On the Bible Manuscripts in General
I. The Principles of the Last 100 Years in handling MSS.
In reply to the Reviewer's document, Section II, entitled, "On the Bible MSS in general" we will note the following points:
1. Overwhelming Testimony of MSS in Favor of Textus Receptus.
Nineteen our of every twenty Greek manuscripts, according to some authors, (Tregelles, Account p.138), ninety-five out of every one hundred, according to other authors, (Hastings Encyclopedia, 916) and according to still other authors, ninety-nine out of every one hundred (Burgon, Revision Revised, pp. 11, 12) Greek manuscripts are in favor of the Received Text. My Reviewers (Section 2, pp. 18, 19) give authorities to say that there are 3000-4000 manuscripts (MSS); and less than 160 of these are uncials. An uncial MSS is one whose every letter is a capital; while a cursive MSS is like our writing, running, all letters connected and made without lifting the hand. With the uncials the writer must lift the hand to make each letter. In other words, 50 or less Greek manuscripts out of every one thousand will favor the Greek New Testament from which the Revised Version was translated, while 950 or more out of every 1000 Greek manuscripts will favor the Greek New Testament from which the King James Bible was translated. In the face of this significant fact we are led to ask how did it come about that with such a small quantity of evidence on its side the Greek text underlying the Revised Version secured as great a place as it did? 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." - Hort's "Introduction".
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.
That the large number of conflicting readings which higher critics have gathered must come from only a few manuscripts is evident.
2. Comparatively only a few MSS survived in the period from the Fourth to the Ninth Century.
Since so much is said about the oldest manuscripts, or the most ancient manuscripts, and also about the uncials, it would be well here to quote from an author which my Reviewers have used a great deal, to show the relationship in style, in numbers, and in time, existing between the uncials and the cursives:
"The oldest manuscripts of the Greek-New Testament now in existence were written in the fourth century. Two splendid volumes, one now in the Vatican Library at Rome, the other at St. Petersburg, are assigned by all competent critics to this period. Two more were probably written in the fifth century; one of these is the glory of our own British Museum, the other is in the National Library at Paris. In addition to these there are perhaps twelve very fragmentary manuscripts of the same century, which contain only some small portions of the New Testament. From the sixth century, twenty-seven documents have come down to us, but only five of these contain so much as single book complete. From the seventh we have eight small fragments; from the eighth six manuscripts of some importance and eight fragments. So far the stream of tradition has run in a narrow bed. Time has, no doubt, caused the destruction of many copies; but it is also probable that during these centuries not so many copies were made as was the case subsequently, The style of writing then in use for works of literature was slow and laborious. Each letter was a capital, and had to be written separately; and the copying of a manuscript must have been long and toilsome task. In the ninth century, however, a change was made of great importance in the history of the Bible, and indeed of all ancient Greek literature, In place of the large capitals hitherto employed, a small style of letter came into use, modified in shape so as to admit of being written continuously, without lifting the pen after every letter, writing became easier and quicker; and to this fact we may attribute the marked increase in the number of manuscripts of the Bible which have come down to us from the ninth and tenth centuries," F.D. Fenyon, "Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts," pp. 96, 97.
You will note from this quotation that there are only two manuscripts of the fourth century; two of the fifth century; twenty-seven from the sixth century, only five of which contain so much as a single book complete; eight from the seventh century, small fragments only; from the eighth century only six, also small fragments. In other words, if we were to put together all the manuscripts from the fourth to the eighth century inclusive, looking at them from their broken and fragmentary condition, we probably would not have more than a few New Testaments complete, But when we reach the ninth century, - what a great change takes place! Thousands of manuscripts come down to us from this period, 950 or more out of every 1,000 of them practically being the Textus Receptus, On the other hand the larger proportion of the uncials also witness to the Textus Receptus.
3. Textus Receptus Traced Back to the Year 350 A.D.
Here again, however, another fact stands out silhouetted against the sky of Biblical history. In view of the strong criticism launched against the Received Text by the advocates of the other type, would it be surprising to learn that the outstanding leader of the opponents to the Textus Receptus, Dr. Hort, testifies to the fact to which all authorities must agree, that the Greek New Testament of the Textus Receptus type, can be traced back very positively to the year 350 A.D. and is as old as any known manuscript, Hort says;
"The fundamental text of the late extant Greek MSS generally is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian or Graeco-Syrian text of the second half of the fourth century. The community of text implies on genealogical grounds a community of parentage; the Antiochian Fathers and the bulk extant MSS written from about three or four to ten or eleven centuries later must have had, in the greater number extant variations, a common original either contemporary, with or older than our oldest extant MSS, which thus lose at once whatever presumption of exceptional purity they might have derived from their exceptional antiquity alone." -- Hort`s Introduction, p.92
This gives a greater antiquity to the T.R, than to the Greek Text of the Revised Version.
4. Terrific and Persistent Attack upon the King James Version
Immediately following its birth, Protestantism sustained one hundred years of terrible conflict with Roman Catholicism. At the beginning of this 100 years, the Textus Receptus made its appearance in the lands dominated by the Papacy, brought forth by the hands of Erasmus. During the 1,000 years previous the Greek language and literature was practically unknown in this territory. Protestantism and the Textus Receptus were twins; they both saw the light practically the same year. After 100 years of anxious and dreadful conflict with cruel armies and corrupted literature, the King James Version was brought forth. It was destined to have splendid success and rise to a commanding position in the world. The King James Bible had hardly begun its career before armies commenced to fall upon it. Though it has held its place among 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 they be who are so stirred up as to deliver against it one assault after another? Great theological seminaries participate. 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 the order of the Pope, if they needed restoration, have the attacks by Catholic scholars on the King James Bible and by other scholars who are Protestants in name, become bitter I quote from William Palmer:
"For it must be said that the Roman Catholic or 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 subtlety 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 the points which should be proved; that it is logically false, being grounded on 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." Wm. Palmer, Narrative of Events on the Tracts." p. 23
5. The Founders of Modern Biblical Criticism were Catholic Fathers
Another quotation will show that the counter-reformation launched by the Jesuits, and having for its purpose the destruction of Protestantism, concentrated its most effective opposition against the Bible as the strongest bulwark of Protestantism. I quote from Von Dobschutz:
"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 historical value." - Von Dobschutz, "The Influence of the Bible" p.136
A quotation from another source:
"A French priest, Richard Simon (1638-1712), 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." Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p.492.
"In 1753 Jean Astruc, a French Catholic physician of considerable note, published a little book, 'Conjectures sur les memoires originaux dont it 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 Eichorn...Eichorn greatly developed Astruc's hypothesis." Ibid, pp. 492, 493.
"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 Eichorn's. This was the well-known 'Fragment' hypothesis, which reduced the Penteteuch 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," - Ibid. p. 493.
"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, Bezas and Ephraem, and had pronounced in favor of the Vulgate, the Catholic Bible." - quoted in Rheims and Douay by Dr. H. Cotton, p.155.
6. Modern Textual Criticism Tended to Set aside the Received Text.
It is a striking fact that the new science of textual criticism, first fashioned in the hands of the Jesuits made no progress until we reached time of the end. As this was the hour when we also had reached perilous time and men have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, and have been turning away from truth unto fables, the soil of the Protestant world was fertile for receiving the seeds of the new so-called science of Biblical criticism. We quote now from Dr. Kenyon:
"But with the nineteenth century a new departure was made, and we reach the region of modern textual criticism, of which the principle is, setting aside the 'Received Text' to construct a new text with the help of the best authorities now available. The author of this new departure was C. Lachmann (1793-1851), who published in 1842-50 a text constructed according to principles of his own devising. Out of all the mass of manuscripts collected by Mill, Wetstein, and their colleagues, he selected a few of the best (A, B, C, and sometimes D, with the fragments P, Q, T, Z, in the Gospels; D, E2 in the Acts; D2, G3, H3, in the Pauline Epistles; together with some of the best MSS of the Latin Vulgate, and a few of the Fathers), and from these he endeavored to recover the text of the New Testament as it was current in the Fourth Century (when the earliest of these authorities were written) by the simple method of counting the authorities in favor of each reading, and always following the majority. Lachmann's method was too mechanical in its rigidity, and the list of his authorities was too small." - "Our Bible in the Ancient Authorities" pp. 117, 118 (Emphasis mine)
While Dr, Kenyon, who favors the modern criticism of the Bible criticized the list of authorities used by Lachmann as being too small, nevertheless he believes that it was productive of improvements on the Received Text. "Lachmann was followed by the two great critics of the last generation, Tischendorf and Tregelles." 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 his judgment. Previous to that time 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. (Burgon and Miller, Traditional Text, p.7). 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. (Ezra Abbott, Unitarian Review, March 1875).
7. The Destructive Principles Adopted by Several Leading Critics.
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. (Schaff, "Companion of Greek Testament" p.264). Of him, Ellicott says:
"His critical principles, especially his general principles of estimating and regarding modern manuscripts, are new, 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 New Testament," Ellicott, "Considerations", pp. 47-48
In his splendid work which convinced Gladstone that the Revised Version was a failure, Sir Edmund Beckett, speaking of the principles which controlled such men as Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort in their modern canons of criticism, says:
"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." Beckett, "The Revised N.T." p.181
8. The Real Method of Handling MSS.
In regard to the other method of handling manuscripts which we believe is the right method and which prevailed until these subtle influences began to work which resulted in the strange and mysterious principles of some textual critics in the last one hundred years, I quote again from Dr. Kenyon:
"Of Westcott and Hort we have spoken at length in the preceding chapter, showing how they revived Griesbach's principle, and worked it out with greater elaboration and with a far fuller command of material. Their names close, for the present, the list of editors of the Greek New Testament whose attention has been directed expecially to its text rather than (as Alford, Lightfoot, Weiss, and others) its interpretation. It is right, however, to mention the names of one or two scholars who have devoted their attention to textual studies without actually publishing revised texts of their own. Chief among those is F.H.A. Scrivener, who, besides editing the manuscripts D and F2 and collating a number of cursives, wrote, in his "Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament," the standard history of the New Testament text. J.W. Burgon, Dean of Chichester, was another scholar of immense industry, learning and zeal in textual matters, although his extreme distaste for innovations led him to oppose, rightly or wrongly, nearly every new departure in this field or in any other. To Scrivener and Burgon may especially be attributed the defense of the principle that all the available authorities should, so far as possible be taken into consideration, and not only the most ancient. They attached much weight to the evidence of the great mass of MSS headed by A and C, while they opposed the tendency of Westcott and Hort, and their followers to defer almost invariably to the testimony of B (Vaticanus) and Aleph (Sinaiticus)." - "Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts" pp. 119, 120. (Emphasis mine)
II. Reviewers Illogical Arguments About Erasmus.
For sometime past there has been an aggressive and wide-spread effort to discredit the Waldenses, to discredit Erasmus and to discredit Luther. This campaign has resulted in practically obscuring the real history and real character and the great work of the Waldenses. The first seven counts in Section II of my Reviewers' document claim: (l) Erasmus, himself was a Catholic. (2) His Bible was a Catholic Vulgate. (3) He dedicated his New Testament to Pope Leo X and printed the Pope's letter of approval. (4) The Greek New Testament of Erasmus was not the first one printed, though it was the first put into circulation. (5) The first Greek Testament was printed by Cardinal Ximenes' in 1514. (6) Erasmus knew of Cardinal Ximenes' Greek Testament and used it to make over 100 corrections in his own fourth edition. (7) Cardinal Ximenes had a number of scholars to work on his edition, while Erasmus worked alone on his text for publication for less than a year.
I will answer the seven points in order.
(1) Erasmus, himself, was a Catholic my Reviewers urge. Of course he was. At that moment the whole western civilized world was Catholic. There never would have been any Protestantism, except a divergence started somewhere. Erasmus started that divergence. Erasmus could not have appeared from thin air a full-fledged Protestant and having in his hand a finally perfected Textus Receptus. That being so, my Reviewers must admit that some man had to start somewhere to produce the divergence. Very naturally before he started he would have to be a Catholic, or as the famous proverb has it: "Erasmus laid the egg and Luther hatched it." Further, it might be claimed that Luther was a Catholic when he burned the Pope's Bull. In fact historians show that Protestantism was never finally and fully separated from Catholicism until the Council of Trent was broken up by the armies of Charles the Fifth in 1564.
(2) My Reviewers claim that Erasmus' own Bible was the Catholic Vulgate which he printed in a second edition along with his Greek Testament. This they claim was a fact "both before and after he issued his Greek Testament". But why did they not tell all the facts? When Erasmus published the Bibles in parallel he did not confine himself, as my Reviewers state, to printing only two Bibles in parallel, the Greek Text and the Catholic Vulgate. He printed three in parallel, the third parallel Bible being Erasmus' recension or revision of the Latin Vulgate. I quote again from Dr. Scrivener:
"The fourth edition (dated March, 1527) contains the text in three parallel columns, the Greek, the Latin Vulgate and Erasmus' recension of it." Scrivener, "Introduction", Vol. 2, page 186.
Also another quote from Dr. Miller:
"A fourth edition exhibited the text in three parallel columns, the Greek, the Latin Vulgate, and a recesion of the latter by Erasmus." Miller's Textual Guide, p.9
See also Tregelles, "Account of the Printed Text", p.21. It was the third column, the revised Vulgate, that brought down the storm on Erasmus' head. I wonder how far my Reviewers have misled you? My Reviewers ought to know that Erasmus' edition contained the Greek text of Erasmus, the old Catholic Vulgate and his own revised Vulgate. They left the impression that Erasmus was still clinging to the Catholic Vulgate. They gave no hint that he had revised it. I quote their statement now that you may see how far from fact their statement is. They say: "His own Bible was the Catholic Vulgate, both before and after he issued his Greek New Testament and he printed the Vulgate along with his Greek Testament in the second edition." (Section II, p.l) Why did they not tell you, if they knew, that in the fourth edition, he printed his revision of the Vulgate also.
(3) My Reviewers feel that they have given us a strong argument because Erasmus dedicated his Greek New testament to Pope Leo X and printed the latter's letter of approval in his second edition, but they forget that for 1,000 years Europe, with very small exception, had known nothing of Greek manuscripts and Greek literature, as Dr. Hort points out. (Hort's Introduction, p.142) Pope Leo was not a prophet. He could not foresee the colossal effects in the strength of the Greek New Testament of Erasmus. Pope Leo had no event from the past of a strong nature by which he could predict the coming greatness of the work of Erasmus. Neither could he foretell it. Why should not Erasmus have dedicated to the Pope his work? Why should not Leo X give it his papal smile? The Pope was hard pressed. He needed friends and Erasmus was a great man. There was every reason in the world for him to beam graciously upon this product of the learned Erasmus. The Pope could not foresee the great Reformation which was about to dawn and that the Greek New Testament of Erasmus would be an opening wedge. My Reviewers have missed the whole point. The fact is of little moment that Erasmus dedicated his work to the Pope and received the Pope's approbation. What has been the attitude of the Catholic Church since the real meaning of Erasmus' work is known and understood, is the real question.
There are other reasons why the presence of the Pope's imprimatur upon the New Greek New Testament of Erasmus means nothing at all with respect to the problem under discussion. (1) If that fact has so important a bearing as my Reviewers claim, why did the Catholic Church for hundreds of years, oppose by fire, flame, and sword, and put on the index, the vernacular translation from the Greek Text of Erasmus, and also the German Bible of Luther, the English Bible of Tyndale, and that of the French? (2) In the second place why did the Papacy never make any use of the Greek New Testament brought forth by the Cardinal Ximenes? It was a Catholic possession and there was nothing to hinder the Roman pontiff from making splendid use of it in spreading the gospel throughout the world. (3) And this is a point particularly to be emphasized, why did the Papacy work so desperately at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) to proclaim the Vulgate as the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church? We call attention to the fact that it was this famous Council which changed the Roman Catholic Church into a Jesuitical church. And it cannot be too strongly emphasized that the very first four resolutions of this dreadful Council were; (a) That the Vulgate was the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church (b) That the books of the Apocrypha were on a par with the other books of the Bible; (c) That tradition stood on an equal footing with the Bible and (d) That the interpretation of the Holy Scripture should be in the hands of the priests and not in the hands of the people. Why did not my Reviewers tell us that the Papacy put the Greek N.T. of Erasmus on the Index? Rome condemned all versions that departed from the Vulgate. (Putnam, "Censorship of Church," II, pp. 21,22)
The second reason why the imprimatur of the Pope would at this time have no particular hearing upon the question, is, that the New Testament of Erasmus was Greek. At that point in history this gesture meant nothing. The Pope could put his blessing on all the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Bibles or other Bibles in any dead language, because without any successful hope of putting them into the vernacular, against the still unshaken and invincible power of the papal church, there was nothing to fear.
My Reviewers ask us to explain how Erasmus could bring forth in this atmosphere a pure Greek Text while the Revisers are suspicioned by me as bringing forth a Catholic product in the Protestant age? Please tell us what was the atmosphere which surrounded Erasmus? It was all the difference between 1516 and 1901. Erasmus was in the grip of a gigantic undertow, running with irresistible force away from Catholicism toward the reformation. And Erasmus was helping it on, because he was fighting for the reformation; the only difference between him and Luther was that Erasmus, before he died, brought reform as far forward as he could in the Catholic Church, while Luther finally was driven to create it outside the church.
But the Revisers, on the other hand, were in the grip of a gigantic undertow, running away from Protestantism towards Catholicism. And they were helping it on. In my book I brought ample proof of this gigantic undertow running from Protestantism to Catholicism in the chapter entitled "How the Jesuits captured Oxford University." My Reviewers have entirely ignored this chapter and its unanswerable proof and this explains why they ask this inconsistent question in endeavoring to explain Erasmus and the Revisers.
As for the Revisers working ten years -- Yes! They worked ten years, but in dead secrecy. As to the statement made by my Reviewers that there was no Catholic on the Committee, -- that was not true, because it was the fault of the committee. Let the world know that Cardinal Newman, who has done more to damage Protestantism and popularize Romanism than any other man that ever, lived, was invited to sit on this revision committee. Dr. Hort idolized him. Hort and Westcott walked in the light of his writings. And as to Dr. Philip Schaff, president of both the American Revision Committees, their creator and their life, I have this to say: Cardinal Neman and Dr. Schaff drank their inspiration from the same fountain, -- from the higher critical theology of Germany, -- at the same time both pagan and papal. As to the results of Newman's life and the Oxford Movement, let a quarterly "Review" testify:
"He (Newman) had left the leprosy of Popery cleaving to the very walls of Oxford, to infect the youth of England, through an unknown future." - New Brunswick Review, Aug. 1854, p. 322
Do not forget, also, that Oxford University, with Cambridge, paid the bill of the Revisers.
As to the effect of Dr. Schaff, the Mercersburg theology, and his doctrines, let the same witness testify again:
"Our examination has extended only to a little beyond the middle of Dr. Schaff's work (i.e. his History of the Apostolic Church). But the positions he has already advanced, are such as to lay the whole truth and grace of God, and the whole liberty, hope and salvation of the human race, at the feet of the Roman Papacy." -- New Brunswick Review, Aug. 1854, p.325
(4-5) My Reviewers state: "Erasmus' Greek Text was not the first one printed though it was the first one to go into circulation. The first Greek text was printed by Cardinal Ximenes in 1514," etc. etc.
What of it? The Greek New Testament of Cardinal Ximenes went into cold storage and has been there ever since, but the Greek Testament of Erasmus was used by Luther in the circulation and publication of his German Bible which made the German Reformation. The same Greek Text of Erasmus was used by Tyndale in the publication of his English Bible which made the English Reformation. This is further proof that the tide was running away from Catholicism to Protestantism. I quote from Sister White:
"While Luther was opening a closed Bible to the people of Germany, Tyndale was impelled by the Spirit of God to do the same for England. Wycliffe's had been translated from the Latin text, which contained many errors... In 1516, a year before the appearance of Luther's theses, Erasmus had published his Greek and Latin version of the New Testament. Now for the first time the word of God was printed in the original tongue. In this work many errors of former versions were corrected, and the sense was more clearly rendered. It led many among the educated classes to a better knowledge of the truth, and gave a new impetus to the work of reform. But the common people were still, to a great extent, debarred from God's word. Tyndale was to complete the work of Wycliffe in giving the Bible to his countrymen.
"A diligent student and an earnest seeker for truth, he had received the gospel from the Greek Testament of Erasmus." Great Controversy, p. 245.
It would seem that these statements from Sister White would furnish all the answer any Seventh-day Adventist would ask for the first ten pages of the Reviewers Section II. All of their own assertions and quotations from their critical authorities disparaging Erasmus and his Greek Text; all of the scorn and doubt cast upon his work in these pages, is here contradicted by Sister White. If she is right, about the work of Erasmus, the Reviewers are wrong. You must choose between the two.
(6) The Reviewers use the fact that Erasmus made over one hundred corrections from the Complutensian.
NOTE - LOA, the former publishers, here add this paragraph to clarify for our readers what the Complutensian Text was:
The New Testament was first printed in Greek in 1514 at Alcala in Spain, under the direction of Cardinal Ximenes. This printing formed part of the Complutensian Polyglot (so called from Complutum, the Latin name for Alcala). In this the New Testament appeared with the Greek text and the Latin Vulgate in parallel columns; in the Old Testament section of the work the Latin Vulgate was flanked by the Hebrew and the Septuagint Greek (like our Lord on the cross between the two thieves, commented one contemporary who had no great enthusiasm for the new learning). But while the New Testament part of the enterprise was printed in 1514, it was not published until some years later, when the whole work, running to six volumes, was complete. The first Greek Testament to be published, therefore, was the first edition prepared by the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus, printed at Basel and published in March 1516. THE ENGLISH BIBLE by F.F. Bruce, pp.24, 25.
Apparently they failed to discern that Cardinal Ximenes' text was the Complutensian and it was also the Textus Receptus. If Erasmus used it in his fourth edition to make 100 corrections, would he not go forward "moulding the Textus Receptus" as Scrivenor says? Who of you knew as much in the first year of your college course as in the fourth? Give a man a chance to get his second breath. Shall we be like Herod who slaughtered the children of Bethlehem before they had a chance to get on their feet? Erasmus blazed the trail. No one had done anything like his work in Western Europe for one thousand years before. After him, Stephens and Elzevir continued to mould the Textus Receptus which reached a splendid condition about 1611 and there are a few touches which this Textus Receptus could undergo even yet. But to say that since Erasmus (1535) made one hundred corrections in his fourth edition of the Greek N.T., the Revision Committee was entitled to 5,337 corrections of the same in 1881, is a vastly different proposition. Did God keep His church waiting to do in 1881 what Great Controversy (p.245) says was done by Erasmus in 1516? Moreover, Erasmus and his followers were moulding the Textus Receptus forward. The Revisers of 1881 moulded the Greek New Testament backwards toward the Vulgate from which Erasmus and his Protestant successors delivered us. Why did not Luther and Tyndale translate their New Testament from the Vulgate? They clearly saw that the Vulgate was a Catholic Bible and would justify and protect the doctrines of the base of the Roman Catholic Church. Let us rejoice that Erasmus did as well as he did. Sister white praises Erasmus' text.
(7) We are now treated to the information that (a) Erasmus worked alone on his text, while Cardinal Ximenes had a number of scholars at the task; and (b) that Erasmus worked less than a year. In reply I will say that the Reviewers have entirely ignored the learning and the knowledge acquired by Erasmus in years of study and investigations, previous to bringing out his Greek Text. They entirely mislead you regarding the actual facts. Do you suppose that Erasmus alone, could in so brief a time, bring forth such a prodigious work, if he had not had years of preparation for his Greek text? I had only three or four weeks in which to reply to my Reviewers document. Where would I have come out if I had not had my material in hand before I was given this limited time to work. In other words, I intend to show you when I take up my Reviewers next seven points that to bring into relief the statement that Erasmus thus worked alone for less than a year, has absolutely no bearing whatever on the case. What work did he do in previous preparation is the vital question.
We will now address ourselves to the next seven points brought forward by the Reviewers (Section II, pp.3 etc.), to place Erasmus and the Textus Receptus in a position of inferiority. With regard to the Revisers and their new Greek text changed in 5,337 places they say; (1) Erasmus actually used only six or possibly seven manuscripts; (2) These are still at Basle except for Revelation which was a mutilated copy -- they took particular pains to tell us that the Book of Revelation was a mutilated copy that he was obliged to borrow etc. (3) That none of these manuscripts went back further than the 12th century, and some other remarks I will notice later. (4) That in the book of Revelation Erasmus supplied all of the last six verses and some other words either by translation from the Catholic Vulgate or by his own words, -- either one or the other, the Reviewers apparently do not know which and we are left to take our choice; (5) That Erasmus says that his first edition was "precipitated not edited", etc. (6) That in later editions he made interpolations in one verse in Acts and one in First John, and (7) the same as point six in the former enumeration, he made over 100 corrections from the Catholic Complutensian edition which he did not see when his earlier editions were brought out.
In reply I would say in reference to point (1) that though it may be Erasmus used only six or possibly seven manuscripts, he consulted many.
I will quote my words in my book (page 54) which the Reviewers mutilated. (Section II, p.3). By quoting two words, omitting a sentence of thirteen words, quoting seven, omitting nineteen words, then quoting some more, they distorted my meaning by this piecemeal method of quoting, and failed entirely to convey the thought in my statements. I said, "There were hundreds of manuscripts for Erasmus to examine, and he did; but he used only a few." Now what are the facts of the case? We are told by Scrivener that Erasmus had a long time of preparation in this field of manuscripts; and secondly, that he had many manuscripts for his work.
"He was in England when John Froben, a celebrated publisher at Basle ... made application to Erasmus, through a common friend, to undertake immediately an edition of the N.T. - proposal was sent on April 17, 1515, years before which time Erasmus had prepared numerous annotations to illustrate a revised Latin version he had long projected." - Scrivener, "Introduction", Vol. II, p. 182. (Emphasis mine)
Dr. Tregelles points out the same fact,
"This was on April 17, 1515. It seems as if Erasmus had before this made some preparation for such a work." - "Account", p.19.
"Besides this scanty roll, however, he not rarely, refers in his annotations to other manuscripts he had seen in the course of his travels ... yet too indistinctly for his allusions to be of much use to critics." - "Introduction." Vol. II, p. 184.
To illustrate further the enormous work that Erasmus did in traveling, examining manuscripts, etc., I quote from Froude:
"Trouble enough and anxiety enough! Yet in the midst of bad health and furious monks -- (Note: Reviewers would stamp Erasmus as Catholic, then why monks furious?) -- it is the noblest feature in him -- his industry never slackened, and he drew out of his difficulties the materials which made his name immortal. He was forever on the wing, searching libraries visiting learned men, consulting with politicians or princes. His correspondence was enormous. His letters on literary subjects are often treatises in themselves, and go where he would, his eyes were open to all things and persons. His writings were passing through edition on edition. He was always adding and correcting; while new tracts, new editions of the Fathers show an acuteness of attention and an extent of reading which to a modern student seems beyond the reach of any single intellect. Yet he was no stationary scholar confined to desk or closet. He was out in the world, traveling from city to city, gathering materials among all places and all persons, from palace to village alehouse, and missing nothing which had meaning or amusement in it." - "Life of Erasmus" pp. 206, 207.
How does this statement square up with the manner in which the Reviewers belittle Erasmus and his work?
Burgon and Miller say:
"Erasmus followed his few manuscripts because he knew them to be good representatives of the mind of the Church which had been informed under the ceaseless and loving care of medieval transcribers: and the text of Erasmus printed at Basle, agreed in but little variation with the text of the Complutensian editors published in Spain, for which Cardinal Ximenes procured MSS at whatever cost he could. No one doubts the coincidence in all essential points of the printed text with the text of the cursives.: - "Traditional Text", p. 236.
And finally on the same subject I will quote from Nolan quoted on page 29 of my Reviewers' document:
"With reference to manuscripts, it is indisputable that he (Erasmus) was acquainted with every variety which is known to us; having distributed them into two principal classes, one of which corresponds with the Complutensian edition, the other with the Vatican manuscript." - Frederick, Nolan, "Integrity of the Greek Vulgate", p. 413
Here I give the testimony of two Revisers to the goodness of Erasmus' MSS. They show also that his MSS were not Catholic:
"The manuscripts which Erasmus used, differ, for the most part, only in small and insignificant details from the bulk of the cursive manuscripts, - that is to say, the manuscripts which are written in running hand and not in capital or (as they are technically called) uncial letters. The general Received Text is carried up beyond the individual manuscripts used by Erasmus the great body of manuscripts of which the earliest are assigned to the ninth century."
Then after quoting Dr. Hort, they draw this conclusion on his statement:
"This remarkable statement completes the pedigree of the Received Text. That pedigree stretches back to a remote antiquity. The first ancestor of the Received Text was, as Dr. Hort is careful to remind us, at least contemporary with the oldest of our extant manuscripts, if not older than any one of them." - Two Members of the N.T. Company on the Revisers and Greek Text, pp. 11, 12.
Notice that the above quotations are not from my authorities; they are not even from my Reviewers' authorities. They are from the REVISERS themselves. They settle once and forever that the MSS of Erasmus were representative, almost perfectly so of the over 3,000 MSS which agree with the Received Text, and which run back into antiquity as far, if not father than any known MSS. Erasmus did not do badly after all.
Why did not my Reviewers tell this? Thus we see that the Reviewers have entirely ignored the many MSS that Erasmus knew and compared, and his prodigious investigation and preparation for his Greek Text, when using Greek MSS and hosts of Latin and Greek Fathers in preparation for his revision of the Catholic Vulgate. It was not so hasty after all, as the Reviewers would have you believe.
III. Monks Corrupt MSS of Waldenses and Erasmus.
We have just learned from Scrivener that Erasmus had other manuscripts than those which are generally talked about, but traces of them are too vague and indistinct to be of value to critics. We saw also from Nolan that it is "indisputable" that Erasmus was acquainted with every variety of manuscript which is known to us. In other words, this is a fact which cannot be disputed. He may not have known all the manuscripts which can be listed under the different varieties, but he certainly knew all of the different varieties and classified them into two classes, namely: Those which agree with the Textus Recptus and those which agree with the Vaticanus. Nolan used the word "Complutensian" as the representative of one of these classes; but of course the Complutensian was the Textus Receptus. This man, who as Froude says, could do ten hours work in one, and as many authors say was the intellectual dictator of Europe while he lived, had read more widely in the ancient fathers than probably any other man who has ever lived. He had within the vast storehouses of his scholarly learning more lines of evidence by which to weigh manuscripts than any of his successors. One writer speaks of Tischendorf as having the intellect of a giant, but the judgment of a child. He did not know how to weigh evidence. Erasmus knew how to weigh evidence. Sister White endorses his work.
It is interesting at this point to recall the number of manuscripts used by the much heralded men named Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles. Dr. Ellicott says, "Lachmann's text is really one based on little more than four manuscripts." ("Considerations", p.4.6). While of Tischendorf, let it be remembered he 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 Testament which was different from his seventh in 3,572 places. (Burgon and Miller, "Traditional Text," p.7). I call this going wild. If Erasmus had made one-twentieth as wild a job as this we would never heard the last of it. Let us hear from Tregelles, himself, how few manuscripts also he used:
"We are able to take the few documents whose evidence is proved to be trustworthy, and safely discard from present consideration the eighty-nine ninetieths, or whatever else their numerical proportion my be." - "Account of the Printed Text," p.138.
Thus Tregelles preferred one-ninetieth to eighty-nine ninetieths of the witnesses. He was a member of the Revision Committee. Dr. Schaff points out that, though Dr. Tregelles was prevented by feeble health from participating in the work of revision, yet he was present in spirit by his critical edition of the Greek New Testament. (Introduction to "Revision" by Lightfoot, Trench and Ellicott, p.III) What weight would you give to his judgment? But it was just this principle which prevailed with the Revisers.
Erasmus suffered in his day like the Waldenses did in their day, by having his writing corrupted by the monks. I quote from Froude:
"Erasmus could be calm for others. It was very hard for him to be calm for himself. The Louvairiers (a class of monks) got hold of more of his letters and published them with alterations in the text. He had written 'Lutherus': they changed it into 'Luther-Noster' to make him out Luther's friend. They reprinted his 'Colloquies,' imitated his style, and made him say the contradictory of what he had really said. He had denounced extorted confessions, and laughed at pilgrimages and ridiculed indulgences. His new editors reproduced his real language, but they attached paragraphs in his name where he was represented as declaring that he had once thought all that, but had perceived his error. He had written that 'the best confession was confession to God'; his editor changed it into 'the best confession is confession to a priest.' 'Wonderful Atlasses of a tottering faith' he might well call such people. 'Once,' he says, 'it was held a crime to publish anything in another man's name; now it (is) special game of divines and they are proud of it."' -- Life of Erasmus, pp. 271, 272
To show how the Jesuits worked to corrupt or destroy manuscripts, I give the following quotation from Gilly:
"It is a singular thing that the destruction or rapine, which has been so fatal to Waldensian documents, should have pursued then even to the place of security, to which all, that remained, were consigned by Morland, in 1658, the library of the University of Cambridge. The most ancient of these relics were ticketed in seven packets, distinguished by letters of the alphabet, from A to G. The whole of these were missing when I made enquiry for them in 1823. What these precious records were, may be seen by a reference to the catalog given in 'Morland's History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont.' pp. 95-98." - "Waldensian Researches" pp. 80, 81.
I have answered the argument sufficiently, I think, urged against Erasmus that he used but a few manuscripts. It ought to be said that Tregelles denies that Erasmus worked alone. He distinctly says that Ecolampadius assisted him. ("Printed Text", p.20). With regard to correcting the mistakes of one edition in the second, let it be known that so hard and difficult is the field of textual criticism to work in, that almost every scholar, even the greatest, is constrained to correct in the second edition mistakes of the first. I call your attention to the words of Dr. Scrivener in the preface to the second edition of his "Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus". He says "The first edition of this little volume (1864) being exhausted, care has been taken to correct in the second issue whatever errors have been detected in the interval."
IV. Why Discard the Textus Receptus for Westcott and Hort's Text?
My Reviewers give a page full of quotations (Section II, p.5) taken from the New Testament in original Greek by Westcott and Hort. The sum total of this page of single space lines is to say that the change from the Textus Receptus to the Greek Text of Westcott and Hort is practically nothing. Here is one statement:
"If comparative trivialities, such as changes of order, the insertion or omission of the article with proper names, and the like are set aside, the words in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the whole New Testament."
My Reviewers would give us to understand them that the amount of differences, which would stand above trivialities between the Textus Receptus and the Greek Text of the Revisers, or of Westcott and Hort, is only a 1/1000 part of the whole New Testament. Since there are approximately 8,000 verses in the whole New Testament, a 1/1000 part, of course, would be 8 verses. How can such a claim as this be advanced when we know that in the revised version, in the last chapter of Mark alone, 12 verses are branded with suspicion? This is a fair example of the sooth-saying with which modernists, as Westcott and Hort would allay our alarm at what has been done in the 5,337 changes of the Greek of the Revised New Testament. If my Reviewers really believed that the differences were so little between the versions, it would seem that they have gone to a lot of trouble over this subject.
Nevertheless a little further on the Reviewers devote four and one-half pages of single space typewritten matter with quotations from Souter, Smith, Gregory, Kenyon, and Ellicott, with one from Dr. Scrivener, all to show us that the Greek text of Erasmus was built upon manuscripts "neither ancient nor valuable". The way these quotations are thrown together is very misleading. The severest of them evidently apply to the first edition of Erasmus; nevertheless, the ordinary reader would get the idea that when Erasmus died, and in fact even till now, the Textus Receptus was built on very questionable manuscripts.
If that is so, then why has it persisted for 300 years in its splendid leadership? Is it not a fact that in Cambridge University, the very university in which Westcott and Hort taught, the Textus Receptus is the standard Greek text? I wish to use, however, one of these quotations, which I feel certain my Reviewers did not discern when they used it, that it really overthrows their severe arraignment of the Textus Receptus. It reads:
"The Complutensian Edition of the Greek New Testament of Cardinal Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros was printed in 1514, though not circulated until 1522. Erasmus produced his edition in 1516 and so won in the race with Cisneros ...and thus laid the foundation for the Textus Receptus which held the field till the critical text of Westcott and Hort, in 1881." - A.T.Robertson, "Biblical Review", Jan. 1931.
If the Textus Receptus is so badly built on poor MSS, why did not scholars reject it before 300 years passed by. "It had the field", says this author.
A severe indictment, it is thought, is found when we are repeatedly told that all the manuscripts which Erasmus used were seven. Putt how many manuscripts did Lachmann, Tischendorf and Tregelles use? We are treated to the names of Lachmann, Tichendorf and Tregelles continually. We have them for breakfast, for dinner, and for supper. Lachmann brought forth a Greek New Testament much different from the Textus Receptus. And how many manuscripts did he use? - Just four! Tischendorf brought forth an edition of the Greek New Testament and on how many manuscripts did he rely? - He informed us that he threw away eighty-nine ninetieths of the manuscripts. Westcott and Hort brought forth a Greek New Testament and how many did they rely on? -- principally the Vaticanus and one other of the same family, the Sinaiticus. Then why belittle Erasmus who used three times as many?
Much has been said about the great wealth of material which was at the disposal of the Revisers. Would it not be astounding to you if I read from Dr. Ellicott, Chairman of the Revision Committee, that their Greek Text was brought out before the great wealth of Papyri was found.
I quote from Dr. Ellicott, Chairman of the English New Testament Revision Committee:
"What I shall now do, will be to show that the principals on which the version of the New Testament was based have been in no degree affected by the copious literature connected with the language of the Greek Testament and its historical position which has appeared since the Revision' was completed. It is only quite lately that the Revisers have been represented as being insufficiently acquainted, in several particulars with the Greek of the New Testament, and in a word, being twenty years behind what is now known on the subject. Such charges are easily made, and may at first sight seem very plausible, as the last fifteen or twenty years have brought with them an amount of research in the language of the Greek Testament which might be thought to antiquate some results of the Revision." "Revised Version of the Holy Scriptures", pp. 96, 97 (Emphasis mine)
Another great authority, Dr. Adolf Deissmann, tells us, in his famous book, "Light from the Ancient East", (p. 67), how this wealth of material came since the Revision. You will remember that Dr. Deismann was an outstanding figure in the researches among the papyri, ostraca, and other materials unearthed the last thirty years by the spade. He says:
"Memorials of the popular colloquial language, on the other hand, memorials of the spoken Greek of the people, were scarcely known to the general run of scholars at a period distant only some score or so of years from the present day." (1922)
It will thus be seen from the words of this great scholar that the Great wealth of material unearthed by the spade in the field of which we speak, began about the year 1902, or twenty years after the copies of the English and American Revisions were finished. He further says:
"The work to be accomplished by the linguistic historian on the New Testament includes great problems yet unsolved, but one thing is clear already. The New Testament has been proved to be, as a whole, a monument of late colloquial Creek, and in the great majority of its component parts the monument of a more or less popular colloquial language." - "Light From the Ancient East", p. 69
From the above quotation it is evident that Dr. Ellicott, Chairman of the English New Testament Revision Committee, felt obliged to answer the strong indictments brought against their work by outstanding scholars in the field of textual criticism in the twenty years following the appearance of the Revision. My Reviewers use Kenyon, 1901, Price, 1907, Gregory 1907, Souter 1910, and Robertson, 1925, in support of their contention about the manuscripts in general. Of these authorities it may be said, (1) They are all followers of the Westcott and Hort theory; (2) Kindly inquire will you, and find out how many of them are not textual critics, but simply secondary writers in the field. (3) From the dates you will see that Robertson only, wrote late enough to speak from having a grasp of the new theories which arose from the new findings indicated by Dr. Deissman. A testimony, therefore, of these witnesses would not rank, in general, very much above the use of the good common sense of the men who are now listening to me. A little bit later I shall present a whole array of authorities on the other side of the question, giving their denunciation of Westcott and Hort's paper theory, and of the corruptions of the Vaticanus and sinaiticus MSS.
The work of the Revisers of 1871-1881 ended in the complete spoliation of the Textus Receptus in the New Testament. Yet my Reviewers would have you believe that the difference between the RV Greek text and the Textus Receptus is not much. On the other hand, listen to Dr. Schaff:
"On this line the great battle of the purest text of the New Testament must be fought out. The question is between the oldest MSS and the latest, between the uncial text and the Stephanic or Elzevir text." - "Companion to Greek N.T.", p. 120.
Why did not the Revisers accomplish the same results in the way of spoliation for the Hebrew Textus Receptus in the Old Testament? My Reviewers have taken me to task as to why most of my book concerns the New Testament of the Revised Version and not the Old. Very plainly did I tell in my book that it would mostly concern the New Testament and why. But now I will say this: First of all the Revisers of the Old Testament were obliged to proceed on directly opposite theories from the Revisers of the New Testament. It is a well-known fact that the skilled copyists of the Hebrew period always preferred the latest manuscripts copied, above the older manuscripts. In other words, the schools engaged in copying and translation of the Hebrew manuscripts, as soon as a Hebrew manuscript became old and worn relegated it to the discarded collection. In their eyes, the newer the manuscript, the better it was. It is upon this theory that the Textus Receptus of the Old Testament is built as we have it today for both AV and ARV.
How differently has been the treatment of the manuscript of the New Testament since the unwarranted principles of textual criticism came into vogue the last one hundred years. Starting with Griesbach about one hundred years ago the campaign against the Greek Textus Receptus of the New Testament has grown in volume and intensity. The only way, however, it could hope to succeed was upon the principle that the more ancient the manuscript, the more valuable it is. Dr. Scrivener points out that the worst corruptions which befell MSS occurred in the period before the Council of Nicea (Introduction, II, p.264). From then on two streams of MSS come down - the uncorrupted and the corrupted. Since the ancient MSS we have are few and some of them differ widely from the later MSS of which we have three or four thousand, it is evident, suspicion naturally being directed more toward the ancient than the later MSS, that the few which differ are of the corrupted type. I have before proved, the great mass of Greek New Testament manuscripts- Tregelles says 89/90, Burgon says 99/100 of them - (1) Date from the 9th century, (2) are witnesses to the Textus Receptus, (3) are practically identical, and (4) Hort says their Greek New Testament or the text written on the MS, can be traced back to about 300 A.D. Just as Roman Catholic Theology steadily advanced during the last 100 years, successfully capturing Germany, England, Scandinavia, Scotland, etc., so step by step, kept growing, the numbers of textual critics, and of secondary writers in this field, who denounced the more recent manuscripts (thousands of them) of the Greek New Testament as practically valueless and staked all their claims on some five, some three, some two, and in some cases, even one old Greek manuscript. The facts above given constitute one reason why claim can be justly made that the damage done to the Old Testament by the Revisers was comparatively small to what was done to the Greek New Testament.
The second reason for this is found in the fact that the Old Testament Revision Committee in England finished its work several years after the New Testament Revision Committee did. What does this mean? It means this, that as soon as the new Revised New Testament appeared in 1881 a storm broke over all England. So intense was this storm and so terrible, that it dealt a death blow to the Revised Version in England. Works of a masterly nature appeared at once, which pointed out the unjustifiable principles that had been adopted by that Revision Committee and their apparent effect upon the English New Testament which they printed. During the time of this storm the English Old Testament Revision Committee was still sitting. They saw the point, they ran to cover, and seeking to avoid the terrible storm, this time against the Old Testament Revision we find that the Hebrew Textus Receptus was spared the terrible handling that was given to the Greek Textus Receptus.
My brethren, explain to me why we will accept the Hebrew Textus Receptus on certain principles and have it still with us as it has been practically since the days of the Apostles; yet confused or misled by the theories of Westcott and Hort and their ardent followers, we refuse to establish the Greek New Testament upon the same principles upon which we establish the Hebrew Textus Receptus. On what ground of reason or justice can my Reviewers explain why, in respect to the Old Testament, they adopt one principle, while in respect to the New, they adopt the very opposite.
One or two quotations to support my contention that the English Revision is dead in England. First I will quote from an author who is popular with my Reviewers, Dr. Robinson:
"Of the thirty-six thousand changes in the New Testament alone may appear to be changes for the sake of change; in fact, purely arbitrary. Hence, their work was not appreciated. Nearly fifty years have now passed and still this new English version is valued chiefly by scholars, and is anything but popular with the common people. Yet, it was intended to be a translation especially adapted to ordinary readers. Time has shown that its improved grammatical accuracy is not a sufficient compensation for the music of the old cadences, which in so many cases has been sacrificed for some trifling point in syntax! 'Two thirds' majorities decided many of the changes that were made by the Committee, but today the reading public are deciding that the English Version can never displace the Authorized. From time to time, scholars are demonstrating that in certain instances it is even less true to the originals than the old version, and less exact in its exegesis." - "Where Did We Get Our Bible", pp. 174, 175.
I wish now to present to you another quotation from Dr. Ellicott, Chairman of the New Testament Revision Committee, where as Bishop of his diocese he bewails the fact that 25 years have passed and the English Revised Version is not making its way in his own parish:
"My fixed opinion therefore is this, that though, after a long and careful consideration of the subject, I do sincerely desire that the Revised Version should be introduced into the churches of this diocese, I do also sincerely desire that it should not be introduced without a due preparation of the congregation for the change, and some manifestation of their desire for the change. There will probably be a few churches in our diocese in which the Revised Version is used already, and in regard of them nothing more will be necessary than, from time to time, in occasional addresses, to allude to any important changes that may have appeared in the Lessons and recent reading of Holy Scripture, and thus to keep alive the thoughtful study of that which will be more and more felt to be, in the truest sense of the words, the Book of Life. But, in the great majority of our churches -- though in many cases there may have been passing desires to read and to hear God's Word in its most truthful form -- no forward steps will have been taken. It is in reference then to this great majority of cases that I have broken my long silence..." - "The Revised Version", pp. 125, 126.
So you see that the Chairman of the Revision Committee was not able to have the Revised Version adopted in his own diocese.
Just a further word from a well-known modernist writer concerning the failure of the Revised Version:
"But we have not yet produced our best. This Revised Version of 1880 is not our last word. It ought to have been a great success. It had more in its favor than any previous version. And yet we have to say, after thirty years, that the Old Authorized Version with all its defects, is still holding the ground, going out every year in quantities a hundred times greater than those of the Revised Version."
"The Old Version holds the ground not only by the familiarity of its language but by its wonderful charm. It is universally accepted as a literature masterpiece, as the noblest and most beautiful book in the world. The New Version is more accurate, more scholarly, more valuable. But it avails not. It lacks the literary charm. The verdict is, 'The Old is better'."
"On the whole we may assume that far into the twentieth century the Authorized Version will still remain the popular Bible. The Version that is to supercede it will come some day, but when it does it will have more than accurate scholarship. It will have in some degree at least the literary charm and beauty which for 300 years has brought the whole English world under the spell of the old Bible." -- Smythe, "How We Got Our Bible", pp. 152, 153, (Emphasis mine)
Finally note that Putnam (Vol. II, p. 344) says that the Geneva Library in Calvin's day contained so many Greek MSS that it ranked second to the Vatican; that Swete said, ("Introduction", p.181) the Catholic scholars appointed by the Council of Trent to visit all the libraries of Italy, and find Greek MSS on which to base their officially voted Bible, the Vulgate, came back to the Vatican and the big Vatican MSS, just where Westcott and Hort came in 1881; and that Fulke told the queen of England in 1583 that the Greek Textus Receptus was in everybody's hand; and again, that Dr. Jacobus declared the textual critics of 1600 were at least as good, if not superior to those of our day. All this evidence shows that the men of 1611 had material ample enough to vouchsafe to us the dependability of our great Protestant Bible.
I will now answer my Reviewers disparaging estimate of Dean Burgon. Dean Burgon is discounted only by those who are looking for people who believe as they do, and who discount all who disagree with them. Burgon's knowledge and scholarship and integrity will stand. An estimate of this godly and scholarly man is given as follows, by the Bishop of Chichester:
"No part of his character was more remarkable than his intense reverence for the Word of God. He might take to himself the words of David, when he said, 'Lord, what love have I to Thy Word; all the day long is my study in it.' Every jot and tittle of the scriptures was inestimably precious to him; he treasured them in his heart and mind as coming from God by the inspiration of prophets, evangelists, and apostles, each in their own good time. He delighted in searching out from the commentators on the Scriptures, but he did not disdain such assistance from the old Fathers of the Church, and I do not believe that there is any man who had so large and perfect acquaintance with them; the old divines of our own Church he held also in special regard; but he was no slave to commentators and always said what he thought. He used his own unbiased judgment, and his interpretations of Holy Writ always came fresh from his hands. The years of this careful study to the Scriptures he gave to the world in the so-called "Plain Commentary on the Gospels", a work which later commentaries have in no way superseded. The late Dean has made this work not only useful as a work of reference, but a treasury of Christian counsel. In our sister church of America, I have reason to know, Dean Burgon's commentary holds a high place. This was expressed to me by several of the Bishops whom I met lately at the great Lambeth Conference. The Bishops with one accord expressed their sense of his services to our common Church, and their anxiety on his behalf. Now, this reverence for the letter as well as the spirit of Holy Writ -- and he held that the spirit was inseparably bound up with the letter, and that both were divine -- I say this reverence led him to vindicate with great learning, and as was confessed with great ability, the authority of the last verses of the Gospel of St. Mark. This vindication was directed against a certain school of thought which the Dean very justly suspected of subverting the authority of the Word of God, and that they were thereby undermining the faith of many half-learned persons 'wise in their own conceit,' and also the faith of many simple souls. For this reason he set himself the task of criticising the revised version of the Bible. I believe, it and therefore will speak of it, that it was his burning zeal for the Word of God which supported him in coming forward as the champion of the cause of which he then was the prophet, and this, I think, cannot be denied that his arguments and critical judgment upon the basis upon which the revised version was constructed, and in a few cases to the errors which he pointed out in the translation, have retarded, if not completely stopped, the reception of this revised version into our Church, and of thereby supplanting that old version, the inheritance of the English people the world over. It would be a great injustice to consider Dean Burgeon only as a vigorous controversialist, with his thoughts wholly centered in defending the truth of that faith in which he lived." - The Bishop of Chicester in "The Guardian" Aug. 8, 1888. (Emphasis mine)
V. Why Discard the King James for the Revised Version?
I will now introduce a quotation from Canon Cook, found in the Bibliotheca Sacra:
"He recalled...'The strong impressions made by the weight of authority with which the Revised Version was supported, that the question seemed to be regarded as at last settled. Then came the tremendous onslaught by Dean Burgon, when the popular verdict was pronounced unmistakably. It is already admitted on all hands that the Revised Version is a great blunder." - p. 28.
The Reviewers (Section II, p.18) in order to show the superior sources of manuscripts available in 1881 over that of 1611 use three quotations from different authors. Unfortunately for them these quotations are like the inhabitants of the land of Canaan that ate up one another. A short examination of these quotations will serve to call to remembrance -- or to instruct, if not already known -- points of interest concerning manuscripts which we must always hold in mind if we would have a clear understanding of the problem involved.
In the first place the Reviewers quote from the preface to the Parallel New Testament, to the effect that the manuscripts upon which the Greek Text of the King James version is founded were of a comparatively late date and few in number. In the light of the facts of the case neither of these points have any great bearing; because a manuscript is of a late date is no evidence that the text is of an inferior nature. In fact this is a very strange piece of information to be held in much esteem by those who seek to impress upon us the idea that there is not much difference among Bibles in general anyway. The manuscripts, as I have previously pointed out, are few in number from the fourth century to the ninth; then we begin to have thousands of them. Why should a manuscript of the ninth century, if it has been faithfully copied and is a legitimate descendant of the Apostles' Bible, be held up to considerations of inferiority above a manuscript that was executed in the fourth century? I have previously pointed out that the Jews -- and their copyists cannot be surpassed in skill -- always considered a manuscript of a later date better than one of an older date.
With regard to Manuscripts in 1611 being few in number, let it first be inquired what is meant by "few in number". I have already brought before you the fact that Erasmus had access to many manuscripts in his day. Among the great body of cursives and uncial manuscripts which the Reformers had possessed, the majority agreed with the Received Text. The Reformers had access to many MSS. I quote from Putnam:
"Casaubon secured in 1600, at the instance (?) of his friend, Do Vic, appointment as Keeper of the Royal Library (at Geneva) ... the collection of Greek manuscripts said to be second only to that of the Vatican." -- Censorship of the Church of Rome, Vol. II, p. 354.
We are indebted for the following information to Dr. F.C. Cook, editor of the "Speaker's Commentary," chaplain to the Queen of England, who was invited to sit on the Revision Committee, but refused:
"That Textus Receptus was taken in the first instance from late cursive manuscripts; but its readings are maintained only so far as they agree with the best ancient Versions, with the earliest and best Greek and Latin Fathers, and with the vast majority of uncial and cursive manuscripts." - E.C. Cook -- "R.V. of the First Three Gospels", p. 226.
The above quotation will also answer the quotation (Sec. II, p.19) which says that the MSS of 1611 were "not selected on any estimate of merit."
I wish to present testimony on the value of these manuscripts from other authorities:
"The popular notion seems to be, that we are indebted for our knowledge of the true texts of Scripture to the existing uncials entirely; and that the essence of the secret dwells exclusively with the four or five oldest of these uncials. By consequence, it is popularly supposed that since we are possessed of such uncial copies, we could afford to dispense with the testimony of the cursives altogether. A more complete misconception of the facts of the case can hardly be imagined. For the plain truth is THAT ALL THE PHENOMENA EXHIBITED BY THE UNCIAL MANUSCRIPTS ARE reproduced by the cursive copies." (Caps. mine).- Burgon and Miller, "The Traditional Text", p. 202.
The admirers of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus belong to this class who have completely misconceived the whole subject.
We give a further testimony from another eminent authority:
"Our experience among the Greek cursives proves to us that transmission has not been careless, and they do represent a wholesome traditional text in the passages involving doctrine and so forth." –Dr. H.C. Hoskier, "Concerning the Genesis of the Versions." p.416.
As to the large number of manuscripts in existence, we have every reason to believe that the Reformers were far better acquainted with MSS than later scholars. Dr. Jacobus in speaking of textual critics of 1582, says:
"The present writer has been struck with the critical acumen shown at that date (1582), and the grasp of the relative value of the common Greek manuscripts and the Latin version." -- Dr. Jacobus, "Catholic and Protestant Bible", p. 212.
On the other hand, if more manuscripts has been made accessible since 1611, little use has been made of what we had before and of the majority of those made available since. The Revisers systematically ignored the whole world of manuscripts and relied practically on only three or four. As Dean Burgon says, "But nineteen-twentieths of these documents, for any use which has been made of them, might just as well be still lying in the monastic libraries from which they were obtained." We feel, therefore, that a mistaken picture of the case has been presented with reference to the material at the disposition of the translators of 1611, and concerning their ability to use that material.
I want my hearers to get this point for it sweeps away the whole theory of the late critics and the supporters of the method used by the Revisers and consequently the position taken by my Reviewers. The point is this: The Revisers, it is claimed, had so many more MSS to compare and consult than Erasmus and the King James translators had. But of what value were they? The Revisers like my Reviewers based the whole fabric of their vision on the Sinaiticus, the Vaticanus, and two or three more MSS. All others are relegated to the rear if they do not agree with B (Vaticanus) and Aleph (Sinaiticus). Hence, if they had a million MSS the poverty of the Revisers would have been just as great, for they confined themselves to the narrow limits of just their four or five manuscripts after all. All this talk about the large number of manuscripts accessible to the Revisers is of no consequence since they ignored them in their great zeal for the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus. Dr. Scrivener protests in these words:
"A judge is not impartial if he rejects the testimony of eighty-nine out of a hundred witnesses. It is a law of evidence that the very few are to be suspected rather than the very many." - "Bibliotheca Sacra", p. 35.
Returning now to Section II, (page 18) my Reviewers quote again from the "Dictionary of the Bible", edited by James Hastings, to tell us that in 1611 there were about 25 manuscripts while now there are 7,000, but this is not what Dr. Hastings says. The quotation reads:
"The TR (Textus Receptus) is consequently derived from (at most) some 20 or 25 MSS, dating from the last few centuries before the invention of printing..." p.916
You will note that Dr. Hastings did not say that there were only 25 MSS in existence in 1611; his contention is that the TR was derived from about that many. There is a difference between "derived" and "existing". Dr. Hastings goes on to say of these 20 to 25:
"They may be taken as fairly representative of the great mass of Greek Testament MSS of the late Middle Ages, but no more." - p.916 (Emphasis mine)
These 20 or 25 are representative of the great mass, and the fact that they are splendidly representative is backed by the history of the four hundred years of unrivalled leadership.
When did this hunt for ancient Greek MSS begin? It began at the Council of Trent, in order to find a Greek MSS which would dethrone the Textus Receptus and vindicate the Vulgate. And they found it - the Vaticanus. Charles V stood with drawn sword over the Council of Trent, ordering it to become reconciled to the Protestants. His great Protestant general, Maurice, at the head of his armies, stood with drawn sword over Luther and Melanchthon ordering the Protestants to go to Trent and be reconciled to the Catholics. Neither he, nor Charles V, however, knew the Jesuits who had seized control of the Council and were determined to rule the world. The first four resolutions of the Council broke with the Protestants on the Bible and enthroned the Vulgate.
When did the modern hysteria to enthrone the Vaticanus begin? Tregelles reveals it. He says that when he saw that the Vaticanus in Greek had become the standard for Greek editions of the Old Testament, he was convinced it should become also the standard for editions of the Greek New Testament. Tregelles was a model for Westcott and Hort, and also a member of the English New Testament Revision Committee.
To show how misleading was the Reviewers' handling of this same quotation, I will go on with the next sentence in the quotation we have been handling. Dr. Hastings says:
"At the present time we have over 3,000 MSS of the N.T., or of parts of it, and they range back in age to the 4th century." (page 916)
But we must not believe that any large number of these 3,000 Greek MSS date back to the early centuries. If so, then the next quotation used by the Reviewers (Section II, pp. 18, 19) will completely demolish any such idea; for in the following quotation from the "National Standard Bible Encyclopedia" we are informed that all the MSS that we have of the fourth century are 2; of the fifth century 10; and of the sixth century 25. Authorities know that the great bulk of MSS date from the ninth century on. That the Textus Receptus was built from the material available in 1611 in an almost perfect condition, can be seen from a very interesting report from which I will now read. A committee of 34 Hebrew and Greek scholars were selected to prepare the Tercentenary Edition of the Authorized Bible. Because 1911 made a convenient opportunity to celebrate the work of the King James Version for 300 years, a great exposition over this matter was held in London, England that year. This committee reported, as a result of a careful scrutiny of the entire text, that they repudiated over 98 percent of the changes introduced by the Revisers of 1881. (See Mauro, "Which Version , p. 94). From the Preface to the Tercentenary Edition of the Bible we quote the following:
"The continued confidence of the Church Universal throughout English speaking lands in the Authorized version is seasoned and mature. Despite a limited number of passages in which the Revisers of 1611 seem to have missed the true meaning, and a number of other passages which have, through changed usage, become obscure, the A.V. is still the English Bible." - Mauro, "Which Version", p. 94.
The above quotation shows very clearly that the Authorized Version has not changed materially since 1611. And most certainly this report shows that if there should have been some "plain and clear errors" in the A.V., to remedy these would be a very long way from changing it into the RV; for these 34 Greek and Hebrew scholars on this committee of 1911 point out that after thorough examination they were obliged to reject 98 per cent of the changes made in the Revised Version. Let us not forget, moreover, that this took place in the year 1911, thirty years after the R.V. appeared. And note further that the conclusion of the Committee of 34 refutes the oft-repeated claims that it was the later accumulation of MSS which showed revision necessary. Is not this, therefore, a repudiation of the Greek New Testament underlying the RV, and also of the Revised Version itself, as the ENGLISH BIBLE?
VI. Would the Changes of the Revisers Affect Doctrine?
In two different statements my Reviewers claim that in the changes made by the Revisers they "do not find the fundamentals of our faith altered." (Section II-11) (Quoting Kenyon, "Our Bible and the Ancient MSS", pp. 99, 100). And that further, the truth of God "is found abundantly in any of the great outstanding versions of the Holy Scriptures." (Section II, p.4).
What do my Reviewers mean by the great outstanding versions of the Holy Scriptures? How many of them are there? Which are they? Name them. What great outstanding versions do we have in English besides the Authorized, the Revised, and the Douay? Will the Reviewers put along side of these, the Unitarian Version with its manifest efforts to deny the divinity of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, or the Shorter Bible?
I do not believe they will agree to that. Let us go a little further. By the "great outstanding versions" do they mean Moffat, Weymouth, Rotherham, Goodspeed, and other versions gotten out by individuals? Evidently not, because they quote (Section 1, p.3) with approval a letter from Dr. Grant Stroh, writing officially for the Moody Bible Institute under date of Jan. 23, 1931:
"Here at the Institute we recommend the American Revision. We use both it and the Authorized. In most instances when changes are made the American Revision is more accurate. We do not endorse the various irresponsible individual versions, such as the Moffat translation." (Emphasis mine)
Also in the Signs of the Times, December 10, 1929, we read:
"Within the last two or three years two English translations of the Old Testament have appeared and been rather widely advertised - one made by James Moffatt, an English scholar, and the other by several professors of the Chicago University. Those who wish to be informed as to the freedom with which Biblical scholars of the modern school, handle the original Hebrew text, amending and transposing it, to make it conform to their own ideas, can secure this information." Then the writer calls those "these modernistic translations."
Apparently then, in English the field of the "great outstanding versions" is narrowed down to the Authorized, the Revised, and the Douay (Catholic). Will the Reviewers claim that the truth of God can be found abundantly in the Douay Version? Do they not know that this Version sanctions image worship and also Mariolatry, and also endorses the Apocryphal books and the spurious additions to the Book of Daniel and other books? Perhaps the Reviewers will claim that outside of these spurious readings and spurious books in the Catholic Versions the truth of God can still be found abundantly.
The Reformation was compelled to rule out the Vulgate and the Douay translation of it, before the pure gospel could go to the world. To prove it I will now quote from Dr. Edgar:
"It is certainly a remarkable circumstance that so many of the Catholic readings in the New Testament, which in reformation and early post-reformation times were denounced by Protestants as corruptions of the pure text of God's word, should now, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, be adopted by the Revisers of our time-honoured English Bibles." "Bibles of England " p. 347 (Emphasis mine)
If you wish to see what kind of a version the Douay is, read the 14th chapter of Daniel.
The above-quotation from this worker in the field of Bibles and their history reveals two things: (1) That the Protestants in Reformation and post Reformation times eliminated from their New Testament many of the Catholic readings; and (2) that the Revisers put them back in again. If there were no difference between the Vulgate and the Textus Receptus, why did not the Reformers and Protestants take the Vulgate as the basis of their translations? Not only Luther, but since Luther, outstanding German Versions, as those of Dr. Leander Van Ess (1889), Dr. R. Brockhaus, (1871), Dr. Franz E. Schlachter (1902), and Dr. L. Reichard (1878) are translated from the Textus Receptus.
Therefore in English the great outstanding versions are not reduced to two... the King James and the Revised... they are reduced to simply one, the Authorized. And I would be very glad to have my Reviewers explain what they mean by saying that the truth of God can be found abundantly in any of the outstanding versions.
Now with reference to the field outside of the English versions, note how difficult it is to consider this apart from our Authorized Version. The Washington Star says there are two hundred million English speaking people in the world. The nearest approach to this number speaking a single tongue is the Russian Speaking people, one hundred million, and the German speaking people, one hundred million. Historians tell us that the two hundred million English speaking people have been bound together by one great common bond, and that bond is our Authorized English Bible. Moreover, it is now quite generally recognized that the British Empire and United States hold the balance of power in the world, that in fact without them, civilization would go to ruin. How then can we consider the great outstanding Versions outside the English as having any very important bearing upon the whole problem of the world situation? If my line of argument then be true, we are brought down to the fact that the great outstanding dominating Version which contains abundantly the truth of the Living God, and which must be guarded preciously, is the Authorized Version. It must be guarded against the changes made in it by the Revisers of 1881, 98 per cent of which were rejected by the Committee of 34 Greek and Hebrew scholars of 1911.
Referring again to the statement from Bishop Westcott, which was represented wrongly by my Reviewers, (Section I, p.23), that Bishop Westcott claimed that articles of faith were changed by the repetition of changes in the Revised, I will say that when I come to discuss the closing sections of this Reply, we will see that my Reviewers, themselves, admit that on certain passages my contention is correct that the theology of the Revisers influence in changes which very disastrously affected great doctrines, and I shall show others of the same kind, which my Reviewers would not admit. Furthermore the quotation from the Presbyterian Magazine at the beginning of the Chapter XV of my book claims that the Revisers wished to change doctrine.
The examination of the claim that the Rheims New Testament (Jesuit New Testament of 1582) had any influence on the AV, I have answered very positively in the negative in Example No. II in the first section of this reply. I believe now that I have answered in this section, and perhaps in one or two instances, in other sections, most all that my Reviewers have offered for my consideration in their Section II, On the Bible MSS in General.
With regard to the value of the Vaticanus, just a word before taking up Section III, from one who as late as 1921 summed up the findings of later critics:
"Another scheme devised by Dr. Hort to justify his abbreviated text was to put forward the Vatican Codex B as the purest text and nearest to the original autographs. This preference has been condemned by later critics." "Bibliotheca Sacra", 1921, p.33
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