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Chapter 7

Apostolic Origins Of the Received Text

 

 

 This chapter may prove to be more tedious reading than the previous chapters, as—of necessity—quotes from other sources will be used extensively.

 

Please do not skip over this critical information.

 

 Below is a quote claiming that the Majority Text cannot trace its origins any earlier than the 4th Century. Can this possibly be true?

 

If it is, then any claim to the apostolic origin of the Majority Text is refuted, and we must accept the Egyptian/Minority Texts as the true text written by the apostles and used by the early church.

       “The text, found in the mass [Majority] of existing manuscripts, does not date further back than the middle of the fourth century...” Hort, quoted in Dean Burgan, Traditional Text, p. 91.

 

This chapter will be limited to quotes from very early sources which verify the antiquity of the writings of the Majority text and brief explanations of them.

 

The following quotes will show that the text of what is now known as the Received Text (Textus Receptus/Majority Text) was the same text used by the earliest Christians and accepted by them as coming from the apostles themselves.

Scholar, Jacob Geerlings, who has done extensive work on certain “family” branches of the Majority Text, has stated that: 

       “its origins go back to the autographs [the originals]” (J. Geerlings, Family E and its Allies in Mark).

 

Edward Miller had this to say about the early church Fathers:

       “The testimony of any first-rate early church ‘father,’ where it can be had, must be held to outweigh the solitary testimony of any single codex which can be named. For instance the origin and history of Codices A, B, Aleph, and C [Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Ephraemi] is wholly unknown: their dates and the places of their several production are matters of conjecture only. But when we are listening to the articulate utterance of any of the ancient ‘fathers,’ we not only know with more or less of precision the actual date of the testimony before us, but we even know the very diocese of Christendom in which we are standing. To such a deponent we can assign a definite amount of credibility, whereas in the estimate of the former class of evidence [the Greek manuscripts] we have only inferences to guide us. Individually, therefore, a ‘father’s’ evidence where it can be certainly obtained—caeterius paribus [Latin: other things being equal] is considerably greater than that of any single known codex.” Edward Miller, quoted in Dean Burgon, Traditional Text, 57.

 

When exactly did the early church Fathers Live? With the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) acting as their chronological watershed, church historians will generally arrange the ‘fathers’ by the era in which they lived

       Apostolic (A.D. 75-150)

       Ante-Nicene (A.D. 150-325)

       Post-Nicene (A.D. 325-500)

 

The majority of the  “fathers,” including the earliest of them, quoted from the Majority Text.

 

The writings of just five early writers (Tertullian, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, and Clement of Alexandria) have provided us with 30,147 Scripture citations—and the great majority of their quotations agree with the Majority Text.

 

As late as the year A.D. 208, Tertullian, In his defensive work, entitled “On Persecution against Heretics,” he rebuked the skeptics of his age with the challenge that the authentic writings of the apostles were still possessed by Christians in his day:

       “Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over [to] the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally. Achaia is very near you, [in which] you find Corinth. Since you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi; (and there too) you have the Thessalonians. Since you are able to cross to Asia, you get Ephesus. Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood!” Tertullian, quoted in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p. 260.

 

Papyri, which are un-disputably the earliest manuscript sources available, testify to the ancient origins of the Majority Text.

 

“Byzantine readings which most critics have regarded as late, have now been proved by Papyrus Bodmer II to be early readings.” Hills, quoted in Dean Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses of Mark, p. 54.

 

“Papyrus 66 supports the reading of the Majority Text.” Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 2, p. 381.

 

“Some of the New Testament papyri that have been discovered show remarkable similarity with later manuscripts. In fact, several of the extant early papyri are related to many later manuscripts (fourth century and beyond) or at least share a common ancestor.” Philip W. Comfort, Early Manuscripts and Modern Translations of the Bible, p. 11.

 

The earliest Syrian Translation of the scriptures was the Peshitta—translated in A.D. 145. It closely agrees with the Majority Text. Modern liberal scholars upped the translation date of the Peshitta to A.D. 415, but the antiquity of this early translation of the scriptures is widely acknowledged.

 

Concerning the Italia (Old Latin) Translation (not to be confused with Jerome’s Latin Vulgate), the first of these was made no later than A.D. 157, about 60 years after the last book of the Bible was finished. It is called the Old Latin Translation or Italia. This translation was made for the young churches established in the Italian Alps (the far northern part of Italy). It agrees closely with the Majority Text

       “The old Italic version into the rude Low Latin of the second century held its own as long as Latin continued to be the language of the people. The critical version of Jerome [the Vulgate] never displaced it, and only replaced it when the Latin ceased to be a living language, but became the language of the learned. Fulton, The Forum, June 1887; quoted in Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 27-28.

 

“The old Latin versions were used longest by the Eastern Christians who would not bow to the authority of Rome, e.g., the Donatists; the Irish in Ireland, Britain, and the Continent; the Albigenses; etc.” Jacobus, Catholic and Protestant Bibles Compared, p. 200.

 

The Gothic Translation was the first translation into a purely European language. It was prepared in A.D. 330 by Ulfilas, an earnest soul-winning evangelist. This translation was prepared about 10 years before the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and it agrees closely with the Majority Text.

 

“The type of text represented in it is for the most part that which is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts.” Frederick G. Kenyon, Critical Text of the New Testament, 1912 edition.

 

Although translated before the Minority/Egyptian Texts were copied, Ulfilas’ version contained readings that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus and modern versions translated from them omit:

       “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

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