The Divine Original

Deficiencies in the text underlying modern Bible versions, with special reference to doctrinal defects in the Revised Version and the Revised Standard Version.

by T. H. Brown

Preliminary Considerations

The Holy Scriptures exhort us to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints”. That faith was delivered to the saints in “the Holy Scriptures, which were given by inspiration of God, and are able to make wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus”. The New Testament Scriptures were written in Greek, and our Bible is in English. Therefore when we read our English Bible we hear the Word of God through an interpreter, or rather through a whole series of interpreters. The question arises — were the interpreters reliable, or did they produce an imperfect translation based upon defective manuscripts? When we contend for individual passages, are we contending for the changeless Truth of God, or are we contending for ancient human errors introduced into that text by accident or design? These questions have been raised with increasing persistence during the past hundred years, and especially during the last few decades. People of every shade of Christian opinion, including “modernists” on the one hand and “evangelicals” of unquestioned integrity on the other, evince a common eagerness to discredit the Authorised Version of the English Bible. They insist that the translators had few and poor manuscripts, that their knowledge of Greek and Hebrew was imperfect, and that their English style contributed to the production of a version which, although it “sounds nice” is “downright misleading”, and should be dismissed from the pulpit to the library, to make way for an allegedly superior modern version. Many of these statements are themselves misleading and it is important that we should be acquainted with the facts before attempting to evaluate either the modern versions or the older ones.

The English Bible before the Reformation

Before A.D. 1450 there was no printing in this part of the world, but there was an English Bible translated from the Latin Vulgate in 1382 by Wyclif and his associates. This version was fruitfully used and the means of blessing to many, but it was far from perfect. It was beautifully handwritten throughout, and a few copies remain to this day to testify to the devoted care and skill of an earlier age.

In the next century the art of printing was introduced in Germany, and in about 1450 Gensfleisch (Gutenberg) set up the first press at Mainz. This was the beginning of the era of Bible printing.

The Revival of Greek Learning

For many centuries before the Reformation, Greek scholarship was virtually non-existent in western Europe. In 1453 Constantinople, the ancient capital of the eastern part of the Empire and the centre of the eastern Church, fell to the Moslem invaders. One far-reaching result of this calamity was that Christian scholars with a knowledge of Greek, and with Greek copies of the Holy Scriptures in their possession, fled to western Europe where their influence gave a new impetus to the study of the Greek language. It has been said that “Greece rose from the grave with the New Testament in her hand”.

Printed Editions of the Greek New Testament

Among the next generation of Greek scholars was Erasmus of Rotterdam, who prepared an edition of the Greek N.T. from several manuscripts to which he had access. This edition was printed in 1516 and was followed by four later editions. At Alcala (Complutum) University in 1502 Cardinal Ximenes gathered together manuscripts and Biblical scholars, whose work resulted in the publication of the “Complutensian Polyglot” in 1522. Robert Stephens (Estienne), relying largely upon Erasmus and the Polyglot, and with at least fifteen manuscripts at his disposal, produced editions of the Greek text in 1546, 1549, 1550 and 1551. In 1551 he withdrew to Geneva and joined the Protestant cause. Theodore Beza produced nine editions of the Greek between 1565 and 1604. These followed Stephens fairly closely, although Beza had some ancient manuscripts not available to Stephens. The Elzevir editions printed at Leiden had much in common with those of Stephens and Beza. The Elzevir edition announced itself as the “Textus Receptus” and since that time Stephens' 1550 edition has been known as the “Received Text” in England, while the Elzevir edition of 1633 has had this title in other parts of Europe.

The Protestant Translations

The Protestant versions in England and other European countries in the 16th and 17th centuries were based on these editions of the Greek text. These early printed Greek editions were themselves based on comparatively few manuscripts, which have nevertheless proved to be representative of the Greek text embraced many centuries earlier throughout the Greek Church. The English versions of Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthews (or Rogers), the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishops’ Bible and the Authorised Version were all based upon this little company of Greek documents, in which was preserved the Greek text generally received throughout the Greek Church since the Apostolic age.

The Authorised Version

At the Hampton Court Conference of 1604 the Puritan leader Reynolds made the suggestion — which was first opposed and then adopted by the Conference with enthusiastic approval from King James I — that there should be a new translation of the Holy Scriptures in English, to replace the different versions then in common use. Fifty-four men, including High Churchmen and Puritans, the greatest Hebrew and Greek scholars of the age, formed six companies to undertake the task. Using their Greek sources and the best commentaries of European scholars, and referring to Bibles in Spanish, Italian, French and German, they expressed the sense of the Greek in clear, vigorous and idiomatic English. This Bible won its battles against the prejudices and criticism which greeted its first appearance and became the Bible of the English-speaking world. In 1786 Dr. Geddes wrote,

“If accuracy and strictest attention to the letter of the text be supposed to constitute an excellent Version, this is of all versions the most excellent.”

Bishop Lightfoot affirmed that this version was the storehouse of the highest truth and the purest well of our native English. “Indeed”, he wrote, “we may take courage from the fact that the language of our English Bible is not the language of the age in which the translators lived, but in its grand simplicity stands out in contrast to the ornate and often affected diction of the literature of the time” (On a fresh Revision of the New Testament, 1872, p. 191).

Recent Discoveries and Textual Criticism

During the next three hundred years vast numbers of documents were brought to light and Biblical scholars made many attempts to reconstruct the Greek New Testament. There are now over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, including 90 papyrus fragments (2nd-8th century); 270 Uncial copies (3rd-10th); 2,800 minuscules (9th-16th); and 2,000 Lectionary copies. The overwhelming majority of these manuscripts agree so closely that they may be said to present the same Greek text, called by some the "Byzantine Text" because it prevailed throughout the Church in the Byzantine period A.D. 312-1453 (and long after).

The Versions: In addition to these Greek sources, scholars have recovered copies of ancient translations in Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Gothic, etc. Some of these originated before our oldest existing Greek copies and thus testify to the contents of still earlier manuscripts. Much of this evidence is favourable to "The Received Text'' underlying the Authorised Version.

Early Greek and Latin writers — The "Fathers"

The writings of early champions of the truth (and heretics) contain copious references to the Scriptures and again testify concerning the Greek text as it was in the 2nd century onwards. The majority of these witnesses support the "Byzantine" or "Received" or "Traditional" text underlying the Authorised Version, and they establish the antiquity of this text and its superior acceptance in the early period.

The Papyri

It is alleged that the most ancient papyrus fragments are hostile to the Received Text, but it must be remembered that the fragments that remain are few in comparison with the many that must have perished through long and frequent use. It is probable that the surviving minority survived because they were not much used and that they fell into disuse because of their deficiencies. A number of papyri of the 6th to 8th centuries do not contain a distinctively "Byzantine" type of text, although it is beyond question that the "Byzantine" text was dominant in that period. These papyri are surviving representatives of a defective and discarded text.

Favourable evidence of the Papyri

Some of the papyrus fragments of earliest date do contain readings which 19th century scholars had wrongly rejected as belonging to a late "Syrian" or "Byzantine" revision. This is true of the document known as Papyrus Bodmer II (A.D. 200?) which contains John Chapters 1-14 including 13 per cent. of the readings rejected by 19th century scholars as "late Byzantine".

The Vatican and Sinai Manuscripts

In the mid-nineteenth century the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus became available to Biblical scholars, and in 1881 Westcott and Hort advanced the theory that the New Testament text was preserved in an almost perfect state in these two fourth century manuscripts.

An Error of Judgment

The discovery of these MSS betrayed many Biblical students into a lamentable infirmity of critical judgment. Tischendorf himself, the discoverer of the Sinai Codex, amended his eighth edition in at least 3,505 places in conformity with new readings which he found in this document. The Codex Vaticanus exercised a similar mesmeric influence on the minds of many 19th and 20th century scholars. The revised Greek text underlying modern versions has the support only of that very small minority of the available MSS which are in some respects in agreement with the unreliable text of the Sinai and Vatican codices.

An Elaborate Theory

Westcott and Hort devised an elaborate theory, based more on imagination and intuition than upon evidence, elevating this little group of MSS to the heights of almost infallible authority. Their treatise on the subject and their edition of the Greek N.T. exercised a powerful and far-reaching influence, not only on the next generation of students and scholars, but also indirectly upon the minds of millions who have had neither the ability, nor the time, nor the inclination to submit the theory to a searching examination.

A Fundamental Error

Those who do so will find that the whole theory was based upon a fundamental error, namely the assumption that the reliability of these 4th century documents was in proportion to their age. There were no doubt bad copies in every age, some corrupted by accident, some by ignorance and some by design. These two exhibit the most amazing number of incorrect readings.

Doctrinal Deficiencies of these MSS

These two MSS and a few others containing a similar text present in a weakened form many of the passages of Holy Scripture which speak most plainly of the deity of the Son of God. The trend of Biblical scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries has been towards a "humanitarian" view of the person of Christ. It is not surprising that many modern scholars should welcome the support of these two ancient documents, but it is sad to see so many earnest evangelical Christians ready to accept without question a theory so destructive of the faith once delivered to the saints.

Rejecting the Evidence

In the words of a great 19th century scholar, "To cast away at least nineteen-twentieths of the evidence, and to draw conclusions from the petty remainder is not ... consistent with conscientious exhaustiveness and logical method." The process also has the effect of weakening the testimony of the Holy Scriptures on a number of important doctrines.

The True Text

The Sinai and Vatican manuscripts represent a small family of documents containing various readings which the Church as a whole rejected before the end of the 4th century. Under the singular care and providence of God more reliable MSS were multiplied and copied from generation to generation, and the great majority of existing MSS exhibit a faithful reproduction of the true text which was acknowledged by the entire Greek Church in the Byzantine period A.D. 312-1453. This text was also represented by the small group of documents available to Erasmus, Stephens, the compilers of the Complutensian edition and other 16th century editors. This text is represented by the Authorised Version and other Protestant translations up to the latter part of the 19th century.

The Revised Version of 1881

This version was intended to embody the testimony of the newly discovered manuscripts and the fruits of scholarly research in the Greek language, but the whole undertaking was so dominated by the mistaken textual theories of Westcott and Hort, that the years of labour produced an unreliable translation based upon an unreliable text.

Influence of Westcott and Hort

When the Revision Committee met, each member was given an advance copy of the edition of the Greek N.T. prepared by Professor Westcott and Professor Hort. These scholars had both persuaded themselves that the true text of the N.T. was preserved in its purest form in the Codex Vaticanus and that the testimony of this manuscript or the Codex Sinaiticus, supported by one or more of a small company of documents exhibiting the same kind of text, must be regarded as almost infallible in all cases where the available manuscripts presented a variety of readings.

Among the Revisers there was only one other who could lay claim to experience and ability in the realm of textual criticism, namely Prebendary Scrivener. As the revision proceeded, textual matters were discoursed upon in turn by these three men and in many cases the more conservative opinions of Scrivener were set aside under pressure from Westcott and Hort. The majority of the Revisers were disposed to be influenced by the judgment of the two professors and the wiser and more judicious minority were constantly over-ruled in this way.

The Revisers' Greek Text

After the publication of the R.V., Scrivener was commissioned to prepare an edition of the Greek Text which had been followed by the Revisers. This text was not identical with that of Westcott and Hort but it owed much to their dominant influence and followed their lead in most matters of major importance. In this edition Scrivener was bound to reproduce a Greek text in which there were many features which were repugnant to his own wiser judgment. In his own works, particularly the learned Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (of which several editions were published, including what might be termed a definitive edition by Miller), and Scrivener's Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament, Scrivener dissented from many of the conclusions of the Revisers.

The crux of the matter is Westcott and Hort's insistence upon the superiority of the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus and a few kindred documents. The worst corruptions of the Greek text appeared before the end of the second century and it is generally agreed among critical scholars that the few manuscripts available to Ximenes, Erasmus and Stephens were better than many of the earliest period. Some of these ancient but imperfect manuscripts were progenitors of documents like the Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, but side by side with them were other MSS exhibiting the text more or less as represented by the so-called Received Text and Authorised Version. The most ancient writers and the translators of the most ancient versions were apparently acquainted with both kinds of text.

The Antiquity of the Received Text

This fact is admitted by Bishop Ellicott, the chairman of the revisers, in his pamphlet, The Revisers and the Greek Text of the N.T. by two members of the N.T. Company, pp. 11, 12. "The manuscripts which Erasmus used differ, for the most part only in small and insignificant details, from the great bulk of the cursive MSS. The general character of their text is the same. By this observation the pedigree of the Received Text is carried up beyond the individual manuscripts used by Erasmus ... That pedigree stretches back to remote antiquity. The first ancestor of the Received Text was at least contemporary with the oldest of our extant MSS, if not older than any one of them."

It must be emphasised that the argument is not between an ancient text and a recent one, but between two ancient forms of the text, one of which was rejected and the other adopted and preserved by the Church as a whole and remaining in common use for more than fifteen centuries. The assumptions of modern textual criticism are based upon the discordant testimony of a few specimens of the rejected text recently disinterred from the oblivion to which they had been deliberately and wisely consigned in the 4th century.

The "Syrian Recension" Theory

Being convinced that the Vatican/Sinai type of text was the most ancient and most pure, Westcott and Hort assumed that there must have been a "Syrian Recension" of the Greek text some time between A.D. 250 and A.D. 350 and that this recension was the progenitor of the "Received Text". In their Introduction to the N.T. in Greek these two scholars spun a web of theories to advance the claims of their favourite manuscripts to the highest antiquity. One great obstacle was the frequent agreement of the Peshitta Syriac with the Greek Textus Receptus. This obstacle was removed by the simple expedient of changing the relative dates of the Peshitta and Curetonian Syriac, calling the latter the "Old" Syriac and the former the "Vulgate" Syriac.

In his book on the N.T. Canon (1855, pp. 264-5), Westcott himself saw "no reason to desert the opinion which has obtained the sanction of the most competent scholars, that the formation of the Peshitta Syriac was to be fixed within the first half of the 2nd century. The very obscurity which hangs over its origin is proof of its venerable age, because it shows that it grew up spontaneously among Christian congregations ... Had it been a work of later date, of the 3rd or 4th century, it is scarcely possible that its history should be so uncertain as it is." In the Introduction to the N.T. in Greek, 1882, Westcott contradicted himself on all these points and contended that the Curetonian Syriac was of greater antiquity, and that the Peshitta was an authoritative revision in the latter part of the 3rd or 4th centuries.

Although entirely lacking in historical evidence, the Syrian Recension theory was particularly attractive because it appeared to give some semblance of authority to those engaged in the process of recasting the Greek text in the mould of the Vatican/Sinai MSS. The form of text represented by these documents contains literally thousands of alterations to the sacred wording, including a number of changes which dilute the testimony of the Holy Scriptures to our Lord's deity. (Some examples are commented on below.)

The Deity of our Lord

In his Bampton lectures on the Divinity of our Lord, delivered in the year 1866, Canon Liddon gave a timely and solemn warning of the perils which then beset the Church of Christ through the denial of our Saviour's essential and eternal deity. The detractors of this vital truth of God's Word have found a powerful ally in the modern versions which have been based upon the pro-Arian type of Greek text exhibited by MSS of the Vatican/Sinai group. Perhaps the most powerful unitarian assailants of the true doctrine of Holy Scripture today are the so-called "Jehovah's Witnesses". It is significant that their own version follows this type of text and that they are generally disposed to welcome versions like the R.S.V. and N.E.B. which display similar deficiencies and rest upon the same unsound foundation.

Most people today, including theological students, teachers and ministers, are prepared to adopt the attitude that the "scholars" must be right and that matters relating to the Greek text must be left in the hands of "experts". The evangelical professes to stand firm by the divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, the equal and eternal deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the atonement and other vital doctrines, but surrenders both text and translation to the biased judgment of unsound scholars and meekly allows the text of Holy Scripture to be arbitrated by a group of ancient but unreliable documents.

The American Standard Version

After the English Revisers had completed their task the American Revision Committee continued its deliberations for some years and published the fruit of their labours early in the present century. This version was in many respects very similar to the English Revised Version, although diverging from it in hundreds of details of varying significance. The R.S.V. is a revision of this "Standard Version".

THE REVISED STANDARD VERSION

This version, which is the property of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., has achieved a measure of popularity in the English-speaking world, and some of the Bible Societies have amended their constitutions in order to permit its circulation. It is quoted by evangelical preachers and writers and widely circulated by evangelical organisations.

Notwithstanding its present popularity and the misleading and sometimes ill-informed testimonials to its excellence, there are very good reasons why discerning Christians with a reverent regard for the divine inspiration, authority and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures should exercise great caution in the use of this version and refrain from encouraging its general use by undiscerning readers.

The Translators

Some of the translators have written articles which indicate that they do not acknowledge the Bible doctrines of the Deity of Christ, His Pre-existence, His Virgin Birth, His Atoning Sacrifice and present intercession in Heaven. A translator who has adopted an entirely "humanitarian" view of the Son of God, and is prepared to respect His ideal humanity and to disregard His claims to full deity, is likely to betray his erroneous dogma in his translation. That this deficiency is apparent in the R.S.V. is demonstrated by the examples given later in this article.

Socinianism

The last 150 years have witnessed a great resurgence of ancient heresies relating to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and these errors have left their mark on modern translations of the Bible.

The translator, as well as the reader, is confronted with the vital question, "Whom do men say that I am?" The Ebionite of old, and later the Socinian asserted that Jesus was merely a man, whether supernaturally born, or as modern rationalists generally maintain, subject in all respects to ordinary natural laws. They contended that His moral eminence alone entitled the enthusiastic admirer to call Him "divine". Socinianism will confess Christ's "divinity" if this involves nothing more emphatic than an acknowledgement of certain moral features of the Divine Being displayed in the human life of Christ.

Modern Humanitarianism

In modern days this phenomenon of "humanitarianism" is reproduced by writers who use language which seems to do justice to Christ's deity. They recognise Him as the "perfect revelation of God" and the "true head and Lord of human kind", but they deny the existence of a Trinity in the Godhead, and recognise in God no pre- existent Personal Form as the basis of His self-manifestation to man. They therefore avoid any plain assertion that Christ is God.

Arianism

Arians maintain that our Lord Jesus Christ existed before His Incarnation and that by Him, as by an instrument, the Supreme God made the worlds, and that He is to be "worshipped" only as the highest creature. They insist that there was a time when He did not exist, that He had a beginning of existence and cannot be called God in the sense in which the Name is applied to the Supreme Being. This view of the Redeemer satisfies neither reason nor faith and has been well described as a resting point for minds which are sinking from a profession of Christian faith downwards to pure humanitarianism. Some of the translators have embraced and expressed unscriptural views akin to these, in contrast to the faith of the whole Church of Christ, which acknowledges the pre-existent and eternal deity of the only-begotten Son of God, His equality with the Father, His miraculous incarnation, His atoning death and physical resurrection.

Doctrinal Changes

The advocates of the R.S.V. endeavour to assure their readers that the numerous changes in the text do not affect any fundamental doctrine. They allege that the alterations are exclusively dictated by newly discovered manuscripts and by the gains of scholarly research in the Biblical languages. These assurances are not in accordance with the facts. Fundamental doctrines relating to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ are weakened and obscured in the R.S.V. and the translators appear to have made some changes on dogmatic rather than linguistic or documentary grounds.

A Jewish Scholar among the R.S.V. Translators

The translation committee included in its membership a Jewish scholar, H. M. Orlinsky of the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. This man would not accept the deity of Christ, but would favour a "unitarian" emphasis in any passage referring to the Messiah.

For example, the prophecy of Isaiah 7.14 was altered to read "A young woman shall conceive and bear a son." The correct reading is "A virgin shall conceive ..." The erroneous reading in the R.S.V. makes it possible to dissociate this prophecy from the record of our Lord's miraculous birth of the virgin Mary in the New Testament.

The comment of a Jewish Rabbi

The corrupted text met with the warm approval of Rabbi Balfour Brickner of Temple Sinai, Washington, who declared, "I am delighted to know that at last this great error of translation has been finally corrected, and that at least some elements of the Christian world no longer officially maintain that Isaiah 7.14 is a prediction that Jesus was to be born of the virgin Mary."

The Unitarian Bias of the R.S.V.

Shortly after the R.S.V. New Testament was published, its deficiencies were exposed in an article by Dr. R. C. Foster, Professor of Greek and N.T. in Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Ohio, published in the July 1946 issue of the "Church News Letter". After presenting a careful study of the numerous changes in the text, he wrote, "The Revised Standard Version is frankly unitarian and offers a very subtle attack upon the deity of Christ ... It is as if the scholars were saying — This stubborn and unscientific generation of the 20th century insists on maintaining that Jesus was God in the flesh, but by the use of a literary device we will put words into their mouths as they read this version so that they will consciously or unconsciously admit that Jesus is not God but man." The truth of this assertion is vindicated by the list of significant passages given below.

The Name of God withheld from Christ

Psalm 45.6: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" is altered to "Your divine throne endures for ever and ever." In an explanatory article the translators stated that "Thou" and "Thee" were used only when the Deity was addressed. The use of "Your" indicates that the translators believed that this verse did not apply to a Divine Person. The Name of God is here reduced to the adjective "divine", but when this text is quoted in Hebrews chapter 1.8, it is made to apply to the Son, and the Name of God is restored in the text. The footnote leaves the way open to the sceptical reader to deny that the Son is addressed as God, "Thy throne, O God", in the text, becomes "God is thy throne" in the note.

His Eternal Pre-existence denied

Micah 5.2: "Out of thee shall He come forth ... whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." In the R.S.V. this becomes ... "whose ORIGIN is from of old, from ancient days." Thus the eternal pre-existence of the Son of God is denied and the new translation assigns to the ETERNAL SON an origin in time. This is a very ancient heresy which has been disinterred in the last hundred years or so and thrust upon undiscerning hearers and readers in many modern versions.

Proverbs 8.22: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way." The R.S.V. reads, "The Lord CREATED me at the beginning of his work." This is a Messianic passage and the new version alleges that the Person spoken of was a CREATURE. This kind of teaching has been widely canvassed in recent times by the so-called "Jehovah's Witnesses''.

His miraculous birth obscured

Matthew 1.25: "... till she had brought forth her FIRSTBORN son." Verse 23 quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 7.14. "A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son", and verse 25 emphasises the fulfilment of the prophecy by stating that this was her FIRSTBORN son.

The R.S.V. text omits "firstborn" and thus obscures the literal fulfilment of the prophecy and weakens the emphasis on the Virgin Birth.

Matthew 1.16: Early editions of the R.S.V. have a footnote (similar to that in the N.E.B.) — Other ancient authorities read, "Joseph to whom was betrothed the virgin Mary, was the father of Jesus who is called Christ." — This note was based on a single corrupt Syriac version opposed by all the major manuscripts. This footnote leaves it to the option of the reader either to believe that Jesus was miraculously born of the virgin Mary, or that Joseph was His father. Read in conjunction with the corrupted rendering in Isaiah 7 the note constitutes a denial of the deity of Christ.

His essential Divine Goodness

Matthew 19.16, 17: "Good Master, what good thing shall do... " "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God..." Without any explanatory note the R.S.V. changes this to, "Teacher, what good deed must I do..." "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good..." The A.V. says in effect, "You know there is only One Who is essentially and perfectly good -- that is God Himself. You addressed me as 'Good', but do you really believe me to be 'Good' and therefore one with God?" The whole significance of the passage is destroyed by the altered rendering.

His Divine Sonship obscured

Mark 1.1: "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God." The R.S.V. has a footnote — Other ancient authorities omit "the Son of God". Biblical scholars have been erratically omitting and inserting these words in the Greek text and English translations for several generations. The testimony for their inclusion is overwhelming, and even the translators of the N.E.B. were constrained to admit that "the Son of God" is the best attested reading. There is a note to this effect in the Greek Text underlying the N.E.B. edited by Professor R. G. V. Tasker.

Fulfilment of prophecy omitted

Mark 15.28: R.S.V. text omits "And the Scripture was fulfiled which saith, And He was numbered with the transgressors."

His Post-Resurrection Appearances omitted

Mark 16.9-20: The whole of this portion is relegated to the margin of the R.S.V. The evidence for the genuineness of this passage is outlined in a separate article.

Luke 24.40: R.S.V. omits this verse which states that the risen Lord showed His disciples His hands and His feet to prove to them the reality of His death and resurrection.

His Miraculous Ascension obscured

Luke 24.51: R.S.V. omits the statement that "He was carried up into Heaven."

Luke 24.52: R.S.V. omits the declaration that His disciples WORSHIPPED Him.

Mistranslation of Luke 2.14: "Good will toward men" becomes in the R.S.V. text "...peace among men with whom He is pleased." This rendering has very slender manuscript support. The indisputable case for the Received Text and A.V. is summarised in a separate article.

Trinitarian doctrine impugned

John 1.3: The R.S.V. note in this verse is redolent of ancient heresies, the significance of which is stated in a separate article. The note makes it possible to regard the Holy Spirit as a CREATURE and to deny the eternal preexistence of Christ.

John 1.18: The influence of early heretics may be seen in the marginal note first in the R.V., "God only begotten" for "the only begotten Son". The R.S.V. translators retained "The Son" but reduced "only begotten" to "only" so their text reads, "the only Son". The margin allows the alternative "God", so the full text would then exhibit the impossible reading, "The only God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known." One revision robs Him of the title "only begotten" and the other revision robs Him of the title "Son".

The rightful place of the Son of Man in heaven denied

John 3.13 A.V.: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." The R.S.V. omits the words "which is in heaven".

Belief in Jesus as God removed from John 6.47

The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." The implication of His words is that to believe on Him is to believe on God, whom to know is life eternal. The R.S.V. omits the words "on me", reducing the statement to, "He who believes has eternal life". The implication of this new reading is that whoever believes in God has eternal life. Belief in Jesus as God no longer has a place in the text. This weakened rendering would be quite acceptable to any who deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Testimony to "Christ the Son of the Living God" rejected

John 6.69: "We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." The R.S.V. reduces this to, "We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God." Thus another declaration of His unique Divine Sonship is lost. The new reading is more palatable to unitarians. Admittedly, the "Holy One" is a title of great dignity, but it does not attribute Sonship to the Person addressed.

His use of the title "The Son of God" denied

In John 9.35 the Lord Jesus Christ asks the man whose sight He has miraculously restored, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" The R.S.V. changes "Son of God" to "Son of man" and thus eliminates this clear personal testimony of our Lord concerning His own Divine Sonship. Admittedly the title "Son of man" is used elsewhere, but here there is a clear reference to His unique relationship to the Father. The R.S.V. destroys the important doctrinal teaching of this verse.

Prayer to the Father in the Name of the Son discountenanced

John 14.14: "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" is changed by a marginal note to, "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." If we accept the alteration we dilute the testimony of the Holy Scriptures to the efficacy of prayer offered to the Father in the name of the Son. This is even more noticeable in John 16.23: "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you," becomes in the R.S.V. text, "If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name."

The Deity of Christ obscured in Acts 20.28

Paul admonished the elders at Ephesus, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased WITH HIS OWN BLOOD." This is preserved in the R.S.V. text, but a marginal note offers the alternative reading, "WITH THE BLOOD OF HIS OWN." This is entirely different. The correct reading asserts that the flock was purchased with the blood of One who was God — "the church of God ... purchased with His own blood." The marginal reading dilutes this testimony and merely declares that God purchased the Church with the blood of one who was His own. This reading removes the testimony to the deity of the Redeemer.

The Deity of Christ eliminated from Romans 9.5

The Apostle Paul writes of his own "kinsmen according to the flesh ... Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." This is the plainest possible declaration that Christ is God, but the R.S.V. introduces a radical change by adjusting the punctuation so that the statement reads, "To them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen." The R.S.V. relegates the true reading to a secondary place in a marginal note. The R.S.V. text merely acknowledges that the Messiah was of human descent from the patriarchs and then in a separate sentence pronounces a blessing upon God who is over all. This passage no longer declares that Christ is God.

The Judgment Seat of Christ abolished in Romans 14.10

The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." This clearly implies that the Son is one with the Father in judgment and is consistent with the Saviour's own words, "The Father ... hath committed all judgment unto the Son."

The R.S.V. changes the text to read "the judgment seat of God." and thus another testimony to the deity of Christ and His equality with the Father disappears.

The Pre-existence of the Son as Lord in Heaven discredited

1 Corinthians 15.47: "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven." In the R.S.V. this becomes merely, "the second man is from heaven." This is at variance with the whole teaching of God's Word on the mysterious incarnation of the Saviour. He did not come from heaven as man. "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary." In this appointed way, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." He was eternally with the Father as the Son of God, but He was not eternally with the Father as man. In the incarnation He fulfilled His eternal purposes and took our human nature and "was found in fashion as a man". In this way, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His own Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." It is not Scriptural to say that "The second man is from heaven", but it is Scriptural, and the utterance of the Holy Ghost, that "The second man is the LORD from heaven".

The Miraculous Incarnation of the Son eliminated from 1 Tim. 3.16

In the majority of the Greek manuscripts and in the A.V. we read, "God was manifest in the flesh". In the R.S.V. and other modern versions this is reduced to "He was manifested in the flesh". This is introduced as the great mystery of our religion. There is nothing mysterious in any person being manifest in the flesh. This is true of every human being who has ever lived. The great mystery of our religion is that Christ is God manifest in the flesh. This is true only of Him.

The R.S.V. footnote reads, "Greek Who; other ancient authorities read God; others, Which." One might well enquire why the R.S.V. translators put "He" in the text if the Greek is "Who". In fact the Greek is not "Who or "He" or "Which", but "GOD". The overwhelming evidence for the true reading is given in detail in a separate article.

The Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures made doubtful

The R.S.V. calls in question the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures by inserting a note in 2 Timothy 3.16 suggesting that this verse may be read alternatively "Every Scripture inspired by God is also profitable..." This suggests that some Scriptures may not be inspired by God, and that only those that are inspired are profitable. That this is not an admissible alternative reading is demonstrated in a separate article.

"Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1.1

This plain declaration of the Saviour's Godhead is called in question by a note in the R.S.V. "Our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ", which avoids the unequivocal statement that the Lord Jesus Christ is God.

The Manuscripts

We have seen that the corrupted readings quoted in the preceding paragraphs are supported by a small group of ancient but untrustworthy manuscripts at variance with the vast majority of the documents now at the disposal of Biblical scholars. It has become fashionable to refer to the few as "the best manuscripts" whereas in reality they contain some of the worst corruptions of the ancient text. Some of these documents, particularly the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, were produced at the time when the most dangerous heresies prevailed in the Church with regard to the Person of Christ and His relationship to the Father. This little group of documents proved specially attractive to those modern scholars who were disposed to adopt very similar erroneous views themselves.

Westcott and Hort in the last century endeavoured to make this deficient minority of the manuscripts respectable by propounding a theory that the majority of the N.T. documents were derived from copies which had been deliberately "edited" and embellished, implying that their conformity with the Trinitarian doctrine embraced by the Church was artificial and not original. There is in fact no historical evidence for any such revision, but the groundless and dangerous theory has cast its long shadow over the whole field of Biblical scholarship right down to our own times.

The Bible testifies to the eternal deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of the Eternal God. Some modern versions, and the defective manuscripts upon which they rely, obscure this vital testimony, which the Authorised Version faithfully preserves.

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