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Chapter 29

The Revised Version


In the second half of the nineteenth century, strident moves afoot in England aimed at a revision of the King James Version of Scripture. Since the resultant Revised Version became the model for virtually all the modern translations, it is worthy of our investigation.

While the King James Version was translated in an atmosphere of deep dedication to God and to His truth, and abhorrence of the apostasy promoted by the Roman Catholic Church, the motivation of the translators of the Revised Version was altogether different. In their unwearied efforts to restore the primacy of the papal faith in Britain through its educational institutions, the Jesuits did not overlook the institution which epitomized English educational excellence—the University of Oxford. Indeed Dr. Desanctis asserted that there were

a greater number of Jesuits [in Britain] than in Italy. Desanctis, Popery and Jesuitism in Rome, 128, quoted in Walsh, Secret History of the Oxford Movement, 33

Since Dr. Desanctis had held the position of professor of Theology in Rome and official Theological Censor of the Inquisition and was himself a member of the Jesuit order before converting to Protestantism, we can give credence to his report. Indeed the same author claimed:

There are Jesuits in all classes of society: in Parliament, among the English clergy, among the Protestant laity, even in the higher stations. Ibid.

So successful were these Jesuit infiltrators that in the middle of the nineteenth century, the entire ecclesiastical history of Britain was revised. In his insightful work, the historian J.A. Froude related his own experiences during this period at the University of Oxford:

In my first term at the University, the controversial fires were beginning to blaze. . . . I had learnt, like other Protestant children, that the Pope was Antichrist, and that Gregory VII had been a special revelation of that being. I was now taught that Gregory VII was a saint. I had been told to honour the Reformers. The Reformation became a great schism, Cranmer a traitor, and Latimer a vulgar ranter. Milton was a name of horror. J.A.Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, 161, 167, quoted in B.G. Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, 123

Since Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, and Hugh Latimer were martyred for their opposition to the Roman Catholic faith and Milton was one of the great Protestant poets, this alteration in historical perception by the University of Oxford was a matter of no minor importance. In terms of belief this change meant that while in 1833 Anglicans in Britain believed that the Reformation was the work of God, that the pope was antichrist, and that the celebration of the Mass was satanic, a mere half-century later most Anglicans saw the Reformation as rebellion and the pope as the true successor of the apostles, while many participated in the services of the Mass.

Precisely one hundred years before our birth, the Oxford movement commenced. J.H. Newman was the leading founder of this movement. Newman had entered the University of Oxford as an Evangelical Christian but already the Jesuit influence was so strong that his professors, particularly Hawkins, the provost of Oriel College in Oxford, were teaching that the Bible must be interpreted in the light of tradition. Newman graduated from Oxford University with his Bachelor of Arts degree, and in 1823 was elected a fellow of Oriel College. As a fellow of Oriel College, Newman fell under the influence of numerous persons purporting to belong to the Church of England, but possessing a strong anti-Protestant and anti-Evangelical bias.

In 1833 Newman made a tour of Europe, making Rome his principal destination. While there, he sent a message to the pope requesting details of the terms upon which the Church of England could be accepted by the Church of Rome. The answer he received was that the Church of England must accept the findings of the Council of Trent. That Council, which had been called to counter the spread of Protestantism, had uplifted tradition and had devised plans to destroy the influence of the Protestant Reformation. It was while travelling back by boat from Rome that Newman wrote the words:

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,

Lead thou me on!

The night is dark and I am far from home;

Lead thou me on!

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene;

One step’s enough for me.

When one understands the circumstances in which Newman, who later professed the Catholic faith, and was promoted to the rank of cardinal without ever so much as being consecrated a bishop, much less an archbishop, it does reduce one’s appreciation of this hymn.

Upon his return, Newman commenced the Oxford movement. This movement was not consciously organized in 1833. But Newman wrote a series of tracts, as did others, and shortly the Association of Friends of the Church was formed. This secretive society formed the powerful impetus for the Oxford movement. Newman’s thinking was well expressed in 1841 when he wrote:

Only through the English church can you act upon the English nation. I wish, of course, our Church should be consolidated, with and through and in your communion, for its sake, and your sake, and for the sake of unity. Newman, Apologia, 225, quoted in ibid., 129

Since this letter was addressed to a Roman Catholic, its intent cannot be mistaken. So perverted had become the thinking of these treacherous members of the Church of England that they described Protestantism as antichrist. One of Newman’s associates in the Oxford movement, F.W. Faber, wrote:

Protestantism is perishing: what is good in it is by God’s mercy being gathered into the garners of Rome. . . . My whole life, God willing, shall be one crusade against the detestable and diabolical heresy of Protestantism. G.E. Bowden, Life of S.W. Faber, 192, quoted in ibid.

Newman gave the date July 14, 1833, as the date of the beginning of the Oxford movement. Perhaps it is of no significance, but that date was the forty-fourth anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in Paris, the event which activated the French Revolution. The Oxford movement commenced a revolution of another order, one no more honorable.

Faber made a visit to Rome in 1843. There he visited the church of St. John Lateran on the Thursday before Easter. His report indicates just how consumed he was by Catholicism, despite still claiming membership in the Church of England.

I got close to the altar, inside the Swiss Guards, and when Pope Gregory descended from his throne, and knelt at the foot of the altar, and we all knelt with him, it was a scene more touching than I had ever seen before. . . . That old man in white, prostrate before the uplifted Body of the Lord, and the dead, dead silence—Oh, what a sight it was! . . . On leaving St. John’s by the great western door, the immense piazza [square] was full of people; . . . and in spite of the noonday sun, I bared my head and knelt with the people, and received with joy the Holy Father’s blessing until he fell back on his throne and was borne away. Bowden, Life of S.W. Faber, 193, quoted in ibid., 131

In October 1850, a very significant event occurred in England. For the first time since the Reformation, a Roman Catholic hierarchy was created with Cardinal Wiseman appointed as the primate of England and archbishop of Westminster. In addition twelve other bishoprics were established. There was still sufficient Protestant sentiment in England for an explosion of wrath which shook the cities of England. The cry went out from villages, towns, and cities, "No popery!" In the city of Salisbury, in the county of Wiltshire, where the famous Salisbury Cathedral is situated, effigies of the pope, Cardinal Wiseman, and the twelve bishops were burnt in protest.

However, despite all this evidence of anti-Catholic sentiment, the continued training of Anglican (Church of England) priests in Anglo-Catholicism had its undoubted effects. Dramatic alterations in the Anglican faith ensued. It is upon this matter that all Protestants need be warned, for one hundred years later, precisely the same method is being used to weaken the faith of all Christians. As young pastors are trained today in a large number of colleges and seminaries they are learning doctrines more akin to the beliefs of Catholicism than of Protestantism, resulting in a rapid decline in faith and principle within Protestantism.

It was in 1870, in this Anglo-Catholic atmosphere dominated by clergymen influenced by the Oxford movement and with a desire for unity with Rome, that the southern communion of the Church of England decided to revise the King James Version of Scripture. It is vital for those who have been seduced into using the new translations of Scripture as their basic Bibles to understand the fundamental texts upon which those Scriptures have been prepared, and the purpose for which they have been designed. It was in these circumstances that two theological professors, purporting to be members of the Church of England, dominated the revision commenced in 1870. These men were Doctors Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort. Westcott later became bishop of Durham, the fourth ranking bishop of the Anglican Church in England. That these men were fully influenced by the Oxford movement and were more Catholic than Anglican in their outlook can easily be demonstrated from their writings. At the time of his graduation with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1847, Westcott had feared that he would have to sign belief in the 39 articles of faith of the Anglican Church, for he no longer assented to them. Both men were great believers in Mary worship. As we have previously noted, Professor Hort on one occasion wrote,

I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and ‘Jesus’-worship have very much in common in their causes and their result. Life of Hort, vol. II, 49, quoted in ibid., 152

This letter interestingly was addressed to Westcott. Westcott on another occasion, as we have seen, told how he knelt for a considerable period of time in front of a statue of Mary.

After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighboring hill. . . . Fortunately, we found the door open. It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a "Pieta" the size of life [that is, a life-size statue of Mary and the dead Christ]. . . . Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours. Letter written by Westcott to his fiancée in 1847, recorded in Life of Westcott, vol. 1, 81, quoted in ibid.

Thus Doctors Westcott and Hort were both prepared and motivated to influence the translation committee toward the utilization of the corrupted Western manuscripts of the New Testament promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and the Jesuits in their effort to destabilize Protestantism.

Previous to the commencement of the revision, Westcott and Hort colluded to produce alterations consistent with Roman Catholic desires. Writing on May 28, 1870, to Hort, Westcott stated:

Your note came with one from Ellicott this morning. . . . Though I think that Convocation [the Southern Convocation of the Church of England] is not competent to initiate such a measure [the revision of the Bible], yet I feel that as "we three" are together it would be wrong not to "make the best of it" as Lightfoot says. . . . there is some hope that alternative readings might find a place in the margin. Life of Westcott, vol. 1, 390, quoted in ibid., 159

It will be seen that Westcott’s ambitions were less than the complete revision of Scripture at this point. Nevertheless he was to find, along with Hort, the opportunity for a total capitulation to the Roman Catholic manuscripts as the translation progressed.

On July 1, 1870, Westcott wrote to Hort again stating:

The Revision on the whole surprised me by prospects of hope. I suggested to Ellicott a plan of tabulating and circulating emendations before our meeting which may in the end prove valuable. Life of Westcott, vol. 1, 391, quoted in ibid.

Perhaps Dr. Hort’s letter to one of his friends, Dr. Rowland Williams, exposed the greatest testimony to the cunning design of these translators:

The errors and prejudices, which we agree in wishing to remove, can surely be more wholesomely and also more effectually reached by individual efforts of an indirect kind than by combined open assault. At present very many orthodox but rational men are being unawares acted on by influences which will assuredly bear good fruit in due time, if the process is allowed to go on quietly; and I cannot help fearing that a premature crisis would frighten back many into the merest traditionalism. Life of Hort, vol. 1, 400, quoted in ibid., 160

Thus it can be seen that Hort was determined to achieve, through subtlety and artifice, that which he could not openly achieve.

The announcement that there would be a new translation of Scripture undertaken was met with much skepticism from devout English Christians. Archbishop Trench, the archbishop of Canterbury, recognized this fact. While the committee of translators was authorized only to alter proven errors and archaic terms in the King James Version, nevertheless they completely overstepped the mandate and substituted the corrupted Western Greek manuscripts for the pure manuscripts of the Eastern stream. Even the chairman of the New Testament Revision Committee, an ardent advocate of the revision, Bishop Ellicott, was constrained to admit:

Even critical editors of the stamp of Tischendorf have apparently not acquired even a rudimentary knowledge of several of the leading versions which they conspicuously quote. Nay, more, in many instances they have positively misrepresented the very readings which they have followed, and have allowed themselves to be misled by Latin translations which, as my note will testify, are often sadly, and even perversely, incorrect. Dr. Bissell, Origin of the Bible, 357, quoted in ibid., 163

This relative ignorance of the manuscripts must be contrasted with the fundamental knowledge of the translators of the King James Version, who translated that version at a time when Greek and Hebrew scholarship was at its zenith.

Most Protestants who are now influenced to use new versions of Scripture need to stop and understand the whole basis upon which these translations have been prepared. If we wish to follow translations favorable to Catholic doctrine, then we may continue to study from the New International Version, the Revised Standard Version, the Jerusalem Bible, the New English Version, Today’s English Version, the American Standard version, and other equally faulted modern translations. Now is not a time to listen to our college professors on this matter. Almost without exception, even the most conservative are using versions such as the Revised Standard Version, unaware that in doing so they are uplifting the Bible so precious to the Roman Catholics. Such are preparing themselves and the lay people in the pews for the day, soon to come, when Catholicism will persecute those who refuse its evil dictates. We appeal to our church leaders to study this matter aright; to give the lead in upholding the wonderful Scriptures as prepared by the translators of the King James Version. Now is not the time to weaken our people’s faith in any way, and we, as ministers of the gospel, must warn of the enormous dangers to faith and practice inherent in the common use of these faulted versions.

It seems that many do not know that the translations undertaken at the time of the Reformation were performed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Such cannot be stated of the Revised Version, where men who were deliberately destroying the Protestant faith were the chief spokesmen for the translators.


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