Keith Hunt - The New Testament Translation #11 - Page Eleven   Restitution of All Things

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The New Testament Translation #11

Continued from previous study

                          KJV BORN IN TRIBULATION

Continued from the previous study

     Let us pursue the matter a little further. The Catholic
Encyclopaedia does no omit to tell us that the New Testament from
Acts on, in Codex A (the Alexandrinus), agrees with the Vatican
Manuscript. If the problems presented by the Alexandrinus
Manuscript, and consequently by the Vaticanus, were so serious,
why were we obliged to wait till 1881-1901 to learn of the
glaring mistakes of the translators of the King James, when the
manuscripts arrived in England in 1627? FORUM informs us that 250
different versions of the Bible were tried in England between
1611 and now, but they all fell flat before the majesty of the
King James. Were not the Alexandrinus and the Vaticanus able to
aid these 250 versions, and overthrow the other Bible, resting,
as the critics explain, on an insecure foundation?
     The case with the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus is no better.
The problems presented by these two manuscripts were well known,
not only to the translators of the King James, but also to
Erasmus. We are told that the Old Testament portion of the
Vaticanus has been printed since 1587.

     "The third great edition is that commonly known as the
'Sixtine,' published at Rome in 1587 under Pope Sixtus V. . .
Substantially, the 'Sixtine' edition gives the text of B.... The
'Sixtine' served as the basis for most of the ordinary editions
of the LXX for just three centuries." (Ottley, Handbook of the
Septuagint, p.64)

     We are informed by another author that, if Erasmus had
desired, he could have secured a translation of this manuscript
(Bissell, Historic Origin of Bible, p. 84). 
     There was no necessity, however, for Erasmus to obtain a
transcript because he was in correspondence with Professor Paulus
Bombasius at Rome, who sent him such variant readings as he
wished (S.P. Tregelles, On the printed Text of the Greek Test.,

     "A correspondent of Erasmus in 1533 sent that scholar a
number of selected readings from it (Codex B), as proof of its
superiority to the Received Greek Text" (Kenyon, Our Bible, p.

     Erasmus, however, rejected these varying readings of the
Vatican MS. because he considered from the massive evidence of
his day that the Received Text was correct.
     The story of the finding of the Sinaitic MS. by Tischendorf
in a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai, illustrates the history
of some of these later manuscripts. Tischendorf was visiting this
monastery in 1844 to look for these documents. He discovered in a
basket, over forty pages of a Greek MS. of the Bible.  He was
told that two other basket loads had been used for kindling.     
Later, in 1859, he again visited this monastery to search for
other MSS. He was about to give up in despair and depart when he
was told of a bundle of additional leaves of a reek MS. When he
examined the contents of this bundle, he saw them to be a
reproduction of part of the Bible in Greek. He could not sleep
that night. Great as the joy of those who were agitating for a
revision of the Bible when they learned that the new find was
similar to the Vaticanus, but differed greatly from the King
James. Dr. Riddle informs us that the discovery of the Sinaiticus
settled in its favor the agitation for revision. 
     Just a word on the two styles of manuscripts before we go
further. Manuscripts are of two kinds - uncial and cursive.
Uncials are written in large square letters much like our capital
letters; cureless are of a free running hand.
     We have already given authorities to show that the
Sinaiticus MS. is a brother of the Vaticanus. Practically all of
the problems of any serious nature which are presented by the
Sinaitic, are the problems of the Vaticanus. Therefore the
translators of 1611 had available all the variant readings of
these manuscripts and rejected them.
     The following words from Dr.Kenrick, Catholic Bishop of
Philadelphia, will support the conclusion that the translators of
the King James knew the readings of Codices, A, B, C, D, where
they differed from the Received Text and denounced them. Bishop
Kenrick published an English translation of the Catholic Bible in
1849. I quote from the preface:

"Since the famous manuscripts of Rome, Alexandria, Cambridge,
Paris, and Dublin, were examined . . . a verdict has been
obtained in favor of the Vulgate.
At the Reformation, the Greek text, as it then stood, was taken
as a standard, in conformity to which the versions of the
Reformers were generally made; whilst the Latin Vulgate was
depreciated, or despised, as a mere version" (Quoted in Rheims
and Douay, by Dr. H. cotton, p. 155)

     In other words, the readings of these much boasted
manuscripts, recently made available are those of the Vulgate.
The Reformers knew of these readings and rejected them, as well
as the Vulgate.


     Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the
translators of 1611 did not have access to the problems of the
Alexandrinus, the Sinaiticus, and the Vaticanus by direct contact
with these uncials. It mattered little. They had other
manuscripts accessible which presented all the same problems. We
are indebted for the following information to Dr.F.C.Cook, editor
of the "Speaker's Commentary," chaplain to the Queen of England,
who was invited to sit on the Revision Commit but refused:

"That Textus Receptus was taken in the first instance, from late
cursive manuscripts; but its readings are maintained only so far
as they agree with the best ancient versions, with the earliest
and best Greek and Latin Fathers, and with the vast majority of
uncial and cursive manuscripts" (F.C. Cook, Revised Version of
the First Three Gospels, p.226).
     It is then clear that among the great body of cursive and
uncial manuscripts which the Reformers possessed, the majority
agreed with the Received Text; there were a few, however, among
these documents which belonged to the counterfeit family. These
dissenting few presented all the problems which can be found in
the Alexandrian, Vaticanus, and the Sinaiticus.
     In other words, the translators of the King James came to a
diametrically opposite conclusion from that arrived at by the
Revisers of 1881, although the men of 1611, as well as those
of 1881, had before them the same problems and the same evidence.
     We shall present testimony on this from another authority:

"The popular notion seems to be, that we are indebted for our
knowledge of the true texts of Scripture to the existing uncials
entirely; and that the essence of the secret dwells exclusively
with the four or five oldest of those uncials. By consequence, it
is popularly supposed hat since we are possessed of such uncial
copies, we could afford to dispense with the testimony of the
cursives altogether. A more complete misconception of the facts
of the case can hardly be imagined. For the plain truth is THAT
reproduced by the cursive copies" (caps. Mine) (Burgon and
Miller, The Traditional Text., p. 202).

     We give a further testimony from another eminent authority:

"Our experience among the Greek cursives proves to us that
transmission has not been careless, and they do represent a
wholesome traditional text in the passages involving doctrine and
so forth" (Dr. H.C. Hoskier, Concerning the Genesis of the
Versions, p.416).

     As to the large number of manuscripts in existence, we have
every reason to believe that the Reformers were far better
acquainted with them than later scholars. Doctor Jacobus in
speaking of textual critics of 1582, says:

"The present writer has been struck with the critical acumen
shown at that date (1582), and the grasp of the relative value of
the common Greek manuscripts and the Latin version" (Dr. Jacobus,
Cath and Prot. Bibles, p. 212).

     On the other hand, if more manuscripts have been made
accessible since 1611, little use has been made of what we had
before and of the majority of those available since. The Revisers
systematically ignored the whole world of manuscripts and relied
practically on only three or four.  As Dean Burgon says, But
nineteen-twentieths of those documents, for any use which has
been made of them, might just as well be still lying in the
monastic libraries from which they were obtained." 
     We feel, therefore, that a mistaken picture of the case has
bean presented with reference to the material at the disposition
of the translators of 1611 and concerning their ability to use
that material.


     The forty-seven learned men appointed by King James to
accomplish this important task were divided first into three
companies: one worked at Cambridge, another at Oxford, and the
third at Westminster. Each of these companies again split up into
two. Thus, there were six companies working on six allotted
portions of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. Each member of each
company worked individually on his task, then brought to each
member of his committee the work he had accomplished. The
committee all together went over that portion of the work
translated. Thus, when one company had come together and had
agreed on what should stand, after having compared their work, as
soon as they had completed any one of the sacred books, they sent
it to each of the other companies to be critically reviewed. If a
later company, upon reviewing the book, found anything doubtful
or unsatisfactory, they noted such places, with their reasons and
sent it back to the company whence it came. If there should be a
disagreement, the matter was finally arranged at a general
meeting of the chief persons of all the companies at the end of
the work. It can be seen by this method that each part of the
work was carefully gone over at least fourteen times.It was
further understood that if there was any special difficulty or
obscurity, all the learned men of the land could be called upon
by letter for their judgment. And finally each bishop kept the
clergy of his diocese notified concerning the progress of the
work, so that if any one felt constrained to send any particular
observations, he was notified to do so.

     How astonishingly different is this from the method employed
by the Revisers of 1881! The Old Testament Committee met together
and sat as one body secretly for ten years. The New Testament
Committee did the same. This arrangement left the committee at
the mercy of a determined triumvirate to lead the weak and to
dominate the rest. All reports indicate that an iron rule of
silence was imposed upon these Revisers during the ten years. The
public was kept in suspense all the long, weary ten years. And
only after elaborate plans had been laid to throw the Revised
Version all at once upon the market to effect a tremendous sale,
did the world know what had gone on.


     No one can study the lives of those men who gave us the King
James Bible without being impressed with their profound and
varied learning.

"It is confidently expected," says McClure, "that the reader of
these pages will yield to the conviction that all the colleges of
Great Britain and America, even in this proud day of boastings,
could not bring together the same number of divines equally
qualified by learning and piety for the great undertaking. Few
indeed are the living names worthy to be enrolled with those
mighty men. It would be impossible to convene out of any one
Christian denomination, or out of all, a body of translators, on
whom the whole Christian community would bestow such confidence
as is reposed upon that illustrious company, or who would prove
themselves as deserving of such confidence. Very many self-styled
'improved versions' of the Bible, or of parts of it, have been
paraded before the world, but the religious public has doomed
them all, without exception, to utter neglect" (McClure, p. 64).

     The translators of the King James, moreover, had something
beyond great scholarship and unusual skill. They had gone through
a period of great suffering. They had offered their lives that
the truths which they loved might live. As the biographer of
William Tyndale has aptly said:

"So Tyndale thought; but God had ordained that not in the learned
leisure of a palace, but amid the dangers and privations of exile
should the English Bible be produced. Other qualifications were
necessary to make him a worthy translator of Holy Scripture than
mere grammatical scholarship.... At the time he bitterly felt
what seemed to be the total disappointment of all his hopes; but
he afterwards learned to trace in what appeared a misfortune the
fatherly guidance of God; and this very disappointment, which
compelled him to seek his whole comfort in the Word of God,
tended to qualify him for the worthy performance of his great
work" (Demaus, William Tyndale, pp. 81,85).

     Doctor Cheyne in giving his history of the founders of
higher criticism, while extolling highly the mental brilliancy of
the celebrated Hebrew scholar, Gesenius, expresses his regrets
for the frivolity of that scholar" (Dr. Cheyne, Founders of O.T.
Criticism, pp. 58,59).
     No such weakness was manifested in the scholarship of the

"Reverence," says Doctor Chambers, "it is this more than any
other one trait that gave to Luther and Tyndale, their matchless
skill and enduring preeminence as translators of the Bible"
(Chambers, Companion, p. 53).

     It is difficult for us in this present prosperous age to
understand how deeply the heroes of Protestantism in those days
were forced to lean upon the arm of God. We find them speaking
and exhorting one another by the promises of the Lord, that He
would appear in judgment against their enemies. For that reason
they gave full credit to the doctrine of the Second Coming of
Christ as taught in the Holy Scriptures. Passages of notable
value which refer to this glorious hope were not wrenched from
their forceful setting as we find them in the Revised Versions
and some modern Bibles, but were set forth with a fullness of
clearness and hope.


     The birth of the King Jams Bible was a death stroke to the
supremacy of Roman Catholicism. The translators little foresaw
the wide extent of circulation and the tremendous influence to be
won by their book. They little dreamed that for three hundred
years it would form the bond of English Protestantism in all
parts of the world. One of the brilliant minds of the last
generation, Faber, who as a clergyman in the Church of England,
labored to Romanize that body, and finally abandoned it for the
Church of Rome, cried out:

"Who will say that the uncommon beauty and marvellous English of
the Protestant Bible is not one of the great strongholds of
heresy in this country?"(Eadie, The English Bible, Vol.2, p.158).

     Yes, more, it has not only been the stronghold of
Protestantism in Great Britain, but it has built a gigantic wall
as a barrier against the spread of Romanism.

"The printing of the English Bible has proved to be by far the
mightiest barrier ever reared to repel the advance of Popery, and
to damage all the resources of the Papacy" (McClure, p.71).

     Small wonder then that for three hundred years incessant
warfare has been waged upon this instrument created by God to
mold all constitutions and laws of the British Empire, and of the
great American Republic, while at the same time comforting,
blessing, and instructing the lives of the millions who inhabit
these territories.
     Behold what it has given to the world! The machinery of the
Catholic Church can never begin to compare with the splendid
machinery of Protestantism. The Sabbath School, the Bible
printing houses, the foreign missionary societies, the Y.M.C.A.,
the Y.W.C.A., the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the
Protestant denominational organizations, these all were the
offspring of Protestantism. Their benefits have gone to all lands
and been adopted by practically all nations. Shall we throw away
the Bible from which such splendid organizations have sprung?
     Something other than an acquaintanceship, more or less, with
a crushing mass of intricate details in the Hebrew and the Greek,
is necessary to be a successful translator of God's Holy Word.
God's Holy Spirit must assist. There must exist that which
enables the workman at this task to have not only a conception of
the whole but also a balanced conception, so that there will be
no conflicts created through lack of skill on the part of the
translator. That the giants of 1611 produced this effect and
injured no doctrine of the Lord by their labors, may be seen in
these few words from Sir Edmund Beckett, as, according to
Gladstone (Lathbury, Ecclesiastical and Religious Correspondence
of Gladstone, Vol.2, p. 320) he convincingly reveals the failure
of the Revised Version:

"Not their least service, is their showing us how very seldom the
Authorized Version is materially wrong, and that no doctrine has
been misrepresented there" (Sir Edmund Beckett, revised New
Testament, p.16).

     To show the unrivalled English language of the King James
Bible, I quote from Doctor William Lyon Phelps, Professor of
English Literature in Yale University:

"Priests, atheists, sceptics, devotees, agnostics, and
evangelists, are generally agreed that the Authorized Version of
the English Bible is the best example of English literature that
the world has ever seen ....
"Every one who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be
called educated; and no other learning or culture, no matter how
extensive or elegant, can, among Europeans and Americans, form a
proper substitute. Western civilization is founded upon the Bible
.... I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men
and women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a
college course is more valuable than a college course without the
Bible .... The Elizabethan period - a term loosely applied to the
years between 1558 and 1642 - is generally regarded as the most
important era in English literature. Shakespeare and his mighty
contemporaries brought the drama to the highest point in the
world's history; lyrical poetry found supreme expression;
Spencer's Faerie Queen was an unique performance; Bacon's Essays
have never been surpassed. But the crowning achievement of those
spacious days was the Authorised Translation of the Bible, which
appeared in 1611. Three centuries of English literature followed;
but, although they have been crowded with poets and novelists and
essayists, and although the teaching of the English language and
literature now gives employment to many earnest men and women,
the art of English composition reached its climax in the pages of
the Bible .... Now, as the English speaking people have the best
Bible in the world, and as it is the most beautiful monument
erected with the English alphabet, we ought to make the most of
it, for it is an incomparably rich inheritance, free to all who
can read. This means that we ought invariably in the church and
on public occasions to use the Authorized Version; all others are
inferior" (Ladies Home Journal, Nov., 1921

This statement was made twenty years after the American Revised
Version appeared.


To be continued with chapter "Comparisons to Show How the Jesuit
Bible Reappears in the American Revised Version."

Personal note:

I do have a number of "modern" translations (based mainly on the
corrupt Vaticanus and Sinaiticus MSS) in my library, and use them
from time to time, but my basic English Bible is the KJV and the
NEW KJV Study Bible. The reader is pointed to the studies of the
INTRODUCTIONS to the New KJV Study Bible and to Green's
Introduction to his Greek/English Interlinear, on this Website
(Keith Hunt).

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