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.

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