Textus Receptus and the Doctrine of Preservation (Part 1)

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The arguments used to position the Textus Receptus as the sole textual basis for the true word of God range from questionable to downright irrational. Proponents of this position rely on view of the so-called “doctrine of preservation,” which illegitimately uses certain Bible texts to argue its dubious claims.


The Greek Text Behind the KJV

Erasmus and the Textus Receptus

Textus Receptus and the Doctrine of Preservation (Part 1)


A. Textus Receptus

1. Essentially any Greek NT that is essentially derived from Erasmus’s text

a) Includes all five of Erasmus’s editions

b) All four of Stephanus’s editions

c) All eleven of Beza’s editions (1589 Beza text is basis for KJV)

d) The editions of the Elzevirs (1633 first called Textus Receptus)

e) Basically, any Greek NT published before 1831

2. More technically, the 1550 Stephanus text (3rd edition)

a) Virtually identical with the 1825 and 1873 Oxford TR (later edited by F.H.A. Scrivener)

b) Standard collating edition for TR

3. At least 30 different editions of TR

B. Doctrine of Preservation

1. The doctrine that God has preserved Scripture down to the very words

C. Corollary of preservation for TR/MT advocates

1. Inspiration –> Preservation –> Accessibility –> Majority


A. Jasper James Ray, God Wrote Only One Bible (TR)

B. David Otis Fuller, Counterfeit or Genuine? (TR)

1. Calls modern translations “bastard bibles”

2. “Born-again Christians in this twentieth century are facing the most malicious and vicious attack upon God’s inspired Holy Word since the Garden of Eden. And this attack began in its modern form in the publication of the Revised Version of the Scriptures in 1881 in England.”

C. Wilbur Pickering, Identity of the New Testament Text (MT)

1. “Aleph and B have lied”; “Aleph is clearly a bigger liar than B.”

2. All the ancient manuscripts on which modern critical text are based are “convicted liars all.”

D. Summary

1. Inspiration implies preservation, which implies accessibility, which implies majority

2. Or conversely, if it’s in the majority of mss, it is thus accessible; if accessible, it’s been preserved for all to read; if preserved, it’s inspired


A. Question-begging Approach

1. What do you count? (Greek, not Latin)

2. When do you count?

a) No Byzantine manuscripts before the 4th century

b) No Byzantine church father before the 4th century

c) Earliest Byzantine mss of Paul’s letters not until 9th century

3. Where do you count?

a) Byzantine text not available in Egypt before 4th century

B. Faulty Assumptions

1. Preservation is a necessary corollary of inspiration

a) Either all MSS have to say the same thing [Islam]; or a group of MSS agree 100%; or one MSS is right, but none of these are true

b) At least 20 different editions of TR through Beza, and 30 overall with c. 400 differences between them

2. Preservation must be through “majority rule”

a) Nowhere taught in Bible

b) Historically: discovery of Sinaiticus, etc.

3. Public accessibility of a pure text is theologically necessary

a) TR not published till 1516

b) 30 different editions of TR

c) MT was not published until 1982, and MT differs from TR in about 2,000 places

4. Certainty is identical with truth

a) Which TR? which MT? which KJV? From 1611 to 1769 there were over 100,000 changes made in KJV

b) Absolute certainty does not equate to truth

c) There was no pure text before the printing press, so does that make it accessible?

d) Which doctrines are at stake?

e) Pursuit of certainty is different from the pursuit of truth

Textus Receptus and the Doctrine of Preservation (Part 2)

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