The Date Problem and the Text
Clinton L. Branine
Professor, Heritage Baptist University
The New Version advocates attempt to use the date of Traditional Text manuscripts as a convincing reason to support their position.
Notice the statement by Stewart Custer, The Truth About the King James Version Controversy: "The Alexandrian text is older and better attested than the others." He goes on to say, "The Byzantine text is later than the others and is a derived text." (p. 9) He continues, "Thus the earliest evidence for the Byzantine text is the middle of the fourth century two centuries later than the Alexandrian text." (p. 9)
D. A. Carson agrees with Custer. "They [scholars] argued that the Byzantine textual tradition [which includes the TR] did not originate before the mid-fourth century, and that it was the result of a conflation of earlier texts." (The King James Version Debate, p.40)
Stewart Custer follows the reasoning of Westcott and Hort. Most New Version advocates go back to Westcott and Hort for a late date for the Traditional Text. Is this reasoning supported by fact? No!
Dr. Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism, gives the following information: "These 150 readings (Byzantine) are early. They go back to the second century, for they are supported by papyri which range from the third to the second century in date." (p. 62) "...it is startling from the standpoint of the WH theory to find that the so-called Byzantine' readings not only existed early but were present in Egypt before the end of the second century." (Sturz, p. 62)
Sturz continues, "WH, therefore, were mistaken in regard to their insistence that all the pre-Syrian evidence for readings was to be found in the Alexandrian, Neutral, and Western texts, i.e., that these three text-types and their chief witnesses reserved the complete second-century picture of the textual tradition on which the Syrian editor(s) built." (pp. 62-63)
John Burgon surveyed the early church fathers as to the text they used. He says:
Burgon says, "For the 76 Church Fathers examined, [Fathers that died before A.D. 400] there were 2,630 references to the Traditional Text and only 1,753 to the Neologian [Westcott-Hort type of ] text. The Traditional Text was definitely in existence well before 400 A.D. In other words, not only is the Traditional Text present in these church fathers' time, who lived and died prior to 400 A.D., the Traditional Text predominated over the Neologian [W-H] 3 to 2."
Edward Miller (Dean Burgon's editor) wrote, "As far as the Fathers who died before 400 A.D. are concerned, the question may now be put and answered. Do they witness to the Traditional Text as existing from the first, or do they not? The results of the evidence, both as regards the quantity and the quality of the testimony, enable us to reply, not only that the Traditional Text was in existence, but that it was predominant, during the period under review." (David Otis Fuller, Which Bible, p. 116)
Westcott and Hort with their followers "...argued that the Byzantine textual tradition (which includes the TR) did not originate before the mid-fourth century, and that it was the result of a conflation of earlier texts. This text was taken to Constantinople, where it became popular spreading throughout the Byzantine Empire." (D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate, pp. 40-41)
"Westcott and Hort theorized that such a prevailing text type could only be accounted for on the basis of its having been ecclesiastically sanctioned, without a single shred of historical evidence for this supposed empire-wide church council, these men simply picked out a place, Antioch; a time, A.D. 250-350; a coordinator, Lucian; impressive sounding, technical designation, The Lucian Recension." (William Grady, Final Authority, p. 32 [DBS #2374])
A number of papyri (p) that date about 200 A.D., which is 150 years before Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, agree with Traditional Text readings. Most scholars deny this but note the evidence for the Traditional Text. After a thorough study of p 46, Gunther Zuntz states: "A number of Byzantine readings, most of them genuine, which previously were discarded as late,' are anticipated by p 46." (The Text of the Epistles, p. 55) E. C. Colwell agreed with Zuntz, (What is the Best New Testament, p. 70). These men agreed that most of the readings of p 46 were from the second century.
Floyd Jones gives the following: "Hills declared that the Chester Beatty readings vindicate distinctive Syrian readings' twenty-six times in the gospels, eight times in the Book of Acts, and thirty-one times in Paul's Epistles. Hills goes on to state that Papyrus Bodmer II (Papyri 66) confirms 13% of the so-called late' Syrian readings (18 out of 138). To properly appreciate this one must consider the fact that only about thirty percent of the New Testament has any papyri support, and much of that thirty percent has only one papyrus. Thus this is seen as a major confirmation to the antiquity of the text of the Traditional Text in direct contradiction to the theory previously outlined in which the Syrian readings were said by Westcott and Hort to be fourth and fifth century. May we not reasonably project the subsequent discoveries of papyri will give similar support to readings now only extant in Byzantine text?" (Which Version is the Bible? p. 79)
Westcott and Hort rewrote the history of the text with their Lucian recension. Liberals today reject for the most part the validity of the Westcott-Hort Lucian theory. However, this is not the case with conservative text scholars. See The Bible Version Debate published by Central Baptist Seminary, Minneapolis, MN. This school also produced the One Bible Only?
Stewart Custer and the Bob Jones scholars also continue with the Westcott-Hort view.
The Dallas Seminary Scholars and most of the Fundamental Seminaries agree with Westcott and Hort. This is indeed odd when liberal scholars agree there is no history to back the Westcott-Hort view.
The facts evidence an early existence of the
Traditional Text. We believe the Traditional Text is a preservation of the