John William Burgon
John Burgon was undoubtedly one of the greatest defenders of the Greek text of the New Testament. He exposed the hundreds of amendments, deletions and additions in the Minority Text and defended the reliability of Textus Receptus till the day of his death. Unlike most Bible students, Burgon was a Greek scholar of the highest rank who spent much of his life browsing through the museums and libraries of Europe examining the ancient Greek manuscripts. He had first hand experience examining the Vatican texts whilst he ministered to a congregation in Rome. His findings are of utmost value in these days of wilful, spiritual ignorance and sin. I will quote a few extracts about this magnificent warrior from David O Fuller's book Which Bible?
"John William Burgon was born August 21, 1813. He matriculated at Oxford in 1841, taking several high honours there, and his B.A. 1845. He took his M.A. there in 1848…the thing about Burgon, however, which lifts him out of the nineteenth century English setting and endears him to the hearts of earnest Christians of other lands and other ages is his steadfast defence of the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God. He strove with all his power to arrest the modernistic currents which during his lifetime had begun to flow within the Church of England, continuing his efforts with unabated zeal up to the very day of his death. With this purpose in mind he laboured mightily in the field of New Testament textual criticism.
CODEX SINAITICUS (ALEPH)
This codex was produced in the 4th century. In his book Let's Weigh the Evidence, Barry Burton writes of Codex Sinaiticus:
"The Sinaiticus is a manuscript that was found in 1844 in a trash pile in St.Catherine's Monastery near Mt. Sinai, by a man named Mr Tischendorf. It contains nearly all of the New Testament plus it adds the 'Shepherd of Hermes' and the 'Epistle of Barnabas' to the New Testament. The Sinaiticus is extremely unreliable, proven by examining the manuscript itself. John Burgon spent years examining every available manuscript of the New Testament. He writes about Sinaiticus...
In his excellent book An Understandable History Of The Bible, Rev. Samuel Gipp writes of
"One of the MSS is called Sinaiticus and is represented by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph. This MS from all outward appearances looks very beautiful. It is written in book form (codex) on vellum. It contains 147 1/2 leaves. The pages are 15" by 13 1/2" with four columns of 48 lines per page. It contains many spurious books such as the 'Shepherd of Hermes,' the 'Epistle of Barnabas' and even the Didache.
CODEX VATICANUS (B)
The second major manuscript of the Minority Text is known as Codex Vaticanus, often referred to as 'B'. This codex was also produced in the 4th century. It was found over a thousand years later in 1481 in the Vatican library in Rome, where it is currently held. It is written on expensive vellum, a fine parchment originally from the skin of calf or antelope. Some authorities claim that it was one of a batch of 50 Bibles ordered from Egypt by the Roman Emperor Constantine: hence its beautiful appearance and the expensive skins which were used for its pages. But alas! this manuscript, like its corrupt Egyptian partner Sinaiticus (Aleph) is also riddled with omissions, insertions and amendments.
Of Codex Vaticanus Samuel Gipp writes on
"This codex omits many portions of Scripture vital to Christian doctrine. Vaticanus omits Genesis 1.1 through Genesis 46:28; Psalms 106 through 138; Matthew 16:2,3; Romans 16:24; the Pauline Pastoral Epistles; Revelation; and everything in Hebrews after 9:14.
Rev. Gipp continues on page 73:
"The corrupt and unreliable nature of these two MSS (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) is best summed up by one who has thoroughly examined them, John W Burgon: 'The impurity of the text exhibited by these codices is not a question of opinion but fact...In the Gospels alone, Codex B(Vatican) leaves out words or whole clauses no less than 1,491 times. It bears traces of careless transcriptions on every page…
"So we see that once a pure copy of the Universal Text (Textus Receptus) had been carried down into Egypt, it was recopied. During the process of this recopying, it was revised by men who did not revere it as truly the Word of God. This text was examined by the critical eye of Greek philosophy and Egyptian morals. These men saw nothing wrong with putting the Book in subjection to their opinion instead of their opinion being in subjection to the book. This process produced a text which was local to the educational centre of Alexandria, Egypt. This text went no further than southern Italy where the Roman Catholic Church found its unstable character perfect for overthrowing the true Word of God which was being used universally by the true Christians." (Ref:B7)
The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible has this to say about Codex Vaticanus on page 624 under the article Versions.
" It should be noted, however, that there is no prominent Biblical MS. in which there occur such gross cases of misspelling, faulty grammar, and omission, as in B." (Ref:H2)
Barry Burton comments further:
"For one thing…Vaticanus and Sinaiticus disagree with each other over 3000 times in the gospels alone… Facts about the Vaticanus.
Dean Burgon comments on Codices Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Vaticanus (/B).
"Compromise of any sort between the two conflicting parties, is impossible; for they simply contradict one another. Codd.B and Aleph are either amongst the purist of manuscripts,- or else they are among the very foulest. The Text of Drs.Westcott and Hort is either the very best which has ever appeared,- or else it is the very worst; the nearest to the sacred Autographs,- or furthest from them."… "There is no room for both opinions; and there cannot exist any middle view." (Ref: P3)
Oldest and Best
Bible students are often told that Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are older and better than other manuscripts: the implication being that they must, therefore, be more accurate. But this conclusion is wrong. We have already seen how Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are corrupt beyond measure. To be sure they are 'better' in appearance, but certainly not in their content. Remember they are written on expensive vellum; so they ought to be in good shape. They are older, but older than what? They are older than other Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. But they are not older than the earliest versions of the Bible: the Peshitta, Italic, Waldensian and the Old Latin Vulgate: versions which agree with the Majority text. These ancient versions are some 200 years older than A and B. Yes A and B are older than other Greek mss, but for anyone to suggest that they are more accurate is absurd. It is like someone saying 'You will find the greatest TRUTH being preached in the oldest and most beautiful cathedrals of the world,' or, 'the most beautiful women have the best characters.'
In his masterful book Revision Revised Dean Burgon wrote, over a hundred years ago, concerning the ages of Codices Vatican (B) and Sinai (Aleph):
"Lastly, - We suspect that these two Manuscripts are indebted for their preservation, solely to their ascertained evil character, which has occasioned that the one eventually found its way, four centuries ago, to a forgotten shelf in the Vatican library; while the other, after exercising the ingenuity of several generations of critical Correctors, eventually (viz. in A.D. 1844) got deposited in the waste-paper basket of the Convent at the foot of mount Sinai. Had B and Aleph been copies of average purity, they must long since have shared the inevitable fate of books which are freely used and highly prized; namely, they would have fallen into decadence and disappeared from sight." (Ref: P1)
In short these two codices are old simply because:
- First: They were written on extremely expensive and durable antelope skins.
- Second: They were so full of errors, alterations, additions and deletions, that they were never used by true believers and seldom even by their own custodians. Thus they had little chance of wearing away.
Can any true believer imagine JEHOVAH, the Holy One of Israel, hiding Codex Vaticanus away for over 1000 years in the Vatican Library till 1481? Or prompting the deeply religious monks of St Catherine's Monastery to dump Sinaiticus into a waste basket? The very idea is ridiculous.
A vital fact to remember is that though codices Aleph and B (produced in the 4th century) are older than other Greek manuscript copies of the Scriptures, they are not older than the Peshitta, Italic, the Old Latin Vulgate and the Waldensian versions which were produced 200 years earlier in the 2nd century. All these versions, copies of which are still in existence, agree with Textus Receptus, the underlying text of the King James Bible. I repeat: these ancient versions are some 200 years older than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus: so the 'oldest is best' argument should not be used. All Bibles fall, basically, into one of two categories.
- Those based on the Majority Text.
- Those based on the Minority Text.
Which Bible you select for study each day is going to have an enormous effect on your spiritual growth and well being. Bear this vital fact in mind.
The Invention of Printing
The invention of the printing press in the 15th century was a giant step forward in the circulation of the Bible. The printing press reduced the time taken to produce a Bible from about nine or ten months to a few hours: and once proof reading had been done, every copy was as good as the master. Printing also greatly reduced the price of a Bible.
"In the reign of Edward 1 of England, about 1272, the price of a complete (hand-written) Bible was from £30 to £37, and occupied a careful scribe in his scriptorium about ten months, while the days wage of a working man only averaged 1.5 pennies. When it is borne in mind that it only cost £25 to build two arches of London Bridge in 1240, while the price of a complete Latin Bible was considerably more, it will readily be allowed that only the rich and scholarly had access to the Word of God." (Ref: A7)
"While Martin Luther called the art of printing 'the last and best gift of providence' the Catholic Rowland Phillips, in a sermon preached at St.Paul's Cross, London in the year 1535, frightfully remarked:
'We must root out printing or printing will root us out.'
If printing, rightly used, could do so much to spread Truth, who can imagine the potential for the spread of Truth on the Internet?
10. THE KING JAMES VERSION (KJV)
Now that we have learned something about the majority and minority texts, let us turn our attention to the history of the King James Version (KJV) which is based on Textus Receptus. The King James Version was translated directly from the original languages: though it owes its style and biblical language to versions which went before. I now invite you to imitate the believers of Berea mentioned in the book of Acts.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Many maintain that the KJV uses archaic language. Is this objection justified? Pause awhile and consider this well known fact: every department of human learning uses language peculiar to that particular discipline: language which novices could easily refer to as being archaic. Biology, botany, geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, music, medicine, law etc., all use strange sounding words, phrases and expressions which a novice will find difficult to understand. The study of the Word of God is similar in this respect. It also uses words and expressions which a new believer will find hard to comprehend. Words like sin, repentance, baptism, atonement, sanctification, justification, resurrection etc. These words often baffle a new believer: but he/she must learn them in order to progress spiritually; because they are explicit Biblical terms which uniquely express vital spiritual concepts and processes. They are not archaic words and we dare not get rid of them or simplify them to such a degree that the Word of God becomes a paraphrase, a commentary. Can you imagine a novice biology, science or law student objecting to the strange sounding words or old-fashioned expressions in his text books?
In his book The King James Version Defended Edward F Hills says this concerning the language of the KJV:
"Not only modernists but also many conservatives are now saying that the King James Version ought to be abandoned because it is not contemporary. The Apostles, they insist, used contemporary language in their preaching and writing, and we too must have a Bible in the language of today. But more and more it is being recognized that the language of the New Testament was biblical rather than contemporary. It was the Greek of the Septuagint, which in its turn was modelled after the Old Testament Hebrew. Any biblical translator, therefore, who is truly trying to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and to produce a version which God will bless, must take care to use language which is above the level of daily speech, language which is not only intelligible but also biblical and venerable. Hence in language as well as in text the King James Version is still by far superior to any other English translation of the Bible." (Ref:G1)
Thee and Thou
We also hear a lot about the words 'ye,' 'thee' and 'thou' in the King James Version: and that these should all be replaced by the word 'you'. Everyone knows that the word 'you' is a uni-plural word like 'sheep' or 'fish.' It may refer to one or many depending on the context. Believe it or not the word 'you' is used many times in the KJV - but not exclusively. Why not? The answer is because of the vital difference between 'you' (plural) and 'thee' (singular) and there are times when it is necessary to make the difference. The word 'thee' refers to a single person, church, town or nation: whereas the word 'you' is the second person plural: it refers to many persons. To understand what I mean we will need to look at a few examples.
Just before the Saviour's crucifixion he warned his disciples - particularly Peter - of Satan's intended plan to test them all. These are the Master's words:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
In this passage the Saviour used the word 'you' to mean all the disciples. But when he used the words 'thee' and 'thou' he meant Simon Peter alone. By replacing the 'thee' and 'thou' in this passage with 'you,' the Saviour's explicit warning to Simon Peter is considerably weakened. As for his warning to all the other disciples, that Satan wanted to sift them all, that warning is completely lost. Here are two more examples where the plural word 'you' and the singular words 'thee' or 'thou' are used.
- In this example Festus speaks to king Agrippa and Bernice concerning the Apostle Paul. Here the word 'you' refers to Agrippa and Bernice: whereas the word 'thee' specifically addresses king Agrippa. Acts 25:26: Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
- In the following example two towns are initially addressed individually, therefore the word 'thee' is used. But when referred to together the word 'you' is used.
- Luke10:13: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
Other examples where 'you' is plural and 'thou' or 'thee' is singular are found in Deut. 4:3; 1 Kings 9:5-6; Matthew 5:39-44; 6:4-7; 11:23-24; 18:9-10; 23:37-38; Mark 14:37-38; Luke 5:4-5; 6:30-31; 9:41; 16:25-26; John 1:50-51; James 2:16. These texts, and there are many more, prove that the word 'you' was well known by the translators of the King James Version. If you consult a concordance you will discover that it was used hundreds of times in that version: but not exclusively as in modern translations. In short, when the Saviour addresses a particular individual, church or town he uses the words 'thee' or 'thou' simply because these words are more explicit and personal than the uni-plural word 'you.' The Bible, remember, is the Word of God: explicit in every sentence - yea in every word!
ALLEGED KJV ERRORS: Easter/Passover
Many claim that the King James Version has serious 'errors' in it. The most quoted 'error' concerns the use of the word Easter in Acts 12:1-4. The original word, these believers maintain, should have been translated as Passover - not Easter! Let us now examine the passage concerned and see if that argument holds water.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
To properly understand the sequence of events described above I will briefly explain some facts about the sacred calendar.
- The first Passover occurred in ancient Egypt when Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews spared the lives of Israel's eldest sons and slaughtered the firstborn of Egypt. That event took place on the evening (night) of the 14th Abib (Nisan), the first month in the sacred calendar. The Passover, which is an event rather than a day, is now commemorated each year on the evening of the same date. The story is well known and is recorded in Exodus chapters 11 and 12.
- After the Passover came the seven days of Unleavened Bread. The week of unleavened bread begins on the evening of the 14th Abib and finishes on the evening of the 21st Abib. This whole week is sometimes referred to as the Passover week: but, strictly speaking, its proper name is Week of Unleavened Bread. When the Passover and the days of unleavened bread are mentioned in the same passage, as in Acts 12:1-4, we can be certain that the Passover refers to the event which occurs on the evening of the 14th Abib and the days of unleavened bread refer to the week that follows. (i.e. 15-21st Abib or Nisan).
The events recorded in Acts 12:3-4 occurred during the days of unleavened bread. In other words, the Passover in that particular year had passed: it was history: it had gone. Why, then, would Herod wait for an event which had already passed? Surely Herod knew that the Passover had passed and that the days of unleavened bread were in progress.
What, then, was Herod really waiting for before releasing Peter? The answer is: Herod was waiting for Easter to come and go - just as the King James Version says. We can be confident that the translators of the KJV knew full well why in this passage they rendered the word 'Pesah' as 'Easter' and not 'Passover' as at other times. Their combined knowledge of Hebrew and Greek and the vast amount of manuscript evidence before them (thousands of copies, versions, and church-father citations etc.) were all used to arrive at every word in the King James Version. Are we, whose knowledge of these languages is microscopic by comparison, to challenge their judgment? The fact is that Herod, during the days of unleavened bread, was not waiting for the Passover - which had come and gone: he was waiting for Easter just as the KJV says.
The events in our story tell us that:
- The Passover in that particular year was history.
- The Days of Unleavened Bread (15th - 21st Abib) were in progress.
- And Easter was approaching: after which Herod planned to bring out Peter.
The question now arises: Was the pagan festival of Easter known at that time? And were the Romans keeping Easter? The answer is - yes. The pagan festival of Easter, with its hot cross buns and Easter Sunday sunrise services was well known in ancient Babylon and Rome centuries before the events recorded in Acts 12. Let me quote a short passage about EASTER from Alexander Hislop's book The Two Babylons. (ISBN 0 7136 0470 0)
"Then look at Easter. What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the QUEEN OF HEAVEN, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, "the priests of the groves" (page 103)
No scholar doubts the fact that Easter is a pagan festival which came down from ancient times, long before the Christian era. The next question is: Did some Israelites keep Easter and worship the QUEEN OF HEAVEN? Did they bake hot cross buns for Ishtar - Easter? The answer, surprisingly, is again - yes! Ancient Israel worshipped the Queen of Heaven - ISHTAR and they honoured her each year with special cakes (buns) and drink offerings. I quote Scripture:
The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
Jeremiah 44: 18
But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. 19: And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men? 20: Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, 21: The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? 22: So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.
Oh yes, many ancient Israelites kept Easter. Modern Israelis still do. In summary we can say that when Herod, after the Passover and during the days of unleavened bread shut up Peter intending to bring him out after Easter, Herod meant exactly what the King James Version is saying. He meant Easter not Passover which had already come and gone. This means that every translation which uses the word Passover in Acts 12:3-4 is, strictly speaking, incorrect. Easter is the correct word, and the King James Version uses it.
The Protestant Reformers
When the early Protestant Reformers of Europe (German, Dutch, French and English etc.) began to translate the Old and New Testaments into their native languages, they first had to decide which Hebrew and Greek Text they were going to use.
For the Old Testament, the King James translators used the traditional Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text. This text was produced under the strict Masoretic rules mentioned earlier. Besides it was the only trustworthy Hebrew Text available. Do not the Scripture teach in:
Romans 3: 1
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2: Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
For the New Testament, the Protestant translators of the King James Bible had a choice between two vastly different Greek texts:
- The Received (Majority) Text favoured by the early churches of Christendom (The Greek, Waldensian, Albegensian, Gauls and Celtic churches).
- Or the Minority Text favoured by the Roman Catholic Church.
Wisely they settled for the Received (Majority) Text. No doubt the Spirit of God was guiding their minds and providentially preserving His Word. It is a grave error to think that the early Protestant Reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries were unaware of the Minority Texts produced in the 4th century. They were well aware of them. They had before them copies of the Majority, Minority and Neutral texts. In addition they had many ancient versions of the Scriptures: the Peshitta, Old Latin Vulgate, Italic, Waldensian, Albegensian, Gaul and Celtic Bibles. They also had before them thousands of scriptural citations of the early Church Fathers, which date back to the 2nd and 3rd century. They were also well aware of the fact that the Roman Church used a Eusebio-Origen type of Bible based on the Minority Text. What did these great men of God do? The answer is: in making their translations they set aside the Minority Text and chose to produce versions of the Bible which were all based on the Majority Text, the text used by the early Christian Church. The following quotation will help fix this fact in the reader's mind.
"Unquestionably, the leaders of the Reformation -German, French, and English - were convinced that the Received Text was the genuine New Testament, not only by its own irresistible history and internal evidence, but also because it matched with the Received Text which in Waldensian form came down from the days of the apostles." (Ref:F6)
The King James Version Translators
When the LORD God of Israel chose the prophets and apostles of old to pen the Scriptures, He made His selection with the utmost care. Faith, holiness, a love for truth and inherent ability were the deciding qualities He looked for. In other words the Most High looks within when selecting His servants. That is how He always judges men.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
The Protestant translators of the King James Version were providentially chosen by God in exactly the same way: firstly for their faith, holiness and love of truth, and secondly for their linguistic abilities. In other words, they were TRUE BELIEVERS. At their centre some 47 pious scholars were involved. In addition many hundreds of Protestant ministers and believing linguists throughout the UK assisted in the great work. I cannot over stress the importance of that fact: that FAITH IN GOD was the first and overriding reason why the Almighty chose the KJV translators for their sacred task. It is totally inconceivable that the Almighty, who initially inspired "faithful, holy men of God" to write the Scriptures in the first place, would then - centuries later - hand over the translating of those selfsame Scriptures to unbelievers and sceptics. So I repeat: the translators of the King James Version were men of FAITH, who believed that the text they were translating was, in fact, the WORD OF GOD!
"Thus started the greatest writing project the world has ever known, and the greatest achievement of the reign of James I - the making of the English Bible which has ever since borne his name." (Ref: L2)
W Scott writes as follows:
"King James named 54 pious and scholarly persons - and who were empowered to communicate with 'all our principal learned men within this our kingdom,' so that the scholarship of the country was consecrated to the noblest work which could engage the heart, the mind, and the pen of men - the production of our admirable English Bible. Seven of the number, through death and other causes, were unable to serve, so that the list was reduced to 47. It may be interesting to know how and to whom the work was distributed. There were six committees chosen, two of which sat at Westminster, two at Cambridge, two at Oxford. The whole were presided over by Bishop Andrews, who, besides possessing an intimate knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, Chaldee, and Syriac, was familiar with 16 other languages. As each set or committee of translators finished the particular part assigned to them, it was then subjected to the criticism of the other five sets in order; so that each part of the Bible came before the whole body of the translators. When the 47 finished their work it was then carefully reviewed by the final committee. Dr Miles Smith, Bishop of Gloucester, wrote the preface." (Ref:A8)
Always bear in mind the spiritual qualifications of these great men of God. They were
- Pious Christians who believed that the text they were handling was the very Word of God!
- They had absolutely no doubt in their minds that the Genesis account of creation was true.
- They never for a moment doubted the miracles of Jesus or that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified for the sins of mankind and that he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.
- They were pious Protestants who saw through the errors of the Roman Catholic Church.
- They were scholars of the highest order. Few - if any - of today's scholars come anywhere near them in their understanding of the original languages; let alone their faith, piety and commitment to truth above tradition.
Here are a few quotes about some of these great men of God from Rev.Gipp's book entitled An Understandable History of the Bible..
- Lancelot Andrews: "As a preacher, Bishop Andrews was right famous in his day. He was called the 'star of preachers…Dr Andrews was also known as a great man of prayer…But we are chiefly concerned to know what were his qualifications as a translator of the Bible. He ever bore the character of a 'right godly man,' and a 'prodigious student.' One competent judge speaks of him as 'that great gulf of learning'! It was also said, that 'the world wanted learning to know how learned this man was.' A brave, old chronicler remarks, that such was his skill in all languages, especially the Oriental, that had he been present at the confusion of tongues at Babel, he might have served as the Interpreter-General! In his funeral sermon by Dr. Buckridge, Bishop of Rochester, it is said that Dr. Andrews was conversant with fifteen languages." (page 186)
- John Overall : He was chosen for his expertise in the writings of the early church fathers. " Dr. Overall was vital to the translation because of his knowledge of quotations of the early church fathers." (page 186-187)
- Robert Tighe: " an excellent textuary and profound linguist." (page 189)
- William Bedwell : " an eminent Oriental scholar. His epitaph mentions that he was 'for the Eastern tongues, as learned a man as most lived in these modern times.'" (page 189)
- Edward Lively: " One of the best linguists in the world…Much dependence was placed on his surpassing skill in Oriental languages." (page 190)
- Lawrence Chaderton: " He made himself familiar with the Latin, Greek and Hebrew tongues and was thoroughly skilled in them…Dr Chaderton was a powerful preacher who lived to the age of one hundred and three. A preaching engagement in his later years was described as follows: 'Having addressed his audience for full two hours by the glass, he paused and said, 'I will no longer trespass on your patience.' And now comes the marvel; for the whole congregation cried out with one consent 'For God's sake, go on!' " (page 191)
- Francis Dillingham : "was so studied in the original languages that he participated in public debates in Greek." (page 191)
- Thomas Harrison : Vice-Master of Trinity College in Cambridge. "On account of his exquisite skill in the Hebrew and Greek idioms, he was one of the chief examiners in the University of those who sought to be professors of these languages." (page 192)
- John Harding : "At the time of his appointment to aid in the translation of the Bible, he had been Royal Professor of Hebrew in the University for thirteen years." (page 192)
- John Reynolds : "Determined to explore the whole field and make himself master of the subject, he devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures in the original languages, and read all the Greek and Latin fathers, and all the ancient records of the Church." (page 193)
- Dr. Henry Saville : "was known for his Greek and mathematical learning. He was so well known for his education, skilled in languages and knowledge of the Word, that he became Greek and mathematical tutor to Queen Elizabeth during the reign of her father, Henry VIII." (page 195)
- Dr. Miles Smith : "the man responsible for the preface of the King James Bible. The preface is no longer printed in present copies of the Book. He had a knowledge of Greek and Latin fathers, as well as being an expert in Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. 'Hebrew he had at his finger's end.' And so was the Ethiopic tongue." (page 195)
"It should be noted that these men were qualified in the readings of the church fathers which prevented them from being 'locked' to the manuscripts, causing earlier readings to be overlooked. This is vastly better than the methods used by modern translators. It should also be recognized that these men did not live in 'ivory towers.' They were men who were just as renowned for their preaching ability as they were for their esteemed education. It is a lesson in humility to see such men of great spiritual stature call themselves 'poor instruments to make God's Holy Truth to be yet more and more known.' " (Ref:B10)
William Grady backs up this evidence:
"The men on the translation committee of the King James Bible were, without dispute, the most learned men of their day and vastly qualified for the job which they undertook. They were overall both academically qualified by their cumulative knowledge and spiritually qualified by their exemplary lives… William John Bois was only five years old, when his father taught him to read Hebrew. By the time he was six, he could not only write the same, but in a fair and elegant character. At age fifteen, he was already a student at St John's College, Cambridge, where he was renowned for corresponding with his superiors in Greek." (Ref:E7)
Why the King James Version Should be Retained.
This is so important an issue that I will again quote from Edward F Hills' book The King James Version Defended pages 218-219
"But, someone may reply, even if the King James Version needs only a few corrections, why take the trouble to make them? Why keep on with the old King James and its 17th century language, its thee and thou and all the rest? Granted the Textus Receptus is the best text but why not make a new translation of it in the language of today? In answer to these objections there are several facts which must be pointed out.
In the first place , the English of the King James Version is not the English of the early 17th century. To be exact, it is not the type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. It is biblical English, which was not used on ordinary occasions even by the translators who produced the King James Version. As H Wheeler Robinson (1940) pointed out, one need only compare the preface written by the translators with the text of the their translation to feel the difference in style. And the observations of W A Irwin (1952) are to the same support. The King James Version, he reminds us, owes its merit, not to 17th century English - which was very different - but to its faithful translation of the original. Its style is that of the Hebrew and of the New Testament Greek. Even in their use of thee and thou the translators were not following 17th century English usage but biblical usage, for at the time these translators were doing their work these singular forms had already been replaced by the plural you in polite conversation.
In the second place , those who talk about translating the Bible into the language of today never define what they mean by their expression. What is the language of today? The language of 1881 is not the language of today, nor the language of 1901, nor even the language of 1921. In none of these languages, we are told, can we communicate with today's youth. There are even some who feel that the best way to translate the Bible into the language of today is to convert it into folk songs. Accordingly, in some contemporary youth conferences and even worship services there is little or no Bible reading but only crude kinds of vocal music accompanied by vigorous piano and strumming guitars. But in contrast to these absurdities the language of the King James Version is enduring diction which will remain as long as the English language remains, in other words, throughout the foreseeable future.
In the third place, the current attack on the King James Version and the promotion of modern-speech versions is discouraging the memorization of the Scriptures, especially by children. Why memorize or require your children to memorize something that is out of date and about to be replaced by something new and better? And why memorize a modern version when there are so many to choose from? Hence even in conservative churches children are growing up densely ignorant of the holy Bible because they are not encouraged to hide its life-giving words in their hearts.
In the fourth place, modern-speech Bibles are unhistorical and irreverent. The Bible is not a modern, human book. It is not as new as the morning newspaper, and no translation should suggest this. If the Bible were this new, it would not be the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible is an ancient, divine Book, which nevertheless is always new because in it God reveals Himself. Hence the language of the Bible should be venerable as well as intelligible, and the King James Version fulfils these two requirements better than any other Bible in English. Hence it is the King James Version which converts sinners soundly and makes of them diligent Bible students.
In the fifth place, modern-speech Bibles are unscholarly. The language of the Bible has always savoured of the things of heaven rather than the things of earth. It has always been biblical rather than contemporary and colloquial. Fifty years ago this fact was denied by E J Goodspeed and others who were publishing their modern versions. On the basis of the papyrus discoveries which had recently been made in Egypt it was said that the New Testament authors wrote in the everyday Greek of their own times. This claim, however, is now acknowledged to have been an exaggeration. As R M Grant (1963) admits, the New Testament writers were saturated with the Septuagint and most of them were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. Hence their language was not actually that of the secular papyri of Egypt but biblical. Hence New Testament versions must be biblical and not contemporary and colloquial like Goodspeed's version.
Finally in the sixth place , the King James Version is the historic Bible of English-speaking Protestants. Upon it God, working providentially, has placed the stamp of His approval through the usage of many generations of Bible-believing Christians. Hence, if we believe in God's providential preservation of the Scriptures, we will retain the King James Version, for in doing so we will be following the clear leading of the Almighty." (Ref: G3)
11. MODERN VERSIONS & TRANSLATORS
Most, if not all, modern translations are based on the Revised Version (1881-5) which, as we have already learned, was influenced throughout by the Alexandrian manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. In effect there really are only Two English language Bibles to choose from.
- The King James Version: which is based on the Masoretic Hebrew Text and the Majority Greek Text.
- The Revised Version: which is based on the Minority Text. This version has spawned a whole generation of inaccurate translations: which, like their unholy mother the RV, all rely heavily on the Minority Text.
I list a few of the 100+ modern Bibles which followed in the trail of the Revised Version of 1881-5:
- The American Standard Version (1901)
- The Moffatt Bible (1935)
- The Revised Standard Version (1952)
- The Amplified Bible (1958-64)
- The Jerusalem Bible (1966)
- The New International Version (1966)
- The New English Bible (1970)
- The New American Bible (1970)
- J B Phillips' New Testament (1972)
- New American Standard Version (1971)
- Good News Bible (1976 and 1994)
- The New International Version (1978)
- New Jerusalem Bible (1985)
- The New King James Version (1984)
As Samuel Gipp so succinctly puts it:
"All modern translations, such as the New American Standard Version, are linked to the Revised Version of 1952, which is a revision of the American Standard Version, an American creation growing from the English Revised Version of 1881." (Ref: B11)
The Revised Version Committee
It is true that many of the Revised Version's (RV) committee members were godly scholars: but they cannot be compared with the King James Version's committee when it comes to extreme reverence for the Word of God. W Scott, writing over 100 years ago, makes this enlightening comment concerning the RV committee.
"The movement for a revision of the authorized version of the Holy Scriptures commenced on May 6,1870, in the Convocation of Canterbury. An influential committee was at once formed, consisting mainly of distinguished scholars and divines within the pale of the Established Church, but with power to consult or add to their number eminent Biblical scholars of all denominations. Many of its members were truly eminent for godliness and of distinguished ability, but it may be gravely questioned whether the constitution of the Committee as a whole may be compared with that nominated by King James, for piety and extreme reverence for the Word of God." (Ref: A9)
Sad to say the revision committee when faced with a choice between Textus Receptus and the corrupt Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, usually chose the Egyptian manuscripts. To be sure the Egyptian codices, written on vellum, were in far better physical condition than the papyrus or parchment MSS. But beauty, as pointed out earlier, is no indication of character. In Part Two we will examine some 80+ texts which have been seriously corrupted by these Egyptian codices. Two of the revision committee's most prominent translators were:
- Brooke Foss Westcott
- Fenton John Anthony Hort
Brooke Foss Westcott
Westcott was a Cambridge scholar who played a leading role in the production of the Revised Version. A very brief look at this man's spiritual standing is sufficient to tell us that the Almighty would never have used him in the preservation of His Word. Before anyone blindly accepts Westcott's decisions, he/she should consider what this man believed. The following statements by Westcott, (from the book Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott) are quoted in William Grady's book Final Authority:
- "I never read of the account of a miracle but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability, and discover some want of evidence in the account of it." (page 216)
- "Oh the weakness of my faith compared with that of others! So wild, so sceptical am I. I cannot yield." (page 217)
- "O Marie , (his wife's name) as I wrote the last word, I could not help asking what am I? Can I claim to be a believer?" (page 217)
- "It seems as if I am inclined to learn nothing; I must find out all myself, and then I am satisfied, but that simple faith and obedience which so many enjoy, I fear will never be mine." (page 217)
- "What a wild storm of unbelief seems to have seized my whole system." (page 217)
- "If you make a decided conviction of the absolute infallibility of the N.T. practically a sine qua non for co-operation, I fear I could not join you, even if you were willing to forget your fears about the origin of the Gospels." (page 230)
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