Testing the Textus Receptus: Rev. 16:5

In Testing the Textus Receptus posts, I test the claims of Textus Receptus (TR) Onlyism. This is a moderate form of King James Onlyism focusing on the Greek (& Hebrew) basis for the King James Version.

As I mentioned earlier, Rev. 16:5 is one of three passages that James White (author of The King James Only Controversy) recently asked TR Only proponents to “explain why [someone] should use the TR’s [reading]“.

The TR Only Claim

For this verse, the TR Only claim is not unanimous.  There are a few brave TR only groups that side with other TR editions against the TR edition underlying the King James Version (e.g., The Received Bible Society).  Most however, defend the King James Version’s readings.  I guess this verse then shows that even for TR Only folks, the King James really is the standard.  Rarely will a TR onlyist admit a single error in the KJV.  They will more readily admit that we have no perfect edition of the TR than that there is an error in the KJV.

Okay, moving back to the point here. Let’s look at the verse itself and the reading which we are concerned about for this post.

KJV And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. (…? ?? ??? ? ?? ??? ? ???????? …)

NASB And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; (…? ?? ??? ? ?? ? ó???? …)

There’s a variant regarding “Lord” earlier in the verse, but the one we will focus on is “Holy One” versus “and shalt be”.  Beza’s 1598 edition of the TR supports the KJV here, but several other key printed TR Greek texts have “Holy One”.

Testing that Claim: History of the TR

The other major editions (Erasmus’, Stephanus’ and Elzevirs’) of the TR, besides Beza’s, do not contain the “and shalt be” reading.  Scrivener’s 1894 TR does have the reading, but like its Oxford 1825 ed. forebear, Scrivener’s text was created based off of the English readings of the KJV and any available printed Greek texts that the KJV 1611 translators would have had.  So really we’re down to Beza’s as the only TR text which includes this reading, with one exception.  The 1633 Elzevir’s text, which earned the title “textus receptus“, actually sided with Beza, but the 1624 edition of Elzevir’s text and the 1641 and all following editions of Elzevir’s text go back to Stephanus/Erasmus reading of ó????.  That reading is nearly equal to the reading of the Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland, and Robinson-Pierpont (majority) texts.  The TR reading keeps the “and (???)”, however.

With this particular reading, English churchgoers of the 1600s would have been shocked to find their Bibles altered with the new Authorized Version’s reading here.  The Wycliffe Tyndale, Coverdale, Great, Geneva, and Bishop’s Bibles all had “Holy One”.  The Puritan branch of the Geneva Bible Only group would have been a tad bit concerned over this passage I think.  Because this is so important to really grasp, I am going to include the text of all the above Bibles at this verse (from studylight.org):

Wycliffe (1395) [And the thridde aungel… seide,] Just art thou, Lord, that art, and that were hooli, that demest these thingis;

Tyndale (1526) And I herde an angell saye: lorde which arte and wast thou arte ryghteous and holy because thou hast geve soche iudgmentes

Coverdale (1535) And I herde an angel saye: LORDE which art and wast, thou art righteous and holy, because thou hast geue soche iudgmentes,

Geneva (1557) And I heard the Angel of the waters say, Lord, thou art iust, Which art, and Which wast: and Holy, because thou hast iudged these things.

Bishop’s (1568) And I hearde the angell of the waters say: Lorde, which art, and wast, thou art ryghteous & holy, because thou hast geuen such iudgementes:

Testing that Claim: Manuscript Evidence

Now why did Beza remove “Holy One”.  Certainly if there is strong manuscript evidence, we should gladly embrace the change to a 200+ year tradition of the English Bibles.  Yet at this point, we find not one Greek manuscript to support Beza’s reading.  “Well”, one might counter, “perhaps Beza had access to manuscripts that we don’t have today.”  That would be all fine and dandy, except Beza himself tells us why he inserted the reading.  Listen to Beza in his own words:

“And shall be”: The usual publication is “holy one,” which shows a division, contrary to the whole phrase which is foolish, distorting what is put forth in scripture. The Vulgate, however, whether it is articulately correct or not, is not proper in making the change to “holy,” since a section (of the text) has worn away the part after “and,” which would be absolutely necessary in connecting “righteous” and “holy one.” But with John there remains a completeness where the name of Jehovah (the Lord) is used, just as we have said before, 1:4; he always uses the three closely together, therefore it is certainly “and shall be,” for why would he pass over it in this place? And so without doubting the genuine writing in this ancient manuscript, I faithfully restored in the good book what was certainly there, “shall be.” So why not truthfully, with good reason, write “which is to come” as before in four other places, namely 1:4 and 8; likewise in 4:3 and 11:17, because the point is the just Christ shall come away from there and bring them into being: in this way he will in fact appear setting in judgment and exercising his just and eternal decrees.

This is clearly a guess by Beza.  He is looking  at some Vulgate copy which is worn in the text at hand, and so based on his understanding of John’s other uses of the phrase, he concludes “shall be” is the proper reading.  Now, after fixing the Vulgate reading, he then concludes he should fix the Greek reading to “which is to come”, to match the other four places in Revelation where “which are and which were” is found.

The problem is, of the more than 5700 Greek manuscripts we have, and of the more than 10,000 Latin manuscripts we have, we have not a single copy supporting this reading.  What’s more we have no other old language translations supporting it either.  The only possible evidence for it is detailed by Thomas Holland here (that link is broken, try this one or this one and scroll down).  It is a Latin commentary on Revelation compiled in 786 AD, but the commentary in question was from 380 AD.  The Latin phrase “qui fuisti et futures es” is used for this passage.  Beza, however, is ignorant of this support as he does not cite it as a reason for his changes to the text.

Before I go on to dealing with the evidence, let me offer a scan of Philip Comfort’s New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Tyndale House: 2008) at this point.  Continue reading

Book Review: What’s In A Version


What’s In A Version

Henry Neufeld


Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of Energion Publications, nor Henry Neufeld. They were nice enough to provide me with a review copy of What’s In A Version, and thus an acquaintance has been established.

What’s In A Version is a good synopsis of the translation process.

Neufeld carefully explains key terms in the translation process. Terms such as higher criticism, textual criticism, edition, manuscript, etc are defined for the reader.

The author explains about textual families and why some texts are favored above others. He also describes the weighing of texts to determine what the best translation would be.

I truly appreciated the fact that Neufeld took the time to describe and define the terms formal equivalence (literal) and functional equivalence (dynamic) for the reader. It was most helpful for him to further explain that a translation that is translated with functional equivalence in mind is not necessarily a paraphrase. That should help many of the people who read this book.

In addittion to the definitions within the text, Neufeld provides a glossary of terms.

Another thing that was nice to see was Neufeld’s scaled comparison of various translations that showed the reader the readability as well as the degree to which a translation was a functional equivalence translation or a formal equivalence translation.

I highly recommend this book to those who wish to learn more about what happened when their Bible was translated.

Originally posted on PastoralMusings.

The LXX Revisited

A few weeks ago we looked at the LXX. Amazingly enough, there are some KJVO’ers who deny its existence. They know that to acknowledge its existence is to open the door for Jesus and the apostles quoting from non-Hebrew scriptures as well as quoting from an imperfect translation. That would be very damaging to their cause.

F.F Bruce in The Canon of Scripture gives an instance of Justin Martyr quoting from the LXX. Justin lived many years before Origen, who is alleged by some KJVO believers to have actually created the LXX.  Where did Justin get his copy of the LXX, then?

John Gill, in his comments on Galatians 1:10 says, “no man can serve two masters, God and the world, Christ and men. The Septuagint version of Ps 53:5 is, ‘for God hath scattered the bones’, anyrwpareskwn, “of men pleasers”, to which agree the Syriac and Arabic versions.” Gill lived before Vaticanus was made available for study, and before Sinaiticus was discovered and studied, yet Gill knew of the LXX and quoted from it.

I cannot help but wonder what “doctored” manuscript Gill had access to. It seems to me that those who would deny the existence of the LXX need to examine the issue a little more.

The King James Only-ites Vs Modern Versions on Lk 2:21-25

The King James Only-ites Vs Modern Versions on Lk 2:21-25

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 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; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (Lk 2:21-24) KJV

What, you ask, is the problem here? It is this: the modern versions of the Bible use the pronoun “their” in verse twenty-two instead of “her.” The King James Version Only advocates tell us that this is a mistake, because Jesus had no need to be purified.

Is this truly a problem?

First of all, let’s consult an authority on the issue.

The expression ??? ?????????? ????? cannot refer to the Purification of the Virgin and her Babe , nor to that of the Virgin and Joseph, because neither the Babe nor Joseph needed, nor were they included in, the purification. It can only refer to ‘their’ (i.e. the Jews’) purification. But this does not imply any Romish inferences as to the superhuman condition or origin of the Blessed Virgin; on the contrary, the offering of the sin-offering points in the other direction.”

Edersheim, A. (1896, 2003). The life and times of Jesus the Messiah. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Edersheim is here declaring to us that “their” refers to the Jew’s purification, and not that Mary and Jesus were both purified.

Next we must understand that “their” is in the Greek TR of 1550 which was edited by Stephens. It is not, however, in Scrivener’s TR of 1894, yet it is given as a variant in Scrivener’s TR of 1881. One wonders when the perfection of the TR actually came into being. The Matthew Bible of the sixteenth century translates the Greek as “their.” So does the Tyndale of 1525 and the Coverdale of 1535(HT Bob Hayton). Though Wycliffe and Geneva Versions do not use the plural pronoun, we can at least see that some of the translations which led up to the King James Version did us the plural. For most of us this is significant cause for pausing and refusing to dogmatize or cry “heresy” over a pronoun. As a matter of fact, our next point shows why “their” is a suitable translation.

Finally, we must look at the context to see what is going on. Jesus went to the temple to be redeemed per Jewish law, As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.” (Lk 2:23) KJV Edersheim says, “mothers who were within convenient distance of the Temple, and especially the more earnest among them, would naturally attend personally in the Temple;? and in such cases, when practicable, the redemption of the firstborn, and the purification of his mother, would be combined. Such was undoubtedly the case with the Virgin-Mother and her Son.”

Edersheim, A. (1896, 2003). The life and times of Jesus the Messiah (1:194-195). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

It is very reasonable to use the pronoun “their” in reference to this event, when Mary’s purification (according to Lev 12:1-6) is combined with the presentation of Jesus before the Lord (according to Ex 13:1-15).

In conclusion, whether it be “her” or “their” (textual evidence pointing to “their”1) the fuss that it put up the KJVO advocates is truly much ado about nothing. Why? Because either translation is Biblically admissible. If one were to quibble that God preserves the Scriptures, we affirm that, too. In fact, we affirm that He has preserved the Scriptures and has preserved “their” (auton) in the majority of extant texts as well as the Majority Text according to the Byzantine family of texts from which we get the TR.

1Daniel Wallace also writes concerning this issue here and addresses the manuscript evidence.

OP here.

Testing the Textus Receptus: Luke 2:22

In Testing the Textus Receptus posts, I test the claims of Textus Receptus (TR) Onlyism. This is a moderate form of King James Onlyism focusing on the Greek (& Hebrew) basis for the King James Version.

As I mentioned earlier, Luke 2:22 is one of three passages that James White (author of The King James Only Controversy) recently asked TR Only proponents to “explain why [someone] should use the TR’s [reading]”.

To help explain the context, let me quote Luke 2:22 and 23 here.

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) — Luke 2:22-23 (ESV)

Jesus is a baby, and Joseph and Mary in this passage are going to Jerusalem to perform all the sacrificial rituals the Law required. The textual variant here concerns “their”. The King James Version reads “her”.

The TR Only Claim

This textual difference is claimed as an error in the modern Critical Text. “Their purification” would either implicate Jesus as possibly requiring purification for sin, or it would disagree with the OT Law which required only a woman to go through ceremonial purification after a child birth, not the man (if Joseph is in view). Again, this reading, according to TR Onlyists, must be an error due to theological reasons. Since two possible options for interpreting the text are clearly errors, and since the KJV offers a different reading, the conclusion is reached that the modern text must have it wrong on this point.

This verse then becomes one of a number of texts claimed to be doctrinal errors in the modern critical text. If we accept the critical text, we are accepting this theological error. We should side, say they, with the Textus Receptus which has been given the approval of God’s people for hundreds of years. The churches received this text with the reading: “her purification”. Case dismissed.

But when we start to test this claim, and dig a little deeper into this textual decision, the picture gets blurry fast.

Testing that Claim: History of the TR

Which reading did the churches receive? Well, the Textus Receptus did not always contain this reading. Early Bible Versions before the KJV, such as William Tyndale’s New Testament (1525) and the Coverdale Bible (1535) read “their purification”. The churches accepted those Bibles, it would seem. Stephen’s (or Stephanus) 1550 text which was accepted in England as the preferred form of the Textus Receptus, also reads “their purification”. Beza’s text (the 1598 edition which was most preferred by the KJV) and the later Elzevir’s text of 1633 both have “her purification”.

So did the churches cry foul, and eventually influence the textual editors to change the reading to suit their tastes? Maybe. It’s also possible that Beza fixed what he thought was a defect in the text, to bring it more in line with the Latin Vulgate.

Before we move on, we should note that nothing in Scripture would make us think that only churches of one nationality and one language should make this grave a decision. When we look at other Reformation era Protestant Bibles, produced for other languages, we again find a split in opinion. The Italian Diodati (1603) supports the “their” reading, according to some textual critical notes I found online (at this site). Luther’s German Bible uses a pronoun that in German can be either “her” or “their” so it doesn’t help us. The Dutch Staten translation of 1637 uses “her”. The Portuguese translation of 1681 (by Ferreira de Almeida) says just “days of purification”. We could go on in this search, but the prevailing theory would be all the Bibles produced by Christians before the 1800s should all read the same since they were received text Christians before the modern versions, right? It’d be interesting to see some more research done in this area, I am limited in what I can do here.

Testing that Claim: Manuscript Evidence

Looking more closely at the question, we come to manuscript evidence. Here we get an ever clearer picture of the situation. The Greek manuscripts overwhelmingly support “their”. Continue reading

Testing the Textus Receptus: Introduction

A few months back, James White debated Bart Ehrman, a former evangelical textual scholar turned agnostic on the reliability of the New Testament. I am not necessarily a White fan, and I am not going to speculate as to who really won the debate. What interests me has to do with White’s fielding some criticism from proponents of the Textus Receptus at his blog. (The Textus Receptus (Received Text), is the Greek basis for the King James Version.)

White raised four questions regarding what actually constitutes the Textus Receptus (TR). I think those questions are spot on, and I’d like to hone in on the last one, for a few posts. As an aside, I should mention I had someone provide some KJV Only answers to White’s questions over at my King James Only Debate Research Center‘s forums. (Feel free to go over there and interact if you’d like.)

Here are White’s questions:

1) When did “the church” “received” 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.

What White is doing here is testing the premise of Textus Receptus Onlyism. How is it that the Textus Receptus was received by the Church? What does that reception entail? Which text was received? How can we know which readings are correct based on this textual position?

He and others (like myself) are not splitting straws when they bring up difficult passages and possible errors in the Textus Receptus. We are testing the claims of TR Onlyism. If the Textus Receptus is truly the only Scripturally warranted text, then questions like these should not be stumpers. In fact, there should be a systematic approach to textual questions which is controlled, consistent, and guided by Scripture or in some way authoritative. Should we really expect the TR to be inerrant? If so, how do we deal with these kinds of questions.

For those who haven’t heard the term Textus Receptus Only, I should give a brief sketch of what that position entails. I used to claim the title as my own, so I am not going to try to misrepresent that view. This view holds that the Textus Receptus (TR) is the best Greek text today. It is not corrupted and full of errors as are the most commonly used text (Nestl- Aland 27 / UBS 4th edition) and even the new Majority text (ca. 1980). These other texts are critical texts, but the TR was handed down from the Reformation era. It was not pieced together by textual critics but by men who cherished Scripture. They simply collated the existing manuscripts they were aware of, and rejected incorrect readings and provided us a printed text.

After several years of editing, correcting printer’s errors, and the like, the text became stabilized with the printing of the King James Version. The text of the King James Version can be considered as a variety of the Textus Receptus, because the translators did not follow one specific text. Sometimes they sided with Stephanus’ 1550 edition, other times with Beza’s 1598. The text behind the King James translator’s choices was eventually compiled by Frederick Scrivener in the late 1800s and is available today from the Trinitarian Bible Society.

This view distances itself from a KJV Only view which claims the English corrects the Greek, or that there was some kind of second inspiration for the KJV, where its every translation choice was inerrant. The TR Only view holds that the inspired Word of God was preserved perfectly in the Textus Receptus (for the New Testament, Hebrew Masoretic Text for the Old). You will notice however, that almost every proponent of this view will claim that the Trinitarian Bible Society edition of the TR is actually inerrant (or some other edition is), and that there are no textual errors (or even serious translational mistakes) in the King James Version.

In at least 3 future posts (1 for each of the passages White mentions), I will put this position to test. In the future I may explore other problem areas for the Textus Receptus. I should make clear that I understand there are problems with my text of choice (the NA 27) too. But I am not claiming inerrancy for my text. I believe that essentially I have the Word of God in my English Standard Version, and that although in some few places there is some uncertainty as to which reading is the correct one, this does not shake my faith. That uncertainty does not mean the Bible was not verbally inspired, and it does not mean I cannot be reasonably certain as to which reading is correct, nor does it bring any major Bible doctrine into question. It does mean I’m being honest with the evidence, and should cause me to wrestle with the text in prayer as I seek to understand its meaning for my life.

Originally posted at Fundamentally Reformed.

King James Only Believers And The LXX

King James Only Believers And The LXX

In their desire to repudiate the modern versions of the Scriptures, certain KJVO believers have taken it upon themselves to deny the existence of the Septuagint (LXX).1 The reason for their doing so is given in their own words:

Then why are scholars so quick to accept the existence of this LXX in the face of such irrefutable arguments against it? The answer is sad and simple.

Hebrew is an extremely difficult language to learn. It takes years of study to attain a passing knowledge of it. And many more to be well enough versed to use it as a vehicle of study. By comparison a working knowledge of Greek is easily attainable. Thus, IF THERE WAS an official translation of the Old Testament into Greek, Bible critics could triple the field of influence overnight without a painstaking study of biblical Hebrew. Unfortunately, the acceptance of the existence of the Septuagint on such thin evidence is based solely on pride and voracity.2

Codex B, the LXX, is a revision of the Greek texts extant during Origin’s time. He used the versions of the Ebonite’s’ Aquilla (c. 128), Symmachus (c. 180-192 A.D.), and Theodotin (c. 161-181) for the Hexapla reconstruction, along with three other anonymous translations that have become known as the Quinta, the Sexta, and Septima. From this point on in this paper the OT Greek text, usually misnamed LXX or Septuagint, will be called the Greek Text of Origen, GTO. A Greek text of the minor prophets found in the Judean desert caves dates to around the time of “the second Jewish revolt in the years 132-135” A.D. by the personal letters of Bar Kokhba. They cannot be claimed with any certainty as part of a B.C. Septuagint. As a matter of fact, they contain translational features found in other A.D. texts such as those of Aquila and of the Quinta.”3

In other words, these KJVO believers reject the existence of the LXX because it will support Codex B, the Vaticanus Manuscript, which includes the LXX. The existence of the LXX would mean that Codex B is much older than KJVO and TRO (Textus Receptus Only) believers declare it to be. It would also mean that New Testament quotations of the LXX lend support to Codex B. That would then destroy the idea that the Byzantine family of texts is the best and purest family of texts.

We must answer the question, then, concerning the existence of the LXX. We shall do that with two proofs:

  1. The Dead Sea Scrolls. Qumran has yielded to us copies of the LXX in Greek.4

  2. The words of Irenaus: “Since, therefore, the Scriptures have been interpreted with such fidelity, and by the grace of God, and since from these God has prepared and formed again our faith towards His Son, and has preserved to us the unadulterated Scriptures in Egypt, where the house of Jacob flourished, fleeing from the famine in Canaan; where also our Lord was preserved when He fled from the persecution set on foot by Herod; and [since] this interpretation of these Scriptures was made prior to our Lord?’s descent [to earth], and came into being before the Christians appeared – for our Lord was born about the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus; but Ptolemy was much earlier, under whom the Scriptures were interpreted; – [since these things are so, I say,] truly these men are proved to be impudent and presumptuous, who would now show a desire to make different translations, when we refute them out of these Scriptures, and shut them up to a belief in the advent of the Son of God. But our faith is steadfast, unfeigned, and the only true one, having clear proof from these Scriptures, which were interpreted in the way I have related; and the preaching of the Church is without interpolation. For the apostles, since they are of more ancient date than all these [heretics], agree with this aforesaid translation; and the translation harmonizes with the tradition of the apostles. For Peter, and John, and Matthew, and Paul, and the rest successively, as well as their followers, did set forth all prophetical [announcements], just as the interpretation of the elders contains them.”

Irenaeus, Against Heresies chp 21, Schaff, P. (2000). The Ante-Nicene Fathers (electronic ed.). Garland, TX: Galaxie Software.

Note what Irenaeus is saying. He is telling us that the LXX existed in his day, which was many years before Origen. In other words, the story of Origen writing/manufacturing the LXX is simply a fabrication itself.

The question that we must now ask ourselves is this: which group is actually being more faithful to the original text? Is it the KJVO/TRO believers, or is it those who are using Codex B in their translation efforts? Suddenly, the textual issue shines more clearly. In fact, it becomes quite obvious that texts which are supported by Codex B are indeed texts that should be considered most valid. After all, Codex B and the LXX are of the same family: the Alexandrian family. Suddenly, we find that the Alexandrian texts are indeed reliable. After all, the apostles considered them to be such, and used them. My reply to the KJVO believers, then is, “If the Alexandrian texts were good enough for Paul, they’re good enough for me.”

We may indeed have great confidence in many of the modern versions which we have today! They are truly based upon older, more reliable manuscripts.

1 http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1763356/posts Accessed 08/02/2009

http://www.pbministries.org/Theology/miscellaneous/what_is_the_lxx.htm Accessed 08/02/2009

2 http://www.pbministries.org/Theology/miscellaneous/what_is_the_lxx.htm Accessed 08/02/2009

3 http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1763356/posts Accessed 08/02/2009

4 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deadsea.html Accessed 08/02/2009