Three Hundred Years of Attack
Upon the King James Bible

"Wherever the so-called Counter-Reformation, started by the Jesuits, gained hold of the people, the vernacular was suppressed and the Bible kept from the laity. So eager were the Jesuits to destroy the authority of the Bible — the paper pope of the Protestants, as they contemptuously called it — that they even did not refrain from criticizing its genuineness and historic value."(1)

THE opponents of the noble work of 1611 like to tell the story of how the great printing plants which publish the King James Bible have been obliged to go over it repeatedly to eliminate flaws of printing, to eliminate words which in time have changed in their meaning, or errors which have crept in through the years because of careless editing by different printing houses. They offer this as an evidence of the fallibility of the Authorized Version. They seem to overlook the fact that this labor of necessity is an argument for, rather than against the dependability of the translations. Had each word of the Bible been set in a cement cast, incapable of the slightest flexibility and been kept so throughout the ages, there could have been no adaptability to the ever-changing structure of human language. The artificiality of such a plan would have eliminated the living action of the Holy Spirit and would accuse both man and the Holy Spirit of being without an intelligent care for the divine treasure.

On this point the scholars of the Reformation made their position clear under three different aspects. First, they claimed that the Holy Scriptures had come down to them unimpaired throughout the centuries.(2) Second, they recognized that to reform any manifest oversight was not placing human hands on a divine work and was not contrary to the mind of the Lord. Dr. Fulke says:

"Nevertheless, whereinsoever Luther, Beza, or the English translators, have reformed any of their former oversights, the matter is not so great, that it can make an heresy."(3)

And lastly, they contended that the Received Text, both in Hebrew and in Greek, as they had it in their day would so continue unto the end of time."(4)

In fact, a testimony no less can be drawn from the opponents of the Received Text. The higher critics, who have constructed such elaborate scaffolding, and who have built such great engines of war as their apparatus criticus, are obliged to describe the greatness and strength of the walls they are attacking in order to justify their war machine. On the Hebrew Old Testament, one of a group of the latest and most radical critics says:

"DeLagarde would trace all manuscripts back to a single archetype which he attributed to Rabbi Aquiba, who died in A.D. 135. Whether this hypothesis is a true one or not will probably never be known; it certainly represents the fact that from about his day variations of the consonantal text ceased almost entirely."(5)

While of the Greek New Testament, Dr. Hort, who was an opponent of the Received Text and who dominated the English New Testament Revision Committee, says:

"An overwhelming proportion of the text in all known cursive manuscripts except a few is, as a matter of fact, identical."(6)

Thus strong testimonies can be given not only to the Received Text, but also to the phenomenal ability of the manuscript scribes writing in different countries and in different ages to preserve an identical Bible in the overwhelming mass of manuscripts.

The large number of conflicting readings which higher critics have gathered must come from only a few manuscripts, since the overwhelming mass of manuscripts is identical.

The phenomenon presented by this situation is so striking that we are pressed in spirit to inquire, Who are these who are so interested in urging on the world the finds of their criticism? All lawyers understand how necessary for a lawsuit it is to find some one "to press the case." Thousands of wills bequeath property which is distributed in a way different from the wishes of the testator because there are none interested enough to "press the case." The King James Bible had hardly begun its career before enemies commenced to fall upon it. Though it has been with us for three hundred years in splendid leadership — a striking phenomenon — nevertheless, as the years increase, the attacks become more furious. If the book were a dangerous document, a source of corrupting influence and a nuisance, we would wonder why it has been necessary to assail it since it would naturally die of its own weakness. But when it is a divine blessing of great worth, a faultless power of transforming influence, who can it be who are so stirred up as to deliver against it one assault after another? Great theological seminaries, in many lands, led by accepted teachers of learning, are laboring constantly to tear it to pieces. Point us out anywhere, any situation similar concerning the sacred books of any other religion, or even of Shakespeare, or of any other work of literature. Especially since 1814 when the Jesuits were restored by order of the Pope — if they needed restoration — have the attacks by Catholic scholars on the Bible, and by other scholars who are Protestants in name, become bitter.

"For it must be said that the Roman Catholic or the Jesuitical system of argument — the work of the Jesuits from the sixteenth century to the present day — evinces an amount of learning and dexterity, a subtility of reasoning, a sophistry, a plausibility combined, of which ordinary Christians have but little idea... Those who do so (take the trouble to investigate) find that, if tried by the rules of right reasoning, the argument is defective, assuming points which should be proved; that it is logically false, being grounded in sophisms; that it rests in many cases on quotations which are not genuine... on passages which, when collated with the original, are proved to be wholly inefficacious as proofs."(7)

As time went on, this wave of higher criticism mounted higher and higher until it became an ocean surge inundating France, Germany, England, Scotland, the Scandinavian nations, and even Russia. When the Privy Council of England handed down in 1864 its decision, breathlessly awaited everywhere, permitting those seven Church of England clergymen to retain their positions, who had ruthlessly attacked the inspiration of the Bible, a cry of horror went up from Protestant England; but "the whole Catholic Church," said Dean Stanley, "is as we have seen, with the Privy Council and against the modern dogmatists."(8) By modern dogmatists, he meant those who believe "the Bible and the Bible only."

The tide of higher criticism was soon seen to change its appearance and to menace the whole framework of fundamentalist thinking. The demand for revision became the order of the day. The crest was seen about 1870 in France, Germany, England, and the Scandinavian countries.(9) Time-honored Bibles in those countries were radically overhauled and a new meaning was read into words of Inspiration.

Three lines of results are strongly discernible as features of the movement. First, "collation" became the watchword. Manuscripts were laid alongside of manuscripts to detect various readings and to justify that reading which the critic chose as the right one. With the majority of workers, especially those whose ideas have stamped the revision, it was astonishing to see how they turned away from the overwhelming mass of MSS and invested with tyrannical superiority a certain few documents, some of them of a questionable character. Second, this wave of revision was soon seen to be hostile to the Reformation. There is something startlingly in common to be found in the modernist who denies the element of the miraculous in the Scriptures, and the Catholic Church which invests tradition with an inspiration equal to the Bible. As a result, it seems a desperately hard task to get justice done to the Reformers or their product. As Dr. Demaus says:

"For many of the facts of Tyndale's life have been disputed or distorted, through carelessness, through prejudice, and through the malice of that school of writers in whose eyes the Reformation was a mistake, if not a crime, and who conceive it to be their mission to revive all the old calumnies that have ever been circulated against the Reformers, supplementing them by new accusations of their own invention."(10)

A third result of this tide of revision is that when our time-honored Bibles are revised, the changes are generally in favor of Rome. We are told that Bible revision is a step forward; that new MSS have been made available and advance has been made in archeology, philology, geography, and the apparatus of criticism. How does it come then that we have been revised back into the arms of Rome? If my conclusion is true, this so-called Bible revision has become one of the deadliest of weapons in the hands of those who glorify the Dark Ages and who seek to bring western nations back to the theological thinking which prevailed before the Reformation.

The Founders of Textual Criticism

The founders of this critical movement were Catholics. One authority pointing out two Catholic scholars, says:
"Meanwhile two great contributions to criticism and knowledge were made in France: Richard Simon, the Oratorian, published between 1689 and 1695 a series of four books on the text, the versions, and the principal commentators of the New Testament, which may be said to have laid the foundation of modern critical inquiry: Pierre Sabatier, the Benedictine, collected the whole of the pre-Vulgate Latin evidence for the text of the Bible."(11)

So says a modernist of the latest type and held in high repute as a scholar.
Dr. Hort tells us that the writings of Simon had a large share in the movement to discredit the Textus Receptus class of MSS and Bibles. While of him and other outstanding Catholic scholars in this field, the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

"A French priest, Richard Simon (1683-1712), was the first who subjected the general questions concerning the Bible to a treatment which was at once comprehensive in scope and scientific in method. Simon is the forerunner of modern Biblical criticism... The use of internal evidence by which Simon arrived at it entitles him to be called the father of Biblical criticism."(12)

"In 1753 Jean Astruc, a French Catholic physician of considerable note, published a little book, 'Conjectures sur les memoires originaux dont il parait que Moise s'est servi pour composer le livre de la Genese' in which he conjectured, from the alternating use of two names of God in the Hebrew Genesis, that Moses had incorporated therein two pre-existing documents, one of which employed Elohim and the other Jehovah. The idea attracted little attention till it was taken up by a German scholar, who, however, claims to have made the discovery independently. This was Johann Gottfried Eichhorn... Eichhorn greatly developed Astruc's hypothesis."(13)

"Yet it was a Catholic priest of Scottish origin, Alexander Geddes (1737-1802), who broached a theory of the origin of the Five Books (to which he attached Josue) exceeding in boldness either Simon's or Eichhorn's. This was the well-known 'Fragment' hypothesis, which reduced the Pentateuch to a collection of fragmentary sections partly of Mosaic origin, but put together in the reign of Solomon. Geddes' opinion was introduced into Germany in 1805 by Vater."(14)

Some of the earliest critics in the field of collecting variant readings of the New Testament in Greek, were Mill and Bengel. We have Dr. Kenrick, Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia in 1849, as authority that they and others had examined these manuscripts recently exalted as superior, such as the Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Beza, and Ephraem, and had pronounced in favor of the Vulgate, the Catholic Bible.(15)

Simon, Astruc, and Geddes, with those German critics, Eichhorn, Semler, and DeWitte, who carried their work on further and deeper, stand forth as leaders and representatives in the period which stretches from the date of the King James (1611) to the outbreak of the French Revolution (1789). Simon and Eichhorn were co-authors of a Hebrew Dictionary.(16) These outstanding six, — two French, one Scotch, and three German, — with others of perhaps not equal prominence, began the work of discrediting the Received Text, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, and of calling in question the generally accepted beliefs respecting the Bible which had prevailed in Protestant countries since the birth of the Reformation. There was not much to do in France, since it was not a Protestant country and the majority had not far to go to change their belief; there was not much done in England or Scotland because there a contrary mentality prevailed. The greatest inroads were made in Germany. Thus matters stood when in 1773, European nations arose and demanded that the Pope suppress the order of the Jesuits. It was too late, however, to smother the fury, which sixteen years later broke forth in the French Revolution.

The upheaval which followed engaged the attention of all mankind for a quarter of a century. It was the period of indignation foreseen by the prophet Daniel. As the armies of the Revolution and of Napoleon marched and counter-marched over the territories of Continental Europe, the foundations of the ancient regime were broken up. Even from the Vatican the cry arose, "Religion is destroyed." And when in 1812 Napoleon was taken prisoner, and the deluge had passed, men looked out upon a changed Europe. England had escaped invasion, although she had taken a leading part in the overthrow of Napoleon. France restored her Catholic monarchs, — the Bourbons who "never learned anything and never forgot anything." In 1814 the Pope promptly restored the Jesuits.

Then followed in the Protestant world two outstanding currents of thought: first, on the part of many, a stronger expression of faith in the Holy Scriptures, especially in the great prophecies which seemed to be on the eve of fulfillment where they predict the coming of a new dispensation. The other current took the form of a reaction, a growing disbelief in the leadership of accepted Bible doctrines whose uselessness seemed proved by their apparent impotence in not preventing the French Revolution. And, as in the days before that outbreak, Germany, which had suffered the most, seemed to be fertile soil for a strong and rapid growth of higher criticism.

Griesbach and Möhler

Among the foremost of those who tore the Received Text to pieces in the Old Testament stand the Hollander, Kuehnen, and the German scholars, Ewald and Wellhausen. Their findings, however, were confined to scholarly circles. The public were not moved by them, as their work appeared to be only negative. The two German critics who brought the hour of revision much nearer were the Protestant Griesbach, and the Catholic Möhler. Möhler (1796-1838) did not spend his efforts on the text as did Griesbach, but he handled the points of difference in doctrine between the Protestants and the Catholics in such a way as to win over the Catholic mind to higher criticism and to throw open the door for Protestants who either loved higher criticism, or who, being disturbed by it, found in Catholicism, a haven of refuge. Of him Hagenbach says:

"Whatever vigorous vitality is possessed by the most recent Catholic theological science is due to the labors of this man."(17)

While Kurtz says:

"He sent rays of his spirit deep into the hearts and minds of hundreds of his enthusiastic pupils by his writings, addresses, and by his intercourses with them; and what the Roman Catholic Church of the present possesses of living scientific impulse and feeling was implanted, or at least revived and excited by him... In fact, long as was the opposition which existed between both churches, no work from the camp of the Roman Catholics produced as much agitation and excitement in the camp of the Protestants as this."(18)

Or, as Maurice writes concerning Ward, one of the powerful leaders of the Oxford Movement:

"Ward's notion of Lutheranism is taken, I feel pretty sure, from Möhler's very gross misrepresentations."(19)

Griesbach (1745-1812) attacked the Received Text of the New Testament in a new way. He did not stop at bringing to light and emphasizing the variant readings of the Greek manuscripts; he classified readings into three groups, and put all manuscripts under these groupings, giving them the names of "Constantinopolitan," or those of the Received Text, the "Alexandrian," and the "Western." While Griesbach used the Received Text as his measuring rod, nevertheless, the Greek New Testament he brought forth by this measuring rod followed the Alexandrian manuscripts or, — Origen. His classification of the manuscripts was so novel and the result of such prodigious labors, that critics everywhere hailed his Greek New Testament as the final word. It was not long, however, before other scholars took Griesbach's own theory of classification and proved him wrong.

Romanticism and Sir Walter Scott

The effective manner in which other currents appeared during this period, which, working together, contributed toward one central point, may be seen in the unusual factors which arose to call the thoughts of men back to the Middle Ages. All that contributed to the glamour and the romanticism of the ages of chivalry seemed to start forth with a new freshness of life. The Gothic architecture, which may be seen in the cathedrals erected while St. Louis of France and Thomas A. Beckett of England were medieval heroes, again became the fashion. Religious works appeared whose authors glorified the saints and the princes of the days of the crusades. Sir Walter Scott is generally esteemed by everyone as being the outstanding force which led the minds of fiction readers to the highest enthusiasm over the exploits of Catholic heroes and papal armies.(20)

Many forces were at work, mysterious in the unexpected way they appeared and arousing public interest in the years which preceded the Reformation. Painters of England, France, and Germany, there were, who gave to Medieval scenes a romance, and so aroused in them new interest.


Winer (1789-1858), a brilliant student in theology, but especially in Biblical Greek, was destined to transmit through modern rules affecting New Testament Greek the results of the research and speculations produced by the higher critics and German theologians who had gone before him and were working contemporaneously with him. Dean Farrar calls Winer, "The highest authority in Hellenistic Grammar." Griesbach had blazed a new trail when by his classification of manuscripts, he cast reflection upon the authority of the Received Text. Möhler and Gorres had so revivified and exalted Catholic theology that the world of scholars was prepared to receive some new devices which they called rules, in handling the grammatical elements of the New Testament Greek. These rules differed greatly in viewpoint from those of the scholars of the Reformation. Winer was that man who provided such rules.

In order to understand what Winer did, we must ask ourselves the question: In the Bible, is the Greek New Testament joined to a Hebrew Old Testament, or to a group of Greek writings" Or in other words: Will the language of the Greek New Testament be influenced by the molds of pagan thought coming from the Greek world into the books of the New Testament, or will it be molded by the Hebrew idioms and phrases of the Old Testament directly inspired of God? The Reformers said that the Greek of the New Testament was cast in Hebrew forms of thought, and translated freely; the Revisers literally. The Revisers followed Winer. We see the results of their decision in the Revised New Testament.

To understand this a little more clearly, we need to remember that the Hebrew language was either deficient in adjectives, or dearly liked to make a noun serve in place of an adjective. The Hebrews often did not say a "strong man;" they said a "man of strength." They did not always say an "old woman;" they said a "woman of age." In English we would use the latter expression only about once where we would use the former many times. Finding these Hebrew methods of handling New Testament Greek, the Reformers translated them into the idiom of the English language, understanding that that was what the Lord intended. Those who differed from the Reformers claimed that these expressions should be carried over literally, or what is known as transliteration. Therefore the Revisers did not translate; they transliterated and gloried in their extreme literalism. Let us illustrate the results of this method.


The first means Christ's glorified body, the second might mean good deeds.
Dr. Vance Smith, Unitarian scholar on the Revision Committee, said that "hell of fire" opened the way for the other hells of pagan mythology.

The Article (Its New Rules)

Dean Farrar in his defense of the Revised Version says that, in omitting the article in Hebrews 9:27, the Revisers changed the meaning from the great and final judgment, to judgments in the intermediate state (such as purgatory, limbo, etc.), thus proving the intermediate state. From the growing favor in which the doctrine of purgatory is held, we believe the learned Dean had this in mind. Pages of other examples could be given of how the new rules can be used as a weapon against the King James.

So the modern rules which they apparently followed when it suited their theology, on the "article," the "tenses,: — aorists and perfect, — the "pronoun," the "preposition," the "intensive," "Hebraisms," and "parallelisms," pave the way for new and anti-Protestant doctrines concerning the "Person of Christ," "Satan," "Inspiration of the Bible," "The Second Coming of Christ," and other topics dealt with later.

On this point the Edinburgh Review, July 1881, says:

"Our Revisers have subjected their original to the most exhaustive grammatical analysis, every chapter testifies to the fear of Winer that was before their eyes, and their familiarity with the intricacies of modern verbal criticisms."

The Moulton Family

Let me now introduce Professor W.F. Moulton, of Cambridge, England; his brother, Professor R.G. Moulton of Chicago University; and his son, Dr. J.H. Moulton of several colleges and universities.

Professor W.F. Moulton of Leys College, Cambridge, England, was a member of the English New Testament Revision Committee. To him we owe, because of his great admiration for it, the translation into English of Winer's Grammar of New Testament Greek. It went through a number of editions, had a wide circulation, and exercised a dominant influence upon the thinking of modern Greek scholars.

Professor W.F. Moulton had a very strong part in the selecting of the members who should serve on the English New Testament Revision Committee. Of this, his son, Professor James H. Moulton, says regarding Bishop Ellicott, leading promoter of revision, and chairman of the New Testament Revision Committee:

"Doctor Ellicott had been in correspondence on Biblical matters with the young Assistant Tutor... His estimate of his powers was shown first by the proposal as to Winer, and not long after by the Bishop's large use of my father's advice in selecting new members of the Revision Company. Mr. Moulton took his place in the Jerusalem Chamber in 1870, the youngest member of the Company; and in the same year his edition of Winer appeared."(21)

Of Professor Moulton's work, Bishop Ellicott writes:

"Their (the Revisers') knowledge of New Testament Greek was distinctly influenced by the grammatical views of Professor Winer, of whose valuable grammar of the Greek Testament one of our company... had been a well-known and successful translator."(22)

Professor W. F. Moulton, a Revisionist, also wrote a book on the "History of the Bible." In this book he glorifies the Jesuit Bible of 1582 as agreeing "with the best critical editions of the present day." "Hence," he says, "we may expect to find that the Rhemish New Testament (Jesuit Bible of 1582) frequently anticipates the judgment of later scholars as to the presence or absence of certain words, clauses, or even verses." And again, "On the whole, the influence of the use of the Vulgate would, in the New Testament, be more frequently for good than for harm in respect of text.(23) With respect to the use of the article, he says, "As the Latin language has no definite article, it might well be supposed that of all English versions, the Rhemish would be least accurate in this point of translation. The very reverse is actually the case. There are many instances (a comparatively hasty search has discovered more than forty) in which, of all versions, from Tyndale's to the Authorized inclusive, this alone is correct in regard to the article."(24) All this tended to belittle the King James and create a demand for a different English Bible.

You will be interested to know that his brother, Professor R.G. Moulton, believes the book of Job to be a drama. He says:

"But the great majority of readers will take these chapters to be part of the parable into which the history of Job has been worked up. The incidents in heaven, like the incidents of the prodigal son, they will understand to be spiritually imagined, not historically narrated."(25)

Since "Get thee behind me, Satan" has been struck out in the Revised in Luke 4:8, and the same phrase now applied only to Peter (Matthew 16:23), it is necessary, since Peter is called Satan by Christ, to use modern rules and exalt Satan.

"Among the sons of God," R.G. Moulton further tells us, "It is said, comes 'the Satan.' It is best to use the article and speak of 'the Satan'; or as the margin gives it, 'the Adversary': that is, the Adversary of the Saints... Here (as in the similar passage of Zechariah) the Satan is an official of the Court of Heaven... in its 'Advocatus Diaboli': such an advocate may be in fact a pious and kindly ecclesiastic, but he has the function assigned him of searching out all possible evil that can be alleged against a candidate for canonization, lest the honours of the church might be given without due enquiry."(26)

From the study which you have had of Winer and the Moultons, I think it will be easy to see the trend of German higher criticism as it has been translated into English literature and into the revised edition of the Bible.

Cardinal Wiseman (1802-1865)

The new birth of Catholicism in the English world can be credited to no one more than to that English youth — later to become a cardinal — who pursued at Rome his Oriental studies. There under the trained eye of Cardinal Mai, the editor of the Vatican Manuscript, Wiseman early secured an influential leadership among higher critics by his researches and theories on the earliest texts. "Without this training," he said later, "I should not have thrown myself into the Puseyite controversy at a later period."(27) He was later thrilled over the Catholic reaction taking place everywhere on the Continent, and, being English, he longed to have a share in bringing about the same in England. He was visited in Rome by Gladstone, by Archbishop Trench, a promoter of revision and later a member of the English New Testament Revision Committee; also by Newman, Froude, and Manning;(28) by the leaders of the Catholic reaction in Germany, — Bunsen, Gorres, and Overbeck; and by the leaders of the same in France, — Montalembert, Lacordaire, and Lamennais.

Wiseman's theories on the Old Latin Manuscripts — later to be disproved — gave a decided impetus to the campaign against the Received Text. Scrivener, generally well-balanced, was affected by his conclusions. "Even in our day such writers as Mr. Scrivener, Bishop Westcott, and Tregelles, as well as German and Italian scholars have made liberal use of his arguments and researches."(29) "Wiseman has made out a case," says Scrivener, "which all who have followed him, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Davidson, and Tregelles, accept as irresistible."(30) Some of the most distinguished men of Europe attended his lectures upon the reconciliation of science and religion. The story of how he was sent to England, founded the Dublin Review, and working on the outside of Oxford with the remnants of Catholicism in England and with the Catholics of the Continent, while Newman on the inside of Oxford, as a Church of England clergyman, worked to Romanize that University and that Church; of how Wiseman organized again the Catholic hierarchy in Great Britain, a step which convulsed England from end to end, will be subjects for later consideration. Suffice it now to say that Wiseman lived long enough to exult openly(31) that the King James Version had been thrust aside and the preeminence of the Vulgate reestablished by the influence of his attacks and those of other textual critics.

The Gnosticism of German Theology
Invades England
Coleridge, Thirwall, Stanley, Westcott

By 1833 the issue was becoming clearly defined. It was Premillenarianism, that is, belief in the return of Christ before the millennium, or Liberalism; it was with regard to the Scriptures, literalism or allegorism. As Cadman says of the Evangelicals of that day:

"Their fatalism inclined many of them to Premillenariansim as a refuge from the approaching catastrophes of the present dispensation... Famous divines strengthened and adorned the wider ranks of Evangelicalism, but few such were found within the pale of the Establishment. Robert Hall, John Foster, William Jay of Bath, Edward Irving, the eccentric genius, and in Scotland, Thomas Chalmers, represented the vigor and fearlessness of an earlier day and maintained the excellence of Evangelical preaching."(32)

How deeply the conviction, that the great prophecies which predicted the approaching end of the age, had gripped the public mind can be seen in the great crowds which assembled to hear Edward Irving. They were so immense that he was constantly compelled to secure larger auditoriums. Even Carlyle could relate of his own father in 1832:

"I have heard him say in late years with an impressiveness which all his perceptions carried with them, that the lot of a poor man was growing worse and worse; that the world would not and could not last as it was; that mighty changes of which none saw the end were on the way. To him, as one about to take his departure, the whole world was but of secondary moment. He was looking toward 'a city that had foundations.'"(33)

Here was a faith in the Second Coming of Christ, at once Protestant and evangelical, which would resist any effort so to revise the Scriptures as to render them colorless, giving to them nothing more than a literary endorsement of plans of betterment, merely social or political. This faith was soon to be called upon to face a theology of an entirely different spirit. German religious thinking at that moment was taking on an aggressive attitude. Schleiermacher had captured the imagination of the age and would soon mold the theology of Oxford and Cambridge. Though he openly confessed himself a Protestant, nevertheless, like Origen of old, he sat at the feet of Clement, the old Alexandrian teacher of 190 A.D.

Clement's passion for allegorizing Scripture offered an easy escape from those obligations imposed upon the soul by a plain message of the Bible. Schleiermacher modernized Clement's philosophy and made it beautiful to the parlor philosophers of the day by imaginary analysis of the realm of spirit. It was the old Gnosticism revived, and would surely dissolve Protestantism wherever accepted and would introduce such terms into the Bible, if revision could be secured, as to rob the trumpet of a certain sound. The great prophecies of the Bible would become mere literary addresses to the people of bygone days, and unless counter-checked by the noble Scriptures of the Reformers, the result would be either atheism or papal infallibility.

If Schleiermacher did more to captivate and enthrall the religious thinking of the nineteenth century than any other one scholar, Coleridge, his contemporary, did as much to give aggressive motion to the thinking of England's youth of his day, who, hardly without exception, drank enthusiastically of his teachings. He had been to Germany and returned a fervent devotee of its theology and textual criticism. At Cambridge University he became a star around which grouped a constellation of leaders in thought. Thirwall, Westcott, Hort, Moulton, Milligan, who were all later members of the English Revision Committees and whose writings betray the voice of the master, felt the impact of his doctrines.

"His influence upon his own age, and especially upon its younger men of genius, was greater than that of any other Englishman... Coleridgeans may be found now among every class of English divines, from the Broad Church to the highest Puseyites," says McClintock and Strong's Encyclopedia.

The same article speaks of Coleridge as "Unitarian," "Metaphysical," a "Theologian," "Pantheistic," and says that "he identifies reason with divine Logos," and that he holds "views of inspiration as low as the rationalists," and also holds views of the Trinity "no better than a refined, Platonized Sabellianism."

Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles

We have seen above how Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles fell under the influence of Cardinal Wiseman's theories. There are more recent scholars of textual criticism who pass over these three and leap from Griesbach to Westcott and Hort, claiming that the two latter simply carried out the beginnings of classification made by the former.(34) Nevertheless, since many writers bid us over and over again to look to Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles, — until we hear of them morning, noon, and night, — we would seek to give these laborious scholars all the praise justly due them, while we remember that there is a limit to all good things.

Lachmann's (1793-1851) bold determination to throw aside the Received Text and to construct a new Greek Testament from such manuscripts as he endorsed according to his own rules, has been the thing which endeared him to all who give no weight to the tremendous testimony of 1500 years of use of the Received Text. Yet Lachmann's canon of criticism has been deserted both by Bishop Ellicott, and by Dr. Hort. Ellicott says, "Lachmann's text is really one based on little more than four manuscripts, and so is really more of a critical recension than a critical text."(35) And again, "A text composed on the narrowest and most exclusive principles."(35) While Dr. Hort says:

"Not again, in dealing with so various and complex a body of documentary attestation, is there any real advantage in attempting, with Lachmann, to allow the distributions of a very small number of the most ancient existing documents to construct for themselves a provisional text."(36)

Tischendorf's (1815-1874) outstanding claim upon history is his discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript in the convent at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Mankind is indebted to this prodigious worker for having published manuscripts not accessible to the average reader. Nevertheless, his discovery of Codex Aleph (æ) toppled over his judgment. Previous to that he had brought out seven different Greek New Testaments, declaring that the seventh was perfect and could not be superseded. Then, to the scandal of textual criticism, after he had found the Sinaitic Manuscript, he brought out his eighth Greek New Testament, which was different from his seventh in 3572 places.(37) Moreover, he demonstrated how textual critics can artificially bring out Greek New Testaments when, at the request of a French Publishing house, Firmin Didot, he edited an edition of the Greek Testament for Catholics, conforming it to the Latin Vulgate.(38)

Tregelles (1813-1875) followed Lachmann's principles by going back to what he considered the ancient manuscripts and, like him, he ignored the Received Text and the great mass of cursive manuscripts.(39) Of him, Ellicott says, "His critical principles, especially his general principles of estimating and regarding modern manuscripts, are now, perhaps justly, called in question by many competent scholars," and that his text "is rigid and mechanical, and sometimes fails to disclose that critical instinct and peculiar scholarly sagacity which is so much needed in the great and responsible work of constructing a critical text of the Greek Testament."(40)

In his splendid work which convinced Gladstone that the Revised Version was a failure, Sir Edmund Beckett says of the principles which controlled such men as Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott, and Hort in their modern canons of criticism:

"If two, or two-thirds of two dozen men steeped in Greek declare that they believe that he (John) ever wrote that he saw in a vision seven angels clothed in stone with golden girdles, which is the only honest translation of their Greek, and defend it with such arguments as these, I... distrust their judgment on the 'preponderance of evidence' for new readings altogether, and all their modern canons of criticism, which profess to settle the relative value of manuscripts, with such results as this and many others."(41)

Such were the antecedent conditions preparing the way to draw England into entangling alliances, to de-Protestantize her national church and to advocate at a dangerous hour the necessity of revising the King James Bible. The Earl of Shaftesbury, foreseeing the dark future of such an attempt, said in May, 1856:

"When you are confused or perplexed by a variety of versions, you would be obliged to go to some learned pundit in whom you reposed confidence, and ask him which version he recommended; and when you had taken his version, you must be bound by his opinion. I hold this to be the greatest danger that now threatens us. It is a danger pressed upon us from Germany, and pressed upon us by the neogolical spirit of the age. I hold it to be far more dangerous than Tractarianism or Popery, both of which I abhor from the bottom of my heart. This evil is tenfold more dangerous, tenfold more subtle than either of these, because you would be ten times more incapable of dealing with the gigantic mischief that would stand before you."(42)

The Polychrome Bible and the Shorter Bible

The results of this rising tide of higher criticism were the rejection of the Received Text and the mania for revision. It gave us, among other bizarre versions, the "Polychrome" and also the "Shorter Bible." The Polychrome Bible is generally an edition of the separate books of the Scriptures, each book having every page colored many times to represent the different writers.

Any one who will take the pains to secure a copy of the "Shorter Bible" in the New Testament, will recognize that about four thousand of the nearly eight thousand verses in that Scripture have been entirely blotted out. We offer the following quotation from the United Presbyterian of December 22, 1921, as a description of the "Shorter Bible:"

"The preface further informs us that only about one-third of the Old Testament and two-thirds of the New Testament are possessed of this 'vital interest and practical value.' The Old Testament ritual and sacrificial system, with their deep lessons and their forward look to the atonement through the death of Christ are gone. As a result of this, the New Testament references to Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifices are omitted. Such verses as 'Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,' are gone.

"Whole books of the Old Testament are gone. Some of the richest portions of the books of the prophets are missing. From the New Testament they have omitted 4,000 verses. Other verses are cut in two, and a fragment left us, for which we are duly thankful. The great commission recorded in Matthew; the epistles of Titus, Jude, First and Second John, are entirely omitted, and but twenty-five verses of the second epistle of Timothy remain. The part of the third chapter of Romans which treats of human depravity, being 'of no practical value to the present age,' is omitted. Only one verse remains from the fourth chapter. The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew and other passages upon which the premillenarians base their theory, are missing. All the passages which teach the atonement through the death of Christ are gone."

The campaigns of nearly three centuries against the Received Text did their work. The Greek New Testament of the Reformation was dethroned and with it the Versions translated from it, whether English, German, French, or of any other language. It had been predicted that if the Revised Version were not of sufficient merit to be authorized and so displace the King James, confusion and division would be multiplied by a crop of unauthorized and sectarian translations.(43) The Polychrome, the Shorter Bible, and a large output of heterogeneous Bibles verify the prediction. No competitor has yet appeared able to create a standard comparable to the text which has held sway for 1800 years in the original tongue, and for 300 years in its English translation, the King James.



 (1)  Von Dobschutz, The Influence of the Bible,  p. 136
 (2)  McClintock and Strong,  Encycl. Art. "Semler"
 (3)  Fulke's Defense,  p. 60
 (4)  Brooke's Cartwright,  pp. 274, 275
 (5)  Gore, A New Commentary,  Part I,  p. 647
 (6)  Hort's Introduction,  p. 143
 (7)  Wm. Palmer, Narrative of Events on the Tracts,  p. 23
 (8)  Stanley, Essays,  p. 140
 (9)  Chambers, Companion to Revised,  pp. 13, 14
(10) Demaus, William Tyndale,  p. 13
(11) Gore, New Commentary,  Part III,  p. 719
(12) Catholic Encyclopedia,  Vol. IV,  p. 492
(13) Ibid,  pp. 492, 493
(14) Ibid,  p. 493
(15) Quoted in Rheims and Douay by Dr. H. Cotton,  p. 155
(16) McClintock and Strong,  Encycl. Art. "Winer"
(17) Hagenbach, Church History,  Vol. II,  p. 446
(18) Kurtz, History of the Reformation,  Vol. II,  p. 391
(19) Life of T.D. Maurice by his Son,  Vol. I,  p. 362
(20) Cadman, Three Religious Leaders,  pp. 476-478
(21) J.H. Moulton, A Grammar of the Greek N.T.,  p. VIII
(22) Bishop J.C. Ellicott, Addresses on the Revised Version,  pp. 106, 107
(23) W.F. Moulton, The English Bible,  pp. 184, 185
(24) Ibid,  p. 188
(25) R.G. Moulton, The Literary Study of the Bible,  p. 37
(26) Ibid,  pp. 28, 29
(27) Wilfred Ward, Life and Times of Cardinal Wiseman,  Vol. I,  p. 65
(28) Ibid,  p. 93
(29) Ward, Life of Wiseman,  Vol. I,  p. 57
(30) Scrivener, Introduction to the Criticism of the N.T.,  Vol. II,  p. 44
(31) Wiseman's Essays,  Vol. I,  p. 104
Cadman, Three Religious Leaders,  pp. 416, 417
(33) Froude, Carlyle's Reminiscences,  p. 48
(34) Gore, A New Commentary,  Part III,  p. 720
(35) Ellicott, Considerations on Revision of the N.T.,  p. 46
(36) Hort's Introduction,  p. 288
(37) Burgon and Miller, Traditional Text,  p. 7
(38) Ezra Abbott, Unitarian Review,  March 1875
(39) Schaff, Companion to Greek Testament,  p. 264
(40) Ellicott, Considerations,  pp. 47, 48
(41) Beckett, The Revised N.T.,  p. 181, 182
(42) Bissell, Origin of the Bible,  p. 355
(43) Dr. Schaff, In Bible Revision,  p.20


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