The Controversy Behind Modern Bible Versions
A Position Paper on the Versions of the Bible
By David Otis Fuller, D.D.
I appreciate the privilege you have given me of presenting the facts that have to do with the most important question any Christian could ever face. So important that I consider it a life and death matter, for if we do not have an inspired, infallible, inerrant Book to rest our souls upon for time and eternity, then we are of all men most miserable, our salvation is worthless and we have but one alternative: letís eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and go to hell.
Without question, this is a complicated, difficult subject, but I know that every person in this room can secure a clear, overall picture of it, if they want to. If the average Christian would drag themselves away from the idiot box and spend half, no, one third as much time studying this question and going over the facts again, as I did, that person can get it and it will increase your faith immeasurably in the glorious truth that God not only wrote His Holy Word in the beginning thru "holy men of old" moved upon by the Blessed Holy Spirit, but also this same sovereign God kept His Word intact, and pure and without error all through the centuries to this present hour.
It all depends on what kind of a God we worship. If He caused the originals to be written without error what good would that do, if He didnít, or couldnít keep His Word without error all thru the centuries? This sovereign God, when here on earth, quoted again and again from the Old Testament. Not once did He cast a shadow of doubt across any of the Old Testament Scriptures that there was one error in them. If He could keep His Word thru the centuries up until the days He walked here upon earth, I am quite sure He could keep it from then until now. Someone has so rightly said, "God esteems the words of His mouth as of far more importance than the works of His hands."
You believe of course, and so do I, that our sidereal universe along with the other numberless universes were brought into being. How was it done? "He spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast." Our sun is 93,000,000 miles from our earth and a million times larger. It has risen and set with split second accuracy for countless ages, and so accurate we set our watches by Greenwich time. Tell me, how much time does this Sovereign God take out of His "Dayís work" to keep that sun in orbit? Foolish question? There is another star, or sun, out yonder the astronomers have discovered which can hold 67,000,000 of our suns. Itís called Antares, but beyond that one there is another which can hold 100,000,000 Antares! No wonder we exclaim "How Great Thou Art!" Now please donít sit there and tell me that God thinks more of this sun he created than His Holy word, especially when He tells us in His Word, Psalm 138:2b, "thou has magnified thy word above all Thy name." If this God can keep His sun, canít He keep His Word? Certainly He can and He did.
Let me give you three words to use as pegs to hang some thoughts on. Integrity. What is your most precious possession? Some say, "My family." Pardon me for contradicting you. It is not, for if you do not have what I am thinking of, you wonít have your family very long. I speak of your character, your name, your word. Up until this hour each one of us has tried to keep our character, our name, our word with the utmost care. We do not realize as we should that we face the most vicious and malicious attempted assassination of the character, the name, the Word of God since those blasphemous words were uttered just inside the gates of Eden, "Yea, hath God said?" If your friend, your loved one was having their name,their character, their word viciously attackedĖwhat would you do? If you did nothing but keep a cowardly silence, my contempt for you would know no bounds. Is the character, the name, the Word of God far more important to you than your dearest friend or loved one? It should be.
If you had written the King James Version and you had written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Zechariah 13:6, "What are these wounds in thine hands?...Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." I feel sure everyone present as well as multitudes of other Christians all thru the centuries have believed those words refer to our lovely Lord in prophetic preview of His sufferings for us. Do you know how the Living Bible translates or paraphrases that? "What are these scars on your chest? Those are the scars I received when I was in brawl with my friend." That, in my book, is blasphemy, and I would look Ken Taylor in the eye if he were present and charge him with that. In the KJV Psalm 22:16 reads "they pierced my hands and my feet." The New English Bible has it "they hacked off my hands and my feet." Tell me friend of mine, how would you feel if men took such blasphemous liberties with your translation? The next obvious question you have already anticipated I can easily imagine: "How does Almighty God feel?"
The second word Authority. When I was quite youngĖif you will pardon a personal illustrationĖmy mother told me several times to learn the multiplication tables by heart. I dallied around with them as small boys do. Finally mother lost patience. "Otis," she said one noontime, "take your arithmetic book up to your room, close the door and donít come down for supper until you get them by heart." I knew she meant itĖshe had red hair! I sweated and toiled and finally got them, but why did she want me to do that? I didnít know then but I do now. Those would be my authority in the business world, at the drugstore, and food market. Truth is absolute, not relative; that is why 2x2=4 has never changed.
When in Beirut, Syria, I met a student at the American University. As we talked I kept asking myself "What does this fellow believe, anyway?" so I finally asked him, "Tell me, do you believe 2x2=4 has always been that?" He replied, "No, it could have been 5 or 6 or some other number." I got away from him as soon as I could! He was a victim of the devilís delusion that truth is relative. My learning the multiplication tables didnít save me for heaven, but if you and I do not believe the Bible and know it tells us Godís way of salvation, we are lost forever. If the multiplication tables have never changed, why do so many insist that Godís Word has changed and needs to be corrected? I say frankly, we have been sold a "bill of goods" by the devil himself in this spate of 100 versions of the Bible, so many of them perversions. Give the devil his due. He has done a splendid job of spreading confusion in the minds of Christians the past 100 years since the publication of the Revised Version of 1881 where all this mischief began with overwhelming proof for such a statement.
Our third word is Antiquity. I am convinced that in the early beginnings of Christianity, around the 2nd or 3rd century, a group of godly men gathered together. Who? Where? How many? I do not know, and they may have done so more that once. Out of a vast mass of sacred manuscripts which they had, they chose 27. How do we know that? We have them right here in the New Testament. And I am confident God was in the choosing of those manuscripts, guiding them to choose the ones nearest to the originals and most accurate. But between that time and the year 1611 when the King James Version was first published is something like thirteen centuries. Where was God all that time? Just where He has been all the time, right there whether guarding His divine Deposit, the Holy Word of God, or in guarding you and me in our lives thus far in life thru the darkness as well as the light. James Russell Lowell has a word for that so many of you know, "Truth forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne. But behind that dim unknown, standeth God within the shadows, keeping watch upon His own." And if He has watched over you and me so carefully during our pilgrimages upon this earth, you can be just as sure He has watched over His Holy Word in every age.
Two more cases in point, UzzahĖyou remember that name. An unknown man in Israel who followed the ark to Jerusalem. The oxen stumbled, the ark tottered and was falling, Uzzah, with all good intentions, put out his hand to keep the ark from crashing. As he touched it, God struck him dead as no one but the Levites were to touch or handle it. Uzziah, at the other end of the spectrum, one of the great kings of Israel, reigning 52 years, in presumptive pride he entered the holy place with incense burning. Eighty-one priests followed him in, remonstrating strongly. He grew angry and as he turned on them the leprosy rose up in his forehead. He hurried out and the priest helped him! He was a leper to the day of his death. One thing is certain. God has far more concern for His Holy Word than for the ark and the tabernacle, in those far off days. You cannot tamper with, play with Godís Holy Word and get away with it! God wonít let you!
An excellent question for all of us should be inserted here. "Just how jealous are you for Godís Word, the Bible?" If I can, thru this brief presentation, cause you, and myself also, to have more reverence and devotion and faith in and awe and jealousy for this Blessed Book, Godís True Word, I will not have come and spoken in vain. I am getting sick and tired and fed up to here with the way Godís Word is being kicked around like a football, and I refuse to keep silent. The vast majority of the Bible translators of these modern versions do not believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. Some do; perhaps all of those who worked with the NASV and NIV but in every case of a modern translation, apart from the KJV, they have used the wrong Greek text.
Between 300 A.D. and 1611 A.D. we have said, there for 1300 years the Waldensians were a very small nation in the Italian Alps, snowed in for months of the year. They had their scholars who would carefully and meticulously copy sacred manuscripts of the Bible. These followers of Peter Waldo learned to love and revere the Scriptures, so much, that they placed the authority of the Scriptures ahead of the pope of Rome. This, the hierarchy of the papacy couldnít tolerate. They arrested them, brought them into court and when they had their chance to speak they quoted whole chapters and indeed whole books of the Bible to defend their position. This so enraged the Pope he sent his legionaries to persecute, torture and kill them. Sometimes the soldiers would invade their homes, bind them in balls and throw them down the mountainside! Other times God would send thick fog and blind their advance or the Waldensians would hurl great rocks upon them to defend their homes and families.
Then came the Reformation and when this people heard of what was happening across the Alps in Geneva and Germany they sent their scholars with their manuscripts. They compared them with those of Calvin and Luther and found them practically identical. Where was God all this time? I say He was right there, as He always is. I repeat; there are no errors or mistakes in the King James Version. I readily admit there are problems but I am certain there is a solution to every problem although I do not have the answer to all of them. I take my stand with Robert Dick Wilson, my Hebrew professor at Princeton Seminary B.F. (before the flood of apostasy swept thru those halls). Dr. Wilson said more than once in class, "Gentlemen, the things I do not understand in the Bible I put down to my own ignorance." In short, giving God and His Word the benefit of every doubt. And I would remind you, Dr. Wilson was conversant with 45 different languages and dialects.
Again, I do believe that all of the verses in the KJV were in the original manuscripts including Mark 16, the last 12 verses and the first 11 verses of John 8, along with Acts 8:37, I John 5:7, Luke 22:44, and many others questioned and scouted by the critical scholars. I am prepared to prove that assertion just made. In fact the Lord has allowed me to publish a third book Counterfeit or Genuine? which gives over 200 pages of solid, documented evidence that the two longest passages in the Bible which the critics tell us were not in the originalsĖMark 16 and John 8Ėthey were! Friends, we have had the wool pulled over our eyes the past 100 years, ever since the publication of the Revised Version of 1881 which was the beginning of all this mischief and deadly attack.
Let me put this whole question into one small compass before I go further. Listen carefully; the only version of the Bible, out of the 100 versions on the market, that is founded on the Textus Receptus (Greek) is the King James Version. and this Greek text agrees with over 5,000 extant Greek manuscripts in the world today of the New Testament in part or nearly in whole, in between 90% and 95%, while the Westcott & Hort Greek text on which all of the modern versions are founded disagrees with this same 5,000 Greek manuscripts in the same percentage, 90% to 95%! Surely that tells you that God has kept His Word intact and pure and without error all thru these centuries, right down to this year of our Lord 1978.
Where did the Greek Textus Receptus come from? Disiderius Erasmus was born 1466, died 1537, the greatest genius of his age. He was courted by kings and emperors. The kings of France, Spain, and England each offered him anything in their realm, if he would become a citizen of his country. He turned them down. He was offered the cardinalís hat; he turned that down. It was said, if he had pulled the right strings he could have become the pope, but he didnít. Get this. In his youth Erasmus was brought up among the Brethren of the Common Life who held the Bible in great reverence and awe. Many of them were secret believers. Erasmus thru life always had a similar reverence and respect for Godís Word. With his genius and erudition (his name was a household word all over the known world), he produced the Textus Receptus from nine manuscripts chosen with care from a very large mass. This Textus Receptus went thru some 21 editions, published by the Elzivir brothers, Stephans, and Beza, the successor to Calvin. All of them great scholars, but from the first edition to the 21st of this Textus Receptus very few changes were made.
William Tyndale comes in here. What a genius in languages! He was completely at home in eight languages, French, Hebrew, Greek, German, Spanish, Dutch, Latin, and his own tongue. He could speak any one of the seven as well as his mother tongue. He translated all of the New Testament and part of the Old, from the Greek or Hebrew, into English. His English was so perfect and flawless that the King James translators used 85% of this translation without changing a word! That was a miracle, because those scholars naturally would wish to use their own way of translating, but instead they gave Tyndaleís choice of words and phrases the preference. Tyndale said upon one occasion, "The time is coming when the most ignorant ploughboy in England will be able to read the Bible in his own language." Henry the VIII was ruling then. He learned what Tyndale said. He had him betrayed and Tyndale was burned at the stake at Villevorde just outside of Brussels, Belgium, October 1536. His last prayer he was heard to utter, "O, Lord open the eyes of the King of England." Henry the VIII had banned all Bibles printed in English in his realm. Eleven months after Tyndaleís death Henry gave the order to print the Bible in English, proving once again the accuracy of the Scriptures, Proverbs 21:1, "The kingís heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; He turneth it withersoever He will."
After Henry came Edward the VI. He only reigned 5 years but during that time he had been touched by the Reformation, and in his reign some 18 editions of the Bible were printed. Then came Bloody Mary, Edwardís half-sister. A fanatical Catholic. At her command she put to death by burning at Smithfield, 264 men, women, and children who had Bibles in their possession or had been caught studying them. Then came Queen Elizabeth, the 1st, and her brilliant reign of 44 years, followed by King James. He was no saint, far from it. He ordered the death of Sir Walter Raleigh at the behest of the Spanish ambassador. In his court there were tremendous scholars. Two factions were predominant, the Puritans and the Non-Conformists, both of which James had utterly no use for. If any one of them suggested something he without hesitation turned it down, but when John Reynold said, "Your Majesty, I believe we should have a new translation of the Bible," King James accepted the suggestion and implemented it.
Let me show you a few of the translators of the Authorized Version. John Boys was able to read the Bible in Hebrew when five years of age! When 14 he was a proficient Greek scholar and for years he spent from 4 oíclock in the morning till eight at night in the Cambridge library studying manuscripts and languages. You see John Boys wasnít cursedĖwith television, or telephones or radio! He had time to study and meditate. Lancelot Andrews was the overall chairman, who was fluent in twenty languages, the greatest linguist of his day. He spent five hours a day in prayer and was so respected by the kings that orders were given, whenever Andrews was in court, there was to be no levity, no joking. One other, John Chedderton, he knew Greek, Hebrew, and Latin as well as you and I know English, and better. He lived to be 103. At the age of around 85 he was asked to preach in a friend's church. They used hour glasses then! When the sands ran out he turned it over. He was after two hours, going to turn it over again but hesitated, "I believe you are getting tired. I feel I should close now." But an eyewitness said, that as one man that whole congregation arose and cried, "For Godís sake, go on!" You and I know nothing of that kind of spiritual hunger!
Without any question, there never has been a greater group of scholars gathered together at one time than the some 48 translators of the King James Version. You will find a thumbnail sketch of each of them in the book we first published, Which Bible? now in its seventh edition. But how about the Revised Version translators of 1881? Two scholars, with brilliant minds, along with Bishop Ellicott dominated, domineered and engineered the whole group of translators. Bishop Westcott and John Anthony Fenton Hort, these three formed a triumvirate. I might say, this Bishop Ellicott for years was a champion and stout defender of the King James Version and the Textus Receptus but the charisma of Westcott, and especially Hort, was too much for him; he gave in and "followed in their train." The only man who should stand up to Hort and defend the King James Version was Prebendary Scrivener. We are told that forty percent of the time was taken up in a debate between Hort and Scrivener. When they finished it was put to a vote and often Scriverner lost.
Notice, what a contrast this is to the way the Authorized Version was handled in 1600 to 1611. They divided up into groups of six each, eight committees. Each committee was given a certain number of books to translate. When they were finished they would exchange with another group so they could double check their work. And all the final revision was done by a separate committee, of which John Boys was the head, who made the final small corrections and presented it to King James. I am convinced that Godís hand was guiding and directing these 48 men as surely as those around the third century who chose those 27 manuscripts. Those men had their faults but God used them for His glory and our good. Ask yourself, as I have myself many times, "How in the world can God ever use me with all my faults and failures and bunglings?" But somehow He does, and I thank Him and strive to do better.
What was wrong with the Revised Version of 1881 where all the mischief began? It was based upon the Westcott & Hort Greek Text and that was based upon two of the worst manuscripts ever discovered. Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Vaticanus or B, is in the Vatican museum in Rome. All of Revelation is missing in the manuscript, 46 chapters of Genesis, 30 Psalms, all of the pastoral epistles, and Hebrews 9 thru 13. Sinaiticus is even worse! It was discovered by Count Tishendorf on Mt. Sinai, in a wastebasket! Tischendorf was a godly man and great scholar but he was swept off his feet by antiquity. He saw that the manuscript he was looking at dated back to the third or fourth century and the theory was then in vogue, "The oldest manuscripts is the best," because it would be nearest to the originals. It sounds plausible but it is just not true. This manuscript had been corrected some ten times over the centuries and more pages were missing than in Vaticanus. You might have been fooled just as easily as this great scholar. Both Westcott & Hort rejected, repudiated, 90% of the evidence and based all their findings on these two corrupt manuscripts. Again I remind you, these were the basis for the W.& H. text on which all the modern versions were founded, except the KJV.
There was strong bias of Westcott & Hort against the Textus Receptus on which the Kings James Version was founded. Dr. Hort when only 23, before he had the opportunity of thoroughly learning Greek or studying manuscripts, called the Textus Receptus, "That vile Textus Receptus." For twenty years Westcott &Hort worked on a Greek text, based almost entirely on the two worst manuscripts imaginable, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. When they had finished, the committee for the Revised Version was ready to begin work. Westcott & Hort, as we have mentioned, so charmed Bishop Ellicott who came to be the overall chairman of the committee, that Ellicott who was a strong contender for the King James Version and the Textus Receptus, reversed his stand and went "all out" for the RV (Revised Version). When the committee began work on the RV and before W.& H. had given their text to the public, they circulated copies of it to every member of the committee under the strictest oath of secrecy not to tell anyone they were using it until their work had been done.
Remember! All the modern versions are based on the W.& H. text compiled by two men who both believe that the sacred text of Holy Scripture was to be approached and treated like any secular text of history. The English people felt secure in their trust that these two Cambridge scholars would take care of attacks on the Scripture, unknowingly accepted the public utterances, and writings of men who boasted between themselves that they held doctrines that would be considered dangerous heresy. Nowhere in all literature can we find a more perfectly clear self-revelation of Fenton John Anthony Hort than in the Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort published in 1896 by his son, Author Fenton Hort. Hort was brought up by a well taught Bible-believing evangelical mother. She recognized the fact that her son had departed from the faith "once delivered to the saints" and was saddened thereby.
Hort acknowledged his departure from the Evangelical faith when he wrote, "Further I agree with those who condemn many leading specific doctrines of the popular theology, as to say the least, containing much superstition and immorality of a very pernicious king...The positive doctrines even of the Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than untrue. There are I fear, still more serious differences between us on the subject of authority, and especially the authority of the Bible," Life and Letters, Vol. I, p.400. Again Dr. Hort states, "Another idea has lately occurred to me: is not Mariolatry displacing much worship of scattered saints and so becoming a tendency towards unity of worship? I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and Jesus worship have very much in common in their causes and their results" Vol. I, p.50-51 "Life and Letters."
Hort was completely deceived by Darwin Vol. I, p.374 "Life and Letters." "Have you read Darwin?...in spite of difficulties, I am inclined to think it is unanswerable (page 416). "...another last word on Darwin...I shall not let the matter drop in a hurry, or, to speak more correctly, it will not let me drop...there is no getting rid of it any more than a part of oneself." Vol. I, pages 433-434. On the atonement Hort writes, "Certainly nothing can be more unscriptural than the modern limiting of Christ's bearing our sins and sufferings to His death; but indeed that is only one aspect of an almost universal heresy." Vol. I, page 430 "Life and Letters."
Hort in writing to a friend, John Ellerton, Dec. 20, 1851: "I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek Testament, and dragged on the villainous Textus Receptus... Think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning entirely on late manuscripts. It is a blessing there are such early ones." Hort refers of course to the very corrupt Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Alexandrius in which its finder, Tischendorf, noted 12,000 alterations, Codex Sinaiticus. We ask, "From where did Hort get this great antipathy and hatred for the Textus Receptus so early in his career? How did he conceive his ingenious theories to do away with the fact that the Textus Receptus (the Greek text underlying the King James Version) and that which is representative of a very, very high percentage of all Greek Manuscripts?"
Look at the hidden background for the modern spreading rejection of the King James Version. The followers of Westcott and Hort are following the lead of men who have departed from the faith and have given themselves over to a strictly forbidden prying into the occult. They had received from the world of spirits a hatred for the true Word of God. After we learn that Hort describes the sacred text as "being that vile Textus Receptus," we read Hortís words, "Westcott, Gorham, C.B. Scott, Benson, Bradshaw, Luard, and I have started a society for the investigation of ghosts, and all supernatural appearances, and effects, being all disposed to believe that such things really exist, and ought to be discriminated from hoaxes and mere subjective delusions; we shall be happy to obtain any good accounts well authenticated with names. Our own temporary name is the Ghostly Guild." Vol. I, page 211.
Note the strange behavior of multitudes who, having abandoned the King James Version of the Scriptures, react in various ways:
Many refuse to discuss the reason for receiving a modern version.
Many more have an angry reaction when questioned.
Many in high positions give evasive answers.
Many say the most ridiculous things, without proof of any kind.
Many deride the Textus Receptus. Derision is the last resort of a mind that is bankrupt of sensible arguments.
Almost all avoid an open public debate on this vital subject.
Any and all of the above reactions are those of men and women who have been misled in the greatest matter in this life, that is:
Where is the pure Word of God? When all the volumes of facts are in, there is only one answer: found in the King James Version of the Bible, which God in His sovereignty has kept intact and pure and without error all thru these three hundred and fifty years or more.
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