It's now time to look in some detail about two specific late
discoveries of the 19th century that underpin nearly all modern
translations of the English Bible today - the manuscripts of
called "Vaticanus" and "Sinaiticus." Then we shall look a little
deeper into the theological lives of two men that are considered
the fathers of modern Textual Criticism - Westcott and Hort.
THE VATICANUS MANUSCRIPT
As its name implies it is located in the Vatican Library at
Rome. It has been there since at least 1481, the date of a
catalog in-which it is listed. There is no story to its
discovery, only to the repeated efforts of many scholars over the
years to publish its contents to the world. It was not until the
close of the last century, the 19th century, that the contents of
this manuscript became available. Someone sent Erasmus in 1533 a
number of selected readings from it. In 1669 acollation a
(statement of its various readings) was made by Bartolocci, but
it was never published. Other imperfect collations were made
about 1720 and 1780. Napoleon carried it away to Paris as a prize
of victory. It remained there until 1815. After its return to
Rome a period of seclusion set in. In 1843 Tischendorf was
allowed to see it for six hours. The next year De Muralt was
permitted to study it for nine hours. It was in 1845 that the
English scholar Tregelles was allowed to see it but not to copy a
word. It was the Roman authorities themselves that took matters
in their own hands and in 1857 and 1859, editions by cardinal Mai
were published, which DIFFERED SO MUCH FROM ONE ANOTHER and were
both so inaccurate as to be useless.
In 1866 Tischendorf was again allowed to work with the
manuscript, this time for a number of days - fourteen days of
three hours each. He was able in 1867 to publish the most perfect
edition of the manuscript which had yet appeared. then in 1868-81
an improved Roman edition appeared.
It was not until 1889-90 that a complete photographic
facsimile of the whole MS was made, and it then became the common
property of all the scholars.
It is bound in book form (a codex) and contains 759 leaves
of the finest vellum. The pages are about ten inches square and
hold three columns of writing. It is held to be the earliest of
the great uncials.
And as Neil Lightfoot says in his book "How We Got the
Bible" page 32, "The printed texts of the Greek NT TODAY rely
HEAVILY upon the Vaticanus codex" (Emphasis mine).
THE SINAITIC MANUSCRIPT
It is known by this name because it was "discovered" by the
text-critic Constantine Tischendorf at St. Catherine's Monastery
on Mt. Sinai.
It was in 1844 that Tischendorf was visiting the Monastery,
and just about literally stumbled on a basket full of old
parchments which were destined for the fire. On examination he
found numerous sheets of the Greek OT. He was permitted to take
some away with him. They were the oldest he had ever seen. But
his excitement aroused suspicion and the authorities of the
monastery would not co-operate any further with him. By 1859
Tischendorf, still in quest for these documents, had made friends
with the Emperor of Russia; and since St. Catherine's was a Greek
Orthodox Monastery, that friendship would prove to be very
With the backing of the Russian Emperor, Tischendorf came
again to Mt.Sinai. Day after day he searched, but turned up
nothing. The night before his planned departure the next morning,
the steward of the monastery mentioned to him he had a old copy
of the Scriptures. Well this manuscript was the very one
Tischendorf had been looking for. It contained parts of the OT
and all 27 books of the NT. After a long road of events,
Tischendorf finally succeeded in obtaining the manuscript as a
gift to the Russian Czar.
But in 1933 the Russian Authorities, more interested in
money than Bibles, sold the Sinaitic Codex to the British for the
sum of 100,000 pounds. It resides today in the
manuscript room of the British Museum.
The leaves in the Sinaitic Manuscript are larger than those
in the Vatican codex, about fifteen inches square. The
handwriting is large and clear, four columns to the page on
quality vellum. The scholars date it to about the middle of the
Well so much for the historical facts about these two
manuscripts. The modern Textual Critic of the Westcott and Hort
school, basically teach this: "The oldest surviving
manuscripts must be the most reliable. Therefore......when
determining what manuscripts to depend on, the Vaticanus and the
Sinaiticus should be accepted as correct." They say this even if
998 other manuscripts disagree with them.
MORE FACTS ABOUT THESE TWO MANUSCRIPTS
The Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus DISAGREE WITH EACH OTHER
over 3,000 times in the GOSPELS ALONE!! Wow! Just in the
The Vaticanus omits Genesis 1:1 to Gen.46:28; Psalms 106 to
138; Matt.16:2-3; the Pauline Pastoral Epistles; Hebrews 9:14 to
13:25; and all of Revelation.
Besides all that - 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.
The Vaticanus also CONTAINS the APOCRAPHA (which we look ar
earlier in this series).
The Sinaiticus Manuscript contains the NT books but it also
contains the "Shepherd of Hermes" and the "Epistle of Barnabas."
John Burgeon spent years examining EVERY AVAILABLE
manuscript of the NT. He writes about the Sinaiticus.....
" On many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through
very carelessness. Letters, words or even whole sentences are
frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately
cancelled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted
because it happens to end in the same words as the clause
proceeding, occurs no less than 115 times in the NT."
On nearly every page of the manuscript there are corrections
and revisions, done by 10 different people. Some of these
corrections were made about the same time that it was copied, but
most of them were made in the 6th and 7th century.
Phillip Mauro was a brilliant lawyer who was admitted to the
bar of the supreme Court in April 1892. He wrote a book called
"Which Version" in the early 1900's. He writes concerning the
"From the facts, therefore, we deduce: first that the
IMPURITY of the codex Sinaiticus, in every part of it, was fully
recognized by those who were best acquainted with it, and that
from the very beginning until the time when it was finally cast
aside as worthless for the practical purpose."
Both the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus LEAVE OUT the last 12
verses of Mark. BUT there is not one other manuscript, either
uncial or cursive that leave out this passage. There are 18
other uncial(capital letters) manuscripts that have the passage
in and at least 600 cursive(small letters) manuscripts that ALL
contain these words. THE EVIDENCE IS AT LEAST 618 TO 2!
This REVISED Greek text of Westcott and Hort, the NT based
largely on the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts(and from
which most modern translations come) DIFFERS from the basic
Textus Receptus in......wait for it.............5,337 places!
Some want you to think there is little difference between
the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts and the rest of the over
5,000 Greek manuscripts, even Hort wanted people to believe that,
and tried to say so in certain words, that some still quote
today, BUT the TRUTH OF THE MATTER is CLEAR TO SEE for the
scholars who will open their eyes to see the PLAIN truth.
These differences we shall look at in more detail in part 13
in this series.
THE OTHER SIDE OF WESTCOTT AND HORT
We need to note here that Dr.Hort while a life long opponent
of the Received Text, and the man who dominated the English NT
Revision Committee, did say this: "An OVERWHELMING proportion of
the text in all known cursive manuscripts except a few is, as a
matter of fact, IDENTICAL" (Hort's Introduction, p.143).
Here was his clear acknowledgement what most scholars
already knew, thousands of manuscripts from different countries
in different ages, said the SAME thing!
The differences in the Greek manuscripts come from a very
few of those 5,300 manuscripts.
The modern movement of Textual Criticism was founded by
Roman Catholics! And remember they hold TRADITION on as equal
footing as Inspiration. One of those men was Richard Simon in the
1600's. Hort said it was Simon who shared a large part in the
discrediting of the Textus Receptus. The Catholic
Encyclopedia(Vol.4, p.492) says it was Simon who must be viewed
as the father of Biblical criticism.
Then there was Jean Astruc, a French Catholic physician who
pushed along the tide in 1753 with his book. A German by the
name of Johann Gottfried Eichorn greatly developed Astruc's
hypothesis. The Sottish Catholic priest called Alexander
Geddes(1737-1802) really went to town with certain theories,
which were introduced into Germany by Vater in 1805.
Some of the earliest critics in the field of collecting
variant readings of the NT in Greek were Mill and Bengel. We have
Dr. Kenrick , Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia in 1849, as
authority that they and others had examined these manuscripts
recently exalting as superior, such as the Vaticanus,
Alexandrinus, Beza, and Ephraem, and had pronounced in favor of
the Vulgate, the Catholic Bible (Quoted in Rheims and Douay by
Dr. H. Cotton, p.155).
There is MUCH more on all this, too much to be written here.
But it is all recorded in the book by Benjamin Wilkinson, Ph.D.
called "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated" - see at the end of this
During the 1830's and thereafter began the invasion of
German Gnosticism Theology into England. More and more "scholars"
were coming forth who were openly putting to one side all the
mass of manuscripts evidence that supported each other, agreed
together, and putting their mind-set on a relatively few, which
we have seen did not agree with each other. But the mind was set
by these so-called "scholars" to trash the Textus Receptus.
Wilkinson in his book mentioned above, has a whole chapter
on how the Catholic Jesuits captured the thinking of Oxford
University in England. Most do not realize that in the middle
1800's the Catholic Church in England made HUGE gains. In
Cardinal Wiseman's address to the Congress of Milines in 1863, he
reported that in 1830 the number of priests in England was 434;
in 1863 they numbered 1242. The converts in 1830 amounted to only
16; in 1863 there were 162 (Ward, Life of Wiseman, Vol.2, p.459).
It was in this climate that Dr. Westcott and Dr. Hort
appeared on the scene.
Let it first be noted - these two men were ROMAN CATHOLICS,
and very much so, dedicated to the Roman Catholic cause in no
While Hort was still wet behind the ears in any kind of
religious Theology, at the tender age of 23, he wrote:
" .....that VILE Textus Receptus....." And that sentiment clung
to him till his dying day.
The life of Westcott and Hort, their writings and thoughts
and teachings have been preserved for us by their sons. Probably
all large public Libraries will have those two books.
Hort was very much taken up with the now famous book by
Charles Darwin, and wrote it seemed to be unanswerable. He wrote
to John Ellerton, April 3, 1860, "But the book which has most
ENGAGED me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a
book that one is PROUD to be contemporary with.....My feeling is
STRONG that the theory is UNANSWERABLE. If so, it opens up a new
period" (Life of Hort by his son, Vol. 1, p.416, emphasis mine
throughout these quotes).
Westcott writes to the Archbishop of Canterbury on OT
Criticism, March 4, 1890: " No one now, I suppose, holds that the
first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a LITERAL
history - I could never understand how any one reading them with
open eyes could think they did" (Life of Westcott, Vol.2, p.69).
Hort writes to Mr.John Ellerton: "I am inclined to think
that no such state as 'Eden' (I mean the popular notion) EVER
EXISTED....." (Life of Hort, Vol.1, p.78).
Hort firmly believed the Catholic Church would win the day,
come back as THE ONLY Church on earth, and that Protestantism
would eventually be an ideology of the past. Writing to Westcott,
September 23, 1864: " I believe Coleridge was quite right in
saying that Christianity without a SUBSTANTIAL Church is vanity
and disillusion; and I remember shocking you and Lightfoot not so
long ago by expressing a belief that 'Protestantism' is only
PARENTHETICAL and TEMPORARY " (Life of Hort, Vol.2, p.30).
We have these quotes from Hort's Autobiography......
"....Evangelicals seem to me PERVERTED rather than
untrue.......I have been persuaded for many years that
MARY-WORSHIP and Jesus-worship have much in common.......But you
know I am a STAUNCH sacerdotalist(belief in the sacraments)...The
popular doctrine of SUBSTITUTION is an IMMORAL and material
Hort also wrote these expressions of his belief to John
Ellerton in the year 1848.....
" The old dogmatic view of the Bible therefore, is not only
open to attack from the standpoint of science and historical
criticism, but IF TAKEN SERIOUSLY it becomes a DANGER to religion
and public morals......God is the author, NOT of the Bible BUT of
the life in which the authors of the Bible partake, and of which
they tell in such IMPERFECT HUMAN WORDS as they could command.
.....The most downright claims to infallibility are made by the
Apocalyptist, as for example in the NT REVELATION(see 22:6, 16,
18-19) a book which some of the WISEST THINKERS of the early
Church wished to exclude from the canon, and which as A WHOLE, is
SUB-CHRISTIAN in tone and outlook......Moses HAS LEFT US NO
WRITINGS, and we know little of him with certainty......For
indeed the bare idea of vicarious expiation(substitutionary
atonement) is NOT WHOLLY RATIONAL......."
Then there is this quote from the pen of Hort, " The
Romanish view seems to me nearer, and more likely to lead to the
truth than the Evangelical......We dare not forsake the
sacraments or God will forsake us."
There is much I could quote from Westcott, but enough has
been recorded here in this relatively short exposition to show
the reader the other side of these two Roman Catholic Textual
Wilkinson has a full chapter of quotes about Westcott and
Hort, in his book named below. Sections include - "Their Higher
Criticism" "Their Mariolatry" "Their Spiritualism"
"Their Anti-Protestantism" "Anti-Anglicanism" "Their Ritualism"
The great Revision Committee that was formed after the time
of the discovery of the Vanticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts,
was DOMINATED by Westcott and Hort. Dr. Scrivener was the one man
that fought them tooth and nail all the way, but he was always
outvoted. The Committee followed the Greek text as advocated by
Westcott and Hort, which was based on the main from the Vatican
and Sinaitic manuscripts, and especially the Vaticanus. Where it
contained no text the Sinaiticus was used.
So the Revisers "went on changing until they altered the
Greek text in 5,337 places" (Dr. Everts, The Westcott and Hort
Text Under Fire, Jan. 1921).
The year 1870 was marked by the Papal declaration of
infallibility. It has been well said that the blind adherence of
the Revisionists to the Vatican manuscript proclaimed
"the second infallible voice from the Vatican."
If you want the DETAILS in full on what the above study is
based, then you need to obtain the TWO following books(and there
THE AUTHORIZED BIBLE VINDICATED by Benjamin Wilkinson,
obtainable from: Leaves-Of-Autumn Books Inc. P.O.Box 440, Payson,
LET'S WEIGH THE EVIDENCE by Barry Burton, obtainable from
Chick Publications, P.O. Box 662, Chino, CA 91710.
To be continued
Written January 1998