A Torpedo in the Hold: Roman Catholic Involvement in the Text-Critical Industry

Jerusalem Blade from the Puritan Board:

Now we get to a different aspect of the matter. One that is not often brought into the discussion. E.R., to answer you directly, No, I do not charge or insinuate “non-KJV users with Roman Catholic tendencies”! However—and it’s a big “however”—many Reformed folks may simply be unaware of Roman Catholic involvement in the text-critical industry.

For instance, it does not inspire confidence in Reformed persons that the publishers of the Critical Text, the United Bible Societies, unabashedly serve the Vatican and the Pope, of whom UBS General Secretary Michael Perreau said,

“Pope Francis embodies several ‘first ever’ aspects: he’s the first Jesuit pope, the first Latin American pope, and the first to choose St Francis of Assisi as the patron of his papacy. He combines modesty, not least in his lifestyle, with fervent engagement for the poor, and traditional Catholic theology with courageous advocacy for human rights.

“He is a man of the universal church with an ecumenical spirit and he is a pastor, who knows the reality of ‘simple’ people. The new Pope is a truly biblical person whose faith and actions are deeply rooted in the Bible and inspired by the Word of God.”

“As a long-time friend of the Bible Societies Pope Francis knows that our raison d’être is the call to collaborate in the incarnation of our Christian faith,” says Mr Perreau. “We assure Pope Francis of our renewed availability to serve the Catholic Church in her endeavours to make the Word of God the centre of new evangelisation.”


And further, the Nestle-Aland Greek NT 27th Ed. page 45 clearly states that,

The text shared by these two editions was adopted internationally by Bible Societies, and following an agreement between the Vatican and the United Bible Societies it has served as the basis for new translations and for revisions made under their supervision. This marks a significant step with regard to interconfessional relationships. It should naturally be understood that this text is a working text (in the sense of the century-long Nestle tradition): it is not to be considered as definitive, but as a stimulus to further efforts toward defining and verifying the text of the New Testament. For many reasons, however, the present edition has not been deemed an appropriate occasion for introducing textual changes. [Emphasis added]​

Source document:

Nestle-Aland Greek NT 27th Ed[​IMG] by Steve R., on Flickr

What amazes me is that good Reformed souls can fall for the Roman assault on Sola Scriptura through their prize MSS (the “Queen of the Uncials” Vaticanus is called), which is the main exemplar and basis of the Greek Critical Text, throwing into disarray the defense of the Reformation. Is it not evident? The textual conflicts among the Reformed—indeed, the entire Protestant camp—derive from the Catholic assault against Sola Scriptura via the variant-laden manuscripts they have for a long while, to this very day, promoted as the superior “neutral” text, or the superior eclectic text. Their agenda? Furthering “interconfessional relationships… under their [the Vatican’s] supervision”. What am I saying? That, in large measure, Rome has defeated the Reformation’s stand. The loss of the Reformation’s Bibles in lieu of the plethora of Critical Text Bibles—which foment the discord and confusion we see here even in this very thread—has weakened the faith in a sure and reliable word of God.

I’m not making this stuff up. If the UBS-Papal union and collaboration does not convince you, I don’t know what will. Yes, some good and scholarly men (and women) believe the CT the superior text despite the Roman connection; well and good. It remains that Rome’s agenda has succeeded: the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as the Reformation’s foundation has been destroyed. We are in disarray.

Oh, it may seem we are thriving, and individual churches (and individual souls) may seem to be so, for the time, but the Reformation ship has taken a torpedo in the hold, and the leak cannot be mended.

Some may decry what has happened, and call for folks to return to the Reformation’s textual standard, but the hole is too big. The lifeboats of local churches remain. May God our Shepherd (to change metaphors) guide us to Celestial City, using skilled and godly pastors who with wisdom take His direction.

I believe, as an amillennial proponent, that the eschaton draws near, with the preliminary judgments, catastrophes, and apostatizing, and then the global turning against the saints before His return. How long? I do not know.

This is why I hold up the Reformation Bibles: a sure word of God is our strength, and the standard of the Spirit of the LORD when the enemy comes in like a flood (Isa 59:19-21).

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/so-many-kjv-arguments.94744/, Comment 10


Revelation 22:19 and the “Book of Life”

Jerusalem Blade on the Puritan Board:

Here are some thoughts with respect to Dr. Jan Krans’ critique of Dr. Holland’s defense of Rev 22:19, among other things.

Dr. Krans does seem to be an astute textual critic, although it seems he is an academician and not a church man. I have been able to find no connection between him and any church, and an inquiry to a friend showed nothing to that effect either.

In the critical article you linked to Krans made it clear that he is no friend of the doctrine of divine preservation, and he says, “Let me state from the start that the entire enterprise of trying to defend the Greek Textus Receptus is pointless. . . The defence of the sixteenth-century text can only be inspired by an—unfortunate—theological a priori, not by the historical facts.”

This view goes against your own confession (the 1689), which says at 1.8,

“The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic…”.​

This is virtually identical to the WCF at 1.8. The framers of our confessions operated on the presupposition that what God had inspired He would preserve, and they based this on Scripture, not human reasoning. For all I know Krans is not a believer.

I have tried to contact Dr. Holland to see if he would respond to Krans, but it may be he is agèd now, or even gone to be with the Lord. I had contacted him some 10 or 12 years ago, and he responded then. As with Jakob van Bruggen, he seems to have dropped out of sight.

Further, I would consider Krans an academic elitist, from his saying, “As his [Holland’s] Th.D. is from ‘Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary’, it can probably not be considered academic. I will therefore refrain from using the title ‘Dr.’ which he himself consistently uses.”

We have seen what many supposed Hebrew and Greek “experts” think to do to the church’s Bible (as well disagreeing among themselves), and some of us will have none of it, instead gathering materials to help understand the original languages so as to not be under “the tyranny of experts” (to quote J. Gresham Machen’s pertinent phrase). The experts and scholars all too often have been enemies of the faith, and we do well to learn to live without them. The rare Hebrew or Greek scholar who supports the faith and its Scriptures is a treasure, and we do have a few of them, by the providence of God.

At any rate, in the absence of a rebuttal by Dr. Holland, I am of a mind to hold his particular defense of Rev 22:19 with suspended judgment. It can be defended otherwise!

Regarding Erasmus’ manuscripts, and later editors and their editions using them, Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener writes,

“He [Erasmus] had seen the Complutensian Polyglott in 1522, shortly after the publication of his third edition, and had now the good sense to avail himself of its aid in the improvement of the text, especially in the Apocalypse, wherein he amended from it at least ninety readings” [in preparation for his 4th Edition]. – A Plain Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the NT, 4th Ed, Vol II, p 186.​

John Gill said in his commentary:

God shall take away his part out of the book of life; by which is meant eternal election, which is the meaning of the phrase throughout this book, in which whoever are written shall certainly be saved. The worshippers of the beast, or the antichristian party, who are chiefly regarded here, are not written in it, Revelation 13:8 wherefore taking away the part of such, is only taking away that which they seemed to have; see Luke 8:18. “Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” and the sense is, that such shall be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death, and will be the portion of all that are not written in the book of life, Revelation 20:15. The Alexandrian copy, one of Stephens’s, and the Complutensian edition, read, “the tree of life”.​

Gill stated that “one of Stephen’s” reads tree of life. In other words, other manuscripts that Stephens employed contained “the book of life” in Revelation 22:19, and there were at least 16 manuscripts employed by Stephanus. (source)

Steven Avery’s research on this verse has shown that church writer references that support the reading “book of life” are:

Ambrose (c 390 AD)
Bachiarius (c 420)
Andreas of Cappadocia (c 500)
Primasius of Adrumentum (552 AD) – Commentary on Revelation
Speculum treatise (mss c. 8th century, many consider as Augustine 427 AD origin)
Haymo of Halberstadt (9th century) – Commentary on Revelation
Pseudo-Augustine (1160)

Among the ancient Bible versions that also support “book of life” are the following:

Bohairic Coptic
Old Latin line
Latin Vulgate (some read “book” and others have “tree”) auferet Deus partem ejus de libro vitæ, et de civitate sancta,

Latin Manuscripts

Codex Fuldensis (~ A.D. 545)
Codex Karolinus (9th century);
Codex Ulmensis (9th century);
Codex Uallicellanus (9th century);
corrector of Codex Parisinus (9th century)
Codex Oxoniensis (12th to 13th century)
Codex Sarisburiensis (thirteenth century)

(Avery source)

Regarding using manuscript evidence from languages and versions other than the Greek, consider these quotes (from another thread),

[Holland saying to James White re Luke 2:22] …as for “secondary language(s)” not being “relevant,” I am afraid that modern textual scholars would not agree with your statement. Kurt Aland wrote:

“The transmission of the New Testament textual tradition is characterized by an extremely impressive degree of tenacity. Once a reading occurs it will persist with obstinacy. It is precisely the overwhelming mass of the New Testament textual tradition, assuming the hugainousa didaskalia of New Testament textual criticism (we trust the reader will not be offended by this application of 1 Tim. 1:10), which provides an assurance of certainty in establishing the original text. Even apart from the lectionaries (cf. p. 163), there is still the evidence of approximately 3,200 manuscripts of the New Testament text, not to mention the early versions and the patristic quotations–we can be certain that among these there is still a group of witnesses which preserves the original form of the text, despite the pervasive authority of ecclesiastical tradition and the prestige of the later text.” (The Text of the New Testament, p. 291-292)

Please note that Aland believes the “tenacity” of a reading can be found not only in the evidence of the Greek manuscripts, but also among the “early versions and the patristic quotations.” He states that we can be CERTAIN that, “among these there is still a group of witness which preserves the original form of the text. . .” Therefore, early versions are to be used and considered evidence in the science of textual criticism.

Dr. Alexander Souter noted:

“The second (source of the NT text) is translations made from this original Greek, especially if directly made from it, and not through the medium of another language, which is itself a direct translation from the original Greek. If such a translation was carefully made, and has survived in the precise form and text in which the translator himself issued it, what we possess in it is tantamount to the Greek copy in front of the translators when he made his translation.” (The Text And Canon Of The New Testament, p.10.)

Since the Old Latin manuscripts are almost unanimous in their reading “of her” and since the Latin Vulgate likewise possesses the reading “ejus” (of her), it is highly likely that there was an early Greek text with this reading which we no longer possess, at least according to the logic of textual criticism as just expressed by Souter. I do not believe that there is any reason to continue with additional citations which agree with this point. However the same may be found in the writings of Metzger, Geisler and Nix, Jack Finegan, and others.

In the first and later letters Holland questions White as to why he made the allegation that in Luke 2:22 Beza made a “conjectural emendation” as Beza knew of the early Latin readings, and this would show it was rather a well-informed textual decision.​

[End Holland]

All this to show, Joshua, that attestations from “secondary languages” and versions (other than the Greek) are legitimate in discerning how God “by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages” our Bible texts.

We have seen above from Scrivener’s testimony that Erasmus had access to other MSS which he used to correct his later editions (eliminating the charge he got a bad reading from the Vulgate), and also John Gill’s testimony that Stephanus had a number of MSS with the book reading, and it was also in Beza’s edition. So the AV translators had a number of Greek MSS with the reading, as well as other language versions descended from ancient sources, such as the Waldenses.

I’m sorry to go on so long like this, but the attack on Holland and Rev 22:19 by Krans warranted some defense. I still hold Holland’s book a classic in the field, highly recommending it, and will simply suspend judgment on his stand re Rev 22:19, finding support for it elsewhere.

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/recommendations-to-understand-the-kjv-love.94678/, Comment 26

Have the Scriptures Been Totally Corrupted?

Turretin says no:

“IV. The question does not concern the irregular writing of words or the punctuation or the various readings (which all acknowledge do often occur); or whether the copies which we have so agree with the originals as to vary from them not even in a little point or letter. Rather the question is whether they so differ as to make the genuine corrupt and to hinder us from receiving the original text as a rule of faith and practice.

V. The question is not as to the particular corruption of some manuscripts or as to the errors which have crept into the books of particular editions through the negligence of copyists or printers. All acknowledge the existence of many such small corruptions. The question is whether there are universal corruptions and errors so diffused through all the copies (both manuscript and edited) as that they cannot be restored and corrected by any collation of various copies, or of Scripture itself and of parallel passages. Are there real and true, and not merely apparent, contradictions? We deny the former.

VI. The reasons are: (1) The Scriptures are inspired of God (theopneustos, 2 Tim. 3:16). The word of God cannot lie (Ps. 19:8, 9; Heb. 6:18); cannot pass away and be destroyed (Mt. 5:18); shall endure forever (1 Pet. 1:25); and is truth itself (Jn. 17:17). For how could such things be predicated of it, if it contained dangerous contradictions, and if God suffered either the sacred writers to err and to slip in memory, or incurable blemishes to creep into it?”

Turretin, Institutes, 1:71

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/recommendations-to-understand-the-kjv-love.94678/, Comment 21

A Polemic Against Protestants

Leading CT textual critic, Dan Wallace accepts that, “New Testament textual criticism was born as a polemic against Protestants, intended to show that they couldn’t really trust the Bible!” He also admits that the Divines based their doctrine of perfect preservation on the TR,

The response by Protestants was swift, though perhaps not particularly well thought out. In 1646, the first doctrinal statement about God preserving his text was formulated as part of the Westminster Confession. The problem is that what the Westminster divines were thinking of when they penned that confession was the TR. By virtually ignoring the variants, they set themselves up for more abuse.

The liberal writer, McCabe writing in 1897 agrees that the Westminster divines had assumes providential preservation of all the words by sneering,

Until the seventeenth century divines had assumed that Providence had miraculously guarded its inspired books. From this torpid belief they were at length roused by the controversies on the date and origin of the vowel points of the Hebrew text between the Buxtorfs and Morinus and Cappell, and by the discovery of a vast number of variations in the manuscripts and printed books of Scripture Kennicott s Hebrew Bible, published from 1776 to 1790, gave 200,000 variations. Thus a door was opened to a certain reverent kind of criticism.

It was about another century before Rome refined a weapon to combat Sola Scriptura at the hands of Romanist priest, Richard Simon (1638-1712) through “Textual Criticism.” Baird tells us, “Simon sharpened historical criticism into a weapon that could be used in the attack on Protestantism’s most fundamental error: the doctrine of Sola Scriptura .” Indeed, Simon himself explains plainly his purpose,

the great changes that have taken place in the manuscripts of the Bible – as we have shown in the first book of this work – since the first originals were lost, completely destroy the principle of the Protestants…if tradition is not joined to scripture, there is hardly anything in religion that one can confidently affirm.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/skepticism-and-doubt-toward-the-bible.52046/, Comment 8

Skepticism and Doubt Toward the Bible

I have seen it said here at PB recently that “99%” of orthodox Biblical scholars from properly accredited universities or colleges favor the CT or eclectic-type Greek texts (or, to put it negatively, texts which are not TR), and that may be the case, though I think the stat quoted is arbitrary and not scientifically adduced. But for argument’s sake let’s go with it anyway.

Two years after the exodus from Egypt (Numbers 1:1), of the 603,550 males over 20 (Numbers 1:45, 46), but a tiny fraction of these adults entered into the promised land, for the mass of the people of Israel, Moses declared, hearkened to those 10 men who spied out the land and spoke not by faith but by human reason, telling the people it was madness to go against the mighty inhabitants dwelling in the land the LORD had promised them. Including grown women, we likely have 1 to 1½ million people. So there were only two (I’m omitting Moses, Aaron, and Miriam here) out of that number who exercised faith? That would be about 99.9999% – the vast majority – who did not proceed by faith, and were not approved of God. I bring this up only to show that following the majority does not always bear good fruit.

I will proceed to give some quotes about the quality of modern evangelical scholarship – which I think the Reformed would be adequately represented by – as concerns the Bible.

“A growing vanguard of young graduates of evangelical colleges who hold doctorates from non-evangelical divinity centers now question or disown inerrancy and the doctrine is held less consistently by evangelical faculties. … Some retain the term and reassure supportive constituencies but nonetheless stretch the term’s meaning” (Carl F.H. Henry, “Conflict over Biblical Inerrancy,” Christianity Today, May 7, 1976).

“Most people outside the evangelical community itself are totally unaware of the profound changes that have occurred within evangelicalism during the last several years – in the movement’s understanding of the inspiration and authority of Scripture … evangelical theologians have begun looking at the Bible with a scrutiny reflecting their widespread acceptance of the principles of historical and literary criticism … The position affirming that Scripture is inerrant or infallible in its teaching on matters of faith and conduct but not necessarily in all its assertions concerning history and the cosmos is gradually becoming ascendant among the most highly respected evangelical theologians. … One might even suggest that the new generation of evangelicals is closer to Bonhoeffer, Barth and Brunner than to Hodge and Warfield on the inspiration and authority of Scripture” (Richard Quebedeaux, “The Evangelical: New Trends and Tensions,” Christianity and Crisis, Sept. 20, 1976, pp. 197-202).

“I must regretfully conclude that the term evangelical has been so debased that it has lost its usefulness. … Forty years ago the term evangelical represented those who were theologically orthodox and who held to a biblical inerrancy as one of the distinctives. … Within a decade or so neoevangelicalism…was being assaulted from within by increasing skepticism with regard to biblical infallibility or inerrancy” (Harold Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 1979, p. 319).

“Within evangelicalism there are a growing number who are modifying their views on the inerrancy of the Bible so that the full authority of Scripture is completely undercut” (Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1983, p. 44).

“My main concern is with those who profess to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and yet by, what I can only call, surreptitious and devious means, deny it. This is, surprisingly enough, a position that is taken widely in the evangelical world. Almost all of the literature which is produced in the evangelical world today falls into this category. In the October, 1985 issue of Christianity Today, (the very popular and probably most influential voice of evangelicals in America), a symposium on Bible criticism was featured. The articles were written by scholars from several evangelical seminaries. Not one of the participants in that symposium in Christianity Today was prepared to reject higher criticism. All came to its defense. It became evident that all the scholars from the leading seminaries in this country held to a form of higher criticism. 
 These men claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. At the same time they adopt higher critical methods in the explanation of the Scriptures. This has become so common in evangelical circles that it is almost impossible to find an evangelical professor in the theological schools of our land and abroad who still holds uncompromisingly to the doctrine of the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures. The insidious danger is that higher criticism is promoted by those who claim to believe in infallible inspiration.” Herman C. Hanko, The Battle for the Bible, 1993, p. 3).​

And what is the impact on textual studies and text critics (not to mention now the trickle-down to the “laity”)? This is a sampling of text critics in the 20th century:

“The ultimate text, if ever there was one that deserves to be so called, is for ever irrecoverable” (F.C. Conybeare, History of New Testament Criticism, 1910, p. 129)

“In spite of the claims of Westcott and Hort and of van Soden, we do not know the original form of the gospels, and it is quite likely that we never shall” (Kirsopp Lake, Family 13, The Ferrar Group, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1941, p. vii).

“…it is generally recognized that the original text of the Bible cannot be recovered” (R.M. Grant. “The Bible of Theophilus of Antioch,” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 66, 1947, p. 173).

“The textual history that the Westcott-Hort text represents is no longer tenable in the light of newer discoveries and fuller textual analysis. In the effort to construct a congruent history, our failure suggests that we have lost the way, that we have reached a dead end, and that only a new and different insight will enable us to break through (Kenneth Clark, “Today’s Problems,” New Testament Manuscript Studies, edited by Parvis and Wikgren, 1950, p. 161).

“…the optimism of the earlier editors has given way to that skepticisim which inclines towards regarding ‘the original text’ as an unattainable mirage” (G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 1953, p. 9).

“In general, the whole thing is limited to probability judgments; the original text of the New Testament, according to its nature, must remain a hypothesis” (H Greeven, Der Urtext des Neuen Testaments, 1960, p. 20, cited in Edward Hills, The King James Version Defended, p. 67.

“… so far, the twentieth century has been a period characterized by general pessimism about the possibility of recovering the original text by objective criteria” (H.H. Oliver, 1962, p. 308; cited in Eldon Epp, “Decision Points in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, 1993, p. 25).

“The primary goal of New Testament textual study remains the recovery of what the New Testament writers wrote. We have already suggested that to achieve this goal is well nigh impossible. Therefore, we must be content with what Reinhold Niebuhr and others have called, in other contexts, an ‘impossible possibility’ ” (R.M. Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament, 1963, p. 51).

“…every textual critic knows that this similarity of text indicates, rather, that we have made little progress in textual theory since Westcott-Hort; that we simply do not know how to make a definitive determination as to what the best text is; that we do not have a clear picture of the transmission and alternation of the text in the first few centuries; and accordingly, that the Westcott-Hort kind of text has maintained its dominant position largely by default” (Eldon J. Epp, “The Twentieth Century Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 43, 1974, pp. 390-391).

“We face a crisis over methodology in NT textual criticism. … Von Soden and B.H. Streeter and a host of others announced and defended their theories of the NT text, but none has stood the tests of criticism or of time. … [F]ollowing Westcott-Hort but beginning particularly with C.H. Turner (1923ff.), M.-J. Langrange (1935), G.D. Kilpatrick (1943ff.), A.F.J. Klijn (1949), and J.K. Elliot (1972ff.), a new crisis of the criteria became prominent and is very much with us today: a duel between external and internal criteria and the widespread uncertainty as to precisely what kind of compromise ought to or can be worked out between them. The temporary ‘cease-fire’ that most—but certainly not all—textual critics have agreed upon is called a ‘moderate’ or ‘reasoned’ eclecticism … the literature of the past two or three decades is replete with controversy over the eclectic method, or at least is abundant with evidence of the frustration that accompanies its use…” (Eldon Epp, “Decision Points in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, 1993, pp. 39-41).

“…we no longer think of Westcott-Hort’s ‘Neutral’ text as neutral; we no longer think of their ‘Western’ text as Western or as uniting the textual elements they selected; and, of course, we no longer think so simplistically or so confidently about recovering ‘the New Testament in the Original Greek.’…We remain largely in the dark as to how we might reconstruct the textual history that has left in its wake—in the form of MSS and fragments—numerous pieces of a puzzle that we seem incapable of fitting together. Westcott-Hort, von Soden, and others had sweeping theories (which we have largely rejected) to undergird their critical texts, but we seem now to have no such theories and no plausible sketches of the early history of the text that are widely accepted. What progress, then, have we made? Are we more advanced than our predecessors when, after showing their theories to be unacceptable, we offer no such theories at all to vindicate our accepted text?” (Eldon J. Epp, “A Continuing Interlude in NT Textual Criticism,” Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, (Eerdman’s, 1993), pp. 114, 115).​

Jakob Van Bruggen scrutinized these developments in his analysis of the failure of 20th century textual criticism, The Ancient Text of the New Testament, in the first section, “The Last Certainty of New Testament Textual Criticism”,

Among all uncertainties of this 20th century, we, however, can point to one great, lasting certainty in the modern textual criticism — a certainty that serves as starting point and keeps stimulating much conscientious work and constant research. One can even say that the modern textual criticism of the New Testament is based on the one fundamental conviction that the true text of the New Testament is at least not found in the great majority of the manuscripts. The text which the Greek church has read for more than 1000 years, and which the churches of the Reformation have followed for centuries in their Bible translations, is now with certainty regarded as defective and deficient: a text to be rejected. This negative certainty has grown in the 18th century since Mill, Bentley, Wettstein, Semler, and Griesbach. It has found expression in text‑editions of the 19th century. From the close of that century until now, it has become visible for the Bible‑reading community: in 1881 the Revised Version in England no longer followed the current Greek text and in the 20th century the same applies for new translations in other countries. The churches are becoming aware that the text of centuries is replaced by the text of yesterday: the Nestle text.

This rejection of the traditional text, that is the text preserved and handed down in the churches, is hardly written or thought about any more in the 20th century: it is a fait accompli. To hear the arguments for this rejection one must go back to the 19th century, back to the archives. Our century is accustomed to the disregard of the text that is indicated with names such as: Byzantine, Antiochene, Koine, Syrian, or Ecclesiastical. Already for more than 100 years the certainty that this type of text is inferior has been taken for granted. Yet certainty about a better, superior text‑type has failed to come during this long time. The heritage of the 19th century criticism was a solitary certainty — the certainty of the inferiority of this “traditional text”. And it remains to be seen whether the 20th century will have a new, second certainty to offer as a heritage of its own.​

We have seen that the 20th century did not produce any certainties of worth in its textual enterprises, but only growing skepticism and doubt, which, though bravely resisted by many in both pulpit and pew, insidiously permeates almost all who interest themselves in textual matters, for if the experts are doubting and skeptical, what can the regular believers do?

To answer that rhetorical question: first, we can dump the false certainties and uncertainties of the rationalistic text enterprise, and proceed by faith, for our Bible is a supernatural book and it is not to be ascertained by mere natural man’s methods.

So what if “99%” of scholars in seminaries today prefer the fruit of the German higher criticism’s methods, and disdain the “tiny fringe minority” who hold that God did actually promise to preserve His Book for His people, and did also perform what He promised? With Caleb and Joshua we stand, though all Israel be ready to stone us!

For those interested in pursuing this from a believing point of view, a list of topics may be seen here, and especially these threads:




Finally, I will let Harvard text critic, E. F. Hills, have a say:

Has the text of the New Testament, like those of other ancient books, been damaged during its voyage over the seas of time? Ought the same methods of textual criticism to be applied to it that are applied to the texts of other ancient books? These are questions which the following pages will endeavor to answer. An earnest effort will be made to convince the Christian reader that this is a matter to which he must attend. For in the realm of New Testament textual criticism as well as in other fields the presuppositions of modern thought are hostile to the historic Christian faith and will destroy it if their fatal operation is not checked. If faithful Christians, therefore, would defend their sacred religion against this danger, they must forsake the foundations of unbelieving thought and build upon their faith, a faith that rests entirely on the solid rock of holy Scripture. And when they do this in the sphere of New Testament textual criticism, they will find themselves led back step by step (perhaps, at first, against their wills) to the text of the Protestant Reformation, namely, that form of New Testament text which underlies the King James Version and the other early Protestant translations. (The King James Version Defended, page 1)​

Perhaps it was Dr. Ted Letis who coined the phrase, the “post-critical” era of textual studies. Seeing the utter bankruptcy of the discipline to date, it is time to move on in faith, as – I say it again – did Caleb and Joshua.

[I owe David Cloud and his books, The Bible Version Question/Answer Database, and Faith vs. the Modern Bible Versions, for some of the quotes shown here. Cloud is a valuable scholar and researcher in textual matters, notwithstanding his IFB orientation.]

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/skepticism-and-doubt-toward-the-bible.52046/, Comment 1

Pickering on 1 Timothy 3:16

With respect to 1 Timothy 3:16, a classic presentation of evidences (distinguished from a presuppositional defense based on Scripture) was made by Wilbur Pickering in his The Identity of the New Testament Text:

I see no way of accounting for a 95% (or 90%) domination [of the Majority or Byzantine Text] unless that text goes back to the Autographs. Hort saw the problem and invented a revision. Sturz seems not to have seen the problem. He demonstrates that the “Byzantine text-type” is early and independent of the “Western” and “Alexandrian text-types,” and like von Soden, wishes to treat them as three equal witnesses.[42] But if the three “text-types” were equal, how ever could the so-called “Byzantine” gain a 90-95% preponderance?

The argument from statistical probability enters here with a vengeance. Not only do the extant MSS present us with one text form enjoying a 95% majority, but the remaining 5% do not represent a single competing text form. The minority MSS disagree as much (or more) among themselves as they do with the majority. For any two of them to agree so closely as do P75 and B is an oddity. We are not judging, therefore, between two text forms, one representing 95% of the MSS and the other 5%. Rather, we have to judge between 95% and a fraction of 1% (comparing the Majority Text with the P75,B text form for example). Or to take a specific case, in 1 Tim. 3:16 some 600 Greek MSS (besides the Lectionaries) read “God” while only seven read something else. Of those seven, three have private readings and four agree in reading “who.”[43] So we have to judge between 99% and 0.6%, “God” versus “who.” It is hard to imagine any possible set of circumstances in the transmissional history sufficient to produce the cataclysmic overthrow in statistical probability required by the claim that “who” is the original reading.

It really does seem that those scholars who reject the Majority Text are faced with a serious problem. How is it to be explained if it does not reflect the Original? Hort’s notion of a Lucianic revision has been abandoned by most scholars because of the total lack of historical evidence. The eclecticists are not even trying.​

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/reformers-on-providential-preservation.94008/, Comment 24

The Reformers on Providential Preservation

John Calvin (1509 – 1564)

Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16

16 All Scripture; or, the whole of Scripture; though it makes little difference as to the meaning. He follows out that commendation which he had glanced at briefly. First, he commends the Scripture on account of its authority; and secondly, on account of the utility which springs from it. In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.

And is profitable Now follows the second part of the commendation, that the Scripture contains a perfect rule of a good and happy life. When he says this, he means that it is corrupted by sinful abuse, when this usefulness is not sought. And thus he indirectly censures those unprincipled men who fed the people with vain speculations, as with wind. For this reason we may in the present day, condemn all who, disregarding edification, agitate questions which, though they are ingenious, are also useless. Whenever ingenious trifles of that kind are brought forward, they must be warded off by this shield, that “Scripture is profitable.” Hence it follows, that it is unlawful to treat it in an unprofitable manner; for the Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable. *n192

For instruction Here he enters into a detailed statement of the various and manifold advantages derived from the Scriptures. And, first of all, he mentionsinstruction, which ranks above all the rest; for it will be to no purpose that you exhort or reprove, if you have not previously instructed. But because “instruction,” taken by itself, is often of little avail, he adds reproof andcorrection

It would be too long to explain what we are to learn from the Scriptures; and, in the preceding verse, he has given a brief summary of them under the wordfaith. The most valuable knowledge, therefore, is “faith in Christ.” Next follows instruction for regulating the life, to which are added the excitements of exhortations and reproofs. Thus he who knows how to use the Scriptures properly, is in want of nothing for salvation, or for a Holy life. Reproof andcorrection differ little from each other, except that the latter proceeds from the former; for the beginning of repentance is the knowledge of our sinfulness, and a conviction of the judgment of God. Instruction in righteousness means the rule of a good and holy life.


John Jewel (1522- 1571), Treatise of the Holy Scriptures

By the space of so many thousand years the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of Pharisees, of heretics, of fire, and of sword, and yet continueth and standeth until this day, without altering or changing one letter. This was a wonderful work of God, that, having so many, so great enemies, and passing through so many, so great dangers, it yet continueth still, without adding or altering of any one sentence, or word, or letter. No creature was able to do this: it was God’s work. He preserved it, that no tyrant should consume it, no tradition choke it, no heretic maliciously should corrupt it. For his name’s sake, and for the elect’s sake, he would not suffer it to perish. For in it God hath ordained a blessing for his people, and by it he maketh covenant with them for life everlasting. Tyrants, and Pharisees, and heretics, and the enemies of the cross of Christ, have an end; but the word of God hath no end. No force shall be able to decay it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Cities shall fall : kingdoms shall come to nothing : empires shall fade away as the smoke ; but the truth of the Lord shall continue for ever. Burn it, it will rise again : kill it, it will live again: cut it down by the root, it will spring again. ” There is no wisdom, neither understanding, nor counsel against the Lord.” (Prov 21)


Thomas Cartwright (1533 – 1603), Confutation of the Rhemist Translation

Firstly, we thinke it not amiss to set downe the generall doctrine, that no one oracle or sentence of God can fall away. Whereby it will bee evident that the holy Scriptures both in the old and new Testament written in their original tongues, cannot either by addition, detraćtion, or exchange be corrupted. Whereunto the consideration of the authour of them, ministreth a substantiall proofe. For seeing they are of God, all whose workes remaine for euer; it followed that all the holy scriptures, being not only his handyworke, but as it were the chieſe, and masterworke of all other, must have a continuall endurance. And if there be not the least and vilest creature in the world which either hath not heretofore, or shall not hereafter, (by the mighty hand of God upholding all things) be continued: how much less is it to be esteemed, that any sentence of God, wherein a greater glory commeth to him, and greater fruit to his people then of many of those creatures, which (for these two ends) he doth so carefully continue, should perish and fall away.

Secondly, they all are written generally for our instruction, and more particularly for admonition and warning, for comfort and consolation, &c. unless we will say that God may be deceived in his purpose and end wherefore he ordained them; it must needs be, that it must continue whatsoever hath been written in that respect. For if it, or any part thereof fall away, the same cannot, according to the ordinance of God, either inform us against ignorance, or warn us against danger, or comfort ss against afflictions; or finally do any other dutie unto us which we have need of and they were prepared for.

Thirdly, if the authority of the authentical Copies in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek fall: there is no high court of appeal, where controversy, (rising upon the diverstie of translations, or otherwiſe) may be ended; so that the exhortation of having, recourſe vnto the Law and to the Prophets, and of our Sauiour Christ asking how it is written, and how readest thou are now either of none effect, or not sufficient : whilest disgracers and disgraders of the Scripture have taught men to say, that the copies are corrupted, and the sense changed.

Fourthly, nay, not only our estate is worse then theirs under the law, and in our Saviour Christs time: but worse then theirs which lived some hundred yeares after Christ, when the ancient Fathers exhorted in such cases, that men should make suite unto the originall Scriptures,to have an end of their controversies.

Fifthly, Yea their owne Gratiian out of Augustine falsly (alleged for Jerom) sendeth us in deciding of differences, not to the old translator, but to the originals of the Hebrew in the old,and of the Greek: in the new Teſtament. They use quarrelously surmise againſt us, that we abbridge the priviledges of the Churches of our dayes, becauſe we accord them not to be so ample in every point, as they were when the Apostles lived.

Sixthly, But woe unto the Churches of our days, if the Scriptures be (as the Papiſts would beare us in hand) corrupted, if the Charters and records whereby we hold the inheritance of the kingdom of heauen, are razed, or otherwise falsified, if we have not wherewith to convey our selves to be children unto the heauenly Father, & Prieſts unto God in Jesus Chriſt, further then from the hand of ſuch a scribe and Notarie as both might erre, and hath erred diverſy.

Seventhly, these evidences were safely and surely kept, when one only Nation of the Jewes, and the same sometimes (a few excepted) unfaithfull, bare the keyes of the Lords Librarie : now when there be many Nations that have the keyes unto the Arke or Counter wherein they are kept, it is altogether uncredible, that there should be such packing, or such defect as the adverſary doth wickedly suppose.

Eighthly, Again, if the Lord have kept unto us the book of Leviticus, and (in it) the ceremonies (which are abolished and whereof there is now no practice) for that they have a necessary and profitable use in the Church of God; how much more is it to be esteemed, that his providence hath watched over other bookes of the Scripture which more properly belong unto our times.

Last of all (passing by other reasons which might further be alledged) let ss hear the Scripture itself, witnessing of it own authority and durableness to all ages

Of all which matter, it is evident, that not only the matter of the Scripture, but also the words, not only the sense and meaning of them, but the manner and frame of speech in them do remain. For seeing the Scripture remaineth, which wholly both for matter and words is inspired of God, it must follow that the same words wherein the old and new Testament were written and indited by the hand of God, do remaine. For how great difference there is between the things both words and matter, that have Passed through the mouth or pen of God, and those which come from a mortal man, may appear by the sayings of the Poets taken up of the Holy Ghost.


James Ussher (4 January 1581 – 21 March 1656), A Body of Divinity

The marvelous preservation of the Scriptures; though none in time be so ancient, nor none so much oppugned, yet God hath still by his providence preserved them, and every part of them.

Only the [Greek & Hebrew] Scriptures are for the letter to be held authentical; and as the water is most pure in the Fountain by the springing thereof, so the right understanding of the words of the holy Scriptures is most certain in the original tongues of Hebrew and Greek, in which they were first written, and delivered to the Church, out of the which Languages they must be truly translated for the understanding of them that have not the knowledge of those tongues.


David Dickson (1583 – 1662) Truth’s Victory Over Error

Quest. VII.
DOTH the Authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depend upon the testimony of any man, or Church? No. 2 Pet.1. 19. 21. 2 Tim. 3. 16. 1 Thes. 2. 13.

Well then, do not the Popish Writers err, who maintain, the Authority of the Scriptures, to depend upon the testimony of the Church, as to us? Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1.) Because, the Word is to be received by us, not as the word of man, but as the Word of GOD, 1 Thes. 2. 13. (2.) Because, the Doctrine of Christ, to be received by Beli∣vers, dependeth not upon mans testimony, Ioh. 5. 34. (3.) Because, GOD only is true, and in∣fallible, and all men are liars, Rom. 3. 4. Heb. 6. 18. He is of incomprehensible wisdom, Ps. 147. 5. Of great goodness, Exod. 18. 9. Rom. 11. 12. Ps. 34. 8. Of absolute power and dominion, Gen.17. 1. Ps. 50. 1, 2. Of infallible truth, who can neither deceive, nor can be deceived. Ro. 3. 4. Tit. 1. 2. Heb. 6. 18. Therefore ought he to be credited, in all his Narrations, Promises, Threatnings, and Prophesies, and obeyed in all his Commandements all an early; because he himself hath said so.

Quest: XII.
Hath the Lord by his singular providence and care, keeped pure in all Ages the Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek? Yes. Matthew 5:18.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, the Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, which are the Fountains, to be corrupted; and that their common Latine Version is authentick? Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1.) Because, Christ sayes, till Heaven and Earth pass, one jot, or one title shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled, Matt 5:18. (2.) Because, there can be no urgent necessity shown, why the Fountains are corrupted. (3) If any such corruption had been in the Scripture, Christ, his Apostles, and the Orthodox Fathers had declared so much. (4) Because, they never have nor can make out any manifest corruptions in the Fountains, albeit most manifest and undenyable demonstrations, are given of the corruptions of their Latine Version, which they make authentick.


Richard Capel (1586 – 1656), Capel’s Remains

Therefore I like that of Bellarmine, who stands upon it, that of such like things a certainty may be had from the testimonies of men, in some sort comparable to natural evidence it self, for that it leaves no scruple or dubitation in our minds: But what of all this? Why it shewes that the general consent of (in a manner) all Hebricians and Grecians in the Christian world, consenting that our Originals are by the good hand of God preserved uncorrupt, and pure, is a sufficient persuasion, to breed a moral certainty answerable to natural evidence, excluding all reasonable dubitation to the contrary.

That the Originals were for the provision and food of the soules of his Church kept pure and uncorrupt by the Prophets and Jewes for the old; by the Apostles and Christian Churches for the New Testament, sealed up by St. John the Secretary of Christ, as Scotus calls him. Else the Lord must have been wanting to his Church, which cannot be imagined. And that acquired faith makes way for infused faith to act I have learned long since out of Scotus.

Thus the case stands. The Originals are to be received and believed. That the Hebrew and Greek are the true Originals we believe by humane testimonies, which leave the mind without perplexitie, without all doubting, and so it follows, that by mans testimonie the Originals are to be received, and believed by us, so that the heart stands free from any true cause of any doubting at all, which being equivalent to the highest certainty that is, it cannot but lay a foundation to build our faith upon, this certainty being a meanes by which we come to the other of the Scriptures, being the last ground on which we build our faith; we are not to look for demonstrations in arguments of this nature. It’s a foolish thing to expect from a Mathematician to deale by persuasion: his Art lies in evident and ocular demonstration. Now ’tis as absurd to expect demonstration from an Orator or Moralist; his businesse lies in persuasion. But yet in our point in hand, our persuasions must be grounded on such moral certainty as is to us without question, and without feare of the contrary. It is a piece of wise counsel of Aristotle, That it is the wisdome of a learned man so farre forth to seek after proofs of truth in any matter as the nature of the subject matter will beare. And it is agreed upon, that in all learning, in the highest science of all, the principles are proving, but not proved: For that which is the first cannot be proved by any thing before it; else the first were not the first; as the first mover is never moved And in all Inferiour Sciences, the first principles of that Science, must be proved in an higher Schoole. Now the first principle in the School of Christ is the Scriptures, which being the first is to prove, not to be proved but in an higher School the Schoole of heaven, by evidences unprovable, and unreprovable evidences taken from the Prover, and Spirit of God. Of which hereafter.

I cannot but confesse that it sometimes makes my heart ake, when I seriously consider what is said, That we cannot assure our selves that the Hebrew in the Old Testament, and the Greek in the New, are the right Hebrew and Greek, any further then our Masters and Tutors, and the General consent of all the Learned in the world do so say, not one dissenting. But yet say these, since the Apostles, there are no men in the world but are subject to deceive, and to be deceived. All infallibility in matters of this nature having long since left the world. Again, too like unto this is that of Master Wotton, who can tell (saith he) what the signification of the Hebrew and Greek words is even in the Bible, but by the report of men? And to the like purpose is that observation, That the two Tables written immediately by Moses and the Prophets, and the Greek Copies immediately penned by the Apostles, and Apostolical men are all lost, or not to be made use of, except by a very few. And that we have none in Hebrew or Greek, but what are transcribed. Now transcribers are ordinary men, subject to mistake, may faile, having no unerring spirit to hold their hands in writing

These be terrible blasts, and do little else when they meet with a weak head and heart, but open the doore to Atheisme, and quite to fling off the bridle, which onely can hold them and us in the wayes of truth and piety: this is to fill the conceits of men with evil thoughts against the Purity of the Originals: And if the Fountains run not clear, the Translation cannot be clean.

The best is, this doth concern the learned, who can best get out of such scruples as these, it being made plaine to them by the Jewes themselves (no friends to Christian Religion) That the Hebrew Text is curiously preserved by them in its integrity. For if the Oracles of God were (as they were, Rom 3.:2.) committed them, it deeply concernes the Providence of God to look to it, that the Jewes should keepe the Oracles of God not onely safe but pure, not onely from not being lost, but also from not being corrupted.

It’s out of question that the same God, who committed the Oracles to the Jews, did also take care that they should preserve them safe and sure, uncorrupt and pure.

It is the use of Saint Paul, much to follow the Greek translation, which doth use to use the Greek word translated Oracles, to meane the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets. And what if there be scapes in some Copies, yet other Copies runne clear? But sith this concernes the Learned, whom I much look not after, from the Originals, let us turne to the businesse of the Translations. As for other matters about the Greek and Hebrew, which it is, and what is the meaning of the words, I passe, as a meere excrement of wit, sith this is cried downe by all the learned world, whither Christian or unchristian, and therefore is not like to take to doe any hurt unto the soules of any.

And now saith a sick soule, What shall a poore feeble-hearted Christian do?

My counsel is, that when he is come to be certain without actual doubting by reasons, arguments, consent of times, & of the Church, that our Bible is the Word of God, that he would in all humility and sincerity apply himselfe to read it, to hear it read, to heare it preached; and he may promise to himself that by the use of the word the Spirit of God will infuse & inspire divine & saving faith into his soul, and free him not only from all actual, but possible doubting, that the Bible translated is the word of God. And if the translation, then the Originals: For what ever is the instrument to convert the soul; must needs be the pure word of God.

Some are firme that God never works a miracle, but to confirme truth: This is past question, that the Spirit of God doth never work this miracle to convert the soule, but by Gods word: So say, Now I know that it is the pure word of God, for that it is a means to convert my soul: so Psal. 19. 7: The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; By this then I know that it is without dispute the perfect Law of the Lord, because it doth not only evince and convince me, but convert my soul


John Maynard (1600 – 1665), A Memento to Young & Old

Remember now thy Creator in the daies of thy youth, while the evil daies come not, &c. and had there been any defect in the pen-man, yet I am sure the Holy Ghost which held his hand, would not have suffered him to write one syllable amiss. Neither doth the Psalmist return an answer sutable to these mens conceits when the question is moved, Wherewithall shall a young man cleanse his way?(Psalm 119:9) but quite contrary, By taking heed thereto according to thy word. Where ye see both the Rule by which, and the manner how they are to frame their Courses, requireth a special strictness. The very Word of God, that pure and holy Rule of Righteousness, and not the customs of the time, nor the ordinary practice, nor lusts of youth must guide them, and this Rule they must heed with much attention and watchfulness, having one eye upon their ways, another upon the word: taking heed thereto according to the word, ever marking the steps they tread, and observing how it suiteth with the precious truth of God. This is the wisdom of the Ancient of daies, and whatsoever is contrary to it, gray hairs cannot exempt from folly.


Edward Leigh (24 March 1602 – 2 June 1671) , A Treatise of Divinity

Preservation of the books of the Scripture: the fury of many wicked Tyrants which sought to suppress and extinguish them, Many of the Bibles were taken from Christians and burnt in those cruel persecutions under Dioclesian and Maxminianus his Collegue. but could not. As God caused it to be written for the good of his people, so by divine providence he hath preserved the same whole and entire.

Here we have three arguments in one,

1. The hatred of the Devil and his wicked instruments against the Scripture more then any other book. Antiochus burnt it and made a Law that whosoever had this book should die the death;

2. It was preserved in spite of the fury and the rage of Dioclesian, Julian, and other evil Tyrants.

3. The miserable end of Julian, Antiochus Epiphanes, Herod, Nero, Domitian, and Dioclesian, and other persecutors of this doctrine. The bookes of Salomon, which he wrote of naturall philosophy and other knowledge, the profitablest bookes that ever were, the Canon excepted, are perished, but those alone which pertaine to godlinesse have been safely kept to posterity; which is the rather to be observed, since many more in the world affect the knowledge of naturall things then godlinesse: A precious Gospell, that was purchased by the blood of Christ, and sealed with the blood of Martyrs. and yet though carefull of keeping them they have not been able to preserve them from perpetuall forgetfulnesse; whereas on the other side these holy writings hated of the most part and carelesly regarded of a number, have notwithstanding as full a remembrance as they had the first day the Lord gave them unto the Church. The Roman Empire for 300 yeeres set it selfe to persecute and extirpate this new doctrine; and in all these troubles the Church grew and increased mighily Acts 12. 1. Herod killed James with the sword, yet v. 24. the word grew and multiplied.

Scripture it self doth give testimony to it self, that it is divine; it is called a light, Psalm 119:105. because it discovers it self; the testimony, and the testimony of the Lord: because it beares witnesse to it self. The Prophets give testimony of Moses, Mal. 4. 4. the new Testament of the Old, 2 Pet. 1. 19, 20. Peter gives testimony of Paul’s Epistles, 2 Pet. 3. 15. and Paul witnesseth that all Scripture was given of God, Christ commends Moses, the Prophets, and Psalms, by which names are meant all the bookes belonging to the Canon of the Hebrews. 2 Tim. 3. 16. which must be meant of all Scripture even of the new Testament, that being the last Epistle which Paul wrote, as appeares, Chap. 4. v. 16.


Thomas Manton (1620 – 1677), A Second Volume of Sermons

By the wonderful preservation of Scriptures, even to our Times. There is no Doctrine so ancient, it describeth the whole History of the World from the very Creation: Moses was ancienter than the Gods of the Heathens. No Doctrine can produce such Records of the Original of the World. The Doctrine of the Gospel is as Old as Paradise, where God preached it to Adam: Gen. 3.15. I will put enmity between thee and the Woman, and between thy Seed and her Seed: It shall bruise thy Head, and thou shalt bruise his Heel. The Foundation was laid long since, though it was more explicitly revealed upon the coming of Christ. None so much oppugned. We have some ancient Writings of the Heathens, though nothing so ancient as Scripture. Other Writings, by tract of Time, have been much mangled, though they have been cherished by Men, as not contrary to their Lusts; but the Scripture is still opposed, persecuted, maligned, and yet it continueth. Psal. 129.1, 2. Many a time have they afflicted me from my Youth, mayIsrael now say. Many a time have they afflicted me from my Youth: yet they have not prevailed against me. The Church hath been always bred up under Afflictions; Enmity against it began betimes, yet still it holdeth up its Head. Errors are not long-lived. 1 Cor. 3.12, 13. Now if any Man build upon this Foundation, Gold, Silver, precious Stones, Wood, Hay, Stubble: Every Man’s Work shall be made manifest. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by Fire, and the Fire shall try every Man’s Work, of what sort it is. The World hath had time enough to enquire into the Scripture, and to discover the vanity and falshood of it, if there were any. Nay, not only the main Doctrine of the Scripture hath been continued, but no part of it is falsified, corrupted, or destroyed. The World wanted not Malice, nor Opportunity; the Powers of the World were bent against it, and corrupt Persons in the Church were always given to other gospelling. Gal. 1.6, 7. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the Grace of Christ, unto another Gospel: Which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. 1 Tim. 6.3. If any Man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholsome words, &c. But still the Scriptures are wonderfully preserved, as the three Children in the Furnace, not an Hair was singed; not a jot or tittle of the Truth is perished or corrupted. If it were corrupted, it must be before Christ’s Time, or after it: not before, then Christ would have noted it; not after, for then the Parts would not agree; but we find no such thing but an exact Harmony: Nor is there any lost, for here is a sufficient Instruction and Guide to Happiness. Christ hath promised not a tittle shall fall to the ground. The Word hath been in danger of being lost, but the Miracle of Preservation is therefore the greater. In Joshua’s Time there was but one Copy of the Law. In Dioclesian’s Time, there was an Edict to burn their Bibles, and Copies were scarce and chargeable, and yet still it hath been kept.


John Owen (1616 – 1683)

Of the Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew & Greek Texts of Scripture

It can, then, with no color of probability be asserted (which yet I find some learned men too free in granting), namely, that there hath the same fate attended the Scripture in its transcription as hath done other books.

Let me say without offense, this imagination, asserted on deliberation, seems to me to border on atheism. Surely the promise of God for the preservation of his word, with his love and care of his church, of whose faith and obedience that word of his is the only rule, requires other thoughts at our hands.

Thirdly, We add, that the whole Scripture, entire as given out from God, without any loss, is preserved in the copies of the originals yet remaining; what varieties there are among the copies themselves shall be afterward declared. In them all, we say, is every letter and tittle of the word. These copies, we say, are the rule, standard, and touchstone of all translations, ancient or modern, by which they are in all things to be examined, tried, corrected, amended; and themselves only by themselves.

Of the Divine Original Part 3

That which he speaks of is προφητεια γραφης, the “prophecy of Scripture,” or written prophecy.

There were then traditions among the Jews to whom Peter wrote, exalting themselves into competition with the written Word, and which not long after got the title of an oral law, pretending to have its original from God.

These the apostle tacitly condemns; and also shows under what formality he considered that which (verse 19) he termed λογος προφητικος, the “word of prophecy;” viz., as written . The written Word, as such, is that whereof he speaks. Above fifty times is η γραφη, or αι γραφαι, in the New Testament, put absolutely for the Word of God. And ֪כחב is so used in the Old for the word of prophecy. ( 2 Chronicles 21:12.) It is the η γραφη that is θεοπνυστος, ( 2 Timothy 3:16,) “the writing, or word written, is by inspiration from God.” Not only the doctrine in it, but the γραφη itself, or the “doctrine as written,” is so from him.

Hence, the providence of God hath manifested itself no less concerned in the preservation of the writings than of the doctrine contained in them; the writing itself being the product of his own eternal counsel for the preservation of the doctrine, after a sufficient discovery of the insufficiency of all other means for that end and purpose. And hence the malice of Satan hath raged no less against the book than against the truth contained in it. The dealings of Antiochus under the Old Testament, and of sundry persecuting emperors under the New, evince no less. And it was no less crime of old to be traditor libri than to be abnegator fidei. The reproach of chartacea scripta, and membranae, (Coster. Enchirid., cap. 1.), reflects on its author. It is true, we have not theαυτογρφα of Moses and the prophets, of the apostles and evangelists; but the απογραφα or “copies” which we have contain every iota that was in them.


Francis Turretin (1623 – 1687), On Holy Scriptures

QUESTION 10: Has the original text of the Old and New Testaments come to us pure and uncorrupted?
Affirmative, against the Roman Catholics.

I. This question is forced upon us by the Roman Catholics, who raise doubts concerning the purity of the sources in order more readily to establish the authority of their Vulgate and lead us to the tribunal of the church.

II. By “original texts” we do not mean the very autographs from the hands of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, which are known to be nonexistent. We mean copies (apographa), which have come in their name, because they record for us that word of God in the same words into which the sacred writers committed it under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

III. There is no question of the sources being pure in the sense that no error has crept into many sacred codices, either from the ravages of time, or the carelessness of copyists, or the malice of Jews and heretics. This is recognized on both sides, and the variant readings, which Beza and Robert Stephanus have noted in Greek, and the Jews in Hebrew, witness sufficiently to this. But the question is whether the original text, in Hebrew or in Greek, has been so corrupted, either by the carelessness of copyists or by the malice of Jews and heretics, that it can no longer be held as the judge of controversies and the norm by which all versions without exception are to be judged. The Roman Catholics affirm this; we deny it.

IV. Not all Roman Catholics are of this opinion. There are many, who are called Hebraists, who uphold the purity of the sources, and defend it explicitly, among them Sixtus Senensis, Bannes, Andradius, Driedo, Arias Montanus, John Isaac, Jacob Bonfrerius, Simeon de Muis, and many others. Others, however, maintain strongly the corruption of the sources; among them, Stapleton, Lindanus, Cano, Cotton, Morinus, Perronius, Gordon, and others. There are some who, following a middle road, assert neither that the sources are corrupt nor that they flow with purity and integrity, so that they maintain everything must be studied and emended in connection with the versions. This is the teaching of Bellarmine (De Verbo Dei 22), who on this matter, as on others, must be understood as inconsistent.

V. That the sources are not corrupt is demonstrated by (1) the providence of God, which would not allow (cui repugnat) that the books which he had willed to be written by inspired men for the salvation of the human race, and which he willed to remain to the end of the world so that the waters of salvation could be drawn from them, should be so falsified that they would be useless for that purpose. And since new revelations are not to be expected after God has committed his whole will concerning the doctrine of salvation to the books of Scripture, what could be more derogatory to God, who has promised always to be with his church, than to assert that the books in which this doctrine is preserved have been corrupted so that they cannot be the canon of faith? (2) The faithfulness of the Christian church, and its diligent work in preserving Scripture. Since Christians always watched over it with great care, to preserve the sacred deposit unharmed, it is unbelievable that they either falsified it or allowed anyone else to do so. (3) The religion of the Jews, which looked upon the sacred codices with great faith and concern, to the point of superstition, so that Josephus could say that after the passage of centuries no one dared add to
or subtract from or change the books of the Jews, and that among them it was almost instinctive to be prepared to die for Scripture (Against Apion, book 2). Philo in his work on the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, quoted by Eusebius, goes further when he states that, up to his time, during a period of more than two thousand years, no word in the Hebrew law was changed, and that any number of Jews would rather die than allow the law to undergo any change (Preparation for the Gospel 8.2). Indeed, they were overcome with foolish superstition about the sacred codex, so that if a written book of the law touched the ground they proclaimed a fast, and they said that it was to be feared that the universe would revert to primeval chaos–so far were they from allowing fraud with the sacred codices. (4) The care with which the Masoretes not only counted, but recorded in writing, all variations in pointing and writing, not only with regard to verses and words, but to individual letters, so that there could be neither place for, nor suspicion of, forgers, an argument used by Arias Montanus in his biblical preface. (5) The large number of copies. Since the sacred codices are so widely scattered, how could all of them have been corrupted either by the carelessness of copyists or by the malice of falsifiers? “Far be it,” as Augustine says, “from any prudent man to believe that the Jews, however perverse and evil-minded, could have done this with so many and widely scattered copies” (City of God 15.2[13]). Vives says that this argument should be used against those who “argue that the Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New have been falsified and corrupted, so that the truth of the sacred books cannot be found in them.”

VI. (6) If the sources were corrupted, it was done either before or after Christ. Neither is possible. Not before, for Christ never suggested it when he discussed various errors of doctrine, and he would not have upheld the use of corrupted books. Was the Lord so indifferent to the salvation of his people that he never even mentioned, personally or through the apostles, that the books of Moses and the prophets were falsified, when at the same time he refuted the Jews from these same books (but in vain, if they were corrupted and changed), and summoned and urged his ‘disciples to read and examine them? Not afterward, both because the copies scattered among Christians would have made such effort useless, and also because there is no trace of such corruption. For if anything of the kind had taken place, why are the passages which Christ and the apostles quote from Moses and the prophets the same today and always, and not corrupted at all? Why did Origen and Jerome, who had magnificent knowledge of the sacred languages, so specifically absolve the Jews from this wrong? Therefore if the corruption was not done either before or after Christ, it follows that it was never done, an argument that Bellarmine brings forward (De Verba Dei 22).

VII. (7) The Jews neither wanted to corrupt the sources nor could have done so. They did not want to, because, if they had wanted to corrupt any part, they would certainly have weakened the oracles which speak of Christ and confirm the Christian faith. Who indeed would believe that if, as is supposed, they did it from hatred of Christians, they would falsify the passages from which nothing against Christians can be drawn, and leave unchanged those in which Christians place the foundation for the triumph of the truth of the gospel? But this is exactly how the matter stands. The passages said to have been weakened by the Jews are little or no problem for Christians, while the most striking oracles concerning Christ remain unchanged, and are much plainer and more specific in Hebrew than in the translations, as has been pointed out by Jerome (epistle 74, to Marcellus), John Isaac (Against Lindanus 2), and Andradius in his defense of the Council of Trent, chapter 2. That they could not have done it no matter how badly they wanted to is shown not only by the large number of copies but also by the vigilance of Christians, not all of whose copies could the Jews have corrupted, and by the provident wisdom of God, who, if he will not permit one jot or tittle of the law to perish until all is fulfilled (Matt. 5:18), will be much less willing for the body of heavenly doctrine to be weakened by the Jews, and for us to be deprived of this treasure; rather, as Bellarmine well remarks, “for this purpose he willed to scatter the Jews throughout the world, and to disseminate the books of the law and the prophets, that, unwillingly, they might bear witness to our Christian truth” (De Verbo Dei 22 argument 5) …. and Augustine calls the Jews “a book-preserving people, carrying the law and the prophets; they used to carry the codices as a servant, that they might lose by carrying, and others gain by reading; they indeed serve us; the Jews were like book carriers and librarians, who by their efforts carried the codices for us,” and again, “in their hearts, enemies; in their books, witnesses.”


Richard Muller, Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 2, The Holy Scriptures:

“By “original and authentic” text, the Protestant orthodox do not mean the autographa which no one can possess but the apographa in the original tongue which are the source of all versions. The Jews throughout history and the church in the time of Christ regarded the Hebrew of the Old Testament as authentic and for nearly six centuries after Christ, the Greek of the New Testament was viewed as authentic without dispute. It is important to note that the Reformed orthodox insistence on the identification of the Hebrew and Greek texts as alone authentic does not demand direct reference to autographa in those languages; the “original and authentic text” of Scripture means, beyond the autograph copies, the legitimate tradition of Hebrew and Greek apographa.”

“Turretin and other high and late orthodox writers argued that the authenticity and infallibility of Scripture must be identified in and of the apographa, not in and of lost autographa.”

“The case for Scripture as an infallible rule of faith and practice . . . . rests on an examination of the apographa and does not seek the infinite regress of the lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility.”

“A rather sharp contrast must be drawn, therefore, between the Protestant orthodox arguments concerning the autographa and the views of Archibald Alexander Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. . . . Those who claim an errant text, against the orthodox consensus to the contrary, must prove their case. To claim errors in the scribal copies, the apographa, is hardly a proof. The claim must be proven true of the autographa. The point made by Hodge and Warfield is a logical leap, a rhetorical flourish, a conundrum designed to confound the critics—who can only prove their case for genuine errancy by recourse to a text they do not (and surely cannot) have.”

“All too much discussion of the Reformers’ methods has attempted to turn them into precursors of the modern critical method, when in fact, the developments of exegesis and hermeneutics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries both precede and, frequently conflict with (as well as occasionally adumbrate) the methods of the modern era.”

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/reformers-on-providential-preservation.94008/, Comment 1