The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8 by C.L. Bolt

This article isn’t brand new, but I believe it is a worthwhile contribution to our blog. I came across this essay as its author, C.L. Bolt, and I interacted on a mutual friend’s comment thread on Facebook. Mr. Bolt was happy to have me re-post it here. Be sure to check out his website, Choosing Hats, an excellent resource of presuppositional apologetics.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8

by C.L. BOLT on DECEMBER 31, 2010

The Comma Johanneum as a Textual Problem


The phrase “Comma Johanneum” is the name given to a short clause of a sentence found in 1 John 5.7-8 which has become a famous problem in textual criticism. The word “comma” as it is used here just means a short clause of a sentence and “Johanneum” refers to the writings of the Apostle John.[i] The phrase “Comma Johanneum” thus refers to a short clause of a sentence (comma) which has some relevance to the writings of John (Johanneum). The Comma Johanneum can be found in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 1 John 5:7-8 (KJV)[ii]

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James White vs. Will Kinney

Will Kinney may not be a household name, but  those who have debated the King James Only issue on the Internet are very likely to have come across Kinney’s articles one way or another. I have personally exchanged arguments with him in the past. I do think he has a better handle of some of the issues than many drive-by commentators on the web (so much so that on a message board, a bunch of folks I’ve debated could not respond to my arguments so one member of the message board threatened to “get Will Kinney over here” to refute me, and the exchange began), but he does not hold back from the typical ad-hominem attacks of many extreme KJV Onlysists. His tone unfortunately takes away from the force of any of his legitimate arguments.

Anyway, in typical KJVO fashion, Kinney has gone on the attack against James White (who has possibly been attacked more by fellow Christians holding to the KJVO view than he has by Muslims and atheists) complete with insults and wide-eyed accusations. One video in which he does this is here, and you can follow related links to others:

On a recent episode of the Dividing Line, White responds to some charges:

Will Kinney calls into the program about 15 minutes in, and the two argue for about 12 minutes. The exchange is rather annoying, as both men are talking past each other and basically saying, “No, you answer the question” back and forth. Kinney is bold; James white is bold. Kinney is on the attack and White does not seem as though he will let these insults fly without response. Knowing Kinney’s pattern, he will not let this go. So unless James White, out of frustration, decides not to pursue the matter any further, I would expect a drawn-out back-and-forth over the next few weeks or so.


Regarding Moderation

I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog.  We especially appreciate those who care enough for God’s Word to take a stand for what they believe, even if we do not always agree.

Our moderation at this site has been mentioned at another site as well as in the comments on this blog.

Let us remember two things:

1. The rules are here.

2.  Before someone is banned the moderators usually discuss it privately.  In the end, we typically are patient and give the offender a week or two and multiple warnings before they are banned.

While it may seem that the rules are stacked in our favor, let it be said that we involve ourselves in a heated debate.  We try not to involve ourselves in name calling and personal attacks.  Those are the things for which people get banned, and we try not to hold to a double standard on that. We actually allow guests to continue commenting long after they have crossed the line.  We also give multiple warnings.  We try to hold to that rule with ALL who comment here and not simply those who agree with us.

Please take the time to refresh your memory regarding the rules of debate here before proceeding with anymore comments.

Equitable Eclecticism by James Snapp Jr. (part 2)



The Future of New Testament Textual Criticism


Part two of a five part series. See the entire series here.

Competing Models of Transmission-History (continued)

In addition, discoveries about the texts in the papyri, in early versions, and in early parchment codices have contributed to the erosion of one of the most empirical aspects of Hort’s approach:  the proposal that conflations in the Byzantine Text demonstrate that it is later than the Alexandrian Text and the Western Text.  In 1897, Edward Miller objected that eight conflations cannot justify the rejection of the entire Byzantine Text.6 They may be comparable to recently minted coins dropped in an ancient well.

Dr. Walter Pickering, in Appendix D of his book The Identity of the New Testament Text, showed that an apparent conflation exists in ? at Jn. 13:24 (where the Alexandrian Text has ??? ????? ???? ???? ??? ?????, the Byzantine Text has ???????? ??? ?? ???, and ? has ???????? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??????, ??? ????? ???? ???? ??? ?????).  A conflation appears to occur in B at Eph. 2:5 and at Col. 1:12 (where the Western Text has ?????????, the Byzantine Text has ??????????, and B has ????????? ??? ??????????).  In D, a conflation appears to occur at Acts 10:48 and John 5:37 (where the Alexandrian Text – supported by P75 – has ??????? ????????????, the Byzantine Text – supported by P66 – has ????? ????????????, and D has ??????? ????? ????????????), among other places.

The papyri have supplied direct evidence against Hort’s belief that apparent conflations imply that the text in which they are found must be late.  In P53, the text of Mt. 26:36 seems to read ?? ??, where the Byzantine text has ?? and the Alexandrian Text and Western Text have ??.  Papyrus 66 reads ?????? ??? ????? at Jn. 10:19 (agreeing with the Byzantine Text), where the Alexandrian Text has ?????? ????? and

the Western Text has ?????? ???.  Similarly, P66 reads ????????? ??? ????? at Jn. 10:31 (again agreeing with the Byzantine Text), where the Alexandrian Text has ????????? ????? and the Western Text has ????????? ???.  The appearance of such readings in very early MSS forces the concession that they do not imply that the text in which they appear is late; instead, they prove that an early text can appear to include conflations.  Nevertheless some modern-day textual critics still appeal to Hort’s list of eight Byzantine conflations as if it demonstrated that the entire Byzantine Text was secondary.7

Ironically, as the papyri-discoveries destroyed Hort’s transmission-model, they also tended to exonerate Hort’s favored text of the Gospels, the Alexandrian Text, by demonstrating the high antiquity of the Alexandrian text of Luke and John.  Papyrus 75, in particular, possesses a remarkably high rate of agreement with B, showing that the Alexandrian Text of Luke and John was carefully preserved in the 200’s, and thus alleviating the suspicions of some earlier scholars that the Alexandrian Text was the result of editorial activity in the 200’s.

The correspondence between Papyrus 75 and Codex B was interpreted by some textual critics as a demonstration of the antiquity and superiority of the entire Alexandrian Text.  Kurt Aland compared the situation to sampling a jar of jelly or jam:  a mere spoonful is enough to show what is in the rest of the jar.8

However, although the agreement between P75 and B proves that the Alexandrian Text of Luke and John is not the result of scribal editing conducted in the 200’s, it did not prove that Alexandrian readings are not results of earlier scribal editing.  Theoretically, if the Western Text could develop in the period prior to the production of P75, so could the Alexandrian Text.  Papyrus 75 proved that the Alexandrian Text of Luke and John is very early; it did not prove that Alexandrian readings are not the result of very early editorial activity.9

Nor did P75 prove that the Byzantine Text is less ancient than the Alexandrian Text.  As a surviving example of a text used in Egypt in the early 200’s, P75 does not constitute evidence about text-forms used elsewhere.  The most significant evidence for the absence of the Byzantine Text prior to the 300’s is the lack of patristic testimony for its use, but this is largely an argument from silence.  The natural destructive effects of humid climates upon papyrus-material, allied with Roman persecutors who sought to destroy Christian literature, silenced a large proportion of the Christian communities of the first three centuries of Christendom.  According to Hort’s theories, when these communities adopted the Byzantine Text in the 300’s and 400’s, they embraced a new, imported text of the Gospels, setting aside whatever they had used previously.  A plausible alternative is that they simply continued to use their own local texts which consisted primarily of Byzantine readings.

The discovery of the papyri led some textual critics to advocate an undue emphasis upon the ages of witnesses, resulting in a lack of equity toward non-Egyptian variants.  Because the Egyptian climate allowed the preservation of papyrus, the oldest copies will almost always be copies from Egypt.  To favor the variant with the oldest attestation is, in many cases, to favor the variant in the manuscript that was stored in the gentlest climate.  But this is no more reasonable than favoring the variants of a manuscript because it was found closer to the equator than other manuscripts.  Certainly when two rival variants are evaluated, and the first is uniformly attested in early witnesses, while the second is only found in late witnesses, the case for the first one is enhanced.  But to assign values to witnesses according to their ages without considering factors such as climate is to introduce a lack of equity into one’s analysis.

The papyri-discoveries elicited another interesting development.  Pioneering scholars such as Griesbach had organized witnesses into three main groups – Western, Byzantine, and Alexandrian.  Each group, characterized by consistent patterns of readings, was considered a text-type, and MSS sharing those special patterns of readings were viewed as relatives of one another.  (Hort had divided the Alexandrian group into two text-types, calling its earlier stratum the “Neutral” text, supported by ? B.)  Following analysis by Kirsopp Lake, the Caesarean text of the Gospels was added.  But the evidence from the papyri indicates that even in a single locale (Egypt), the text existed in forms other than those four.

One example is Papyrus 45, a fragmentary copy of the Gospels and Acts from the early 200’s (or slightly earlier).  In Mark 7:25-37, when P45 disagrees with either B or the Byzantine Text or both, P45 agrees with B 22% of the time, it agrees with the Byzantine Text 30% of the time, and 48% of the time it disagrees with them both.  Such departures from the usual profiles of text-types has led some textual critics to reconsider the existence of early text-types, arguing instead that the text in the 100’s and 200’s was in a state of fluctuation.10 A plausible alternative is that some of the papyri attest to the existence of some text-types which became extinct, without implying that the Western, Byzantine, and Caesarean text-types did not exist prior to the 300’s.

6 – See Miller’s comments about conflation in The Oxford Debate and the general assent given to them by his fellow debaters, including William Sanday.

7 – For example, Dr. Dan Wallace, in his 2010 online essay The Conspiracy Behind the New Bible Translations.

8 – See p. 58 of Aland & Aland’s The Text of the New Testament, English translation by Errol Rhodes.

9 – Bruce Metzger granted that most scholars “are still inclined to regard the Alexandrian text as on the whole the best ancient recension,” on p. 216, The Text of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (1992), emphasis added.

10 – The most famous textual critics to do so are Kurt and Barbara Aland, who proposed a new classification-system of MSS into Categories, listed by numbers, rather than by text-type names.

James Snapp, Jr. preaches and ministers at Curtisville Christian Church in central Indiana. The church’s website includes an introduction to textual criticism and links to other resources, including a detailed defense of Mark 16:9-20. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University (B.A., 1990), where his professors included Lewis Foster, Tom Friskney, and Reuben Bullard, James has studied New Testament textual criticism for over 20 years.

How Usage in English Changes Over Time…

This Sunday, one of our members of a finer vintage (which means she’s 90 years old and still quick witted and thoughtful) asked me a question I had never considered. She said to me:

Where did “The Doxology” come from? I don’t think kids will understand the term “Holy Ghost” and they’re the future of this church. Can  you change it to Holy Spirit?

She threw me completely off guard.

Here are some facts.

  • In the KJV, the term Holy Ghost appears 89 times.
  • Holy Spirit by contrast appears only 4 times.
  • There are of course other combinations – Spirit of Holiness, Spirit of God, etc.

I did some quick digging and discovered, not surprisingly, that the word ghost is an Anglo-Saxon word. I knew already that spirit comes from Latin, but I did not know that it did not come through French. Apparently, it came from Latin into Middle English around the 13th-14th centuries.

At the time of the translation of the King James Version, ghost had none of the additional meanings used today – some kind of scary undead creature during Halloween and all that. Ghost was a far more prominent term, and it appears that it was used in English almost in spite of the Latin word – perhaps even in reaction to the separation of the English church from the Roman church.

Today of course, the meanings have changed. Spirit is the commonly used term in most English-speaking churches. It is rare to hear someone speaking of the Holy Ghost.

We’re therefore presented with a situation. Do we go against the cultural/linguistic movement of the English language and continue to use a term like ghost or do we embrace the word spirit as having the meaning in current English that the underlying Greek demands?

Inspiration and Preservation

Daniel Wallace on  has an interesting post on entitled Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism.  In this post the author states:

not only do they put preservation on exactly the same level as inspiration, but they also can be more certain about the text, since they advocate a printed edition. But their argumentation is so palpably weak on other fronts that we will only make two observations here: (a) since the TR itself went through several different editions by Erasmus and others, TR advocates need to clarify which edition is the inspired one; (b) one simply cannot argue for the theological necessity of public accessibility throughout church history and for the TR in the same breath—for the TR did not exist during the first 1500 years of the Christian era. (Rather inconsistent, for example, is the logic of Theo Letis when he, on the one hand, argues that God must have preserved the pure text in an open, public, and accessible manner for Christians in every generation and, on the other hand, he argues that “the Latin and non-majority readings [of the TR] were indeed restorations of ancient readings that fell out of the medieval Greek tradition”!

He goes further and says:

As we have argued concerning the faulty assumption that preservation must be through “majority rule,” the scriptures nowhere tell us how God would preserve the NT text. What is ironic is that as much ink as MT/TR advocates spill on pressing the point that theirs is the only biblical view, when it comes to the preserved text being found in the majority of witnesses, they never quote one verse. Although they accuse other textual critics of rationalism, their argument for preservation via the majority has only a rational basis, not a biblical one. “God must have done this”—not because the Bible says so, but because logic dictates that this must be the case.

A statement that I found extremely interesting was the following:

the doctrine of preservation was not a doctrine of the ancient church. In fact, it was not stated in any creed until the seventeenth century (in the Westminster Confession of 1646). The recent arrival of such a doctrine, of course, does not necessarily argue against it—but neither does its youthfulness argue for it. Perhaps what needs to be explored more fully is precisely what the framers of the Westminster Confession and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (in 1675) really meant by providential preservation.

I must add this comment here:  At this point I have no idea as to the veracity of this claim.  It is interesting, however, because we have seen the argument over and over by one particular person who visits this blog that the TR/KJVO view is based upon a historical view of preservation.  I would certainly like to see more detail on this from both sides of the issue.

The following struck a chord with me, though I’m not exactly sure at this time how much I agree:

if the doctrine of the preservation of scripture has neither ancient historical roots, nor any direct biblical basis, what can we legitimately say about the text of the New Testament? My own preference is to speak of God’s providential care of the text as can be seen throughout church history, without elevating such to the level of doctrine. If this makes us theologically uncomfortable, it should at the same time make us at ease historically, for the NT is the most remarkably preserved text of the ancient world—both in terms of the quantity of manuscripts and in their temporal proximity to the originals. Not only this, but the fact that no major doctrine is affected by any viable textual variant surely speaks of God’s providential care of the text. Just because there is no verse to prove this does not make it any less true.

A very interesting argument in the inspiration=preservation discussion is given:

there is a tacit assumption on the part of Pickering that everything a biblical author writes is inspired. But this is almost certainly not true, as can be seen by the lost epistles of Paul and the agrapha of Jesus. The argument is this: there seem to be a few, fairly well-attested (in patristic literature), authentic sayings of Jesus which are not found in the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament. Of course, evangelicals would claim that they are inerrant. But they would not be inspired because inspiration refers strictly to what is inscripturated within the canon. Further, Paul seems to have written three or four letters to the Corinthians, perhaps a now-lost letter to the Laodiceans, and apparently more than a few letters before 2 Thessalonians. If some NT epistles could be lost, and even some authentic sayings of Jesus could show up outside the NT, then either they were not inspired or else they were inspired but not preserved. Assuming the former to be true, then the question facing us in Mark’s Gospel is whether an inspired writer can author non-inspired material within the same document—material which is now lost. Such a possibility admittedly opens up a Pandora’s box for evangelicals, and certainly deserves critical thought and dialogue. Nevertheless, the analogies with the lost epistles of Paul and the authentic, non-canonical agrapha of Jesus seem to damage Pickering’s contention that if the last portion of Mark’s Gospel is lost, then inspiration is defeated.

The author concludes by saying:

In sum, there is no valid doctrinal argument for either the Textus Receptus or the majority text. A theological a priori has no place in textual criticism. That is not to say that the majority text is to be rejected outright. There may, in fact, be good arguments for the majority text which are not theologically motivated. But until TR/MT advocates make converts of those who do not share with them their peculiar views of preservation and inspiration, their theory must remain highly suspect.

It will probably take reading and re-reading for me to digest all that is said here.  I must say, however, that there is much to commend this article, though I may not embrace all that is said.  I believe it provides a relatively balanced approach to the debate in that it takes the arguments of the MT/TR/KJVO seriously and seeks to answer them Biblically, doctrinally, textually, and historically.

Autographa & Apographa: John Owen on Inspiration and Preservation

This is a repost of Dr. Paul Henebury’s recent post on his blog. Dr. Henebury is the President of Veritas School of Theology.


The greatest British theologian of the 17th Century was, in the opinion of many, John Owen.  Owen made distinctive contributions in a number of theological loci.  His book on the mutual relationship within the Trinity and our communion with each of the Divine Persons is still the best work on the subject.[1] Likewise, his manifesto for congregational-independency[2] offers some of the best arguments for Pastor-led congregational form of church government, and his The Death of Death in the Death of Christ[3] is considered the book on the Reformed view of particular redemption.  Owen’s teaching on the subject of the inspiration of the Bible is also most instructive, especially in view of what has been and is being taught in some evangelical seminaries and books.

The Importance of Divine Inspiration

Owen’s views on the crucial matter of the relationship of the Bible as we have it and the autographs are worth pondering.  He, like all solid evangelicals, rests the authority of the Bibles we have, not upon some inner impression of its validity, but upon its original theopneustic character.  In his, The Divine Original of the Scripture he asserted, “That the whole authority of the scripture in itself depends solely on its divine original, is confessed by all who acknowledge its authority.”[4] Thus the autographs were from God and delivered to men.  We possess “the words of truth from God Himself.”[5]

Inspiration he defined as “an indwelling and organizing power in the chosen penmen.” [6] Thus, “they invented not words themselves…but only expressed the words they received.”[7] Indeed, “the word that came unto them was a book which they took in and gave out without any alteration of one tittle or syllable (Ezek. ii 8-10, iii 3; Rev. x 9-11).”[8] As Owen writes in his great work on the Holy Spirit:

He did not speak in them or by them, and leave it unto their natural faculties, their minds, or memories, to understand and remember the things spoken by him, and so declare them to others; but he himself acted their faculties, making use of them to express his words, not their own conceptions.[9]

It is because of its divine provenance that the Scripture gains “the power and to require obedience, in the name of God.”[10] The Scriptures “being what they are, they declare whose they are.”[11] Even so, being as the Bible is the Word of God, every man is bound to believe it.[12]

All this notwithstanding, Owen refuses to ground his doctrine of Scripture solely on the internal testimony of the Spirit.  As he says in his The Reason of Faith, “If anyone…shall now ask us wherefore we believe the Scripture to be the word of God; we do not answer, ‘It is because the Holy Spirit hath enlightened our minds, wrought faith in us, and enabled us to believe it.’”[13] Such a declaration may at first seem to be a deviation from the tradition inherited from the Reformation.  But Owen demonstrates that there has to be an external reason for the credibility of our faith in Scripture as the Word of God.[14] Divine revelation must have the character of truth through and through, and it is this character which the Spirit causes us recognize through faith.[15]

The Role of Apographa

Where John Owen, together with many of his contemporaries, differed from modern expressions of inspiration was in the close connection he saw between the Scriptures as originally given and the Scriptures as we now have them.  For example, he wrote:

Sacred Scripture claims this name for itself.  It has its origin from God…[s]o that what God once said to the Church through the medium of Prophets, Apostles, and other inspired writers was still spoken directly by God, and that not only in the primary sense to those whom He delegated this task of reducing His revealed will to written form, but also, no less so in a secondary sense, He speaks to us now in His written word…, as in days past He spoke through the mouths of His holy prophets.[16]

In contrast to the way inspiration and (if at all) preservation is taught nowadays, men like Owen saw a real continuity between the autographs and what were often termed the “apographs,” or copies of the originals.  “It is true”, Owen said, “we have not the Autographa …but the apographa or “copies” which we have contain every iota that was in them.[17]

As we have already inferred, in saying this Owen was not alone.  Francis Turretin of the Genevan Academy also held this view:

By original texts, we do not mean the autographs…, which certainly do not now exist.  We mean their “apographs” which are so called because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”[18]

Did this show a pre-Enlightenment naiveté?  Not at all.  Owen was well aware that the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts available in his day contained variant readings, transpositions, corrections, and other glosses.  But he saw the supervening hand of God in transmission of the texts.  For example, he wrote, “For the first transcribers of the original copies, and those who… have done the like work from them…[i]t is known, it is granted, that failings have been amongst them, and that various lections are from thence risen.”[19]

It is of interest to note that Owen’s recent translator contrasts the view of the Puritan with that of BB Warfield, especially in the areas of the extent of the understanding of inerrancy and the identity of the Text.  Stephen Westcott says that,

Owen saw inerrant as not meaning just that all “between the boards of the Bible” was inspired and without error…, but rather that inerrant necessarily meant plenary inspiration, and plenary inspiration that the Bible lacks nothing, and is thus a full and perfect rule and guide for all of life –not just for “religion”, and he saw inspiration as involving three essential factors: content inspiration, verbal inspiration, and divine preservation.[20]

Summarizing Owen’s View

From the above quotations the following three points can be drawn:

  1. The Divine authority of the Bible rests in itself.  It is self-attesting:

“That God, who is prima Veritas, ‘the first and sovereign Truth,’…should write a book, or at least immediately indite it, commanding us to receive it as his under the penalty of his eternal displeasure, and yet that book not make a sufficient discovery of itself to be his, to be from him, is past all belief.”[21]

  1. This authority rested in the first instance in Scripture’s inherent status as God-given, and not in the inner testimony of the Spirit to His Word.
  1. Although He allowed the human authors to remain individual personalities, the Holy Spirit nevertheless “acted their faculties” in order to produce His words in written form.  Owen taught that the nature of the Spirit presupposed this kind of inspiration,[22] even if, strictly speaking, “It is the graphe that is theopneustos.”[23]
  1. Although we no longer possess the original manuscripts of the Bible, the apographa or copies do communicate to us what the Holy Spirit said in the autographs.[24] Owen, unlike some Evangelicals today, held to a strong doctrine of Preservation.[25]

This assertion gives the lie to the thesis of people like Sandeen and Rogers and McKim[26] who have claimed that the belief that Scripture’s authority extends to all aspects of life is due to the influence of the Enlightenment. [27] But it also reminds us that God has not just set His Word in the world and then left it up to frail men to preserve it unsupervised.  In a very real sense the Bible through which God actively communicates today is foremost His Word, not our attempt to reproduce it.

[1] John Owen, On Communion with God, Works II, (London: Banner of Truth, 1966).

[2] Owen, The True Nature of a Gospel Church, Works XVI, (London: Banner of Truth, 1968).

[3] The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Works X, (London: Banner of Truth, 1968).

[4] The Divine Original of the Scripture, Works XVI, (London: Banner of Truth, 1968), 297.

[5] Ibid., 305

[6] A Defense of Sacred Scripture.  Appended to his Biblical Theology, (Pittsburgh, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994), 789.

[7] Divine Original, 305

[8] Divine Original, 299.

[9] A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit.  Works III, (London: Banner of Truth, 1967), 132-133.

[10] Divine Original, 308

[11] Ibid., 311

[12] Ibid., 335

[13] The Reason of Faith, Works IV, (London: Banner of Truth, 1967), 60

[14] Ibid., 61-69

[15] Ibid., 68

[16] Defense, 788. (cf. also Works XVI, 357).

[17] Divine Original, 300-301.

[18] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1992), 1.106.

[19] John Owen, Of the Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew and Greek Text of the Scripture. Works XVI, 355.

[20] Stephen Westcott, “Editors Introduction,” – John Owen, Defense, 772-773.

[21] Cf. also, Works XVI, 317-318, and, 335.  Calvin said, “We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our judgment, but we subject our intellect and judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.” – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.7.5. (1.72).

[22] Owen, A Discourse Concerning The Holy Spirit, Works III, 131.

[23] Divine Original, 300.

[24] Likewise, see the opinion of William Whitaker recorded by John Woodbridge in his rebuttal of Rogers and McKim in Douglas Moo (ed.), Biblical Authority and Conservative Perspectives, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1997), 46.

[25] See Owen, Divine Original of the Scripture, 354-355.

[26] See also the attacks on men like Carl F.H. Henry by the likes of Donald Bloesch.

[27] We are aware of the fact that men like Owen, Voetius, Turretin, and Thomas Boston believed that the Masoretic punctuation marks were divinely inspired.  They were mistaken.  But this does not mean that they were wrong in the matter before us. Furthermore, it may not be out of place to add that in the debate about the Majority Text versus the minority Critical Text.  For what it is worth, Stephen Westcott believes that Owen, were he alive, would side with the MT.  “For Owen, the Reformation, and the Puritans [to even put it in those terms] …would be to settle the dispute!” – “Editor’s Introduction,” to John Owen, A Defense of Sacred Scripture, 773.

The Missing Link: A Simple Question/Challenge

Here’s a short, simple question for King James Onlyists to answer and think about over the weekend. We often hear the charge that modern versions contain errors that lead to doctrinal errors and, therefore, introduce false doctrine into churches. I’ve often wondered: Who actually apostatized as a result of a modern version?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses were apostate long before the NWT. The NWT is a result of their apostasy. They didn’t become Arians because the comma johanneum was missing in the New Testament; in fact, they used the KJV prior to the NWT.

Typically, KJV Onlyists will decry the church down the street, because not only do they employ a modern version, they have also become seeker friendly, or have drums, or the youth pastor has an earing, or all of the above. But the real question is, why did they choose those things? Is it a result of a different reading in the modern versions? My contention is that the vast majority of doctrinal changes and/or heresies in the church have nothing to do with textual or translational variation but everything to do with presuppositions, false teaching, traditions, or just plain emotions.

So, the question is, what man, church, or ministry has either changed in doctrine or apostatized as a direct result of a reading in a modern version that differs from the KJV? Is textual/translational variation really the link between orthodoxy and heresy? (I’m not doubting this can happen, but I’d like proof as to how this is the epidemic that some KJVO propose it is).

Associations and Versions

I’ve noticed that different expressions of Christianity usually have one or more of a particular kind of  Bible version associated with it. For example, if you belong to a church that doesn’t really value Expository preaching and your church is really into the seeker sensitive movement; you’re most likely going to find the use of the NLT, NIV, TNIV and the Message. It’s a reflection of your lack of commitment to the supreme authority and sufficiency of scripture because these translations are not faithful to the original text.  (BTW, I’m not saying that all people who use one of those Bibles are not committed to the authority and sufficiency of scripture…so take a pill.) Anyway, my point is, they are dynamic equivalent or paraphrase versions that work just fine, when you’re not really interested in exegetical study or preaching. They work great for felt needs, topical or stand up comedian style of preaching that is so common in weak evangelical churches.

Then you have evangelical churches that are more committed to exposition and have a higher view of scripture. They generally use versions like the NASB, NKJV and now the ESV. These ministries will be the kind I’m most helped by – Grace to You, Ligonier, 9 Marks, In Touch, etc…

Most recently it seems that the ESV is quickly becoming the Calvinist Bible of choice.  Especially the ESV Study Bible which is edited by Reformed Anglicans  and Presbyterians.  If a church is using the ESV as their pulpit text, most likely they’re Reformed or lean that way.

Then you’ve got the churches who use only the KJV. Who are they? Independent Fundamental Baptists for the most part, but that’s not all: Holiness Pentecostals, Oneness Pentecostals, 7th Day Adventists, Harold Camping followers, Mormons and several other weird cults! Wow what an association. Almost all the extreme fringe who deny a pure gospel or proclaim another gospel are using the KJV besides the IFB’s. So, as an IFB’er who is not KJVO, but preaches from the KJV, I am really ashamed of the rest of the company whom my version of the Bible seems to be associated with these days.

The dilemma that the KJVO Fundamentalist has put himself in, is that his conviction about the KJV has now caused him to compromise his own convictions about separation from evil associations. If a kind of music, worship style or anything else connected with church life had those kinds of damning associations, they would preach against it and avoid it, but they can’t do that with the KJV, they’re forced to be in the same association with these people even though there is no cooperation. Fundamentalists like to lump everyone who is not like them into a big group and call them “new evangelicals” even though some of whom they would lump into that group wouldn’t associate or cooperate with others they put in that group. For the sake of argument only, wouldn’t it be fair to lump IFB’s who are KJVO into the one big group of cults also by their own rules of separation and association?

More KJVO Drivel Hot off the Press

Joe Esposito from Pacific Baptist Church in Long Beach CA has written another rag for the inspiration and infallibility of the KJV. Here it is:

Here’s what the book is about:

“During the past few years, an issue (for which many Fundamental Baptists seemed to be settled) has arisen that has caused a great stir within our movement. We now have Fundamental Baptist brothers claiming to be King James Only men out of of one side of their mouths while out of the other they indirectly, and in some cases directly, criticize teh very same King James Bible.  Without realizing it, they are casting a long shadow of doubt on its validity as the inerrant and infallible words of God.

This book is this authors feeble attempt to “sound the trumpet in Zion” and to herald out a warning and a call for prudence as well as a call to common sense among many Fundamental Baptist brethren.  May the Holy Spirit use this book in some small way to keep us from starting the slide down the slippery slope of compromise concerning the FINAL AUTHORITY of God’s inspired and preserved words as found in the King James Bible.”