KJV Onlyism & the Textus Receptus

It struck me this evening as I was perusing various articles about the Greek language and editions of the New Testament & Septuagint.

Many KJV/TR only people often make the fallicious and ad hominem charge that Westcott and Hort were either closet Catholics or just pro-Catholic. What’s striking about this claim is that this is part of the argument for why the Textus Receptus should be the preferred edition of the Greek New Testament. Does it not occur to them that the Textus Receptus was first edited by a Catholic. Erasmus ever joined the Reformation. He stayed with the Catholic Church the whole way though.

If being Catholic nullifies ones scholarship, then the Textus Receptus should be rejected on the same grounds that KJV/TR people reject modern editions.

Very, very strange.

14 thoughts on “KJV Onlyism & the Textus Receptus

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  1. Mike,

    I agree that it’s a weak argument.

    However, I think we have to distinguish between a Roman Catholic in the 16th century and a Catholic in the 18th century. In the 16th century, people were still coming to the light and realizing the RC errors and abuses. Hence, Calvin (or maybe it was Luther) felt that there were good people coming to a “Reformed” mindset, who were still in the RC church. Erasmus is a prime example.

    But by the 18th century, the battle lines had been drawn, and people on both sides had a clearer view of the dividing issues. The Textus Receptus was recognized as the Reformation text, and the Latin Vulgate and Egyptian texts were recognized as RC texts.

    I also think that we have to distinguish between Textus Receptus advocates and KJVO advocates. The latter believe the *translation* is inspired; the former hold the *Reformation text* to be the authentic text. TR advocates allow for copyist errors, but hold (in accordance with Providential Preservation) that there is no *meaningful* difference between the TR and the autographs.

    Regardless, I find articles by the Trinitarian Bible Society much more level-headed and researched. A good example is http://www.trinitarianbiblesociety.org/site/qr/qr579.pdf (p. 17).


  2. But Erasmus lived in the Reformation era! Surely that counts? 😉

    Meanwhile, what really stumps me about KJV-Only advocates is that they claim that the Vulgate was a Constantinian-Vatican corruption of the “Syrian Greek Text of Antioch” (=TR), and yet they condemn the critical text, which agrees far less with the Vg than does the TR!

  3. Caleb,

    16th century Catholicism was worse that 19th century Catholicism. As for Erasmus himself, Luther had hoped that he would have a possible ally in Erasmus, but Erasmus refused to split from Rome. Besides, considering the fact that Westcott and Hort were not Catholics also weighs against Erasmus. As for the Trinitarian Bible Society, ad hominem attacks on godly scholars isn’t very becoming.

  4. So if 16th century Catholicism was ‘worse’ than 19th century Catholicism, then was 19th century Catholicism merely ‘bad’? What about 21st century Catholicism? How does that sit?
    Catholicism or pro-Catholicism were grounds for a ‘charge’? Like, as in a crime?
    Wow. I never even considered that being Catholic could nullify scolarship.

  5. Whoa! Hold on there hypatia. Let’s go a little slower.

    16th century Catholicism was worse than 19th century Catholicism because the Catholic Reformation hadn’t occurred yet, which corrected many of the abuses of the church.

    All this post was intending to do was to criticize on their own terms those who hold to the TR. I had no intent on attacking Catholicism and if it sounded like I did, then I apologize. I grew up in a Catholic dominant town and continue to have many close Catholic friends. We’re all Christians here.

  6. Most KJVOs are aware that Erasmus was a Roman Catholic, but they tend to stress that he’s THEIR Roman Catholic. (They like to stress that he was really something of a closet Lutheran, and it’s clear that Erasmus was in fact aware of many abuses by the priests, since he wrote satiric essays about such..

    The KJVOs have many objections to Westcott and Hort, but they usually run more along the lines of accusing them of being involved in occultism and spiritism than of being sympathetic to RC practices or ideas.

  7. Anyone who think that Erasmus was a closet Lutheran hasn’t read the debates between Erasmus and Luther. They also don’t realize that Erasmus’ condemnation of selling indulgences is different than accepting Catholic doctrine. And from what I’ve read, when they link W&H to occultism and what not, they also link the Vatican to the same position with the belief that the Catholic Church has been plotting this for centuries – Codex Vaticanus had been in the Vatican library at least 100 years before the Reformation and probably earlier.

    They can’t have it both ways. Its an inconsistent position.

  8. Mike,

    I thought the TBS article was a researched evaluation of Kurt Aland’s beliefs regarding the texts. The author simply examined Aland’s writings on the subject and whether he modified his views later in life.

    I need to find the citation, but I think it was Calvin who felt there were a number of people remaining in the RC church who were simply not aware of the implications of church doctrines and practices. For example, Calvin, in the main, respected Erasmus, who was at least a very untraditional Catholic who refused to be held to the traditional RC texts.

    Fast forward to the early 19th century, when the fundamental differences between the churches had been clearly defined (e.g., the texts and doctrine of justification). By then, there was little reason to believe that a Protestant-leaning person (or “reforming” person) was still in the RC church simply because he wasn’t aware of the implications of rejecting Luther and Calvin’s proposed reforms.

    And I still view the lumping together of KJVO and TR advocates as inaccurate scholarship. Admittedly there are even TR advocates who have used bad arguments. But honest scholarship of a particular idealogy will evaluate the best, most logical position of its opponent, and try to refute that position only–without merging it into other positions. If you carefully read another article at http://www.trinitarianbiblesociety.org/site/qr/qr581.pdf (page 9), I think you will find a position and a methodology very different from KJVO advocates. And I guarantee that if you contacted the author of that article, you would find a warm spirit that radically differs from the harsh approach that is sadly adopted by some KJVO supporters.

    Kind regards,

  9. Caleb, Sorry, I should have been more clear. When I referred t ad hominem attacks I was actually talking about a different article on their website. I read a few of them.

    I know that KJVO and TR people are different, but many of the arguments are either identical or very similar. That’s the only reason that I lumped them together. I in no way intended to equate them as the same. I’m sorry if it came across that way.

    The Trinitarian Bible Society believes that the current eclectic texts are based on only a few manuscripts, a claim that is completely false.

    But here’s the clincher for me on the TR issue (separate from KJVO), from what I’ve read from Erasmus himself, I highly doubt that he would consider the TR to be the best text. Highly doubt. He regularly included readings in the margin of his editions that he believed were correct while placing other readings that were closer to the Vulgate into the text itself. The TR has the Vulgate readings – not his preferred marginal readings.

    As the article itself, I don’t find it very convincing. But I won’t get into that, unless you want me too.

    Anyway, thanks for the dialogue. I’ll read a few more article from their website to see what they’ve got.

  10. Mike,

    Enjoyed the discussion too!

    Btw, a few months ago I stumbled across an interesting discussion of the TR at http://www.puritanboard.com/f63/textual-manuscripts-27898/ .

    What was interesting is that one person mentioned this book:

    “Erika Rummel, in her Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian (Univ. of Toronto Press 1986), makes the point that Erasmus had access to (and took copious notes on) a vast array of NT manuscripts during his many travels; it is a myth that he had “access” to only a few manuscripts when he produced his NT editions.”

    Of course, you would have to read the book yourself to verify his interpretation of Rummel, but I found that interesting, as the common complaint I’ve heard against Erasmus is that he allegedly had access to only a few manuscripts.


  11. Does it not occur to them that the Textus Receptus was first edited by a Catholic. Erasmus never joined the Reformation. He stayed with the Catholic Church the whole way though.

    consistency is not a staple of KJV’rs is it?

  12. Funny how the Textus Receptus, which consists of a vast collection of texts which all correspond with each other, can be considered inferior to a collection of about 3 or 4 texts.

    Funny how when you compare the texts of an ESV or NIV with a KJV, you see how blantantly the deity of Christ is downplayed and even removed in the so called \”better\” translations of the NIV and ESV.

    The fact of the matter is that the KJV is one of the only bibles being published today that contains the uncorrupted text. That\’s why there is the KJV-only movement.

    Westcott & Hort were actually Darwinists who detested the the Received Texts, and made slight adjustments to the text which here and there might not seem so major, but on the whole they were basically weaving Masonic and Catholic doctrine into the bible and removing the deity of Christ – this was so that their texts would not be rejected. Proof of this exists in letters written between Westcott and Hort which were published by their sons.

    If anyone would like the book references to back up my statements, I\’ll gladly publish them here.

    1. Gary,

      1) The TR does not consist of a vast collection of texts.
      2) None of them correspond to each other – I doubt you’ve ever examined even a photograph of one of them.
      3) There’s plenty of Catholic doctrine in the TR – it was made by a Catholic.
      4) Book references are completely worthless unless you’re going to cite actual manuscript evidence.

      Find another place to share your little polemics with the world.

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