Revision at Last !
BY the year 1870, so powerful had become the influence of the Oxford Movement, that a theological bias in favor of Rome was affecting men in high authority. Many of the most sacred institutions of Protestant England had been assailed and some of them had been completely changed. The attack on the Thirty-nine Articles by Tract 90, and the subversions of fundamental Protestant doctrines within the Church of England had been so bold and thorough, that an attempt to substitute a version which would theologically and legally discredit our common Protestant Version would not be a surprise.
The first demands for revision were made with moderation of language. "Nor can it be too distinctly or too emphatically affirmed that the reluctance of the public could never have been overcome but for the studious moderation and apparently rigid conservatism which the advocates of revision were careful to adopt."(1) Of course, the Tractarians were conscious of the strong hostility to their ritualism and said little in public about revision in order not to multiply the strength of their enemies. The friends and devotees of the King James Bible, naturally wished that certain retouches might be given the book which would replace words counted obsolete, bring about conformity to more modern rules of spelling and grammar, and correct what they considered a few plain and clear blemishes in the Received Text, so that its bitter opponents, who made use of these minor disadvantages to discredit the whole, might be answered. Nevertheless, universal fear and distrust of revision pervaded the public mind, who recognized in it, as Archbishop Trench said, "A question affecting... profoundly the whole moral and spiritual life of the English people," and the "vast and solemn issues depending on it."(2) Moreover, the composition of the Authorized Version was recognized by scholars as the miracle of English prose, unsurpassed in clearness, precision, and vigor. The English of the King James Bible was the most perfect, if not the only, example of a lost art. It may be said truthfully that literary men as well as theologians frowned on the revision enterprise.(3)
For years there had been a determined and aggressive campaign to take extensive liberties with the Received Text; and the Romanizing Movement in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, both ritualistic and critical, had made it easy for hostile investigators to speak out with impunity. Lachmann had led the way by ignoring the great mass of manuscripts which favored the printed text and built his Greek New Testament, as Salmon says, of scanty material.(4) Tregelles, though English, "Was an isolated worker, and failed to gain any large number of adherents."(5) Tischendorf, who had brought to light many new manuscripts and had done considerable collating, secured more authority as an editor than he deserved, and in spite of his vacillations in successive editions, became notorious in removing from the Sacred Text several passages hallowed by the veneration of centuries.(6)
The public would not have accepted the extreme, or, as some called it, "progressive" conclusions of these three. The names of Westcott and Hort were not prominently familiar at this time although they were Cambridge professors. Nevertheless, what was known of them, was not such as to arouse distrust and apprehension. It was not until the work of revision was all over, that the world awoke to realize that Westcott and Hort had outdistanced Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles. As Salmon says, "Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament has been described as an epoch making book; and quite as correctly as the same phrase has been applied to the work done by Darwin."(7)
The first efforts to secure revision were cautiously made in 1857 by five clergymen (three of whom, Ellicott, Moberly, and Humphrey, later were members of the New Testament Revision Committee), who put out a "Revised Version of John's Gospel." Bishop Ellicott, who in the future, was to be chairman of the New Testament Revision Committee, believed that there were clear tokens of corruptions in the Authorized Version.(8) Nevertheless, Ellicott's utterances, previous to Revision, revealed how utterly unprepared was the scholarship of the day to undertake it. Bishop Coxe, Episcopal, of Western New York, quotes Ellicott as saying about this time:
"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 notes will testify, are often sadly, and even perversely, incorrect."(9)
The triumvirate which constantly worked to bring things to a head, and who later sat on the Revision Committee, were Ellicott, Lightfoot, and Moulton. They found it difficult to get the project on foot. Twice they had appealed to the Government in hopes that, as in the case of the King James in 1611, the King would appoint a royal commission. They were refused.(10)
There was sufficient aggression in the Southern Convocation, which represented the Southern half of the Church of England, to vote Revision. But they lacked a leader. There was no outstanding name which would suffice in the public eye as a guarantee against the dangers possible. This difficulty, however, was at last overcome when Bishop Ellicott won over "that most versatile and picturesque personality in the English Church, Samuel Wilberforce, the silver-tongued Bishop of Oxford.(11) He was the remaining son of the great Emancipator who was still with the Church of England; the two other sons, Henry and Robert, influenced by the Oxford Movement, had gone over to the Church of Rome. Dr. Wilberforce had rendered great service to the English Church in securing the resurrection of the Southern Convocation, which for a hundred years had not been permitted to act. "When Ellicott captured the persuasive Wilberforce, he captured Convocation, and revision suddenly came within the sphere of practical politics."(12)
First came the resolution, February 10, 1870, which expressed the desirability of revision of the Authorized Version of the New Testament: "Whether by marginal notes or otherwise, in all those passages where plain and clear errors, whether in the Hebrew or Greek text originally adopted by the translators, or in translation made from the same, shall, on due investigation, be found to exist."(13)
An amendment was passed to include the Old Testament. Then a committee of sixteen — eight from the Upper House, and eight from the Lower House — was appointed. This committee solicited the participation of the Northern Convocation, but they declined to cooperate, saying that "the time was not favorable for Revision, and that the risk was greater than the probable gain."(14)
Later the Southern Convocation adopted the rules which ordered that Revision should touch the Greek text only where found necessary; should alter the language only where, in the judgment of most competent scholars, such change was necessary; and in such necessary changes, the style of the King James should be followed; and also, that Convocation should nominate a committee of its own members who would be at liberty to invite the cooperation of other scholars in the work of Revision. This committee when elected consisted of eighteen members. It divided into two bodies, one to represent the Old Testament, and the other to represent the New. As the majority of the most vital questions which concern us involve New Testament Revision, we will follow the fortunes of that body in the main.
The seven members of this English New Testament Revision Committee sent out invitations which were accepted by eighteen others, bringing the full membership of the English New Testament Revision Committee to the number of twenty-five. As we have seen before, Dr. Newman, who later became a cardinal, declined, as also did the leader of the Ritualistic Movement, Dr. Pusey. It should be mentioned here also that Canon Cook, editor of the "Speakers Commentary," declined. W.F. Moulton, who had spent some years in translating, from the German into English, Winer's Greek Grammar, and himself a member of the Committee, exercised a large influence in the selection of its members. Dr. Moulton favored those modern rules appearing in Winer's work which, if followed in translating the Greek, would produce results different from that of the King James. How much Dr. Moulton was a devotee of the Vulgate may be seen in the following words from him:
"The Latin translation, being derived from manuscripts more ancient than any we now possess, is frequently a witness of the highest value in regard to the Greek text which was current in the earliest times, and... its testimony is in many cases confirmed by Greek manuscripts which have been discovered or examined since the 16th century."(15)
From this it is evident that Dr. Moulton looked upon the Vulgate as a witness superior to the King James, and upon the Greek manuscripts which formed the base of the Vulgate as superior to the Greek manuscripts which formed the base of the King James. Furthermore, he said, speaking of the Jesuit New Testament of 1582, "The Rhemish Testament agrees with the best critical editions of the present day."(16) Dr. Moulton, therefore, not only believed the manuscripts which were recently discovered to be similar to the Greek manuscripts from which the Vulgate was translated, but he also looked upon the Greek New Testaments of Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles, built largely upon the same few manuscripts, as "the best critical editions." Since he exercised so large an influence in selecting the other members of the Committee, we can divine at the outset the attitude of mind which would likely prevail in the Revision Committee.
The Old Testament Committee also elected into its body other members which made the number in that company twenty-seven. Steps were now taken to secure cooperation from scholars in America. The whole matter was practically put in the hands of Dr. Philip Schaff of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Of Dr. Schaff's revolutionary influence on American theology through his bold Romanizing policy; of his trial for heresy; of his leadership in the American "Oxford Movement," we will speak later. An appeal was made to the American Episcopal Church to take part in the Revision, but that body declined.(17) Through the activities of Dr.Schaff, two American Committees were formed, the Old Testament Company having fourteen members, and the New Testament, thirteen. These worked under the disadvantage of being chosen upon the basis that they should live near New York City in order that meetings of the committee might be convenient. The American Committee had no deciding vote on points of revision. As soon as portions of the Holy Book were revised by the English committees, they were sent to the American committees for confirmation or amendment. If the suggestions returned by the American committees were acceptable to their English coworkers, they were adopted; otherwise they had no independent claim for insertion. In other words, the American committees were simply reviewing bodies.(18) In the long run, their differences were not many. They say:
"The work then went on continuously in both countries, the English Companies revising, and the American Committees reviewing what was revised, and returning their suggestions... When this list is fully considered, the general reader will, we think, be surprised to find that the differences are really of such little moment, and in very many cases will probably wonder that the American divines thought it worth while thus to formally record their dissent."(19)
Dr. Schaff, who was to America what Newman was to England, was president of both American committees.(20)
The story of the English New Testament Revision Committee is a stormy one, because it was the battle ground of the whole problem. That Committee finished its work three years before the Old Testament Company, and this latter body had three years to profit by the staggering onslaught which assailed the product of the New Testament Committee. Moreover the American Revised Bible did not appear until twenty years after the work of the English New Testament Committee, so that the American Revisers had twenty years to understand the fate which would await their volume.
When the English New Testament Committee met, it was immediately apparent what was going to happen. Though for ten long years the iron rule of silence kept the public ignorant of what was going on behind closed doors, the story is now known. The first meeting of the Committee found itself a divided body, the majority being determined to incorporate into the proposed revision the latest and most extreme higher criticism. This majority was dominated and carried along by a triumvirate consisting of Hort, Westcott, and Lightfoot. The dominating mentality of this triumvirate was Dr. Hort. Before the Committee met, Westcott had written to Hort, "The rules though liberal are vague, and the interpretation of them will depend upon decided action at first."(21) They were determined at the outset to be greater than the rules, and to manipulate them.
The new members who had been elected into the body, and who had taken no part in drawing up the rules, threw these rules completely aside by interpreting them with the widest latitude. Moreover, Westcott and Hort, who had worked together before this for twenty years, in bringing out a Greek New Testament constructed on principles which deviated the farthest ever yet known from the Received Text,(22) came prepared to effect a systematic change in the Protestant Bible. On this point Westcott wrote to Hort concerning Dr. Ellicott, the chairman:
"The Bishop of Gloucester seems to me to be quite capable of accepting heartily and adopting personally a thorough scheme."(23)
And as we have previously seen, as early as 1851, before Westcott and Hort began their twenty years labor on their Greek text, Hort wrote, "Think of that vile Textus Receptus."(24) In 1851, when he knew little of the Greek New Testament, or of texts, he was dominated with the idea that the Received Text was "vile" and "villainous." The Received Text suffered fatal treatment at the hands of this master in debate.
We have spoken of Bishop Ellicott as the chairman. The first chairman was Bishop Wilberforce. One meeting, however, was sufficient for him. He wrote to an intimate friend, "what can be done in this most miserable business?"(25) Unable to bear the situation, he absented himself and never took part in the proceedings. His tragic death occurred three years later. One factor had disturbed him considerably, — the presence of Dr. G. Vance Smith, the Unitarian scholar. In this, however, he shared the feelings of the people of England, who were scandalized at the sight of a Unitarian, who denied the divinity of Christ, participating in a communion service held at the suggestion of Bishop Westcott in Westminster Abbey, immediately preceding their first meeting.
The minority in the Committee was represented principally by Dr. Scrivener, probably the foremost scholar of the day in the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and the history of the Text. If we may believe the words of Chairman Ellicott, the countless divisions in the Committee over the Greek Text, "was often a kind of critical duel between Dr. Hort and Dr. Scrivener."(26) Dr. Scrivener was continuously and systematically outvoted.
"Nor is it difficult to understand," says Dr. Hemphill, "that many of their less resolute and decided colleagues must often have been completely carried off their feet by the persuasiveness, and resourcefulness, and zeal of Hort, backed by the great prestige of Lightfoot, the popular Canon of St. Paul's, and the quiet determination of Westcott, who set his face as a flint. In fact, it can hardly be doubted that Hort's was the strongest will of the whole Company, and his adroitness in debate was only equaled by his pertinacity."(27)
The conflict was intense and ofttimes the result seemed dubious. Scrivener and his little band did their best to save the day. He might have resigned; but like Bishop Wilberforce, he neither wished to wreck the product of revision by a crushing public blow, nor did he wish to let it run wild by absenting himself. Dr. Hort wrote his wife as follows:
"July 25, 1871. We have had some stiff battles to-day in Revision, though without any ill feeling, and usually with good success. But I, more than ever, felt how impossible it would be for me to absent myself."(28)
On the other hand, Westcott wrote:
"March 22, 1886. I should be the last to rate highly textual criticism; but it is a little gift which from school days seemed to be committed to me."(29)
Concerning the battles within the Committee, Dr. Westcott writes:
"May 24, 1871. We have had hard fighting during these last two days, and a battle-royal is announced for tomorrow."(30)
"January 27, 1875. Our work yesterday was positively distressing...However, I shall try to keep heart to-day, and if we fail again I think that I shall fly, utterly despairing of the work."(30)
Same date. "To-day our work has been a little better — only a little, but just enough to be endurable."(30)
The "ill-conceived and mismanaged" attempts of the Revision Committee of the Southern Convocation to bring in the radical changes contemplated(31) violated the rules that had been laid down for its control. Citations from ten out of the sixteen members of the Committee, (sixteen was the average number in attendance), show that eleven members were fully determined to act upon the principle of exact and literal translation, which would permit them to travel far beyond the instructions they had received.(32)
The Committee being assembled, the passage for consideration was read. Dr. Scrivener offered the evidence favoring the Received Text, while Dr. Hort took the other side. Then a vote was taken.(33) Settling the Greek Text occupied the largest portion of time both in England and in America.(34) The new Greek Testament upon which Westcott and Hort had been working for twenty years was, portion by portion, secretly committed into the hands of the Revision Committee.(35) Their Greek Text was strongly radical and revolutionary.(36) The Revisers followed the guidance of the two Cambridge editors, Westcott and Hort, who were constantly at their elbow, and whose radical Greek New Testament, deviating the farthest possible from the Received Text, is to all intents and purposes the Greek New Testament followed by the Revision Committee.(37) And this Greek text, in the main, follows the Vatican and Sinaiticus manuscripts.(38) It is true that three other uncials, the Codices Beza, Ephraemi and Alexandrinus were occasionally used, but their testimony was of the same value as the other two.
Hort's partiality for the Vatican Manuscript was practically absolute.(39) We can almost hear him say, The Vaticanus have I loved, but the Textus Receptus have I hated. As the Sinaiticus was the brother of the Vaticanus, wherever pages in the latter were missing, Hort used the former. He and Westcott considered that when the consensus of opinion of these two manuscripts favored a reading, that reading should be accepted as apostolic.(40) This attitude of mind involved thousands of changes in our time-honored Greek New Testament because a Greek text formed upon the united opinion of Codex B and Codex (æ) would be different in thousands of places from the Received Text. So the Revisers "went on changing until they had altered the Greek Text in 5337 places."(41) Dr. Scrivener, in the Committee sessions, constantly issued his warning of what would be the outcome if Hort's imaginary theories were accepted. In fact, nine-tenths of the countless divisions and textual struggles around that table in the Jerusalem Chamber arose over Hort's determination to base the Greek New Testament of the Revision on the Vatican Manuscript.(42) Nevertheless, the Received Text, by his own admission, had for 1400 years been the dominant Greek New Testament.(43)
It was of necessity that Westcott and Hort should take this position. Their own Greek New Testament upon which they had been working for twenty years was founded on Codex B and Codex (æ), as the following quotations show:
"If Westcott and Hort have failed, it is by an overestimate of the Vatican Codex, to which (like Lachmann and Tregelles) they assign the supremacy, while Tischendorf may have given too much weight to the Sinaitic Codex."(44)
Dr. Cook, an authority in this field, also says:
"I will ask the reader to compare these statements with the views set forth, authoritatively and repeatedly, by Dr. Hort in his 'Introduction,' especially in reference to the supreme excellence and unrivalled authority of the text of B — with which, indeed, the Greek text of Westcott and Hort is, with some unimportant exceptions, substantially identical, coinciding in more than nineteenths of the passages which, as materially affecting the character of the synoptic Gospels, I have to discuss."(45)
Another quotation from Dr. Hoskier, an authority who worked in this field many years after the appearance of the Revised Version:
"We always come back to B, as Westcott and Hort's text is practically B."(46)
Of course the minority members of the Revision Committee, and especially the world in general, did not know the twenty years' effort of these two Cambridge professors to base their own Greek New Testament upon these two manuscripts. Hort's "excursion into cloudland," as one authority describes his fourth century revisions, was apparent to Dr. Scrivener, who uttered his protest. Here is his description of Hort's theory as Scrivener later published it:
"There is little hope for the stability of their imposing structure, if its foundations have been laid on the sandy ground of ingenious conjecture: and since barely the smallest vestige of historical evidence has ever been alleged in support of the views of these accomplished editors, their teaching must either be received as intuitively true, or dismissed from our consideration as precarious, and even visionary."(47)
As Westcott and Hort outnumbered Scrivener two to one, so their followers outnumbered the other side two to one, and Scrivener was systematically outvoted. As Professor Sandy writes:
"They were thus able to make their views heard in the council chamber, and to support them with all the weight of their personal authority, while as yet the outer public had but partial access to them."(48)
As a consequence, the Greek New Testament upon which the Revised Version is based, is practically the Greek New Testament of Westcott and Hort. Dr. Schaff says:
"The result is that in typographical accuracy the Greek Testament of Westcott and Hort is probably unsurpassed, and that it harmonizes essentially with the text adopted by the Revisers."(49)
The Revisers Professedly Liberal, Actually Narrow
We meet the paradox in the Revisers, as they sit assembled at their task, of men possessing high reputation for liberalism of thought, yet acting for a decade with extreme narrowness. Stanley, Thirwall, Vaughan, Hort, Westcott, Moberly — men of leading intellect — would naturally be expected to be so broad as to give most sacred documents fair consideration. Dean Stanley had glorified the Church of England because within her ranks both ritualists and higher critics could officiate as well as the regular churchmen. When Bishop Colenso, of Natal, was on trial, amid great excitement throughout all England, for his destructive criticism of the first five books of Moses, Dean Stanley stood up among his religious peers and placed himself alongside of Colenso. He said:
"I might mention one who... has ventured to say that the Pentateuch is not the work of Moses;... who has ventured to say that the narratives of those historical incidents are colored not unfrequently by the necessary infirmities which belong to the human instruments by which they were conveyed, — and that individual is the one who now addressed you. If you pronounce against the Bishop of Natal on grounds such as these, you must remember that there is one close at hand whom... you will be obliged to condemn."(50)
Bishop Thirwall, of "princely intellect," had a well-known reputation for liberalism in theology. He introduced both the new theology of Schleiermacher and higher criticism into England. In fact, when Convocation yielded to public indignation so far as essentially to ask Dr. Smith, the Unitarian scholar, to resign, Bishop Thirwall retired from the committee and refused to be placated until it was settled that Dr. Smith should remain. Evidence might be given to show liberalism in other members. These men were honorably bound to do justice to thousands of manuscripts if they assumed to reconstruct a Greek Text. We are informed by Dr. Scrivener that there are 2,864 cursive and uncial manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part. Price says there are 112 uncials and 3,500 cursives. These represent many different countries and different periods of time. Yet astonishing to relate, the majority of the Revisers ignored these and pinned their admiration and confidence practically to two — the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
Doctor Moberly, Bishop of Salisbury, Bishop Westcott, and Dr. G. Vance Smith, came to the Committee with past relationships that seriously compromised them. Bishop Moberly "belonged to the Oxford Movement, and, it is stated in Dean Church's 'Life and Letters' that he wrote a most kind letter of approval to Mr. Newman as to the famous Tract 90."(51) During the years when he was a schoolmaster, the small attendance at times under his instruction was credited to the fact that he was looked upon as a Puseyite.(52) While with regard to Dr. Westcott, his share in making the Ritualistic Movement a success has been recognized.(53) Dr. Vaughan, another member of the Revision Committee was a close friend of Westcott.(54) The extreme liberalism of Dr. G. Vance Smith, the Unitarian member of the Committee, is well known through his book on the "Bible and Theology." This amounted practically to Christianized infidelity. Nevertheless, the worshipful attitude of these men, as well as that of Lightfoot, Kennedy, and Humphrey toward Codex B, was unparalleled in Biblical history. The year 1870 was marked by the Papal declaration of infallibility. It has been well said that the blind adherence of the Revisionists to the Vatican manuscript proclaimed "the second infallible voice from the Vatican."
The Ruthless Changes Which Resulted
Even the jots and tittles of the Bible are important. God has pronounced terrible woes upon the man who adds to or takes away from the volume of Inspiration. The Revisers apparently felt no constraint on this point, for they made 36,000 changes in the English of the King James Version, and very nearly 6,000 in the Greek Text. Dr. Ellicott, in submitting the Revised Version to the Southern Convocation in 1881, declared that they had made between eight and nine changes in every five verses, and in about every ten verses three of these were made for critical purposes.(55) And for the most of these changes the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts are responsible. As Canon Cook says:
"By far the greatest number of innovations, including those which give the severest shocks to our minds, are adopted on the authority of two manuscripts, or even of one manuscript, against the distinct testimony of all other manuscripts, uncial and cursive... The Vatican Codex,... sometimes alone, generally in accord with the Sinaitic, is responsible for nine-tenths of the most striking innovations in the Revised Version."(56)
Wreckers, Not Builders
A force of builders do not approach their task with swords, spears, bombs, cannons, and other instruments of destruction. If the Greek New Testament of Westcott and Hort marks a new era, as we are repeatedly informed, then it was intended that the Revised Version would mark a new era. The appointees to the task of Revision evidently approached their work with the intention of tearing down the framework of the teachings which sprang from the Received Text and of the institutions erected for the spread of such teachings. The translators of 1611 organized themselves into six different companies. Each company allotted to each of its members a series of independent portions of the Bible to translate, so that all would act as checks and counter checks on one another, in order that the truth might be transmitted. Above all, their inter-relations were so preserved that the world would receive the gift of a masterpiece. Their units were organizations of construction. The units of the 1881 Revision did not make for protection and independence, but rather for the suppressing of individuality and freedom, and for tyrannical domination.
The instruments of warfare which they brought to their task were new and untried rules for the discrimination of manuscripts; for attacking the verb; for attacking the article; for attacking the preposition, the pronoun, the intensive, Hebraisms, and parallelisms. The following quotations show that literal and critically exact quotations frequently fail to render properly the original meaning:
"The self-imposed rule of the Revisers," says the Forum, required them invariably to translate the aoristic forms by their closest English equivalents; but the vast number of cases in which they have forsaken their own rule shows that it could not be followed without in effect changing the meaning of the original; and we may add that to whatever extent that rule has been slavishly followed, to that extent the broad sense of the original has been marred."(57)
One of the Revisers wrote, after the work was finished:
"With reference to the rendering of the article, similar remarks may be made. As a rule, it is too often expressed. This sometimes injures the idiom of the English, and in truth impairs or misrepresents the force of the original."(58)
The obsession of the Revisionists for rendering literally Hebraisms and parallelisms have often left us with a doctrine seriously, if not fatally, weakened by their theory. "The printing in parallelisms spoils the uniformity of the page too much and was not worth adopting, unless the parallelism was a good one." (59)
Probably no one act of Germany during the war brought down upon her more ill feeling than the bombing of Rheims Cathedral. We felt sad to see the building splintered and marred. It was the work of centuries. The Revisionists approached the beautiful cathedral of the King James Version and tunneled underneath in order that they might destroy the Received Text as its foundation, and slip into its place another composed of the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts. In thousands of places the grandeur of the sacred building was chipped and splintered by the substitution of various readings. In the form of the Revised Version we no longer recognize the strong foundation and glorious features of the old edifice.
This is a case where a little means much. "If one wonders whether it is worth while," says Dr. Robertson, speaking of the Revision, "he must bear in mind that some of the passages in dispute are of great importance." The Bible should more probably compared to a living organism. Touch a part and you spoil it all. To cut a vital artery in a man might be touching a very small point, but death would come as truly as if he were blown to pieces. Something more than a crushing mass of accumulated material is needed to produce a meritorious revision of God's Holy Book.
The Revisers' Greatest Crime
Ever since the Revised Version was printed, it has met with strong opposition. Its devotees reply that the King James met opposition when it was first published. There is a vast difference, however. Only one name of prominence can be cited as an opponent of the King James Version at is birth. The King, all the church of England, in fact, all the Protestant world was for it. On the other hand, royal authority twice refused to associate itself with the project of revision, as also did the northern half of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church of North America, besides a host of students and scholars of authority.
When God has taught us that "all Scripture is given by Inspiration" of the Holy Spirit and that "men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," the Holy Spirit must be credited with ability to transmit and preserve inviolate the Sacred Deposit. We cannot admit for a moment that the Received Text which, by the admission of its enemies themselves, has led the true people of God for centuries, can be whipped into fragments and set aside for a manuscript found in an out-of-the-way monastery, and for another of the same family, which has lain, for man knows not how long, upon a shelf in the library of the Pope's palace. Both these documents are of uncertain ancestry, of questionable history, and of suspicious character. The Received Text was put for centuries in its position of leadership by divine Providence, just as truly as the star of Bethlehem was set in the heavens to guide the wise men. Neither was it the product of certain technical rules of textual criticism which some men have chosen the last few decades to exalt as divine principle.
The change of one word in the Constitution of the United States, at least the transposition of two, could vitally affect thousands of people, millions of dollars, and many millions of acres of land. It took centuries of training to place within that document a combination of words which cannot be tampered with, without catastrophic results. It represents the mentality of a great people, and to change it would bring chaos into their well-ordered life. Not of one nation only, but of all great nations, both ancient and modern, is the Bible the basis of the Constitution. It foretold the fall of Babylon; and when that empire had disappeared, it survived. It announced beforehand the creation of the empires of Greece and Rome, and lived to tell their faults and why they failed. It warned succeeding kingdoms. All ages and continents have their life inwrought into the fabric of this Book. It is the handiwork of God through the centuries. Only those whose records are lifted high above suspicion, can be accepted as qualified to touch it. Certainly no living being or any number of them ever had authority to make such astounding changes, as were made by those men who were directly or indirectly influenced by the Oxford Movement.
The history of the Protestant world is inseparable from the Received Text. A single nation could break loose and plunge into anarchy and license. The Received Text shone high in the heavens to stabilize surrounding peoples. Even many nations at one time might fall under the shadow of some great revolutionary wave. But there stood the Received Text to fill their inner self with its moral majesty and call them back to law and order.
On what meat had this great critic, Dr. Hort, fed, when, even by his own confession, at the time he had read little of the Greek New Testament, and knew nothing of texts and certainly nothing of Hebrew, he dared, when only twenty-three years old, to call the Received Text "villainous" and "vile"? What can be the most charitable estimate we can put upon that company of men who submitted to his lead, and would assure us in gentle words that they had done nothing, that there was really no great difference between the King James Bible and the Revised, while in another breath, they reject as "villainous" and "vile" the Greek New Testament upon which the King James Bible is built? Did they belong to a superior race of beings, which entitled them to cast aside, as a thing of naught, the work of centuries? They gave us a Version which speaks with faltering tones, whose music is discordant. The Received Text is harmonious, It agrees with itself, it is self-proving, and it creeps into the affections of the heart.
But, they say, there are errors in the Received Text. Yes, "plain and clear errors," as their instructions informed the Revisers. It is to the glory of the Textus Receptus that its errors are "plain and clear." When God showed us these errors were "plain and clear," we recognized them as errors of the copyists and therefore, like printer's errors, they can be promptly and certainly corrected. They are not errors of the Author. Man made them and man can correct them.
Neither are they "errors" which man made and only God can correct. They do not enter into the core of any question. They are not, like the errors of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, the product of Systematic Depravation. They are the scars which witness to the terrible struggles endured by the Holy Word throughout the centuries.
The glorified body of Christ will always have five scars where the nails pierced His hands and feet, and where the sword entered His side. A captious critic might cry out that the eternal form of Christ is not perfect; it has five scars. But another of deeper insight would point out that by those scars we know that Christ does not bear an untried form. Those reminiscences of His humiliation testify to His struggle and His triumph. Christ's perfection would not have been complete without those scars. Without them, He would not have been our Saviour. The errors of the Received Text, are the scars which tell of its struggles throughout the centuries to bring us light, life, and immortality. The Living Word and the Written Word correspond.
How vastly different are the errors of the Revised! They are the product of a well-laid, designing scheme to incorporate in the text the theology of the Revisers. Westcott, writing to Hort before the committee was under way, rejoiced that the future chairman, Dr. Ellicott, was "quite capable of accepting heartily and adopting personally a thorough scheme." And when the new book was published, Bishop Westcott recommended it to the Bible student, because the profound effect on doctrine was produced by changing "here a little, there a little." He clearly convicted the Revised Version of being the product of a designing scheme with an ulterior purpose. He said:
"But the value of the Revision is most clearly seen when the student considers together a considerable group of its passages, which bear upon some article of Faith. The accumulation of small details then produces its full effect. Points on which it might have seemed pedantic to insist in a single passage become impressive by repetition... The close rendering of the original Greek in the Revised Version appears to suggest ideas of creation and life and providence, of the course and end of finite being and of the Person of the Lord, who is the source of all truth and hope, which are of deepest interest at the present time."(60)
All must see that it was a "thorough scheme." The dominant minds on the Revision Committee approached their task, committed beforehand to this "thorough scheme." The errors therefore of the Revised Version are not incidental and accidental, as those of the Received Text, but are so systematically interlinked that they constitute with cumulative effect vital changes in doctrine. The Revised Version bears the stamp of intentional Systematic Depravation.
When we consider the men who dominated the committee, and consequently determined the content of the Revised work, and when we consider their critical bias, their sympathy with the germinal ideas of modern religious liberalism, their advocacy of Ritualism, and their fondness for Rome, simple intelligence compels us to wonder if the "scheme" does not embrace a subservience to these predilections.
When a company of men set out faithfully to translate genuine manuscripts in order to convey what God said, it is one thing. When a committee sets itself to revise or translate with ideas and a "scheme," it is another thing. But it may be objected that the translators of the King James were biased by their pro-Protestant views. The reader must judge whose bias he will accept, that of the influence of the Protestant Reformation, as heading up in the Authorized Version, or that of the influence of Darwinism, higher criticism, incipient modern religious liberalism, and a reversion back to Rome, as heading up in the Revised Version. If we select the latter bias, we must remember that both higher criticism and Romanism reject the authority of the Bible as supreme.
The predominant ideas of the respective times of their births influenced and determined the essential characteristics of the Authorized and Revised Versions. The following chapters will establish the truthfulness of the position just stated.
(1) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, p. 25
(2) Ibid, p. 24
(3) Ibid, p. 26
(4) Salmon, p. 7
(5) Ibid, p. 8
(6) Ibid, p. 8
(7) Ibid, p. 5
(8) Dr. Ellicott, Addresses, p. 70
(9) Dr. Bissell, Origin of the Bible, p. 357
(10) Historical Account of the Work of the American Committee of Revision, pp. 3, 5
(11) Hemphill, p. 28
(13) W.F. Moulton, The English Bible, p. 215
(14) Ibid, p. 216
(15) Ibid, p. 184
(16) Ibid, p. 185
(17) Ellicott, Addresses, p. 39
(18) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, p. 41
(19) Historical Account of the Work of the American Committee of Revision, pp. 10, 11
(20) New Brunswick (New Jersey) Review, August 1854, pp. 322, 282, 283
(21) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, p. 44
(22) Salmon, Some Criticism, pp. 10, 11
(23) Life of Westcott, Vol. I, p. 393
(24) Life of Hort, Vol. I, p. 211
(25) Hemphill, History, p. 36
(26) Ellicott, Addresses, p. 61
(27) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, pp. 49, 50
(28) Life of Hort, Vol. II, p. 146
(29) Life of Westcott, Vol. II, p. 84
(30) Ibid, Vol. I, pp. 396, 397
(31) Bissell, Origin of Bible, p. 356
(32) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, pp. 67-70
(33) Newth, Revision, p. 120
(34) Ellicott, Addresses, p. 118
(35) Ibid, p. 56
(36) Dr. Salmon, Some Criticism, pp. 11, 12
(37) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, pp. 54, 55
(38) Gore, New Commentary, Part III, p. 721
(39) Hort's Introduction, p. 238
(40) Ibid, pp. 225, 251
(41) Dr. Everts, The Westcott and Hort Text under Fire, Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan. 1921
(42) Hemphill, History of the Revised Version, pp. 55, 56
(43) Hort's Introduction, p. 92
(44) Schaff, Companion to the Greek Text, p. 277
(45) Cook, Revised Version, p. 6
(46) Hoskier, Genesis of the Versions, p. 416
(47) Scrivener's Introduction, Vol. II, p. 285
(48) Professor Sandy, quoted in Hemphill, p. 59
(49) Schaff, Companion, p. 279
(50) Stanley, Essays, pp. 329, 330
(51) F.D. How, Six Great Schoolmasters, p. 69
(52) Ibid, p. 82
(53) Kempson, Church in Modern England, p. 100
(54) How, Six Great Schoolmasters, pp. 179, 180
(55) Ellicott, Submission of Revised Version to Convocation, p. 27
(56) Cook, Revised Version, pp. 227, 231
(57) Forum, June 1887, p. 357
(58) Dr. G. Vance Smith, Nineteenth Century, June 1881
(60) Westcott, Some Lessons, pp. 184, 185
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