Why do KJ Only types believe the Westcott and Hort manuscripts are bad?

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by CDM, Jun 29, 2006.

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  1. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    Why do KJ Only adherents say the new translations "leave out" many words and subsequently the doctrines? Why is it said to be the TR is reliable and not Westcott and Hort? What is the beef with W&H?

    And, from a scholarly point of view, why are all translations now based on W&H? Is it superior to the TR?

    When you hear some of these arguments it gets you thinking. For example why is "Lord Jesus" removed in modern translations (thief on the cross and in other places), and only "Jesus" is left?

    Is it because the W&H manuscripts are older and believed to be more reliable? Does W&H not have "Lord" in their manuscripts? If they do, why is it left out in translation?
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    The NKJV is not based on the Critical Text (which strictly speaking is not exactly the same as W-H, but similar) but on the Textus Receptus. The KJVO hardliners have problems with the NKJV because it notes the Critical Text renderings in the margin. The NASB, while based on the CT has actually moved toward TR renderings in some cases over the years since it first appeared.

    KJVO and TR only advocates accuse the CT of gnostic influence, but I've never seen any evidence offered for this, only assertions.
  3. bob

    bob Puritan Board Freshman

    The majority of KJV only people believe that the Wescott and Hort exts are erroneous because they read a pamphlet from the pamphlet rack at church that said that it was.

    They feel comfortable with the fact that the TR is derived from from manuscroipts derived from the stream of texts that comprise the Majority Text. Wescott and Hort felt that the older manuscripts would best reflect the original manuscripts and were very critical of the TR because it was derived from only a handful of manuscripts. (Erasmus used what was availiable to him.)

    Two very old manuscripts were discovered toward the end of the 19th century. They were the oldest manuscripts discovered to date and Wescott and Hort used them as the basis for their Greek NT. They differed from one another considerably and differed from the majority even more.

    Advocates of the TR question this late finding, wondering why, considering God has promised to preserve His Word, he would wait 1800 years after its writing before allowing us to discover the most accurate translations. Many translations have been derived from Erasmus' Greek NT and it is obvious that the church flourished under versions such as the KJV or the Geneva etc.

    In regard to the words Lord Jesus, one of the debates of textual criticism is whether or not to prefer the longer or shorter reading. Some prefer the longer reading, believing that over time it would be more likely that words would be ommitted rather than added. Others prefer the shorter reading, adding that scribes may have been tempted to add words of clarification as a means of combatting heresy.

    For example, the TR contains the passage that is translated: " For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The words conveying the naming of the Persons of the Trinity occur only in a very few very late manuscripts. All but a very few TR textual crictics believe the words are most likely spurious, added by a scribe as a combat against heresy. The KJV and the NKJV contain the phrase, but most newer translation do not.

    There are other arguments cited as well.

  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't think the statement about reading pamphlets is within the spirit of Christian discussion. Fideism is involved on all sides of this issue. The very idea of counting texts, or trusting to older texts, contains assumptions which require to be tested.
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  6. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    The assumption is always that scribes added to the texts. Assuming they are honest, wouldn't it be more likely they accidentally missed something then accidentally put something in. Or if they are frauds, shouldn't Christians assume that orthodox Christians would be pious enough not to lie and to corrupt God's word and that heretics would be the ones to corrupt the texts. Especially since most of the sources of the CT came from the East, esp Alexandria where Christological errors flourished most notably Arianism.
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Peter, good questions. I would answer in the affirmative. Which is why I hold to the so-called conflated traditional text.
  8. JasonGoodwin

    JasonGoodwin Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don't know if this will help, but there's been some argument out there that Westcott and Hort were involved with a spiritist/theosophist name Madame Blavatsky. There was a book put out by Chick that makes this accusation. I'm not sure to trust this, considering that Jack Chick has a habit of going way over the top on his charges against whom he disagrees with.

    BTW, I hope that by me providing this information, we don't take this off on a wild and wacky tangent.
  9. bob

    bob Puritan Board Freshman

    If I offended anyone by my remark: "The majority of KJV only people believe that the Wescott and Hort texts are erroneous because they read a pamphlet from the pamphlet rack at church that said that it was.", I apolgize. It was not my intent to slight anybody by it.

    I grew up within the context of a KJV only church and I have learned that many of the people that I have discussed these things have no knowledge of the issues except for the various KJV only publications they have been given by their pastors. In many cases, such selective training has been the only training that their pastors have received on the issue. Perhaps I should not have identified such a class as simply "the majority", but rather prefaced this majority as describing those within my limited experience.

    When I am asked to either defend my view of why I use other versions in addition to the KJV or am asked my opinion on the subject, the first thing I try to do is to determine if I speaking with someone who is interested in discussing the points of textual criticism or whether I am speaking with one whom Doug Wilson described as a "glassy eyed King James defender" who are convinced that any translation besides the KJV is a "perversion."

    I appreciate the rebuke and acknowledge that our speech should always be with grace. I am always grateful for those who are willing to judge the tenor of a response and to issue a word of rebuke. In this case, I think you may have misjudged my intent. But I do apologize if I offended you. It was not my desire to.

    In Christ,


    [Edited on 6-30-2006 by bob]

    [Edited on 6-30-2006 by bob]
  10. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    It's consistent to view modern translations that use the eclectic (meaning: selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources) text and the eclectic text method as invalid along with dynamic (meaning: continuous change, activity, or progress) equivalence (meaning: the state or condition of being equivalent; equality) which offer a 'meaning' as opposed to a translation.

    The word itself is miss leading, dynamic means always moving/shifting and equivalence means the same. How can something be both?

    For enjoyment only!


    Picture this:

    Elder Dim Whit, "œWelcome everybody to the Truth of Truth Ministry´s weekly Bible study. Thanks for being here. I´m stoked. Our passage to study tonight is John 11:35 Jesus wept. Let´s see what we can learn from this passage. Who wants to go first?"

    Bob, "œWell, my New English Common Vernacular version doesn´t read Jesus wept but that "œJesus groaned."

    Mary, "œInteresting, you know the Greek word there for wept is "˜awahuu´ "“ I got this from Nestle."

    Bill, "œWow, profound!"

    Bob, "œBut my version, The "œNewest English Super Common Version" says grunt."

    Jack, "œYou mean Jesus grunted?!?!"

    Mike: "œMy new "œAuthentic Expository Rendition" matches Vaticanus! And didn´t they find this great manuscript in trash can in the Vatican library?

    AVBunyan: "œYes, they did "“ maybe they should have left it there."

    Harry, "œI have a Greek lexicon from the 4th century Syrian that says the word for wept is really, "˜awahooie´ which makes a major difference in the phrasing! Wow, I get so excited when I use the Greek "“ makes me feel, well, just enlightened like an angel of light!"

    Elder Dim Whit, "œI can see this is going to be a very uplifting night. Nothing like some real dynamic equivalent renderings using the aros tense of the subjective superlative!"

    Bill, "œHarry, where did you learn Greek?"

    Harry, "œI don´t really know Greek I just read it in Zodiates book, "œHow to Master Greek in 30 Days."

    Martha, "œWell, I have a Greek lexicon from the 14th Century revision of the Lollard #3 and the word wept can also be translated moaned."

    Martha, "œYou have to understand the trials and tribulations for the times for without this information you can´t enter into the emotional congatative condiveness of the sureality."

    AV, "œWhat am I missing here "“ we are only talking about two words."

    Harry, "œHush, AV, you´ve got a bad attitude! What about all those poor people before 1611?"

    Elder Dim Whit, "œHush, AV you are not exhibiting the sweet spirit of the Christ here. Also, what about all those people in other countries who can´t even speak English?
    Now let´s get back to our Bible study. Who has some more nuggets on, Jesus wept?"

    Mr. Brilliant, "œMy new updated "˜Antioch Gratulative Retention Bible´ speaks of the word wept being in the past tense conjegative thus meaning that Jesus was weeping before he ever got there. This really touched my heart."

    Mary, "œOh, I feel my life is now completely changed based upon that nugget "“ thanks Mr. Brilliant."

    Mr. Brilliant, "œBy the way my new version is special for the translators of this great work translated it so there are no words with less than 9 letters long so as to bring out the most demonstrative and subjectivelatuative meaning of the words thus enabling me to get all that can be gotten from the most complicated renderings thus making me even more brilliant in the eyes of unenlightened believers."

    Harry, "œI still think we need to examine the different 3rd century renditions of the Greek word "˜awahooe´ so we can see how other Greek writers used the word so we can determine the most reliable and effective use of the word for the most authentic rendering of the verse thus pulling from it all the vast riches of this profound word "˜awahooe´.

    AV, "œBut how do you decide who is right?"

    Mike, "œAV, you are so narrow-minded! How can you read a Bible with Easter in it anyway?"

    Nancy, "œHow do we even know John 11:35 was really in the originals?"

    Neal, "œI found a scholar who read of a professor who talked with his gardener who knew an archeologists who was able to gaze upon the famous fragment P734075439.479 1/2 from the collection over in Dead Sea Visitor´s Center, oh I mean the "˜Dead Sea Museum of Ancient Artifacts´ and he says it is there."

    Nancy, "œWow, could the archeologists read Greek?"

    Neal, "œNo, but the janitor could and he told him that P734075439.479 1/2 contained the verse as it stands in many of the modern versions."

    Elder Dim Whit, "œWell, that is great "“ I think we can call this Bible study a great success. Let´s meet next week so we can have some time to digest these great truths. Then we will be prepared to really dig into John 11:35 verse using all the modern tools and resources available."

    Mary, "œYou are not coming next week are you AV?"

    AV, "œNo, I think I´ll just stay home and watch some Captain Kangaroo reruns, thank you for asking and for being so thoughtful."

    [Edited on 7-1-2006 by Hard Knox]


    Here's an interesting link: http://www.geocities.com/brandplucked/NIVapos.html

    [Edited on 7-1-2006 by Hard Knox]
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    "The King James Bible is ALWAYS right."

    "...the apostates Westcott and Hort..."

    No thanks. There are compelling defenses of the Byzantine text, TR, Ecclesiastical Text, etc. out there but this ain't one of them.
  12. street preacher

    street preacher Puritan Board Freshman

    Why do the newer translations in Isaiah 14 call Lucifer the morning star or day star? That is blasphamous.
  13. bob

    bob Puritan Board Freshman


    The King James and New King Jame translate the phrase "son of the morning". The phrase refers to the morning star that goes before the sun. It is most likely a reference to Venus.

    Interestingly, some commentators, often surmised that the reference was a metaphor used to described a Babylonian king, either Nebuchadnezzar or Belteshazzar, not referring to Satan at all.

    The word Lucifer actually was a Latin word that means "Morning Star". It was often used to referred to kings and dignarities. Jerome, when compiling the Scriptures into what was named the Vulgate, took the Hebrew term and translated the word as Lucifer.

    I don't believe there is any sinister design in the modern translation's usage of the phrase.

  14. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It is noteworthy how few people are familiar with the works which examine the alleged “most reliable and early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses” that the Critical Text (CT) is based upon, which latter derives in the main from the Westcott and Hort (W&H) Greek text of 1881.

    The quote above is from the margin note found in the NIV, and meant to indicate the spuriousness of Mark 16:9-20. The margin notes in the NASB and ESV are similar and to the same effect, the CT being the Greek they are also based upon.

    The primary, and almost exclusive “ancient witnesses” that omit these 12 verses are codices Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (a) or aleph, after the first Hebrew letter, both of Alexandrian origin. Without looking at their origins in detail at this time, they were very likely Egyptian manuscripts modified by Origen, or at least accepted by him, and made into the official NT text by Eusebius of Caesarea (265-339) when Constantine requested 50 Bibles of him, due to the scarcity of Scripture after the destruction of churches, Bibles, and believers in the reign of Diocletian and his 10 years of horrific persecution (302-312). The fierce conflict in the days of Eusebius between the orthodox Christians and the Arians and Sabellians led to the manuscripts being tampered with for doctrinal reasons, as has been documented.

    More to the point for the purposes of this thread is how these two manuscripts were resurrected from obscurity into places of prominence in the 19th century, and what the characters of each are.

    Herman C. Hoskier was a textual scholar of the Greek New Testament who minutely examined and then opposed Westcott and Hort’s principal texts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in a two-volume study. The first is titled, Codex B And Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment; the second volume, which we will quote from here, is titled, Codex B And Its Allies, Part II: Chiefly concerning a, but covering three thousand differences between and a and B in the Four Gospels, with the evidence supporting each side, including the new manuscript evidence collected by VON SODEN, and the collateral readings of other important authorities.(1) Hoskier states,

    In the light of the following huge lists let us never be told in the future that either a or B represents any form of “Neutral” text…

    Our little study [after the examination of B in Volume I] would be quite incomplete without a further account of the idiosyncrasies of a. This is best shown by exhibiting the principal places where a and B differ, which, in number, far exceed what anyone might suppose who does not go deeply into the comparative study of the two documents. As a matter of fact the “shorter” text of the two is found in a

    I have tabulated the major part of these differences between a and B in the Gospels and given the supporting authorities on each side. They amount to—

    Matt. . . . 656+
    Mark . . . 567+
    Luke . . . 791+
    John . . . 1022+
    Total . . . 3036+ (2)​

    Hoskier’s study continues on for 381 pages of documentation (412 including a Scriptural index), if anyone is interested in pursuing a comparative examination of a and B, the foundation of W&H’s critical text.
    (1) Codex B And Its Allies, by Herman C. Hoskier (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914).
    (2) Ibid., Vol. II, page 1.

    In a courtroom when two witnesses testifying to the same matter disagree sharply with one another, they cannot be called “reliable” witnesses, but rather they impugn one another’s testimony. And when such unreliable witnesses are scrutinized in the light of a virtual multitude of other witnesses who disagree with the two while agreeing with one another, the evidence becomes preponderant in favor of the majority. Mere “age” of a manuscript may easily be offset by other more weighty factors. It is a given regarding the condition of a manuscript that those exhibiting the least wear have been used the least; often it is because they have been set aside as of inferior quality. In my own library the books that are in the worst shape, and which sometimes have to be replaced, are those I use the most. Those in the best shape I use the least.

    a was discovered by Tischendorf at St. Catharine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery on Mt. Sinai in 1844. Vaticanus has been in the Vatican Library at least since 1481, when it was catalogued. Those with some historical knowledge will remember that these were the years of the Inquisition in Spain during the reign of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484). In 1481 some 2,000 believers dissenting with Rome were burned alive, with multitudes of others tortured (M’Crie, History of the Reformation in Spain, p. 104). When Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) sat in the royal “Throne of Peter,” he followed in the vein of his namesake Innocent III and commenced anew a persecution against the peaceful Waldensian Christians in the northern Italian Alps, commanding their destruction “like venomous snakes” if they would not repent and turn to Rome. (Wylie, History of the Waldenses, pp. 27-29) Bloodbaths followed against these harmless mountain peoples, who had their own Scriptures from ancient times, and worshipped in Biblical simplicity and order.

    It perplexes many people that the Lord of these many hundreds of thousands of Bible-believing saints who were tortured with unimaginable barbarity and slaughtered like dogs by the Roman Catholic “church” for centuries (it is no exaggeration to say for over a millennium) should have kept His choicest preserved manuscript in the safekeeping of the Library of the apostate murderers, designating it by their own ignominious name: Vaticanus. But it well suited W&H, who loved Rome, and despised the “evangelicals” of their own day, and the Traditional Text they used to preach with power.

    As concerns Mark 16:9-20, it is odd that it is almost exclusively these two MSS. that omit the verses, which almost all other uncials, miniscules, and lectionaries retain. What gives these two MSS. such weight over all others? W&H developed a theory to support their prized MSS., but it has been demonstrated to be devoid of any historical attestation whatsoever. It is mere conjecture, which I am asked to assent to, and to ignore voluminous evidences – both historical and textual – to the contrary.

    Nor would I allow either of these two men, Westcott or Hort, despite their ecclesiastical “attainments,” to preach or teach in the church I serve, seeing as they were heretics and reprobates, both in belief and in conduct, which assertions are documented. I find there is much secular attestation, beside the testimony of their sons in their respective unabridged biographies of their fathers, to their spiritualism.

    In a book, a former president of The Society For Psychical Research acknowledged its origins in “The Cambridge ‘Ghost Society’” formed by Westcott and Hort:

    Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort were among its members…Lightfoot and Westcott both became bishops, and Hort Professor of Divinity. The S.P.R. has hardly lived up to the standard of ecclesiastical eminence set by the parent society. (The Society For Psychical Research: An Outline Of Its History, by W.H. Salter (President, 1947-8), (London, Society For Psychical Research, 1948), pages 6, 7.)

    I could go on with documentation of their unbelief in the historicity of the opening chapters of Genesis (and affirming solidarity with Charles Darwin and his theory), and other evidences of their unregenerate state. (To deny the historicity of Genesis, is to deny the Fall, the sinful condition of the human race, the need for an atoning sacrifice, etc etc.) That they fiercely demanded the presence of a notorious Unitarian on their revision committee , Dr. Vance Smith (who later published, gloatingly, of the textual damage done regarding the deity of Jesus Christ in the revision), indicating they considered him a brother Christian nonetheless, says something about their hearts.

    Does it not make sense what was happening? Unregenerate men had infiltrated the church, and not only the church, but the inner precincts of scholarship and textual reproduction. The enemy had taken the inner stronghold, and put unholy hands on the written Word of God, to alter it.

    I know I have not stuck strictly to the question at hand, but what has happened to the Biblical text is a phenomenon of many dimensions, and I wanted to cover more than one area, even if only with broad strokes.

    I am working on a paper, perhaps 60 pages long, rendering these things in detail, thoroughly researched and documented. It is available in its present rough draft in pdf format (so as to keep the integrity of the Hebrew and Greek fonts, which not all Word documents will, I have learned), if anyone is interested. In return, I would appreciate any comments and criticisms you might have. I do affirm the authenticity of 1 John 5:7, sort of as the final fruition of all the preceding historical and textual detective-work.

    For sort of an overview of these matters (and I am in accord with him on much of his historical views and research) I recommend David Cloud’s Examining “The King James Only Controversy” (by James White), which entire book of Cloud’s is available online, and quite well done. Perhaps needless to say, I am a vigorous and relentless opponent of Cloud’s anti-Calvinist views, but that is a different battle, and I deem it secondary to the defense of Scripture, although it must indeed be fought!

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Because that is the literal translation of the passage, and it is even the margin in the KJV. The term lucifer comes from the Vulgate. See here and here. The NKJV margin says "Lit. Day Star".

    The note here at the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible says that "The longstanding interpretation that this passage refers to the fall of Satan is incorrect. The context clearly indicates that Isaiah was speaking of the king of Assyria. Compare the similar description of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28."

    But I guess if it says Lucifer in the KJV it HAS to be correct, right? Correct the Hebrew with the English? ;)

    [Edited on 7-1-2006 by Pilgrim]
  16. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Thinking out loud: I wonder if the rerelease of an updated Geneva Bible will affect KJVOism within the Reformed camp.
  17. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Probably just affect GenevaBibleOnlyism.;)
  18. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Was the Geneva a translation from the TR family?
  19. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian


    Plus, there is the Modern King James Version and the 21st Century King James Version.

    [Edited on 7-2-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  20. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Good point.
  21. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Getting back to the original question of this thread:

    In the Critical text (the Westcott & Hort manuscripts) there is the omission of “God” in 1 Timothy 3:16. Let’s look more closely at that text. Burgon, responding to the margin note in the original 1881 Revision which says “The word God, in place of He who, rests on no sufficient ancient evidence”, replies (we quote from the summation of his 76-page dissertation of proofs to the contrary):

    Behold then the provision which THE AUTHOR of Scripture has made for the effectual conservation in its integrity of this portion of His written Word! Upwards of eighteen hundred years have run their course since the HOLY GHOST by His servant, Paul, rehearsed the ‘mystery of Godliness;’ declaring this to be the great foundation-fact,—namely, that ‘GOD WAS MANIFESTED IN THE FLESH.’ And lo, out of two hundred and fifty-four [cursive] copies of S. Paul’s Epistles no less than two hundred and fifty-two are discovered to have preserved that expression. Such ‘Consent’ amounts to Unanimity; and, (as I explained at pp. 454-5,) unanimity in this subject matter, is conclusive.

    The copies of which we speak, (you are requested to observe,) were produced in every part of ancient Christendom,—being derived in every instance from copies older than themselves; which again were transcripts of copies older still. They have since found their way, without design or contrivance, into the libraries of every country of Europe,—where, for hundreds of years they have been jealously guarded. And,—(I repeat the question already hazarded at pp. 445-6, and now respectfully propose it to you, my lord Bishop; requesting you at your convenience to favor me publicly with an answer)—For what conceivable reason can this multitude of witnesses be supposed to have entered into a wicked conspiracy to deceive mankind?

    True, that no miracle has guarded the sacred Text in this, or in any other place. On the other hand, for the last 150 years, Unbelief has been carping resolutely at this grand proclamation of the Divinity of CHRIST,—in order to prove that not this, but some other thing, it must have been, which the Apostle wrote. And yet (as I have fully shown) the result of all the evidence procurable is to establish that the Apostle must be held to have written no other thing but this

    The numerical result of our entire enquiry, proves therefore to be briefly this:

    In 1 TIMOTHY 3:16 the reading [writing English for the Greek] God manifest in the flesh, is witnessed to by 289 manuscripts:—by 3 VERSIONS:—by upwards of 20 Greek FATHERS [all of which he has just listed in detail]…

    The reading who (…in place of God) is countenanced by 6 MANUSCRIPTS in all (a, Paul 17, 73: Apost. 12, 85, 86):—by only one VERSION for certain (viz. the Gothic):—not for certain by a single Greek FATHER. (1)​

    In short, the overwhelming testimony of Antiquity says that the Fathers, the Lectionaries, and the manuscripts were familiar with the very reading we ourselves have preserved in the Traditional Text. The fractional aberrant readings proceeding from their source in a’s Alexandria or Caesarea, where the Deity of Jesus Christ was violently and wickedly denied, are virtually buried by the contradictory evidence of the true reading widely spread throughout the ancient Christian world.

    Burgon, Commenting on the two major Alexandrian manuscripts,

    We assert that, so manifest are the disfigurements jointly and exclusively exhibited by codices B & a [at which point he gives a long list of examples in the footnote], that instead of accepting these codices as two ‘independent’ Witnesses to the inspired Original, we are constrained to regard them as little more than a single reproduction of one and the same scandalously corrupt and (comparatively) late Copy…

    The result is, that codex a, (which evidently has gone through much more adventures and fallen into worse company than his rival) has been corrupted to a far graver extent than codex B, and is even more untrustworthy. Thus, whereas (in the Gospels alone) B has 589 Readings quite peculiar to itself, affecting 858 words,— a has 1460 such readings, affecting 2640 words.

    One solid fact like the preceding, (let it be pointed out in passing,) is more helpful by far to one who would form a correct estimate of the value of a Codex, than any number of such ‘reckless and unverified assertions,’ not to say peremptory and baseless decrees, as abound in the highly imaginative pages of Drs. Westcott and Hort. (2)​

    Although it has been asserted by some that the W&H manuscripts are characterized by “lack of omissions,” the facts are glaringly contrary:

    …Mutilation has been practiced throughout. By codex B (collated [i.e., minutely compared] with the Traditional Text), no less than 2877 words have been excised from the Gospels alone: by codex a,—3455 words: by codex D,—3704 words. (3)​

    (1) The Revision Revised, Burgon, pages 494, 495, 496.
    (2) Ibid., pages 317, 318, 319.
    (3) Ibid., page 75.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
  22. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you very much for this information. I am learning from this discussion where to go to study.

    Recently, these last few Lord's Day's, I've been reading the KJV during family worship. I was having to stop several times to explain the "funny" language. Like "concupiscence" to name just one.

    Would the KJV21 be a good alternative? Or the Modern KJV? I'd be curious to know what the "glassy-eyed King James defenders" have to say about these translations?
  23. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    No glassy eyes here (see our church's stance on the AV in the FPCR Distinctives series, here), and I have no opinion to give on those translations. I will say that while I think we should be concerned about antiquated terminology, in the instance above I would say pull out a dictionary. I do not think every hard or unfamiliar word is one that has passed out of usage and needs to be replaced in translations of the Word.
  24. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    "Concupiscence is among our choicest words to be recovered." See here
  25. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The discussion below I have excerpted from my booklet-in-progress, To Break A Sword. In this section I look at the Theory behind Westcott & Hort’s favoring the codices B and Aleph, and their basis for disdaining the majority Traditional Text. I have availed myself of the labors and wisdom of others which the Lord granted them. If in my bringing up the characters and documented motives of these two men, someone says, but this is argumentum ad hominem (criticism of an opponent’s character or motives, rather than of the person’s argument or beliefs), please note that a person’s character and motives will certainly bear on their spiritual views, and hence on their doctrines and related textual matters. As the Lord Jesus said, “…a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17, 18)

    In a letter to Westcott, in April of 1861, while they were unofficially (1) working on their revision of the Greek text, Hort wrote,

    Also—but this may be cowardice—I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not easily be banished by subsequent alarms. (2)​

    Hort was worldly-wise in this, for it was not until dogged research by scholars in the 20th century unearthed their “dangerous heresy” (3) (though “damnable” be a more apt description) in many areas, that we have learned things about them their contemporaries were unaware of. In a letter to Bishop Lightfoot in May of 1860, concerning a proposed commentary they would write with Westcott on the New Testament, Hort said,

    Depend on it, whatever either you or I may say in an extended commentary, if only we speak our mind, we shall not be able to avoid giving grave offence to…the miscalled orthodoxy of the day. (4)​

    If one says, “What does it matter the character or beliefs of these men provided they were competent in their field?”, I say it matters much. Once I (unwittingly) had an unbeliever translate a Gospel teaching from English into Arabic, and he butchered it, because he did not comprehend what the Spirit of Christ was saying in the Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7). Worldly competence is far removed from spiritual competence.

    These two men – even in their early twenties, before they were accomplished Greek classicists (note that I say, “classicists,” and not believing scholars) – had an antagonism to the Bible of the Evangelicals similar to those unbelieving intellectuals of our day who resent the authority behind the claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when it is preached in arresting power, and in its integrity. Pleasant and aesthetic church services, soothing to the religious temperament, are acceptable, but not soul-convicting Spirit-empowered Gospel preaching! As we have shown by a few representative quotes, early in their lives they decided to pit themselves against the Bible of the Evangelicals, and labored almost thirty years preparing their substitute Greek text. How did they manage to overturn the Traditional Text, and curry the favor of the scholarly community (or a good part of it)? We will look at that now.

    Quoting from Dr. Alfred Martin’s dissertation, “A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Textual Theory”:

    The Westcott-Hort theory holds the field in the opinions of so many people because it disposes of ninety-five percent of the documentary evidence in such a clever way that they do not perceive the loss of it. “Good riddance,” they say to all manuscripts, versions, and Fathers except a little handful (a handful, incidentally, which do not agree among themselves).

    In an earlier chapter the Westcott and Hort theory was compared to a temple, the two chief columns of which were the “Syrian recensions” and the “Neutral Text.” Certainly enough has been said to show that these columns were in reality made of air. Scarcely any scholar can be found today, even among those most favorable to Westcott and Hort, who will vouch for deliberate and authoritative Syrian recensions or who will call their Neutral Text neutral.

    Is it possible to believe that a text [the Textus Receptus] actually fabricated in the fourth century rapidly became so dominant that practically no copies were made any longer of exemplars which contained the type of text found in B and Aleph, also of the fourth century? This is really asking too much. The subjective character of the evidence adduced by Westcott and Hort permeates their whole theory. (1)​

    In other words, W&H contrived a theory to explain away the overwhelming numerical dominance of the Textus Receptus manuscripts. This is the theory: an official church council – in Syrian Antioch, they say – in approximately 250 A.D., headed by a man named Lucian (who was a real “church” leader at that time, but an Arian), gathered the various, differing Greek manuscripts in circulation and combined them into an “official recension” (recension: “a critical revision of a text incorporating the most plausible elements found in varying sources” –American Heritage Dict.). The trouble with this theory (we will get to the second part, the “Neutral Text,” in a moment) is that it is sheer conjecture, without even the minutest shred of historical – or any other – evidence. It is not even sound inference, as the data does not remotely lead to that conclusion. As with the theory of evolution (which we saw both these men held), it is an interpretation of events and data unsupported by factual evidence. In impartial (i.e., true) science, the evidences for the creation model of origins are overwhelming, and the evidence for the “Big Bang” life-out-of-inorganic-matter (which matter supposedly always existed) is nonexistent upon close examination. Likewise, in the science of textual criticism data – solid facts – are essential in the establishing of a case; unsupported theories, while perhaps clever, are insufficient to make a case. And so it is with W&H’s theory; whenever any significant council was convened or church decision was effected, it is recorded in history. We have many records of various church councils, of various textual productions and (even) mutilations of Scripture by heretics, but there is absolute silence concerning their alleged Antioch council which produced a “Syrian recension.” They just made it up! In order to displace the hated “vile Textus Receptus” (Hort’s phrase, quoted from his son’s biography in an earlier part of this writing) it was necessary that it somehow be discredited.

    Burgon comments:

    But how does it happen—(let the question be asked without offence)—that a man of good abilities, bred in a university which is supposed to cultivate especially the Science of exact reasoning, should habitually allow himself in such slipshod writing as this? The very fact of a ‘Revision’ of the Syriac has all to be proved; and until it has been demonstrated, cannot of course be reasoned upon as a fact. Instead of demonstration, we find ourselves invited (1)—‘To suppose’ that such a revision took place: and (2)—‘To suppose’ that all our existing Manuscripts [comprising the TR] represent it. But (as we have said) not a shadow of reason is produced why we should be so complaisant as ‘to suppose’ either the one thing or the other. (2)​

    It is a sad exercise reading through Burgon’s five volumes of mountainous detailed proofs supporting his critique of Westcott and Hort’s Greek text and their appended volume regarding their operating theory, as well as his proofs for the authenticity of the Traditional Text. It is like a skilled attorney defending a virtuous and godly woman whom he loved against well-rehearsed and skilled false testimony before a jury disposed to receive sensational hearsay accounts over established and irrefutable facts provided by reliable witnesses. The outrage! (but held in check), the sadness, the righteous anger! (also held in rein), the frustration! Burgon marshals the proofs, but they are dismissed with scorn! Or ignored. But we may benefit, that our sword might be held with confidence. And that is the issue for us: that we be able to hold and wield our sword in behalf of our King, with His word proclaimed throughout the territory of the enemy, the devil, that the captives be set loose.

    Burgon continues:

    Now, instead of insisting that this entire Theory is made up of a series of purely gratuitous assumptions,—destitute alike of attestation and of probability: and that, as a mere effort of the Imagination, it is entitled to no manner of consideration or respect at our hands:—instead of dealing thus with what precedes, we propose to be most kind and accommodating to Dr. Hort. We proceed to accept his Theory in its entirety. We will, with the Reader’s permission, assume that all he tells us is historically true: is an authentic narrative of what actually did take place. We shall in the end invite the same Reader to recognize the inevitable consequences of our admission: to which we shall inexorably pin the learned Editors—bind them hand and foot;—of course reserving for ourselves the right of disallowing for ourselves as much of the matter as we please.

    Somewhere between A.D. 250 and 350 therefore,—(‘it is impossible to say with confidence’ [-Hort, Introduction-Appendix, p. 137] what was the actual date, but these Editors incline to the latter half of the 3rd century, i.e., circa A.D. 275);—we are to believe that the Ecclesiastical heads of the four great Patriarchates of Eastern Christendom,—Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople,—had become so troubled at witnessing the prevalence of depraved copies of Holy Scripture in their respective churches, that they resolved by common consent on achieving an authoritative Revision which should henceforth become the standard Text of all the Patriarchates of the East…

    We venture to remark in passing that Textual matters must have everywhere reached a very alarming pass indeed as to render intelligible the resort to so extraordinary a step as a representative Conference of the ‘leading Personages or Sees’ [Hort, p. 134] of Eastern Christendom. The inference is at least inevitable, that men in high place at that time deemed themselves competent to grapple with the problem. Enough was known about the character and the sources of these corrupt Texts to make it certain that they would be recognizable when produced; and that, when condemned by authority, they would no longer be propagated, and in the end would cease to molest the Church. Thus much, at all events, is legitimately to be inferred from the hypothesis.

    Behold then from every principal Diocese of ancient Christendom, and in the Church’s palmiest [most excellent, prosperous] days, the most famous of the ante-Nicene Fathers repair to Antioch. They go up by authority, and are attended by skilled Ecclesiastics of the highest theological attainment. Bearers are they perforce of a vast number of Copies of the Scriptures: and (by the hypothesis) the latest possible dates of any of these Copies must range between A.D. 250 and 350. But the delegates of so many ancient Sees will have been supremely careful, before starting on so important and solemn an errand, to make diligent search for the oldest Copies anywhere discoverable: and when they reach the scene of their deliberations, we may be certain that they are able to appeal to not a few codices written within a hundred years of the date of the inspired Autographs themselves [sic]. Copies of the Scriptures authenticated as having belonged to the most famous of their predecessors,—and held by them in high repute for the presumed purity of their Texts—will have been freely produced: while, in select receptacles, will have been stowed away—for purposes of comparison and avoidance—specimens of those dreaded Texts whose existence has been the sole cause why (by the hypothesis) this extraordinary concourse of learned Ecclesiastics has taken place.

    After solemnly invoking the Divine blessing, these men address themselves assiduously to their task; and (by the hypothesis) they proceed to condemn every codex which exhibits a ‘strictly Western,’ or a ‘strictly Alexandrian,’ or a ‘strictly Neutral’ type. In plain English, if codices B, Aleph, and D had been before them, they would have unceremoniously rejected all three, but then, (by the hypothesis) neither of the two first-named had yet come into being: while 200 years at least must roll out before Cod. D would see the light. In the meantime, the immediate ancestors of B Aleph and D will perforce have come under judicial Scrutiny; and, (by the hypothesis,) they will have been scornfully rejected by the general consent of the Judges. [bold emphases added]

    Pass an interval—(are we to suppose of fifty years?)—and the work referred to is ‘subjected to a second authoritative Revision.Again, therefore, behold the piety and learning of the four great Patriarchates of the East, formally represented at Antioch! The Church is now in her palmiest days. Some of the greatest men belong to the period of which we are now speaking. Eusebius (A.D. 308-340) is in his glory. One whole generation has come and gone since the last Textual Conference was held, at Antioch. Yet no inclination is manifested to reverse the decrees of the earlier Conference. This second Recension of the Text of Scripture does but ‘carry out more completely the purposes of the first;’ and ‘the final process was apparently completed by A.D. 350’ [Hort, p. 350].—So far the Cambridge Professor.

    But one important fact implied by this august deliberation concerning the text of Scripture has been conveniently passed over by Dr. Hort in profound silence. We take leave to repair his omission by inviting the Reader’s particular attention to it.

    We request him to note that, by the hypothesis, there will have been submitted to the scrutiny of these many ancient Ecclesiastics not a few codices of exactly the same type as codices B and Aleph: especially as codex B. We are able even to specify with precision certain features which the codices in question will have all concurred in exhibiting. Thus,—

    (1) From S. Mark’s Gospel, those depraved copies will have omitted THE LAST TWELVE VERSES (16:9-20).
    (2) From S. Luke’s Gospel the same corrupt copies will have omitted our SAVIOR’S AGONY IN THE GARDEN (22:43, 44).
    (3) HIS PRAYER ON BEHALF OF HIS MURDERERS (23:34), will have also been away.
    (4) The INSCRIPTION ON THE CROSS, in GREEK, LATIN, AND HEBREW (23:38), will have been partly, misrepresented,—partly, away.
    (5) And there will have been no account discoverable of S. Peter’S VISIT TO THE SEPULCHRE (24:12).
    (6) Absent will have been also the record of our LORD’S ASCENTION INTO HEAVEN (ibid. 51).
    (7) Also, from S. John’s Gospel, the codices in question will have omitted the incident of THE TROUBLING OF THE POOL AT BETHESDA (5:3, 4).​

    Now, we request that it may be clearly noted that, according to Dr. Hort, against every copy of the Gospels so maimed and mutilated, (i.e. against every copy of the Gospels of the same type as codices B and Aleph,)—the many illustrious Bishops who (still according to Dr. Hort,) assembled at Antioch, first in A.D. 250 and then in A.D. 350,—by common consent set a mark of condemnation. We are assured that these famous men,—those Fathers of the Church,—were emphatic in their sanction, instead, of codices of the type of Cod. A,—in which all these seven omitted passages (and many hundreds besides) are duly found in their proper places.

    When, therefore, at the end of a thousand and half a thousand years, Dr. Hort (guided by his inner consciousness, and depending on an intellectual illumination of which he is able to give no intelligible account) proposes to reverse the deliberate sentence of Antiquity,—his position strikes us as bordering on the ludicrous. Considering the seven places above referred to, which the assembled Fathers pronounce to be genuine Scripture, and declare to be worthy of all acceptation,—Dr. Hort expresses himself in terms which—could they have been heard at Antioch—must, it is thought, have brought down upon his head tokens of displeasure which might have even proved inconvenient…

    It is plain therefore that Dr. Hort is in direct antagonism with the collective mind of Patristic Antiquity. Why, when it suits him, he should appeal to the same Ancients for support,—we fail to understand. ‘If Baal be GOD, then follow him!’ Dr. Hort has his codex B and his codex Aleph to guide him. He informs us [Hort, p. 276] that ‘the fullest consideration does but increase the conviction that the preeminent relative purity’ of those two codices ‘is approximately absolute,—a true approximate reproduction of the Text of the Autographs.’ On the other hand, he has discovered that the Received Text is virtually the production of the Fathers of the Nicene Age (A.D. 250—A.D. 350),—exhibits a Text fabricated throughout by the united efforts of those well-intentioned but thoroughly misguided men. What is it to him, henceforth, how Athanasius, or Didymus, or Cyril exhibits a place?

    Yes, we repeat it,—Dr. Hort is in direct antagonism with the Fathers of the 3rd and the 4th Century. His own fantastic hypothesis of a ‘Syrian Text,’—the solemn expression of the collective wisdom and deliberate judgment of the Fathers of the Nicene Age (A.D. 250—A.D. 350),—is the best answer which can by possibility be invented to his own pages,—is, in our account, the one sufficient and conclusive refutation of his own Text. (3)​

    In this above illustration of the saying, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit” (Proverbs 26:5), Burgon, knowing what the reality would be if Hort’s hypothesis were actual fact, turns it against him:

    For ourselves, having said so much on this subject, it is fair that we should add,—We devoutly wish that Dr. Hort’s hypothesis of an authoritative and deliberate Recension of the Text of the New Testament achieved at Antioch first, about A.D. 250, and next, about A.D. 350, were indeed an historical fact. We desire no firmer basis on which to rest our confidence in the Traditional Text than the deliberate verdict of Antiquity,—the ascertained sanction of the collective Church, in the Nicene Age. The Latin ‘Vulgate’ [A.D. 385] is the work of a single man—Jerome. The Syriac ‘Vulgate’ [A.D. 616] was also the work of a single man—Thomas of Harkel. But this Greek ‘Vulgate’ was (by the hypothesis) the product of the Church Catholic, [A.D. 250—A.D. 350,] in her corporate capacity. Not only should we hail such a monument of the collective piety and learning of the Church in her best days with unmingled reverence and joy, were it introduced to our notice; but we should insist that no important deviation from such a ‘Textus Receptus’ as that would deserve to be listened to. In other words, if Dr. Hort’s theory about the origin of the Textus Receptus have any foundation at all in fact, it is ‘all up’ with Dr. Hort. He is absolutely nowhere. He has most ingeniously placed himself on the horns of a fatal dilemma.

    For,—(let it be carefully noted,)—the entire discussion becomes, in this way, brought (so to speak) within the compass of a nutshell. To state the case briefly,—We are invited to make our election between the Fathers of the Church, A.D. 250 and A.D. 350,—and Dr. Hort, A.D. 1881. The issue is really reduced to that. The general question of THE TEXT OF SCRIPTURE being the matter at stake; (not any particular passage, remember, but the Text of Scripture as a whole)—and the conflicting parties being but two;—Which are we to believe? the consentient Voice of Antiquity,—or the solitary modern Professor? Shall we accept the august Testimony of the whole body of the Fathers? or shall we prefer to be guided by the self-evolved imaginations of one who confessedly has nothing to offer but conjecture? The question before us is reduced to that single issue. But in fact the alternative admits of being yet more concisely stated. We are invited to make our election between FACT and—FICTION…All this, of course, on the supposition that there is any truth at all in Dr. Hort’s ‘New Textual Theory.’

    Apart however from the gross intrinsic improbability of the supposed Recension,—the utter absence of one particle of evidence, traditional or otherwise, that it ever did take place, must be held to be fatal to the hypothesis that it did. It is simply incredible that an incident of such magnitude and interest would leave no trace of itself in history. (4)​

    As stated earlier, the Textus Receptus (TR) – the majority text comprising 90 to 95 percent of all the Greek manuscripts – did not happen because of a supposed official church decision and edict (although one might wish, as did Burgon, it had happened that way), but because the Lord worked through the priesthood of believers cleaving to – and faithfully reproducing – the text He supported through the collective wisdom imparted by Him, and also His faithfully providing the best texts to the right hands just when they were needed, and in particular this was the case in the years leading up to the production of the King James Bible in 1611.


    (1) [for they did not receive their official appointment to revise the New Testament – not the Greek text, but make minor revisions in the English text – until 1871]
    (2) Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, by his son, Arthur Fenton Hort (Macmillan, London, 1896) Reprint by the Bible for Today. Vol. I, page 445.
    (3) 2 Peter 2:1 more accurately classifies theirs as “damnable heresies” – there being a distinction between the two types.
    (4) Ibid., page 421.
    (5) Which Bible? by David Otis Fuller, ed. (MI: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1990), “A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Theory,” by Dr. Alfred Martin, p. 171 (later Dr. Martin became Vice President of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago).
    (6) The Revision Revised, by John William Burgon (London: 1881), reprinted by A.G. Hobbs Publications (TX: 1991), page 276.
    (7) Ibid., pages 277, 278—282, 283, 284
    (8) Ibid., pages 292, 293.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
  26. bob

    bob Puritan Board Freshman

    The majority of our church members utilize the KJV or the NKJV version of the Bible. I use the NKJV for all of my teaching and preaching in the church. I study from both versions so that I am cognizant of any variances between the two texts.

    I have no issues at all with the KJV. It is a fine translation and a very accurate one at that. I grew up with the KJV and still have a high regard for its quality. I also believe there is a certain beauty to be found in its prose.

    In comparing the two translations (KJV and NKJV) each week, it becomes apparent to me that considering our modern vernacular, the NKJV is a superior translation. Only rarely do I find that I prefer the KJV rendering over the NKJV. The issues are not so much a matter of accuracy as they are the accommodation of the evolution of the words defined in the English language.

    I would think that one of the primary purposes of a translation is to achieve an accurate rendering in the present day vernacular. When Luther translated the Scriptures into German, it was his desire that even the plough boy could understand its meaning.

    In the rural region in which I live, I have known numerous people who genuinely have a difficult time reading and understanding the King James Version. Some did not grow with the KJV and are unfamiliar with some of the terms that I can immediately translate in my mind as I read. I used to preach out of the KJV, but found I had to spend a good deal of time expositing various words that needed clarification merely because of the shifting definitions of the English language.

    I suppose we could insist that folks carry around a dictionary and a grammar to help them understand archaic nouns and verb tenses that they may not have had the benefit to be exposed to, but such requirements seem to begin to argue against the superiority of a translation.

  27. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    Fantastic post! Very enlightening, thank you. I am interested in the booklet you mentioned. How do I get a copy? Any more resources like this post or books/articles would be most appreciated. :banana:

    Another question: why do KJV only people not like the NKJV? Doesn't the NKJV use the TR or Received Text? Are these two translations the only ones that utilize the TR manuscripts? :detective:
  28. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I am not a "glassy-eyed AV defender" but I will say that the MKJV is more "modern" than the KJV21, which seems to be a half-measure when it comes to updating the language of the KJV. (Jay P. Green, translator of the MKJV also produced the LITV, a very literal translation also based on the TR). The MKJV is somewhat similar to the NKJV, but the "glassy eyed KJV defenders" will denounce the NKJV because of the CT variants in the margin (whereby someone might be led astray...), and many will also note some other deviation from the KJV in the NKJV text to argue that the NKJV is part of a vast conspiracy, etc.

    See this page from a Majority Text advocate who favors the NKJV for general use has some good information on the MKJV and LITV, both of which he recommends. He also comments on the KJ21.

    Also, while the TR and the Majority Text are very similar in most places, they are not exactly the same, as if I'm not mistaken, there are renderings in the TR that aren't found in any manuscript and others where Erasmus imported text directly from the Latin Vulgate, as with parts of Revelation, where he did not have a complete Greek manuscript of the book to work with. The NKJV also notes differences between the TR and MT in the margin.
  29. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    WRT to the Lucianic recension that W&H alleged, see below quotes from Jerome (translator of the Vulgate) that appear to suggest that Lucian was responsible for a recension. But I don't know how this belief is widely held today even by CT or eclectic scholars. Perhaps Dr. White could weigh in here? I can find no mention of such a recension in his book. But you can find it in this response by the Lockman Foundation (producers of the NASB) to Riplinger's "New Age Bible Versions":

    [Edited on 7-3-2006 by Pilgrim]
  30. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    After reading the Lockman article, it appears they believe the CT is superior due to its earlier dating and many copies that agree with one another.

    I still am unsure of why KJV only people believe the earlier manuscripts (CT) are perverse and the later TR is pure and superior. Is the main argument that there are more copies of the TR?
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