hands of the King James translators to restore God's pure Word. And you base this on the belief that you are able to

consider the problem from God's point of view

How can you debate this? Rob is saying "if this word isn't found in any Byzantine text, scholars of good will and character, under the auspices of an ecclesiastical body, can change it".

You seem to be saying "If a word in the TR isn't found in any existing Byzantine text it doesn't matter, since something miraculous happened while the King James Bible was being translated, and we should accept by faith that the Holy Spirit directed the translation of the King James Bible and in addition to faith we should all accept this because of Greek dying out in Egypt".
I have printed this out and look forward to reading it. I hope brother White will answer or talk about it on his program. Keep us posted.
Thanks, that was a lot of work. I don't think you convinced me yet, but that is one of the best presentations of your view I have read.

What a gracious and generous defense of your position! Thank you, brother, for blessing all of us with the substance of your position and the model for how to deal with contentious matters in a God-honoring way!

On the substance of your views, I have been doing some of the reading you suggested last year and must admit that the arguments for a Bible that never existed in any organized way (i.e., the CT) seem extraordinarily weak. As I explained it to a friend recently, the CT view is based upon a theory that says you can take a stack of photographs of different body parts and cobble together a complete picture of a woman based upon a theory of what "should have been" the best elbow, arm, nose, ear, etc. It does not matter that there never was a photograph with exactly those particular parts of the puzzle in one picture. What matters is that the reasons for selecting one piece over another fulfill the criteria of the selection theory. This is the CT in all of its glory: a Frankenstein creation of parts that never existed in one manuscript anywhere at any time.

Against this, we have the TR or the MT tradition. Steve, you still haven't won me over to the TR quite yet. However, the claims by Robinson in favor of the history of transmission for the Byzantine text at least offer a plausible theory for textual transmission that does not require the Frankenstein model for textual reconstruction out of different parts.

So, thanks for your helpful piece. I will be interested to read it more carefully.
Friends, thanks for your comments!

I think Dr. White will hear of this response rather quickly. It's a small virtual world in the arena of consciousness on Apokalypse Field.


I said I would post some material from Frederik Wisse’s, The Profile Method..., to give an idea of the status of the Byzantine minuscules, the vast majority of which have been unexamined and suppressed due to editorial bias. Wisse is not a TR / KJV advocate (as can be seen), though it seems safe to say he is a Majority Text advocate, or at least a text critic who seriously desires to know what the overwhelming majority of the Greek MSS actually have to say, especially in light of the failure of text critical efforts based upon the Egyptian MSS. The pages that follow give a telling story of the doings among those academics who have taken to themselves and their naturalistic methodologies our New Testament manuscripts.

There’s a good bit of material here (if it’s long for you to read, it was longer for me to type!), but for those interested in these text critical matters it will be a joy to gather more information on issues that are so important to us. As Wisse reviews Hort’s schema for disallowing the Byzantine (Syrian) text-type, those of you troubled at his method and wondering if there is any validity to it, I would refer you to Robinson and Pierpont’s Introduction noted above and a URL given to it online as an antidote. Bruggen’s and Pickering’s excellent critiques of Hort are good also. Wisse also reviews and critiques Kurt Aland's views on the Byz. I quote as much as I do of Wisse because the book is out of print and rare; though the information is startlingly relevant to our New Testament studies. Please note that I have omitted the footnotes due to time and space constraints.

I quote first 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.


The Profile Method for Classifying and Evaluating Manuscript Evidence, by Frederik Wisse (Eerdmans 1982) ISBN: 0802819184

Of all the spectacular developments in NT textual criticism since Tischendorf the least advertised has been the phenomenal increase in the number of known minuscules. There must be a reason for this curious situation. It cannot be simply due to the fact that the finds of a considerable number of early papyri have tended to overshadow all other NT textual developments. Certainly the bringing to light of more than 1700 minuscules in less than a century could have shared top rating with the few hundred newly discovered papyri and uncials, most of which are mere fragments, if only lower critics had chosen to do so. The underlying reason is that the ever-swelling mass of minuscules has been a real embarrassment to the textual critic. Every additional minuscule, however high its market price might be, has made the critic’s task more confusing and difficult.

The mass of minuscules creates a dilemma for the textual critic. Either he will try to take all the MS evidence into account without hope of ever finishing his task, or he will ignore the great majority of existing MSS and be accused of basing his results on partial and probably biased evidence. No wonder, therefore, that the role of minuscules in NT textual criticism has become the most frustrating problem facing the scholars in the field.

The problem posed by the minuscules can be divided into two parts. First, the question must be answered whether the minuscules deserve to play a role in the search for the best text of the NT, and consequently, whether they should be represented in a full apparatus criticus to the Greek NT. In case this first question is answered in the affirmative, it still must be shown that the great quantity of MSS does not make any kind of meaningful and representative use of minuscules impossible or impractical.

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 if the MS tradition si that the rest can be ignored. After all, why start more than thirteen centuries after the autographa were written, and wade back through literally thousands of MSS in an immensely complicated process, if at best one can only arrive at a fifth-century text which is already well represented by copies of that time. To find the foundation of a building one does first climb the roof; one starts somewhere below the ground floor.

The argument, obvious and tantalizing on the surface, forms the background for all those who consider it just to ignore all, or almost all, minuscules. Yet they must first prove that the MS tradition after, let us say, the ninth century, does not add any pertinent information for the recovery of the original text of the NT. Whether one holds that this proof necessitates a complete study of the more than 2700 known minuscules depends on one’s viewpoint. Naturally the opponents of the use of minuscules do not consider this time-consuming process to be necessary at all.

There is basically only one argument which can circumvent the task of studying all the late minuscules to make sure they are indeed of no value for textual criticism. This argument is that among the early uncials there are MSS which stand in a relatively uncorrupted tradition, and which show all other text-types of that period to be secondary and corrupted. Only if this argument can be proved, and if it is clear from some sampling that late minuscules fall predominantly in the tradition of one of the corrupted texts, can we safely omit a full study of these MSS.

The first and best representative of this position is Fenton John Anthony Hort (without wishing to deny or ignore the contribution made by Westcott we will simply refer to “Hort”). His view stands out from that of many who share his attitude toward minuscules in that he knew what was at stake and was willing to face the consequences. With some danger of caricaturing, we shall attempt to summarize his evaluation of the mass of minuscules in four points. It should be borne in mind that Hort knew of the existence of fewer than one thousand cursives, and that only 150 of these were available to him in complete collation, though he sampled some more in a few selected passages.

a) An analysis of the text of the major uncials, the NT quotations of the Fathers, and the early versions shows that there were three text-types in existence during the fifth century A.D.: the Neutral or Alexandrian text, the Western text, and the Syrian text [also known as the Antiochan, Byzantine, Traditional, Koine, Ecclesiastical, etc –SMR]. Patristic attestation shows the Syrian text to be the latest of the three, though it eventually won out and became the text found in the great majority of the minuscules.

b) A study of conflate readings – he used four from Mark and four from Luke – conclusively proves that the Syrian text is a recension which made use of the Western and Neutral texts. Hort knows of no case where a Neutral reading is a conflation a Western and Syrian reading, or where a Western reading is a conflation of Neutral and Syrian readings. Thus Hort has internal evidence proving not only that the Syrian text is posterior to the Western and Neutral texts, but also that it is secondary in nature.

The conflate readings imply a further point about the work of the editors of the Syrian text, for [Hort says] “it is morally impossible that their use of documents of either or both classes should have been confined to those places in which conflation enables us to detect it in actual operation.” Hort at this point is still forced to leave open the possibility that the Syrian text had a source, or sources, beyond the Neutral and Western texts that was both ancient and good.

c) As elsewhere, Hort closes this remaining loophole by means of both transcriptional and intrinsic evidence. Transcriptional evidence indicates that no Syrian readings existed before A.D. 250. This means that even if the Syrian recension had sources beyond the Western and Neutral texts, these sources did not go back farther than the middle of the third century, and thus were later than the two non-Syrian text-types.

It was left up to the intrinsic evidence to give the final death blow. Readings peculiar to the Syrian MSS proved to be smooth, they never offend, are free from surprises and seemingly transparent. Therefore, taking the negative side of the lectio difficilior principle, Hort can conclude that the internal evidence of Syrian readings is “entirely unfavorable to the hypothesis that they may have been copied from other equally ancient and perhaps purer texts [than the Western and Neutral] now otherwise lost.”

d) Thus the die was cast against the minuscules. We again quote Hort: “Since the Syrian text is only a modified eclectic combination of earlier texts independently attested, existing documents descended from it can attest nothing but itself.” And one page later: “All distinctively Syrian readings must be at once rejected.” Still, Hort laments the fact that so few minuscules have been studied, but his sorrow does not go deep. True, some “valuable texts may lie hidden among them,” but “nothing can well be less probable than the discovery of cursive evidence sufficiently important to affect present conclusions in more than a handful of passages, much less to alter present interpretations of the relations between the existing documents.”

Only after these carefully reasoned and convincing steps did Hort limit himself to the early uncials and especially the “Neutrals” among them. It speaks for Hort’s power of persuasion and influence that, though scholars today would question almost every point of his argument, yet the result still stands. After a few halfhearted attempts for supremacy by the Western text, Codex Vaticanus and it allies have become the new “Textus Receptus.”

A prominent contemporary textual critic, Professor Kurt Aland, has also taken a generally negative view of the minuscules. His position is sufficiently different from Hort’s to deserve separate treatment. Unfortunately, we have no comprehensive introduction, like that of Westcott and Hort, from Aland’s hand. Conclusions will have to be drawn from scattered remarks in a number of articles.

An a priori rejection of the mass of minuscules would have been an impossible task for Aland. He and the INTF [Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, Germany –SMR] took on the difficult and important task of publishing an up-to-date list of all extant papyri, uncials, minuscules, and lectionaries of the Greek NT. Hence, one could hardly expect him to pass by the majority of MSS without at least a preliminary study.

Yet Aland’s interest in the minuscules is not for their own sake. He is no longer satisfied with Hort’s judgment that the discovery of important cursive evidence 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 minuscules exhaustively for anything of value. This search, of course, presupposed that the minuscules as such are of little value. Only the exceptional MSS warrant the concerted effort.

Thus with Aland no less than with Hort a value judgment is at work. Minuscules have to pass a test before they are considered worthy of inclusion in a textual apparatus. All MSS which are generally Byzantine will fail. Aland sees the Byzantine text as a unit which, in spite of all its internal differences and developments, should be treated as one. This text-type is for him already well enough represented by some of the late uncials. He believes that the character and readings of the Byzantine text are so well established that its members can be represented under a siglum M (Majority Text). In order to separate the sheep from the goats Aland proposes a list of readings which will readily identify a minuscule as being Byzantine or non-Byzantine.

In many ways Aland’s attitude toward the minuscules is a step forward from Hort. Greater certainty is necessary than Hort’s “probabilities” to eliminate the possibility that new evidence will invalidate conclusions drawn from a selection or sampling of MSS. Aland is trying to provide this certainty. The question remains, however, whether Aland is still too restrictive. Aland believes that von Soden tried to do too much in dealing with the whole history of the text. Yet this criticism does not focus on von Soden’s inaccuracies and questionable results. Rather, Aland implies that a large part of von Soden’s effort was unnecessary. The Byzantine text, and particularly the Byzantine minuscules, can be left out of consideration. They are of no use in establishing the original text of the NT. But this is a conclusion to be drawn from evidence, not to form the basis for the selection of evidence.

The point of contention is not whether the Byzantine text, whatever that exactly may be, is of greater or equal value than the great Egyptian uncials. The real question is whether the time has come to speak about the value of the Byzantine MSS at all. Except in von Soden’s inaccurate and unused pages, the minuscules have never been allowed to speak. Once heard, they may be found wanting, but at least their case will have been presented, and then for good and necessary reasons they will be content to grace libraries and rare book collections. Textual critics deserve to have all the evidence before them, evidence which has not been prejudged.

It is an ironic fact that today basic MS evidence of the NT is less available to the textual critic than it was fifty years ago. Editions of great uncials have long been out of print. Tischendorf’s editio octava maior has never had serious competition, let alone a complement. Though the casual user of a critical text of the Greek NT has been well provided for, the expert and serious student is at the mercy of the highly selective and incomplete apparatus critici. This situation could only be defended if the task of establishing the best possible NT test had been accomplished, and if the history of the transmission of that text was clear. But it is not.

The much-needed new and unbiased look at all of the evidence available demands the use of a good representation of the minuscules. To condemn the great majority of them by means of a single siglum will not suffice. The situation up to the ninth century is too uncertain. The fact that among the early uncials and papyri there is only one clearly defined group has made any objective judgment impossible. The well-trained choir of the “Neutral” group, recently strengthened by P75, has drowned out all the solos. The long overdue dethronement of the Textus Receptus (TR) by Hort and others suffered from overkill of the only group of MSS that could have put up a fight. Since that time lower criticism seems to have become the study of what to do when Codex Vaticanus and P75 disagree....

All these considerations are secondary to the overriding need for complete and unbiased evidence. There has never been such evidence. The bulk of the minuscules may well be of little value for textual criticism, but how can one be sure before studying them? No one has ever presented a conclusive argument against the use of the Byzantine text. Certainly Hort’s case against the late minuscules no longer convinces, and Aland is begging the question. Therefore, until there is proof to the contrary, minuscules ought to play a meaningful role in the lower criticism of the Greek NT. (pp. 1–6)

End Wisse
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James has been notified of this entry. I am not convinced he'll reply because the issue has been dealt with pretty extensively recently but we'll see. One thing that is refreshing is an irenic presentation of the TR position and I appreciate your effort Steve.
Dennis, to interact with your thoughts a bit (and thanks for what you said),

My main concern with the Majority Text position as a final outcome of the Lord’s preservation of His word is that it remains but provisional, unsettled.

Hodges and Farstad’s, The Greek New Testament According To The Majority Text (Nelson, 1982), has on its jacket (of the 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.​

and on page x of the book 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.​

If, as stated, this MT work isn’t a final and settled Bible, and (others say) the AV-Received Text isn’t, and the CT / Alexandrian isn’t either, are we left in awkward position (to put it unreasonably mildly!) of having only a tentative, provisional Bible? It was put to me recently when I asked a similar question of someone, “No, I do not have a Bible I can hold in my hand and say, ‘This is the Word of God.’ ”

Professor Robinson’s work may well be better than the aforementioned MT text, but the same applies – as demonstrated by Wisse’s research, all the heads haven’t been counted in the Byzantine MS camp. Must we wait another 50 years or more for that count to be tallied (if even then)? I realize that Professor R. will disown me as an illegitimate offspring of his and his colleagues in the Byz camp, for he does not acknowledge as valid my leap of faith to the TR / AV position. I admit, it is a leap of faith, but if it is based soundly – that is, if my exegesis of the texts is sound – who is to dispute it on the basis of a scientific methodology? I take the same faith / exegetical stand as regards the record of God’s creation and man’s fall in Genesis over against the evolutionary “science” that tells me to stick with what can be empirically proven (not that evolution can be proven, though they allege it can!).

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”.... and by “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”.... “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Matt 4:4; 2 Pet 1:3; Ps 84:11)

Whether one takes the absolute preservation stand (which has abundant merit in the world of faith), or the 99.99% preservation stand of Owen and Hills, we have the ability to say, “Yes, this Bible I hold is the sure word of God.”

I will not be subject to “the tyranny of experts” (to use Machen’s memorable phrase) if I do not concur entirely with the methods they use; I may use their work as I see fit, but am not bound by it. The MT labors are immense and of precious value; we stand on their shoulders – or to perfect the metaphor, we leap from their shoulders to a high rock, upon which we take our stand.

I know many generations have said, “We are in the time of the end”; nonetheless, there are signs that lead me to say we are very close – the Gospel having gone out into most of the world, and a coming (so I see) persecution of Christians even in the once-Christian Western world – and can it be that we don’t have a Bible yet we can say is the sure word of our God? I believe He gave us one almost 400 years ago, just prior to the great missionary work of Britain, and at the commencement of modern English, the trusty sword of our Reformation fathers against the bloodthirsty and persecuting harlot. Can it be modernized? It would take genius to do it well, and a love for the AV and for its Author.

Dennis, I have a Bible, and because of God’s promises – and my discernment that He fulfilled them – I trust its readings.
Since we don't have the notes from the KJV translators, nor some of the manuscripts that they used...
And since there is a historic blank spot over Byzantium regarding manuscripts prior to the 4th century...

Can we compare the Byzantine/TR to the Alexandrian in an honest way?

It seems that many have turned to a new text (after the TR) on the basis of evidence that can't be rightly compared.

The realization that the CT text that we possess does not purport to be (and, indeed, probably cannot be) an actual copy of any manuscript that has ever existed coupled with the thought that the antiquity of Byzantine readings has much firmer support than my profs led me to believe 35 years ago, combine to leave my mind reeling.

While, unless one takes a KJV-only position, they are left with a "provisional" confidence in the exactitude of the text before them, that need not be an insurmountable hurdle. The Alexandrian texts and the Byzantine texts do not differ enough to change a single Christian doctrine. That is a solid enough foundation for me. Beyond that, I want to follow the manuscripts to the most faithfully exact outcome possible this side of the eschaton. Your bibliography has caused me to wonder if my answer may be more in the Byzantine than the Alexandrian mss. However, the exalted claims of the TR folk generally scare me to death.
Sorry I'm late on this - but just discovered this thread two days ago as I'm going through Dr. White's debate w/Ehrman on DVD and his mp3 conversation w/Robert re: the TR.

I would love to know if Dr. White ever responded to Dr. Steve's post and, if so, what did he say?

And again, thank you, Steve, for your investment in this and each of your posts. I find them edifying and challenging as I work through and process what you have to say.

Your intelligent, thorough and irenic style is as winsome as it is refreshing.

I shall keep reading... and thinking on this topic.
Have you ever considered that should the Lord not come for another 2000 years, and if many of the old manuscripts that were used by the KJV translators, and most of the ones used for the CT were destroyed, that our offspring could be having this discussion too:

They might say, seeing that the language of 2009 is so antiquated and most people no longer understand it well, we must make a new translation.

Well the KJV is the only complete manuscript we have been able to find, we have a mostly complete copy of one but it was only used for a few years then abandoned by the church called the NASB and it was based on an earlier ASV that we can't find any copies of. There are parts of a version called ESV and RSV both with limited usage, but more recent than the KJV.
And one called NIV but clearly a paraphrase attempt to make it easy for less well educated people to read, not a real translation.

So in light of what manuscripts we have to work with, we feel it best to go with the one we have the most complete copy of
and fill in the missing verses from a compilation of the best of our other manuscripts.

Would this not make sense?
Would we say they do not have a real reliable word of God Bible were they to make a year 4009 translation this way?

Thus, though I would never say it is the only way, or you should do it, to me it seems the TR would be the best for us to use. I would not go so far to say there was a new canon made with the KJV translation, rather the largest complete manuscripts, saved in reliable sensible places, that had agreement with each other were used; then where something may have been missing in a few small spots we use the frankenstein method, rather than for the entire work.

Now if we agreed on this method, then perhaps scholars could go to work improving a better translation from the TR if they feel the KJV or NKJV lack something in translation.

I just can't stand the frankenstein concept which basically, or at least potentially in concept, is still not a closed canon.
Hello Ben,

No, James White didn't respond to the thread, which is ok with me as that leaves me free to minister, study and prepare sermons, care for my wife, etc. It takes a lot of time to engage in these text-critical discussions. No doubt he's busy as well, and having written books about the topic, lectured on it, and debated it, why should he deal with yet another contender?

I write on the topic to demonstrate that the King James Bible and the TR can be ably defended by lay persons without expertise in the original languages, as it is the understanding of the arguments and historical background that is key. The days are coming quickly when on many fronts the true church will be sorely attacked, and the text-critical attack, while not the most violent, will be the most crucial, as the Bible is the source of our strength and very life.

And the text-critical assault itself will have a number of fronts, the postmodern deconstruction of textual authority, unbelieving critics like Ehrman, Muslims discerning the vulnerable underbelly of versions with their differing variants, and of course the internecine warfare we are all too familiar with. I can defend against all these. But there are other fronts that will marshall against us.

It appears that in short order the constitutional right to free speech we take for granted we will be taken from us — as is already the case in Canada and parts of Europe — and this a development ordained by the Lord for the fiery refining of His church, which is increasingly becoming defiled. Much dross will be removed and the true church will be drastically smaller. As our testimony to the risen Lord, His sovereignty over the nations, and the Holy Spirit thereby reproving the world of sin, righteousness and judgment is not something negotiable with us, we shall run afoul the laws that prohibit such "hate speech", and the stand-up Christians and churches will be outlaws.

An historical reminder: as the infamous 1938 Kristallnacht (and the horrific events following) in Germany was triggered by the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris, Ernst vom Rath, by young Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew whose family had been severely mistreated by the Nazis, even so all it would take for a violent backlash against the entire Christian community here would be the violent acting out and attempted (or actual) assassination of a government official by one of our own. Already there are many gun-carrying hotheads in the Christian sector angered and alarmed by what they see is the selling out of the nation and subverting of the Constitution, and it wouldn’t take much for one of them to go over the edge. First the laws, then the violent act in reaction, and then an angry America unleashing its fury against an already hated minority.

It is by no means farfetched to envision such a thing. A modern day Dietrich Bonhoeffer wannabe...

So now the fronts expand to legal/penal, educational, psychological, cultural, etc. But as with Samson and his hair, our strength is the word of our God. How many will be able to stand against the text-critical fronts while the other fronts are heating up? And what about our children and grandchildren, and those we seek to bring to the Lord — will they be inoculated against the Faith by powerful text-critical assaults against the trustworthiness of their forebears' Bibles?

As I said, I can defend the Bible against all comers, but only one in its minute particulars. The other versions I will have to let go.

As we shall be pressed upon sorely, I will (as I do now) conduct my defense graciously, for important as the textual issue is, more important is our loving unity in the Spirit of our Savior. Genuine friendship is the cement that holds the living stones together in God's house. The foundation is the word of our Lord and His apostles, and the sound doctrine arising therefrom, but the solidity of the building in each generation will be the result of real friendships. So no internecine warfare on the Bible from me!. My friends may differ with me, and we differ graciously. In the days ahead, friendship and trust will be very important to us, so many will be our enemies.

The business of Christians will not be "as usual" — laid back and low key — no, for our testimony we will see ourselves in the Scriptures, those who overcame in great tribulation: "And they overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Rev. 12:11)

Nor am I a Dr. Ben, but one schooled in the wilderness, as David.

Pastor Rafalsky,

Though I am on the other side of the fence from you in regards to how we should approach the issue of textual variants, I sincerely appreciate your commitment to the authority of the Word of God.

Having read and interacted with you off and on over the last two years (has it been 3 already?) I have one word of advice...

It is clear you put a lot of time into your posts. Indeed, they are complete articles and if put into print would make booklets. The problem with this is a threaded discussion forum is not the best medium for lengthy treatises. Might I suggest you put up a Web site where you could publish your thoughts?

If you used a Web site, your writings would not get buried in the archives of a forum and would ultimately be read by more people. You could use forums such as Puritan Board to post notices with links when you have uploaded a new work and perhaps include a brief summary.

Also, when interacting in forums, you could reference a particular work on your Web site when making a concise point instead of having to repeat at length things you have already said numerous times in other threads that are now buried.

I say this not to discourage what you are doing but to help you make the most of the time you invest in this subject. I think such an endeavor would be a profitable undertaking for the Traditional Text argument since you have so much to say about it. It would definitely make my 'bookmarks' list, even if I am a "Critical Text guy".

I agree with Robert...and if you need somewhere to put your writings i would be glad to host them on the TNARS website.

If you'd rather have a more relevant site, you could probably get your stuff on here...
Bible Devotionals and the Greek Majority Text

I would love for you and Rev. Winzer to write a book...maybe even together...i would volunteer to edit the book...please, please.

I am truly indebted to the work you've done...and it is a shame to see most of it lost in the shuffle on the discussion board.
An historical reminder: as the infamous 1938 Kristallnacht (and the horrific events following) in Germany was triggered by the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris, Ernst vom Rath, by young Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew whose family had been severely mistreated by the Nazis,

His extended family was mistreated by Poland for complicated political reasons having to do with many Jews like the Greenspans being born in parts of Austrio-Hungary which became Poland after WW1, and the new Polish government not wanting more Jews, and denying many of them Polish papers, which led to many of that Jewish population being left Stateless.

His family wasn't severely mistreated by the Nazis, and the version of the Bible used by Poles and Germans and French was based on the TR, so I'm left more confused then ever about the meaning of that last post.

I agree with Robert...and if you need somewhere to put your writings i would be glad to host them on the TNARS website.

If you'd rather have a more relevant site, you could probably get your stuff on here...
Bible Devotionals and the Greek Majority Text

I would love for you and Rev. Winzer to write a book...maybe even together...i would volunteer to edit the book...please, please.

I am truly indebted to the work you've done...and it is a shame to see most of it lost in the shuffle on the discussion board.

Of course, this section is vastly underdeveloped: The PuritanBoard Theological Journal - The PuritanBoard

I agree with Robert...and if you need somewhere to put your writings i would be glad to host them on the TNARS website.

If you'd rather have a more relevant site, you could probably get your stuff on here...
Bible Devotionals and the Greek Majority Text

I would love for you and Rev. Winzer to write a book...maybe even together...i would volunteer to edit the book...please, please.

I am truly indebted to the work you've done...and it is a shame to see most of it lost in the shuffle on the discussion board.

Of course, this section is vastly underdeveloped: The PuritanBoard Theological Journal - The PuritanBoard

I was unable to post an article there.

I agree with Robert...and if you need somewhere to put your writings i would be glad to host them on the TNARS website.

If you'd rather have a more relevant site, you could probably get your stuff on here...
Bible Devotionals and the Greek Majority Text

I would love for you and Rev. Winzer to write a book...maybe even together...i would volunteer to edit the book...please, please.

I am truly indebted to the work you've done...and it is a shame to see most of it lost in the shuffle on the discussion board.

Of course, this section is vastly underdeveloped: The PuritanBoard Theological Journal - The PuritanBoard

I was unable to post an article there.

Right. Because you need to request to post an article as the forum instructions note.
Hello again Robert (Truelove),

Yes, your point is well taken. It's just a question of time. As I get older I seem to slow down a little — physically speaking (my mind remaining intact, though some might disagree!) — and thus I have to prioritize, often radically. When it comes to pastoral care, people come first, study and writing second. As I have no one in jail or in the hospital presently, that frees up some time I haven't had lately. Sermon prep takes time, especially when preaching through Revelation, which is electrifyingly delightful to me. I have a guest preacher coming for the next three weeks (he uses the ESV, and I don't give him too hard a time as he's a good man), to free me up to prepare a public lecture, "The Da Vinci Code vs. the Greek New Testament: who won the fight, and remains standing?" It'll be in a hotel hall, and advertised in the English-language papers here. I'm fishing for souls, particularly English-speaking Greek Cypriots. This is still a topic of interest for them (with their Byzantine text), plus Dan Brown's latest movie, "Angels and Demons" about to hit the screen, will add to the interest factor.

All of which to say, I'm just so busy I don't want to spare the time to reorganize, reformat, and republish all these "articles", as I'd have to cut something else that needs to get done. I do have them all saved, and I would like to do something with them; it remains to be seen if I get around to it. Were someone else to express an interest in compiling them into a coherent whole I would be glad, as long as I'd have final editorial say. I do think your idea is very good, and I appreciate your taking the time to write me about it, especially as you're from the other camp!

It's a good thing I have a very small congregation, and so pastoral care is not extensive, though that may change if the Lord puts a lot of fish into our net!

I have lately been devoting my spare time to publishing a literary journal online, which will include a section for a book I've been writing for some years. I'm so ignorant of this phase of tech stuff I had to buy a book, Google Blogger for Dummies, so as to make the site (blog) look professional and interesting. As soon as I get it basically constructed I'll note the url here at PB.

I won't always be doing pastoral work, as when we return to New York (DV) after my wife finishes caring for her Alzheimer's-ill mom, I'll sit under seminary-trained pastors, and see what form of lay-type ministry the church might want to use me in, and also write, our financial situation allowing. Given the state of things I may have to also work for a living, notwithstanding a small pension and Soc. Sec. benefits. So now I devote as much time as I can to the book, and the journal.

I'm preparing a compilation of my threads and posts from here at PB on textual matters, so folks who are interested in my work can reference them. I'll post it and also put it in my PB blog when I get it pretty much done.

Thanks for your thoughts, Robert!


P.S. The Grynszpans, as Jews, were forced out of Germany in a mass deportation and shipped to the border of Poland which refused them entry. They lost their store, home, everything, and their son went over the edge and committed murder (the consensus of holocaust historians). My point had nothing to do with the TR per se, but with my concern that a like scenario of one angry person murderously acting out against a popular government official could trigger a Kristallnacht-like reaction, by both government and general populace. An amil, I don't have rose-tinted glasses. And the church seems due for purification.
The days are coming quickly when on many fronts the true church will be sorely attacked, and the text-critical attack, while not the most violent, will be the most crucial, as the Bible is the source of our strength and very life.

Sorry, I still don't get it. You seem to me making a correlation between a Mideastern descended illegal alien murdering a foreign diplomat in a foreign country and American Christians on the verge of getting sent to concentration camps. And the use of the ESV and other translations being the main cause of the weakening of our will and strength to resist this.

In fact, reading your post again, I am certain this is what you must mean.
Tim, I disagree with Steve's connection here too.

However, don't make it sound so far-fetched as to be insane. Bart Ehrman just released yet another book, Jesus Interrupted, leveraging his textual critical "facts" to buttress his case against Christianity. Muslim apologists make a good deal of Ehrman's points in their arguments against Christianity. So, in the minds of many secular writers and Islamic apologists, the CT has emerged as a potent argument against Christianity.

Unfortunately, the only way to put that genie back in the bottle requires a commitment to KJV-only arguments for preservation that I (for one) find impossible. Steve has moved me to a far more accepting stance toward the majority tradition of the Byzantine manuscripts. However, good or bad, I doubt that the vast majority of conservative scholars are prepared to move too far away from commitment to the claim that Aleph and Vaticanus are the "oldest and most reliable manuscripts."
Tim, I disagree with Steve's connection here too.

However, don't make it sound so far-fetched as to be insane. Bart Ehrman just released yet another book, Jesus Interrupted, leveraging his textual critical "facts" to buttress his case against Christianity. Muslim apologists make a good deal of Ehrman's points in their arguments against Christianity. So, in the minds of many secular writers and Islamic apologists, the CT has emerged as a potent argument against Christianity.

Unfortunately, the only way to put that genie back in the bottle requires a commitment to KJV-only arguments for preservation that I (for one) find impossible. Steve has moved me to a far more accepting stance toward the majority tradition of the Byzantine manuscripts. However, good or bad, I doubt that the vast majority of conservative scholars are prepared to move too far away from Aleph and Vaticanus as the "oldest and most reliable manuscripts" claim.

Thanks Dr. M.

Still, Steve thinks that the majority Byzantine readings are also attacks on Christianity, so you still can't find favor with the extreme AVers unless you swallow their interesting theories whole cloth.

Muslims and secularists will have the same arguments as always no matter what version of the Bible we use. True, they can point to variations in the readings of different manuscripts, but were all the Christians in the world to agree on an ecumenical manuscript tomorrow they'd just find something else.

And in the foreseeable future, if an illegal Mexican fanatic kills the Guatemalan ambassador to the US we American evangelicals won't be rounded up and sent to Sweden. No matter what version of the Bible we use.
What Steve is actually saying is that the way a governmental and societal outrage was triggered in another country against a certain people could also be replicated here. That's almost a no-brainer. No conspiracy, just common dynamics.

I do believe that when the church in the West enters upon its time of trial full-fledged, issues such as Bible versions, peripheral doctrines (even important doctrines), modes of worship, all will be put on the back-burners as we support and stand by one another. This is why it is important to me not to go for the jugular of my brother-opponents, and to show the wickedness of those who do, for without love, knowledge is put to ill use — to demonic use. And we need to learn a catholicity of spirit, even with those brothers whom we think err. The days are coming when this will be an important attitude to possess. But this is rudimentary.

It's absurd (preposterous disinformation actually) to aver that I think Byzantine readings are an attack on Christianity! I've said quite a bit on when the Byz (or MT) differs from the TR/AV, and it's an interesting, nuanced subject. But an attack? Get a life!

Some degrees of spin, and arguments by ridicule, constitute obfuscation to the point of false witness. Straight talk is always cleaner.

When we tell our kids, "Sorry, we don't have an intact Bible you can hold in your hands and say this is the Bible; no, you'll just have to say it's a provisional one till our experts figure out the manuscripts; yeah, we know, some of them say they'll never get it figured; but do the best you can with what you've got!" Then we're in the business of undermining the faith of the future generations. For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Maybe you grownups can deal with this, but not everyone will.

Is "Thus saith the Lord" as regards the whole Bible a bygone certainty?

Will the Lord find faith on the earth when He returns?
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What Steve is actually saying is that the way a governmental and societal outrage was triggered in another country against a certain people could also be replicated here. That's almost a no-brainer. No conspiracy, just common dynamics.

Jews were ONE THIRD OF ONE PERCENT in Germany at the time, and many RECENTLY ARRIVED. They were considered ALIEN.

Self described Evangelical Christians are ONE THIRD of the population of the US and HAVE BEEN HERE FOR CENTURIES. They are considered ESTABLISHMENT.

The comparison between the two is fear mongering.

It's absurd (preposterous disinformation actually) to aver that I think Byzantine readings are an attack on Christianity! I've said quite a bit on when the Byz (or MT) differs from the TR/AV, and it's an interesting, nuanced subject. But an attack? Get a life

Nice try. Anyone who's read the Rev 22:19 threads that you've participated on will remember your stooping to the level of quoting numerologists to support the REJECTION of the overwhelming Byzantine textual tradition of the use of the the word tree instead of book. Your interest is in pushing the TR, not the majority Byzantine textual tradition.

Some degrees of spin, and arguments by ridicule, constitute obfuscation to the point of false witness. Straight talk is always cleaner.

Well, we agree on that.

When we tell our kids, "Sorry, we don't have an intact Bible you can hold in your hands and say this is the Bible; no, you'll just have to say it's a provisional one till our experts figure out the manuscripts; yeah, we know, some of them say they'll never get it figured; but do the best you can with what you've got!"

Except for my youngest, who has Down's, even my 14 year old daughter understands the fallacy of that mockery of the position of those of us who aren't extreme AVers. The fact that some words are different makes no difference in the doctrine of preservation, since no central doctrine of the Church is changed whether you use the KJV, ESV, ASB or any of a half dozen other versions. The overwhelming number of Christians have always believed that, and they always will.

Is "Thus saith the Lord" as regards the whole Bible a bygone certainty?

I don't have a problem with it, even with the version that we will use 1 hour from now, which won't be the AV.

Will the Lord find faith on the earth when He returns?

I think He sees faith in my OPC congregation right now, even though the Pastor uses the ESV and the RE who fills for him uses the ASV. And the fact that you consider something as personal preferences choosing between mostly non doctrine changing textual differences as a matter of basic Christian faith is really disturbing.

I saw Steve warning us not to major in the minors and be aware we are in the crosshairs for some (or many). Now without getting into the backstory of Kristallnacht (IMNSHO like the burning of the reichstag in 1933, there may very well have been some meddling by the nazi faithful to set up the scenario and get rid of a popular political figure that was not in agreement with their policies at the same time), he makes a good point that we are becoming less than popular with "the world". I do think the smug "religious right" with the incredibly poor pattern of inconsistency and hypocrisy played a big part in this. :2cents::worms:
I saw Steve warning us not to major in the minors and be aware we are in the crosshairs for some (or many). Now without getting into the backstory of Kristallnacht (IMNSHO like the burning of the reichstag in 1933, there may very well have been some meddling by the nazi faithful to set up the scenario and get rid of a popular political figure that was not in agreement with their policies at the same time), he makes a good point that we are becoming less than popular with "the world". I do think the smug "religious right" with the incredibly poor pattern of inconsistency and hypocrisy played a big part in this.

Gail, as you well know I always admire your postings on foreign affairs. I think we posted (perhaps) at the same time, and I'd be interested in your reading of my above post. Again with the burning of the Reichstag building by a retarded Aryan Dutchman, I don't see the relevance between non TR uses by a population and the persecution of Christians. We can now add the Dutch translation to the German, French and Polish which were all based on the TR during the thirties.

If there were popular version of the Dutch, French, Polish and German Bibles based in the Majority Text or the CT do you think the thirties and forties would have been worse?

After all, to applying basic, systematic logic to a hypothesis is a hallmark of Calvinism.
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