Jack Moorman on Revelation 16:5

In the recent James White — Jack Moorman debate on King James Onlyism, White brought up Rev. 16:5 as containing a phrase in the King James Version with no manuscipt support at all. It was added on the basis of conjectural emendation, he claimed. Several times in the debate he went back to that point, and Moorman kept saying he dealt with it already in one of his books.

Well, here’s the only section in Jack Moorman’s books that I know of which deals with Rev. 16:5. This is from When the KJV Departs from the So-Called “Majority’ Text: with Manuscipt Digest by Jack A. Moorman (published by The Bible for Today, Collingswood, NJ 1988). This is from pg. 102. I’ve tried to reproduce the format as shown in his book (my copy is the second edition).

Revelation 16:5
AV        which art, and wast, and shalt be
HF CR                                    … the Holy One


The KJV reading is in harmony with the four other places in Revelation where this phrase is found.
1:4 “him which is, and which was, and which is to come”
1:8 “the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”
4:8 “Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”
11:17 “Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come”
Indeed Christ is the Holy One, but in the Scriptures of the Apostle John the title is found only once (1 John 2:20), and there, a totally different Greek word is used. The Preface to the Authorised Version reads:

“with the former translations diligently compared and revised”

The translators must have felt there was good reason to insert these words though it ran counter to much external evidence. They obviously did not believe the charge made today that Beza inserted it on the basis of “conjectural emendation”. They knew that they were translating the Word of God, and so do we. The logic of faith should lead us to see God’s guiding providence in a passage such as this.

[AV = Authorized Version/King James Bible, HF = Hodges/Farstad Majority Text, CR = Critical Text (specifically the NA26/UBS3)]

When I first encountered this reasoning for maintaining the King James reading, I was troubled. He lists no witnesses except for Beza’s text. At the time, I was still of the KJV only persuasion, the TR Only variety. I wondered why Moorman disagreed with E.F. Hills a learned King James Version defender who admitted that Rev. 16:5 was a conjectural emendation. Later I learned that Beza actually tells us in his textual notes that this is a conjectural emendation inserted based on his presumption that John would be consistent with other similar phrases (which Moorman quotes above).

Well, since that time, I’ve come to see this as one of the clearest errors in the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus. Neither accepted version of the Textus Receptus contains this error. The 1550 Stephanus edition, prized in England as “the standard”, and the Elzevir’s text of 1633 preferred on the continent (of Europe), both do not contain this reading. Update: Actually the 1550 Stephanus, the standard in Europe, does not have Beza’s reading. The 1633 Elzevir’s text does, but the earlier 1624 Elzevir’s and all later Elzevir’s editions (1641-1678) go back to the Stephanus reading. I am unclear as to how much more preference was given to the 1633 text over the 1624, edition. H.C. Hoskier says the 1624 text is better, see Appendix C of his A Full Account and Collation of the Greek Cursive Codex Evangelium here). None of the previous English versions that the KJV translators referred to had this reading. The Latin didn’t have it either. In another post I have detailed the only possible, barest shred of evidence, a citation in one Latin commentary which may contain this reading. Beza is ignorant of that commentary however.

My point in bringing this up here is to show that I’m not so certain that Moorman has really dealt with this text. This is circular reasoning at its worst. This mentality belies the motivation behind many KJV Onlyists, which I believe White correctly pinpointed in the debate. It is the desire for a standard text. That’s a commendable desire, but it doesn’t excuse sloppy handling of evidence. By the way, this doesn’t mean that the TR isn’t a great text (most TRs don’t have this error). It also doesn’t impugn the Majority Text, as it obviously doesn’t have this reading.

Now I’m ready to stand corrected if in later copies of this book, Moorman actually added more evidence or took out his circular arguments. But at least in this version of the book, his arguments were quite poor indeed.

Follow Up to the James White–Jack Moorman KJV Debate

Last week’s televised debate between James White and Jack Moorman is now available to watch on demand. I was able to watch it this weekend and was really impressed with White, I thought he won the debate hands down.

White could have also pointed out that other languages beside Greek provide support for many Alexandrian readings, and only limited support for Byzantine readings. Also, the dearth of Greek study in general prior to the Renaissance helped ensure the Byzantine Text (being secreted into Europe with the onslaught of the Muslims against Byzantium) would be the primary text available for Erasmus and his like in the early period of recovering the Greek New Testament text.

I also thought Moorman should have had a better answer handy on the Revelation 16:5 point, which was repeatedly stressed. White did dodge some bullets, but the format makes it hard to address everything carefully.

Care to share your thoughts on the debate? Or did you (like me), miss it the first time round? Give it a watch and then chime in here. UPDATE: A better quality video surfaced on YouTube here.

For those who don’t know, while I’m evaluating the Majority Text position, currently I still am persuaded by the general tenor of the arguments for the modern Greek text behind modern versions, as shared by White and others. I believe our modern text can be refined and should be, but for the most part it is better than the Textus Receptus which preceded it. That’s my personal opinion and not necessarily the opinion of most of my fellow bloggers here at KJVOnlyDebate.com.

James White and Jack Moorman Debate the KJV Live on Revelation.Tv

Click for more details
James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries and author of The King James Only Controversy will be debating Dr. Jack Moorman, author of Forever Settled and other books defending the King James Bible. The debate will be live on British cable TV and online at www.revelation.tv. It is to be held at 9pm local UK time Feb. 2nd, which translates to 4pm Eastern time here in the US.

You can watch for free online. Click here for more details. I’ve been asked to encourage those interested to send in their email comments or text messages during the debate as a measure of knowing which side is the winner. If you watch the debate, consider chiming in here in the comments and let us know who you thought had the most convincing position and why.

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.

Doctored Quotes & Misrepresentations: Riplinger on Is. 26:3

From time to time, we will highlight King James Only advocates use of doctored quotes and misrepresentations in their zeal for the defense of the King James Bible.  The end doesn’t justify the means, and a principled conviction is no excuse for not taking the time to represent the position of another with care.

I was working my way through James White’s revised edition of The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations (Bethany House), and came across quite the doozy.  Gail Riplinger’s work is chock full of doctored quotes and misrepresentations, but I want to focus on her treatment of Isaiah 26:3. 

Before I quote from White’s book, I must be careful to explain Riplinger represents the thinking and tactics of only the extreme elements of King James Onlyism.  Perhaps 30-40% or more of the KJV Only folks would respect and value her contributions; most KJV Only advocates, however, would join me in condemning this argument of Riplingers.  Since Riplinger is an influential KJV Only author, however, evaluating her use of doctored quotes is important and pertinent to this blog’s focus.

I quote here from White’s book, pg. 137-138 in the revised edition [he iquotes Riplinger from pg. 454-455 of her 1993 book New Age Bible Versions].

She reports that she was trying to counsel a student who needed spiritual guidance.  As Mrs. Riplinger says, “My first glimpse down into this dark chasm full of Christians suffering from ‘mental chaos’ came via a distraught young Christian woman attending a campus bible study.”  One of the passages she wished to share was Isaiah 26:3.  We pick up with her own words:

A second attempt to arm her (Ephesians 6:17) in her joust with the devil, found the NASB’s sword sheathed hiding the key words, “on Thee.”

These words are immediately followed by this chart:

The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. Isaiah 26:3


If one takes this at face value, it certainly appears that the NASB has indeed “deleted” something.  And yet such would be a grand mistake.  Notice the actual readings of both versions:

The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in Thee. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.


While Riplinger places a period after “peace” in her citation of the NASB, there is no such period.  Instead, the rest of the verse contains the “key words” she alleges are missing!  And she also does not indicate that the KJV uses italics for the inserted clause “on thee,” for, quite simply, the Hebrew does not contain it!  This kind of flat-out mis-citation of modern versions ins rampant thoroughout the text of her work.

Jason’s Review of “The King James Only Controversy”

King James Only Controversy, The: Can You Trust Modern Translations? (Paperback)

by James R. White

ISBN-10: 0764206052

ISBN-13: 978-0764206054

James White has done us a favor by writing this book. The King James Only Controversy addresses most, if not all, of the arguments set forth by those who are believe that the King James Version is the only Bible God wants us to use.

Having read a little over the last ten years in favor of the KJVO position, and having accepted some of it, I was surprised to see that the position is riddle with error, logical fallacies, inconsistencies, at times outright falsehood. At the same time, I found that my doubts about the KJVO position were well-founded doubts.

White demonstrates that the KJVO position is indefensible. While he does this, White maintains that the King James version is a good translation worthy of our use and respect. He does not denigrate the King James Version.

White takes the logic of the KJVO position and proves it to be incorrect. He also takes the textual position of the KJVO advocates and demonstrates that it, too, is an incorrect position due to the fact that Alexandria produced some stalwarts of the faith as well as Antioch.

One of the favorite arguments of KJVO advocates is that the modern versions water down fundamental doctrines such as the deity of Christ. White compares other versions with the KJV to demonstrate that the argument will not stand scrutiny.

Another argument that KJVO advocates set forth is the argument that other versions “leave out” many things that should be in the Bible. White demolishes that argument by reminding us that the Bible is translated from the Hebrew and the Greek, and that comparisons should be made, not with the KJV as the standard, but with the original languages as the standard.

In the end, White contends that we have some very good modern translations; translations that can be trusted.

The book is well written as well as graciously written. I hope it will help many who struggle with this issue.

Originally posted here.