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#94 - Evaluating the accuracy of the Textus Receptus v. modern scholarship
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
I ran across your pages while doing a search on the Textus Receptus. The writing is good. You say: "The Bible Texts administrator's desire is to arrive at honest conclusions that are consistent with all available facts." Unfortunately, you don't have all the facts.
For example, Erasmus had been influenced by Lorenzo Vala's "Collatio novi testamenti" which were full of suggestions how the errors in the current Latin Vulgate could be corrected in line with the Greek. Erasmus' whole purpose of publishing his Greek-Latin edition was to print his version of the Latin Vulgate with the Greek as a kind of of comparison. He wasn't trying to publish a "critical" Greek text. However, in line with the example from Valla he did collect variations from Greek manuscripts which are found in his notes.
Erasmus' Greek was based on six manuscripts. One was Ms. 1, of family 13 fame. I've collated Erasmus' 1522 edition and Ms 1, as well as Ms. 2 and 3, also used by Erasmus. Curiously, some of his "minority" variations (from the "Majority Text, that is), are now approved by modern scholars.
If you like, I will send you a copy of my book, The Corruption of the Word: The Failure of Modern New Testament Scholarship, which gives one other side of the Textus Receptus issue. I don't assume you will instantly change your mind when seeing the evidence. But, if you want to arrive at "honest conclusions that are consistent with all available facts," then you should at least examine the "other side of the story."
Response #94 from BibleTexts.com:
Thank you for your kind offer to send me your book, The Corruption of the Word: The Failure of Modern New Testament Scholarship. I gratefully accept your offer, and I also very much appreciate the gentle way in which you expressed yourself.
I assume that you read my webpage article entitled, "The King James Version and its dependence on the Textus Receptus," which is found at http://www.bibletexts.com/kjv-tr.htm. Some of the comments in your email corroborate some of what I wrote in my article, including my statement: "Erasmus' 1535 edition still relied upon no more than six Greek manuscripts, the oldest (but least used!) of which was from the tenth century." You may also have explored a number of articles related to the KJV controversy that are listed at http://www.bibletexts.com/topics/kjv.htm.
Another article worth exploring is a webpage article by Rich Elliott of Simon Greenleaf University entitled, "The Textus Receptus." This addresses a number of TR issues and can be browsed at http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn/TR.html.
In your book do you address the issue of the removal of the Apocrypha from later editions of the King James Version? I find it puzzling why those who are so insistent upon using only the KJV have not reverted to the original KJV with the original edition's punctuation, spelling, and Apocrypha. You most likely already have a copy of the original KJV, but if not, I believe that you still can purchase the King James Version, 1611 Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, no date). As the cover page states, this is "A word-for-word reprint of the First Edition of the Authorized Version." It includes the Apocrypha and all of the marginal notes contained in the original KJV. I believe that I ordered mine from Christian Book Distributors at http://www.christianbook.com.
Have you offered your book to Bruce Metzger to critique? He is very likely more intimately familiar with the large body of ancient manuscripts and their history than anyone anywhere. He has been a member of the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament committee since its inception, and he has authored numerous books about the original texts and their transmission. He is also a very reverent and deeply Christian individual, whose love for God and for others far exceeds his love for even the original texts. His desire has been to honestly represent the original texts and the history of their transmission. Though retired from teaching, you could address correspondence to him at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer