Which Text - Which Foundation
(An Explanation of why I use the King James Bible)
The Dean Burgon Society's 2002 Annual Meeting
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
The battle over Bible versions rages on. However, I
have settled that issue in my mind, based on the facts, many years ago.
But, I know there are may people in the pews of our churches who still
struggle with the Bible Version issue. I regularly get phone calls from
people who have heard that I stand for the Received Text and the King
James Bible. They ask me, "Why do you advocate the use of the King James
Bible?" and/or "Isn't this version or that version a good version?"
In a clear, concise and uncomplicated way, I want to
explain to the Christian struggling with the version issue,
why I came to the conclusion that the King James Bible is the best
version available in the English language today.
As you are reading this report, there are high stakes
races on, in the publishing world, to come out with, so called, "newer and
better" versions of the English Bible. And, what is their motive?
There are countless versions of the English Bible on store shelves today.
In my local "Christian" bookstore I believe there were about 24 different
English Versions available.
Is their some noble spiritual objective behind all
these modern versions like there was with William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale,
John Rogers, those behind the Geneva and King James Bible? I think not!
The truth be known, I fear that the publishers are rooting for revenue
in the religious pigpen.
Now, for a moment, let's cut the publishers some slack.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that they have noble motives. Will
noble motives make their translations come out better? The answer is NO!
Here's why. They are building on the wrong foundation, right from
the start! There are basically only two foundations that Bible
translations have been and are being built upon. It is either the
foundation of faith or the foundation of doubt.
Let's begin with the foundation of faith.
The key issue is this: I believe that God inspired the original
writings of the Bible, which are called the autographa. There
are many verses that teach this. Here are two key verses that I want you
"Knowing this first, that no
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation (that is, they
did not originate with man). 21 For the prophecy came not in old
time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were
moved by the Holy Ghost."
"All scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
But, there is also the matter of verbal preservation
of the apographa (copies of the originals). I believe that God
has preserved His Words in the copies of those original writings in the
Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Old Testament and the Traditional Text (Textus
Receptus) of the New Testament.
I have FAITH that the God who inspired the
original autographs can and did preserve the apographs so that
we can say, "Thus saith the Lord; This IS the Word of God" when we hold up
our King James Bibles.
century believing Bible scholar par excellent, John Burgon wrote in his work
The Traditional Text -- : "There
exists no reason for supposing that the Divine Agent, who in the first
instance thus gave to mankind the Scriptures of Truth, straightway abdicated
His office; took no further care of His work; abandoned those precious
writings to their fate. " The way is see it if you believe that
the original writings of the Scriptures were verbally inspired by God, then
of necessity they must have been providentially preserved through the ages
The Westminster Confession of Faith
published in the 1600's says, "The Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New
Testament in Greek, being immediately inspired by God and by His
singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore
authentical, so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally
to appeal unto them."
My point in quoting this document is simply this;
Bible believing Christians in the past, for the most part, believed in the
inspiration and providential preservation of the of the Word of God.
It is only in the last quarter of the 19th century and 20th
century that that born again Christians have believed anything else!
In fact, the Bible teaches providential preservation!
The Lord Jesus Christ taught providential preservation. In
we read, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Did you know that no original manuscripts existed in Christ's day? Yet
Christ confidently quoted a portion of as the
authoritative Word of God and it was copy of the original without a doubt.
There are many Scriptures that indicate God has
providentially preserved His Word. Here are just a few.
"The words of the LORD are
pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven
times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them
from this generation for ever."
"The counsel of the LORD standeth for
ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."
"For the LORD is good; his
mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all
"Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away."
"And it is easier for heaven and earth
to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail."
"Being born again, not of
corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth
and abideth for ever. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this
is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
I believe God. What he promised He is able to
perform (Romans 4:21). He has promised to preserved His Word(s) and I
believe Him. I have the faith that He has done it. Therefore, I have
chosen to use the King James Bible, because it is built the Traditional
Text, which laid on the foundation of faith.
What about all of the modern versions of the Bible?
What foundation are they built upon? Princeton Theological Seminary
textual critic Dr. Bruce Metzger (see picture to the right), who is behind
the Greek text used in translating the modern versions of the Bible,
writing to Dr. Kirt D. DiVietro testified that the text they founded their
work on was that of Westcott and Hort. He wrote, "We took as our base
at the beginning the text of Westcott and Hort and introduced changes as
seemed necessary on the basis of MSS evidence."
Modern versions are erected on the faulty foundation
of doubt! Here's why I say that. Westcott and Hort speculated,
with no evidence to support their idea, that the "pure" text of the New
Testament had been lost. They said that the Antiochian text (also
called the Traditional Text, Textus Receptus, etc.), the text type behind
the King James New Testament, was an artificial and arbitrarily
invented text, fabricated between 250 A.D. and 350 A.D. In fact,
Westcott and and Hort asserted that it remained lost until the 19th
century when Vaticanus was rediscovered 1845 in the Vatican library, where
it had lain since 1481 and Sinaiticus was discovered in a wastebasket in
St. Catherine's Monastery in 1844.
Figure it out. If you believe their conjured theory,
that means people were without the Word of God for 1500 years! Therefore,
the question must be, were Westcott and Hort correct? Had the Word
of God been lost for 1500 years?
Dr. F. H. A Scrivener wrote:
"Dr. Hort's System is entirely destitute of
historical foundation....We are compelled to repeat as emphatically
as ever our strong conviction that the hypothesis to whose
proof he has devoted so many laborious years, is destitute not only
of historical foundation, but of all probability..." (Dr. F. H. A.
Scrivener's Plain Introduction, 1883, pp. 537, 542).
Further, he stated;
"There is little hope for the stability of their
imposing structure (speaking of Westcott & Hort), if its
foundations have been laid on the sandy ground of ingenious conjecture.
And, since barely the smallest vestige of historical evidence has ever
been alleged in support of the views of these accomplished editors,
their teaching must either be received as intuitively true, or
dismissed from our consideration as precarious and even
visionary." (Dr. F. H. A. Scrivener's Plain Introduction, 1883,
In summary, I have chosen to use the English Bible
that is built on the solid foundation of faith, believing that
God has preserved His Words in the Masoretic Hebrew text and the
Textus Receptus Greek text, and that the King James Bible "preserves" in
the English language, by accurate translation that preserved Hebrew
Masoretic and Textus Receptus Greek texts.
By the same token, I must say that if you hold to a
modern version of the Bible, you have chosen the sandy ground of
ingenious conjecture. The critical scholars behind the modern
versions do not believe that God preserved His Words as He said He did.
In fact, they are not sure where the His Words are. They are
frantically revising, adding, deleting, modifying, and changing God's
Words as is right in their own eyes.
Will you choose the solid foundation of faith or
the sandy foundation of doubt?
Once the foundation is laid the building begins! Those
who are building on the foundation of doubt have a low regard
for the Scriptures while those who are building on the foundation
of faith have a high regard for the Scriptures.
Would you trust a preacher or a Bible scholar who said
the Bible was just a book like any other book? I hope that not a
single person listening or reading this would trust him. Yet, millions of
Christians, who use the modern versions of the Bible, essentially trust
the judgment of those who treat the Bible as just another book. Here's
Dr. Edward Hills wrote, "Westcott (picture to the
right) and Hort followed an essentially naturalistic Method. Indeed they
prided themselves on treating the text of the New Testament as they
would that of any other book, making little or nothing of inspiration
and providence." (Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended, pp.
In other words, they treated the Bible just like they
would the works of Plato, Shakespeare, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling or any
other fallible book. In fact, neither believed in the infallibility of
Brooke Foss Westcott stated emphatically, ""No one
now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for
example, give a literal history - I could never understand how
anyone reading them with open eyes could think they did."
Further he wrote, "I never read of the account of a
miracle but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability, and
discover some want of evidence in the account of it." (Life and Letters
of Brooke Foss Westcott; page 216) Again Westcott said, "I reject
the word infallibility of Holy Scriptures overwhelmingly." (The Life
and Letters of Brook Foss Westcott, p.207).
Concerning Fenton John Anthony Hort (picture to the
right), Dr. Wilbur Pickering writes, "Hort did not hold to a high view
of inspiration." (The Identity of the New Testament Text, p.212).
Some might protest that the low regard of the
Scriptures held by Westcott and Hort has nothing to do with the modern
versions of today. You are wrong.
First, the new Bible versions are built on the
Greek New Testament compiled by them.
Secondly, current day New Version Potentate
Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Bruce Metzger has a low regard
for the Scriptures as well. He doubts Moses alone authored the
Pentateuch. As Co-editor of the New Oxford Annoted Bible RSV he
wrote or approved of notes asserting that the Pentateuch is "a matrix of
myth, legend, and history" that "took shape over a long period of time"
and is "not to be read as history." Job is called an "ancient folktale."
And the book of Isaiah was written by as least three men. Jonah is called
"popular legend." Then add to that that Metzger claims that the Gospels
are composed of material gathered from oral tradition. The problem is,
he completely ignores the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the testimony
of the Bible itself!
"And Moses wrote all the words of
the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under
the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel."
Jesus said, "Did not Moses give you the
law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill
Jesus said, "For as Jonas was three
days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be
three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Let me ask you a question. How can you trust a Bible
that has been tampered with by men who neither respect it nor hold it in
any higher regard than they would the works of Shakespeare? The answer
is clear, you cannot.
I have a high regard for the Scriptures. I believe it
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
I believe that through the Word of God people are born
"But these are written, that ye might believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have
life through his name."
"So then faith cometh
by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of
God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
I will not align myself with those who profane the
Scriptures. The King James Bible is founded upon Traditional Text
types collated by men who had a high regard for the Bible. Consider
for instance, the often-maligned Desidarius Erasmus. He wrote the
following in the Preface to his Greek New Testament, which clearly shows
he reverenced and loved the Holy Scriptures...
"These holy pages will summon up the living image
of His mind. They will give you Christ Himself, talking, healing,
dying, rising, the whole Christ in a word; they will give Him to you
in an intimacy so close that He would be less visible to you if He
stood before your eyes." (An Introduction to the Textual Criticism
of the New Testament; Robertson; p. 54)
Erasmus also wrote this:
"Therefore if you will dedicate yourself wholly to
the study of the Scriptures, if you will meditate on the law of the
Lord day and night, you will not be afraid of the terror of the night
or of the day, but you will be fortified and trained against every
onslaught of the enemy." (Advocates of Reform: From Wyclif to
Erasmus; Matthew Spinka; p. 304: by way of Sorenson; Touch Not
The Unclean Thing)
Further he proclaimed,
"Christ Jesus...is the true light, alone shattering
the night of earthly folly, the Splendor of paternal glory, who as he
was made redemption and justification for us reborn in him, so also
was made Wisdom (as Paul testifies): We preach Christ crucified, to
the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness; but to
them that are called, both Jew and Greeks, Christ is the power of God
and the wisdom of God.'" (Advocates of Reform: From Wyclif to
Erasmus; Matthew Spinka; p. 309: by way of Sorenson; Touch Not
The Unclean Thing)
There are others to consider, such as Theodore Beza.
Does anyone doubt the fact that Theodore Beza had a high regard for
the Bible? The reason I bring this up is that the King James translators
are said to have worked primarily form his 5th edition of the
Received Text by Beza. If you do have any doubts about where Beza stood, I
challenge you to read his book, The Christian Faith. He says this:
"On the subject of the Word of God, the canonical books of the Old and
New Testament...proceed from the mouth of God Himself."
I use the King James Bible because it is built upon
texts that were collated by people who had a high regard for the Word(s)
of God. Further, it is the most meticulous English translation ever
Next, let's consider the manuscripts that were used.
The modern versions are built on...
For a more complete treatment of this issue, log on to
Uncials and read my article The Great?
As you will recall, I shared with you a quote by Bruce
Metzger. He tells how they developed their Greek text for the modern
versions. He said, "We took as our base at the beginning the text of
Westcott and Hort and introduced changes as seemed necessary on the basis
of MSS evidence."
So, what manuscripts did Westcott and Hort use to get
their Greek New Testament They used primarily two old 4th
century manuscripts for their work. Hort's partiality for Codex Vaticanus
(B) was practically absolute. Intuitively (without evidence) he believed
it to be a near perfect representation of the Greek New Testament.
Whenever pages were missing in Vaticanus he would use Codex Sinaiticus
(ALEPH) to fill in the gap. And there was plenty missing from Vaticanus.
Barry Burtons writes in his book Let's Weigh the Evidence -- "it
omits...Matthew 3, the Pauline Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus,
Philemon), Hebrews 9:14 to 13:25, and all of Revelation... in the gospels
alone it leaves out 237 words, 452 clauses and 748 whole sentences, which
hundreds of later copies agree together as having the same words in the
same places, the same clauses in the same places and the same sentences in
the same places." Floyd Jones further notes that Matthew 16:2-3 and Romans
16:24 are missing.
Here is another interesting fact. "It contains the
Epistle of Barnabas...which teaches that water baptism saves the soul."
(Which Version is The Bible? by Floyd Jones; published by Global
Evangelism of Goodyear Arizona; p. 68).
"Erasmus knew about Vaticanus B and its variant
readings in 1515 AD while preparing the New Testament the New Testament
Greek text. Because they read so differently from the fast majority of mss
which he had seen, Erasmus considered such readings spurious." (Which
Version is The Bible? by Floyd Jones; published by Global Evangelism of
Goodyear Arizona; p. 68). Further, as I understand it, Vaticanus was
available to the translators of the King James Bible, but they did not use
it because they knew it is unreliable..." It wasn't until 1889-1890 that a
complete facsimile was made. The manuscript remains in Vatican City to
Here is a key fact you should know about Codex
Vaticanus (B) -- "The entire manuscript has had the text mutilated,
every letter has been run over with a pen, making exact identification of
many of the characters impossible." More specifically, the manuscript
is faded in places; scholars think it was overwritten letter by letter in
the 10th or 11th century, with accents and breathing marks added along
with corrections from the 8th, 10th and 15th centuries. Those who study
manuscripts say, All this activity makes precise paleographic analysis
impossible. Missing portions were supplied in the 15th century
by copying other Greek manuscripts. How can you call this manuscript "the
oldest and the best."
This is a picture of the Hebrews 1 from the 4th
Century Codex Vaticanus. Though hard to see in this size, notice the
marginal note between the first and second column. A corrector of the text
had erased a word in verse 3 and substituted another word in its place. A
second corrector came along, erased the correction, reinserted the
original word, and wrote a note in the margin to castigate the first
corrector. The note reads, "Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don't
What about Codex Sinaiticus (ALEPH)? This is a
Greek manuscript of the Old and New Testaments, found on Mount Sinai, in
St. Catherine's Monastery, which was a Greek Orthodox Monastery, by
Constantine Tischendorf. He was visiting there in 1844, under the
patronage of Frederick Augustus, King of Saxony, when he discovered 34
leaves in a rubbish basket forty-three leaves. He was permitted to
take them, but did not get the remainder of the manuscript until 1859.
Konstantin Von Tischendorf identified the handwriting of four different
scribes in the writing of that text. But that is not the end of the
scribal problems! The early corrections of the manuscript are made
from Origen's corrupt source. As many as ten scribes tampered
with the codex. Tischendorf said he "counted 14,800 alterations and
corrections in Sinaiticus." Alterations, and more alterations, and more
alterations were made, and in fact, most of them are believed to be made
in the 6th and 7th centuries. So much for the oldest!
"On nearly every page of the manuscript there are
corrections and revisions, done by 10 different people." He goes on to
say, "...the New Testament...is extremely unreliable...on many occasions 10,
20, 30, 40, words are dropped...letters, words even whole sentences are
frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately canceled. That
gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in
the same word as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in
the New Testament."
Here are several examples of di homoeotéleuton
omissions. The word di homoeotéleuton is Greek for "because
of a similar ending." Here are some examples of the sloppy work of the
Note: In the following passages the italicized, bold
words are omitted in Sinaiticus...
. Though I speak with the
tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become
as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift
of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and
though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have
not charity, I am nothing.
Here the scribe had copied the verse up to the end of
the first "and have not charity," but when he looked up to his
example again to continue copying, his eye fell upon the second
occurrence of the phrase, from which he continued, omitting all of those
words between the two occurrences of the phrase.
Now a more complicated example:
. For he must reign, till he hath put all
enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be
destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his
Here it is not immediately clear what has happened. But when it is
known that in some early manuscripts the order of clauses is as shown
below, once again we see that the scribe's eye has jumped from the first
occurrence of a phrase to the second occurrence:
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies
under his feet. For he hath put all things under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
And in the very next verse another such omission:
. But when he saith all
things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which
did subject unto him all things. 28 And when there shall be
subjected unto him all things, then shall the Son also
himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God
may be all in all.
These di homoeotéleuton omissions number about
300 in the New Testament of Codex Sinaiticus. They are not taken seriously
as various readings by the editors of critical editions and in fact are
not even mentioned in the notes of the critical editions of currently used
While these manuscripts may be (or may not be) old,
it is obvious that they are corrupt. It is these corrupt
manuscripts that form the basis to the modern Bible versions.
However, that is NOT the case with our King James
Version of the Bible. It is based on...
While it is true that there are about 45 to 50 Greek
manuscripts that support the Westcott/Hort Greek text that underlies the
modern versions of the Bible, you must realize that there are more than
5000 that support the Textus Receptus type text that underlies our King
James Bible. Figure it out. 99% of all the manuscript evidence supports
the text type that the King James Bible is translated from. Further, this
text type is overwhelmingly supported by the early church fathers.
Christian friends, there is no doubt in my mind that
underlying the King James New Testament is a superior Greek text!
While there are many more things that could be said,
this will be my final point, that relating to the method of translation.
The King James Bible translators used a superior method
in translating called formal equivalency. Formal Equivalence,
sometimes called Verbal Equivalence is a method of translation,
which takes the Greek, and Hebrew words and renders them as closely as
possible into English. This is the method used by the King James
translators and is certainly a superior method, seeing that our Lord is
concerned about every word, even the jots and tittles (Matthew 5:18;
DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCY & PARAPHRASING -
INFERIOR METHOD OF TRANSLATING
The modern versions of the Bible use dynamic
equivalency, also called concept inspiration in their
translations. Dynamic Equivalence is not following a word for word
translation but changing, adding, or subtracting from the original to make
it flow as the translator sees fit. We are warned against this in the
Bible (). The New
International Version is this type of a version.
Then, there is one further step that is even worse and
that is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is simply taking what the text
says and rewriting it to what you think it says. It is more like a
condensed commentary that a Bible. The most popular paraphrase is the
Living Bible. It is really not a translation at all!
I use the King James Bible because it certainly is
superior in its translation. There is much more that could be said, but I
will save that for another time. Therefore I will move to the summary.
The King James Bible is built on the foundation of
faith by men who had a high regard for the Bible, Massive
manuscript evidence to support their work. They meticulously translated
the Greek and Hebrew words, renders them as closely as possible
The Modern versions are built on a foundation of
doubt by men who have a low regard for the Bible. A few
corrupt manuscripts were used to support their work. For the most part,
they loosely translated the concepts of the Greek and Hebrew and some
versions are even sloppier, not translating at all but paraphrasing.
I have to wonder. If you are not using the King James Bible, why not?
Preached at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Dean
Meeting in Arden North Carolina
by David L. Brown, Ph.D