IBRI Research Report #3 (1980, 1990)
DEMYSTIFYING THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS AND THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE
Douglas S. Chinn
6115 85th Avenue
New Carrollton, MD 20784
Robert C. Newman
Biblical Theological Seminary
200 North Main Street
Hatfield, PA 19440
Copyright © 1980, 1990 by Douglas S. Chinn
Robert C. Newman. All rights reserved.
|The six main arguments used by TR-KJV proponents are examined and shown to be fallacious, as the KJV and TR suffer from the same "problems" charged against the Alexandrian family and its modern translations. Apparently TR-KJV proponents are ignorant of these facts, or other factors lie behind their heated advocacy. Two such factors are suggested.|
|Although the author is in agreement with the doctrinal statement of IBRI, it does not follow that all of the viewpoints espoused in this paper represent official positions of IBRI. Since one of the purposes of the IBRI report series is to serve as a preprint forum, it is possible that the author has revised some aspects of this work since it was first written.|
Controversy is one of the most common and annoying occurrences in
Those involved in a controversy usually spend an enormous amount of
and energy in argument that they could have used for more profitable
Certainly this is the case among us fundamentalists concerning the
over the Textus Receptus (TR) and King James Version (KJV) of the
Men who once worked together to advance the Gospel and defend it
unscriptural teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, liberalism,
cults, and ecumenism are now sometimes separating from and even
one another over which English Bible one should use. This situation is
truly a sad one for all involved. Unfortunately, the Gospel of
from hell through faith in the atoning blood of the risen Lord Jesus
the main message of the Bible, can be only weakened in the eyes of
who observe us fundamentalists fighting among ourselves.
The TR-KJV position which is being used to split many fundamental
and to polarize many fundamental pastors today is perhaps best stated
the following excerpt from the Proclamation of the Third Annual
Bible Conference of North America held in 1975:
As fundamentalists, we believe that the King James Authorized
of the Bible, based on the Greek Textus Receptus, is the only English
which is faithful to the original inspired texts.
The occasion for this statement is the proliferation of many modern
English New Testament (NT) versions based on Greek manuscripts which
different than those behind the KJV. However, controversy over the
wording of the Greek NT has been around for a long time, even before
Westcott and Fenton Hort popularized the use of a Greek text based on
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus in 1881. Many of the Reformation leaders, such
as Luther, Calvin, and Beza, questioned and offered corrections to the
TR text first compiled by Erasmus (see Believing Bible Study,
edition, by Edward F. Hills, 1977, pp. 63, 200-206). Even some of the
great leaders of the fundamentalist movement against modernism, such as
Warfield and Machen, also understood the TR was an imperfect text (see
to the Textual Criticism of the NT, by B. B. Warfield, 1899; The
Virgin Birth of Christ, 2nd printing, by J. G. Machen, 1967, pp.
They did not, however, produce a new English version of the NT to
the TR or KJV.
Most modern versions since 1881 have generally followed Westcott and
Hort's Greek text. However, since the major English translations before
1960 involved liberal translators, we fundamentalists tended not to use
them so that there was no immediate need to spark an in-house
But with the advent of the New American Standard Bible NT
in 1960 and the New International Version NT (NIV) in 1973,
reputed to be largely the product of fundamental and evangelical
the situation changed. Many fundamentalists endorsed these versions
are based on Greek texts different from the edition of the Greek TR
underlies the KJV. This situation has occasioned a controversy which
split or is threatening to split many fundamental churches.
For those who are not familiar with the Greek manuscripts,
differences in manuscripts (i.e., more than variations in spelling or
order) affect only about 10% of the NT text at most. About 90% of the
text is the same in all manuscripts. Thus, the controversy is over the
importance and implications of a NT which has varying amounts of
in at most 10% of its text. In any case, there is enough redundancy of
the fundamental doctrines in any text to firmly establish what we
have historically held.
Many reasons have been advanced by the KJV faction to justify the
of fundamental churches over the TR-KJV issue. However, to some of us
are not KJV-only supporters, the reasons stated by various pro-KJV
are very often contradictory. It appears that the KJV supporters all
on what the conclusions should be though they cannot agree with one
on what the foundations of their position are.
We fundamentalists are perhaps too familiar with people leaving our
churches for various reasons. Often, the people who do will give many
reasons for their leaving the church. What causes the church to be
mystified is that often they will attend another church which has the
supposed faults. When this occurs, the situation should be demystified
by determining the real reasons for their departing. In the same
this paper attempts to demystify the position of the pro-KJV faction.
we will show that the six major arguments used by various pro-KJV
to establish the KJV as the only English version which is totally
to the original NT Greek text are all contradicted by parts of the KJV
text itself. Second, we will attempt to guess the real reasons
the pro-KJV faction, especially since all of them come to the same
while stating widely differing reasons. In reading this paper, it will
be important to keep in mind that most of the pro-KJV people do not
to believe in all of the following six arguments and would even
among themselves whether some of these arguments are a valid basis for
determining the best text of the NT.
Before going further, let us clearly state that we believe in the
doctrines of the Christian faith, namely: (1) the inerrancy of the
(2) the virgin birth, deity, substitutionary blood atonement, bodily
and future bodily return to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ; (3)
from eternal punishment in hell by trusting only in Jesus' atoning
on the cross. We also believe in the need for ecclesiastical separation
from those who do not affirm the above points. Thus, the purpose of
paper is not to challenge any of these doctrines. Rather it is to
the major arguments used to advance the belief that the TR in Greek and
the KJV in English are the only faithful representations of the NT and
that this belief
alone should be a sufficient basis for splitting
otherwise fundamental churches.
THE SIX MAJOR ARGUMENTS OF THE PRO-TR-KJV POSITION
Argument #1: The doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible
not only that the original manuscripts were without error but also that
there must be extant copies without error to preserve this inerrancy.
even liberals can believe in the inerrancy of the originals but deny
inerrancy of the Bible we have today if all extant copies have textual
errors. In the Greek, the inerrant manuscripts are those of the Textus
Receptus or the Byzantine family, which underlie the Authorized King
Version of the Bible.
This argument was presented at the Fourth Annual Fundamental Bible
of North America in 1976 by Thomas Baker of the Bible Truth Institute,
Sunbury, PA, in his talk "The Latest in Bible Versions." People who
believe in this view have sometimes quoted verses like Matthew 5:18
verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one
shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.") or Luke
("Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.")
to show that not one letter or word from the original manuscripts will
ever be lost or altered. Some state that a Bible containing textual
leads men to question what God has said because it does not allow
to claim he has the
pure Word of God or use the phrase "Thus saith
the LORD" without fear of someone pointing out
Any fundamentalist would like to have a perfect copy of the original
Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts of the Bible. Unfortunately, no
two extant manuscripts are identical. Furthermore, no original
and no perfect copies are known to exist. Thus, God has not chosen to
the text of the Bible perfectly. Some of these textual errors should be
readily apparent to all Bible readers. Thus, Matthew 5:18 and Luke
cannot refer to the perfect preservation of the text of the Bible.
In the Old Testament (OT), there are many well-known cases where the
numbers do not fit the context or where the numbers disagree in
passages. For example, the Hebrew Masoretic text of II Samuel 15:7 says
that Absalom stood in the gate of Jerusalem for 40 years before
against David. However, since David is said to have ruled over Judah
Israel for a total of only 40 years (I Ki. 2:11) and since Absalom was
born while David was reigning in Hebron as king of Judah (II Sam. 2:1,
3:2-3), there is an error in at least one of the numbers. Textual
between many of the numbers in the books of Samuel, Kings, and
also occur (e.g., II Ki. 8:26 - II Ch. 22:2; II Sam. 8:4 - I Ch. 18:4).
Furthermore, in the Masoretic Hebrew text, there are marginal notes to
correct obvious textual errors. The incorrect word, called the kethibh,
was still retained in the text while the correct word, called the qere,
was printed in the margin.
Differences between certain OT verses and the NT quotations of these
verses are quite apparent in some places of the Bible. The text of
sometimes follows the Greek Septuagint translation of the OT where it
from the Hebrew Masoretic text (e.g., Heb. 10:5 quoting Ps. 40:6 and
1:6 quoting Deut. 32:43). Thus, there are textual errors either in the
Masoretic Hebrew or the Greek TR on which the KJV is based. Otherwise,
one might be forced to say that the NT author of Hebrews quoted from
verses which contained textual errors! In Matthew 27:9-10, both the KJV
and modern versions ascribe the prophecy concerning thirty pieces of
to Jeremiah. A careful search of the OT, however, reveals that this
is not found in Jeremiah but rather in Zechariah 11:12-13. This is a
problem which has no generally agreed upon solution. What seems
though, is that some pro-KJV people have said the NASB has a "serious
for having a similar textual problem in Mark 1:2. In the NASB,
in Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 are ascribed to "Isaiah the prophet"
of to "the prophets" as the KJV does (see A Critical Examination of
the New American Standard Bible, by D. K. Madden, 1976, p. 9).
if we are to be consistent, can we not assume that if the textual
in Matthew can be solved, the problem in Mark may be solved in a
Finally, even the TR is not free of textual errors. There are many
editions of the TR, not one authoritative text. Each edition differs
from the others with respect to spellings, words, and even verses. The
first two editions of the TR edited by Erasmus did not contain I John
as we have it in the KJV. Even the edition of the TR used by the Bible
Truth Institute in 1976 is missing Luke 17:36 (see p. 178 of the same)
when compared with the KJV or with Beza's 1598 edition of the TR
by the Trinitarian Bible Society in 1976 (see p. 150 of the latter).
Every version of the Bible contains these types of textual problems
which have been known for years. Matthew 5:18 and Luke 21:33 cannot
that God will preserve every letter and word of the original
because, as we have just seen, He has not. Fundamentalists in the past
have usually insisted that only the original manuscripts were inerrant
and that the copies preserve all of the fundamental doctrines by means
of their being frequently stated in various passages, many of which
no variant readings. Today, the battle over inerrancy with liberalism
not over doctrines in which textual problems play a significant role.
the dispute concerns points of doctrine in which textual problems are
such as the bodily resurrection of Christ.
One of the most often quoted passages in the TR-KJV controversy is
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good
The term "scripture" in this passage must refer not only to the
manuscripts, which Timothy did not have, but also to at least some
of the originals, which Timothy did have. Since God has not
allowed for two extant Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek copies of the
to be identical (i.e., the same letter for letter), we should conclude
that a man can still be "thoroughly furnished unto all good works" with
manuscripts containing some textual errors. Obviously, those who have
the KJV in the past as well as today have thought this goal was
even considering the textual errors in the KJV. Thus, this first
used by some promoters of the TR-KJV is contradicted by both the TR and
Argument #2: Although God has allowed textual errors to occur
in all of the Greek copies of the original NT manuscripts, He has
the best text in the vast majority of these copies. The best text is
by looking through all of the extant Greek manuscripts and choosing the
wording of the majority of those manuscripts. When 80-95% of the
have almost identical readings for any given passage, it should be
that the majority text is God's providentially preserved text.
The majority text is also known as the Byzantine text because almost
all of the extant copies were made during the period of the Byzantine
(395-1453), or as the Traditional text because it was the only Greek
in general use from about 700 to 1881. This view, that the majority
is the best text, was strongly advocated by John W. Burgon in the
and 1890's as a refutation of Westcott and Hort's Greek NT text which
Alexandrian manuscripts instead of Byzantine ones. For the most part,
century fundamentalist scholars accepted the Alexandrian text as the
text although they continued to use the KJV in English. In the 1960's
1970's, the majority text view was brought back into public view in
to defend the KJV and to attack the NASB and NIV. Men such as Edward F.
Hills (author of The King James Version Defended!), Zane C.
(editor of The Revised Textus Receptus), David O. Fuller
of Which Bible?), Wilbur N. Pickering (author of The
of the New Testament Text), and Donald A. Waite (president of the
Burgon Society) are some of the leading advocates of this argument
The primary problem with this argument is that the KJV does not
follow the majority text. When the TR underlying the KJV is
with the majority readings of the 5,000 known Greek manuscripts, many
are found to occur. This may be seen by examining the textual notes in
the recent Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text
Zane Hodges and Arthur Farstad (1982) or the New King James Version
Since textual errors in the TR are allowed in this argument, these
are to be expected and the NT text changed accordingly. However, a
comparison of the TR with the majority text reveals that some
and widely-quoted verses in the KJV either are not found or are
different in the majority text. For example, I John 5:7 and Acts 8:37
found only in the smallest minority of manuscripts. In Colossians 1:14,
the words "through his blood" are also not found in the vast majority
manuscripts. Most of these well-known non-majority text differences in
the KJV can be traced directly to the edition of the Latin Vulgate of
Roman Catholic Church which was in general use when the TR was first
If one consistently holds to the majority text argument, then he
point out these minority readings in the KJV and have them corrected.
some pro-TR-KJV people have done this. Burgon suggested 150 corrections
in the Gospel of Matthew alone (The Traditional Text of the Holy
by J. Burgon and E. Miller, 1896, p. 5) and rejected the authenticity
I John 5:7 (see Burgon's article in Counterfeit or Genuine?,
by D. O. Fuller, 1975, p. 39). Among modern pro-KJV advocates, Zane
has published the Revised Textus Receptus which will change the
KJV in about 1,000 places. Needless to say, this aspect of Burgon and
work has not been publicized by pro-KJV fundamentalists since many feel
that anyone who corrects the KJV is "correcting the Word of God" and
falls into the same camp as Westcott and Hort. Most pro-KJV advocates,
however, seem to be unaware of these problems with the majority text
In their attacks on non-TR versions of the NT, they have often
attacked the majority text as well. For example, Donald A. Waite in The
Case For The King James Version of the Bible (1971) attacked the
for "omission or downgrading of heaven, e.g., omission of I John 5:7"
43) and "omissions involving the deity of Christ by omitting the word
and in other ways, e.g., omission of Acts 8:37" (p. 38-39).
In November 1978, some of the leading TR-KJV advocates formed the
Burgon Society in order to defend the Traditional text of the Bible in
a manner similar to the way in which Burgon did. Yet, one of their
of faith states, "We believe that all the verses in the KJV belong in
Old and New Testaments because they represent words we believe were in
the original Texts ..." (The Dean Burgon News, Vol. 1, No. 1,
pp. 2-3). It will be interesting to see how they will resolve the
of the minority verses in the KJV and Burgon's rejection of I John 5:7.
One of the goals of the Society is to evaluate the Revised Textus
published by Hodges and others.
So far, very few who advocate the majority text have discussed
readings in the KJV. One of them who does is Edward F. Hills. In The
King James Version Defended! (1956), he states on page 45,
Readings found in the non-Byzantine minority of the extant
may be adopted as probably or possibly genuine only [emphasis
when it can be shown that they do not contradict the Byzantine text,
its meaning, or detract from its doctrinal richness.
In this statement, Hills is saying that it is permissible to
or "add" to the majority text if one feels the textual variations are
harmony with God's Word. Most majority text proponents, however, would
reject this criterion since it allows a person to "correct" what God
as it is providentially preserved in the majority of manuscripts.
One of the authors (DSC) asked Wilbur N. Pickering, author of The
Identity of the New Testament Text (1977), how he resolved the
of minority readings in the KJV with his majority text thesis. In a
dated January 19, 1978, he answered stating, "The status of I John 5:7,
etc. will be resolved in due time." Thus, both Hills and Pickering seem
to say that it is possible for the majority text to be wrong, which is
a contradiction of their argument that God has preserved the best text
in the majority of the manuscripts. It is doubtful that either Hills or
Pickering would accept as reasonable someone saying that "the status of
the Alexandrian text where it differs from the KJV will be resolved in
due time." This belief, that the minority readings in the KJV are
despite the abundant manuscript evidence to the contrary, shows that
majority text criterion cannot be the real reason why people claim the
KJV is the only faithful English version of the Bible. Although one
say that there are exceptions to the general rule that the majority is
the best text, no one has published any objective criteria for
exceptions. Such criteria, however, would inevitably not satisfy
people since many minority readings in the KJV have less manuscript
for their authenticity than the Alexandrian text.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the majority text argument, even
from the minority readings in the KJV, is that there is no majority
text for the book of Revelation. The text of Revelation is
"fluid" when compared with other NT books (see Concerning the Text
the Apocalypse, by H. C. Hoskier, 1929). No one has yet suggested
Revelation be dropped from the NT because God has not preserved the
text in the majority of manuscripts. A "fluid" text, however, does not
imply that the text of Revelation is seriously in doubt. Most of the
are like "come and see" vs. "come, and behold" (Rev. 6:1), "from the
vs. "out of the earth" (Rev. 6:4), or "king of saints" vs. "king of the
nations" (Rev. 15:3). Since God did not preserve a majority text for
it is at least possible that He might also preserve the best text of
NT books in a minority of manuscripts as well. After all, one of the
beliefs of us fundamentalists is that any type of a majority can be
The majority text criterion cannot be the real reason behind the
TR-KJV movement. If it were, they would correct the KJV where it
with the majority text by publicly rejecting I John 5:7, Acts 8:37, and
other minority readings. Furthermore, they would explain how one can
the best text of Revelation which has no majority text.
Argument #3: The Greek manuscripts underlying all of the
versions of the NT come from Alexandria, Egypt. They could not be the
manuscripts because they have been in the possession of heretics, such
as Origen and the Roman Catholic Church. God would not use such people
to transmit the best text, since they would alter the text to suit
own teachings. Furthermore, the Alexandrian text was not in general use
from the 8th to 19th centuries. God would not allow the true text to be
hidden from public view for such a long time. Finally, God would not
liberals such as Tischendorf, Westcott, and Hort to rediscover and
the true text.
Much of the literature put out by KJV advocates majors in
the unbiblical views of the chief people and organizations involved in
transmitting the Alexandrian text. They find it incredible that God
use heretics to transmit the best text. We are told that Origen
the Bible; that the Roman Catholic Church has always taught salvation
faith plus works; and that Tischendorf, Westcott, and Hort were really
liberals. However, what is lacking in this argument is an examination
what means God did use to transmit the Hebrew OT and Greek TR
First, the OT was transmitted by unsaved Jews. Ever since
2nd century A.D., one of the few religious doctrines that nearly all
have agreed upon is that Jesus is not their Messiah. Yet, they were
by God to transmit the Hebrew OT text to us rather than any group of
Jews or Gentiles. No one has yet suggested that medieval Jews may have
made some doctrinal alterations in the Hebrew text to justify their
Second, the Traditional text was transmitted by the Greek Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox) Church. A study of the doctrines of the Greek
Church shows that it is just as unsaving as the Roman Catholic Church.
Both believe in a theology of faith plus sacraments consisting of
Confirmation, Penance, Eucharist, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Holy
Both believe that church tradition is on the same level as the
The Orthodox Church does not use idols (statues) as the Catholic Church
does. Instead it uses icons (flat pictures) of the saints to aid in
About the only major doctrinal difference between the two churches is
supremacy of the Pope. However, it was not until 1054 that the churches
officially split from one another over this issue, some 300 years after
the Byzantine text became the only Greek text in general use. (For more
information about the Greek Orthodox Church, see, e.g., The Greek
Church, by Demetrius J. Constantolos, 1967).
Third, the man who compiled the first edition of the TR was Erasmus,
a Dutch humanist. Except for the TR, we fundamentalists have not used
of Erasmus' works, even though he was the most famous scholar of his
Although he attacked many practices of the Roman Catholic Church, he
not leave it and join with the Protestant Reformation. He even
the first edition of the TR to Pope Leo X! Furthermore, in his attempt
to compile the best Greek text, he sometimes followed the Roman
Catholic Latin Vulgate instead of the Greek manuscripts
to him because of public pressure.
Finally, in the past God has allowed not only the best manuscripts
Scripture to be hidden from public view, but has even allowed a whole
of the Scriptures themselves to be totally hidden. II Kings 22:8-23:2
the finding of a book of the law in the house of the LORD
during the time of King Josiah. The book was accepted by the king and
LORD's prophets as truly being the Word of God
apparently no one could remember hearing it previously. Most
believe that the book found was Deuteronomy which was totally lost from
public view during a period of Jewish apostasy.
After looking into the history of the TR text, Argument #3 cannot be
the real reason why people believe the KJV is the best text. They do
question the Hebrew OT text even though it was transmitted by unsaved
They do not have the slightest mistrust for possible doctrinal
in the Traditional text which was transmitted by the Greek Orthodox
Yet, they claim the Alexandrian text teaches heretical Roman Catholic
which are almost identical to the heretical Greek Orthodox doctrines.
never question the transmission of the TR text through Erasmus who, if
one can imagine that he was saved, was at best a non-separatist
They do not find fault with God for allowing a book of the law to be
hidden from public view for a time. Yet, they find fault with the
manuscripts for having a similar history.
Argument #4: The TR manuscripts are the best manuscripts
they properly exalt the person of the Lord Jesus Christ while the
manuscripts do not. When the Alexandrian manuscripts are compared with
the TR, many places are found where the words "Lord" and "Christ" are
in reference to Jesus. This shows that the people who copied the
manuscripts did not want to believe that Jesus is both "Lord" and
One of the verses used to support this view is John 16:14, "He (the
Holy Spirit) shall glorify me...." According to Thomas Baker (tape on
Latest in Bible Versions," 1975), the manuscripts which the Holy Spirit
inspired can be identified by the way in which they glorify Jesus,
by the way they use the words "Lord" and "Christ." Pro-KJV publications
of medium length or more usually have a list of verses where "Lord" and
"Christ" are missing in modern NTs but are present in the KJV. (See Bible
Version Manual, by Donald T. Clarke, 1975, p. 128-129; The Case
for the King James Version of The Bible, by Donald A. Waite, 1971,
After reading through many such lists, one could easily come to the
conclusion that all of the other Greek manuscripts are always lacking
words "Lord" and "Christ" when compared with the TR. To our knowledge,
not one pro-TR publication has ever listed a single place where the KJV
might have either "Lord" or "Christ" missing when compared with other
versions or non-TR Greek manuscripts. However, in Matthew 16:21, the
has "Jesus Christ" while the KJV has only "Jesus." In I Corinthians
both the NASB and the NIV have "Lord Jesus Christ" while the KJV has
"Lord Jesus." Yet, for all their research, no TR advocate seems to have
found these places where the KJV "is corrupt and in need of
Even a cursory study of the variant readings in The Greek New
edited by Kurt Aland et al. (1966), shows that in many places, some
have "Lord" and "Christ" where both the TR and Alexandrian manuscripts
do not (e.g., Rom. 3:26, Rom. 10:9, II Cor. 4:5, Gal. 1:6, II Th. 2:8).
The words "Jesus," "Lord Jesus," "Jesus Christ," and "Lord Jesus
all commonly appear in the NT. The best explanation for the variations
of these terms in the NT manuscripts seems to be that God allowed some
textual errors to occur in these similar phrases. This would seem to
the manuscript evidence better than ascribing these differences to the
unbelief of the copyists. If the Alexandrian scribes refused to copy
word "Christ" in Revelation 1:9, then why did they copy it correctly in
Revelation 1:1, 1:2, 1:5? In Acts 24:24, both the NASB and NIV read
Jesus" while the KJV reads only "Christ." Are we to conclude from this
those who copied the TR manuscripts of Acts hated the name of Jesus?
Argument #4 cannot be the real reason motivating the TR-KJV
If the use of the terms "Lord" and "Christ" really determines the best
manuscripts, why has no TR advocate suggested "correcting the
in the KJV where it does not properly "glorify" the Lord Jesus Christ?
Or, on the other hand, if the KJV is the best text, why has no one
a list of places where other versions corrupt the Word of God by
Jesus by adding the terms "Lord" and "Christ" to the text? Is it really
possible after reading an Alexandrian NT that one could believe Jesus
not both Lord and Christ (see Acts 2:36 and II Cor. 1:2 in the NASB or
NIV)? Those who have used this argument ought to address these
in their literature.
Argument #5: The Alexandrian manuscripts could not be the
text because they teach doctrines different from those found in the TR.
These errors include justification by works, Arianism, and belief that
the Apocrypha is part of the Bible.
Of all of the arguments used to advance the TR-KJV position, this
against the Alexandrian manuscripts has the most serious consequences.
Undoubtedly, there are many other doctrinal errors which the
manuscripts have been alleged to have. For the sake of space and time,
though, we have limited this paper just to three of the most commonly
The attitude of many people who hold this view is perhaps best
by the following excerpts from God Wrote Only One Bible, by
J. Ray (1955, revised in 1976).
Put poison anywhere in the blood stream and the whole becomes
Just so with the Word of God. When words are added or subtracted, Bible
inspiration is destroyed, and the spiritual blood stream is poisoned.
No person can be born again without the Holy Spirit, and it is
the Holy Spirit is not going to use a poisoned blood stream to produce
healthy christians [sic]. (p.9)
Therefore, since the Word of God did not come by the will of man,
portion changed by the will of man must result in corruption. Only an
Bible can produce a perfect, soul-saving faith. (p.10)
It is impossible to be saved without `FAITH' and
can only be produced by the `ONE' Bible God wrote, and that we find
in translations which agree with the Greek Textus Receptus refused by
and Hort. (p.122)
I Peter 2:2 is one of the most quoted verses in the Alexandrian
which is alleged to teach justification by works (see Bible Version
Manual, by Donald T. Clarke, 1975, p. 60-63; or the tape by Thomas
Baker, "The Latest in Bible Versions," 1975).
Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it
may grow in respect to salvation. (NASB)
By insisting that the word "salvation" in this verse can only
mean "justification," one could certainly come to such a conclusion.
could not "salvation" have its other common meaning in this verse,
deliverance from sin and death when the believer is glorified? Surely
pro-KJV people believe that "salvation" can have other meanings besides
"justification," such as in Romans and Philippians:
... for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil.2:12)
In Revelation 22:14, one could use the same sort of argument to
that the KJV teaches justification by works,
Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may
right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the
The Alexandrian text has instead, "Blessed are they that wash
robes...." If apparent doctrinal soundness is the criterion for
the proper text, should not the Alexandrian reading be adopted in this
place in Revelation instead of the TR reading? Those who have accused
Alexandrian manuscripts of teaching a different gospel in I Peter 2:2
consistently apply their own logic to the KJV.
Some pro-KJV people have claimed that the new versions teach a form
of Arianism in which Jesus is the physical progeny of Joseph as well as
Mary. In Luke 2:33 and 43, the phrases "Joseph and his mother" in the
instead read "His father and mother" and "His parents" in the NASB and
NIV. On the surface, these differences might appear significant.
a closer reading of Luke 2 shows that even in the KJV Joseph and Mary
called Jesus' "parents" in verse 41 and Mary refers to Joseph as Jesus'
"father" in verse 48. Does this mean the KJV teaches this same form of
Arianism? Pro-KJV people believe that the terms "parents" and "father"
in verses 41 and 48 refer to Joseph's position of Jesus' stepfather
of his being Christ's physical father. It seems incredible that they
think so differently when the same terms are used in verses 33 and 43
the Alexandrian text. Finally, does the phrase "Joseph and his mother"
itself necessarily teach the virgin birth? Could it not by itself
misconstrued to mean that Jesus was the physical progeny of an unknown
man and Mary, and that Joseph later became Mary's husband and Jesus'
Actually, the fundamental doctrine of the virgin birth is not based on
these passages but on Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-28 where Joseph and
Mary are told what is going to happen. Both the Alexandrian manuscripts
and the TR clearly indicate the virgin birth in these places.
Finally, the Alexandrian manuscripts have been accused of teaching
the Apocrypha is also a part of the Bible because some of the codices
the Alexandrian NT also include some of the books of the Apocrypha. The
assumption behind this view is that only men of questionable character
would bind the NT with the uncanonical Apocrypha, or alternatively,
the Alexandrian manuscripts must have been known to be corrupt by these
men. Jerome also has often been accused of being doctrinally unsound
he translated the Apocrypha as a part of the Latin Vulgate Bible, even
though he personally did not believe that the Apocrypha was inspired.
the Vulgate is held to be a corrupt Bible, not only because Jerome
from non-TR manuscripts, but also because he had a compromising
view concerning the Apocrypha.
However, this is only one side of the story. The KJV of 1611
contained the Apocrypha as a part of the Bible! The original KJV
published in five volumes, the fourth being the Apocrypha. (See The
Authorized Version of the English Bible 1611, ed. by William A.
Cambridge Univ. Press, Vol. 4, 1909). If the Alexandrian codices teach
that the Apocrypha is part of the Bible, does not the 1611 KJV also?
the KJV translators made a distinction between the Apocrypha and the
their including the Apocrypha as a part of the Bible after the Roman
Church had declared the Apocrypha to be a genuine part of the Word of
in 1546 was just as compromising as Jerome's inclusion of it in the
Vulgate. Finally, if the KJV text can still be used after the Apocrypha
is dropped, cannot this also apply to the Alexandrian codices as well?
This argument that the Alexandrian manuscripts teach different
than the KJV cannot be the real reason behind the pro-TR position since
the KJV has the same doctrinal "problems." To accuse the Alexandrian
of teaching doctrines different than those found in the KJV not only is
false, but it also helps those who hold wrong doctrines to have a false
sense of security. Unsaved people already have a difficult enough time
believing the true gospel in any manuscript without telling them that
manuscripts teach different gospels. They should be told that their
is having hard hearts toward God's Word rather than sincerely reading a
Even among people who use the KJV alone, it seems amazing what
different doctrines can be "derived." We fundamentalists believe in the
Trinity. Yet United Pentecostals believe the KJV teaches Sabellianism
members of The Way International believe the KJV teaches Arianism. Is
KJV unclear, or are United Pentecostals and Wayites twisting the
to their own destruction? Sometimes it is said that we fundamentalists
can agree only on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith
salvation by faith alone) and nothing else (e.g., Arminianism vs.
pre-, mid-, post-tribulation rapture, covenant theology vs.
role of women in the church, forms of church government, etc.). Since
can apparently be so many different interpretations of the same words,
do not variations in the interpretation of any NT text produce far more
uncertainty in determining correct doctrine than any of the textual
in the Greek NT manuscripts?
Finally, even some of those who have defended the KJV do not believe
that non-TR manuscripts teach different doctrines from the KJV. In his
discussion of the manuscript evidence for Acts 8:37, Jasper J. Ray
that none of the 5,000 differences between Westcott and Hort's
text and the Textus Receptus altered any of God's revelation.
For a moment let us suppose that a copyist did insert Acts 8:37 into
the text. Has he injected any phase of Bible doctrine that is in any
contrary to any of God's revelation? Not one iota. Examine all the rest
of the 5,337 changes made in the Textus Receptus by Westcott's and
Greek Text, and you will find the same fact holds true. (See God
Only One Bible, by Jasper J. Ray, 1976, pp. 105-106)
Also, Philip Mauro, a Christian lawyer quoted by many KJV advocates,
could not find any difference in doctrine between the manuscripts.
But no two of these thousands of manuscripts are exactly alike; and
every discrepancy raises a distinct question requiring separate
and separate decision. While, however, the precise reading of thousands
of passages is affected by these differences, it must not be supposed
there is any uncertainty whatever as to the teaching and testimony of
New Testament in its entirety.
The consoling facts in that regard are: (1) that the vast majority
the variant readings are so slight (a mere question of a single letter,
or an accent, or a prefix, or a case ending) as not to raise any
at all concerning the true sense of the passage; and (2) that the sum
the variant readings taken together does not give ground for the
doubt as to any of the fundamental points of faith and doctrine. In
words, the very worst Text that could be constructed from the abundant
materials available would not disturb any of the great truths of the
faith. (See True or False?, 2nd printing, ed. by David O.
1975, p. 62)
Pro-KJV advocates should learn from these remarks of Ray and Mauro,
and stop using a poor argument that would not even stand up in a human
court, much less before the LORD. Since there
such wide differences in doctrine even among fundamentalists who use
KJV only, is it not possible that pro-KJV advocates have been twisting
the Alexandrian text in their splitting of fundamental churches?
Argument #6: The KJV, and the Greek TR text underlying it,
be the best text because God has so blessed its use since the time of
Reformation. In every major modern revival, men have preached from the
TR-KJV texts. God has not used and will not use the corrupt Alexandrian
text to do such great works among men.
First, just because one has a TR based text does not mean God will
its use. The Greek Orthodox Church has used TR based manuscripts for
all of its existence. Yet, its major doctrines are almost identical to
the Roman Catholic Church except for the supremacy of the Pope. Even
the Reformation occurred, the Greek Orthodox Church did not, and still
has not, endorsed the biblical teaching of "justification by faith
On a superficial basis, one could equally (but fallaciously) argue that
the direct use of the TR type texts, instead of using translations, in
the Greek Orthodox Church prevented its people from responding to the
gospel while the use of the Latin Vulgate produced people who would
the true gospel.
Second, God has blessed the use of non-TR texts in the past. Edward
F. Hills, in his book
Believing Bible Study, 2nd edition, 1977,
discusses God's providential use of other versions, namely the Greek
OT and the Latin Vulgate Bible. On pages 81 to 83, he shows how "the
recognized the Septuagint as the providentially approved translation of
the OT into Greek" by their abundant quotations from the Septuagint.
the Septuagint does not everywhere follow the Hebrew Masoretic text
underlies the OT of the KJV. Yet, God blessed the use of the Septuagint
version rather than the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, or Theodotion,
2nd century A.D. Greek translators of the Masoretic text. Hills
goes on to show that the only Bible used in Western Europe for the
years preceding the Reformation was the Latin Vulgate. The Vulgate
does not always follow the TR text which underlies the KJV, being
something of a mixture of the Alexandrian and Western text families.
God blessed Wyclif's translation of the Vulgate into English. Hills
on to say that it was primarily through the study of the Vulgate that
Luther became convinced that the Roman Catholic Church taught
doctrines, not through the study of the TR. Hills concludes by
Latin Vulgate was the providentially appointed Bible version for
of Western Europe during the medieval period."
From our standpoint in history today, it is obvious that the KJV has
been the providentially appointed version of the Bible for most
people since 1611. Considering that the newer versions have not been in
print as long as the KJV (the complete NASB Bible was published only in
1971 and the complete NIV Bible only in 1978), it should not surprise
that every major English-speaking revival since 1611 has used the KJV.
This does not mean, however, that the KJV should never be replaced. The
providential use of a version by God can be determined only for time in
the past, not for time in the future. No one could know at the times
Septuagint, Latin Vulgate, or KJV were first published that they would
be so widely used for hundreds of years and would largely replace
versions of the Bible then in use. The belief that God will never
stop using the KJV as the providentially appointed version for most
people is not the real reason motivating the TR-KJV movement. This is
because many pro-KJV people have stated they would accept a modern
version if it were based on the Masoretic Hebrew and Greek TR texts.
God's providential use of other versions in the past, especially the
Septuagint OT and the Latin Vulgate Bible, shows that the types of
God has used have not always been those underlying the KJV. Thus, it is
possible that God might in the future providentially use an English
not based on the types of manuscripts underlying the KJV. Only time can
tell if this will be true.
CONJECTURES AS TO THE REAL REASONS BEHIND THE TR-KJV MOVEMENT
In the previous sections, we have discussed the six major arguments
used to split fundamental churches over whether the KJV is the only
which English-speaking people should use today. Remember, everyone who
supports the KJV does not believe in all six of the previous
Many pro-KJV people strongly disagree with one another over how the
of the KJV should be defended and would reject some of the previously
arguments as spurious. Although these arguments have been used to
that the Alexandrian text is a "false" Bible which will not produce a
faith, they cannot be the real reasons behind the movement because the
TR and KJV have the same problems. Thus, those who are splitting
over this issue must have other reasons or must be ignorant of the
problems which plague both the Alexandrian text and TR-KJV. Not
who has written popular material to support the KJV believes that
churches should be split over this issue. However, such authors have
gone out of their way to stop this church splitting either, nor have
pointed out any of the problems in the KJV similar to those the
text is accused of having.
We will now give two conjectures as to why this controversy over the
TR-KJV is presently occurring. These reasons have not been openly
by TR-KJV advocates, to the best of our knowledge. However, in
with the arguments popularly used to support the TR-KJV, these
seem more likely to be the real reasons behind the controversy.
Conjecture #1: The use of the KJV has become a tradition in
Englishspeaking world. Many fundamentalists have used the KJV all of
lives and would find it very difficult to use another version.
Human nature is such that once people are locked into a tradition,
find it very difficult to change. Even the most pleasant changes are
difficult to adjust to emotionally. If a person has used only one
of the Bible all his life, any different version will seem strange.
would feel defensive if he were told that some of the passages he had
and preached on were not exactly the inspired words of God. Differences
in the text will always be attributed first to errors in the other
version rather than in one's own.
Some have even gone so far as to state that the KJV is a more
version than even the TR. Peter S. Ruckman, in his book The
Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (1970), has a chapter entitled
the Greek with the English." In it he actually defends the KJV
of Acts 19:37 which has the word "churches" even though every known
manuscript has the word "temples." He concludes this discussion by
that "Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation!" (p. 126).
this sort of reasoning, it sounds like the KJV does not strictly preserve
the contents of the original manuscripts. Rather it sounds like the KJV
is seen as part of a sort of ongoing revelation in which God gradually
changes with time what He originally gave. This amazing new doctrine,
seems unlikely to be true since the KJV is based on Greek manuscripts
can be no better than its foundations. None of the KJV translators
to be making an inspired translation which would improve their Greek
If we fundamentalists were to examine the religious beliefs of all the
KJV translators (for a list, see
Which Bible?, 5th edition, ed.
by David O. Fuller, 1975, p. 13-24), it is highly probable that
of us would have serious objections to at least some of their doctrinal
views and thus would reject any claim to the KJV being as inspired as
original manuscripts were.
The early editions of the TR were also met with similar resistance
change. Erasmus eventually included several passages from the Latin
(and not found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts) because of
pressure based on the belief that these passages must truly be part of
the Word of God. I John 5:7 in the KJV is the best example of this. In
the first two editions of the TR, Erasmus refused to include the verse
on the grounds that no Greek manuscript containing the verse was known
to anyone at that time. He then made a promise that if but one Greek
could be found which had the verse, he would include it. Of course, one
was found shortly afterwards. However, most people, including Erasmus
believe that this particular manuscript (#61) was fraudulently prepared
for the express purpose of forcing Erasmus to include the verse in the
TR. Hills claims that this incident is an example of how God used the
faith" of the time to protect the NT text, but it sounds like an
of the stubborn refusal of people to accept good evidence (see Believing
Bible Study, 2nd edition, by Edward F. Hills, 1977, p. 210-211). In
any case, it seems strange that the common people who did not know
and had been dominated by the Roman Catholic Church for over 1,000
should know what parts of the Latin Vulgate not found in the Greek
manuscripts were a genuine part of the original Greek text!
Thus, conjecture #1 is that many pro-KJV advocates have used only
KJV all of their lives and are resistant to any changes. While they can
easily believe that God would allow others to have access only to a
text, they absolutely refuse to believe that God might also allow them
to have an imperfect text.
Conjecture #2: If it is admitted that there are errors in the
KJV text, then people would have to be taught how to evaluate
evidence in order to determine the best text. Unfortunately, this would
require a knowledge of Greek and manuscript history. For most of the
people, such an education is unattainable. Then they would be at the
of anyone who claimed to be a scholar. Furthermore, after all of this
no one, not even a seminary-trained fundamental pastor, would be able
point to a text and say that he now has a perfect copy of every word
was originally inspired by God.
Probably this is the unstated motivation of most TR-KJV advocates.
one wants to be at the mercy of others. Everyone would like to say that
he has evaluated the evidence or at least could evaluate the evidence
necessary. No one wants to say that the odds for this portion of the
being the Word of God are 99 to 1, the next portion 75 to 25, and in
portions the odds are even 50 to 50. Everyone would like to say that
is no question that every word in the text is the Word of God.
However, we fundamentalists should accept the fact that God did not
make the world so simple. People who cannot read the Bible depend on
to tell them the truth. People who cannot read the original languages
who do not have access to manuscripts in those languages depend on the
work of others. Children especially are always at the mercy of others.
Most people are even now at the mercy of their pastors to tell them
is the best text and the correct interpretation of that text. Thus, the
use of scholarship in determining the best text should not be rejected
because most people cannot be scholars.
Finally, that no one could produce a text which one could say is
the Word of God should not be surprising. Everyone runs his life on the
basis of relative probabilities. Rarely can anyone claim to know
with 100% accuracy except for a mathematical proof. This does not,
morally excuse anyone for acting in a way contrary to the most
evidence available to him. One will not be excused by God on judgment
if he rejects the Bible because he was only 50% sure of some words in
text. Instead, he will be condemned for rejecting the thousands of
in the Bible which have little textual doubt. Even the KJV of 1611 did
not offer complete assurance of the text to its readers. In 13 places
the NT, the KJV translators placed variant readings in the margin
that they could not absolutely determine the wording of the Greek text
The Authorized Version of the English Bible 1611, ed. by William
A. Wright, Vol.5, 1909).
Therefore, we fundamentalists should not be afraid of admitting that
the KJV is in need of correction, knowing that this is not equivalent
saying that the whole text of the Bible will be in doubt. Rather, we
admit that determining the best text of the Bible is sometimes a
problem. Fundamental churches ought not to be split over a problem
has no easy solution, which even the KJV translators could not
solve. Instead, we ought to feed and take care of these churches which
hold to the historic fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and
try to split them over which version of the Bible they use.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Perhaps the most ironic part of the pro-TR-KJV position is their use
of Revelation 22:18-19:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy
of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add
him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall
away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away
part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and
the things which are written in this book.
The point usually made in connection with these verses is that it is
a very serious thing for a manuscript to have even one word added,
or altered from what God originally inspired. However, the phrase "book
of life" in verse 19 is found in no Greek manuscript. Every
manuscript has "tree of life." The phrase "book of life"
appears to be an uninspired change imported by Erasmus from the Roman
We believe that our two conjectures are the real reasons
the present TR-KJV movement, and that the six arguments advanced by
pro-KJV people are obscuring their real reasons from public view. What
then is the difference between the more public reasons and the real
A careful examination of the basic methodology behind the six arguments
and the two conjectures shows the difference.
The basic methodology behind the six arguments is an appeal to
No matter which one of the six arguments is advocated, one cannot
the text which best preserves the wording of the original manuscripts
a collation of the 5000 extant copies of the Greek NT and a knowledge
church history. For example, take Argument #2 (the original text of the
NT is best preserved in the majority text of the copies). If one does
have access to information about the contents and history of the
then he has no way of knowing if the KJV, or any other version for that
matter, is the best text. The same is true for the remaining five
The weighing of manuscript reliability and interpretation of church
however, varies among men so that it is unlikely that even two
would ever come up with the identical text given the same set of
and history books. Furthermore, if one is to
honestly use scholarship,
he must always admit that his opinion of the best text is subject to
upon the discovery of new data. One can never say that he has
the best text once and for all. Instead, he can say only that he has
the best text for the present which may be subject to further
upon the discovery of new data. Thus, it is this scholastic methodology
of determining the text of the NT which is also under attack by present
pro-KJV advocates, although they themselves might not consciously know
it. They do not want to appear to be dependent on other men, even other
fundamentalists, to do the scholarship for them or for others. In their
view, the scholastic methodology makes other men the final authority on
what constitutes the Bible instead of making God the final authority.
At this point, one might ask, "If the mentality of these KJV
is actually anti-scholastic, then why do they seem to argue for the KJV
text using scholastic methodology?" Our answer is simple. They are
to show that even if one used scholarship, he would come to the same
that any uneducated Bible believer of average intelligence would come
-- that the KJV is the only English Bible which is faithful to the
manuscripts. Thus, they are not actually using scholarship to determine
the best text of the Bible. This is obvious when the text of the KJV is
put through their own scholastic tests. If one actually believed in the
scholastic method and then found parts of the KJV which failed his
he would admit the KJV has textual errors and correct them.
it seems that only Burgon and Hodges are willing to do this (see
on Argument #2). When logical contradictions are pointed out to the
they simply respond that it is their firm belief that the textual
in the KJV will somehow eventually be resolved in favor of the KJV,
for the textual problem in Revelation 22:18-19.
So, if scholarship is not the ultimate basis for the present TR-KJV
movement, what is? What kind of non-scholastic methodology is thought
allow God to be the final authority on what constitutes the Bible
of men? Their answer is FAITH! The same kind of faith that God
when one believes in Jesus as his Lord and Savior -- so they claim. By
this method, one can be independent of other men and come to a final
by himself concerning what constitutes the Word of God.
An example of this kind of faith is seen in the following case. When
confronted with a difference between the KJV and (say) the NASB, how
one tell which reading is genuine? By the method of scholarship, one
have to study the manuscripts and their history. By the method of
however, one only has to pray and ask God to reveal to him in some way
(without scholarship) which reading is correct. If one has been saved
preaching from the KJV, it is very easy to appeal to one's personal
as God's revealed "proof." They would say, "I can see the changes that
have taken place in my life since I believed what was taught in the
These changes are evidence that God is really working in my life.
I know that the KJV is the best text without any manuscript evidence."
This methodology, of course, is then later used to defend every word
in the KJV text. In our discussions with pro-KJV people, it is not
for them to claim that even the TR can be wrong, but the KJV cannot.
However, is this the kind of "faith" the Bible talks about? Blind
based on personal experience and independent of other evidence such as
manuscripts and history? In I Corinthians 15:14, the Apostle Paul
"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith
is also vain." How does one determine whether Christ has actually risen
from the dead? Are not historical and archaeological evidence (using
for the reliability of Scripture involved? Did not Paul give historical
evidence when he told the Corinthians to ask the other Apostles and the
five hundred brethren who saw the risen Christ (I Co.15:4-7)? Would
not involve some scholarship in determining whether a person actually
Christ or was lying? Should not every Bible believer be ready to
his faith if a grave in Palestine were ever identified unmistakably to
contain the remains of Jesus Christ? If not, what would be the
between that person and a liberal who says that it does not really
what happened, only what a person believes happened is important?
We fundamentalists sometimes claim that some of the hymns we sing
doctrinally unsound. Is this not the case for that line in the hymn "He
Lives" which says "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my
There is more to Biblical faith than belief without objective evidence.
If not, then how does one witness to a Mormon? Present day Mormons
that scholarship can never prove or disprove that Joseph Smith is a
of God or that the Book of Mormon is also the Word of God. That would
other men the final authority on Mormonism, not God. If one should
out some of the abundant evidences against Mormonism, Mormons will
respond that these problems will eventually be resolved in favor of
given enough time. The primary evidence for the truth of Mormonism
from the Holy Spirit working in one's life, so their claim goes.
converts are first given a presentation of Mormonism. Then they are
to pray to God and sincerely ask Him to show them by divine revelation
whether or not Mormonism is true. By this methodology, many people do
become Mormons while others do not. With the passing of time, many
will be able to give glowing testimonies of the changes God has
wrought in their lives. If one asks why certain people who prayed
not to become Mormons, Mormons will typically answer that such people
have prayed (at least subconsciously) with an insincere heart.
they would have become Mormons! Indeed if the growth of a church is the
evidence of God's blessing the use of a particular text, the Book of
would do well. Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions in
We believe that the main cause of the modern pro-TR-KJV movement is
an anti-scholastic attitude. This attitude is generated because, while
people in general desire absolute certainty, scholarship can never
to produce the completely perfect text. Such an attitude is
by Edward F. Hills,
For by this (scholastic) method the best conclusion we can reach is
that the New Testament text is probably trustworthy, and this
not sufficient when we use this text to comfort others or apply it to
in our time of need. (Believing Bible Study, 2nd edition, 1977,
Yes, the methodology of scholarship can only produce a text which is
probably true. However, as more data is collected and understood, the
that any newly discovered data will significantly alter what is
accepted as the best text becomes very small indeed. The process then
one of filling in the minor details rather than making significant
Does the methodology of faith without scholarship produce any more
than faith based on scholarship? Has not every person once thought he
certainly right on some issue only to later change his mind and believe
he was totally wrong? Is God really the final authority in this
If He is, then why do people become Mormons and claim to have peace and
assurance in their times of need? Has not God really been replaced by
by feelings" concerning their experiences using the KJV in this
of faith without scholarship? Nowhere in the Bible are we
that the feelings about our experiences, even after sincere prayer, are
the voice of God.
How can one tell which methodology is right? The best way is by
the methodology with which one is compelled to conduct his daily life
order to survive. God has ordained a world in which people always make
decisions with a limited amount of data. They can never say they are
right since they never know everything. They must often change their
when new data becomes available which alters the situation. Of course,
one can always say that the textual problems in the KJV will eventually
be solved. Yet again, they may never be solved in favor of the KJV. Men
are morally obligated to live according to what is most likely to be
with the amount of knowledge they have now, not with what they do not
now and only
might possibly have in the future. As far as the NT
is concerned, any text based on known manuscripts is clear enough so
anyone reading it is without excuse if he does not understand and
the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.
In concluding, we hope that this paper has brought out at least two
points. First, using the methodology of scholarship, the KJV is an
text. The KJV and the Greek TR underlying it both fail in some places
meet the criteria of text authenticity used by modern TR-KJV advocates
to attack the Alexandrian text family. Second, the subsequent refusal
many pro-KJV people to acknowledge that the KJV is an imperfect text
that scholarship is not the primary basis of the TR-KJV movement.
it shows that another basis besides scholarship is being used to
the KJV as the best NT text, to split fundamental churches, and to
individuals over this issue. In their desire for absolute certainty,
people have replaced true scholarship with "faith without scholarship."
However, such a methodology does not allow one to distinguish between
Christianity and such "blind faith" heresies as Mormonism. In reality,
such a faith replaces the authority of God with "leading by feelings"
one's experiences using the KJV (or the Book of Mormon for that
and these experiences are just as likely to change, if not more so, as
conclusions derived from careful scholarship.
Undoubtedly, we have not convinced every KJV advocate who has read
paper that his position is in error. We do hope, however, that we have
at least showed him that there is a basic difference in methodology
those who believe the KJV is a perfect text and those who do not. We
hope that those who have been splitting otherwise fundamental churches
over this issue will realize that their actions have been based on a
methodology with which we should not conduct our lives. We
ought not to be fighting among ourselves over the TR and KJV. Instead,
we should be trying to bring a lost world to the wonderful and
Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
CONCERNING BURGON AND MAURO ON THE NT TEXT
In Arguments #2 and #5, we mentioned some facts about John W. Burgon
and Philip Mauro which may seem quite surprising to many TR-KJV
Specifically, we said that Burgon suggested at least 150 changes in the
text of Matthew alone and that he rejected the authenticity of I John
and that Mauro did not believe that non-TR manuscripts taught doctrines
different from those found in the TR. The surprise on the part of some
TR-KJV advocates has been so great that they have accused us of
Burgon and Mauro. Thus, we are including the following excerpts from
of them in order to vindicate ourselves from such false accusations.
John W. Burgon
John W. Burgon, an Anglican clergyman in England, was one of the
proponents of the Traditional (majority) text in the 1880's and early
Many of his works have been quoted and republished by some of the
TR-KJV advocates. Burgon died before completing all that he wanted to
on the Traditional text of the NT. His notes and partially finished
were later compiled and edited for him by his friend Edward Miller in
volumes: The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, and The
of the Corruptions in the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels.
volumes were published by George Bell & Sons in 1896. These two
are somewhat difficult to obtain since they have not been reprinted in
Our first quotation of Burgon in Argument #2 comes from an
part which was written by Miller in The Traditional Text of the
First, be it understood, that we do not advocate perfection in the
Receptus. We allow that here and there it requires revision. In the
left behind by Dean Burgon, about 150 corrections have been suggested
him in St. Matthew's Gospel alone. What we maintain is the TRADITIONAL
TEXT. And we trace it back to the earliest ages of which there is any
We trust to the fullest testimony and the most enlightened view of all
Our second quotation of Burgon in Argument #2 comes from Burgon's The
Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to St. Mark. This book
been condensed and republished by David O. Fuller in Counterfeit or
Genuine?, Grand Rapids International Publications, 1975. the text
Burgon's remarks on page 39 and the very top of page 40 in Counterfeit
or Genuine? are as follows. In the context, remember that Burgon is
defending a passage in Mark which is a part of the majority
Our opponents maintain that these verses did not form part of the original autograph of the Evangelist. But it is a known rule in the law of evidence that the burden of proof lies on the party who asserts the affirmative of the issue. We have therefore to ascertain in the present instance what the supposed proof is exactly worth, remembering always that in this subject matter a high degree of probability is the only kind of proof which is attainable. When, for example, it is contended that the famous words in St. John's First Epistle (I John 5:7,8) are not to be regarded as genuine, the fact that they are away from almost every known codex is accepted as a proof that they were also away from the autograph of the Evangelist. On far less weighty evidence, in fact, we are at all times prepared to yield the hearty assent of our understanding in this department of sacred science.
And yet it will be found that evidence of overwhelming weight, if not of an entirely different kind, is required in the present instance.
The case is altogether different, as all must see, when it is
to get rid of the twelve verses which for seventeen hundred years and
have formed the conclusion of St. Mark's Gospel, no alternative
being proposed to our acceptance. For let it be only observed that this
proposal practically amounts to and means.
Burgon's style of writing is perhaps somewhat unclear in this
He is discussing what would constitute sufficient evidence to reject
authenticity of the ending of Mark. As an example of what would
"proof" for the ending of Mark to be counterfeit, he cites the
evidence for I John 5:7, i.e. "the fact that they are away from almost
every known codex is accepted as a proof that they were also away from
the autograph of the Evangelist." At this point, one might wonder
or not this "fact ... is accepted" by Burgon himself. In the very next
sentence, though, he states that he is willing to accept "On far less
evidence" that the ending of Mark is counterfeit. Burgon further states
that "an entirely different kind" of evidence is needed to prove the
counterfeit because "the case is altogether different" since the ending
of Mark is in the majority text. Thus, Burgon in this passage reflects
the authenticity of I John 5:7.
Should this really be so surprising? Since Burgon believed that the
best text was determined by the majority reading of the extant Greek
he came to the logical conclusion of his scholarship. Since I John 5:7
was not in the majority text, then it must have been "away from the
of the Evangelist" John and thus must be a counterfeit verse in the TR
It is important to realize that Burgon only defended the majority
not every word in the KJV. Those who believe the KJV is a perfect text
should not be quoting Burgon for support.
Philip Mauro was an American lawyer during the late 1800's and early
1900's and was saved in the middle of his career. During the latter
of his life, he devoted some of his time to writing on Biblical
Our quotation of Mauro in Argument #5 comes from his article "Which
Authorized or Revised? which has been reprinted in True or False?,
2nd edition, ed. by David O. Fuller, Grand Rapids International
1975. On page 62 of True or False?, Mauro states, "the very
Text that could be constructed from the abundant materials available
not disturb any of the great truths of the Christian faith." The
concerning our quotation is whether or not "the very worst Text" that
was talking about included any text made with Alexandrian manuscripts.
The context of Mauro's statements on page 62 are from his section on
Original Text" near the beginning of his long article. In the
directly before the quotation in question, Mauro first discusses the
types of evidence used to determine the best Greek text: Greek
ancient translations of the NT, and quotations of the Scripture by the
"church fathers." In the last sentence on page 61, Mauro says, "Of
manuscripts a few are supposedly as early as the fourth or fifth
and others as late as the fourteenth." The inclusion of the fourth
manuscripts is a reference to the Alexandrian codices Sinaiticus and
the oldest two manuscripts known in Mauro's time. On the top of page
Mauro discusses the ancient translations and the quotations of the
fathers, which are not by any means completely supportive of the TR.
it is clear that Mauro is talking about all available evidence
determining the NT text, not just TR type evidence. This is even more
in the paragraphs on pages 62 and 63 which immediately follow our
since Mauro again includes the ancient translations (Versions) and
along with Greek manuscripts for determining the best text.
It will be seen, therefore, that the making of a Greek Text, as the first step in producing an English Version, involves the immense labor of examining, for every disputed word and passage, the numerous manuscripts, ancient Versions, and quotations now known to exist, and also the making of a decision in each case where there is a conflict between the various witnesses.
This is a highly complicated task; and for the proper performance of
it other qualities besides Greek and English scholarship are
For example, one must settle at the outset what degree of credibility
to be imputed to the respective manuscripts; and this is where, in our
opinion, the compilers of the Greek Text used as the basis for the R.V.
went far astray, with the result that the Text adopted by them was much
inferior to that used in the translation of the A.V. Our reasons for
opinion, which will be given later on, are such as to be easily
No distinction between TR-type readings and non-TR-type readings in
the manuscripts, versions, or quotations has been made by Mauro in his
article at this point. Later on, Mauro rejects the Alexandrian text
However, for the moment he has not yet stated how he determines "what
of credibility is to be imputed to the respective manuscripts; ...."
he believes that the "very worst Text", even though it might be a
Alexandrian text, teaches the same doctrines as the very best Text.
Further on in the article, Mauro has a section on "Specific Examples
of Textual Corruption" in which he discusses the omissions or
of some passages in the Alexandrian manuscripts when compared with the
Authorized Version (KJV). However, in almost all cases Mauro claims the
readings in the KJV are correct because they are found in the majority
of the Greek manuscripts, not because the changes would teach
doctrines or would destroy the basis of any existing doctrines.
Again, we would repeat that we do not believe that the Alexandrian
teach any doctrines different from those found in the TR-KJV. We
that those who are attacking the Alexandrian text on this basis are
twisting the meaning of the passages involved. This twisting should not
be surprising to anyone since even Fundamentalist interpreters of the
have come up with many conflicting doctrines. Sometimes the same person
will change his mind over what he believes the Scriptures teach
he has read the same verses over and over again for years. Even Mauro
his mind from advocating dispensationalism to denouncing it as
leaven in the Fundamentalist camp (see Dispensationalism Today,
12th printing, by Charles C. Ryrie, 1976, p.11).
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