Which Greek Text Will You Choose?
The choice is only between two different Greek manuscript families. Even though there are many varying names for the Textus Receptus I will use that term in order not to confuse you.
Until 1881 the Greek Textus Receptus was basically the only Greek text from which Bible translations were made. It is the Greek text which had been used for thousands of years and considered to be the reliable Greek text that had carried and transmitted the Word of God from the beginning. By the way, there are currently over 5,000 manuscript copies of the Textus Receptus or Byzantine family. That is why scholars sometime use the term “Majority text”. There were basically only two manuscripts used for the Westcott-Hort Greek text revision.
Then in the era of theological liberalism and the enlightenment, there were men who wanted to allegedly update the King James Version which had been translated primarily from the Textus Receptus. The 19th century was the hotbed of liberalism. Charles Dawin’s book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was hailed by many as a great advancement in knowledge of science. However, Darwin was not totally convinced of his own theory but through it out to the public to see what would happen. Also note that the book taught racism. During this time many were hunger to throw off the yoke of theological and conservative bondage as they thought it to be. So many jumped on this bandwagon. Many theologians being convinced that the theory of evolution to be true science, felt that they must reconcile the biblical teaching with this new discovery of “science”. Many compromised their biblical doctrine and teachings regarding Divine Creation in favor of being accepted by the World of alleged scientists. There were many and various attempts to reconcile the biblical account with the theory of evolution. Many theological seminaries and biblical institution were theologically liberal during this time.
This was the milieu (environment) in which the Greek Text, the Textus Receptus, behind the KJV Bible was rabidly attacked by so-called theologians. The revision of the KJV Bible was to be only a minor revision, but it turned out to be a total radical change in the text both of the Greek and English.
The two major powers in this revision were Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort both of which have questionable theological views regarding the reliability of the Holy Scriptures. From reading about their lives it is doubtful if they were truly regenerate believers. Basically, they used only two Greek manuscripts to form their Greek text both of which were suspect because of major corruptions and omissions in these Greek texts. These Greek manuscripts are Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
Because of the “King James Only controversy” I have been researching many items it the area of manuscript transmission and translations for several years. The conclusion is rather simple. There are basically two Greek New Testament texts, the Textus Receptus and the Westcott-Hort critical text. About the only critical item that Westcott-Hort seemed to use in their selection of Greek texts was the principle “older is better”.
Almost without exception all modern versions are translations from the Westcott-Hort Greek critical text.
I was absolutedly amazed when I viewed an article that showed how much of the Greek Textus Receptus text and ultimately modern translations was removed from the Westcott-Hort Greek text. If you study the background and history of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus you will probably come to the same conclusion that I have. How possibly could this much Scripture be omitted from the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus by honest reliable Bible believing persons? If these manuscripts were so great and valuable why did God not allow them to be found earlier? Both were found in Roman Catholic institutions which devalue the Holy Scriptures by their placing their tradition on an equal level. Vaticanus was discovered in the Vatican Library and stored there and Sinaiticus was discovered at St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mount Sinai.
Until Vatican II Roman Catholics were discouraged from reading the Holy Scriptures. The Roman Catholic Church was responsible for executing many Christians just because they translated the Holy Scriptures into the common language of the people. The Roman Catholic Church hated John Wycliff so much that they dug up his bones 50 years after his death and burned them. John Wycliff was the first or primary person who translated the Latin Bible into English. The Roman Catholic Church believed and taught the Latin-Vulgate only view of Scripture.
The Roman Catholic Church burned Jan Hus at the stake for teaching salvation by grace alone by faith alone. They would have done the same to Martin Luther if they could have caught him under the right circumstances. William Tyndale was likewise burnt at the stake for translating the first English Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew. I will not name any more since you can look them up if you are interested.
Am I anti-Roman Catholic? Only in the sense that I am convinced that many of the teachings that they have added through the years have no biblical support and are truly anti-christian. Do I love the people, yes! I find many Roman Catholic people that truly believe in Jesus Christ payment of sin on the cross personally for them. Jesus statement regarding the religious leaders of his day is truly applicable to the Roman Catholic Church.
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matt 15:8-9 (KJV)
What is the value of using the translation which is from the Textus Receptus?
- It has established and of historic authoritative value.
- It is not that difficult to read. For instance, I am and have been a very poor and slow reader. But once I put my mind and determination to reading and studying I found the KJV relatively easy to read and understandable. According to studies the King James Version reads at a 12th grade level. The NIV reads at a 7.9 grade level and the New King James Version reads at a 8.0 grade level. The NKJV is almost exactly on the same reading level as the NIV and yet it is a literal translation of the Greek and Hebrew text. The NIV is called a dynamic equivalence which is just one step above a paraphrase. Do I condemn people who use the NIV? No!
- Personally I have been using the NKJV as well as the KJV. One value of the KJV is that it is not copyrighted. All other modern versions are copyrighted which increases the cost of printing them and ultimately this cost is passed on to the customer. So far I have found the NKJV to be true to most of the KJV version except the removal of the “thee and thou” and other older language. However, remember that the thee and thou do serve a purpose in that they distinguish whether the word in the Greek is plural or singular etc. This may not be considered valuable to some Bible readers, but to those who do not know or use Greek it might be helpful. I have taken courses in Greek so if there is a question, I generally look up the text in the Greek N.T.
- It is my decided opinion and judgment that the authority and respect for the Bible is reduced by this multiplicity of these allegedly new and better translations. In most cases it does not actually increase the true study of the Bible. Many Christians are just lazy and want instant Christianity which they will never find even if they have another translation.
- Also, I would suspect that because of this reduced respect for the Holy Scriptures there is also a corresponding lack of Bible memory work being done today. This multiplicity probably only creates additional confusion and conflict among Christians. Seemingly, every local church uses a different version of the Bible. If you have to move to another church you may have to start using another version of the Bible. The fox is out of the cage and this will never be cured. However, I do believe it is wise for a congregation to choose one excellent primary literal translation for use by the church. This reduces confusion at least in that assembly.
- The controversy over translations is not helpful to spiritual growth and maturing of Christians. With this multiplicity of translations many people are given the impression that the Bible can mean almost anything a person wants. While we know that this is not true the impression remains that Scripture is somewhat of a “wax nose” that can be turned in whatever way we decide.
- We currently have the “King James Only” controversy which seemingly causes division and harm to the body of Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that the King James Version was do for a revision, but the 1881 was not it. Even the New King James Version is not good enough for the KJV only people. I finally found out what the major criticism of the NKJV is. When Thomas Nelson went to have the NKJV copyrighted they were not allowed a copyright because it was too much like the KJV. As a result Thomas Nelson the publisher that totally funded the project would have lost millions of dollars. So the translators had to go back and make some revisions in the NKJV so that it could be copyrighted. I have attempted to discover what these alleged changes were, but currently I have not been able to find out. My current unfounded opinion is that these changes were of no theological and biblical consequence. Having known about the editors, Arthur L. Farstad and Zane Hodges, I seriously doubt that they would have made any serious unadvisable changes. Both of these men had ambitions for years to create a new translation primarily from the Textus Receptus along with other modern textual discoveries.
- Arthur L. Farstad created a translation of the Gospel of John entitled Logos 21 which is basically NKJV. He did this in order to avoid copyright costs of printing the Gospel of John. There is an organization called Living Water http://www.livingwater.org/OpenDoor.html that provides these beautiful blue Gospels of John for free. Obviously, his motivation was not monetary reward.
- The famous Bible memory organization Scripture Memory Fellowship http://www.scripturememoryfellowship.org/ uses the KJV and the NKJV as their primary translations for Bible memory booklets. I recommend you contact them. Erwin Lutzer stated that his greatest asset was his Scripture memory work. Dr. David Jeremiah stated on his radio program that great debt that he owe to Scripture Memory Fellowship. I can likewise state that my life was extremely enriched by this memory organization of which I became a part in the past. I was on their Midwest Regional Council.
- My final point is that a person can be saved and become a mature Christian through almost any reasonable version of the Bible. Read Richard Dehaan’s article on this matter. https://bibleresourceman.wordpress.com/translations/ 01 Translations!
9. All my Bible memory work was completed in the KJV which was major. I find it difficult now to attempt to memorize from any other version. My advice is to pick the best possible literal translation that will be around for a long time because of the difficulty of attempting to memorize from two different translations. This is also the reason that a local church should wisely select it’s pew Bible.
I was happy to hear from my friend Don Gunderson when he said that Midwest Bible Church had chosen to use the NKJV as their pew Bibles. At one point RBC (Radio Bible Class) ministries was using the NKJV as their primary version. Not sure about now! A pastor friend of mine took my advice and ordered NKJV pew Bibles for his church. My hope was that many churches would take this step. The young people in our churches may or may not value the KJV as we have, but I personally believe it is best for us to give them a good literal translation which is basically from the Greek Textus Receptus which the NKJV is.
It reads at an 8.0 grade level. It still retains that stylistic phrasing of the KJV and I have seen people read it not knowing that they were not reading the KJV. From reading this article you may think that I am a KJV only person. Not truly, but after much research I do believe that the Textus Receptus or the Byzantine manuscript family is the most reliable and full Greek text of the Holy Scriptures. Have you read the article on the Apograph concept. Basically the idea is that a copy of an original is just as authoritative as the original. Personally, I basically believe that we basically have an apographa in the Greek Biblical text that we possess today. https://bibleresourceman.wordpress.com/translations/sola-autographa-or-sola-apographa/
The minor differences in manuscripts do not make a truly significant impact on correct and orthodox theology and thus do not affect faith (doctrine) and practice (deed). As Richard Dehaan stated in his excellent article God has preserved his biblical doctrines by the very nature of the Holy Scriptures by being repetitious. https://bibleresourceman.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=642&action=edit&message=1
When an early Christian I wondered why the Scripture tended to repeat some of the very same doctrines over and over. Now I know partially.
My Christian brethren and sisters, Read God’s Word in whatever translation you possess. It matters little what translation you use if you do not read it. Many godly Bible translators gave their live in order that you could have the English Bible in your own language. It is not my intention to disturb anyone’s faith by my discussions about translations. We do indeed have the Word of God presently in our hands.
Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14