Book Endorsement: The Doctrine of Scripture by Jason Harris

The Doctrine of Scripture by Jason HarrisToday’s book review post is special for two reasons. First, this marks the 150th book review I’ve posted here at Fundamentally Reformed. Second, this review includes the foreword I was privileged to write for this book.

The Doctrine of Scripture: As It Relates to the Transmission and Preservation of the Text by Jason Harris is published by InFocus Ministries in Australia. I’m excited to recommend this new book to my readers here in the United States as I believe this book can go a long way toward helping those confused or entangled by King James Onlyism.

My Foreward

Another book on the King James Only debate? Much ink has been spilled and many passions expended in what may be the ugliest intramural debate plaguing conservative, Bible-believing churches today. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, Baptists and Presbyterians, Reformed and charismatic — all have been affected to a greater or lesser extent by those arguing for or against the King James or New King James Versions of the Bible. With each new book it seems the debate becomes more and more caustic, each group castigating the other in ever more forceful terminology.

Jason Harris enters the fray with the right blend of humility and tenacity, and turns the attention of all to the true center of the debate: the doctrine of Scripture. What makes this debate so passionate is that it centers on the very nature of Scripture. Rather than focus on technical facts and ancient manuscript copying practices, Harris takes us back to what Scripture says about itself: its inspiration, preservation and accessibility. In doing so, he demonstrates how those upholding the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus behind it, base their position not on sound exegesis of the Scripture, but on tenuous assumptions read into the text.

Harris’s pen is lucid and his grasp of the King James Only debate as a whole is masterful. He focuses his work on TR-only position which represents the very best of King James Only reasoning. He interacts with the exegesis of key TR-only proponents and marshals compelling evidence demonstrating their failure to measure up to Scripture’s own teaching about itself. And after explicating the doctrine of Scripture, Harris draws important conclusions which should protect the reader from making simplistic assumptions in a quest for textual certainty that goes beyond what Scripture teaches we should expect.

Harris wants us to be confident that we do have the inspired Scripture translated accurately in our English Bibles. He wants such confidence to be rooted to a Scriptural understanding of the Doctrine of Scripture rather than in the “supernatural-guidance” of a group of sixteenth-Century translators. Assuming that such a group of men made no mistakes is to expect something Scripture doesn’t teach, and ignore what it does. Harris is to be commended for such a clear, lucid defense of the historic doctrine of Scripture. I hope his book is received well and helps laymen and pastors everywhere to begin to rethink the basis for why they think as they do when it comes to the King James Only debate.

Bob Hayton
FundamentallyReformed.com
KJVOnlyDebate.com

[pp. 9-10]

Additional Thoughts

After re-reading this book and seeing the published version, I am more optimistic than ever about its promise to provide clarity to the King James Only debate. Jason Harris’s book has a few characteristics which together make it a unique contribution to this debate.

First, his book focuses on the alleged doctrine of the verbal, plenary accessibility of Scripture. This is where the root of the KJV and TR preference lies for many people. The argument is not so much based on texts and manuscripts as it is on what allegedly the Bible teaches – that the very words of Scripture (all of them down to the letters) would be generally accessible to believers down through the ages. Harris spends most of his time marshalling a Scriptural rebuttal to these claims and also demonstrates the difficulties such a position has when it comes to the history of the text as we know it.

Second, this volume carefully builds a theology of the transmission and preservation of Scripture. Such a careful, exegetically-based explication of the doctrine of Scripture has been lacking in this debate. And such a gap has often been used by KJV-only proponents to their advantage. It is KJV-only books which start with a Scriptural position and then look at the evidence, with the “anti-KJV” books starting with history and evidence and then moving to the Scriptural arguments. This book is different and starts where the debate starts for most of the sincere beleivers who get swept up into it — it starts on Scripture’s teaching about the very nature and preservation of Scripture.

Finally, Harris keeps a very irenic tone throughout. He is careful not to overstate his case and exaggerate the claims of his opponents. This is especially difficult to do when it comes to this heated debate, but Jason pulls this off well. Additionally, he backs up his book with the inclusion of a vast array of footnotes documenting the claims he is arguing against. I appreciate how he does not direct his argument toward the Riplingers and Ruckmans of this debate. He focuses on the TR-only position and the more careful wing of KJV-onlyism, men like David Cloud, D.A. Waite, Charles Surret, and the like. Harris has read widely in the KJV only literature, and his treatment avoids broadbrushing and generalizations that tend to give KJV-only propoents an easy out. It’s easy to dismiss a book as not being directed to their particular position, or to claim the author makes egregious errors and lumps their position in with that of heretical views. Harris’s book is not open to such charges. He directs his case against the very best arguments of KJV-onlyism.

Had I been exposed to such a book I would have been inoculated to the pull of the KJV-only persuasion. As it happened, I was swept up in a TR-only view that made it seem like we had the corner on truth and everyone else was compromising. By God’s grace I came to understand that Scripture does not support such a view of the transmission of the text.

Jason Harris is to be thanked for giving us a tool to recommend to those thinking through this issue from within, and to help the ones who are being pressured to join the KJV-only position. I highly recommend The Doctrine of Scripture and hope it makes its way into the hands of anyone struggling with this issue who will yet be open-minded enough to study out the issue from both sides.

You can pick up a copy of The Doctrine of Scripture at Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

~ cross posted from FundamentallyReformed.com, the author’s other blog.

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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

                                                                     Beza.

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.

Announcing the Opening of The Center for The Study and Preservation of The Majority Text


I was informed by Paul Anderson of the opening of a new website and study center for the Majority Text. Here’s some information from the organization’s website:

The Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text has been formed with the following purpose and mission:

1. To give scholars and researchers a Christian non-profit organization where all extant Majority/Byzantine text manuscripts may be fully studied and compared for proper classification.
2. To increase awareness of the importance in readings and manuscripts within the Majority/Byzantine Text tradition.
3. To provide a one-stop website where all major printed editions of the Majority/Byzantine text may be found.
4. To include an online image gallery where important manuscripts may be seen.
5. To offer online collations and studies to increase understanding of the various groups within the Majority/Byzantine text.
6. To give individuals, churches and interested parties a tax-free organization in which to donate in order further the stated goals and mission above.
7. To provide an international Christian organization which views the Holy, Inspired Word of God as preserved within the Majority/Byzantine Text of the New Testament.

CSPMT officially opened October 1st and promises to be a one stop shop for the study of the Majority Text. The site is amassing links and resources on the various families of the Majority Text, as well as the study of the Textus Receptus and the Greek lectionary tradition. Paul Anderson, one of the founders of this initiative, informed me that Dr. Wilbur Pickering, author of The Identity of the New Testament Text, and Dr. Kirk DiVietro of the Dean Burgon Society (and father of Erik, one of our contributors here) will be two of the board members for this organization. We interviewed Dr. DiVietro on our site, here.

The group’s website should prove to be a valuable resource for students interested in learning more about the Greek Majority Text. You’ll want to bookmark it and see how the site develops. It may prove a blessing to all who are interested in the thousands of Greek manuscripts which have been providentially bequeathed to the Church.

In related news, Dr. Maurice Robinson, who we have also interviewed concerning his own Byzantine priority position, is recovering from a heart attack and scheduled for related surgery in the next month. Please keep him in your prayers.

Interview with TR Advocate Dr. Kirk DiVietro, pt 3

Today is the final installment of our interview with Dr. Kirk DiVietro. We asked him some specific questions about the King James Bible as an English translation.

KJVO Debate:
What specifically distinguishes your position from the general KJVO positions?

Dr. DiVietro:
I am not King James Version Only. I am Textus Receptus/Masoretic Text only. As I stated above I believe any time the proper Greek/Hebrew texts are accurately translated we have the words of God in English. I do not believe the King James Bible or any other translation is divinely inspired. I do believe an accurate translation preserves the inspired words into the English language.

KJVO Debate:
Do you believe the Word of God in English exists only in the King James Bible?

Dr. DiVietro:
I answered it above. In addition to that comment I add this caveat. The King James Bible is the only English translation that I trust 100% to accurately translate the original Greek and Hebrew texts. Its process beginning with Tyndale and ending in 1769 with the present revision of the Cambridge King James Bible was careful enough to produce an accurate reliable English Bible.

KJVO Debate:
One of the biggest criticisms of the King James text is that it is unreadable. Share with us how you answer that criticism in a practical way.

Dr. DiVietro:
Again it is nice if you can make a translation both easily readable and accurate. However, that is rarely possible, especially when working with an ancient language. Most of the readability problems in the King James Bible do not come from old English. It does not take a great level of intelligence to understand that thee, thou, and ye mean ‘you.’ The same is true of the -est and -est endings of verbs. The difficulty of the King James Bible is primarily because it attempts to keep the word order and nuanced grammar of the original languages. The translaters were attempting to replicate the full impact of the original language. Some words like propitiation were coined specifically because there was no English word which carried the full impact of the word. It cannot be rendered more ‘readable’ without sacrificing accuracy. There are other such conventions and phenomena.

KJVO Debate:
Some commenters have asked you to comment on the recent works to update the text of the KJB. What are your opinions of the MKJV, AKJV, KJV2000, and LITV?

Dr. DiVietro:
I have not done extensive research into any one of these revisions of the KJB. The English language has not changed enough to make most readers of the KJB uncomfortable and asking for a revision. It is still the most popular form of the Bible. There are not enough changes to legitimately justify a copyright. There are not enough changes that have been recognized by consensus as being necessary.

KJVO Debate:
Given the opportunity, how would you steer an update of the KJB text? Does there need to be an update?

Dr. DiVietro
No, I would not steer an update of the KJB nor do I think there a need for an update. The quality of scholarship both on the committee and in the born again, Bible believing pastors and educators of English speaking people to do a quality job. I would not feel qualified to serve on a revision committee. I would not tamper with the words of God.

Author’s Closing Remarks:

On behalf of the authors of this blog, I want to thank my father for his gracious interview. While the TR-only position is held by a minority of textual scholars, it is not nearly as marginalized as mainstream publications tend to make it. The far more vocal KJVO provocateurs like Peter Ruckman and Gail Riplinger have unfortunately monopolized the spotlight of the KJVO side of the debate. Even if you disagree with at TR-only advocate like Dr. DiVietro, you must admire their desire to have and know the Word of God.

One final note. Dr. DiVietro is not interested in engaging in the debate of this topic. He has expressed that his desire is only to present his position. Others are free to agree or disagree.

Interview with TR Advocate Dr. Kirk DiVietro, pt 2

We continue our conversation with Dr. Kirk DiVietro, pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Franklin, Massachusetts. Today, we provide his answers to some questions about the Greek text of the New Testament.

KJVO Debate:
What, in your opinion, is the single best reason to reject the modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament?

Dr. DiVietro:
The best reason to reject modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament is that they are based on theories and procedures that guarantee a wrong result. The theories were created by non-bible believers who reject divine origin and preservation of the scriptures.

The foundational thesis of modern textual criticism is that the Bible evolved by natural processes. The advocates vary on the origin of the Scriptures. But they agree that once the original scriptures were created God abandoned the preservation process. The scriptures were subject to the same corrupting influences of any piece of literature. This process reached its culmination with the printing press. The printing press froze the text and allowed perfect reproduction.

As the theory goes, the text when frozen by the printing press was the result of 1500 years of evolution. The existing text therefore not be the text when first produced. In the same way that geological and biological evolutionists try to regress the evolutionary process they decided that they would have to regress the evolution of the Scriptures.

A logical seive was created to do the regression. All manuscripts were assembled (in theory) and classified by their readings. An assumption was made that the earlier the manuscript text the more accurate. Since no two manuscripts can be demonstrated to have a direct ancestor-child relationship individual readings were isolated and analyzed. They were organized into ‘families’ by the geological region of their widest circulation. It was then speculated that there were separate distinct texts circulating in specific areas. Although no perfect pure regional manuscript was ever discovered scholars conjecture those texts and build them artificially by isolating geographical readings no matter what manuscript they appear in. (Much like Q is conjectured as a base for the Gospels)

Once they created their archetype texts and families of manuscripts they had to purify their artificial texts. If Alexandrian manuscripts disagree on a reading the true reading has to be determined. How? By picking the most unlikely, obscure, aberrant reading as the original reading, on the assumption that subsequent editors would ‘correct’ obtuse readings, the theorists conjectured ‘earliest’ and ‘oldest’ readings. Becuase the process is weighted against the historic, traditional readings a brand new text arose. This text appears NOWHERE in the physical manuscript evidence. It is completely eclectically created. You cannot pick up ANY NT manuscript and read the modern text although it is most dependent on the Vaticanus Manuscript and its allies.

KJVO Debate:
You have said elsewhere that you have rejected the idea of text families. What motivated that move and what do you suggest in place of that theory?

Dr. DiVietro:
I reject them because they assume the opposite of Bible truth. God said he revealed his word. It was perfect at its revelation. He further says he preserves his word. The concept of families rejects both statements. If the argument of families were used to explain where the aberrant variant readings came from I might accept the premise. Things don’t develope upward without intelligent intervention. According to modern theory the New Testament developed from a text which was grammatically, historically, theologically, biblically inaccurate into a consistent cogent uniform New Testament.

In addition ‘families’ are impossible to discern. The manuscript evidence as it appears today is like the result of a bomb hitting a 2000 year old cemetary. Modern scholars claim they can reassemble the bodies and tell who is related to whom without DNA. They claim bones found next to each other must be from the same individual, and individuals thus assembled found close to each other must be related.

KJVO Debate:
A few years ago, you presented a paper to the DBS – survey on the supposed LXX quotes in the New Testament. Can you share what you discovered?

Dr. DiVietro:
I discovered that in John, Acts and Hebrews, no Old Testament quotation came directly from the Septuagint. Even those who advocate the idea that the New Testament writers used the Septuagint readily admit that if an accurate translation of the Hebrew text varied from the Septuagint the writers translated the Hebrew. Simply stated, if an independent translation of the Hebrew and the Septuagint agree it is assumed that the writer quoted the Septuagint. If they vary he used the Hebrew. Why does that make more sense than assuming that they used the Hebrew text and when the Septuagint agrees it is becaust the translator of the Septuagint got it right?

Further I found there is no direct evidence of a Septuagint (except for the possible translaqtion of the Pentateuch) in the pre-christian era. The Septuagint as we know it appears first in the writings of Origen near the end of the 2nd century AD. The modern text ASSUMES the Septuagint origin of the OT quotes and whenever it finds a variant that agrees with the Septuagint elevates it above the historic reading.

KJVO Debate:
Is there an extant, perfect manuscript copy of the TR? If so, which? If not, could you explain briefly why you believe the TR tradition to be superior to the texts used in the Critical Text?

No. There is not a perfect manuscript copy of the TR. No intelligent student of the manuscripts would say there is. Every manuscript is handwritten. In that volume of work it is impossible for any one copyist not to make some inadvertant error. However, if you pick up any TR manuscript (about 95% of the manuscript evidence) you will find a clear mainstream. Any given manuscript will have an eddy of error from time to time but when compared against the stream it is easily identified as an aberration.

In contrast, the modern text cannot be found in any manuscript. Its manuscript evidence resides primarily in 2-5% of the evidence. It requires the ‘scholar’ to arbitrarily adopt a given reading from any given manuscript to create or ‘restore’ the text.

The Textus Receptus tradition comes from the eastern churches which continued to use Greek as their primary active language into the 15th century. The manuscripts are not museum pieces. They are the Bibles they were using. They come from an area of the world which is not especially condusive to preserving biological materials. As manuscripts deteriorated from use they were disposed of lest they give rise to bad readings. This area of the world was the area to which the documents of the New Testament were originally addressed. The churches of this area would most likely have been the depository of the most accurate copies of the New Testament making restoration after persecution possible.

Many of the modern readings are consistent with the dialect of Alexandria preferring classical greek grammar rather than koine greek.

There are just too many factors which weigh against the accuracy of modern textual conclusions.

KJVO Debate:
In discussing things with me (Erik), you made an excellent point about the reason we should trust the Byzantine texts and the faulty reasons why Westcott and Hort rejected them. Could you explain that to us?

I’m not exactly what observations Erik has mentioned to you. I have partially explained it above. I will summarize here.

  1. The Byzantine text has been demonstrated to be at least contemporary with Codex B/Aleph. (See The Byzantine Text-type by Bruce Sturz)
  2. The B/Aleph group of manuscripts is not consistent in its source texts. There is no one manuscript which is 100% “Alexandrian” in its readings. There are many that are TR.
  3. The B/Aleph group of manuscripts shows signs of being edited to a more classical Greek from a Koine source.
  4. Westcott-Hort and the other textual critics were trained in classical Greek. Their assessment of the TR was that it was terribly corrupted is a result of their training. The idea that Koine Greek was a defined dialect would not come into existence until after their work.
  5. Manuscript B (Vaticanus) was traced over three times. The original readings are obscured below the latest retracing. The authority of the edited text of Vaticanus is questionable.
  6. The modern critical theory denies the doctrine of divine preservation and some of the advocates deny the divine origin of the Scriptures. Their logical grid for determining original readings is biased toward the obtuse.
  7. Westcott and Hort as well as Gladstone wanted to remerge the English church with Rome. They knew that the authority of the King James Bible had to be broken before that would be possible.
  8. Several members of the 1881 Revision committee were unsaved. Several were unitarians.

KJVO Debate:
What are your thoughts on the Byzantine/Majority Text Platform? How does it differ from the TR?

Dr. DiVietro:
As I read the introduction of the Majority Text I was lead to believe that it was not what it claimed to be, a text created by simply counting manuscripts and choosing the majority supported reading. Instead there was a formula which accepted the Von Soden classifications of readings. This was not a simple majority method. As a result about 4-5000 of the W-H readings were rejected leaving 2000+ variants from the Textus Receptus. The Majority Text advocates still are based on the assumption that original text was lost and needed to be restored by the work of its editors. When the smoke clears the best that can be said is that Majority Text is as close to the original as manuscript evidence allows.

Interview with TR Advocate Dr. Kirk DiVietro, pt 1

Author’s Disclaimer:

What follows is an exchange of some questions and answers with Dr. Kirk DiVietro, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Franklin, Massachusetts. Dr. DiVietro is a prominent member of the Dean Burgon Society and a Textus Receptus advocate. (He also happens to be my father, so forgive my bias if I say that he is one of the more well-reasoned TR advocates.) His comments appear as they were provided to us. If clarification is needed, please request it in the comments and I can either clarify it or ask Dr. DiVietro for more information. Today’s portion of the interview covers Dr. DiVietro’s basic information and some of his associations. Tomorrow, we will see his views on the Greek text.

KJVO Debate:
For starters, could you give us a little background about yourself, your faith and your scholarly career?

Dr. DiVietro:
I was saved Palm Sunday 1971 at the age of 18 years old. I came from a Christian home which loved and respected the Bible. When I was growing up, my family attended independent Baptist or baptistic churches. Despite this orientation I tried to objectively discover the teachings of the Bible. I spent hours reading and analyzing the bible to find the doctrines revealed by God in his word. Today I am a baptist by conviction forged by the Scriptures and not by any affiliation.

I was married in April of 1971. In September 1972, I began my formal preparation for the ministry by enrolling in United Wesleyan College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The school was both Arminian and Neo-orthodox in orientation. There was also a pro-charismatic element. I attended UWC for three semesters until I was asked to leave becuase of my conservative convictions, especially surrounding the nature of the Bible itself.

In January of 1974, I transferred to Lynchburg Baptist College which became Liberty Baptist College and presently Liberty University. Liberty at that time was a firm Bible-oriented, soul-winning, fundamentalist Baptist college. The theology department was primarily 4 or 5 point Calvinist in their orientation. The one point they debated was the limited atonement.

After graduating from Liberty, I started an independent baptist church in New Jersey which I pastored for 13+ years. During that time I continued my education through a small Bible school in Maryland. I earned a B.Th. and Ph.D. there. These degrees do not have wide recognition although the school was accredited in the state of Maryland.

In 1992 I moved my family to Massachusetts, where I took the pastorate of Grace Baptist Church – the congregation I still pastor.

For several years I taught as a part-time professor at Baptist Bible College East (now Boston Baptist College) in Boston, MA. When it drifted away from firm biblical footing I resigned. During my experience at BBCE I returned to Liberty for a M.A in Religion, and a M.Div. Since leaving BBCE, I have taught as a guest professor in seminary and was sought as a full time seminary professor in two seminaries. Neither position materialized.

KJVO Debate:
You do not hold what might be considered the “typical” King James Only position. Tell us about your journey to a TR-only position.

Dr. DiVietro:
I am not sure what you mean by “typical” King James Only position. Let me state clearly what I believe and then tell how I came to believe it.

  • I believe that the Hebrew/Aramaic Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus are the preserved, inspired words of God.
  • I believe that the modern versions of the Greek and Hebrew texts has been corrupted by theories advanced by unsaved biased ‘scholars.’
  • Whenever the true words of God have been accurately translated into the English language we have the preserved authoritative words of God in English.
  • The only place where I have the confidence by experience that this has been done is in the King James Bible. I use, as do most KJB advocates, the 1769 revision of the Cambridge text of the KJV of 1611. I have never found a verse which is inaccurately translated when compared to the Greek or Hebrew-Aramaic from which it was translated.

Many people think that only uneducated, traditionalists hold to the King James Bible and the texts from which it came. My experience is that those who hold to the KJB and the texts from which it comes are generally more educated in the details of textual comparisons and translation than non-KJB/Textus Receptus-Masoretic Text advocates. This could only be accomplished by reading both sides of the issue. My library is rather extensive in these areas containing many of the major textual scholars of both America and Britain. It also contains many of the notes and personal papers of those who created the modern textual theories as well as facsimilies of many of the major evidentiary manuscripts. Where manuscripts were not available I gathered printed texts of the manuscripts.

My journey to this position began in my second year of College. UWC used the RSV as its standard text my freshman year. They moved to the NASB in my second year. I used a parallel Bible my first few months of school. Comparing Scriptures quickly led me to believe that there were clearly two very distinct Bible traditions. I defaulted back to the Bible of my youth, the KJB. I found fellowship with a handful of other students who were conservative bible believing Christians. We were expelled because of the liberal bend of the school.

At Liberty I began my Greek education. We used the UBS 2nd edition of the Greek New Testament at Liberty. I was told that whenever it deviated from the Textus Receptus, the TR reading would appear in the apparatus at the bottom of the page.

After one semester I discovered that I had not really learned any Greek grammar and set off to educate myself while continuing to fulfill the academic requirements. My process was simple. Arbitrarily choosing I John 5, I purchased a lexicon, two grammar books, and an analytical lexicon and started translating. I made copious notes until certain vocabulary and forms became familiar.

When I got to I John 5.13 I found that words were missing and there was no footnote explaining why. This led me to realized that someone was lying. The text I was using could not be the source of the King James Bible. I had still not made an academic or scholarly decision on the text or the translation. I was driven to find the text of the KJB and to understand the reasons for the textual differences.

I discovered George Ricker Berry’s interlinear based on the Stephannus 1550 text, which was in the greatest majority the text behind the KJB. I started to translate from it and to compare it to the UBS 2nd. I started to understand the apparatus of the UBS and by analysis of Mark, the Johanine Epistles, Revelation and a few other partial books that there was a pattern.

Between 1/3 and 2/3 of the divurgences from the TR in the UBS text were NOT documented. I also noted that if I removed two manuscripts, Aleph or Sinaticus and B or Vaticanus from the equation the documentary conclusion reversed. I knew nothing about the nature of these or any other Manuscripts.

KJVO Debate:
Probably your best known contribution to textual work is the digital texts for the Scrivener and Stephanus editions of the TR that pretty much all of us who use Logos have. Tell us how that came about.

Dr. DiVietro:
Manuscripts are not readily available for observation. I found Codex W and Z on display at the Smithsonian Institute. My trips to Washington DC brought me into contact with Dr. J. Roy Stewart who headed Baptist International School of Theology. BIST and Dr. Stewart had a library of manuscripts and manuscript analysis. While in the area I found a book called Which Bible by Dr. David Otis Fuller. This book introduced me to areas of research that could prepare me to make intelligent analysis. I enrolled in BIST.

Dr. Stewart introduced me to the computer. At the time there was no computerized Greek New Testament available for the average person. I finally discovered a program which made the UBS text available and purchased it. I was able to get below the ‘program’ and modify parts of the data base back to the TR for convenience. A newer evolution of this program allowed me access to the full text of the Greek NT.

Motivated by curiosity and need I began to revise the ascii codes of the program back to the TR. Dr. Stewart encouraged me to do the entire New Testament since no TR Greek New Testament was available on computer. He provided a photocopy of an actual Stephanus 1550 which I used as the basis for my work. I typed out the entire ascii code of the UBS 2nd Greek text. Visually and mentally comparing this printed code to the Stephannus 1550

I redlined the printed codes back to the TR and then edited the computer files so that the program would produce the Greek text with Greek characters. This would form the backbone of my Ph.D. work. In producing the text I mastered the apparatus and was able to think my way through the alterations. This work and peripheral studies brought me to a convictional dependence on the TR and MT as the source of the English (or any other language) Bible.

KJVO Debate:
You have worked extensively with D.A. Waite and the Dean Burgon Society. Tell us about that association and your reasons for working with Waite.

Dr. DiVietro:
Subsequent to finishing my Stephannus text I was introduced to Dr. D.A. Waite of the Bible for Today. Dr. Waite introduced me to the text of F.H.A. Scrivener which was published in 1881 by the RV committee to show where the TR was changed by the committee. Having read Scrivener’s notes, I became convinced that the Scrivener text (the 1598 text of Theodore Beza with 190 slight alterations) was closer to the text of the KJB. Again armed with the codes of the UBS 2nd I redlined the codes to produce Scrivener’s text. Dr. Waite put me in contact with the producer of Logos Bible Research®. Logos expressed an interest and chose to use my text in their program. It was also used in the early versions of Bible Works for Windows®.

My association with Dr. Waite brought me into the Dean Burgon Society. The DBS is a group which researches textual matters. At annual meetings papers are presented on the subject. As a member of DBS, I have had greater access to many relevent documents. I was able to do more first hand research. Through the years I have become more and more firmly convinced that the Greek Textus Receptus is the very words breathed out by God the only legitimate basis for Bible translations.

KJVO Debate:
You caught quite a bit of flak in some extreme corners recently for being critical of Gail Riplinger’s views. Most people assume that TRO/KJVO people all stick together (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). Why take on Riplinger?

Dr. DiVietro:
My allegiance is to truth not positions. It is that simple. Extremists are always used to discredit an unpopular position. Mrs. Riplinger is an extremist who advocates an absurd theory. Those who stand on legitimate grounds must separate from those who through foolishness discredit that position.

The Dean Burgon Society has lost many members through the last few years because of our stand on inspiration. This stand was taken to separate from the false teachings of people like Gail Riplinger. We do not believe that the King James Bible has a claim to inspiration. Mrs. Riplinger and other extremists do. We do not want to be painted with that broad brush.

II Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The word ‘inspiration’ is a translation of ???????????. This word comes from two words meaning ‘God breathed’. The Scriptures are not inspired because they were written by inspired men. They are inspired because God breathed them out. What language did God use to breathe them out? English? NO! He used Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. Those words are the inspired words of God.

The King James Bible, the result of over 200 years of concentrated Bible translation, beginning with Tyndale and ending in 1769, has been tweaked and fine tuned until it accurately preserves the Words of God into English. A pastor or student does not have to read Greek and Hebrew to be confident that he has the words of God but he does not have the words God breathed out in the King James Bible.

If and when English changes sufficiently to demand a new translation and if and when qualified scholars are assembled to do the work and when that work is subject to intense scrutiny and use until it creates consensus and confidence then the KJB will be replaced. I don’t see that as a condition on the foreseeable horizon.

KJVO Debate:
Some say that TR/KJB proponents are marginalized and outdated. How do you respond to this criticism?

Dr. DiVietro:
Truth is not determined by popularity. The average english speaking person is lazy and does not know his own language. He will not pick up a dictionary or a grammar book to work through a difficult passage.

To say that TR/KJB is marginalized because of this phenomena is like saying since people don’t understand the word POISON we should use the term BAD THING. Is poison a bad thing? Yes. Is a bad thing poison? Not necessarily. To hand someone an inaccurate, inexact Bible because they are too lazy to read and understand the real thing is not acceptable.

Many people can’t read a map, and so we have invented GPS devices. My GPS refuses to see my driveway and insists that I drive through the neighbor’s yard to get to my house. There is a property in Maine I have to visit on a regular basis. The GPS tries to send me down three wrong turns on the way. A GPS is a wonderful invention but it is only as valuable as its accuracy. Few people buy atlases anymore BUT an accurate map is far more valuable than an inaccurate GPS.

In the same way having an accurate translation of the very words of God is far more important than having an ‘easy to read’ modern Bible. We used to live by the bromide, “If it is new it is not true. If its true it is not new.” The Bibles being offered today are not just new translations. They have altered the very content and structure of the Bible.

KJVO Debate:
What positive contribution do you believe that TR-only proponents need to make in order to move forward in the discussion of the Greek NT?

Dr. DiVietro:
I believe TR advocates have made every positive contribution they can make. They have advanced the evidence and arguments, but they are ignored. Since their evidence does not enter the mainstream, it is ‘marginalized’ but that’s a faulty premise.

I applied to the Ph.D. program of a fully accredited seminary. I was rejected primarily because I used the KJB and MT/TR. I have the letter of rejection where this was clearly stated.

Textual criticism is a ‘good old boy’ network. If you don’t support their conclusions they will not allow you to have credentials. It is not being argued on a factual basis. This is the reason that questions like yours above about being marginalized are asked. They make the argument by character assassination rather than by facts.

Upcoming Interview – Dr. Kirk DiVietro, TR Advocate

As some of our readers may know, my father, Dr. Kirk DiVietro, is a relatively well known TR advocate (and KJV user by default, although he will tell you flat out that he is a KJV user only because he is a TR user). He holds a Ph.D. and several master’s degrees in Biblical languages, and was an adjunct professor at Boston Baptist College for nearly a decade. He is also responsible for the Stephanus 1550 and Scrivener’s 1881 TR editions that are available in Logos Bible Software. He has had interesting exchanges with people on both sides of the KJV Only Debate – from James White to Gail Riplinger.

He and I had a very enlightening conversation today, and I confess that he made some very valid and poignant points from perspectives I had not thought of before – and I grew up in the guy’s house.

He has graciously agreed to an interview with KJV Only Debate. His is a well-reasoned and doctrinally sound position on the debate. While he is not as prominent as some KJV-O Advocates, he holds a far more rational position.

You don’t have to agree with him to truly appreciate his grasp of the material and his well-reasoned arguments. I am looking forward to the interview. It should appear sometime next month.

Incidentally, here is a link to some things he shared about the New King James Version.