THE WESTCOTT & HORT CONSPIRACY
THE TRUE STORY OF OUR MODERN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS
by Ian Roebuck
This thesis is no longer the position of NCAY but has been retained on this website as its case it quite well argued and deserves to be heard. For our current position, see our King James-Only website and King James-Only: Revisiting a Biblical Version Issue
PART ONE: FAULTY LOGIC AND BAD PRESUPPOSITIONS
There are two rival schools of textual criticism which are diametrically opposed. Only one of these schools can be correct, the other must be proven false for the other to be correct. These are the Westcott and Hort Theory and the Majority Text Theory. These two theroies are based on opposite and mutually exclusive presuppositions. We will look into the Westcott and Hort Theory and then offer some suggestions. It is the author's contention that the Minority Text Theory of Westcott and Hort assumes the very thing which has to be proved. (1)
The Minority Text advocates base their positions on the ancient texts found in the documents called Vaticanus, Sinaticus, A, C, D, to confidently assert their positions, and seem to rely on the antiquity of these few documents. To do this they exhibit nothing short than a form of secret divination which allows them to discover and apprehend the "correct" and "authentic" reading and true text when they come across it. (2)
The issue is, is the Majority Greek or Byzantine Text the closest to the original autographs of the New Testament, or is the text better preserved in the above mentioned texts, particularly the Vaticanus amd Sinaticus? The Minority Text position uses a set of principles based on Westcott and Hort to show that the few texts are more agreeable, and the Majority Text position holds the majority of texts in the family of texts called Byzantine to be correct and more authentic, and approved providentially in the use of the church of these documents for the original text.Westcott and Hort, after discovering the Vaticanus, developed their theory and documents, from this ultimately they produced the Modern Greek Text based on their theory and documents. From this they ultimately produced the New Revision of the King James Bible, and from the same Greek Text have been produced all but one of the modern English translations. Gordan H. Clark has much to say about the Minority Theory, and ultimately he contests the logic of the reasoning used by those who subscribe to this faulty theory. (3)
Logical fallacies prevade the Minority position. In a verse Matthew 18:7, where there is no theological difficulty in either the Majority or Minority readings, the question is did Matthew write "the man" or "that man". The question seems difficult as Arland-Black-Metzger- Wikgren gives the shorter reading a C rating. But there are very few manuscripts that omit "that". Many include it. Sinaticus and Vaticanus texts divide on whether the shorter or longer reading is correct. Metzger, "Except for the possibility of accidental oversight, there seems to be no reason why a copyest should have omitted "ekeino". On the other hand, since the context seems to call for such a demonstrative, it is altogether probable that the word was added by more than one transcriber, either before "ouai" or after "anthropo". As Clark points out, "Metzger's reasoning is peculiar. He admits the possibility of accidental oversight. Not many people copy Greek manuscripts these days. But typists following handwritten manuscripts often make peculiar mistakes...Hence the pronoun may well be genuine, as the large majority of copies testify. Therefore modern critical text should have very good reasons for omitting it. But Metzger's reason is very bad: since the context seems to require the pronoun, Matthew could not have possibly written it - it just must have been added by the copyist! Stunning logic!" (4)
Again faulty logic and a desire to liberalize the text appear to often be the reasons for decisions made concerning whihc is the better text. In Matthew 21:44, the sentence at the end of the parable of the wicked husbandman, which is doctrinally important: "And he who falls on this stone shall be smashed to pieces; on whom it falls shall be crushed to powder." Arland brackets this sentence as doubtful. Metzger notes that many scholars view this as an early interpolation. But only one uncial of the sixth century of dubious origen and one ninth century miuscule are without the verse, and Vaticanus and Sinaticus both have it included, as Clark states, "How can one logically infer that the verse is an interpolation, early or late?" (5)
The flaws in the revised Text of the Minority position are not unintentional nor is it unimportant. According to Clark, they are caused by a pervasive and controlling methodology at odds with both logic and God's Word. (6)
One last example on this topic will suffice, at Luke 24:3, "(The women) entering (the tomb) did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." Clark states, "The critical text brackets "the Lord" though the article "the" is retained. The supposedly conflated Byzantine cursives according to modern textual critics use many devotional phrases or liturgical additions. On this assumption subjective preferences omit "Lord""kuriou". "Iesou" alone seems correct to them. Yet papyrus 75, Aleph (Sinanticus), A, B, plus other uncials and scads of cursives have "kuriou, Lord" Very few only one uncial and two twelfth century cursives, omit it. One may therefore suspect that liturgical additions are not liturgical additions after all." (7) I would go even further and say that it proves the subjective non-science of the method, and its use to cover up faulty logic and bad presuppositions, along with a desire to liberalize the text, and de-deify our Lord Jesus.
WHO DETERMINES THE TRUE TEXT?
Among the diametrically opposed presuppositions of the Minority and Majority schools none is so critical as how the text is preserved and handled. "Life is bigger than logic. When it comes to the philosophy of life, scholarship and science are not the all which counts. It is as true today as in the days of Christ, that "the common people heard him gladly." If it be a question of physics or chemistry, of mathematics, or of mechanics, there, scientists can speak with authority." (8) People, via the Holy Spirit, are far more competent to judge and drink from the Scriptures, yes even to handle them, than is science.
In the area of the church Fathers many including Origen have been denied by the Minority Critics of having known the Byzantine readings before the 4th century when they became rescended or favored depending on the Minority view held on rescension. But the truth is different from the statement as Origen agress with the Majority Byzantine text 20 times and disagrees 32 times. To claim as some do that this is because of rescensions to Origens works by later scribes begs the question as Papyrus Bodmer II has 5 chapters out of 20 that are distinctively Byzantine which readings also occur in Origens writings. (9) This is to show that the early church fathers did have available readings which were of the Byzantine text type and were using them along with less reliable texts.
If the science of textual criticisms is not authorized to determine the text, nor indeed used of God to recapture a long lost original text of Scripture, how is it that God then preserves His Word? Paraphrasing Dean Burgon, as the original text was copied and recopied, some mistakes occured by human infirmity of physical and of spiritual type, honest mistakes of copying coupled at times with dishonest heretical attempts at subversion, generally accuracy produced accuracy and error error. Then in history came a time when the church found herself with different texts, good and bad. This stage was reached at the time of Origen, and lasted until about the middle of the fourth century. Then with Basil, both Gregories, and Chrysotom, the univeersal church began to take serious stock of the truth and corruption, and had the task of casting out error and cleansing the faith, including the corruptions of the text. Again action was taken on the Augustinian Canon that what the church "found prevailing upon her length and breadth, not introduced by councils and regulations, but handed down in unbroken tradition, she concluded to have been derived from no other fount than Apostolic authority. So the church looked at the various streams of texts coming down from the Apostles and followed the multitude that were purest. There was no rescension. And gradually she filtered out all but the purest and kept the better lines of descent. It was the church universal's own operation by the Holy Spirit, instinctive and deliberate, which was a repentance from a partial and tempory encouragement of corruption, which was never called into question again until the general disturbances of faith and doctrine in the 19th century. Obviously, there were always a few who doubted, but in general the church had established the purity of her doctrines and of the Scriptures upon which they are based." (10)
EARLIEST NOT THE BEST
We now begin to look at some of the sacred canons of textual criticism of Wesctott and Hort with the purpose of stating at the outset that the Majority position is almost reverse of this. The Minority text scholars state that the earliest manuscripts are the more reliable witness of the original autograph. The Majority text scholars do not agree. "To abide by the verdict of the two, or five, or seven oldest manuscripts is at first sight plausible, and is a natural refuge of students who are either superficial, or who wish to make their task as simple and as easy as possible. But to put aside inconvenient witnesses is contrary to all principles of justice and science. The problem is more complex and is not solved so readily. Evidence of a strong and varied character may not with safety be cast away, as if it were worthless." (11) To this doctrine of early dates also comes the idea that there are at least two witness in Aleph (Sinanticus) and in Vaticanus, also in several to many church fathers who support varient minority texts. But the use of repetition for witnesses must first follow that the witnesses are independant. This the Minority people are extremely guilty of violating. "Vaticanus and Aleph are in many places obviously twin products of a lost exemplar, and are not to be wieghted as two distinct texts but somewhere no more than 1.75, 11/2, or in many places where both texts agree in absolutely unique readings found nowhere else as only one manuscript. (11) In the same way when the liberals of the 19th century wished to show the spuriousness of the last twelve verses of Mark, they quoted Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Victor of Antioch, Severus of Antioch, Jerome, Epiphanius, Caesarius, Hesychius of Jerusalem, and Euthymius. "In the enumeration of the names Gregory, Victor, Severus, Epiphanius, and Caesarius were introduced in error. There remains Esebius, whose exaggeration (a) Jerome translates; (b) Heyschius (sixth century) copies; and (c) Euthymius (1116 A.D.) refers to, and which in the first place Eusebius himself neutralizes. This evidence, therefore, such as it is, collapses hopelessly, being reducible probably to a random statement in the lost treatise of Origen on St. Mark, which Eusebius repudiates, even while in his latitudinarian he reproduces it. The weight of such testimony is obviously slight indeed." (12)
According to Scriver, "It is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound, that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it had been composed; that Iraneus and the African Fathers and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syriac church, used far inferior manuscripts to those employed by Stunica, or Errasmus, or Stephens, thirteen centuries after when molding the Textus Receptus." (13)
Again Gordan H. Clark states about the idea that earliest is best, "...That the numerical superiority of the Byzantine Text might have been due to its early widespread acceptance of that type as being closest to the autographs does not seem to impress them (Minority Critics)...And again, it is not true that the earliest manuscripts must be the best. Since Christianity was plagued with heretics and enemies right from the start, one of them could have deliberately altered his copy of the autograph. The result could be that Aleph and B (Vaticanus) are excellent copies of a deliberately altered ancestor. Indeed, deliberate alteration seems more likely to have occurred early, rather than later when the number of manuscripts increased. Why could not Aleph and B have come from an earlier proto-Arian Text or a Marcionite deception?" (14)
SHORTEST VERSION NOT NECESSARILY THE BEST
Another scared canon of the Minority Text advocate is the principle that shorter readings are generally preferred to longer ones. Which is convenient if the text you wish to use is the shorter one, but is not necessarily so. The Majority would hold that the longer is more often the preferred text, except where addition is obviously in error or deliberate by heretics, or in non-conformity with the traditionally accepted text. In respect to the 2,556 omissions found in Vaticanus, the original text could easily have been spoiled by the process of leaving out the words, clauses, and sentences, but some other process would be absolutely essential in order to produce the longer manuscript of the Byzantine Text! Vaticanus B omits 237 words, 452 clauses, 748 whole sentences, which later copies are seen to exhibit in the same places and in the same orders and words, if these are as contended by the Minority Text position mere accretions and spurious what can account for the thousands of years that scribes have been induced to deflect from the so called authentic text, and to always do so in the same precise way? (15)
As stated the critics assume that the shorter reading is right the longer corrupt. Gordon H. Clark points out for instance in the reading of Matthew 24:6, "Here, is another textual note. The critical edition (Arland) reads, "for it must happen." This reading is supported by five uncials, a couple of minuscules, and a few cursives. Yet the Arland text gives it a B rating. The other readings say either "all must happen," or "all these things must happen." These other readings are numerous, many more than those cited by the textual critics for the shorter reading. But the critics are wedded to the idea that the shorter readings must nearly always be the originals. Having suffered at the hands of various typists, I cannot accept this criterion. They more often omit words and phrases than make additions. The critics will reply: The typist copies only one manuscript; those who copied manuscripts have several copies in front of them. Did they? Maybe sometimes. Maybe not. Who knows? In this case the preponderance of evidence favors a longer reading, even if we cannot be sure of the order of the words "all" and "these." (16)
SOME OTHER THEORIES DISCUSSED
An amazing theory is that hardest is the best, that is the most difficult readings, the clumsiest or hardest to understand is the best reading! I suspect this theory is in the main there in order to support Westcott and Hort's great theory of conflation. The basis is that the scribe coming upon a difficult reading will assume it is a mistake and try an easy interpretation of the original. Of course this is a safe bet for no one can prove it ever happened. As Gordon H. Clark points out that it is just as possible that the scribe changed an easy reading into a more difficult one, "because of fatigue, brilliance, or the mispronounciation of a reader." (17)
As shown Aleph and B differ greatly with the Byzantine, and even among themselves. So much so that Ellicot, Considerations on Revision, page 40 attempting to defend them states, "The simplicity and dignified conciseness of the Vatican manuscript B: the greater expansiveness of our own Alexandrian A; the partially mixed characteristics of the Sinaitic (Aleph); the paraphrastic tone of the singular codex Bezae D; are now brought home to the student." Here then are four descriptions of four professing transcripts of the very Gospel itself! These same transcripts are now used to rely on for even the spelling of proper names, common words, even the smallest parts of grammar. As Burgon points out, "What would be the thought of four such diverse copies of Shakespeare? Imagine that anyone would propose with the aid of such conflicting documents to readjust the text of the funeral oration of Pericles, or to re-edit Hamlet. Why some of the poets most familiar lines would cease to be recognizable: For example, A might read, "Toby or not Toby; that is the question." B might read, "Tob or not, that is the question." C might read, "the question is, to beat or not to beat Toby." D might read, "the only question is this: To beat that Toby, or to be a tub."" (18)
It is admitted that there are geneological families of text, even as Westcott and Hort said, but not in the way that they said, even their own people now agree that there is no neutral text which they proposed for B and Aleph. Their attempts to establish a Syrian, Alexandrian, Neutral, Caesarean, Antiochian, and Western family of texts has done nothing but in seventy-five years produce competing results. (19) The difficulty in so establishing families to prove the validity of Aleph and B is that they are not valid and so cannot be proven by this method, their results are not valid for what is attempted, for the presupposition is incorrect. Always the most weight is given to readings from B and Aleph and the least weight to the Majority Text Byzantine, by the Minority critics, but it ought to be the other way around, the correct presuppositions being God has preserved His Word to the majority of the Christian world. Zane Hodges states, "it should be kept in mind that by the time the major extant papyrus texts were copied the New Testament was well over a century old. A reading attested by such a witness, and found only in a small number of other manuscripts, is not at all likely to be a survival from the autograph. On the contrary, it is probably only an idiosyncrasy of a narrow strand of the tradition. The only way in which acceptance of a substantial number of minority readings could be justified is to reconstruct a plausible transmission history for them. This was, of course, precisely what Westcott and Hort tried to do in defense of Aleph and B. But the collapse of their geneological scheme under scholarly criticism has nullified their most essential argument. Nothing has replaced it . . . most modern textual critics has despaired of the possibility of using the geneoligical method. Nevertheless, this method remains the only logical one. If Westcott and Hort employed it poorly, it is not for that reason to be abandoned. In fact, the major empidement to this method in modern criticism has been the failure to recognize the claims of the Majority Text. Any text-form with exceedingly large numbers of representatives is very likely the result of a long transmissional chain. All genealogical reconstruction should take this factor into account. If persistent preference for a small minority of texts cannot be surrendered then naturally genealogical work will prove impossible. Its impossibility however will rest on this preference and not on the intrinsic deficiencies of the method itself." (20)
Hort in making up his genealogical chain was compelled to invent the idea that around the fourth century a revision of texts took place, at Antioch under Lucian, and imposed on the church the Byzantine text by ecclesiastical authority. In this way he attempted to explain why such fathers as Diodorus, Chrysotom, Theodore, Theodoret, all used a predominately Byzantine text. Basil and the two Gregories also used this text. This theory has also been abandoned by the Minority school, and nothing has replaced it either. Kenyon states, "We know the names of several revisers of the Septuagint and the Vulgate, and it would be strange if historians and Church writers had all omitted to record or mention such an event as the deliberate revision of the New Testament in its original Greek." (21) Scrivener called them Phantom recensions!
Another large pet cow is the idea of conflation. It is Hort's masterpiece to prove his shortened corrupted text is correct. Yet other processes are at work instead, omission. There need not be the joining together of two clauses or words or even sentences from two separate texts, whihc each did not have the other clause in it. A scribe need not have tried to harmonize the two seperate elements by joining them together in one text, rather the two texts may be the result of separate omissions of a compound phrase or sentence. (22)
CONCERNING TEXTS AND REVISIONS
The problem is one of text. Are we to accept as closest to the original autographs the manuscripts of Aleph and B, or the main body of Byzantine manuscripts which by the end of the very century that Aleph and B were produced took over the field of contention and have occupied it ever since? (23)
This is no small concern as has been mentioned before, the main enemy of the church was not heathenism, but heresy. Heresy under the name of Christianity multiplied in abundance copies of the Scriptures with bewildering changes in verses and passages and subtle changes in words before a hundred years from John's death had passed. (24) If Aleph and B are closer fine, but why the ages have done without them? It is far more likely they were the product just mentioned which the church through the wisdom and providence of God left to rot.
Now not only are there two great streams of text as Erasmus stated when he divided all Greek manuscripts into two classes, but two great streams of translations based on the two streams of text, again Erasmus stated the Greek text akin to the Received Text (Based largely on the Majority Text) and those which agree with the Vulgate translation (such as the Aleph and B). That is, from the Majority text have come the Protestant type translations of the great Geneva and King James and from the Minority text has come the Catholic Vulgate, Rheims, and now in modern times the English Revised. (25)
The Majority text was the text of early Christianity in the east. It was adopted as the official text of the Greek Catholic Church. This text in its own right and by translations made from it became the Bible of the Syrian, of the Waldensian of Northern Italy, of the Gallic in Southern France, of the Celtic church in Scotland and Ireland, as well. All the above mentioned churches came into opposition with the church of Rome at a period of time when the Majority text and the Romish text of Aleph and Vaticanus were also in opposition to each other. Rome adopted the Vulgate translation made from a text similar to Eusbio-Origen type quite similar to Aleph and B, the others in opposition to Rome adopted the Byzantine type. Rome's Vulgate and its early Greek base therefore are derevations to which the five churches listed above bear witness by adopting the Byzantine text instead. (26)
Burgon called Aleph, B, and D, "three of the most corrupt copies in existence." (27) Of Aleph and B this is not surprising as many authorities believe them to be copies from a single father. A.T. Robertson, Introduction to Textual Criticism of the N.T., page 80, so states, "Constantine himself ordered fifty Greek Bibles from Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, for the churches of Constantanople. It is quite possible that Aleph and B are two of these fifty." Now Eusebius assisted by Pamphilus issued the fifth column Bible the Hexapla made by Origen, with its alternative readings. It is from this that Constantine ordered copies, so this Bible of Constantine was of the Eusbeio-Origen variety of text which is of the Aleph and B type, indeed as mentioned already Robertson views Aleph and B as bad copies of Origens work. (28)
Further, the type of text of Arland and UBS derived from Aleph and B can according to Zane Hodge best be described as an Egyptian text whose existence outside of Egypt in early times has not been proved. (29)
When developing a "recovered original text" Aleph and B are wanting as an accurate judge, for they disagree among themselves as to their judgement, generally they do not agree with antiquity, B is often wrong when it disagrees with Aleph and when both agree both are frequently proved wrong. (30)
"It must constantly be noted of Aleph and B as texts to build back an original text that they do not stand out with a great family of text passing through them, they simply are members of a condemned family with little issue, rejected by the 4th century and spurned ever afterward until the 19th (except for Trent when through its Latin offspring the Vulgate it was adopted by the Roman heresy)." (31)
I cannot let pass yet without saying also that the idea that the cruddest form of text is the closest to the original and that with time further from it it got better is a form of evolution committed upon the Word of God, even as it has been committed upon God's general revelation of creation.
Finally, in this section I wish to discuss concerning the translations of text, that it is my opinion that the translations made from Westcott Hort type text or ones made by similar principles are really recovering the text of the Latin Vulgate's original, and so are no better than the Douay Bible. Early on this B and Aleph type text used by Rome was attacked by many as corrupted. In the 4th century Helvidius, scholar of Northern Italy accused Jerome of using corrupt manuscripts for his translation of the Vulgate, and the very attack assumes Helvidius thought he had a pure Greek manuscript to compare by. (32)
Therefore, it is of no mean importance which manuscripts and Texts we use, as we are treating the Word of God and not of men where paraphrases and alternate readings might be acceptable.
Understanding as we do the great opposer of grace, the Catholic Church of Rome, chose an Aleph and B type text while Tyndale deliberately chose a Byzantine type. When he had translated from it and others also, they, the Romish Church developed from their texts the Jesuit Bibles to compete. (33) That the Westcott Hort type Greek text is of the same stock as the Vulgate is undeniable. Even the enemies of Protestantism, namely, the Catholics, agree in saying that the Greek text and translations made from it of Westcott and Hort, were quite similar to the Vulgate, Rhiems, and Douay, and against the reigning Protestant type translations from the Majority text. (34) This is brought up to show that the matter of text is not inconsequential, especially in the areas of doctrine, when a revised text can be equated by Catholic scholars as favoring the Vulgate.
THE THEORY OF DIVINE PRESERVATION
Here again there is a diametrical opposition of the Minority and Majority to each other, in the understanding of how God preserves His Word. Most if not all Majority text proponents will declare their belief that God uses the church usage to preserve the text. By His Holy Spirit He guided the church to receive by common usage the true text, and thereby to reject the false. This Divine Providence was centered in the Greek and non-Roman Catholic churches, and particularly the Greek which actually used the Greek text. The Minority Text position is that the essential teachings are preserved in all the texts. However, this theory of preservation in which God sees to it that all important areas of doctrine are protected even in corrupt manuscripts or that all variant readings do not affect doctrine is false and historically inaccurate. "Heretics invented readings and they did circulate for a time, but they were rejected by the church under guidance of God (until only a handful of extant manuscripts contain them)." (35) "...conservative scholars ought not to keep on saying that there are no variant readings in the N.T. manuscripts which affect basic Christian doctrines. This type of apologetic, which Bentley advocated so vigorously, can only be maintained by moving to a position that the doctrines of the diety of Christ, the vicarious atonement, the inerrancy of Scripture, the resurrection of the saints, etc., are not basic Christian doctrines...Instead of repeating parrot-like the statement that it makes no difference for doctrine which of the N.T. manuscripts one chooses to follow, those who love every word that God has spoken should take the very opposite course. With Burgeon they ought to maintain that it very often makes a great deal of difference in matters of doctrine whether we hold to the Byzantine/traditional text which is found in the vast majority of extant manuscripts - or whether we prefer the sometimes corrupt, sometimes patently false, sometimes even non-sensical readings of the minority group. The vast majority of manuscripts... do agree with one another, not only doctrinally, but in every other way. This essential agreement between thousands of Greek documents is in contrast to the disagreement so evident in the Alexandrian/Egyptian/ Caesarean manuscripts. It is evident that God the Spirit has directed the churches to sift out all this discord, all this God-dishonoring doctrine, and has thus fulfilled His promise to preserve a trustworthy N.T. text. It is this Byzantine text which represents the usage of the Greek speaking church to the Protestant Reformers in the days of the Reformation." (36) Then, if we are wrong in this claim, what must be the case would be that God's providence depends on textual critics. This is exactly what is maintained by Dr. J.H. Skelton and Dr. B.B. Warfield, that textual criticism is the means of God's providence for ascertaining the true text of the Bible. Yet, it is these very critics who ultimately find the text to be only probable, or even ultimately unrecoverable. No, this is not the way of God's providence to place the text in the hands of a handful of men, and to leave for the space of 1500 years a people in doubt as to the true text. But if it were allowed that their claim were true, then an investigation into the character and belief of those so handling the text would not be inappropriate but essentially necessary, for when one aspires to the ministry he is tested, and when one aspires to act as God's providential agent to preserve His very Word he ought also to be reviewed as to his orthodoxy and life as we would any other such claimant to the call of God. Men who sat at the committee which revised the translation in England based on Westcott and Hort's Greek text (some of them) could see the error of the presuppositions that were involved. "Dr. Scrivner in the committee sessions, constantly issued his warning of what would be the outcome if Hort's imaginary theories were accepted." (37)
THE SUBJECTIVE NATURE AND PREJUDICE OF MINORITY CRITICISM
It is viewed by all Majority text defenders that modern textual criticism is not a science, nor even a theory, as science and theory are based on laboratory testing of scientific hypothesis or guesses which if confirmed in the laboratory many times then becomes a theory. Modern textual criticism is never tested nor can be, and so must remain at best a guess, its principles of determining text again only guesses on how things might have happened, and on those guesses we base deletions and additions to His Word. Further, modern textual criticism is subjective and capable of promoting the most blatant prejudices of its exponents.
Tischendorf, the discoverer of the Aleph, using textual criticism brought out seven different Greek N.T., and then he discovered his famous manuscript. The seventh he said was perfect and could not be improved upon, but with the new material he brought out an 8th Greek N.T. which differed from the 7th in 3572 places. To show how subjective any "theory" like this can be, using his methods for determining text number 8, he hired on with the Catholics, and edited a Greek N.T. for Catholics conforming to the Latin Vulgate. This information about his activity in that area was made public by an independant source neither Protestant nor Catholic, that is, Ezra Abbott, in the Unitarian Review, March 1875. (38) Gordan H. Clark states concerning the subjective nature of textual criticism, Matthew 8:12, "(it)...warns that "the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out..." Again the Arland text gives a C rating to a word that is almost certainly correct. "Shall go out" is the reading of Aleph and an unimportant eighth century uncial. "Shall be cast out" is the first corrector of Aleph plus ten other major uncials and about fifteen other manuscripts. In itself the item is trivial, but it is evidence of the pervasive subjectivity in textual criticism." (39)
Further evidence of subjectivity and prejudice in the critical field of the Minority party should be adduced in Mark 1:1 whihc by the way affects doctrine. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God." The question is whether "Son of God" was in the autograph. Arland encloses in brackets and rates them a C. (A is best). Metzger states their absence could be due to oversight as the ending letters of "Christ" "Son" and "God" all end in "ou". But then his prejudice is to believe copiers are more likely to deliberately expand rather than accidentally omit what they are copying, especially if it is titles. Admitting then that support for their inclusion is extremely strong he puts them in brackets, so that his subjective mind based on personal prejudice is not enough to overcome extremely stong support, three manuscripts, and conjectures concerning insertions. Now the words are found in the first corrector of Aleph, B, D, L, W, A, K, Delta, Pi, family 1, family 13, twenty numbered manuscripts, some versions, and quotations from the fathers, the only ones with it absent are Aleph uncorrected, and Theta. The New American Standard states in the margin "Many mss omit Son of God". How blatantly false! (40)
The argument as to the supposed false ending of Mark is equally based on conjecture, prejudices, and subjectivity. Since a defense of it would take much time I will delay this part until later. Let us say only that the prejudice, for in lack of scientific theory and proof, this is all that a good or a bad guess can be, against the Byzantine text stands in the way of developing an improved textual criticism. To show the stong prejudice against the Byzantine text is fairly easy and we use but one of many examples at this time. Luke 19:25 Gordan H. Clark states, "is another instance of the critic's prejudice against the evidence. Because D, W, and three miniscules omit the verse, they give it a D rating in spite of the fact that it is found in Aleph, A, B, K, L, Delta, Theta, Pi, Psi, and a long list of others. It seems the critics doubt their own favorite combination of Aleph, and B, when even these support the Byzantine text." (41)
Scrivner, Burgeon, Greene, Clark, Hodge, Pinckney, and many others have adducced many verses where the scholars show that in minority criticism subjectivity and prejudice and not science rules. It is indeed as Clark points out, "The critics defense of their violations of their own criteria is that textual criticism is not science but an art. If you enjoy Rembrandt, it is Byzantine and bad; if you enjoy cubism, you are a great scholar. Aesthetics is decisive." (42)
ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE MEN
Such arguments are generally considered invalid logically, except as John Frame has stated they bear upon the work they produce. That is, if the man's name is Casanova or Don Juan, and he produces a treatise on Biblical morality, we may well inquire into the nature and condition of the man who wrote it not only as to his qualifications to write it, but how his life might have prejudiced his conclusions.
What were the founders of modern textual criticism like, what did they believe in other matters? Such men have had too profound an effect upon theology and the very text of the Bible itself not to ask the question.
Westcott wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury on March 4, 1890, concerning Old Testament Criticism, "No one now I suppose holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give literal history - I could never understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think they did." And Hort writes John Ellerton, "I am inclined to think no such state as "Eden" (I mean the popular notion) ever existed and that Adam's fall in no degree differed from the fall of each of his descendents, as Coleridge justly argues." (43)
Concerning the subject of evolution and the inerrancy of the Scripture, Hort wrote to Rev. Rowland Williams, October 21, 1858, "Further, I agree...in condemning many leading specific doctrines of the popular theology...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." Then in April 1860, he wrote, "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 a contemporary with...My feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable. If so, it opens up a new period." (44)
With such liberal tendencies, one should not be surprised that members picked to set on the Revision committee included a Unitarian who openly and in writing denied the divinity of the Lord, and whom Westcott and Hort both defended as having a place on the committee. Many others on the committee had defended the great movement to Romanize the church. (45)
We will not actually go into how Hort and Westcott commanded the committee on Revision of the Text, nor to the oath of silence they took as translators, compared to the open way the KJV was handled in a more despotic age. Money and the praise of men had a lot to do with the committee's make up, as Hort said to Lightfoot that the acceptance of the Revision was helped greatly by the welcoming of the Unitarian to the committee. (46)
Hort was never concerned about Romish ritual in the church, nor of Romish doctrine, being one who favored many of the Romish positions. (47) Indeed, Dr. Pusey, who was the leader of the Oxford movement after Cardinal Newman's defection to Rome, was invited to sit on the committee, which position he refused. This was he who pushed forward ritualism, nunnareism, monastaries, and other Roman ritual. Yet, the committee was not lessened in favor of Rome because of it or in favor of Tractarianism, an attitude possessed by a dominant majority on it. "So strong was this tendency to militate passages in favor of Rome that the Dean of Rochester remarked that it was time they raised the cry, "No Popery."" (48)
Hort in 1864 defend Cardinal Newman in his greatness and goodness, this being the one who defected to Rome. (49) Other members of the committee including Dr. Moulten looked upon the Roman Vulgate as a superior witness, and the Greek manuscripts of the Vulgate superior to the rest of the Greek manuscripts. (50) It is no wonder with what has already been shown to be the leanings of these committee men that the Catholics themsleves should herald them as great men. Cardinal Wiseman, "When we consider the scorn cast by the Reformers upon the the Vulgate and their recurrence in consequence to the Greek, as the only accurate standard, we cannot but rejoice at the silent triumph which truth has at length gained over clamorous error. For, in fact, the principal writers who have avenged the Vulgate and obtained for it its critical preeminence are Protestants." (51)
Bishop Westcott was neither favorable to the Westminster Confession nor to his own confession in the Episcopal, which might already have been seen. He said, "Just now I think we might find many ready to welcome the true mean between the inexorable logic of the Westminster and the skeptical dogmatism of orthodoxy." This mean seems to have been Roman and Ritualistic. (52)
Many of the text choices made by these men will carry the taint of their personal convictions. Further, their honesty in pointing out changes made to the Majority and Textus Receptus Texts is questionable. Gordon Clark staates, "Luke 21:36, The uninitiated should be warned that Arland text and the Metzger Commentary do not indicate all their alterations of the Textus Receptus. This verse is an example, The King James read, "Watch...that ye may be accounted worthy to escape..." The New American Standard and the Revised Standard Version have "that you may have strength to escape..." The latter is the reading of Aleph, and B; A, C, and the Majority have "be accounted worthy." In addition, the sense of the passage favors "be accounted worthy." The critical text makes the escape depend on the individual's physical strength. But the context has just condemned carousing and drunkeness. Without doubt these are physical effects, but they begin with an infraction of morality. Furthermore the text adds, "the cares of this life." This phrase does not indicate dissipation, but rather indifference to spiritual values. Hence, "be accounted worthy" which better fits the context, seems the preferable choice." (53) Further, this does effect the doctrine of grace and is basic dishonesty in not mentioning the change in text. There are many other examples of this type we advise the reader to check out Dr. Clark's little booklet. As Dr. Clark has stated the Fathers are often quoted to prove a text in favor of B, but many times a closer inspection shows just the opposite of the claim, the father having been misquoted! Martin Luther found the same kind of argumentation occurring against the reformation and his stands and being used by Erasmus and other Catholics, "These protagonists of free will do the same thing, but with a different end in view; not deliberately, like those I mentioned, but in blindness and ignorance; for they pick on what the Fathers, stumbling in the weakness of their flesh, said in favor of free-will, and go on to oppose it to what the same fathers, in the power of the Spirit, said elsewhere against free-will; so they press and force the issue so that the better falls before the worst." (54) "We reject the better and acclaim the worse in one and the same author, and proceed to affix to those same worse parts the title and authority of His sanctity..." (55) The very same tactic is found used arbitrarily today to prove Aleph and B.
Now Westcott and Hort have been shown to be unworthy guides to a Holy Book on which the reformation was founded, but worse is to follow.
"It does not seem to me that the Vaudois claim an ecclesiastical
recognition. The position of the small Protestant bodies on the
continent, is, no doubt one of great difficulty. But our church can,
I think, deal only with churches growing to fuller life." Says Bishop
Westcott, and Hort replies, "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." Perfect Catholicity has been nowhere since the
Westcott did not care for the 39 Articles of the Episcopal Confession
nor when it got in his way church discipline. He stated, "You can
scarcely tell how I felt when I found we had to sign some declaration
before the degree (A.B.). I feared it might be of an assent to the
Thirty-Nine Articles, and that I dare not give now...Nothing remains
but to assert our complete independence of Convocation...If the
(Revision) Company accept the dictation of Convocation my work must end." (57)
And so he states that Convocation which called for the Revision would be
denied if it also asserted the right to review what it called for!
"But the charge of idolatry is much clearer in the case of Westcott
and Hort. For both were worshippers of Mary, and they travelled here and
there to attend Mariolatry events (as revealed in the biography of Hort
by his son). Hort wrote Westcott, "I have been pursaded for many
years that Mary-worship and Jesus-worship have very much in common
in their causes and their results." This same son revealed that Hort
believed in evolution, did not believe in the substitutionary death
of Jesus Christ, talked of a ransom being paid to Satan, believed
in a second chance in Purgatory, definately did not believe in the
infallibility of the Scriptures...denied our guilt for Adam's sin,
considered Genesis Chapters 1-3 to be a parable, denied the depravity
of man by nature, disparaged Christ as "the believer's God," stated
that God's wrath was subservient to His mercy, denied the history of
the fall as true, etc." (58) And yet, it is to these men we lean
heavily for guidance on what is and is not included in the Book, yet
let one give such authority to a Plato or Aristotle and they might
be denied, yet not to such men with such pernicious doctrines at
My final statement concerning the paragons of Christian doctrine
and such evident authorities of Texts is the following, they were
Spiritists. God says in His Book such are those who consult the
dead or seek after such phenomenon that they are classified as
detestable and an abomination in the Lord's sight. Westcott's
son writes, "The Ghostlie Guild, which numbers among its members
A. Barry, E.W. Benson, H. Bradshaw, the Honorable A. Gordon,
F.J.A. Hort, H. Laurd, and C.B. Scott, was established for the
investigation of all supernatural appearances and effects. Westcott
took a leading part in their proceedings, and their inquiry circular
was originally drawn up by him...The Communion of Saints (Westcott's
term for meditating until he felt the presence of the dead) seems
particularly associated with Petersborough...He had an extraordinary
power of realizing this communion...Once a daughter, in the later
years, met him returning from one of his customary meditations
in the solitary darkness of the chapel of Aukland Castle, and she
said to him, "I expect you do not feel alone?""Oh no," he said, "it
is full." And Hort wrote, "Westcott, Gorham, C.B. Scott, Benson,
Bradshaw, Luard, etc., 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 disillusions." (59)
To such we gave voluntarily the right to chose and make rules
for handling God's Word!
PART FOUR: THE CONCLUSION
SOME VARIENTS DISCUSSED
I would weary you with much discussion, but let it be said that
there are very strong arguments put forth by Burgeon on the "Angel
Troubling the Water", "This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting",
the longer Lord's Prayer in Luke, and the last 12 verses of Mark,
they are quite substantial, and as Clark points out at least the
last omission of the 12 verses may include Hort's motive to do
away with the ascension, whihc he did not favor. But the real
question is where will all these changes and omissions end?
and to what purpose may they yet be twisted?
Various readings also leaves us in a Scriptural quandry,
"...we are warned in Scripture that "the word which I spoke that
will judge him in the last day."" (60) Neither Hort nor Vance Smith
nor many others on the Revision committee believed in a personal
return of Jesus, the 2d coming. While I could quote extensively, I
have not the space in this short paper to do so, let it be said
though that this non-belief shows through in the text changes made
by Hort and by later Revisers in Acts 3:19 and testified to by
Vance Smith, Hort and others that it was deliberate to show the
doctrine of a successive unveiling of Jesus, successive Days of the
Lord according to Hort, in the Apocalypse of St. John, his commentary.
Vance Smith states, "This idea of the second coming ought to be passed
by merely as a temporary incident of early Christian belief." In
Revelation 1:7. the words are changed to "all the tribes of the
earth shall wail because of Him." Not so innocent a change when one
understands the Revisers were also many universalists, and Westcott
admitted the change was made in order to effect a change in doctrine!(62)
Many other verses were subtly changed in the same manner to indicate
the idea of purgatory, Hebrews 9:27, John 14:2, Luke 1:72, 1Peter 4:6,
Job 26:5, and 2 Peter 2:9. The reader is urged to attend to these
passages in the King James and the Revised to see the changes are
to support the idea of purgatory and universal or nearly universal
salvation after punishment in an intermediate state. (63) In James
5:16 the change in the Greek from "faults" to "sins" changes "Confess
your faults to one another" to "Confess your sins one to another,"
and leaves open the idea of auricular confession, which surprisingly
enough we find Hort and Westcott et al believed in! (64) Other changes
were made in 1 Corinthians 11:29 to help support the idea of
sacrmentalism and transubstantiation, not to mention denying one of
the Westminster Confession cheif statements about eating unworthily
the supper, as unworthily and other words are left out so that all that
is read is "For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh
judgement unto himself, if he descern not the body." By leaving out
unworthily one can be guilty of no other count but not discerning
the body and by leaving out the Lord's body, one is guilty if in the
bread he does not see the body of Christ has been changed from bread
to Him. (65)
Gordan H. Clark states that over 3000 changes have been made to the
Greek text. (66) He says that someone has estimated or calculated a
textual varient occurs in one word in seven, but that only one in
one thousand makes any difference in the sense. Since the N.T. contains
over 200,000 words, it follows that over 200 theological errors in the
book as a whole have been propagated! That according to Clark is far too
many for comfort. (67) Burgon points out that some work still remains
to be done on the Majority text, but nothing like the 1/8 of the N.T.
which has been changed by Westcott and Hort. The figure 1/8 of the
N.T. altered is not Burgons, it is Hort's figure given on page 2,
of his introduction. (68)
MORE DEFENSE OF THE MAJORITY TEXT
As Burgon said, "The advocates for the traditional text urge that
the consent without concert of so many hundreds of copies, executed by
different persons, at diverse times, in widely sundered regions of the
church, is a presumptive proof of their trustworthiness, which nothing
can invalidate but some sort of demonstration that they are untrustworthy
guides after all." (69) Dabney was against such textual criticism as
Westcott and Hort propounded. (70) John Owen wrote, "It can be, then,
with no color of probability be asserted (which yet I find some learned
men to freely granting) namely, that there has the same fate attended
Scripture in its transcription as has done other books. Let me say
without offense, this imagination, asserted on deliberation, seems to
me to border on atheism. Surely, the promise of God for the preservation
of His word, with His love and care of His church, of whose faith and
obedience that word of His is the only rule, requires other thoughts
at our hands." (71)
As Zane Hodge states, "Second and third century papyri now support
many readings that were once dismissed as "late."" (72) And, "In sum,
therefore, the Westcott-Hort tradition in textual criticism has failed
to advance convincing objections to the authenticity of the Majority
Where then do we go for a good text or translation, the answer appears
at this date to be the New King James Version, particularly taking the
alternate Majority Text reading when presented. This is according also
to Gordon H. Clark. (74) He also recommends reading Wilbur Pickerings
defense of the methods used by Dean Burgon in comparison to the sloppy
methods of Burgon's critics. (75) As to a Greek Text of the Majority
Text, Clark defends and recommends Zane Hodge's Majority Greek Text. (76)
SOME SUGGESTED CANONS FOR TEXTUAL CRITICISM
Burgon long ago suggested these points to test truth, recognizing
first the majority transmission as being more reliable than other
families, 1. Antiquity 2. Consent of witness or number, 3. Variety or
Catholicity of evidence, 4. Respectability of witnesses or weight, 5.
Continuity or unbroken tradition, 6. Evidence of the entire passage
or context, and 7. Internal considerations or reasonableness. (77)
I would also on my own include the following presuppositions and
principles, 1. God preserves His Word through providence in a manner
consistant with the commandments of His Revelation in His Word. 2.
Since He commands the preaching and response to His Word, it must have
been available in a valid form to the majority of the believers. 3.
The Byzantine text is to have more weight than any other text. 4. The
method and principles of Wescott and Hort are subjective. 5. The
presuppositions of Westcott-Hort are in error as they reflect a basic
natural man approach to the text of God. 6. Techniques based on the
neutral scientific method in its treatment of God's Word are rejected
out of hand. 7. No methods are to be accepted which fail to take into
account the Divine Inspiration. 8. The Law of Parsimony must hold true
in studying God's word. 9. It is easier to delete by accident than
to add by accident. Leaving out large sections is more likely to be
deliberate. In matters of doctrine deletions or additions which
affect a change are suspect. 10. Shortness of text is evidence
of possible corruption. 11. If reading occurs elsewhere as well as
Majority Text it has even more weight. 12. Oldness does not prove
anything except age by itself. 13. No gospel or Scripture is given
priority. 14. Verbal dissidence vocabulary and grammatical differences
are rejected as subjective proofs which are not proofs. 15. Conflation
is suspect of not existing, can better be explained by ommission or other
scibal errors. 16. Deharmanization, a form of dropping a part of two
conjuncted phrases is a better explanation which makes Aleph and B
totally suspect. So "our Lord and God, " is not a conflation of "Lord"
in one text and "God" in another so that the better Byzantine text is
made suspect, but the Byzantine original said what was intended and the
Aleph and B chose to write whether by omission or deliberate only parts
of the origianl phrase depending on scribes of either "lord" or "God."
Clark says that the Minority Text supporters are inconsistent with
the objective evidence, inconsistent with its own criteria, inconsistent
with the results. (78) Burgon says that most N.T.s have 10,000 fewer
words, this knowledge buried in Egyptian sand for 1000's of years, then
found in a trash can, so that generations have been without the real
word as close to the autograph. And now God raises up such men as
we have discussed to tell devout Christians what the true text is! (79)
The reader must determine which bias to accept, the one that influenced
the Protestant Reformation, or that which is under the influence of
Darwinism. higher criticism, liberalism, ritualism, Romanism, idolatry,
and Spiritism. (80)
1. Arland, THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, West Germany, United Bible
2. John W. Burgon, UNHOLY HANDS ON THE BIBLE, LaFayette, Ind.,
Soveriegn Grace Trust Fund, 1990.
3. Gordan H. Clark, LOGICAL CRITICISMS OF TEXTUAL CRITICISM,
Jefferson, Md., The Trinity Foundation, 1986.
4. Donald Guthrie, NEW TESTAMENT INTRODUCTION, Downers Grove, Ill.,
Inter-varsity Press, 1970.
5. Zane Hodges, GREEK NEW TESTAMENT ACCORDING TO THE MAJORITY TEXT,
New York, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985.
6. F.J.A. Hort, LIFE AND LETTERS OF F.J.A. HORT, New York, McMillan,
7. Frederick G. Kenyon, HANDBOOK OF THE TEXTUAL CRITICISM OF THE NEW
TESTAMENT, New York, McMillan, 1901.
8. Martin Luther, THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL, Old Tappan, N.J., Fleming
H. Revell Company, 1957.
9. Bruce M. Metzger, CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, Oxford, Claredon
10. Bruce M. Metzger, A TEXTUAL COMMENTARY ON THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT,
West Germany, United Bible Societies.
11. B.F. Westcott, INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT GOSPELS, New York,
12. B.F. Westcott, CHRISTUS CONSUMATOR: SOME ASPECTS OF THE WORK
AND PERSON OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO MODERN THOUGHT, New York, McMillan,
13. Benjamin G. Wilkinson, OUR AUTHORIZED BIBLE VINDICATED, Payson,
Ariz., Leaves of Autumn Books, 1989.
14. King James Bible
15. New American Standard Bible
16. New International Version Bible
17. New King James Bible
18. Revised Standard Version
19. Catholic Vulgate
20. Douay Bible
1. John W. Burgon, UNHOLY HANDS ON THE BIBLE, THE TRADITIONAL TEXT
OF THE HOLY GOSPELS. (Lafayette, Ind: Soveriegn Grace Trust Fund,
1990), p. 10.
3. Gordan H. Clark, LOGICAL CRITICISMS OF TEXTUAL CRITICISM, (Jefferson
Md.: The Trinity Foundation, 1986), p. 20.
4. Ibid., pp. 21-22.
5. Ibid., p. 22.
6. Ibid., p. 24.
7. Ibid., p. 35.
8. Benjamin G. Wilkerson, OUR AUTHORIZED BIBLE VINDICATED, (Payson,
Ariz.: Leaves of Autumn Books, Inc., 1989), p. 4.
9. Note 1, p. 34.
10. Note 2, p. 100-101.
11. Ibid., p. 15.
12. Ibid., p. 24.
13. Ibid., p. 22.
14. Note 7, p. 33.
15. Note 2, p. 35-36.
16. Note 7, p 23.
17. Ibid., p. 16.
18. Note 1, p. 7.
19. Note 7, pp. 15-16.
20. Zane Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad, THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT ACCORDING
TO THE MAJORITY TEXT, (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985),
21. Note 9, pp. 34-35.
22. Note 2, p. 36.
23. Ibid., p. 2.
24. Note 8, pp. 11-12.
25. Ibid., pp. 42-43.
26. Ibid., p. 24.
27. Note 2, p. 13.
28. Note 8, p.20.
29. Note 20, p. ix.
30. Note 2, p. 19.
31. Ibid., p. 118.
32. Note 8, p. 33.
33. Ibid., p. 57.
34. Ibid., pp. 82-83.
35. Note 9, p. 25.
36. Ibid., p. 28.
37. Note 8, p. 171.
38. Ibid., p. 118.
39. Note 7, p. 19.
40. Ibid., pp. 25-27.
41. Ibid., p. 34.
42. Ibid., p. 44.
43. Note 8, p. 157.
44. Ibid., pp. 151-152.
45. Ibid., p. 3.
46. Ibid., p. 159.
47. Ibid., p. 145.
48. Ibid., p. 149.
49. Ibid., p. 158.
50. Ibid., pp. 165-166.
51. Ibid., pp. 227-230.
52. Ibid., p. 217.
53. Note 7., p.34.
54. Martin Luther, BONDAGE OF THE WILL, (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming
H. Revell Company, 1957), p. 119.
55. Ibid., p. 123.
56. Note 8, pp. 154-155.
57. Ibid., p. 155.
58. Note 9, p. 7.
59. Note 8, p. 154.
60. Note 9, p. 5.
61. Note 8, p. 197.
62. Ibid., p. 196.
63. Ibid., pp. 208-212.
64. Ibid., p. 206.
66. Note 7, p. 9.
67. Ibid., p. 13.
68. Note 2, p. 119.
69. Ibid., p. 9.
70. Note 9, pp. 2-4.
71. Ibid., p. 6.
72. Note 20, pp. v-vi.
73. Ibid., pp. x-xi.
74. Note 7, p. 43.
75. Ibid, p. 11.
76. Ibid., p. 39.
77. Note 2, p. 15.
78. Note 7, p. 49.
79. Note 9, p. 2.
80. Note 8, p.182.
This page was created on 13 April 1998
Last updated on 21 May 2017