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.
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:
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:
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
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
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:
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
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,
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.”