Battle of the Bibles
It is interesting to note that of late there seems to be an imputation of inferiority upon the KJV version of the Bible. The truth is that this rejection of the KJVs standing as the "authoritative" English Bible translation is not new at all but originated at the same time that the KJV was translated by those who despised what the KJV represented.
In fact this dislike of the KJV predates even the KJV itself and arose from the disfavor shown to the text from which it originates even though this text composes the vast majority (89%) of all ancient texts in existence and has been in use as the most correct text since the third or fourth century at the latest.
Those who oppose the status of the KJV and the text it originates from commonly known as the majority text or the received text, argue that there is in existence a (very) few superior texts which should be accorded greater credence for a few reasons. Namely because the actual parchments are older. When analyzed however this ceases to be a compelling argument in their favor.
In order to arrive at an informed understanding of the real issues behind the discussion of Bible manuscripts and not be caught up in empty assertions lets look at the testimony of history on this topic.
Lucian lived from 250 - 312 and was born in Syria. He was the editor of the Received Text (also known as the traditional text, or, Textus Receptus). This is (essentially) the text on which the King James Bible is based. Lucian didn't create this text, he just selected the good versions of the Scriptures from those that were in circulation. At that time there were many variations of the Bible. There were at least eighty heretical sects. Each did not hesitate to remove or add pages to the Bible. Thus it required care to select among the many versions.
Lucian and his school gathered and edited a complete Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Well-known writers including Jerome, Erasmus, Luther, John Burgon, and Fenton J.A. Hort agree that Lucian was the editor of the Received text. Of course, this implies that this text was in existence from the early fourth century or earlier.
Another evidence of the early date of the Received Text is the Peshitto. It is generally agreed that the Bible was translated into Syrian about 150 A.D. This version is known as the Peshitto. This Bible even today generally follows the Received text.
One authority writes that:
About the time when the Emperor Constantine "converted" to Christianity around 330 AD as a political tool for establishing his reign, paganism began to enter the church in the form of Sun worship and other such manifestations. Proof of this fact can be found in one of Constantine's decrees in 321 A.D.:
Dr. A. Chr.. Bang says regarding this Law :
This period was ripe for Gnostics such as Origen and Eusebius who flourished during this era. These men set out to write a Bible that was more in line with their own philosophical understanding of things. Until this time there had only been one Bible version.
Origen's view of Scripture was "The Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written" McClintock and Strong, Origen. Historians know that Origen was infatuated with Greek philosophy and Plato.
From this point in time the history of Bible manuscripts takes two separate paths. One path that of the Textus Receptus and the other path of the few variant manuscripts.
That these variant manuscripts are very few in number is an unquestionable fact. In fact there are only two principal manuscripts in this class, the Siniaticus and the Vaticanus otherwise referred to as Codex Aleph and Codex B.
Sidney Collett in his "The Scripture of Truth" when writing about the Siniatic manuscript that was found by Dr. Tischendorf stated :
There is a host of authorities which share the conviction regarding the origin of these two MSS. Eusebius was a disciple of Origen and these texts were largely the result of Origen's work. It is from the version of Eusebius that Jerome produced the Vulgate.
Abbo Martin, a well known Catholic textual critic claims that the Vaticanus and the Siniaticus were "fabricated" by Origen and others. (see Schaff, Companion to the Greek Text)
In fact these two manuscripts where largely unknown for over one thousand years until they were discovered. The Siniaticus was found on a trash heap outside a monastery in Sinai, and the Vaticanus, in the Vatican. That the Vulgate originates directly from the Vaticanus should be of no surprise.
At any rate Bibles were suppressed during the dark ages that ensued and it was not until the reformation that the Bible came back into public attention. For example, in 1490, Torquemada caused many Hebrew Bibles and more than six thousand volumes to be burnt in an Auto da fé at Salamanca. In view of this, it is a marvel that so many copies of the Received Text have survived to the present day.
Erasmus the most illustrious scholar of his age set out the compile the definitive Bible manuscript, in the original language (Greek) rejecting the corrupt manuscripts which were about. In essence what Erasmus collated was the Textus Receptus. He's job was not one of creating the Textus Receptus but of clearing away the filth that had accumulated through the dark ages and making the text publicly accessible to all scholars.
Many people today wish to prove that the Textus Receptus is merely a recent invention. The falsehood of this assertion is easy to demonstrate by noting that many church fathers when quoting from Scripture quote from the Textus Receptus. For example when quoting Rev 22:14 the church fathers, Tertullian (AD200) Cyprian (248-258) and Tertonius (390) quote "do His commandments" and not "wash their robes" as in found in the variant texts. The first time "wash their robes" is quoted is by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (326-373) so the Textus Receptus reading predates even the earliest manuscripts in existence.
John William Burgon, author of The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels and Causes of Corruption in the Traditional Text who did an extensive study of the quotations of the church fathers says:
In other traditions, for example in the Greek Church, the traditional text (Textus Receptus) held sway from about 312-1453 AD. In the eastern texts (Syriac) in Aramaic, which is the language in which most of the NT was spoken, generally confers with the Textus Receptus as also does the Coptic version.
Others say that if Erasmus had been aware of the variant readings now
flaunted as more accurate he would have used them in preference to the Textus
Receptus. That Erasmus was aware of the variant readings of the Vaticanus (codex
B) we read:
"A correspondent of Erasmus in 1533 sent that scholar a number of selected readings from it (Codex B) as proof of its superiority over the Received Greek Text" Sir Fredrick Kenyon, "Our Bible" p133.
This correspondent was none other than Professor Paulus Bombasius at Rome. [S.P. Tregelles, On the printed Text of the Greek test., p.22]
One can not claim that these "older and more reliable" texts were unknown to either Erasmus or the KJV translators, they knew them, and rejected them.
What matters anyway? The vast majority of the manuscripts in Greek are practically all the Received Text. The Textus Receptus did not originate with Erasmus all he practically did was publish it and make it accessible. The Textus Receptus which Erasmus published was not the fruit of his own hands, it was the dominant and principle text at the time and had been since at least 350AD. It is from the Textus Receptus that the KJV originates from.
As for the nature of the available manuscripts, the following is taken from Which Bible? edited by David Otis Fuller, D.D., 1970.
I would like to add that the manuscripts that do not agree with the traditional text are not only a small minority, about 11 percent of the total, but they also have significant differences with one another. Therefore, if one were to decide that they were correct, it would still be a difficult matter to determine the text of the Scriptures. In addition, some of these manuscripts are missing many chapters of the Bible. This does not argue well for their quality, unless one believes that these chapters were not in the original manuscripts, which seems unlikely.
Dr.F.C. Cook (Chaplain to the Queen of England (who was invited to sit on the revision committee, but refused), has this to say regarding the translation of the KJV.
Both Erasmus' edition and more so the KJV gave a major impetus to the reformation. Naturally the enemies of the reformation would set out to destroy the influence of this work. The impact that the KJV and the Textus Receptus made can be appreciated by the following testimony of Dr. Kenrick, Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia says in his preface to an English translation of a Catholic Bible in 1849
That many would want to "rectify" this situation is obvious and the best way to do this was by "revising" the KJV so that it would be more in line with the Vaticanus and Siniaticus. In fact the hatred felt towards the Textus Receptus and KJV by some of the revisers is undeniable. Hort himself wrote :
Dean Burgon (an eminent authority) says,
That Westcott and Hort principally used the Vat. and Sin. MSS for the RSV is easy to prove. Dr. Cook's testimony is particularly relevant since he was chosen to sit on the review committee and he refused, later publishing his views in his book "Revised Version of the First three Gospels." He writes:
The cursive MSS were those written in a cursive style and typically date later than the uncial ones which were written in capital letters.
Dr. Scrivener says regarding this,
It can be simply shown that the other new translations are also derived from Westcott and Hort's Greek text simply by comparing the variant readings. If they agree with this text then they are derived from it because all the other MSS disagree with many of the variant readings it contains. This can be further demonstrated by taking note of the omissions, if a version omits the same text as the Westcott and Hort text then it is derived from it.
For example the NIV has a note after Mark 16:8 it says
"The two most reliable early manuscripts do not have Mark 16:9-20"
Which two MSS do we think these are ? Well we are not left to ponder too much because if we go to the Note in the NKJV alongside this same passage we read
"They are lacking in Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanus, although nearly all other manuscripts of Mark contain them."
As you can judge for yourselves these modern translations omit these verses solely on the authority of the Vat. and Sin. MSS. rejecting all other evidence Do you think that is good enough a reason to "take away the words of this book"?
So that you, the common reader can make up your own judgment regarding the quality of the new versions which are almost all based on these two MSS. Let us see what else these two "superior and more reliable" manuscripts contain, or omit which is more often the case.
Facts about he Vaticanus
That these appear to be oversights of the scribe is evident from the fact that the "same scribe has repeatedly written words and clauses twice over." (Dr. Scrivener, "Introduction", Vol.1, p.120) Obviously this piece of writing was not considered to be of major importance unlike the Textus Receptus which was painstakingly copied and verified.
Dr. Hskier says
"That B (Codex B = Vaticanus) is guilty of latches, of a tendency to 'improve,' and of 'sunstroke' amounting to doctrinal bias. That maligned Textus Receptus served in large measure as the base which B. tampered with and changed, and that the Church at large recognized all this until the year 1881 -- when Hortism, in other words Alexandrianis, was allowed free play." "Codex B and Its Allies", part 1, p.465
Facts about the Siniaticus
It contains almost all of the N.T. but added to it is the "Shepherd of Hermes" , "Bel and the Dragon", and the Epistle of Barnabas" (which I think has been shown to be a forgery). It has been heavily altered, changes "brought in by at least ten different revisers....the greater part belonging to the sixth or seventh century." Dr. Scrivener "A Full Collation of the Codex Siniaticus," p.XIX, Introduction
Mr. Philip Mauro adds " Thus there are internal evidences that lead to the conclusion that it was the work of a scribe who was singularly careless, or incompetent or both..." Which Version, p.45
It appears to be very unreliable and is deemed so by many authorities.
Why is it that the editors of the new Bible version and those who push them on the people don't tell them of these facts ?
Just so you can get an idea of the quality of these "most reliable and oldest texts" I want to quote to you a little from them found in the Epistle of Barnabus
"But he adds neither shalt thou eat the hare. To what end? To signify this to us: thou shalt not be an adulterer; nor liken thyself to such persons. For the hare every year multiplies the places of its conception; and so many years it lives, so many it has. Neither shalt thou eat of the hyena; that is again, be not an adulterer, nor a corrupter of others; neither be like such. And wherefore so ? Because creature every year changes its kind and is sometimes male and sometimes female." Epist. Barnabus 8:7-8
You can make up your own minds as the reliability and superiority of these manuscripts. They don't seem to be so reliable to me.
Another example the NIV which leaves out Mark 16:9-20 on the evidence of these two MSS however every single other uncial MSS contains these verses except these two manuscripts. How much evidence does one need.
Dean Burton says
"The impurity of the Texts exhibited by Codices B and Aleph is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact. These are two of the least trustworthy documents in existence"
Both MSS are well preserved and little used, obviously indicating the little confidence with which they were held.
Here are some of the Verses omitted by the NIV based on the Vaticanus text ignoring all the evidence to the contrary.
The Bible makes some strong claims for itself which should make one especially wary of cutting parts out of it.
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you neither shall ye diminish from it." Deut 4:2
"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book or this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life" Rev 22:19
"Every word of God is pure and is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him" Prov 30:5
The newer translations (NIV, RSV, etc) like to flaunt their textual accuracy over the supposedly "out moded" and "flawed" KJV. The simple fact is that these supposedly more reliable translations are just new versions of the old Latin Vulgate. This is easy to prove.
The Douay is more or less a direct translation of the Vulgate. We can go through a modern translation comparing it to the Douay (Vulgate) and show where it differs from the KJV is does so to agree with the Vulgate. For example the NIV basically parallels the Douay. It is important to note that the alterations significantly affect the doctrine of the Bible.
Look at these parallel translations where the meanings are clearly different.
Once again the NIV and the ASV follow the Douay and gives Jesus a human father!
1 Cor 15:47
Again these other three versions omit the Lord and thereby preferred
by the Arian view that Jesus is a created being.
Again by Jesus Christ is omitted by the Douay, ASV and NIV. Leaving
the identity of the creator uncertain!
I could go on there are many more examples like this, but I think the point is suitably demonstrated.
After all the facts are laid out before you, the picture becomes quite clear. The arguments against the KJV in favor of the newer versions supposedly based on "more reliable" manuscripts is nothing more than the age old conflict between only two Bible versions: the Textus Receptus in the form of the KJV and the Latin Vulgate in the form of a plethora of new translations.
We have many evidences for the early date of the Received Text:
Instead of being more reliable the manuscripts which form the basis for both the Vulgate and the new translations have been shown to be at worse the work of singularly careless, or incompetent scribes and at worse a conscious attempt to alter the Scriptures according to various biases. In light of this the preference given to these flawed manuscripts by many is, at best, hard to understand.
The KJV stands out as the only version to be true to the vast majority of
ancients texts. It is also the version that restored the Bible to the common
people. The Textus Receptus has been the mainstay of Christianity for almost two
millennia. To reject its superiority is to retrograde back into the middle ages.