Friday, June 18, 2021

Erasmian Myths

In debates and discussions about Bible versions, Greek manuscripts, and such like, sometimes certain tall tales about Erasmus come up. Perhaps there are some tall tales that should be told about Erasmus. However, the tallest Pinocchio-nosed tales most often contributed are resurrections of tales that have long since been debunked. Like a bad penny, they keep coming back!

Chris Thomas, an Administrator at Confessional Bibliology, has compiled a four-part series on the four most persistent “Erasmian Myths.” It is worth the read.
  • Erasmian Myths: The Comma Wager -- “In conclusion, whenever you hear someone repeating the story that Erasmus only included the Comma Johanneum as part of a “rash wager” and was presented with a “made to order text” by a Froy or Roy, keep in mind that it has no foundation in the writings of Erasmus himself, nor his opponents such as Edward Lee, nor in men who criticized the inclusion of 1 John 5:7 such as the Roman Catholic Priest Richard Simon or the writings of John Mills who also specifically dealt with the Comma Johanneum.”
  • Erasmian Myths: Codex Vaticanus -- “...we see that not only did Erasmus have access to readings of Vaticanus, but through his correspondence with Bombasius he could have requested readings of any portion of the codex. And we see that Erasmus did not consider Codex Vaticanus equal to the texts with which he worked, but instead considered the codex inferior because he believed it had been back-translated in portions and because it did not follow the Scripture citations of the orthodox church fathers.”
  • Erasmian Myths: The Rush to Print -- “One of the more pernicious myths circulating about Erasmus concerns the quality of his Greek New Testament. The story goes that it was filled with errors because Erasmus was rushing to print. This myth was decimated by the eminent scholar Dr. M. A. Screech back in 1986 in his introduction to the Annotations of Erasmus.”
  • Erasmian Myths: Revelation Back Translated from the Vulgate? -- “One of the more notorious myths about Erasmus is that he backtranslated the last 6 verses of the book of Revelation. There are many articles on the internet purporting to prove conclusively that Erasmus did in fact back translate from the Latin Vulgate the last few verses of Revelation.”
In addition to the blogs by Thomas, Jeffrey T. Riddle deals with the rash wager and rush to print in Erasmus Anecdotes, Puritan Reformed Journal Vol. 9, No. 1 (January 2017): 101-112. You probably have to have an account to access it.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Scrivener’s “Preface” to the 1881 New Testament

References to the New Testament Greek Textus Receptus Bible edited by F. H. A. Scrivener often appear in the Bible Versions Debate. It seems to me that both sides often portray Scrivener and/or the edition as something they are not. I have read a KJVO rate Scrivener as near the top of KJVO advocates. I have read an anti-KJVO act as if Scrivener took the King James Bible and back translated it into Greek to create The New Testament in the Original Greek, according to the Text Followed by the Authorised Version. Both beliefs are basted in baloney butter. In contrast, I post here the “Preface” of The New Testament in the Original Greek so that you may read it for yourself and come to some of your own conclusions.


 The special design of this volume is to place clearly before the reader the variations from the Greek text represented by the Authorised Version of the New Testament which have been embodied in the Revised Version. One of the Rules laid down for the guidance of the Revisers by a Committee appointed by the Convocation of Canterbury was to the effect “that, when the Text adopted differs from that from which the Authorised Version was made, the alteration be indicated in the margin.” As it was found that a literal observance of this direction would often crowd and obscure the margin of the Revised Version, the Revisers judged that its purpose might be better carried out in another manner. They therefore communicated to the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses a full and carefully corrected list of the readings adopted which are at variance with the readings “presumed to underlie the Authorised Version,” in order that they might be published independently in some shape or other. The University Presses have accordingly undertaken to print them in connexion with complete Greek texts of the New Testament. The responsibility of the Revisers does not of course extend beyond the list which they have furnished.

The form here chosen has been thought by the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press to be at once the most convenient in itself, and the best fitted for giving a true representation of the Revisers’ work. In their Preface the Revisers explain that it did not fall within their province to construct a continuous and complete Greek text. Wherever a variation in the Greek was of such a nature that it could properly affect the English rendering, they had to decide between the competing readings: but in most other cases they refrained from spending time on work not needed for the purposes of an English translation. It was therefore impossible to print a continuous Greek text which should include the readings certified as adopted by the Revisers, without borrowing all the intervening portions from some printed text which had not undergone their revision, and in which, to judge by analogy, they would doubtless have found many readings to disapprove. It is true that all variations in this unrevised part of the text must from the nature of the case be comparatively unimportant: but they include many differences of order and grammatical form expressive of shades and modifications of meaning which no careful reader would neglect in studying the Greek original. The Cambridge Press has therefore judged it best to set the readings actually adopted by the Revisers at the foot of the page, and to keep the continuous text consistent throughout by making it so far as was possible uniformly representative of the Authorised Version. The publication of an edition formed on this plan appeared to be all the more desirable, inasmuch as the Authorised Version was not a translation of any one Greek text then in existence, and no Greek text intended to reproduce in any way the original of the Authorised Version has ever been printed.

In considering what text had the best right to be regarded as “the text presumed to underlie the Authorised Version,” it was necessary to take into account the composite nature of the Authorised Version, as due to successive revisions of Tyndale’s translation. Tyndale himself followed the second and third editions of Erasmus’s Greek text (1519, 1522). In the revisions of his translation previous to 1611 a partial use was made of other texts; of which ultimately the most influential were the various editions of Beza from 1560 to 1598, if indeed his Latin version of 1556 should not be included. Between 1598 and 1611 no important edition appeared; so that Beza’s fifth and last text of 1598 was more likely than any other to be in the hands of King James’s revisers, and to be accepted by them as the best standard within their reach. It is moreover found on comparison to agree more closely with the Authorised Version than any other Greek text; and accordingly it has been adopted by the Cambridge Press as the primary authority. There are however many places in which the Authorised Version is at variance with Beza’s text; chiefly because it retains language inherited from Tyndale or his successors, which had been founded on the text of other Greek editions. In these cases it is often doubtful how far the revisers of 1611 deliberately preferred a different Greek reading; for their attention was not specially directed to textual variations, and they might not have thought it necessary to weed out every rendering inconsistent with Beza’s text, which might linger among the older and unchanged portions of the version. On the other hand some of the readings followed, though discrepant from Beza’s text, may have seemed to be in a manner sanctioned by him, as he had spoken favourably of them in his notes; and others may have been adopted on independent grounds. These uncertainties do not however affect the present edition, in which the different elements that actually make up the Greek basis of the Authorised Version have an equal right to find a place. Wherever therefore the Authorised renderings agree with other Greek readings which might naturally be known through printed editions to the revisers of 1611 or their predecessors, Beza’s reading has been displaced from the text in favour of the more truly representative reading, the variation from Beza being indicated by *. It was manifestly necessary to accept only Greek authority, though in some places the Authorised Version corresponds but loosely with any form of the Greek original, while it exactly follows the Latin Vulgate. All variations from Beza’s text of 1598, in number about 190, are set down in an Appendix at the end of the volume, together with the authorities on which they respectively rest.

Wherever a Greek reading adopted for the Revised Version differs from the presumed Greek original of the Authorised Version, the reading which it is intended to displace is printed in the text in a thicker type, with a numerical reference to the reading substituted by the Revisers, which bears the same numeral at the foot of the pages. Alternative readings are given in the margin by the Revisers in places “in which, for the present, it would not in their judgement be safe to accept one reading to the absolute exclusion of others,” provided that the differences seemed to be of sufficient interest or importance to deserve notice. These alternative readings, which are more than 400 in number, are distinguished by the notation Marg. or marg. In the Revised Version itself the marginal notes in which a secondary authority is thus given to readings not adopted in the text almost always take the form of statements of evidence, and the amount of evidence in each instance is to a certain extent specified in general terms. No attempt however has in most cases been made to express differences in the nature or the amount of this authority in the record of marginal readings at the foot of the page. For such details the reader will naturally turn to the margin of the Revised Version itself.

The punctuation has proved a source of much anxiety. The Authorised Version as it was originally printed in 1611, rather than as it appears in any later edition, has been taken as a primary guide. Exact reproduction of the English punctuation in the Greek text was however precluded by the differences of grammatical structure between the two languages. It was moreover desirable to punctuate in a manner not inconsistent with the punctuation of the Revised Version, wherever this could be done without inconvenience, as punctuation does not strictly belong to textual variation. Where however the difference of punctuation between the two Versions is incompatible with identical punctuation in the Greek, the stops proper for the Authorised Version are given in the text, with a numerical reference, without change of type, to the other method set forth in the foot-notes. Mere changes in punctuation, not consequent on change of reading, are discriminated from the rest by being set within marks of parenthesis ( ) at the foot of the page. The notes that thus refer exclusively to stops are about 157.

The paragraphs into which the body of the Greek text is here divided are those of the Revised Version, the numerals relating to chapters and verses being banished to the margin. The marks which indicate the beginning of paragraphs in the Authorised Version do not seem to have been inserted with much care, and cease altogether after Acts xx. 36: nor would it have been expedient to create paragraphs in accordance with the traditional chapters. Manifest errors of the press, which often occur in Beza’s New Testament of 1598, have been silently corrected. In all other respects not mentioned already that standard has been closely abided by, save only that, in accord not been represented as part of the speech or quotation which it introduces, and the aspirated forms αὐτοῦ, αὐτο, αὐτόν, &c. have been discarded. In a very few words (e. g. μαργαρίται) the more recent and proper accentuation has been followed. Lastly, where Beza has been inconsistent, the form which appeared the better of the two has been retained consistently: as νηφάλιος not νηφάλεος, οὐκέτι not οὐκ έτι, ἐξαυτῆς not ἐξ αυτῆς, ἵνα τί not ἵνατί, but τὰ νῦν not τὰνῦν, διὰ παντὸς not διὰ παντός, τοῦτ ἔστι not τουτέστι.


F. H. A. S.

Christmas, 1880.

“Preface,” The New Testament in the Original Greek, according to the Text Followed by the Authorised Version, together with the Variations Adopted in the Revised Version, F. H. A. Scrivener, Editor. Cambridge: University Press, 1881, pp. v-xi

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

God Knows

O tired heart!
God knows.
Not you nor I.
Who reach our hands for gifts
That wise love must deny.
We blunder where we fain would do our best
Until aweary, then we cry, “Do Thou the rest.”
And in His hands the tangled thread we place
Of our pour, blind weaving, with a shamed face.
All trust of ours He sacredly will keep.
So, tired heart – God knows – go thou to work or sleep.

O tired heart!
God knows.
Where we but guess,
Of unknown future years,
Their joys or bitterness.
For we are finite, limited, enfurled,
His vision in its sweep reaches from world to world.
Our hidden, complex selves, His eye doth see,
And with exceeding tenderness, weighs equally.
O wisdom infinite! O love naught can o’erwhelm!
Rest, tired heart – God knows – give unto Him the helm.

“Resignation,” or “God Knows,” was written by Hannah Coddington. I did not find any biographical information on the author, but poetry under her name appears a good bit in the late 1800s. The above poem can be found in Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the World’s Great Preacher (1892), Songs for the Shut-in (1893), and The Year Book of American Authors (1894). The latter book certainly suggests she was an American.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

King James translation and the Textus Receptus

Q. How can the King James Version of 1611 be translated from the Textus Receptus, since it didn’t appear until 1633?
A. This is a misunderstanding about a name or title that became popular after 1611. The Elzevir Brothers published three editions of the Greek New Testament. Their publisher’s preface in the 1633 edition included the statement “Textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum: in quo nihil immutatum aut corruptum damus” (Then you have the text now received by all, in which nothing we give is changed or corrupted). From this sprang the use of “Textus Receptus” or “Received Text” to describe a certain family of printed Greek New Testaments. The current use of Textus Receptus is not limited to the 1633 Elzevir Greek NT, but to an entire line of Greek Testaments, most of which preceded the Textus Receptus terminology – 5 by Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) in 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535; 4 by Robert Estienne, or Stephanus (1503–1559) in 1546, 1549, 1550, 1551; 9 by Theodore Beza (1519-1605) in 1565 (2), 1567, 1580, 1582, 1589, 1590, 1598, 1604; 3 by Abraham (1592-1652) and Bonaventure Elzevir in 1624, 1633, 1641, and 1 by F. H. A. Scrivener (1813-1891) in 1881; and perhaps others.[i]
Perhaps some people just misunderstand the time sequence of the terminology. Perhaps others wish to detach the King James Bible from the Textus Receptus for some reason. However, it is simply a matter of folks using the terminology that is most common. For example, most contemporary Christians always refer to “Abram” to “Abraham,” even when speaking of him before God changed his name.

[i] For example, includes the 1514 Complutensian Polyglot, a 1534 edition by Simon de Colines, a later printing by Elzevir Brothers(1679), 1825 by the Oxford Press, and an 1841 edition by Scholz. I have not investigated the status of any of these.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Before You Renew Amazon Prime, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

John Rice on Abortion

After a male sperm cell has united with a female ovum and the body of the child thus conceived begins to develop in the womb of the wife, to destroy that little life and so prevent a normal birth of a child is called abortion, not birth control. And abortion is murder. Until recent years, very few people in the world, we believe, would have justified this destruction of an unborn child after conception has taken place. At least they would not have justified it under normal circumstances. Abortion, that is the willful murder of the little one where conception has already taken place and life has already begun, was, until recently, a crime prohibited by the law and condemned by all decent people.
John R. Rice in The Home: Courtship, Marriage, and Children

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hosannah to Jesus on high

Hymn III in Funeral Hymns by John and Charles Wesley. 8s. Doubled.

1. Hosannah to Jesus on high!
Another has entered his rest,
Another escaped to the sky,
And lodged in Immanuel’s breast:
The soul of our sister is gone
To heighten the triumph above,
Exalted to Jesus’s throne,
And clasped in the arms of his love.

2. What fullness of rapture is there,
While Jesus His glory displays,
And purples the heavenly air,
And scatters the odours of grace?
He looks—and his servants in light
The blessing ineffable meet;
He smiles—and they faint at the sight,
And fall overwhelmed at his feet!

3. How happy the angels that fall,
Transported at Jesus’s name!
The saints, whom he soonest shall call
To share in the feast of the Lamb!
No longer imprisoned in clay,
Who next from the dungeon shall fly,
Who first shall be summoned away?
My merciful God—Is it I?

4. O Jesus, if this be thy will
That suddenly I should depart,
Thy council of mercy reveal,
And whisper the call to my heart:
O give me a signal to know
If soon Thou wouldst have me remove,
And leave this dull body below,
And fly to the regions of love.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The spirit of complaint, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

“The spirit of complaint is born out of an unwillingness to trust God with today.” -- Priscilla Shirer

“In his life Christ is an example showing us how to live; in his death, he is a sacrifice satisfying for our sins; in his resurrection, a conqueror; in his ascension, a king; in his intercession, a high priest.” -- Martin Luther

Paradoxes are “actually the heart of our vibrant faith, and that it’s only by continually wrestling with them – rather than trying to pin them down or push them away – that we can really worship God, individually and together.” -- Krish Kandiah

“God may give you a steak, but he usually does not cut it up and feed it to you!” -- Heard

“The public reading of Scripture is an essential element of Christian worship for the covenant people of God.” -- Justin Borger

“Scholars are quiet about facts that do not fit their own narratives.” -- Michael Hollner

“Is the alternative to an inspired (living) Bible not an expired (dead) one?” -- Heard

“The church teachers are inconsistent, pliable and constantly err, especially regarding the structure with bishops and the pope at their head, whereas the Scripture is inerrant and truthful.” -- Stanko Jambrek, discussing the teachings of Matthias Flacius Illyricus

“There is a strange hatred toward the KJV.” -- Pastor Scott Ingram

“Providence gains the same end in different ways, that men may attend its motions with an implicit faith.” -- Matthew Henry

“Evil doesn’t have a color. Neither does a victim’s grief.” -- Read on Facebook

“Everywhere I go, there I am.” -- Ben Davis, a TV character, and probably others

“Pleasure whispers to us and pain screams at us.” -- Kent Brandenburg

“What do you get when you mix politics and Christianity? Politics!” -- an old saying

Friday, June 11, 2021

Longer-Shorter, Difficult-Easy Readings

Random stuff
The strange and sometimes contradictory views about longer and shorter, easier and more difficult readings. These Latin expressions are used to indicate the principles some hold in textual criticism:
  • lectio difficilior potior, or lectio difficilior lectio potior – the more difficult reading is the stronger
  • lectio longior potior, or lectio longior lectio potior – the longer reading is the stronger/more probable
  • lectio brevior potior, or lectio brevior lectio potior – the shorter reading is the more probable reading
In general, the more difficult reading is to be preferred, particularly when the sense, on the surface, appears to be erroneous but, on more mature consideration, proves to be correct. (Here, “more difficult” means “more difficult to the scribe,” who would be tempted to make an emendation. The characteristic of most scribal emendations is their superficiality, often combining “the appearance of improvement with the absence of its reality.” Obviously, the category “more difficult reading” is relative, and a point is sometimes reached when a reading must be judged to be so difficult that it can have arisen only by accident in transcription.)
“The shorter reading, if not wholly lacking the support of old and weighty witnesses, is to be preferred over the more verbose.”
Found in Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament; Bruce Metzger, in The Text of New Testament, and A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament; Johann Jakob Griesbach (Originally Latin, quoted by Alford in the introduction of his Greek Testament, London, 1849, and found quoted in numerous sources).

In a study of “Lectio Brevior Potior and New Testament Textual Criticism,” Jeff Miller concluded “that the maxim lectio brevior potior not only should not be, but in fact is not, a factor in the current practice of the textual criticism of the New Testament.”

Maurice Robinson, in his article “The Case for Byzantine Priority” writes, “Neither the shorter nor longer reading is to be preferred. The reasoned eclectic principle here omitted is the familiar lectio brevior potior, or giving preference to the shorter reading, assuming all other matters to be equala principle which has come under fire even from modern eclectics. Not only can its legitimacy be called into question, but its rejection as a working principle can readily be justified.”