Perfected or Perverted? (Norman Ward)
The History of the Gospels and Letters
The "original" Bible
In discussing the text of the Bible, the revisionists will often use the phrase "according to the original Greek." This leads one to believe that they have access to the original autograph manuscripts. They do not. Nobody today has the original writings themselves. Let me repeat that: The original autographical manuscripts of the Gospels and Letters no longer exist. They were written on perishable material and it is unlikely that they lasted more than a few years, let alone nineteen centuries!
This is why the doctrine of Divine preservation is so vital. If God has not preserved His word (Psalm 12:6-7), then it was irrevocably lost on thousand nine hundred years ago. That would mean that no Bible is existence today is any more inspired that a Harold Robbins novel and Yeshua the Messiah is a liar (Matt. 24:35)!
Often, the same people who refer you to the "original Greek" will also refer you to the "Original Bible." There was no "original Bible." At no time did the original autographical manuscripts of the twenty-seven books of the Gospels and Letters ever reside between the covers of one particular book. To say, "I believe in the verbal plenary (absolute) inspiration of the "original Bible" is to say you believe in nothing, for no such book ever existed! (The TaNaKh existed).
The Gospels and Letters were not written as a book, per se. It was written by eight or nine different men, in a variety of locations and circumstances, over a period of about sixty years. Generally speaking, the Gospels and Letters were originally letters which were written to certain churches or individuals.
These letters were written on papyrus in a particular kind of Greek called "Koine" Greek. Koine Greek was the language of the common man at that time. It is important to remember that the Gospels and Letters were originally written in Koine Greek because later on we are going to encounter manuscripts written in classical Greek.
As the Gospels and Letters were circulated from church to church, each church would make a copy of the letter before passing it on. Eventually, each church had its own collection of letters. It was only natural that these collections of letters would eventually be put together in book form.
It is a this point that our story begins, for it is at this point that the development of the bible splits into two separate lines of Ascension.
We will examine first the line of ascension which culminates in the A.V. 1611 and then we will examine the line which gives to rise to the the modern versions.
The Textus Receptus
The underlying Greek text of the A.V. 1611 is called the “Textus Receptus” or the “Received Text.” It is also called the “Majority Text” because ninety-five percent of all manuscript evidence supports this text. Let me emphasize that: Ninety-five percent of all manuscript evidence comes from the same line of ascension that the A.V. 1611 comes from. NINETY-FIVE PERCENT! In other words all the manuscripts were almost exact copies of each other.
This text originated in Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians (Messiah Followers) (Acts 11:26). It was written on papyrus in Koine Greek as were the original letters. There is no evidence that anyone at Antioch ever tampered with this text.
This text traveled from Syria, through the Balkans to Germany and, thence, to England. It was the text the Messiah Followers used.
Milestones in the development of this text include:
1. The Syrian peshito and the old Latin (first and second centuries),
2. Papyrus readings of the the Receptus (150-400 A.D,
3. The Uncial readings of the Receptus (500-1500),
4. The Latin Bibles of the Waldensians (1100-1300),
5. The Latin Bibles of the Albigenses (1380-1550),
6. The Latin Bibles of the Lollards (1300-1500),
7. Martin Luther's Bible (1530), and
8. The Receptus of 1615, 1534, 1550, and 1565.
English Versions included:
1. Tyndale's (1525),
2. Coverdale's (1535),
3. Matthew's (1537),
4. The Great Bible (1539)
5. The Geneva Bible (1560),
6. The Bishops Bible (1568), and
7. The Authorized Version (1611)
The Line of Corruption
We will now examine the second line of ascension, the line that supports the modern versions.
This line of ascension begins in Alexandria, Egypt, the Land of Bondage. From there it moves to Rome, the City of Mystery Babylon, the Great Whore and the Roman Catholic Pope.
This line of text is written on vellum in classical Greek. Remember, the Gospels and Letters were written on papyrus in Koine Greek.
It is important to note the difference between classical Greek and Koine Greek foe three reasons:
1. Since the Gospels and Letters were written in Koine Greek, a manuscript copy in Koine Greek is apt to have a closer reading.
2. There are some 500 works in Koine Greek which are used in the Gospels and Letters which cannot be translated into classical Greek.
3. The majority of early Messiah Followers accepted manuscripts in Koine Greek in preference to manuscripts in classical Greek.
This corrupt line of ascension accounts for only five percent of manuscript evidence. Let me repeat that: Only five percent of manuscript evidence supports this line of text. FIVE PERCENT. In other words does not agree with the original copies of the Gospels and Letters.
The story of this corrupt line starts with a man named Origen. Origen lived about 185-251 A.D. He was an Ebionite (one who accepts the moral teachings of Messiah but denies the doctrine of salvation). He believed in infant baptism. He believed in universal salvation (that is, that all men would be saved rather than should be saved. He believed that sin was forgiven through communion. He did not believe that Messiah was our High Priest. He did not believe in physical resurrection. He did not believe in the second coming of Messiah. There is no record of his ever winning anyone to Messiah. He could not tell you where, when, how, or why he is saved.
By his own admission, he amended the Gospels and Letters whenever and wherever he felt like it. It is on the work of this man that the whole line of the corrupt texts exists.
In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine of Rome converted to Christianity. The sincerity of his conversion and his motivation for converting have come under serious question. At any rate, he asked a fellow named Eusebius to make him fifty copies of the bible.
Unfortunately, Eusebius was the wrong man to ask. He was an Arian (one who denies the Deity of Messiah) and he did not believe in literal interpretation of the bible. Worst of all, he was a great admirer of Origen. As a result, the fifty copies of the Bible that he made up for Constantine were based on the corrupt works of Origen.
The next step in the corrupt line was Jerome's Latin Vulgate written about 400 A.D. It was based primarily on the work of Origen and Eusebius. For the next thousand years, this was the standard Bible of the Catholic church.
The last stop before the modern versions is the Rheims-Douay Bible completed about 1610. It is the current Bible of the Catholic church. Of course, it reflects the work of Origen, Eusebius and Jerome.
The most cursory examination of this line of Bibles reveals the fact that it has Roman Catholic heritage. It should be noted that the Catholic church has tradionally been opposed to laymen reading the Bible. At times, the Roman Catholic church has even forbidden ownership of the Bible by the common man. The corrupt nature of these Bibles and the attitude of the church which promoted them helps to explain why none of these Bibles were ever popular.
In short, the KJV was directly written from Koine Greek to English. The corrupt line was from Koine Greek, to Modern Greek, Latin (with changes from Origen), and then to English.
Westcott and Hort
On February 10, 1870, the Southern Convocation of the Church of England passed a resolution expressing the desirability of revising the Authorized Version of 1611 (KJV). The clear intent of the Southern Convocation can be noted in the following quote::
We do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible or any alternation of the language, except, when in the judgment of the most competent scholars, such changes are necessary.
What actually happened is quite another story. Instead of being a revision of the A. V. 1611, the Revised Version was actually a whole new Bible that threw out entirely the time-tested, God-honored, fruit-bearing, life-changing, Messiah-exalting A. V. 1611.
The story of the Revised Version (and all subsequent modern Bibles) is really the story of two men, B. B Wescott and F.J A. Hort. Westcott and Hort were two well know Greek scholars who dominated the Revision Committee.
Westcott and Hort were not Bible believers. As a matter of fact, they detested the A. V. 1611 and the Greek text on which it was based. Their expressed purpose was to “Rid the Church of that Vile Text”.
Westcott and Hort had no desire to simply revise the A.V. 1611 as the Southern Convocation had authorized, nor would they be satisfied with a fresh translation from the existing Greek text. Why they insisted upon was a brand new translation based on a brand new Greek text.
Where was this text to come from? Why, it just so happened that Westcott and Hort had composed a Greek text that they felt was perfectly suitable for the job? This man inspired text was the basic text used by the Revision Committee (after the committee had been sworn to secrecy by Westcott and Hort), and it was published within days of the Revised Version.
The new Greek text of Westcott and Hort, and especially their theories, have had an unwholesome and devastating effect on the Gospels and Letters textual criticism. Almost every Bible published today has been tainted by their poison.
Some versions such as the Revised Version and the American Standard Version are based directly on the Westcott and Hort text. Other version are based on texts which are either revisions fo the Westcott and Hort text, or ones which utilize the theories of Westcott and Hort, for example: Nestle's text (the basic text for the new American Standard Version) and the Bible Society's text (the basic text for the New international Version). Every bible published Today, except the A.V. 1611 is Based on the work of Westcott and Hort.
This is the crux of the difference between the various versions. On one side stands the A.V. 1611 (KJV) which is based on the Textus Receptus, an historically transmitted Greek text, supported by the vast majority of manuscript evidence (95 percent). On the other side stands virtually every other version based on a text invented in the nineteenth century and support by only a handful of manuscript evidence. (the New King James Bible and KJV II claim to be base on the Textus Receptus but have serious defects).