Was The Textus Receptus Tampered With?
By Joe Gaut
A question was raised on the Apostolic Forum about whether or not the Textus Receptus (TR) had been tampered with. Several wrote responses and the most vehement supporter of the TR claimed that God *providently* keep the text pure while in the hands of the Catholic Church. Not to do so, he alleged, would have been tantamount to God not being able to preserve his own Word. In other words, ...God would have failed at being God, if he did not or could not keep it pure. Of all the responses, the one below in orange type, written by Brother Joe Gaut, was the most remarkable and profound. I concur with it 100%.
Some have written that they view the Word of God (KJV) as the only sure foundation having no errors in translation. That is their faith, but it is not true. We are now in the fifth or ninth version of the KJV, which one is the sure foundation? There are hundreds of changes in the different versions. What we see is that the revelation of the fulness of God and the Messianic Hope were not destroyed or made vague by changes to a BETTER wording. The changes were for the BETTER. So, if a change is made for the BETTER what is so wrong with using manuscripts not known in the days of the KJV in 1611, to help provide the BETTER? The test here is that if the Word of God becomes closer to the original text, then it will not harm or hurt your salvation. Jesus will become greater and your faith will be stronger. So many, holding to the KJV exclusively, feel their foundation has been destroyed if a BETTER translation of a word, or a verse, or a scripture is made. That, is wrong! Our faith is not in a Book, but the Words of God originally inspired to be in the first BOOK. If man changed any of it, than man must change it back as near as possible. That is the whole quest of a true Bible translator.
Cohen G. Reckart, Pastor
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Our Lord Jesus came not just to give us a few more chapters of the Bible, but to give us Himself! May we not lose sight of this central fact of history.
It helps me immeasurably to know that Jesus is the Word and that it is His very Spirit that directs our pathways this day. He is our guidepost.
The lesser light rules by night, the greater light by Day. The nighttime is past, my dear friends, and Jesus is now amongst us. Any question we have, any knowledge we need, we can receive directly from Him. Only believe. Did He not tell us that He would lead us into all truth? So why must we rely on the textual accuracy of some book?
Do not get me wrong. I value scripture, but know that only the Lord Jesus can open it to my heart. And if there is any error in a text transcribed by man, I know no such poison can harm me. I have His promise on that. And I have His promise that He will teach me the truth.
Children of God, He wants us to learn to hear His voice. He is here among us. May we hear Him and know the truth of all such matters.
I once asked Him which was the best Bible to use, the KJV or some other, etc. His answer surprised me. He told me that where He wanted His word was in my heart. Listen, my friends. He came to give us Himself.
So I'm at peace on this issue. I enjoy the KJV but don't hesitate to read from the NIV on other occasion. And is the KJV or the Textus Receptus a perfect received text? Not at all. But why should I worry? Jesus is my Teacher! So do our foundations crumble if we learn of some mistake in the KJV or some other favored text? I should say not. Our foundation stone is Jesus! We are built on the Rock, not on centuries of religious controversy and confusion. And Jesus is still speaking to us today, even with words you won't find in the KJV. Our God is a Living God. No man can place closure on our God.
Now for a few comments about the historicity of the KJV and the Textus Receptus. I offer them not to undermine anyone's faith but rather to strengthen it in Christ.
Theodore Beza, a scholar associated with John Calvin at Geneva, published nine editions of the Greek New Testament from 1565 to 1605, all of which were based on editions of the Parisienne printer, Robert Estienne (known as the Stephanus text). The Greek text employed by the King James translators was, as noted previously, the 1604 edition of Beza. The Beza text was reprinted in 1624 and 1633 by the Elzevir brothers of Holland. The preface in their 1633 edition claimed that the reader now had the text "received by all," and thereby came to be known as the Textus Receptus.
The kind of Greek text used by Beza has been classified as Byzantine text because it is substantially the same as the standard Greek text which came into being during the fifth century A.D. at Byzantium (Constantinople). Constantinople is associated with eastern Orhtodoxy which began to arise about this time. It is not unreasonable to assume that the text used by Beza dates from about the fifth century, on this basis.
When the New Testament Revision Committee of the English Revised Version was attempting to discover and compile the Greek text which was used as a basis for its translation it found that the "Received Text" used by the KJV translators was mistaken in more than 5,000 readings. Most of these might be considered inconsequential from the standpoint of theological interpretation, but nonetheless, we might glimpse why twentieth century translations often differ from the KJV. (There's much more to the history of the text, involving Erasmus and others, but maybe we can glimpse a bit of the process from what is given herein.)
Besides this, since the translation of the KJV, numerous early manuscripts have been found that date from earlier times. Should they be ignored?
Should the faithfulness of Catholic popes and scholars be trusted to have left manuscripts unchanged over centuries of spiritual and intellectual darkness? Various passages in some of the earlier manuscripts differ substantially from what we find the in the KJV.
So what shall we do, dear friends? Chomp away on each other over this issue and be found beating our fellow servants when our Lord returns? Or shall we love one another and come together in the unity of the faith? If you search for purity of doctrine, search for Jesus and more of Him, not for an intellectual exercise in comparing the opinions of commentators on various anscient manuscripts. It is Jesus who leads us into all Truth; not into the muck and mire of an intellectual swamp.
Peace in Him dear friends.
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