A Critique of Thomas Holland’s View of the Last Six Verses in Revelation

I recently noticed that the Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism chose to address the writings of an influential King James Only proponent: Thomas Holland. Holland represents the best kind of King James Onlyism, from what I have heard of him. He is honest and deals with the evidence at hand – or at least tries to. At the end of the day, he sticks with his guiding principles and faith in the perfect preservation of all of God’s words, no matter what the evidence. But his writing style is more helpful than many of the KJV proponents I have read.

The journal article focuses on Holland’s explanation of the last six verses of Revelation and his valiant attempt to explain away the consensus that Erasmus translated these verses from the Latin into Greek (for his N.T. edition), since he had no Greek manuscripts that covered that portion of Revelation.

Jan Krans, whose written a book on how Erasmus and Beza handled their translation work, takes Holland to task for what amounts, ultimately, to poor scholarship. Here is the abstract for his paper:

With Thomas Holland’s lengthy discussion of a reading in Rev 22:19 as an example, this article shows how Holland’s way of doing New Testament textual criticism falls short on all academic standards. With respect to the main issue, Erasmus’ retranslation of the final verses of Revelation, Holland fails to properly find, address and evaluate both primary and secondary sources.

I was impressed by how carefully and fairly Krans treated Holland, even as he systematically dismantles his every argument. At the end of the day it is quite apparent that Erasmus did translate from the Latin into Greek resulting in several unique Greek readings in these few short verses.

Equally apprent is the fact that Holland engages in special pleading and circular reasoning in trying to explain away the obvious. He casts doubt upon this historical reality (and definite problem for the TR – since most of the errors remain in all copies of it) in any way he can. He throws suspicion on whether Erasmus really said he translated it from the Latin, then he says the translation job was really good, then he says actually Hoskier thinks that another manuscript was used by Erasmus. In each case, Holland is misreading his sources and misses the mark of the truth.

Like it or not, Erasmus translated from Latin into Greek. The only Greek copies which support his mistranslations were copied after the presence of his Greek NT, and were influenced by it. This fact is admitted by Hoskier and is the consensus of careful scholars. Anyone who claims the Textus Receptus is perfect, has to grapple with this fact. I would argue that we can’t just believe what we want to believe and turn a blind eye to history and textual evidence. We have to face them head on. Reading thisarticle will help in that process. And I’d recommend William Combs’ articles on this matter as well.

Here’s some more info on Krans:

Jan Krans, Ph.D. (2004) in Theology, is Lecturer of New Testament at VU University, Amsterdam. He is currently working on a comprehensive overview and evaluation of important conjectures on the Greek New Testament. He is the author of Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament (Brill, 2006) and also contributes to the the Amsterdam NT Weblog. His book is available online through archive.org.


5 thoughts on “A Critique of Thomas Holland’s View of the Last Six Verses in Revelation

  1. bibleprotector April 25, 2012 / 8:48 am

    Dr Thomas Holland’s work is very good in that it seems to lead on from Edward F. Hill’s position. It was these two who I think have been excellent examples of honest inquiry, and I find it quite unfair the way that Dr James White has dealt with these kind of men.

    In regard to the actual methodology of studying passages and the nature of textual criticism, it seems as if there is a cadre of scholars who have locked out any kind of dealing with the issue if it does not agree locked-step with their view.

    I found it refreshing to understand arguments such as appeal to the common faith, the universal priesthood of believers, and sensible dealing with the textual evidence of Dr Hills, and I believe that Dr Holland is quite acceptable.

    Often, the KJBO, TRO and the like appear to be “rustic” in comparison with the literati of the textual criticism world.

    I also personally object to the underlying criteria and assumptions of those scholars (who attack the perfection of the KJB), because they do not deal with the data as if God has at all been present in history, they merely humanise and rationalise everything so that the New Testament we have today is subject to some degree of error, and translation can never achieve its aim of perfect equivalence.

    My own position for arguing for KJB perfection stems from the views and arguments put forth by Dr Hills and Dr Holland, who although do not readily claim perfection for it, are yet quite willing to accept it as God-ordained. Too often people slip away from the KJB, through compromised “preference” positions, where modernising language of the old favourite is their selection, but eventually they drift toward the NKJV, and from thence, modern arrivals. I should like to see people turning the other way, accepting the arguments of Hills and Holland, and then progressing into the high country of KJB perfection.

  2. robycop3 April 26, 2012 / 8:26 am

    First, the KJV is NOT PERFECT. Two of its obvious goofs are “Easter” in Acts 12:4, & “the love of money is THE root of ALL evil” in 1 Tim. 6:10.
    Now, while the KJV was the favorite English translation for a long time, the language has changed, while the KJV remains frozen in time, as are the works of Shakespeare. And, as the works of Shakespeare are, the KJV and every other Bible translation are WORKS OF MEN, God’s perfect word translated by imperfect men.
    But God still superintends His word, as He also does all languages. As English changed, God caused His word to be translated into language current for the time. Thus, we went from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to Wycliffe’s English translation of the Latin Vulgate, to Tyndale’s version, the “Great Bible, versions by Cranmer, Mathews, and others, to the Geneva Bible of Coverdale, Foxe, etc. to the Bishop’s Bible, AV 1611 & a number of editions thereof, to today’s translations. Again, God is very much in control of His own word, and keeps it in CURRENT languages, while keeping the older translations available as well.
    There’s NO valid reason to be stuck with only one translation unless there are simply no others available. When one uses only one translation, one is at the mercy of the opinions of only ONE translator or team of translators. Given the many valid English renderings of a vast number of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek words & phrases, one can obtain a better overview of the Scriptures by studying several translations and giving the HOLY SPIRIT more material to work with as He teaches the Scriptures to the earnest student, precept upon precept.
    Now, NONE of these advocates of the KJVO doctrine, Dr. Holland included, have any SCRIPTURAL BASIS for their doctrine. We see JESUS HIMSELF used more than one “version”; just compare what HE READ ALOUD in Luke 4:16-21 with Isaiah 42:7 & Isaiah 61:1-3.
    So, please don’t allow the KJVOs to discourage you from using the version(s) of your choice. They have no Scriptural authority nor the knowledge to back up their arguments.
    And, in all fairness to Dr. Holland, he lost a son to an auto accident shortly after “Crowned With Glory” was published.

  3. billp222 June 17, 2012 / 8:56 am

    As stated in a previous reply, the obvious error of Acts 12:4 is the most glaring mistranslation that KJV only proponents cannot explain away. The origin of the word “Easter” dates to around 161 and became familiar as Resurrecton Day following The Council of Nicea in 325 as the first Sunday following first full moon of vernal equinox. The pagan celebration of fertility is hardly in line with the Bible. For the KJV translators to use this word instead of passover is a glaring ERROR.

    ‘Few people today know why the word “church” was used in the King James Bible instead of the word “assembly” or “congregation.” History clearly recorded that when King James authorized the translation of the Bible in 1611 he made 15 rules which the translators were bound to follow in making the translation. Edgar makes this observation of King James:

    He was not an inconsiderable literary figure, and his astounding knowledge of Scripture is reflected in his writings on political theory, poetry, theology, and the Bible. While not yet twenty years old he wrote a “Paraphrase on the Revelation of St. John.”

    James believed in the divine right of kings, and held that this right was hereditary, and that the king was responsible to God alone, and not to his subjects. As “Defender of the Faith” and head of the State church, he came into opposition with the Puritans on the one hand and the Catholics and their papal claims on the other. In his struggles with both he was motivated by a combination of religious and political considerations.

    It was the Puritans who brought the matter to King James of making a new and more accurate translation. The Puritans were at odds on a number of doctrinal questions with the Anglican church and they favored the use of the word “ekklesia” being translated as church. This could have been the reason that King James, who was a devout Anglican and Protestant, insisted on restricting the translators in regard to the translation of old ecclesiastical words.

    Two of the rules which King James made mandatory affected the translation of the Greek word “ekklesia”:

    Article 1. The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit.

    Article 3. The old Ecclesiastical Words to be kept, viz. the Word Church not to be translated Congregation etc.’
    The Translation of the Greek Word “Ekklesia” as “church” in the English Bible and its Ramifications.
    Cooper P. Abrams, III

    The proper translation for ekklesia should be assembly or congregation. KJV proponents who assert that the 1611 version was divinely inspired are mistaken. It is the Holy Spirit who inspires the written Word of God.The words have enourmous importance to God. “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” These translations of the inspired word are man’s error. Therefore the KJV is not perfect.

  4. Edlic October 1, 2012 / 4:32 am

    So often many bow to so-called scholar-ism and its said objectivity… that many forget it is God who gave His words and He is not absent from protecting His words… we must approach the text with an attitude of worship not exaltation of man’s small infinite mind no matter how many degrees we have behind our names

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