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Written by Philip Dean
“The Bible version issue must be faced BECAUSE IT IS FOUNDATIONAL… The Bible version issue must be faced BECAUSE, GENERALLY SPEAKING, ONLY ONE SIDE OF THIS DEBATE IS GIVEN TODAY.” (David Cloud, Way of Life Encyclopedia, pg. 66)
This article is going to be a little long, but I encourage you to read it, to study this issue, because I will tell you it is the most important doctrinal issue facing Christianity today. Why? If you do not have the right understanding of the Bible, the core element of the Christian life, how will you determine your doctrine? How will you live, not knowing what to believe?
We’ve all seen the standard line in Bible teacher’s statements of faith… “We believe the Bible to be inerrant, and inspired in the original manuscripts.”
The great thing about that statement, is that you can claim Genesis is a myth, that Christ never rose from the dead and was just a good man, and STILL put that in your statement of faith, and be telling the truth.
Where are the original manuscripts?
Gone. Faded away.
So you can claim they say whatever you like. Who’s going to prove you wrong?
The issue has to do with textual criticism. Textual criticism is a series of statements invented by Wescott and Hort to defend their work against any complaints from Bible Believing Christians.
So, what exactly is Modern Textual Criticism?
“the struggle to REGAIN the original form of the New Testament” (Constantine Tischendorf, quoted in Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 126)
Regain. The implication is that the text was lost.
Let me briefly explain the history of the Greek Text, and someone let me know where it was lost, please?
The original text of the New Testament was written as letters which were circulated to all the churches. It would be copied carefully, and then the original letter sent on. To put it simply and bluntly, THERE WAS NO ORIGINAL TEXT of the Bible, where you opened it up and it was all 29 books of the New Testament.
The VERY FIRST TEXT would have been when the first church finally got Revelation in 95 AD and added its text to their collection. We finally would have had the completed New Testament text. Hold that thought, because every step of the way requires a miracle to think that God would preserve His Bible – which indeed happened.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18 (KJV)
Here’s my first point – If you believe in Modern Textual Criticism, you do not believe the Bible literally, as Jesus Christ states in Matthew 5:18 that the text of the Bible will NEVER pass away while Heaven and Earth exist.
Second point…. If you don’t believe Matthew 5:18, what ELSE do you not believe?
This issue of accepting Modern Textual Criticism is a major issue, as it almost literally can be used as a yardstick to identify who is a false teacher and who is not…
ALL of the original First Century churches would have compiled copies of the New Testament. The Christian churches began facing fierce opposition, before the New Testament was even completed, under Domitian and Nero. It is recorded in the Talmud the fierceness with which Rome dealt with Holy Books not of Roman origin. Rabbi Akiva was tied to a stake, doused in oil, then wrapped in a Torah Scroll – then set afire. Akiva cried out as he burnt alive that he could see the glowing red letters of the word of God floating up to heaven before him. The scene so moved the Centurion who set Akiva afire that the Centurion jumped onto the pile of burning wood and wrapped his arms around Akiva, where the two of them burned to death together. The Centurion also shouted out he could see the letters burning and rising into heaven before them.
The New Testament churches copied all the words of the Bible and circulated them, so that every family could own one. Churches began to scatter as affliction and persecution rose. Romans found Bibles nad burned them. They found Lectionaries (portions of Scripture copied for responsive readings) and destroyed them.
The state church was instituted by Constantine finally, becoming the roman Catholic church… who added to the persecution, burning all Bibles they found. You have to ask a LOT of questions about why would the Roman Catholic church burn all the bibles they find? Facts are, they did burn them.
Finally, as periods of persecution began to finally die away, men began to collect all the handwritten Bibles, in many different languages, and compared them.
Despite some minor spelling mistakes, 99.99% of them all agreed word for word, letter for letter.
That’s a MIRACLE. If I assigned 30 students to copy a chapter from a book, there’s going to be massive contradictions, missed words, spelling errors, dropped lines where the eye finds the same word in two separate lines, but misses most of one line and begins copying the next line starting from the repeated word. This actually happened very rarely among all the texts.
There’s a man named Will Kinney who has researched this issue in some detail. He’s not the first person to do it – it was done by Scrivener, by Stephanus, by Beza, and even by Dean John Burgon. Will Kinney can literally tell you in many cases, “you can find that in the Chester Beatty Papyrii, in Manuscript number….” If you’re really interested in this issue, contact Mr. Kinney.
Scrivener, Beza, the Elzivier brothers and Stephanus all did this work, comparing the New Testament manuscripts in many different languages. Stephanus spent so much time studying it, that in his writings he began to decry and object to everything his church taught – because he was a Roman Catholic priest, and he began to realize that there were huge inconsistencies between what the Catholic church taught and what the Bible said.
The work of these men compiled the Stephanus’s 4th Edition Greek Manuscript. Beza and the Elzivier brothers compiled their own. Miraculously, they were all almost the same word for word.
This work has become called the Received Text, or Textus Receptus in Latin. It represents the Bible as miraculously preserved by God through over 1600 years. This family of manuscripts, as well as Bibles by the Waldensians, the Catharists, the Donatists, and other ancient Baptists was used to translated all of the early Bibles into English.
The history of the Bible passing to us is a miracle story. It is beyond belief. It proves the divine hand of God in preserving His word, just as written in the Psalms, just as Jesus Christ promised!
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Revelation 20:11-12 (KJV)
Here’s an important point, point number three…. For there to be a judgment, there must be a preserved, inspired word of God somewhere. Where? In Heaven? There could not be a judgment day, if the word of God cannot be found on Earth. We could protest to God that we had no idea, we had no Pure and Inspired, Preserved word of God on earth by which to judge how to be saved, how to live holy lives, what to believe about whether Christ was God or if the Trinity was Biblical!
6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. Psalm 12:6-7 (KJV)
If you believe in Modern Textual Criticism, you cannot believe that the word of God is Inspired, you cannot believe it is Preserved… and you must forever be a little suspicious about “Should this word be in this verse? Should this verse be in the Bible?” You forever become YOUR OWN AUTHORITY over what you believe the word of God is.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19 (KJV)
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (KJV)
Last, if you PARTICIPATE in Modern Textual Criticism, you cannot possibly be saved, and the Bible even says that. Your conscience becomes so seared that you will not respond to the Gospel of Christ, and turn to be saved.
Okay, now let’s turn to the “official history” of the Bible as given by Modern Textual critics.
The word of God supposedly was corrupted and edited by Pious Scribes, who added the same words to the same verses all over the world in manuscripts separated on three continents. These Pious Scribes were somehow very busy, as they supposedly did this in the 4th century, and found time to even go back to manuscripts much older than this, and miraculously add words to lectionaries, codexes, miniscules, majescules, papyrii and scrolls. And somehow left no real sign of adding the words.
If this sounds completely stupid, impossible, and illogical, then you’re right. Print this page out, and add several words to 15 sentences randomly. And make sure you can fit the words in in such a way it doesn’t look like you did it. Oh, and your handwriting has to match the print.
Impossible? Well, you just disproved the first and foremost theory of Textual Criticism, that some pious Scribe added words to all the Greek texts. How many texts would he have to add them to?
Only about 5,280 or so, dating back to the first four centuries. I’m not even counting the ones from after AD 500, just those from the time of the mythical “pious Scribe”.
The theory says he added the words to one text, which served as the master text from which the others were copied. But… the texts that are part of this family are actually found on three different continents. And many date from before the time of the “pious scribe”. So, again, to do this he’d have to travel, and add the words to all the manuscripts.
The utter impossibility of this cannot be emphasized.
There HAS to be a willing desire to corrupt God’s word to want to engage in Textual Criticism.
There’s a recording of a man speaking at a church in the 80’s, who’d been a teacher at Tennessee Temple University. He was called on the carpet for being King James Only (and for teaching Peter Ruckman – this part I won’t excuse, as Ruckman is most definitely a heretic). The teacher asked the chairman of Tennessee Temple, “What gives man the right to edit the word of God?”
The answer was, “Scholarship.”
The teacher asked exactly the same question I would have at that point. “So, you’re telling me, if I took every class possible at Tennessee Temple and became a scholar, I, a sinful man, would have the RIGHT to choose what words belong in the Bible, the word of God?”
The chairman answered, “Yes.”
Brothers and sisters, I at this point have to cry foul. I’ve proved the miraculous nature of the preservation of God’s word. I’ve proved the inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy demands preservation, as the Bible calls for it. If you believe in an inerrant Bible, you must believe in a preserved Bible.
Here’s the kicker – if you do not believe in preservation, you do not believe in inerrancy. The two go hand in hand. If you do not believe the Bible was preserved, then you do not believe it is inerrant and inspired.
If you do not believe in an inerrant, inspired, preserved word of God, I’m a little worried about your Christian walk.
So, now, let’s analyze the men who engaged in the first textual criticism. Wescott and Hort were men who, judging by their own words, their own writings, did not believe in the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible. And they were hostile to the received text, the Textus Receptus. Why? It contradicted their favorite teacher, who was a humanist, a modernist. The Textus Receptus advocated that Jesus Christ is God, that there is a Hell for any who reject Christ. It speaks of fasting and prayer. It tells us Jesus Christ was without sin, the perfect sinless lamb of God. That He’s coming again.
This was offensive to Wescott and Hort. It was offensive to Tischendorf, who was given sponsorship to travel the middle east looking for a text, ANY text they could use to replace the Textus Receptus. Why? Because all the modernists were opposed to it.
A week before the sponsorship ran out, Tischendorf found himself at the Monastary of St. Catherine, surrounded by Pious Scribes. he found a manuscript in a trash pile, and dubbed it Codex Sinaiticus. The Manuscript looked unused, and in excellent condition. So good, it looked like it had been written just a few years before.
Tischendorf returned, told his sponsors, who gave him the money to go back and buy it. He bought it and brought it back to Egypt. The Monks had been a little amused he wanted to pay so much money for a useless codex.
Tischendorf announced his “Discovery”, to great publicity and fanfare.
Until a suspected manuscript dealer announced to the press there was a problem. the dealer explained he was a forger, he’d been forging manuscripts for years. And he explained that he’d created Sinaiticus at the beginning of his career, and dismissed it as “Clumsy”.
Tisachendorf waited for the furor to die down… then began touting his discovery again as if nothing ever happened. Nobody ever investigated the claims of Constantinus Simonides, the forger who claimed to have written Sinaiticus.
Sinaiticus was handed over to Wescott and Hort, who busied themselves with trying to translate it. The problem was, it showed many editings, sometimes as many as ten men editing it. And it was incomplete, missing words, verses, chapters, even books of the Bible.
It also was written in the wrong form of Greek, Attic Greek, which dates to the Maccabean period, not to the time of the New Testament, and certainly not afterwards.
Wescott and Hort additionally had an emotional attachment to the copy of Codex Vaticanus they had. Not the original ,but a copy. Both Wescott and Hort wrote that they instinctively felt that Vaticanus was the most accurate manuscript.
Based on a hunch. they decided that if there was a conflict between the two manuscripts, they would side with Vaticanus – a manuscript which also showed many signs of editing! Including a handwritten note saying, “thou fool! Remove not the old reading!”
Now Wescott and Hort had the unenviable task of trying to get readings from the two manuscripts that agreed. Aleph (Sinaiticus) and V (vaticanus, sometimes called B) both disagreed with each other in tens of thousands of spots. Dean John Burgon sarcastically wrote it was easier to find where they disagreed to find where they agreed!
So WEscott and Hort wrote down their new Greek text, mostly relying on Vaitcanus, as Sinaiticus was such a sorry mess. The text was completed in 1886.
Whenever you see a footnote in your modern Bible that says anything about the “oldest and best mss”, they are referring to that manuscript compiled by Wescott and Hort in 1886. This man-made manuscript, based on the guesses of two unsaved modernist men who questioned the Bible, did not believe in the deity of Christ, and scoffed at miracles, is considered to be older than the second century mss. belonging to the Textus Receptus.
It is neither “oldest” or “best” manuscripts – it is a heretical piece of blasphemy, removing any verse that offended Unitarians. No blood, no fasting, no deity of Christ, no sinless nature, no pre-existence, no vicarious atonement except in the most rudimentary form….
…and Christians swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Why, these men are SCHOLARS!
Here’s a list of some (not all) of these “scholars”:
UNITARIANS: ohann Wettstein, Edward Harwood, George Vance Smith, Ezra Abbot, Joseph Thayer, and Caspar Gregory;
RATIONALISTS: Johann Semler, Johann Griesbach, Bernhard Weiss, William Sanday, William Robertson Smith, Samuel Driver, Eberhard Nestle, James Rendel Harris, Hermann von Soden, Frederick Conybeare, Fredric Kenyon, Francis Burkitt, Henry Wheeler Robinson, Kirsopp Lake, Gerhard Kittel, Edgar Goodspeed, James Moffatt, Kenneth Clark, Ernest Colwell, Gunther Zuntz, J.B. Phillips, William Barclay, Theodore Skeat, George Kilpatrick, F.F. Bruce, George Ladd, J.K. Elliott, Eldon Epp, Brevard Childs, Bart Ehrman, C.H. Dodd, Barclay Newman, Arthur Voobus, Eugene Nida, Jan de Waard, Kurt Aland, Barbara Aland, Matthew Black, Allen Wikgren, Bruce Metzger, and Johannes Karavidopoulos;
ROMAN CATHOLICS: Richard Simon, Alexander Geddes, Alberto Ablondi, Johann Hug, and Carlo Martini.
“When the constitution of the British and Foreign Bible Society was first formulated, it was understandably not foreseen that the question of Unitarianism would have much relevance to the society’s work. Before long, however, UNITARIANS GAINED SUBSTANTIAL INFLUENCE UPON THE AFFAIRS OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY, PARTICULARLY IN EUROPE, WHERE SOME AUXILIARY SOCIETIES WERE RUN ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY BY PERSONS OF UNITARIAN BELIEFS” (Brown, The Word of God Among All Nations, p. 12).
The standard line from modernists is that “no doctrine is affected, and the total changes add to less than one page of the Bible.”
the differences affect seven percent of the New Testament. “The fact of the matter is that the Critical Text of Westcott-Hort differs from the TR, mostly by deletions, in 9,970 words out of 140,521, giving a total of 7% difference. In the 480-page edition of the Trinitarian Bible Society Textus Receptus this would amount to almost 34 pages, the equivalent of the final two books of the New Testament, Jude and Revelation” (Thomas Strouse, Review of “From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man,” November 2000).
If you believe that it doesn’t matter what Bible you read… stay tuned. I’m going to discuss this at length soon.
SOURCE: Narrow is The Way Ministries – Re-published with permission
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